Gray Jedi Ch. 8 "There's the hangar," Malik said, peering through his electrobinoculars. "A couple of patrols, nothing too bad. The entrance is still sealed up, so I bet they think nobody can get in that way." "Now we just gotta figure out how to get in unnoticed," Serra muttered.
"Sir, I'm back!" Rex said, walking up behind them. "What did you find, Rex?" "Nearby sewer line leading directly from the Jedi Temple. We should be able to get into the hangar that way." "Perfect. Lead on." The Jedi followed Rex as he turned down a back alleyway, spying a grating on the ground ahead of them.
Malik and Rex lifted it open for Serra, slipping into the sewer and closing the grating behind them. The stench was foul, but the tunnel was just large enough that they could hunch over and walk, rather than having to crawl through the muck. After a few minutes, Serra found another grating in the ceiling, pushing it up a bit to peek into the room. "All clear," she said, popping up onto the floor of the hangar. Rex and Malik soon joined her, finding the hangar deserted and undisturbed from their last visit.
"Huh… that's odd," Malik said. "We were under attack when we escaped from here, but it looks like they haven't so much as touched this place since that day. I wonder why?" "Don't know, but I think we need to focus on Blut," Rex replied. "As Serra said, we're on the clock. The longer we stand around, the more likely we are to get caught." "Agreed," Malik said.
"Let me think… if I were Blut, where would I hide?" "I'd say in a location easy to fortify for long periods of time, somewhere with immense security even in the days of the Order," Serra mused. "Hmm… by that logic, I think I know where he is: the holocron vault." "Of course!
With the right defenses, it could take the Empire weeks, even months to penetrate it!" Serra agreed. "Where is it?" Rex asked. "In the center of the basement floor, under the main spire. This way," Malik said, marching down a nearby hallway.
The trio crept through the Temple as quietly as they could, checking for Imperials around every corner, yet they encountered none. For all the fears they harbored of being captured, the entire structure seemed abandoned.
Before long, they reached the end of a hallway, a large circular door standing ahead of them. "Here we are," Malik said.
"Now how do we get in? Only the Jedi Council has access," Serra reminded him. "Hmm… I've got an idea. Rex, keep a lookout for trouble." "Got it." "Ok, see how much you can do with the Force access, Serra." Serra stretched out her hand and concentrated, attempting in vain to gain access to the vault.
As she struggled, Malik did not seem worried. She intensified her focus, and Malik stepped forward to try the next part of his plan. Drawing on the power of lightning, he released a small amount of electricity from his hand into the main security panel, overriding the circuits that prevented Serra from gaining access.
After a few seconds of this action, the panel turned green, and the vault door began to open with a hiss. "Nice!" Serra remarked. "I doubt Yoda would mind; he did proclaim us Jedi Masters, after all." "HAH!" The sound of a lightsaber powering up startled the pair, and Malik drew his weapon on instinct. Within moments, he found his blue blade clashing with a bright gold one, the owner a Pau'an male that Malik recognized right away.
"Topal! Topal, it's me! Malik!" "Huh? M… Malik Ran?" the Temple Guard asked, backing away and into the vault. "I… I'm so sorry. I thought you were…" "It's alright, don't worry about it.
Serra and I got your message." "Oh, I'm so relieved," Blut sighed, collapsing to the floor of the vault. "Topal, your message mentioned that you were being hunted.
Who was hunting you?" Serra asked, stepping into the vault with Malik. "Hmm? Oh yes, that… I do not know who was hunting me, but I believe I have managed to elude them. Tell me, are there more Jedi survivors, or is it just the two of you?" "Only us that we've found," Malik answered, deciding to keep Yoda's location a secret for the time being.
"Ah… well then, I suppose there is no reason to delay," Blut said. "What?" Malik asked in confusion. Before either Malik or Serra could react, the vault door was flung shut by the Force, latching itself into place. They were trapped. "All too easy," came a female voice. Serra spun around, exclaiming, "Barriss Offee?!" "You remember me… what an honor," she replied.
"How could we forget a terrorist like you," Serra seethed. "Detonating a bomb in the Temple, framing Ahsoka Tano for the crime… you disgust me." "Good to see you too, Serra," she smirked. "Blut, seeing as our plan has worked to perfection thus far, shall we?" "It would be my greatest pleasure." Simultaneously, they drew their weapons, Offee a pair of curved-hilt crimson lightsabers, Blut a gold saberstaff, the traditional weapon of the Temple Guards.
"Your fall… will be my rise," Blut hissed as he approached Malik. Malik activated his weapon to block, soon finding himself locked blade-to-blade with Topal Blut. Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Serra engaged in a furious bout with Barriss Offee, her twin green lightsabers whirling in every direction to defend. Malik still couldn't comprehend what was happening. "Topal… why?" ***** Two days earlier Barriss Offee sat alone in her prison cell, pondering her solitude.
It mattered not that the Jedi Order had fallen, as she had heard from the guards; she was still branded a terrorist. She would remain imprisoned for the rest of her life. Some nights, she wished they would simply execute her instead. Still, she regretted nothing she had done.
The Jedi had become the evil they swore to defeat, and had to be stopped… by any means necessary. As she sat in meditation, she was startled back to reality by the door to the cellblock opening. She heard footsteps approaching, slow yet powerful, as well as a terrifying breathing sound. "Barriss Offee…" Offee sat in awe at the figure before her.
Well over two meters tall and clad in fearsome black armor, she could only guess at whom she was now speaking to. The guards had talked of him, but the real thing was far more intimidating than any of their descriptions. "Are you… Darth Vader?" "I am indeed." "Wha… What do you want?" "To offer you… an escape." "Escape?
You're saying I could be released?" she asked eagerly. "It is possible, if you fulfill certain conditions." "Of course! What must I do?" "The Emperor has seen the tremendous potential within you. A powerful Jedi you once were, and powerful you can be again. You were among the first to see the corruption inherent within the Jedi Council, and you were the first to do something about it. Those actions tell me all I need to know.
If you will serve me, if you will learn the ways of the Dark Side of the Force, then I will raise you up to such power. In time, you may become… my apprentice." "Dark Side? No, I don't use the Dark Side!" she protested. "Are you quite sure? Shall I remind you of what you did to Letta Turmond?" Before Offee could respond, she began to feel her throat contracting around her and her airway being blocked.
She was being choked… with the Force. "This is what you did to Letta Turmond to prevent her from identifying you as the bomber. You showed no mercy, the ends justified the means. As she stood in the very spot you now occupy, you ended her life… and in doing so, became stronger than you ever had before." Vader at last released Offee, and she collapsed to her hands and knees, gasping for air as she reoriented herself. "Do you still claim you do not use the Dark Side?" Vader asked her.
"No," she admitted with resignation. She looked up into Vader's helmet, unable to detect any emotion from him whatsoever. "If I serve you… you will teach me? You will help me become more powerful than ever before?" "If you will but follow my every command, yes." "Then I am yours, Master.
What must I do?" "The Jedi have been wounded, but a few individuals still persist. As long as they live, the future security of our galaxy will be threatened, just as it was when Master Windu attempted to overthrow the government. Thus, the Empire requires a team of individuals devoted to hunting down the remaining Jedi.
You may possess the skills and determination to lead such a team." "I would love nothing more," Offee replied. "Good.
You must begin by recruiting another member. We have identified a Jedi with enough self-doubt that he could be swayed to the Dark Side. Though he still clings to his training, he is vulnerable. If any could persuade him to join us, it would be you." "Me? Why me? Why not you, the Lord of the Sith? Surely you would have greater odds of success." "Because this Jedi is one you are acquainted with: Topal Blut, the last survivor of the Jedi Temple Guards.
He was the one who escorted you to your hearing that fateful day in the Senate, during which you exposed the Jedi for what they had become. Blut heard every word you said, and he now doubts that he was ever on the right side with the news of Master Windu's betrayal." "And seeing me again would remind him that he is not alone in those feelings," Offee realized.
"Precisely. You possess a manner of control over him that no other could ever have. Your ideals have already begun his transformation through the Dark Side of the Force." Vader deactivated the ray shields of the cell, continuing, "Go now.
He hides in the Jedi Temple. Convince him to join us, and if he will not… do what must be done." "But I am without a weapon, Master." "Ah yes… I believe you are familiar with these." Vader reached behind him and took a pair of objects from behind his cape, handing them to Offee.
"No way… the lightsabers of Asajj Ventress? I thought they were gone for good." "They were confiscated upon your arrest. With your pledge to serve the Emperor, he has seen fit to return them to you." Offee held the black weapons in her hands; how right they felt to her. She had never felt more powerful than when she had dueled that arrogant punk Anakin Skywalker. She had given him all he could handle, and it was only due to his stupid mechanical hand that he had bested her.
She hoped in her heart that he was still alive… so that she could end him herself. ***** Topal Blut sat in silence, his hideout secured as best as it could have been.
He debated the events of the last several weeks without end, trying to make some sense of it all. Master Windu's assassination attempt, the Clone Army turning on the Jedi, the formation of the Empire… could it be that the Jedi were in the wrong from the very beginning? As he pondered, he attempted to gain some solace from the Jedi Code. "There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is… the Force." Try as he might, his inner turmoil would not subside.
How could the Council have been so blind? How could they have allowed themselves to commit such acts of violence? Were they so afraid for their power that assassinating Chancellor Palpatine was their only course of action? None of it made any sense. He sighed in frustration, feeling the sensation of hunger coming on. "I suppose I should venture out and try to find some food," he muttered.
As he stepped into the quiet hallways of the Jedi Temple, Blut couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched… or perhaps hunted. He sensed danger everywhere, and yet nowhere at the same time. What could this mean? Was the Force failing him? Was the Dark Side clouding his judgment? Trying his best to push his doubts from his mind, Blut pressed onward in search of some food.
Rounding another corner, he could have sworn he heard the faint sound of a female voice, giggling mischievously. "Who is there?! Show yourself!" the Pau'an demanded, keeping his saberstaff close at hand.
"Ooh, such a brave face… but there is much fear in you, Topal Blut," the voice said with another giggle. "Identify yourself." "But of course." From out of the shadows came a slender figure wearing a black cloak and hood. "Topal Blut… it's good to see you again," said the individual as the hood lowered. "What? Barriss Offee?
But… you were imprisoned for treason!" "I've been paroled, as it were." "Paroled? By whom?" Blut asked, not letting his guard down for an instant. "By Emperor Paplatine himself. In light of recent events, he has gained greater insight into the context of my actions. That is actually why I have been sent to find you." "I don't understand." Offee walked slowly towards him, remaining as calm and nonthreatening as she could appear to be.
"Topal, you were there in the Senate when I was arrested and branded a traitor. Do you remember what I said that day?" "I… I could never forget," he admitted. "That the Jedi are the ones responsible for this war.
That we've so lost our way that we've become the villains in this conflict. That we are the ones that should be put on trial all of us. And my attack on the temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become, an army fighting for the Dark Side, fallen from the light we held so dear. This Republic is failing… it's only a matter of time." "Indeed. You remember well," Offee marveled. "Tell me, what did I say that day that has not come to pass in the time since?" "Nothing…" "Exactly.
The Jedi were the villains in the Clone War, and they knew it. They were so fearful of the people and the Senate turning against them that they felt they had no other choice than to assassinate the leader of the Republic. Master Windu, as great a Jedi as he may once have been, is guilty of greater treason than I could ever be capable of. This made the Emperor realize that I was right all along. Topal… he has seen great things in your future.
He knows that you know the truth, even if you are afraid to admit it. Our loyalty is to the Republic, now the Empire. This loyalty must be above all else, even the Jedi Order.
That is why… he wants you to join us." "And do what exactly?" Blut asked, still skeptical. "To learn the ways of the Dark Side. To become stronger than ever before." "The Dark Side?! You're mad!" he replied, igniting his weapon. "Think about it, Topal. The Jedi were so obsessed with the Light Side, yet this obsession allowed the evils of war to befall the Republic.
On Geonosis, it was all the Jedi could do to save their surviving comrades. They had neither the strength nor the determination to catch Count Dooku then and there and prevent the war from ever starting. If they had only focused a bit more on becoming stronger during times of peace, the Clone War would never have taken place." "I suppose… and if the attack on the Chancellor was any indication, it may well be that such an action was their plan all along.
The Jedi Council has long held the opinion that they are so in tune with the Force that their judgments should be final and all-encompassing," Topal mused. "You see, Topal? You know the truth as well as I. Blind devotion to the Light Side is what corrupted the Jedi Order. Only by drawing on the Dark Side could they have become strong enough to save all those countless lives lost to the ravages of war. They were so convinced that death is a natural part of life that they became desensitized to the death and destruction happening around them.
Death may be a natural part of life, but if it can be prevented, it must be prevented! By any means necessary!" "Still… you know what you are asking me to do. You know that following you requires I turn my back on all that I have devoted my life to," Blut whispered. "Yes. But with the recent actions of the Council, given everything that has happened over the last four years, would you rather go down in history as just another Jedi, or as a man of courage who fought for justice regardless of which side was right?
Please Topal. We need you. This is your chance at redemption from the stain on history left by the Jedi." Topal Blut gazed at Barriss Offee's outstretched hand, pondering without end which way was best. He still believed in the Light Side of the Force, but if it had corrupted the Council, what would prevent it from corrupting him? Besides, there was nothing that said drawing on the Dark Side automatically makes one evil. Surely such strength would grant him the ability to do more good than he had ever done as a Jedi, wouldn't it?
With a slight grin, he deactivated his saberstaff and shook the delicate, feminine hand in front of him. "Very well, Barriss Offee. I will join you." "Excellent.
You've made a wise decision, Topal Blut. As the Empire grows stronger, so we will grow stronger beside it." "I hope you are right. What must we do first?" "I've been given an assignment from Lord Vader, the Emperor's right-hand man. He believes there are still Jedi out there that escaped Order 66. We are going to set a trap for them." "What sort of trap?" Blut asked. "When the clones first attacked the Jedi Temple, they implanted a message in the beacon instructing all Jedi to disarm and return here.
But Kenobi erased that message, and now the beacon warns all Jedi to stay away from the Temple. No Jedi in their right mind would come here… unless they believed they had to save a friend." "Hmm… and I assume that I am to be that friend in need of saving, as none would risk their lives to help you." "Exactly.
We send a distress signal so heavily encrypted that only a Jedi could decipher it, asking them to come here to help you.
When that happens…" "They will not know it is a trap until it is far too late. Brilliant," Blut agreed. Pulling out his comlink, he began to record the message. "To any Jedi that receive this message, this is Topal Blut…" ***** "Topal… why?" Malik struggled against the strength of the Temple Guard, only just managing to hold his own.
"Why? Because of what the Jedi have become," Blut replied. "Attempting to assassinate the Chancellor, prolonging the war, these things are unforgivable! If THAT is what the Jedi Order stands for, I will NEVER AGAIN call myself a Jedi!" Malik disengaged with a backflip, giving himself a moment's breathing room. Blut began to close the distance between them once more, twirling his saberstaff in front of him for protection.
Malik raised his weapon, but inched back as Blut approached. "Shit… his saberstaff could overpower me if I give him the slightest opening," Malik muttered to himself.
Right on cue, Blut executed a series of heavy strikes, forcing Malik to rely on his signature defensive style to stay alive. But Blut was relentless, giving Malik no opportunity to counterattack. Again and again he struck at Malik, each swing of his weapon attempting to end the Jedi's life. On the other side of the vault, Serra and Offee continued their frantic duel, their swords a blur of whirling light.
Both remained on the offensive with their Jar'Kai forms of lightsaber combat, though Serra kept running into trouble. Every time she thought she had an opening, Offee would redirect her momentum with little effort. After three instances of this, Serra's frustration began to grow. "Dammit! How does she keep doing that?!" she sputtered.
"It's what happens when you combine Jar'Kai with Makashi," Offee replied with a sinister laugh. "I've graduated beyond the weak Soresu that Master Luminara taught me." Shit… I won't beat her with my usual tactics; that plays right into her hand. As she was about to lunge in with a new style of attack, she caught sight of Malik out of the corner of her eye. He was still locked in a furious struggle with Topal Blut, but the Pau'an was slowly gaining the upper hand.
Turning her attention back to Offee, Serra parried an incoming attack before flipping around to her backside, Force-pushing the traitor to the ground.
"Malik! Hang on!" Serra shouted, rushing to her husband's aid. Hearing her approach, Malik engaged Blut in a saber-lock, hoping to tie him up long enough for Serra to strike the killing blow.
But as Serra leapt into the fray, Blut managed to break off and assume a defensive stance, prepared for their onslaught. The two Jedi gave him their best offensive techniques, but his mastery of the saberstaff gave him an almost impenetrable defense.
"Now we've got you!" Hearing a shout from the other side of the room, Serra spun around and barely managed to block the incoming attack of Barriss Offee. She stood back-to-back with her husband; both knew they were in deep trouble now. The two traitors had them surrounded and outnumbered four blades to three.
It would only be a matter of time before they were slain. Thinking fast, Malik managed to come up with one idea that might help them. "Serra, keep me covered for a sec!" "Got it!" Shifting their position so that they remained back-to-back with both opponents on either side of them, Serra executed the twin-wheel technique, whirling both of her green lightsabers in a rapid circle on either side of her.
This provided protection for both her and Malik, at least for a few moments. Blut foolishly tried to stab his way through, but his attempt was slapped away with little effort from Serra.
Now with an opening, Malik focused on the vault door, and especially on the control panel. With a brilliant flash of light, he fired a burst of lightning from his hand into the panel, overriding the lock and causing the door to crack open. "Nice work!" Serra marveled. "Won't do you any good, you're still outnumbered!" Offee replied.
"That's what you think," Malik said with a smirk. "Malik! Serra!" The four warriors turned at the sound of a new voice, seeing a Clone Trooper now in the doorway of the vault. "Rex, these two set a trap for us!" Malik said. "Understood!" Rex drew his twin DC-17 blaster pistols and opened fire on the two assailants. Offee and Blut defended with ease, but were taken by such surprise at the intrusion that they could not deflect the blaster bolts back at Rex.
"Topal, I think it's time, don't you?" Offee asked. "Indeed it is." With a break in Rex's fire, Offee reached into her cloak, withdrew a small remote, and pressed the button. At first, nothing appeared to be happening, but soon an ominous rumbling began to shake the floor. "What's happening?" Serra asked. "Oh shit," Malik muttered, looking up.
Hearing the sound of faint booms and seeing cracks form in the ceiling of the vault, he suddenly realized the truth. "They've set explosives around the Temple; it's gonna collapse on top of us!" "We've gotta get out!" Rex ordered. "Wait, these holocrons! Grab what you can, Malik!" Serra shouted. The two Jedi telekinetically grabbed a couple of holocrons each before sprinting for the vault door. "Which way?!" Serra asked in a panic. "Back the way we came.
This way," Rex replied, leading the way. The trio bounded through the hallways of the Jedi Temple, the walls beginning to crack and crumble around them. All the while, Offee and Blut gave chase, determined not to let their prey escape. Soon, they emerged back into the hangar to find the main doors still sealed shut. "Shit… Rex, we need a cover to our escape, or they'll keep following us," Malik realized. "Way ahead of you." Rex arrived at the grating to the sewer first and began to fiddle with something on his utility belt.
Once Serra and Malik had caught up, he withdrew two small pellets from one of the pouches. "Hold your breath," he whispered. Before Offee and Blut could reach them, Rex threw the pellets to the ground, creating a thick cloud of smoke. This not only concealed their escape, but also served to stun their pursuers, causing them to cough and wheeze from smoke inhalation. By the time the cloud had dispersed, the trio had slipped back into the sewers and closed the grating behind them.
"Nice thinking, Rex," Serra said as they made their way through the tunnel. "There are two rules when facing a superior opponent. First, never let 'em see you bleed," Rex said with a chuckle. "And the second?" Malik asked. "Always have an escape plan." A short time later, the group had arrived at the grating nearest their ship.
Malik went first, slipping out of the hole in the ground before helping Rex and Serra to their feet. But as they turned to make their way to their ship, they were greeted by a group of ten clones, each with weapons trained on them.
The group had managed to pin the trio against the back wall of the alleyway. They were trapped, and had no room to maneuver for escape or defense. "Shit…" Rex muttered. "Come now, did you really think it would be that easy?" Barriss Offee said with a laugh, emerging from behind the group of soldiers. "For a second? Yeah, I did," Malik replied with a smartass grin. Topal Blut soon joined her with his with weapon drawn.
"Malik Ran, Serra Keto, CT-7567, you are each guilty of high treason against the Empire.
You are hereby sentenced to be summarily executed. On your knees." "No," Serra said with defiance. "You want to kill us? You do it with us staring you in the face. You will look into the eyes of your former friends as you do so." Blut showed no emotion as he ignited his saberstaff. "So be it." As he took a step towards his victims, a brilliant flash of red flew in from above and interrupted the proceedings.
Before any could react, half the troop of clones had been decapitated. The remaining soldiers looked up, trying to see who was attacking them, but were soon taken out by a volley of precision blaster shots. Now devoid of their backup, Offee and Blut looked up to find two individuals watching them from the roof of the alleyway buildings. The pair soon leapt down to ground level, landing between the opposing parties to face the would-be Sith. Offee was about to charge in, but Blut placed a hand on her shoulder, reminding her to be prudent.
He now saw the two interlopers more clearly. One was a human male, perhaps in his late twenties, and the other was an adult female Twi'lek with bright green skin. Both were clad in inconspicuous street clothes consisting of leather jackets and cargo pants. Though he was not familiar with Twi'lek, he was almost certain of the human's identity.
His hair was pitch black, rather than the dark brown it had been before, but the face was unmistakable. "Jax Pavan… it seems you still live," Blut said at last. "Topal. Barriss. You two just can't help but join the wrong side, can you?" came his curt reply.
"On the contrary, we're joining the winning side. We will be on the right side of history, I promise you that," Offee seethed. "We'll see about that," the Twi'lek said, drawing a pair of DL-44 blasters. "Get the hell out of here," Jax agreed, drawing his red lightsaber.
"You're outnumbered now, and you know it." By this time, Serra, Malik, and Rex had drawn their own weapons as well. "Fuck off… I'm not running away from you traitors," Offee replied. "Suit yourself, but I think it to be the wise move," Blut whispered. "What?! You coward!" "We are outmatched in every way, and would not survive this confrontation, even under the best of circumstances.
Of what use could we be to the Emperor if we are dead?" "But the mission!" Offee protested. "There will be other opportunities for us. Even in the Dark Side, patience can be a most important virtue," Blut assured her.
Offee sighed in frustration. "Fine. But if someone's head rolls for this, it'll be yours, Blut." The pair gave one last dirty look to their targets before dashing out of the alleyway for some unknown destination. Alone at last, Malik relaxed and turned his attention to their saviors. "Whew… good timing, Jax. Great to see you're still alive." "You too my friend," Jax replied, shaking Malik's hand. "Serra, always a pleasure." "It's been far too long, Jax," she said, giving him a hug.
"Ahem." "Oh, right," Jax muttered, hearing his companion voice her presence. "This is my most trusted friend. Meet Laranth Tarek." "A pleasure," Malik said, shaking her hand.
"Likewise." "Um, I hate to break up the warm reunion, but we still aren't safe here. We'd better head back to our ship," Rex chimed in. "Unwise," Jax said. "I guarantee Offee and Blut will have you tracked. Until we know for sure we've lost them, better keep the location of your ship a secret.
Come on, we've got a place to hide out." ***** "You will explain what happened," Vader said with a stern, even voice. "The trap was laid, you had them right where you wanted them, yet they still managed to escape. How did this happen?" "Extenuating circumstances," Offee replied. "The male Jedi, Malik Ran… he used Force Lightning to pry open the vault door so they could escape.
There is no way we could have predicted that." "In addition, they had backup. They have apparently been joined by a rouge clone, CT-7567," Blut agreed. "Captain Rex? He has sided with the Jedi? How is this possible?" Vader wondered, stunned by the revelation. "We don't know, but rest assured that we will find out, Lord Vader," Offee said.
"Hmm… and they managed to elude the collapse of the Jedi Temple as well?" "Yes, they used the sewer system as an escape route. Still, we caught up with them just as they exited." "Indeed… you had them pinned, helpless, ready to be executed.
Yet they still live," Vader replied, his anger rising. "We were ambushed!" Offee protested. "A human and a Twi'lek interfered," Blut explained.
"They took us by surprise and killed all our backup troops. By then, the odds had shifted, and we were outnumbered five to two. Offee wished to fight them, but I do not believe we would have had any means to survive such a confrontation.
We had no choice at that point but to retreat… for the time being, of course." "So you chose to flee instead of fight," Vader surmised. "Yes, Lord Vader. It was my suggestion, as I said. I take full responsibility for the decision," Blut replied. "Lord Vader, you have my word that I will never run away from a Jedi again. The next Jedi I meet will meet his end at my hands. I swear it," Offee said, attempting to garner favor with the Sith Lord. "Well, well… it seems we can reach a decision, Lord Vader," came a voice from the shadows.
"Master, good of you to join us," Vader replied, turning to greet Emperor Palpatine. "Barriss Offee, Topal Blut, this assignment was about more than hunting Jedi.
It was also a test of your abilities and potential. In order to exterminate the last of the traitors in this galaxy, we require a team of skilled users of the Dark Side. But before such a team can be formed, its leader must be identified. Through the events of today, we now know which of you is best suited to such a demanding role." "Barriss Offee, strong with the Force you are.
Yet you remain reckless and impulsive," Palpatine said. "Had you engaged the traitors as you wished, you would have been killed. Of this I can be certain." He turned to the Pau'an and continued, "Topal Blut, do not forget that we will not destroy the Jedi through timid actions, but through bold and decisive ones.
The day may come when you must trust in the Force to guide you to victory against impossible odds, and you must be ready for it." "However, your prudence in the events of today is still most admirable," Vader said. "The Jedi always failed to grasp that fear, even fear in oneself, can be a good and healthy thing.
Fear is what brought you back alive today. Fear gave you the realization that to continue fighting would be pointless.
Thus, we may now begin to plot our counterattack. Your understanding of your own fear has shown that you are capable of becoming the leader we need to hunt down the last of the Jedi." "But Lord Vader… we had a deal!" Offee protested. "I was to lead this team!" "I am altering the deal.
Pray I don't alter it any further," Vader replied. Offee thought about arguing further, but the gaze of Vader had paralyzed her with fear. She knew any further dissentions would not end well for her. As difficult as it was, she kept her mouth shut. "Topal Blut, kneel," Palpatine said, approaching the Pau'an and placing his hands on his head.
"The Force is strong with you. With your help, we shall eradicate the last of the traitorous Jedi Order." Palpatine produced a small jar of face paint from within his cloak and began to draw bright red markings on Blut's forehead and under his eyes. "From this day forth, Topal Blut is no more. You are now to call yourself… the Grand Inquisitor of the Sith. Do you accept this title, and all responsibilities therein?" "I do. I pledge myself to the Dark Side and to your teachings.
Through me, your will shall be done," he replied, a sinister grin spreading across his face. "Excellent. Rise, Grand Inquisitor."