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Mission to Haariden

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"Scientists and sensors. This is our land. We are not going to lose it."
―Captain Noq Welflet, commander of troops in Haariden's civil war.[src]

The Mission to Haariden took place in 26 BBY

The Galactic Senate and the Jedi High Council dispatched a team of Jedi Knights to the planet Haariden—a world embroiled in civil war—to rescue and retrieve five Republic scientists who had traveled there on an environmental research expedition that emphasized titanite mapping, sponsored by the Galactic Senate.

Caught between the planet's warring sides, the scientists included Fort Turan (mission leader), Tic Verdun (scout, Force Blank Granta Omega in disguise), Joveh D'a Alin, Talie Heathe, and Reug Yucon.

The Senate sought to defuse the civil war and secure peace by secretly sending a scientific expedition that would examine the planet's mineral rights and equitably divide the wealth among both sides of the conflict; Omega, interested in maintaining the civil war in order to secure the world's total wealth for his own galactic business interests, seized the opportunity to infiltrate the expedition team through a Senatorial contact, Sano Sauro of Eeropha.

Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were assigned to the Jedi rescue mission, along with Master Soara Antana and her Padawan Darra Thel-Tanis, who was wounded in a fierce battle as they protected the expedition team.

By mission's end, peace was restored to the planet when, ironically, its great volcano Kaachtari erupted, and when Omega's machinations were stopped through the actions of Kenobi and Skywalker—though the elusive Omega himself, once again, escaped their grasp.

The MissionEdit

PreludeEdit

"Do you know why the two factions on Haariden have been fighting this time?"
"Land disputes," Obi-Wan said.
"Yes, but this isn't about territory. It's about what is
underneath the land. Traces of titanite have been found."
―Jedi Temple archivist Jocasta Nu educates Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.[src]

Beginning in 27 BBY, when the potential for titanite mines was discovered, the Inner Rim world of Haariden was caught up in a civil war over land disputes and future mining rights. It was later discovered that the mineral could, in its synthesized form, produce a key component in bacta—but titanite was extremely rare and hard to mine, usually buried so deep near a planet's core that, traditionally, it always cost more to extract than it was ever worth.

Arrival on HaaridenEdit

"Padawans, we must surround the scientists ... Keep close and alert."
―Jedi Master Soara Antana in the forests outside Tenuuri as Haariden militants close in.[src]

During this time of conflict, the political climate of Haariden was volatile, and outsiders were not welcome. Each side in the civil war thought the Senate was in league with the other—thus all visitors were vulnerable to attack. Roving militant patrols posed a constant danger and threat. The warring troops knew that the new defensive arrivals protecting the scientists were Jedi, but didn't care, as they were out for revenge.

The militants' bravado would later shock Kenobi, who paused to wonder at the state of the galaxy in which a world such as Haariden, even only a short time ago, would have respected the Jedi or at least feared the Senate enough not to attack a rescue mission.

But as the Jedi team escorted the scientists from their Tenuuri holdout, across Haariden's dangerous, war-pocked terrain, they encountered heavy enemy fire in a violent attack by the Haariden squads, and Thel-Tanis was wounded in the leg with a chemically charged blaster bolt.

A void in the ForceEdit

"It doesn't look bad," Obi-Wan said.
A line appeared between Soara's eyebrows. "That is what worries me," she said in a low tone. "She should not be unconscious.
"
―Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Soara Antana, on the mysterious condition of wounded Padawan Darra Thel-Tanis.[src]

The Jedi, from the moment they arrived on the planet, had also felt a repressive darkness that seemed to hang in the air and dim the strength and power of the Force. The feeling affected 15-year-old Skywalker more so, Kenobi detected, as his Padawan was sensitive to the dark side of the Force, feeling it sooner and deeper than Obi-Wan had at his age.[1] Kenobi could also feel a disturbance in the Living Force within the wounded, unconscious Thel-Tanis, which deeply worried him (as it did Darra's Master). It was later determined that this dark, foreboding sensation emanated not only from unnatural death on a war-plagued planet but also from Force Blank Granta Omega, masquerading as one of the rescued scientists, "Tic Verdun," who in the Jedi's very presence had somehow been able to hide himself in the Force. Omega had done this the year before, in 27 BBY, on the planet Ragoon VI.[2]

As Thel-Tanis was recuperating in a local village shelter, the Jedi team contacted the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and the High Council committed itself to pressuring the Haaridens for a cease-fire, something, however, that would clearly take some time, as no one on either side of the conflict knew exactly who was in charge. The Temple also promised to send a medic for Darra, but that would take a couple of days.

Dark thoughtsEdit

"The Force ... You have to see how it would be intriguing to a scientist. Something that cannot be seen, cannot be measured. And it can only be felt by a select few. Here I am with someone who can feel it and use it. I saw it happen just a short while ago. Can you explain how it works to me? Can you tell me anything at all?"
―"Tic Verdun" (alias of Force Blank Granta Omega) to Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker.[src]

Meanwhile, as Kenobi and Antana set out to make a preemptive nighttime strike against the unsuspecting Haariden patrols camped at the edge of the besieged village, "Tic Verdun" approached Skywalker, who was guarding Thel-Tanis, to satisfy the curiosity of a "scientist" about the nature of the Force (for Omega was a Force Blank, not a Force-sensitive). Anakin was grateful that the Force "sustained" him, but at the same time, it seemed so vast, complex, and unfathomably deep that it "frustrated" him and he often felt "lonely." Picking up on the boy's thought, Verdun observed, almost as if he understood more than he should: "And you will never truly understand it ... yet you will spend your life trying. And sometimes you ask yourself, is it worth it? Is it foolish of you to devote yourself to trying to know the unknowable?" To which Anakin countered, repeating a Jedi saying: "Wisdom is not what we seek ... Wisdom can only be found." Verdun smiled: "We are lucky to have you with us."[1] Seeming to Anakin both younger and somehow wiser than he'd at first thought, "Tic" had made him feel better, something which the boy hadn't thought anyone was capable of doing. (Anakin, rather downcast, had felt responsible for Darra's injury because of his own overconfidence and lack of trust in the ability of others to protect themselves; and because of the strike that injured her, Darra had also lost her lightsaber, for which Skywalker also felt responsible.)

Peace talksEdit

"My soldiers are exhausted ... I took the credits from Granta in order to feed and clothe them. I did not want to fight the Jedi. I do not want to fight at all, actually ... My lungs are full of smoke and ashes."
―Captain Noq Welflet, commander of troops in Haariden's civil war, to Jedi Masters Kenobi and Antana.[src]

Having been able to avoid bloodshed while disarming the Haariden troops, Kenobi and Antana learned that they'd been paid by "an outlander" to split off from their main unit to attack the Jedi. They then asked the patrols what this wealthy stranger looked like. But, strangely, the troops could not recall his aspect, were oddly unable to remember anything whatsoever about his appearance—which was, Kenobi realized, one of the tell-tale marks of a Force Blank. Even so, the troop captain, Noq Welflet, did know the outlander's name, and gave it freely: Granta Omega. Kenobi, feeling a shiver, had already suspected as much, but he could not understand why Omega continued to hunt him and his Padawan. He knew unequivocally that Omega was not a Sith nor a Force-sensitive being. Omega, did, however, enjoy collecting Sith artifacts and somehow knew how to expertly cloak his presence in the Force. To have such a capability, and to become so neutral in the Living Force as to fade from the memory of the people who met him, was testament to Omega's power. That he was cunning and viewed the Jedi as despicable was abundantly clear, though exactly why was anybody's guess.

Taking leave of the soldiers, who were weary of warfare but who nevertheless would return to their unit, the Jedi backtracked to the village, regrouped with their Padawans and scientists, then trekked safely to their transport, where all boarded with weary relief. Were it not for Darra and the scientists, Kenobi would have stayed on Haariden with Skywalker to hunt Omega down—for twice attempting to murder Jedi—and bring him to justice. But, once again, justice would have to be postponed.  

Coruscant conundrumsEdit

FerusVsAnakin

Anakin duels Ferus Olin

"That was your last lesson ... Before this, I had been impressed with your gifts," Soara said. "I had thought you had the potential to be one of the great Jedi fighters of all time. I thought I could teach you. Now I have grave doubts about you, Anakin."
Anakin could not believe what he was hearing. "What did I do wrong?"
"That question is the problem ... That is what is wrong. You don't know what you did. Didn't you feel your anger, Anakin? Didn't you realize it was fueling the battle? ... Ferus did not fight from his emotion ... That is the lesson you must learn ... It is the most important one of all ...
You will feel the emotion. You must let it go."
―Master Jedi lightsaber artist Soara Antana counsels Padawan Anakin Skywalker.[src]

Arriving back on Coruscant, Kenobi was yet determined to get to the bottom of the Omega mystery. With the help of Temple archivist Jocasta Nu, he discovered that Omega's business interests, like his homes, extended across the galaxy; he had many acquaintances but no friends. The man hid behind a blank wall that he himself created—virtually invisible. As a speciality, he ferreted out rare minerals, bought out their sources, created shortages, and raised their price: he kept his enormous wealth diversified and hidden in countless secret accounts. Yet with all this, Omega remained an enigma, and it would be extremely difficult to track him down.  

Meanwhile, at the suggestion of Master Yoda, Anakin underwent individualized lightsaber training with Soara Antana, a master of the art; Soara was a tough teacher whose stern, unadorned instruction Anakin grew to appreciate. She sought to help him deflate his own exalted ego, for it made him weak, endangering others. Through Antana's intense routines and matchless direction, Anakin reached a point where he felt for the first time that he'd glimpsed a future in which his connection to the Force and his lightsaber skills would be so meshed that, one day, he would truly be the best he could be. But in the final test Soara presented him, Anakin failed. In a surprise attack in the Room of a Thousand Fountains after a long, intense day of training, as Anakin was retiring at last to have a meal, she pitted him against his nemesis at the Temple, Padawan Ferus Olin, and the duel was fueled by Skywalker's anger. Though Anakin won the fight and technically had never fought so well, Antana advised him that, ultimately, he had lost, for he had not learned the most important lesson of all: to conquer his emotion by letting it go.

Temple revelationsEdit

"There was another scientist on Haariden who was also conducting experiments. If we could talk to him, maybe he had found out more. But nobody can seem to locate him."
"Another scientist? Who?" Anakin asked.
"Granta Omega," Tic Verdun said. "We ran into him on Haariden."
"You mean you know him?" Anakin asked, amazed.
Tic nodded. "Not well. But I've met him several times." He noted the interest on Anakin's face. "Why do you ask?"
"Because we're looking for him," Anakin said. "The Jedi would like to talk to him, too."
"Popular fellow...
"
―Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker at the Senate fountain with "Tic Verdun" (alias of Force Blank Granta Omega).[src]

In his further research on Omega, Kenobi discovered what should have been obvious from the start: that Omega could not have been specifically hunting Kenobi and his apprentice on Haariden. In fact, he was already on the planet, absorbed in something else, could not have known the Jedi were there, nor had time enough to plan for his attack. Omega's preoccupation at that time had been with the mineral titanite, about which it was only recently discovered that, in its synthesized form, a substance could be extracted from it that was a key component in bacta. Moreover, one of Omega's vast land holdings was on the planet Thyferra (the only place the alazhi plant grew, to produce alazhi lotion—bacta's main ingredient), thereby opening up the way for Omega to corner the galactic market on bacta. Indeed, one of the Republic scientific expedition's aims was to map the mineral to get a complete picture of where the titanite deposits were, in order to persuade the planet's two warring sides to come to an agreement.

But Omega was a native of Nierport Seven (a small moon orbiting Eeropha in the Colonies, less than a day's travel from Coruscant) and a star student, whose own scientific training had been superb: graduating in 33 BBY from the All Science Research Academy on Yerphonia, to launch straightaway into his planned ventures, he never had made it a practice of employing many people. Neither did he himself anymore require a scientific team, nor did he wish for the Republic's science team to submit its report to the Senate (that report would stay unfinished and inconclusive as long as the fighting on Haariden continued, and so prevented the scientists from completing their tests).    

Skywalker, on his way back to the Temple from an intensive early-morning training session with Antana, noticed a man dressed in deep blue veda cloth sitting on the edge of the Senate fountain. The man waved to him, and Anakin was astonished to realize that it was Tic Verdun, one of the scientists from Haariden. But he looked completely different from the weary and disheveled scientist that he'd remembered. Greeting Anakin warmly, Tic expressed his regret at Haariden's warring tribes that might have been placated, perchance, had his expedition team been able to finish their tests and report to the Senate—for then the titanite deposits, in knowing their true extent and where they lay, might have been equitably divided among both groups, to the satisfaction of all. Tic then informed Skywalker of "another scientist" he'd run into, who was performing his own tests on the planet. If they could contact him, Tic explained, they might yet find a way to resolve the crisis: his name was Granta Omega.    

Surprised that Verdun knew of Omega, Anakin disclosed that the Jedi desired to contact him as well. Tic offered to pursue any lead he might find at a small Coruscant reunion he was attending with friends and science and business associates, and then let Anakin know of his findings by inviting him to meet with them also. The boy, as he bid Tic farewell and continued to the Temple, remained enthusiastic: he wouldn't, while he conducted research of his own, tell his Master yet, for wouldn't it be amazing if he were the one to find Omega?    

Moonscape inquiriesEdit

"I know you because I grew up like you. I wasn't a slave, but I might well have been. My mother worked at things she should not have, harder than she should have, longer than she should have—just for me ... My mother worked herself to death for me."
―Force Blank Granta Omega to Anakin Skywalker.[src]

Arriving alone on the cold, desolate satellite of Omega's youth, Obi-Wan Kenobi began his investigation in earnest. Entering the "Food and Drink" café, situated like the rest of the settlement around its refueling station, Kenobi treated the patrons he approached with a round of their native Claing juice. While he found many who had known Granta Omega as a youth, none knew very much about him. Nor had any ever seen a Jedi Knight on their moon. Even so, Kenobi learned that a young Omega, to attend school, had left Nierport—had left also his mother Tura, who worked at the refueling station and died shortly thereafter. He never returned throughout his growth and training years, not even for his mother's funeral.

One of the café patrons offered to show Obi-Wan the small, rounded-wall house where Omega had lived. It was now the property of a space pilot. From the bleak, single-room structure with only a stove and a bedroll there was nothing to detect or learn—just like Omega himself, a blank. But the patrons did disclose that it was the boy's own brilliance that got him offworld, certainly not by the financial means of his mother, for she had no means, although she did find him a Eeropha sponsor—the Senator Sano Sauro, who sent Omega to "the scientific institute". At the hearing of that name Kenobi, unsurprisingly, felt a chill, for Sauro was the ambitious prosecutor who had grilled him mercilessly a decade earlier in the man's investigation of Padawan Bruck Chun's death.[3] Though at peace now about the tragic incident, Kenobi wasn't looking forward to meeting Sauro again.

Handing the café patron a few credits for his willing service, Obi-Wan departed the frozen wasteland: he could understand a boy wanting to leave it, how poverty might mark him. But he still didn't know why Omega wished to harm the Jedi. But if he could solve that mystery, he was sure he'd find the man.

A Senatorial spurningEdit

"Obi-Wan Kenobi," [Sano Sauro] said through tight lips. "Don't tell me you've killed another Padawan."
"I come on another matter and would welcome your help ... I am trying to locate a protégé of yours called Granta Omega," Obi-Wan said ... "Do you still know him?"
"He is a personal friend," Sano Sauro said.
"Can you tell me how I could contact him?"
"Why would I give you any information? ... Because you ask?" Sauro said, folding his hands in front of him. "Because you are a Jedi? ... How interesting it must be to be a Jedi ... You can bully and threaten and yet hide behind your robes and your talk of justice and the Force. Very convenient ... I am refusing to answer because I do not help the Jedi. It is as simple as that. The Senate in its collective delusion thinks we need you. I do not.
"
―Sano Sauro spurns Obi-Wan Kenobi in his request for information about Granta Omega.[src]

Kenobi, upon returning to Coruscant, went directly to the Galactic Senate building to meet with Senator Sauro, a man who had once attacked the Jedi and mocked the Force, whose icy, sneering, and belittling temperament had unnerved him as a young Padawan.[3] But Kenobi was a Master Jedi Knight now, not easily intimidated—a disciplined composure that now proved quite useful, for he found that Sauro had not changed at all: he still loathed the Jedi and, unlike his fellow Senators, utterly refused to help them.

But what he was able to learn from Sauro's assistant on his way out of his office was that the Senator had headed the committee that oversaw Haariden's mapping expedition. Racing to the Senate archives, Obi-Wan scanned the laborious minutes of the Senatorial committee meetings that had finalized the expedition's details, including its long-debated funding, but also the names and qualifications of the appointed team of scientists. Kenobi discovered that the final name, Tick Verdun, had been added at the last minute at the suggestion of Senator Sauro himself. Kenobi remembered that "Verdun" had been the group's scout, able to break away from the rest of the scientists for hours at a time; moreover, as the Senate records revealed, he had graduated from the same scientific institute in the same year as Granta Omega.

Returning again to the Temple, Obi-Wan received confirmation from Jocasta Nu of what was already clear to him: the scientist and the Force Blank were one and the same. Indeed, the only bit of information that the Temple archivist could find was that "Tic Verdun" recently served on a Senatorial expedition to Haariden; the name was clearly an alias. Seeking out his Padawan to tell him the news, he learned from Master Antana that Anakin had left that morning after their last training session together for an appointment with one of the scientists they'd protected on Haariden: Tic Verdun.

False friendsEdit

"Don't worry, we didn't poison you," Tic said. "It's because we have respect for the Jedi that we did this. We know it's the only way to slow you down."
―"Tic Verdun" (alias of Force Blank Granta Omega) to a drugged Anakin Skywalker.[src]

Skywalker, in his meeting with Verdun and his friends, learned many clues that he felt would allow him to piece together the Granta Omega puzzle and surprise his Master. Most informative was the detailed account of Omega given him by a young scientist named Mellora Falon (only a couple of years older than Anakin), who had just graduated from an elite scientific institution. She'd met Omega on an expedition to the planet Uriek. Beyond his weakness for pastries, especially sweesonberry rolls, and his ability to cite the Core Worlds' best pastry makers, Omega's favorite seaside vacation house, Anakin learned, was surrounded by sweesonberry bushes. Sipping Mellora's superbly brewed tea, Anakin suddenly was aware of a disturbance in the Force, which he realized had been there for some time. But among friends, he wondered. He must be confused: for after Saora's reprimand that morning, he was now questioning his connection to the Force and doubting many other Jedi sensitivities and abilities he'd thought he was beginning to master. His mind began to cloud, his vision blurred, and he struggled to stay awake as a grogginess overtook him. Tic Verdun was suddenly standing above him, telling Anakin that all they'd just revealed to him about Omega had been a lie—including, moreover, any information they'd disclosed about Tic's friends, who now confessed themselves to be "simply a group of ordinary beings interested in the extraordinary. We have a common interest in the Force." In fact, Falon and Verdun were the only true scientists there.[1]

To Anakin all of them collectively appeared to be, no matter their feigned or affected friendliness, a Sith cult—which was only confirmed when Mellora withdrew from her white robes a Sith artifact: a small pyramidal cube. She told Anakin that Omega had given it to her, and Skywalker then knew it to be the source of the disturbance he'd felt. Nausea rose in his throat, and he realized how incredibly foolish and naïve he'd been—he wasn't in fact tired, he was drugged. They reassured him, notwithstanding, that they had no wish to harm him, only to study him. But why Tick Verdun, a respected scientist, Anakin wondered. But then he realized that he really didn't know a thing about Verdun, except that he'd liked him, that his courage and warmth and intellect and understanding had been appealing to him. And now he knew why: he'd been utterly deceived and was at that moment in the presence of Granta Omega himself.

ReclamationsEdit

"You're different because you didn't grow up in that Temple. You know how power works because you were ground down beneath it. You know how the powerless have only their dignity to comfort them, and how, some days, that is not enough. Not nearly enough."
[Anakin thought of] Shmi. He had left her with nothing but her dignity.
"
―Force Blank Granta Omega to Anakin Skywalker.[src]

Omega proceeded to carry on what amounted to a one-sided conversation, really, with the intriguing Jedi Padawan he'd managed to drug and capture, about what he perceived to be the right uses and true value of the Force. But it wasn't long before the Force itself surged anew through Anakin's almost comatose body, for he'd glimpsed in Mellora's hand Darra's lightsaber, which she'd lost when she was wounded back on Haariden—and which Anakin had vowed he would recover for her. Activating now his own lightsaber as he leaped to his feet, he called upon the Force to quickly disarm the foolish girl who'd audaciously challenged him. And while he fended off admirably the efforts of his room of attackers, he could feel his body weakening again and knew he wouldn't be able to hold out much longer before darkness overcame him.

But then, suddenly, a blue blur appeared through the door as it peeled back metal: Anakin's Master had arrived to rescue him. In the midst of Obi-Wan's deflection of the group's blaster fire, however, Omega released, from a hidden console, five seeker-droids, ordering his fellow cultists to escape through a window. Both Falon and Omega (who had reclaimed Darra's lightsaber) then headed back to Haariden, where Omega continued his titanite tests, global resource mapping, and setting in motion the ambitious plans that he'd forecast for the lucrative mineral.

Returning Anakin to the Temple for medical treatment, Kenobi next stood before the Jedi High Council to inform them of all that had transpired and what he'd learned. Holding forth a portable scanner that he had retrieved from Omega's quarters, he advised the Council of an imminent, massive eruption of Haariden's active volcano, Kaachtari—which would change the planet's coastline, spew out with the lava the titanite that had been hidden in its core, and cause a giant tidal wave to cover its land mass. Omega, by using his underwater scanners, planned to mine the titanite from the sea and thereby control the bacta market for the entire galaxy. He had to be stopped, Kenobi asserted, for he harbored no doubt that Omega could and would succeed at this, and millions would suffer for it.

Obi-Wan further disclosed to the Council that, when Omega was detaining Anakin, he had confessed to him his wish to gain even greater power and wealth than he already possessed in order to attract the attention of the hidden Sith Lord. This was part of the reason that Omega continued to attack the Jedi—to draw the attention of the Sith to his sphere of activity in a bid for power. Only by bringing Omega back to Coruscant for questioning by the Senate might the Jedi thwart his plans. High Council member Mace Windu, however, invited pause in the discussion, suggesting that perhaps the Council might permit said attraction to come to fruition, that they then might be able to themselves track the Sith Lord, to flush him out of hiding before he was ready: for untold "More millions suffer in our visions of the future," Windu countered. "We see much pain." While the High Council room then erupted in a flurry of private discussions among its members, it was the quiet, measured voice of Council member Yaddle that brought balance to the debate and confirmed for the Council the right course of action: "Suffering we cannot allow in order to prevent what we fear. Stop it we must when we can."[1]

Thus did the Jedi High Council give their approval for Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Padawan to continue with their pursuit of Granta Omega, under justification of both his Senatorial deception and his criminal attempts on two occasions to harm the Jedi (having once hired bounty hunters to do so[2]). The pursuit would need to be immediate, for it now was also a race against the eruption of a volcano. The Jedi duo were off to Haariden by sunrise.

Volcanic endsEdit

"The Force is not a truth-detector. We can rely on it, but we can't expect it to save us. We must save ourselves. We must use our own intuition, our own intelligence ... [As to] Omega's true character ... I have seen enough to know that evil can wear a charming face, my young Padawan. Charisma is not a virtue. It's a trait. It is not good or bad. Evil people can possess it. They often do and it is what makes them dangerous..."
"When I think of evil, I see that Sith Lord's face. I do not see Granta Omega's."
"Evil has many faces...
"
―Master Kenobi and Padawan Skywalker.[src]
As Kenobi and Skywalker traveled back to Haariden in a Galan starfighter, Anakin tried to come to terms with Granta Omega's evil, which had not announced itself with the loud clanging of an iron fist, but rather it had come cloaked in a highly attractive, seductive charm—it disturbed the young man that he'd felt a real connection with "Tic Verdun," a genuine kinship and friendship and understanding that made Anakin feel "less alone." The boy struggled to reconcile his feelings about Omega with the knowledge that he was now tracking down a man whose one desire was "to worship at the heart of evil"—the same evil that had murdered Qui-Gon Jinn: the one being who had saved Anakin from a life of slavery. As their ship traveled through hyperspace, Obi-Wan took a quiet moment to help his sensitive, open-hearted Padawan begin to understand that charisma, which might strike one as being an appealing and a virtuous thing, could, in fact, be one of evil's "many faces." As they came out of hyperspace near the planet, Anakin at last felt ready to again face their old nemesis.[1]

But as they entered Haariden's atmosphere, about an hour before the predicted time of the volcanic eruption, Skywalker again felt the foreboding darkness that seemed to rise up from the planet. It was a world that had been laid to waste by war; and destruction and death, Anakin remembered, had been everywhere apparent. They landed their craft in the foothills, near an outcropping of trees, a good distance from the eruption zone. Traveling on swoop bikes, they sped toward the distant mountains, one of which rose high above the rest—thrust seemingly from the planet's core—its snow-capped peak lost in the clouds: Kaachtari.

As they sped over the war-pocked terrain, columns of hot steam rose from great fizzures in the rumbling ground, and as they ascended to the higher altitudes, scalding geysers shot up, one of which Anakin narrowly missed; the situation was palpably perilous. Soon they spotted what appeared to be a line of soldiers descending the mountain, but it occurred to Kenobi that all should have heeded by now the evacuation order. They swooped swiftly down to give them warning, and saw that it was Captain Welflet leading his troops. Kenobi told Welflet about Omega's treachery in giving him and his troops payment in weapons for land that would be useless to them once the lava and waves of the sea covered it; enraged that the Jedi's truth of Omega's lust for titanite countered Omega's land-use need that he'd expressed to them (his need to create a "fish farm"), the captain awarded the Jedi with Omega's current coordinates: along with Falon, and dressed in white thermal gear, he was still conducting his mysterious tests high above them on a snowy ridge.

The groundquakes were intensifying; they had no time to lose. Racing for the ridge, they spotted Omega packing up his gear, just as he looked up and spotted them. Dashing with Falon to their SoruSuub at the foot of the volcano, they managed to activate the landing ramp as they flew inside. In hot pursuit, Obi-Wan and Anakin angled their swoops and also slid inside, just as the ramp door closed. But they immediately discovered that the pair had flown back out the cargo door as they'd flown in through the landing portal, and that Omega had placed all doors and engines in lockdown. The cockpit controls were non-functional.

As the Master-Padawan team stood utterly helpless before the ship's windscreen, they watched the ominous scene unfold before them. A huge groundquake rocked the ship as the once mighty peak suddenly disintegrated before their view, and a massive landslide of rock and dirt and burning lava came barreling down the steep mountainside at frightening speed. Attempting frantically to cut the ship's durasteel away with their lightsabers, they found the walls of the hull were unnaturally thick. Within moments, the molten avalache smashed violently against the ship, throwing the Jedi across the cockpit and slamming them into its walls, as it jostled them in its flow towards the sea and a great opposing wave. Suddenly Kenobi was hit with a flash of insight—they were riding a ship within a ship. That's why the walls were so thick (he'd thought of Omega's boyhood home on Nierport, with walls thicker than other houses, but not so thick that they didn't blend in). In moments they'd felt their way to a patch of thin durasteel and peeled it away to discover another cockpit—the real cockpit, with fully functional controls. Strapping in, Anakin gunned the engines and they'd soon shot through the hot lava and pummeling rock into the clear sky above.

Guessing that Omega and Falon would be watching from a safe distance on the coastline, but out of the wave's range, they entered the estimated coordinates. Glancing down, they saw commander Welflet and company trapped on the plain below with the volcanic landslide rumbling towards them. Anakin shot downward through the raining lava in a futile attempt to rescue, when the soldiers were suddenly swept away to their deaths. "I wish I hadn't seen that," the shaken Padawan muttered. Looking up from a moment of respectful silence, his Master responded, "Such is the life of a Jedi."[1]

ConclusionEdit

"There is one Sith still alive ... I'm not Force-sensitive. I can never be a Sith. I have found something at last that I cannot buy. But I can be close to that power. I can sit at his side, as I am sitting by your side."
―Force Blank Granta Omega to Anakin Skywalker.[src]
The ship's power cells hit, Kenobi and Skywalker were forced to quickly land on a patch of smooth sand near the seacoast. The duo slid out with their swoops into an atmosphere thick with ash and the strong smell of burning metals and molten rock from the planet's core. Piloting their swoops away from the ship, they soon approached a high plateau overlooking the sea. Omega had seen them coming: lifting to his shoulder a missile launcher, he released projectile after projectile towards a single target—Obi-Wan Kenobi. Anakin shot past the oncoming missiles to confront Omega on the ground. That's when Omega voiced to Anakin his long-held belief that to be personally responsible for the death of a Jedi Master would truly help him to make his mark with the hidden Sith Lord and capture his attention. In the same breath, he declared to the boy his conviction that Anakin Skywalker would one day make a great Jedi Knight—but that he would be even greater if he listened to Omega.

Anakin then boldly stepped forward and declared to Omega that he and his Master requested his return to Coruscant with them for questioning by the authorities. Omega declined graciously the "kind invitation," saying that, regrettably, he was busy. At that moment, Anakin shot out, feet first, to kick Omega's swoop over the edge of the plateau. As Omega's eyes went wide with shock and disbelief, he fumbled to withdraw a thermal detonator from his tunic as Mellora suddenly came from behind with her swoop. Omega tossed the detonator at Skywalker as he clumsily leaped aboard Falon's swoop, simultaneously releasing by remote control ten black seeker-droids to attack Kenobi, who was just finishing his evasive moves against Omega's final launched missile. The droids came at Kenobi "like a flock of deadly attack birds." Skywalker, meanwhile, had caught the detonator and tossed it as far as he could, its explosion sending shock waves through the air. He leaped to his swoop to now help his Master.

Together, Obi-Wan and Anakin battled the seeker-droids as they pursued the fleeing Granta and Mellora. Kenobi, whose swoop had been hit by shrapnel and was smoking from overheating, gracefully balanced on his seat and leaped aboard Anakin's swoop while still fending off attack droids. Far out at sea they could see the great wave approaching, as tall as a Coruscant skyscraper and coming at them at more than a hundred kilometers an hour. Omega and Falon were trapped between the Jedi and the wave. Kenobi verbally issued to Omega, once again, the summons of the Senate. When suddenly, Omega tore away from Falon the hovering swoop's controls and shot towards the oncoming wave, it's rumbling sound at once awesome and eerie. Skywalker followed in pursuit, but doubted that any of them would clear the wave.

Suddenly Anakin saw Mellora fall—pushed by Omega's foot after she'd attempted desperately to draw Darra's lightsaber to force a surrender. Skywalker swooped down to catch both her and the lightsaber: if he made it through this, his friend's weapon would be at last reclaimed. Obi-Wan caught Mellora as Anakin snatched the saber from the air. As the water curled majestically, fearsomely now over their heads, Anakin took a deep breath and plunged into the top of the wave. Calling upon the Force, he willed the swoop engine to obey him. It broke through the water into the air, the lot of them coughing seawater and gasping, in relief and surprise, while in the distance they could see the speck that was Omega. The Jedi had lost him again. But Falon knew where they could find him—for it was the place to which Omega had always retreated after failure or loss. Before she'd said a word, Kenobi guessed it: Nierport Seven.

AftermathEdit

"Back on Haariden, [when] you said the Force frustrates you ... I thought, this Jedi is different. He recognizes not only what power is, but what it isn't. What it can be. Power is ... protection. It is what stands between you and losing what you have. I'm not talking about material things, either. I'm talking about ... everything ... Why should you give that up because you are a Jedi? The Force can bring you all the power you need. Yet the Jedi tell you that you must have nothing."
―Force Blank Granta Omega to 15-year-old Anakin Skywalker.[src]
Obi-Wan had high hopes that they would catch Granta Omega—for they were so close behind him. Leaving Falon with the authorities on Haariden until the Senate could send a ship for her seemed good, but it was obvious she was prepared to lie her way free. Haariden, at least, enjoyed temporary peace, for hostilities had ceased with the eruption.

Arriving at Nierport Seven at dusk, they went immediately to Omega's boyhood hut, but found it empty: the stove and even the bedroll were gone. They suspected Omega knew that Mellora would tell the Jedi what she knew. But during the flight Kenobi had considered Omega's thick-walled ship and how its inspiration had clearly been this satellite home: Obi-Wan recalled his first visit here and how he'd thought the exterior proportions to be slightly off from what could be seen inside. Feeling along the walls now, as he'd done in the ship, he located an area of thinness in the stone and cut through, to find it bound to durasteel walls—a hidden room within the walls. Climbing through the hole, he and his Padawan found the space was filled with datascreens.

They thought they now had him, that all his secrets were at last theirs. The holofiles they accessed were coded, but Kenobi was sure that the Jedi could crack them once they returned to the Temple. It was all there: Omega's companies, aliases, text docs, homes, bases of operations, perhaps a fleet of starships in the Outer Rim. But as they read the files ... they suddenly, horrifically disappeared into fragments of light and particles: Omega had initiated a data wipe from wherever he was. And now, it was as if Omega had never existed, had no past, and was truly a void—as a result, he'd become more dangerous than ever, for he now had nothing to lose.

But what troubled Obi-Wan the most was how Anakin reacted to what suddenly had become an anti-closure of events. The emotion that flit across his Padawan's face did not escape him—both confusion and wonderment were there. Granta Omega had tapped into something that Kenobi could only guess at. Perhaps it was everything that the two seemed to share: similar origins, desolate childhood haunts, abandonment of their pasts, mothers who sacrificed all. But, more probably, it was simply this: Anakin had seen evil coupled with charisma for the first time and was struggling to understand it. It wasn't the cleverness of Granta Omega, nor his desire to impress a Sith Lord, but the strange pull he had for his Padawan that worried Obi-Wan Kenobi. And it was this that made Omega perhaps "the most dangerous enemy they would ever have to face."[1]

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

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