The Fallen Knight
Chapter I (Part 2)
As Kira and her submersible rose from the waters inside what was once the Republic embassy's aquatic hanger, Kira noticed the room was already occupied with both Vaylin's Knights and what she thought to be a garrison of the metallic soldiers referred to as sky troopers. Bringing her vehicle to a halt, Kira saw the door to the embassy open, as her opponent from the outpost, from the fight on the ocean floor, emerge through the doorway as the knights stood to attention, Vaylin was already waiting for Kira, her bright yellow eyes gazed onto Kira. Vaylin had found her prey once more, though this time, she wasn't playing around, this time, there would be no time for toying with her victim.
As Kira got out of the submersible, two knights restrained her arms, while a third knight removed Kira's lightsaber from her belt, holding it out for Vaylin to grab through the force.
"I like the color," Vaylin said, "It'll match your bones once I flay you alive."
"Are words all you've got, I expected more from the so called military leader of the Eternal Empire?"
Vaylin sighed, Kira's words were irritating her. Igniting Kira's lightsaber, Vaylin held it to Kira's throat while the two knights were restraining Kira, held her tightly, not allowing her to back away from the white blade inches from Kira's face.
"I don't need words, not while I have them," Vaylin screamed into Kira's eyes, while pointing at a group of dead Selkath behind the sky troopers.
"You're Republic went behind the back of the Eternal Empire, did you really expect to get away with mining kolto without our consent?"
"You're wrong! You attacked a science outpost, the people there were studying the local-"
"Oww, a Jedi who lies," Vaylin smirked while chuckling, "I like you, we're going to get along just fine," Vaylin said, deactivating Kira's lightsaber.
"If the people there were studying the fish, then explain why we found large quantities of kolto, ready to be shipped to a Republic warship that was hiding in the clouds."
Kira said nothing, Vaylin had discovered the deception, the Republic was indeed mining kolto directly from the ocean floor. Their plan, they thought would slip past the eyes and ears of the Eternal Empire, a plan that had cost the Republic it's much needed medical supplies, a failure that now awaited a response from the Eternal Empire.
Journeying through the streets of Atho City, Vaylin exposed Kira to the consequences of operating behind the Eternal Empire's back. Atho City was a flame, homes, cantinas, shops, had all been destroyed. Those who survived the bombardment from the Eternal Fleet, now found themselves being herded onto shuttles, either to be processed as slave labour, while others were being hand picked from the crowds to await a worse fate.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Vaylin said, "There's nothing like a sunrise while your enemies are burning around you."
"These people had nothing to do with the base, why are you punishing them?!"
Vaylin looked at the injured Selkath grinning as they watched her, Kira and her knights as they walked past them into the precinct.
"The Selkath choose their fate when they ignored their own rules in favour of your friends."
Looking around the precinct, there was nothing, everything that once stood here had been destroyed by the ships above, which were now hovering motionlessly above the flaming city.
"A pity we had to kill all your friends," Vaylin said, "Now only you know who amount the Selkath Council authorized the construction of that base."
"You'll have to kill me; I'm not telling you anything!" Kira yelled as she glared into Vaylin's cold eyes.
Vaylin, while partially stunned by Kira's aggression towards her, let out a sadistic grin towards her Jedi prisoner.
"Oh, well, fortunately for you I can only kill you once, yet there are so many methods of execution out there, perhaps you'll help me decide later," Vaylin said as a group of Selkath was being lined up by sky troopers in front of them.
Vaylin ignited her lightsaber and pointed it towards the first Selkath in the group, the yellow glow from her blade reflected off the eyes of the cowering Selkath.
"I want the name of the Selkath judges who are allied with your cell!" Vaylin said, looking back and forth to Kira and the cowering Selkath.
Kira stared at the Selkath, if she gave Vaylin the names of the Selkath who supported the Republic, it would mean their immediate execution and further punishment on the Selkath people. However it didn't matter, Kira's pause had sealed the fate of Vaylin's victim. While Kira had spent a moment to consider Vaylin's offer, Vaylin had stabbed the Selkath through the chest with her lightsaber; his body fell to the floor as Vaylin peered her eyes onto the second Selkath.
"Have you ever seen the effects lightning can have on a body?" Vaylin asked Kira. "The poor little fishes just can't take much of it before they explode.
Vaylin took another look at Kira; still, she resisted to answer.
"Very well," Vaylin said as she sent shock after shock through the second Selkaths body. "Too late for this one."
The Selkath was dead, yet her body continued to twitch from Vaylins vicious assault.
"If you're not going to say anything, I'll kill everyone," Vaylin said, focusing her full attention back to Kira, holding out her blade, the tip, just inches away from another victim.
"Judge Selshlor" Kira muttered under her breath, Vaylin smiled placing her hand on Kira's cheek.
"Thank you," Vaylin said, wiping her thumb against a tear. "He'll get to watch his people burn!"
"What?!" Kira exclaimed. "I told you so that you would stop this senseless killing spree."
"These pathetic little fish people have proven they can't be trusted - and I'm going to have their leaders beg as they watch their city crumble around them." Vaylin turned to the two knights who had escorted her and Kira through the city.
"Take Miss Carsen here to my ship; I'll finish interrogating her later!"
Kira reached forward as if to grab Vaylin by the neck, however, was knocked unconscious from a blow to the head delivered by one of Vaylin's knights.
"That wasn't very nice," Vaylin said, looking at Kira's body hit the floor. "We'll have to do something about that attitude of yours."
Vaylin raised her head, looking at the Knight who had knocked Kira unconscious.
"Take her to my ship!" Vaylin barked, then turning her attention to the other Knight. "You come with me!"
Vaylin left with her knight, she had got what she wanted from Kira, and now it was time to for the Selkath to pay. On route to the Selkath Judges, Vaylin, and her knight stopped, looking out one of the windows to the ocean bays, hundreds lied dead on the loading bays, cargo containers had been hurled everywhere from the bombardment.
"A glorious sight, isn't it?" Vaylin said, waiting for a reply.
"Yes ma'am," responded the nervous voice of her Knight. "Hundreds dead, the Selkath didn't even try to resist." The Knight added, gaining her confidence in front of her superior.
"With this treaty violation, the Republic and Sith Empire will be expelled from Manaan, Selkath Law prohibits direct access to the ocean floor to all off-worlders."
"Unless the Selkath gave these fools special rights."
"Either way ma'am, the Eternal Empire will be the dominate benefactor from their medical supplies."
Vaylin cooed, watching as several shuttles from her fleet landed on Manaan to collect both the Republic and Sith Empire's stock of Kolto. With proof of deception from the Selkath, providing direct access to the medical supplies hidden in the oceans of their planet, Vaylin was in a position to secure any deal with the Selkath she desired.
"Ma'am, Judge Selshlor," The knight says pointing at the Selkath as he approaches her, flanked by a squadron of sky troopers.
"High Justice Vaylin, this attack on Manaan is unpro-"
"This attack would never have occurred if you hadn't of been fishy behind our backs."
"There are worlds out there suffering; it's our civic duty to provide aid to those who-"
Vaylin interrupted him again, grabbing the back of his skull and slamming him into the window.
"You want to help those in need?" Vaylin asked, "Your people need you, judge, now more than ever!"
Vaylin turned, nodding at the knight that she spoke to prior, the knight returned the nod, contacting the fleet in orbit.
"Judge Selshlor has been captured; High Justice Vaylin has given the all clear to resume the bombing of the city."
As Vaylin pressed the Selkath's face against the window, the skies once again lit up with sparkles of blue lights as the Eternal Fleet once again opened fire on the city. With the evidence Vaylin had acquired, she wanted to send a warning to the rest of the galaxy, and the Selkath, the many innocents of Atho City would pay for this one Selkath's lack of faith.
"You're people are dying because of you, judge!" Vaylin whispered to the Selkath.
"When the galaxy hears of the betrayal committed by you and your people, no one will dare do silly things behind our backs again!"
Vaylin gazed out the window, smiling as bolts of blue energy destroyed building after building.
"Aww, nothing to say? You're no fun." Vaylin said as she ignited her lightsaber through the judges back, screeching the Selkath could do nothing as his eyes glared at the yellow beam of light sticking out from the front of his chest.
"We've got what we came for; we even got a new addition to the fight arena," Vaylin said chuckling to herself, "I wonder how she'll die."
As Vaylin pondered the fate of Kira, the Knight drew out her holo-communicator, an image of a Zakuulian officer now illuminated the hallway.
"High Justice Vaylin, your prisoner, has been escorted to the cells and the fleet has destroyed forty percent of Atho City."
"Only forty?!" Vaylin yelled as her voice echoed through the streets. "You'll destroy the entire city!"
A year has passed since the Eternal Empire attacked both the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire, the galaxy now faces the endless brutality of Emperor Arcann, his sister High Justice Vaylin, and the countless warships of the Eternal Fleet. Worlds spanning from the Core Systems to the Unknown Regions are forced to pay tribute to their conquerors or else suffer the consequences of defying their new masters.
On the Selkath planet of Manaan, a cell of resistance led by a group formally affiliated to the Republic operating from Hrakert Station finds themselves at the brutal slaughter of Vaylin, and her forces as they lay waste to the Republic forces upon the depths of Manaan's ocean.
"My, my, what do we have hidden away down here?" Vaylin questioned aloud, as she entered a room full of Selkath corpses.
"The fish people are aiding our enemies? They'll suffer for this betrayal to the Eternal Empire. Scour the entire facility, leave no survivors!" Vaylin barked to her forces. As Vaylin's knights and droids began to cleanse the facility of all of its inhabitants, Republic forces on the far side of the base, alerted to the intrusion rushed to evacuate the civilian scientists, while military personnel would remain behind to distract the enemy. As the lightsabers belonging to the Knights of Zakuul illuminated the darkened corridors of the Republic base in shades of red, yellow and blue, screams from the stranded Republic personnel and Sel'Kath sympathizers echoed from the installation for all to hear.
Through a section of the base, an individual Republic soldier and a Jedi Knight held their ground against the Eternal forces.
"All staff, Zakuul forces have penetrated the command center, repeat, the command center has been-" a frightened voice claimed over the base intercom.
"Kira? We have to leave now, Vaylin is here!" A Republic soldier yelled down one of the darkened hallways. "Kira?! The Essless won't wait forever; we have to go!" The soldier shouted.
From the darkness of the corridor, a white glow now illuminated what was once pure blackness, as the soldier stood still in awe, a female figure came charging towards him.
"Run!" the voice yelled as shades of blue joined the white glow.
"Knights?!" The soldier exclaimed, raising his rifle at the figures emerging from the shadows chasing after the Jedi.
"No!" the woman cried to the soldier as she steadied her pace, turning to face her pursuers. "You enjoy killing innocents?" Kira said as both she and her chasers came to a halt. Twirling her lightsaber in an impressive display, slashing through one of the windows Kira gave one last look towards those chasing after her. "I hope Vaylin taught you how to swim," Kira said, taunting the Knights as Manaan's ocean started to rush into the passage way, consuming the Knights in mere seconds. Detecting the danger to the installation, the automatic systems kicked in, sealing the breach, saving both Kira and the Republic soldier. Kira turned to the soldier. "Just another day in the life of a Jedi," Kira said as she attached her lightsaber to her belt. "What is the status of the evacuation?"
Despite wearing a helmet, his face masked from Kira, she could sense his feelings on the matter. "Twenty percent of the personnel and Kolto supplies have been transported to the surface; however Captain Go'rak is refusing to send out any more submersibles after the last two were destroyed." reported the soldier.
"Destroyed? How?" Kira questioned
"The Eternal Fleet is in orbit of Manaan; they're dropping sonic charges into the ocean, the last bombardment caught the last subs unprepared."
"What of Vaylin and her forces?"
"Most of the fighting is taking place away from the hangers, the enemy is advancing, but our soldiers are making them pay for every meter they take."
"And the Esseles?" Kira asked.
The soldier brought up an image of Ahto City.
"The Esseles is docked at the Ahto refueling station, so far the Eternal Fleet has shown no interest in Ahto City, for the moment at least. However, Captain Go'rak has ordered us to evacuate you immediately, ma'am." The soldier reported as he deactivated the projector. "I'm to escort you to a Republic submersible that will dock in a nearby hanger."
"What? I'm not leaving now; there are people here who need us!" Kira exclaimed defiantly in her desire to remain in the fight.
"Respectfully ma'am, the galaxy needs you more than we do," he responded as the two walked into one of the bases hanger bays.
"The submersible will be here soon; I will hold this position until you have safely left Hrakert Station." He said as the submersible emerged from the waters trailed by several creatures beneath it.
"When you reach the surface, you're to head immediately for the Esseles." the soldier said.
"If you stay here you'll die!" Kira said refusing to leave the stranded soldier to his fate.
"This is what I was trained for ma'am; it's been an honor to serve-" interrupted by the sounds of a yellow blade piercing through another entrance to the hanger, the Republic soldier grabbed his weapon taking a position behind several containers adjacent to the door.
Kira, now in the submersible watched from a far as a familiar character entered the hanger. Vaylin accompanied by two of her knights proceeded to pace slowly into the hanger, unaware of the Republic soldier sheltering within arm's length of them. Seemingly unaware of Kira, nearby Vaylin's eyes dotted around the hanger.
"Little Jedi, I know you're in here," Vaylin said while mockingly, laughing. "I can sense your fear, little Jedi."
Vaylin's pace slowed while one of her Knights continued forward, realizing this would likely be his only time to strike, the soldier aimed his rifle, leaped from his cover and, nothing. Vaylin's reflexes, quicker than his own, immobilized him, in pain, Vaylin lifted him off the ground.
"What do we have here? Another Republic pawn? Pity, I was expecting someone else." Vaylin said examining the hanger once again.
"I see you have some friends in the water," Vaylin looked into the empty hanger bay.
"Firaxan sharks? They look hungry." Vaylin said, dropping the soldier into the water, his panicking alerted the Firaxan, whom quickly dragged him away.
"Uhmm Yum," Vaylin chuckled to herself. Continue the search for the Je-" Vaylin's words were cut short by the sudden arrival of a lightsaber decapitating one of her knights. His headless body fell into the bay, to be claimed by another monster of the sea.
"The Jedi!" Vaylin yelled, screaming at the other knight. "Stop her, or else I'll feed you to the fish!"
Catching her lightsaber, Kira was met with the second knight who had leaped onto her submersible. Engaged with the knight Vaylin maintained a distance and observed from the side, unwilling to fight? Indeed not, perhaps she was waiting for the knight to tire Kira, leaving her with an easy target, regardless the knight had forced Kira out of the submersible.
As the two continued to fight, Vaylin became more and a more agitated by either the Knight's inability to subdue his attacker or Kira's skills in counter her soldier. Finally losing her patience, Vaylin stabbed the Knight in the back.
"I'll do this myself!" Vaylin said as his body fell into the ocean bay.
"You kill your own? You're a perfect little Sith brat." Kira said to Vaylin as the two exchanged blows with their lightsabers.
"Another thing we have in common then," Vaylin grinned. "Do you think the so called 'Hero of Tython' will save you?"
Shocked at Vaylin's comment, Kira lost pace, only narrowly avoiding an otherwise fatal blow from Vaylin's lightsaber.
"If I fall, my master will avenge me! Who will avenge you?" Kira said, only to be met with laughter from Vaylin.
"Your master died last year, It was pathetic, begging for one's life, Arcann kept your hero alive for nearly a month before finally the body was allowed to die," Vaylin again chuckled, realizing her words were affecting Kira. "Your master is dead."
Giving into her rage, brought on by Vaylin's claim, Kira went on the offensive, striking several blows, slicing Vaylin's cape in half.
"Are we getting tired yet?"
"I will kill you!"
"Owww, I like you."
The two continued to exchange both verbal and physical injuries to one another, blow after blow. Kira couldn't defeat Vaylin, Kira's attacks while relentless was tiring her out, while Vaylin didn't appear to be showing any signs of fatigue. Her only means of escape was the submersible; there were no other means of escape, so as she had done earlier, Kira threw her lightsabers at the hangar walls, flooding the compartment.
"Better leave, Sith Brat, those sharks look like they're still hungry," Kira said glaring at Vaylin as she ran towards the door, sealing it behind her. "Run along now."
Sealing the cockpit from in rising waters, Kira powered up the vehicle as several Firaxan sharks began to swim around her. Bashing themselves against the side of her craft, Kira hastily departed Hrakert Station on a course for the capital.
Alone, Vaylin moved through the hallway, illuminated by her communicator. Kira had escaped her, yet she remained calm. Water continued to seep in through the damaged walls, yet this did not bother the High Justice of Zakuul.
"Someone had better be receiving this!" Vaylin yelled.
"High Justice Vaylin, we've taken the facility, as well as many Republic and Selkath prisoners. What are your orders?"
Vaylin raised an eyebrow while looking at the projection of her subordinate, killing her enemies was her goal, but there was nothing for her to enjoy from a cowering enemy. As Vaylin continued through the base, her attention was drawn to the window; she noticed a swarm of sharks circling a breached section of Hrakert Station. Her pondering was replaced by a sinister grin.
"I don't want survivors. Take them to one of the airlocks and throw them into the ocean, we have some friends outside who look rather hungry," Vaylin said as she terminated her com link. "I think I'll make a recording of this." Chuckling to herself, Vaylin waited patiently; she may have lost her chance to capture Kira Carsen, but the show she was about to observe, to her made up for that failure.
Meanwhile, Kira, now approaching Atho City, received a short transmission from Captain Go'rak. The Republic captain had sent her coordinates, to somewhere in the middle of Manaan's oceans. Confused, Kira started to suspect something was up, why would they change the meeting point? Did something happen? No! Kira thought to herself; I must reach the Esseles, Kira thought to herself as the submersible breached the ocean's surface. The stars reflected on Manaan's waters, yet there was something in the distance that caught Kira's attention, blue sparks raining down on Atho City. Kira ignored it, setting a course for the new rendezvous position, as she did, those blue sparkles in the sky were replaced by a blindingly bright yellow light, looking back towards Atho City, it suddenly hit Kira, the Eternal Fleet was bombing Atho City.
"No, no, no, this can't be happening! Why are they firing at the city?! The Selkath are innocent!" Kira cried aloud as she witnessed the horrors from afar.
"The Selkath broke their own neutrality." A female voice said over the submersibles comm channel, as an image of Vaylin appeared before Kira.
"They claimed to be a neutral party, and yet they were aiding your little cell with the extraction of Kolto," Vaylin said as if mocking their fate. "The Eternal Empire does not appreciate deception, for this, the city will be ravaged until the Eternal Fleet has claimed twenty percent of the cities population."
"You're a monster!" Kira screamed into the intercom.
"Am I? If you and the fish people hadn't of gone behind our backs, I'm sure a lot of the citizens of Atho, would still be alive," Vaylin said. "Had you not have gone to the surface, the Eternal Fleet wouldn't be reducing the city to rubble right now."
"What do you want?!" Kira frustratingly said.
"Oh, I want you to die."
Once again, Kira cut the transmission, deciding to focus on her objective rather than listen to more of Vaylin's threats. Kira's attention was again distracted by lights submerging through the clouds above her, a colorful display of white, yellow and green blazed through skies, lights reflected on the ocean. Perhaps the Esseles, she fought hoping to catch a glimpse of the warship.
"Captain Go'rak, this is Kira, I'm at the coordinates you sent me," Kira said into the intercom. "Where are you?"
Kira set motionless in her vessel searching the skies for any sign of the Esseles. Minutes passed, yet there was still no sign of the starship.
"Where are you?" Kira questioned as she looked up, though this time no lights were coming through the clouds, rather a large ship, a blaze, falling towards her. The Esseles came crashing down into the ocean, the sheer impact from the ocean slip the ship in two. The Eternal Fleet had destroyed the Esseles.
"No!" Kira exclaimed.
The communications on the submersible activated once more, once again Kira's pursuer was before her eyes.
"Now that was a big splash, wasn't it?" Vaylin said, taunting Kira over the fate of the Esseles. As Kira was about to hang up on Vaylin, she noticed the blue lights raining down on Atho City was no more. The Eternal Fleet had stopped its attack.
"We'll try it your way, Kira, the only hope you have to escape this world now is from Atho City, meet me at the west gate."
"If you think I'm coming to you-"
"Well, I'm all for the destruction of this world, but you see, there are still Selkath in the city, you decide whether they live or die."
"Alright, Vaylin," Kira said as she piloted the submersible towards the fires of Atho City. "We'll do it your way."