"I am your executioner, Master Windu. I am the end of the Jedi." -- Darth Vader
Jedi Master Mace Windu, dressed as a religious pilgrim, surreptiously slipped away from the tour group he was with as the leader pointed out the Jedi Temple.
"There, the great Jedi Order once researched the Force and gave advice to our government on important decisions," the Bothan was saying to a group composed largely of Corellian merchants and their families, visiting for a trade convention and taking their families out for the sights of the galaxy’s crown jewel.
Windu wore the robes and deep blue sash of the Divinist Clan, a well-known sect who believed in a series of ancient scrolls charging its followers to make differences in the lives of others as often as possible. The clanists were frequently visiting other planets to interact with as many beings of as many species as possible.
Coruscant was such a bustling hub of interspecies relationships, the Divinists were a very common sights on the Empire’s capital world.
Windu slipped away down a side corridor, looking for the symbol he was sure he would find. There, in the ground, was the small icon of the Temple, covering a utility entrance that led to the bottom levels of the Jedi’s facility. While Windu had no doubts Palpatine’s foces had sealed up the Temple’s main entrances, only someone with intense knowledge of the interworkings of the Jedi would have the insight to seal off every possible entry way.
Windu typed in a deeply-imbedded security code and the utility hatched hissed and raised. Gazing around to make sure he was alone, he slipped inside the hatch and closed it behind him.
Being in the Temple alone made Mace Windu feel uneasy and more than a bit sad. Even in serious times of war, the Temple had been full of life and energy, provided mainly by its youngest students, who were still experiencing the full wonderment of being in touch with the Force.
Now the halls seemed cold and dark, even when Windu went into his old quarters to gather a few digiitized essays he had been working on. He would have plenty of time to catch up on the writing now, although he hoped to begin training young Leia shortly after her second birthday in some rudimentary Jedi activities.
Windu’s next stop would be the Hall of Records, after which he would go back downlevels and rendevous with Obi-Wan in one of the training rooms. Together, they hoped to take as many lightsaber constructs as possible, that plus the saving of the records would cut down greatly on the eventual costs of a new facility on another world.
Pausing at his old desk on the way out, Windu activated the chronometer, checking the time and seeing he still had more than two hours before Obi-Wan was to meet him. Best to get to the library and pack as many discs full of information as he could.
Sitting in his personal office with senators from Rodia, Mallastaire and Kashykk, the Emperor looked down to see the a tiny light gleam blue on his desk’s control panel.
Keying in his thumb print, he got a brief message from Tarkin, now his head of intelligence. The message was to the point, a trait that the Sith Lord admired about the Admiral.
"Security droid imagery -- MaceWindu in Jedi Temple."
For a long moment, Sidious considered sending fighters to destroy the Temple, or perhaps a few hundred troopers and Guardsmen to gun the former Councilmember down with sheer firepower. Neither of those options was fool proof however, in fact, Sidious knew now how to accomplish two pressing goals at once.
He interrupted the Senator from Kashykk wtih a smile and a wave of his hand.
"Your pardon, Senator, but I have received an urgent message that does require my immediate, personal attention. Please treat yourself to the hospitalities of my staff, I shan’t be long."
In his personal training room underneath the Emperor’s Palace, Darth Vader sat cross-legged, reaching out into the dark side, practicing the first lessons his Master had taught over the past two days.
The Emperor was a harsh Master, quick to discipline when understanding did not come at the rate he demanded. Vader was powerful, strong and deadly, but now he was learning guile, insight, and how to bend the will of men.
He would use all his talents to wipe out corruption, and help his Master’s new order come to life.
Now the hiss of the private turbolift could be heard as it descended to the training facility. Knowing it could be only one being, Vader ceased his meditation and moved quickly in front of the shaft, kneeling as he did.
The Emperor exited the turbolift, and while he was pleased to see Vader kneeling before him, he had no time for formality.
"Arise, my friend. I would speak to you."
Vader drew up to his full height of two meters and walked slowly along with the Emperor as the latter surveyed the training facility.
"The Jedi Temple has become infested with one of its former tennants. Master Windu has returned much as we thought one of the Council may some day do. He is there now. You shall take a detatchment of stormtroopers with you and destroy him."
Vader turned and bowed.
"As you wish, my Master."
It had taken Mace Windu the better part of 90 minutes to secure the records he felt most pressing to the Jedi teachings. For the most part, he left the Jedi encylopedias untouched, reasoning that Alderaan’s libraries were even more extensive in terms of historical documents, information on other people, planets and cultures. What he needed to save were those items exclusive only to this facility.
Even then, it was crushing to separate so many fine works by Jedi academics into meager piles of what was to be saved and what would be left to Palpatine’s razing or coveting.
He filled as many discs as he had with information and checked the chronometer here, too. Still nearly a standard hour before he could expect Obi-Wan. Windu moved out into the hallway, then found himself moving uplevels, wanting to see the rest of his home one more time.
The top floor of the central Temple glowed to life as he entered, it was a quirk built in by the Jedi architect Master Styla Libusa, who had envisioned the structures more than 200 years ago, and whose ultimate vision realized had been a gratifying accomplishment to those who had known her.
Each subsequent chamber entered glowed to life as its door opened, giving it a warm, though artifical tone. Windu passed through the chambers where he had been Knighted, as well as confirmed for the Council.
He hesitated outside the grand Council chamber, then pushed the release for the door and walked in slowly. Unlike the other rooms, this one did not light up, even though it should have. With the windows darkened artificially to keep the room cool, it was almost impossible for Windu to see anything.
Not that Windu would need his eyes to know what the room looked like, he had spent thousands of hours here. The greatest debates and some of the worst mistakes of the Jedi had been born here.
Of the 12 Councilmembers he had last served with, 10 were dead, with Yoda’s condition still unknown. It had stunned him how fast they had been swallowed up by death, especially at Genosis. He himself had nearly lost his life there, battling the host of battle droids, the awesome monstrosity known as the Reek and the skilled bounty hunter Jango Fett, whose body had been the imprint for the Imperial clonetroopers.
As he stood there remembering and contemplating, the door slid shut behind him, something it should not do under normal circumstances. He had had to manually open it with the outside lever, and only a lever on this side of the door should have been able to shut it.
Even if the power had been activated in this part of the Temple, the door’s security system would have detected him standing within the safety distance of the door’s proximity and refused to shut until he moved away.
As he stared blankly into the darkness at the closed door, he heard a sound that would come to chill men who heard it later in history. It rang out clear behind him, across the room, sounding like someone breathing underwater through an oxygen system.
Windu whirled, his danger sense flaring.
In answer, he heard the snap-hiss of a lightsaber activating and his eyes focused on a crimson blade appearing out of the blackness, illuminating two black gloved hands and similarly covered arms, but little else.
"Who are you?" The voice came now, speaking Basic, deep and rich and full of hate. "I am your executioner, Master Windu. I am the end of the Jedi."
Windu unhooked his own saber from his belt and ignited it, the deep violet blade reaching out now.
"You are an intruder in this place, leave now or you shall be dealt with."
The mysterious figure held silent, then one hand left the blade and suddenly the lights of the chamber blazed on, temporarily blinding Windu, whose eyes had grown accustomed to the darkened conditions.
There, across the chamber, stood a walking nightmare. Windu could not tell if it were man, alien, droid or some horrifying combination, but it carried a lightsaber that seemed naggingly familiar to him.
Encased all in black, it had computer lights blinking on its chest and a cape trailing behind him, standing nearly half a foot taller than Windu himself.
Its helmet was gruesome, a play on the Clonetrooper’s head gear but more sinister and menacing.
It returned its other hand to the saber’s handle and moved into a classical Jedi fighting stance.
Windu matched the stance and the two figures moved slowly toward one another.
The freighter Obi-Wan had bought passage on was held up in Coruscant customs
officials searched it meticulously. Rumors of a new vein of spice, particularly coveted by locally-based crime lords had put security on high alert. The spice shipments were to be confiscated and their carriers punished severely in an attempt to curtail future activities.
So Obi-Wan, wearing a run-of-the-mill flight suit that one might see on a dozen different worlds, sat patiently in his squalid quarters on the ship’s second deck. Had the contraband droids be searching for anything suspicious, they have made more than a precursory swipe of his lockbox in which he housed his lightsaber, but they were after more organic illegalities today. All sorts of beings brought weapons to Coruscant, but unless they were told to be on the lookout, customs officials often took the stance that violence was the police’s responsibility, they had enough to handle as it was.
So, Obi-Wan sat on the bunk, waiting for the all-clear call to come. He was anxious to get back to the Temple and see Master Windu, although he had enjoyed the company he had kept recently, Windu was a soothing presence. For all he knew, they might well be the only two Jedi left in the galaxy, and they needed to discuss what steps they could take to ensure that the order did not die out completely, despite the best laid plans of the Sith.
As he went over how he would initially train young Luke. Obi-Wan’s pulse quickened and he stood upright, his danger sense working overtime. Somewhere near by, the Force was in conflict with itself. Somewhere near by, was a Sith.