• 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 7

Chapter 7

Jedi Temple, Tython

Breathless, Rarity pushed open the large doors and raced into the Council Chamber. All seven of the Masters fell silent when she entered, staring at her curiously. Rarity turned a shade of red in embarrassment as she stood awkwardly before the round table, desperately trying to catch her breath.

“I saw smoke rising from the ruins,” Master Lemep said evenly from his seat. “I assume that was your doing, Rarity?”

“The New Order...” Rarity exhaled slowly. “...is going to mobilize on us. The Temple is in danger, as is Kalikori Village. Everypony will be wiped out if we don’t act.”

“How did you come about this information?” Master Satele asked, suddenly interested in what was happening.

“The leader of the Order told us himself. We encountered him in Kaleth. He returned our sisters to us in an effort to convince us to abandon the Jedi, but we escaped after he tried to have us killed. Everything is true about the Flesh Raiders. They work for him, now, living under the mountain where his base of operations is. There’s an entire network of tunnels all throughout the Tythos Ridge, and the Raiders use them to traverse the ridge in secret. They even lead into the ruins, and good deeper, back into the Forge.” Rarity nodded to one of the Jedi at the table. “But I’m sure Master Lemep has already told you about all that. He knew all along.”

“I knew of the tunnels, yes,” Master Lemep responded with a nod. “I also know the Forge can be accessed through them. I have no idea how extensively they stretched through the Ridge, however.”

“The Forge?” Master Ohrum echoed. “Why are they back there?”

“It’s far enough from our Temple that we could not monitor it,” Master Lemep said thoughtfully. “It would make an excellent hiding spot for a secret organization.”

“And with an army of Flesh Raiders between us the Forge,” Rarity finished, “they could have operated without interference for a long time. Now that we’ve exposed them, they will accelerate their plans.”

“We must mobilize every able body for defense,” Satele said sternly. “Get in contact with Coruscant, see if we can pull troops to Tython.”

“I fear it will be too late by then, Satele,” Master Ghetsu said gruffly, his hooves crossed over his chest. “I sense the tides of battle rising. It won’t be long before they’re upon us.”

“They plan to strike while we’re still regrouping,” Master Lemep continued. “Clever. But is it enough?”

“They will attack Kalikori Village first,” Rarity said nervously. She feared where the conversation would go next. “Dust Bowl has provided some insight to their plan. There are two reasons to attack Kalikori first. The primary reason is to draw some of the Jedi away from the Temple -- Jedi with sympathy enough to disobey the Order’s rules and protect the villagers. Secondly, they can also convince the villagers to revolt against us before we evict them ourselves. By flying a white flag in the name of peace and revolution, not only will we have to deal with Flesh Raiders, but all the soldiers in Kalikori and whomever they recruit from our Order, as well.”

Satele nodded slowly, her eyes darting around the table at the Masters sitting with her. “A well-crafted strategy. Rarity, you have the most insight into this matter. What do you propose?”

Rarity paused, her eyes slowly shifting to Master Lemep. She felt a weight on her shoulders, as though he was staring back at her. When he nodded to her, the weight lifted. “We abandon the Temple and move our forces to Kalikori Village.”

The Masters remained silent.

“If we defend there, we not only gain the villagers as our ally, but we raise the morale of our members. We can thwart the New Order’s plans entirely by simply forming an alliance with the Matriarch, which would require recognizing them as a sovereign entity.”

“The Republic has forbid us,” Master Ghetsu said plainly, shrugging.

“Does it matter?” Master Ohrum fired back, standing up and slamming her hooves on the table. “Our job is to protect the innocent and we must protect ourselves, too. This is in everypony’s best interest!”

“Calm down, Melonna,” Master Ghetsu said sternly. “I know what you say to be true. But we must remind ourselves that, by forming an alliance, we break the rules. We must deliberate, and let the Force guide our decisions, or risk folly.”

Master Ohrum sat down and nodded slowly, then looked to Master Satele pleadingly. The Grand Master of the Jedi shrugged back. “Rarity is correct, though. Her idea foils the New Order well. It must be discussed as a legitimate option, as it would solve all our problems in one swift motion.”

Master Lemep stood up suddenly and bowed to the masters. “By your leave, I must debrief Rarity and the Padawan. If it comes to a vote, I propose we go through with Rarity’s plan.”

“Go in peace, then, Atuna,” Satele replied calmly, standing to return the bow.

Master Lemep briskly walked around the table and passed Rarity on his way out of the room. She slipped out to follow him as the Master began to deliberate over the impending attack amongst themselves. Once Rarity was out of the room, the large doors closed shut and Master Lemep approached her from somewhere behind her. “That was a wise plan you offered to the Council, Rarity.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“I would debrief you, like I said I would, but I think it would amount to nothing. We both know what happened, nothing else need be said. Instead, I believe you have questions, yes?”

“I do, and you owe me answers.”

Master Lemep seemed as though he raised an eyebrow, but it was impossible to tell. “Owe?”

“You said, once we had done as you asked, you would tell us what we wanted to know.”

“No,” he corrected, “I promised you what you wanted. That is not necessarily the same thing.”

“Well, I want answers.”

“You say that you seek knowledge, yet were it not for your sister Sweetie Belle, you would have left this-” he pulled the ancient data storage unit from behind his back, “in the cave.”

“How did you-”

“I have debriefed Applejack and your respective sisters already. I happened to be in Kalikori village when you arrived, and I approached them after you left them there to warn the Council.”

“Then how did you beat me here?” Rarity asked, awed.

“It is as you say,” Master Lemep replied aloofly. “I am most familiar with the tunnels under Tythos Ridge. I even know of one that comes out ahead of the path from the village to the Temple. You see, many millennia ago, this planet was ravaged by terrible Force storms. Such horrible conditions warped the planet’s geography, even causing mild seismic activity. This formed the Tythos Ridge, which the indigenous species of Tython would eventually burrow into and create the tunnels we now see in the landscape.”

“But you know more than that,” Rarity prodded. “You know where they go. You knew how to get into the computer room in order to access that terminal. You’ve seen the map on that saber, you’ve been inside the Forge. You’ve probably seen the New Order’s base, haven’t you?”

“I have.”

“Then why? When you could do all this yourself, and when you have all the knowledge needed, why make me and Applejack work so hard?”

“To test you.”

Rarity blinked.

“That’s right. The Padawan was correct. I orchestrated this whole mission, and every detail of it, all to test you and Applejack. And guess what? You passed. The Padawan has demonstrated improvement in her attitude and has increased wisdom and clarity. You’ve learned when to bend rules, and how to appropriately assess your surroundings. Both of you have learned to work together in order to meet two seemingly separate goals -- that is, rescuing your sisters and gathering information about this new threat.”

“What... what are you saying?” Rarity stared, aghast, at the unflinching Master Lemep. “You set all this up yourself? How?”

“It wasn’t easy. I have to admit, of all my schemes and machinations, I’ve never had to work as hard to adapt than I did with you two. But in the end, it was easy enough to have the shuttle departure and arrival records fall into the hands of young Callef. The moment the Flesh Raiders attacked the shuttle, I anticipated Applejack’s arrival and expected immediate response. When it proceeded as I foresaw, it was a simple matter to manipulate the situation in my favor, and essentially gain not only your trust, but Applejack’s, by posing as your best chance to rescue your sisters, when in fact I was plausibly able to do it myself.

“Further, young Dust Bowl and Fluttershy were factored in when you returned that night with them. After interrogating them, I learned that Glass Bowl was his father, and used that to my advantage when I traveled to the ruins ahead of you. I was lucky enough to meet a scout of the New Order: a young filly I recognized as a missing padawan from our Temple, who happened to know for a fact that Dust Bowl was dead, killed by two Jedi looking for captured fillies. Your sister, Sweetie Belle.”

“Sweetie?” Rarity echoed, her eyes wide in shock. “You saw her, and you did not rescue her?”

“And endanger the conditions of the test?” Master Lemep replied smugly. “Don’t be foolish. You had to be the one to assist Applejack in rescuing her sister, and yours, or she would not have trusted your judgment as much as she does. She reformed her ways and saw the truth of her follies because of you, Rarity. You’re responsible for Applejack’s redemption.”

“No,” Rarity whispered. “You are. And it sounds like you’re responsible for a lot more. But my real question is... to what end?”

“End?”

“Why? Why us? What good is this test? Why endanger our lives, and the lives of our sisters, for some silly test?”

“Firstly,” Master Lemep said patiently, “to help young Applejack understand her situation, and to help her along the right path. She is well on her way to Jedi Knighthood because of me. Secondly, to inspire a desire for knowledge in you, Rarity. To kindle a thirst for the truth, at any cost -- even if that means overcoming your inhibitions, like breaking rules. And lastly, the moment I stepped foot on Tython so many months ago, I knew from the get-go that your future and Applejack’s were tied. You both have a great destiny, one that is filled with danger and mystery. I took it upon myself to prepare you for what you will face in the future, and it was best that I prepare you both now, while it’s convenient for me.”

“Prepare us? Destiny? What are you talking about, Master? How do you know any of this?” Rarity shook her head. “I... I have more questions than I did before.”

“The Force is mysterious, no?” Master Lemep said quietly. “I must go. I intend to answer your questions later, Rarity, but before I depart, I want to know something. Enlighten me: what do you perceive of me? Am I a maniac with impure motives? Or do you trust me, without question, even for lack of a reason?”

Rarity looked up at Master Lemep and noticed for the first time that he’d taken off his hood while he’d been talking. His vestigial white eyes stared back at her like translucent pearls. His face was calm, almost eerily so, but his smile was warm. His face gave the impression of wisdom in age.

“I... don’t trust you,” Rarity admitted, “but for some reason I feel compelled to.”

“You are right to acknowledge your hesitations,” Master Lemep said calmly, “but your instincts may be correct. Wherever you go from here, Rarity, and no matter how mysterious or strange I seem to you, know in your heart that I mean you no harm. I only have your best interests in mind, simply because your well-being is in my best interests. Know also that, if I had sensed you, or Applejack, or your sisters in any danger, I would have been there in a heartbeat to intervene. I still will. Now, and into the foreseeable future.”

“But why? I still don’t-”

“I don’t know for certain why,” Master Lemep interrupted, “I do know our destinies our tied, as well, but for what purpose or duration, I know not. The Force is mysterious, no?”

“You already said that.”

Master Lemep smirked. “I know. Have a nice chat with Applejack.”

He turned to leave, and Rarity watched as he disappeared into the crowd of rushing ponies down the hall, leaving her standing alone outside the Council chamber.

Applejack broke from the crowd ahead of her and sauntered up a moment later. “Howdy.”

Rarity looked at Applejack slowly, her eyes wide in surprise.

“What’s got y’er mane in a bunch?”

“My hair?” Rarity snapped back to reality and reached for her mane. “What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothin’,” Applejack snickered. “Hey, Rarity, Ah wanted t’ah thank ya’.”

“I... what?”

“You stuck with me even when Ah was bein’ stubborn. Y’er the reason Ah even had a chance t’ah rescue Apple Bloom. She owes you her life. Ah... Ah owe ya my life, too.”

Rarity stammered for a moment, then fell silent and smiled. After a few seconds, she started giggling lightly.

“Uhh... Rarity?”

“Heh... Hmm? Yes, Applejack?”

“Y’alrah’ght?”

“No,” Rarity said with a smile. “I don’t think so. I may be crazy. But you know what? You’re welcome, Applejack. I’m just glad we were able to save our sisters.”

“Yeah... okay. Maybe y’all should go talk t’ah Master Lemep. Maybe he can help ya’.”

“Oh, I’m sure.”

-~-~-~-~-~

The Council chamber door opened slowly and the Masters filed out of the room. Grand Master Satele led the procession to the balcony overlooking the main auditorium of the Temple. Every Jedi, Padawan and soldier on Tython was gathered under the balcony as they awaited the announcement of the Council with held breath.

“Why are they gathered here?” Master Ohrum whispered.

“Rumors must have spread,” Master Ghetsu replied. “They knew we were meeting. Go on, Satele. Tell ‘em what we decided.”

Master Satele nodded. “My fellow ponies. As some of you may be aware, a crisis is rising in our midst. Tython is no longer a safe haven for the Jedi.”

Rarity and Applejack pushed through the crowd until they could see Master Satele on the balcony. Master Lemep was leaning against the wall beside them, and when Rarity noticed him, he smiled at her deviously.

Master Satele took a deep breath. “There are times in our lives when we must make choices that are wrong in order to achieve a greater right.”

Master Lemep winked at Rarity with a translucent eye. “Told you so.”

“This is one of those times. A threat known as the New Order has risen on Tython. They seek to dissolve and dismember the Jedi. They threaten our lives, and the lives of our friends. We must defend ourselves, and those we’ve sworn to protect. That said... the Republic has forbid us to interfere in the matters of the Matriarch of Kalikori Village, the illegal settlement further up the Ridge.

“This is a mandate we can no longer keep in good conscience. Let us rise up and defend the innocent, like we all know we should. The Republic has kept us on a leash for too long. Our morals must guide our actions. We must trust in the Force.”

A collective cheer started to rise from the crowd.

“We are sending emissaries to the village to contact the Matriarch about our intentions. We must make peace with the villagers and atone for our hesitation, for it is a crime against our Jedi Code. The time has come not only to defend ourselves, but to defend Kalikori Village as well. We can no longer sit idly by will the innocent suffer. Come, my brothers and sisters. Let us uphold our ancient traditions. Let us defend the galaxy in the name of peace and justice. Let us break the rules, to do what’s right.”

Applejack grinned.

“Wait,” Rarity said slowly as the applause started to die. “Emissaries? Who are we sending?”

“The only Jedi qualified to speak to the Matriarch,” Master Lemep said quietly. “You two.”

-~-~-~-~-~

The speeder ride to Kalikori Village took little time thanks to Master Lemep’s driving. Rarity had thought no pony in the galaxy could drive as recklessly as Applejack, but not only did her master drive with more speed than her, he also took dangerous shortcuts. The moment she had sat down on the bike, he’d accelerated into thick brush and exited into a well-hidden cavern. Sharp, narrow turns wound through the mountainside and eventually spat the bike out near the road leading to Kalikori Village. Applejack had a small cut on her hoof where the bike had scraped the wall on a bad corner, but otherwise the ponies were miraculously unhurt from the experience.

Master Lemep pulled up to the gate of the village and let Applejack and Rarity off. “Explain our situation, and tell the Matriarch Satele wishes to meet with her.”

“You’re not going to stay?” Rarity asked.

“I will be here in spirit. Remember what I said.”

Rarity looked disconcertedly at Master Lemep, who smiled back in amusement. He slammed the bike around with a mighty Force Push and zipped back down the road in a cloud of dust.

“Well, let’s get to it then,” Applejack said excitedly.

Rarity turned and, for the first time, noticed the guards were not stationed at the gate. “Where are the border patrols we encountered this morning?”

Applejack looked up at the sky. The sun was starting to set, and the light was turning a dark orange in preparation for the night. “It’s supper tah’me. Reckon they’re eatin’?”

“Perhaps.”

Both ponies proceeded into through village gate and looked around. The village was completely deserted. Not a single pony moved through the center, and all of the doors and windows were shut. No lights were on, and all of the weapons at the barracks were missing. Faint shouts and cries could be heard further down the path, near the other gate. Applejack and Rarity trotted in that direction until they caught sight of a crowd of ponies gathered at the entrance to the village.

The villagers were gathered around what appeared to be a speaker. A pony was giving an oratory, and he held his audience in such captivity that Rarity and Applejack’s presences went unnoticed to the village. As they drew nearer, much to their horror, they heard the familiar voice of Glass Bowl giving a speech. A good distance behind him stood an army; hundreds of Flesh Raiders, with the odd stallion or mare wielding a lightsaber among their numbers. They stood on the path that ran alongside the river, the waterfall concealing the hidden cavern crashing nearby.

“...and the Jedi have abandoned you! Take up your arms, you villagers of Kalikori. Be recognized as sovereign, and help us do away with the Jedi that have oppressed you for so long!”

Rarity gasped. “He’s already here. This ruins everything.”

Applejack nodded thoughtfully to herself, but made no move.

“What are you thinking about, darling?” Rarity asked.

“Well, Ah’m just thinkin’ what we need t’ah do here. See, Ah don’t think it’d be wise t’ah fah’ght him here in open. Not with all his supporters behind him.”

“That’s... a very wise deduction. Do you have an alternative in mind?”

“Remember in the cave? When you cornered him with y’er words?”

“Yes.”

“Do it again.”

Rarity beamed. “Applejack, that’s actually a brilliant idea. But... what about you?”

“Ah’m gonna be rah’ght here, waiting, just in case it don’t work.” She patted her lightsabers gently and grinned smugly.

The smile on Rarity’s face dropped to an unimpressed grimace. “Oh, of course. You still want to get yourself killed, you’ve just decided to try diplomacy first for a change.”

“Can’t let you hog the show,” Applejack replied simply. “Get to it quick, he looked lah’ke he’s almost done.”

Rarity nodded and snuck into the crowd as quietly as she could, using the Force to divert attention away from herself.

“Remember the insolence of the Jedi!” Glass Bowl continued. “They’re on the run, trying to save themselves from our revolution!”

“The Jedi saved us from the Flesh Raiders just this morning,” said one of the guards. He stood between Glass Bowl and the villagers, flanked by his fellow guards. “They haven’t forgotten us.”

“Is that so?” Glass Bowl replied with a chuckle. “Well, where are they now?”

“Right here.”

The crowd turned to see Rarity standing alone, on the far end of the line of guards, holding her lightsaber telekinetically at her side.

Glass Bowl’s eyes widened. “You...”

“Do not be deceived, villagers!” Rarity cried back to the crowd. “The Jedi would never allow you to be slaughtered like animals! Our entire Order is mobilizing to defend your village as we speak!”

“Lies!” Glass Bowl yelled. “The Jedi are trying to deceive you! See how they send one agent to deter you from joining us. They fear you, and they fear our movement!”

“Grand Master Satele herself sent me,” Rarity continued. “She wishes to speak with the Matriarch, to atone for our mistakes. It was wrong for us not to defend and respect this village, we knew this all along. But we no longer fear the wrath of the Republic. We risk losing their support by being here, but here we are regardless!”

“They probably got permission to support you,” Glass Bowl countered. “It’s only because it’s in your best interests that you are here!”

“It’s only in your best interests that you are here!” Rarity fired back. “You are lying to these villagers! You control the Flesh Raiders that attacked their village this morning! You are the one responsible for all the attacks previous! And you have the nerve to try and ask for their help?”

Murmurs shot up through the crowd as Rarity’s words sunk in. Glass Bowl, flustered, tried to regain his composure as a villager stepped out of the crowd. Dust Bowl emerged from among the villagers and stood beside Rarity, staring resolutely at his father.

“Hello father,” he said in a loud voice. “Remember me? Your dead son?”

The ponies in Glass Bowl’s army of supporters began murmuring as well. Whispers of “Wasn’t he dead?” and “Didn’t he say the Jedi killed his son?” started swimming around, and Glass Bowl took notice. Seething, and on the brink of losing control, he swiped at the air with an angry hoof.

“You seek to make a fool of me! Even to the very end, your arrogance is impalpable. This cannot be my son. He was slain! By you, no less! You’re trying to confuse and disrupt me!”

“Give it up, father.” Dust Bowl stepped forward and stomped his hoof. “I may not speak for the entire village, but as for myself, I have seen through your lies. You cannot convince me to join you, and any pony can see why. You are a liar, a deceiver! And as your web of lies starts to crumble, so, too, will your insignificant ‘revolution’.”

Glass Bowl drew a saber and gritted his teeth. “You pathetic, ungrateful son! What would your mother think of you if she were alive today?!”

The guards raised their rifles and aimed at Glass Bowl, but neither party made any attack.

“You see?” Rarity called back to the crowd. “He doesn’t care for his own son! Why would he care for any of us?”

Dust Bowl took a step back and fell to his bottom suddenly. Rarity looked at him and saw he was crying and mumbling for his mother and father. Fluttershy broke from the crowd and was at his side in an instant, trying to console him with hushed, soothing words. Some of the ponies in Glass Bowl’s army began to stir uncomfortably among the Flesh Raiders, who reacted minimally to the commotion. The crowd rallied around the guards and started shouting at Glass Bowl, accusing him of murder and being a liar and deceiver. He retorted as best he could, but the roar of the crowd was overbearingly loud.

At last, he shuddered with anger and threw up his hooves. Lightning shot from the tips, illuminating the trees and casting terrifying shadows over the crowd amid the ear-splitting crackling. Silence ensued in the following moments, broken only when Glass Bowl looked down on his son and threw a flurry of lightning at him. Fluttershy and Dust Bowl, being in close proximity to one another, absorbed the attack full force and slunk to the ground, smoldering and whimpering in pain.

Rarity stood over them, aghast. Applejack broke through the crowd, saw Fluttershy and Dust Bowl, and barred her teeth at Glass Bowl.

“I will bring peace to this galaxy!” he screamed. “I’ll do whatever it takes!”

“You have already failed,” said a voice from the nearby trees. “Your delusions have hurt somepony, and peace should never come at the cost of those you swore to defend.”

“Who’s there?!” Glass Bowl yelled back. “Show yourself!”

A stallion in black robes stepped out of the woods nearby. He pointed a hoof at Glass Bowl and whipped a saber off his belt with the Force. “In the name of the Jedi Order, you are under arrest.”

“Master Atuna,” Rarity said happily, a smile creeping across her face. “You’re helping us?”

“Rare, isn’t it?” he replied aloofly, smiling back at Rarity. “Remember, I promised I would be there when you needed me.”

“Did we need ya’ that bad?” Applejack asked.

Glass Bowl took a step forward and shoved as hard as he could with the Force, hurling a ball of air at Master Lemep. Effortlessly, he waved a hoof and shattered the ball. The force of the air being dissipated snapped the trees behind him; oaks trees, thick with age, broken like twigs against the power.

Applejack inhaled sharply. Rarity’s jaw dropped.

“No more games!” Glass Bowl yelled, visibly livid. “We burn the village, then the temple!”

The Flesh Raiders standing further down the path roared furiously. Several of them broke ranks and started to charge toward the crowd of villagers, swinging their makeshift axes and firing blaster rifles. Atuna turned his attention to them and lifted his hooves. The ground underneath them buckled and ruptured, and within seconds the entire pathway collapsed into the river below. The charging Flesh Raiders careened off the cliff and splashed into the raging river, and were swept away by the current almost instantly. The remaining Flesh Raiders retreated in fear while the ponies among them waited at the edge of the ruptures. None of them were hostile anymore, their delusions shattered and their morale diminished.

Applejack stared in awe at the buckled earth. “That was amazin’...”

“What are you...” Glass Bowl muttered. “You look like a child, no older than my son.”

“I am no child,” Master Lemep replied, turning his attention back to Glass Bowl. “I am Atuna Davinari Lemep, Jedi Master on the council of the Tython Jedi Order.”

“You? A Jedi Master?” Glass Bowl snickered and raised his saber toward Master Lemep. “Prove it. Show me something impressive, boy.”

Atuna brought his saber up and ignited it. The distinctive snap-hiss followed the extension of not one, but two, viridian green blades jumping from either end of the hilt. Glass Bowl leaped to Atuna and brought his saber down on him, but the attack was parried away, throwing Glass Bowl off balance. Atuna made no move to counter, but instead waited patiently for his opponent to strike again.

Another frontal attack was tossed aside with a graceful parry, this time followed up a swift counterslash at Glass Bowl’s leg. He dove forward and rolled away to dodge, and found himself kneeling at the side of Fluttershy and Dust Bowl, who were starting to recover from the lightning attack. Glass Bowl aimed his saber at Fluttershy and stared manically at Atuna. “Don’t move, or the villager dies!”

Atuna nodded. “I’m listening.”

“I’m going to walk away from this, and you’re not to follow me, or she dies.”

“Not happening,” Atuna replied.

“Then she dies!”

Master Lemep stepped forward, unphased by the threat. Glass Bowl hurled his saber at Fluttershy, who looked up just in time to scream as the whirling blade flew towards her. Blood splattered over the dirt as the blade made contact, and the hilt extinguished a moment later, falling to the ground. With a thud, Dust Bowl fell to his knees and dropped prone in front of Fluttershy, the large gash across his chest spewing copious amounts of red ooze.

“Dust Bowl!” Fluttershy squealed.

Glass Bowl stared wide-eyed at his son. For the first time in a long time, he realized just how much his ambition had cost him. Fluttershy crawled gingerly up to Dust Bowl’s unmoving body and wept over his shoulder. Rarity and Applejack rushed to her side, both ponies looking for ways to preserve what little of his life had not spilled into the dirt.

Atuna leaped to Dust Bowl and threw his hooves against the wound in his chest. Bright green light shone off the tips of his hooves, blinding the ponies nearby. The wound started to close itself, as if by magic. Light seeped into the wound until it closed over itself completely, and when the light finally faded after nearly a minute, Dust Bowl inhaled sharply and clutched his chest, as if in pain.

Fluttershy wrapped her hooves around his neck and sobbed uncontrollably on him. Rarity and Applejack sighed in collective relief, but their attention was drawn away from the two lovers when Atuna stood up and faced Glass Bowl again, this time a menacing air hanging over the Jedi Master.

He reached up to his hood and pulled it off. His eyes opened to reveal the pearly, translucent orbs that occupied the sockets. Glass Bowl saw them and instantly dropped to his knees, whimpering quietly at first. Atuna took a step forward, and his sniveling grew louder. With every step closer, he seemed closer and closer to screaming, until finally, Atuna placed his hoof on Glass Bowl’s head. The moment his hoof made contact, Glass Bowl writhed and screamed in terror, his eyes wide in shock.

Light began to glow from his eyes and mouth. His hooves grasped at the air frantically, searching for something to hold onto. After a few agonizing, unnerving seconds, Atuna let go of Glass Bowl, who slumped to the ground and exhaled slowly. He did not inhale.

Rarity shook her head and stared at Atuna. “What have you done to him?”

“Something a Jedi should never have to do,” Atuna replied remorsefully. “Good thing I’m not a Jedi, right?”