• 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 4

Chapter 4

Jedi Temple, Tython

Applejack yawned as she cantered into the cafeteria the next morning. She sat down at the table near the door and slammed her head against the top, groaning loudly with her face pressed against it. The sound of a plate being slid across the tabletop caused Applejack to look up at Master Lemep, who was pushing a full course breakfast toward her.

“I figured you’d be hungry,” he said, smiling as he folded his hooves on the tabletop.

“Ah am a mite hungry,” Applejack replied, reaching for the glass of apple juice that had been presented to her. “Good mornin’, Master.”

“Good morning to you, Applejack. Listen.” He leaned in closer to her. “Rarity brought to my attention that you threatened Fluttershy to interrogate Dust Bowl. Is that true?”

“Yessir,” replied Applejack glumly.

“Why would you do that?”

She took a deep breath. “All... Ah want... is mah sister back. Ah’m ready to do whatever it takes.”

“Even if it means being thrown out of the Order?”

“Eeyup.”

Master Lemep smirked. “You’re dedicated. I can appreciate that a lot more than the other Masters can. You would do well, however, to take advice with less criticism and hesitation. Your friends only want you to be safe, and rules exist for safety.”

“Ah’ll break any rule that stands between me an’ Apple Bloom.”

“Alright, granted, your sister is a priority, but try to think beyond her for a moment. What else is at stake? This entire Temple could be in imminent danger.” He gestured around the mess hall with both hooves. “There are thousands of Flesh Raiders on our doorstep, and we number less than a thousand ourselves. Your mission carries the fate of every Jedi on Tython, not just your sister’s. I’ll say this one more time, Applejack, and let me clear that this is my final word. Follow my instructions and go by the book, or there will be severe consequences. If you’re ever unsure, ask me or Rarity. And if I ever hear that you put this mission in jeopardy with your antics, I will be upset. I’m not upset now, because I sympathize with you. Can I be any clearer?”

Applejack looked down at her food, sighed, and shook her head. “Nope. Ah understand what you want.”

“Glad to hear it,” Master Lemep said with a smile. “The Council has requested you join us for the questioning of young Dust Bowl. Come at your earlier convenience.”

He stood up abruptly and trotted out of the mess hall, his black cape flourishing behind him. Applejack picked up her apple juice and sucked it down as quickly as she could.

-~-~-~-~-~

Around the large table in the Council Chamber sat eight Jedi: the seven Masters on the Council and Rarity, who sat beside a whimpering Fluttershy. Across from her, Applejack saw an empty chair as she walked into the room, and sat down in it without a word. Master Satele nodded to Master Lemep, who stood up slowly and motioned to his fellow masters.

“My friends,” he began, “last night, Padawan Applejack and Knight Rarity ran a... secret reconnaissance mission for our Order. They have discovered many secrets that will benefit our investigation greatly, all with no bloodshed from either side of this conflict, which I think we can all agree is a wonderful conclusion. However, this young colt,” he motioned to Dust Bowl, who was standing at the other end of the table, “has surrendered himself to our judgment. He has provided almost all the information we now possess about the New Order, of which he himself was a former member. Having renounced this title, I propose we pass judgment accordingly.”

“What of the girl?” Master Ghetsu grumbled with crossed hooves. “Who is she?”

“She’s nopony,” Dust Bowl interrupted, causing everypony in the room to glare at him. He shied away from their stares.

“Actually, she’s a civilian from the illegal settlement over the ridge,” Rarity said. “She studies the wildlife on Tython.”

“I thought we asked the locals to leave,” Master Ohrum said thoughtfully, putting a hoof to her chin.

“Yeah. Twice,” Master Ghetsu muttered.

“Fluttershy,” Master Satele said kindly, opening her hooves to Fluttershy, “can you please explain why the settlement is still here, despite our... reservations for their presence?”

“We, uhm, have nowhere else to go,” Fluttershy murmured, looking down at her hooves. “If you made us leave Tython, we... we...”

“I understand what you’re saying, but if you asked us, the Jedi could arrange for a better relocation project to be instated. The Republic won’t turn you away if you cooperate with them.”

“But we’ve been here for so long... and I don’t speak for all of us, so...”

Master Satele sighed, her hooves drooping back to her side. “I suppose whatever conclusion on this matter we reach will have to wait until the immediate threat of the New Order and the Flesh Raiders is dealt with. Our orders from the Republic are to let the village exist separate from our protection until they evict.”

“But Master Satele, they are beings just like us!” Master Ohrum interrupted. “Orders won’t keep us from protecting the innocent, right?”

“I understand your stance on this issue, Master Ohrum,” Master Satele assured. “You have been outspoken about this since we first started debating about it months ago. However, we do have our own Order to consider. This threat is too great to ignore, while the village, thus far, has been able to defend itself quite handily.”

“We do need to decide what to do with the young Dust Bowl, as well,” Master Lemep said.

“Quite. Dust Bowl.” Master Satele turned to him. “What do you have to say?”

“Do what you wish with me, just... please... don’t hurt Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy whimpered softly, drawing Master Satele’s gaze. “You care deeply for this mare?”

“I do, ma’am.”

“Then perhaps we should send you both to the village. I trust neither of you will cause any further trouble if we let you both be?”

Dust Bowl’s face lifted into a warm smile. “Yes ma’am, I promise we will.”

“Very well. I will debrief Master Lemep about last night’s mission. Fluttershy and Dust Bowl will be escorted by Knight Rarity and Padawan Applejack to the Kalikori Village. Neither shall be punished. I think we can forgive Dust Bowl, under the circumstances, and while Fluttershy’s village as a whole has not been responsive to our requests, we cannot punish an individual for the actions of a group. Rarity, Applejack, I trust you can oversee this to a satisfaction before you leave for your next mission?”

Applejack smiled and nodded. “Yes ma’am. We sure as sugar can.”

Rarity nodded, but kept her eyes locked on Applejack, a confused look on her face.

“Very well. Take Fluttershy and Dust Bowl to the Matriarch of Kalikori Village. See if she will take them off our hooves peacefully. Now, if there are no further issues to discuss, then we shall–”

“Satele, if I may,” Master Lemep interrupted. “I must bring something to the attention of the Council. Whether it is of consequence or not, I’ll leave to your discretion, but I have received information pertaining to Fluttershy. She has displayed Force sensitivity.”

Master Satele looked at Fluttershy inquisitively. “Is this true?”

“Y-yes...” Fluttershy murmured. “I-I’m not trained. It’s a natural gift.”

“Well... as much as I’d like to say you deserve training, you are too old for our Order to receive you officially. My decision stands. You may return to your home, and Dust Bowl is to accompany you.”

“Okay,” Fluttershy whispered.

“Very well. We are adjourned.”

-~-~-~-~-~

Applejack put a hoof to the seat of her speeder bike as Rarity, Fluttershy and Dust Bowl trotted up the dirt path leading away from the Temple. Master Lemep was a few steps ahead of them, and when he reached Applejack’s bike, he gently pushed her hoof away and hopped into the seat, gripping the handlebars with care.

“Hey, Master?” Applejack said.

“Oh, yes, I need to borrow this bike,” he replied innocently. “I have somewhere to be, and I’d prefer if you four walked together. I know you got all of you on your bike last night, but this thing isn’t built to transport four ponies at once.”

“But Ah—”

“I’ll bring it back. It’s not like it’s yours, anyway. It’s a rental.”

Applejack grimaced, remembering how she had crashed her own bike the afternoon previous. Master Lemep sneered deviously as he revved the engine and sped away, leaving a trail of kicked-up dust as he flew. Rarity trotted up to Applejack and stared after Master Lemep.

“I take it we’re walking, then?” she asked.

“Eeyup,” Applejack replied.

“Applejack, if I could make a comment.”

“What’s up?”

Rarity looked back at Dust Bowl and Fluttershy. They were engaged in their own conversation, only paying enough attention to their Jedi escorts to know when to follow them. “Back in the Council meeting, you were very ready to deviate from our mission to escort these two ponies to the village. Have you... forgotten your sister?”

“Buck no, Ah haven’t,” Applejack replied with an indignant hoof-stomp. “But Master Lemep makes a convincin’ argument.”

“Undoubtedly.” Rarity trotted forward, and Applejack kept pace behind her. Dust Bowl and Fluttershy followed behind them. Together, the four ponies began the climb up the mountain, on the summit of which Kalikori Village sat. “Listen, I haven’t been very understanding with you. I’m sorry I get so snappy. You’re following the rules a little better as of late, or, at the very least, you’re starting to listen for once.”

“Ah can’t fah’ght th’ system no more, that’s all,” Applejack muttered, her ears flattening against her face. “The Jedi have kinda broken m’ah spirit a bit.”

“Don’t let the rules stop you from getting this mission done, though. I want to rescue my sister as well, but the Temple should be our first priority.”

“Yeah, yeah. Ah’ll just smah’le an’ nod, an’ everything will be peachy.”

Rarity sighed, hanging her head slightly. Her trot slowed as Applejack pulled ahead of her. After a minute of silence, Dust Bowl moved into Rarity’s former spot and poked Applejack with a hoof.

“So?” he asked. Applejack peered at him through squinted eyes. “Was I right?”

“‘bout what?” she asked.

“You, and the Jedi. You don’t see eye to eye, do you?”

“Y’all better not be tryin’ to recruit me again.”

“I’m only stating that I might be more right than you care to admit, is all.”

“Go smooch y’er girlfriend, and leave me alone.”

A whimper elicited from somewhere behind Applejack.

“She’s not my girlfriend!” Dust Bowl retorted, blushing profusely.

“Yeah, okay,” Applejack said. “Let’s just get you two home so me an’ Rarity can rescue our sisters and save the Temple, or whatever.”

“If only it were as easy as you think it is,” he muttered, staring down at the ground.

The mountain crested as the four ponies trotted over its summit. In the distance sat a quiet community of metal structures resembling houses, with several ponies standing guard along the path towards them. As the Jedi and their escorts moved closer, the guard moved to block their entry, obscuring the little village from their view.

“Who are you?” one asked, pointing his rifle at Applejack. “What do you want, Jedi?”

“Here to make us leave your precious Tython?” another one sneered.

“Nope,” Applejack replied evenly, staring at the barrel of the rifle lazily. “We’re just droppin’ off some villagers that... got lost.”

One of the guards looked past Rarity and saw Fluttershy for the first time. Recognizing her, he moved to her side and offered his hoof to her. “We thought you were dead, ma’am.”

“I, uhm... I might’ve been,” Fluttershy murmured, “if it weren’t for these kind Jedi.”

The guard wheeled on Rarity, Applejack and Dust Bowl. “You three, Jedi. Our leader will wish to speak to you.”

“I am no Jedi, in my defense,” Dust Bowl interjected, in response to which Applejack drove her hoof into his side. He flinched, rubbing his injured chest.

“Follow me,” the guard said, ignoring Dust Bowl. The other guards motioned the four ponies through the checkpoint and remained behind, watching them leave. Applejack looked around the quiet village as she was escorted through, seeing the villagers cast curious, and sometimes scornful, gazes at her and her friends. Fillies and colts playing in the town center stopped their games and watched in awe as their friendly neighborhood watch patrol led two Jedi, a stranger, and a familiar pegasus toward the Matriarch’s office.

A modest stone building creeped into view behind a structure similar to it, pressed compactly into the corner of the settlement. Fluttershy seemed to recluse as the guard drew nearer to it, causing Rarity to bite her lip. The four ponies were ushered inside to see a sparsely decorated office room, with a pair of beds against the back wall and a desk off to the side. From behind the desk a mare stood up, eyed her four guests quietly, and smiled.

“Welcome to Kalikori Village, Jedi,” she said calmly, bowing to them. “I am Matriarch Sumari. I oversee this settlement.”

“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” Rarity replied, returning the bow.

“What brings you to our humble village?”

“This is Fluttershy.” Rarity gestured to a silent Fluttershy, who was fidgeting awkwardly. “She is a member of your village. We rescued her from the Flesh Raiders.”

“Ah. Fluttershy, we had presumed you were dead.” Sumari smiled. “It’s so good to see you well.”

“Umm... thank you, Matriarch,” Fluttershy said.

“But who is this?” Sumari motioned to Dust Bowl, who was looking at Fluttershy intently. His attention snapped to her when she addressed him. “Are you with the Jedi as well?”

“No, ma’am,” he replied. “I’m Dust Bowl. I’ve been instructed by the Jedi to remain in this village, if you’ll allow it.”

“I will not turn you away,” Sumari said evenly, turning to Rarity, “but with what authority does the Jedi Order, the same institution that vehemently denies us protection, banish civilians to our peaceful village?”

“The Jedi may have approved this idea,” Rarity replied, “but it was Dust Bowl’s decision. He wants to remain with Fluttershy. As a whole, the Jedi recognize the sovereignty of Kalikori Village and its ponies. We would not force anypony on you, or your villagers, without first asking your consent.”

“While I thank you for your respect, Jedi, I am not as easily fooled as you think.” Sumari sat down in her chair and put her hooves on her desk. “I am aware of how the Jedi view our village. We are an illegal settlement, we know, but if your Order had the same respect for us as you do, they would see that our presence here is not only warranted, but necessary.”

“And as much as I’d love to hear the story, I’m afraid me and my fellow Jedi have a crisis to attend to,” Rarity said with a bow. “If you would please excuse us, we must be away.”

“Very well. My guards will escort you out of the village. I do wish to thank you for returning our beloved Fluttershy home safely, though I’m afraid we don’t have anything to reward you with.”

“No reward is necessary. It’s the Jedi way to protect the innocent.”

Sumari let out a mirthless laugh before looking down at her papers and resuming her work. Rarity looked at Applejack with an apologetic frown, and together they walked out of the Matriarch’s home. The sun glowed brightly on the little village, reflecting off the metal roofs of the tightly packed houses scattered throughout. Ponies had resumed their daily affairs, traversing from one end of the village to the other in relative silence. To the north lay a garden when several ponies were harvesting crops, and to the south stood a makeshift guard post.

A group of armed ponies stood near the guard post. They wore unassuming combat armor and toted large, decrepit blasters for protection, much like the guard escorting Applejack and Rarity right then. Two of the guards near the post looked curiously at the Jedi as they walked by. A third broke off from the group and stood in their way.

“Jedi,” he said loudly, “why are you here?”

“We’re leavin’, don’t get y’er armor in a twist,” Applejack replied, the annoyance in her voice thicker than her accent.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“We were escorting a fellow villager of yours back to her home,” Rarity interjected. “Now that we have done so, we intend to leave you be.”

“Why’d you bring her back?”

“B’cause not all of us Jedi believe in ignorin’ y’all,” Applejack said, pointing to herself with a hoof. “An’ it’s on our way, anyway.”

The soldier took a step forward, placed his hoof on his forehead, and saluted Rarity and Applejack, his grim expression not dropping even for a second. “Thank you, Jedi. The rest of the village may not understand or appreciate the Jedi, but I do. You’ve done us a kindness this day. Don’t say your work went thankless.”

“Your kindness is much appreciated,” Rarity said with a bow. “If only we were allowed to assist you more. The Council wishes to be your guardians, but the Republic refuses to give us permission.”

“Much like how the Republic denies us legal settlement rights, I know,” the guard replied with a grimace. “Those of us who have been here a long time know the truth. The Jedi would help if they could. But I know that, if this village was ever in a crisis, you Jedi wouldn’t hesitate to help, right?”

“I can’t imagine we wouldn’t,” Rarity replied slowly, a nervous smile creeping across her face. “But we really must be off now—”

“Raiders!” a voice bellowed from the north side of the village. Roars, cries and screams mingled as chaos erupted near the vegetable gardens. Ponies scattered toward two square as several Flesh Raiders poured from the treeline. Just as they broke from the trees, blaster fire erupted near the south gate. Another swarm of aliens nearly twice the size of the first. The guard hoisted up his rifle and looked at Rarity. His anxious eyes were a stark contrast to the stern demeanor he had worn up until then.

“Jedi, I... help us. Please.”

Rarity almost spoke, but as her mouth opened, she put a hoof to her chin and shut it manually. Applejack, appalled at Rarity for her hesitation, grabbed her lightsaber and turned around.

“Applejack?” Rarity said, looking at her fellow Jedi with concerned eyes. “We are under—”

“Ah’m not gonna sit and wait for orders this tah’me, Rarity,” Applejack muttered, looking back at her. “Buck the Order, and buck the rules. The Jedi way is to protect the innocent.”

“But the rules—”

Applejack turned away from Rarity and leaped into the air. The Force carried her from the center of the village to the north border, where the sea of trees appeared to be drowned in laser fire and Flesh Raiders. In a flash of blue, her lightsaber sprang to life and severed the arm of an unsuspecting alien invader, causing it to stumble backwards and drop his spear. Every Flesh Raider within twenty meters took notice of Applejack, and just under a second later she had twelve of them turning to engage her from all sides.

She tipped her stetson down and swung again. Her blade cut through the haft of a metal polearm, sending the axe head harmlessly to the ground. Then, using the Force, Applejack whipped her body into the air and pounded the earth, sending a shockwave of power out in a sphere. It impacted with several Flesh Raiders that had charged to close, pushing them into buildings, trees and boulders, knocking them unconscious.

A bloodcurdling roar, loud enough to cause every nearby militia soldier and Flesh Raider to scatter, shocked Applejack as she recovered from her flourish. A large Flesh Raider in gold armor, wielding a small, bladeless hilt in his hand, leveled its shoulders to her and roared again. It stood mere feet from her, and its breath reeked of dead animals and rotten vegetables. With the flick of its wrist, the hilt in its hand ignited into a brilliant blue lightsaber.

Applejack’s eyes widened. The Raider charged forward a step and lunged. Motionless, Applejack watched as the alien was thrown aside by a large rock, projected from beside her somewhere. She turned to see Rarity levitating several similar rocks at her side, and her lightsaber in one hoof. Rarity wore a devious smile on her lips.

“Ah thought the rules said we couldn’t help,” Applejack teased.

“Master Lemep was right,” Rarity replied calmly, eyes locked on the fumbling Flesh Raider warrior. “Sometimes, the rules are a hinderance.”

The Flesh Raider stood up and shook itself fiercely. Dirt shook from its scaly skin in clods. Applejack braced her front leg and cartwheeled into a downward slash, forcing the Flesh Raider to his knees with a decisive strike. It pushed her off and swung wide in retaliation. Ducking, Applejack dodged the swing and swept her back leg across the ground. She managed to hook it around the Flesh Raider’s leg and pull him, but he didn’t budge.

Angry, the alien slammed his saber down on Applejack, who was lying on her back underneath it. She brought her blade up in time to parry, but the force of the blow tore her lightsaber from her hooves. The brilliant cyan blade fizzled away, and the lifeless hilt dropped lazily to the soft ground. Applejack looked up, defenseless, at the Flesh Raider as it lifted its own lightsaber above its head and prepared to dismember her.

Rarity frantically looked around for something else to throw, and her gaze came to rest on her lightsaber. Closing her eyes, she hurled the hilt at the alien and focused, channeling the Force to carry her saber. The blade connected with the Flesh Raider’s as it was swinging downward, deflecting his attack harmless backwards. Seizing the momentary distraction, Applejack swung her legs around in a circle, pushing up with the Force. As she twisted back up to her hooves, a small cyclone of energy blasted the Flesh Raider onto his back.

Calling her lightsaber with the Force, Applejack charged to the Flesh Raider and lunged with her weapon. She slammed down on its waiting lightsaber, pinning him to his knees. Forced to hold Applejack at bay, the alien couldn’t block another boulder as it smacked into his shoulder. It toppled over and lay, dazed, on the ground.

Applejack threw up her hooves to impale the Flesh Raider’s head, but at the last moment, it threw up a fingered hand. A wave of Force energy bashed Applejack across the chest and sent her reeling backwards. She sat up, wide-eyed, and stared at the Flesh Raider.

“They’re Force sensitive?” she muttered.

Just as the Flesh Raider looked like he’d recover, Rarity threw a large ball of scrap metal that rammed into its head and tore gashes along its face. Bleeding, it curled over and lay motionless. Applejack looked to Rarity, who was as surprised as she was.

“This development is quite alarming,” Rarity said quietly. “The Council must be informed.”

“Even though we’re on a mission?”

“This is new information. We may be in serious trouble here. Best not to proceed further without consulting Master Lemep and the Council.”

“What about the rest of the Flesh Raiders?” Applejack asked.

Rarity looked around. The village guards had rallied to the south gate while the Jedi had fought at the north border. They were cheering and raising their rifles as the Flesh Raiders retreated en masse, unable to stay concerted with the death of their leader. The same guard from before approached her from the crowd, his stern expression having returned to his face. “Jedi. You gave us just enough firepower to keep those damned creatures away. You saved us, even when your Order prohibited you from it. Thank you.”

Applejack smiled. “Screw the rules. Y’all ever need a Jedi, you call me, you got that?”

Rarity chuckled slightly, pointing to Applejack. “And I as well, if only to keep her in line.”

Applejack glared at her, but they both started laughing a moment later.