The primitives were not as easily routed as OOM-9 thought. They appeared to have developed weaponry that had laid waste to the first waves of troops. But that had given the Droid Control Computer updated tactics in order to implement different strategies in succeeding waves. Those droids invaded the city with much greater success, sending the defenders back to secure more advantageous positions to counterattack.
But it would not matter. Whether the primitives had ten or ten thousand defenders, they could not hope to stand against the might of the Trade Federation army.
Raising the electrobinoculars to his optics, he scanned the area, detected the weakest point in the primitive's defences, and directed the next wave to assault that location.
Willow was off the bed the moment Tara had finished her proclamation, lightsaber in hand and senses on high alert. She wasn't at all comfortable about the prospect of going into combat. The last time she had, she had felt something. Something that called to her through the darkest depths of her own being, that tempted her with great promises and whatever her heart wanted.
She had heard Master Yoda drill into her the temptations that the Dark Side offered to those who felt its call. But she knew what she wanted most. And that was Tara's love. That made her feel guilty about what she had done the previous day. When Tara had been in danger, she had lost control of herself and attacked with wild abandon. After the fact, she had felt guilty about what she had done, and had tried to change the subject when Tara had brought it up. It seemed to work, but that didn't seem to make her feel any better.
She had hoped to explain herself after she had got Tara to open up about herself. But now that opportunity would never come. And she couldn't decide if she felt happy or sad about it.
Willow stepped up beside Tara and looked out at the chaos erupting around them. Gungan sentries on both foot and kaadu threw energy balls at the oncoming droid forces, while others wielded clubs and spears at close range to knock other droids off their feet. All, however, were taking losses and were gradually being forced back by the oncoming onslaught.
"Everywhere we go, all we do is cause trouble," Tara realised. "Innocents die because we make a mistake that causes a galaxy wide incident. Innocents die because we do nothing. Sometimes I wish that the Jedi would not become involved in the affairs of other people. It's not our place."
"We've got to help them," Willow said.
The comment broke Tara out of her thoughts, And despite her feelings and the situation going on around them, she managed a smile. "Never change, Willow. You're perfect just the way you are."
Willow smiled back as she rested her thumb on the activation switch of her lightsaber. "Let's go be heroes.
OOM-9 heard the broadcast report from the infantry units on the front lines, stating that the primitives were now on the run, and that their complete destruction was imminent. Had he the processing power, he would feel pride at this statement. As it was, however, it was merely one more assigned goal. He would merely accomplish their desired goal and leave the happiness to his organic masters.
His thoughts were interrupted as he received a priority message from one of the commanders, indicating the presence of two new combatants. Further explanation was rendered impossible as a burst of static erupted from the comlink.
Raising his electrobinoculars, he surveyed the area, and was surprised to find two new individuals arriving and fighting their way through the battle droids. Scans indicated humanoids armed with...
Lightsabers. It was the Jedi.
As a battle droid, OOM-9 was incapable of considering the concepts of "coincidence" or "luck". The two Jedi were merely a new piece of data to assess and respond to. However, for a mere two humans, the predicted complexities caused by their presence were considerable.
"Droidekas deploy to front lines, search-destroy parameters transmitting."
Though, of course, the end result would be the same.
Tara twirled her lightsaber in one hand, decapitating a battle droid. Its head clattered to the ground as she stuck a hand out and Force pushed it into a group of incoming droids, sending them crashing down to the surface.
As much as she detested combat, she found how readily it came to her. Her training under Master Halcyon had given her more than her fair share of combat experience, and she had devoted her studies to the mastery of Soresu. Most Jedi considered the technique to be more passive than the other forms, but Tara found a comfort in it that she considered to be a natural extension of her more passive nature.
Willow had no particular grounding in any form, but as a Padawan, she knew the basic of Shii-Cho. Shii-Cho was effective against multiple combatants, but it relied on the user's emotional level in order to be effective. And though Willow was usually level headed, she tended to get rather emotional when those she considered friends were threatened.
This brought her mind briefly back to what had occurred the previous day with the AAT. Willow had attempted to diffuse her questioning when she asked what had happened, and she had found it humorous. At the time, it was mostly because of the situation they had found themselves in and her need to find a laugh in pretty much anything. But now...it made her wonder...
She looked at Willow now, who was blocking shots from multiple sources and slicing droids in half, doing a much better job at it than she had figured. That too, gave her pause. Willow was proficient, she had to admit. And Tara had noted that, given time, Willow could become a master of Djem So or Ataru. But what concerned her was the fact that those styles tended to favour more aggressive tactics. She always knew that Willow was, at times, more action oriented than she was. But it concerned her to know that her lightsaber style tended to focus more towards what other Jedi jokingly referred to as "aggressive negotiations".
Bisecting a droid and sending its remains scattering across the area with a flick of the Force, she began to advance forward to assist the other Gungans, who were gathering nearby in what looked like an escape.
She sliced apart another droid, shut down her lightsaber and clipped it to her belt. She then ran up to what appeared to be the head Gungan. "What's going on?"
The Gungan turned to look at her, a frown instantly appearing on its amphibious face. "Yousa! Yousa causen dis!"
The accusation stung her like a blaster bolt. "But...but we...we didn't..."
Willow's cry brought her around to find Willow facing off against several droidekas. She appeared to be holding her own, but Tara knew that Willow couldn't last. She started forward, but only made it several feet when Willow was knocked backward as the droideka's blaster fire knocked her lightsaber from her hand and sent her into the wall.
Tara collapsed to her knees, as if someone had fired a sonic blaster at her legs and turned her leg bones to powder. Time seemed to slow to a crawl, the briefest of seconds stretching for an eternity. Her heart hammered in her chest, overshadowing the sound of blaster fire in front of her and the shouting from behind her.
She dimly became aware of the fact that she was moving, two sets of hands dragging her backward. She wanted to yell at them, tell them to leave her behind. She had left Willow defenceless. And now she would end up a prisoner of the Trade Federation.
She had let everyone down. Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan. Master Halcyon. The Gungans. And, worst of all, Willow.
She wanted to die. Perhaps she was dead.
There was no other way to explain the emptiness she felt in her heart.
The Jedi lay crumpled in a heap against the wall, her lightsaber lying deactivated on the floor several feet away. As the droidekas surrounded her, a figure stepped between them. It reached down to pick up her lightsaber, examining it ever so briefly before he clipped it to the belt beside his own.
The figure regarded the Jedi with contempt. It had been too easy. He had hoped for a challenge, like the one he had faced on Tatooine. But he knew that Jedi would arrive soon. And that this one's Master would be with him. When they arrived, he would take great pleasure in killing them both.
The figure felt a presence approach him. "Viceroy Gunray requests that we return to the Palace with the Jedi prisoner. He will deal with her then."
The figure passed his glance to the droid, who continued to stand at attention as if nothing was amiss. Still, after a few moments, it backed off, along with the droidekas.
Darth Maul returned his gaze to the Jedi in front of him. "All too easy," he thought. "But not to worry, Jedi. Your capture shall bring to me prey worthy of my blade."