fan fiction scrollThe Reverend’s Fall: Part VI

 Star Wars

The shadows undulated along the marble foundations, stretching across the walls of the temple. Contained by the dark shapes, ember-red lightsabres moved in spiral formations, residual flared patterns gradually fading as the walls of the temple closed in.
Tidis heard metal against metal. It took his eyes several seconds to adjust to the darkened bunker. Scrambling to his feet, he looked upon half-a-dozen xan nomads. The vault was now secured by a thick metal gate that had been pulled across from an alcove in the west wall. Tidis was imprisoned.
“The Reverend is with us,” one of the nomads declared.
Tidis wondered why he had not been executed.
“You have been asleep for several hours,” another xan said. “Any ill affects?”
Tidis pondered the question. He felt physically fine, in fact he felt stronger than usual, as if the sleep had revived him entirely, but despite this renewed energy, he was aware of a desperate thirst.
“There is no way through the gate Reverend,” the first xan said, as if anticipating Tidis’ next thought. “Please do not waste your energy.”
“Where is Nareen?” Tidis snapped.
“The female has been dealt with.”
“Where have you taken her?”
“It is rare to witness such outbursts from a Jedi, should you not already be meditating?”
“Do you believe this cell will hold me?” The thirst was unbearable; Tidis licked his lips and became aware of the rawness in his throat. It caused him to gag. “My hands are unbound.”
“If you look to your right and left you will notice tiny nozzles protruding from the walls; you missed them when you entered before, probably distracted by your companion.”
Tidis acknowledged the perforations lining the walls to the east and west.
“These nozzles,” the Xan continued, “will release an agent into the atmosphere once every hour. You will be familiar with this substance; on Algarra II it is named Material-M. I believe the Jedi call it ‘Mist’.”
“What is the purpose of this?”
“This is not our desire but the bidding of a privileged individual; we would simply have killed you.”
Tidis swept his hand past his face. “Tell me the name of this individual.”
“It amazes me; you preach about the righteousness of your order and yet are taught parlour tricks used to deceive.”
“Is this some form of torture?”
“Not remotely. I imagine you are well aware of the affects Mist induces in its users. Our client has asked us to dedicate half our canisters to you. By the end you will transcend this reality and likely never wish to return.”
Tidis considered using a Force punch to stop his own heart, but he could not shake images of Nareen from his mind; he needed to be sure she was still alive. He sat on the vault floor, crossed his legs and closed his eyes.
“Excellent,” the lead xan chuckled, “the Jedi meditates.” His colleagues also began to laugh.
As Tidis fell into a state of calm, the insufferable thirst ebbed away until he relinquished all connection with his physical body. Subsequently, the voices of the xan faded until there was only silence.
The leader of the nomads signalled to his colleague who pulled a lever beside the vault gate. Green vapours poured from the nozzles and surrounded the still Jedi. The agent was suspended in the atmosphere, but did not track up Tidis’ nostrils.
“He will have to breathe soon,” the leader said, nervously rubbing his palms together.
Ten minutes passed and Tidis’ chest cavity had not moved.
“He is attempting to lure us in,” the leader mused. “More tricks of the Knighthood.”
The blood had drained entirely from Tidis’ face and fingers and blue veins were visible beneath the skin of his forearms.
“He’s killing himself!” said a nomad from the rear of the bunker.
“If he dies we don’t get paid,” said the Xan operating the lever.
“Open the gate,” the leader ordered, “but have your pistols trained on him.”
The lever operator left his post and walked over to the west wall where a chain hung from the ceiling. He wrapped his hands around the chain until it was taut and leaned back, using his weight to draw the gate across.
Before the leader could take a pace forward, Tidis’ eyes flicked open. He extended his right arm and focused on the xan holding the gate open. The leader desperately signalled for his colleague to release the chain, but before he could react, the portion hanging loosely beneath his grip was suddenly suspended in the air. The operator puzzled over the possessed chain before it looped around his long neck and tightened powerfully, cracking his windpipe and lynching him on the spot.
The xan with their pistols aimed at Tidis hesitated, deciding whether to violate their client’s wishes. The Knight lurched forward, diving into a roll, and as he rose from the manoeuvre he flicked his arms out to the sides with his palms facing the walls. An almighty crack reverberated and the nomads were aghast as two of the pillars supporting the foundations of the bunker split across the middle. Tidis would have hoped to have detained one of the xan for questioning, but they were now dust; he bounded and dived for the exit, as the roof collapsed and Palikiti swallowed once more.
Tidis leaned against the navigation beacon whose purple light was now diminished by a layer of the dust still pluming the atmosphere hours after the collapse. He had hoped to find the speeder still hovering a few meters away, but it had been taken. He was still suffering with the agonising thirst and draining a water skin did little to curb its intensity. He rose to his feet and surveyed the dunes climbing to the northwest. If there had been tracks in the sand the shifting landscape would have concealed them long ago. He checked his clothing; he expected his lightsabre and communicator to be missing, but he hoped they had not discovered the tool he had tied around his left ankle. Relieved, Tidis crouched, untied the windline and stood to hold it at arm’s length. The tool was constructed from a two-meter length of wire ending at a heavy wooden ball. Like a miniature bola, Tidis rotated his wrist briskly until the line was taut and the ball, revolving smoothly. The wire flexed and vibrated and created a humming sound that gradually increased. Before long the noise overwhelmed the wind coursing above the dunes and Tidis had to fight against the strain in his forearm and the powerful din assaulting his eardrums.
A flock of desert carrion circled over Tidis, intrigued by the unfamiliar sound. The Jedi bridged his free palm across his brow to block out the sun and surveyed the horizon. Silhouettes descended a dune half a kilometre to the west and Tidis slowed the windline’s revolutions until it hung limply at his side. He squatted and retied the tool around his ankle.
Once the silhouettes reached the base of the dune, Tidis identified them as Kybuck’s. Many species indigenous to temperate landscapes were lured to the hum of the windline, and Kybucks – pack animals for many merchants and nomads travelling Palikiti – found the call irresistible. As the herd drew closer, Tidis realised that the creatures wore muzzles and bore leather saddles upon their backs; the Jedi hypothesised that they belonged to the xan now buried underfoot.

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