• 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 6

Chapter 6

The caverns behind the Ruins of Kaleth, Tython

“Enlightened?” Rarity repeated. She stomped her hoof on the stone ground indignantly. “What do you mean, enlightened? What have you done?”

“I helped her understand her destiny,” Glass Bowl replied calmly. “We of the New Order are made aware of the failures and the shortcomings of the Jedi, and develop new methods of both learning and teaching to supplement the old ways. Our new Order has evolved so rapidly and so efficiently, that the Jedi see us as a threat, and now, with our new allies, the Flesh Raiders, we plan to defend ourselves.”

“B’ah killin’ every stallion, mare an’ foal in the Temple?” Applejack countered angrily.

“Not if we can help it, of course,” Glass Bowl elaborated. “We have been very accepting with the Jedi that have wandered into our midst, lost and disgruntled with their masters. When we move in to do away with the old Order, we will spare any and all beings willing to listen to us. We are a reformation, and no reformation succeeds without reformers, after all.”

“You won’t ‘reform’ me,” Rarity grunted. “The Jedi are the guardians of peace. What you’re proposing goes against everything they stand for!”

“Am I? How does one obtain peace, Jedi Rarity?”

Rarity stayed silent, not because she had no answer, but only to hear Glass Bowl’s.

“Power. The ponies with the power make the rules. The Jedi have pacified themselves so brutally, that not only did they miss their window to rule the entire galaxy, but they cannot even defend it anymore. The Sith bear down on the Republic from all sides, and the Empire is stronger than ever. If we don’t act, the Empire will have the power. The New Order will usurp the Jedi, refine its strength, and bring a lasting peace to this war-torn galaxy.”

“That ain’t peace,” Applejack protested. “That’s just causin’ more problems!”

“You would be driving ponies to more conflict only to continue an existing one,” Rarity added.

“If that’s what it takes for peace, then is it not worth it?”

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle shifted uncomfortably where they stood. Rarity saw them moving out of the corner of her eye, and smiled. “Causing more wanton destruction and death is peace?”

“Only those who refuse to be enlightened need to suffer,” Glass Bowl said quickly. His right eye twitched slightly. “How many times must this be explained to you?”

“Only as many times as it takes for it to sound reasonable, of course,” Rarity fired back. “Because as it stands, you sound more like a Sith than a reformer. What makes you different than them?”

“When you put it that way, perhaps nothing,” he admitted, “but on the other side of the issue, my Order preaches acceptance and the sharing of knowledge, where the Sith exist in a vicious cycle of power mongering and monumental falls. Ritual suicide by selfish gain, if you will.”

“Along that same line, the Sith promise power to those who can take it. They want power for power’s sake, and anypony with power will fall eventually. This is why the Jedi exercise their power for the good of all.”

“And this is why they fail, ultimately. At the very least, the Sith have the power to retain their strength.”

“That,” Applejack interjected, “sounded an awful lot lah’ke the Sith code to me.”

Glass Bowl stopped. His hoof lingered in the air for a moment before he nodded and took a step back. “It would seem as though you cannot be convinced.”

“You’re a Sith, aren’tcha?” Applejack prodded with a devious smirk.

“Of course not!” Glass Bowl yelled. His normally calm expression melted into an angry frown. “I do not aim to deceive my followers! The Jedi are weak, and must be culled and refined to defend the peace!”

“Ain’t culled a fancy word for kill?”

Apple Bloom gulped at the word ‘kill’. She put a hoof around Applejack’s leg and pulled herself closer to her sister. Sweetie Belle likewise moved to her sister’s side and hid herself from Glass Bowl’s vision.

“Ya’ mean, yer gonna kill the Jedi?” Apple Bloom asked shakily.

“I will do away with what makes them weak, little one,” Glass Bowl replied, trying to calm himself. “No harm will come to those who join us, much like how I took care of you two. Remember?”

“But what if I resist?” Rarity said plainly. She lifted her chin and looked down on Glass Bowl, despite him being slightly taller than her. “Will you kill me?”

“This is the thanks I get for feeding your sisters?” Glass Bowl muttered. “You put me in a philosophical corner and label me a villain?”

“Answer my question,” Rarity demanded.

“All will come to see our ways, one way or another.”

“You’re dancing around the question, sir.”

Perhaps!

Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened in shock. She had not spent much time with the New Order, but she knew that killing her sister was not something she wanted to support. Defiant, Sweetie Belle stood beside her sister and raised her sabre hilt, igniting it into a short, purple blade. Apple Bloom likewise stood beside her sister, an orange sabre lifted to meet Glass Bowl’s gaze.

“So, it’s betrayal then,” he muttered.

“In the name of the Jedi Order,” Rarity recited, fixing her sabre on Glass Bowl, “I order you to surrender your weapons and submit to questioning. You are under arrest.”

“I cannot surrender. I have a reformation to command.”

Glass Bowl turned around suddenly and leaped over the fallen battle droid behind him, disappearing into the darkness. The sound of retreating hoofsteps echoed off the cavern walls as he vanished deeper into the cave. The Jedi lowered their sabers and sighed a collective sigh of relief. Apple Bloom snuggled closer to Applejack affectionately, and Sweetie Belle embraced Rarity as tight as she could.

“I’m sorry Rarity,” Sweetie Belle said slowly. “I didn’t know any of that stuff about him.”

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom added. “He only said he was lookin’ t’ah establish peace and whatnot.”

“We don’t want you to die,” Sweetie concluded, shifting her hoof around on the ground.

Rarity looked to Applejack, who nodded to her with a smile. “Of course I forgive you, Sweetie Belle. And I love you, and I’m overjoyed to see you again. We can discuss what happened later, but right now, we need to get out of this cave.”

“Well, didn’tcha come in that’a’way?” Apple Bloom asked, pointing to the blocked entrance behind them. “Let’s just go that way.”

“We can’t, sugarcube,” Applejack said quickly, cutting Rarity off before she could respond. “There’s a whole heap’a droids out there, and Ah ain’t riskin’ y’all’s lives by goin’ out there.”

Rarity nodded slowly, impressed with Applejack’s decision. “Do you two, per chance, know another way out?”

“Only the way we came in,” Sweetie Belle replied cheerfully. “We can get you there. But the door leading out is guarded, and you need a code to open it.”

“I believe we know where we can obtain such a code,” Rarity said, remembering what Dust Bowl had told them the previous night. “Is there an archive room nearby? Some old computer from the previous Order?”

“Hey, ain’t there a computer room further down?” Apple Bloom asked, looking at Sweetie Belle. “We passed it on the way here, rah’ght?”

Sweetie Belle nodded excitedly, and Rarity smiled.

“Then let’s get out of here,” Rarity said, taking Sweetie Belle’s hoof in hers. “Together.”

-~-~-~-~-~

The cave seemed to go deeper, but Rarity paused after a few minutes of walking when she spotted a side passage to her left. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom had led her and Applejack through the cavern thus far, but they, too, stopped at the crossroads.

“This way leads to that fancy computer room,” Apple Bloom said, motioning to her left.

“And that way leads to the door outside!” Sweetie Belle added, pointing forward.

“Very well,” Rarity said with a nod. “Applejack? You and your sister wait here and make sure nopony tries to come through. I’ll go into the computer room and try to dig up the access codes.”

“You can count on me,” Applejack replied with a salute. Her sister mimicked the motion.

“Sweetie Belle, come with me, please.”

“Okay!”

The two sisters stepped into a taller chamber, the height of which was too tall for the light of their sabers to reach. On the far end of the room sat a decrepit old console, made of technology that appeared to be several thousand years old. It was falling apart, covered in cave moss and fungi, and rocks had collapsed around it, as though the cave had tried to swallow it whole. As the ponies approached it, a small holographic pony appeared on the dash of the console. It waited patiently for them to get close enough to interact with the computer, then nodded to them.

“Hello,” it said in a calm, male voice. “I am the last keeper of the records of the Je’daii Order, A.I. 3572. All files intact, A.I. suffering at 98% corruption. How may I assist you?”

“98% corruption?” Rarity echoed.

“Yes,” replied the A.I. “I am in disrepair. Despite many years of spare A.I., I am the last of the keepers. Every A.I. before me has gone to the brink of rampancy, only to be substituted by the next. All, for the purpose of retaining the precious records of the Je’daii. How may I be of assistance?”

“We need the code to open the door,” Sweetie Belle chirped, smiling at the A.I.

“I can provide the instructions needed to open the door.” The A.I. waved a hoof, and a hologram of the door materialized beside it. “Simply press one’s hoof against the door and apply a small amount of blood. The runic stones will respond, if the blood belongs to one strong in the Force.”

Before Rarity could retort, the A.I.’s form flickered momentarily, glitching into a strange shape before reforming almost immediately.

“Corruption at 99%. I have no more than an hour of life left before rampancy begins, and I must shut down the system. If I submit to rampancy, the data will become warped and reshaped, until the truth is lost. I must shut down, or risk the world discovering nothing but lies about my Order.”

“Can nothing be preserved?” Rarity asked with half-hearted concern. “Surely you can copy something down.”

“This system lacks the capability. Millenia of damage and decay have left all but the storage units intact, and those are falling into oblivion as well. All systems have been shut down in an effort to preserve what is left of the data. Neither I nor the system have the power to recover everything.”

“You’re dying...” Sweetie Belle said glumly, her smile fading.

“Well, there’s nothing we can do,” Rarity said, giving her sister a nervous glance. “Remember, we need to get out of here quickly.”

“But Rarity, he’s dying!”

“He’s an A.I., Sweetie.”

“Do not mourn me, child,” the A.I. said reassuringly, his voice beginning to crackle and warp with rampancy. “I am not worth the time it takes you to cry.”

“Can’t we do anything, Rarity?” Sweetie Belle pleaded, staring misty-eyed at her sister.

Rarity looked to the A.I., who flickered uneasily every few seconds. “What about your archives? Can we extract them manually?”

“Removal of the system memory will shut down the system,” the A.I. replied stoically. “This would accomplish the same end as shutting down manually and waiting for somepony to extract them later. I would prefer you take them now than resort to a total shutdown. I would at least die with the reassurance that our legacy lives on in its pure state.”

“And what of you?” Rarity asked.

“With either solution, my death is inevitab-wefwqqwg.” The A.I. shuddered, then seemed to recollect itself. “-inevitable. I have no regrets, other than that I could not protect all of our secrets.”

“What other secrets?” Sweetie Belle interjected. “We can help!”

“My databanks are full of lost and corrupted data. Some of that data may have been useful. All that remains is what little uncorrupted information has survived, and a trinket that belonged to an old master of our Order. It was a saber, much like the one you both wield, but in it was stored a map leading to our vast storage of datacrons, which were kept secret from me and my predecessors. One could search the entire galaxy, but their efforts to find these secrets would be in vain without the map.”

“The lightsaber Master Lemep spoke of,” Rarity said in awe. “It’s here?”

“It is contained here, in my system. It has been read by few ponies since our Order fell.”

“Can we take it?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“I-” The A.I. shuddered and flickered out of existence. It appeared a moment later, speaking in another language that Rarity didn’t understand. “Ghatrefa isjetaig efsa-... I... I do not have the power to unlock the saber any longer. The program has been corrupted. I would need to be directly inserted into the safe, and because of my integration with the system, if I were to be removed from this system, all data would become corrupted and lost.”

“So we could take the saber,” Rarity surmised, “but we would lose all the files. And if we take the files, the saber is locked away forever. In either case, you die.”

“In short, yes.”

Sweetie Belle looked to Rarity again, this time concern dominating her expression. “Rarity, what do we do?”

Rarity pondered for a moment about the choice Sweetie Belle had posed to her. In her thoughts, the words of Master Lemep came back to her. She remembered what he said about the saber, and how it was what the droids guarded. How it should never be removed from its location, or one risked the droids going berserk.

“We take the databanks,” Rarity said slowly, as though she was still unsure of her decision. “At the very least, we don’t get killed by the droids on our way home this way.”

“Then it shall be done,” the A.I. said with a nod. “Simply remove the plate covering my system. The large block you see is my knowledge stores. When you remove it, I will shut down.”

“Rarity, wait!” Sweetie Belle squealed. “What about him?”

“Please, child, I am not worth your pity,” the A.I. said in a sympathetic tone. For the first time since the computer had booted, the A.I. spoke with emotion in his voice. The holographic figure stooped to one knee and looked Sweetie Belle in the eye. “Cherish our knowledge. Help our legacy live on. That is all I ask of you.”

“O-... okay...”

Rarity nodded back and pulled away the computer terminal’s plating. Before her sister could react, she wrapped her hooves around a giant metal block and tugged on it gently. The hard drive pulled free, and the system lost power at the moment it disconnected. Sweetie Belle sniffled as the A.I. faded away, and Rarity put a hoof on her back to try and console her sister.

“Sweetie, he was a machine,” Rarity said quietly. “Why do you care so much about him?”

“D-didn’t the Jedi teach us all life is p-precious?”

“Well, sure.”

“H-he had a brain, like us. I wonder if dying hurt...”

A lump formed in Rarity’s throat. It hadn’t occurred to her that A.I. might be scared to death like sentients were. She pulled Sweetie Belle closer and hugged her tightly. “I’m sure it was painless, Sweetie Belle. And I’m sure he’s in a better place.”

“R-really sure?”

“Sure I’m sure.” Then she released Sweetie Belle and placed the data unit on her back. “Now, carry this for me, dear.”

The unit was light, but not much smaller than the total area of Sweetie Belle’s back, so the little filly struggled to maintain balance as she followed her sister out of the room. Applejack was showing Apple Bloom her two lightsabers when Rarity returned.

“Anything exciting happen over here?” she asked.

“Nah,” Applejack replied. “Some rumblin’ further down, but we didn’t see nothin’.”

“Rumbling?” Rarity echoed.

“Yeah, lah’ke, guttural growls an’ stuff. Prob’ly some cave bats or somethin’.”

“Or Flesh Raiders,” Rarity whispered, mortified.

Applejack’s eyes widened slowly. “Oh, horseapples.”

Both mares bolted into the darkness, their younger sisters trailing after them as fast as they could. Neither Sweetie Belle nor Apple Bloom understood what was going on, but their sisters urged them on in frenzied voices. With all the speed their legs would allow, the four ponies reached a large, ornate stone doorway. Loud growls emanated from the many passageways behind them, getting louder with every passing second.

“How do we open this thing?” Applejack asked nervously, looking to Rarity.

“Oh, right.” She quickly moved her hoof up to her mouth and paused. Then, as if having a second thought, she lowered it again. “Ehh. You just need to smear a little blood on it.”

“S’that all?” Applejack shoved her hoof into her mouth and bit down on it, tearing a small chunk of hair away. A drop of crimson blood bubbled up to the top of the wound. As she dragged it across the stone, lights began to shine on it, and slowly the stone started to roll away. Bright light burst into the cave from outside, blinding the four ponies, but they rushed headlong the sunlight regardless.

Once Rarity’s vision started to refocus, she noticed something in front of her just in time to topple it over. As she fell forward, she noticed she had slammed into a patrol droid. The ruins of Kaleth surrounded her again, and several leagues of battle droids were turning their attention to her as she struggled to get back up. They leveled their rifles with her and prepared to open fire, but the sound of furious roaring brought all movement to a standstill.

Behind Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, a small army of Flesh Raiders poured out of the cave and into the sunlight. They brandished their rifles and swords at the sight of the ponies, but seemed to stop when the droids took notice of them. Both armies paused while Rarity, Applejack, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom huddled together between them in fear.

One battle droid turned its head toward the Jedi and pointed a mechanical finger at the metal case on Sweetie Belle’s back. “A.I. 3572 has entrusted you with our knowledge?”

Sweetie Belle nodded carefully.

The droid turned to its fellows spoke to them in what sounded like binary. Four droids moved in front of the ponies and leveled their guns on the Flesh Raiders, who took the sign as a challenge. The two armies charged forward on each other, the droids moving past the Jedi in an effort to protect their Order’s property.

“Run,” the first droid said in metal-toned basic. “Protect our Order’s legacy.”

Then it lifted its rifle and fired into the crowd of Flesh Raiders, who were starting to break the droids’ lines. Despite the sheer number of droids and their organized defense, the brute strength and rageborn resilience of the aliens was too much to hold back forever. Rarity nodded and pulled Sweetie Belle by the robe, throwing her onto her back and galloping in the opposite direction. Applejack broke from the droids a moment later, carrying Apple Bloom in her teeth.

The sounds of battle -- blaster fire, droids being broken apart, pained scream from the Flesh Raiders -- engulfed the ruins as Rarity and Applejack made it to the base of the mountain they had first come from. They climbed the dirt paths to the summit, dodging stray shots as they climbed, and eventually ducked into the cave where they had parked their speeder bike. Hopping onto it, Applejack revved the engines while Rarity secured the two fillies between her and the driver, and without wasting a second, they sped away from Kaleth.

-~-~-~-~-~

A speeder bike zipped through the waterfall and hovered over the river toward the path that ran alongside it. As it landed on the path, the riders stopped to observe the two ponies that had witnessed the spectacle. None other than Dust Bowl and Fluttershy sat on the path, their hooves resting lazily over the side. They stared wide-eyed at Rarity and Applejack, silenced by awe.

“Howdy,” Applejack said with an awkward nod.

“Greetings,” Dust Bowl replied. His gaze drifted to the fillies on the bike, and a smile broke across his lips. “So you rescued them, I see. Hello, children.”

“Dust Bowl!” Sweetie Belle cried. She jumped off the bike and tacked the stallion, embracing him in a hug. “You’re alright!”

“Of course,” he said casually. “Your sisters spared me when I stayed behind that night.”

“Yer dad said they’d killed ya’,” Apple Bloom added as she stepped off the bike. “He said they’d found yer body in th’ cave. Ah didn’t wanna believe it, cuz m’ah sister would never do somethin’ lah’ke that, but he sounded so convincin’, and...”

Applejack shifted uncomfortably in her seat, eliciting a sympathetic pat on the shoulder from Rarity.

“My father would tell you that,” Dust Bowl murmured, his eyes shifting to his hooves. “He always had a silver tongue, of sorts.”

“Silver tongue?” Rarity said quizzically. She raised an eyebrow and hopped off the bike to stand behind Dust Bowl. “You father isn’t-”

“Glass Bowl. The master of the New Order movement. You’ve met him, I take it?”

“Ah reckon we’ve made acquaintance with that sister-snatchin’ varmint,” Applejack growled as she shut the bike off. “That monster’s yer daddy?”

“Unfortunately,” Dust Bowl said, his gaze still fixed on his hooves. “And if the Jedi have invaded his lair like you two just did, it’s safe to assume he’s going to accelerate his plans.”

“Plans? What plans?” Applejack put a firm hoof on his shoulder, but halted herself from jerking him with a restrained grimace. “What’s gonna happen?”

“He’s going to attack,” Dust Bowl murmured. “The Flesh Raiders, the adepts of the New Order... it will be a bloodbath, and not even the citizen of Kalikori will be safe. For all his preaching about peace and sparing the innocent, my father has many violent plans. Only now, with the time I’ve had away from him to reflect, can I see in hindsight what he intends to do.”

“What? What will he do?”

Dust Bowl turned to Applejack and gently removed her hoof from his shoulder. “He’s going to burn the Jedi Temple, and every pony in it. He’s going to destroy the Jedi.”

Author's Note:

As always, I'm looking for grammar fixes and inconsistencies. Help me make this story the best it can be!