Greetings, readers! Welcome back for Part 4 of I, Inquisitor, one of That Hashtag Show’s exclusive Star Wars fan fiction features! You can catch up with our story (or continue on!) at the links below:
- Prologue – Part 1
- Part 2 – Bail Organa
- Part 3 – The Inquisitorious
- Shili – Part 4
- Part 5 – The Jedi
- Part 6 – Failure
- Mandalore – Part 7
- Part 8 – The Duchess
- Part 9 – Revelation
When last we met, Galactic Senator Bail Organa had received a priority transmission from Tavek Dinnar. A former Jedi padawan-turned-Inquisitor, Dinaar had delivered a chronicle of his crimes with the Inquisitorius to Senator Organa just before his death at the hands of Darth Vader. Thus far we’ve learned how he became an Inquisitor. Now the tale of his time as an Imperial Jedi hunter begins to unfold….
I, Inquisitor, Part 4.
At the time of my initiation into the Inquistorious, the Empire was only beginning to develop its fleet of Imperial-class Star Destroyers. Therefore, we traveled to Shili aboard the modified Venator-class Star Destroyer Anlace. Once home to Jedi and ARC-170 Starfighters, the hanger bays now housed the newest weapon of the Empire’s naval arsenal: TIE fighters courtesy of Sienar Fleet systems. It was on the Anlace flight deck, between them, that I would continue to hone my skills for the remaining years of my life.
One always remembers one’s first mission…
… and I distinctly remember that outbound flight from Coruscant to Shili.
The Third Sister had instructed me to meet her on the flight deck for training as we hurtled our way through hyperspace. So there I stood, alone, waiting. I closed my eyes and focused the Force within me. The hum of the ship’s engines. The barely cognizable rattle emanating from where the TIE fighters’ wings touched the metal deck below them. I could even perceive the artificial movement of the recycled air around me. Once centered, I opened my eyes.
With barely a thought, my new lightsaber flipped through the air and into my hand. I examined it slowly, and with pride. Though I’d never be close enough to Darth Vader to see him use his blade in action, I’d been told the single-bladed sabers of the Inquisitor apprentices, of which I was one at the time, were fashioned in likeness of the Dark Lord’s. Its heft and balance were, in a word, perfect. The weapon was made for me, and fit me, in every possible way.
Perhaps the Third Sister had meant to startle or frighten me. Such was the elder Inquisitors’ practice in our training. Perhaps she thought me too deep in meditation to notice her stealthily skulking behind the fighters, approaching me. The sound she made as she soared through the air towards me would have been imperceptible, to anyone else. Perhaps I didn’t so much as hear her approach as felt it. I sensed the change in the air patterns as her body passed through them. I ignited my lightsaber a split-second before her blade leapt from its hilt. Before she could react, I turned and lifted my blade horizontally, easily blocking the feint with which she meant to surprise me.
Our blades crashed spectacularly.
Though I could not see the shock on her face, I could sense it. I twisted my wrist, wrenching her blade from her grasp in the process. A Force push sent her sliding backwards as I called her blade through the air to my free hand. Once I was armed with both blades and took a defensive position, she laughed, and clapped. Beneath my mask, I smiled.
“Well done, indeed, Fourth Brother. The Second Brother regaled me with tales of your training successes, but I see now first-hand you are even stronger in the Force than he understood.”
I nodded in reply to her praise, powered her lightsaber down, and sent it sailing across the hangar to her waiting hand. With a fluidity of motion I’d never before seen, she plucked the saber from the air and affixed it to its sheath at the back of her armor.
“You’ll have your double-bladed saber soon enough, I’d think,” she remarked as she walked towards me, and then strode past me. “Come. It’s time for our briefing.”
I followed her to the command center and entered behind her. Stormtroopers stood in flanking positions at the door, their gleaming white armor reflecting the red, yellow, and orange lights of the consoles that surrounded them. A young, Imperial captain, Palleaon, I believe his name was, welcomed us. From what I recall he was a good captain, and a dedicated officer, though I’d not see him again following that mission. While he accepted our presence graciously, the other command officers either cowered in fear or bore expressions seeped in disdain.
“Third Sister, Fourth Brother, welcome to the bridge.
I’ve a recorded message for you.”
The captain engaged the holo projector. The image was not that of the Grand Inquisitor as we expected. Rather, Lord Vader himself delivered to us our mission parameters. Hushed chatter filled the command center when the Dark Lord’s visage appeared. While most were aware of the Emperor’s new enforcer, few had yet seen him.
There was no pomp and circumstance to accompany his mission briefing. He simply began.
“We’ve received reports that a scavenger has recovered a Jedi lightsaber in the ruins of a village outside of Corvala on the planet of Shili. The weapon belonged to Jedi Knight Arana Sha, a native Togruta. Sha is no longer, perished during the execution of Order 66.”
Vader paused before continuing. The rhythmic rasping of his breather mesmerized the Imperial officers watching with us.
“Arana Sha does not concern me. However, she had an apprentice, Jae Cal Onis. Onis had accompanied his master on a mission to Shili but was not with her at the time of her demise. Go to the scavenger, obtain the Jedi’s weapon. Use it to find Onis. Do not fail me.”
The message ended as abruptly as it had begun.
Captain Palleon spoke to fill the void Darth Vader had left behind. “We’re approaching Shili and will be returning to real space momentarily.”
The Third Sister nodded to me. I understood her unspoken command, turned, and followed her back to the hangar. At the far end, near the nose of the ship, sat our two TIE Advanced V1 fighters. During my training I’d only flown the Starfighter but two times. That was enough. Its controls were instinctive and, like the weapon I wielded, it too felt made for me, a part of me. I’d completed my Jedi pilot training by the time The Grand Inquisitor had come upon me, so there was little I needed learn to command the TIE.
Once the Anlace exited hyperspace, the massive, overhead hangar doors creaked open. The vastness of space above held a tinted blue hue for only as long as it took for our TIEs to pass through the shield barrier and into the vacuum beyond. There comes with flying a certain exhilaration, one I’d been taught to suppress as a Jedi. That day it buoyed and empowered me. Thankfully so; the mission would be far more challenging than we’d anticipated.
The space over Shili could have been the perfect subject for an Imperial propaganda poster. Two ISDs joined the Anlace just outside the dome of the planet’s atmosphere, Shili’s sun gleaming off of their new and polished durasteel hulls. TIE fighters, troop transports and cargo shuttles buzzed to and from the planet’s surface. It was an ideal occupation. Civilian traffic was heavily monitored; there was no unauthorized passage to or from Shili.
Any attempts, the Empire dealt with swiftly and severely.
I followed the Third Sister on slow arc through the atmosphere as we made our way to Corvalla, the capitol. On approach I could see AT-STs rumbling their way through the cities wider thoroughfares, vigilantly keeping order. If there were rumblings of rebellion or uprising on Shili at that time, they were few, or at the very least well-concealed. We landed at the city’s primary spaceport and were immediately met upon our arrival.
“I’ve been expecting you, Madam Inquisitor. I’m Commander Pars and in charge of the garrison here. We are pleased to have you joi—”
“Where is he?” The Third Sister asked abruptly.
“I beg your pardon! We have protocol to abide b—”
Her force choke forbade Pars from speaking further. “I care not for your protocols.”
“But ma’am, I -“
“We are the Inquistorious. We answer only to the Grand Inquistor, Lord Vader, and the Emperor himself. Am I understood?”
Pars nodded his assurance that, yes, her fearfully understood. He indicated that he would answer her query and she released him. For a moment he gasped and clutched at his throat. “Of course, madam Inquistor, forgive me. Our intelligence tells us only that the scavenger goes by the name Odo. He has a stall in the Trading District, Corridor 7. From what we can discern, he keeps the lightsaber on his person and has not yet offered the item for bid or sale.”
“Have you arranged speeders?”
“We have. They’re powered and ready.”
Third Sister spoke no more.
She pushed passed Commander and strode with purpose towards the two speeders at the rear of the docking bay. I dutifully followed, knowing enough not to speak, but rather to simply follow her lead and instruction. My apprenticeship as an Inquisitor was similar in many ways to that of the Jedi Order. Quiet observation was key to both.
It was all I could do to keep up with her, so fast she sped through the crowded city streets. I can say with certainty that one without use or knowledge of the Force would have crashed within the first kilometer. In what seemed like mere moments we found ourselves at the entrance to the Trading District.
A large, ornate sign identifying the market center of the city welcomed us, together with the quizzical stares of those that watched us arrive. We Inquisitors were few, and in most places we travelled, still unknown other than in whispers. A squad of Stormtroopers approached us to assist, but the Third Sister waved them off. She spoke but two words to me as we entered the marketplace:
We made our way through the crowd, and pay attention, I did. Even with the filters of our masks I could still smell the mixture of aromas in the air; floral bouquets blended with the scent of roasting meats; dusky spice with acrid machine oil. There was no separation of wares or sundries in this place. It took us no time at all to arrive at a stall in Corridor 7:
One thing I learned, and learned well in my time as an Inquisitor, was to expect the unexpected. Odo must have begun life as a diminutive Chadra-Fan. The black welder’s goggles her wore to cover his eyes rested on his bat-like face in stark contrast to the light tan fur they partially obscured. Odo, it seemed, had also lost his legs. The cybernetic replacements he wore boosted the creature’s height to nearly that of my own. He was happily completing a transaction when we arrived. Our presence altered his bearing considerably. Though I could sense the increasing tempo of his heartbeat and then tension of his emotional state, I needed look no further than the rising hair on his protruding ears to understand his anxiety.
He plucked an oil-stained rag from his overall pocket, wiped his bulbous nose, and addressed us curtly.
“Imps, eh? What can do for you?”
To the creature’s credit hid his apprehension well. Though we clearly intimidated the scavenger, nothing of his outward, physical demeanor showed it.
“I think you know why we’re here. We’ve come for what you’ve found,” the Third Sister replied. He stared into her faceplate momentarily before snorting, barking something to an underling in a tongue I couldn’t understand, and then nodded for us to follow him to the workshop behind his stall. I sensed no danger, nor did the Third Sister, and we followed.
The space to which he led us was cramped, comprised of a converted shipping container. A long workbench occupied one wall. Across it were strewn all kinds of electronics, machine components, and occasional blaster parts. We weren’t there to punish a local vendor for contraband weapons, however. That much the oddity that was Odo himself understood and appreciated. His cooperation would buy him reprieve, and he knew it.
When we are out of eye and earshot of the bustling marketplace beyond, he reached into his overalls and produced the item for which we’d come. I felt a fleeting pang of guilt when I eyed the lightsaber of the fallen Jedi, one who’d once been my elder in the Order. Quickly I shucked the feeling away, channeling the emotion into anger at the Order for its betrayal of its members. I was no longer a Jedi trainee: I was an Inquisitor.
The weapon was something to behold.
The emitter looked as if it were made of platinum. The hilt casing, though metal beneath, was sheathed in an enamel cover of swirling red and white hues. No doubt the design was meant to mimic its holders’ own vestigial markings. The creature handed it to the Third Sister, and she ignited it. It filled the makeshift workshop with an ethereal blue glow.
“Have you no demand for recompense?” She asked.
The creature scoffed. “I haven’t survived as long as I have by crossing you folks. It’s that’s your treasure, take it. On the house. I’d rather have my life.”
“And what makes you think you’ll get to keep that?”
The cyborg Chadra-Wan lifted the goggles from his terrified eyes. He looked to the Third Sister pleadingly, and tried to speak. “But” was all he could muster be she ran him through with the Jedi’s weapon. The smell of charred leather and flesh filled the room as his body collapsed to the dirt floor with a thud.
“We have what we came for. Come,” she instructed me, and I followed. I’d expected we’d go to an Imperial command center to perform whatever diagnostics of the Jedi weapon were required. Instead, she took her speeder far outside the city, into the turu-grass scrublands, away from anything and everything. She brought her speeder to a stop, the grass dancing in the wake of the vehicles repulsors. She dismounted, and cocked her helmet in my direction.
“What do you know of psychometry?”
I pondered. “Very little. From what I understand it’s the ability to learn of something or someone’s history simply by touch. The Jedi were discouraged from the practice, though I recall that very few possessed the skill in any event.”
I could almost hear the smirk emanating from beneath her mask. “The Jedi were so closed-minded. To deny themselves such a valuable skill is absurdity at its highest level. An Inquisitor does not practice such folly. Stay here and watch.”
I stopped where I stood as she continued walking about another ten meters in front of me. What occurred next was something forever etched in my memory. She placed the lightsaber on the ground about a meter in front of her, then sat down with her legs crossed. She removed her gloves, and I could for the first time a small portion of her flesh. The backs of her hands were scarred, badly, but her fingers remained adroit. She held her hands out in front of her, palms to the sky.
Then, everything… changed.
There was no sound, save the whistling of the breeze through the grass. Suddenly, the air seemed to stiffen, if that were possible. The wind died immediately and the grass stood to attention. First the lightsaber lifted from the dirt and hovered. The Third Sister rose as well, levitating, in perfect harmony with the saber. It floated through the air towards her outstretched hands. When she grasped it, her back arched and she threw her head backwards. A wave of Force energy washed over me, expanding outward in concentric waves with the Third Sister at its epicenter.
Time stood still.
When whatever the act in which she’d just engaged was complete, the saber slipped from her grasp and floated back down to ground with the same grace with which she’d call it to her in the first place. She too settled back to her resting position. It took several minutes for her to regain her energy and speak. My shock returned when she did.
Fluidly, she rose from her cross-legged position and approached me. “One thing you will learn, Fourth Brother, is that this Empire is far from infallible. That is why we exist.”
“What do you mean?” I asked sincerely.
“The task of locating the Jedi cannot be left to the uninitiated. They have no insight, no foresight, no intuition. And when they do, it’s usually wrong. That’s where we come in.” She continued. “Our intel told us that the scavenger found the lightsaber in a ruined village. He didn’t. it was entrusted to him by the one that did find it, in the hopes she’d never see the relic of her past again.” I couldn’t stop myself from asking.
“You remember what Lord Vader said: the lightsaber belonged to Arana Sha, master to Jae Cal Onis. It seems Onis was hidden at the time of Order 66 when Sha met her fate. Yes, her lightsaber rested where it fell, but the scavenger Odo was not the one who discovered it.”
I began to understand, but refused to presume, and bade her continue.
“A young Togruta woman named Shan Xi discovered it as her people began the process of rebuilding the village. Finding it terrified her, for she knew the weapon’s association to the Jedi, and the man she loved, Jae Call Onis.”
Thankfully the Third Sister made no comment regarding the surprise I’m sure she felt in me at her revelation. “In an effort to distance herself from the Jedi, presumably to protect him, she sold the lightsaber to the Chadra-Fan, and walked away from it presumably forever. Now, her secret –”
“Will be her undoing and lead Jae Cal Onis right to us.”
“Well deduced, Inquisitor.”
“And you learned all of that simply by holding the lightsaber with your bare flesh?”
“There are a great many skills that you’d never have learned as a Jedi, Fourth Brother. Now let’s go. It’s time to bait our trap.”
(To be continued….)
The preceding is a work of fan fiction based upon and utilizing locations, characters, and/or plot points from the Star Wars universe, originally created by George Lucas and trademarked to Lucasfilm, Ltd. The author makes no claim whatsoever of ownership of the Star Wars name, characters represented, or the Star Wars universe generally. This work is created of the author’s own imagination and is intended for entertainment purposes only. It does not purport to be an “official” Star Wars story or part of existing Star Wars canon in any way. The author is not profiting financially in any way as the result of the creation or publication of this piece of fan fiction.