Recycle Bin, Writing

Recycle Bin: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi (IIb)

July 20th, 2009 by Jeff | Dump Core

For this week’s Recycle Bin, we’ll present the second half of last week’s Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi project. We’ll jump back into the extended synopsis right where we left off, so see the previous post for details about the characters and about previous plot elements. Again, keep in mind that (a) this concentrates more on plot detail and less on characterization, (b) it’s very rough around the edges so there are plenty of plot holes and discrepancies that have not been (and probably never will be) ironed out, and (c) all character names are placeholders and not final. With that said, we’ll pick up where we left off….

The next significant plot point has Ranyar, Dirahn, and Myra sent upon a mission to a distant world in the Outer Rim to investigate the disappearance of some sort of scientific research team. Both Dirahn’s and Myra’s padawans have been left behind (Ranyar to date has refused to take a padawan), as the mission has been deemed too dangerous. The three Jedi arrive on a barren desert world. There is a brief skirmish with a band of disorganized smugglers that ends with the smugglers steering clear of the Jedi some distance away. They arrive at the expedition’s battered, half-buried ship and all clues eventually lead them underground into a series of deep caves. As they progress, Dirahn becomes more and more uneasy. He feels a great sense of foreboding, as if an oppressive numbing coldness is burrowing into his skin.

The reason becomes quickly evident: The trio are attacked by another “Force vampire”, the same type of creature that drained Dirahn years before. Before long, they discover that the creature is far from alone; somehow, an entire hive of the creatures escaped the great extermination by the Jedi centuries before and have laid dormant, awakened by the scientific expedition. The implications are staggering; if this many creatures survived, they could pose a huge risk to not only the Jedi Order by to the entire galaxy. Ranyar strongly suspects a trap: he believes Darth Scathe lured the scientists here with the sole purpose of awakening the creatures and forcing the Jedi to investigate. Three Jedi would prove to be ample sustenance to drive the creatures to seek more, and with their ship parked just outside the cavern and with their memories sucked from them, the creatures could easily bypass all Jedi security protocols, land on Coruscant, and be inside the Jedi Temple before anyone would be aware of it. If the Temple falls, then all Coruscant will fall followed by the rest of the galaxy. Ranyar makes his colleagues swear that the creatures not be allowed to reach the surface at all costs. The three of them must be expendable; if any of them fall or become injured, they must be left behind and the creatures stopped by any means. Dirahn reluctantly agrees, but Myra protests strongly. There is no time for argument, however, as the creatures quickly attack. Dirahn succumbs to the lead creature’s mental attacks—an artifact of his prior contact as a padawan—and the creatures separate him from Ranyar and Myra, making their way to the surface. With Dirahn under their control, the creatures could easily infiltrate the Jedi Temple without suspicion by bypassing all the Temple’s security codes.

As Ranyar and Myra pursue them, they argue over Ranyar’s order that they are expendable. During the arugment, they both reveal, rather reluctantly, that they have romantic feelings for each other. The argument is cut short when they are attacked again and Myra is injured. While she kills the creature that attacks her, the blow knocks her over a cliff, leaving her dangling precariously over a seemingly bottomless pit. Ranyar is faced with a terrible choice: spend precious moments rescuing Myra and let the creatures reach the surface and the ship, or leave her to intercept the creatures and likely let her perish. In a much more Star Trek mentality, he reluctantly decides that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. He promises to return for her and leaves her screaming for help as he rushes toward the surface. Just as he is beyond any hope of returning in time, the ledge gives way and she falls, presumably to her death. Racked with guilt, shame, and frustration, Ranyar dashes with Jedi speed to the surface just in time to watch their ship streak into the sky. He quickly surveys the landscape and spots a glint of reflected light on the horizon. Summoning all his Force skill, he races across the desert to find the smugglers’ ship. He commandeers it, nearly killing the smugglers in the process but leaving them alive. He sends a desperate coded signal to the Jedi Temple, which arrives just in time for the Council to take defensive measures. The battle is fierce but brief; with sufficient warning, the Jedi are able to wipe out the creatures and rescue Dirahn with minimal losses.

No one within the Council or the Order questions Ranyar’s difficult choice… except Ranyar himself. Even though he knows that logically it was the right decision, he finds himself constantly battling guilt and self-loathing. This becomes all too apparently when he watches Anya, Myra’s padawan, bounce from temporary mentor to temporary mentor, as no female Jedi are currently available to take her on full time. Anya is struggling; without dedicated mentorship, her skills are suffering and she begins to lose her focus. Ranyar approaches the Council with an unconventional proposal: he wishes to take Anya as his padawan. Many on the Council vehemently oppose; there are rules in place governing padawan apprenticeship, including strict guidelines forbidding mentors and apprentices being of opposite sexes, lest certain temptations arise to interfere. (Fans of the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series will note that undoubtedly by the time of the Clone Wars, these rules must have been relaxed.) However, the same female Master who prophesied Ranyar’s battle with the Dark Lord eventually sways the Council. It is unquestionable that Anya’s skill with a lightsabre are astounding, and there could be no better mentor for her than the Order’s finest duelist. Both Ranyar and Anya must come to terms with Myra’s death and their personal parts (or lack thereof) in it; learning from each other could be most helpful and therapeutic. The Council eventually relents, and Anya becomes Ranyar’s padawan.

Several smaller adventures ensue, focusing on Ranyar and Anya’s new relationship. Gradually, Ranyar comes to accept his difficult decision and Anya begins to understand the weight he bears. Together, the two heal their wounds and become an astounding team. Several times, the Council awards them special recognition for their incredible efforts.

One mission, however, changes their entire future. While the details that bring them there are nebulous (I told you this was a rough outline), Ranyar and Anya find themselves on a distant world in a series of derelict ruins. The two become separated by a collapsing hallway, and Ranyar instructs Anya to double-back so they can meet in another chamber. Anya stops short, however, when she runs into none other than Darth Scathe. Anya is terrified; although she has heard many tales of the Dark Lord of the Sith, this is her first real encounter with him. Although she moves to defend herself, he does not attack. He only moves to prevent her from catching up with Ranyar. When she demands that he let her pass, Darth Scathe simply responds that Ranyar is busy, “catching up with an old friend.” They do battle, but it is very one-sided. Scathe deflects all of her attacks, but never with deadly force, ensuring she remains alive.

Ranyar enters a large chamber to be greeted by a voice from the shadows. It’s a familiar voice, but at first he cannot place it. Eventually, its owner emerges from the darkness; it is Myra, alive, well, and royally ticked off. She is furious with him for leaving her behind on the planet of the vampires. After she fell, she lay dying at the bottom of the pit. Scathe emerged; it was indeed a trap for the Jedi, but more importantly for her. He offered to heal her and help her gain revenge on Ranyar for his betrayal. Ranyar insists he did not betray her; the choice was clear, it was her one life versus the lives of untold billions. But she’s not having any of his “lies”. She confesses that she was in love with him, but that he left her to die because he valued Dirahn’s friendship more than hers. A climactic battle ensues, ending in a draw as a walkway collapses, leaving them on opposite ends of a deep chasm. So vile is her hatred of him that the ruins quake slightly around them as she screams. Shaking his head, Ranyar walks away as she screams after him. Although he believed he came to terms with his choice, now it seems even worse that before. Now he’s no longer responsible for her death, but her fall to the Dark Side as Darth Scathe’s apprentice.

Now that Myra’s fall has been revealed, the Sith begin to execute their plan in earnest. Darth Scathe has enlisted the aid of a warlike race known as the Klithzir (another placeholder name), a race subjugated by the Sith centuries ago who have quietly served the dark lords and hidden their activities from the Jedi and the Republic. Isolated attacks begin along the Outer Rim; it is apparent that the Klithzir have been raising a massive army and space navy, readying for an all-out assault on the Republic. They have quietly stockpiled weapons (remember those smuggling pirates again?). The Senate turns to the Jedi Order for advice, and as stated in Episode II, the Jedi are a peacekeeping force, not a militia.

Ranyar, meanwhile, becomes more and more frustrated with his current situation. He and Anya keep being assigned to trivial tasks, far from the rumored skirmishes with the Klithzir. Ranyar repeatedly petitions the Council to let him hunt down Darth Scathe; after all, he is the one prophesied to duel the Dark Lord to the death. But the Council repeatedly refuses. Ranyar suspects they fear that the prophecy predicts his fall to the Dark Side; this at once frustrates him but makes him feel cautious at the same time. He struggles internally between the rational and cautious view of the Council versus his own desire to end the conflict with the Klithzir before it really starts. Eventually, his frustration takes hold and he rushes off in search of the Dark Lord, with Anya reluctantly in tow.

We’ll gloss over the annoying (and unscripted) details that lead to tracking down a Sith Lord and jump straight to the meat of the story. Ranyar and Anya track the Sith to another isolated location (funny how all these duels take place in out-of-the-way locales). Once again, they are separated by suspicious circumstances (which I haven’t bothered to script either). They both strongly suspect a trap but have little choice but to proceed. Eventually, Ranyar encounters Myra. Ranyar prepares for an attack but it doesn’t come. Myra offers to lead him to Darth Scathe so he can destroy him… “and so you can become the Dark Lord of the Sith”, Ranyar observes sarcastically. “That’s beside the point,” she replies. She says that Scathe has also seen the vision of the future and he knows that he is the one to fall. But the only way Ranyar can defeat the Dark Lord is to lower his defenses and draw from his emotions and hatred—by using the Dark Side of the Force. Ranyar scoffs, but with a twinge of doubt as if he fears she may be right.

Myra makes good on her promise and leads him to another chamber, then disappears. Scathe is waiting for him. There is some ominous, climactic banter, followed by a titanic lightsabre duel that should give the Anakin/Obi Wan duel of Episode III a run for its money. Meanwhile, Myra intercepts her old pupil Anya, dueling her to prevent her from interfering with Ranyar’s duel with Scathe. The two battles carry on for some time, giving us lots of juicy Jedi-on-Sith action.

Eventually, Anya manages to get away from Myra long enough to try and track down Ranyar. She arrives to find the two Masters dueling even stronger than ever. Scathe incites Ranyar with comments about all his failings: the death of Kandir, the fall of Myra, etc. Eventually, Ranyar becomes so enraged in the heat of battle that he overwhelms the Dark Lord, first lobbing off his dueling hand and then beheading him. As he stands over the body, slightly swaying from the exertion, an explosion of hatred wells within him to the point that he hacks Scathe’s corpse to pieces with his lightsabre (off-screen, of course, so we won’t be too gruesome). He screams with rage, causing huge sections of the surrounding ruins to collapse from the quake in the Force. As he slumps backwards, the full weight of what he has done begins to press upon him. He glances up to see Anya on a balcony above him, on her knees with her hands over her mouth and tears streaming from her eyes. Ranyar realizes he has crossed a line that can never be uncrossed, and he wearily trudges back toward Myra, waiting at the other end of the chamber.

After one of the Masters picks up Anya and returns her to Coruscant, the Council begins to debate what needs to be done. Surely Ranyar’s fall poses a huge security risk. When they begin to debate if he will become Myra’s new apprentice, Dirahn objects. True, it is the way of the Sith for the apprentice to become the Master, but he doubts that Ranyar will have much to learn from her besides a handful of new tricks. Even before his fall he had far surpassed her in skill and raw power; it is unlikely that he would make himself subordinate to her. It is also unlikely he would embrace the ways of the Sith as she had. He had spent so many years opposing the Sith, fighting them after the death of his father/mentor that it would be unthinkable that he would wish to become that which he despised. At the same time, he will likely view his actions as irredeemable, and returning to the Jedi Order would be impossible. Dirahn proposes a new theory: while Ranyar has indeed fallen and may stay with Myra long enough to learn a new new Sith-like skills, he will leave her and attempt to walk the path of the Gray Jedi (remember them?).

Sure enough, the Republic’s spies seem to confirm Dirahn’s theory. They manage to track enough of the Klithzir movements to confirm that Ranyar traveled with them for a time, then eventually went his own way. What’s more disturbing is where he has gone. As the Council begins to analyze his movements, Dirahn recognizes a pattern in the star systems displayed. All are along the Outer Rim, spaced at oddly similar intervals. He asks the computer to adjust the galactic map for ten-thousand years in the past. The star systems immediately line up into a perfect sequence, equidistant around the galaxy’s spiral arms. Dirahn announces that he believes Ranyar is looking for the Crown of Stars, an ancient Jedi artifact.

The legend of the Crown states that ten-thousand years prior, a very powerful Jedi Master once created the artifact to amplify his access to the Force as a means of defeating a powerful Sith Lord. Unfortunately, the raw power of the concentrated Force overwhelmed him, driving him mad with godlike power. He nearly destroyed the entire galaxy but was finally stopped by his apprentice, who was forced to kill him to stop him. The padawan then broke the Crown into many pieces and scattered them across the Outer Rim as far as possible from the other pieces lest one be found and lead someone to the others. Dirahn fears that Ranyar, seeing Myra continuing Darth Scathe’s road to war, believes the situation so grave that he will take the desperate measure of finding the Crown, reassembling it, and using it against her. The Council reluctantly agrees with his theory and sends him to track down his old friend with Anya in tow.

Dirahn and Anya have a long discussion during their lengthy trip about Ranyar’s and Myra’s fall. Quite obviously, Anya blames herself for not being there to support either of her former Masters. Dirahn reassures her that only they can make such choices and no matter how much guilt they heap upon themselves, only Ranyar and Myra themselves can be blamed for their current states.

The next part is, unfortunately, really sketchy. Dirahn and Anya track down Ranyar and confront him, confirming his plan to find the Crown. Dirahn and Ranyar duel and Dirahn is injured (and maybe killed, but I’m leaning against that). Anya continues to follow him with the assistance of another Master on the Council, who is also likely killed in a duel. Meanwhile, the Council and the Senate receive word that several systems on the edge of the Republic have been attacked with entire worlds being destroyed, and rumors abound that an attack on Coruscant itself is imminent.

When the Klithzir fleet arrives at Coruscant, the Senate has gathered a rag-tag militia led by the Jedi. As the battle begins, the Republic fleet engages the Klithzir fighters and light frigates, but the heavier Klithzir ships hold back. Myra orders that their secret weapon be readied. When the Klithzir admiral asks why they shouldn’t deploy it immediately and ensure victory, she replies that she wants to instill false hope in them before crushing their spirits.

Anya, now on her own, manages to track Ranyar down to a Republic listening post just outside the Coruscant system. The listening post has been taken over by the Klithzir, but Ranyar makes short work of them. When Anya reaches the observation center, Ranyar informs her that he already knows of her presence. She begs and pleads with him not to reassemble the Crown, but he tells her they have no choice. Soon Myra will deploy the Klithzir weapon—a special missile that is heavily shielded, impervious to all blaster fire, and with a warhead that will turn Coruscant’s atmosphere into an inferno of burning plasma. By the time the Republic fleet figures out what’s going on, the missile will be unstoppable. Using the power of the Force, he manipulates the pieces of the Crown into position, which resist being reassembled. With all of his Force mastery, he manages to fuse the pieces together and dons the Crown. He is instantly overcome with searing pain as he fights the Crown for domination over his own body.

Myra gives the order. The missile is deployed, streaking across the battlefield and homing in on the planet. Several Republic fighters try in vain to attack it, but either miss or have their weapons quickly deflected.

Ranyar awakens from his struggle, his eyes unnaturally peaceful and his voice hollow and nearly void of emotion. He gestures with his hand and the missile dissolves into nothingness, its constituent atoms scattered across the universe. He waves his hand again and every weapon on the battlefield, Republic and Klithzir alike, ceases to function. With another gesture, Myra is lifted from the Klithzir flagship and materializes in the listening post with Ranyar and Anya.

Unfortunately, the final confrontation between Ranyar and Myra is sketchy, and while I’m sure I could come up with some really great, poinent dialog, I haven’t gotten that far (and likely never will). Suffice it to say that Myra is unrepentent and Ranyar decides to enact his vengence “for the good of the galaxy”, slowly and painfully disassembling the molecules of her body and scattering them as he did with the missile. He does the same with the entire Klithzir fleet, wiping their very existence from the galaxy (which explains why we never hear of them anywhere else in the Star Wars universe). Anya pleads with him to stop during the entire incident, begging him to see what he has become. Evenutally she succeeds, and in one horrible moment Ranyar realizes he has just committed genocide and murdered one of his oldest friends. The Crown, however, is apparently sentient and begins to fight him for control of his body. Ranyar battles the artifact internally, eventually realizing that the only way to destroy it is to destroy himself. He apologizes to Anya and thanks her for never giving up on him, then tells her to destroy the Crown in such a way that it can never be reassembled again. He then scatters his own molecules as he did to Myra, disappearing in a swirling wisp of thinning mist. The Crown clatters to the floor. Anya takes it back to her ship, fastens it to a missile, and then finds the nearest black hole and fires the missile into it, destroying it forever.

There are bound to be a few closing scenes where the Council decides to bury Ranyar’s fall and herald him a hero, redeemed in the end to save the galaxy. We’ll also assume there’s a heart-felt scene where Anya and Dirahn (assuming he’s still alive) come to turns with the loss of their loved ones and look over a Coruscant sunrise/set as a new hope dawns for the Republic. But that’s all I’ve got, and that’s all you’ll get. Now I’ll go collapse and soak my aching wrists in ice water. Whew!

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