We Will Not Surrender
It was over. Ruru didn't even have a chance to get out his lightsaber. The blasts that had been meant for Kan went into his Master instead. His Master, who had loved Kan. His Master, who had done nothing wrong, unlike Kan. Kan had disobeyed a direct order from the Council, a violation that could be met with being expelled from the Order. His Master, who hadn't been afraid. His Master, who had given up his life to save Kan, who was not worthy of such a gift.
He opened his eyes, blinking into a dull gray fog clouding his eyes. Through the mist, he thought he could discern a vision of Ruru, looking at him. Looking at the Apprentice who had disappointed him. His voice was softer than it had been in life, yet it roared loudly in Kan's ears, finding its way down into his heart.
Kan went down on his knees, unable to speak. It wasn't happening. It was all a dream. Ruru couldn't die. He had to stay here, to train Kan to be a Jedi. This was just a nightmare. Soon he would wake up, soon…
He looked up. Ruru had slumped down onto the ground, as if he were sleeping. This is just a dream…
It was several minutes before he realized that his Master had died.
He crawled over to where Ruru lay and slowly put his head on his Master's chest. But it was no use. The blasts had gone straight through his vital organs and had killed him almost immediately. Kan felt Ruru's tunic grow wet, dully comprehending that it was both Kan's tears and his Master's blood. He didn't care. He didn't even look up when he heard the thud of Jango's boots as he strode across the space to where Kan lay.
Take me with you, Master.
"Kill me," Kan heard himself say. Had his voice always sounded like his? So flat and hoarse, little more than a whisper?
Someone drew a ragged sob, but it was not until later that he realized that the sob came from him.
I don't want to live. Not without you, Master. I need you. Come back.
He didn't hear the bounty hunter walk away.
"Kan, get up. You must get up." Adriaan was speaking urgently into his ear.
He pretended not to hear.
"Kan, what would your Master say if he saw you like this? You have to move on."
He did not want to move on. He wanted to lie in the dirt forever.
But he felt too weary to argue. He got up.
He looked at Adriaan as if through a dull haze. It still all seemed too dreamlike to be possible. He would wake up soon. He had classes to attend tomorrow at the Temple…
"Is it time for my first class, Master?" he mumbled sleepily.
"This isn't a dream. I am Adriaan. Your Master is not here right now. Wake up." Her voice sounded like she was speaking through glass, muffled and echoing hollowly.
He looked down. His Master lay sprawled as if in sleep, his face eerily soft and serene, his brow smoothed, his mouth slack.
Then Kan knew that it wasn't a dream. He Master was gone forever. His stomach lurched as he jerked his head up to rid himself of the terrible sight of Ruru's dead body. He swayed as he straightened up.
Adriaan caught him before he stumbled and fell. Grasping him firmly by the shoulders, she spun him around so that they were eye to eye.
"Kan, you have to keep fighting. We can't get out. You must keep going if you want to live. Do you understand what I'm saying? We're cornered. We can't get out."
He stared at her blankly. His mind seemed to be made of fog. He couldn't think. He could only stare, knowing that with each breathe he took, Ruru was dead.
"I can't," Kan said.
Adriaan looked at him for several minutes. "Kan, I know you can. Why do you think Ruru gave up his life? He gave it for you. He wanted you to live because loved you, and he believed that you would use your second chance wisely to help for the good of the galaxy. We need you. You can do it. I believe in you."
I believe in you.
The Force will be with you. Always.
"I will be with you. Always."
Is that you, Master?
I am one with the Force. And the Force can never leave you.
He squared his shoulders and blinked. His eyes looked at Adriaan, and now he saw her as a clear image, not a muddy picture of her like an old hologram. He felt a purpose being renewed within him, and as he stood taller, he felt as though Ruru really was there, standing beside him, guiding his hand. His grief and weariness remained, but they felt lighter than before. Death had not separated him form his Master. He saw that now. Maybe death had brought them closer, for Ruru would never leave him.
His gaze met Adriaan's. "Let's go."
A small grin erased the concern from her face. "Come on."
She leaped up and began to run, her long legs taking bounding leaps as she swung her lightsaber to chop off a droid's head here, a Geonosian there, her feet literally gliding across the surface as she hacked her way through the never-ending line of enemies. Kan started after her, but soon fell far behind. But he hardly noticed; his mind was on one track now. He decapitated three droids with one swing, but the ranks of Separatists kept on attacking with unchecked force. He was forced to double his pace, his lightsaber swinging faster and faster until he seemed to hardly touch one droid before going on to the next. His muscles burned and his arms felt ready to give out, but he ignored his body's plea to rest and pushed his muscles to the limit…and beyond. The blood raced through his veins, his lungs expanding painfully with each labored breath as he brought his lightsaber swinging down upon droid upon droid, again and again and again. He held out a hand, and at his command the Force sent five droids flying into one another. A droideka wheeled toward him; he ducked and swung. Blazing fragments of molten metal exploded around him like fireworks. Never before had he fought so hard and so fast.
If only my Master could see me now…
Jango Fett zoomed past him, the flames emanating from his jetpack singing the hair on Kan's arms and head.
He killed my Master.
His blood boiled as Jango shot another Jedi through the head, his Westars smoking from the blasts. He did it with such indifference, as if it did not matter whether a person was killed or not. The Jedi did not believe that. The Jedi did not kill for the sake of killing, but killed an enemy as a last resort. And when they had to kill a being, they mourned over their enemy's death like they would for a lost comrade. It made Kan's face grow hot with fury at seeing such a ruthless killer. And remembering how this hunter had killed Ruru without any trace of emotion did not help to cool his temper.
I must kill him, his heart screamed inside him, For all the Jedi that he has killed. He must be punished. And my Master must be avenged.
Don't do it, Kan. Only the Sith kill for revenge. You will only become your own enemy if you do this.
"Is it wrong for me to kill a murderer who will surely kill more if he is not stopped?" Kan answered to the voices aloud.
That is not the reason why you want to kill him.
But Kan was past caring for that by now. He had lost his calm center. Fury overtook him. "Murderer!" he screamed, stumbling after the bounty hunter, half-drunk with hatred.
Suddenly he came face to face with the Reek.
All his wits deserted him. He turned and ran.
Straight into a pack of battle droids. Blasterfire rocketed around him, missing him by millimeters and some of them exploding right by his ear.
The Reek followed, crushing the droids in his path, not caring whether they were his friends or his foes. All he knew was that he had been cheated earlier from his dinner, and he was not to be deceived again.
Kan struggled through the roiling mass of droids, his heart beating wildly in terror. He felt the hot, rancid breath of the creature on his neck. He ran harder, not daring to look back to see how close the reek was.
It's over, Kan. If you hadn't reacted in anger…
I know. I'm sorry that I did. I won't do it again.
If you hadn't disobeyed the Council, your Master would have lived.
His insides recoiled as if he'd been slapped. Yet he knew that it was the truth.
Jordin suddenly leaped into the fray, her blue eyes lit with a strange light, her red-gold hair fanning out behind her like flames. "Kan!"
He felt even more guilty. In all the confusion, he had forgotten about her. He hadn't wondered at all if she was still alive. Yet here she was. She had not forgotten her friend.
What if it had been Jordin instead of Ruru that had been there to watch my back?
He swerved and slashed at one droid, then leaped and took out another. Jordin rolled between his legs, cutting the droids' supporting limbs right from underneath them.
Jordin suddenly pushed him roughly to one side, a microsecond before the reek rushed past them.
Kan turned to see the creature charge into Mace Windu.
A look of shocked surprise flashed across the great Master's dark face, then just as quickly the cool, composed mask that Mace Windu always wore slid back into place. He turned and faced his adversary calmly. The reek stamped its foot menacingly, as if daring Windu to run for it. The Jedi held his place.
With a bellow of victory, the creature galloped toward him, horns lowered to gore its prey. Just then Kan heard the blast of a jetpack being fired, and before anyone could react, Jango Fett landed right in the middle of the reek's path.
Apparently a bounty hunter was just as exhilarating to impale as was a Jedi, for the reek did not stop, but stomped right onto Jango. Using its horns to push the bounty hunter along, the reek trampled over the armored hunter until they were some distance away from Mace Windu. The creature turned, pawed the ground savagely, then charged for Jango, head down with the intent to kill.
The bounty hunter's silver armor had protected him from most of the blows. Rolling to his feet, Jango hefted his blasters and shot the Reek between the eyes. The beast stumbled and fell, roaring out its bellowing cry. But its voice shook near the end, and it did not breathe again.
Jango turned to mace Windu, his Westar 34 blasters gleaming ominously as he took aim. Mace Windu's gaze was level, unimpressed, unafraid.
Each blaster fired twice in succession, but Windu deflected them easily,, his violet lightsaber humming energetically.
For the first time, Kan could see a trace of fear in the stance of the bounty hunter as he took a step back. And well he should, Kan thought, Master Windu is the second greatest Jedi in the Temple.
Master Windu charged, lightsaber raised on the offensive. Jango fired again and again, on the defensive now; as the Jedi kept coming closer, he took a step back each time he fired.
Mace Windu's lightsaber swung in a straight line for Jango's neck.
The bounty hunter's helmet flew through the air as Master Windu's lightsaber came in contact with Jango. Mace Windu completed the swing with a sort of careless, practiced ease as if he had been cutting through air. Kan's eyes followed the flying helmet until it landed with a dull thunk several meters away. Kan stared, mesmerized, as Jango's headless body collapsed to its knees, as if in prayer. Then it rolled over and lay still.
It was over. The man ––– no, the monster ––– that had killed Ruru Xelan, was disposed of properly, the Jedi way. No revenge involved. Kan screamed out loud. "YES!"
Don't say that, Kan. You shouldn't feel happy over his death.
"But he was evil!" Kan wanted to shout. "It was necessary to kill him. I am in the right."
Necessary, yes. Just, yes. But that does not mean that it was the right thing to do. And you are NOT in the right. You are just as bad as Jango Fett. You are worse. You said you would not react in anger.
"I did not react in anger."
A small movement just beyond the reach of his vision caused him to turn. In the shadow of one of the arena gates, a forlorn figure crouched. It was a young boy, not much older than Aedan. Tousled dark hair hung limply upon a dark blue tunic, and flinty eyes flat with disbelief stared out at the battlefield.
Kan frowned. Why do I feel as if I've seen him before?
A figure rose up in his mind, shadowed in mist. The face was much like the boy's, except stonier, older, and scarred by many battles, with a purpose so hardened that he killed without any thought for his victims. Kan had only seen the face once ––– the rest of the time it had been shrouded by a silver and blue mask. But he knew it. It was ingrained in his memory forever.
The face was that of Jango Fett.
Now he remembered. Prior to the battle, he hadn't taken much notice of anything, but he remembered seeing the bounty hunter and this boy standing together in the official's box, next to Count Dooku. Who was this kid? Could he be an Apprentice to Jango Fett? But they both looked so similar in appearance, almost like father and son. Kan had never heard of bounty hunters having families to go home to, of having children to teach their trade to. Could this boy have been Jango's son?
He felt a stab of pity shoot through his body, threatening to rend his heart in two. He had been wrong. He had wanted to kill the bounty hunter that had been someone to that boy. Ruru had been like a father to Kan. Could Jango have been a good father to his son? It was a revolting thought. That man could not have been a father to that young boy. Jango Fett had been cruel and heartless, ruthless enough to kill a Master in front of an Apprentice that had loved the Master like a father. Jango Fett could not have pity for anyone. A child could not be raised in such an environment that killing was a daily way of life. A society that did not respect the dead. But the Jedi mourned over every lost being. Mace Windu was right to kill him.
Yet as Kan saw Mace Windu's cold expression as he bent over the body, he wondered.
They were losing.
It was no use pretending. The Jedi were outnumbered. And they were surrounded. Even as Adriaan glanced around as she continued to deflect blasterfire and chop through droids, she could see even more Separatist forces pouring through the gates like xring roaches. Looking at the pitifully degraded group of the original two-hundred Jedi sent to Geonosis, now just a handful of warriors, and flanked from all sides by firing droids, she felt her heart fall.
Darc, you should be glad that you are not here.
Suddenly, it was over. The blasterfire stopped coming. Droids lowered their weapons, Droidekas came to a standstill, and the super battle droids deactivated the laser cannons built into their systems and put their firing arm up, signaling that they weren't going to fire. Adriaan felt some of the Jedi around her shift uneasily, not trusting to lower their weapons.
Without taking her gaze off the droids, her eyes darted quickly around. All the avenues of escape had been blocked off. A few remaining Masters strode through the lines of droids and joined the group clustered in the center. They were all standing back to back in a loose circle, all eyes riveted on the official's box where they knew that Count Dooku had presided throughout the entire battle. Nadma Okiwa came up beside her, holding her orange lightsaber in an easily recognizable defensive position. Obi-Wan looked up from where he had been checking a fallen Jedi's vitals. Padmé lowered her blaster reluctantly. Jade Yil slowly morphed from a Geonosian back to her original shape. She had cleverly changed to a native of the planet near the beginning of the battle so that she could more easily keep the enemy off-balance. Kan and Jordin were a few meters away, their faces white with suspense. They had handled the whole thing very well until now, when they must wait in silence for their fate to be decided. Adriaan saw that Kan's legs were shaking. She didn't blame him. The battle was beginning to tire everyone out.
Kien wiped a spot of blood from his face while Aedan continued to glare at the dark-clothed figure standing in the official's box. Adriaan couldn't see his face from that far, but she had no doubt that the figure was Count Dooku. It was very likely that he had watched the entire spectacle from his high place of safety and enjoyed the whole thing. Enjoyed it! While his allies and his foes alike spilled blood in his dirty arena. And he had once been a Jedi, too. How many of the fallen had he known in the days of his knighthood? No doubt he had known many. Obviously he didn't care ––– he had even wasted Jango Fett's life, and the bounty hunter had a son to account for. An artificial son ––– a clone, a copy of Jango ––– but still, a son.
Adriaan felt her blood boil, and she hastily tried to think of something else. She wasn't an Apprentice now, she was a Jedi. She couldn't use anger as a source for energy. Only the Sith did that.
But I was taught the ways of the Sith…
"Master Windu!" Dooku's voice rang over them as if he were shouting down from a mountaintop. "You have fought gallantly. Worthy of recognition in the Archives of the Jedi Order."
His tone seemed cold yet polite, but Adriaan could feel the malice and sarcasm in his words, which seemed to curl around her ears like rancid smoke. Idiot! she thought grimly. Did he think that they were too stupid to catch the meaning in his smooth, empty speeches? He spoke with such oily slickness and lack of expression that it was hard to tell whether he was insulting or complimenting you. "Recognition in the Archives"? What a joke. That was just Dooku's way of saying, "You guys think you're all that, and you have Archives to fill to the top with records of your 'great deeds'. But you are not what you think you are. You will not defeat us."
"Now, it is finished," The Count continued.
Finished? It has just begun!
"Surrender, and your lives will be spared."
"NEVER!" Adriaan wanted to shout, and several others looked like they were about to say the same thing. How dare he? They would never bow in homage to Dooku, who would most likely use them as hostages that would reap in billions of credits as a ransom, credits enough for the Separatists to stock more weapons and droids to use against the Republic. They would most likely take in quite a bit of profit from the planet Naboo in exchange for Senator Amidala's freedom, and if not, the Count could hand her over to the Viceroy and gain the Trade Federation's loyalty.
The Jedi remained in a stony silence. They would not shout in anger. There was a slight ripple throughout the group as their eyes all shifted to their leader. The only sound was the angry muttering of the Wicked Club. "GOODS," they murmured.
It was their leader, the one who was second in the Order to Yoda, the one who had led them all and had not given up, spoke for them all. "We will not surrender as hostages to be bartered, Dooku," Mace Windu said distinctly. They would not back down. The cold finality in his voice was clear.
The Jedi nodded at one another in agreement, moving closer to stand by Windu. For once, even Aedan concurred with Mace Windu. "WICKED Windu!" he whispered loudly.
Dooku alone did not seem impressed. He seemed almost disappointed, as if he had expected more from them. His face wore a mask of regret, but this time, no one was fooled. They all knew what his next command would be. And they could tell that he was looking forward to it. "Well, I'm sorry old friend," he said, and bowed his head as if reluctant to watch.
In spite of the grave circumstances, Adriaan smiled. You fool, we can see through your mask. You aren't sorry to watch us die. We aren't sorry, either. Not at all!
No doubt the slight inclination of his head was some sort of signal, for the battle droids pointed their weapons at them. The Jedi shifted position, ready to attack.
Adriaan heard a roaring over her head, but she paid no heed to it, her mind entirely focused on the droids in front of her. I'll take the droidekas out first, so they won't get a chance to break through our circle. We need to get rid of all the strongest firepower first. Next I'll head for that line of super battle droids…
It was Padmé that first glanced up. "Look!" she shouted.
Then they saw the first gunships arriving.