“...This marks the end of the official tutorial for Old Republic Online. I wish every player the best of luck... and may the Force be with you.”
As the holographic figure dispersed in flickers of blue lightning, the polished stone plaza in front of the Senate on Coruscant was utterly silent. Almost ten thousand Corellians stood in huddled knots of terror and disbelief. They’d signed up to play a game. To use Kayaba’s new and unique holographic sense-surround technology to see and touch the ancient history of the Republic. Now?
Survive the Galactic Civil War? Face the enemies of the Old Republic - the Mandalorians, the outlaw species, the entire Sith Empire - when nobody had anything beyond half-charged blasters and chipped vibroblades? Find and defeat the Sith Lord?
Panic rolled out in whispers. Soon it would surge to shouts, and screams-
“Klein!” A young, grim voice, from the shadows of a street leading away from the panic. “Follow me.”
Sunlight poured down on the flowering gardens of Alderaan. Drakeflies darted through the breeze, emerald and sapphire motes dancing over climbing roses and dipping down to brush tail-tips in the running stream. The water cast back glints of silver and blue, then nothing at all as it ran under the shadow of a bridge-
Blue light thrummed. Bits of metal rained into water; blaster muzzles, flamethrower gauntlets, half of a vibro-sword.
“Take the transport to the Black Iron Citadel. Or I’ll stun you all and throw you in anyway.”
The redheaded leader of the Titan’s Hand bounty hunters laughed even as she backed up, blaster leveled on her black-clad foe. “I’m still Lightside-marked. You can’t raise that ‘saber to me-”
A rush of wind, and azure energy hummed by her throat. A stray red hair touched it, crisping in an instant.
“I’m a solo.” Black eyes were as cold as space. “A few days on the Darkside means nothing to me.”
Strength against strength, Shien and Jar’kai should beat Makashi. But Heathcliff was stronger, his cortosis-forged shield had shorted out Kirito’s white ‘saber, and one blade just wasn’t enough. Ataru and Sokan honed against the most horrid creatures of the Sith Empire failed against Heathcliff’s precise forms. Even his most lethal Force technique had been shrugged off by Heathcliff’s impenetrable armor.
He was a clearer. Heathcliff was a duelist.
Now the Sith ‘saber was burning the heart out of him, red light glowing in his vision as everything else faded....
Blinking text in the darkness. You are dead.
And this was such a stupid way to die. Everyone’s lives were hanging in the balance, Argo’s visions had shown that, and he’d just given up-
There is no death, Asuna’s voice whispered. There is the Force.
Despair was of the Dark Side. He wasn’t done yet.
Seize the energy. Absorb it. Redirect it.
Asuna was dead, her white and red robes empty on the floor. But Asuna was still with him in the Force, a healer strong enough to mend even a mortal wound-
And I only need a breath longer.
Kirito opened his eyes. And reached out.
Heathcliff blinked. “What-”
Lambent Light slapped into a translucent hand. Ignited.
ORO’s creator stared down at the white fire impaling him. And smiled.
Let this be enough....
The world fell apart.
“Game cleared,” a woman’s computerized voice announced. “Logout initiated....”