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Old 12-30-2006, 09:07 PM   #150
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igyman: Well that's good news. Glad you liked it. I admit that I found a block in which I was able to beat down but that is with Chapter 37. I had to rewrite part of the chapter because I have plans for some new characters.

For everyone: A new chapter for y'all and I hope you enjoy. It involves some action with my favorite scoundrel and later Michaela.

Chapter 34
The smoke was thick with the heat of the metal against the lightsaber as Atton fought to counteract the moves that Jaqrand made. The hate he felt from his former comrade was thick and he briefly wondered if this is what Kirabaros meant when it was so thick that you couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t ponder it for long for Jaqrand entered into a complicated move. It nearly startled Atton for he recognized it. He had taught it to his former comrade and he was able to counter it and then rolled clear of the strike that came after. He rolled to his feet just as Jaqrand chuckled and said, “I see that you haven’t lost it,” and struck again.

Atton replied as he countered, “It’s just an act.”

“Heh,” was Jaqrand’s response as he clashed his blades with Atton’s lightsaber. As they locked, he pushed Atton all the way into the wall, pleased that he made Atton groan. He then said, “You have remembered the old ways.”

Atton looked at Jaqrand in the eye. He returned the look of hatred with a brief one of sadness before giving Jaqrand a head butt. He replied, “That’s a little something new.”

Jaqrand stared at Atton with a burning hate. It masked his slight fear for he always knew that Atton was the better of the two. He had the distinct feeling that he couldn’t win but he thought that maybe that he could hit Atton where it would hurt the most. He then gave a menacing smile and then said, “Maybe so but what good is it if you can’t protect that which is precious to you?”

Atton knew better than to fall bait to that since Kirabaros never did anything halfway. He couldn’t help but wonder though if Jaqrand knew anything about his son. He carefully asked, “What are you talking about Falen?” and then swung to fend off the twirling war blades.

Jaqrand growled and swung using a complicated move that he had picked up from another bounty hunter who tried to steal his bounty. He growled, “That’s not my name!”

“I call it as I see it,” the scoundrel in Atton retorted.

“Right, and I’m sure that you know exactly what I am talking about,” Jaqrand retorted backing away a bit. “It would involve a little boy. I am sure that he would enjoy a life as a scoundrel,” Jaqrand looked at the end of his blade as if to inspect it, “or maybe you might not see him again.”

Atton came charging with his blade glowing.

Rowan guided the Ebon Hawk low through the platform with a precision that was a mark of a good pilot. Michaela was sitting in the copilot’s seat with her eyes closed. She was concentrating on finding Atton by concentrating through the Force. True that she wasn’t bonded to Atton like her husband was but her special talent was what Revan called ‘sniffing out the trail.’ It meant that she could recognize people through their different signatures made through the Force. Right now she was trying to help Rowan find the last member of their group. It was a lot of work trying to sort through the individual signatures.

To Michaela, the Force was one huge thread interwoven with smaller, individual threads. When she concentrated, she could see the individual strands. They ranged in color to white and varied in their brightness. She maintained that the brightness reflected the individual’s sensitivity to the Force. Now she had to find the one that was Atton’s.

She searched out the familiar traits that she knew Atton by. Though she hadn’t known him long, she felt confident that she could find him. The refugee signatures perplexed her because there was a sort of desperation about them but she forced herself to ignore them. She found what she was looking for and held on.

Rowan navigated through the platforms, letting Michaela do her thing. He concentrated on staying off the sensors of the bounty hunters. It wasn’t until he passed over a small tower that he heard Michaela say, “He’s there.”

He looked at her and asked, “Where?”

Michaela pointed at the tower and repeated, “There, and he’s not alone. Fly low and we’ll jump out to help.”

“Who’s going to fly the ship?” Rowan asked, forgetting that they had another person on board.

“Kiera will come with me. Circle about and fly low and wait for my signal,” Michaela answered sternly.

“Yes ma’am,” Rowan replied. When Michaela spoke like that, she was to be obeyed. He smirked to himself when he recalled at one point during the war when she bossed a whole unit of Bushida warriors into charging according to Kirabaros’ plan. He maneuvered towards the tower.

Atton was in trouble and he knew it. Jaqrand baited him and he fell for it. Morgan meant more to him than anything in the galaxy and his former comrade used it against him by threatening harm. He retaliated by lashing out in anger, something that Darius and Kirabaros had warned him against time and time again and now he was paying the price.

Jaqrand had knocked away his lightsaber and now he was scrambling to dodge the twirling war blades. He used the Force to allow him to jump out of reach until he was within range of his lightsaber. He reached out and it was in his hand. He barely moved out of the way before Jaqrand brought one end of the double blade down to the ground. There were some sparks where the blade struck the metal floor. Atton rolled to his feet and ignited his lightsaber. He looked at Jaqrand and said, “You always were clumsy in your footwork.”

Jaqrand responded by swinging furiously. His anger and hate fueled him and allowed him to swing faster and harder though it did nothing to benefit his accuracy. He always rankled when the traitor insulted him about his abilities. He wanted nothing better than to put that same traitor to shame. He swung in a wide arc and decided to add in a sneak attack.

Atton knew that he hit his mark when he commented on Falen’s footwork. He also knew that, if he were still the same, Falen would react with anger in his swings becoming more inaccurate as he went along. What he didn’t expect was the sneak move. He deflected the thrust of one blade but that left his left side open to the slice that Falen laid on him. It raked his ribs leaving a burning sensation and threw him off balance so that Falen could thrust the tip into his upper arm. In pain, Atton stepped backwards and ended up falling over some crates and hit the durasteel wall with a hard bang. He sat himself up and clenched his left arm with his right. The blood seeped through his fingers as it ran freely staining his ribbed jacket. He could do nothing but stare at Falen as he advanced with a menacing smile on his face.

Jaqrand looked at his fallen enemy and thought that he would finally get to kill a Jedi. He was briefly disappointed that it should be an old friend but he reasoned that the man was one of ‘them’ now, a traitor. He stood over Atton and looked at him and said, “Well, one thing is certain: you are no Jedi.” He made a motion to stab Atton with one end of his blade.

“Step away from him,” a strong voice sounded. It was followed by a wave that sent Jaqrand flying into the bulkhead.

Michaela had Kiera watching her back as they jumped off the ramp of the Ebon Hawk onto the tower. Rowan had dropped them off and stayed, telling them that it wouldn’t be long before the bounty hunters found them out. They hurried towards where Atton and Jaqrand were. It was there that Michaela saw Jaqrand standing over Atton getting ready to kill him with a single stab. She couldn’t let that happen so she stood up to him by saying, “Step away from him.”

He never saw her when she used the Force to send him flying into the bulkhead. Michaela then shouted at Kiera, “Get Atton and get out.” She withdrew her own lightsaber and said, “I’ll be just fine.”

Kiera made haste to obey. True that she had a healthy dose of independence in her, she sensed that this woman she was with was someone who, when it was necessary, expected to be obeyed. She ran to the fallen scoundrel with the dark hair and hazel eyes. She recognized him from the cantina and thought him quite handsome. She noticed that he was bleeding and managed to rip part of her shirt to tie on his arm. She then gave him a hand to stand up and pushed him towards the stairs that led to the roof only stopping to grab his lightsaber where it had fallen.

Meanwhile Michaela stood with her blade lit waiting while Jaqrand got to his feet. Her fine blue eyes were like ice as she watched him. It was the same look that she wore when she went to war two years ago. She regarded the man who was part of the events that caused so much grief with a sort of contempt mingled with curiosity.

Jaqrand eyed the woman warily as he gained his feet. He spoke, “You throw a nice punch. Then again I suppose all you Jedi do.” He had curled his lip at that last statement to reflect his dislike of Jedi.

Michaela said nothing but looked at him. It gave Jaqrand the courage to continue though he was slightly intimidated that she stood there. Her presence demanded obedience and he didn’t like it. He said, “So you wish to buy the traitor escape time. That I cannot allow.” He then twirled his blade and stood in a combat ready position.

Michaela responded by saluting with her blade and brought it to a ready position. Her face was calm, betraying nothing of her intentions. All she said was, “We’ll see.”

Jaqrand swung first. He aimed high, attempting to slice her in half. His blade was met amidst a shower of sparks as the woman’s blade clashed with his. He was amazed at the power that her defense held. He attacked with swings and parries, each more difficult and powerful than the last. Each time she met his attacks. In short, it seemed as if she were batting away a troublesome fly. He was getting frustrated with her. It was almost as if she could anticipate his every move.

Michaela defended against the moves that Jaqrand made. She was grateful that her husband and Naomi made sure that she knew how to use a blade. Tulre improved her technique while Kirabaros was gone though she shouldn’t have in her condition at the time. She admitted to herself that this man she was battling impressed her. She couldn’t help but wonder if he had a bit of Force sensitivity, just enough to be mistaken for sheer luck. She didn’t have much time to wonder for her adversary switched tactics, trying to catch her by surprise.

He swung at her in a wide arc. The blade came dangerously close to slicing into her shoulder but she was able to dodge it gracefully. She leaped out of reach and assumed a Bushida back step stance. It was then that she heard Rowan in her mind telling her that she was running out of time. The bounty hunters had spotted them and were moving to intercept. She looked at Jaqrand with a sweet smile and said. “Well, I guess we have to cut this short.”

“I don’t think so,” Jaqrand came at her. He fought with her hard and began to back her up into a corner. He paused to say, “I aim to kill me a Jedi and I’ll start with you,” and he raised his blade to strike.

With more force than she intended, Michaela shoved Jaqrand with a Force Wave. She watched as she sent him flying through the glass window. She went to the window and stared out. Somehow she knew this wasn’t over but she couldn’t dwell on this now. Instead she made her way back up towards the roof where Rowan had the ship waiting with the ramp lowered. She used the Force to leap up land on the ramp. Once she was inside, she told Rowan to burn sky and headed towards the med bay.

Atton wasn’t looking worse for the wear. The strange woman certainly knew her stuff when it came to basic first aid. She had him patched up and left him sitting on the bed to put his shirt back on while she went to check the weapons systems for Rowan. It was there that Michaela found him. His cheeks flushed a bit under her gaze but she wasn’t fazed by it at all. She just looked at him as if he had his shirt on and said nothing. He asked, “Something up?”

The corners of her mouth turned upward in a slight smile. She replied, “I thought you said that you were always careful.”

Atton’s only response was a sheepish grin.

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