Chapter Twenty-One -- Battle

"Your destiny comes, Kenobi!" -- Darth Tyrannus

Tyrannus came to a jarring halt, but recollected himself quickly to unleash a half-smile, half-snarl at his former teacher standing innocuously there in front of them.

"I see my wishes have been answered, Master Yoda. We meet again."

Tyrannus drew his blade and ignited it, the crimson beam closing the distance between he and Yoda to a matter of feet.

Yoda in turn stood motionless, despite the proximity of the killing blade to his small body.

"Will you not draw your weapon, Jedi? Shall I just strike you down, then move on to collect my prize?"

He pointed the blade at Yoda now, it wavered slightly in his grip, although whether it was out of excitement or nervousness was unknown.

Yoda stared deep into Tyrannusí face now, a look that in the past had made all but his most selfless students cringe in remorse, trying to discern what they had done to draw such a withering stare.

"No need for weapons do I have to defeat you, Dooku," Yoda replied calmly, refusing to call the Sith Lord by his adopted name.

The Master stretched out and Tyrannusí blade was wrenched from his grasp and sent wheeling several meters away, still lit and still airborne.

Yodaís concentration grew as he focused on the inner mechanisms of the blade. In an instance, its components overheated and it exploded, extinguishing the blade and sending white-hot metal shards across the swamp. The shards hit the water with great force, and quickly cooled in the cold waters.

Yoda recaptured Tyrannusí stare.

"As for the boy, never shall you lay claim to him."

Yoda hopped off the stump lightly and stood solidly in the middle of the path Tyrannus had been following. The challenge was clearly extended.

Enraged by both the destruction of his saber and Yodaís defiance now, Tyrannus lashed out with the Force at his former teacher, seeking to hurl him back against the enormous trees behind them.

Yoda met the Sithís grip, and the two stood there, looking for all the world as if they were doing nothing more than looking at each other. In the unseen ocean of the Force however, twin tidal waves raged.

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Obi-Wan could feel the battle begin through the Force, he would have had to be a complete Jedi inept to miss the power surging forth on this planet.

He had felt his Master wield the Force to dispatch the clonetroopers at various points over the past hour. He had tried not to worry about his Master, it seemed also comical to do so considering the might Yoda possessed. But since they had landed here, the Master had been speaking more and more archaically about his own destiny.

Obi-Wan knew Qui-Gon had sacrificed his safety to ensure Obi-Wanís success. He wasnít sure he could take losing another Master to the Sith.

So he hurried along now, with R2D2 ably helping him and baby Luke dozing in his makeshift crib in the pilotís seat. They had isolated the problem, well R2 had mostly, but Obi-Wan had the manual dexterity to make the repairs quicker, so the astromech mainly hovered over the Jedi while he rerouted the power drive of the starfighter, then rolled back occasionally to examine the baby human who continued to sleep lightly.

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Barely two miles away, Tyrannus released his hold on the Force and called upon a power that Sidious had been showing him slowly over the past few years.

His fingers extended, bursts of blue-white lightning drew forth from the electrical charges of the air itself and blasted Yoda back 10 yards into short foliage.

Grinning ferally to hismelf, Tyrannus moved forward quickly, as the diminutive Yoda collected himself from the attack. Tyrannus emitted the dark Force lightning again, blasting Yoda off his feet.

They moved that way across the swamp, with Yoda forced back time and again by Tyrannusí bolts of energy. Now the Sith Lord could see past a clearing ahead, and in it, the Jedi starfighter.

His vision narrowed and he saw Kenobi frantically working on the shipís engine alongside an astromech droid, and there, sitting in the pilotís seat, his prize, the baby boy who possessed the potential to one day help him rule the galaxy.

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Obi-Wan did not understand the electrical sounds coming from the battleground, and his heart plummeted when he saw the eruption of blue-white light that sent his Master reeling backwards within 100 feet of the starfighter.

"Master!" he yelled out, but there was Yoda, getting to his feet again determinedly, standing again to face Tyrannus, who Obi-Wan could see clearly now as he stalked through the marsh, his vision shifting between the baby and Yoda, who still stood resolutely between him and his goal. Obi-Wan was stricken with his Masterís condition. His flesh was burned on his arms and face, and he moved slowly now as he stepped into place in front of Tyrannus.

"Your destiny comes, Kenobi!" Tyrannusí voice thundered out now, amplified by his deep connection to the dark side. "Your master has failed, and so shall you! The child will be mine, and one day, the galaxy as well!"

Fretful as he was, Obi-Wan ignored the threat and made the final connection on the warp core. It hummed to life and he locked the engine back into place, calling to R2 to get ready for take off.

He slid the babyís crib into the rear seat, causing young Luke to awaken and babble a bit, but still never actually crying.

Obi-Wan hopped into the front and called to Yoda.

"Master, come! Hurry, letís get out of here!"

Yoda, turned sideways between one former student and another, actually smiled.

"Decided my fate is, Obi-Wan. Flee now, guard the boy well. Meet again, we shall."

Obi-Wanís eyes betrayed his solemness as he held back tears at abandoning his most prized instructor. But he had discussed the childrenís safety so much with Yoda and Mace Windu that he knew he must obey his Masterís command. He ignited the shipís engines and it lifted gently off the ground.

Tyrannus reached out with the Force again as the Jedi starfighter began to clear the lower-level trees, its engines drowinng out the sounds of the jungle below.

Tyrannus seized ahold of the small starfighter and began pulling it inexorably down, his full will bended toward bringing his tiny prize back to him.

He saw Yoda raise his hands in a similar fashion, and braced for an attack, either on his person or against his control of the starfighter. No push on the Force came however, and confusion turned to glee as he realized the aged Master was simply too exhausted from the battle Tyrannus had brought to him in the swamp.

He pulled Kenobiís starfighter another two feet down toward the surface when a shadow fell over him. Tyrannus looked up, distracted, then stunned, and his concentration in the Force snapped.

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Battling with the yoke of the fighter and through his own control of the Force, Obi-Wan was suddenly overwhelmed by buoyancy as Tyrannus released his grip on the ship.

The starfighter rocketed straight up, drawing ear-popping cries from baby Luke, while Obi-Wan wrestled with the controls, levelling out their ascent and rocketing out of the atmosphere.

He willed himself not to look down, but when he at last broke the clouds of the planetís atmosphere and headed into space, he was confronted by the overwhelming bulk of the Dominance, hovering in space having obviously tracked the outbound ship on its radar the moment its heat signatures came online on the planetís surface.

Even as Obi-Wan made to plunge the ship into evasive manuevers, the yoke caught in his hands and the ship began to shutter.

The onboard warning computers confirmed two tractor beams holding the ship at bay. Obi-Wanís throat seemed to close up as he came to the realization that Yodaís sacrifice had been in vain.

Obi-Wan had failed.