• Published 27th Sep 2012
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My Little Old Republic: Trouble on Tython - AidanMaxwell



Jedi Applejack and Rarity are sent to investigate the growing Flesh Raider crisis on Tython.

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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Tython, Jedi Temple Courtyard

“You can do it, Sweetie Belle. Focus!”

“I can't focus with you yelling at me, Rarity!”

“I am not yelling at you. I am encouraging you. Very loudly.”

Sweetie Belle glared at her sister. Her normally puffy pink and purple mane was damp with sweat and pressing against her face from hours of meditation. The Tython sun was beating down on the two sisters as well as the many other younglings and padawans in the courtyard of the Jedi Temple. Despite the marble cathedral being nearly four hundred meters tall, it provided no shade for the grass, the trees, and the overheated Jedi that occupied its lawn.

Rarity, despite her efforts to be conventional by Jedi standards, had opted to take a parasol with her for the day. It levitated above her, held in place by her magic. Normally she used the Force for tasks of this nature, but she found her own ability as a unicorn ample for something trivial like holding an umbrella. Unlike channeling the Force, her own magic didn't tire her if maintained in a manageable amount. No amount of sun protection, however, was going to keep her sane.

Of all the younglings she could've been paired with for the day, it had to be her sister.

“It's too hard, Rarity!” Sweetie Belle moaned. Before her sat a common boulder, not much smaller than her head. A perfectly reasonable object to levitate.

“Why is this so hard for you, Sweetie?” Rarity asked with a groan. Then, still levitating her parasol, she lifted a hoof and closed her eyes. The boulder rose a couple feet off the ground almost instantly, with no magical aura around it. It was Rarity channeling the Force, not unicorn magic. “It's quite easy. What are you struggling with? Is it the part where you envision the rock in your mind's eye?”

“No! It's just too big!”

“But can you even lift small things?”

“Yeah, I can!” Sweetie Belle frantically looked around to locate a smaller object, and her gaze came to rest on the lightsaber that hung on her sister's belt. She closed her eyes and envisioned it in her mind, and a moment later, she felt the rising sensation of the Force flowing through her body. When she opened her eyes again, the lightsaber was wiggling on Rarity's belt, and a moment later it detached itself and floated in midair. “See?”

“Ah! Sweetie Belle! My lightsaber!” Rarity snatched the lightsaber with her hoof and put it back on her belt. She then turned on her sister, angrily at first, but her gaze softened after a second. “Okay. Well done. You can levitate small objects. But do not ever take my lightsaber again, understand?”

“Sorry, sis,” Sweetie Belle muttered, looking down at the ground.

“It's quite alright. We'll revisit this tomorrow. It's dreadfully hot out here, and we've been practicing all day. Would you like some dinner?”

“No, I'm not hungry.” Sweetie Belle looked up at the sky and squinted when the sun stared back at her. “It's not even dinner time yet.”

“Perhaps, but we can always have tea. It's about that time of...” Rarity's attention was slowly diverted to another pony, and she trailed off in her conversation. “Oh dear. Not again.”

“Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaw!”

A speeder bike barreled down the path leading up the mountain, the base of which the Jedi Temple sat at. The pony driving was none other than Applejack, or as some liked to refer to her, “the Prodigal Padawan.” She'd been in the Academy when Rarity had arrived, but the difference was that Rarity had graduated from Padawanship a long time ago, whereas Applejack had never moved past that level. Her constant need to do things her way and her stubbornness had held her back for nearly two years, so this display was not unexpected of her, despite having been warned several times by the Masters not to joyride on the speeder bikes.

The bike came to a sudden stop in front of the Academy, and Applejack front flipped off the seat and landed cleanly on the ground in front of Rarity. “Howdy.”

“Good afternoon, Applejack,” Rarity replied evenly. “Still breaking the rules, I take it?”

“Nah, Ah'm just excited today. M'ah sister Apple Bloom is comin' t'ah Tython today, and Ah'm on m'ah way t'ah see 'er touch down. Y'ah wanna come?”

“I'm actually about to have tea, but thank you for the offer.” Despite how often Applejack approached her, Rarity did not consider her a friend. She defied the rules that the Jedi so righteously upheld, which caused Rarity a little discomfort. “I can't wait to meet her though. Sweetie Belle? Ready to go?”

“I wanna go with Applejack!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed, eliciting a grimace from Rarity. Applejack embodied the freedom and the rebellious disregard for tradition that most of the younger padawans longed for. As such, the younger students were drawn to Applejack and her more freelance nature, and her sister was no exception.

“You'd rather 'hang out' with Applejack than spend some quality sister time with me?” Rarity sang, batting her eyelashes innocently at Sweetie Belle.

“Yeah!” she replied. “Applejack is fun!”

“Yes, well, if that's what you want, then fine.” Rarity looked up at Applejack with wide, pleading eyes that betrayed the hurt she was feeling. “Take care of her, won't you?”

“Don't you fret none,” Applejack replied, ignoring Rarity's big-sister look. “She'll be f'ahne. We're just goin' t'ah the landin' pad at the retreat on the ridge.”

“Alright. I'm trusting you though. Bring her back safely and don't get into trouble.” Rarity kicked the skirt of her robes back and spun around, trotting up the smooth marble stairs and disappearing inside the Temple. Sweetie Belle frowned, thinking she might have made a mistake in choosing Applejack over her own sister. The older mare took notice of her little friend's conflict and put a hoof on her back.

“Don't worry, Sweetie Belle,” she said reassuringly. “We'll be back before Rarity's even finished her tea.”

“Really?” Sweetie Belle replied, her eyes widening. A smile crept across her face.

“Ah promise.”

“Yay!”

“Hop on. Let's go meet m'ah sister.”

Sweetie Belle jumped onto the brown speeder bike and leaned back in the seat. When Applejack mounted the bike and grabbed hold of the steering bar, she felt two small hooves wrap around her waist in a tight embrace. Smiling, she hit the ignition and revved the engine before switching into top gear and racing out of the courtyard.

The trip to the resort didn't take long. Trees, rocks and assorted bushes and flowers blew past the bike in a blur. The beautiful, lush forests of Tython were hard to appreciate at 450 kilometers per hour. Applejack, of course, had seen every tree, plant and boulder on the road leading over the mountain from the Temple, but Sweetie Belle, who had seen the path maybe twice in her lifetime, was too busy trying to hold onto her driver to take anything in other than a ripped, brown Jedi's cape in her face.

For less than a minute, the dirt road winded through the forest, dodging rocks and trees as it snaked toward a metal landing pad near the edge of the ridge. Applejack's bike broke free from the sea of trees and raced across the small open field between the treeline and the landing pad. Even from a distance, she could make out the younglings filing off the shuttle that had just landed, especially one in particular that stood out due to the soft pink bow in her mane.

Applejack's bike came to a sliding stop beside the metal platform and she rolled off the seat. Sweetie Belle flew into the air with a small squeal and landed in the waiting hooves of Applejack, who chuckled lightly before setting her down. They both looked at the coming wave of younglings and smiled at them.

“Welcome, y'all!” Applejack said to them as they looked around nervously.

“Applejack!” called the filly with the bow in her hair. She ran up to her sister and threw herself around her neck. “Ah missed you, big sis!”

“Ah've missed you too, squirt,” Applejack replied kindly, returning the hug. The two sisters embraced in a hug that had been a long time coming, and Sweetie Belle let out a small “Aww” at the sight. “It’s been years since Ah saw you last. Look at’cha! Y’er gonna be a Jedi like me!”

“Ah know! Ah’m so excited!”

“Sweetie Belle, this here’s Apple Bloom m’ah little sister.”

Sweetie Belle extended a hoof to Apple Bloom with a smile. “Nice to meet you!”

“Pleasure’s all mah’ne!” Apple Bloom replied, spitting into her hoof and slapping it against Sweetie Belle’s. “Anyway, Ah’m hungry. When do we get some grub? Ah haven’t eatin’ since Ah left home.”

“Ah’ll ask the master in charge of y’all. Ah’d love nothin’ more than t’ah take ya for a bite t’ah eat at the Temple. Wait here a sec.” Applejack looked around for somepony closer to her height and saw a pair of Republic officers in white armor standing near the shuttle. They were engineers, most likely, given that they were running tests on the ship’s internal mechanisms and taking notes on their datapads. She trotted up to them and smiled. “Howdy. Do y’all know where the Jedi master that’s in charge of these young’uns is?”

“Master Yuon is assigned to oversee these new younglings,” one of the engineers replied. “We've got orders to detain them until she arrives.”

“Can Ah borrow one of them, then?”

“No. Orders are orders. Nopony is to take them from this landing pad until Master Yuon arrives, much less a Padawan who can't walk ten steps without breaking a rule.”

“Hey now,” she said curtly. “That’s not very kind of y’all.”

“You should probably leave, ma’am,” the other engineer interjected without looking at her. “Only Masters and pre-approved members of the Order are approved to be on the landing pad right now. Sorry.”

Applejack seethed, baring her teeth at the first engineer, who snubbed his nose and turned back to the shuttle to continue his post-flight checks. She snorted loudly and stormed back to her speeder, nearly knocking over Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle. Without waiting, she started up the bike and zipped away, disappearing into the forest, leaving both fillies behind.

“Your sister seems upset,” Sweetie Belle whispered to her new friend. “Will she be okay?”

“Ah dunno,” Apple Bloom cried, putting a hoof to her lip thoughtfully. “That wasn't like Applejack at all. She ain't normally so moody. Somethin' fishy's goin' on, Ah can feel it.”

At that moment, one of the younglings in the crowd screamed, pointing a shaking hoof toward the forest. Out from behind the trees came a band of large, scaly beings holding swords and blasters. They looked like mutants; they walked on two legs and had wide, smooth faces with jaws as long as their heads. They had fingers and toes, and wore discarded cloth garments for clothes. To make matters worse, they opened fire the moment they appeared.

“Flesh Raiders!” yelled one of the engineers, dropping his datapad as he reached for his rifle. He shouldered it and returned fire on the incoming wave of aliens, dropping a couple. Bolts fired in all directions as the aliens charged toward the landing pad, screaming unintelligible war cries as they ran.

“Call for reinforcements!” he yelled over the fire.

The other engineer tapped his communicator frantically, opening the long-range public frequency channel. “This is Republic Pilot Wrench down on the landing pad! We’ve been ambushed by Flesh Raiders! They’re attacking the younglings! Send Jedi reinforcements immediately!” Then he cut off his radio and picked up his gun, firing on the incoming aliens.

The two soldiers managed to gun down the first two that got close, but five more slipped through the fire and charged up the ramp. A raider wielding a sword lunged at one of the troopers and ran him through, piercing his armor on the other side of his body. Horrified, the younglings ran backwards toward the shuttle they’d come in on as the aliens beheaded the remaining soldier, leaving Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle between them and the ship. They turned their heads to the two fillies and glared at them angrily, their yellow eyes glowing like hellfire.

Sweetie Belle gulped. “R-rarity!”

“Applejack!” Apple Bloom cried. She opened her mouth to scream again but was cut off when a Flesh Raided placed a large, slimy hand across her mouth and lifted her off the ground by her jaw. She screamed a muffled cry into his palm and shook her body to get free, but was soon grabbed by the other hand and pulled into the crowd of aliens. The Raider carrying Apple Bloom ran back down the ramp and disappeared into the forest.

The rest of the aliens turned to Sweetie Belle. She whimpered pathetically until she felt a pair of hands yank her off the ground, at which point she screamed. The Flesh Raider holding her jumped back a step and took off for the forest as well. The remaining Flesh Raiders, who totaled about seven, rushed forward to apprehend the younglings that had taken refuge in the shuttle.

Just as they were about to reach the boarding ramp, a speeder bike zipped onto the landing pad and rammed into one of the Flesh Raiders, jamming its stabilizers into its chest and knocking it to the ground with two large gashes from his neck to his belly. Applejack backflipped onto the pad and stood up slowly, glaring at them as she stood between them and the ship. They growled at her and charged. She put her hoof on her sword hilt and held it up, waiting for them.

The first one to reach her swung his sword down at her, and she sidestepped to dodge. She brought her sword around and gutted him, beheading the alien directly next to him with the swipe as well. Off balance from the swing, Applejack pushed her other hoof out and called on the Force. An invisible gust of wind pushed two raiders onto their backs, toppling two more behind them. She then pivoted with a backwards slash that parried an incoming sword attack. Using the opening she created, Applejack plunged her sword into the chest of the Flesh Raider in front of her, who lost his grip on his sword and sent it flying backwards.

Of the seven that she’d started the engagement with, Applejack could only count four more Flesh Raiders. They stood up after recovering from the Force Push she’d unleashed and raised their weapons. One of them charged forward with a vibrosword. She met him headlong in a charge of their own. Simultaneously, they swung their swords at one another, Applejack swinging low, and the raider swinging down. Anticipating the strike, she sidestepped with her swing and took out both of the enemy’s kneecaps without being hit by his blade. Before he even hit the ground, she thrust her sword into the back of his skull.

The three remaining Flesh Raiders looked at one another, then turned around and ran back toward the forest. Applejack shook her hoof at them as they retreated. “Y’all better not come back, if y’all know what’s good f’er ya’!”

She turned her attention to the shuttle. A filly had crept down the boarding ramp to watch the fight and was staring at her intently.

“Ah heard everything on m’ah bike’s radio. Is everypony okay in there?” Applejack asked.

The filly nodded.

“Tell everypony it’s safe, and that they can come out.”

Nodding, the youngling retreated up the ramp, and reappeared a moment later with the rest of the fillies and colts following behind her. Applejack smiled as they came down the ramp, but frowned again when she surveyed them and didn’t see her sister. “Is that all of y’uns?”

“Yes ma’am,” replied the first filly with a nod.

Applejack’s head twisted toward the forest. “Did those aliens get anypony?”

“There were the two fillies that came with you the first time,” a colt chirped from the group. “They never came on board.”

Applejack stared at the colt, mouth agape. A trio of speeders rushed down the mountainside and over the clearing toward the landing pad, stopping short of the ramp. Rarity and two other Jedi hopped off the bikes and galloped to the younglings.

“Sweetie Belle? Sweetie Belle! Where are you?” Rarity cried, frantically checking the heads of the younglings, looking for her sister. Her gaze came to rest on Applejack. “Where’s my sister!?”

“Gone...” Applejack muttered, staring down at the floor. “They got m’ah sister and y’ers.”

“They’re not... not dead, are they?”

“No, they ain’t dead. They just got fillynapped, is all.”

Rarity sniffled, then nodded her head. “If there’s a chance they’re still alive, then somepony needs to go find them.”

“Ah intend to,” Applejack said, looking up at Rarity with lowered eyes. The determination on her face was overshadowed by the anger in her eyes. Rarity realized that Applejack’s sister had been taken as well, and that the emotions they were both feeling were probably similar. Unlike Rarity, however, Applejack was not handling the situation calmly.

“Applejack, I realize what happened wasn’t your fault, but you need to remember that we aren’t qualified to handle this ourselves. We need to report this to the Council and let them deliberate over our next course of action.”

“And sentence m’ah sister to to death?” Applejack replied with a defiant stomp. “Not a chance.”

“Please, be rational!” Rarity persisted. “My sister was taken, too! But we can’t go on without help. We’d just end up dying alongside our sisters!”

“Ah’d rather die by her side than listen to the Council kill her with inaction!”

“But—”

Applejack shook her head and turned to leave, putting a hoof on her speeder bike’s handle. “Ya’ comin’ or what?”

Rarity bit her lip and turned to look at the two Jedi knights that had accompanied her. They were inspecting each youngling intently, looking for signs of injury, and asking them questions. She weighed her options and sighed, her face drooping as she mentally resigned herself to the punishment that would follow her actions. “I suppose. If only to keep an eye on you.” Then she trotted up to the bike and reached around the seat to pull herself up.

Applejack didn’t wait, hopping into the seat and hoisting Rarity up behind her. The bike revved to life and zipped toward the nearby mountainside, which was just on the other side of the forest. Wrapping her hooves around Applejack, Rarity squealed as the bike sped away. She’d never pushed a bike this fast in such dangerously thick forest before, and every tree that passed within three feet of her made her whimper again.

“Where are we going?” Rarity yelled over the bike’s engine. “Do you even know where to go?”

“They can’t be far,” Applejack said. “I wasn’t gone more than a minute.”

“You left?!” Rarity shrieked, causing Applejack to flinch. “Why on earth did you leave?”

“Ah’ll tell ya’ later.” A river loomed into view ahead of them, and crossing that river was a small group of Flesh Raiders. They appeared to be carrying something, and Rarity couldn’t see what it was, but Applejack could see a bright pink bow under the arm of one of the aliens. “There.”

The bike zipped up to the river and Applejack leaped over the handlebars, gracefully landing on her hooves. Rarity carefully slid over the seat and landed gently beside the bike. Taking notice of the Jedi, the Flesh Raiders clambered to the other side of the river and ran into a nearby tunnel. The cavern was rounded and covered in tribal paintings on the inside. Primitive torches lit a path to the far end of the cave, where the tunnel continued deeper into the mountain. As Applejack and Rarity arrived inside the cave, the Flesh Raider party dashed down the tunnel and vanished.

From within the darkness, a blue lightsaber ignited and moved steadily into the firelight. An earth pony, wearing tattered grey Jedi robes and sporting tribal tattoos on his face and forelegs, emerged from the tunnel with his weapon held firmly at his side.

“Jedi? Here?” he said. The sound of his voice reverberated off the cavern walls. “No doubt you’re trying to save the Younglings I ordered to be captured.”

“Who the hay are you?” Applejack yelled, reaching for her sword.

“What do you want with our sisters?” Rarity asked, likewise drawing her own lightsaber. The hilt magically floated to her side and from it burst an emerald blade. As it ignited, Applejack’s gaze shifted to the saber and locked onto it enviously.

“To indoctrinate them, of course!” The pony leaped forward a few steps and slammed his hooves against the ground, causing the whole tunnel to shake. Boulders and stones rained down on the opening behind him, sealing the passageway under the mountain. Rarity and Applejack both stared wide-eyed at the rock slide. “They will make fine additions to our cause.”

“What cause?” Rarity asked.

“I am but one of the many enlightened Jedi that escaped the Temple and sought training under a new master,” replied the pony. “My name is Callef. We are the New Order. And you are not worthy.”

“Not worthy of what, dar—”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw an orange hoof snatch her lightsaber from midair, shattering her magical hold on the hilt. Applejack then leapt forward several meters and brought Rarity’s saber down on Callef along with her own sword. Callef threw his own blue lightsaber up to block the attack, but was pinned to the stone floor by the sheer force of Applejack’s lunge.

She stared intently into his eyes as she pushed her weapons down. Callef struggled to maintain his grip on his lightsaber as the weight of Applejack’s pushing increased steadily.

“Where are they?” Applejack yelled, gritting her teeth. “Tell me, you slimeball!”

Callef pushed up with all his might, shifting Applejack’s balance enough to make her stumble. She tripped forward two steps and planted her face against the ground. Using the Force, Callef grabbed hold of a nearby stone and hurled it at Applejack as she stood up shakily. The rock stopped halfway, and Callef looked over at Rarity to see her channeling the Force as well. She gracefully manipulated the boulder, her hooves dancing in a flurry of motions and waves. When she finished, the rock plummeted harmlessly to the ground a few meters from Callef.

Livid, he stood up and wiped his nose. “You can’t stop us. Even if you kill me, my master has already taken your sisters far from here. You’ll see them again on the day your Order crumbles under our hooves, when you find them among the forces that burn your precious Archives.”

“M’ah sister would never help the likes of you, or your master!” Applejack shrieked. She dropped her sword and leaped, throwing her weight into a downward slash with Rarity’s lightsaber. Callef smoothly brought his blade up to counter her swing, but found the force of the blow too great, and dropped his lightsaber with a yell. He looked up to see the green blade only an inch from his throat.

“Applejack, stop!” Rarity cried, galloping up to her fellow Jedi. “This has gone too far! We can’t kill this pony!”

“Wh’ah not?” Applejack countered, her gaze locked on Callef. “Gimme one good reason.”

“It’s not the Jedi way,” Rarity said. She took a deep breath to regain her composure and lowered her voice. “Jedi never kill unarmed beings, much less their own captives. It’s not right. He must stand trial and be interrogated.”

Applejack seemed to ignore Rarity, instead leaning closer to her captive. “You, Callef.”

Callef blinked, then smiled at Applejack. “Yes?”

Where’s m’ah sister?

“I’ll never tell you.”

“You die here, right now, if you don’t.”

“Then I die a martyr to the New Order,” Callef replied with a shrug. His eyes traced Applejack’s expression until his gaze came to rest on the braid dangling from her mane. “Hope you said goodbye to your sister, Padawan. Aren’t you a little tall for a Padawan? Or... or are you just incompetent?”

Applejack’s eyes widened and her teeth barred even wider. She began audibly grunting.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” Callef continued. “You’re not capable of passing the trials. You’re weak. You couldn’t even protect your own sister, could you?”

A furious yell echoed off the walls of the cavern as Applejack plunged the lightsaber into Callef’s face. The blade melted through his skull and oozed burning plasma from the entry wound. His body slumped to the ground as Rarity stared at her, mouth agape.

“Applejack, what did you just do?!” she shrieked. “Did I not just say—”

“Ah don’t care,” Applejack muttered. “He had it comin’. Now use y’er Force powers to dig this hole out.”

“I will do no such thing!” Rarity said, stomping her hoof. She reached out with the Force and plucked her lightsaber from Applejack’s hoof, returning it to her belt. “We are going back to the Council to report this before we take any more measures. We may be in way over our heads, here, Applejack, and I’m not going to let the passion of the moment dictate my actions, like you so callously did with Callef.”

Applejack seethed, grumbling at Rarity’s response, but the unicorn ignored her and began her departure from the cave. “So that’s it, then? You’re just gonna let ‘em get away with y’er sister? And m’ah sister?”

“Do you think I like leaving her alone like this?” Rarity said defiantly, turning her head to look at Applejack. “I don’t. It’s the hardest thing I can ever do. But I must. Our Code has always prioritized wisdom over haste, and I’m not about to get us both killed trying to rescue our sisters. Without the support of the Council, any further attempts of rescue would be both wrong and foolish, and could result in the casualties of every Jedi on Tython. We’re the only ones who witnessed this stallion, Applejack, and we know what his motives were. There is a threat much larger than just the kidnapping here. It simply must take a higher priority.”

“But our sisters! What about them?”

“They will never leave my thoughts, Applejack. But this is a serious threat, and we can’t just rush in blindly or we risk dooming the entire Order. Honestly, isn’t that what I just said? You’re so caught up in your need to instant gratification. This is probably why the Council doesn’t trust you with a lightsaber, and I certainly won’t let you use mine any time soon.”

Applejack snorted at Rarity, but didn’t reply. As she began trotting after Rarity, her hoof touched against Callef’s body. His melting face exuded blood and pus from the circular hole extending through his skull, eliciting a shudder from Applejack. When she looked down, her eyes caught a shimmer near his hoof, where his lightsaber lay on the stone. She looked up to see if Rarity was watching her, then snatched the hilt and stowed it under her robes before galloping out of the cavern with a smirk on her face.