Tor walked through the halls of the Jedi temple, breathing deeply and smiling, the scent of wood mixed with earth filling his trunk, dust motes floating serenely in the long aisles of warm light from high windows.
He had just returned from Caamas where he had mediated a trade dispute between two factions who had chosen the planet as a neutral site. Tor reflected fondly on the few extra days he had spent on the planet, staying with a family he knew there and revisiting old friends that he had not seen for years. The memnii of his last night stuck with him pleasantly, the sight of a long table packed with happy caamasi faces, the smell of warm food and cold drink wafting in the air, the din of chatter filling the room, fires crackling warmly.
His footsteps echoed in the halls as he walked. I wonder where everyone is, Tor thought, looking around. It seems like there aren’t many people around.
A few minutes later, Tor stepped onto the turbolift that led up to the Council chambers. He looked out over Coruscant as the lift rose, the orange light of sunset forming a halo over the horizon and casting long shadows across the city.
The door opened and revealed the antechamber. Tor moved across the empty room and keyed the request for the main doors, which quickly slid open. He walked into the Council chamber and was surprised to see the majority of the chairs empty. To one side of the room, he saw Masters Yoda and Windu sitting in their chairs with Master Kenobi looking solemnly at the burnt sunset through the window.
Tor moved to the center of the room and bowed as the elder Jedi looked at him. “Masters?” Tor said inquisitively.
“Master Kir’tem,” Yoda spoke with drooped ears. “Returned from Caamas, have you?”
“Yes, Master,” Tor said, his sense of unease growing with each moment. He spoke slowly. “The dispute between the two planets was quickly settled and a fair compromise was reached by all.” He paused, trying to use the Force to penetrate the dim mood that permeated the space.
“Masters…what’s happened? Where is the rest of the Council? The rest of the Jedi?”
“At war,” Master Kenobi turned from the window, meeting Tor’s eyes with his own, deep in thought.
“War?” Tor exclaimed. “How? With who?” He trailed off, losing the thread of his words as his fur stood on end in shock.
“Separatists,” Master Windu said, his deep voice resonating in the near empty room. “Forces trying to end the Republic and what it stands for. We sent a force of Jedi to Geonosis to rescue Master Kenobi and his apprentice,” his eyes lowered. “But we lost many of them.”
Tor’s mouth worked wordlessly as he thought of the Jedi who had fallen on Geonosis, memnii flashing before his eyes of friends he would never see again, friends he would never get the chance to say goodbye to.
“Need everyone, we do,” Yoda spoke significantly. “To help preserve the Republic.”
“The Jedi aren’t soldiers,” Tor said. “We don’t have armies. We aren’t supposed to. We are peacekeepers, here to help mediate disputes and settle conflicts peacefully.”
“There is little choice now,” Master Kenobi said, pacing slightly. “The Jedi serve the Republic, and the Republic is now in danger of falling. Everything we’ve strived to protect is in danger. We must help the effort to keep this from happening.”
Tor paused for a long while, thoughts racing from one thing to another. After several minutes he raised his head to meet the eyes of the three Jedi in front of him.
“I will obey the will of the Council,” Tor said, his voice steadying with each word. “I will help save the Republic.”
The rain pounded heavily down on Tor and his troops, colored a brilliant blue from the large moon orbiting the planet, occasionally shot through with brilliant white from the sizzling lightning that threatened the landscape.
Tor’s fur was slick and his robes were heavy with water and hesitation about the mission ahead. His force of clones moved around him, their feet sinking deep into the sucking mud. Tor moved closer to the town that lay ahead, taking cover behind a small building. Captain Helix approached and knelt next to him.
“Everyone’s in position, sir,” Helix said, voice stale through his helmet’s filters. “Should be a blue milk run, just like we planned.” Tor nodded in return, mind going over the battle plan. He was prepared for a fight but intelligence had reported that his forces would face little resistance. “Blue milk run,” Tor repeated.
They moved closer to the edge of the town, buildings surrounding them. The rain intensified and it’s noise drowned out everything except the splashing of water and the sucking of mud.
Tor looked to the next building and saw Helix looking at him, waiting. Tor nodded and took a breath.
Tor ignited his lightsaber and spun around the corner, sprinting up the alley and out into the main street, his clone forces also springing into action.
He turned the corner and was met with the sight of a battalion of battle droids, blasters at the ready, spider droids towering over them scattered about.
The town exploded in blaster fire.
Tor used the Force and began absorbing shots, alternating between defense and offense. He could hear his clones shouting to each other, their blue blasters punching through the rain but grossly outnumbered by the amount of red bolts that returned.
The spider droids opened up, and the buildings around the street began to blow up, splinters of wood flying through the air, stinging Tor as they embedded themselves in his fur.
“Back! Back now!” Tor yelled, backpedaling down the street. He could hear the clones screaming as they were hit by blaster fire and debris, the gurgling sound of blood audible through their helmet speakers.
Tor ran as the droids pressed closer, dodging and weaving through alleys and deserted streets, all while the droids pursued, buildings exploding and collapsing behind him.
After a minute Tor realized he had circled close to where he had begun the assault. He crouched in the smoldering hulk of a building, back pressed against what was left of a wall, breathing hard, rain still cascading down on him. He looked across the street to another ruined building, eyes passing the limp bodies of clones strewn about the street.
His eyes found a group of four locals, huddling in the corner. They were all young, and the similarity of their features led Tor to believe they were siblings. The oldest, a girl barely into her teens, wrapped her arms protectively around the others, trying to keep them quiet and comforted, but struggling as her own face trembled in the flashes of lightning.
Her eyes locked onto Tor and she froze, terrified. Tor raised his hands slowly, palms out, then slowly lifted his lightsaber into view. The girl let out a heavy sigh of relief. Tor held a finger to his mouth, motioning to stay quiet. He peered around the corner, checking the street for droids. Seeing none, he motioned the children to make their way over to him.
The oldest gathered the others and began shepherding them across the street. They had just passed the threshold of the building when it shuddered and the walls behind them crumbled. A searing white light flashed on from a towering spider droid, locking onto the children first and then moving to Tor’s location.
The droid stepped forward, taking what was left of the building with it, its massive feet crushing wood and duracrete. It rushed towards Tor who jumped out trying to draw its attention away as the children stood petrified and crying in the street, where the droids massive foot fell as if in slow motion on top of them.
Tor fell to his knees, his arms outstretched and his scream of anguish drowned out by the roar of Republic gunships overhead. An explosion eradicated any trace of the massive droid, the shockwave throwing Tor backwards through the air into a wall, a sickening crack echoing with the thunder as his head struck the surface, countless clone bodies before him, their blood mixing with the rain being the last thing he saw before everything went black.
Tor stood before the Jedi Council on Coruscant, almost a year had passed since the last time he’d been there. The bacta bandage on his arm was cold and alien to him, and the synthflesh patch on his leg burned.
He looked around the room at the Council members, many of which were present only in the form of static holograms filling their chairs.
“Master Kir’tem,” Yoda said. “Asked for an audience, you have. Speak, you may.”
“Yes, Master.” Tor stepped to the middle of the room and took a deep breath, his eyes meeting each of the Masters in front of him.
“Masters,” he said. “The Jedi’s role in these Clone Wars cannot continue.” A murmur broke out in the room and many of the Council stirred in their seats. Master Windu’s features hardened, his gaze steely fixated on Tor.
“What are you talking about, Tor,” Master Windu said, one of the few members present, his voice filling the room.
“I realize now that I was correct in my statements a year ago. The Jedi are not meant to lead armies or take sides in conflicts such as these.”
Tor could feel the stares of the Council drilling holes into him, their minds probing his with the Force, trying to gauge his motives and emotions.
“A year ago, to follow the Council you vowed,” Yoda said. “Why now, your mind has changed?”
Tor’s thoughts strayed to the battle. His memnii made it as real as if it were happening again in front of his eyes, each sight and smell and sound as potent as if they were being paraded around the room.
“My experiences…” Tor began. “Have shown me that the Jedi are not intended to be the warriors the Republic is demanding us to be. We have been…misguided.”
“Your thoughts dwell on your failure,” Master Mundi said through his hologram. “You focus too deeply on it. There is always compromised intelligence or unforeseen circumstances. These unfortunate happenings are part of war.”
“That is my point!” Tor said emphatically. “Jedi should not know of war! We are peacekeepers! Not warriors! Our role is to stop conflicts like this with peace, not with violence!”
Tor’s thoughts flashed to the children and their faces appeared in front of him, their rainsoaked bodies huddled between him and the Council.
Master Windu’s brow furled. “We have sworn to protect the Republic,” he said ominously. “And that Republic needs the Jedi to fight for it.”
“No!” Tor retorted quickly, his voice rising steadily. “We don’t need to fight! Not with lightsabers and conflict! We should combat these Separatists with mediation and negotiation!”
Tor began to gesture with his hands, emphasizing each word. “Those have been the tools of the Jedi for a thousand years! Perhaps you haven’t spent enough time in the archives lately, but there hasn’t been a widespread galactic conflict since the Jedi adopted those methods!”
“Enough!” Master Windu shouted. Tor could feel the Council members shifting uncomfortably and could hear them talking, any pretense at subtle whispers erased like the many lives lost each day in the war. The feeling in the room was tense and even the members who appeared through hologram seemed to be closer to the edge of their seats.
“I urge you to change this course of action,” Tor said, his voice calm again. “If the Order persists this way, it will lead to a future darker than you want to experience.” The caamasi fell silent, waiting as the members of the Council exchanged words and looks.
“We will discuss your concerns, Master Kir’tem,” Master Windu said, his voice and gaze still steely. “Wait outside until we reach our decision.”
Tor bowed and left the room, waiting silently in the corridor outside, his thoughts racing. After some time, the door finally signaled and Tor reentered the Council chambers. The holograms were gone, leaving only a few Council members in the room.
“Master Kir’tem,” Master Windu began. “We have a new assignment for you.”
Tor opened his mouth to speak, but Master Windu cut him off.
“You are tasked with creating a holocron,” the Jedi Master said.
“What about the rest of the Order?” Tor asked, eyes wide with surprise. “Will the Jedi stop participating in the war?”
“The Jedi will continue along the path they are on. We will support the Republic and lead its troops in battle.”
The older master fixed Tor with a deep stare, staggering in its intensity and significance. “You will travel to the outer rim, Tor. Perhaps even farther. You will go where the Force takes you, and use the knowledge you find to create the holocron. When you have completed your task, you will return here and present it to us.”
“The outer rim…” Tor’s voice was soft, trying to make sense of what he was being told. The realization struck him with the force of a supernova.
Tor’s eyes stared blindly through the room in front of him. His mouth opened and closed several times. “I…I understand, Master,” he said. “I will complete the holocron for the Order.”
Master Yoda’s face looked troubled. “Agree with this choice, I do not,” the small master spoke. “But follow the decision of the Council, I will.” He took a deep breath and Tor could see Yoda’s centuries old age in his face.
“Preserve your ideas in the holocron you must,” Yoda continued, ignoring a long glance from Master Windu. “Important, it is, for Jedi to remember different ideas.” Yoda closed his large eyes, concentrating and for a long moment, the chamber was quiet, the air still as if it was aware of the situation.
Master Yoda opened his eyes. “Return to us you will, Master Kir’tem. And bring with you great knowledge, you will. Important it will be.”
“Yes, Master Yoda,” Tor said in a quiet tone, still in shock.
“Proceed with your mission, Tor,” Master Windu said, the hard look still adorned on his face.
“May the Force be with you,” the few Council members chanted.
Tor took a deep breath and stood straight, meeting the eyes of each of the few Council members. He bowed deeply. “May the Force be with you, Masters,” he said, voice strong and steady.
Tor sat and meditated, high atop a cliff face overlooking a barren landscape, the bright morning sun cascading warmth down in front of him.
He had wandered the outer rim for two years, searching for clues and information on how to construct the holocron and what to put in it, but he had found barely any scraps. Barely there ruins, partial symbols, and lost echoes were all that Tor had found.
Tor breathed deeply, calming himself and preparing for a new day of searching.
A shockwave of energy in the Force rocked Tor backwards. He screamed as an incredible searing pain like none he had ever felt coursed through his mind. Tor’s body contorted and he clawed at his temples as wave after wave of blinding pain washed over him.
Images blasted into Tor’s brain, each worse than the last. Master Windu falling through the skies of Coruscant, Aayla Secura falling under a rain of blasters in the jungle, Master Plo’s starfighter blown apart, the look of heartbreaking betrayal as Master Mundi turned to find his allies turn against him, countless younglings falling before Skywalker, his eyes red and lightsaber flying, clones advancing on Master Yoda, blasters leveled, countless others following. Each vision brought a new crash of pain and horror.
Tears flowed into Tor’s fur, aftershocks continuing to flood over him. Tor scrambled to his feet and reached out to the Force, focusing harder than he ever had before, trying to find anyone in the Force. Tor gritted his teeth and pushed even further, scanning the galaxy for a trace of the people he knew.
He opened his eyes.
No hint of anything. Of anyone. Tor sank to his knees, the sun in front of him now seemed cold and stale and Tor felt no warmth from it. He sat in the spot, motionless, until the sun had passed from the sky.
Tor adjusted the jumpsuit he had bought from a local mechanic, not used to the feel of it. He nervously fiddled with his small pack, thinking of his Jedi robes tucked away inside, his other hand clutching the hilt of his lightsaber which he had spent days painstakingly adjusting it to make it appear to be a hydrospanner.
He shuffled down the ramp of the Freebird, the ship being detained on a remote space station known as Sel Zahn. Tor saw a young zabrak boy tinkering with a large droid at the bottom of the ramp, wiping sweat from his brow as he worked. A doctor sat on a crate nearby, sorting through his medical kit and muttering to himself. Tor stood nearby, listening as a station officer told the passengers they would be detained for two days, the Freebird captain being dragged away towards the brig.
He turned back at the sound of a young woman clearing her throat. The boy and the doctor both perked up.
“My name is Maya,” the girl said. “I have a proposition for you.”