• Published 27th Sep 2012
  • 1,764 Views, 41 Comments

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 5

Chapter 5

Kalikori Village, Tython

“And you’re certain the Flesh Raider used the Force?” Master Lemep asked for the third time. “No tribal magic or electronic devices involved at all?”

“I’m positive, master,” Rarity assured. Her gaze drifted to Applejack, who was hovering over the corpse of the Flesh Raider. “It used a potent but unrefined style, definitely of the Force.”

“In that case, we can assume the Raiders have been trained by the New Order’s master to be Force Adepts.” Master Lemep touched a hoof to his chin. “This is alarming. Somehow, this master has found a way to communicate to the aliens. Be on your guard, but for the time being, proceed with your mission.”

“Yes Master.” Rarity went to switch off the communicator, but as she lifted her hoof, Applejack bent over and snatched a shiny, metallic object from the ground. She fiddled with it for a moment before it ignited into a blue lightsaber blade. Wide eyed, Rarity nearly swallowed the communicator in her haste to catch Master Lemep before he hanged up. “Master, the lightsaber the Flesh Raider was wielding. What do you want us to do with it?”

“Two things,” Master Lemep said lowly, to not attract Applejack’s attention. “First, let the Padawan keep it for now. It’s her trophy, and there’s no rule that fallen foes need keep their weapons in the Jedi tradition. Two, try not to concern yourself the Padawan too much. Let me worry about what behaviors she shouldn’t develop. Only intervene if you feel it goes strictly against the best wishes of the Jedi Order.”

“Isn’t it a rule that Padawans shouldn’t have lightsabers?”

“What would you call a training saber, then? Are those not lightsabers?”

“I suppose.”

“Well, she’s training, and it’s a saber. Or two. I, as her Master, allow it. If that’s all, Rarity, I must-”

“Master,” Rarity interrupted, “where are you? You seem... rushed.”

“Not far from you,” Master Lemep replied hurriedly. “Don’t come looking for me. For your own safety.”

“Are you alright?”

“Quite fine. Thank you.” Then a click on the other end notified Rarity that Master Lemep had hung up. Dissatisfied, Rarity shoved the communicator into her pocket and grimaced. Applejack looked curiously at her.

“What’s up?” she asked. “We movin’ on?”

“Yes, we are ‘moving on.’ You going to keep that lightsaber?”

Applejack looked nervously to her belt, where both of her repossessed lightsaber hung. “Yup.”

“Very well.” Rarity looked around, searching for the path leading to the Ruins of Kaleth. “Which way are the ruins?”

“South a’ here, as best I can gather,” Applejack replied, pointing a hoof toward the gate of the village. The path dipped down the mountain and wrapped around the forest several meters beyond. A stunning waterfall cascaded into a river beside the path. “Never been back there, but Ah heard stories from other Jedi that have. It’ll be a heck of a walk, though.”

“Oh, splendid. More walking”

Rarity grimaced and trotted for the gate in a huff. Applejack sprinted after her and tapped her on the shoulder. “Rarity? Are ya’ alrah’ght?”

“No, not entirely,” Rarity replied, turning to Applejack. “It’s just... something about Master Lemep is bothering me. I’m sure it’s nothing though.”

“What’s got y’er horn in a twist this tah’me?”

Rarity looked away from Applejack, to hide her embarrassment. She did not want to speak ill of a Jedi Master. “I simply don’t approve of his methods, I suppose. We’re on a secret mission, but we detour to escort two ponies to Kalikori Village. We now know these Flesh Raiders are Force sensitive, yet we press on anyway. And you, being a Padawan, are allowed to carry not one, but two fully functional lightsabers.”

“Ah don’t mah’nd that last one too much,” Applejack replied with a smug smile.

“All the same, there’s something off about Master Lemep. I simply can’t figure out what.”

“Maybe he’s testing us?”

“Don’t be preposterous. This is far too dangerous to be a mere test.”

The sound of rushing water became too loud to continue conversation. To the left of the path was a roaring waterfall, pounding over the edge of a cliff and collapsing into the valley below. At the top of the waterfall was a rocky outcropping, shaped similarly to the lower jaw of a toothed predator, with its mouth open to catch water. Beyond the rocks was a dark cave, obstructed by the waterfall almost completely. Rarity would not have noticed it if she had not seen a pony walking out of the cave, breaking the flow of the cascading water as he stepped through the waterfall. Master Lemep’s head appeared from behind the water, and Rarity gasped.

His head turned toward them, though it was impossible to tell what he was looking at. After a brief pause, he leaped over the rocky outcropping and plunged into the waterfall, diving into the river below. When he resurfaced, Master Lemep swam to the near shore and jumped up to the path, a few meters away from Applejack and Rarity.

“Salutations,” he said simply, reaching for his hood.

“Hey, Master,” Applejack replied. “We were just talkin’ about’ch’a.”

“I’m aware.” His hoof grasped the hood on his head and pulled it off. He began wringing it rigorously, removing the water from the material in buckets. Rarity looked upon his naked face for the first time, and saw he had pale, empty eyes that stared into oblivion. They resembled pearls in both appearance and translucency. His head turned to Rarity and a smile crept across his lips. “Disturbed?”

“Only slightly,” Rarity admitted, turning away.

“I know you must have questions, like, where I’ve been, why I haven’t been helping you, and what I must be thinking to send a renegade Padawan and a stickler Knight on the most dangerous assignment of their lives. But they have to wait until we’ve resolved this crisis.” Master Lemep donned his hood again, satisfied with the lack of moisture in it, and began wringing his cape and clothes in a similar fashion. “If you can just have some faith in me for a little while longer, I promise to give you each what you want.”

Applejack looked over at Rarity with a puzzled expression, who returned the glance with equal confusion.

“Can I count on you both to see this through?” Master Lemep asked.

Both mares turned to him and nodded silently.

“Good. Hop to it, then.”

“You’re not coming with us?” Rarity asked.

“Not this time,” Master Lemep replied. He extended his hooves toward the waterfall and pulled on what seemed to be an invisible object. A few moments later, Applejack’s rental bike flew from the hidden cave behind the waterfall and careened toward Master Lemep, stopping inches from his hooves. It settled calmly onto the dirt path after he let go of his hold on it. “I’ll give you your bike back, though. I’m done with it.”

“Thanks, Ah guess,” Applejack said slowly.

Master Lemep nodded and trotted toward them. He passed them in silence and rounded the corner toward Kalikori Village. Rarity looked around the corner to see him leave, but he had disappeared off the path in the two seconds between him leaving and her looking. When she turned back to Applejack, she found her friend already sitting on the speeder bike, the engine started and her hooves on the handlebars.

“Applejack,” Rarity said as she moved to mount the bike, “if I could ask a favor-”

“Say no more,” Applejack interjected. “You wanna check out that hidden cave, don’t’cha?”

“Only briefly. I know how much you want to save your sister, but I have an uneasy feeling about what I just witnessed.”

“Yeah, me too.” Applejack felt Rarity’s hooves tighten around her waist, so she gunned the throttle and sped down the path. She made a sharp turn, accelerated back the way they had come, and soared over the side of the valley. Rarity’s terrified reflection stared back at her from the crystal waters below as the bike flew across the valley. Mesmerized by the glistening water, she kept her eyes locked on her reflection, as though she sought advice or comfort from her other half.

She didn’t have time to cry out before the rush of a waterfall smacking her in the face snapped Rarity back to reality. The bike twisted and shuddered as it came to a stop, soaking wet from its waterfall entry. Looking around, Rarity noticed they had landed inside the cave beyond the falling water. It was dark, cold and strangely breezy, but even in the dank conditions she could make out a path leading deeper in.

“What do we do now?” Rarity whispered.

“We go on, that’s what,” Applejack replied. The words echoed off the walls of the cave, reverberating down into the darkness. Both ponies ventured forward, igniting their lightsabers to use as lights. The green and blue glows illuminated their path a few meters ahead, but beyond that remain pitch black. For a few minutes, nothing changed; the darkness did not brighten, and the only audible sounds were those of Rarity and Applejack’s hooves treading on the stone floor. But finally, light broke from the dark ahead, and both mares charged forward to see where they had come out at.

They halted immediately when they noticed a cliff at the exit of the cave. Before them laid a grassy slope led down the side of the mountian, overlooking an enormous excavation sight. Seventy feet below them, at the foot of the mountain, was the remains of the temple of Kaleth. Ancient battle droids patrolled the ruins like sentinels, protecting the ancient Order of Force users that had once occupied the temple. Woodland creatures that ventured too close to the ruins doubled back at the sight of them.

“These must be th’ droids Master Lemep mentioned,” Applejack said, staring down at them intently.

“But one must wonder,” Rarity replied, “what Master Lemep was doing here. He did come from the cave we just left, did he not? And we saw no other path leading elsewhere.”

“Yeah, that’s rah’ght!” Applejack straightened her back and looked at Rarity with wide, confused eyes. “Wh’ah was he here? What was he doin’?”

“I’m not sure, but I don’t like it.”

“Well we ain’t gonna fah’nd out just a’sittin’ here. Let’s go down there.”

Applejack carefully slid her hind legs over the edge of the cliff and pushed off. She slid down the grassy hillside and landed gracefully at the base of the mountain, amid a group of patrolling battle droids. Their heads snapped to Applejack and surveyed her momentarily before turning toward her. Before they could train their rifles on her, she leaped at one and tackled it to the ground, whipping both of her lightsabers off her belt and decapitating it between them.

Rarity landed behind her a moment later, just in time to see another patrol coming toward the fight that was breaking out. She gracefully impaled the droid in front of her with her own saber, taking advantage of the distraction that Applejack was providing. It shuddered and collapsed to its knees.

Applejack swung wildly backwards, flipping through the air to dodge incoming fire, and landed beside a droid missing part of its torso. She looked at Rarity and smiled. “Ready t’ah get dirty?”

“Not if I can help it, no,” Rarity murmured, flourishing her saber in the air. The second patrol of droids quickly closed in on the two Jedi, with more approaching from behind them. “Don’t do anything foolish, and this shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Ah know, Ah know,” Applejack replied with an aloof hoof-flick. “This’ll be easy no matter how little Ah try.”

She leaped to the first droid in the incoming group and slammed her sabers down, severing the droid in half. As it split unceremoniously in two, the remaining three droids in the group fired on Applejack. She brought her sabers up and began parrying shots two at a time, dodging and ducking to avoid as much fire as she could. Rarity joined the fray a moment later by launching a boulder over Applejack’s head and slamming it into a pair of droids. The last droid, distracted by the sudden appearance of a large rock, could not react as a blue saber took its head off.

Blaster fire erupted across the ruins, catching Applejack and Rarity in a net of crossfire. They looked at each other nervously and ducked down, sprinting to cover. Breathless, the two Jedi huddled behind a slab of ornate stone as the sound of blasters firing echoed over the field.

“A few droids is one thing,” Rarity panted, “but there are hundreds of these! We can’t fight them all!”

“Speak f’er y’erself,” Applejack breathed anxiously, peering around her cover to count the incoming droids.

“We’re pinned down. We must take shelter somewhere, to defend a tighter position. If we get out from behind this corner, that is.” Rarity scanned the area for signs of better cover, and her eyes came to rest on a ridge further down the base of the mountain. She could make out the shadows of a cavern entrance, partially obstructed by foliage and ruined stone. “Over there.”

Applejack squinted to mentally judge the distance to the cave. “If’n we can make it there in one piece, which Ah reckon won’t sit well with these clankers.”

“Any ideas, then?”

“Run f’er it?”

“But,” Rarity said slowly, looking to the cave at the other end of the ruins. “doesn’t that contradict what you just said? We’ll surely get shot on the way-”

Applejack sat up and bolted from cover, diving behind another pillar briefly before sprinting ahead. Rarity sighed and stood up slowly. She dusted off her robes and galloped after Applejack, using her levitating saber to deflect blaster shots as she ran. Droids poured blaster fire on the two Jedi as they galloped toward the cave. They seemed to emerge from the ocean of crumbling stone, blending into the scenery and firing from all angles.

As she was running, a stray bolt clipped Applejack across the shoulder. The searing pain did not halt her gallop, but she cried out despite her bravery. Every step seemed to tear the burning cut wider and wider. Agony coursed through her body with every step. Even the stone around her began to melt and fade into darkness as she tripped forward and stumbled into the cavern just ahead of her, collapsing at the end of her sprint after barely arriving at her destination alive.

Rarity arrived at the cave merely seconds later, still batting away blaster fire with her saber. Noticing the wounded Applejack on the ground behind her, she reached out with the Force and grabbed hold of the loose stone pillars near the entrance of the cave. Using all her might, Rarity pulled two grand slabs of marble and slammed them before the mouth of the cavern, plunging the room into darkness and effectively sealing herself, and Applejack, inside.

Panting, Rarity moved her saber high above her head, sending a dim green glow across the cavern antechamber. A hallway of stone led deeper inside, barely visible in the darkness ahead. Applejack’s groans and grunts echoed deep into the cavern and ricocheted back at Rarity, giving the already dismal situation a more frightening atmosphere. Solid granite walls cast faded green shadows that danced across the cold ground where Applejack lay, writhing in agony.

Rarity pressed her hooves to Applejack’s smoldering shoulder and shut her eyes. Through the Force, she could feel her friend’s pain, the searing sensation spreading deeper into her skin. In a few minutes, the burn would start to blister, rendering the limb unsafe to use for quite some time. As fast a she could, Rarity channeled the Force into the wound, targeting the pain with soothing waves of healing. The mystical power subsided the pain agonizingly slowly, but even in the dark, Rarity could see the redness fading from the surrounding tissue.

“You’re going to be okay,” Rarity whispered in between two deep breaths.

Applejack groaned as she slowly regained consciousness, the pain still so great that her eyes remained glued shut. Rarity looked at her friend's pain-wrinkled face and sighed.

“I warned you that you might get shot,” she whispered. “How are you feeling?”

“Lah'ke Ah took a shot t'ah th' shoulder,” Applejack moaned.

“Yes, well, the pain will subside eventually. I would need access to medicine to eliminate it immediately. The wound is closing quickly, though, and I've managed to stop the swelling.”

“Wound m'ah hind end. Bucking oversized blister, is what it is.”

“It's more serious than that, Applejack,” Rarity said sternly, pressing her hoof against the wound to elicit a sting. Applejack hissed at the pain. “You will need to lie down for a little while, as you are still at risk for reopening it.”

Ominous howls and and crunching sounds reverberated down the cavern to where the two Jedi sat, causing them to drop silent. In the darkness ahead, two large glowing lights flickered on, and a hulking battle droid lumbered into the dim green light with a violent, stone-crunching step. Its thick metal legs ejected what looked like round spikes into the stone, rooting itself to the ground, and leveled an oversized mounted blaster at Rarity, who stared into the barrel with awe.

Applejack inhaled sharply and attempted to push Rarity's hoof away, but couldn't lift her own hoof to do so without wrenching it back in pain. Her shoulder flared and sent her prone once more in a howl of agony.

“Lie still, Applejack,” Rarity whispered as she stood up slowly, lowering her saber to her waiting hooves. She took a defensive stance and dared the droid to fire on her fellow Jedi with a determined glare.

“Rarity, y'all can't take that thing on alone,” Applejack hissed in pain. “Let me help.”

“Lie still, Applejack.”

Applejack's eyes widened. Rarity seemed more tense than she ever had, in an almost terrifying way. Nodding to herself, Applejack crossed her hooves slowly over her chest and locked her eyes on Rarity's saber, not wanting to miss what happened next.

The blaster whirred to life and fired seven shots in a straight line, one right after the other, in just under a second. Each shot deflected in another direction as it bounced off Rarity's unwavering saber. One redirected into the droid's chest plating, but did no visible damage. Rarity did not budge, her gaze fixed on the droid as she prepared for the next attack.

A large metal arm swung over the droid's head and slammed down on the two Jedi. Applejack closed her eyes and braced for death, but opened them a couple seconds later to see the arm still hovering a few feet away. It rested a few centimeters from Rarity's horn, which glowed with an iridescent blue light, similar to the light that enveloped the arm. Frustrated, the droid churned and whirred in an attempt to free its appendage, but found itself immobilized by the spell.

Rarity lifted her saber with the Force and thrust it down on the droid’s arm. The blade only cut about halfway through the metal before stopping, the momentum inadequate to slice wholly through the thick metal. Shocked, Rarity’s grip on the droid weakened momentarily, enough for it to jolt free and smash her into the rock wall behind her. Before she could recover, it leveled its gun at her and readied to fire.

A blue saber flew through the air and severed the droid’s gun arm just as the internal mechanisms sparked a shot. The destroyed blaster backfired and rocked the cave with a bright explosion, lighting the darkness with brilliant red fire. When the smoke settled, in the dim blue and green glow, Rarity could see a bent over Applejack trying desperately to stand with a smoldering droid standing over her, about to smash his remaining arm on her head.

Thinking quick, Rarity dove at the falling arm. She drove her saber through the cut she had formed earlier, slicing through the thick metal completely. The hunk of slag dropped to the ground, and the droid lurched forward, thrown off balance by its swing. Applejack was forcibly dragged by an unseen force to the side, just as the unbalanced robot toppled over and landed on a surprisingly peaceful looking Rarity.

Applejack gasped, breathing in a breathful of disturbed dust, which she coughed out almost instantly. As she struggled to get to her hooves, every horrible thought began running through her head. Was Rarity alive? How hurt was she? Would the pair of them die in this cave, wounded and unable to call for help? Even if they could move the pillars that sealed the cavern, hundreds of battle droids waited for them on the other side. Hopelessness engulfed over Applejack as she crawled on three legs, grabbing her shoulder with the fourth, trying desperately to reach Rarity.

Holding her second saber in her teeth as a light, Applejack pushed through her pain and sat beside the fallen droid. Its legs squirmed and wiggled as it desperately tried to stand up, but was unable with its lack of arms. She heaved up on the moving metal body, but succeeded in only flaring her wound at first. She kept trying despite the agony, a searing knife cutting into her very soul as she lifted with all her remaining strength. But at last, with every ounce of power she had, Applejack managed to shift the droid ever so slightly, eliciting a small squeal from underneath. Rarity pulled herself out from under the droid’s weight as Applejack’s might gave out, and with a thunderous crash, the hulking metal robot slammed to the ground.

Applejack brought her saber down on the droid’s head, permanently shutting it off. She turned to look at Rarity, who was fondling her hind leg. Her eyes were shut and tear-doused, and a agonized expression stretched her face horizontally. “Y’allrah’ght?”

“My leg,” Rarity squealed. “The droid landed on it. It’s going numb.”

“Can ya’ stand on it?”

“I... I can try.” Rarity slowly put her leg down on the ground and pushed up on it, but collapsed immediately after the attempt. She gritted her teeth and hissed in pain for a few seconds. “Ouch... It’s no good. I must remain still.”

“Well that’s just peachy,” Applejack grunted, still clutching her shoulder. “Now we’re both hurt. How’re we gonna get outta here?”

“This droid came from somewhere. We must go deeper into the cave.”

“Ah don’t lah’ke the sounds o’ that much.”

“It’s that, or we test our luck against the droids outside,” Rarity whispered, doing her best to maintain a calm expression despite her injury. “And if we’re both hurt like this-”

“Alrah’ght, Ah get it.” Applejack rested her head on the stone, tipping her hat backwards off her head. “Rarity? Ah’m sorry. This is m’ah fault, Ah reckon. Ah shoulda listened to ya’.”

“It’s alright, Applejack,” Rarity assured. “Worrying about it won’t help our situation any.”

“How long until we can get up and move, do ya’ reckon?”

“When I can, I will come inspect your shoulder again. But at the moment, I can’t feel my leg.”

“Don't worry about that, Jedi,” said a calm, unfamiliar voice. Rarity and Applejack both snapped their heads toward the source of the sound to see a robed pony step out of the darkness. He removed his hood and looked at them with a sincere smile. His brown mane laid tousled around his head, unkempt and shaggy. “I believe I can assist you there.”

“Who are ya'?” Applejack asked, letting go of her shoulder. Her hoof instinctively went to her saber, but the stranger lifted a hoof to show he was unarmed under his robe.

“I am nothing more than a visionary. A wandering disciple on a mission.” His raised hoof waved to the side, and instantly Applejack felt relief rush to her wound. She looked to Rarity in time to see her standing on her injured leg. “All better?”

“Yeah. Much appreciated, stranger,” Applejack replied.

Rarity cleared her throat and dabbed at her eyes, which still contained remnants of pain-induced tears. “Beg pardon, mister...”

“Call me Glass Bowl.”

“Glass Bowl. You said you were on a mission. What, pray tell, was your mission?”

“To save you, of course,” Glass Bowl said kindly, smiling in the dim light. “I know of your quest, and I knew you were in trouble. So here I am, to rescue you.”

“How'd you know about us?” Applejack asked pointedly.

“Your sisters told me about you.” From the darkness strode Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, as if summoned by Glass Bowl's words. Their eyes lit up and smiles broke across their lips, and neither filly could wait any longer to leap at their respective sisters. “They told me you'd come for them.”

Applejack caught Apple Bloom as she leaped to her, embracing her tightly with a relieved smile. Sweetie Belle stood at attention next to Rarity, but was pleasantly surprise when her big sister, also, picked her up and squeezed her.

“What happened to you, Sweetie Belle?” Rarity asked behind her joyful sniffles. “Did they hurt you?”

“No, sis,” Sweetie Belle replied in her high-pitched voice. “They fed us, and gave us a bed, and stuff. The Flesh Raiders were mean at first, but then Glass Bowl saved us.”

Rarity let go of Sweetie Belle to look at her sister, but slowly frowned at what she saw. The Padawan's braid in her main was missing, leaving a singed stump of hair where it once rested. Her brown robes were replaced with white ones, and at her side rested the hilt of a shoto blade, a shorter version of Rarity's own lightsaber. Her sister's smile was warm, but eerily similar to Glass Bowl's. Rarity's gaze drifted up to the stallion that had brought her sister back, and his welcoming smile was, sure enough, still plastered upon his face like an unmoving tattoo.

It didn't take Rarity long to put the pieces together, and she suddenly reared back onto her hind legs and aimed her saber at Glass Bowl, hovering it over Sweetie Belle's head. “You're the Master they talked about! You run the New Order!”

“Very astute,” Glass Bowl conceded from behind his smile. “I'm impressed.”

Applejack put a hoof in front of Apple Bloom, as if she was shielding her from Glass Bowl, but the filly slipped under her sister's foreleg and stood between them. She stared at Applejack with a concerned glare. “Sis, he's been real good t'ah us. Please don't hurt him.”

“Rarity, wait!” Sweetie Belle added. “I know you think he's evil, but hear what he has to say!”

“Sweetie Belle, get behind me,” Rarity said sternly, not lifting her attention from Glass Bowl. “I'm taking you back to the Jedi Temple.”

Instead of obeying her sister, Sweetie Belle sauntered over to Glass Bowl's side and stared Rarity, righteous defiance lighting up her eyes. Rarity finally glanced down at her, and almost immediately her continence fell.

“What have you done to her...”

“I've merely enlightened her,” Glass Bowl said evenly. “I wish you do the same for you.”