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Old 05-12-2009, 08:42 AM   #21
Lord Spitfire
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Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Rahn, Bao-Dur, and the Handmaiden were surrounded by a squad of Mandalorians as they entered the camp.

As soon as his boots sank into the muddy ground of the base, he knew; he had been here before. Suddenly, as they walked through the ruins of the once impenetrable bastion, horrible memories came flooding through his mind. He remembered leading an epic siege onto the base, he remembered laughing as he used the force to choke the opposing general to death, and he remembered ordering the main building destroyed even though his own troops were in there. It was not a matter of their lives; it was a matter of seeing as many Mandalorians dying as humanly possible.

And now, as he strolled into the base with a Mandalorian guard, with Mandalorian Troopers giving him glares and dirty looks, watching as the Mandalorian recruits trained and sparred with each other (the only time he had seen a Mandalorian recruit was after they had capture the base and dealt with those who surrendered), a dangerous pit formed in his stomach. It was not only a pit of hate and anger, but a pit of confusion. Why aren’t I fighting these bastards? Why am I letting them take me to their leader? But I have no choice. Or do I? Thoughts rushed through his head as reason left him.

However, Rahn was snapped out of his thoughts when they entered the command centre. Looking around, he noticed that it was rather small for a command room, but it was heavily guarded and made from steel alloy. Finally, his eyes fell on a certain Mandalorian. This Mandalorian wore special armour, and a different helmet. Rahn felt a mix of emotions boil within him. No, it was no ordinary helmet. He had stared into that helmet before; staring as the man wearing fled into his ship as the Republic routed the Mandalorians in the battle.

Mandalore.

Rahn had to fight every fibre of his instinct and urges not to take out his sword and stab the man in the heart. Looking to his right, he saw his companions, their presence calming slightly. His head snapped back to Mandalore, breathing heavily. “You,” he whispered menacingly. Shock was apparent in his voice as he continued, “you are dead. You’re a f*ucking dead man! Why are you here!” The last two sentences were yelled out loud.

Mandalore chuckled as he turned his helmet slightly to make it seem like he was looking Rahn in the eye. “I remember you; you’re the damned Jedi that burned this place to the ground! You defeated be in a duel, but something caught your attention before you killed me. Ha, I remember it as if it were yesterday. But don’t worry; you’re actually a man with honour in my books,” said Mandalore in a cold, metallic voice.

Rahn slapped his forehead as he groaned subconsciously, leaning against a wall as his mind spun. It was all so . . . confusing.

Mandalore laughed again. “General . . . Drendellian, is it? Yes? Well, I am going to tell you that I am not Mandalore the Ultimate. I am the new Mandalore, Mandalore the Preserver! I have gathered Mandalore clans from across the galaxy to rebuild the army,” he said sternly.

Rahn took a moment to soak it all in. After a while he looked into Mandalore’s . . . ‘eyes.’ Rahn suddenly gave a bitter laugh. “Well, that’s it, isn’t it? You’re fighting a lost battle! Revan, me, and a few other Generals spent a lot of time sabotaging the Mandalorians after Mandalore died,” he said simply. He leant in closer to Mandalore, then continued in a menacing voice, little more than a whisper, “we exterminated you like bugs; like the animals that you are.”

There was silence in the room. Rahn knew that Mandalore was glaring at him through the helmet. Finally, in a cold voice, Mandalore continued as if nothing had been said. “That was a pretty slippery escape in the space battle overhead. I take it you were trying to get to Izis?”

Rahn paused, weighing his options. After he realized that they had no choice but treat these Mandalorians with diplomacy, he grudgingly answered, “Yes, as a matter of fact I was. My ship’s damaged from the battle overhead, so we’re trying to get it fixed. I was scouting ahead, and I found this place.”

Mandalore nodded. “I can help you with getting to Izis. I have a small shuttle that can be used for transportation from here to Onderon, and it looks like you need some help,” he offered.

Thoughts of doubt suddenly flooded Rahn’s mind. “Why do you want to help me?” he said apprehensively.

Mandalore sighed, shaking his head. “Well, for first, it wouldn’t hurt me or push us back in any way. However, it’s mostly the matter of giving an honourable warrior some help,” he stated simply.

“I do not think we should trust him. He wants to accomplish his own ends,” interjected the Handmaiden.

Rahn suddenly turned around to face his companions, realizing that they both looked weary. Mandalore chuckled.

“Don’t worry; I won’t give you a ride for free. You’re going to have to do something for me first,” he continued, finally stating the catch.

Rahn sighed. Of course. “Yeah, what?”

“Straight to the point,” observed Mandalore. “I like that. Well, there are two things that I want you to do. The first thing is something that will help us. You see, we sent one of our recruits, Kumus, into the jungle to set off a detonator to attract the animals of the forest and take them out. However, he has not returned after three days. We want you to go to the site, set off the detonator, and kill the beasts yourself.”

Rahn nodded. “Alright, I’ll help you if it means I can get to Izis. What’s the second thing?”

“Well,” started Mandalore, “we also have to determine if you are worthy of our aid. You see, we have a battle circle; a sort of duelling ring where our warriors spar and test themselves against one another, simulating battle in a way, while at the same time vying to gain honour. Your job is to become the champion of the battle circle.”

What? “You’re kidding me?” said Rahn exasperatedly.

“No,” said Mandalore sternly. “You must prove your worth.”

***
Rahn took a seat on a plasteel cylinder as he gazed onto the ruins of the fortress. He had just contacted the Ebon Hawk about their predicament, and had sent Bao-Dur and the Handmaiden back to the ship with the Mandalorian guide, as he had decided to get the battle circle over with.

He caught many dirty looks and glares as he made his way across the base. It looked very run down, and only parts of the demolished walls covered the base, leaving it open to attack as several Mandalorians were rebuilding it. He was aware of dozens of these different teams scattered around the base, reinforcing it and trying to get it back to its full power.

Rahn found his way to a muddy pit where two Mandalorians were sparring, with several others watching. Gazing through the spectators, he noticed one of them wearing the acclaimed red armour; this man was clearly the highest ranking officer in the area. Walking up to him, Rahn started, “I’ve been sent by Mandalore to fight in the duelling ring.”

The Sergeant, caught by surprise, turned to Rahn, eyeing him wearily through his mask. Rahn simply withstood the power of his scrutinizing glare. Finally, the Sergeant grudgingly replied, “Very well. I will call upon a fight. You will start with Davrel, one of our new recruits. He is young, but has potential. He should be good for you to start on.”

Rahn nodded as the Sergeant called one of the recruits. A young Mandalorian in blue armour sprinted to the spot. “Sir!” he said sternly.

The Sergeant gestured to Rahn. “You will be facing the Jedi in the battle circle. What are your terms, Davrel?”

Rahn tried to quickly catch information from the conversation, not wanting to seem ignorant. It seemed to be that the one who was challenged chose the terms. He decided to go along with it; it was not as if this recruit could defeat him.

Davrel’s eyes shot up to Rahn, who could sense the excitement emanating through the force from the Mandalorian. “No terms,” asserted Davrel. “I fight the Jedi with fist and foot, like a true warrior.”

A flicker of doubt slivered through Rahn. The beginnings of anxiousness started to rise within him, causing worry. However, he quickly swallowed those fears. What was there to fear?

Davrel removed his helmet, revealing a young face, no older than twenty, framed by locks of dark hair. Unlike most Mandalorians, his face bore no battle scars or serious injuries.

Rahn threw down his weapons and walked into the ring with the recruit.

“Let the fight begin!” yelled the Sergeant. More had come to witness the battle with excitement. What could this Jedi do?

Rahn took a deep breath as he dropped into an Echani stance. He had always adopted their fighting styles. It suited him perfectly; it relied on speed, finesse, dexterity, and using technique and quick tactics to outmanoeuvre the enemy. However, he had modified it slightly, adding a little more of a strength and imperfection to the technique. However, he only changed it slightly, so it still retained the essence of its power.

The first thing Rahn noticed was the sluggish stance that Davrel took. Observing his stance, he quickly found out that the Mandalorian was going to rely on strength and muscle to pound Rahn to a pulp, while at the same time having the technical grace of a Coruscant street slug. Perfect.

Davrel took the first move, charging down Rahn, who simply lunged out of the way as the Mandalorian cleaved the air. Before Davrel could react, Rahn swiftly kicked him in the side, sending him staggering to the centre of the ring. The Mandalorian quickly regained his composure as Rahn rained a rapid succession of blows upon him as Davrel waited for the Jedi’s technique to falter. However, Rahn pulled back out of the attack, leaving Davrel in a quick shock. Now was the opportunity.

Coming from nowhere, Rahn momentarily crossed the boundaries of his Echani technique, sending a powerful right hook to Davrel’s head. The Jedi smiled as the Mandalorian fell to the ground, his head bleeding and the air knocked out of his lungs. It feels good to throw fight dirty now and then. Rahn lunged onto Davrel’s body before the Mandalorian could react, and immediately started continuously punching his face, again and again. Davrel managed to grab onto Rahn’s velvet robe, but the Exile continued to pound the recruit’s face. Finally, Davrel’s arm fell limp to the mud as he lost consciousness.

Rahn gave a small smile as he rose from the ground, using the force to send the mud flying off his Assassin’s robes. He had sustained no injuries in the fight; he was absolutely untouched. Meanwhile, Davrel moaned in pain as he slowly raised his bloody face towards the grey skies.

“The fight is over! The Jedi Drendellian is the clear and honourable victor!” announced the Sergeant. On cue, two Mandalorians came in and carried off Davrel to the med bay as the Mandalorians started talking amongst themselves, casting sideways glances at Rahn, who walked up to the Sergeant.

“What happened?” started Rahn coldly. “The Mandalorians I remember not only had brute strength, but also good tactics and quick wits.”

“Davrel is a recruit,” said the Sergeant simply.

Rahn nodded and looked out at the empty battle circle. Suddenly, a Mandalorian in blue armour came up to him. “I wish to challenge you in the duelling ring, Jedi,” he said confidently.

Rahn looked him up and down. This challenger had the same aggressive look of a Mandalorian, but was he a worthy fighter?

“Yeah, okay. Go talk to the Sergeant; I’ll be waiting,” answered Rahn as he quickly reequipped his vibroblade.

A few moments later, the Sergeant once again announced, “The Quartermaster Kex has challenged that Jedi to a duel in the battle circle. Jedi, what are your terms?”

Rahn suddenly felt all eyes fall upon him. I’m not a damn Jedi, for god’s sake! “No terms; I’m allowed to use force powers and any weapon I want, and so can he,” asserted Rahn. After they had both modified the cortosis weaves on their swords so that they didn’t kill each other, they both made it to the Battle Circle.

A mental battle was going on in Rahn’s mind. He could easily use the force to knock this Kex out, but he was afraid if it would be the ‘honourable’ thing to do. While Rahn was still deciding, the Sergeant called out, “Let the battle begin!”

Rahn had made up his mind. Just as Kex started charging towards him with a vibroblade, Rahn quickly dipped into the currents of the force, swiftly penetrating his challenger’s mind so he had it in his grasp. Once he held the delicate willpower of the Mandalorian, Rahn raised his hand, manipulating the force around his opponent to stop him in his tracks and hold him in the air.

There was a mumbling among the spectators as Kex was held in mid-air, at Rahn’s mercy. He could sense the anger, the frustration, and humiliation emanating from the Mandalorian as he stood there in mid-air. Conflicting thoughts were running through Rahn’s mind. I could render him unconscious right now, but the whole point of this was to gain honour for myself. Finally Rahn, yelled out loud, “This is for all of you who think you can defeat me in a true fight!” He then lowered Kex to the ground, letting him get ready again as Rahn raised his sword.

Kex’s face was contorted in anger as he charged Rahn. However, he made the same mistake as Davrel as Rahn sidestepped the blow and sent his blade slashing across his challenger’s back, sending his hurling to the ground. Just as Kex got up, Rahn sent a heavy succession of quick attacks upon him, forcing him to leave a gap in his technique, which Rahn swiftly exploited as he stabbed him.

Kex grunted as Rahn started slashing the blade across his body. It did not take long for the Mandalorian’s wounded form to be sprawled across the dirt.

“Enough! The Jedi is the clear and honourable victor,” yelled the Sergeant. Once again, medics took away Kex’s body.

This is easier than I had expected, thought Rahn as he walked over to the Sergeant, ignoring the anxious looks he got as he made his way. However, a Mandalorian whom he had not noticed at first walked over to him. Rahn wearily eyed the man’s armour and helmet. This was obviously a well respected General.

“I saw your exploits in the battle circle, Jedi,” he said, a little politely for a Mandalorian. He bowed his head slightly. “While many of our younger, inexperienced recruits who have never fought in a war would take your initial strategy as an act of cowardice, I understand your methods as the quickest way to victory, which is what matters most in war.”

Rahn sighed wearily. “Quickest way to victory? Yeah, I guess that’s what it was. After I fought your people in the war, I’ve had the whole, ‘victory at all costs,’ ingrained into my mind. Honestly, I can’t say I’m that happy about it,” he said dryly.

The general nodded. “Yes, I have heard of the mental and emotional strain that war takes on cultures other than our own. Many of us would take it as a sign of weakness, but it is important to know and respect the cultures of others, both to find a way to better defeat and also to not dishonour them unjustly,” he explained.

Rahn raised an eyebrow. “You’re more . . . perceptive than any other Mandalorian I’ve talked to,” he admitted.

The General chuckled. “How many Mandalorians have you really talked to rather than killed? Not much, I presume. Come, Exile, I would like to talk to you.”

Would it be wrong to deny an honour – or was it? – to talk to a respected general? “Well, I’m sort of on a mission here,” said Rahn.

The general nodded. “Well, if you come and talk to me, I can make your predicament a little bit easier.”


Let there be rock!

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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: Embers of Destruction
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