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Old 01-17-2007, 06:21 PM   #178
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I was bored. I am just almost finished with Chapter 40 so I will go ahead and post 39. If this seems like an epic, you can sue me.
This chapter involves a favorite of mine who I always thought was a softie underneath. Plus a tying of some loose ends, if you can see it

Chapter 39
Canderous was not a patient man. Kirabaros had said that many times during his visits to Amshrey. It was evident as he was pacing in the clearing that would serve as a hidden dock for the incoming ship. Jolee had sent him a message that they had the ‘package’ but it was damaged and that sparked a worry in him, not that he was one to show it. His pacing hid his worry with the agitation that he had to wait.

Canderous thought about what this might mean for when the kid last contacted him, he was, well he looked…old. Wrenching that from his mind, he turned to Kex and had him go make sure that the squadrons were ready to take off. They were to head to the Outer Rim, mostly sweeping near where the Avalonian settlements were, including the Yavin system and the like. That got his mind off of his impatience somewhat as he waited for the ship to approach. He ignored the Shreyites who were bustling around, trying to find a spot.

After the defeat of the Blood King, the Shreyites made friends with their Avalonian neighbors. They grew especially friendly with the Mandalorians since they impressed the Shreyites with their lust for battle which emphasized their strength. They agreed to let Mandalore move his base of operations to Amshrey where they helped construct a settlement that was suitable to the environment. It was also Kirabaros’ doing that they were on such good terms for he broke the language barrier and got both sides to agree as was his character. They still considered him the Animal God since he had a natural ability with the native wildlife and that was the reason for their appearance.

Canderous guessed this and left them to their devices. He figured that he owed it to the little guys since they did help out around the encampment. His thoughts were occupied on what the kid wanted him to do and of a domestic situation that caught him with his breeches down. He looked up at the sky just in time to see the ship come into view for a landing. His comm buzzed and a familiar voice came through, “Hey Canderous. We’re coming in.”

Mission thought she would never get to see Amshrey ever. She had heard that it was dangerous with all the untamed animals but she also heard that it was rather beautiful. The last time she was in this region of space she had to stay on Avalon during the last days of the war. She would have put up a fight but Kirabaros convinced her to stay and it was for a good reason, one that she didn’t regret. When Juhani told her to make a heading for Amshrey, she was excited. She wondered if she would be able to explore the planet and see if it was anything like what Big Z had described. She wondered if the business that Kirabaros needed to do would allow her to.

Thinking of Kirabaros brought her back to the conversation that she had with him before he shut himself in the cargo hold for two days, not talking to no one. It was obvious that he had a vision of some sort. Revan used to get them when they were searching for the Star Maps. This was different. He was disturbed by it and he said it was of the future or something like that. It bothered her for Kirabaros was something of a star reader and put great stock into it. She hadn’t forgotten how he watched them up to the time of the battle on Rakata Prime. What was really disturbing was the manner in which he held his head, covering his ears as if he could hear a loud noise but no one else could. She had asked Jolee about it and all he said was that something bad had happened to Kirabaros but he wouldn’t elaborate. Maybe Canderous will tell me, she thought as the planet of Amshrey came into sight.

She made adjustments to the coordinates that Jolee had given her and headed towards what appeared to be a clearing within the forest of redwoods. Clearing the trees, she saw one figure, his armor gleaming in the sun and hundreds of little furry shapes scurrying around the edges of the clearing. She didn’t know what those creatures were but she recognized the armored one. She buzzed his comm, ““Hey Canderous. We’re coming in.”

The response, “Nice to see ya too Blue,” sent her spirits soaring as she moved in for a landing.

When the ship adjusted course, he knew that they were there. Even though he told them to let him know, he knew. He slowly stood up and stretched his muscles which were sore after two days of mediation and hard workouts but worth it. It cleaned out most of the toxins that were in his body from the injection though he was fairly certain that there were some still in his system. He came out slightly leaner than he already was and had more of a healthy color from the workout.

Those two days gave him time to think on what he saw in his vision and what he discussed with the Blood King. He realized that he had been running again which allowed him to not think clearly before. He told Atton to stop running, Revan was almost there and yet here he was still running. It was time to stop. He meditated on the conversation and the location itself. He recognized the temples of Yavin when he saw the children but the big giveaway was the Cathar child. He thought to himself, She doesn’t deserve this. Why?

Still thinking that, he gave a final stretch in his upper arms and unsealed the cargo hold door. He stepped into the walkway and looked around before starting to walk towards the cockpit. His steps were soft footed, barely heard until he heard the purr of her voice, “Are you alright?”

Facing Juhani, Kirabaros knew that he was going to have to tell her eventually what he saw but he’d rather do that when he had Mandalore present. He answered her question, “Better. Two days sweating it out,” he shrugged his shoulders, “Does a body good.”

“And the vision?” Juhani queried.

“What vision?”

“Mission told all of us what happened after you locked yourself in the cargo hold. You aren’t fooling anyone Kirabaros, only hurting them.” The words hurt her to say it but Juhani had to speak her mind and what was more likely the thoughts of everyone else.

The words had stung but rang true. If he was going to get to the bottom of this, he had to have no more secrets. He replied, “I know but I am asking all of you to trust me just a little while longer. When we land I’ll explain it.” Especially to you, was what he didn’t add.

Juhani looked at Kirabaros as his amber eyes locked onto hers for a brief second before he turned away and headed towards the cockpit. She thought about it until she was interrupted by HK-47 doing his usual security rounds. His, “Observation: The Handsome Meatbag has left his cargo hold and appears to be in a slightly agitated state. Query: Does he require any psychological assistance?”

Juhani replied with a question, “Does that involve some form of bashing in skulls or crushing necks?”

“Statement: I only wish to restore full functionality to the meatbag Jedi so that I may be able to enjoy some forms of unadulterated violence.”

“Uh huh,” and Juhani turned on her heel to allow HK to finish his patrol. She followed the path that Kirabaros took only to be stopped by a conversation going on between Kirabaros and Jolee.

“Jolee, I am asking you to return to Coruscant once you drop us off,” Kirabaros had a slight pleading tone in his voice.

“You keep quiet there sonny. After being dragged around in this bucket eating the gunk out of the synthesizer, I am staying right here. I’m old dammit and allowed to do as I please,” Jolee grumbled.

“If it was the food that was bothering you, you can have some free food from the Shreyites. I know you like that,” Kirabaros responded. It was condescending but also a joke.

“I don’t know why I tolerate a mouthy little thing like yourself,” Jolee grumbled. “You better learn respect for your elders or…”

“Jolee calm down,” Kirabaros was smiling, “I was just joking. I see that your mind is made up however but can I ask you this: Can you trust me a little longer until we rendezvous with Canderous?”

“I suppose you’re going to nag me until I say yes aren’t you,” Jolee grumbled at Kirabaros. “Alright but you better explain everything otherwise I am going to have to punish you.”

Kirabaros smiled at the attempt at discipline before heading to the main hold. He knew they were about to land so it was just better to wait until the ship landed before running around. He was joined by Jolee and Juhani who said nothing but sat across from him.

Canderous watched as the ship lowered its ramp. He stood in an at ease position out of respect for the kid. He was Mandalore and yet he was in proper form to a kid half his age. That didn’t matter when his steel grey eyes caught sight of a figure walking slowly down the ramp. It was a sight for sore eyes literally.

The kid’s robes were tattered, almost as if he had spent the better part of a month in the jungles of Duxn. He was walking tall as he always did but he had a presence about him. It wasn’t that whole Jedi thing and the Force, it was like a warrior who realizes his potential. Canderous wondered briefly if the kid decided to stop being a Jedi or if something changed. There was some evidence of cuts and the scar on the kid’s left eye was more pronounced but there were no injuries as far as he could see. He wondered if the old man had been making it up. The kid was not alone for close behind him was the Cathar and the old man. Trailing further behind was Blue and the copper-toned bucket of bolts and he gave a slight sigh and stepped up to greet them.

Meanwhile the Shreyites were chattering in their strange language. They had begun when the ship landed and it became more pronounced when Kirabaros made himself known. They just chattered and moved closer, probably a little too close for comfort. It produced, to Canderous, the feeling that they were about to be attacked. They didn’t do anything when he questioned Jolee, “Old Man I thought you said that the package was damaged. Are you going senile?”

“Oh I get it. The old man is half senile. He doesn’t remember a thing,” Jolee retorted.

Kirabaros couldn’t resist and let out a laugh. It was a true laugh that relieved the tension in the air. When he got a hold of himself, he said, “Ok. Stop now. Jolee’s not senile and you’re not losing your mind Canderous. Just a little confusion.”

Everyone looked at him in surprise. His eyes were twinkling with laughter still, a pleasant sight to see. It was Jolee who broke it by saying, “Well now that you have finished laughing your head off, perhaps we can get moving. I’m not gettin’ any younger here.”

Canderous replied, “Take it easy Old Man or you’ll hurt yourself. The main part of the base is this way,” and he led the way towards the series of bunkers.

At this time the Shreyites began to perform their chanting that they had done when Kirabaros first helped them defeat the terentek. He smiled at them as he followed behind Canderous but it frightened him that they had such blind loyalty to him…and to HK who was somewhat pleased if it could be called that. It was evident when the droid piped up, “Observation: It appears that the furry meatbags are greeting us. Query: Shall I blast a few now?”

“No HK,” Kirabaros replied as they made their way to the main bunker.

Sarna was waiting indoors with everything necessary. Even though she was a warrior, the habits of the Avalonians surfaced every now and then. It helped when they had to deal with the people at the capital city on Amshrey. She had the tea ready and everything that would amount to a tactical debriefing room set up when she had to pause. She gazed at the nothing in particular as her hand fell across her abdomen. Her reverie was interrupted when the main door slid open.

Sarna greeted her husband with a gentle warrior grasp and then turned to greet old friends. She started with Jolee and even greeted HK though she wasn’t that pleased to see the thing. When she got to Kirabaros, she was greeted with a look that spoke of mischief on his face. She said, “It is good to see you again Kirabaros.”

“I can see I was right about some things,” he replied looking at her with a teasing smile. “I wondered when you two would finally tie the knot so to speak.”

Canderous laughed at that for Sarna’s condition was blatantly obvious now. Everyone else chuckled until Sarna let out her own ringing laughter. She replied, “I see that time has left your sense of humor in tact.”

“One needs humor in light of difficult situations,” he replied solemnly that it was comical. His eyes betrayed merriment.

“If that is true then I suggest you make yourselves comfortable while I get tea,” Sarna replied smiling before she left the room.

Kirabaros watched as Canderous watched her leave. I knew there was a chink in his armor. I knew it when I first saw them together, he thought. He spoke to Canderous, “I see things have been going well for the last two years Mandalore.” The tone implied that he was being serious and indirectly asking for information. He knew that Canderous wouldn’t completely follow Avalonian protocol and speak of family and personal matters first before business so he took to using friendly prompts.

Canderous recognized the tone and replied, “The clans are stronger and we like it here on Amshrey. I am curious as to why you asked me to not do anything except pick up the kids and stage a rescue attempt.”

Kirabaros knew that he would be asked to explain. He paused as Sarna brought in the tea and set it on what passed for a table of some sort. When she left, he started, “What I asked was part of an elaborate plan to flush out those responsible for framing Avalon and urging war between us and the Republic. It’ll take awhile but I’ll explain…”

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