The shipment of supplies was a large one – and the size of it, mixed with the intent of it all, sickened Targon. Four large cargo transports, escorted by three speeders with cannons. And a complement of seven battle droids.
Sure, they needed to keep their convoy protected from possible attacks…but if those transports were full of supplies – as Jethro claimed – then they were definitely going the wrong direction from the people who needed it. Targon was willing to help starving civilians if he could, but how was he going to take out all that alone? Well, there was Marc here too, but two against all that?
“What do you think?” Targon asked the major.
“Looks like they’ve got quite the party,” Marc sighed. “I’ve taken on worse, however.”
“Well…” Marc smiled with embarrassment. “Bah! Don’t worry; we’ll take care of them. I’ve got a plan.”
“What is it?” Targon asked.
“First, you’re going to go out there and see if you can talk with them. See if they might be willing to negotiate a price for the supplies to be given to the people.”
“You can’t be serious. They wouldn’t agree to that…” Targon started to protest.
“No, you’re right. They won’t. But your efforts will distract them – since they’ve probably never run across a Jedi before and they’ll be scared of you for a while. Rumors abound and escalate of Jedi and Sith throughout war-torn worlds.”
“Alright, that makes sense…sort of,” Targon nodded. “And then what? What will you do?”
“I,” the soldier said proudly, “will start the fight.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll know it when it happens,” Marc winked.
Targon sighed. “I guess that’s going to have to do. All right, let’s get this over with. The sooner we get it done, the sooner those people can get some help.”
He walked out onto the road, right in front of the oncoming convoy. At first, there was no hinting of slowing down, and Targon started to fear they might simply run him over. Well, he wasn’t going to allow that, but he was a little worried that Marc’s mysterious plan would be over before it began.
Finally, the vehicles stopped, and the battle droids’ weapons were raised. A man leaned out of the window of the front speeder. “Hey! Get out of the road!” he shouted carelessly.
“I would like to speak with the man in charge of this convoy,” Targon stated.
“To negotiate a price for these supplies.”
There was silence, and then the man laughed. “Price? Look, buddy, this cargo is headed for the estate of the District Administrator. He’s not selling these.”
“I have a fine offer,” Targon said, wincing inside that he might be getting himself into a big mess of lies.
“Take it up with him at his estate, but we’re not making any deals on the road. You might be the pretense for a separatist ambush. If you value your life, stranger, you’d better get out of our way.”
Targon pointed to his lightsaber. “I am a Jedi, and I wish to negotiate for the trade of these supplies so that they might reach people who actually need it.”
More laughter – including those others inside the speeder. “You look like a kid, pal, and we’re not buying your claim.” He turned to the driver of the vehicle. “Come on, let’s go. If he doesn’t move, then just run him over.”
Targon’s hand grabbed his lightsaber and ignited it. The brilliant green blade sprung to life with a soft hum. The men in the vehicles gaped, and the battle droids targeted him.
For a long moment, there was no sound but the humming of Targon’s saber and the unnoticed drone of the repulsion engines. It looked like the men were afraid of him…but their fear was passing. Targon started to worry how long he would need to keep this up.
“Do you intend to rob us, Jedi?” the speaking man asked. “Because if you do, then the Administrator…”
“My intent is to trade for the supplies,” Targon cut him off brusquely.
“I don’t like young punks – even Jedi – to boss me around and try to threaten me,” the man said in an unjustified tone of indignation. Apparently, he was not taking the saber display very well.
“There is no need for hostilities,” Targon tried to reassure him.
The man ignored him, turning to the battle droids. “This man has blocked our path and intends to rob us. Deal with him, now!”
Confusion and annoyance coincided in Targon’s mind. Why was this man being so unreasonable? Sure, he had drawn out his lightsaber, but he was not in an aggressive stance. He hadn’t shown any inclination towards violence in his speech or tone. Yet, it looked like there was no deal going to be made here. It looked like fighting was the only course. Hopefully, nobody would have to die…
A volley of blaster fire leapt towards him. With quick reflexes, he deflected the bolts away, and then leaped off to the left. The firing followed after, striking against the dirt behind his feet.
Then he jumped up onto one of the speeders to gain a good vantage point. One of the passengers within the vehicle pulled a blaster and tried shooting him through the roof. Targon jumped off the speeder to avoid being shot from below, cutting a battle droid in half as he landed next to it.
More bolts started zipping towards him. The droids, the men in the speeders…and he noticed the cannons of the escorts start turning towards him. Targon sighed in dismay. He could block and he could run…but soon he would be overwhelmed. He hadn’t exactly been planning on fighting all these guys alone.
A small metal ball clanked against the metal surface of one of the speeders, and then rolled beneath the one next to it. With his intuition racing, Targon leaped a distance away as an intense blue surge of electricity exploded and engulfed the convoy. When the blinding flash dissipated, the droids collapsed and the hovering speeders clattered to the ground. All mechanical objects were fried.
Marc appeared, a blaster rifle out and pointed at the drivers. “Gentlemen, if you would please exit your vehicles and get on the ground, that would be greatly appreciated,” the major said.
The men did as they said – except the offended leader of the troupe. “Do you have any idea what you two hoodlums are doing? I ought to kill you right now…”
“I think you’ll find your weapons useless,” Marc cut him off. “And they should remain useless for some time, thanks to the wondrous power of electromagnetic pulses.”
“You,” the man snarled. “You’re a Republic soldier! I’ll see to it that you’re put in front of a firing squad for this treachery! The Administrator will be hearing about this…”
Marc lifted his boot and kicked the annoying man, knocking him out cold.
“That wasn’t necessary, was it?” Targon asked as he approached the downed vehicles. “He’ll only be more upset when he comes to.”
“Like I said – what does…?”
“Yes,” Targon sighed. “What does old Greyhawk care?”
“You’ve got it, lad. I guess the plan didn’t go quite as expected, but it seems to have worked out fine. Now, what do you say about getting this stuff to the folks who really need it?”
Luckily for the pair, there were hoversleds in the cargo transports to carry the large and bulky crates. They unloaded many of the materials, but not nearly the entire shipment. It wouldn’t have been smart to take all of it anyway. That would have caused major issues down the road.
By early evening, Targon and Marc had brought the sleds into the town, and the citizens congregated around them swiftly. The two began handing out supplies to each of the desperate people. Fortunately, they had not become feral in their impoverished state and did not try to swarm and ransack their suppliers.
A pale stick of a child approached Targon. Upon seeing the girl, Targon reached into one of the cases and withdrew a treat – an expensive and fancy one. Kneeling down, he handed it to her. The child perked up and grinned with malnourished teeth as she took it.
“Thank you, Master Jedi,” she said softly.
Targon felt himself blush. He patted her head gently and smiled. This was how a Jedi should act, he thought to himself. This is how a Jedi serves the people – and follows the code. Helping, strengthening, and protecting the weak and helpless…such acts were what truly made a Jedi. However, he felt a little embarrassed at being called a master. He wasn’t even knighted yet.
He stood up and continued handing out the contents of the shipment. Coming through the joyous crowd was Jethro Pax. He was clapping his hands lightly.
“I must say I’m impressed, Jedi,” he said.
Targon nodded. “While I am happy to help people, has this act proved my intent to try and forge a peace to this conflict?”
“To me,” Jethro replied, “yes, you have. I’ll contact other cell leaders. It will take time for any decision of diplomacy to be made. We may not be like the government, but we can’t do anything as fast as many of us would like.”
“I suppose all I can do is wait then,” Targon sighed. Suddenly, he felt odd. His fingers and toes started to get cold quickly. His eyesight started to dim, and things became blurry.
Targon blinked to check if he might be tired…and he felt his legs give out from under him.
His world went black…but then he found himself in a chamber. A place he had never seen before: a circular room, very few furnishings, no window, and a single door that led into a narrow hallway. It was no room like in the Jedi Temple, or any building he had seen on the planet.
There was someone within the room.
It was a woman meditating on a rug on the far side of the circular chamber. Targon felt a cold chill run through him. She was older, though not as old as the other woman he had seen. The similarity, however, he found quite disturbing.
She was a Miraluka, he could tell. A band across where her eyes would have been and a braid of hair covered her upper face. Her robes were light blue, and there was an incredible placidity and peacefulness about her that rivaled that of Master Tieru. However, when he continued to watch her, she stirred and rose.
“Who is there?” she asked softly, yet sternly.
Targon felt nervous. Who was she speaking to? Was this a vision, or was he truly there in the room with her? But if he were physically there, then she would see him through her sight in the Force.
She repeated her question, louder this time.
Figuring he might as well test the situation, he answered, “My name is Targon Karashi. I don’t mean to disturb you.”
The Miraluka’s head cocked like she was straining to hear a faint whisper. “Where are you? You are not here in my chamber…you are distant. Who are you and how did you find me?”
“My name is Targon,” he reiterated, more confused than she seemed. “I don’t know where you are…I don’t even know where I am.”
“You are a Jedi…a padawan,” she stated.
“I am apprenticed to Master Tieru,” Targon figured he might as well say what he knew. She didn’t feel dark at all – she wasn’t like that other woman.
“Tieru?” she exclaimed. “Is he here?”
“No…” Targon supposed. He didn’t feel his master around, anyway. “You know him?”
“Of course I know him. I spoke with him just this morning.”
“What? How?” Nobody ever knew Tieru…
There was no time for answers. Footsteps could be heard outside in the hall – and a frighteningly familiar presence consumed by darkness approached.
“Someone is coming,” Targon stated.
The woman’s face grew grim, yet calm. “Khan,” she breathed.
In a crash, the door to the chamber burst in. Targon rushed to a wall to avoid the shivers, though it was unnecessary, as he discovered when a piece of the door flew right through him. He wasn’t there physically.
The entryway was filled with the form of the dark man Targon had seen in his nightmare. In the greater light, he looked far more haggard and spent – like a man who hadn’t slept in years. There was cruelty in his inverted eyes.
“Master Eseri,” the dark man said in his malicious voice. “I would have thought you harder to find…given your history.”
The Miraluka’s hand was to her lightsaber, and the blue blade ignited – lighting up the room with its glow. “The years look like they haven’t been kind to you, or your sense of dramatics,” she said.
Khan bared his foul teeth. “Still holding to foolish banter, and wallowing in your pride…I see the Jedi don’t change even after half a century.”
“I know what you’re here for, and you shall not have it,” Eseri stated with intense boldness. “You will not find the vengeance you seek.”
“When I have taken your head, and the pieces of the secret you possess, your spirit might want to reflect on that conclusion.” From his hand ignited a ghostly green blade. Targon was surprised – having expected a Sith’s blade to be red.
No more words. The man flung forward, swinging his saber. Eseri stepped to the side and blocked his attack. He continued a full assault, swinging from left to right, high to low…yet he didn’t seem like he was exerting himself. It appeared it seemed more like an exercise with him.
“What’s this?” Eseri asked. “Forty-seven years, and still you have not grown in strength? Where are you powers you claimed to be mastering? Where are the skills in the manipulation of matter, Khan?”
“A bit of sport always comes first,” her opponent replied. “I want satisfaction in this beyond simple victory. A quick kill is a wasted kill.”
They fought on. For a while, it looked like Eseri would be able to hold out forever against her attacker. But then his strikes became faster, stronger, and sneakier. The wicked snarl on his face grew larger as the battle dragged on.
Their blades locked for a minute or two, both struggling over the strength of the other. Khan twisted the blades in a circle, and then flung Eseri’s weapon out of her hand. Before he could take advantage of her disarmament, she hurled him back with the Force. She then sent another wave towards him to shove him through the wall.
Khan lifted his arm and covered his face. The blast crashed into a barrier he had set up, which parted it and sent it into the wall behind him. He stood unmoved.
“This bores me,” Khan hissed. “I had hoped you might provide a more impressive confrontation than your brethren…but it looks like you have disappointed me as well.”
“I’m not here for your entertainment,” the Miraluka said.
“And you won’t be here for much longer,” the man countered, lifting his left hand towards her. “Now see what power I have mastered over these many years…”
Eseri grimaced in pain, but she tried to remain calm and push back the power being exerted over her. Blood began oozing from her pores and her robes began to tatter into shreds. She started crying out in pain, and that soon escalated to screaming.
“Impossible!” she shrieked. “This is impossible!”
The man smiled cruelly. “Is it impossible that I have such ability? Or impossible that I am stronger than you? You Jedi should know full well that nothing is impossible through the Force. And I control the Force.”
Her cries became horrendous, much like the old witch. Targon turned away so that he might not witness the disturbing scene again. As he faced the wall, the room became silent. Terrified, he noticed that the vision continued, and he rotated to see what more there was.
Khan stood alone in the chamber. There was no remnant of Master Eseri. The dark man took a moment to stand triumphant, and then he felt a presence.
“Tieru?” he inquired. “Is that you, old druid? You’re the last one left – and I’ll find you just as I’ve found the others. And when you are dead, I shall have the secret you and your friends have failed to keep hidden.”
Targon felt his blood turn to ice. Who was this abominable person?
“You do not know who I am?” the man hissed, frightening Targon by responding to his thought. “You are not Tieru, then. Well stranger, know that I am Khan Arc-Saal, and I am Death.”
With that, a foul whisper arose and Targon felt himself fall into blackness once again. Yet in his soul, he could still see Khan’s dread eyes.