Adventures in Babysitting; Jedi style
I was talking to Jae about a post I had made on her Facebook wall, and she commented that it sounded like me creating a new story. Oddly enough I had an idea from one of the people I reviewed that had hit my buttons; specifically the Youngling question; at what age do you collect these new kids?
At this point you're all saying, oh gods, someone gave Mach another idea!
So take the movie Adventures in Babysitting; replace the main character with (at the moment) Padawan Kavar who is assigned to babysit the younglings at the Coruscant Temple who (With the exception of Atris, Bastila Malak and Revan) are mine with the exception that the four mentioned are my reads on them...
What do you think is going to happen?
Baby-sitting; Jedi Style
Padawan Kavar walked into his single room, then jerked his fisted arm down in an 'all right' gesture. Two years as a Padawan learner with Nomi Sunrider, and a triumphal return to the Coruscant Temple for his reassignment!
He slipped on his earbuds, and clicked the recorder that was set for the Neutronium rock band Mastersludge's 'The Republic is falling, Hurrah!' He fell into the steps for the Permellian shuffle, swaying to the music. Then at the musical bridge, leaped, turned and froze.
Master Nomi Sunrider was leaned against the door frame, smiling as she watched. Kavar shut off the recorder, and pulled the ear buds from his ears. “Master! I-”
Nomi laughed softly. “I was young once, my apprentice.” She chided him gently. “Even Master Vandar was a child once.”
He tried to think of Vandar; who was by his own admission over eight hundred years old as a Youngling. But it was beyond Kavar's imagination.
Nomi took pity on the 17 year old. “We are still discussing who shall be your master for the next portion of your training, but something has come up.” She stood tall. “All of the masters and knights have been called to a special session of the Senate that will run for the rest of the evening. But we have found a special assignment for you tonight.”
“Tell me what to do!” He cried with zeal.
“We have several younglings in the transient barracks, and they need someone to ride herd tonight. Master Vrook considered you very qualified.”
Vrook! Kavar felt his heart sink. The Master from Dantooine was as unyielding as neutronium, and was sure to have a new idea in the time plutonium 244 went through a half-life; try 80 million years. He wanted to fall to his knees whining like a youngling himself, but he was made of sterner stuff. “When do I assume this duty, Master?”
Nomi looked at her chronometer. “Ten minutes ago, my apprentice.” She saw his woebegone face and laughed. “Take heart! They don't know yet. I would run down and take control!”
“He sighed, dumping the recorder on his bed. “How many-”
“Only five, my young apprentice, all destined to be either assigned to a temple, or ready to be Padawan. It is easy work, my young one.”
Kavar sighed inwardly while looking ready to face the Sith Armada. He walked past his master, but inwardly he sighed again. I am so hosed.
It was fifteen levels from the assigned Padawan quarters to the transient barracks. He stepped off the lift, squaring his shoulders. He'd walk in like Padawan Mooreth all those years ago when he had been transient before his initial assignment, command them with a word, and be in control.
He had just reached the door to the transient barracks before he heard two girls screaming in outrage. He rushed, slamming open the door. There was no one in sight-
The fresher door exploded outward as a young man of around 13 flew through it to slam into the wall. As he collapsed bonelessly, two girls stormed from the fresher. He recognized the first one; Marai Devos from his own Corellian temple, followed by a younger girl with almost flaming red hair.
“You worm! You're no better than a huttling you barve!”
“Yeah!” the girl with his acquaintance added.
“Marai-” Kavar began.
“Shut up, Kavar, I'm busy.” She snapped. “You perverted little sack of Ronto droppings! I should smash you through the wall!”
“Shut it, Kavar! If you had any social skills, you could actually ask a woman to undress! But no, you have to slip in using Jedi camouflage and peek like some kind of worm-”
“Better than you deserve!” The helpful shadow added.
“I told you to...” He could picture her rounding on him, and in this case he had to imagine it, because- “Kavar? Why are you covering your eyes?”
He considered several options in the next few milliseconds, then decided on what Master Sunrider had taught him, which was to speak the truth. “I think he might pay more attention to your words if you put some clothes on before you scream at him.”
“Oh firefeck!” She screamed. He waited, then uncovered his eyes. Except for the boy that was still staggering, no one else was in the room. The boy looked at him, his age indeterminate because his head was shaved, with heavy tattoos.
“You couldn't have waited maybe three more minutes? The boy asked.
“I have a bad feeling about this...” Kavar grumbled to himself.
Oh boy, I'm going to keep my eye on this.
As he waited, Kavar ran over the list of his charges. Marai Devos was fourteen and came from the Cornet temple. She had been held back a year from her first Padawan assignment. Not due to any failure, rather because she had mastered Te-rehal-Vor, The Echani martial art taught by the Jedi, from an early age and the Master that taught it at that temple had given her the responsibility to train the younger students. She had excelled, but had to begin her further training.
Atris Lutrai Ban Echani was thirteen. She had first been at the Temple on Alderaan, but her last two years had been spent at the Cornet Temple. She had proven excellent at working out problems between others, and everyone assumed she would be trained as a Consular.
Malak (His own name for himself, his actual name was Alek with some unpronounceable surname of high regard) was from Cathcart. At thirteen he had spent the years in training at the Dantooine Temple and everyone just knew he'd make a wizard of a Sentinel.
At eleven Revan Chadar Bai Echani had a precocious talent for both hand to hand martial arts, and the lightsaber. She had bested every apprentice and Padawan there already, and was on the fast track to become a Guardian.
Then there was the new youngling who had yet to be assigned to a temple, Bastila Shan of Talravin at five. She would probably be the least problem for him this evening. That was a good thing; Kavar felt like he was dealing with a nest of young Gundark as it was.
Marai came storming out of the fresher still followed by her half liter sized associate, all ready to resume her diatribe. “Marai.”
“I'm not done with this... Nerf herder yet.”
“Yes, you are. I need you to get the others, please.” He said softly.
Marai glared at him, then lifted her fist with the index finger extended. “It's not over Sqiguminadous.”
“Just call me Malak, since you can't even pronounce it.” The young boy suggested.
“I'll call you road kill if it happens again.” Marai warned, then turned on her heel, storming out.
Kavar sighed, looking at the other girl. She had the bright red hair of the Chadar district of Echana, which included the capital city of Echana-Dubh, literally 'The hand of the Goddess' in their language. “You must be Revan.”
“What was your first clue?” She asked sarcastically. “And Marai told me about you. Kavar Dangil of Meridia.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Why are you here, Padawan?” She said it like it were a rare animal. “Are we disturbing your sleep 100 meters and fifty doors away?”
“No. I was assigned to watch all of you tonight.”
“What did you do wrong?”
“Nothing.” For some reason he felt defensive. “Master Vrook-”
“Ah.” She said as if it explained it all. She picked up a pad from the table, stalked over, and handed it to him. “Write down what I say; 'I Kavar Dangil of Meridia, being of sound mind and body do bequeath the following'. From there, give away all of your worldly possessions.”
“That sounds like a last will and testament!”
“Vrook must have wanted you dead in the worst way. Why else did he assign you to this Kath Hound den?”
“You're noisy.” They turned as a young girl with her brown hair in pigtails tottered in. She was in a nightgown that reached the floor, yawning as she clutched the stuffed animal in her arms. When her arms tightened, it growled. Kavar recognized it as one of the plushy toys you might win at a carnival, a Dxun Brantarii from the look of it. He had never understood why people would take terrifying predators, and convert them into hug-able toys for kids.
“Who's the brat?” Revan asked.
“Not a brat.” The girl replied. “ 'M Bastila.” She yawned widely again. “And you're noisy.”
“Not a squirt. My name is Bastila.” She replied in that reasonable 'you're going to use my name, you stinking barve' tone.
Kavar came over, bending down. “Hello, Bastila, I'm Kavar.”
She looked him up and down, lifting the stuffed toy so it was protecting her face. “You're noisy too.”
“I am sorry we woke you, Bastila. But it's quiet now, right?” He didn't have a clue how to talk to children. “Who is this?” He started to reach out to the toy, but her arms tightened and he honestly believed the growl from the toy was angry.
“Mugi. My only friend.”
“Well I'd like to be your friend.”
“No.” She took a step back. “Friends stay with you. Friends watch out for you. Friends don't give you away because you're different.” She sniffled. “My daddy gave me away because I did things. Cause I could pick up things without using my hands.” The sound the toy made was almost commiserating. “Daddy loved his new wife more than he loved me.” She looked at the toy. “Only Mugi loves me, an I love him.” The sound was almost a purr.
“Where are they?” Kavar asked, giving up on the conversation.
“I haven't a clue.” Revan offered. As she said it, Marai came in staring at a pad in her hand.
“I sent you to get Atris. Where is she?”
“Gone.” Marai replied. “She's run away.”
“She's what?” Kavar asked in astonishment.
“Run away. Says she's going home.” She held the pad out. Kavar took it.
'Since no one cares if I stay as a Jedi, I am going home. Don't try to find me'
“Oh this is just great.” Kavar wanted to shout, but he looked down at Bastila, who appeared to be ready to admonish him for being noisy again. “When did you last see her?”
Marai considered. “About an hour ago. She was sulking in the dorm and wouldn't come to shower with us.”
“Any idea what she was sulking about?”
“She's been like that ever since the Corellian Grandmaster from the Te-rehal-Vor Academy in Cornet Walked the School.” At his blank look she sighed. “It's tradition. When a teacher from another school of Te-rehal-Vor visits, he has to challenge all comers before he can talk to the Master of the school he visits. It's an honor to face another master, so everyone who can attend gets in line.
“He's supposed to defeat all of them before bowing to our own master as if he is better.” She snorted. “The guy was as full of himself as a stuffed bird for dinner. He hurt a lot of our people unnecessarily, and I got mad. When he faced me he took me down, but I didn't stay down.”
She sighed, then continued as if she were admitting to a horrible flaw in her personality. “I went Kashin-Dra on him.”
“Shadow warrior?” Revan asked astonished. At Kavar continued blank look she explained. “An old Echani bedtime story. A horrible monster that turns out to be a battle maddened warrior.”
Marai nodded. “I kicked his Choobies up into his throat before they stopped me. Atris brought me out of it.”
Revan's eyes widened, then she grinned. “So she thinks...”
“Yes.” Marai looked at Kavar again. “In the story, the only one who can bring the Warrior back to human is his true love.”
“Wicked.” Malak said. “So you and her-”
“Did nothing.” Marai's tone could have kept meat frozen for a month.
“You know Twi-Lek dancers will-”
“Zip it, big mouth.” Revan snapped.
“And the Bith sometimes-”
“One more word, and you really are roadkill.” Marai warned. She looked to Kavar. “She's been a pest since then, and when I found out why she was, I did everything I could to stay away from her, until this trip. I think she's upset with me.”
“Well I'll have to go get her. Any idea where-” He stopped as Marai pointed.
“That way, about thirty klicks, and still going away from us.” She saw his look, shrugging. “I'm good with Force bonds.”
“Probably headed for the transit center. That's fifty klicks away in that direction.” He paused. “About ten klicks past the Senate Building.” He turned, ready to tell them to stay, then pictured his return; the Temple burned to the ground, all of them sitting there with innocent expressions as the Masters arrived. Not a promotional bell ringer.
“We'll all have to go. Get dressed in normal street clothes. No Jedi robes, and no lightsabers.”
“What?” Marai looked as if he had told her she was going naked.
He sighed. “Marai, let's say we get in trouble, and have to cut our way out. You have dismembered bodies laying everywhere when the Constables arrive. They see it, and who do they tell?”
She started to answer, but the light dawned. “Oh, yeah.”
“If we hurry we'll be there and back before the Masters and Knights get home, and no one will know. So hurry up. You have ten minutes.”
He was back in seven dressed in a gray ship suit. Bastila was already dressed. Of course, she hadn't been issued any robes yet. She sat there like any five year old, still clutching her toy. Malak came in. His underclothes looked enough like a street kid that he wouldn't be noticed. At almost exactly ten minutes the girls came running in. Marai was wearing slacks with a poncho, and Revan was wearing a red ship suit with black trim.
“All right, let's go.”
“Are we going by tram?” Revan asked.
“No, if Atris has any luck she can get a ship that will take her part of the way toward Echana, so we have to hurry.” He gritted his teeth. “We'll have to borrow an aircar.”
They left the room packing the lift to the garage level. Kavar searched frantically, but most Jedi operated in teams, so most of the vehicles were two person craft, and he wasn't even going to try to stuff all of these kids in one! He paused, considered, rejected, then considered again. He'd catch hell if anything happened to it, but it did have the advantage that he already had the key...
He walked to the full sized vehicle, and the doors hissed open. “Get in.”
“A Fantom 17!” Malak gasped. “These are classics! I call side gunner!”
“No.” Kavar growled. “Marai can find Atris using her Force bond, and I need her there.” He caught the boy as he dived toward the front seat. “And I am not going to put up with you bouncing off the dashboard while I'm driving. Bastila, you can ride up front.”
“Why” The girl asked defensively.
“Well the others have been here on Coruscant before, but this is your first time. So you get to play sightseer while Marai is our navigator, and I am the pilot.”
“Kay.” The girl slid across the seat as Kavar and the others dived into the car. Kavar sighed, shaking his head as he walked around the car to the driver's seat. He belted in, assured the others were strapped in, then powered the antique car up. Master Sunrider would tear a strip a meter wide off him if anything happened to her favorite ride. He backed out, then turned it carefully to aim at the entryway. He powered forward smoothly, setting the collision avoidance systems as he climbed toward the outbound lane 500 meters above him. “So, is there anything...” He looked down toward Bastila, who was crying silently. “Bastila, what's wrong?”
“I wanna go home!” She wailed, clutching his arm.
“But you are home!”
She shook her head angrily. “I wanna go back to Talravin, to my daddy and his new wife. I don't wanna be a Jedi. I just wanna be a little girl!”
He sighed, extricating his arm, and patted her back in what he knew was supposed to be a comforting gesture. “We all went through this at first, Bastila.”
“Did not.” She had buried her face against his side.
“Yes we did.” Kavar merged with traffic and increased speed to conform. “My mother died when I was born, and my father couldn't handle me alone.”
Bastila looked up. “Really?”
“Really.” Kavar tried to think of something else to say, but came up blank. “Uh, Marai, what about you?”
Marai sighed. “My mother was so happy she had me that she dumped me at the hospital where I was born, and didn't even look back, so I never knew my mother or father.” She looked down. “You had a father and mother, even if she was his second wife, kid.”
“Not a kid. I'm Bastila.” The girl replied.
“Malak?” Kavar asked desperate to break the girl out of her funk.
“My parents died when I was three.” Malak replied. “All I remember are faces that I couldn't even see yet.”
Not a whole lot of help so far. “Revan?” He called desperately.
“Both of my parents are alive. My mother was amazed and delighted when I began showing signs of using the Force.” She sighed. “When I was five my father talked to me. He told me that I could become a Jedi, but it would be my choice. When I decided, he took me to Deralia for the hunts he enjoyed with my brother. I met a girl there who made me wish I didn't have to make the choice. But I did make the choice. I decided that the Galaxy needed guardians, and if I was good enough to do that job, I would accept the challenge.” Revan looked out of the window to her right. “Someone must make sure the Galaxy is protected. I was proud to join them.”
Kavar sighed. “Is there anything else you want to know?”
Bastila nodded. “What are Choobies?”
Excellent chapter, sir.
If anyone had noticed, in my last chapter I cut it off a word short, but it was a matter of what is she asking, and the expletive you would have expected when she pursued it.
I also noticed that except fo LDR, none of you could even bring yourselves to comment!
Listen; if you're a member, it won't record that you you voited, so I can't hunt you down and do unspeakable things. Also, if you are not a member, join. It's quick and easy, costs you nothing, and if you have a comment, you can let me know.
Now on with the show...
Problems on the road
Kavar looked at the senate building in dread as they approached. Would the masters sense him? “I want you to think of a small animal you know that hides instead of fighting.” He told them.
“Are they Choobies?” Bastila asked.
He laughed. “No, they aren't Choobies. Do you know an animal on Talravin that hides?”
“Kalrags.” Bastila said. “They're bugs about this big,” She put her fingers about four centimeters apart. “If you don't clean up the dishes after a meal, they come out of the woodwork to eat and it takes forever to kill them. If they see you, they scurry under things, dishes, flatware, and hide.”
“Can you pretend to be a Kalrag?”
“As long as someone doesn't swat me.” She replied. “And someone explains what Choobies are.”
“We will later.” Marai said.
“That's what they always say.” Bastila commented sadly. “I asked my daddy what fierfeck meant and he didn't answer before I went away.” She cuddled her dragon. “Now he won't be able to, unless he finds me.”
“Add that to your list, Marai.” Kavar ordered.
She looked at him coolly. “And you can explain shutta for her.”
He rolled his eyes. “Gee, thanks.”
Kavar was ready to snap back when one of the dashboard lights flashed amber. He had enough time to note the location, Grav Coil 2, when it first flashed, then stayed solid red. He was reaching for the panel to do a diagnostic when there was a puff of oily smoke from the right hand forward section of the hull, then an instant later the aircar spun, nosing down and began to spin as it plunged toward the surface a kilometer below.
Atris in Transport-land:
Atris wasn't sure who she was more angry at; the universe in general, or herself. It had seemed a good idea to merely go home when Marai still tried to avoid her, but she had left the Temple so abruptly that she had not bothered to even plan for her trip home. Before she had become a Jedi hopeful, her parents had always dealt with money. Living for eight years among the Jedi she had never even handled money beyond the small amounts used for snacks and the occasional keepsake. When Jedi younglings traveled, it was more like a herd of nerf being taken to market, the older Jedi acting like nerf-hounds to keep them together, and the entire mass chivvied along from vehicle to ship to van to bus to train.
So this was her first experience traveling alone, and worst yet, dealing with the financial arrangements for that evolution.
She had brought every credit she had, fifteen, and it had taken only one to catch the local transport tram from the station near the temple to the transport center. But she needed two hundred for the cheapest transport from Coruscant to Echana, and that one would stop at every intervening planet on the Corellian Trade Spine between here and there, taking weeks.
She briefly considered merely walking up to the ticket kiosk, and telling the vender-droid that she was a Jedi on a mission. But that would cause it's own problems. While she was tall for her age of thirteen standard years, she still looked thirteen. That wasn't a real problem because the near human race that lived on Kreela looked like young humans too right up to dying of old age, but no one could imitate that silly accent that Kreelans had, and they usually had red or brown hair, not the silver of her own.
Besides, if she booked passage as a Jedi the council would be notified, after all, it would be their accounts that would pay for it. Not a wise move to break with the Jedi and return home secretly when you were using their money!
She paused by a long blank wall of windows looking out at the ships that were arriving, loading, unloading, and the crowds doing so as well. She had dressed in some casual clothes she had for lounging around among the other younglings and apprentices back on Cornet, and again her mind went back to Marai.
The legend was clear about Kashin-Dra. The Shadow warrior would be defeated not by force of arms, but by the love of his mate. On her home world bonding to a mate didn't differentiate by sex; her mother's business partners had been a bonded same sex couple and had seemed to be happy even if they were both men. Of course what she knew about sex on her home world could have been written on a store purchase card with a laundry marker. She wasn't sure how two females would go about it beyond giggling comments by mother to father about warm oil massages and hot tubs.
She touched the ceremonial dagger her father had given her before she left home. She could sell it, but to her people a blade was a symbol of grace given by the Goddess herself. Only weapons smiths were allowed to sell a blade. It could be given, traded, surrendered, taken, destroyed, even lost. But never sold. You would be throwing away her gifts if you did.
It was also used in meditation, when the Echani prayed. You would go through one of the Kitra; the stylized motions of actual combat as you concentrated on what you needed to have, be it knowledge, understanding, and, in her case, assistance in finances. She drew the blade, walking to an interior wall, stopping a step from it, closed her eyes and began the second kitra.
To the uninformed, it must have looked like she was in deadly combat with an invisible enemy armed as she was, all in slow motion. In her mind she pictured that opponent, and just out of spite, she used Marai's face. Watch the blade in the edge of her sight, instead watch the face and shoulders, where the intent of her opponent would be revealed. Marai's hands would shift as she contemplated an attack, and Atris' hands would match with the proper riposte, yet they were too far apart to strike at each other except for a throw. She moved as if she considered it, and her opponent's weight shifted in the proper counter to dodge a thrown blade. It went on for several minutes, until she struck and Marai fell to the ground dying. Atris stopped, going back to position one, and opened her eyes.
A crowd had gathered, and as she opened her eyes, they began applauding and shouting. There was a flurry of clicks as thrown credit chips began to land at her feet. She looked around confused until a young child ran forward, gathered them up, and handed them to her. “That was wicked!” The young boy said before running back to his parents.
She did a quick count, she had almost doubled her money. “Maybe you need music to go with it.” Someone commented. It was a young Twi-Lek her own age with a synthesizer board over his shoulder and a couple of friends.
“I beg your pardon?”
“To go with your dance.” He motioned toward the coins in her hand. “You get better performance tips when you have something like music.” He knelt, set out his board, and ran his fingers across the keys. It sounded like a small electronic organ. “Start again, and I'll play accompaniment. We'll split what we get.”
“Maybe I need something longer than this.” She motioned to the blade. “You need a sword or ritual brand to dance the more complex Kitra.”
“Zulik.” He spoke to the Twi-Lek boy with him rapidly in their language. He ran off, coming back a few moments later with odds and ends of piping, some with cleaning heads still attached. One was a broken mop handle about the length of a standard sword. Atris took it, weighing the wooden shaft in her hand. Then she closed her eyes again, and began to dance. After a moment, soft music enfolded her, and she began to match it in speed.
On his home planet of Meridia there was a fish called simply a screw-fish. As it swam, for some reason known only to the fish itself, it would go through a lazy roll every few meters so that it was like watching a barrel rolling snub fighter. When in danger, the fish would dive very fast, the spin increasing until it looked like a demented construction screw. It would hit the bottom at high speed, and auger into the mud where it would hide until the predator if fled had departed.
Unfortunately that wasn't mud approaching them in their terminal dive. Part of his mind considered that the air car would auger in for about five meters at this speed, until it's tail was buried in the ceramacrete below. Unfortunately again, the car was fifteen meters in length, and the part in front of that tail would be accordioned in to fit in that five meter hole, along with the passengers.
He wasn't sure what was worse. That he couldn't seem to regain control, that they all going to die very rapidly and messily...
Of the fact that the two lunatics in the back seat where whooping and hollering as if this were an amusement park ride.
Then he noticed something moving in front of him. Bastila had leaned as far forward as the restraint belt would allow, and reached for the panel with the red light. She went instead to the green button marked number five, touched it, changing the light to amber, then hit it again which made it go out entirely.
He immediately noticed the craft wasn't rolling that badly anymore. The girl repeated her magic with the red Grav coil two, and that light went out. He now had control again. Then he realized he was looking up at the surface as he pulled the stick back. They were in a long canyon about three times as wide as the aircar, flying about ten meter over the bottom of it and ahead a solid wall less than two hundred meters away
“Oh Fierfeck!” He screamed, yanking the stick back hard. The air car made a little hop, and now he was flying beside the canyon as he began to hit the brakes to slow down. The remaining grav coils flashed from amber to green as he finally slowed to a stop about five meters short of the wall on this level.
If one of them says again, I'm going to kill us all by diving back in. He promised darkly.
“That was fun!” Revan whooped. “I want to-”
“Say it and your bantha poo doo.” Kavar snarled. There was a whoop of a siren, and he groaned “Now what?”
Above and behind them there was a spotlight centered on them. He couldn't see what kind of vehicle it was, but he assumed the worst, constabulary, Senate Guard, maybe the military! It slowed beside them, and he suddenly realized it was only a repair tow truck. The driver was only a shadow, but Kavar could see a hand come up with a com link mike. He looked, then clicked the com panel.
“This is Safe-T tow #19. You people need some help?”
“Yes, please.” Kavar replied.
“According to local safety regulations we can't have passengers in the vehicles being towed. If you will kindly step out of the vehicle, please?”
“All right.” Kavar looked at the others. “Get out.” As Marai opened the door, he looked at Bastila. “How did you know that would help?”
She looked at him like he was an idiot. ”There are six coils, and if one on either end goes out, it will throw the balance completely off. But if you cut the coil that is directly opposite, like Grav coil five when grav coil two is the one that broke down, you have some control.”
“That was smart! And you think you're not a Jedi?”
“Not a Jedi.” She protested. “I'm Bastila.”
Kavar stepped down, closing the door. The tow truck deployed a tractor cable, connecting to the frame. As it did the two back doors on the right had side opened. “If you will get in, I'll take you to the closest repair shop.”
“Kavar.” Marai said softly. “Did you bring any money?”
“No.” Kavar admitted. “But I'll take the flak when the bill comes in.” He motioned, and the others went ahead. Kavar paused at the front door when he saw the driver was a Devaronian.
“Hey, most of the things they say about our males is hype.” He commented. “It's only a minute or so to the garage. Will you get in, please?”
Kavar climbed in, and the truck lifted, the poor Fantom 17 was being dragged behind it as the truck angled away from the course they had been on.
“It shouldn't take to long to fix a blown grav coil.” The driver commented. “May cost a few creds; about fifty. But that is not a lot.”
“Thanks for being there. I am Kavar.”
“Corlos.” The driver returned. There's the-” The com panel lit up.
“Corlos! Braaken Sho Ni Chalas, Vergan!”
The Devaronian looked at the panel hitting the reply button. “Shrangeen ai?”
The driver growled, then wrenched the yoke so that the vehicle swapped ends, and was heading back, not only to where he had picked up the Fantom, but perhaps a kilometer aft of that location.
Some Gotervandreg local named Vergan is trying to make time with my daughter!” The Devaronian almost roared.
“What's Gotervandreg mean?” Bastila piped up.
“Later!” Kvar screamed. “Listen, can't you-”
“It's closer to home than the garage!” Corlos replied reasonably. The truck drove, then slammed to a stop. Kavar's eyes widened as the driver popped the glove box, and pulled out a blaster. Then he was down, and headed toward an apartment where someone was standing in front of a door. Kavar gulped as the driver opened fire as if he wasn't running at full speed, and trying to be accurate at the same time which meant he wouldn't hit anything he aimed at. Worse yet, the figure, also a Devaronian male had drawn his own blaster, and was firing back. Kavar flinched as a bolt blew through the driver's door and out of the cab, missing him by millimeters. Another blasted through the windscreen of the car being towed.
“Get out! Move, Move, Move!” The younglings reacted with excellent discipline, diving from the truck to ground as the gun battle continued. There were several flashing lights in the sky now as constabulary units were inbound!
“Kavar!” Marai pointed ahead of the parked truck, at what looked like a Megatech limo. He nodded, then began shoving the others as they followed Marai. The girl opened the rear door, and began shoving the children into the car. Kavar reached it, and both he and Marai dived into the passenger compartment.
They all gasped, and the two eldest breathed a sigh of relief. “We're out of the line of fire, and the constabulary won't think we're part of it.” Kavar sighed.
“Kavar, there is a problem.”
“What problem?” He asked.
“If only one of us had carried a lightsaber, we wouldn't be hiding right now.”
“You know why I said we couldn't-”
“It's a given, but if one of us had, we wouldn't be hiding from Devaronians, Constables or Security-”
“Oh my.” Revan said, then wilted as the two older Jedi wannabes glared at her.
“If we had been carrying a light saber, they would have reported-”
“Yeah! But we could have told the constabulary it was Jedi business-”
“Jedi business? With all of us too young to be Knights! What kind of Shlackt are you shoveling?”
“What's shlackt?” Bastila piped up.
The pair turned, and in unison shouted, “Shut Up!”
“Listen, could you keep it down?” A voice asked reasonably. The two oldest Jedi paused, then looked at who was in the limo. Malak, Revan, Marai, Bastila, Kavar... But that had not been any of them. Like characters in a horror movie they turned toward the driver's compartment. There was nothing there, but then a foot rose up. They moved closer, looking over the seat at the man beneath the dashboard. He pulled out, and his fingers brought the car to life. “Shlackt is animal dung, so they mean what type of dung are you shoveling.” The man commented. “Any other... fun words you need explained?”
“Lots!” Bastila replied.
“Then you sit up front. The rest of you, kick back.” Then the limo roared into the night sky.
If you haven't seen the movie I am crossing over to, go to youtube and put in 'babysitter's blues' when you get to the last portion. as I said, picture the Jedi in that position...
The Chop Shop
He didn't believe it. Kavar was sitting there watching his master's car, still attached to the tow truck as it took off with constabulary cars following it shrieking. Meanwhile a Corellian man named Childers was patiently explaining swear words to a five year old in the front seat.
“Shutta is a Huttese word borrowed from Twi-Leki. You do know that Twi-lek's have Lekku, what people call head tails, right?” Bastila nodded. “It means someone that plays with their own Lekku and will not let others touch them. A very bad word in their language.”
“Kay. What does Gotervandreg mean?”
“It is a very angry word in Devaronian, but not really a bad. It means someone who should not be bothering the man's daughter.”
He sighed. “You know when you go to the bathroom?”
“And some is liquid, and some is solid, right?” She nodded. “Well that is a Mandalorian word for the solid waste.”
He laughed. “You know a lot of animals that eat grass have more than one stomach, right?” She nodded again. “Well animals like that eat the grass, but if they only had one stomach, most of it would be wasted. So a few minutes after they swallow it, they spit the paste from their stomach back up into their mouths, chew it for a while, then swallow it again. But this time it comes down into their second stomach, and it gets digested again. Now Banthas have five stomachs, so they do this again and again. If a bantha spits, which it does sometimes when it gets mad at someone, it's almost always from their third or fourth stomach, and it's a slimy paste of partially digested plants. It stinks, and it's sticky, and if you collect it, you can feed it to them later. So it's food.”
“Kay. What's frack?”
Childers looked in the rear view mirror. “You have been hanging with some very bad people. It's a Mandalorian word for two people making love. How long have you been storing all of those up? A couple of years?” he asked trying to lighten his own mood.
“'Bout an hour.”
His eyes in the mirror were accusatory. “You kids kiss your mama with that mouth?”
“And choobies?” Bastila was nothing if not focused.
“Well, you know human men and women are different down below, right?”
“Oh, sure. After we take our bath back home my father and his wife like to get into the hot tub. I would go with them in a little floating chair.” She considered, then her eyes widened. “You mean that-”
“Don't say it.” The man's eyes closed. “Having this discussion with you is seriously endangering my calm without thinking about that. No, men have two-”
“Not a word. Those are choobies.” He sighed. “Listen kid, I'm going to need a stiff drink after that talk, so let's just leave it there, all right?”
She shrugged. “Kay.” Then she added, “Not a kid. I'm Bastila.”
Childers gave the elder younglings another scathing look. Kavar asked. “Where are we going?”
“To where I work.” He drove silently for a moment. “My boss is an entrepreneur supplying used parts for air cars and landspeeders. I go out and find vehicles that have been abandoned, and return them to the shop where they are dismantled and the parts are sold to those who need them. We have found a niche that is slightly illegal, but does a valuable service for those who cannot afford new parts.”
Kavar worked the sentence over in his head. “So you're a thief who supplies a chop shop.”
Childers gave him a chiding look in the mirror. “It all depends on your point of view.” He started to descend. “Now when we get there, let me do the talking. I'm supposed to be delivering a car, not some kind of demented school trip. We'll get out of there as fast as we can, and I'll get you guys back to where ever you need to be.”
The air car floated on the street, and he tapped the horn. Ahead of them the doors rolled back and he floated through. There were dozens of vehicles there in various stages of dismembering, and he pulled into an open bay.
“Childers!” A huge man was walking toward them, along with a smaller man with a face that looked like he had just bitten into a sour fruit.
Childers climbed out. “Here's the Megatech 7 you asked for, sir.”
“We expected you earlier. What...” The sour man's voice died as one by one the younglings climbed out. The man's face looked even more sour at that. “I didn't order any kids.”
“Not a kid. I'm Bastila.”
The man glared at her, with about as much affect as anyone else speaking to her.
“Some idiot started a gunfight near where the car was parked. I was hot wiring it when they dived into the passenger compartment taking cover.”
“And you couldn't just leave them there?”
“It wasn't safe.”
“Oh but bringing them to my shop with 2,000 credits worth of hot cars right there to be looked at was?” The man growled and shook his head. “Slade, put them in the office. Once we've set up our distribution for the night, we can... take care of them.”
For some reason, that worried Childers, Kavar sensed. Come to think of it, it disturbed him too. Childers turned to them, then hunkered down to speak to Bastila. “Remember, little one. Most smart primates try to climb when they're in danger.” She just nodded, confused. The large man brushed him aside, and pointed. Kavar led off, and the others followed.
They came to a door, and Slade opened it. It was a small quiet office with a couch chairs caffa table and a desk. Once they were in, Slade closed the door, and they heard it lock.
They looked at the room, at the door, then at each other. “Is it just me, or is the term 'take care of them' worrisome?” Malak asked.
Revan looked at him. “See? The boy learns!”
“We don't have time for your one upping each other.” Marai snapped. “We have to get out of here.”
“The door's locked.” Revan replied with an edge of dangerous calm in her voice. “And all we have for weapons is furniture and magazines!” She pick up one waving it. “Are you afraid of this?”
Malak reached past her, plucking the magazine from her hand. “Like Marai said, we don't have time for this.” He said, looking at the cover. Then he flipped it open, flipping pages until he came to the center. Then he turned it on it's side, opening the folded page in the center for a better view.
“Kavar looked at the walls, standard interior walls, but that only meant plasterboard over a metal framework, and without something to cut it, plasterboard was more than enough to stop an escape. He could try the door, but he didn't have any wire to make into lock picks, and he hadn't mastered manipulating physical locks with the Force. So they'd have to break it down.
Of course that would make the criminals come and 'take care of them' that much sooner...
“What're primates?” Bastila asked.
He wanted to yell at her to shut her up again, but as much as he thought Childers was a bad person because he was a thief; he had to admit that his reasonable attitude had defused the entire slang problem. He considered, and was stumped for a moment. No one he knew used primate as an insult. “A primate is an arboreal animal that usually travels in small groups.” He paused, standing. “In most cases except for the very large ones, they live in trees. When threatened they climb...” He looked up.
“Up where?” Bastila asked, but Kavar was just standing there looking up. One by one, except for Malak, they all looked up. The acoustical tiles that would usually be used as a ceiling were missing. Instead they could look straight up twenty meters to the piping on the roof of the building.
“That's what he meant.” Kavar said. “We can climb up that pipe to the ones up there.” He walked around the room, then pointed up into that forest of metal and plastic. “And there's an access panel over there to the roof itself.” He turned. “Marai, you lead. I'll send them up one at a time, and run the rearguard.”
The girl nodded. She walked to the wall below the 75mm electrical conduit, then made a small Force augmented leap to the top of the two meter wall. Kavar picked up Revan and passed her up, where Marai sent her climbing the pipe as he turned, and handed up Bastila. He turned, and stared at Malak, who was calmly sitting on the couch, engrossed in the magazine. The boy turned a page, and gave the next one the same intense scrutiny.
Kavar snatched him up. “Malak. We. Are. Leaving!” The boy looked up, and Kavar sighed. He snatched the magazine away, rolled it up, and stuffed it inside his own shirt. “Later!”
Up above Revan was moving with a dancer's grace along a 100mm wide girder. Bastila had stopped, and her dragon gave a worried grumble as she looked at the same path to freedom. Marai passed her, then turned, hand out. “Come on, Bastila. Just hold my hand.” The little girl reached out, but gave a gasp as Marai stepped back onto the girder as if it were a sidewalk.
“Don't look down or to the sides. Look at my face, I'll watch your feet.” Marai instructed.
“But who will watch your feet?” Bastila asked.
“Trust in the Force, Bastila.”
She looked down, then brought her eyes back up on Marai's. “Rather trust in a nice wide catwalk; with rails.”
“I'll send a nasty note to the management about not having a catwalk for us, okay?” Bastila snickered at the comment, then followed as Marai led her to safety.
Kavar climbed through the access panel, looking around. Like a lot of the buildings in the industrial centers, it was a hodgepodge of pipes and fixtures, with several small ventilator hoods slowly turning in the evening cool. All right, the senate building was there, and he could just see the spires of the temple, so that mean the transit center was that way...
“Kavar!” Marai whispered in an urgent voice. “We found a fire escape.” She pointed.
“Yeah, good. But we need to go that way.” He pointed in the opposite direction.
“It's not like the designer put in fire escapes on every wall.” She snarled back exasperated. “We'll just have to go around the building.” He shrugged, and they moved around the building.
Once on the pavement, Kavar took the lead, jogging to the corner, then turning to aim back toward where they were going. They had reached the second corner when suddenly something big and horrible roared. They froze. Kavar wasn't sure, but he could swear it was not some monster, but a human as the roar came again, and he was sure he heard, “They took what?”
“Go!” Revan suited action to words, racing down the road headed toward their destination, the others in hot pursuit. Kavar snatched Bastila up, throwing he to land piggy back as he followed. Behind them he could hear the doors grinding open, and vehicle engines.
A lot of vehicle engines.
His mind ran like a computer; this road ran straight as a die, and no one could run faster than a speeder. “Revan, find an open door!” He shouted. The first two, Malak and Revan began stopping, trying doors, and running on with the others running to catch up.
There was a flash of light just as Malak shouted, “Here!”
They ran to the door, shoving their way in as Malak slammed it. Without a word of instruction the elder younglings began piling boxes against it to at least slow their pursuers down.
“Right, now let's get the hell out of here!” Marai said, She turned, and stopped.
“Come on, Marai, lead the way!” Kavar said. The girl merely lifted her arm, and pointed. Kavar turned, and also froze.
They were standing on a stage right behind a percussion set. Beyond that were three huge hulking figures watching them. Beyond that was what looked like a cantina, with a lot of hulking figures looking at them silently.
Kavar recognized them as Besalisks, a race from an ice world that stood almost three meters tall. All of the males, which included the three closer ones, had four arms each. Scattered around in the crowd in what were probably couples on dates were females, some with as many as eight. Then a spotlight snapped on, pinning them on the stage.
Kavar set Bastila down, and moved forward to protect the others. He took the one in what looked like a fire engine red suit for the leader of them, and walked up to him. “We're sorry. Some guys are chasing us, and we really need to get out of here.” The male, with two guitars, one in each set of arms simply looked at him. Then he pointed at the stage beside him mutely. The younglings moved around the percussion set as another Besalisk took the stool behind it. Once they were in front of it, the silent band leader stopped them with another gesture as some younger males came running out, busily stringing two more microphone stands. A small older male came from the back of the cantina just as something hit the door they had come through. The band leader nodded, and the drummer got up, threw a bolt, then took his seat again.
“Who are you?” The new arrival asked.
“We're Jedi younglings.” Marai offered helpfully.
The questioner turned to the audience. “Gentlebeings, we have Bo Did-Li and the Reapers, joined by the Jedi Younglings!” The audience merely watched. Kavar was getting more and more nervous. He knew that Besalisks were usually peaceful, but he didn't know what they had gotten into here.
“Uh, we'll just be on-” The paired guitars came down on either side of him like axe blades.
“You're on the stage. No one leaves the stage less they can sing the blues.” Bo told him in a gravelly voice.
“Sing?” Kavar squeaked. Bo nodded as the announcer cleared the way. Kavar looked around frantically. He almost wished the thugs would burst in and kill them all! Everyone watched, including his associates, and he walked up to the mike stand, adjusting it. The others ended up standing in a clump behind the other one. Through it all, it was silent.
He looked out, and spoke, his voice booming through the speakers. “Hi. ahem. Umm, My name's Kavar.”
There was a musical riff as Bo played the bass guitar in his upper hands.
Kavar looked at him, but beyond the riff, the male did nothing. He looked at the crowd. “I live in the Jedi Temple, that's a place cross town.”
Marai voice echoed as she replied, “They probably figured that out. Huh?”
Again Bo played the riff.
Kavar looked, then motioned toward the other younglings “This is Marai, Malak, Revan and Bastila and we're in trouble.”
“Ain't no doubt! Malak piped
Bo played the riff.
“See me and my Master Nomi Sunrider came back to town.” Kavar went on just talking.
Bo played the riff.
“But then she went and canceled and now I'm stuck watchin' these four.”
At that Bo Did-Li: began singing in a surprisingly melodious baritone. “And it's so hard... And it's sooo hard... Youngling sittin' these guys. He's got the..."
Again Bo played the riff.
Kavar was starting to feel the music, and the crowd was starting to look interested. “We found Atris had run away and we went to pick her up.”
Again Bo played the riff, then a rhythm line to extend it with his second guitar.
“A gravcoil blew in traffic, and my master's car got shot up!”
Bo played the riff.
“And these guys started to shooting. And we all got hijacked. Huh,”
Bo played the riff.
“Then we were crusing down the skyway, In this big, ol' Megatech, And it's so hard!”
Bo Did-Li leaned in. “YEAH! It's so hard... sittin' with these guys. He's got the... Jedi, youngling sittin' blues.
The other male leaned forward, “Jedi Jedi. youngling sittin' blues.” As he did, Bastila began motioning, and Revan lowered the mike.
Kavar came in on time, “I've got the...Youngling sitting blues.”
Bo was really belting out the rhythm line “Well alright! There's nights....you swear you were born to lose. Like tonight. And you wish your feet were walkin' in someone else's shoes."
Again Bo played the riff.
Kavar pointed out over the crowd. “Some guys are out to get us. And Atris' is probably dead. We ain't got a credit. And they should be in bed! And you outta luck. Outtaaa luck, watchin' these guys. I've got the....Jedi, youngling sitting blues.”
Again Bo played the riff. As Kavar sang on.
“Youngling sitting blues."
Instead of just the male the others youngling joined in a chorus “Jedi Jedi.”
“Youngling sitting bluuues.” Kavar almost wailed.
Bo turned, and Kavar found himself facing him. “There are nights...” Bo started
Kavar picked it up, “You swear you were born to lose...yeah!”
“Like tonight” Bo offered, then they went on together. “And you wish your feet were walkin' in someone else's shoes.” The crowd was clapping and shouting as the song continued.
Again Bo played the riff. Then began. “Some guy's out to get 'em and the girl's probably dead. They ain't got a credit...”
“AND WE SHOULD BE IN BED!!!” Bastila added
Bo went on, “And you outta luck. Outta luck watchin' these guys.”
Kavar picked it up, “I've got the....Jedi Youngling sitting blues.”
“Youngling sitting blues.”
“Youngling sitting blues.” Bo held the rhythm line, then ended it in several smaller bass riffs to silence. The crowd cheered and applauded wildy. Bo bowed to the audience, then motioned. Kavar found himself with Marai on one side, Bastila on the other bowing as the crowd cheered even louder.
“Where are we?” Kavar asked.
“Coco town. You trying for the transit station?” Kavar nodded, and Bo pointed at the door to the cantina. “Out that way, go west through the college campus, it's about eight klicks.” He looked at the door, which had been jumping as someone with more strength than sense was still slamming into it. “We got some new singers auditioning even now. Best get going.”
Kavar led the charge as the kids vacated the stage. There was a loud blam as the door hit the wall. Followed by a soft voice, and the click of a lot of guns being readied. “You're on the stage. No one leaves the stage less they can sing the blues.”
I loved that movie. I would've preferred Jimi Hendrix music, but...
Excellent chapter, as always.
Part of the reason I created the Kreelans is for the part you're about to read. Except for some underage drinking, suggestive language and a card game with cash involved, nothing else really needed it.
Expanded dance repertoire.
Atris nodded to Zulik as she and Rasa who had proven excellent at accompaniment accepted drinks. They sipped the tart juice as the Twi-Lek boy counted. “That's a hundred so far. Split two ways that's fifty each.” Rasa sighed, playing idly with the coins as he drank.
“I need at least 200 of my own to get home.” Atris commented.
The boy snorted. “You're going to Echana, we're going to Sleyron via Nar Shaddaa. Even if I have us all in stasis tubes, it's gong to be almost a thousand.” He looked at the Twi-Lek girls. “does this training of yours extend to more than one dancer?”
“It is not a dance for entertainment, Rasa.” Atris replied. “Among my people this is part of our religion. Our dance is part of our prayer to the goddess.”
“So you only dance alone? Not two or three?”
“Well of course we have dances with more than one. But it takes years to learn them.”
Rasa clapped his hands, and the girls, Zora and Kaliea leaped up. Each took a length of wood, then stood facing the same direction. They began with the first sword kitra she had done, and while she wanted to criticize, they had picked it up pretty well. She watched them, as did the crowd. They weren't up to the proper snuff to be sword dancers, but they could be in time.
Wait, they didn't need to be proper sword dancers; this was prayer for her, but to them it was merely a dance they hoped would earn them some money. If she were to pray, using their efforts to showcase hers...
“Can the girls handle two blades each?” She asked. He didn't reply. Instead they each picked up a pair of wooden dowels, and Rasa set the stage with a flurry of piping flute notes from his synthesizer. They faced the crowd at the ready, and he began one of the tunes he had used a few minutes before when she had done the Abattis, a kitra assuming attackers surrounding the dancer. However while she had started slowly, and only moved faster when the music did, they began at what she would have considered the middle of her own rendition.
The movements were not flawless to her eyes, but each girl matched the other as if they were mirrored images, their 'swords' protecting against at least three separate attackers. She was amazed by how well they did move, then chided herself. Among the Twi-Lek dance was as important as the sword was to the Echani. As her people would strive their entire lives to master a blade, these girls would strive to become the best at the dance; and if you convinced them to use a sword as part of it, it would become part of their dance and they would master that.
The music ended, the girls freezing into immobility. There was a flurry of applause, followed by more credit coins. At a word they snapped to something that might have been called salute, one blade up against their shoulders, the other with arm slightly extended, the second blade across their bodies, touching the upright blade, freezing again.
Atris went to the pile, and selected a pole a little taller than she was. “All right, girls, here's what we are going to do...”
Giving it that old College try...
The younglings poured out of the cantina, and Marai pointed toward the space filled with low buildings to the west. Kavar breathed a sigh of relief. All they had to do was get to the transit center...
Yeah right. He snorted to himself. Hopefully we can still get to Atris in time, but what then? We still have to get back to the temple unobserved. That only leaves me explaining why I took Master Sunrider's car on what is obviously a joy ride and not only lost it, but explaining how it got shot up. What else can go wrong?
There was the whooping of a siren, and he looked up. Something was coming fast, and he almost dived for cover until he saw it was a tow truck he knew he had seen before. There couldn't be two trucks that had been shot up like that!
It came down hovering on it's grav coils, and the door opened. Corlos sat there, grinning like a maniac. “I knew I'd find you!” He shouted.
“Keep it down, please!” Kavar pleaded as the others gathered behind him. “We've had other problems tonight.”
“I am sorry about the problems I caused you.” Corlos replied. “I got away from the constabulary long enough to drop the car at the garage as I promised. Since the blast damage was my fault, I told my friend I'd cover it. He should have it fixed in about an hour, and all you have to pay for is the cost of the replacement coil.”
“Yeah, just hand him fifty credits in cash and you can get the car.”
Kavar stared at him, mouth moving like a beached fish. “I knew it was fifty credits, but I don't have fifty credits in cash! None of us do!”
“Can't help you there. What is that?” He had looked up at a shout from a couple hundred meters behind the kids. They looked back at the huge man Slade they had seen in the chop shop. He was pointing in their direction, and the boss was with him, signaling angrily as he spoke into a comlink.
“That's our other problem.” Malak commented. “We run?”
“You had to ask?” He and Revan took off toward the college.
“I can help a bit with this.” Corlos said. “Scoot.” The truck lifted, spun, then charged like a missile on their back track.
Kavar tossed Bastila up on his back again as he and Marai began trotting after the younger pair. “How much good is he going to do?” He asked as someone among the thieves following them opened fire with a slug thrower.
As if in answer, a dozen constabulary patrol cars lit off their lights and sirens, diving after the truck. Obviously he had broken pursuit, but they had been watching for him like a Hawk bat that was waiting for a granite slug to crawl out of concealment. Now they not only had him, but whoever was firing as targets, and as the cars on the ground began to frantically run for cover, other had started shooting, and added themselves to the target list.
But some were smart enough not to shoot, and two of them were chasing the younglings.
Kavar had not even bothered to tell the younger kids to look for somewhere to hide this time. Unfortunately this wasn't a two or four lane street with solid walls around it, it was what would have been a residential area in any other city, two lane streets with small single houses set back, making it as wide as a three lane road, but most of it broken by trees, fences, hedges, and other personal gear. He saw Revan leap, catch the upper pole of a child's swing set, and using the Force throw herself over a parked car and the fence beyond it to land on the next yard. Malak used a wide spreading tree, shooting to the top like the primate Childers described only to pause for a moment, then yell at Revan, pointing. The girl paused, then waved toward the following pair, running toward and across the street.
Kavar had to trust them, they didn't have time to think about what they were doing. “They're getting close!” Marai shouted.
“Can't stop that!” He screamed back.
The girl stopped, holding her hands in front of her face. Kavar skidded to a stop. “What are you doing?”
Marai looked at the small balls of the force she had created. “Making an impression.” She replied. She turned, and as she swung across, each ball shot from her hand as if they were bullets. Across the street house windows shattered, and alarms went off. Then she turned. The lead car was only about a hundred meters away, and she stood, hands out, eyes closed. Then she closed her hands as if grabbing, lifting them up and to her side. The right forward grav coil on the car suddenly ripped off, flying away from the car, which hit the street skidding at that loss. The following car screeched to a halt. Behind them some of those constabulary cars had lifted and were turning in their direction.
They ran. “I've seen you do that ball trick before.” Kavar said.
“The nice part is when the constables come, they'll find broken windows, but no projectiles.”
“And how did you rip off their coil?”
She shrugged, giggling. “What can I say? I've always been good with my hands.”
The building the younger Jedi had marked was brightly lit with a lot of people now standing outside watching the free show put on by tow truck, thugs, and constables. As Kavar came to a stop, letting Bastila down again, he noticed that instead of being dressed in casual clothes, these people looked like they had stripped sheets from their beds to come out here and stand. Or why everyone appeared to have drinks or snacks in their hands; unless watching police pursuits was a spectator sport.
“I'm hungry.” Bastila said.
“I thought you were Bastila.” Kavar said without thinking.
“I am Bastila.” She replied with the look you would give any smart ass. “But right now I'm hungry too.”
“Maybe we can liberate some snacks.” Marai suggested. Both Revan and Malak had already disappeared into the building.
“If nothing else, we can go to ground until that is over with.” Kavar motioned. Far above them there was a flash of light, and an aircar spiraled toward the ground in flames.
They went in, and found it was almost as crowded inside. Music was playing, but low enough that the neighbors wouldn't complain. Like outside, everyone was wearing early bedding.
A young man with a braided set of tree branches sat by the door, swaying slightly. “Welcome to Lambda Ro's reopening toga party.” He slurred to the pair. “Drinks and the buffet are in the back. Dancing outside under the light show, and there's a pazaak game upstairs.” As he mentioned a direction, he pointed, each time almost falling off the stool.
“Lambda Ro?” Marai asked in a whisper.
“Fraternity house. I hear they accidentally burned down their old house a couple of months ago during another party.”
“Let's hope they aren't going for a repeat performance.” Marai commented. “What's with the clothes, or lack there of?”
“Back about two millennia before the Coruscanti got into space they had an ancient empire where this is the way they dressed.” Kavar waved at the crowd. “They were also known for partying to excess.”
A girl came by with a tray loaded with drinks. She held it out, and Kavar's raised hand stopped the other two. “They're too young for alcohol.”
“Are you sure?” The girl asked. “They could be Kreelans.”
“Not Kreelan. I'm Bastila.”
The girl looked down. “Oh she is so cute!” Kavar found the tray thrust into his hands, and the girl snatched Bastila up off the ground. “It's way past your bed time, honey.”
“I'm hungry.” Bastila said.
“Well I'll take you to the buffet, and we'll take care of that right now.” Before either of the others could comment, she pushed through the crowd.
Marai watched her go, then looked at her elder. “That's been taken care of. How long do you think we should hide?”
“Half an hour, maybe a little longer.” Kavar looked, but couldn't see his other half liter sized charges. He decided. “Mingle, eat if you can, don't drink anything alcoholic, and I'll come and get you when I think enough time has passed.” She nodded, then headed for the buffet.
The sword was pure, the music brisk. Atris danced, blindfolded in the midst of mayhem. She was using her ritual brand, and her two opponents dodged beyond it's sweep, striking at her. But she, the sword, the dance and the music were one.
The music stopped, and she held her pose effortlessly. They had been at this now for hours, and the girls had improved rapidly. That was the 19th kitra, and she felt as if she could go on forever. The applause began and she stood tall, pulling free her blindfold. Coins spattered down with the younger Twi-Leki boy snatching them up to add to the growing pile before Rasa. The girls were breathing heavily, but they took their bows in the glow of their perspiration.
“How many more of these Kitra do you know?” Rasa asked.
“There is only one more, though there is a dance I have wanted to try.” Atris replied. “But our audience has been replenished as it has flowed away. We could go back to Kitra 7 without repeating for our watchers.”
He spoke to the girls. “They can do a couple more, but 7 is one of the last ones with only one person, correct?”
“The first ten are singles, the next ten are pairs or groups, yes.”
“They can go for two more then.”
“Oh no.” Atris shook her head. The dance I spoke of is from a ballet based on a legend. It is called Kitran Kashin She, the Shadow Defeated By Love.”
She explained the Kashin Dra, the shadow warrior. “The ballet is almost as old as the legend itself. The Shadow warrior has attacked the village, killed and wounded a number of warriors, including her brother and father. The young girl goes into the darkness to face the horrible monster in the name of vengeance. But when she finds him, she sees it is but a man bearing a horrible curse. Her weapon is struck from her hands, and she must bring the cursed warrior back from the brink using only her dance and love.” She blushed. “I have done part of what the girl did in the legend. Ever since then, I have wanted to dance it.”
“Then it would be perfect.” He pointed at the pile. “A couple more like that last one, and we'll have enough for you to get home at least, and a couple after that, we'll have enough.”
“You said you were all under contract.” Atris said. The term had bothered her when he had.
“Then why didn't your employer send enough money to bring you to him?”
“You know how the Hutt are. I could have sent my sisters off with what he sent, but I wanted to make sure they arrived.” His face clouded. “Some of the Hutt are criminals and slavers. They could steal them away, say they never arrived, and refuse to pay. But if we are there,” He motioned toward the other boy, “they cannot.”
Atris sighed. She knew the Hutt could still steal the girls away. Just make sure the boys never woke up, or were sold elsewhere. But they had told her of the poverty of their own family. If there was even the chance that this Hutt was honest, their family would be repaid.
She sighed, motioning toward the girls, and explained the last Kitra's movements.
Debate and delivery
“No, that isn't the way it is done.” Kavar said as he sipped his drink. “The Jedi aren't hired guns of the Republic Senate. And they are not heroes of the outer planets. They are neutral, taking no sides. That is what makes them excellent for negotiating.”
“That's shlackt.” The student replied. “In sociology Professor Kran points at the Corellian Corporations building their new factories on Mengis II. They came in a century ago, threw up factories, polluted the air and water, and finally the people had to blow one of them up to gain their attention.”
Kavar shook his head. “I studied that incident at the Cornet Temple on Corellian.” He set down the drink to use his hands to count. “Point one, the surveyor team that had done the initial survey had ignored a microbe called by them, simply Mengis Spirochete 10A. It grows on the edges of volcanic sites both in the atmosphere and oceans. Because it is anaerobic; it doesn't grow well in an oxygen atmosphere, it is rare outside the oceans, or in any well oxygenated water.
“The surveyors did record that fluorine and sulfur are rare elements in that atmosphere; in fact there is more gold on Mengis II than sulfur, more platinum than fluorine. When Mengis II was approached by the Corps they were ecstatic that anyone in the core would consider their world as a production center; all they had before that was farming, and had not as yet found the Follva berries used in Mengis wine and brandy.
“The company that did the environmental impact report didn't know about Spirochete 10A, so they never took it into account. After all, would you expect something as rare as say the Granthis worm of Alderaan to be taken into account when checking an entire planet?” He looked at the faces. “There are more people on Alderaan than Granthis worms. After all they live about five thousand years, and reproduce only once every two centuries.”
They nodded at his explanation. “So the factories are set up, and suddenly the atmosphere and water have fifty times as much of those rare elements as before. Spirochete 10A goes through a massive reproduction cycle, and thirty years later, have gone through almost fifty thousand generations, and mutated into something that can attack the farm animals the settlers brought, which caused he Mengis Plague. It wasn't for another ten years that anyone thought to blame the factories, and the firebombing was at the height of the Plague itself; more likely some terrified farmer striking back at what he thought was the cause rather than a reasoned attack.
“Exar Kun was one of the Jedi sent on that mission.”
“The Sith lord?” One of them gasped.
“He didn't fall to the Dark Side for ten years more.” Kavar told them. “He was an apprentice on his first Padawan assignment, like I am. But he was the one who discovered the cause of the Plague, and knowing that, they were able to find a cure for it. The corporations immediately began the process of cleaning the contamination from both air and water, and began using substitutes for those elements in their processing.
“But as the toxins were removed, the Follva farmers that had sprung up during the height of the pollution began to complain. Again, Kun discovered that the berries needed traces of sulfur to grow to the size and ripeness needs for making the wine. So other corporations began manufacturing fertilizer with enhanced sulfur, and everyone is now happy again.
“But it was a Jedi team sent to negotiate that made those discoveries. Without us there would be civil war there.”
“All right, sometimes the Jedi aren't interfering.” The original questioner admitted.
“If only they would help others as much.” A woman commented. The group at the table looked up, and two of the men leaped to their unsteady feet, saluting. Of course, if they had been in uniform instead of togas, it would have looked smarter.
“Captain Dodonna! It's good you came.” One of them said. “Have you found the bar and buffet?”
“Yes, Silen, I have.” The woman looked at the young Jedi. She was dressed in a crisp Republic Navy uniform. “And you are?”
“Padawan Kavar from the Jedi Temple.” Kavar stood, bowing.
“And how do you feel about the rising unrest beyond the Republics border in the Outer Rim? The aggression of the Mandalorians on their neighbors?”
“It is a serious problem, and will grow worse if something is not done.” Kavar admitted.
Her eyes locked on him like gun turrets. “Is that the response of your Order? Of is it your own opinion?”
“Mainly my opinion, Captain.” He replied. “While the Jedi are investigating, we are hampered by the fact that outside of the Republic itself, we have limited authority. We cannot go into a planet under siege and negotiate unless asked, and too many outside the Republic share the beliefs of these.” He motioned toward the others at the table. “That we're nothing but meddlers who have our own agenda, or will spout the Republic's instead of finding out how to help.”
She clasped her hands behind her back, rocking on her heels in thought. “I wish I had access to your archives in this matter, young Padawan. Even without the direct help of the Jedi, that would assist the navy in threat analysis. But the Jedi have been unwilling to assist in that regard.”
“Because if we helped even that much some outside the Republic would claim we are helping you prepare for a war that can be avoided.” He considered. “If someone who is being assigned along that border were to ask, perhaps they would allow that person to check the files, provided they are not merely handed over to ONI when it happened.”
“Yes.” She rocked for a moment. “I have been assigned to a task force in that region of space; I am leaving in fact two days from now. If a young Padawan were to ask the masters...” She left the question unasked.
“I could put it to my own master, and ask her to speak with the Council.”
“Good.” She clasped her hands in front of her. “Which begs the one question I have not asked. What is an underage Padawan doing at a fraternity party fifty kilometers from the Temple? Even as all those senior to him are meeting with the Senate?”
Kavar explained all of the trials and tribulations he and his fellow younglings had gone through. The woman nodded, then lifted her com link. “My aide is bringing my car around to the front. Gather your minions and he will drop you over at the transit center. Unfortunately, I cannot help with your financial problems, an officer assigned to the Reserve Officers Training for the college is not that well paid, and until I assume command officially, I am on half pay. But I can help you that much”
“Thank you, Captain. I'll get them.” Kavar stood, headed for the buffet. Since none of the others had found him that seemed the best choice.
Bastila was sitting at a table, surrounded by students. They were all trying to cheer her up, and someone had gotten her a glass of blue Nerf milk.
“Didn't want to be a Jedi.” She said morosely. The students made sounds of commiseration. “Wanted to stay with my father. Even if his new wife didn't like me.”
“That was mean, sending you away.” One of the crowd said.
“Thought I was getting between them.”
Someone shushed the speaker. “She went on for fifteen minutes about using swear words when we found her sitting alone. Please, we don't need further explanations.”
“What a... nasty person.”
“Listen, do you want some more milk?” A girl asked, the same one that had brought Bastila back to the buffet originally. As if it were something stronger, Bastila merely held out the glass silently as the girl poured. “We're out.”
“Yeah, it's not like milk grows on trees.”
“Doesn't grow on trees.” Bastila replied with that infernal logic of hers. “You get it from Nerf. They're animals.” She sipped, then saw Kavar. “Want to go home.”
“We've got a ride, we'll be back at the temple pretty quick.”
“Not the Temple. I want to go home!” She began crying, and those around her patted her on the back, and looked daggers at Kavar.
“Listen we're not going to finish this conversation with her tonight. Can you watch her until I get the others?”
“Are they babies stolen from their families too?” The girl with the empty milk bottle glared at him.
“She was not stolen.”
“No.” Bastila said gulping. “They gave me away. They didn't love me enough!” And began bawling again.
“Go get the others.” The girl said in disgust. “We'd finally gotten her to quit crying until you showed up.”
Without a word he left. This was obviously going to be a problem with Bastila for quite a while yet. He moved toward the stairs. What could have caused her to break down that badly?”
“It's all due to unfocused sexual tension.” A voice said as if in answer. He froze. He knew that voice, and wondered why it came through a closed door. He pushed the door open. Malak was sitting beside an attractive girl in a toga that had no chance of concealing that she was mammalian. Hell, you'd need a tent to conceal that fact! Her blue eyes were focused on the boy as if he were the font of all wisdom, her long blond hair falling forward in another futile attempt to conceal her sex. Yet the boy's eyes looked into her own.
“So Roga is saying I am too easy with others because he's unfocused about our relationship?”
“Exactly.” Malak replied. “He wants a closer relationship with you, but he's jealous because you don't give all of your attention to him when you're out together. You're such a naturally friendly and bubbly person with everyone.”
“You're so smart.” She hugged him, and Kavar sighed as he noticed that the instant the girl couldn't see his eyes, he was staring at what he had been thrust into. “I think you've helped me so much. Isn't there something I could do to... repay you?”
“Since he's not Kreelan, that would be no.” Kavar said interrupting, he hoped.
The girl looked up at him, then at Malak. “You really are only thirteen?”
She hugged him again, and again his eyes locked on his target. “When you're older, come see me.” She took a piece of paper from a pad, jotted something down, and handed it to the younger boy. “Take care of him for me.” She told Kavar as she released her death grip. "I have plans for that day.”
He gestured, and Malak walked from the room after waving to the girl. Kavar motioned, and they headed toward the stairs. “We have a lift to the transit center. Where are Revan and Marai?”
“Marai is upstairs, and Revan is near the bar.”
“Let's get Revan first.” Kavar shook his head. “Is sex all you think about?”
“Of course not.” Malak replied equably. “I do have to study, practice with my light saber, and meditate. So I can't think about sex every second.”
“So it's what, third?”
“No, it's first. But that's why I'm so good with a lightsaber, because I focus all of my frustration there.”
Kavar shook his head. He saw Revan, and froze in shock. The girl had a thimble sized glass, and as he watched in horror, she poured it down her throat. She stood there, rolling the taste around in her mouth. “Nice. A bit acrid on the aftertaste, but all in not not bad.”
Kavar pushed his way through, and saw a boy at the bar pouring something. “This is tihaar.” He handed it to the girl in satisfaction. “Try that.”
“May I ask what the hell is going on here?” Kavar asked in a growl.
The boy looked up. “I just saw this Kreelan girl standing here, and I'm introducing her to some of the better drinks.” From the shady look on his face, Kavar knew why he had begun that introduction.
“h'llo, Kavar.” Revan said, then the Tihaar followed whatever else she had drunk before.
“She is not a Kreelan.” Kavar rasped.
The boy stared at him, then down at the smiling girl who was holding out her glass. “Oh Fierfek.”
“That is a Mandalorian word that means-” Revan began
“Revan.” Kavar interrupted. He bent down. “How many drinks did your friend give you.”
She looked at him, then raised her hand and began counting her fingers silently. “Six?” Kavar turned, but the seducer had consider discretion the better part of valor and fled for his life.
Kavar motioned, and Revan set down the glass, and followed. He only hoped Marai wasn't causing mayhem like the others.
He found Marai sitting at a pazaak table, with cards in front of her as she looked at the angry man across from her. “Stand.” She said.
The player flipped up his cards. “Natural 19. Beat that.”
“Marai, we have a ride-” Kavar stopped talking as the girl raised her hand. She flipped up her cards. She had a twenty.
The player glared at them, then at her, “You cheating little Kreelan-”
“She is not a Kreelan!” Kavar roared. “She's a Jedi youngling, and is exactly how old she looks!”
The man stopped, “She's fourteen? And a Jedi youngling?” Kavar nodded. “Then she's a cheating Jedi-”
“Face it, Wustrum.” One of his fellows said. “Even Jedi can't magic a better hand. It just helps them not ride a losing one down in flames. Any one good with math can do that.” He leaned down, pushing the pile of credits over to Marai. “But it sounds like you have to leave, so take your winnings and go.”
Marai stood, raking them in, then handed them to Kavar. “Enough to cover the grav coil we have to buy. It's the only reason I got into the game.”
Kavar took them. "Fine! Between you gambling, Revan drinking, Malak trying to seduce someone half again his age by giving advice to the lovelorn, and Bastila crying about going home again, I have had just about enough.” He stopped. “Where's Revan and Malak?”
“While you were running off at the mouth about us, Revan turned green, and ran off to the fresher with Malak in tow.”
Kavar stormed out of the room and down the hall to the fresher, where Malak was chatting with another toga clad woman. “Malak, we're going to have a long talk about you when we get to the temple you thirteen year old boy.” The girl looked astonished, blushed, and left quickly. “Honestly, if that's the first thing you think about that talk is coming way too late.”
The door opened, and another girl stepped out. “If your waiting for that girl throwing up at the toilet, you may have to wait a little longer.”
Kavar merely stood there, gaping. While everyone else had merely torn sheets from beds, this girl seemed to not have bothered, and was well, just say not wearing a sheet. Or anything else for that matter. She gave Kavar a sweet smile, then walked away and down the stairs.
Kavar felt something hitting him, and turned as Marai's index finger thumped against his forehead this time. “What is it, Marai?”
“You can't blame him when his role model had his tongue down around his ankles.”
“Oh shut up.”
Some of you might be worried that we have three people flirting or seducing children. As someone who worked at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in california, I noticed a lot of guys who didn't pay attention to what a girl looked like; rather they went by the person's actions. Since it was an age where people were more flamboyant in their speech, and flirtation was a national passtime, I could understand that reaction, though as I was in my mid forties I didn't play unless the woman was a lot closer to my age.
One thing we taught those women who found customers reacting... shall I say favorably to the flirtation, was if they came on too strong, find an older man, act as if it is your father come home from the sea say, and give him a big hug and wet sloppy kiss. It was a code to tell the man that you needed help RTFM (Right This Friggin Minute).
I spent so much time playing 'designated Daddy', that I didn't have time to flirt myself.
There were people as actors, however, who were just as stupid. I found a girl looking as if she was terrified, and asked her what the problem was. The problem was she was 14, and some of the guys in her guild were flirting with her, assuming she was much older. I bought her dinner, and the next week I delivered an embroidered T Shirt labeled LEGAL IN 1988.
They never bothered her again.
This is the end of it. I reached the end of both the movie and my work. Enjoy.
The Shadow Defeated By Love
The dark blue limo drifted to a stop at the main doors of the transit center, and the younglings poured our. “Thank you, Lieutenant Karath. Luck on your new assignment.”
“I don't have a new assignment.” The man said sourly. “Captain Dodonna was reassigned. I'm staying here to work for her replacement.”
“I am sorry for bringing up a sore subject, sir.”
“Not your fault. Best go.”
“Yes, sir.” He turned. Heading in no doubt on the track of the others. He found Revan and Malak standing with Bastila between them. “Where's Marai?”
“We came in as the entertainers mentioned something called the Shadow Defeated By Love. She went that way right before she came out.” Revan said, jerking her thumb toward the center of the room
Before he could ask, he heard soft intro music. In the center of the large circle of viewing people, he saw a figure in street clothes, a stick held forward as if it were a sword, and a blindfold. She looked like...
Atris had downloaded the music and videos of the opera, and stood as the intro swelled. the brave girl travels into the deep woods alone. She looks around, for even being brave does nothing to stop you from feeling your fear. The monster had killed her brother, and wounded her father, she would gain her vengeance or die trying.
She heard the cry; the wailing scream of the monster, then she turned. It knelt there, blade at it's side, the other arm covering the face. The head came back, and again it gave a mournful howl. Atris wondered who was howling. It wasn't on the recording, she was sure. Maybe Rasa had programmed his synthesizer The monster turned, and the girl's blade already at en garde lowered, the howl came again, a sound of horrible loss, followed by the soft cries of weeping.
She approaches slowly, ready to fight, but her blade drops lower as she approaches. It is a man, she realizes, a man seeming struck by madness. The creature looked up, and his blade dashes hers from her hand and she screams, backing away. He rises slowly, like something from a horror video.
The girl turns to flee, and her pursuer is a blur of movement, just suddenly in front of her. She gives another scream as she stumbles to a stop, but it is almost drowned out by the gasp from the audience. Over and over again she dodges away and he is always there, always ahead of her. He is a blur, long wild hair flying around him as he moves, playing with his prey.
The girl fell in the middle of the forest, winded at last. Her chest rising and falling so hard in her terror. She holds an arm out as if to ward him off, as he stalks around her before stopping again where she can see death coming.
She dodges as the blade comes down where she was kneeling. She is back on her knees a meter away, holding out her hands, wordlessly entreating the man trapped within, and leaps up to dive over the blade as he tries to cut her in half. She rolls to her feet, backing as she dances away her arms held as if to a lover, and the monster follows, his own feet joining the impromptu dance she has begun. Again he strikes, and again; yet she stays ahead, her dance drawing him after like a moth following a candle. She sees her sword, and dives, rolls, taking up her sword again; and the monster freezes as she does.
It is trapped by her movements, caught in the spell of her dance. She knows she can strike it down, because part of it wishes it can die. Wants to die so desperately that she know he will not stop her. But she yearns in her heart to redeem the noble warrior reduced to this monster. She bends down, the sword gently laid on the ground. She stands weaponless, but not defenseless, for she has the power now. Her arms again lift, woman calling to the part of man that is animal, but the part every woman yearns to hold, possess and conquer. She dances side to side, the creature clumsily following, and as she does, she comes closer, the creature merely following her movements so it is she now pursuing him. Then her hand touches the arm with the sword, her other delicately taking it away and discarding it. He still follows her dance, trapped in his mindless fury as she now leads in a circling dance, drawing closer, yet closer, his swordhand now laid upon her waist, his other caught in her right hand as her own left rests upon his shoulder as they pause.
The monster's hands flex, not angrily, but as if he is feeling his hands for the first time in a long period, holding her to him firmly but gently. Now the monster begins to lead in the dance, the girl following, their motions becoming joyous and free. He pulls her to him, and her hands catch in his hair.
Atris froze, but the music compelled her to lift on her toes, and press her lips to the other as she should as the music ended.
In dance there is one shining moment. When the audience has been drawn in, when all they can see is the picture they have created in symbiosis with the dancers; and the real world no longer exists. For that timeless moment the real world is the dream, and is content to wait for them to return. There is a moment of dead silence as they return to their bodies, and all that remains then is first a deep breath in relief, then thunderous applause. Atris pulled back from the kiss, her hand pulling the blindfold free.
Marai looked at her as the applause threatened to bring the entire building down. She leaned closer, and Atris stopped her. “Ever since you told me of it, I have wanted to dance this dance.” Marai whispered.
Atris shoved away as a veritable hail of credit chips landed around them. “Not enough to actually follow through with it.” She hissed through her smile.
Marai caught her hand, whirled her into a hug which drew shouts and more applause. “So you ran away without even explaining?” Marai whispered. “We need to talk.”
“If I was not worthy of your attentions before, there is nothing else to discuss.”
Marai let her go except for one hand, then extended her other arm. “Bow, Atris, we have to thank the audience!” They bowed, then again. Atris let go of Marai, and both waved a hand toward Rasa for renewed applause, then bowed to each other.
“Fine.” Atris hissed. “I should have enough to go home, you have the time it takes before my flight leaves to talk.” She turned, and stormed off, followed by Marai. She found a section of the huge room that wasn't packed with travelers, and glanced at her chrono. “You have ten minutes.”
Marai looked at her, then closed her eyes, and sighed. “I'm not sure how to say this.”
“By opening your mind, then opening your mouth and letting your thoughts become words.”
Marai chuckled. “All right, here goes. Have you ever been frightened, Atris?”
“As a child I found things that I fear. Spiders, having insects crawl upon me. I grew out of it.”
Marai laughed out loud. “I remember someone screaming for a week after she saw a Tsarid spider just a few months ago.”
“I did not say it was in an instant!”
Marai's smile vanished. “When I found what Kashin Dra meant, what you had done meant in relation to it, it scared the hell out of me.” She wiped her face. “Everything I have heard about my mother's actions makes me think that the only intelligent and selfless thing she did was when she abandoned me. I have met so many younglings at the temples who had it even worse to know that this group right here,” she motioned toward those she had come with, “had more love in their lives than the average among us.
“So think. That is what I came from; a woman from all accounts who was too young to have a child but was stupid and had one anyway. That threw me away like trash rather than grow up herself and learn to be responsible. A woman that as a parent could not be trusted with a pet!” She thumped her chest. “What make you think I would be any better? That I could marry and support another? That I could raise a child with the love they would not only need but deserve?” Her sentence end in a plea.
Atris wanted to reach out, to hold the one she knew would be her mate one day. But she understood speaking from fear, whether she admitted it or not. She had been terrified when she had found she had love that could reach beyond [i[Kashin Dra[/i]. But at the same time her heart had leaped at the challenge.
And been spurned.
“One that has been through Kashin Dra has been formed in the fires of Echana herself, by her own hands and in her own forge where she made us all. But those ones were made special, for her own great work in the universe. Their soul has gone to the brink of damnation, looked into it, and returned. Such a person can not fail in life afterward, their greatest fears and trials are behind them. The only way they can fail is if they do not take the chance.”
“I know that from reading about the Echani, Atris. But I am not sure in my heart that I could grow into what you think I am.” Marai turned. “I don't know that I ever will be what you want me to be.” She looked down, shaking her head.
“I didn't say I would fail, but that I might. And I will not bind myself to someone only to fail us both. I know you feel that I have rejected you, but I reject myself more.” She turned. “I ask for time. We have spent two decades between us learning to be Jedi, and we are still not done with that. Can you...” She sighed. “Until we are knights, until we have proven ourselves, I ask you to wait, to let me grow into what you would wish.”
Atris sighed, then stepped up to the other woman, lifting her face to kiss her gently. “Until then.”
Kavar looked up as Atris and Marai returned. He noticed the clasped hands, the looks Atris gave the older girl. He wasn't sure about what was happening, but he'd figure it out eventually. Before him the Twi-Lek boy who had introduced himself as Rasa had made five piles of credit chips. Not all were the same size, because there were coins up to 20 credits in value, and they were stacked accordingly.
“We have 1100 credits thanks to that last dance, Atris. That means you have 220 credits.”
“No.” Atris knelt, touching the two girls on the shoulders. “It means all of you have 1100, enough to go without putting more than three in stasis.” She caught Rasa's shoulder. “Wake the others before you talk with the Hutt, don't let them become slaves. Please. I have a very bad feeling about that.”
“As long as I live, Atris.” He clasped her own shoulder. “May the Force be with you.”
Atris got her bag, and they went down the stairs to the tram station. They climbed in as the train arrived.
“It's two stops over to-” Kavar felt danger, and turned. The chop shop boss, followed by Childers came into the car.
“Only one to eternity.” The boss snarled. “Where is it.”
“Don't give me that! One of you took it out of my office!” He drew a blaster, his hand shaking so hard with fury that Kavar wasn't sure he could hit anything.
Kavar spoke in the tone of someone dependent on the good will of someone who had no reason to have any. “It would help if you would tell us what we took, so we know if we did.”
The boss almost howled, holstering his gun. “Childers, do it, kill them.”
“Boss, they're just kids-”
“Jedi kids! Do you think they won't talk? Kill them!”
Childers sighed, drew his blaster, then smartly conked his boss on the head. The man looked at him confused, and Childers hit him again. This time he fell. Childers looked at them, holstered his pistol, then walked over. “One of you jacked his magazine.”
“Magazine? Malak was reading one.” Kavar reached into his jacket and pulled it out. He stared at the cover, where a blond human in only enough clothes to avoid being arrested was smiling out at the reader. It was marked with the symbol to say near human races and some aliens that humans might considered attractive were also revealed in graphic detail. Kavar glared at the boy as he handed it over.
“Personally I read this for the articles.” Childers commented, flipping through the pages until he found a sheet of foolscap. “So did the boss, but he also likes to jot down his distribution lists as he does.” He folded the paper, and slipped it into the boss' pocket. “Though their centerfold this month was well worth further examination.”
“Isn't she?” Malak enthused. Why she was holding...” He looked at the others. “And the article about Alderaan's immigration policy was thought provoking.”
Childers didn't answer, he merely hoisted the man onto his shoulder. “Just get home, kids.”
“What about you?” Revan asked. She motioned toward the man on his shoulder. “Aren't you going to be in trouble?”
Childers smiled. “I was looking for a job when I found this one.” The train pulled up and stopped, and he walked out. A moment later, the train went on. The kids climbed out at the next stop, walking down from the platform. Across the road was the garage, and they walked over. Kavar knocked, and a solenoid clicked as the door opened. The Fantom sat there looking as if all that had happened tonight was a wash and wax.
“Great.” Kavar said. Now... An elevator dropped down, and a large man stepped from it. He wore the ear and hair rings of an Onderon Beast rider.
“You the owner?”
“Yes sir.” Kavar pulled out the pile of credit chips.
“Fine, seventy credits will cover it.”
Kavar froze. “Corlos said it was fifty.”
The man looked at him impassively. “This is Grygar's, not Corlos's garage. I buy the parts, and I said it was seventy.”
“Oh we are so hosed.” Malak moaned.
Bastila walked past the others, toward the huge man. She stopped, and he looked down to glare at her.
“Are you named after Grygar, the legendary hero of the Beast riders?” She asked.
He stared at her for a long moment. “Yeah, kid, I was.”
For the first time, she didn't correct the speaker. “Grygar was the first beast rider, if I remember the story correctly. He found a Brantarii egg that had fallen from it's mother's nest. As he took it home to eat, the egg cracked open. He pulled it out, and the young Brantarii looked into his eyes, and formed the first bond. He named that Brantarii Mugi.” She looked down at her doll.
“My father told me all of the legends of Grygar when I was little. Of how he brought the beast riders and the people of Iziz back together, and his gentle manner convinced even the daughter of the city-king that they were good people. But some in the city wanted the Beast riders to stay outcast and enemy. So they attacked Grygar. Mugi fought at his side, and as Mugi killed the last of them, that man killed the noble creature.” She hugged it, and the doll growled as if in anger.
“But it was like Mugi was a part of the Grygar's heart. When he lost his one true friend, he no longer cared about life or people. The city people began to fear him, and the king, though it saddened his heart, asked Grygar to come to a meeting, and there he was going to kill him. Grygar knew his fate, but he came. But others of his tribe were searching desperately for something to save him.
“When Grygar came, he did not resist when they disarmed him and brought him to the throne room, for if such a wicked thing must be done, the king refused to give an order. He would take it upon himself. So he stood, his sword raised as the door was flung open, and Grygar's brother came in, leading his own daughter Sahsti, who was only my age.
“Sashti walked to her uncle, standing between him and the king, and handed him the egg she herself had gathered for her own Brantarii. She said these words.” Bastila took her doll, and held up in offering. “She said, 'To heal your heart, my uncle, you need this more than I'.”
They all stood there, none more stunned than Grygar. He looked at the offering, then at the girl. Then he reached out. As his fingers closed on it, the doll seemed to purr in welcome. “I used to have one of these, a long time ago.” He stroked it, and the doll really did purr this time. He looked at Bastila.
“My mother is really good at 'lectronics. When I told her that he always sounded mean, she adjusted the programming chip. He will always sound the way that will make you feel better. I named him Mugi.”
The man looked at the gift. “And your father told you about the end of that story.”
Bastila looked down, then went on in a small voice. “I lied. My mother told me the stories. I call her my new mother because she tried so hard to make me happy before they sent me away, though I knew she is the one that convinced my father to let me go so I could grow to my true potential. When Grygar held the egg, it opened, and the young dragon bonded with him. He named it Mugi, and the new dragon healed his wounded heart, and he lived happy for the rest of his days.”
Grygar looked at it for a long moment, then set it down. Kavar snatched the keys that the man threw at him. “Take the car.”
“But the money.”
“It's not important.” He picked up the doll again as it made a sound as if questioning. “This is.”
The ride home was silent. Kavar parked the car, and they went down to the younglings quarters.
“That was really nice, Bastila.”
“Had to.” She sighed. “The Jedi I have spoken to tell me I have to break all ties with my family. That is the last tie to my father. To my mother.” She sniffled. “I miss them both. I want to see them.” She looked up as tears flowed down her cheeks. “But I can't.”
Marai knelt, hugging the girl. A moment later the other two girls were also holding her. “We'll always be there for you, Bastila. We may be light years away, but we're family, and we're more of a family after what happened to us tonight than we would have been being born in the same house.”
“Count on it, kid.” Kavar said. She looked at him for a long moment, then just nodded.
“Time for bed.” Revan yawned. One by one they went off, and Kavar turned off the lights in the common room. He walked down to the left, and returned to him room. He had just started undressing when his com link bleeped.
“Could you come to my rooms, Padawan?” Nomi asked.
“At once.” He pulled on his robes, and headed further up the building. Nomi Sunrider was at her desk, looking at her monitor.
“I was just wondering what this was about?”
He looked at his own face as he and the youngling took off with the car.
He explained everything.
She nodded, then turned back to her desk. “That will be all, Padawan.”
“No yelling, or telling me that Jedi don't do something, master?”
She turned back. “You had to help one of the younglings in need, and everything else just happened along to that goal. I do think you should have monitored them better in the fraternity house, but anyone can slip. So no harm, no punishment. Oh, and in the morning go down to the archives and gather the files I marked. Captain Dodonna has gained that much.”
“And Kavar?” He looked back. “Well done on your first solo mission.”
“I wasn't solo, Master, we all worked together to succeed. But thank you.”
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