Exchange fleet, Outer Rim
25 days ABDK
Dankin flipped a switch on the comm board and gave the signal to the other ships in the newly christened Voidhound Fleet. They returned the comm clicks, signaling they were ready to make the short jump into the system.
“Attention all Exchange ships,” Dankin said over all hailing channels. “This is the Voidhound. You have exactly two minutes to empty your holds and signal surrender, or we attack. Repeat, attention all Exchange ships…”
As he repeated the message he watched as the Exchange ships instantly powered up their shields and weapons systems. He grinned and pulled down his goggles.
“That’s the way it’s gonna be,” he said quietly. “All right, then. Corso, Akaavi, get to the guns. Guss, go monitor the shields and engines. Bowdaar, Risha, get up here and help me fly.”
The crew snapped to do as they were ordered, and Dankin glanced back at the Exchange fleet. His own ships had about a minute until they got in-system, so he tried to buy time.
“Exchange fleet,” he said, “I read your shields and weapons powering up. I take it you won’t surrender? I urge you to reconsider.”
“Privateers,” a voice responded darkly. “Worse than the kriffing military, the lot of you.”
“I offered nicely, pal,” Dankin noted. “I’ll give you…thirty seconds.”
“Keep your offer, privateer. I’ll blast you now!”
“Shields up, Guss!” Dankin ordered.
But the Exchange ships had already fired. Dankin yanked the yoke, spinning his ship in a barrel roll to avoid the turbolaser fire. Dankin pushed the engines, doing a flyby of the main ship so Akaavi and Corso could rain shots from the cannons on the hull.
“Enemy shields at seventy percent!” Risha said.
Dankin nodded grimly and looked down at the chrono. Still twenty seconds until his fleet arrived. Not long, but it could make all the difference in a space battle.
He jerked the ship to the left as a pair of torpedoes shot past. Then he pulled it in a complete one-eighty and headed back for the ship. Corso and Akaavi opened up again, and this time Dankin fired a torpedo at the ship.
“Forty percent!” Risha said.
“We’ve taken a few hits,” Guss called. “Shields at ninety.”
Dankin glanced down. Ten seconds. He flipped the ship over to avoid a barrage from a pair of smaller ships behind the bigger one. Unfortunately, the rest of the small fleet had now maneuvered into various firing positions.
Dankin went “up”–though of course direction in void was relative. All the ships’ fire passed by and left them unscathed save for a single torpedo that hit the rear shields.
“Rear shields at eighty,” Guss said.
Four seconds. Three. Two.
Ten ships leapt from hyperspace and opened fire on the Exchange ships. Startled, their targets were unable to return fire for several perilous seconds. In five minutes, the battle had ended. The biggest ship had its engines blown away, and the others, seeing it, surrendered without further argument.
“Free and clear,” Dankin said. “All right, boys. Tractor ‘em and haul ‘em back to Coruscant.”
Gnarls training grounds, Tython
25 days ABDK
Jasin stood patiently on the small enclave, tapping his foot but otherwise outwardly serene. He was clad in black robes with red-bronze armoring on the chest and wrists, its hood covering his shoulder-length hair. He also wore a matching ankle-length robe, his saber clipped to his belt.
This was his preferred clothing choice–it was the same style as worn by the Jedi Master Revan, whom Jasin had rescued near the end of the Cold War from Maelstrom Prison.
Of course, he’d known about Revan long before the mission to Taral V and Maelstrom Prison–all Jedi Padawans were taught his tale early in their training, as a warning against the dark side. But Jasin had seen it as something else.
Revan had been a hero–no one had known how much of one, though, until he’d been rescued from Maelstrom. He’d been imprisoned there for around three hundred years because of a failed strike against the Emperor, and since then he’d been tortured every day by the Emperor himself, though he’d used their telepathic link to feed doubt to the leader of the Sith.
Jasin found it only fitting that he now took the ancient warrior’s clothing, since now he was the one forced to take up the torch and stop the Emperor.
He’d never wanted that. Never. He’d been more than satisfied as just another Jedi, as just a man doing his part in the galaxy. But even Master Orgus had seen that he had a special destiny.
Jasin saw a speeder approaching, interrupting that train of thought. Gareb, his cousin, landed his bike and walked up to Jasin. Unlike Jasin, his robes were white and brown, and not hooded, though they were otherwise similar–a simple shirt and robe with a sash tying it at the waist.
“Master Gareb,” Jasin greeted.
“Master Jasin,” Gareb countered.
They bowed to each other and then moved away from the enclave. Jasin had asked Gareb to come on a hunch, and because he’d had a feeling in the Force.
“What is it, Jasin?” Gareb asked.
“Not here,” Jasin said.
He led his cousin to the Gnarls cavern, the first place he’d slain another Force sensitive. In fact, it had been the place he’d met Master Orgus, and begun his long journey to battling the Emperor.
Gareb glanced around at the cavern. Jasin knew he could sense what happened here, but he still told him. Gareb frowned.
“That must have been right after I arrived on this world,” Gareb said. “I myself was hardly involved with the fight with the Flesh Raiders–I must have been searching out Nalen Raloch when you arrived here.”
Jasin didn’t know how to say what he had to, so he just blurted it.
“Scourge thinks the Emperor’s alive,” he said.
Gareb tilted his head, taking it in slowly. “Okay. So why bring me here to tell me?”
“I don’t know…the Force,” he admitted. “It was a feeling through the Force.”
Suddenly, a Force blast rippled through the air, and Jasin cried out in pain as he was slammed against a wall of rubble that Orgus had brought down so long ago. Instantly, he was on his feet, lightsaber drawn. The cave was filled with blue light, which mingled with green a moment later as Gareb drew his own.
“Who are you?” Gareb demanded.
A shadowy figure darted away from the light of their blades, not giving them a good view of its face. Jasin angled his blade toward the figure, keeping the tip of his weapon between him and the attacker.
“I want to talk,” the figure said. “Sheathe your lightsabers.”
“Why should we?” Gareb asked. He’d always been a better talker than Jasin. “The moment we do, you could ignite yours and skewer us both.”
“Now, now.” The figure laughed. “Master Gareb, with your mastery of the Force, you could tear me up with rubble before I could even get my blade half ignited.”
Jasin tilted his head. “You know a lot about him.”
“And you, Jasin. You defeated the Emperor–if he was the Emperor. And you were one of the few to escape his power. You also slew Darth Angral.”
As one, Jasin and Gareb stepped forward and pointed their sabers at the figure. And Jasin froze, as the figure was dressed identically to him–with one small exception. He–or she–was wearing a mask that so resembled Revan’s at first Jasin believed it was him.
But Revan felt different in the Force than this being, and despite that Jasin felt inclined to trust him or her.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“A representative of the Master,” the figure said. “A Revanite, a member of the Order of Revan on Dromund Kaas.”
“Sith,” Gareb accused.
Despite this, he lowered his blade, too, for he had been with Jasin during the mission to Maelstrom Prison and he knew and respected Revan.
“The Master?” he asked. “Revan?”
“No,” the figure said, almost mournfully. “We have been searching for him since his disappearance on the Foundry. But until we find him, our leader is still hidden.”
“But what are you doing here?” Jasin demanded.
“No doubt you sensed me in the Force,” the being said. “Or you wouldn’t have come to this cave. I had hoped you would.”
“It is a long story.”
“Tell it,” Gareb ordered.
The Revanite nodded, then pulled his or her hood down and removed the imitation mask. Underneath was a surprisingly young girl with black hair pulled back in a tail. She had a slave’s brand on her right cheek.
“I am Kotone,” she said. “I was once an acolyte at the Sith Academy on Korriban. When I arrived on Dromund Kaas I discovered the legends of Revan and was approached a short time later by the Master.”
She told the story of the Order of Revan, how it had been founded and how it had grown. She said they had once believed Revan had slain the Emperor three hundred years ago and taken his place. That had been crushed, of course, when they heard that Revan had been rescued from the Emperor’s prison.
Not long earlier, the Order had “liberated” the real mask of Revan from a crazy Sith Lord called Grathan who collected technology. When they heard Revan had escaped, they delivered him the mask through a freelancer.
Now, though Revan had supposedly been defeated on the Foundry, the Revanites continued their search for their true leader.
“So why did you come here?” Gareb asked.
“Because,” she said, “in our searches, we found the evidence you’ve been looking for. The Emperor is alive.”
Jasin considered. “Blast, I hoped I was wrong.”
Kotone nodded solemnly. “We found someone to tell us the truth about the Emperor. We know that he plans to annihilate all life in the galaxy. You alone can stop him. You–and Revan.”
“You want me to find Revan?” Jasin blurted.
She smiled. “Of course not. We have our own people searching for him. For you, we have a different plan in mind.”
“And what’s that?”
She told him.