The armies of light fought against heretics who shaped their own vision of life.
And the battles raged across the expanse of all known space.
The worlds left behind bore the scars of this ancient conflict…
“The Dominion… and the Yuuzhan Vong…”
In a distant spiral of the galaxy, there remained worlds oblivious to this struggle.
They were sequestered from the war by vast distances of hostile space.
Isolated, they evolved, civilizations rose and fell, before finally…
…a tyrant king rose from cycle… one capable of wearing the heaviest of crowns…
The tyrant king would consolidate his power and exercise his reign upon his own…
But he was tested from afar, as warriors encroached upon him from outside his realm.
He was not even safe from the passage of time, as warriors from the future challenged him.
Althroughout, he remained the key… the only one capable of stemming the tide…
“…the Themien War…”
But the final battle for all the stars loomed on the horizon…
As faith began to tear at the fabric of reality.
One man born in the embers of war…
A man with many minds inside the same body…
On the opposing side, a warrior risen from the ice.
His soul cold, his existence lost.
Working to rally an army of abominations to his will.
He is a man of a single mind in many bodies…
A collision between the two seems inevitable.
But their differences are not irreconcilable.
There remains one capable of resolving past conflicts.
A great diplomat who can draw them together…
And in the vast reaches of space.
An echo from the past draws the attention of all.
The potential exists either for great good or great evil…
And the forces of both race to discover this artifact of history…
The fate of all creation may rest on the outcome of the battle to come…
Tension filled the bridge of the ship like a suffocating gas. None dared to breathe; worried that the slightest sound would give them away.
“What do we do?” the captain finally said. Although, in truth, it was barely a whisper.
Leia Organa Solo was the one who he had asked. It was a valid question and most times she felt she could answer most questions. But this was a new one, to her. She wasn’t much of a fleet tactician, preferring to fight with words as opposed to wings of ships. She could command well enough on a macro scale but tactical expertise was not her particular area of expertise.
And so, when the lightly armed civilian passenger ship had stopped on their way to Ossus, Leia had been worried that they had skimmed too close to Reaver occupied space. What she found, when she made it to the bridge, was something far more dangerous.
A Cree’Ar warship.
The Cree’Ar did not, as a rule, patrol space lanes outside what was generally considered to be their territory. Much of the core had fallen to their Dominion but this was too close to Ossus to be within their sphere of influence. To run into one of their vessels here…
That had been the first mystery. The second was the fact that the vessel was doing nothing.
It had made no declarations or attempts at communication. It had not powered weapons or shields of any kind that they could detect. It hadn’t launched fighters. It simply… floated there.
“Do you have any Starfighters aboard, captain?” Organa asked, finally.
“Uh, yes mam,” the captain said, “X-Wings, two of them.”
“Well, I don’t know what kind of fighter capacity a Cree’Ar ship might have, but I would feel better taking them on an assault shuttle with two squadrons of X-Wings backing me up,” Organa said.
The captain frowned. “I’m sorry mam, not two squadrons…” he clarified, “just… two. Just the two X-Wings.”
Organa furrowed her brow. Much longer odds. She looked over at Karah. “Alright, we need a couple of volunteers for a suicide mission.”
Even with her overly optimistic phrasing of the situation, Organa and her apprentice found their volunteers.
“This is starting to feel more and more like a trap all the time,” Karah said, as they got closer to the rear of the ship.
“Back during the war… before the reorganization of the Empire under Hyfe, at least… there was this Mon Calamari Admiral… Ackbar, was his name…” Organa said.
Karah didn’t follow. “Leia?”
Leia responded with a smile. “He was just always on the lookout for traps, that’s all,” she noted. “I don’t sense any danger. I am more worried about something else… I sense something… familiar.”
Karah frowned now. “About the ship?”
Leia shook her head. “The Force isn’t always that direct. It’s… an emotion, a feeling of… like I am going to be seeing an old friend.”
Karah smirked. “We’re going to meet Master Zark on Ossus…”
Leia sighed. “You know that’s not what I mean.”
Leia let her mind wander a bit… the dreams she had had lately had disturbed her greatly. There was something calling her to action… and Ossus held those answers. She felt that this ship… somehow, someway… tied into that… was a stitch in a greater tapestry.
As she watched, not entirely focused, her eyes caught movement. In front of them, a large opening in the vessel had presented itself by folding bulkheads back away from view.
Leia thumbed the comm button on her shuttle. “Commander Maxwell, did you see what I saw?”
“Affirmative,” Maxwell, the older of the two X-Wing pilots, remarked back over the comm line. “Looks like a docking bay of some kind. I can’t see anything inside, so it might be a cargo bay or a shuttle port. No sign of fighters.”
Leia nodded. A door had opened for them… “What would you do, Ackbar?”
“Come again?” Maxwell said, uncertainly.
“Disregard that, Commander. I’m going to land the shuttle. You continue circling the vessel, just in case,” Organa said. She turned to Karah. “Still think it’s a trap?”
Karah whistled softly. “One we’re walking into face first.”
The inside of the Cree’Ar vessel was even more mysterious than the outside.
Leia was immediately on guard as she exited the shuttle. Lightsaber in hand, she walked towards the door of the bay they had landed on. A pair of sentries guarded the door. As she approached, they tracked her with their eyes. She considered what to say, or when to make a move, when one of them nodded, and the door behind him opened. Neither sentry made any attempt to block her way, or otherwise acknowledge her presence.
That was how they made their way through the ship.
“It’s crewed by droids,” Karah said.
“Not droids… they’re cybernetic,” Organa corrected. “Part organic, part technology. They don’t seem to be instructed to impede us in any way…”
So the two continued… pathfinding was easy. When they opened a door, the room on the other side was either light, or dark. Organa had figured out that it wasn’t an accident; they were being given a lighted path. That path had led from the aft of the ship to it’s fore… and then, slowly, up.
Towards the bridge.
Organa didn’t know the layout of the ship and wasn’t sure where it’s bridge was, but it was the only thing that made sense. They were… invited here. They were being led to whoever commanded the vessel. So Organa and Karah walked more or less straight there…
When they reached the door to the bridge, it did not immediately open. Leia was somewhat thankful for that. “Time for some tactical thinking,” she said, reaching out with the force. “There’s an auxiliary entrance if you walk twenty meters down that hallway. I’ll go in first. Keep your senses attuned. If you sense danger, come in with your weapon ready.”
Karah nodded, and both Jedi took their sabers in their hands. “Master,” Karah said, and Leia turned. “May the force be with you.”
“May it guide us both,” Leia said, and the two shared a nod. Then Karah was gone, and though still in the periphery of her senses, Organa Solo suddenly felt alone.
She reached out with the force. There had to be a control for this door…
As she searched, the door opened, first with metallic grinding of gears on gears, then a hiss of escaping air as a pressure seal was broken. Then, the room before her was exposed.
She had expected the bridge to be much the same as the rest of the ship. A cold, dark, metallic place. Devoid of life. Mysteries hidden in computers coded in a language she didn’t understand.
What she found… it was dark.
Her foot tested the ground uneasily before she stepped inside entirely. The moisture in the air surprised her. It was warm… like…
The voice echoed, as if ethereal. She couldn’t locate the source. “Where are you?”
The voice did not answer, except to ask, “Where are you?”
Organa Solo closed her eyes, and memories began to flood her mind. “I can’t really be here…”
“No,” the voice said. “A trick; technology creating sensory, illusory from history, but, unreal… not alive…”
Organa nodded. “I can’t feel the trees… the life forms that would permeate a place like this… this is all a holographic illusion?”
“Not so simple, but not much more complicated,” the voice said. “I have been away from this place for far too long…”
Those words shocked her. “You were on Naboo?”
“Many years ago… many years before you…”
“Before the purge…” Organa said, referring to the great war where Lupercus Darksword and his agents had burned the swamps and brutalized the gungan race. But then… he had said before her… the realization caused her to tighten her grip on her lightsaber. “You were a Sith… part of The Naboo Sith Order…”
“That, too, was many years ago…” the voice answered in reply.
Organa steeled herself. “What is a Sith doing in command of a Cree’Ar warship?”
“What an irrelevant question,” the voice answered back, a curious tone in it. “You used to be more imaginative… you must be shouldering great burdens to be so practical and matter of fact.”
Organa was shocked once again. It was getting uncomfortably familiar. “We’ve met before?”
“We have,” the voice said, choosing not to elaborate.
“On Naboo?” Leia asked.
“Does it matter?” the voice said, and the forest of Naboo faded into mist. Organa found herself surrounded by a sandstorm, but it was very brief, and when it was done, the sand had smoothed down into some sort of smoothed down stone.
She knew this hallway well. “How do you know so much about our galaxy?” Organa Solo asked. “You can program images of Naboo… of the hallways of Coruscant… who are you?”
“An old enemy, an old friend,” the voice said, remaining cryptic. “I am aleph; I am tav.”
A sudden flash of insight flooded the old Jedi Master. “You’re speaking of the Prophecies Of The Xal Kra.”
“You’re beginning to remember…” the voice spoke out. Organa heard footsteps; impossible to isolate their location within a maze constructed of holographs and artificial gravity pockets, but close.
“But…” she said, searching back her memory. “The Xal Kra Prophecies… Xireon and Gash… followed them to their end. And he’s gone…”
“He followed all that had been found, not all that had been written,” the voice said.
Organa Solo was spinning, her brain trying to piece together everything she could remember of those days. “But Xireon… all the Jirens are dead. You can’t be…”
“No, not a Jiren,” the voice said. “But… there is another.”
“Another Jiren?” Organa asked. That was news to her. “And if you’re not a Jiren… who are you?”
Around her, the corridors began to collapse; the smoothened surface cracking and becoming thousands of grains of sand, each sliding one past the other, racing towards nothingness, disappearing before they could pile on the ground. Darkness filled the space left over; white lighted fantasy corridors were replaced with the real, a cold, empty, metallic bridge. In the center, one thing broke that mold. It was crooked and cracked as well; torn fabric, scuffed metal, broken skin. An imperfect organic being surrounded by so much clean, sterile steel. The being was hunched, but as it moved, labored by pain though it was, it drew itself to its full height, barely contained even in a vessel with a massive bridge such as this. It was at least twice as tall as her, and she recognized it by race if not identity.
But as that realization came to her, the rest became obvious. There was only one person who could be standing before her.
“…Xylon…” she whispered, in stunned disbelief.
The creature took two large steps forward, stepping from the darkness into the light. She saw then a face she had not seen in a long time… a long time…
“I have returned.”