Well I changed my policy since I write when I can. I am going to post as soon as I squeeze another chapter out.
I have a new chapter for ye huddled masses and again this was inspired again by the bad acting of TPM. I changed it so it reflects better the circumstances and there is a slight twist in the end.
Also I should point out that there are references to HotG again. While it is not necessary for you to read it, it helps to understand it better.
Without further ado I give:
Revan felt a surge of hope when she met Michaela at the hamachi. It was a great surprise to her and a comfort. She found that she didn’t need to explain about Kirabaros for Michaela already knew about it in her own way. The girl with her she was wary of but when Michaela told of her part in their adventures, she lost her suspicion and greeted the young woman warmly. After that meeting, she felt ready to meet the opponents for the Shaak Ti.
The ring was like the dueling ring on Taris, spacious. Revan scanned it and it brought back memories. Not all of them were pleasant. She still wanted to curse herself for the last one because she killed for the entertainment of others. It was no consolation that Starkiller was a government bounty. Revan shook these thoughts from her mind when Michaela came up saying, “Brings memories that you wish you didn’t have.”
“I’m just anxious about that last one…” Revan began.
“Ah yes where it is a death match. I sense that is cause of your discomfort,” Michaela interrupted with understanding. She didn’t face Revan but instead looked at the ring where the helpers were clearing the area for the first matches. It was easier to talk when you didn’t look at them.
“I killed a man for money,” Revan explained. Her throat felt thick as if she wanted to burst into tears. “I killed for the entertainment of others.”
“I understand why my husband has a dislike for this sport. He thinks it foolish,” Michaela answered softly. “He participated in a few but one changed his outlook on life though he denied it until he met you.”
“He killed the person too?”
“No. That duel was the night he was declared Kirabaros by the township on Mikkado, before we moved to Avalon.” Michaela looked thoughtful but it was difficult to tell.
“Why do you speak of this?” Revan asked. She knew enough about Avalonians to know that often some things they say are meant to evoke meaning no matter how unrelated it seems.
“Some good comes out of even the worst of situations.”
“Well, Carth was there with me on Taris, but that was before we fell in love and…”
“If you didn’t meet then, you wouldn’t be here now,” Michaela turned to face Revan, a smile on her face. When Revan smiled in return, she said, “That’s better. We must concentrate. After all you are a Jedi and I am a Handmaiden.”
“You are as much a Jedi as I,” Revan firmly declared.
“If you say,” Michaela replied with a smile. “Come, we have to change.” She led the way towards the area where they would change into attire suitable for the competition.
Kiera walked through the hamachi gathering odds and ends to take to the dueling arena. She was impressed by the manner in which the Avalonians carried themselves: tall, proud and firm. She noted how they were always respectful in spite of any ridicule they received from the scum wandering through the settlement. It was also overwhelming for it was like being with a hundred or so Rowans and Michaelas for they were not loud or brash but they were animate when they chose to be. She was pondering and carrying a case full of short blades when she was caught by the boy called Chiyo. She smiled as he approached and asked, “Are you going to the competition today?”
Morgan regarded Kiera with an inquisitive look before smiling in return and saying, “I have to go. I made a bet and I have to see how it ends.”
“Are you allowed to bet?” Kiera queried.
“Okâsan says that it is dishonorable with money so I bet with parts for Shang,” Morgan replied. He walked next to Kiera in a trot like fashion to keep up. He sensed something from Kiera that made him feel warm. Being curiously blunt, he asked, “Do you like my papa?”
Kiera stopped in shock, nearly dropping the case. She had never been around a child like the boy next to her, one that was inquisitive and forthright. She turned to look at the boy and asked, “Why do you ask that?”
Morgan replied, “You look at me all the time but there is something about you that tells me it is him.”
Kiera regarded the boy with a look of surprise. She thought the adults were inquisitive but a child? It was disarming and she didn’t know what to answer. Morgan answered for her, “It’s ok. I want my papa to be happy and I like you.”
“Uh…uh OK,” Kiera replied. She thought she was no good with kids but she liked this little one. When he smiled, he looked like the Jedi he said was his papa but his temper came from someone else. She had seen him fend off a group of boys bullying him and his temper was one that was characteristic to a red head. Still he was an endearing little sprat and she rather liked him. She smiled and added, “I like you too.” Then leaning down, she whispered, “I do like your papa,” and stood up to walk towards the transport that would take the equipment.
Morgan smiled at Kiera and watched as she walked towards the transport. He was glad that someone liked his papa and he hoped that his papa would like her. He ran to catch up with Kiera and asked, “Want to go for a walk? I know where the best spots are.”
“Alright. How about now?” Kiera replied after placing the case on the transport.
“OK,” Morgan piped up and slipped his hand into Kiera’s and tugged her towards the city. He gave a smile to Tulre who had been hiding behind various bits of machinery and the like and was pleased when Tulre gave a smile in return.
Tulre watched as the strange woman and Morgan left to go to the marketplace in Anchorhead. He had a good feeling about this and hoped that it would go well. He then turned to put the finishing touches on the blades his mother and Aunt Reva were going to use.
Anchorhead was a dusty little town, nothing like Nar Shaddaa. The only good thing was that you could get lost there and getting lost was what Atton was doing. After meeting up with Revan and the others, he took himself to the cantina nearest to the hamachi and drowned himself in pazaak. It allowed him to think about what he found out about Kirabaros and muddle over his feelings. He was relieved that Kirabaros was fine, somewhat, according to Caelos and the younger Onasi, but he was troubled that someone was out to destroy his friend. He buried himself in the pazaak deck as he faced his opponent. The scum across from him was an easy picking, a chubba who thought himself to be big. It didn’t take long for him to succumb to the subtle maneuverings of Atton Rand. Pure Pazaak.
This continued for about two hours, less than the amount of time it took for Revan to clear out everyone when she was last there. It showed when one of the pazaak players mentioned to Atton, “You’re good, better than that broad that cleared everyone out long time ago. Boy, she was something.”
Picking up on the admiration and following a hunch, Atton fed the guy, “Really? She pull anything?”
“Slick she was. Lot of the guys here wanted a piece of her, not as though the tree trunk that was with her would allow it,” the pazaak player smirked. “Not that anyone took him seriously with that orange jacket.”
Atton recognized that the guy was referring to Carth and guessed that they had been there before. Atton may be a scoundrel but he wasn’t stupid. He realized that maybe it was something that they didn’t want to talk about though he did recall that they mentioned Anchorhead was where they bought HK. Nodding in response, Atton pocketed the last of his winnings and exited the cantina. He was contemplating where to head to next before reporting in to view this Shaak Ti when he caught sight of Kiera wandering through the crowds.
In spite of the flaws, Anchorhead had its pleasantries, even more so when you had a guide. Kiera was enjoying herself in the company of little Chiyo. He showed her the more pleasant spots, particularly the marketplace that he called the suq. She marveled that he could speak Huttese with such firmness. She commented on this when they left a vendor that sold all sorts of nuts, “You have a remarkable command of Huttese. I am surprised that you can speak it so well. Even I can’t get away with it.”
“Practice,” Morgan replied. “Besides I can speak other languages as well as Shang. We learn together.”
Kiera smiled in response, adding, “Still that is a fair accomplishment.”
Morgan said nothing but led Kiera through the dense crowd of people. He had an idea of where to find his papa but he wanted his papa to come to him. He went to where the viewing area was on the ground level for the Shaak Ti. He was greeted by a Toydarian asking, “What brings you here boy?”
Michaela was watching the last of the equipment being loaded onto the transport. The Shaak Ti was to start in a few hours and she could sense the apprehension thickening. She was standing outside the house of Mamesa, who was feeling better now, waiting for Revan and the others who were to participate. Carth was the first to join her having found some armor that fitted his tall frame. She turned to greet him, “Ready?”
“Ready,” Carth replied. “Where’s everyone else?”
“The boys are coming and Revan is getting ready,” Michaela replied with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
Carth fell into the trap easily, “It’s a duel. Really, you would think that she were getting ready for a dinner or…”
“Or what?” Revan asked. She took in Michaela’s smile and Carth’s exasperation and played along.
“Uh…nothing?” Carth ventured.
“Talking about my dressing habits again?” Revan queried. “I assure you that this,” she indicated her suit, “took me only ten minutes.”
Michaela stifled a laugh by turning it into a cough. She said, “We’d better hurry then or we’ll be late,” and left them.
After Michaela left, Revan spoke to Carth, “She’s such a dear. And she knows how to start trouble.” She grinned at Carth to let him know that he had been had. Giving him a peck on the cheek, she led the way to the transport.
Atton had been following Kiera for a while since she wasn’t hard to miss, not that he cared or anything. He finally caught up with them at the building where the others were going to fight. He volunteered his services but Michaela said that it would be better if they had someone who knew how to play pazaak. He had taken the hint and went to collect on the credits for the parts and supplies. Now that he was here, he had to admit that he was impressed. He walked into one door and found dozens of warriors, bounty hunters and mercs practicing before the competition. He looked around when he spotted Kiera and with her was a person that he wondered if he would ever see again.
Taking it slow, he sidled his way close enough to hear the Toydarian demanding that he wanted to see some part or something the moment the winner is declared. He was close enough to hear his son reply, “No worries. You’ll have your winnings soon and we’ll be long gone.”
“Not if your parts don’t cut it,” the Toydarian replied. “I warn you, any funny business and I’ll have the bounty hunters on you faster than a womprat can hop.”
“Sure, Tatlo,” Morgan replied before acknowledging Atton’s presence with a nod.
Kiera saw Atton and nearly gasped but played it cool. She didn’t know if Chiyo had set her up or what but she acknowledged Atton by saying, “Glad you made it.”
“Eh? Who’s the tree trunk kid?” Tatlo asked Morgan after being startled.
Morgan replied, “Just another from the hamachi Tatlo. So you don’t think this Lilah Ravenstar can win can you?”
“Unlike you, I know my fighters. Methinks that Debula there is going to win,” Tatlo pointed at a human who was twirling his blade to the amusement of the Twi’lek girls fawning over him.
Atton, not taking it any more asked, “Why do you think that?”
“He always wins,” Tatlo replied.
“In what? A kid’s game?” Atton questioned.
Tatlo looked at Atton before directing to Morgan, “And here I was thinking that you kept company with smart humans boy.” He then flew to get near Atton and continued, “I am betting heavily on Debula there.”
Atton thought about his options. He knew that Lilah Ravenstar was none other than Revan incognito and knew her to be capable. Having never seen this Debula guy fight before was the sand in the boot. He glanced at Morgan and Kiera before replying, “I’ll take that bet.”
“What?” Tatlo responded in surprise. He had never met a brasher human than this one. It was bad enough that he had to deal with the boy who was just like him. Come to think of it, he does bear a resemblance to the tall one
, he thought. He was curious as to what this human was going to propose.
“I wager this,” Atton held out a small dagger that Kirabaros had given him with a joke saying that it was just the thing for a scoundrel, “for say…a reverse power coupling and a hyperdrive generator.”
Tatlo saw that the blade was a valuable one. One just had to look at the hilt that was inlaid with gold or something but he had the sneaking suspicion that he was being cheated out of something. He spat out, “No blade is worth a power coupling or hyperdrive. Not by a long shot.”
“The power coupling then,” Atton replied. They needed the part since Caelos reported that it was beyond his ability to repair. The hyperdrive would just have to come out of the winnings. He held the Toydarian’s gaze, waiting him to answer.
Tatlo was in a rut and he knew it. The human was shrewd, he gave him that much. Then he decided to play in his favor, “How about letting fate decide? I have a chance cube here. If you get blue, you get the coupling, red, you give me the blade.” He then threw it knowing that his odds were good.
Atton may not be willing to cheat but Morgan was for he knew that his papa was fond of that blade. Kirabaros had given it to him and he wasn’t about to let it be lost. Without anyone watching, Morgan concentrated on the cube begging it to land on blue. The angry growl from Tatlo confirmed it. He watched as Tatlo looked at Atton and said, “You may have won one toss but you won’t win the bet. So it makes no difference.”
Atton watched as the Toydarian flew away before turning to his son. He said, “I hope you don’t consider doing that in the future unless you really need to, Morgan.”
Morgan grinned just like Atton did when he was in a hot spot. He replied in a low voice, “Not to worry Papa. He’s always in a bad mood.”
Atton said nothing but accepted the hug from Morgan and smiled at him. He noticed Kiera had been watching the whole scene. He couldn’t decide if she was amused or even surprised. He said, “I guess you met my son.”
“Yes,” Kiera replied rather stunned. She had suspected but when she witnessed that display of affection, it caught her off guard.
Atton said rather nervous, “Uh why don’t I explain when we get some seats in the stands?” He held out his hand only to have it met with hers. They walked out of the warming up area and headed to where they were going to watch the competition. They didn’t notice Morgan as he signaled to a masked warrior warming up.
The yard was filling up with the presentation of the fighters. It was a glorious sight as the fighters lined up to be greeted by the audience. The announcer, a human, was announcing the warriors based upon reputation within the Outer Rim or even the whole Republic, “A big turnout for the annual Shaak Ti from all corners of the Outer Rim. Now introducing…” The crowds were loud as they cheered for their favorites.
To Revan, Michaela, Rowan, Dustil and Caelos, the noise was overlooked and ignored. Carth was made not to fight by Revan saying that a Republic admiral would be recognized. He agreed albeit reluctantly to stay with Mamesa, Kimiko, Lilah and T3 at their viewing platform. They knew that they had to win or they would be stranded. As much as the Ebon Hawk
could accommodate them, it was best if they were split like before.
After going through the listed and sponsored entrants, the announcer went through the last minute entries which consisted of one, “And we have a late entry. I give you Bekura, the Masked Stranger, a local boy.”
Revan looked at the late entry. He was masked yes and rather short like a child. Still, it wasn’t her to underestimate little people. Even Jawas could be capable when they needed to be. This Bekura was dressed in black, similar to what the maiko wore but with a few modifications, as if to give him an edge in dexterity. She admitted that he knew how to dress for combat though color choice seemed to be the sticking point. She watched as he saluted the crowd with a graceful strength. His manner was familiar, much like Kirabaros, but discounted it due to the fact that all Bushida warriors carried themselves similarly.
The announcer was saying, “And now, the first tier will begin. Those that win will advance to the next tier.”
It’s show time.