"We'll have to go in fast" Anakin began as the Jedi gathered around a hologram displaying the Separatist fleet hey would encounter, "The Separatist fleet is the biggest threat they have enough ships to effectively shut down any attempt at landing our ground forces".
The hologram changed displaying the Republic base on Ruusan, "Our forces that are stationed here are keeping the enemy at bay, but they're supplies are quickly dwindling. We have to engage the enemy fleet and pray we can find a hole to send in gunships to the surface".
Leon crossed his arms, "So the name of the game is who blinks first?"
"Looks like it" Anakin said, "They're fleet is spread out so they can cover the entire battlefield…I don't see a clean way to get any ships through their net. Unless we take down one of their cruisers we'll lose a lot of troops".
"So let's take down one of the cruisers" Leon said, "All of their big weapons will be focused on our fleet while their smaller armaments will be used to take out fighters and any of our ships that try to get through. So let's pick a target and send in a strike team to take it down from within".
"That could work" Anakin agreed, "Of course we'd have to keep the selected ship busy and focused on our fleet so the strike team can infiltrate it".
Plo Koon scratched his chin, "It sounds like it could work. It's definitely a dangerous plan and their ships greatly outnumber our own".
He was right the Separatist fleet consisted of ten ships where they only had three. Just attempting to fight against this fleet was borderline suicide, but the Republic could not afford to lose Ruusan. There was a time General Grievous had a secret listening post on one of the planet's moons it was curious that the Separatists never attempted to attack the planet then. In fact Ruusan hadn't seen any conflict since the outbreak of the war despite being host to a Republic base. Of course that was over now with such a large Separatist force it was obvious they intended on capturing the planet no matter what.
The strange thing was the Separatist never seemed this hell-bent on something before always sending a sufficient amount of troops to accomplish their goals so an attack on this scale stood out. That was the question on all of their minds why commit so many resources to one system. Ruusan didn't have any particularly valuable resources so other than controlling another world it was practically a pointless target and even for that reason to use so many forces it seemed like a tactic no commanding officer would ever make.
"So?" Leon asked, "Are we going through with my idea or do we have another idea?"
Plo Koon voiced his dislike of the plan, "I do not approve of this plan, but I fear it is our only choice. If we can not take out those cruisers we cannot get to the surface".
Master Fisto grinned, "Well it seems our course of action is obvious the only question is which ships do we target? Taking out one will not be enough".
"So we'll go for two" Ahsoka said pointing at the two cruisers at the far left of the enemy fleet, "If we take out these two at the end we'll make an effective dent not only in their strength, but the net they have around the planet".
Luminara studied the projection of the enemy fleet, "There are seven of us we could attempt a third target with two Jedi per strike team leaving one of us behind to protect the ship in case the droids board it".
Plo Koon folded his arms, "Yes, but would it be wise to divide our forces that much? We are already at enough of a disadvantage".
"Taking out three ships would definitely give us a much better chance" Leon noted.
Luminara looked over to him, "But if anything were to go wrong even on one side it would put us back at square one. Still out numbered and out gunned".
Leon hummed, "With as much faith as we have in each other I'd really prefer to not risk such a thing. We'll be fine taking out two cruisers".
"Well I say we should go for three" Anakin said, "Like Master Unduli said we're already outnumbered enough we should take any advantage we can".
Leon looked over to Thalia who had remained silent the entire time, "Thalia is something wrong?"
Thalia raised her hand to her chin, "I…I think I sense something, but I don't know what".
"Calm your mind young Thalia" Plo Koon told her, "Focus your mind and it will come to you".
Thalia moved her eyes to Leon who gave her a quick nod. Inhaling a quick breath Thalia closed her eyes and gave her senses over to the Force while the others continued their briefing.
"I'm not saying hitting three ships isn't a good idea" Leon began, "But it would be fool hardy to divide us by so much".
Anakin pushed his point, "Well if we only hit two it would be easier to send reinforcements to the surface, but we would still have an extra ship to deal with".
Leon hung his head, "Well we could send only one Jedi to the third ship. That way we'll have two of us here in case the droids board".
"That plan sounds like more of a risk than the other" Plo Koon said.
"Well if you have a better idea Master then I'm all ears" Leon said to him, "Anakin is right we have to take a third one not just to help the ground forces, but our own fleet as well. Even if we take out three of their ships it will be difficult to win, but at least we'll have a better chance. Now how should we divide up?"
Anakin raised his hand rubbing his thumb over his fingers, "I'll take the solo role on the third ship. Ahsoka you and Thalia stay here to guard the ship. Master Luminara go with Leon, Master Plo and Master Fisto that leaves the two of you".
The Kel Dor Jedi crossed his arms again, "Very well Skywalker I've learned from personal experience that your plans while questionable have a tendency to lead to victory".
Leon looked up to him, "Ok first it was my plan and second of course we're going to win. We have seven Jedi here if we fail then we don't deserve to win" he stepped over to Luminara, "So how about we make it interesting first team to destroy their target wins".
"Here we go again" Ahsoka sighed just as her master accepted Leon's challenge.
Leon activated his comlink, "Edge are you there?"
"I read you Commander".
"Edge" Leon said in a disappointed tone.
"Uh sorry I mean I read you Leon".
"That's better. Now gather the boys and meet me in the hanger we're going on a little field trip".
Luminara regarded her former padawan with an intrigued smile, "You seem to have forged quite a bond with your clones. You insist that they be your team on every mission".
Leon rolled his shoulders back, "Well it's important for a leader to be close to his troops right? Besides the gang and I have been through a lot together, there's no one else I'd rather have at my back".
"Thanks a lot" Ahsoka scoffed.
Leon grinned, "Aw is someone getting jealous?"
Ahsoka quickly turned away, "Not at all".
Leon silently snickered to himself before turning to Thalia, "You'll do fine just stay calm and remember everything Master Plo taught you".
Thalia nodded to him, "Come back in one piece ok?"
"Definitely" Leon smirked, "But I can't say the same for the clankers" turning to Luminara he nodded to the bridge door, "Well shall we?"
Wishing his fellow Jedi good luck Leon left for the hanger along with his former master meeting his favorite clones on the way. Stepping on board a smaller transport ship he explain to them their mission to infiltrate one of the ships and destroy it from within starting with their weapon systems and then their engines.
"Déjà vu eh boys?" Edge said to his team.
Baron scoffed, "Same plan as the first mission we went on with you Leon" he looked to Edge, "Just try not to get shot this time Captain".
"Captain?" Leon repeated, "Edge did you get promoted?"
"Yes sir" the clone answered, "It seems High Command not only heard of our recent string of success, but also of what we did in the training room on Kamino".
"So they promoted you" Leon concluded, "Well congratulations Captain".
"Its time" Luminara said as their ship landed in the hanger of the enemy cruiser.
Grabbing his silver lightsaber Leon jumped from the ship cutting down a squad of droids before they could raise their weapons. Making another jump Leon flew to the opening bulkhead meeting the droids coming to defend their ship. Utilizing Shien the fifth form of lightsaber combat Leon blocked and deflected the droids' fire back at them as his former master and clones joined him. With Luminara and his clones at his back Leon jumped over the droids landing in the middle of them, crouching down he pivoted on his foot and angled his lightsaber above him. Spinning on his heel he cut through the droids wiping out the center of their formation allowing Titan squad and Luminara to focus on the sides.
Using her mastery of form III Soresu and her incredible flexibility Luminara was untouchable to the droids. Deflecting half their shots and twisting around the rest she made quick and easy work of her targets while her former padawan and the clones dealt with the rest of the droids. In under a minute the droids were defeated giving them a clear path to the ship's engine room.
Sprinting toward the engine room they were contacted by the other two strike teams Master Fisto and Plo Koon were preparing to destroy the engine and hyper drive of their cruiser while Anakin was meeting heavy resistance outside the engine room of his target. So far the plan was going smoothly on all sides the Resolute had taken minimal damage and not enemies have managed to board the ship yet. It seemed attacking three of their ships from within at once sent the Separatists into chaos making it almost impossible to salvage the situation.
Making sure to take full advantage of the situation Leon ran ahead of his group to distract the droids allowing his clones to take them down from behind. With the droids in the engine room defeated the two Jedi stood guard while the clones began setting their charges, but that's where the real fight began. While the clones were setting their charges Leon felt his chest tighten and his vision quickly became blurred. Noticing her former padawan rubbing his eyes Luminara asked him if he was ok, but before he could respond he was suddenly lifted into the air and thrown at her.
Clenching at his chest Leon scrambled back to his feet and helped Luminara up as a spectre droid appeared in front of them.
"Dammit I hate these things" Leon growled as the droid lunged at them.
Jumping to opposite sides Leon and Luminara attacked the droid at the same time, but missed as it ducked down and jumped forward grabbing Leon's wrist as it moved and throwing him along its path. Rolling to a stop Leon quickly got up to a knee and deflected a shot from the droid's blaster before grabbing it with the Force and lifting it off the ground calling to Luminara to destroy it. The Mirialan Jedi swung her weapon at the droid and missed as it fell back to the floor, Leon began coughing causing him to lose his focus and release the droid. Landing on its feet the spectre whipped around kicking Luminara away from it before lunging toward Leon.
"Leon look out!" Luminara called as the droid made a move toward the incapacitated padawan.
Seeing the droid sprinting toward him Leon raised his hand attempting to push it away with the Force only to have the droid make a swift juke to the side and grab his outstretched arm. Lifting Leon off the ground the droid kneed him in the stomach before slamming him into the ground and throwing him into the nearby wall. Rolling onto his side Leon coughed trying to force himself back to his feet before the spectre could attack him again, thankfully Luminara grabbed it with the Force and pulled it away from him.
Intending to cut the droid down while she was pulling it to her Luminara's plan was thwarted as the droid began firing at her as she pulled it to her. Defending against the droids shots Luminara held her ground while the droid advanced on her waiting until it was close enough before attacking. Stepping to the side at last second the spectre brought its knee up from inside Luminara's strike nailing her in the stomach. Before the spectre could follow up on its attack Edge fired a shot into its back to distract it allowing Luminara to bring her lightsaber up again cutting the droid's arm off. Once the droid's arm was severed it ducked and jumped to the side to avoid the second swing firing at the Jedi Master and the clones as it tried retreating.
Retreating from Luminara and the clones the spectre noticed Leon getting back to his feet and cloaked itself.
When the droid vanished Luminara looked over to Leon and then to Edge, "Captain prepare to detonate the charges we're leaving at once".
Edge nodded as Luminara went to check on Leon, priming the charges and following her to Leon's side.
"Sorry Master" Leon groaned as Luminara offered her shoulder to help him stand.
"There is no need to apologize Leon" she told him, "It was out of your control".
Leon tried to laugh, "This disease has perfect timing don't you think?"
"All the more reason to find a cure if one exists".
Handing Leon to Boulder and Baron the Jedi Master activated her lightsaber and took point leading the squad back to the hangar, but their fight wasn't over yet. Once they stepped outside the engine room the spectre reappeared grabbing Luminara's lightsaber hand and throwing her back into the group of clones and Leon. Luminara looked up at the spectre droid as it loomed over her pointing its blaster rifle at her forehead she tried to Force push it away, but Leon seeing her in danger jumped to his feet and lunged at the droid. Seeing Leon making his move the droid took a quick step back and retracted its arm firing its rifle at Leon before he tackled it to the ground.
"Commander!" Edge yelled hearing the blaster shot as Leon tackled the droid.
Leon laid on top of the droid for a brief second before rolling to the side clutching both of his hands over the corner of his stomach, the carbon scoring of the blaster bolt burning his skin. In spite of his pain Leon forced himself back up, but the droid tripped him sending him back to the floor the sudden trauma causing his blaster wound even more pain. The spectre then stood over him just as it did with Luminara and aimed its blaster at his forehead thankfully before it could pull the trigger Luminara cut the evil machine in half saving her former padawan.
Forcing as much of a smile as he could Leon grunted in pain as the clones helped him up, "I think I might have to rephrase the part where I said this would be an easy job".
"You'll be alright sir" Baron told him, "We just need to get you back to the ship and into the medical bay".
Returning to the hanger they scrambled into their shuttle and left the enemy ship setting off their charges sending a chain of explosions ripping through the enemy cruiser destroying it.
After leaving the enemy ship Edge contacted the Resolute's bridge, "Captain Edge to the Resolute".
"We read you Captain" Admiral Yularen answered, "We've confirmed the destruction of your target the other two" Edge cut him off.
"Sorry Admiral, but we don't have time. We need an emergency medical team to meet us in the hanger Commander Solstice is badly injured and needs immediate attention".
"Understood Captain I'll dispatch a team at once".
"Hey guys" Leon panted, "I don't want to alarm anyone…but I'm not feeling to hot right now".
Baron quickly placed his fingers against his neck his pulse was rapid, but weak like his breathing.
"Dammit this isn't good" Baron growled taking the glove part of his armor off and placing his hand on Leon's forehead, "He's going into shock…" he turned to the cockpit, "Coins double time now!"
Returning to the Resolute the squad of clones carried Leon to the medical team waiting for them. Setting the wounded Jedi on the cart the clones looked back to Luminara as the medical team along with Baron wheeled Leon away.
"What now General?" Edge asked her.
Luminara retained her calm demeanor, "We need to get an update on the other strike teams and assist them if needed" activating her comlink she contacted the bridge, "Admiral what's the status of the other two teams?"
"They are on the way back as we speak General Unduli. All three ships confirmed destroyed. We're sending out the transports and fighters now".
"So mission accomplished" Boulder said, "What should we do now General? Go with the ground forces?"
"No not yet" Luminara told him, "We'll wait for the others to return then we'll come up with another plan".
"What about Leon ma'am?" Boulder asked her.
"I have faith that he'll pull through, but we cannot afford to worry about him right now".
The two returning shuttles landed in the hanger unloading the surviving members of each team. Greeting her fellow Jedi Luminara quickly informed them of Leon's condition as they returned to the bridge. With the three targeted cruisers destroyed the Separatists' net around Ruusan was drastically shortened allowing their transports plenty of room to reach the surface now they just had to deal with the rest of the enemy fleet.
"We have reinforcements on the way" Anakin told them, "We just need to hold out until they get here".
While the battle continued the Jedi began planning their next course of action even though the struck a major blow against the enemy fleet the battle was far from over. Meanwhile in the ship's infirmary Ahsoka and Thalia were sitting next to Leon as the medical droid tended to his wounds. The medical droid with help from Baron managed to stabilize Leon's condition before he went into shock, but he was still severely injured two broken ribs and wrist and the blaster shot on his stomach.
"I need you to stay still Leon" Baron told him as he tried treating the blaster wound.
"Just hurry up yeah" Leon panted, "We've still got a fight to win".
"I'd hate to disappoint you, but you're not going to see any action for a while".
Leon gave a weak, sarcastic laugh, "Yeah good luck with that" he tried to sit up, but Ahsoka stopped him and pushed him back down.
"Enough" she snapped at him, "You're not going anywhere or doing anything until your injuries heal".
Leon sighed, "You could say please" he looked to Thalia, "Why do you look so worried? I did say I'd come back in one piece".
Thalia forced a smile, "You're alive…that's enough for me" she looked over to Baron and the medical droid and asked them to stand aside as she stood up, "I can help you" she told Leon hovering her hands over his blaster wound.
"I'll take all the help I can get at this point" he muttered trying to relax against the pain.
Thalia closed her eyes and cleared her mind submerging her consciousness in the Force. Leon grunted and clenched his eyes as his injuries felt like they were moving and throbbing. Ahsoka and Baron watched as Leon's injuries began healing and eventually vanishing from sight.
"How does that feel?" Thalia asked gasping as if she was holding her breath for hours.
Leon chuckled his pain was completely gone and there was no trace of his injuries, "I guess Master Plo was right when he said you were strong in the Force" he prodded his finger at the spot where he was shot, "Amazing…thank you Thalia".
Raising his legs Leon sprang to his feet and stretched his arms and chest out, "Much better" punching his fist into his open hand he laughed, "Ha-ha alright back to a hundred percent..." he turned to Thalia, "I owe you dinner for that".
Thalia blushed, but the moment was short lived as an alarm went off throughout the ship.
"All hands to battle stations" Admiral Yularen ordered, "Enemy breaching pods inbound. Repeat all hands to battle stations".
Leon's lips separated into a wide grin, "Pay back time. Well shall we?" he asked Ahsoka and Thalia.
They both nodded running from the infirmary with Leon and the clone medic Baron. Running down the hall Baron contacted the bridge and asked for the predicted breach points there were three pods being tracked on the radar one heading for the hanger the second for the upper decks and the last one heading for the crew quarters deck. They were closest to the second entry point, but were ordered to defend the hanger while Luminara and Anakin defended the upper decks and Plo Koon and Master Fisto defended the crew quarters. Not wasting any time Leon told Baron to contact Edge and him and the rest of the team to meet them in the hanger before his speed increased and he ran down the hall with surprising speed.
"How can he move so fast?" Baron wondered.
"It's the Force" Thalia told him, "A Jedi can use the Force to speed up both mentally and physically, from what Master Luminara has told me he has a natural talent in that particular ability".
Ahsoka's comlink beeped and her master's voice called to her, "Ahsoka can you hear me?"
"I read you Master" she answered, "We're on our way to the hanger now".
"Good listen you need to clear out the enemy as fast as you can and secure the surrounding area as well. We have an allied ship coming in and she'll be docking once she arrives".
"Roger that Master we'll handle it".
"Good luck Snips".
Arriving in the hanger Ahsoka and Thalia quickly joined the battle as the droids began invading the ship. Baron ran to the side rejoining Edge and his team while Leon was already in the middle of the droid formation cutting them down one after another.
Ahsoka sighed and shook her head as she watched Leon, "Of course he is…" she looked to Thalia, "Well are you ready?"
Thalia nodded, "Yeah let's do it".
Activating their lightsabers Ahsoka and Thalia joined Leon and the army of clones in defending their ship.
"Fancy meeting you here" Leon smiled at them.
"Leon not now" Ahsoka yelled at him.
Between three Jedi and a small battalion of clones the invading droids stood no chance of winning as their numbers began falling one after another until a single destroyer remained.
"So who wants the last one?" Leon asked.
"This one is mine" Ahsoka claimed deflecting its lasers and running toward it.
Reaching the droid Ahsoka jumped over it and prepared to swing with both of her weapons, but the droid was suddenly lifted off the ground. Ahsoka looked up to the droid after her attacks missed and watched as a bright green flash of light flew overhead with a loud reverberating hum and cut through the droid. The remains of the destroyed droid dropped to the floor and the green light flew back to Thalia's outstretched hand.
Catching her lightsaber Thalia gave Ahsoka an apologetic smile, "Sorry I couldn't help myself".
Ahsoka sighed and switched off her own lightsabers, "It's alright…at least we won" activating her comlink she contacted her master informing him of their success in the hanger.
"Good work Snips. Our reinforcements should be arriving soon for now let's regroup on the bridge".
"Something's not right" Leon said as Ahsoka walked over to him and Thalia, "There were too few droids. There's usually more when they attempt to breach our ships".
"Maybe they're running low on troops" Thalia suggested.
Leon shook his head, "No not with how many ships they have on their side. They could have easily sent three times the number they did over here…I think they're trying to stall us, keep us away from the planet".
"Stall us for what?" Ahsoka asked him.
Leon ran his hand over his chin, "Let's get back to the bridge, I've got a bad feeling about what's going happening on Ruusan's surface".
Returning to the bridge the three padawans rejoined their masters. Walking over to Luminara, Leon greeted her with a nonchalant smile as if nothing had happened to him. His former master was surprised to see him walking around so soon, but her confusion was quickly laid to rest when he explained that Thalia healed his injuries. Admiral Yularen turned to them and informed them that their reinforcements had arrived just as an additional three star destroyers dropped out of hyperspace along with an HWK-290 light freighter.
"That ship" Ahsoka gasped seeing the freighter that appeared with their reinforcements, "It's the Forgotten Star".
Leon fixed his gaze on the freighter as well, "Forgotten Star? You've seen it before?"
Ahsoka nodded and a slight smile appeared on her face, "That's Liliana's ship".
"Who's Liliana?" Thalia asked her.
Leon grinned, "Liliana…That's a girl's name".
Ahsoka quickly turned to him, "Really? You're going to start that now?"
"Is she hot?" Leon asked her.
Ahsoka thought back to her last meeting with Liliana and suddenly blushed causing Leon to give her a suspicious smile.
"What are you blushing for?" he whispered to her, "Did something interesting happen between you two?"
Snapping back to reality Ahsoka quickly jabbed him in the stomach with her elbow as the admiral of the reinforcements contacted them informing them that the captain of the freighter had important information for them before another voice cut in.
"Sorry to interrupt you Admiral, but we're short on time" the voice was female and sounded angry, "Liliana to the Resolute requesting immediate permission to dock".
"Permission granted" Anakin said, "Head to the auxiliary bay we'll be waiting for you on the bridge".
The freighter flew around to the underside of the star destroyer safely out of the way of enemy fire and docked with the ship. Within a few minutes the bridge door slid open and a young woman quickly marched over to them. She wore a long sleeved dirty white shirt over layered by a red flak jacket both of which stopped just above her waist showing off her midriff. Her black leather leggings stopped half way down her thighs and her leather belt was tilted running at a diagonal angle over her hips with a blaster holstered on either side.
Stopping in front of them she greeted them, "Good to see you again Anakin, Ahsoka".
"If only it were under better circumstances" Anakin said crossing his arms, "So what brings you out here?"
"The Goliath Project" the girl answered, "I'm the one who informed your spies about it and now I've finally discovered what it is".
Leon walked around his fellow Jedi and to the freighter captain, "And as much as we would love to know about it maybe we should have introductions first" he held his hand out and waited for her to try and shake it.
"Liliana Ashford, captain of the Forgotten Star".
Leon grabbed her hand by the side, "Leon Solstice, soon to be Jedi Master, self proclaimed ladies man and hopeless romantic" he kissed her hand, "Not necessarily in that order mind you".
"So you're Leon?" Liliana asked him sliding her hand free from him and looking to Ahsoka, "You weren't kidding about him".
Ahsoka hid her glare as she answered, "Just ignore him. What is this Goliath Project?"
Leon tried to protest Ahsoka's suggestion of ignoring him, but Liliana pushed him to the side and connected her datapad to their hologram showing a strange machine that had four legs a humanoid appearing with arms and a cannon mounted on its back.
"This is the Goliath Project" "A monstrous droid that measures 30 meters tall and weighs almost 450 tons and boasts the same armor plating used in star ships".
The hologram zoomed in on the weapon's back revealing a 120mm cannon, "This cannon fires heavy explosive anti-armor rounds capable of bringing down cruisers in only a few shots". The hologram changed its focus to the machine's arms, "Each arm is actually a 25mm gun capable of burst or full automatic fire. Each gun had the ability to fire explosive rounds that scatter electronic particles into the air which will disrupt radio transmissions".
The hologram changed its focus again showing the machine's head, "The Goliath comes equipped with X-ray, thermal and night vision capabilities making it effective in almost any environment or condition. It has an advanced AI allowing it to act completely independent from a control hub meaning unlike battle droids they can think for themselves and attack strategic positions instead of marching in with overwhelming numbers and that's not even the worst part".
"Really?" Leon chuckled sarcastically, "Just when I was getting bored".
The hologram showed the full machine with the cannon on its back removed and zoomed in between its shoulders, "Buried inside its back is its power source. A hydrogen fuel core that if ruptured will explode basically vaporizing everything within a half mile radius".
The hologram faded and Liliana unhook her datapad, "That's all I've been able to uncover".
"And that's all we need to know" Anakin said, "A weapon like that we can't allow the Separatist to use…Do you have any idea how many they've made so far?"
Liliana shrugged regretfully, "As best I can tell I think they only have three, but I have no way of being a hundred percent on that".
Leon asked her, "Do you know where these things are being made?"
Liliana shook her head, "I followed some leads for a while after hearing about it. They took me all over from Telos to Taris from Bespin and even to Korriban. After a while I gave up looking and hoped Republic Intelligence could figure it out".
One of the bridge hands suddenly turned around and announced that a Separatist cruiser was destroyed and another had sustained fatal damage leaving only five enemy ships. The battle was still long from over, but at least now they had the edge or so they thought. After the two enemy cruisers were destroyed a transmission came in from the ground forces informing them of a massive machine that was destroying everything in its path. Upon hearing the clone trooper's description of the machine everyone's eyes all moved to Liliana who merely nodded in confirmation.
"Sounds like one of them is down there".
"That would explain why there are so many enemy ships then" Leon said, "This is a test for their new weapon and they didn't want us getting in the way until they were sure it worked. That's why they've been stalling us".
Thalia gasped loudly with a pained expression and stepped back before falling to her knees both of her hands holding tightly against her head as if it was about to split open.
"Thalia" Leon cried catching her in his arms before she fell, "Thalia what's wrong?" he frantically asked her seeing the fearful look in her eyes.
"I can feel it" she whimpered, "I can feel them dying…so many of them all at once. I can hear them screaming".
Her eyes filled with terror and tears as she began trembling. Everyone around them watched as Leon hugged her head to his chest trying to calm her down.
"It's alright" he told her, "We're going to put a stop to it".
"It hurts" Thalia panted, "They're screams…so many of them and then everything goes quiet".
Leon helped her to her feet still holding her close to him unaware of the concerned and suspicious looks his fellow Jedi were giving him.
"We need to act now" Anakin said breaking everyone's attention away from Leon and Thalia, "If one of those things is down there we have to destroy it or we'll lose Ruusan".
"Do you have anything in mind?" Liliana asked him, "Remember a goliath's armor is made from the same material used to make star cruisers. They won't be easy to kill".
"Easy or not we cannot allow a weapon like that to exist" Luminara said, "For the sake of peace and the galaxy we have to destroy it".
"Then let's go" Leon said after Thalia stopped trembling, "If we don't act now it going to destroy our entire base down there along with all of our troops".
Anakin looked back to Liliana, "Liliana do these things have a weak spot?"
"Weak spot no. Vulnerable spots yes".
"Spots?" Ahsoka repeated, "Plural meaning more than one?"
Liliana smiled and nodded to her, "There are no weak points in its armor, but there are spots were it is easy to attack. The Goliath's biggest weakness is it can't defend itself against attacks coming from behind it couple that with how slow it is and you can easily insert a squad of troops onto its back and start planting charges on it or even attack it with rockets. Another vulnerable spot is its underside although that's much more dangerous its size and weight can make its footsteps cause minor tremors that make any precision attacks from under it extremely difficult. Its biggest weakness however are its targeting systems the eyes. If you can find a way to blind it somehow it will stop attacking. It's a weapon of mass destruction so it has a fail safe to keep it from firing blindly should anything ever happen to its targeting systems".
"So we gouge out its eyes and it'll stop in its tracks" Leon concluded, "Sounds like a good plan to me. If we manage to disable it that way and then find a way to completely shut it down we could salvage it possibly even reprogram it to use against the Separatists".
"I like the sound of that" Anakin admitted.
Leon turned to Anakin, "Then what are we waiting for?"
Anakin turned to Admiral Yularen, "Admiral the ship is yours take care of her".
The admiral nodded, "By your orders General good luck".
"I can fit six people in my ship" Liliana told them, "I can get you down there much faster than any drop ship".
Anakin nodded, "You're ship is pretty fast. You can get a few of us down there while the rest of us come in by drop ship".
"One of us should stay here" Ahsoka suggested, "In the event of another droid boarding party one of us should stay here to help protect the ship".
Anakin agreed and looked to his fellow Jedi, "So who wants to stay behind?"
"I'm going to Ruusan" Leon answered immediately.
"I will stay behind" Master Fisto said, "I will protect the ship with our troops the rest of you go deal with that monster".
"Alright then let's go" Anakin said leading them off the bridge.
"We should split up into separate teams" Liliana suggested after leaving the bridge, "That way we can flank them and box them in and in the event one of the ships gets shot down we won't lose too many".
"That's quite an idea coming from a smuggler" Plo Koon noted.
Liliana glanced at him as they kept walking, "You'll find I'm more than a simple smuggler Master Jedi".
Luminara placed her eyes on Liliana, "If I remember correctly you are the smuggler that assisted Ahsoka and Skywalker in defending Corellia after I called for reinforcements".
Liliana nodded, "Yes that was me. I may be a smuggler, but considering all the information I've been sending to the Republic I'm starting to feel more like a spy than anything".
"What happened on Corellia?" Leon asked them, "More importantly how come I haven't heard anything about it?"
Ahsoka laughed at him, "Probably because it happened while you were taking a four month nap".
Leon whipped his eyes to Ahsoka and pointed at her, "Hey sleep is important".
Arriving in the hangar Leon turned his attention to Liliana, "You said you can fit six people on your ship right?" Liliana nodded and Leon turned to Thalia, "Thalia you should stay here".
"Why?" she asked him before seeing the concerned look in his eyes, "I'll be fine".
"Thalia this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. If you could feel people dying from up here getting closer to them isn't going to help that. You need to stay up here where it's safe".
Thalia shook her head, "I'm going. If this world is as important as you say it is we need all the help we can get and that monster down there has to be stopped".
Before Leon could protest any further Plo Koon stepped forward, "While I appreciate your concern for my padawan young Leon she is my padawan and the decision is mine alone to make".
"Fine" Leon said turning away from the Kel' Dor Jedi, "Just one thing Master Plo. If anything happens to her I'm holding you responsible so you better keep her safe".
Walking away from the group Leon called Edge on his comlink telling him and his team to meet him in the hangar.
"I'll go with Leon" Luminara said, "I will see you all on the ground".
"That's two" Liliana said turning to Ahsoka, "Ahsoka why don't you ride with me".
Ahsoka nodded and Liliana turned to Thalia, "You're coming to". Thalia nodded with a nervous smile.
"Alright let's get going" Anakin said following Liliana only to have her stop and turn at him.
"Girls only" she said to him, "You two find your own means of transportation".
Anakin watched silently as Liliana led Ahsoka and Thalia back to her ship in the docking port, "Looks like its you and me then" he said to the Kel' Dor Jedi next to him.
"So it seems" Plo Koon replied following Anakin to another drop ship, "Can we trust this smuggler Skywalker?" he asked him, "They are criminals after all".
"We can trust her Master Plo" Anakin told him, "In the first day we met her she helped us twice in one day. She helped protect the Resolute and helped us keep Corellia safe. She almost sacrificed her life to save Ahsoka before".
Plo Koon stepped onto the ship, "Very well Skywalker, if you trust her then I shall as well though I shall remain cautious".
"Speaking of cautious what happened to Thalia on the bridge?"
"She is very strong in the Force Skywalker with so little training she has mastered powers over the Force that took me years to achieve, but I believe her background may have a part in it. From what Master Yoda and I have been able to gather she has a natural connection with the Living Force allowing her to sense the Force that flows through all living things, but such a strong connection apparently has a drawback. With so many lives ending at once I believe the sensation temporarily overwhelmed her".
Clone troopers led by Captain Rex boarded the drop ship and the doors to the ship slid closed.
"Is it wise to take her into this battle then?" Anakin asked him, "If that really is what happened to her don't you think it'd be too dangerous to take her into a battle of this scale?"
"I'm well aware of the danger Skywalker, but I have faith she will be able to accomplish this mission in spite of what may happen".
"I hope you're right" Anakin muttered as their ship took off for Ruusan.
Across the hanger Leon and Luminara were preparing to leave along with Edge and Titan squad.
"You don't have to worry about me Master" Leon said feeling Luminara's eyes on him. Turning around to face his former master he gave her a half confident half sad smile, "I'll be fine".
"You're allowing you're emotions to control your judgment Leon" she told him, "First Ahsoka and now Thalia. You've become too attached to them".
"And?" he asked her as if it wasn't an issue, "They're both extremely important to me".
"You do remember the teachings my former padawan".
Leon nodded, "Of course I remember them, but I don't care what the teachings say" he gazed into Luminara's eyes as he admitted his feelings on the subject, "Its not just them I feel that way about" he looked to Edge and his team, "Edge and the rest of Titan squad they're my friends and I would gladly put my life on the line with them in battle and celebrate our victories with them after every mission. I consider them more than friends just like I do with Ahsoka, Thalia and you".
"Me?" Luminara muttered.
Leon nodded, "Luminara you were the one to bring me to the Jedi Order you were the one who started me on the path of being a Jedi. Even after you were no longer my master you were always there for me if I needed help or guidance. Whether you like it or not you're an important part of my life you've helped me become the person I am today. I love you just as much as I do Edge, Baron, Ahsoka or Thalia. For so many years the Jedi have said attachment leads to the dark side, but have any of them ever stopped to think that attachment is a strength that will make us invincible?"
Leon looked down at his feet as the ship's doors slid shut, "Remember what I said to Count Dooku on Ord Mantell? My strength my will to fight comes from the desire the need to protect what I consider important in my life. I was able to defeat him and Grievous because I was fighting to protect you and Thalia".
"And us as well right Leon?" Boulder asked polishing his rotary blaster cannon.
Leon nodded to the clone, "Also yes" he then looked back to Luminara, "I don't think attachment is something to be feared Maser. As long as I have someone or something to protect I will not be defeated no matter what my opposition and I will not fall to the dark side because I have all of you as my tether to keep me from falling".
Luminara lowered her eyes, "You have such confidence in your voice. You truly believe all of that don't you?"
Leon nodded, "Yes I do. I'm not questioning the teachings or trying to make you see it my way. I only want you to understand the way I see and trust in me to know the difference between the dark side and the light".
"You've never given me a reason to not trust you" Luminara admitted, "Just promise me that no matter what you will remember where the line is between the two".
"Of course" Leon told her, "As long as I have all of you I will never lose sight of that".
Coins called back to them from the pilot's seat, "We're entering Ruusan's atmosphere now. Everyone get ready the operation area is hot".
The clones stood up and grabbed hold of the handle bars hanging above them and Leon gave them a quick nod before looking back to Luminara.
"You remind me a lot of my mother" he said to her, "That's why I always came to you when I needed help" he gave her a faint smile, "Thank you for that for always being there".
Luminara returned the smile and nodded to him as before the ship shook.
"Coins what's going on?" Edge yelled.
"I don't know sir" Coins responded, "We've got a massive…thing in front of us. Its got AA artillery locked on us I have to set us down a bit further away or we're done for".
"Just do what you can Coins" Leon told him, "Find somewhere to set us down we'll go in on foot".
Finding a scorched patch of land Coins set the drop ship down and quickly climbed out as he opened the doors for his brothers.
"Go, go, go!" Edge yelled to his team as they piled off the ship, but stopped in their tracks when they saw a massive machine half a mile in front of them.
"That thing is gigantic" Baron muttered seeing the 30 meter tall machine.
Coins gazed up at monster in front of them, "Hey Chip do you have enough grenades to bring that thing down to size?"
Gripping his lightsaber Leon walked in front of them, "Back into the fire eh boys?"
Watching Leon activate his lightsaber and charge toward the battle area Edge looked back at his team and waved his arm forward, "You heard him Titans let's move!"
Following after Leon and the clone team Luminara wondered if there was anything they could do to defeat such a monster. Something of that size and destructive power even for a Jedi it seemed impossible that's when she remembered Leon's words.
"As long as I have someone or something to protect I will not be defeated no matter what my opposition".
The strength of his words the confidence in his voice. He truly believed what he said that no matter what he is facing as long as he is fighting to protect something he truly believed he would not defeated.
"I hope you're right Leon" she thought to herself as they began engaging the rear battalion of battle droids following behind the Goliath, "Just promise me you'll be careful".