Escape From Imperials Part 3: The General's Tale

Joint Post between Nim, Lily, and Halvtand

Serenity blinked, then stared at the General for a long moment. “How did you know my name? I have not told anyone or used it when your troops caught us,” she asked, confused. She shook her head trying to recount the events. No, she didn't use her name so how did this General Odet know it? “You're not force sensitive are you?” she added after a moment.

The Imperial General nodded. "That, dear girl, is my darkest secret. I have had to conceal my gift in our empire that has been hunting down our kind for almost twenty years."

"Which still doesn’t explain how you know my name, and what are you going to do now. The empire is sure to know about your little secret now. Besides why would you hunt down your own kind?!” she hissed. Half of her felt as if she was asking the wrong question. If she was indeed force sensitive why was she helping the empire. It just didn’t make sense. Then she sighed. "Or maybe it just doesn't really matter anymore…"

"Indeed, it matters less than I suspect you know. You see, while you have been holding out here, the status quo has changed dramatically throughout the rest of the galaxy. The Emperor is dead, as is his enforcer, Vader, and their Inquisitorius, including the man that slew your master. The empire they built breathes its last, ragged breaths. As the spectre of death hovers outside my door, I find myself meditating more on what my legacy will be, and the thought of killing a young girl simply because those were my orders no longer appeals to me."

The General leaned back in her chair and continued. "However, in truth, whether you were a pubescent girl or a forty-eight year old Rodian would make little difference to me, for the reason I even know of your existence and wished to find you is because of a promise I made to your master. I, well, the force, has manifested itself for me in strange ways. Since I have been stationed here, I have regularly encountered two force ghosts of fallen Jedi Masters. The first is that of Jedi Master Kala Zaris, who sacrificed herself to overcome the Separtist invaders of this planet during the Clone Wars by hijacking their flagship and crashing it onto their invasion force. I have consulted her on numerous occasions on how to deal with administrative, personal, and relational issues and I have found her to be a good friend."

Serenity sensed Master Tyandas' surprise at that statement. While he seemed familiar with the phenomena of masters being able to reveal themselves to people of their choosing and pass on their wisdom after their death, he seemed to be skeptical that the general had been able to find two while sitting still in a military base.

Odet took a deep breath. "Feel free to take a seat if you wish. This part of my tale might hit you pretty close to home."

Serenity stood defiantly. "I still don’t trust you, my master taught me well enough to know better" she growled uncertain as to whether or not to believe this woman’s tale. Why was she telling her this? What kind of trap or trick was she playing? How dare she lie to her and claim to know her former master!

"I suppose that is understandable, given that you have been hiding from the army I work for for all of your life..."

"Really, you think? Why are you bringing up my master? You want to make me suffer or trick me into trusting you and turn on everything I was taught!” Serenity declared glaring at the General.

Odet's expression and posture hardened, then she closed her eyes and took a few long breaths. "I want nothing from you, Serenity, except for you to listen and to try to understand. I would also appreciate it if you could do so respectfully, which is something I am quite sure your master taught you."

"Yes,” she growled, feeling agitated. This chatter of her long dead master was more than a little upsetting. She knew attachment was forbidden to her, but she could not help it. Her previous master, Paren, had raised her and had been the only other person she had ever known. She had for the most part grown up in isolation.

"Silence." The voice was calm and low, but hit like a truck. Enhanced with the Force, Anto’s voice, though not loud, seemed to kill any other sound in the room. Serenity saw the Jedi master giving her a foreboding stare. “Do not give in to anger… “ His lips hesitated for a heartbeat before he used the newly learned name “... Serenity. Anger is the path to the dark side.”

"You know your master better than anyone. If she lies, let her speak and reveal herself. If she tells the truth, you will hear the words of your master again. Sit and listen carefully,"
With a deep breath the Jedi master turned to the general, and encouraged her to continue with a nod and, "Now please.."

Serenity remains standing. She did however wince at the reprimand. "I’m not sitting but I will listen master," she sighed. She knew this was going to end in a lecture but she at this point didn't care.

The general nodded and continued her tale. "While it was doubtlessly far more traumatic for you, the weeks the Inquisitorius visited this base were also the most frightening in my life since the Separatist invasion of my homeworld. I had survived as long as I had by keeping a relatively low profile while increasing my influence to the point where I had some degree of control over my station. After the destruction of the first Death Star and my subsequent promotion to General, I chose this posting with the hope that it would be quiet and I'd remain out of any possible spotlight for the rest of my career. There wasn't expected to be much life out here after the base and the locals had been evacuated after the Clone Wars and the system had been deleted from official maps. However, after several months of refurbishing the old dilapidated bases on this planet, a probe droid caught footage of your master, although I had no idea that he was a Jedi Master at the time. We had been told to expect outlaws to be on the planet, and that was I had believed the probe droid had seen and that was what I dutifully reported."

Serenity nodded she could see how that would be an honest mistake. It would be hard to identify a Jedi in a probe if they were moving fast enough.

The general took a long breath. "That was when the Inquisitorius arrived at my doorstep. Deathly afraid of being found out, I instructed my subordinates to cater to the Inquisitor's every need while I made myself scarce by feigning illness, which wasn't too difficult given the state of panic I was in. It was in this way that the inquisitor tracked down and slew your master while I did absolutely nothing to stop him."

Serenity clenched her teeth and closed her hands into tight fist. It was her fault he was dead. Tears blurred her vision as anger started to take hold. She wanted to jump across the deck and strike this women until there was nothing left. "Don’t give into anger and fear that is the path to the dark side." She remembered her master's words. The memory so vivid she could almost hear his voice. She took several deep breaths to calm herself. She forced her jaw and hands to relax.

"So it was that I had seriously begun to reconsider my life's course," Odet continued. "I had always considered myself to be brave and honorable, and earlier in my life when I had been in the trenches fighting droids and rebels with a blaster at hand, I know I had been. I had gotten soft, and when push came to shove, I had holed up in my room and hid from my supposed ally. It was in this mindset of uncertainty and self loathing that I had begun to take walks off the base to try to think things through. One day, inspired to face my demons in person, I decided to visit the site where your master had fallen. We had been instructed by the inquisitor to leave the place untouched and to have probes monitor the area in case anyone came to handle your master's body and effects. A day prior I had ordered the droids to return to their old routes, and then I had hiked to the area by myself to see it in person."

A pained expression crossed the general's face. "I remember feeling anxious about seeing the state that your master's corpse would be in, but when I arrived, I found that his body had vanished, although his robes remained where they had fallen. In retrospect, I suppose I should have known that something was up when none of our footage contained carrion feeders, but nonetheless I was startled by this discovery at the time." Odet's gaze became distant. "I-, I just stood there. I wasn't quite sure what to do or expect."

"I was not able to get to him because of those droids,” Serenity whimpered, her voice breaking as she spoke. Tears streaked her face; she could not stop herself from crying. She had not gotten the chance to say goodbye before he became one with the force. She did feel the change when his body disappeared but at the time did not understand it she thought that the imperials had taken him. She never knew why they would go to the trouble of leaving his clothing.

Before Serenity could muster the will to say anything else, Master Tyandas stepped in. "And at that point the master revealed himself to you? Why?"

"I couldn't say for sure exactly why he appeared to me," the general replied. "After I had been standing near his robes for awhile, I eventually confessed my cowardice out loud and apologized for enabling the inquisitor to find him and destroy him without any kind of trial to determine if he had actually committed a crime."

“You never would have stopped him anyway, inquisitors answer only to the emperor," Serenity murmured softly. She shook her head trying and failing to contain her emotions. Yes, this would likely get her reprimanded and hours of meditation. She had stopped practicing after her master died…

"Mm, she’s right" Anto confirmed, glaring at the general, "His very existence was a crime in the eyes of the empire. You could not let him live without endangering yourself and as such, doom yourself to the very death you claim to have been so distraught over."

The general nodded. "My options were indeed limited, but deep down I know I had the ability to at least hinder his investigation, and I chose not to because of fear. It was this fear that was tearing me up, and it was this fear that, when your master appeared to me, he offered to help me deal with. After he had heard my story and I his, he agreed to train me in the ways of the force on the condition that I used my influence to keep you alive. And for the next two years, your master and Master Zaris did as much as they could to teach this old woman how to be a Jedi, and while I can't say they entirely succeeded, I can say that as my imminent demise approaches, I am no longer afraid."

Odet fell back into her chair and took a deep breath. "All of that to say, the reason I have brought you here is to fulfill my end of the bargain. At the earliest opportunity, I will have you shipped off world to a settlement that is no longer occupied by the Empire, where you can make a new life for yourself without fear of imperial forces trying to hunt you down."

"Both of us " Serenity demanded. She watched Odet and she noticed that the story and her attention was mainly on her. "If you really wish to protect me then why not leave me in the care of another Jedi master I would be the safest with him” she said. She had an uncomfortable feeling that Odet’s care did not extend to the Jedi master.

"This is not that kind of bargain, Serenity" Anto whispered calmly. "This whole unit knows that there were two intruders causing trouble. To say that one managed to get away somehow would be bad, but not suicide. To let both go after a successful capture would be… bad. Am I right, general?"

The general sighed. "Indeed you probably would be best off under the care of another Jedi, and had things transpired differently, I would be happy to have sent both of you off together. As it stands, four of my men are dead because of his actions and one remains vegatative last I checked. However well intentioned, this cannot go unanswered, Jedi Master or otherwise."

Serenity just stared at her for a moment. "But it's my fault he is here! Let him go! Please I won't be the cause of another master's death!” she cried, her eyes wide with anxiety. "Please general, he would not have been here to kill anyone if I had not called the force for help. I injured some of your men as well!” she declared, practically begging.

"It's true, she did," the stormtrooper next to her confirmed.

"Yes, but you did so unintentionally in self defense," the general countered, "whereas, by invitation or not, Master, er, what is your name?..."

Jedi Master Anto Tyandas drew a deep breath and slowly stood up, then told the general his full name and title before turning fully toward Serenity, bending down a bit as he looked straight into her eyes. "If only one of us can survive this place it must be you, can you not see that? You have your whole life in front of you. You can adapt to this new world, rebuild what was lost and thrive. You could show hundreds of people our ways. Even if I tried I don’t have that many years left in me and if I have to become one with the Force to guarantee your safety, then so be it. This was my journey. Perhaps my part in this saga was to slow you down so you could be properly captured and not killed by a lucky shot as you tried to flee the storm troopers."

"No don’t leave me alone please” she whimpered. She knew he was right but was so tired of being alone...

The Jedi Master's expression was somber as he looked back to the general. "You will uphold your promise and make sure she’s safe?"

"That is my plan, Master Tyandas, and not one I have any intention of adjusting," she replied.
With that Anto nodded and turned to the stormtrooper in the room and raised his cuffed hands toward her. “I guess I’m coming with you now?”

The stormtrooper looked to the general, who shook her head, then pressed a button on her desk that caused the doors behind them to slide open. The two scout troopers that had been standing by the door earlier strode in. "Axel, Memet, please escort Master Tyandas to the detention center, give him a solitary cell," Odet commanded.

The two men nodded, took positions on either side of Anto, and escorted him out of the room. Once the doors closed behind the three of them, General Odet reached into her desk, pulled out a key, and placed it in front of her. "Miss Kalowyn, please remove Miss Serenity's shackles.

"Yes General," the female stormtrooper said stiffly, grabbing the key and cramming it into the lock to undo the chains. Serenity flinched reflexively.

"Is something wrong, Miss Kalowyn?"

"No, General," the stormtrooper grumbled, pulling the shackles off and roughly placing them on Odet's desk.

"There is no need to lie to me," Odet pressed. "What is bothering you?"

The stormtrooper froze. When the general crossed her arms and didn't change the topic, the stormtrooper eventually mumbled, "it doesn't make any sense."

"What does not make sense?" the general asked patiently.

"Why are we letting her go?"

"You heard my explanation."

"Yes, you said a ghost told you to," the stormtrooper seethed. "Is that really the reason why, after she deflected blaster bolts at us and about killed me, that we're just going to bend over backward to send her off this rock?!"

"I was defending myself I didn’t know I had gotten anywhere near your base, I had been chased all night and stopped to rest next thing I know I’m being chased and fired at again," Serenity reiterated.

A somber look crossed the general's face. "Do you want to kill her?" Serenity's blood ran cold. Had the general been lying about protecting her?

The stormtrooper stepped back. "Er, no, that feels kind of extreme, but, uh, like, maybe she should get a prison sentence… or something."

Odet nodded. "I know she didn't submit easily, but can you reasonably expect her to have done so? I think she has been punished enough for one lifetime, having been hunted her whole life due to her force sensitivity while everyone who has ever cared for her has been murdered."

The stormtrooper's head dropped. "I'm sorry general."

"It's alright, Ria, I appreciate your honesty."

There was a moment of silence. So it looked like they weren't going to kill her after all… then the stormtrooper piped up, "So, uh, what is this force stuff all about?" which elicited a groan from the general.

"It never ceases to amaze me just how bad the schools have gotten," Odet mumbled. "Tell you what, ask Serenity that question in a bit. The two of you will be rooming together this evening in the guest quarters, you should have a good deal of time to get to know each other. I believe you can learn a lot from one another."

"Do what now???" the stormtrooper stammered.

General Odet rolled her eyes. "Miss Ria Kalowyn, please escort Serenity to guest room 513, let her get cleaned up, help if necessary, and please, relax. Take your armor off… once you get there of course. I will arrange for your belongings to be brought to the room, but let the attendant droids know if you need anything else. And Serenity, I have ordered some spare casual clothes that should be about your size placed in the room. Change into those after you clean yourself up, and one of the droids will take your robes and deep clean them. I will have them returned tomorrow. Any last questions?"

"Will you let my sergeant know where I am?" the stormtrooper inquired.

"Of course."

Serenity remained silent at this point. She did not understand why her master would make a deal to save her. And why was this imperial willing to protect her? "Will you be returning my lightsaber as well?” she inquired. "Your lightsaber is your life don't lose it," she again almost heard master Paren’s voice in her mind.

"I will return your lightsaber, but not just yet," General Odet replied. "I will have breakfast with the two of you tomorrow morning. If Miss Kalowyn feels safe with me returning your lightsaber to you then, I will do so. If not, I will definitely get it to you before you leave." Serenity blinked confused but did not question further.

"Well, if you have no more questions…" the general pressed the button on her desk, causing the doors to her office to slide open again. "Do try to relax and have some fun. I know this isn't how you expected nor desired for this day to go, but try to make the best of it. You have a whole new life before you. I promise things will only get better from here."

"Alright girl, let's go," the stormtrooper beckoned.

"Her name is Serenity," Odet reminded the trooper.

"Sorry, Serenity, let's go…"

"It's okay, I'm not used to hearing my name anyway,” Serenity mumbled, following the stormtrooper out of the room. Ria was the name she thought was used. She followed quietly not at all hopeful that the future would be better. Another master was going to die and it was her fault. She also could not wrap her head around what Master Tyandas had said it just did not make sense... She was a half-trained padawan, she could not rebuild the order that would take a master! Serenity resolved to do what she could to apply her apparent influence to see to Master Tyandas' survival. This story wasn't over yet, not by a long shot.

< Prev : Escape From Imperials Part 2: The General's Summons Next > : The Unknown Bounty Pt.3