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Josh Hayes

It was not long before he was able to detect the presence of a foreign substance in the stomach. Though it had spread to most other parts of the queen’s body, the concentration was such that eliminating the poison in the stomach would trigger a chain reaction that would cleanse and purify the rest of the queen’s internal organs.

"Please stay calm, my friend… this is going to feel very strange for you," Malik whispered to the spider.

Malik focused and targeted the molecular structure of the foreign substance, determining that it had mixed somewhat with the spider’s blood. Rather than be discouraged by this revelation, he decided to use it to their advantage. Bit by bit, he was able to alter the foreign substance’s makeup to make it more and more like the spider’s blood. It took almost an hour of intense use of the Force, but Malik finally managed to eliminate enough of the toxin’s strength that the queen’s natural bodily fluids overtook it, purging the poison from her once and for all. With a heavy sigh, he backed away and gazed at his patient.

"How is she, Serra?"

"Doing very well," she replied with a grin. "She’s growing stronger with every passing second. You’ll be ok now… you all will."

Serra released the queen from her trance and joined her husband, waiting for some acknowledgement from the spider. The creature appeared dazed for a few moments, but soon regained awareness and focused her gaze on the two humans. Hearing a strange sound, the pair turned to see the rest of the colony gathering behind them, blocking their way. Serra was apprehensive at first, but the queen soon gave a commanding hiss, causing the colony to part for the humans.


"Well done, my friends," Bendu said as the couple exited the tunnel.

"Thanks to you," Serra replied. "If you hadn’t taken away our lightsabers, we’d have missed the entire point of that journey."

"My methods may seem strange, but they are never without purpose."

"Bendu, what about the spiders’ water source? We can’t leave until we’ve cleaned it up," Malik said.

"Fear not, for I have long since purified their watering hole. This was quite a simple task for me, but I was unable to help the queen at all. As you can see, I am far too large to enter their home, and she was too weak to even be carried out to see me. But I knew your arrival to be the will of the Force. A pair of Jedi in love and as in tune with the Force as you would surely be able to save those poor creatures. Now then, what did you learn in there, Serra?"

"I… connected with them. I’ve never been strong with the Living Force, always had trouble befriending animals, but in there… it was easier than it’s ever been before."

"And why was that?" Bendu asked with a smile.

"Because… I love Malik. I’d do anything to save him, and in those moments, my difficulties with the Living Force hardly crossed my mind. It was what I had to do to reach my husband."

"Yes… because you embraced love, believing it to be the will of the Force, you became a stronger Jedi than you ever would have otherwise. The stubborn teachings of the old Jedi Order would not have brought you to this level; only your love for Malik did this. Such as it is with the path of the Bendu. Now tell me, what do you know of the middle way?"

"Only a little," Malik replied. "We’ve begun researching the Gray Jedi and their belief system. Much of it makes sense, but some parts seem to be at complete odds with the goal of peace and justice in the galaxy."

"Such as?"

"There were several lines in the Gray Jedi creed that worried me," Serra chimed in. "It talked about there being no good without evil. Is that to mean that evil can never be defeated?"

"Unfortunately, yes. Evil is not a tangible being; it is a state of mind. As long as there are hearts and minds susceptible to it, there will be evil. The only way to eradicate it would be to alter said hearts and minds."

"Which would amount to the removal of free will, something we Jedi have fought against for millennia," Malik finished.

"Indeed. As long as sentient beings have the power to choose their own path in life, some will choose good and some will choose evil. But in the interest of the middle way, this is still better than the alternative," Bendu said.

"There was another part of the creed that caught my attention, about maintaining the balance between good and evil and being a soldier of balance. That doesn’t sit right with me, because it implies that a certain amount of evil must be done to ensure that the balance is maintained. Am I interpreting this correctly?" Malik asked.

"Hmm… I suppose some could interpret it in that way. However, I prefer to think of it as a statement of acceptance, rather than a goal. By the wording you just used, there is nothing to suggest that a Gray Jedi does not align himself with good, but he does accept the fact that evil cannot be eradicated, only kept in check. Thus, as a soldier of balance, maintaining the balance would mean working to keep evil in check so that it does not overrun good," Bendu replied.

"Does that explain why Gray Jedi draw upon the powers of the Dark Side without being consumed by it?" Serra wondered.

"Indeed. While the Jedi use the terms ‘Light Side’ and ‘Dark Side’ as synonymous with good and evil, the truth is far different. Devotion to the Ashla does not in itself make one good, and drawing on the Bogan does not make one evil. The Ashla and the Bogan are differing philosophies in the Force, whereas good and evil are dependent upon our actions and choices."

"Like Malik using Force Lightning to save lives," Serra replied, beaming at her husband.

"Precisely," Bendu agreed. "As you journey forward in your lives together, I would advise you to focus not on the Jedi philosophy you are so familiar with, but on doing good and keeping evil at bay. Help people. Disrupt the Empire, if you can. You may find many situations in which the ends justify the means. Of course, sometimes the ends cannot justify the means. You must decide for yourselves if seemingly dark actions will serve the greater good. The answers may not always be clear, but trust in yourselves and each other. If you do this, my friends, there is no limit to the good you can do in this galaxy."

With that, Bendu curled his body up and began to sink back into the sand. His boulder-like hide was now the only part of him that remained visible. Soon, all was quiet, and Malik and Serra were once again alone.

"Wow… lot to think about, huh?" Serra remarked.

"Yeah… I know what he means about the ends justifying the means. Still, I don’t think we should strive to edge too close to the Dark Side unless absolutely necessary. We’re better than that."

"I agree. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a situation with a horrible ethical choice arises at some point. We need to be prepared for that eventuality. If we have to act decisively-"

"Then we will," Malik said with conviction.


The pair arrived back in the rocky clearing to find their ship undisturbed, all quiet in the area. As they approached, the main entrance ramp opened, and Rex stepped out towards them.

"Oh, it’s you!"

"Everything ok, Rex?" Malik asked.

"Oh sure… aside from the gigantic spiders that came by while you were gone!"

"What happened? Did they hurt you?" Serra asked with concern.

"Nah, I managed to get back inside and seal the ship up. Still, I had the weapons powered up and ready to go, but right when I thought they were gonna attack, they stopped, turned around and left altogether. I dunno… it’s like they were called off or something."

"Huh… never can guess how wild animals will act," Malik said with a knowing grin. "Anyway, I’m famished. How ‘bout some food?"

"Sounds good to me," Rex agreed.

The trio made their way inside, and the Jedi were surprised to find the food already waiting for them at the table.

"What’s this?" Serra asked as they sat.

"Ah, it’s the least I can do after you saved my ass before," Rex chuckled.

"Anytime, Rex," Malik replied, digging into his rations.

"Oh, forgot to mention this. While you were gone, I managed to intercept a transmission, encrypted of course. I’ve been working to try and decode it, but haven’t had any luck. It’s got some security protocol I’ve never seen before."

"Hmm… what sort of protocol?" Malik asked.

"I don’t really know how to describe it… where there would usually be a password input screen, there was just a bunch of floating triangles. They looked to be moving at random, but there might be some sort of pattern I haven’t noticed. What do you think?"

"No way… I’ve seen exactly what you’re describing!" Serra realized.

"Where?" Malik asked.

"That security protocol was developed by Anakin Skywalker himself. He designed it so that only a trained Force-user could access the files it protected. It was never widely used by the Jedi Order, but several individuals have used it, so it’s plausible that this transmission could be from a Jedi."

"Think you can decode it?"

"Gimmie a crack at it!" Serra said with a grin.

Their meal now finished, the group made their way back to the cockpit and got to work on the transmission. Serra pulled it up on screen, discovering that it was just as she remembered Anakin’s security checks being. As she reached into the computer with the Force, the floating triangles began to become less random in their movements. She worked them for several minutes, until she had finally pieced them together into a rough image of the Jedi Temple. With that, the image disappeared and a holographic message began to power up.

"See? Nothin’ to it!" she said with pride.

"Nice!" Malik replied. "Ok, there’s a message in here. Let’s see…"

"To any Jedi that receive this message, this is Topal Blut, Jedi Knight and the last survivor of the Jedi Temple guards. I am being hunted by… something. Please, if any are still alive, I need your help. The attack on our home was awful, but I know there are still some of my brothers and sisters alive. I am hiding in the deepest floors of the Jedi Temple. Hurry."

Malik rubbed his chin as the image of the Pau’an Jedi began to fade, pondering his message.

"Hmm… I’m having trouble thinking in here. Conference room," he said.

The group adjourned to the meeting area down the hall from the cockpit, sitting around the circular table.

"Ok, will you play that message again?"

Serra activated the message once more, playing it in its entirety. As it ended, she stared at her husband for several long seconds.

"What are you thinking, Malik?"

"I’m not sure…"

"Malik, I know he’s your brother, but going back to Coruscant would be nothing short of suicide," Rex stated. "We wouldn’t survive the landing, I’d wager."

"But Rex, we can’t just leave him to die!" Serra protested. "In these dark times, we Jedi have to find a way to stick together."

"I’ve lost enough friends in this war, I don’t want to lose anyone else!" Rex fired back.

Serra’s brow furrowed in disgust. "I had no idea you were such a little-"

"That’s enough, Serra," Malik cut her off. "Fighting amongst ourselves isn’t going to get us anywhere, and especially if we delve into name-calling." He took a deep breath and continued, "I see your point, Rex. There’s no disguising the danger we’d be in if we do go back to Coruscant. But as Serra said, we Jedi have to stick together to survive the Empire. If Topal Blut is really in trouble, then we have a duty to render aid. Of course, there is a third possibility…"

"What do you mean?" Rex inquired.

"This message could be a trap in and of itself."

"Huh? A trap?" Rex replied in confusion.


"Serra, he’s going to find out sooner or later." Malik turned back to Rex. "There is something most people don’t know about the Empire, Rex. You’ve heard of Emperor Palpatine’s new right-hand man, Darth Vader, yes?"

"I have. He’s supposed to be as deadly as any Jedi."

"Well that’s because… he was a Jedi."

"What?! Who?!" Rex demanded.

Malik lowered his head, knowing the answer would break Rex’s heart.

"Anakin Skywalker."

Rex sat open-mouthed for several long seconds, trying to comprehend the revelation. This was beyond anything he had ever thought possible.

"It can’t be…"

"We saw him, Rex. We saw him go on a rampage through the Jedi Temple. He led the 501st in slaughtering all our friends, even the younglings!"

"I don’t believe you! The Anakin Skywalker I served with would NEVER do such things! He was a HERO!!!"

"Exactly," Serra whispered. "He was a hero…"

Rex’s face twisted in pain as he began to come to terms with this revelation. He put his face in his hands, a tear streaming down his face. Never had he imagined anything worse than his friend and commanding officer being killed, and yet it had indeed come to that. Pulling himself together, he once again stared at the two Jedi.

"Why… why would you lie to me about this?"

"I’m so sorry, Rex," Serra said. "Malik was about to tell you, but… I wanted to spare you the pain. It was foolish and shortsighted of me. Please forgive me."

With a heavy sigh, Rex replied, "I don’t blame you. I suppose this is the true price of war…"

"It only happened that way because Palpatine engineered it," Malik said. "He manipulated everyone from the beginning, even as far back as his days as a senator. This was his goal all along."

"So… Malik could be right. With the security protocol being linked to Skywalker, this could all be a trap," Rex surmised.

"Maybe…" Serra said with uncertainty.

"But it’s also possible it isn’t," Malik replied. "Yes, this was one of Skywalker’s programs, but it was used by other Jedi as well. If Topal Blut really is in trouble, then we should try and help. We’ll just need to be prepared in the event it is a trap. I vote we go."

"I agree," said Serra.

"You two are nuts…" muttered Rex.

"Rex, I understand your apprehension. The offer still stands; if you want no part of this, we’ll drop you off anywhere, no questions asked."

Rex snorted. "Are you kidding?! You two wouldn’t last ten seconds without me!"

The table erupted in laughter as the tension in the room began to subside, and Malik excused himself to the cockpit to plot their course to Coruscant.

"Rex, I’m sorry I almost called you a…"

"Don’t worry ‘bout it, Serra. I know you don’t think I’m a coward. I guess Order 66 has given me a new perspective on things, that’s all."

"It has for us all," she agreed. "We’ve just got to do the best we can."

"And pray our best is good enough…"


Malik returned to the conference room a short time later, having put the ship on autopilot. Finding the room empty, his eye was drawn to a small, handwritten note in front of his chair.

Come to bed, dear.

"Only one thing that can mean," he chuckled to himself.

He made his way back to their quarters, finding one of the most beautiful sights he had ever seen in his life waiting for him. The lights were dimmed low and a recording of soft, soothing music played from the wall panel. In the center of their bed was Serra, naked as the day she was born and lying sideways for him, her head propped up in her hand.

"Close the door," she whispered, and he complied without protest.

"Well, this is a bit of a surprise, not that I’m complaining. Anything in particular bring this on?" he asked.

Serra blushed a bit. "Um… I always get hot for you when you enter healer mode. It’s your true self. It drives me crazy… in all the best ways. Seeing you help that poor creature earlier, it’s a wonder I didn’t jump you right then and there."

"Huh, who knew?" Malik mused, hanging his jacket up.

"You’re incredible when you take charge like that. Nothing fazes you, not even the most serious injuries."

"Can’t afford to let anything faze me," he said as he stripped out of his shirt. "I hold an innocent life in my hands. That’s an enormous responsibility."

"Know another enormous responsibility of yours?"

"What’s that?"

"Satisfying your wife’s insatiable sexual appetite," she replied with a wicked grin.

Now nude, Malik crawled onto the bed, kneeling over his wife.

"Well, if she is in fact insatiable, I don’t know that I could ever complete that responsibility," he shot back.

"Only one way to find out."

With that, Serra grabbed Malik’s shoulders and pulled him on top of her. They kissed passionately in a tight embrace for what felt like years. Serra seemed to be particularly feisty tonight; on more than one occasion, she held Malik’s lower lip in her teeth to keep him from pulling back. After trying to slow things down unsuccessfully, Malik resigned himself to Serra’s whims. Soon, Serra grew tired of being pinned by her husband, much as she loved it, and flipped him onto his back so that she could straddle him. As they resumed their lip-lock, she got a decidedly naughty lock in her eye.

"Be right back," she whispered.

"Um, where are you OH!"

As Serra dove under the covers, she took Malik by complete surprise in her next actions. Though she was hidden, he could feel exactly what she was doing; the sensation of something flicking his cock was unmistakable. She was licking him. Before he could even think of protesting, another new sensation cropped up: pressure. Not unpleasant pressure, of course, but the suction now engulfing his member was driving him crazy. Up and down she worked his length, coating him in her saliva as he moaned in satisfaction. His reactions only seemed to embolden her further, as she redoubled her efforts, giggling every so often at the effect she was having on her husband. Soon, he could stand it no more: he had to see what she was doing to him. Malik threw back the sheets, revealing the lustful face of his wife with her lips around his cock.

"Enjoying yourself?" she asked, releasing him for a moment.

"I’m pretty sure… you know the answer to that," he sputtered.

A few more seconds of sucking, and Serra could tell that Malik was nearing completion. She propped herself up on her elbows, positioning her incredible tits in front of his cock, and began to stroke him with her hand.

"I know how much you love my breasts, Malik," she purred. "Know what I think you should do? You should cum on them. Come on, give me your cum… I need it… all of it…"

Malik could hardly believe the words coming out of his wife’s mouth; it was like she was possessed. Still, she had absolute control over him in those moments, and she knew it all too well. He couldn’t have resisted her request if he had wanted to. Faster and faster she stroked him, and the familiar sensation began to well up in the pit of his stomach. Malik gripped the sheets in an attempt to prolong his climax for as long as he could, but he was soon erupting into orgasm, spraying his seed onto Serra’s breasts. She grinned as she continued to pump him, milking every last drop from his shaft. After pausing for a few moments to allow him to take in the visual of her glistening tits, she rolled out of bed and fetched a damp cloth from the bathroom to clean herself with.

"Where… did you learn… that?" Malik heaved as she rejoined him in bed.

"Well…" she began, laying her head on his shoulder. "A couple of years back, Master Drallig and I were on assignment in the darker areas of Coruscant’s underworld. We met some seedy individuals on that job, including some of the working women, if you catch my meaning."

"I do," he replied with a nod.

"They’re such nice girls in reality. Most were brought into the business through slavery, and now choose to keep doing it because it’s the only life they know. It’s pretty sad… but anyway. I overheard a few of them talking about their various ‘strengths’ on the job, and that action kept cropping up. They called it, as I remember, a blowjob."

"Huh… and you felt you had to try it for yourself?"

"Yup. And who better to try it with than my wonderful husband?" she giggled, kissing him on the cheek.

"So, with these working women, would the men that shared their beds ever… return the favor?"

Serra flashed him a knowing grin. "Sometimes. Why?"

"Well, I… couldn’t help but notice how one-sided that romp was, enjoyable as it was for me. But I do love taking care of my wife. Would it be ok if I-"

"Thought you’d never ask."

Serra rolled over on her back, spreading her legs for Malik. He began his explorations at her tantalizing breasts, kissing them and stimulating her nipples, much to her excitement. After playing with both for several minutes, he began to kiss his way down her chest and taught belly, soon arriving at her pelvic region. First teasing her with several light kisses to her inner thighs, Serra mewed in pleasure from his touch.

"Oh Malik… you’re the best…"

"You say that now… just wait ‘til you see what else I’m up to."

Turning his attention to her glistening womanhood, Malik ran his fingertips around her swollen outer lips. Her arousal was obvious, not only by the aroma wafting from her slit, but also by her constant moaning and squirming. Malik hooked his arms under her legs to hold her hips still, took a deep breath, and moved his face forward. His first few licks were tentative as he tried to get a feel for what Serra’s responses would be, but his worries about making it good for her disappeared as her groans of desire grew louder. He also found that he liked the way his wife tasted; she was sweet, but with a hint of tanginess.

Malik redoubled his efforts, burying his face in his wife and lapping at her clit furiously; it was all he knew to do at this point. He figured there’d be plenty of chances to expand his technique in the near future, so his sole focus tonight was on bringing Serra to orgasm. Harder and harder her hips bucked as he continued his oral assault, his every move driving Serra closer to a massive explosion. She knew she was almost there, and knew it would take only a bit more to intensify the sensations.

"Malik… suck on my clit…" she breathed.

He complied without protest, taking her clit in his mouth and sucking at it gently. Serra gasped at the new sensations, surmising that this must have been what it felt like when she had sucked Malik’s cock. That revelation did not remain in her mind for long, though, as her husband’s lips and tongue had pushed her past the point of no return. She surrendered herself to her passions, grabbed hold of the sheets, and screamed as her pussy began to contract and coat the bed with her juices. After about a minute of writhing and thrashing, her breathing finally started returning to normal.

"I love you… Malik…" Serra mumbled as she drifted off into unconsciousness.

"Love you too," he replied with a grin.

Malik crawled up and kissed Serra on the cheek. Hearing her already fast asleep, he smiled and pulled the covers over them, spooning against Serra’s naked body. Before long, he had passed out as well.


"We’ve entered the outskirts of the Coruscant system. I’m keeping us cloaked at a distance until you’re ready, so take your time. Rex out."

"Unh… huh? Damn, that’s a rude way to wake up…" Serra muttered, rolling back over to sleep a bit more.

"He’s just doing his job; he’s a soldier, after all."

Tempted as Malik was to push his cock into his wife’s pussy, he decided to let her rest a bit more, rolling out of bed to take a shower. The steam and hot water were exactly what he needed to finish waking up, and he soon heard the bathroom door slide open.

"That you, Serra?"

"Yeah… the bed’s so cold and lonely without you," she whimpered.

"Well, it’s nice and hot in the shower… and I happen to be in it," he replied, smirking over his shoulder.

"Excellent point."

After joining her husband under the water, Serra spent several long minutes washing every inch of Malik’s body, paying special attention to his nether regions. He returned the favor, of course, and they soon digressed into a long, passionate make-out session. After bring each other to another orgasm, both felt they were sufficiently clean, stepping back into their quarters and dressing for the day. Malik grabbed a couple of protein bars for them before making their way to the cockpit.

"Morning, Rex."

"Morning you two. Slept well, I trust?" he asked, a gleam in his eye.

"Um… yes?" Serra replied in confusion.

"I should hope so. Seems like something really got you going last night."

"Oh… that. I’m sorry, Rex. I guess I didn’t realize how loud I was being," Serra replied, her cheeks turning crimson.

"Don’t worry about it," he chuckled. "To be honest, it’s kind of a nice reminder."

"Reminder of what?" Malik asked.

"That we’re all still human."

With that, Rex moved from the pilot’s chair, making room for Serra and Malik to take the controls. As Malik scanned for nearby ships, Serra pulled up a map of Coruscant.

"Ok, here’s the Jedi Temple. I doubt we’ll be able to land anywhere near it, as well-guarded as I imagine it is," she said.

"Agreed. We’ll have to set down somewhere else before making our way over," said Rex. "Isn’t there an abandoned junkyard not too far from there?"

"There is," Malik chimed in. "It’s right on the edge of the industrial sector, if I’m remembering it right."

"Ok, so we land in the junkyard and find a place to hide the ship, then make our way on foot to the Jedi Temple," Serra said, tracing a path on the holographic map with her finger. "The main entrance would be too risky; we’d be exposed the whole time. But if we can get to the secret hangar Master Windu showed us…"

"That should be a far easier entry point," Malik agreed. "And it’d put us on the basement floors, where Topal Blut is supposed to be hiding."

"Sneak in, find the Jedi, sneak back out the way we came… is it all that simple?" Rex asked.

"Few things ever are," Malik chuckled.

"I’m serious, Malik. This is a risky operation. We’ve got to do this quietly; if we’re discovered, it’s our heads."

"Just stick close by us, Rex. We’ll keep us undetected," Serra reassured him.

Rex sighed. "You Jedi… you’re something else."

"You wouldn’t have it any other way," Serra replied with a wink.

The trio sweated with anticipation as their cloaked ship broke the atmosphere of Coruscant. Within a few minutes, Serra had located the junkyard, landing the Middle Way amongst a heap of spare parts.

"Let’s do this, boys," Serra said. "We’re on the clock."

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