Separatist Command Post, Planet Christophsis
Ventress' eyes were locked on the Jedi. The Mandalorian standing besides him was of little consequence. He was her prize. As the armored figure opened fire, Ventress swatted the shots away with ease, her blood pumping and burning with vengeful hatred for the man before her. As her bike neared the pair, she split her sabers in two and leapt as he swung his own double saber and sliced her bike in half.
“DIE JEDI!” she roared as she assailed him from above.
He parried her blows but gave ground with each strike, causing Ventress to grin wickedly. He was no match for her, she just had to push him and—she parried a flurry of blaster bolts from the Mandalorian, hissing viciously as she swung her right hand saber out and slashed through the armor like tissue paper.
“You will not interfere!” she shouted as she turned back to the Jedi with a feral, tooth filled, grin.
Kahan winced as Aira-ty went down with her wound, clutching the molten gash in her flank where the Sith's lightsaber had penetrated. He wasn't much of a healer, he'd have to make do with the bacta kit on his armor. For the moment though, he was hard pressed to fight off his opponent. He was not ashamed to admit that his skill did not lie with the sabers, even if he used two of them forged into a single staff, his talents lay elsewhere. However in this case he wished that he was as skilled a fighter as Master Kenobi or even the infamous Count Dooku. As it was, if this kept up he was going to lose. He tried to find a way into the Sith's mind but her hatred was so focused and her concentration on him so great that he could find no chink in her armor for him to penetrate.
Her style matched his own in many ways, but was by far more ferocious. He managed to find a moment to breath and split his blades, matching the Sith's two sabers with two of his own.
“You will die Jedi.” she snarled at him. “I swore to kill you.”
“Indeed.” Kahan replied as he blocked her attack. “I do seem to be at a disadvantage.”
The Sith's face twitched and she raged at him. “React damn you! I want to see you beg!”
Kahan smiled through gritted teeth as their blades clashed and sparked violently.
“I'm afraid—“ he ducked low and swung at her. “—that you'll be disappointed.”
Then it happened, she knocked one of his sabers aside and kicked his hand. He lost his grip and the hilt skittered away uselessly, leaving Kahan with just a single blade to defend himself with.
Aira-ty touched her side, the slash had not been deep. But it still burned, badly. Through gritted teeth she watched the battle unfold, feeling useless as the two combatants fought. Then Kahan faltered, one of his blades lost to the ferocity of the Sith's attack. The hilt rolled towards Aira-ty, coming to rest just a meter before her. Kahan was being pushed back, further and further. She had to help. Steeling herself for the pain, she picked herself up, her side burning with agony as she staggered forwards and hefted Kahan's discarded blade and ignited it, the amber glow so alien when compared to other Jedi's weapons which were typically green or blue.
Old memories long suppressed surfaced and Aira-ty gripped the unfamiliar hilt with more surety as she stepped forwards.
“Hey, psycho.” she growled. “Why don't you finish what you started?”
The Sith was distracted for a moment as she glanced towards Aira-ty, then she laughed.
“Lie back down before you hurt yourself! I will finish you soon enough.” she boasted as she knocked Kahan on his back.
Aira-ty's temper flared and she rushed forwards, fueled by her own anger at being mocked. She raised her blade high and swung down, very nearly taking off the Sith's head. She staggered away from Aira-ty who was panting from the pain in her side but nevertheless ready to fight.
“I'm not dead yet...and you aren't killing him until you kill me.”
“And I'm afraid.” Kahan said as she stood up and brought his blade to the ready. “That I will have to die before you can finish her off.”
Ventress snarled in annoyance as the two faced her. The Mandalorian was holding her saber rather well for an amatuer. No matter. She'd slice them both to pieces. She renewed her attack, venting her fury on the pair now instead of the one. Neither was very good, this would be over quickly.
Aira-ty staggered back under the Sith's assault, feeling her lack of training heavily now. A part of her now regretted her past choices but honestly, this life had been good. Who knew what that other life could have meant for her. If she was going to die, it was as she was, not as she could have been! Her frustration gave her strength and she pressed back against the Sith, forcing her back briefly. Aira-ty found herself bracketing the Sith with Kahan on the opposite side of her. It gave them some edge as their opponent now had to split her attention, but only some. Stang but she was good!
Kahan watched Aira-ty's movements curiously. She obviously knew how to use a saber which was more than most people could say. Swordplay was a dead art, vibroswords had not been used in major combat for centuries if not millennia and there were few beings beyond the Jedi who bothered to use energy blades let alone train with them. Was Aira-ty a Jedi? He didn't think so, still, she was certainly something. Something which bore watching.
At the moment however, he had more pressing matters to deal with. The Sith. Her attention was divided now as they danced and parried around one another, her armor not as complete. If he could just find the place where it was weakest. He found it and applied pressure until the crack became a fissure and his mind poured into hers. He had her, and he would not release his hold.
“NO!” wailed Ventress as she clutched at her head, falling back from her opponents. “Get out get out GET OUT!”
“No.” the Jedi said simply. “I will not.”
“No! NO! STOP IT! STOP!” Ventress pleaded as the Jedi's assault carried him deeper and deeper into her mind.
“You are in great pain...always such pain.” his voice echoed through her head. “Why? What is it that hurts you so?”
“STOP STOP STOP STOP!” Ventress shrieked as she fell to her knees, the pain of his presence inside of her too much to bear. “I. WILL. KILL. YOU!”
“Not now, I told you before that while you may be superior with the blade, once I am in your mind, you have no defense against me.”
And with that, he burst into Ventress' deepest, darkest memories, the very essence of her being and took a hold of them, forcing her to relive her past moment by moment as it all happened again.
“Master!” she cried. “Master no! NO!”
With a last desperate cry, Ventress collapsed onto the ground, senseless.
Aira-ty watched as the Sith crumpled and then turned to look at Kahan.
“What did you just do?”
“I found what I was looking for.” he replied taciturnly.
“And what was that?”
“A frightened little girl.” he replied, his blue gaze meeting her vizor.
Aira-ty looked away first, stepping up to the Sith and raising her saber. He was there in an instant, holding her wrist firmly.
“No.” he said simply.
“Why not? We can finish her now.”
“Because I do not slaughter the helpless.” he said firmly. “You may do so if you like, but I will not sit by and allow it.”
“She will come for you again.” Aira-ty snapped. “She will kill more Jedi.”
Kahan nodded. “That is likely, yes, but that is the future. This is now.” his eyes narrowed. “Do not compromise my respect for you.”
Aira-ty stepped back, extinguishing the saber and glaring at him from behind her vizor. “It's your funeral.”
“It will be, yes.” Kahan replied, holding out his hand.
She handed him his saber and retrieved her blaster from the ground where it had fallen before turning to look at him.
“What are you looking at?”
He shrugged indifferently. “Simply wondering.”
Aira-ty's insides froze. Did he know? Had he realized what she had been? What she had forsaken? She hoped not. She walled herself off entirely, refusing to have faith in his good intentions. He would not glean anything from her without her permission.
Kahan stood there a while longer, watching his companion curiously before turning aside. She did not want to divulge her secrets, he would not force her. He looked down at the unconscious Sith, the woman had a name. He had found it within her mind. Asajj Ventress. He couldn't rightfully justify sparing her life, but he felt she was somehow...meant to live. As if there was more she had yet to accomplish that needed to be accomplished. He would let fate decide. Her life would be spared...again.
An explosion behind him caught his attention, he raised his comlink.
“Skywalker, I believe that was a fuel depot?”
“Affirmative Master. We're about to destroy an armory as well, we're not taking too much fire, looks like most of them are assaulting the city center.”
“Very well, finish what you're doing. We're done here.”
Aira-ty let her breath out. He wasn't going to pry. Good. She looked back at the Sith with an annoyed frown. She could kill the murderous lunatic right now. Right this very instant...but...spit, why did his words bother her so much? What did she care for a Jedi's esteem? She let out an annoyed growl and turned on her heel, stalking away and leaving the General to catch up to her.
Anakin frowned as he put the comlink away. What had changed? It probably had something to do with that surge of power and raw hate he'd sensed. It was gone now, had Master Kahan and the Mando killed the Sith? If so then it was indeed time to go. And quickly, the rest of the battle still had to be won!
“Get on that STAP.” he ordered Hanabi. “Head back to base.”
“What about you Master?” Hanabi asked as she moved towards the repulsorcraft.
“I'll be right behind you.” he said with a smile as he hefted a grenade.
Crystal City, Planet Christophsis
“Lana, are you alright?”
“I'm fine Master.” Lana snapped as she batted away another blaster bolt. “But we're being overrun!”
“Fall back to the next line of defense Lana. No heroics.”
“You got it Master. Jesp! We're falling back!”
“Roger that Commander, everyone, pull back!”
Lana looked out over the barricade and felt her heart sink. There were too many of them. They didn't have enough troopers, enough tanks, enough anything to stop what the Separatists were throwing at them. It seemed hopeless.
Jesp looked up at the Commander, she was standing alone atop the barricade and looking out at the oncoming enemy.
“Commander! We've got to move ma'am now!”
She looked back to him, her face set in stone and nodded, jumping down to join him in the retreat.
“Alright, let's move, next position, all of you go!”
Jesp nodded, wondering where out in that maelstrom Commander Nokta and the others were. It seemed that the plan had failed, the enemy was still pressing their attack and was breaking through on all sides. So much for victory.
Obi-Wan followed his troops back to the next strongpoint, several walkers striding alongside and providing fire support for the retreat. There was no way to say it nicely, they were losing, badly. Despite their best efforst, the Separatists just had too many droids and tanks at their disposal. The way things were going, the Republican forces would be completely wiped out or captured if they did not get further relief.
“General, all forces have reported in, we've regrouped at the next line of defense.” Rex reported.
Obi-Wan nodded. “Good, keep fighting, we have to hold out as long as possible.”
Rex nodded in turn, his voice strong and sure despite the impossiblity of the situation. “Roger that General, we'll hold.”
Obi-Wan's comlink beeped and he pulled it up. “Kenobi.”
“General, this is Senator Organa, I believe we need to talk.”
“Now is not the time Senator.” Obi-Wan replied.
“I believe now is the perfect time General.” the Senator said grimly. “I will not take no for an answer.”
Obi-Wan looked at his troops and cursed the Senator's timing.
“Rex, you're in command, report to Lana and maintain your position until I return.”
With his orders given, Obi-Wan left the battlements and headed towards the government building where the Senator waited for him.
“What do you mean he's gone?” Lana shouted into the comlink.
“He's gone to the government building.” Captain Rex replied. “The Senator wanted to speak with him, you're in command now.”
Lana's eyes widened as the gravity of what had just been said settled on her shoulders. She was in command? That was insane!
“Commander, your orders?” Jesp asked.
Lana blinked. “Uh, just hold position for now. We can't let them get through.”
He nodded. “Right, you heard the Commander, stand your ground, make every shot count!”
Lana bit her lip, this was insane...but she'd told Master Kenobi that she could do this and she would. She cut a trio of droids in half as the clones around her poured their combined fire into the advancing columns. They would hold. They had to.
Cystal City, Planet Christophsis
Senator Bail Organa looked up as General Kenobi entered the room. He didn't have to be Force sensitive to see the annoyance evident on the other man's features.
“Senator.” Kenobi said respectfully.
“General, I think we have a problem.”
Kenobi raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“We're losing this fight, no, don't interrupt me.” Organa said as Kenobi opened his mouth. “I'm not a warrior, but I am not stupid. Be honest with me.”
“Yes Senator.” Kenobi replied. “We are hard pressed.”
“Can you honestly say that you can hold out until reinforcements arrive?”
Kenobi stood there for a long moment before shaking his head. “No, we had our gambit, it did not pay off...we'll be overrun in the next few hours at the rate we're going.”
“That is what I feared.” Senator Organa said. “Then allow me to make a suggestion. Let me speak with General Loathsome.”
Kenobi's response was immediate and predictable.
“Absolutely not! You're part of the reason the Separatists are attacking this planet!”
“I am well aware of that, however I am not critical to the Republic. I am merely an influential philantropist and humanitarian. I am in no way vital to the war effort. Allow me to meet with him and discuss terms for our surrender...perhaps I can buy you the time you need.”
General Kenobi drew in a deep breath before he nodded.
“Very well Senator, I will have my men open an unsecured com frequency for you.”
“Thank you General, trust me.”
Crystal City, Planet Christophsis
General Loathsome considered himself a cultured being, and went to great lengths to show it. So when he'd received the message from the Republic forces that they wished to discuss terms and that Senator Organa himself would be the one conducting the negotiations, he of course had gone to great lengths to ensure that the meeting was as civilized as the current situation allowed.
He'd ordered his forces back to a respectful distance and now sat at a prepared table with tea in front of him and a cursory guard of two destroyer droids and an AAT. He wanted to display his strength while also showing that he was willing to expose himself for the sake of a settlement.
His eyes lit up as Senator Organa and General Kenobi crossed over the barricade and came to meet him. The baser part of his mind delighted and revelled in the fame and accolades that would be given to him for defeating the famed Jedi General. However he did his best to keep his gloating to a minimum.
As the pair approached him, he stood up and greeted them magnanimously.
“Senator, General, it is an honor to finally meet my worthy opponents face to face.”
“The honor is ours General Loathsome.” Senator Organa replied respectfully. “I only trust that your worthy opponents may beg your mercy in their defeat.”
General Loathsome frowned but merely nodded as the Senator took the opposite seat. General Kenobi remained standing, his expression guarded. Loathsome couldn't say he blamed the Jedi, it must rankle to be defeated...not that Loathsome would know.
Aboard the Republic Assault Ship Jelial, Crystal City, Planet Christophsis
Lana watched anxiously as Cody was detanked and laid out on the cot. His eyes were still closed and she wasn't sure if he was breathing regularly or not...but at least he was alive. As the medics cleared the way, Lana approached the fallen clone commander. As she reached the bedside, he took in a long, deep breath and opened his eyes. She froze, looking at him nervously as his gaze swept the overhead before he turned his head and locked his gaze with her.
“Commander.” he said simply.
“Hi Cody. How're you feeling?”
He reached down and touched his stomach where the shrapnel had hit him.
“I'm glad.” Lana said with a smile. “You were pretty beat up.”
“Dead. Commander Nokta shot him.”
Cody blinked and scowled. “Damn, I wanted to do it.”
Lana smiled. “You can't go around executing your own men. You might scare the rest of them!”
He looked at her for a moment before snorting and swinging his legs off of the cot and standing shakily.
“Here, let me help you.” she offered, letting him put his weight on her.
“You're awfully strong for someone so young.” he said.
Lana smirked. “You try training your entire life to be a Jedi and see what it does for you.”
Cody paused and eyed her curiously. “Your entire life?”
“Yeah...I guess you wouldn't know about that. The Jedi take us from our homes when we're very young...most of us don't remember our families at all.” she shrugged. “At least not many of us do. Then we train everyday to become Padawans and then Knights.”
Removing himself from Lana's support, Cody began donning his armor, his expression thoughtful.
“Perhaps we are not as dissimilar as I thought.” he murmured.
Lana chuckled, punching him in the shoulder.
“Does this mean you're going to respect me a bit more?”
“Only a little.” Cody replied wryly.
“What is our status?” Cody inquired.
The Commander shrugged. “Not sure. We're not fighting anymore...at least, not at the moment.”
“Did we win?” Cody asked, from her tone he assumed not but he couldn't think of another reason for the fighting to stop...at least he didn't want to think of another one.
“No, we were actually losing...pretty badly...but then Master Kenobi and that Senator went over the barricade to discuss terms.”
“They did WHAT!?” Cody exploded, turning on her and looking at her in disbelief. “We surrendered?”
“Well...we're surrendering...I guess.” she shrugged. “I think they have a plan...trying to buy time.”
“Is the relief force that close?” Cody asked hopefully. Surely the General wouldn't be willing to risk a surrender without a plan.
“I have no idea.” she replied, crossing her arms. “I'm not powerful enough to sense that sort of thing.”
Cody swore, hurrying to put the rest of his armor—brand new to replace the one that had been blasted apart earlier—he had to get out there and see all this for himself. He slapped his comlink.
“Rex, report status.”
“Rex here, is that you Cody?”
“It is Captain, report.”
“Reforming after the attack, the General is meeting with the Seps, for the moment the droids are holding back but we're not taking any chances. I've got snipers aiming at the Sep general.”
“Any idea what they're talking about?”
“Honestly Commander? I have no idea, they just seem to be sipping tea.”
“Tea?” Cody asked in bewilderment.
“Tea.” Rex confirmed.
Cody shook his head. What was this? He got knocked out and suddenly the whole war stopped for tea time?