• 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 2

Chapter 2

Council Chamber, Jedi Temple

Rarity galloped through the massive archway into a vast, circular room. In the center was a large table at which seven ponies sat in deep discussion. As she entered, they looked up at her with confused expressions. Applejack walked through the archway as Rarity was bowing to the ponies at the table.

“Masters, I have something to report,” she said quickly. She paused to take a deep breath before she continued. “The Flesh Raiders were driven away from the landing pad, but they escaped with two live prisoners. We... that is, me and Padawan Applejack, pursued them to a cave when they escaped with the help of a rogue Jedi named Callef.”

“Callef?” said one Jedi that Rarity recognized as Master Ghetsu. He stood up and looked around the table. “My padawan is alive?”

“Not anymore,” Applejack said. Rarity shot a glance at her, but she didn’t return the gesture.

“What?” Master Ghetsu shouted at Applejack. “He would never attack a fellow Jedi! There must be a mistake! Padawan, you have a lot to answer for-”

“Master, if I could interject,” Rarity said, raising her hoof. “I can confirm that Callef has been killed. But you see, he has given us information pertaining to a possible threat to the Order. He spoke of something he called ‘The New Order,’ and he mentioned he had a new master who plans to remove the Jedi from Tython.”

“How is this possible?” asked Master Yolan, another Jedi at the table. “How will this New Order achieve such a feat?”

“Somehow, this new master has found a way to control the indigenous Flesh Raiders,” Rarity explained. “The attack on the landing pad was coordinated and dangerous. They possessed modern weapons like blasters and vibroswords. Were it not for Padawan Applejack, I fear every youngling on that shuttle would’ve been foalnapped.”

Master Ghetsu looked warily at Applejack. “Is this true, Padawan?”

“Eeyup,” she replied with a nod.

A third master stood up from her chair and put her hooves gently on the table. Rarity recognized her as Master Ohrum, the Temple’s head archivist. “The Council will convene in private to discuss this matter. I will ask Padawan Applejack to leave for the duration of the meeting. Rarity, however, I would ask that you stay to help answer questions about this ordeal.”

“Now hold on just a cotton-pickin’ minute!” Applejack said, stamping her hoof. “Ah saw everything Rarity saw. Why can’t Ah stay?”

“You have done well today, if what Rarity says is true,” Master Ohrum replied calmly, turning to look at Applejack directly. “As such, you can expect further consideration for Knighthood. But as it stands, you are still a Padawan, and we must prioritize the information Rarity can give us because she’s proven her merit as a trustworthy pony. As it stands, you have not earned that privilege.”

Rarity turned to look at Applejack, expecting to see her angry or upset. Her face, however, betrayed sadness and desperation. As she slumped out of the Council chamber, Applejack hung her head and sighed deeply. The massive stone doors shut behind her and an awkward silence overwhelmed the room. Master Ohrum sat down again and sighed.

“I hate to be that pony,” she muttered. “She means well, even if she is stubborn and unruly.”

“Forget about the Padawan,” Master Ghetsu said. “Let’s get this over with.”

At the side of the table opposite Rarity, an older mare stood up and gestured her hooves out toward the Council. “Then this meeting is commenced. The records will show Grand Master Satele Shan presiding over Masters Yolan, Lemep, Mapio, Ghetsu, Ohrum, and Ver during this meeting. Knight Rarity is a witness to the event we are discussing. Rarity, please feel free to sit with us.”

Rarity hesitated, looking at the unoccupied chair before her. “Doesn’t this seat belong to an absent Jedi, Master Satele?”

“It does, but they are not coming back in the next five minutes, I can assure you. Please.”

With a thankful nod, Rarity pulled the chair out a few inches and sat down slowly, putting her hooves in her lap.

“Now, Rarity,” Satele said, tapping a holocron in her hoof, “tell us again, for the recorder, what exactly happened today, starting with the ambush on the landing platform.”

“A group of organized Flesh Raiders stormed the Temple landing pad right after the shuttle carrying a new bunch of younglings arrived,” Rarity began. “Among them was the sister of Padawan Applejack, who had arrived with my own sister, Padawan Sweetie Belle, to greet them. According to reports, Applejack left the platform, and about ten or twelve Raiders assaulted in unison just after that. I received an alarm here at the Temple and was dispatched to investigate, and when I arrived, Applejack was at the platform. She had dispatched the Flesh Raiders singlehoofedly, save two, who escaped with my sister, and her’s, alive.”

“So the Flesh Raiders captured your sisters,” Satele echoed. “Alive, you said? How curious. I always thought the Raiders were sub-sentient, murderous animals.”

“Of course they’re sentient, Satele,” Master Ghetsu said. “They were using blasters and vibroswords!”

“This is an alarming development in and of itself,” Master Ohrum chimed in. “If the Flesh Raiders were sentient, we have been dealing with a race that is self-aware. We’ve not had this much trouble with the Raiders in a long time.”

“Attacks have been increasing steadily for the last month,” Master Ghetsu noted. “We now know why. Clearly, my former apprentice’s new master and his so-called “New Order” is behind this. He’s been buying weapons and supplying the indigenous locals to try and remove our Order from Tython. We can’t let that happen, and I say we counteract this somehow.”

“But the Flesh Raiders are sentient!” Master Ohrum cried. “We can’t condemn any species to death. We are the protectors of peace! Isn’t there a way to reason with these aliens?”

“Our forces are spread far too thin to mount any kind of mass offensive, anyway,” Master Satele said. “Look around, Ghetsu. Half of our Council is away from home. We have masters in every corner of the galaxy, doing important work for the Republic. We can’t ask them to drop everything and return to Tython just to deal with this new threat. No, we must focus on being defensive. We must be patient.”

“But we can’t do nothing,” Master Yolan said, nodding to Master Ghetsu. “I can at least understand where the Padawan was coming from. I’d be upset, too, if my own sister was fillynapped.”

“How are you dealing with your sister being taken, Rarity?” asked Master Satele suddenly. “And what about the condition of Applejack? What insight can you provide there?”

Rarity hesitated, taken aback by the abruptness of the question. “I want nothing more than to rescue her if possible, but I do recognize this threat is much more important. Padawan Applejack was much less eager to leave her sister behind, but she seemed to have a change of heart after we left the cave together.”

“Very well. I would like to pass a motion.” Master Satele stood up slowly, placing the holocron on the table. “We must not allow our members to engage in an all-out war with the Flesh Raiders. If they are in fact sentient, we have to be very careful about how we go about this. However, Masters Ohrum and Ghetsu have expressed the need to invoke some kind of action. Therefore, I propose Knight Rarity be assigned to a Master, who can select a small force of Jedi to conduct strategic information gathering in the Tythos Ridge, where the Flesh Raider homelands are.

“Because you are the most knowledgeable about the threat we face, Knight Rarity, I want you to assist your assigned master in choosing his or her courses of action. I expect you to be proactive in the processes. While finding the fillynapped students is important, we must keep level-headed about this threat, as Rarity has demonstrated here today. All in favor of the motion?”

All six of the other masters raised their hooves, as did Rarity, who quickly put it down in embarrassment. Master Satele chuckled at her.

“Very well, it’s unanimous. Who shall head up the investigation, then? One of us? Another Master from somewhere else in the Temple?”

“I’ll do it,” Master Ghetsu said quickly, almost jumping out of his seat.

“I would prefer if one of our non-faculty Masters was in charge of this, Master Ghetsu. Master Lemep? This sort of thing is in your area of expertise. Will you head this up?”

A stallion on the right side of the table stood up to address Satele. The first thing that Rarity noticed was that he wore fine white robes that glistened in the natural light. They were made of a luxurious fabric, and he had a headband made of the same material that wrapped around his eyes. His black mane fell around his ears and face, well-kept but long. Rarity discerned from the headband that Master Lemep was a Miraluka.

While she was eyeing his outfit, it occurred to her that even in her numerous years at the Temple, she had never once met, seen, or even heard of Master Lemep.

“It would be my pleasure to head this up alongside Miss Rarity, Master Satele,” he said calmly. He had a melodic voice, and Rarity noted how he had referred to her as ‘Miss’. “We’ll get started right away.”

“Very well. This Council meeting is adjourned. Good luck, you two.”

A few minutes later, the other masters had already filed out of the Council chamber, but Master Lemep remained in his seat, motionlessly pondering something. Rarity stood and trotted up to his chair, lightly tapping him on the shoulder.

“Master Lemep?” Rarity asked. “Do you require my assistance with anything at the moment?”

“Yes,” he said quietly. It was impossible to tell if he was looking at her, due to his being a Miraluka. They were just like normal ponies, except that they were born without eyes. They saw through the Force, or so Rarity had been told. “I will need you in a few minutes. Don’t go very far.”

“Yes, Master.”

“In fact... let me pose to you the question. I'll hear your insight, from one Consular to another. What would be the best way to proceed, do you think? What approach do we take to this matter?”

Rarity stopped to consider. “Perhaps... a small force should be assembled first. To perform reconnaissance.”

“Alright. Who?”

“Err... I'm not sure. It should be a small force, maybe only four or five ponies. Somepony adept in healing should be among them. Two of our best fighters as well, just as a precaution. If we have anypony in the Order who is well known for stealth and gracefully handling situations, they could be an asset. Somepony who knows tactics and survival skills would be beneficial as well, in case the group is forced to take radio silence out on the Ridge.”

“Your wisdom serves you well, Rarity. You are absolutely right. Except one thing, though.”

“What's that, Master?”

“We only need two ponies on this assignment. And I think you need to be one of them.”

“What? Why?”

“Because this operation is volatile, and the ponies assigned to it will need to be personally motivated to work hard. Since your sister is directly involved in this, I believe you have the drive inside you to see this done.” Master Lemep stood suddenly and turned his head toward Rarity. She felt as though he was staring at her through his headband. “Although, if that is my reasoning for selecting you, I believe you may know who else I plan to induct into this operation.”

“Applejack,” Rarity whispered.

“Correct. Your first assignment under me, Rarity, is to convince Applejack to submit herself to my instruction. If she is to save her sister, she must follow orders, even if she doesn’t like them. I will talk to her directly if need be, but I have preparations to make and would prefer if you could handle this yourself. Do what you must to persuade her. I trust your wisdom.”

“You’re too kind, Master,” Rarity said with a bow. “Will that be all?”

“For now, yes.” Master Lemep walked slowly toward the door, his white cape flowing over the back of his chair as he moved. “I’ll be in the archives if you need me.”

Rarity felt something touch her shoulder, and she turned to look at what it was. There was nothing there, and when she looked back at Master Lemep, he was gone.

-~-~-~-~-~

Ponies bustled through the hallways of the Temple, on their way to and from dinner late in the afternoon. Rarity was part of the crowd moving towards the cafeteria. When she stepped inside, she saw a long, stone-carved room that buzzed with activity as Jedi moved from table to table with trays filled with food. Applejack was sitting at a table by herself near the door, and when Rarity walked inside, she looked up at her and nodded slowly.

“Howdy,” she muttered.

Rarity sat down across from Applejack and put a hoof on hers. “Are you doing alright?”

“No, not really,” Applejack said. “In all honesty, Ah’ve put up with the Masters looking down on me for so long, Ah forgot how to feel about it. Master Ohrum’s comment really got to me, ya’ know?”

“Maybe you should listen to what they have to say, Applejack. The Masters have so many collective years of wisdom and skill between all of them. You’d think that you being just one pony, they might know a little better than you do.”

“You’re rah’ght, a’course.” Applejack slid her hoof to a bowl and pulled it closer to her. “But that so-called wisdom is probably gonna get m’ah sister killed, or worse.”

“But that’s why I’m here, Applejack,” Rarity said with a smile. “Master Lemep and I are going to be working on information gathering together. He wants you to help us.”

“That sounds a might boring, if Ah do say so m’ahself.”

“We go out into the field, though.”

“Uh huh.”

“And we sneak into Flesh Raider camps.”

Applejack’s eyes slowly drifted up to Rarity’s. “Yeah?”

“And perhaps, if we’re lucky, we might find Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle while we’re at it.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so? Ah’d sure as sugar like to meet this Master Lemep fella. He’s m’ah new favorite master in the Academy.”

“It wasn’t strictly his idea,” Rarity confessed. “The Council decided this was to be our course of action, to prevent too many Jedi from engaging with the Flesh Raiders. For safety reasons, I’m sure. Master Lemep specifically wanted you, however, because he thinks you will be motivated to help him.”

“Darn right Ah am,” Applejack said. She stood up and pushed her robes back to rest her hooves on her waist. “Ah wanna go speak to this guy. Ah have questions for him.”

“I’m sure you do. He said he was in the Archives when we wanted to meet him.” Rarity shifted her gaze to the bowl on the table. “Are you not going to eat?”

“Ah got more important things to do,” Applejack replied, swinging over the bench and running toward the door. “Ah’ve gotta find m’ah sister!”

“Applejack, wait!” Rarity put a hoof up to get her attention, but Applejack was rounding the corner before she could call her back. She could have sworn that, out of the corner of her robe, something glistened in the light as she disappeared around the door. “Probably a comlink or something,” she muttered before standing up and making her way toward the door herself.

After navigating the crowded narrow hallways of the Temple, Rarity broke free from the flow of traffic and stumbled into the Archives chamber. Massives shelves lined the room from wall to wall, housing thousands of datacrons trapped inside glowing, blue boxes. The only open space was a circular center where tables and stands were placed for students to study on. Applejack was in the center of the room, surveying the tables for Master Lemep.

“Ah don’t see any masters,” Applejack muttered as Rarity trotted up next to her.

“I don’t see him either,” Rarity replied. “He said he would be here.”

“And here I am,” said a chilling voice from behind them. Both mares wheeled around to see a stallion standing near a shelf, not looking at them directly. He was plucking a datacron from the shelf. “I’m glad Applejack was as easy to convince as I had hoped.”

“Hey,” Applejack said. “Ah came of m’ah own accord. Ah don’t need t’ah be told t’ah help find m’ah sister.”

“How long have you been standing there, Master?” Rarity asked. “Did we walk by you on our way in?”

“Yes and no,” Master Lemep replied with a sly smirk. “I have a habit of disappearing. You’ll forgive me if I sneak up on you.”

“Wait,” Applejack said. “Ah’ve been here a long time, and Ah’ve never heard of no Master Lemep. How come Ah ain’t never heard of you b’fore?”

“I take great, painstaking care to make my presence on Tython as inconspicuous as possible. I am a stallion of mystery, as I always have been. There are things about me that nopony knows, not even my fellow Council members. One thing you might like to know about me, Padawan, is that these eyes of mine see a lot of things.”

He put the datacron he was holding back on the shelf and trotted up to Applejack. His blindfold made it hard to tell where he was looking, but he still faced her down in silence for a few seconds. When Applejack took a step back, Master Lemep reached into her robe with the Force and pulled out Callef’s lightsaber, eliciting a gasp from her. Rarity echoed the gasp a moment later.

“Applejack, is that Callef’s lightsaber?” she whispered.

“Yes,” Applejack muttered, eyes wide in surprise.

“You do know Padawans are not allowed to have lightsabers, right?” Master Lemep said evenly. He was neither smiling nor frowning.

“Ah... Ah did know that.”

“Well, in this particular instance, you’re under my supervision. Your Master doesn’t need to know about this.” He put the lightsaber into Applejack’s hoof and took a step back. “As a Jedi, you were taught to follow rules without question. Our Order’s laws are sacred and to be respected. In your time here, Padawan, you have displayed a need to circumvent the rules, and this is why you’ve been held back. This is just another example of your impatience getting you into trouble. So, because I am a kind Master, I will offer you the chance to make this right.”

He extended his hoof to Applejack, who glared at it with a frown. She looked back to the lightsaber, then sighed as she placed it in his hoof. “Take it. Ah don’t want any more trouble. Ah just wanna rescue my sister.”

“And rescue her you shall,” Master Lemep replied. He turned back to the shelf and picked up the datacron he’d been looking at before. “I have been researching the Flesh Raiders for a long time, but I never once came across anything that suggests this New Order has ever existed. The first assignment I need you two to do is travel to the Flesh Raider’s homeland and find some clues to the origins and the whereabouts of the New Order’s base of operations. If they are using Flesh Raiders as tools, it seems fitting that we start there.”

“Is that where m’ah sister is?” Applejack asked.

“Possibly,” Master Lemep said with a shrug. “It’s our only lead so far, and it’s where we must start. I’ll leave you two to it, but I must make one recommendation. I do not, under these circumstances, recommend start your search tonight. Dusk is about to fall, and those mountains are dangerous enough in the day. There will be consequences if you go out there now.”

“Is there anything else we should know?” Rarity asked.

“Only that I’m not going with you,” Master Lemep replied. He turned to Applejack, datacron in hoof, and moved Callef’s floating lightsaber into her vicinity. It fell to the floor a moment later, chiming as it hit the tile. “I expect you to be well rested tomorrow. Good luck.”

Applejack and Rarity both looked down at Callef’s saber with confused expressions, then back up at Master Lemep. When they looked up, however, he was gone.

“What a strange fellow,” Rarity said slowly. Applejack moved across her periphery toward Callef’s saber, and she watched her pick it up and place it back on her belt. “You shouldn’t have that.”

“He left it here for me,” Applejack replied with a smug smile. “Why else would he drop it?”

“Maybe to test you? I don’t know.” Rarity shook her head. “I’m turning in for the night. What about you?”

“Ah’m goin’ to the bike rental. Ah need a new speeder.”

“Whatever for?”

“Ah’m goin’ out there tonight.”

“Alone?!” Rarity shrieked. She instantly put a hoof to her mouth, remembering she was in a library of sorts. “But Master Lemep said—”

“He said it wasn’t a good idea, but doin’ nothin’ strikes me as a bad idea. We can’t wait ‘til tomorrow. Something might happen t’ah Apple Bloom.”

“But he just said—”

“Ah’m goin’ now. You comin’, or am Ah ridin’ solo?”

Rarity frantically searched her immediate surroundings for somepony in authority, trying to dissuade Applejack from perhaps getting herself killed. When nopony nearby appeared able to help her, she sighed. “I refuse to let you go alone.”

“Ya’ can’t stop me,” Applejack muttered. “Ah’m goin’, and that’s final.”

“And I’m going with you.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow.

“I won’t let you get killed by being reckless,” Rarity whispered. “If you’re going to insist on breaking the rules to rescue our sisters, I... may as well see you back safely.”

“Much obliged,” Applejack replied, tipping her hat to Rarity.

Together they cantered out of the Archives, down the spiral stairs in the foyer, and out the front door of the Temple. Night was falling on Tython. Leaves fell around the training pits as Padawans and Masters alike began trickling back inside for the night. The guards normally stationed around the grounds during the nighttime were not yet at their posts, so Applejack casually trotted down the front steps to the speeder pad at the other end of the courtyard.

She quickly picked out a new speeder, having destroyed hers earlier in the day, and mounted it with a mighty leap. Rarity was still coming. “Hurry up.”

“I can’t walk inconspicuously any faster,” Rarity whispered harshly.

“We ain’t gonna get told to go back inside,” Applejack insisted. “It’s not lah’ke we’re doin’ anything wrong. There ain’t no rule that Jedi can’t roam around after hours.”

“There is such a rule for Padawans, Applejack,” Rarity fired back, “and if I get caught with you out here, we both might get into serious trouble.”

“Ya’ ain’t trustin’ me.”

Rarity stopped in front of the bike and sighed. “I don’t have much reason to trust you at the moment. You left my sister all alone, and she got fillynapped.”

Applejack looked down at her evenly. “Ah made a mistake. Ah let m’ah emotions dictate m’ah actions. Why can’t ya forgive me that?”

“Because that’s exactly what you’re doing right now.”

“Can’t argue that, Ah guess. So why are ya’ comin’ with me?”

“If my sister is... gone, I would hate for you to die too.” Rarity looked up at Applejack angrily. “Even if it’s pointless, I want to say I was there, and that I tried to save you from your own stupidity.”

“Fair enough. Ah still appreciate the help.”

Rarity sighed again and climbed up onto the bike, barely having enough time to grab onto Applejack’s waist before they sped away into the ever increasing darkness.

-~-~-~-~-~

Sweetie Belle hugged onto Apple Bloom tighter as the sound of hoofsteps grew closer. In the back of her mind, she knew she was going to die in this cave. They sat behind two burly Flesh Raider guards that hit them any time they tried to talk and shoved them to the floor when they tried to move. Apple Bloom nuzzled into her neck, the closest thing to a comfort either of them had in their dark corner of the cave. The only other boon the two fillies had going their way was the lack of gags and ropes. Neither of them had been restrained. Sweetie Belle had at first considered this was intentional, as though the idea of escape was allowed to foster on purpose, but had lost the willpower to attempt it hours ago.

The only other presence in the cave, a young mare with long, flowing pink hair whimpered as a stallion marched into their corner of the cave. He looked down at the three captives from between his Flesh Raider guards, his lightsabers dangling loosely at his side.

“Have they spoken recently?” he asked kindly, addressing the Flesh Raider, who shook its head in response. “Hmm. You, filly. With the purple mane.”

“M-me?” Sweetie Belle croaked, her throat dry from hours without water.

“Yes, you. Have these aliens been unkind to you?”

“Only w-when I talk.”

“Are you hungry? Thirsty?”

“Y-yes.”

Apple Bloom looked up at the stallion with pitiful, watery eyes. “C-can Ah have somethin’ t’ah eat, please?”

“Of course,” the stallion replied, smiling warmly. “It’d be a shame if you starved. Fluttershy, dear, would you like something as well?”

“No thank you,” the mare in the corner whispered.

“A pity. I offer you food after you’ve gone three days without anything to eat, but you refuse it anyway.” The stallion knelt down next to Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom. His face became less shadowed as the light filtered down from the torches nearby. He had a kindly face, his eyes wide and his mane short. He almost looked like a colt. “My name is Dust Bowl. I’m an apprentice to the Order.”

“T-the Jedi?” Sweetie Belle asked. Dust Bowl chuckled.

“No, not quite. I serve a new Master. We... don’t have the same rules the Jedi do.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Dust Bowl said calmly, “that we are a little more freelance. Easy going. In fact, some of us disagree with the Jedi and their policies. Have you ever felt like that? Do you ever feel like the Jedi are too... religious? Too upright and holy?”

“No,” Sweetie Belle replied. “I’ve never thought that.”

“A pity. And you?” He turned his head to Apple Bloom. “How do you feel about the Jedi?”

“Ah don’t rah’ghtfully know,” she said, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. “Ah just got here today. Ah wanna see m’ah sister...”

“Take heart, young one,” Dust Bowl whispered, stroking Apple Bloom’s mane with his hoof. “I’ve been told that your sisters are looking for you as we speak. I’m fairly certain they will join us, once they hear what he has to say.” He stood up and looked at the mare he addressed as Fluttershy. “Everypony will eventually.”

She did not reply. She didn’t even look up. Dust Bowl shrugged and trotted past the two guards, whispering to them as he left. A moment later, two bowls of fresh salad dropped in front of Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle. The former began stuffing her face the moment her hooves touched the food.

“T-thank you,” Sweetie Belle said, looking up at the figure that had dropped the plate. She was surprised to see a Flesh Raider guard frowning down on her, his teeth bared in disgust. He turned away and resumed his guard duty while the filly feasted on the meager meal she’d been presented with.