"And so you know what you are doing?" a Neimoidian asks through the comlink speakers. "Yes," General Kronis replies. "I have two task forces of droids. But I have a request. The Force-sensitive droids are doing well so far. I request all future droids be made Force-sensitive." "We have studied the plans for the Agility Droids and believe we can do so. The first batch should be ready by the time you get back. And hopefully, we should get production of the B-1's back." "Well I wish you luck with that. But for now, I'll take my leave of you." Kronis switches off the comlink as a droid says to him, "We have set up our jump to hyperspace. Do we hav-" "Hey!" one of the humans shout. "I'm supposed to be giving the reports around here." The droid then turns around. "You shouldn't be accusative of those who run this ship." "You run this ship now?" the human at the pilot station mocks. "I'm sorry but sin-" "Silence," General Kronis speaks up. "It does not matter who runs the ship, just get us underway." "Sir," both droid and human say, as both lock eyes on each other. Kronis sighs and walks from the bridge, hoping that a fight wouldn't erupt. The fact of the matter was, the humans who were on The Ark thought they were superior to the droids, just because droids are made not born. Kronis, and of course most of the Jedi, treated droids as equals. There were tales, after all, of droids performing acts of valour for the Jedi, as well as others. And these modern droids were packed with so much technology, they were almost human in their own right. So that was why, as soon as The Ark returned, Kronis would be ridding most human personnel from his command. And that was also why he had requested Force-sensitivity in all droids. He would take what he could of those droids on his next mission. The squabbles between human and droids had been few and far between, but had been violent, even under Commander Valon's command. It would be better without the humans, Kronis muses.
The Ark blasts out of hyperspace, and is immediately hailed. "The Ark - name your intentions," the voice comes through. "Should they be able to know our ship name this far out from the planet?" a droid asks. The man at the pilot station surprisingly replies. "That just proves what we've been told. These beings are far more advanced for a backworld planet who's only major exports are the DUM Pit Droids." "Should we alert General Kronis?" "Oh, I don't know," the communications officer states. "But with a proper organic on board, I'm pretty certain all you droids are going out of the nearest airlock." "You'll find yourself going through the nearest airlock if you don't be quiet," a vocoded voice says. The communications officer coughs. "Oh, uh, sir. I didn't see you there." "No. You were too busy being anti-droid. Remember you work for the Trade Federation. Respect them and what they do, including the droids." "Yes, sir. So. What are we going to do about these?" "We received a communication from the planet as soon as we dropped from hyperspace," the droid informs Kronis. "Thank you." "The weird thing was they knew our ship name as soon as we came out of hyperspace as well." "Interesting..." Kronis then flips a switch on the communication board. "Let's see what we can get from them." The comms officer turns to Kronis. "Jedi spook. Why don't you just take control of the whole ship yourself?" "Save it," Kronis retorts, "otherwise I'll get the droid to kill you. I don't waste my time with people like you." "This is General Kronis of The Ark, and requests permission to land and explore." He then raises a hand behind him, to the pilot, who had sneaked up on him as he was making his statement to the planet. He then addresses the droid. "Take these two to the brig, then order some of your fellow droid to round up the rest in the bridge. Allow them to come quietly, and if they do, allow them to go free, but not return to the bridge. More droids will replace them up here. Have you got that?" "Yes sir. Come on you two." As the droid takes the pilot and comms officer away, the reply from the planet comes. "Why would you like to land?" "All I want is a talk with your leader about some technology." There was a pause, then "Bring a shuttle and land at the port in Cyril. We will then take you to our boss." "Thank you." "Are you going alone?" a Battle Droids asks. "No. I will take a squad of droids with me as back-up," General Kronis replies. "Stay here, man the bridge, and make sure no human staff get back here. If DarkRula calls, route the call to me." "Yes, sir." General Kronis then leaves and heads aft to the rear bridge hangar where a shuttle waits. Standing outside is a pilot droid and a B-1 Droid Commander. "We are ready to leave, sir," the pilot droid says, "and I am told that the full squad is on board already." "Good. Let us go, then." The three walk inside the shuttle, with the pilot droid heading to the control deck and Kronis and the Battle Droid to the crew room. The sound of the shuttle's engines resonated through the crew room as it lifted off. A slight vibration shook the shuttle as it swapped gravity vectors. "Now then," General Kronis starts. "I will be making my way to the boss myself. However, if I require assistance, I will buzz you from my comlink. Understood?" "Yes, sir. Just one question though sir? How will we find you?" "The comlink will also send you pinpoint details of where I am, so you can come in the quickest route." "Okay, sir. Good luck. Whatever it is you are doing." Kronis then walks to the control deck to look out at the city. It looked like a factory city, all endless smoke and gases. There didn't seem to be a piece of land that wasn't covered by factory. It came as no surprise when a piece of the roof opened with a blue haze surrounding the opening. The shuttle landed, and Kronis settles into the Force to check his surroundings. The first surprise then came. Hardly any life existed on this planet. Walking to the ramp, he saw one protocol droid surrounded by eight DUM pit droids outside. The welcoming committee. "Welcome to Cyril, the largest city of commerce in the galaxy. I am See-two ay tee, and I understand you want to see my master," the protocol droid says. "Yes I do," Kronis says. "Is nearly everyone here droid? I was under the impression that the Cyrillian population was in the billions." "Oh, but there still are large amounts of Cyrillians here," C-2AT says. "I am a Cyrillian. My name was Catherine, until I subjected to the cyborg upgrade." "Cyborg upgrade?" "We could choose which droid we wanted to be turned in to. The change was optional, but the death toll for those who didn't rose." "I see," Kronis says slowly. They entered a lift, which then closed its doors and fell down. It then stopped and shot on a horizontal line to the left. "It isn't so much the actual work," C-2AT thought to point out. "It was the gases in the air. Even though we have closed off the entire facility from the outside by using protection laser covers over hangars, the gases still lurk around. Any organic couldn't possibly survive constant subjection to it." The lift starts slowing down, then rises in a vertical line. "We are now in the center column on the city," C-2AT explains. "This is where my master resides, managing the work we do." The doors of the lift open, and as they step forward sprays wash them. The sprays don't contain water however, and as the next door opens, General Kronis' next surprise is in order. "General Kronis, I presume?" the figure in the high backed chair asks. "Yes, but... how did you know who I am?" The figure laughs. "Don't all Jedi, former or otherwise?" The figure rises from the chair. A human form walks forward. "Well, well," Kronis parades. "Master Jek Nori. Whatever are you doing here?" "Ex-Master," Nori says huffily. "I no longer support the Jedi, but I still do you. And as to what I am doing here, I was cast from the order during a battle near here. Me and my apprentice. Quite literally, in fact." Chestnut hair and long beard, Jek Nori had a sharp face, lined with battle scars. He was a tall man and wore the cloak of the Jedi roughly, over a purple vest and trousers. "I'd love to hear the tale," Kronis says. "Sure. Where to start... "Well, you understand of course that battles are a necessity of war. This battle I was in was just one of the few of the Crime Wars, before it fully escalated. And it was over this very planet. Well, near its moon, at least. "The battle was very harsh on our numbers, and as we only had two vessels available, we had to make do with what we had. During the battle, the systems on the bridge we were on went haywire. My apprentice, who is a wizard at electronics, was called on board, and I was asked to supervise. The shields were nearly down in the area, and my apprentice was working tirelessly at fixing the systems. "He had repaired enough of the systems to hear the communication that the shields had failed completely and to evacuate. The other Jedi on the ship ran to the turbolifts. Not one noticed that we wasn't with them until the doors closed." "Why weren't you with them?" Kronis asks. "My apprentice was still too busy repairing to have heard the message. By the time I had dragged him away from the console, the doors of the turbolifts had closed. When we tried to call them, the control wouldn't work and the door wouldn't budge. There was nothing for it but to wait. "Not one rescue team arrived on the bridge. Last we heard before it happened, one of the enemy fire had caught the spire and severed it completely. We tumbled down to the planet, but how we survived, I have no idea. When we crashed on the planet, we waited for the Jedi to return to pick us up. After a few months, getting used to the people, we gave up on the Jedi ever coming for us." "Well it makes for an interesting story," Kronis says, "but there does seem to be a few flaws. Would you care to tell me, perhaps, what you were doing during the time you were waiting?" "Like I said, getting to know the locals," Jek Nori says. "My apprentice however, was one for messing with things. Soon as we were rescued by the locals, it was as though a dream had been realised by him. He asked for plans for the droids they made here, asked what materials they used, asked them to show him round the factories. He soon became what they recognised as a leader. I think he was less interested in being found by the Jedi and more interested in being a leader of this fine enterprise. He certainly created a lot of new droids and was raking in the cash. "And soon came the time when he wanted to expand the place. What you see before you is the result. But it meant that the workers were becoming more ill from all the chemicals running around the buildings. It was then that he suggested filters, but while effective for new clients only just entering the system, it couldn't help the workers. It was then he suggested the change into cyborgs. Proficient at making droids and converting humans into cyborgs after doing it to himself, he then set about asking the staff what type of droid they wanted to be and converted them to that droid. He made sure he got no silly requests, as well." "And so where is he now? This apprentice of yours?" "That's where we get to the next part of this story. You see, he then set about asking workers their personal preferences, likes and dislikes, that sort of thing. "And so he continued asking around, and then I heard. One of the others told me that he had started asking about Jedi, and those that dislike them." "Why would he do something like that though?" "Turns out he hadn't forgot that the Jedi abandoned us. He was just biding his time, working an army to do his bidding and considering where he'd be able to get more people from; what planets disliked the Jedi." "And what was he going to do, or has done with this army?" "Find an army and hope he runs into a Jedi along the way. Then force that Jedi to reveal where the main of the force is now." "And did he mention, or did someone loyal find out, where he was going to?" "He tried to approach me, he had long since given me up, but allowed me space here. I think he had given me up because I failed to accept to be converted like the rest. But no matter. He asked me where the main Jedi force was. Already knowing what I did, and suspecting what I did, I refused. But he trusted me with the plan." "But where did he say he was going?" Jek Nori gave Kronis a piercing look when he said "Naboo." "Oh," is all Kronis manages. "Something wrong?" Jek Nori asks. "The Trade Federation has ordered my Padawan there to sort out what will soon come to war." "The Trade Federation?" Jek Nori's voice sounds incredulous. Then he fires up at once. "How did you come to be working for them?" "It was an accident really," Kronis says, unperturbed by the accusatory tone of his colleague. "Me and my Padawan were sent by the Jedi to Fresia to deal with some sightings of mysterious droids. Three other Jedi were with us, but were blasted alive. Turns out the planet was a Mandalorian base and those mysterious droids were with them. We managed to escape from the planet in one of the leaders' ships, but was caught in space where we asked for reinforcements." "And that's when you joined the Federation?" "No, that's when the Mandalorians overpowered their first wave by some mysterious energy that warped the ship somewhere a million miles from where we were, or else destroyed them." "So when did you join them?" "The second reinforcements arrived, headed down to the planet's surface. Me and DarkRula were on the ground when we got picked up by the commander's forces and used teleporters to reach a Mandalorian cruiser which his forces were trying to blow up. The Mandalorians blew the reactor themselves and before we could escape, the cruiser had fractured and crashed to the ground. We were then rescued by the commander himself." "And from that moment on you decided to join them?" Jek Nori's voice still held contempt. "Not officially, but we needed to track the Mandalorians and their new allies. Valon, the commander, said that was what they were doing, so we were united for a while." "And did you find them?" "After a while. However, we were sidetracked when the forces we were with had to deliver some new droids to an asteroid base. That base was already being attacked. During the space battle that followed, Valon used his own ship and pilot group to go head to head with the enemy, DarkRula was already out and had acquired a new pilot group of his own, then someone in Valon's group took an opportunity to end Valon's life when DarkRula was firing over Valon's group to stop tem being blasted to smithereens. "When we returned to the main Federation base, DarkRula only escaped prosecution of murder by the fact we on the cruiser had recorded evidence that had stated he was innocent. However, they still didn't trust us, and forced on me the job of commander and DarkRula was to be pilot leader." "An interesting story. But why not just leave?" "The mystery of those droid things is just too great. But one more question before I take my leave of you to contact DarkRula, what is your apprentice like? What species?" "Zabrak, black and red. However, it's really only his arms that will show what he really is. Like I said, he really put a lot of modifications on himself to truly make himself a cyborg. Those Sith death masks still give me the creeps." "I will be back soon to take this tour, but DarkRula is going to get more than he wished for if this apprentice of yours is still capable of using the Force."
"Sir! Sir! General Kronis is contacting us," the man says. DarkRula had thought they were meant to be maintaining silence, and so glared at the comms officer. "Priority override, silent signaling, and encrypted passage enabled on the call," the officer says. DarkRula relaxes and moves over to the holocomm board. There, in transparent blue, was General Kronis. "Hello there," the Kel Dorian greets. "Hi, Kronis, but why call?" "I've just heard it from a good friend here at Cyrillia that his Padawan has gone on a mad rampage for Jedi blood." "That's not good. What's he look like?" "Well, the enterprise here at Cyrillia is quite good. Everyone except my good friend is a cyborg, and his apprentice was the one who started it. He's so much cyborg that apparently only his arms are proper flesh." "That might be easier to track than all flesh." "Whatever you do, just be careful. You might not be able to fully beat him. If he can use the Force after all those upgrades, he will be even more deadlier." "Don't worry. I'll be careful." The link then closes. "Of getting killed," DarkRula then adds under his breath. Then he addresses the comms officer. "Right, we've given them long enough. Contact-" "Hey!" A voice calls through the comm. "Help need - aaaagghhed." "That sounded like he just got killed," the sensor operator states unnecessarily. "Thanks for the observation," DarkRula comments drily. "That wasn't a lightsaber that killed him." Another message comes through. This one lasting a bit longer than the last. "We need help over here, northern are - ugghh." More and more messages come through of the same variety, until DarkRula decides that they need to move. Heading up the turbolift and activating the engines, he lifts off and speed as fast as he can from the trees and up to a city in the northern hemisphere of Naboo. "Nice beach," DarkRula says to no-one in particular. The ship had just flown to the Naboo City of Kadaara, where both Gungans and the Naboo had lived peacefully together for many centuries. While it was a small city, it was also one of the most luxurious beach resorts on the planet. How war had come here, DarkRula didn't want to know, but he had to make sure it didn't come back. Somehow. Flying over the beach, DarkRula lands the Scimitar in a central courtyard of the city, which was deserted. Looking around through the viewport, it looked as though the whole city was deserted, so walking to the lift pods, he descends and tells the other two to stay while he explored. Lowering the hatch, he walks out, but as a precaution pulls his lightsaber hilt out from its holder. Four seconds later, he was glad he had. From out of nowhere, a cyborg with red and black flesh arms dropped on top of him with blades already extended. Had it not been for the activation of DarkRula's own dualsaber, both of his arms would have been cut off. "Well, the Cyrillian cyborg," DarkRula states, having thrown it off him. "Ha. Ha. Ha," the cyborg croaks. "Well, I am impressed that you know where I am from, but do you know anything else?" The voice is deep and strong. DarkRula stretches out with the Force before replying. "Your old master, Jek Nori, tried to persuade you against this. You still have some Force talent left even though you are more machine than man. And you will fight until the Jedi are finished, but you want to capture one to beat the location of their base out of them." "Ha! Don't kid yourself you are not one. You stand before me having thrown yourself into my path." "Hardly thrown, more like a friendly visit," DarkRula retorts. As an answer, the cyborg attacks with the weapons. After blocking a few strikes from these blades, DarkRula surmises that they are lightsabers, but made differently, so that no sound escapes them. The perfect weapons for close quarters assassins. After a viscous block, the cyborg is thrown over the top of the Scimitar. To make sure that he doesn't try anything, DarkRula backflips after him and uses the Force to push him further back. The cyborg is hardly affected however, but backflips anyway to the middle area. DarkRula follows, and the battle continues. Strike and block, left and right, uppercuts and downstrokes, but DarkRula couldn't attack with his blades. The Force was useless as well. Some unknown power possessed the cyborg blocked all Force attacks. A powerful attack by the cyborg knocks DarkRula to the hull of the Scimitar. "And so it ends," the cyborg says. "You are beaten. Admit it." DarkRula edges backwards a bit. "No way am I." "War strikes all species on all planets, even here. Where peace is supposed to prosper." A bit further back. "What do you mean?" "Surely you might have guessed, what with the war going on up there now? The people of Naboo have started fighting with the Gungans. Only this city remains unaware of what was going on. Until I tore it apart and forced the two species to separate." A bit further back. "So you're the reason this city is deserted!" "Yes. Now give up, or I'll hunt another Jedi after killing you." "No," DarkRula shouts, and launches the windscreen of the Scimitar at the cyborg. While the cyborg grasps the windscreen and throws it aside, DarkRula lunges inside the bridge and activates the engines, taking the ship higher and higher. But the cyborg then reveals himself in view of the window. DarkRula throws caution to the winds and flips the craft upside down. The suddenness of this maneuver catches the cyborg off guard, and he is thrown downwards towards the surface again. Taking no chances, DarkRula takes aim using the heightened senses of the Force and blows the cyborg up with one shot of the Scimitar's left side laser. Watching and sensing, he looks into the dust cloud from the explosion, waiting for anything to happen. Once the last particles have dissipated and nothing shows itself, DarkRula relaxes and slowly takes the Scimitar down. Lying back in his seat, he uses the Force to repair the windscreen. Only then does he activate the comlink again, to hear angry retorts. "Sorry! Sorry! But I had to. And anyway, you should have still been strapped in. Now then, recall the groups. There's nothing we can do here any more." "Are you sure?" the sensor operator asks. "Yes!" DarkRula then rests back in his chair again. That battle was tough, and now all he had to do, if it was true, was get his ship back up through the space battle happening above the planet. "Sir, messages are coming through from our groups. They tell us to get under way, as they won't be able to get back here." "No. We stay and wait." DarkRula is adamant on that point. "Sir, we really can't-" "We wait!" The comm officer was silent. People were cautiously starting to appear. More of them started to show up. Only one thing was out of the ordinary. They were all holding something. One of them threw the item and a glint of light on metal sent DarkRula into activity, slugging the Scimitar forward and up, then rolling, and blasting up into the sky.