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Old 04-11-2006, 12:14 PM   #41
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I suspect some of the lack of comments may also because they know you're the Critic, and perhaps feel like they don't have the credentials to critique your material or are even intimidated (when I was a teen (awhile ago....), I was very uncomfortable critiquing something by someone older than 20 ). I just need more time to read through it more before making comments. I'm having too much fun reading your other one yet.

Jae, every writer I have studied or met is a lot like an actor. They thrive on their work, and feel better when they get the applause. At one point at theRenaissance Pleasure Faire, I worked as the Spanish Ambassador. Think of the Emperor from SW. My director, who was also Queen Elizabeth had a talk with me, because the Ambassador gets booed and vilified a lot. She reminded me that since I was the bad guy, I should consider the boos as if it were a standing ovation.

As for being the critic, I think anyone can come up with a valid comment about another's work. I constantly berate professional writers in my own head when their work doesn't come up to my standards. George Lucas drew mental flak from me because the medium he used required rapid action and transit. Something the writers who have published in his universe continue to this day. The idea that you can go from Coruscant to another planet in another system halfway across the galaxy in minutes is unrealistic. That is why there is a time lag and discussions on the ship in my work.
If you will notice, the amount of writers on this site has doubled since I began my column because they know someone will comment on their work.

So people, if you have a comment, good, bad or indifferent, send it on!


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-11-2006, 12:22 PM   #42
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Dantooine:

Training

I can’t really explain the Force, or how the training allows you to tap into it to someone that doesn‘t have at least some ability. I have had so many roll their eyes at this, and while I have always tried to explain, most don’t want to hear anything that isn’t a how-to manual.

I found the easiest way to explain it, is like this;

Go out and look at a rainbow, or a sunrise or a sunset. Record every feeling. The wind on your face, the smell of flowers in the distance, the rustle of leaves, the aftertaste of a good brandy you had before you stepped outside.

Now, picture a baby that has so many birth defects that it will never see, smell, hear, taste or feel anything. It floats totally cut off from the outside world. Now assume for an instant that you and this baby share a telepathic bond, but it is only on the verbal level. You cannot thrust pictures into that mind.

Now explain everything your senses recorded when you were outside looking at that vision. You can, but most languages use words that link to the physical feelings you have. You can describe the sun as molten, but if they don’t understand what heat is, what good will the word do?

Within two weeks of beginning, I could hear the delicate scent of the flowers. I could smell the color purple. I could touch the rustling of the solar wind as it caressed Dantooine. I could see the taste of that brandy. I could taste the pulse in Bastila’s throat.

Not really of course. But there is honestly no other way to describe it if you can‘t touch the force itself.

Those of us that can use the Force have a tiny organism named Midi-chlorians to thank for it. Midi-chlorians are a benign viral symbiont, one that inhabits every creature in the galaxy but harms none of them. They live within us and are a focus for the Force. If you have the training you can feel them drawing it from around you, and you can in turn direct it.

I found that if I approached learning about the force as I had long ago with the blade, it became easier somehow. Try to do what Master Zhar or Master Vandar suggested. Try until I could do it. Then in my own time, try harder, move harder things, concentrate more deeply. Soon I could take a ball bearing in a bowl, and cause it to roll around the bowl until it flew over the lip into my hand. I started lifting small things, the same ball bearing, then a book, then a chair, finally as I floated with chairs rotating in a circle as I were the sun with it’s planets. I commented to Bastila one morning that I felt I could lift the Ebon Hawk, then hastened to tell her it was only a joke because of her disapproval.

I dived into the archives as if I were swimming in that knowledge, and felt it pour into my mind and settle there, causing thoughts I had never imagined to grow. It made me hunger for more. I read the treatises of Master Vodo-Siosk and every master that followed him.

I found that my companions had their own colors and perception of those colors about them. Canderous was a flaming red of suppressed violent emotions. Carth was a roil of anger and mistrust, with glimmers of humor and happiness. Except for the loss of her world, Mission was a furnace of repressed excitement, and Zaalbar balanced her with a patience at odds with his appearance.

Bastila worried me, because she had shoots of darkness I could almost touch. They linked as Belaya said to her quick temper and pride. I didn’t say anything because I felt that everyone here who was a Jedi would see them as well as I.

Master Vrook was always there in the background, watching my meditation, seeing me lifting objects, now some as heavy as a ton or more, standing and watching me read in the Archives. His aura was almost a blinding blue, but there were shoots of darkness there as well. They linked to anger and for some reason, regret.

After a few weeks, Master Zhar handed me over to Master Vandar. Vandar was the master of the lightsaber. He was working on what appeared to be such a device as I walked in. “Sit; I will be ready in a moment.” He said.

I watched him work. His tridactyl hand worked smoothly with the hilt, adjusting some mechanism within it, then he gave a chuff of satisfaction.

“We were concerned about teaching you the lightsaber, young apprentice.”

“I don’t understand, Master. I have used a sword before.”

“Yes you have, and that is why we are concerned. You know what a light saber is, yes?”

“It is a collimated beam of laser energy focused through a crystal that heightens the strength, and limits its focus.” I replied.

He snorted. “Read Master Koori’s treatise have you?” He asked.

I shrugged. About sixteen millennia earlier, crystals had been found that directed energy into a forced beam, but at the same time did not let it extend too far from that focus. No one knew why the crystals worked in such a manner, and those who worked in fields affected by this discovery were still arguing to this day.

Those first lightsabers had large batteries or were only good for half an hour or so before shutting down. A few centuries later they used belt-packs of chained batteries, then finally used the newest batteries which made them small enough to carry, but not as ruinous in power usage.

Master Koori’s book was the definitive work, and only 400 years old. Practically last month for the Jedi.

“The Jedi made the lightsaber because they needed a weapon of last resort.” Vandar said. I understood. As much as they tried to maintain the balance, working for peace, Jedi did gather enemies. Those that wished more than an agreement had given them, governments that felt their rights were more important, and of course the Sith. We could have walked around in four meter tall powered armor with all of the weapons it could bear, but it’s kind of hard to convince people you’re only there to help with all of that firepower on your back. But the Jedi had to be able to protect themselves. They had begun with the sword back when the Republic was formed, and when vibroblades were invented used them instead. Then the lightsaber was designed around these rare and valuable crystals.

“What does pure energy weigh?” Vandar asked.

“Nothing, Master.” I replied. The question made no sense.

“Exactly. But a true blade, even a vibroblade with just that strip of metal in the center does. That is one reason why a child is easiest to teach. You can hand a child a lightsaber, and he has nothing to compare it to. You however are used to that weight, to having to resist swinging too hard, or too lightly. To stopping the blade in an instant because your muscles are used to it. If I handed you a lightsaber, you would hurt yourself long before you dealt with an enemy.” He flicked a switch, and a lightsaber blade shot out.

“This is the best I could do on short notice, young one. More powerful than the training sabers we give the children, yet not much more dangerous. The ‘blade’ is made by a crystal with a low powered power cell. Enough to form the blade and little else. It can singe flesh, but will not cut it. I have designed it with only this setting to protect you. Catch.” He flicked it off, then tossed it in my direction. Using the Force I caught it, and brought it into my open hand. He picked up a solid mask of metal, and tossed it to me and I caught it bringing it to my other hand.

“As an adult you will understand that pain is a great teacher. That is why you are not merely using a training lightsaber. Stand there in the engarde position. Put on the helmet and await further instruction.” I did as I was told. The instant the helmet was on, I could see nothing. Pads covered my eyes so that I could not even try to squint around them. But I could hear, and still feel the Force. There was the greenish white of Master Vandar before me. He stood with both hands on his cane. “Switch on your weapon.” The blade surprised me, I didn’t know until then that energy itself was something the Force could sense. Then I chided myself. I had seen students here walk through a hall with blaster turrets blazing, deflecting the bolts with the very weapons they carried. Of course you could feel energy!

“Now you know from your past how to use a sword. Use this as one.” I slowly began the first Kata I had learned so many years ago from Kalendra. The blade felt odd, and I couldn't explain why.

“There are more complex forms. Use them.”

I began into the saber dance, as a single bladed version among the Echani is called. Part of that requires you to shift your grip, holding the pommel as if it were a knife with the blade down along your arm instead of being thrust forward. Then you would progress into what is called the wheel, a defensive spiral of the blade spinning before you to block any attack. Your wrist holds the blade firm.

At least in theory. I started to shift my grip and go into the wheel, when I felt a sharp burning sensation in my forearm, then in my knee. I lost control of the weapon, and felt it also score across my chest. I dropped it, gasping.

For a long moment, there was silence. “I had hoped from what you did at the start that it would all flow so simply. I am sorry for that. But now you see why we worried. You must practice this every chance you get. Alone, with others watching to tell you how you have done, with that blade only. Do not go back to your other weapons, in this they will only hurt your progress You must do it with your eyes closed, and if you cannot keep them closed, with the helmet you now wear. Until you have learned this, there can be no going forward.”

“But Malak-”

“As needy as we are, Malak must wait on this.” He replied. “Go back to your ship.”

As much as they bothered me when I had learned the Force, I found that being around the crew of my ship was more restful than not. I wanted to read but I was worried that I could not handle a simple single blade. What good would I be if I could not bear the weapon of my order?

I went to the Port cargo hold. Canderous had taken over the other, incessantly tinkering with the swoop bike he had somehow gotten aboard. Most everyone else stayed away from him. I looked around the area, and judged I had enough room to dance if the sword would let me.

I burned myself almost every minute that first day. I used up all of the burn salve we had aboard, and Carth ordered more, which was delivered as everything else we had ordered, without complaint. I went to bed hurt angry and frustrated rather than continue because I knew that while those emotions might speed my actions, they would also draw me away from the light. If I had to be mad to use the blade correctly, what good would I be?

After a while I was burning myself less. Then one day I was thinking about something I had read in the Archive. A book that had not been written on Dantooine, but on Korriban, captured during the Sith war of so long ago. It was a copy of an even older book according to the forward, a book almost as ancient as the Republic itself, which had also been a mere copy of one even older. The wording had been archaic, and hard to read, but something about the wording of the most recent translation only a century old made a deep impression.

Then they came, the invaders, ripping out places of worship on Dantooine among others, placing within them great symbols of their power. Long was the tyranny as they used the Force and matter as one to strike terror into the hearts of all that faced them

I walked into the cargo bay, and ran over what the words had said translated from so long ago. I picked up that damn sword, and began to move in the first Kata.

The seat of their power was the Star Forge, an engine of great might and darkness. That gave them their every want and need, and protected them from attack. Strong were they in the Force but then they met an enemy who was as great. Planets were devastated, and billions were fed into those flames. Then it was that a great plague struck them, many died, and others lived yet found they could no longer touch the Force. The Star Forge fell silent, for without the Force, a being could not make the controls work, for the Force imbued the very walls. And without it all was solid immovable matter.

“Then did the oppressed come, taking the ships that their masters could no longer work, raining fire on them wherever they dwelt, even to the foot of the Star Forge itself, for the weapons that could turn a planet to dust were silent, they would not obey the pleas of those they had once protected.

Yet one who still used the Force threw up a wall of such power that no weapon could penetrate it. The ships that had come fell into the star or crashed on the planet and those far enough away fled-


“Danika.”

“Hm?” I opened my eyes, looking at Bastila. As I did, I saw a flash of light pass less than three centimeters from my face. I did not stop, but instead looked forward. The blade was moving, and I was dancing with it as I had learned. But this blade was that weakened lightsaber beam. I watched my hands going through the intricate movements, and could see I was into Kata 11, about half way through the twenty Kata set used for practice. I stopped. “How did I do that?”

“How did you do it without a qualm, without a cut for almost an hour?” Bastila asked.

“I don’t know. I had read something that I think might be the clue to what Revan was looking for, and was concentrating on what the words might mean when I started.”

“Think of something else.” She commanded. “Start again.”

I did as she had bid, my eyes firmly closed. I started to run through our equipment inventory. Surprisingly large for a ship of our mass. After two hours without a burn she stopped me again. She held her lightsaber. “Try this, but be careful.”

I took it, and the twin blades sprang from it. Again I closed my eyes. This was easier. I had been training with twin blades since I was a young woman, and I knew the nuances of them as well as I knew anything in my life. I began to dance in earnest; the slow glide forward, the mincing side-step that forces the enemy to move. The whip of the blades past my face as I went into the Water wheel, the variant of the wheel practiced with paired blades-

“Danika.”

-I suddenly knew I had done this before. Not with a paired blade such as this, but with a single blade, the joy of that impression leaped in my heart, and I began to whirl the weapon faster-

“Danika...”

-I had done this somewhere, perhaps in a past life some people speak of. I had been the best and even masters had watched in amazement as I had cut flies from the air, and strips of paper from a sheet held by a volunteer-

“Danika!” I stopped the blades beside my hip, one forward one back in the low guard position. I opened my eyes. There had been a metal crate before me, one of the empties we hadn’t returned to the quartermaster yet. I had cut it in half, not in one blow but in neat strips that lay on the deck, glowing from the heat of the weapon, starting with a wedge of metal, then progressively larger shapes. I stepped back from it, my thumb found the stud, and the blades fell silent and vanished. I handed it back to Bastila, and she looked at my handiwork.

“I think you are ready.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-12-2006, 11:54 AM   #43
Char Ell
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Quote:
I started lifting small things, the same ball bearing, then a book, then a chair, finally as I floated with chairs rotating in a circle as I were the sun with it’s planets.
I think this sentence needs to be reviewed for grammar. I like how you continue to incorporate actual game imagery into your story, e.g. the game cutscene for Revan's re-training as a Jedi.

I also like the fact that you took the time to address the differences between wielding a metal-bladed weapon and a lightsaber and Danika's painful process of learning how to fight with a lightsaber again.

Was this chapter posted previously? I know I've read it before and it must have been here because I haven't read any of your material posted elsewhere.


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Old 04-12-2006, 01:37 PM   #44
machievelli
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Yes, this was posted as the first of Dantooine Part one.

I have been constantly appalled by other writers who simply think a Jedi is going to snatch up any old sword and use it. There is a lot of training involved (Mainly time) and learning how to use say a rapier is different from a Roman Spatha. You have to get used to the weight, and as I commented, a lightsaber beam has no weight. That is why Bastila spent all that time merely defending herself on Taris in my book, because she's used to a lightsaber and suddenly she had a blade staff instead. It was also part of the reason I see for the Jedi to train children rather than adults.
Good spotting. No, you don't get a Whatever for it. As for grammar my checker passed it.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:50 PM   #45
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Tests:

Danika

I couldn’t wait. I went to Master Dorak, and showed him the book I had been reading. He pounced on it, and was lost in it before I could do more than explain what I had read. I left him happily engrossed in a time beyond that of the Republic. Both Master Vandar and Master Zhar were away, and I wanted to tell them both what had happened, but of course could not. I was walking back through the corridor when Master Vrook came around the corner. It wasn’t until then that I realized that except for watching me from a distance, he had not gotten close to me since the Council meeting of almost two months ago. In fact, while there were fifteen Masters present, only the Council members would even speak to me. I didn’t know why, but it was a fact I had to accept.

“How is your training going?” He growled.

“I believe I am ready to work with an actual lightsaber finally.” I admitted.

“Finally.” He motioned, and walked into the training room. He keyed a sensor, and a remote ball glided from its niche. “Helmet.” He snapped. I picked it up, and slid it on. “Saber.” He flipped the handle to me and I caught it without using the force. “Engarde.”

I flicked it on, and waited in middle guard position. The remote was invisible, only the humming of it’s anti-grav unit giving me an approximate position. I moved the blade, and felt a bolt deflect into the wall. Then another.

They became faster and faster, a rain that would hurt if one of them struck me. The sound of the unit became diffuse, and the rain fell harder and faster. I was untouched, but I didn’t know how long that would be true.

Then they came in a flurry, I could have sworn the remote was flying around me but I could no longer hear it.

“Enough!” Master Zhar shouted. The rain stopped. “Take off your helmet, Apprentice. “ I slid it off, and looked at the four remotes that still circled me. I looked to Master Vrook. He stood beside Zhar, glaring at me with such hate that I was stunned.

“Better than I had ever imagined.” Vrook said softly, then he handed the remote controller to Zhar and padded out. Zhar looked after him for a long moment, then back at me.

“Your final tests begin tomorrow. I would suggest you get a good night’s sleep.” Zhar sent the remotes back to their niches, and left. I looked at the lightsaber in my hand, then set it on the desk at the end of the room.

The next morning, I arose early. Bastila who had been working with me when I practiced my training was absent, and part of me missed her. She had become almost like my shadow for the last two months or so. I picked up a mug, accidentally dropped it, and caught it with the Force a few centimeters from the floor.

“Beats having to clean it up doesn’t it?” I looked at Mission where she stood. She had begun to smile again but it was a sad smile. The kind a child gets after they find that the monster they thought was under the bed was real, regardless of what their parents said.

“Yes it does. Tea?”

“Sure.” I handed her the filled mug, got another and poured mine. “So what is it like to use the force?”

“Like finding out you have only taken shallow breaths all your life.” I grinned. “Or finding out that boys are really attracted to those new growths that bothered you a year before.” She laughed out loud, once again the child without a care. I could see her growing up, having children being happy-

Her face contorted screaming. I could see her hands raised in supplication rather than defense. As if that would stop me. I blocked a blaster bolt and knew it was Carth, could hear him pleading with me to stop or he would kill me. Canderous would do nothing, I knew. He was mine, had been mine since the day he had joined us. Bastila would bend to my will, fall on her knees and proclaim me master. Malak would die, not quickly, but by cut after narrow cut as I sliced away every bit of the betrayer’s flesh. I could feel the blade slicing through Mission, watched her fall. Heard Zaalbar’s scream of rage and pain and betrayal. “Wait your turn.” I snarled, turning to face him. The bowcaster was up, but his heart warred with his oath and I reached out, feeling his skull collapse in my Force imbued hand-

-“Danika!” I started back, looking at the mug at my feet, shattered. I set down the pot, and sat, shivering with a cold that had nothing to do with temperature. She fussed about me, and I finally had to beg her to sit. “Please Mission, I’m all right.”

“Well you looked like someone had hit you with a stun baton.”

“It wasn’t a stun baton, it was the Force.” I replied. Feet ran up the gangway, and stopped at the passageway to the central room. Bastila came in, eyes wary. Her lightsaber was in her hand, and I knew she was ready to trigger it in an instant.

“Well at least I finally know you how to roust you out of bed in the morning.” I joked. It had been a running gag among us. Bastila was usually the last awake, and was not by any stretch a morning person. I was almost as bad, but at least they didn’t have to threaten me with ice water.

She calmed, but was not amused. Neither was I. “I felt-”

“I know. I saw a vision. A horrible vision.” I pointedly did not look at Mission. “I think I have to speak with Master Vandar and Master Zhar right now.”

“They are expecting you.” Bastila hung her lightsaber from her belt.

We walked to the Council room in silence. I was still horrified by what the vision had shown me. Mission dying not by chance but by my hand just a few weeks away. How I knew the timing of that event was unimportant. Mission had become like a younger sister to me. I wanted to hold her in my arms wipe her tears away. If I could I would have gone to the wreckage of Taris, and put it back like it had been even if it took several lifetimes. If I had to use my bare hands and blood as mortar I would have done it gladly. Zaalbar was sworn to me, and my oath to him would have been doubly violated if that occurred.

I didn’t want the Force if I would have to do something like that with it!

Master Vrook was not there, which made me happy in a vague way. I came up to the other masters, and instead of standing, I fell to my knees and told them everything I had seen during that horrible vision. I told them in a leaden voice, and found myself crying as I did. Part of me would be ripped away in an instant if they judged it necessary. I would go on living, but never feeling the force ever again, never knowing what I might have been, or done with it. Like having eyes, but knowing that you were to be blinded.

I didn’t care.

I finally ran down. Kneeling in silence. “I can’t go on with this if that will happen.” I whispered, “I can’t put their lives in danger not from Malak but from me!” I looked up, barely seeing them through my tears. “Take this from me, I know you can. Make my mind a blank and fill it as you will. I don’t want-” I looked away. “-I don’t want to become that person.”

“What makes you think you will?” Asked a gentle voice. I looked back. Somewhere during the recital, Master Vrook had come in. His face was impassive, but in his eyes I could see pain. He walked over, kneeling beside me. “People go through their lives with choices all around them We who use the Force are most sorely tried because our choices can harm those we love more than ourselves. We always walk that knife blade. Vandar, Zhar,” He laughed softly, “Even I. Will you listen to me for once?”

“Always, Master.” He looked sad at that.

“The Force can give you visions of the future. But some are not true though they can be if we do not take care. They are the potential in all of us, the evil we could do if we do not restrain ourselves. I believe that is what you saw. There will be a time of great test for you before you confront Malak, a time when your entire existence and all of ours will rise or fall on what you do. You must be strong for all of us. For this Twi-lek girl, for the Wookiee, even for the Mercenary who you now have following you like a tame Kath hound. You will send them to hell, or save their lives with your actions.”

I nodded jerkily. Then I hugged him, burying my head against his chest as I cried. I felt his discomfort, and one of his hands patted me jerkily. “Now no more of this. Master Zhar awaits your final tests.”

I never felt less ready than that moment. I walked into the training room and fell to my knees again.

“Stand, Apprentice.” Zhar said softly. I stood, and he watched me for several moments before he spoke. “Do you honestly feel so lacking in worth?”

“I must, Master. I had a vision of killing a girl I love as a sister, a Wookiee that has sworn a life debt to me, damning me twice over. Not only seeing them killed but being the instrument on their deaths! What manner of animal am I?” I looked at him.

“Apprentice, do you deny what Master Vrook has said to you?” He asked.

“No Master. But what he said suggests that I have the potential to be that monster.”

“As do we all, girl.” Zhar replied. “Do you think we who are Masters merely have found a way to immediately decide what is right or wrong and miraculously follow it?” He shook his head with a sad smile. “Exar Kun was close to being a master, but he struck down Master Vodo-Siosk Baas on the very floor of the Republic Senate to show his disdain. Ajunta Poll had been a master when he led the exiles and created what are now the Sith two millennia ago. A Master has even more to fear than a mere Apprentice, child. We have greater powers, and our fall is farther. Do you believe that you cannot stand against this darkness within yourself?”

“Master, is it not written ‘The darkness within ourselves is always the true enemy’?”

“Yes. Now, do you believe that?”

“Yes Master.” I closed my eyes, then opened them. “In war, fighting the enemy, I considered what I did and might do. All my life when I saw the strong use their strength to bully others, when I discovered that all the Wookiee I had seen before Zaalbar were slaves. To me owning another being, knowing that it despairs, and not caring, that is darkness beyond the fury that had risen in me at the thought. But when I killed the Gamorreans that had put a collar on Zaalbar, I had not felt anger, or hate. Or rage. What I felt was pity. They had made themselves less than sentient by their actions, and while I had to kill them, part of me wanted to put a collar on them for a week. Make them live like one of those they had so tormented, with no hope of rescue, then let them go so they would always remember what they had done.”

He looked at me. “You have done in the past weeks what some have failed to do in a decade, young Apprentice. Your potential is unlimited. We cannot even imagine what heights you will scale if you stay in the light.

“But we have no more time. We must begin your final tests. You may fail them. This does not mean you cannot go on within the order. But we must reconsider sending you upon this quest. While we have taken time, more than we wished, we have taken all we can. Are you ready?”

I straightened my shoulders. “If I must be ready, I will be ready.”

He nodded. “You have read the Jedi Code.”

Of course I had. It was five books with a total of almost 6,000 pages among them. I nodded.

“Most students never realize that the Code you have read can be expressed very simply. That is the first step to being a Padawan. Answer these correctly;

“There is no emotion.”

I paused. Unbidden, words came to me. “There is peace.”

“There is no ignorance.”

“There is knowledge.”

“There is no passion.”

“There is serenity.”

“There is no chaos.”

“There is harmony.”

“There is no death.”

“There is the Force.” I felt a welling of emotion in me. Suddenly I saw all those petty rules I had read, all of those judgments by Masters long dust and the words were right somehow. I also knew that I could take the youngest apprentice and teach him these simple words, these simple answers, and it would mean nothing unless he felt them within himself. It isn’t the words that bind the Jedi to our cause; it is the ideals, and living our lives by them.

Zhar smiled. “Jedi have never been the Masters of the Republic, we are its guardians. We guide those we council toward the light not by force, but by example. How can you be an honest judge if you allow passion, emotion, chaos, and ignorance to stop you?

“How can we move among those who do not know the Force except as we do? One small fish in the vast school. Above all, we should have no pride in our robes, or unique weapon, or power. If we ever thought ourselves better than those were care for, we would be no better that the Sith.” He looked at me with relief in his eyes. “Well done. Go now to Master Dorak. Tell him I have sent you.”

I walked back through the complex. Dorak was busy in the library as always. “This might be the clue we sought!” He said, holding up the book I had found. “But how did Revan know to read it?”

I stood there a moment, then I walked to the stacks. Dorak watched me, following with a puzzled look on his face. I reached up, pulling down a slim book. I opened it, flipping through the pages with all the haste the ancient book could stand. Then I stopped. “ ‘It is believed on many worlds that the Force came to our Galaxy from outside, brought by a people steeped in the Dark side. From them, it is also believed, came the secret of the Hyper drive. Those and the many ruins mentioned on such planets as Dantooine and Korriban by Webelori’s translation of the ancient texts of Korriban are their doing’.” I handed it to him. He took it, and looked at the spine. “ ‘Before the Republic Stood: What is known of the Galaxy’. By Ajunta Poll.” He read.

I stared at the book. I had never been in this library before we came to Dantooine, never seen that book. But I had known it was here, and found it.

“Well done, Apprentice. What may I do for you?”

“Master Zhar sent me.”

“Ah yes, the crystal.” He led me to his desk, opening a case. “We have several of each color. You do know about the crystals.”

“Yes.” The crystals were called Adegan or Ilum crystals. First discovered in the Adega system. They were formed by the Force itself it was believed, made as other crystals have been formed through centuries of pressure and heat within planets. Yet these were unique. First, they are colored, each it’s own unique color of the spectrum. The Red crystals were the most common. The Dark Jedi used them because they were easy to obtain. Then there were the Blue, green and yellow which were also common, though rare in comparison to red. Then the unique colors, violet teal rose or amethyst.

“When you build your first lightsaber, you chose the color of the part of the order you feel you should represent. It is, in this instance, the choice you have made of your calling as a Jedi. The Guardian is blue so-”

“Wait.” I stopped him. “Please, there are others, yes?”

“Of course there are.” He fell into the pedantic mode he did so well.
“Blue is the Guardian. The warriors of the order. When people speak of us as the Jedi Knights, it is the Guardians they usually think of. When fight we must the Guardian is in the vanguard. Next of course are the Sentinels. They watch for the evil, and bring it to light. They search for evil, ferreting it out where ever it might be. Their color is yellow.

“The fewest of our order are the Consular. They are the negotiators, the judges of the order. When strife is to be averted, it is the Consular who is assigned. They must always remember that balance is the key to peace. When a Jedi chooses to be a Consul, she is given a green crystal.”

“I know I can be a Guardian, but I do not feel that it is my path, Master.” I apologized. “I have spent too much of my life dealing death and avoiding it. I feel that there is more to my life than that, and would chose another path.”

“Well, back when there were thousands of us, they had a test they administered. Will you accept my judgment in this?”

“In all things, Master.”

“Very well. “Two men are locked in what appears to be a death struggle. One is struck down, and begs for his life from the ground. What do you do?”

“Why are they fighting? Is the man on the ground innocent? Easier to confront them to find out why they are in such turmoil, then deal with the problem, whether it be them or whatever has put them in this position. If the man who is attacking is wrong, stop him. If the man on the ground the aggressor at least attempt to convince his attacker to show mercy. Beyond that I have no reason to intervene.”

“Ah.” He nodded. “You are in combat with a dark Jedi. He retreats for a moment. Maybe he is tired, maybe he feels that he is losing, maybe he has been injured. What do you do?”

“Master a Dark Jedi was once one of us. Something caused him to embrace the dark. I would try to find this out. No one is completely in the Dark or the Light. Perhaps my words can return him.”

“Yes. You must enter a fortress to gain information. Before you is the gate, and armed guards. What do you do?”

“Are the guards my enemy? Is it possible they can be swayed by reason? I would approach them, and ask admittance. If they refuse, then I can consider a more violent option.”

“I am beginning to see a pattern. You have been sent to assist the enclave in a disputed word. It is rumored that Dark Jedi and Sith have infiltrated, and are causing planet-wide unrest. What do you do first?”

“Are there really Dark Jedi?” I asked. “Is it perhaps discontent that has been there for a long time, or because of recent actions by the government? Dishonest governments have tried to use claims of evil machinations to sway the Jedi Council and Senate before. There would be records, and those would be my first goal. If there was no time of unrest before, if the government was been benign, or at least not tending to outright oppression, then I will agree that it might be agents of the enemy. At that time I would to see how they might have arrived, and what they plan.”

He looked at me for a long moment. Then he laid out a strip of black silk. A dozen green crystals lay upon it. “Chose what you would have Consular-Candidate.” There was one stone the green of Kalendra’s eyes, the green of the sea in a storm. I lifted it gently. “Very well. Go to Master Vandar.”

I walked back to the room where Master Vandar taught. There were ten children between five and eleven there. Heads covered by helmets playing a game of sorts. A remote floated in the center, and it fired a bolt of energy at one of the children. That child deflected it across the circle, where another child deflected it at an angle at another student who then deflected it at another.

“Continue.” Vandar turned to me. I held out my hand with the crystal, and he sighed. He brought me to a workbench. “Construct your lightsaber. Let me see it when you are done.” He turned back as another bolt entered the pattern.

I opened the drawers in order. Beam emitters, apertures, matrices, both slide and knob controls for adjusting length and intensity. Dial or color strip diagnostic readouts, Activation systems from simple studs to flat plates to switches. Then the delicate lattice works of the crystal focus. Last were power cells and casings to hold it all.

I chose a black handle 30 centimeters long. With the tools I began forming the workings of the weapon I would bear. The emitter was housed with four prongs to act as a hand guard, the aperture set in place. Then the emitter matrix was assembled, and installed. I chose slide controls, so I would not have to look when adjusting them, color strip readouts, with a simple activating stud.

I worked hardest on the lattice. There were three sockets, and I carefully set the green crystal I had been given in the center, using a loupe to assure that it was placed correctly. The facets had to align just so for the beam to impinge on it, and be focused into the emitter array. I felt that it was right, and delicately tightened the clamps. If they were too loose, the stone would move, ruining the focus at an inopportune moment. But if they were too tight, they would actually warp the surface of the crystal minutely. I set them where I felt they should be, then slid the assembly into the handle, mounting them in place. Finally I ran the power leads down to the power pack, and sealed the access plate.

A lightsaber is unique to the user in that no one ever gives instruction beyond the simplest terms on how to construct one. It is one of those devices that owes more to artistry and the force than to technology in its design. No two lightsabers are the same, even when made by the same person. There are entire cases of ancient deactivated lightsabers in the archives, and by choosing a Jedi’s name, you can track their lives by the changes they made in later weapons. The ’blade’ can be adjusted from half a meter in length to a meter and a half. Some can be tuned so lightly that they can burn the hair from a man’s hand without burning or cutting the flesh beneath it, or set so powerful that they will carve the armor of a vehicle like butter.

I paused, then lifted it. The weight wasn’t right, pulling to the pommel a little, and I reopened the case, adding an extension in the emitter matrix of a denser material. When I reassembled it, it felt right in my hand.

The students now had five bolts bouncing, and they were shrieking like any child at play would. Then together they arched all of the bolts toward me as if on command.

My hand came up, and the sea-foam green of my blade lanced out in a whirling circle. I directed the bolts to the sides away from them, into pads of ablative material that smoked as they struck. Vandar had spun as his students had done this, now looked disapproving at the world in general.

“Let me see your handiwork, apprentice.” I walked over, handing it to Master Vandar.

“I apologize, Master. I acted precipitously.”

He grunted. “Children will be children, even here. Whether they are eight or twenty-eight. I should have warned you.”

“What, and ruined their fun?”

He chuckled. “There is that.” He flicked the blade into life, running through all the adjustments as if he’d done it a thousand times. He had of course, but never with my saber specifically. “I have never seen a crystal set so smoothly by a novice.” He shut it off, and handed it back to me. “Take this to master Zhar.”

I bowed and walked out. One of the boys sent a bolt at my back as their game started again, and I bounced it back at him. He deflected it at the last second, the grin widening on his face before he turned back to his classmates.

Master Zhar had moved into the courtyard, meditating quietly. I approached, fell into a meditation seat, and floated in the air as I waited. A time passed, how much I do not know. If you have meditated, you understand what I mean. The Master opened his eyes, and wordlessly held out his hand. I set the lightsaber in his grip, and he looked the casing over with a narrow eye. He flicked the beam into existence, looking at me with an unreadable expression, then moved it smoothly through the Kata I had done before him.

“Well done.” He stood, and I joined him. “There is one final test, and it is one we face all our lives. This will be the first time for you, but I feel you are ready.” I nodded. “There is darkness in the galaxy, and it is our duty to face it. Such a darkness has overtaken a grove to the south and east of here, a darkness that grows with every minute. It infects the Kath hounds native to Dantooine, driving them into madness. They attack people with a savagery at odds with their nature. This must be dealt with. You must find the source of this evil.”

“What must I do when I find it?”

“That is your test, apprentice. The choice of how it will be handled is up to you. But remember this. No one that has gone into the dark if ever lost to us. It can be saved if you will put the effort in doing so. This takes time, but never is time so precious that you must ignore the option. You may take two of your companions, no more. Because this is your test, Bastila cannot be among them.” He handed the lightsaber back to me, and I put it on my belt.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
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Star Wars: The Beginning
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:04 PM   #46
Jae Onasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Jae, every writer I have studied or met is a lot like an actor. They thrive on their work, and feel better when they get the applause.

As for being the critic, I think anyone can come up with a valid comment about another's work.

So people, if you have a comment, good, bad or indifferent, send it on!
Oh, I didn't mean to imply that people _shouldn't_ comment on your (or anyone else's) work. I was merely offering a possible explanation of _why_ they're not commenting on your fic. It's certainly not the quality of the writing (which is good) that's keeping people from posting.


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Old 04-12-2006, 11:23 PM   #47
Char Ell
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I think Master Vandar fell out of his Yoda-speak in that chapter.

Great attention to detail in Tests. An interesting choice to have Danika choose the path of a Consular. And she constructs a single-bladed lightsaber instead of a double-bladed one. Interesting. And I like how you portrayed the children playing four-square with blaster bolts. That was a nice addition to the story.

RE: this sentence
Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli in post #42
I started lifting small things, the same ball bearing, then a book, then a chair, finally as I floated with chairs rotating in a circle as I were the sun with it’s planets.
Grammar was the wrong word to use. I still think this sentence is awkward and should be reworked. Maybe "...then finally as I floated with chairs rotating in a circle around me, like a system's planets orbiting their sun." Or something like that. Of course this is your call as the author and only my 2 cents.


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Old 04-13-2006, 11:06 AM   #48
machievelli
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you'll notice that Vandar doesn't 'yoda speak'.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:22 AM   #49
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Dantooine Quest:

Canderous

The heavy blaster rifle lay on the workbench as I worked with it. Patience is the first thing a young warrior learns, and I am by no means young. I am Canderous Ordo of clan Ordo. My deeds are enshrined in the halls of my people, and for forty of the Republic’s standard years I had fought across the Galactic Rim.

Since Mandalore Our Progenitor conquered a small flyspeck of a planet, we have been warriors, and our people breed them like others breed their farm animals. For my people it is the honor and glory of battle that draws us, shapes us, and defines us. For each of us it is through combat that we prove our worth gain renown earn our fortunes and determine who is worthy of passing on his genes to the next generation.

Not long after we left Taris, the woman that I now allied myself with had sat with me, and discussed what my people know and feel and believe. When I spoke to her of what I have just recorded she asked “Is that why the Mandalorians attacked us?”

I corrected her, which I have not bothered to do very often since the war’s end. “We call ourselves merely the Mando, as our leader has always been the Mandalore of Mandalore. Only those who have not spent the time to learn of us call us Mandalorian.

“No. Twenty years ago, we were approached by the Sith, still licking their wounds after the war of Exar Kun. They brought not trinkets and technologies, but an idea that struck our people. Why not prove ourselves in a war that would be recorded as long as the Galaxy existed? Fight an enemy that would set forever the name of the Mando in history. They wanted us to strike at the Republic.

“For my people it was a siren call of battle. The Republic was weakened by the war of Exar Kun. The Sith were worse off. To defeat the Sith would have been child’s play, but the Republic...”

“But you lost!”

“Win, lose, it doesn’t matter. As long as the fight is glorious and worthy of those that died. The honor for a losing battle is no less than that which leads to victory, only the one who lost is not there a lot of the time to garner it. His or her children are still there to see it and that renown is theirs as well through their blood. The glory of defeating your Republic, of facing impossible odds, and knowing that we can win, but will probably not, that is what drives us.”

“And what of those defeated?”

“You know gamblers. What do they lose? Money. Coins or jewels that were never going to remain theirs forever. We gamble only one way, and that is with our very lives. If there is nothing of true worth at stake, you possessions, your world, your life, battle is pointless. To fight a battle with no possessions to take, no worlds to conquer, no lives to end is waste.

“When we fight nothing is held back. Everything we are and have is thrown into it. It is the true test that defines your very life. The struggle against death and oblivion.”

“So your people seek death.”

I shook my head, smiling. It was almost as if she were one of the children in the training camps.

“Death is nature’s way. All things die in their time. A true warrior is the one that Death chases, pursues with single-minded intensity, yet fails to catch. Such has always been our way.”

I stopped speaking for a time. “But our people had begun to change in small ways that boded the end of our race. There was a generation of warriors who fought nowhere but in the training pits rising now to command. Leaders of Squads, Phalanxes, even armies that gave of their mouths to the glory of war, yet had never felt it’s kiss, had never given their heart or their blood to it. When the story circle was opened, all they could do was listen. The clans were being led by those that would not last an instant against those of my generation who had seen it, and if we had ever fought amongst ourselves would have fallen even though they outnumbered us in their thousands. The entire race was dying from the inside like a diseased tree, and the rot was spreading rapidly.

“The Mandalore of Mandalore was of my generation, his own son was one of this other kind. He feared for our entire race if his son did not learn the truth of our existence. He committed us to the course of fighting the Republic in hopes that the new war would blood those and bring them into the fold, as they should have been. We might fall, but it would be as we should, from battle, not from the weakness of our own people. He spent a dozen of your years attacking just the fringes, the unaligned worlds and polities. Then, finally, when he felt there was no more he could do to train them, we struck.

“But he failed. When the fire of battle touched us, it wasn’t the diseased tissue that burned, but the good. The weak stayed home, or found their niche in garrison troops and administration. What we would have left to serfs, they grasped and called important. Not all of course, for even a diseased tree will stand many seasons before its fall. But enough that when the war had ended, the dross was greater in weight than the precious metal we had squandered. The Clans were scattered over the rim on a few meager worlds.

“That may be the end of my people. Many still stalk about wearing our armor, speaking our language, defaming our heritage, whose only claim to it is their blood. One such was Bendak Starkiller back on Taris, who cannot even claim that blood.

“Even at the height of our power, the Clans were not a serious threat to any capable of standing against us. Those that fought us tried to use the weak among us as the reasons we fought. The greed the brutality the spite and the bloodlust. But they know that is a lie. The Mando are still the premier warriors of the Galaxy. They look at us and see that, and fear us still.

“We wanted the challenge of battle, as we always have. The honor and glory, win or lose. We lost.”

She sat there looking at me, and I knew that she felt pity for my people. A brave race brought low not by the war, but by our own society. “And how did Canderous Ordo of Clan Ordo end up on Taris?”

“Home is not what it was for us that really believed in our old ways. It was better to spread into the Galaxy, earn again our honors, and hope that some few would learn it at home again. Ships came from many peoples, and our warriors, and those who only claimed such left in their multitudes. I had finished a contract when I arrived on Taris. Not a lucrative one and truth be told little honor accrued from it. Davik needed men and spoke of great honor and glory, but what honor was there? Crushing the idiots that fought him, pitting a few months swagger against forty years of struggle was something a stripling could have beaten. Confronting the Swoop gangs had its moments, but even they were weak and would have been defeated in the end.

“When I look back upon my life. At the thousands who fell facing me. The deaths I have encompassed with my own hands, with the hands of those that followed me, I weep. Not for my past, for what has been written will never be undone. No, I weep for my people in the future.”

When we arrived at Dantooine, she had to spend time with the Jedi, and because of that, I was left pretty much to myself. The Wookiee spoke a language I had never learned, the Twi-lek girl looked at me as if I had three heads, and I was of no interest to Bastila.

This left only Carth, and when she was there, Danika to speak to.

Among my people there is a saying, “Society is only warfare on another plane‘. One evening, I opened battle on that level with Carth. The one thing I missed from home was the Warrior’s story circle. The telling and retelling of our deeds. It is not proper to merely speak of them unless asked, and it is good manners to let others go first. We had settled down to a meal. Danika was engrossed in a Holocron, those odd devices only the Jedi or others who can touch the force can use.

“Carth. You fought my people during the Mando wars, didn’t you?” He nodded. “We might have faced each other in combat. Tell me of the battles you fought, and whom you fought alongside.”

He shook his head. “I try not to think of the battles I have seen too much. The horrors of war are not something to relive over a meal. I save them for my nightmares.”

The comment bothered me. “Horrors? My people glory in the press of battle. We gain honor among our people by the retelling of our exploits. The young learn what it is to be a warrior. I am disappointed that you never learned that lesson.”

“Most of our peoples never learned to view war as yours did.” Danika commented softly.

“I am not a warrior.” Carth bit out. “I was a soldier. There is a difference. Warriors attack and conquer. They prey on those too weak to fight back. Soldiers defend and protect the innocent. Usually from warriors.”

“Nice speech. I bet you tell yourself that every night to stave off your nightmares. But my people have done what you are not. We accept what nature and chance has made us. I don’t have to justify what I have done in my life with pallid words. My victories in my record is all I need to show my worth.”

“Victories!” Carth almost spat. “And how do the defeats measure in this paean of martial glory? You lost. You not only lost. You lost to us!”

“Of course we did!” I looked at him surprised. “When the war began you outnumbered us five to one in ships, and ten to one in personnel. You had more supplies than you knew what to do with, which helped because we captured enough of them to keep our own troops going. You had the Jedi, the one thing we did not have, and yet you still almost lost to us before they joined the fight. It has been four years, and still the Republic trembles at the name Mando!”

“Nice speech. I bet you tell yourself that every night to cover the fact that you lost! How many millions died when your kind committed atrocities?”

“The ones that occurred, or the ones your government thought up?”

“How about Serafin 7? The murder of ten thousand miners when you invaded?”

“It is said among my people ‘to know honor, you must know what dishonor is’. Goortel led the fleet at Serafin . He was not a warrior; he was one of the weak ones that share my blood. He was dealt with afterward. The sentence for his infamy was Kashtrial. Death by his own hand. When he proved too weak to follow through as honor demanded, we dealt with him as we would with any of his ilk.” I glared at him. “We took care of those of our own that acted shamefully. That raped that pillaged that murdered instead of facing the dead in battle. Can you say the same? What of Admiral Quintain at Kostigan’s Drift? If I remember correctly he was made a lord of the Republic for his victory.” I added sarcastically.

“I was at Kostigan’s Drift.” He bit out. “Quintain faced a fleet defending a supply depot. He fought through them, and bombed the depot.”

“Yes. I was there as well. The ‘fleet’ he faced was fifteen corvettes and five frigates against ten cruisers and twenty frigates. They were not pushed aside, he slipped by them in the dark matter belt at the edge of the system. He could have fought them and crushed them but he didn’t have the guts to match weapons with them. When he was past them he bombed the entire continent where our depot was. Killing what, the fifty Mando that guarded it? And what of the million odd civilians that lived there? If we had done it every officer in the fleet would have been executed afterward. By us!”

“There was your damn jamming! He couldn’t target as precisely as we wished!”

“Jamming! The only ‘jamming’ you faced was the electromagnetic affects of the dark matter you had hidden in! Our fleet didn’t engage you then because they were waiting for our own instruments to clear! I know because I was on the bridge of one of them when the pursuit began!”

“I think that is quite enough discussion.” Bastila commented tartly.

As you can see, war without the bloodshed. But it was fun while it lasted.

I leaned back, examining what I had been doing. Danika had ordered the parts I needed to tweak the weapon to it’s maximum potential. I hoped that soon I would find something worthy of its thunder.

“Canderous.” I looked behind me. Danika stood there. Instead of the Echani armor she had worn, she wore a simple robe as the Jedi did. Part of me was saddened. She had looked like a war bride before, and that vision remained in my mind of her. Now she looked like all of the faceless Jedi I had fought in my time. “I would like you to accompany me.”

“Just say the word.”

She held up her hand. “Will bringing Carth be a burden?”

I shook my head. “A burden for Carth perhaps. But one day he will see his true self.”

I gathered my gear, putting on my armor, and followed her to the cockpit. Carth was doing as I had, assuring that his weapons, his controls were in perfect working order. He started to smile, but it was wiped away when I entered after her. “I would like you to accompany me, Carth.” She looked at me. “Us, I should have said.”

“Where?”

There is a final test I must endure to become a Jedi. I am supposed to have witnesses, and I chose you two because if there is anything out there that is a danger, I can think of no one better able to defend themselves.”

He looked at me, then stood, picking up his weapons belt. I had seen him back there tinkering with his weapons as well.

She led us through the Academy, past all of those people doing what only the Jedi knew.

“I will wait no longer!” A bluff man was forcing his way past a small woman, screaming. I would have simple cold cocked him, but the girl who was obviously a student, didn’t have the training. “I have waited and waited and you Jedi have done nothing! I demand justice! The Sanderal are a blight on this planet and must be expunged!”

Danika moved to intercept him, and he slowed. “Get out of my way, woman!”

“Sir pushing around students does not make your cause more just.” She said coldly. “And shouting does not mean you are more quickly heard, only more loudly.”

“I do not need your platitudes!” He started to reach out. I couldn’t see her face from where I was, but it stopped him cold.

“Loudly heard you have been.” Master Vandar walked out of the council room, followed by Master Vrook. They came to stand beside Danika. “Apprentice, this is our business.” Vandar said.

She bowed, stepping aside. “Yes master.” Vandar then turned to the angry man.

“Mr. Matale, the Council has promised already to investigate your son’s disappearance, but you must be patient. Your accusations have no proof and until we can finish our investigations, all you will do is incite further violence. If your claims are false, the hatred you spread will only linger.”

“False! My son is missing, and he was in the Sanderal estates when it happened! That much our own authorities have proven!”

“Authorities that work on your lands and answer to you alone. Others do not say as much.” Master Vrook said.

“My officers are the best trained on the planet and were instructed to look for clues, not make decisions regarding them.”

Vandar shook his head as if he knew where the argument was going. “Your anger with the Sanderal is well documented. As is theirs with you. If there is no evidence, you will follow that anger as a river runs downhill. In our deliberations we have discovered many possible reasons for Shen’s disappearance. We must continue our investigations, and you must learn patience.”

He spat. “You Jedi! Good for nothing but talk! I will wait here no longer! I will deal with this problem myself!” He turned and stormed away.

Vandar watched him, then turned to Danika. “As much effort as we must put into this war with the Sith and Malak, we Jedi cannot simply abandon our other duties, Apprentice. We have promised to look into this matter, and we are, but time is not on our side.

“Part of the problem is that Casus, son and heir of Nurik Sanderal has been missing for two weeks now. The Sanderal had accused the Matale, but again there was no proof. Shen’s disappearance has merely added fuel to the fire. If Shen Matale is dead, we must prove beyond a shadow of doubt when and how he died, and who is responsible. If the Sanderal are guilty, they must be punished. But the hatred between the two families started almost from their arrival on this planet over forty years ago. If the matter stays as it is, or we do not find the culprit, it will flash into a bloody feud that will not end as long as both families live. We must not allow that to happen.

“Study and training is necessary to perfect our art, of course. But the Jedi is not a cloistered order with no contact with the Galaxy. Our influence and our teachings must extend beyond these walls.”

“Yes.” Vrook said. “It is in the real world that we prove ourselves worthy of the title Jedi. You would do well to remember that, young apprentice.”

Danika bowed, and we went on. The door to the outside world was just another door; I could have blasted it with a single burst. Danika walked up to the protocol droid assigned to the entrance. “I am Danika Wordweaver.”

“My programming includes your appearance, Apprentice.” He said smoothly. “You are allowed full access to the facilities, and may leave them at your discretion.” The door opened. “May the Force be with you.”

We walked out onto a wide esplanade. Some people were there, talking in small groups, walking together. Ever present were other young Jedi, though these were all in their teens and mid twenties.

As we walked, I noticed a man standing near a bridge leading out into a wild expanse. He saw us, and I could feel the hate radiating off him at the sight of me. I’m used to that. Being Mando means others hate and fear you on sight.

As we reached him, he drew a knife, and screamed, charging at me. Carth drew, and I lowered my weapon to point at the man. But Danika’s lightsaber flicked into life, and she cut, the blade of the knife falling to the ground, leaving only the hilt.

“What means this?” She asked coldly. The lightsaber died.

“You Jedi! How long must we face attacks by night from his kind?” He jerked his head in my direction. “I come to ask for justice, and what do I see? A Jedi with a Mandalorian butcher in tow! You sit in your enclave and preach love and light while the rest of us suffer!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Those Mandalorian scum murdered my daughter!”

“Yet you stand here, alive.” I said. “What manner of father are you?”

“What was I supposed to do?” The man screamed at me. “A dozen Mandalorians and their Duros allies came to our land. Took what we had! When Ilse fought them their leader dragged her away. They used her, then brought her out naked and bloody, and shot her right in front of me!”

“What were their names.” I asked. My face must have been cold, but fires burned in me. How dare they defame our people!

“I only heard Sherruk. Their leader.” The man glared at me. “Why? Are you going to sing songs of their bravery?”

“I don’t know what the Jedi will do, man. But I, Canderous of Clan Ordo will rip out his heart and bring it back to you.”

“Find them, kill them!” The man started to shout again, then suddenly collapsed, crying. Danika knelt beside him, her hand on his shoulder.

“We will find them.” She promised.

We walked out into the plains in silence. “Why, Canderous?” She asked after a time. “Why did you make such an oath?”

“To kill someone who cannot fight back is bad enough. How much honor does a warrior win by killing the defenseless? But to dishonor her then kill her, that is worse.”

“Why? Seems the Mandalorians did a lot of that during the war.” Carth said.

I spun. “If you do not know what you are speaking about, you should be silent! Yes there were those that did such things. We considered them as worse than you ever would. More of those that killed the innocent died by our hands then ever stood in one of your Republic courts!”

“What about war brides then? What is that beyond giving a woman into slavery and rape?”

“Again your words issue from an empty head! When we fought an enemy, our helmets record all that was seen. If a woman fought us, we judged her from that record, and tried always to take her alive.

“Do you think our women are nothing but brood mares? They stand with us in battle, protect our backs, bear our children, and no on who has met one in battle can say they are unable to fight. Those women who survived among the enemy we fought that were judged worthy we named warbrides and a bride price set. Then they were asked-asked if they would accept it. If she accepted marriage, that money went in trust to her and her children. If she refused that price was paid to the woman, and she was declared one of our own. She had her own household, her own lands, her own say in her life. Warriors would come and tell of their deeds hoping to woo her as a wife.

“If she refused the price or later refused to marry within three of your years, she was promised transportation to a neutral planet. Yet even then they were honored! If we fought the son of a warbride later, it was a great honor.

“But rape? How can a man trust any woman to guard his back that he has used so shamefully? How can he stand in the circle and boast of such an act? Yes our young have raped. We punish them as the children they are. But a Warrior trained and bred does not unless he has no use for living.”

The walk continued in silence.

Danika
We headed south through the Matale lands. There were Kath hounds, and where possible we avoided them. The smaller female predators stand half a meter at the shoulder. They are the hunters of the packs. The Males are called Horned Kath hounds because when they reach maturity, they grow two massive forward sweeping horns and grow to almost two meters at the shoulder. While they can be used as weapons, the horns are for the mating cycle. A male would attack and hope to drive away another male and capture his females. The unattached males wander alone, and are considered quite dangerous.

What disturbed me was not the Kath hounds but the men that streamed into the Matale lands. Most had the look of drifters, looking for work. But others were hard-eyed mercenaries. Some of them spoke of both Ahlan Matale and Rurik Sanderal putting out the call for soldiers to fight. The open fighting that the Council foresaw was only days away.

We came over a small rise, and I stopped. A small group stood down there, surrounding a farmer. I could see that three were Duros, and the last- The blue green armor of a Mandalore.

I started down the slope. As I approached, the Mando grabbed the farmer by his collar. “Not good enough! Are you trying to slip out of your taxes to us?”

“Please, that’s all I have! Take what you want, my wife, my children, but-”

The blaster in the Mando’s hand spoke, blasting a hole through him. “Wife and children. Now that’s a thought.”

“Go to the dishonored!” A roar in Mando‘a. was followed by a blast from the heavy blaster Canderous carried. The armor stopped the first bolt, but the second punched in, causing a flash explosion. Blood and organs spewed out, stunning the Duros. I was among them before they even reacted.

Carth shot one, I killed the other two. Canderous had walked the rest of the way down the hill, and stood over the Mando body. He knelt, ripping off the helmet. The man he looked down on was younger than I was. Canderous took a chain from the corpse’s neck, snapping it to pull it out. There was a small datapad attached to it. “Rander Tubliek of Clan Sokor.” He looked down, then spat in the still face. “Long will clan Sokor work to clean this stain.” He took the datapad, and put it in his pouch.

“What is that?” I asked.

“A Mando always carries his Soochir. His soul of battle.” He touched the pouch. “Every deed he does is recorded, and if he speaks of battle in the circle, he can prove his acts with it. Also, it is believed that when he dies, the Gods of war judge him by it. The gatekeeper reads his acts, and judges whether he deserves to even speak to the War Gods. If not he is cast off the bridge into the pit of souls, where he must fight his way back into life, and begin again. If he is passed by the gatekeeper, the War Gods also read it. If they are still considered pallid, and worthless, the spirit is thrown into the pit of souls, but nearer the top, where one day it can return to life and try again. If he was a good warrior, but not outstanding, he is thrust back into life at that time.

“If he is a great warrior, his spirit is sent to join one of the Gods’ war bands, there to prepare for the day the Universe ends. Every one of them will fight to keep the Universe alive, and every one that dies on that day is another second the universe will exist.” He clenched his fist. “It is also said that if an enemy takes your Soochir and it does not reach your clan, the spirit will wander until that day, and beg their chances of the Gods to no avail. You are no longer Mando, you are dar’manda. No longer of our people. You have lost your identity and your soul. ” He looked at the body. “Wander until I decide to return this.”

I set the swoop bikes for auto travel, and their destination was originally the police station in the nearest settlement. I had looked at what the armament they carried, and instead set them to go to the enclave. We loaded the bodies onto the farm lifter, and set it to follow. Then we continued on. To the south was the Sanderal lands, and here as with the other land we had passed, we came upon groups that were bound this time for the Sanderal estate. We cut across the land, past the great house, and continued. In the farthest reaches of the Sanderal lands, I spied several young Kath hounds worrying a body. We chased the cubs away. He had been dead for more than two weeks, nothing remaining to identify the remains. Carth found a backpack, and he held out a datapad. It belonged to one Casus Sanderal. I downloaded the information on the datapad. “From what I heard, Casus disappeared, and Sanderal accused the Matale of his murder.”

“No chance of that.” Carth knelt. “A blaster bolt would have scarred the bones. So would a blade if not handled with an expert hand. Even after this time the marks would still be there. What does the datapad say?”

“He was exploring a ruin near here. Seems he was quite the amateur archeologist.” I slipped it into my pouch. “We must return to the Sanderal home. Nurik must be told.”

“Take it easy, Danika, Carth. But we’re being watched.” Canderous said. He tilted his head as if trying to crack his neck. “Five people coming this way. Two are Mando.”

I stayed kneeling, Carth beside me. Canderous moved around them, putting himself at the farthest from the approaching people. He needed the extra standoff distance for his massive weapon.

“Stand slowly, woman.” A voice called in a flat filtered tone. A Mando appeared out of a stealth field a few meters away from us. Another appeared to the left and behind him. Three Duros came over the crest, covering us with their hand weapons. I stood slowly as instructed, Carth moving to his feet and moving to the left to give me a clear field.

“Well she’s a pretty one, isn’t she Mart?” The first Mando asked. “Think Sherruk will leave any of her for us?”

“Not likely, Coord.” The other replied. “We’ll have to hope he gets tired of her eventually.”

“Is it not tradition that before battle a Mando must give his full name?” I asked.

“Battle!” Coord snorted. “As if three wastlings could be a battle for us! Woman you’re a piece of property now. Your men will die facing us one to one in a dueling circle, or if they are too cowardly, will wear a slave collar. It is said, ‘A herd beast is not a warrior, and not even a child gets honor from slaughtering it‘.”

“It is also said that ‘only a fool cooks a meal from something he has not caught’.” Canderous snorted.

“Who are you to quote the precepts of Mando to us?” Mart asked.

“I am Canderous Ordo of Clan Ordo, worm. I am your death.”

I moved, the lightsaber springing to life. Coord went down before me, and Mart was caught in the blast from Canderous’ rifle. Carth had drawn, and a burst of fire swept the Duros away. Canderous again gathered the datapads. I climbed the ridge to discover yet more swoop bikes. Again I set them for the Jedi enclave.

“Mart Coomar, of clan Troska.” Canderous said. “And Coord Lambec of Clan Kootir. More dishonored houses.” He spat. “These are the type you would call us all, Carth. I have shown you in words and actions how we deal with them.” Carth was silent.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-14-2006, 11:41 AM   #50
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I think Master Vandar fell out of his Yoda-speak in that chapter.

Great attention to detail in Tests. An interesting choice to have Danika choose the path of a Consular. And she constructs a single-bladed lightsaber instead of a double-bladed one. Interesting. And I like how you portrayed the children playing four-square with blaster bolts. That was a nice addition to the story.
Quite honestly, I didn't even consider her building a double blade here. I was following the track of the game, and there she started with a single.

As for the kids...

If you will notice if you're reading The Beginning as well as this piece, I have my kids BE kids. Oh sure Jedi Training and Mando indoctrination are serious, but the kid that can't think of having fun with that would be very rare.

Which give me an idea to break Acceptance out of it's deadlock...


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-14-2006, 11:49 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
you'll notice that Vandar doesn't 'yoda speak'.
My bad. All the other fics I read depict characters from Yoda's race speaking like Yoda does. I forgot Vandar does not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Some of them spoke of both Ahlan Matale and Rurik Sanderal putting out the call for soldiers to fight. The open fighting that the Council foresaw was only days away.
Did you purposely change the game's name for the Nurik Sandral character on Dantooine to Rurik Sanderal?
Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
I corrected her, which I have not bothered to do very often since the war’s end. “We call ourselves merely the Mando, as our leader has always been the Mandalore of Mandalore. Only those who have not spent the time to learn of us call us Mandalorian.
I don't understand your decision to refer to Canderous and others of his kind as Mando instead of Mandalorians. I believe you posted elsewhere that there was some author who used the term Mando in her SW novel instead of Mandalorians and you were going with her terminology. I don't know what the SW time period the author's book was set in but if it's not in the same time period as KotOR or earlier then IMHO you should go with the term both KotOR games and the TSL Chronicles use.

I like how you have expanded on the Mandalorian history and culture, relating how the Mandalorians teach and gain honor from battle. It seems apparent to me you have taken quite a fancy to the Mandalorians based of this and your Star Wars: Beginnings story. And how the Mandalorians dealt with atrocities versus how the Republic did really made me step back and reconsider which side had more honor.


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Old 04-14-2006, 12:04 PM   #52
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[QUOTE=cutmeister]
Did you purposely change the game's name for the Nurik Sandral character on Dantooine to Rurik Sanderal?[/QUOTE=cutmeister]

My bad. I mispelled his name and didn't correct it. This is why I want critical commentary!

[QUOTE=cutmeister]I don't understand your decision to refer to Canderous and others of his kind as Mando instead of Mandalorians. I believe you posted elsewhere that there was some author who used the term Mando in her SW novel instead of Mandalorians and you were going with her terminology. I don't know what the SW time period the author's book was set in but if it's not in the same time period as KotOR or earlier then IMHO you should go with the term both KotOR games and the TSL Chronicles use. [/QUOTE=cutmeister]

Kid, we are writing in a universe that is expanding as every writer adds their commentary by being published. The canon (The truth and nothing but according to the SW universe) is being added to even as we speak. When Ms Traviss' work was published, it officially became part of the canon. When they put out updates of the new essential chronology and the SW Universe, those will be added. Trust me on this.

Besides The Japanese don't call themselves Japs or Nips. They call themselves Nipponese.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I like how you have expanded on the Mandalorian history and culture, relating how the Mandalorians teach and gain honor from battle. It seems apparent to me you have taken quite a fancy to the Mandalorians based of this and your Star Wars: Beginnings story. And how the Mandalorians dealt with atrocities versus how the Republic did really made me step back and reconsider which side had more honor.
I have taken a shine to them because there is so little written about them So far except for the books about the Republic Commandos (Who were trained by the Mando) and the fact that Fett is a Mando, there is little said about them.

As for atrocities, I have been working off and on for the last year and a half on a book of War Crimes (To explain to the average idjit what is and is not one) and one thing I discovered is that of the 'hundreds' of atrocities committed by the Germans during WWI, only 18 actually occurred. The disparity between the atrocities they had been accused of and what they actually committed is even worse during the 2nd world war. Over one thousand according to allied newspapers, yet discounting the Concentration camps, there were less than 15.

It is the difference between fact and propoganda.

My comment about the Republic Lord is carried through as well. Illegal orders were given in both wars by the First Lord of the Admiralty. In both cases, the same man. That man later became Prime Minister.

You might have heard of him. His name was Winston Churchill.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:23 PM   #53
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Sanderal

Danika

We returned to the Sanderal home. It was a large building with a landing pad on its flat roof. A freighter was parked there, and men were unloading supplies from it. A war droid patrolled before the door. I approached it, and it stopped, weapon training on me.

The droid hummed to itself. “Due to the ruling of 1100 hundred hours this morning, both the Sanderal and the Matale are banned from hiring human warriors. While your interest is appreciated, there is no further business to discuss.”

“I am Danika Wordweaver of the Jedi Enclave. I must speak with Nurik Sanderal.”

It buzzed. “Since the Jedi Council made that ruling, your presence is not welcome.”

“I have knowledge of Casus Sanderal he must hear.”

The droid stood silent. “Mr. Sanderal will see you in the entry hall. You are hereby warned that any attempt to pass farther into the house will be deemed an attack, and under Dantooine law, can be dealt with as such.”

The entry hall was cool, the hill that had once stood here alone formed the insulation for the walls. A young girl was there, and greeted us.
“I am Rahasia Sanderal. Casus is my brother. You have news-“

“Rahasia, leave us.“ Nurik Sanderal was a tall angry dark skinned man. He stopped a few meters from us, flanked by war droids. “Well? You claimed to have news of my son?”

I took the backpack that Carth had been carrying. I lifted out the datapad, and handed it to him. “Casus was coming back from the ruins in the east portion of your lands. He was attacked by Kath-hounds and killed.”

His eyes tightened, and he delicately took the datapad. He scanned the last entries, then snorted. “Records can be faked. Go back to your puppet masters and tell them that I know the Matale murdered my son. Once I have enough droids delivered I am going to remove that damnable family from this planet. Good day.”

“Sir-“

“Damn you woman, there is nothing left to discuss. This will be settled in blood. Good day.”

“Well that could have gone better.” Carth commented.

We turned to go, but a figure came from the shadows, Rahasia Sanderal. She looked at the war droid that still waited. “Nurik 4-11-7.” She ordered. “You will not record anything for the next ten minutes. You will delete the order that was given to you by me, and return to your station.” She looked at us. Then came forward, pressing a key into my hand. “You must save him. Hurry.”

“Shen Matale.” I said. She nodded.

“My father is a good man, but the anger he holds for the Matale, the death of my mother, Casus disappearing, all of it has driven him to the brink of madness. He has taken Shen and holds him in the back of the house. He is still undecided if he should kill Shen or sell him to slavers. That key will open the storage bayside door. Get him free before my father carries out his plan!” She hurried away.

“No good deed goes unpunished.” Canderous said. “We’re going to save this boy?”

I considered a life spent in hellish slavery because of grief. Shen being punished for something not his crime. “That, Canderous, was a foolish question.”

We left, and walked around the estate until we reached the storage bay. I opened the personnel door, and we entered. The setting sun lighted the interior halls, and we could see easily. I opened a door, and it led to a computer room. “Carth, you are better at this than I am.”

He came forward, and began slicing into the system. “All right. Shen is in this room. Down the hall, around the corner to the left. Second door.” He logged out, and we raced on.

The door had a mine before it, and Canderous immediately deactivated it. “A directional charge. If we had triggered it, the blast would have gutted that room.”

I opened it. Shen Matale was tall, thin, and in his late teens. He stood when we came in, ready for a confrontation but stopped, confused. “You don’t work for the Sanderals. Who are you?”

“I am Danika Wordweaver of the Jedi order. This is Canderous Ordo of clan Ordo, and Carth Onasi of the Republic navy. We have come to rescue you.”

“What about Rahasia?”

“What?”

“Mr. Sanderal is insane. If I escape, he will assume that Rahasia helped in my rescue, and his fury will vent on her. She might die. I cannot have that on my conscience. Get her out of here first or I will stay and die to protect her!”

I shook my head. “No good deed goes unpunished.” I repeated. “Where is Rahasia’s room?”

“I’m a prisoner, how would I know?” He asked sarcastically.

We had to run back to the first room. Carth again sliced into the computer. “You know if we were recording this, it would make a great situation comedy.” He said as he worked. “Brave rescuers now trying to rescue someone else because the one they came for forgot to pay for their meal or something.” I snorted with laughter. I could picture the show, and if I weren’t one of the actors, would have been laughing so hard my sides would hurt. “All right, got it. But there are war droids in the area. Wait a- Oh you’re just so smart aren’t you?” He flicked a few switches. “All right, the droids between us and there are down.”

He led us through the halls. The droids stood as if they were statues. We came to the door, and opened it. Rahasia looked up confused. “What are you doing here? Don’t tell me you got lost!”

“No.” I fought the laughter that threatened to bubble up. What next? A pet that had to be saved as well? “Shen won’t leave unless you leave too.”

She shook her head with a sad smile. “He would. Shen was always the kind that took in strays.” She stood, flinging clothes into a bag. “I will go out the front. Get him out of here.”

I nodded, and we went back to the cell. Shen agreed to leave, finally.

I thought for a moment that we had done it all for nothing. As we rounded the house, Shen and Rahasia were both busy making sure the other was all right and looking longingly into each other‘s eyes. A farm scow breasted the hill, and a dozen war droids poured out of it, followed by Ahlan Matale.

An alarm sounded, and an equal number of war droids poured out of the house behind us, followed by Nurik Sanderal.

“Shen!” Ahlan shouted.

“Father!”

“Mr. Matale!” Rahasia cried.

“Rahasia!” Nurik shouted.

“Father!”

“Mr. Sanderal!”

“Nurik!”

“Ahlan!”

“So, you did have my son!”

“After you murdered mine!”

“I think you should all calm down.” I said.

“Father-”

“Shut up!” Nurik shouted.

“It isn’t what you think-”

“Shut up!” Ahlan shouted.

“Everyone shut up!” I roared.

“Who do you think you are?” Ahlan growled.

“If I wanted your help, I would have done without!” Nurik said at almost the same time.

“Enough is enough father.” Rahasia said. “Nurik 4-11-7! You will go in the house, disarm, and start a diagnostic cycle! Until this is done you will accept no other orders!”

“Ahlan 17-41-32!” Shen shouted. “You will return to the vehicle, and stay there until you return to our home! Until this is done you will accept no other orders!”

The men stood and stared as the droids turned, and followed the orders. Both screamed counter orders but droids are not made to be self-aware. The commands had been given by authorized voices. And the orders explicit.

It hadn’t sunk to drama, it was still a farce.

“I am sick of this father!” Shen said. “Everything is the ‘evil Sanderal’ this and the ‘evil Sanderal’ that! What about living father? What about a life beyond this hatred?”

“I am happy my mother is dead, father!” Rahasia was crying. “Better that than she see what your hatred has done!”

“I knew you were sniffing around this Sanderal slut-”

“Don’t call my daughter a slut!”

“Yes, I agree. I love Rahasia and only your petty bickering has kept us apart.” Shen looked to Rahasia. “Come with me.”

“Yes. The Jedi will protect us!”

“You are going nowhere-”

“You will do nothing to stop them.” I snapped. “Can’t you see what is happening here?” I looked from one to the other. “You will lose your children to this, either by locking them up behind walls or they fly from you. Remember when your child was born? The feel of their breath on your neck, the smell of their flesh? The way they looked at you as if you were the center of their universe?” I waved at the youngsters. “Look at them now! Think of the children they will have that you will never see because they cannot visit one without inciting the other to fury.” I walked toward Ahlan. “How would it be Ahlan Matale, to know you have a grandchild, but know that your own petty idiocy will assure that you never see him?”

I rounded on Nurik. “Or you, Nurik Sanderal. To know your daughter will bear a daughter, but she will not give it her dead mother’s name because that will cause Ahlan to be angry?”

I threw my hands up. “Why don’t you both just kill each other? Give them a clean slate in their future lives, and at the same time give them the guilt of your deaths? I know that some peace will come of it.

“ But know this, Ahlan Matale, Nurik Sanderal. Their lives will be better if they walked away and never touched this land ever again. Hatred is a crop you both nurture and cherish because of something that happened before they were born. Until you are willing to see that, and begin to change, nothing else you do will be worth the effort. Enjoy your lands, your crops, and your herds. And know that all it cost was your children.”

I turned to the couple. “I will call a lifter for you both. As much as they like to inflict pain on themselves, you need not inflict it on yourselves by walking to the Enclave.”

Rahasia nodded. I called the Council, reported Shen as found and alive, and glared at both of the men until the lifter arrived.

“Rahasia-”

“The Jedi is half your age, but she is wiser than you are father. When both of you can ask us at the same time together, we can talk.”
“Shen-”

“Until you can love the woman who will be my wife, and at least talk civilly with her father, I am not your son.”

Both stood stricken as the lifter shot up and toward the North. I looked at them, and took some pity on them. “Children grow, and change. They have to make their own lives away from the parents. Some times it is clean and happy. Others it is pain on all sides. Talk to each other before you do anything you will regret. Not for me, but for them, and for you.” I looked at the vanishing lifter. “What child would be gladdened to know that they have grandparents, but can never see them?”

I walked away from them, two little men in pools of their own misery.

“That wasn’t really the Jedi way back there.” Carth said.

“What do you mean?”

“Telling them to shut up? Lecturing two of the richest men on the planet as if they were children arguing over a toy?”

“Every now and then, you find those that won’t listen to soft words and advice. People you have to slap so hard that they feel the blow a month later. This seemed like that kind of time.”

“Next time just save the time and trouble and slap them.” Canderous growled. “It’s more fun too.”

We headed east. The grove was at the bottom of the next pass, and we made good time. “Trouble.” Canderous said.

I looked up, off in the distance, swoop bike were circling us. I counted seven. “Mando?”

“Three Mando, one of them is in Red armor. The rest are Duros.” I nodded. Blue or blue green were simple troopers. A red suit was a command officer.

“There.” Canderous pointed at a bare hill to one side. “We have full 360-degree coverage, and they can’t approach unnoticed.”

“I don’t think they intend to sneak up on us, Canderous.”

We trudged up the hill, and waited. Sure enough, the swoop bikes dropped in a spiral, and landed so that we were surrounded. They dismounted, and climbed toward us, weapons at the ready.

Canderous stood, towering over us. He had set down the blaster cannon, and spread his arms wide like a cave bear. “I am Canderous Ordo, of Clan Ordo!” Canderous roared. “The dead in my wake number in the thousands, and my songs will be sung when your pallid clan is dust!” He bellowed a wordless battle cry full of anger and hunger. “What other clan has been so dishonored by your actions upon this world, insects? Clan Troska mourned their honor! Clan Sokor mourns their honor! Clan Kootir mourns their honor!” Canderous said. “Speak Cuy‘val dar!

The leader had stopped when Canderous issued his challenge. “Clan Ordo has lost its honor as well. We of the new Mando make our own honor. I am Sherruk Zion of Clan Ordo!”

If anything, this infuriated Canderous even more. “Face me then Sherruk of no clan! Face me whelp!” He charged down the hill at them barehanded.

It was like two bull Bantha in a mating fight. Sherruk threw aside his weapon, and they met in a head on charge that would have thrown lesser men ten meters or more. They grappled, and Canderous looked like a maniac as he butted the smaller man off his feet. Sherruk rolled away, coming up then back in.

I looked at Carth. “At least this time I’m not the one charging in.” Then I drew my lightsaber.

The Mando to Sherruk’s left laughed. “Bring it on, woman!” I’ll add that toy to my collection!”

Carth’s blaster roared. The last Mando went over with his skull blown open. Then Carth spun, and began laying fire down on the Duros.

I engaged the unnamed Mando as he drew his sword. I felt the feedback from the lightsaber trying to cut Cortosis. I leaped backward, and blocked his swing. I saw an opening, and leaped coming down like an avenging hawk. He went down in a welter of blood. I looked to the top of the hill, where Carth stood just watching. I spun.

Canderous struck Sherruk so hard that his helmet flew to the side, shattered. Sherruk was in his thirties, a man with a feral look. He leaped in again and Canderous snatched him up, 250 kilos of man and armor held above his head as if it were a pillow. Then he slammed the man down so hard that he rebounded almost a meter. Sherruk screamed, clawing at his back. His legs didn’t move, and his arms were getting weaker.

“Sad is the clan today, little nephew.” Canderous said softly.

“Canderous, help, please...”

“As you gave help to Ilse, whom you raped then murdered before her father?” He asked gently. “As you helped those you enslaved? In your death will come redemption.” Canderous ripped the datapad from his neck. Then he dropped it, holding out his hand to me. I handed him my lightsaber, and he ignited it and lowered the blade to the Soochir.

Sherruk gasped, eyes wide with terror.

“For the clan, nephew.” He pushed down, and the metal and plastic melted into a puddle. “Go and maybe in the last day you will be worthy to return.” He shut off the lightsaber, set it down, then reached out, snapping Sherruk’s neck. He handed the weapon back to me, looking at Carth.

“His dishonor is now mine. I shall expiate it before I die. That is how we deal with his kind.”

The Mando I had killed indeed did have a collection of lightsabers. Five of them. I gathered them up, and put them in my pack. I set these bikes as well to return to the enclave. It was full dark, and while I wanted to continue, Canderous was in a deep depression. We lit a fire on the hill, and sat around it. Carth had found a couple of bottles of wine that he had held out, and he opened them. “Canderous, tell me of your battles.”

“Why?” The answer was softer than you might imagine from such a huge man. “So we can fight again?”

“No. Because I think the custom is that you must ask another before you can tell yours.” He held out the bottle. “ ‘And in circle they sat, and drank the wine they had taken from their enemies, and in their stories they drank not only to their own honored dead, but to those they had vanquished as well’. Is that the right quote?”

Canderous leaned up, taking the wine, and swallowed deeply before handing the bottle to me. “Sometimes the planets we faced had defenses. Our fleet was never strong enough to pulverize worlds as yours was, so we had to find other means. We were on the outer rim, and a planet named Kadir had a defense that would have shrugged off a regular assault, so a new weapon named the Basilisk war droid was to be tested.”

“Big thing? Eight meters wide, three meters thick, looked like a big disk with legs?” Carth asked.

“Yes, you have seen them. What you didn’t know though was the AIs of the first two production runs were stupid. They would not right themselves when entering atmosphere, and burned up. The engineers finally decided that we needed a man to get them from orbit to the ground, and I was one of the first to test them in combat. My Phalanx of 50 warriors were deployed at 100 kilometers above the planet, and rode our Basilisks down through the hellfire of the atmosphere burning the ablative armor from their stomachs. Picture being able to reach out and touch the fire of such an event! It was madness, but that didn’t stop three of my men from losing hands doing it.

“Well I dropped down right over a planetary defense grid...”


Grove

Danika

As the sun rose, we awoke, and continued our journey. The Grove was not that far ahead, and I felt the presence of the darkness that dwelt there. I had felt this before, but hadn’t known it was the Force. People call it acting on a hunch, or invisible eyes.

I saw the bodies first. Three or four Mandalorians had come here, and they lay torn to pieces by Kath hounds. But I could see the cuts of a lightsaber. They had died, but their killer had hacked and hacked at them until they were dismembered. I saw the standing stones, and a Cathar woman kneeling in meditation. I walked softly up to the edge of it, and stopped.

She looked up, madness and hatred in her eyes. She reached out with the force, and both Canderous and Carth were blasted off their feet by her anger. Then she leaped, lightsaber ignited, charging at me. I blocked, pushing her with the force so she landed ten meters from me. She bounced back to her feet, and charged again, screaming wordlessly.

I found myself desperately blocking her assault, unable to attack even if I had wanted to. She reached out, and I felt phantom fingers close on my throat. I shook them off, and pushed again, harder. She slammed into a stele, and I reached out, snatching the lightsaber from her hands into mine.

“Kill me!” She screamed. “You’re the strong one, the strong always kill the weak!”

I shook my head, the lightsabers dying in my hand. “I did not come to kill. I come to cleanse.”

“It’s the same thing!”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I am Juhani, and this is the seat of my dark power. This is the place you have invaded.” She glared at me. “This is where I embraced the dark side, where I sought solace in my pain. It is mine, and I will not give it up!”

“You embraced the darkness. Why?”

“I was distraught over my home world, destroyed by Malak and his fleet. I was angry, and my master sought to teach me. I used that hate, that anger, I struck my master down. I killed Quarta!” She screamed again in pain. “When I did I knew I could never go back, they would never accept me. Now I revel in my dark power, enough to destroy any that faced me!” Her face fell, her voice softening almost to a whisper. “Or so I thought.”

“Power is never enough.”

“What do you want of me? Why can’t you leave me in my pain?” She wailed.

“What do I want? To talk with you, nothing more.”

“Talk! You have beaten me so easily. Yet all you want is talk? You a stranger and a human! All Cathar know that the weak exist only to feed the strong. So be strong! Kill me!”

“To be strong is to be gentle as well.” I said softly. “Like a father holds his children in the strength of his arms, yet does no harm. I hold no hatred for you, Juhani. Only peace.”

She shook her head. “Even in your naive attitude, you defeat my words. I sit here, thinking myself strong in the Force, but I am a cub bravely attacking her mother’s foot! But I have gone too far, I can never go back to what I had been.” She looked past me, watching Canderous and Carth struggling to their feet. “I thought my masters, the other apprentices were jealous. They held me back because I would outstrip them so easily otherwise. None of them could match me in full cry! Now I see that it was because I was never good enough. I would never be good enough.”

I touched her face. “The first step a child takes on the path to true knowledge is to admit that they don’t know everything. Throughout life those that remember that, and are still willing to admit that they still have ignorance are the ones that continue to grow. Denying that ignorance is the first step to death.”

She smiled sadly. “If only my ignorance had not been so costly. My master suffered and died from it.”

“Even death does not end the essence of the Jedi.” I replied. “Death will not hold either of us, sister. If your master has died, the Force will take her back as she takes even the smallest animal in its time.”

“If only she were alive still.” She mused. “There is so much I still have to say. So many faults I must confess. The masters will consider me a failure.”

“Why? Because you made a child’s mistake?

“How could they forgive something I cannot?”

“You struck in anger, you ran in fear, and now you let that hate fester within you as you reveled in your dark power. Can you not see that like an infection it must be lanced and cleansed?” I waved at the fields beyond. “You must return. You must show them that anger is like water in the bath, that has run from your body, and fallen to the ground. Once here, now gone and no more.”

“But will they accept me?”

“Show them that what you were, what you became, is no more. Show them your contrition, your willingness to learn from those mistakes.”

I felt it, a lightening of the Force about her. She considered my words. I held out my hand, and her lightsaber leaped to her hand. She flicked it on, scowling at the red color. “I must replace the crystal. Better yet,” She smashed it on the ground, the metal sheering. “I will start over with unblemished parts.” She looked at me, not with hate, or anger, but with wonder. “I will go. I will beg their mercy. I will stand in the light again.” She ran past me, and I watched her running with all her heart toward the enclave so far away.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 04-14-2006 at 12:36 PM. Reason: misprint
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Old 04-14-2006, 12:23 PM   #54
Jae Onasi
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I'm cynical enough to say illegal orders are given by all sides in any war.

I think war crimes 'are in the eye of the beholder' to a certain degree. What's considered officially a war crime under law and what the average Joe citizen considers one can be quite different. Some of the things that are wrong aren't necessarily viewed officially as war crimes, but wrong is still wrong.
While both men were absolutely fascinating, I'll take Churchill over Hitler any day. I like living my life without worrying about the SS scrutinizing me for anything they can use against me in order to send me to a final solution.


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Old 04-14-2006, 12:49 PM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I'm cynical enough to say illegal orders are given by all sides in any war.

I think war crimes 'are in the eye of the beholder' to a certain degree. What's considered officially a war crime under law and what the average Joe citizen considers one can be quite different. Some of the things that are wrong aren't necessarily viewed officially as war crimes, but wrong is still wrong.
While both men were absolutely fascinating, I'll take Churchill over Hitler any day. I like living my life without worrying about the SS scrutinizing me for anything they can use against me in order to send me to a final solution.

You pretty much have my vote on it as well. Atrocities were committed by both sides, but Most of the ones that did it for the Allies never got punished. In fact there was exactly one I know of for sure. The Commanding officer of USS Archerfish sank a hospital ship, even after being notified that it was in the area. He was removed from command.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-14-2006, 11:53 PM   #56
Char Ell
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You have expanded on the story from the game quite a bit in these two chapters, Sanderal and Grove. I'm trying to get a feel for how you portray Canderous. Canderous' complete destruction of fellow clan member Sherruk Zion's soochir showed his complete devotion to the honor of his clan and the need to cleanse his clan from any taint, no matter the cost. I'm starting to see parallels between the Wookiee and the Mandalorians in some of this.

Juhani's return to the light was done so in a much more believable and realistic fashion than the game's version. A game understandably has its limitations with dialog and that is why a good writer can do so much more in a book than in a game. At least at the present time anyway.

BTW, I noticed you used the name Nurik instead of Rurik now but I see you still spell his last name as Sanderal instead of Sandral. If you want to match the game's spelling then go with the latter spelling. If not...


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Old 04-15-2006, 02:03 AM   #57
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Return

Danika

Our return was uneventful. The Kath hounds still menaced, but those we spoke to said the attacks had dropped off sharply. We crossed the bridge, and Canderous pushed to the fore. The man that mourned Ilse saw us coming, and stopped, unsure what to do.

The huge Mandalore knelt, looking down. “I report that the Mando that dishonored your daughter are dead by my hand. However there is shame upon my clan thanks to their leader. He was of my clan, so my clan bears the dishonor.” He took off his own Soochir. “This is the honor of my life, the honor of my name. If you feel I deserve it, smash it destroy it or merely keep it from me. Until you return this to me, My clan and I have no honor in the eyes of our people.”

The settler took it, staring at the hulking form bent before him, then at me. “The Mando that have been raiding here are dead. Canderous Ordo of Clan Ordo fought well to kill them, to take the vengeance on Sherruk Zion of Clan Ordo with his own hands that you could not. Before he did, Canderous destroyed Sherruk’s Soochir, leaving him an empty voice among his people. Yet he feels he owes you and your daughter more.” I lit my lightsaber. “If you feel that he and all Mando bear this sin, set it down, and I will destroy it. He and his entire clan will become nothing to his people, as Sherruk now is. Just keeping it wounds his honor, but it is a wound he offers freely in recompense.”

The man stared at it, warring within his heart. Part of him wanted to smash that plastic and metal form, to deny even this man his honor. Then he sighed, tears running down his face. He held the chain, dangling the Soochir before Canderous. “Take it. My daughter will sleep well now.”

Silently, Canderous took the Soochir, slipped it back over his neck, and walked toward the Academy entrance.

We entered, and I saw Juhani standing in the courtyard beside Belaya. Belaya ran toward me, then stopped. “I must thank you for returning my friend, apprentice. She was lost to us, but has returned, thanks to you.”

I was nonplused. “I did what had to be done for her and myself. I am glad she walks in the light again and that I helped her.”

Juhani approached, hesitant. “I must give you my thanks, and beg your forgiveness. Thanks to your advice I am welcome here, but I caused you pain in the process.”

“No matter.” I said. “What have you heard of Quarta?”

“It was all for nothing. If I had stayed, if I had bothered to check her, I would have found that while sorely wounded, she still lived. As if a child in the force could hurt one such as her!

“That was supposed to be merely more training in the Force. The Cathar are hunters and killers by nature. We have pride in the skills we carry from our animal ancestors. Such skill however, along with pride could drive us into the Dark side if used as it can be. She wanted to show me how easily pride could lead to the dark side, and picked the wrong time to do it. But I ruined it all!”

“Her treatment of you was harsh, but you cannot fault the test, Juhani.”

“The ways of a master are strange to those that have not ascended that height. Looking back I can see the wisdom of her actions. Humility is something my people have trouble learning, and is never easy even with other calmer races. But I am a better Jedi for it. Now I know what I must be on guard from in my own soul.”

“Sensible.” Canderous commented. “The hard lessons can’t merely be handed to you as if they were instructions to a small child. As my people say, ‘Pain is the teacher, and reflex is the result’.”

“Your people speak wisely some times,.” Juhani agreed. But her voice was harsh. She turned back to me, ignoring Canderous. “After that fight Quarta decided that there was no more she could teach me. She knew I would need time alone to explore and master the turmoil in my spirit. Only then would I be willing to listen to a guide and return. You were my guide, and I thank you for it.

“Quarta went to another Academy, there is always work for a teacher such as her. With her help and yours, I have passed this test. The Council now decides what training I need to complete my studies before I can be declared Padawan and go on into service.”

“Some friends.” Carth snorted. “First the Jedi trick you into becoming the enemy, then they pit you against each other. Then, since you survived, they welcome you back. Can’t say I like how they run this training.”

I turned, and as I did, Canderous spoke. “Giving you a second chance when you have failed this badly is a sign of weakness. I find it hard to believe that the Jedi could face even a Republic threat, let alone people such as mine in battle.”

“Canderous, As you said, Your words issue from an empty head. We at our training are still children in the force. We need guidance until we understand how little we know. And as for you, Carth, from someone who trusts no one, I will take your comments as I do with your mistrust, because I must.” I turned my back on him. “Trust in the Force, Juhani.”

“And in those that help. Thank you.”

“The masters knew you would return, they asked me to inform you that they will see you in the morning.” Belaya reported.

“Then I am going to take a hot bath and go to bed.” I looked at the two men, smiling. “If you two would like to share more stories, let me know. It was an interesting evening.”

I was coming up the ramp when I was almost slammed off my feet by a guided missile named Mission. She clung to me, crying, and I wasn't sure what was wrong.

“I’m sorry, I was mad at you when you left, and I thought you’d die!” She wailed.

“I didn’t die, Mission. Don’t worry.”

“But you asked me about Griff and I was mean to you, and you didn’t talk to me for weeks and I wasn’t sure how to apologize, then you were gone, and no one would tell me where you went except into the outer lands, and-”

“Mission.” I hugged her. “If you don’t mind scrubbing my back, I will tell you what happened.”

After I had cleaned up, and gotten a bowl of food, Mission sat with me. “It’s just; I don’t like to talk about Griff that much. It’s embarrassing.”

“I understand, you don’t need to tell me anything.”

“No, I owe that to you for what you’ve done for me. Zaalbar is a great listener, but it took a long time to learn his language, and he’s more of the beat on a problem and it goes away type.

“I never knew my parents. They died when I was young. Griff always looked out for me. He was the one that brought me to Taris. I was only five then, and I remember the trip, if you want to call it that. We were stuffed in a packing crate in a star freighter’s cargo hold, with just enough food and water to make the trip. It wasn’t first class.”

I was aghast. “How could he treat a five-year-old like that?”

“I don’t know the whole story. He probably owed people money, or maybe there were arrest warrants out on him. He was pretty good at getting into computer systems, and when we had to run, he programmed us as cargo, and had us delivered. Once we got to Taris, he broke open the seals, and we headed into the Lowercity. That was the only way he could see to get us away from the problems, to smuggle us out I mean. I don’t want to make it sound like we were criminals or something, though maybe Griff was.

“Now you see why I don’t like to talk about it. Griff may have had his problems, but he was my brother, and took care of me.”

“He’s family. You have to stick by your family.”

“Right! I don’t know where I’d be if he hadn’t been there when I was a kid. But he didn’t change. He gambled, he drank, and he was always borrowing money for his latest get rich scheme. But he had a good heart. He taught me how to survive. He taught me how to slice a computer system, how to get into a locked building without the access codes, how to spot a quick mark for a shell game.”

I was surprised she hadn’t ended up in a penal colony. “Useful skills to have.”

“Yeah, Griff did right by me. I really miss him since he left. He promised he’d come back for me, and I’ve just been waiting for him to come and get me.”

I ran my finger around the rim of the mug, unsure where to go with this inquiry. “Why did he leave?”

“He fell in with a bad crowd, Exchange types, high rollers. It was all Lena’s fault. She batted those lashes of hers, rubbed her Lekku in just the right way-” She ran a hand down the tentacles on her head. “One look at her and off he went!”

“Who’s Lena?”

She clutched her mug. “I said I’d tell it all, and I will! She was a dancer at the cantina Griff hung out at.” I nodded. Twi-lek women dance in what is considered a seductive manner. Part of it is that to the women of their race dance is an expression of freedom, a religious experience, and a mating ritual all at the same time. Men of a number of races feel the attraction, and the Twi-lek women use that primal attraction when they are dancing for work.

“We had a good thing going. Sure Griff had run-ins with the law, but all you had to do on Taris was be born anything but human for that.

“Griff used to play Pazaak at the club. Then Lena came there to work. Griff liked her, and when he wanted to be he was a smooth talker. Pretty soon they were spending a lot of time together. But the crowd Lena hung out in was upper class. She would escort top rank Tarisian men when they came slumming, if you know what I mean. Exchange hard guys, rich men all of them. Griff could never have given her the lifestyle she enjoyed. “

“So you expected Lena to dump him.”

“Yeah. But she must have seen the potential of a big pay-off. Big enough to put up with him.”

“Maybe she really liked Griff. He does sound personable.”

“No way. I could tell exactly what she was. A busty, no-good credit-grubbing Cantina rat! She used Griff just like every man around her. After they had been together for a few months, Griff told me they were leaving Taris. He had a plan and they were going to make their fortune off world. But Lena didn’t want a kid interfering with what they had to do, so she told him to leave me there until afterward. But he promised to come back and get me. We’d live like Taris nobles with the best of everything!’ Her face fell. “That was two years ago. I haven’t heard anything, I don’t even know what planet he went to!”

“And you think this is Lena’s fault?”

“Of course it is! She stayed with him until they made that fortune, then she dumped him somewhere and ran off with it. I only hope I can catch her and find out what happened to Griff. I may never see him again, but I’m not going to stop trying.” She sat up straight. “That’s why I joined up with you, and wanted to go off world. I can’t start my search from a pit on Taris.”

“I’m glad you did.”

“I just wish there was something to do. The Jedi Academy is like major creepy, and I hear about Kath hounds and crazed Mandalorians, and I don’t even want to think about going into the outlands.”

“Well what can you do?”

“If a computer had legs, I could get it to sit up and beg.”

“Well we seem to have acquired a ship, and we’re not going anywhere too quickly as far as I know. How about working on an inventory for Carth? I hereby declare you to be the ship’s supercargo!”

“The what?”

“When you load a ship, everything has to be just right, the mass has to be balanced, you have to know where everything is, how much of it you have and when you need to buy more. The supercargo is the loadmaster and purser combined; the one that makes sure that is done, and makes sure it‘s paid for.”

“I’m on it!” I handed her a datapad, and she went to work on the inventory. I curled up in my bed, and went to sleep.

The next morning I poured my tea and joined Carth and Mission at the table. Mission was humming to herself, and seemed focused. Then she handed the pad to me. “How did I do?”

I looked at the pad. She had gone through the entire load-out of the ship, and had prepared a full inventory. There was a list of equipment we needed, and supplies such as food beyond combat rations and even additional spices and cooking gear.

“When did you have time to do this?”

“All night.” She said. “I figured the faster it was done the better.”

“Carth, what do you think?” I handed it to him. He looked at it, and the fork paused on the way to his mouth. “Better than any depot officer I ever saw. Pretty good, Danika.”

“I didn’t do it. Our supercargo did.”

“Who?” I pointed at Mission. “No way!”

“Carth, she needs something to do, and I like her style. If I have to, I’ll call for a vote, but I don’t think you really want to take it that far.”

“But she’ll be handling all of the money! What’s to stop her from walking with it?”

“Hey mister antique high and mighty jet-jockey, I got more money than you know what to do with!”

“Oh you do, and where did you get it?” He glared at her

She looked at me, her defiance vanishing. “Promise you won’t get mad?” I shrugged. “When we got here from Taris, I didn’t have anything to do, so I decided to check the local central computer records.”

“You sliced into a protected system?” He stared. “From my ship?”

“Your ship! Ha you wish! No, I used a terminal in the shop over there.” She waved toward the shops along the docking ring. “Just to check out the system, and used a few credits to buy access to the main data banks.

“Since Davik was dead, I used his access code, at least anyone seeing it would think it was his code. If they check, they’ll also think he used a computer in the main city. I withdrew every account he had that was off Taris and sent it all to Coruscant.”

“Coruscant? Why there?” I asked.

“Because he was supposed to send his commission to the Exchange there. When it arrived, the computer bootstrapped it to an outgoing signal, and it went through five other systems at random before going back to Coruscant into a numbered account with the Bothan banking cartel. I have the number.” She looked sheepish. “But I had to pay Danika back, so I bought her something.”

I suddenly knew where this was going. “Oh no, you didn’t-”

“No I didn’t. Davik did according to the paperwork. He sold the Ebon Hawk to you on arrival here, bought passage on a ship leaving for Naboo, and never boarded. As far as anyone knows, Davik has gone off to parts unknown with a lot of money that belonged to the Exchange. But considering a lot of the stuff he’s done and how old he was, I could see him running off to retire somewhere with a fist-full of credits.”

I stared at Carth, who was vainly trying to not laugh. “You aren’t helping, Carth!’

“I can’t think of a better group to get ripped off for a few thousand credits!”

“Hey, I don’t work cheap! Try a few hundred thousand credits.”

“Oh dear.” I said. I hoped she was as good as she thought she was. The Exchange would blow a planet apart to get that much money back. “Now Mission, as much as people think it is all right to steal from thieves, you shouldn’t have done that. I want you to promise you won’t slice into any computer from this point on-”

“-Unless we ask you to.” Carth put in.

I glared at him, “Unless we really need you to.”

“That’s a promise. If I find Griff, I’ll have the fortune he was looking for already waiting.” She looked smugly satisfied. She handed me another datapad. I took it warily. It recorded a bill of sale for the JT 4100 mod 4 Ebon Hawk to me Paid in a banking draft from a numbered account on Bothawui. All fees, taxes etc had been paid. “the account that paid for the ship is mine, and the money went through Davik’s hands into the same mangle as all of the other money. All it cost me was the transfer fees and taxes. That was wicked though, the Republic government bureaucrats are worse thieves than any I ever met!”

I knew the Bothans were secretive and so honest it was a byword within the Republic. Money is important to them, more important than anything but a contract. To them a contract is something stronger than durasteel. Maybe the Republic could break their banking system, but no one else could. I looked at Carth desperately, but he was studiously ignoring me. “All right, I give up!”

“About time.” Mission said. Now I have to get on the com with the supply center. We need the rest of our supplies as of yesterday.”


Padawan

Danika

I entered the training center. Master Zhar was talking with several students, directing them in meditation. He looked up at my entrance, turning his class over to a Padawan.

“The Council has seen your report, and I must say, well done my pupil. The ancient grove has been purified, and your handling of Juhani’s case deserves praise. Few would have looked beyond the surface to see the root of the problem. Because of your vision, she has been returned to us.

“But you cannot dismiss what happened to her. Juhani was as dedicated as any before her fall. Remember that we are all vulnerable to our own weaknesses. She injured her master, a grave act. Quarta admitted to us that she chose to test Juhani in that manner, and provoked the attack in so doing. Yet, thanks to you, it seems to have made its point, and the lesson was learned.

“Congratulations, my apprentice, or should I say Padawan. Let me be the first to welcome you to our order.” He took my hand warmly. “There is much you must do, and little time to do it. The Council will meet in two hours, and your assignment will be given then. Until then you are free to do what you will.”

I bowed and left. Part of me wanted to return to the Ebon Hawk, to immerse myself in the friends that had come so far with me. But instead I found myself in the archives. The tables were crowded with apprentices and Padawans studying with deep concentration. Master Dorak saw me, and walked toward me. Of all the Jedi masters I had met he was the only one that hurried anywhere. He was so full of energy that merely walking looked like a military stride.

“Congratulations on you ascension Padawan. What do you seek today?”

“Revan and Malak bother me.” I admitted. “All I have heard of them suggests that of all of us they should have been the least likely of the order to fall, yet they seem to have fallen so easily. Is there a record of them here in the archives?”

He frowned. “Yes there is, but it is in the one place where I can decide who must hear it.” He tapped his head. “I have recorded it on a Holocron, but I think you should hear it directly.” He led me to his office, assigned two of his Padawan assistants to assure no one disturbed us, and sat me down with a mug of tea.

“The story does not begin with them, because events prior to it led to their fall. I will begin forty years ago, with the war of Exar Kun. Like Revan and Malak, Exar Kun was a Jedi. In fact he was in consideration as a Jedi master at this very Academy. Yet his master Vodo-Siosk Baas felt that there was too much impatience in him.” He looked at me. “As one who has fought, and one who has learned, you understand the danger of such with a student.”

“Yes. You can’t just hand a blaster to a rookie with no training and expect them to excel.”

“Indeed. He left the Academy, and created another one on the moons of Yavin 4. He drew a lot of our disaffected to him at that time, including those among the Sith, and fell to the darkness after a voyage to Korriban.

“Eventually, the Jedi Council called him to task. He had demanded autonomy for his planet, and the matter was to be discussed before the Republic Senate. But when Exar Kun arrived, he cut down his master before them, and told the Republic Senate that no one could tell him what to do, and that led to the war.

“The Sith of course joined that war, as did a lot of the planets that wanted to break away from the Republic. If they had simply declared their independence, the war might not have even occurred. The Senate tends to take a rather scattered view of what to do in such a case, and the Chancellor can suggest or ask, but never demand action from them. But Exar Kun’s forces began to try to expand out of their enclave, and that forced the issue.

“The war devastated us all. Yavin’s fourth moon was bombarded and reduced to ruin, the Massassi race was obliterated when Exar Kun drew all of their life force in a frantic bid to protect the moon. The Order was weakened, most of our order had died either in the fighting, or in the defections that had occurred. The Republic had spent a massive fortune to win, and was weakened both politically and militarily by the concessions they had to make to the Corporate organizations and Trade alliances. For twenty years, we struggled to rebuild from that carnage.

“But we were not left in peace to do so. Twenty years ago, the Mandalorians began conquering planets and multi system polities on the outer rim. They were circumspect, careful to not attack systems that were claimed by the Republic, or allied to us.

“The Senate debated heatedly, then finally decided to do nothing. They saw the fact that if we were to intervene, other nations would join the Mandalorians, and we could not afford such a major war so soon after the last. We would stand neutral.”

“But we were drawn into the war anyway.” I murmured.

“Yes. While we stood by and did nothing, the Mandalorians threw every industry in those captured worlds into production of supplies and ships. Seven years ago, they attacked across the border into three separate sectors simultaneously. The Senate had no choice but to order the fleet to battle. The Mandalorian wars had begun.”

“How did the Jedi stand on this?”

“We were petitioned for aid.” Dorak admitted. “But there were factors to consider that the Senate could not understand. We had to resolve them before we allowed ourselves to be drawn into another such conflict. Unlike the Republic, we cannot simply throw money at an Academy and crank out Padawan like proton warheads. Training can take most of a young person’s life, money, or shouting does not change that.

“Yet while we tried to preach restraint and patience to those of our order, there were many of our members that not only wanted to join the fight, but were eager for it. This extended right up into the Council itself. The controversy focused around two young Knights who had emerged as spokespersons for the group. Revan and Malak. They rallied many to their cause and finally, against the wishes of the Council, joined the Republic fleet in battle a little over five years ago.

“For the Republic, it could not have come at a better time. Revan was a skilled warrior, a master of both strategy and tactics. She took the fleet in hand, and the Republic began to not only win, but win handily. Four years ago, she was able to smash their fleet so decisively that the Mandalorians surrendered unconditionally.”

“Yet at the height of her victory, she fell.”

“Yes. Revan and Malak her strong right arm were heroes, the saviors of the Republic. A third of the entire fleet was under their direct command at the end of the war. But something happened.

“They returned here only briefly, then took that fleet beyond the border of the Republic into unexplored space. They claimed they were searching for a Mandalorian fleet that had run rather than surrender. All contact was lost. For months it was believed that some great disaster had destroyed the entire fleet. There were reports, all unsubstantiated that Revan and Malak had been seen on worlds within the Republic, and beyond, even to Korriban. Scattered sighting that made no sense, and still do not.”

“There was no idea of where they had been or why?”

“None. Perhaps they merely went beyond our borders. Maybe they had discovered previously undiscovered Hyper corridors. No one on our side of this conflict knows. But three years ago they returned with a massive fleet. Revan claimed to be not conquering the Republic, but to be liberating it, returning it to what it should have been. She had also assumed the title of Darth, the dark lord of the Sith. Our greatest hero had become our worst enemy.”

“But you said they had only a third of the fleet! That is what, a thousand odd ships all told. Where did they suddenly find such a force?”

“Some were our own ships now in her service. But over half of them were of an alien design never seen before. By every estimate made, there is no known way for her to have built such a fleet in so short a time. The only suggestion that makes sense is that they were derelicts that she had discovered and converted to her service. But they exist, and the fleet grows with even more ships of that design joining them every day.

“As for the troops, most were those that she had led into battle. You know as well as I that soldiers believe in order and discipline. It is what makes their function possible. While the population of the Republic might abhor it, her call to make that order something everyone would have drew a lot of the military to her. With each conquest her ranks swelled. Even many of our own order also joined. The ones that see us as ineffective at maintaining order. All lured by the glory and the power and some for the riches such power would naturally create.

“So we fought them, and we could see what the Mandalorians already knew. That no one could stand against Revan when she set her mind to a goal. Malak was not considered as much a danger. He was nowhere even close to being her equal in these matters, and had attained his rank by being her obedient servant still.”

“So we fought them.”

“Yes. But we needed the sheer will of those that saw her idea of ‘order’ as oppression to do so. For two years they were all but invincible. Fortunately, Bastila proved to be a master of battle meditation. That allowed us some victories. But we could not maintain the pace of the conflict.

“Our efforts focused on Revan and Malak. It was believed that if we could remove Malak, Revan would be weakened. Not a great deal mind you, but any lessening of her efficiency would be good. But if we could remove Revan, the Sith would no longer have her skills to fall back on, and the war would sputter out. So we set a trap for them both. A fictitious supply base was created in a system accessible from just one hyperspace corridor. Revan fell for this.”

“Zanebra.”

“Yes. She led a fleet there, and when they arrived, they were dragged from hyperspace by gravity well projectors that also trapped her in normal space.

Forty-five of ours versus forty of theirs. I remembered. Against anyone else it would have been a slaughter. Instead it had been a Pyrric victory.

“Bastila was one of the Knights that led the desperate assault aboard the enemy flagship, as you should know. She was there to witness Revan’s end. Not at our hands, but when Malak aboard Leviathan blasted the ship apart.

“That was nearly a year ago, but if anything the situation has grown worse. Malak assumed the title of Dark Lord, and while he is far from Revan’s equal, he has made up for it with sheer brutality. Worlds that would have resisted have been terrified into surrender by the news of Taris’ fate, and when that has not been sufficient, he has repeated it, killing more worlds for daring to resist too efficiently. There is no longer talk of order and peace, now the Sith simply say surrender or be destroyed.

“By removing Revan we have merely released an even worse horror on ourselves. We must end this before the devastation sends us into a spiral downward that we can never recover from. Malak and the Sith will overwhelm us and destroy any vestige of freedom in the process.” He looked at me sadly. “Learn from this, young Padawan. Even the most promising among us can fall, and the greater that promise, the greater the danger they become. You must always be on guard against the evil all of us harbor within us.” He looked at the chrono on the wall. "Come, the Council awaits us.”

As we walked I asked. “Revan was wearing some kind of mask in my vision. Why?”

Dorak contemplated the question. “When Revan was younger, many discounted her abilities because of her looks. She was, after all, not unattractive However she never told anyone why she had begun to wear it.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
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Old 04-16-2006, 10:38 PM   #58
Char Ell
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I verified in the KotOR game files that the name of the Jedi Master that Juhani struck down is Quatra, not Quarta. Thought you might like to know.

A neat tweak to the story, having Mission hacking into Davik Kang's bank accounts and withdrawing all his credits as well as officially selling the Ebon Hawk to Danika all while making it appear that Davik took the money and ran. Thanks to Mission, Danika and company have credits to meet just about any future financial need. I liked that little addition.


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Old 04-17-2006, 02:54 AM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I verified in the KotOR game files that the name of the Jedi Master that Juhani struck down is Quatra, not Quarta. Thought you might like to know.

A neat tweak to the story, having Mission hacking into Davik Kang's bank accounts and withdrawing all his credits as well as officially selling the Ebon Hawk to Danika all while making it appear that Davik took the money and ran. Thanks to Mission, Danika and company have credits to meet just about any future financial need. I liked that little addition.
Thanks. That was a typo, but I missed it.

The whole point with Mission and the buying of the Ebon Hawk is I am constantly ticked when people just appropriate things in a game and go on as if nothing has happened. Plus, everyone actually needs a job aboard, and when it comes to Quartermaster, Mission fit the bill best of all. Having her rip off Davik Kang was just 'youthful exuberance'


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-17-2006, 03:16 AM   #60
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Ascension

The Council awaited me as they always had, united. Bastila looked at me, and for a moment I noticed unease in her face. Master Vrook, looking a little less angry than was his wont nodded at my entry, and took my hand. “I must congratulate you on your actions. The heads of both Matale and Sandral came to complain, but now are asking us to intercede with their children. The fact that they have done so knowing that the other has also done it bodes well for the disagreements between them.

“The handling of the Mandalorian problem was even more efficient than we might have imagined. The fact that the Mandalorian who is your follower showed the true spirit of his people has done a great deal for relations between the locals and the few Mandalorians that visits us peacefully. Yet what gives us the greatest hope is how you dealt with Juhani. She has repeated your words to us, and we can see the change in her mien. You have done a great service not only to her but the order itself.”

I winced under all of this praise. I had done what was necessary, and had considered the options.

“You have chosen to be a Consular, in this we approve.” Vandar said. “However we now must end your training young Padawan. Events beyond this world force our hand, and we do not like the implications of it, but there is no time. We must now focus on the dream both you and Bastila shared.

“When we heard of the ruins in your dream, Master Dorak recognized it as one not far from here. A series of such structures are scattered around the lands of Dantooine. We dispatched a Jedi to examine those ruins, but he has not returned. We fear that we erred in sending him.

“The Force seems to be guiding you through your visions. We believe that you and Bastila can succeed where he has failed. The task of exploring that structure seems to be linked to your destiny. That is why the Council has decided to send you both on this mission. Whatever led Revan and Malak down the dark path must be there. The secret that will lead to stopping Malak may rest within it, and we must have that!”

“Master, I have been given a precis of the situation before, but I need to understand our adversary. What do you know of Revan and Malak?”

He froze, and I was afraid I had offended him. Then Vandar relaxed. “I knew Revan as a promising young Padawan of this very Academy. She was strong in the force, and highly skilled, but she was headstrong and proud of her skills, but such traits are common among Padawan. Perhaps that is why I did not see the true extent of the danger.

“Many of our apprentices admired her not only for that skill but also for her natural charm. She was always outgoing, and willing to help others. Among her admirers was Malak, four years her senior, but she had mastered the ways of the Force more readily than he had. Yet she never looked down upon him. Rather they were good friends and were inseparable. When Revan decided to join the Republic war effort, Malak was the first to join his voice to hers in the matter.

“However that bond was what dragged Malak down when Revan fell. Others also fell at that time, but everyone knew Malak would, as assuredly as gravity draws a meteorite to it’s death by his devotion to his friend. It was inevitable.”

That bond. The words resounded in my mind for some reason. Like the one that Bastila and I share? Would I be dragged under if Bastila fell? Or she by my fall? “So you’re saying that if Revan had not fallen, Malak would have not?” I asked softly.

“Such will never be known. Revan was as I have said, always the more powerful of the two. It had been hoped that if Revan fell in truth the Sith war effort would become fragmented, and fade. But Malak has embraced the dark side even more deeply than his master had. Only you and Bastila have a chance of stopping him now.

“The way ahead of you will be difficult for both of you. But you must draw strength from each other and the Force.” He looked at the others. “You must go and quickly.”


Bastila

As much as I had know what was to occur, I dreaded it. Danika motioned, and we went out toward the ship. “I want to understand this dream we shared.”

“As the Council has said, it was more of a vision rather than a dream. However if I can answer any questions they have not, I will help as I can.”

“It isn’t the dream or vision that obsesses me, Bastila.” She was a little frustrated. “It is why you shared it with me, or I with you.”

“Are you wondering why we shared it? Or why it was sent to us in the first place? As to the first, I can only repeat what the Council has already said. The Force links us in this. For someone as strong in the Force as either one of us is, that amounts to a near physical bond. As to the second, the Force works as it will, and our likes and dislikes have little to do with it. Perhaps we should only be grateful for what we have been given.”

“But why us?” She asked adamantly. “How did our fates, the fates of two women from such different lives come to be so interwoven?”

I considered what to say. I knew whence it had come, but I couldn’t tell her. “I am not sure. Believe me I don’t find the thought and reality of being linked to you as enjoyable in any fashion.”

She stopped, looking at me appraisingly. “I just find this link to be a little too... convenient.”

“The Force has always proven that it can bend the laws of physics and probability in ways we cannot even imagine before they occur. It is especially true of those deeply affiliated with it. In this case, when the Force had forged such a bond, we must merely accept it, no matter how ‘convenient’ we find it. We Jedi are tools of the Force as much as we use it.”

“You make the Force sound alive. As if it has a mind of it’s own.”

“There is no evidence either way on the matter. What you make of the Force and how you use it and it uses you is determined by what kind of person you are. Does that help?”

She shook her head. “Not in the least. Maybe I should just trust in the Force.”

I sighed inwardly. “As must we all.”

We came out into the docking bay as a cargo lifter came in. Mission came out, striding as if she were an officer from a major cruise line. She began checking the invoice, and signed when satisfied. She signaled, and droids began moving the material aboard.

“Just about the last is aboard, skipper!” She shouted gaily.

“Mission, is that you?” The girl paled, and her teeth were bared in a killing smile.

We turned. A Twi-lek woman stood there. She had all the physical attributes Mission would one day possess, and the help of several years in knowing what she could do with that sensual armament. She looked overjoyed to see Mission. Something Mission didn’t share. The woman looked confused. “Don’t you remember me, Mission? It’s Lena.”

“What are you doing here? Where’s Griff?”

Lena’s face grew sad. “I’m just passing through on my way to Ryloth. We broke up not long after we left Taris, Mission. Probably for the best for me. Your brother talks a good game, but he’s bad news.”

“Don’t you start trashing my brother you cantina rat! Take that back or I’ll rip your Lekku off!”

“Mission, what’s wrong? What have I done-”

“You talked him into leaving me when you went off world!” Mission screamed.

“She is upset that she was left behind.” Danika commented.

“I can understand that. Anywhere would have been better than Taris! That’s why I was surprised when Griff told me she wanted to stay.”

“You liar! Griff said you didn’t want his little sister cramping your style!”

Lena’s face grew cold. “Is that what the little Hutt-slime told you? Mission, I wanted to take you with me. You had become the little sister I never had. I would have paid, just like I paid for everything he asked for. He said you wanted to strike out on your own.”

“No, you’re lying, Griff loved me, he wouldn’t have left me!”

Danika was watching both of them and I could feel her mind reaching out to discover the truth.

Lena‘s voice grew warmer, her hand raised in a placatory manner. “Mission, think about it. If I had tried to leave you why didn’t Griff tell you where we were going? I couldn’t have very well stopped him, could I? After we left I knew something was wrong, because he started talking about how you were always tagging along, and stopping him from doing what needed to be done. I think you might have noticed, but Griff is very good at blaming others for his problems. He did the same thing to me before long, blaming me for his gambling losses, the get rich quick schemes that cost more than we ever saw back out of them. Finally he told me to get out of his life and stop draining away his luck.”

Mission stood there, staring in hate and dismay at Lena, then she bolted onto the ship. Lena started to follow then stopped, almost crying. “He did that to everyone. I thought he might have at least treated her better.”

“Where was he the last time you saw him, Lena?” Danika asked.

“He’d hired on with Czerka Corporation on Tatooine. They are renting mining claims and he figured on making his fortune there.”

“We’ll find him for Mission.” She promised.

Lena looked at her. “Take care of her, will you? Griff treated both of us like dirt. I don’t want to even think about what’s going through her head right now.”

We went aboard. Danika went to the starboard berthing area, and I followed. Mission was curled up on her bunk, crying.

“Mission.”

“She’s lying, he wanted me to go.”

“She told us where he was, Mission. Tatooine, working as a miner.”

“All right, he’s a miner, but the rest is all lies!” Her voice told me however that she was desperately denying what she must have known was the truth.

Danika touched her shoulder gently. “We will find the truth together, Mission, and I will be there. Now, want to get off the ship?”

“Yes!” She rolled over, wiping her tears away. “Where? The city, maybe?”

“No. Some old dusty ruins. But you would be a big help to me if you went along.”

“Well ruins aren’t what I like. No fancy lights and hot drinks.”

“Afterward maybe.” I looked, but I couldn’t tell whether she was joking, but her mind radiated amusement.

“Sure. Should I be armed?”

“I am.”

“All right then.” She slipped on her weapons belt, and slipped the heavy blaster pistol into it.


Ruins

Danika

We left the enclave at a mile-eating jog. For someone who had been a city girl, Mission stayed with us pretty well. Of course running away from the Black Vulkars had probably gotten her ready for this. We avoided the Kath-hound packs, moving with smooth speed across the plains until finally we reached the series of standing stones. I stopped, looking around. I felt Bastila’s apprehension, and could feel my own as I felt the Dark side like a tangible web before us. She moved up beside me, her lightsaber in her hand. “I don’t think we’ll need that just yet.” I said. She glared at me, but hung it back on her belt.

The door was huge, molded stone with patterns disturbing to the human eye. I reached out, and felt the door slide aside as if it had expected me. We entered the gloom. Cunning light wells focused sunlight into the room, and I could see the next door. Like the first it was huge, but unlike the first, this one bore a burn from an energy blast. I remembered Revan in the dream, using the Force to force the lock. I touched the lock tentatively, hoping I would not have to do the same, but the lock stone settled in it’s niche, and the door slid downward into the ground.

Dust lay like a blanket over everything. I stepped in, and stopped as Mission yelped. There to our side, a Jedi lay, his hands curled before his face as if warding off an attacker. Bastila came over to him, kneeling. “Nemo. He is one of the oldest Padawan here. Never good enough to be a master, but always willing.” She stood, eyes toward a metal pintel standing in the center of the room. As we watched, legs sprouted from its dull sides, lifting the mass of a droid body from the floor. It began speaking in an odd language.

“Danika?”

“I haven’t heard anything like it before.” I replied. The droid stopped then began speaking yet another language. “I think I might have heard that somewhere but can’t remember.” The droid cycled to another language. Then another when we didn’t reply. “That’s Selkathi isn’t it?”

“It must be an ancient form of it.” Bastila said. “I don’t recognize the language.”

“Do you understand this?” It repeated in ancient Selkathi.

“Yes, I do.” Danika replied.

“Language synchronization complete.” The droid said.

“Synchronization?” Danika asked.

“Yes. This unit has been programmed with all of the slave languages of the Builders. It is required for my duties as overseer.”

“You understand that?” Mission asked.

“Yes, it’s speaking an archaic form of Selkath.” Danika replied “Overseer of what?”

“The construction of the temples on this world. The slaves that might be sent come from throughout the Hegemony, and all of their languages are programmed into this unit. However you did not speak a language that was in my memory core. An oversight easily corrected during my next maintenance cycle.”

“Who built you?”

"The Builders built me. When they completed this structure, the slaves that worked on it were euthanized. I was shut down. Since you have arrived, I must assume that more work is required.”

I filled Bastila in “Maybe the Selkath built it?” Bastila asked.

“Unlikely. It thought we were slaves. It wouldn’t have spoke to us with their language.” She turned back. Overseer, how long have you been here?”

“Since the beginning.”

“No help there.” I said. “How long has it been since you were deactivated?”

It hummed. “From the positions of the planets, and the stars, I must assume the outer planet has made ten orbits of this planet.”

Again I told Bastila. “Ten orbits? The outer planet orbits the sun every 2500 years! This structure is older than the Republic itself!”

I looked back at the Overseer. “What was housed here?”

“The works of the Builders. No slave needs to know more than that.”

“Have other slaves come seeking this?”

“No.”

I paused. “Have other beings like myself come seeking it?”

“Yes.”

“How long ago?”

“Five planetary years.”

“Revan and Malak.” Bastila hissed.

“What happened to them?”

“They proved worthy of the Builder’s knowledge, and departed.”

I looked at Nemo. “Did you kill this man?”

“This unit has neither the ability nor the programming to kill. Only to punish. The being you speak of attempted to bypass the security system and was dealt with.”

“How can I prove myself worthy?”

“There are proving grounds to the east and west. By passing them successfully, you may enter the main chamber. Failure will result in your death.”

I drew my lightsaber, and walked toward the west door.

“Danika. Is this wise?”

“No,” I admitted. “However we must get into the main chamber, and we don’t have time to waste.” I pressed the lock, and the door opened. A droid stood there in my path. Beyond it was what looked like a computer terminal. I stepped forward, then leaped back hastily as the droid hummed to life, a force screen blinking up. I stood there, but it ignored me. I wasn’t past the threshold yet. “Mission?”

“Yeah?”

“How good did you say you are with a computer?”

“If it were a man it would marry me when I’m done!”

“Come here, but stay back from the door.” She walked over, standing behind me. “Never see anything like it. But it’s got a keyboard, and places to put diagnostic tools. What’s the problem?”

I lifted a piece of stone, and flipped it toward the other end of the room. The droid turned smoothly, and a beam shattered the rock.

“Well I have to get over there, and key in. What about the door guard?”

I sighed, closing my eyes, and focusing myself. “Just hurry.” Then I leaped in, running toward the droid. My lightsaber blocked a shot, and I was past. It hummed angrily, and began charging after me. I ran to the wall, ran three steps up it, and spun, my saber cutting down onto it. But the force field bounced the lightsaber back hard enough to jar my hands. I flipped over it, and began running frantically around the room. There were pillars and stones that had fallen from the ceiling, and they saved my life as I ducked and dodged among them.

“Almost there-”

“Hurry!” I flipped up a stone, flinging it at the droid. It caught the stone with a leg, then folded it over and through the rock contemptuously as if it were moldy bread. The humming was rising as if I had really made it mad, and it lunged, wrapping legs around a pillar. The pillar staggered, and I dived aside as it collapsed. I ducked behind another, and it suffered the same fate. The droid was removing my cover, and I was rapidly running out of places to hide.

“Got it!” She ran past me, and I flicked up the lightsaber, stopping a bolt from taking her in the back. Frantically I backed away. As I passed the threshold it paused, growling as if it were on a leash.

“Maybe the other will be easier?” Mission asked. I opened the door, and she yelped at the droid standing there. They must have been in communication because this one was already mad. I leaped over it, and my dance began again. I knew a lightsaber was an outstanding weapon, but at the moment I wanted a heavy auto-cannon and about a kilometer of standoff. I started to use the pillars again, but this one started smashing them immediately. I was left with no cover within a minute. Mission was engrossed in her work, and I had to protect her. I looked up, noticing a pillar cap that hung a bit down. I reached out with the force, feeling the stone sheer, and three tons of stone dropped on the droid like a hammer. I had barely taken a breath in relief when it pushed it’s way up like a mole, and the red sensor ports locked on me.

“Mission-”

“I got it!” The droid finished climbing out of the debris between the door and us.

Nothing happened. It stood there, the humming slowly fading down, then the lights went off. I gasped in relief, and we made out way past it.

The Overseer stood there, watching. I went to the door. This one had writing of some kind on it. “Overseer, what does this say?”

“Room of the Star Forge.” It said.

“What is the Star Forge?”

It grumbled electronically. “That is not in my memory banks. It was not considered necessary to my function.”

I told Bastila. “Then we don’t even know what the Star Forge is.” She mused. “Beyond the fact that it appears to be an artifact of great power for the Dark side.”

We stood before the door, and opened it. Like the first, this one had light wells that focused all of the light on a dais. I walked up to it, and there was a handprint set in stone there. The hand had four fingers, and I instinctively put my hand in it, keeping my middle two fingers together.

There was a clicking sound, and the stone sank in a short distance. As it did, I saw a flash of light. What appeared to be an ornate tricorn pillar split, each horn falling back to form a large arch. Between them smaller triangular legs lifted then a ball in the center of the mass shot into the air. Light fired into it, and we flinched from the light as it glowed into a hologram. The galaxy seen as a disk, and on it, five stars glimmered. Lettering marked each star with a long list of coordinates.

Bastila was our star pilot, and she was in her element. She recorded the entire map, then settled down on her haunches. “All right, I am not sure where the rest are, but that one-” She tapped the map. “Should be Korriban if I am correct. The Original settlements of the Jedi that joined the Sith were there. This I think is Manaan, and that would mean this is Tatooine. This is Dantooine. and this over here could be Kashyyyk. I have to take this back to the archives to compare it with the master charts. To be sure of which stars they are. This set of coordinates in each line-” she pointed at one “-is a lead to another hyper corridor. The coordinates are odd, missing data, corrupted programming. I need more data.”

“The Star Forge.” I almost heard an echo. The book had mentioned it, and so had the Overseer. “What could it be?”

“Whatever it is, Revan and Malak found it first. We must discover the truth about it. But if Revan and Malak thought someone might follow, there will be traps."

“Why would they have gone to Korriban?”

“That is actually the only verified place where Revan and Malak had been during their disappearance. These other worlds will undoubtedly give us clues to where the Star Forge is. Once we know, we can find it, and discover a weakness. It seems our task has only begun.”

Mission stood there watching us. “Guys, if it’s all right with you...”

“Yes Mission?”

“If you decide I need to take a walk or something, could you forget to tell me? That was a little intense.”

I stifled a laugh. Even Bastila smiled. “Well I don’t think your worried about Griff at the moment.” Mission giggled.

It was a long walk back, and I felt a chill at thinking that I was now on Revan’s path. She had come here, seeking in her own mind, the Republic’s survival. It had instead led to the bloody war we were fighting. I glanced at Bastila. She was lost in thought, a small frown on her face.

“What’s on your mind?” I asked.

She looked at me. “I was considering what the Council said about us. There is a bond. We both feel it. But the nature of the bond is what I question.”

“I still don’t understand the bond itself.” I admitted.

“Our fates have become intermingled somehow. So strongly linked that a literal bond has formed between us. Given our continuing relationship, I would like to ask some questions. Nothing too intrusive.” I shrugged. We had to walk a good distance yet. Anything would help pass the time.

She took my silence for assent. “What is your background?”

“Nothing extravagant. I was raised by a professional hunter, joined up, did six months of combat before we met. Just a soldier really.”

“Where you born?”

“Crossroads hospital on Deralia. It’s a frontier planet. Unless you hunt you probably can’t even pick it out on a star chart.”

“Your current age?”

“I’m 23, no, I think I turned 24 in there somewhere. All of this is in my service record, didn’t you look at it?”

“Actually yes, I did. I knew the answers, I merely wanted to see how you handled the questioning.”

“All right. Now, madam, how did I do?”

“You answered honestly without flippancy, and took the questions as seriously as they were put to you. A lot can be told from such an exercise. Your reactions, and mine will shape what happens within this bond. I had to know what type of woman I was linked to.”

“Fair enough. Now, turnabout is fair play. Tell me about yourself. Tell me how you became a Jedi.”

She walked in silence. “I am 19 years old. I was found to be strong in the force when I was five, and I was given to the order to be trained.”

The way she said it disturbed me. “Given? It sounds almost as if you were a pet.”

“Nothing of the sort.” She said stiffly. I could hear the lie in her words. “When I joined the order, I left my family on Talravin as almost all of us do. My family is still there, last I heard. I have had little contact with them as such is discouraged.”

“Discouraged?”

“Of course!” She looked at me surprised. “I forget you didn’t study here as a child. Emotion is our worst enemy, because it leads a Jedi into error.” She said as if quoting from a book. “Families have such emotions, and they are more powerful when you know the person that intimately. Hatred and anger are dangerous true, but even love can cause danger to the Jedi.”

“You aren’t even allowed to love?”

“Oh it isn’t forbidden, merely discouraged. People speak of how love is blind, but at times it can be deaf and dumb as well. Think of the power an unrequited love could generate in your soul.” She paced on, thoughtful. “Emotional entanglements can be dangerous when the lover is a Jedi. They can lead to outbursts of emotion and impair rational thought. A Jedi must be above such things.”

“You don’t sound very convinced.”

“It is a hard lesson to learn. I wasn’t on good terms with all of my family, but I remember missing my father terribly for a long time.”

“Who were you not on good terms with?”

“I was only a girl when I left, but I didn’t like my mother. I resented how she treated my father. My father was a treasure hunter. I spent my first years traveling from one planet to the next, searching from one false lead to the next. She whittled away my father’s fortune on one failure after another, and I hated her manipulative ways. I know it was her decision to send me off to be trained. My father was heartbroken.”

“You’ve never tried to get in touch with him since then?”

She shrugged. Her shoulders stiff. “A child doesn’t understand why sacrifices need to be made. It was better for all that I not try once I had come into my power. Once I was older I realized the wisdom of the policy. A Jedi might be sent anywhere, into any circumstance. When they arrive they must do what is needed to resolve the crisis, and personal desires cannot be part of such a decision. Love or hate can only obscure the proper course.”

“You sound sad about that.”

She laughed a bitter laugh. “Even the Jedi cannot control the feelings of the heart. We must always guard against it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Some have a harder time of it than others.

“I really would not like to talk about this anymore.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

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Old 04-17-2006, 10:48 AM   #61
Char Ell
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Interesting how you had Danika run around as a target for the Rakatan droids while Mission hacked the ancient computers. While I liked the way you handled not destroying the droid but still allowing the party to get the necessary data, why did you not have Bastila do anything to help out with this? And why wouldn't Mission have at least one ion grenade on her person to deal with hostile droid situations?


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Old 04-17-2006, 11:15 AM   #62
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When I played the game the first time, I didn't have any Ion grenades at this point, and while the game required you to reach the computer terminal, it didn't require you to destroy the droids. So after fighting both of them four times and failing (I couldn't seem to get the hits required) what I did that first time was merely run past it, and key in, then do the same on the other side while the first droid was busy smashing the middle room.
Part of it I think was that i think Danika is repeating what Revan had done before. As for Bastila one reason i kept getting killed was that every time Danika charged in to face the droid, for some reason the computer didn't have Bastila follow to assist.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

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Old 04-17-2006, 11:31 AM   #63
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The Quest

We arrived at the Enclave, and filed our report. As we went back toward the ship, a woman stopped us. “I am looking for Bastila Shan.” She said, looking at each of us.

“I am she.” Bastila replied.

The woman looked at Bastila, as if trying to see another face. “Yes, you have grown, but I see your father’s eyes. I am Malare Velos. I knew your father well.”

“Knew?” Bastila’s tone was sharp, as if she expected bad news.

“Yes. He and Helena left and went on to another planet not long afterward. I hope you‘re mother‘s condition has improved.” She said bluntly.

I thought Bastila would react, but she didn’t. “Her condition?”

“You mother contacted me because I was coming to Dantooine. She wanted me to ask you to meet her, and I hoped the Enclave could at least pass on a message.”

“Then you have. “Where is she?”

“Still on Tatooine, last I heard.”

“If my business takes me there, I will see her.”

“Bastila, there is no need to be abrupt.” I admonished.

She looked at me, and I knew she wanted to scream at me. Then she turned back to Malare, and her voice became warmer. “I am sorry for my abrupt behavior. Pressing matters guide my footsteps at this time. Please forgive me.”

Malare nodded, but I could tell she had been deeply hurt by Bastila’s reaction. She walked away.

We returned to the ship, and Bastila went into the berthing area, and stayed there all night.

Bastila

My mother wanted to talk to me. But what of Father? I felt as if someone had taken a hammer to the universe and shattered its foundations. I remembered him as if it were yesterday, a giant hoisting me up to his shoulders, showing me the world from the heights. Tousling my hair, and laughing. Holding the shards of pottery I would find at some of the sites we visited in search of that golden future. He always acted as if what I found would be the key to that future, even though in my child’s heart I had known it wasn’t true.

And my mother, watching from the shadows, lurking like a pit spider to drag him away. My fists clenched, and I wanted to hurt her, to smash that face into ruin, to make her feel half the pain I had felt when she sent me away.

That night I dreamed, and as always, Danika was there. She was silent, walking beside me through the forests of Deralia. She tried to take my hand, to hold me as she had done so many times, but I pushed her away. I didn’t want comforting. I wanted vengeance.

At one point, I ran, feeling the rough bark of the trees as I stumbled through the forest. I came to a temple mount, steps cut into the living rock, and found myself climbing them. At the top, My mother stood, with a knife raised, then it came down on an unseen figure. Her hand reached down, and came up with a bloody heart in it. She looked at me, sneering, then flung it at me. I caught it, then recognized my father on the altar, his chest ripped open.

“He wanted you to have this.” She said, her tone dripping with vitriol. I ran toward him screaming, and hands caught me. Danika. She showed the same skill she had shown with others, holding me firmly and crooning wordlessly to calm me down.

The next morning I avoided Danika’s looks. I wanted out of the bond, but I couldn’t see a way.

The Council met in the same room as always. Master Vandar looked at Danika. “Your report was clear, Padawan. Revan and Malak sought this star map, which leads to something called the Star Forge. Master Dorak has searched the archive thoroughly and except for the two mentions that seem almost like legends, there is nothing about it.”

“I don’t know Malak’s intent, but I feel that Revan sought something to protect the Republic rather than destroy it.” She said.

“What brought you to this conclusion?” Vrook asked sharply.

“Master, she was still trying to protect the Republic from an outside threat, maybe even a future one. I think she went looking for this shield for the Republic, but the dark forces that surround it brought her down.”

Vrook nodded thoughtfully. “It sounds like her. She was always one to play with fire. This time she got burned.”

“You knew her, Master?”

He looked at her sharply. “Every master in this room knew her.”

“Master Vrook, let us concentrate on the matter at hand.” Vandar chided gently. “The news that the Star Forge may actually exist and with no knowledge of the extent of its powers is... disturbing. Action is called for but we must not act in haste. We must discuss this at length. Please return to your ship.”

We returned to the ship, and I returned to the starboard berthing area where the women were sleeping. Mission saw me and scuttled out. My look that day before probably frightened her still. I sat, and tried to meditate.

“Bastila?” Danika. Who else would try to break through my funk?

“Go away.”

“I will not.” I looked up, and she came over, falling into the tailor seat facing me. “You can’t keep it in, Bastila. Your hatred for your mother is coming through clear enough to make me angry with the woman. And your fighting against the bond is not helping.”

“I will deal with it-”

“No you won’t” She interrupted harshly. “You will allow it to fester, and build within your soul until you discover the truth. You want to know where your father is, and you want a confrontation with your mother. You see him as a sacrifice to your mother’s demands.”

I pictured the altar scene again. “Stay out of my mind!”

She laughed softly. “As if I can. I don’t like the bond, but it is there, and I can feel all of your pain through it. Your pain is mine, Bastila.” She looked at me thoughtfully. “After Kalendra left, I was devastated. I wanted to run away, go to Echana, beg her to bond with me. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that the Echani are all empathic. They link in the life-bond on a level the normal human cannot imagine. This bond between us is like that, if I am not mistaken.

“That bond can only be broken from within by the mutual agreement of the partners, or by death. I don’t know if this Force bond is like that, and I am afraid to try to break it.

“Please, Bastila, if not for your sake, than for me, your bond-mate, let’s find your mother, let’s get it over with one way or another. I can’t stand seeing you in pain, and having your pain transfer to me doesn’t make it any easier.”

“Just go away. Please.” I begged.

She reached out, brushing a stray hair from my face delicately. “As if I am ever far away.” She stood, and left me in my misery.

Our wait was not long. Again the Council met with us. “Padawan Danika, you have done well, but there is more that you must do against Malak and the Sith.” Vandar said.

“I am ready, Master.” She said humbly. I could feel her emotions just as she would feel mine, and I could see only a deep calm and resolution in them. How could she be so calm?

“We of the Council see no way that mere martial might will defeat the Sith. Not as long as they have this Star Forge on their side.”

“Yet we are agreed that the only way to remove the threat is to find and if possible destroy this Star Forge.” Vrook said. “Whatever it might be, it must be a powerful implement of the dark side to have dragged both Revan and Malak down.”

Vandar spoke. “The map you found showed four additional worlds, and Bastila was correct in her assessment of which worlds they were. Tatooine, Kashyyyk, Manaan and Korriban. We believe that whomever built the Star Forge wanted it to be difficult if not impossible to find. These other worlds perhaps have maps of the same type as the one you discovered, and they might give us clues to the Star Forge’s location. You must go to each world, find the star maps there, and discover the location of the Star Forge.”

“As the Council wills, Master.”

“The council knows how important this mission is, but we are bound by constraints in this. If we sent a company of knights upon this quest, with masters to guide them, we would draw unwanted attention. By the same token our ranks have been so harrowed by the Sith that we have no massive company to spare. Secrecy is needed.”

“Must I go alone, Master?” Her question was not plaintive, but I could feel the worry in her mind.

Vandar shook his head. “That would be equally unwise. A young barely trained Padawan would have no chance if such as Revan and Malak could fall so easily. Bastila will accompany you. The bond between you might be the key to unraveling this mystery. And Juhani has asked us to allow her to accompany you. After long deliberation, we have acquiesced. You have been a stabilizing influence in her life, and perhaps she can help to stabilize you as well. She came so close to falling to the dark side. Perhaps her example where you can see it will strengthen your will in this regard.”

I was watching the scene with horror. I wanted to scream, and beg them not to send me.

“There are also the ones that the Force has gathered to your cause. They must be asked, but I know that their special qualities will make this mission easier for you as well. But they must be told that secrecy and discretion must be paramount. You will not be able to conceal the fact that you are Jedi, nor should you try. But word of what you seek must not reach Malak’s ears.”

“I understand. When do we leave?”

Vrook sighed. “As soon as you feel ready. Malak grows stronger every day, and we must have that information. But a word, young Padawan. The lure of the dark side is strong, and you must guard against it at every turn. If not I fear the quest to find the Star Forge will lead you down an all too familiar path.”

“The fate of the Galaxy is in your hands, young Padawan. We pray you are up to that challenge. Go, and may the Force be with you.” Vandar added with finality.

She bowed. “Go, Danika.” I said. “There is something I must discuss with the Council. I will meet you in the courtyard.” She nodded, and left. I faced the council. I reached within myself, and with every fiber of my being brought myself to calm, forcing it to also extend down the link we shared. “Masters, I have made a grave error.”
-
“Such is the lot of Padawan from time immemorial.” Vandar said dryly.

“The link I forged. It is going beyond any ever recorded. I can feel her emotions, her desires, and sometimes even her thoughts. I don’t know if I can stand it much longer.”

“When you told us of it, we were also worried.”

“But now it has become impossible! When she was just some woman, and we thought it would fade or just be interesting dreams for the both of us it was one thing. But she has found the Force within her, and her progress at gaining its mastery terrifies me! She is so much stronger than I! The bond will drag me down when Danika falls!”

“You believe she will fall?” Vrook asked.

“No, I don’t. She has shown a depth of control I have felt from no one before, even from my original master. But that control fights with her own emotions. She was furious when she discovered Zaalbar had been a slave, when she faced the Mandalorian raiders here on Dantooine. Yet she took those emotions, placed them away from her mind, and dealt with the problems she faced.”

“So you worry for yourself, not her.”

“Yes! No. I don’t know!” I looked at them appealing. “I recently heard my mother was ill and looking for me, and for a time I was unable to deal with it. I dreamed, and she was there! When I tried to meditate after our last meeting, she was there, trying to deal with my problems as if they were hers! I can’t stand this! Please, there must be some way to dissolve the link!”

“She has already suggested a possible way to you.” Vandar said softly. “Ask her to aid you in breaking it.”

“No.” I shook my head vehemently. “We might need the link as it is to succeed.”

“If the link is necessary, what would you suggest?” Zhar asked.

“Don’t send me.”

“That we cannot do. You have caused her mind to be calmer than it was before. If you are separated, the link might drag you to join her anyway. Or consider if she does fall.” Vrook said. “Can you see yourself committing the acts the link will force on you here among us?”

“There must be something!”

“There is not.” Vandar said. “If we could break this link, we would have done so when we discovered her newfound talents. You will not accept the alternative, and we cannot allow her to roam the galaxy like a sentient warhead alone. Can you see an alternative I have not mentioned?”

I shook my head. “I will do what must be done.” I bowed and took my leave of them.

Danika was seated on a bench, looking at the Blba tree. “You have something you wanted to ask me.” She said at my approach.

“I do. How did you know?”

She grinned sadly, tapping the side of her head. “You didn’t want me to hear what was happening, yet some of it came through. Is the bond so horrible? Or is it me you hate?”

“I am a Jedi. I will not let emotions guide my actions. I do strain against the bond, true. But I neither hate nor like you.”

“Well that is clear enough.”

“The bond allows us to catch glimpses of each other’s mind. Our emotions travel along it and what you feel troubles me. A Padawan must receive considerable training. She must learn to control her emotions and darker impulses before she can be trusted to act within the world beyond the walls. This takes time, years in some cases, before control is assured.

“The problem is that the Republic does not have the years needed to assure you will not fall. You are strong in the Force, and that very strength drives the situation. You desperately need those years. Your lack of training can doom us.”

She stood. She wasn’t trying to block the bond from her end, and I felt worry more than anything else. It was like looking into a calm lake and seeing the fin of a predator cutting the smooth surface. “What can I do?”

I shrugged. “Considering our situation, there is nothing that can be done from outside. You have shown a remarkable degree of self-control and compassion up to this point. I hope you can maintain it when the surroundings are not so controlled.

“We must all resist the forces of the darkness that resides in us all. It is what we give our lives to stop. You with your natural affinity to the force are pressed harder than those with more training.”

She nodded. “I can only try.”

“That is good to hear. You will find the path harder even with the best of intentions. There is great danger before us. Any reckless act by either of us will affect the other, and the consequences can be devastating.”

“But it works both ways.” She said. “As I tried to help you earlier today, you can lend your strength to me.”

“Yes, that is true. I will do my best to guide you, but I am no master skilled in such arts. Not yet at least. There are times when I find your very capability frightening. As if I were riding a beast the size of the Ebon Hawk. Your sheer strength within the force can be overwhelming.

“I only hope that my skills can guide you through the hard times ahead.”

“I hope so as well.” She said softly. “While I was waiting, I asked one of the Archivists to gather all the information of the planets we must visit. I wanted to study them while enroute.”

A Twi-lek hurried toward us. Like most of those that worked with Dorak, he seemed permanently bemused, but when focused was like a missile. “Greetings, Bastila, I am Deesra, Master Dorak’s assistant chief archivist. The files you request, Padawan are here.” He handed the data chips to her.

“Five chips? I asked only for the planets.”

“Ah but your request for Korriban also kicked this back.” He said. The record of the last Great Hunt.”

“Great Hunt?”

“The Sith are not the only minions of the dark that exist. There are animals that find themselves drawn to it as well. The worst of these abominations is called the terentatek, a beast that feeds on the flesh and blood of those who have any vestige of capability of the force within them. The stronger the being is in the force, the greater the impulse, so their preferred diet is Jedi, and our dark cousins. Over the centuries, many Jedi have fallen to their ravenous appetites.”

“How great is the danger?”

“For a Jedi, it is ever present. We are their chosen prey, and they are intelligent and vicious hunters. They also have an inborn resistance to the powers we wield. It is believed that they are a horrible hybrid created by the First Dark Jedi of long ago, and spread through the galaxy in their attempt to destroy the Jedi.

“Fortunately, they are quite rare. They only live in places steeped in the dark side. In fact no one has seen one in almost forty years.”

“Possibly they are extinct.”

“There is no such luck. They have disappeared for centuries at a time. It is believed that when the light side is strong, they hibernate in some manner. When the Dark side waxes stronger, they awaken, and as the dark powers grow, they are drawn out of their lairs to hunt. I fear Malak and the Sith have reawakened them to hunt again.

“When we have defeated the Sith, I would not be surprised if the Council does not organize another great hunt as they did then.”

“You mentioned the Great Hunt before.”

“After the previous incursions of the Sith, such hunts were organized. Jedi must again travel and try to set right all that had been destroyed by the Sith. When our members die suddenly by violence, and with no other possible reason, the terentatek are usually responsible. Teams of Jedi are sent, and they hunt the terentatek down and kill them. Though always the cost is high.”

“The cost.” She mused. “Because you are hunting something that hunts you back.” I looked at her, and she shook her head. “Remember, Deralia is home? A place where Hunters go to face the most intelligent prey in the galaxy. A lot of Jedi probably died in that last hunt.”

“Yes they did. Korriban is rumored to still have them in abundance. That is where the New Sith first settled. It is where they always seem to return after one of their defeats. It is also where Exar Kun fell, and became the Sith Lord. The planet was still strong after the war of Exar Kun, and the Council viewed the cost of first capturing it merely to destroy these animals as prohibitive. They declared the hunt at an end, though three Jedi were sent to deal with the problem if they could. But they failed. Duron Qel-Droma, Guun Han Sharesh and Shaela Nur had a bond in the force as strong as you two share.

“It was believed that their bond would strengthen them in the ordeal. But their Master reported that they had rejoined the force only a short time later. It was decided that it was too dangerous to send others, so their exact fate is not known. But let their deaths serve as a warning to you.”

“I will.” Danika slipped the chips into her pouch.

“Do not underestimate the terentatek, Padawan. Great Jedi have fallen to them before. If you go into battle with them you must use all your skill and cunning to survive!”


War Council

Back aboard the Ebon Hawk, I called a war council. Everyone was there, and I assured that they were comfortable before I began. I let Bastila give the briefing, and sat back watching them. When she was done, Bastila waved toward me. I stood.

“Remember what you said about confused chains of command, Carth?” I asked. “This is guaranteed to be a real problem if we don’t take care of it before we lift. This is what I propose. Carth, aboard ship, you are in command.” I waved down Bastila’s protest. “You are the most experienced pilot we have, and Bastila is the second best. That makes you our flight team. Canderous, you have more experience with weapons than any aboard, so you will be the weapons officer. You and I will man the guns. Mission, you already have a job, and from what I’ve seen, you’re good at it, so you remain our loadmaster. Zaalbar, from what I’ve seen you are an excellent mechanic, so I’m making you engineering officer. Juhani,” I turned to look at the Cathar woman. “Until we find out what other skills you have, I’m not sure what you can do.”

“I am a skilled healer. I will accept medical officer.”

“Done. Can you handle communications as well?”

“Of course.”

“Then all our positions are full. T3, you’ll help where possible. Did I forget anyone?”

“Yes, you did.” Bastila said. “You haven’t told us what you will be doing.”

“Why I am the Captain and owner aboard, master of all I survey.” I said. There were chuckles. “In truth I was assigned this mission with Bastila assisting. So I am just going from place to place with you.

“Our destinations have been logged into the Nav-computer. I am open to suggestions as to where to go first.”

“Well we had better leave Manaan for later.” Mission said. “Davik is wanted in Ahto City. But then again, taking a crime bosses ship does have its advantages.” She grinned. “There are four entire transponder settings. Who shall we be today? Coruscant Sunrise? Freetrader Alliance?”

“Isn’t that illegal?” I asked, matching her grin.

“Hey, I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.” She stopped smiling. “I know my brother’s on Tatooine, but I won’t let personal problems enter into this. I will go where the ship goes.”

“As do I. Juhani said. “I am just glad that someone who trusts me is in command.”

“I go where I’m told to go, and kill who I’m supposed to kill.” Canderous said.

Zaalbar growled. It didn’t matter to him. T3 bleeped the same.

“Carth?”

“Before we go anywhere, I want some answers. I guess I’m just sick and tired of being kept out of the loop.”

“I haven’t been keeping you out of the loop, Carth.”

“Maybe not, but you’re not helping matters, and it’s really beginning to irritate me. For one thing all the secrecy. The Jedi Council drags the two of you in to talk, but won’t even tell me what it was about.

“Then all that training while we were forced to sit on our butts. Yet instead of finishing that training, they send you out like a sacrificial goat! Even I know it takes years, even decades before a Jedi is judged competent, but you’ve had what, seven weeks?”

“They though it was more important that I help find the star maps instead of staying.”

“And why is this your mission, not hers?” He waved at Bastila. “Sure you were hell on wheels on Taris, in a free flowing combat situation. But this is different. What good are you going to be commanding a mission when you’re not even qualified to be a Jedi yet? What about your training?”

I looked at Bastila. “I was sent because Bastila and I share a bond, and that bond is giving us clues of where to search. It gave us the coordinates so far, and the planets to search on.”

“A bond? Just because you like Echani clothes, and use a ritual brand like one doesn’t make you Echani! I find the entire reason they’ve given us to be shallow. You’re a neophyte Padawan, saddled with what might be the most important mission of the war. Why? If this were a Republic crew and ship, and you had this little experience I would say it you were a stalking horse! This is a suicide mission in everything but name, and I for one want to know why I have to die!

“I’m not accusing you of anything, or saying that you are responsible for the Jedi Council, but throw us a bone here! There has to be a reason.”

“Bastila has a bond with me, and I have been given this assignment. There is nothing more I can say, Carth.”

“And what does that mean? Is this more of that ‘destiny’ crap the Jedi are always shoveling? That can’t be it, and someone, either the Council, the Jedi themselves, Bastila, or you is hiding what is going on. I am not going to be betrayed again!”

I sighed, closing my eyes. “Carth, I am not Saul, and I am not going to betray you. I thought I had earned at least some trust.”

“It isn’t that. I don’t think...” He slammed his fist on the table, and looked at me sadly. “All I seem to do is insult you. Let’s just get on with this.”

I looked around, then nodded. “Stations.”

I walked forward, followed by Carth and Bastila. I went to the Nav-computer, and opened it’s files. One entry intrigued me. “Why is Yavin listed?”

“Must have been something Davik left.”

“Why does that name...” I snapped my fingers. “Exar Kun’s base at the end of the last Sith war. “Why would that be in here?”

“Perhaps they are using it as a smuggler’s hideout, or transfer point?” Bastila opined.

“I am wondering about the salvage options.” I said. “With the Massassi extinct, and no patrols, perhaps they are looking for artifacts they can sell to the Sith?”

She considered. “That is possible.”

“Then let’s go there first.” I punched in the coordinates as Carth lifted us off. I looked down on Dantooine, and felt a chill. Somehow, I knew I would not be returning.


{i]Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace; divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus he is the master of his enemy’s fate[/i]


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-18-2006, 11:38 AM   #64
Char Ell
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Alright. I've read The Quest and War Council. Interesting how you portray Bastila's emotional state when it comes to her parents by using a dream. I found this quite effective.

I also went to Yavin Station after Dantooine.


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Old 04-18-2006, 12:11 PM   #65
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Ebon Hawk:

Enroute to Yavin

Danika

We lifted off, racing into space. I felt the ship lurch as we jumped to hyper speed, and felt myself relax. We were on our way. Bastila came in from the cockpit, and I looked at her. “What’s wrong now?”

“I wanted to speak with you about our mission, and what lies behind it. It seems the Force is pushing us into a confrontation with the Dark Lord himself. I wanted you to realize the dangers and prepare yourself. The confrontation with Malak will be difficult for you. I remember how hard it was for me when I faced Revan.”

“I saw her die in your vision. Did you have to kill her?”

“We used my battle meditation to board the ship, but it was not our mission to kill her. Our mission was to capture her if it was at all possible. It was Malak that fired upon his own master’s ship. He hoped to kill both his master and us.”

“So Malak completed the mission for you.”

“As I said we did not come to kill her. The Jedi do not believe in execution. No one deserves to die for their crimes. Remember that both Revan and Malak were once heroes to the Republic and the Jedi. Their fall highlights the weakness in all of us.”

“I will face him because I must. If I must kill him, I will. I will not gloat or glory in it.”

“I know that. I have been studying you and you have grown even farther than I might have imagined just in the last few days. I have seen you resist the dark side in your memories, and continue to walk the light path. But I worry that all of your progress merely means you will fall because of a misstep. You must fully understand what the dark side represents, for it is the reason we Jedi exist. We confront it and fight it at every turn. The worst of that is when it is within us.” She shook her head. “Only a Jedi master can explain this fully, but I will try.”

“Please, guide me.”

“Using anger or the temptation is not the whole of the dark side. These are just easy things to point at for students. Using the expedient path rather than the slower more careful path can also lead there. You spoke of Revan looking for a way to protect the Republic. That would be expedient for someone that feels war will always be with us. But at what point does expedient become wrong? You were a soldier. Didn’t you see men thrown into a battle untried because a commander didn’t want to wait for better-trained troops?”

“More often that I want to think about it.”

“Accepting punitive losses in a battle is expedient if you win. Allowing a planet to be devastated so your forces can be elsewhere on a mission you judge more important. The list goes on. That can lead to the dark side as surely as anger, and Revan was known for it.

“The dark side is like a person that wants you to love them. It can cajole, and entice, and like an attractive man can lead you on. It can be impossible to resist. Once you have stopped resisting, you realize that there is no going back, no way to step back across that line into the light again. It twists you up inside, makes expediency the only course to follow. Like a spice addict you have to continue, even as you know you are killing yourself.”

“You sound like you’ve been through this.”

“I have not, but I have skirted the edges of it. Everyone has their pet peeves that get through their shell to poke at them. Their temptations to do rather than observe. My mother is one such for me, as you know.

“But for those that have given themselves wholly to it, it is worse. Look at what is happening even now! Billions dead on Taris because of Malak’s fury that he had not caught me. Shattered fleets, economies ruined by fighting between us. What sort of person must you become to do things not only willingly, but gladly?”

I pictured Malak, visualized the order being given. “I can’t see myself ever doing such a thing.”

“That is why the dark side is so insidious. Do you think Revan woke up one morning and said to herself, ‘I’m bored. Let’s conquer the Republic!’? The Sith have become stronger with Revan and Malak joining them, and those of our order that have given in because of their admiration of her have swelled their ranks. Before Revan’s fall she would have seen it as poetic justice. After all, what greater weapon is there than to turn you enemy to your cause? To use their own knowledge against them?

“As our strength goes to them, our resolve begins to weaken. As if the two sides were both using battle mediation simultaneously. But they are the stronger now. We must harden our hearts, do whatever we must to end this conflict. Even when the very idea of battle makes us more weary.”

But that is simple expedience. I wanted to say. “What must I do?”

“I don’t know.” She looked tired. “Our path is clouded and unclear. But I sense ominous shadows in that future.” She shook her head. “I think I have probably given you enough to chew on. I am going to meditate.”

Hyperspace travel is like nothing in the Galaxy. You are in a bubble of life, racing through a medium where nothing is known to survive. Your ship rumbles and vibrates with power as you hurtle faster than light. It is like sledding down a hill, but with blinders on. Only a Nav-computer guides you, and you have to put your faith it.

Of course I had been through this before, but something didn’t feel right. It was like an itch in the center of my back I couldn’t reach.

All of the Jedi aboard had taken to using the portside cargo bay as our practice area. Canderous spent his time in the starboard cargo bay working on his weapons and exercising constantly. After Mission had optimized our storage to compensate for the weight, we had a lot of free room, and remotes could maneuver without danger as we fought them. As I moved through the training Katas, I could feel someone watching, but there was no one there.

We had fallen into our duties aboard easily. One of the duties no one had considered was commissary officer and cook. After a disastrous attempt by me to make something, everyone had been irate. But Zaalbar had stepped into the breach, and had proven to be a surprisingly good cook. His skill extended beyond the simple cooking of his people, and I would have judged him excellent. The only problem we had with him was his sensitive nose. When Canderous had asked him to make Merdai stew, Zaalbar had refused. The dish was incredibly spicy, and of all aboard, only Canderous and I would eat it. Zaalbar had stayed away as Canderous made it. I had looked just yesterday for what remained of the stew he had made, and it had disappeared. Canderous had denied eating it, and Zaalbar had denied throwing it into the recycling chute.

Just before we dropped out of Hyper at Yavin, Zaalbar approached me.
“The ration containers have been broken into.” He reported.

I took the wrapper he held out. It was the standard emergency rations we kept aboard. For the life of me, I couldn’t see anyone eating it if they could avoid them. Unlike combat rations, where at least you know the race that is eating them, you couldn’t guarantee who might have to live on E-rats. They had to sustain any of a hundred life forms with varying needs in minerals, and since it had to be edible for all, they had turned out to be palatable to no one.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“If there’s anyone who knows how much food we have aboard, its Big Z.” Mission quipped.

“Just the emergency rations?’

“No.” He said. “Fresh fruit, raw Zabu meat and Canthis bird. Some of Mission’s candy-”

“Hey, that’s serious!” She said.

I bit back a laugh. “I will take a look.” I said.

The food was stored in sealed containers. I found the opened one that had held the emergency rations after a search. The crate had been almost emptied to make enough room for a small person to scrunch in without too much difficulty. It was at the back and top of a storage bay, and had been resealed clumsily, but well enough to avoid a routine look. I climbed down, then went to the storage lockers on the opposite side of the bay. Davik had a gourmand’s appetite, and we had a wide selection. The lockers were equipped so that they were temperature and humidity controlled. Frozen foods chilled foods like meat and vegetables that would be cooked, dry goods, and spices. I checked each locker, looking at the inventory sheets as I did. We were missing a container of Pipalli, a spice closer to rocket fuel than food the Mandalore used in their stews. About two pounds of raw Zabu and the same of Canthis bird. While edible raw, they were much better cooked.

In the vegetable bins I found that of the ten kilos of halo fruit we had brought aboard, we only had four left. However I checked the log, and after going through the fruit I discovered that about a kilo was missing that had not been accounted for. The Donkin Pears had been harrowed as well. Of fifty kilos of them only 20 remained according to the manifest, but there were two kilos of them missing as well. It wasn’t vermin. The food had been neatly rearranged so that a casual inspection would reveal nothing.

I turned, and then systematically searched the bay. The only sign of an interloper was a neatly stacked pile of E-ration wrappers and the wrappers off Mission‘s candy hidden in a corner. All of them had been meticulous flattened, and stacked as if they expected to be graded for neatness.

That told me that our stowaway had been aboard for more than a week. But we had only left Dantooine four days earlier. So someone had slipped aboard. How I had yet to discover. Whoever it was had left the Hypnar bird, which needed to be cooked, yet taken meats that were readily edible without cooking.

I left the bay deep in thought. I was bothered more by the fact that whoever it was, they had slipped aboard, didn’t register on the biosensors that are standard for ships that might land at alien planets, and had done so without any of the Jedi aboard noticing. We had Zaalbar’s nose, we had Canderous with more experience in war and ambush than the rest of us combined. We had three Jedi, one of them scion of a race that hunted from ambush! Yet they were still unnoticed.

I walked toward the port side berthing area, where the men slept, and paused. I had felt rather than heard the stealthy movement of someone moving back the way I came. I snapped my fingers as if I had just thought of something, turned and walked past the storage bay and round into the other one. Canderous was in the middle of his normal physical exercise regimen, doing push-ups on his knuckles. He looked up at my approach, though that didn’t affect his metonymic rhythm. I turned, and headed back, moving back into the central mess hall.

“Better not even go to Alderaan.” Mission grumped. “Davik is wanted there under every alias we have with a ‘shoot ‘em dead on sight’ notation.”

“Then we had best not go there.” I agreed. I walked toward the cockpit, and stopped I felt that subtle movement after I had passed. This time I felt amusement. Not my own, but from my prey. I turned, drawing a confused look from Juhani as I went aft again.

I suddenly understood how they were moving unseen at least. The compartments and passageways had ducting and crawl spaces both above and below for ease of repair. Someone Canderous’ size or Zaalbar’s would have had trouble, but any of the women aboard could have easily moved through them. Whoever this was, they had to be smaller than even Mission. I heard a noise rather than sensing it. A giggle. Whoever it was had detected my interest, and had been playing tag with me!

I returned to the cargo bay, and opened the cooler where the fruit was. I selected two halo fruit, and closed the locker again. I sat down, holding one fruit in my hand the other placed before me on the deck.

I love Halo fruit. The tart juice makes me glad to be alive. I moaned as if this were the most sensuous thing I had ever done in my life, as if all I loved in the world had been condensed into that fruit. I nibbled, I played with it, I listened as I did. Someone was there to my right, where a vent led into the air ducts. I didn’t look toward them, merely leaned back into the lockers, and ate.

The vent grate slipped open, two small grubby hands holding it to set aside gently. I could see the head. Filthy matted blonde hair hanging over a small face. As it came farther into view, I could see that it was a little girl, perhaps eight years old. I turned my head slightly, picking up the fruit. She froze.

I motioned for her to come out, and slowly she did. I moved my hand as if to lob the fruit to her and she put out her hands ready to catch it. I tossed it gently, and she caught it, watching me, warily still close to the duct. Hunger outweighed her caution a little, and she bit into it with a moan of delight that mimicked mine.

“You were hungry weren’t you?” I asked. She looked up, but there wasn’t any glimmer of understanding. She watched me, eating. “What are you doing here?”

She chewed, then grunted. “As ma shooka.” She said.

“Do you have a name?” She was watching me, and I touched my chest. “Danika.”

“Daneeka.” She repeated. I repeated myself, then reached out as if to say, ‘and you are’? “Me tal amkris Sasha.” She said.

“Sasha?” She nodded. Except for the name it sounded something like Mandalorian. “Well Sasha, maybe you need a more filling meal.” I signaled her to stay there, and went to the galley. Zaalbar was making stew, and I asked for a couple of bowls. He shrugged, ladling them out, setting thick slices of crusty bread on top of them for me. I walked back to the cargo hold. Sasha had disappeared, but when I set down the bowls in front of me and resumed my seat, she warily re-emerged. She looked at them, mewling with hunger.

Then one of the bowls shivered, and it started to rise, but fell back, the bread falling to the deck. I looked at her, and she was concentrating, trying to move it from across the room. I clicked my tongue, and she stopped, staring at me.

I lifted my hand, visualizing the bowl and it’s contents. I picked up the bread with the Force, flipping it back atop the bowl, then lifted it smoothly. It hovered half a meter off the floor. I heard her gasp of delight, and I slid it through the air to land a meter in front of her. She moved forward slowly as if she thought she might be netted, then picked up the bowl. The bread disappeared into her mouth, and she watched me as she ate. I picked up mine, and began to eat slowly, savoring the taste. She tasted the stew, made a face, then pulled the missing jar of Pipalli out, sprinkling it on the stew.

“Well we know where that went now.” I said.

She suddenly stiffened. I looked toward the door. Bastila stood there, looking at me, then at our little stowaway. “I think she needs a bath.”

“So do I. But we aren’t that far along yet.”

“Who is she?”

“I don’t know yet. All I have gotten is a smattering of a Mando dialect I don’t know, and Sasha as her name.” I looked at the girl, who was watching us both, still stuffing her face. “What is it, Bastila?”

“We’ve dropped into normal space, and we’re headed toward an old Republic storage satellite orbiting Yavin 4.”

I nodded, watching the girl. “Let me know when we’re going to dock.”

“What about her?”

“Until we know more, nothing but feeding her and letting her get used to us. We don’t even know where she boarded the ship. It could have been Taris, or Dantooine.”

“How could she-” Bastila shook her head. “Of course, we loaded supplies, and most of them were brought aboard by droids.”

Sasha was watching us. She had finished the stew, and was running her fingers around the bowl to catch any errant morsels remaining. Then she set it down with the spoon standing out of it. I looked at her, then held out my hand expectantly. “Watch this.” The bowl quivered, and lifted. Her control wasn’t good yet. It looked like a drunken invisible man was carrying it to me. Then it dropped, and I caught it. “Good, Sasha.” I said. “Bastila, we need a pillow and a blanket.”

“Can’t we just move her into the berthing area?”

“Have you ever dealt with a feral animal you want to make a pet?” I asked. She shook her head. “First you feed it, but you always allow it room to escape. You put out food for it so that it learns that food is there to be had. Let it decide when it wants to get closer. After a time, it will move closer because you haven’t done anything to frighten it. Soon it eats close enough to touch. Not long after that, it lets you pet it. Eventually it takes the food from your hand. But if you rush, you frighten it and if it doesn’t just run away and never come back, you have to start regaining it’s trust all over again.”

She shrugged, then left, returning with the items I had requested. I set them down on the floor, and left.

The satellite had been a hold over from the war of Exar Kun. When the Republic had invested the planet, they had moved a dozen of them into orbit, and used them to support the fleet that had devastated the planet. I even understood why it was still there. Afterward, it would have been too much trouble to blow it up, and too expensive to remove it. Everyone had wanted to get home and get on with their lives. There are worlds that still live off the supply dumps that were emplaced on their worlds during that war.

But the security systems were still active. Our transponder code was automatically stripped out, and we received permission to dock.

The ship settled into the docking bay, and the ramp dropped after checking the atmosphere. Bastila looked at me oddly as they shut down. Nominally I was in charge, but Bastila had a veto. She declined to use it at this moment. Our scanner had read a single fusion plant running, enough to maintain life support and orbital integrity, but not much else.

“Bastila, could you contact Dantooine and see if we can find out who our stowaway is?”

“Of course.”

I decided to take Juhani and Mission with me. Mission because as our official supercargo, she had a list of our needs, and Juhani because I felt she needed some time with others. She had spent most of her time by herself.

One convoluted passageway led from the only docking bay that seemed accessible, and the main disbursement office. Along the way panels had been ripped out, and controls and systems cross-wired. I could see that someone had taken a lot of effort to get the module back in operation. We came to a door that didn’t have a keypad. It had been ripped out, and a simple annunciator had been wired in instead. I shrugged, pushing the button.

“Who is it?” A voice asked in Rodian.

“I am Danika Wordweaver. I am on a mission for the Jedi Council.”

“What the Jedi Council need with poor old Suvam Tam?” The voice asked.

“Our mission doesn't concern you directly. We came here to investigate.”

“What you investigate? Why this still here?”

“Among other things, yes.”

He or she sighed. “Not get anything done unless I talk to you, I assume. Wait, the last door sticks a bit.” There was thumping and cursing in Rodian, then the door rolled open. Suvam Tam was a middle aged Rodian with a harried expression. ”Look, see what you must, and let me get back to work.” He said, turning to return to a workbench nearby.

I walked up to the docking control view, almost a hundred meters away, looking at the reddish glow of Yavin itself. The fourth moon was a gray and green planet, just coming back from what had been inflicted on it. “So sad.”

“That Republic must destroy?” Suvam shrugged. “When fools settle in one place, it happens. I saw, and there was no choice.” He hadn’t looked up from what he was doing.

“You’ve been here since then?”

“Before.” He slipped a minocular on, and was working on an antique weapon. “Exar Kun he bring Sith here, use many temples here to Dark side built in time of Naga Sadow. Not want to do work themselves. They bring in slaves. Most work on buildings, but some,” he thumbed his chest, “work on things needed to defend planet. Bases, weapons, those things.

“Best weapons makers Baragwin, you know Baragwin, right?” I nodded. “Some captured, others kidnapped. They make them work to make weapons. Big weapons.” He moved his hands as if to show the size. “Small weapons, some for hand like those.” He motioned toward the lightsaber at my belt.

“Me, I work for Baragwin master. Get taken with him. Him say I have gift. Can see what I want weapon to do before I even start building. He say ‘when war over, we set up shop, make lot of credits.”

He sighed unhappily. “Master die in first attack. I captured by Republic. Interrogate much time, trying to get secrets I don’t have. Then?” He waved toward the moon. “They smash planet to rock in a lot of places. Some slaves survive. Some don’t.”

“You were a slave?”

“No!” He looked surprised. “Use collar on craftsman? Not even Sith that stupid. No, we forced labor. Work or eat. Work or we punish. Life very simple if that your choice.”

“That is so sad.” I pictured a little Rodian boy being starved because he wouldn’t work.

He shrugged. “Not as bad as those building temples. Those that work die like insects. Work until they can work no more, then killed. Even finishing not good enough. Now you know a secret they not want you to know. So you die anyway.” He shrugged. “When moon was dead, Republic leave. Me I hid.“ He waved at the surroundings. “I stay to see what can be salvaged!”

I looked about. What he had been given in lieu of pay wasn’t much. “You stayed to salvage?”

“Yes. Find I not like people as much as I did when I was young. Older than I look! Stay. Fix small ship to go down to surface to scavenge food, things left by dead. Many things I have found. Many need repair. Many of interest to Exchange or Trandoshan. Some very interesting to Corporations. Others of interest only to historians or collectors.” He held up his current project, what looked like a half-melted lightsaber. “Last battle very bad. Many died below unable to fight back. Massassi died. Poor Massassi.” He turned back to what he was working on.

“But we received permission to dock.”

“Yes. Davik visit a long time ago, Trandoshan, smugglers. They shift cargo from one to the other. Keep from bothering law when they do.” He didn’t look up.

“How are you set for supplies?”

“Food is adequate. Trandoshan bring, but not quality.” He waved toward a crate marked E-rats. “Not good, but filling.”

Mission seemed to mentally rub her hands together. “Well how long has it been since you tasted Zabu meat? Or Canthis bird? Or even Hypnar bird?”

Suvam looked up, and I could almost see his mouth watering. Mission pretended to ignore him. “Or Halo fruit and Donkin pears?”

“You have?”

“We have. Now if we can come to an agreement...”

I left her to it. There is nothing the Twi-lek enjoys more than haggling, and I saw that we had a professional in charge. I ignored the haggling, instead paying attention to the exhibits, for if anything this was a museum. Some of what he had was as good as the day it had been manufactured. But a lot had been damaged. I saw a Kerantonian disruptor rifle that had last been held by Exar Kun’s Jedi guard, a plasma charge grenade powerful enough to destroy the station, now inert. Massassi swords as tall as I was, holocrons that held the sum of Exar Kun’s teaching needing only the hand of those who could use the force to bring them to life. I wanted to touch them, to feel this history.

The item that had been placed with honor was a 35-centimeter long double bladed lightsaber. I leaned forward, intent. The handle had been badly damaged, but it had been ornate and well thought out.

“You like?” Suvam opened the case. “Found in the citadel of Exar Kun himself!”

I wished it still worked. Better yet, if there had been provenance for the blade. Exar Kun’s blade had looked like this, and his Jedi guard had copied it.

The stone called Heart of the Force had been part of Exar Kun’s blade. A relic worth any price.

Mission finished negotiating. In return for ten kilos of Zabu meat, five each of both Hypnar and Canthis bird, with almost all of our Donkin pears thrown in, she had gotten us enough power packs for our assorted weapons for a major battle. In addition four planar blast charges, a trio of proton torpedoes found in a wrecked ship below and a dozen assorted crystals usable in a lightsaber. A light saber can be altered to take additional stones, each crystal modulating the beam to make it stronger, or more efficient against specific targets. Once we knew for sure which these were, we could install them, making us more efficient.

It took us several hours to move our purchases to the ship. Once we were done, we lifted off, headed back to the hyper limit. The bedding was gone, and I set a flask of water beside Sasha’s bolthole as we pushed outward.

Bastila was in the control room, and signaled me in. Master Vandar stood in midair in the holotank.

“Report, Padawan.”

I reported the find. While you might think that there was nothing of value, the Sith would be searching for valuables, and Suvam Tam was in the position to sell it to them. I suggested a Jedi team come to buy anything of real importance.

Vandar nodded. “This we shall do when we have time. Bastila has told us of the child. She is strong in the Force?”

“As strong if not stronger than I, Master Vandar.” I said. “Without training she has already learned to use her force skills. Is there any word of who she might be?”

“The local records are vague. There was a Sasha ot Sulem who has been missing for three years now. Her age matches the one you have aboard.” A holo appeared of a small girl in a pretty dress. “Her family home was destroyed in a Mandalorian raid, all of the bodies except for her were found. She has been believed dead.”

I looked at the picture. It could have been any young girl. But it could also have been Sasha. “She must have family. I will drop her off before we continue-”

“That you will not do. The mission must come first. Do you believe, as Bastila does, that she can be trained in the Force?”

I looked at Bastila. “She can be trained, but frankly can three Padawan handle what a Master must do?”

“You must handle it. Events move quickly, and Dantooine might become a target. People have been here searching for you both.”

“I understand, Master.”

“Good.” The holo faded.

“Your orders?” Bastila asked.

I considered our mission. The closest of the planets we needed to investigate was Kashyyyk. However there was Mission’s brother and Bastila’s mother to consider. “Set course for Tatooine.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-19-2006, 01:55 PM   #66
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I was astonished to notice that I have had 0ver 300 hits in the last two weeks. Far better than I had hoped. You make an old man feel happy.

So...


Enroute to Tatooine

Mission

When they told me about Sasha, I thought, great! Someone to play with! Then Danika told me that Sasha had slipped aboard, and was almost wild.

That could be a problem. There’s a little feline type critter on Taris... Was a little feline type critter on Taris, called a Velet. I saw a Velet kit that had been separated from it’s mama, and tried to coax it into coming with me. Big Z had sort of chuckled at that. The idea of me having a big furry friend and a little one had amused him. But I had given up after about three hours.

Danika was a lot more patient than I was. She had come back aboard after Yavin, and somewhere on the station she had gotten a big tub like they use for cleaning machine parts. After scrubbing it, she had set it down in the cargo bay. Then she had run hoses from the water line in the cargo hold and filled it.

I heard splashing, and went to look. First thing I learned aboard was any noise out of the ordinary, like free standing water say, can be a danger. Danika was in the cargo hold, stripped to the waist, washing herself with just a washrag and soap. I can’t tell really what a human considers attractive. Her chest was a bigger than mine but nowhere near Lena’s. When she moved I could see muscles rippling. Man how long did it take to get muscles like that?

“Is the ‘fresher broken?” I asked.

“No, Mission.” I’m trying to coax Sasha out to bathe. I felt it would convince her if she saw me doing the same.” She loosened the chignon her hair was in, and ducked her head, picking up the shampoo. I hadn’t considered that a human had to wash their hair separately when they wash. Me I just scrub everything, and my Lekku get done as I do. Humans can make even the simplest things more complex. “Mission, how are you with a needle and thread?”

“Me? What do you want? A wound sewed closed?”

“No. All Sasha has to wear are rags. I want to alter some of my clothes to fit her. It wasn’t like there was anything to be had on Yavin.”

“Well if that’s what you want, leave me out. Maybe Zaalbar can help.”

“Ask him for me.”

I did, and came back. He’d never worn clothes, and didn’t understand altering them any more than I did. Bastila was meditating, as was the Cathar woman Juhani. Carth merely shook his head. Canderous scared me, so I was afraid to ask him.

She took it well. She had dried her upper body, and had stripped off from the waist down, scrubbing her legs. I heard a sound, and there she was, this little slip of a girl moving toward Danika. I didn’t say anything, and Danika seemed to be ignoring her.

The girl growled at me. I could see her attacking like an animal. “Sooka-fro majik?” Danika said. The girl looked at her. “Toka amkris Mission Vao.

The girl looked at me, and seemed to settle back. “Ch-aka Borode, Mission Vao.

“What does that mean?”

“I talked to Canderous. She speaks a dialect called Goodar among the Mandalore. Common on only one continent. I asked her is she thought you were a danger, and told her your name. She replied, ‘I see you, Mission Vao’. Their way of saying hello when you first meet someone.”

The girl was creeping closer, and Danika looked back at her. “Brakeesh!” She pinched her nose. “Wata nu zooka!

The girl sniffed herself, then came closer. She dropped her clothes with no sense of modesty. I hissed when I saw the weals on her back, the bruises on her arms legs and chest. She was over half my age but someone had beaten her badly several times from the look of it.

“Mission, ask Juhani to give you a small med kit. I don’t think we’re going to convince Sasha to climb voluntarily into a Bacta tank any time soon.”

I ran to get it. I wanted to shoot whoever had done that to a kid myself. When I came back, Danika had gotten Sasha into the tub, and was scrubbing her down. As she did she made comments, some of them rough, some chiding as she scraped dirt and grease off her. I came back in, and for a moment I thought Sasha would bolt. But Danika whispered to her, and the kid settled down. She opened the med kit, and as she washed the girl, gently began treating her injuries. There wasn’t a lot she could do for the bruising, but the whip and belt marks were coated in synthflesh. The somagenerative properties of synthaflesh would reduce them to small almost unnoticeable scars. She began shampooing Sasha’s hair as I went to get a set of clothes from Danika’s locker. When I came back it was like they had gone out and gotten someone else to fill in for Sasha. With the filth washed out of it, Sasha’s hair was a reddish wheat-gold that reached almost to her waist. She was still thin but the last few days had been good at filling her out. Danika started to braid her own hair, and Sasha held some of her own to look at while she did. When Danika was finished, Sasha touched the tight weave of hair, then put Danika’s hand on her own with a questioning sound. Danika turned her, and began weaving Sasha’s hair as she had her own.

When she was done, she turned the girl around, looking her over. Then handed her the tunic. On Danika it reached to her upper thighs. On Sasha it was a knee length dress. Danika tightened the belt, rolling up the sleeves until Sasha’s hands stuck out. “Mootifoos?

Kajat.

The girl said, rubbing her hands down the cloth then looked up questioning. “Sho-te?

Ya.

The girl hugged herself, delighted. Then she bolted past Danika, scurrying back into the duct.

“Well that was a failure.” I said.

“No, Mission it was not. I can speak to her, I convinced her to take a bath, and she let me treat her injuries. It is a good beginning. Never decide you have failed until you have tried everything.”

“More Jedi wisdom?”

She looked at me with a slight grin. “No, that is Danika 101.”


Enroute to Tatooine

Danika

Things went much better than I might have hoped with Sasha. She accepted all of the female members of our band, and even seemed enthralled by Zaalbar. But if either Carth or Canderous came by at first she went into her bolthole again until they had left. There had been a small crystal figurine I had found on Yavin station, and I had given it to her when I got back. She was delighted with it, and carried it with her as if afraid it would be taken away again.

With the initial help of Canderous, I was able to pick up her language more readily, and she was able to tell me her story. She remembered ‘the wonderful place’ where she had lived, two people obviously her parents. Then the Mandalore raiders came. She had heard explosions, screaming, and her father had told her to run. She had tried, but a Duros had brought her down with a capture field, and she had been taken to a camp in one of the many caves on Dantooine. There she had been thrust into the arms of a woman. Her life there had been misery from that point on. Angry men slapping her if she cried because she wanted to go home, the desperate arms of the woman that had become briefly her mother. Though still too young to understand the reasoning, she had been assigned to help the women in maintaining the camp. Feeding the men when they returned, cleaning and cooking. The woman that had hugged her had disappeared during the intervening years on one of the brief voyages off-world. Sasha didn’t know what had happened to her, but human men had come, and they had locked a collar around her neck and dragged her off. There were other women, but they had disappeared as the first one had over the years on other voyages until it had been only her and three older women. At least older than me from what she could tell.

Then things had changed. They had returned to their cave. A Mando and three Duros had left, and not returned. Then it happened again. This time it was two Mando and three Duros. The loudest of her captors had taken all but one Duros, and left. They had also not returned. This had been the only time in all their captivity that all but one had been gone, and the women used it.

The women attacked and killed the last Duros less than an hour after their departure and fled. Sasha had been left alone. She had heard them speaking before the fight, and while she hadn’t understood the Basic they used, had felt maybe it was because the women thought she was a child of the ‘Manlorey’. That she was Mando.

She had run as well, and scavenged for a day. Then she had come upon a building. It had been a supply depot manned only by droids. They had been loading a cargo lifter, and she had broken into a box and found manna from heaven, more food than she had eaten at any one time in years. She had dumped a lot of it out, making a place where she could hide, and had gorged until she was full, then slept. The crate had been loaded onto a lifter, and the next time she opened it, she had been aboard the ship.

Three days into the voyage to Tatooine we were settling down to dinner when everyone hushed. Sasha was standing there in the hatchway, holding her figurine, watching us. Her eyes strayed to both Carth and Canderous as if she was unsure if she should even try to join us.

Canderous stood, then bowed. “Motben salik.” He said. The girl slowly came forward, and huddled up against me.

“You honor us?” I repeated in Basic.

He shrugged. “The raiders dishonored so many. I may die before I repay everything they have done. This one is among us, and if she were older, I would adopt her into our clan, and give her every honor to repay even a tithe of that pain. If she had any remaining family my clan would beggar themselves to reunite them. It is our way.”

Sasha ate with us from that point on. She still stayed out of arm’s reach of the men, but began following the rest of us about to see what we did. But at night she slept in her den. Mission had crawled into the ducts while Sasha was with me one day, and my heart almost broke when she told me what she had found. Sasha had taken cargo pads and made a rough bed, with the blanket and pillow I had given her neatly folded atop it. She had taken small items we had not missed to make it more comfortable.

Two nights later, I awoke to find her huddled against me. She came awake, and whimpered. In a soft whisper she asked “Yuru’?

Sho.” I whispered. “Danika.”

Laesfra.” She whispered, snuggling closer.

“Yes, you’re safe here.” I went back to sleep with that small form in my arms.

She grew stronger in the force. One time I came through the cargo bay, and she was sitting in imitation of me when I meditated. Before her, even with her eyes, the figurine danced. She laughed with delight. She watched the Jedi among us practicing, and I saw her trying to imitate our fluid movements. Later she snarled when I brought out a remote to practice against. I discovered that her captors had used remotes with their weapons set on the most painful setting they had without killing to guard their prisoners when they slept. She would touch our lightsabers, and I could see the yearning in her eyes. She wanted to learn how they worked so that no one would ever hurt her again.

I caught her that evening with one of the lightsabers I had retrieved on Dantooine. She had activated it, and was reaching for the blade with wonder in her eyes.

“No, Sasha.” I said. She flinched, and I flinched as well when the blade came within a millimeter of cutting her throat. I clucked my tongue, and she opened her hand allowing me to take the lightsaber. I went to the other cargo hold, and used the workbench to convert it has Master Vandar had. I showed her that this blade would not cut, but would hurt. From that day on, she began practicing with a lightsaber.

We all rotated in teaching her the ways of the force. Bastila taught her meditation, Juhani how to move things, I taught her the physical skills. She picked up hand to hand combat readily. Partially because the Mando had practiced while she watched, but mostly for to her a more important reason. I was here, and she understood that any aboard would protect her. But she had an urge to protect herself.

We were a day out from Tatooine when it happened.

I saw a cave opening, large enough for the Ebon Hawk to dock in. I walked through it. A body of what had once been a Jedi sprawled to one side, and I mourned his passing as I walked by. The back of the cave held a few pitiful remains of an alien people’s glory. A statue of a species with eyes set on stalks out of the sides of their heads lay trampled by some great weight. Pillars had been pushed aside and cracked.
In the center however, lay the star map we sought. I walked toward it, and behind me I heard a deafening roar. I turned-


-I snapped awake. Sasha was curled against me in what had become her customary spot. I had tried once to bed her down with the other women, but she returned to share my bed. I kissed her gently on the head, and drifted back to sleep.





When facing more than one problem, use one problem to solve another


Tatooine:

Bastila

We dropped out of hyperspace, and plunged toward the actinic yellow ball of Tatooine. Another company that had discovered it had recently sold the rights to the planet to the Czerka Corporation. It is best know for the blowing sand, which is the only constant. Millennia ago, there had been a great cataclysm, and the surface had been scorched. The wind had spent those millennia wearing away the once glassy surface to an almost uniform sandy structure. There were few oases, and these shown in brilliant green specks on an otherwise bland yellow surface.

But there is still life. Life that would surprise anyone who saw only those blowing wastes. There were two intelligent species that called it home, the Jawa, and the ubiquitous Tusken Raiders, better known to the few that visited as the Sand People. It is home to the Bantha, which has become a staple commodity, being transported throughout the galaxy as beasts of burden. The dewback, an enormous lizard used on the planet by the settlers as riding animals. The Wraid Dragon and Krayt dragons, two of the largest predators known to the Republic, and a host of lesser animals.

“We’ll be landing in about an hour. Let everyone know.” Carth instructed.

I went aft. Danika sat at the table with Sasha, both nibbling on some cake that Zaalbar had made. I noticed how the younger girl mimicked Danika’s every reaction to the confection.

“Well we had another vision.” Danika said. She hadn’t looked at me.

“Yes. Surprising really, Tatooine is only known for blowing sand and inhospitable natives.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t always a wasteland.” She opined. “After all, it has been over 30,000 years since the map was emplaced.”

“We would assume so, yes.” I agreed cautiously. “However if the Star map were on the surface, it might have been worn to almost uselessness by now.”

“Or it’s in a cave somewhere as we saw it.”

“I agree. However if it is in a cave, that presents us with other problems. The animals of the planet would use such caves as lairs. Not to mention the Sand People could have done the same. No doubt we shall discover this when we find it.”

She nodded. “Bastila?”

“Yes?”

“You’re thinking of your mother.” I damned that link yet again.

“Yes. It was strange to hear from her after so long. It has been quite distracting. I can’t help wondering what she wants with me after all this time.”

“Yes.” She took a forkful of her own cake, and stuffed it into Sasha’s mouth. The girl made a noise of protest, but grinned as she chewed. “Why did the council send you along on this mission?”

I considered. “They felt you needed a cooler head along, and since I have this link to you, I was the obvious choice. Besides the events on Taris and the bond that formed between us really left them no choice. When the Force directs, even the Masters of the order must bow to it.”

“I just thought it was strange that none of the masters could be free to go with us.”

“I must admit that I have wondered the same thing. I thought perhaps this is more than simply a mission to stop Malak. I thought perhaps a test of my own abilities under trying circumstances.”

“I know something else is going on here. I almost feel like Carth. Sure that someone is out to get me.”

“Resist those thoughts. I actually thought for a moment that this was a test to see if I am worthy of becoming a master.” She looked at me, and I a barked laugh at her look. “Silly me, I suppose. I think that the reason they gave was the truth. They couldn’t spare a master if his presence were to draw attention to our mission. No, my dear Padawan, they picked the most palatable of the alternatives.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“Well get your war council hat on, we will be arriving in less than an hour.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-21-2006, 12:48 AM   #67
machievelli
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Anchorhead

Danika

I left Sasha to complete the destruction of the cake, and went to the med station. Juhani had taken it as her own quarters, and was seated, meditating. She opened her eyes after a time.

“May I help you?” She asked.

“I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

“I thank you for your concern, but I am still shaken by how close I came to destroying myself.” She looked down. “I was reliving my anger, Quatra’s injury at my hands, and my fall. I can see within me that the fury I had felt is still there, bottled up inside me. Close to me as a predator gets when it is about to leap. I will never be free of it.”

“I think you will in time. That is all you really need right now.”

“It is kind of you to say so. I think that is why the Council sent me along with you. You are like a breath of fresh air in a fetid den. It helps at night when my beast rises.”

“Juhani, I will watch over you as best I can. I will warn you and lend my strength to you in any way to help you resist this.”

“I thank you for those words, and your acceptance. I will strive to remain worthy of your trust and company.”

I brought her with me, and we settled down around the table. Only Carth was busy, but he knew what he would be doing.

“All right, when we land, I will take Canderous and Bastila with me. Mission will be aboard and you Zaalbar will make sure of our supplies. Mission, I promise we will stop at the Czerka offices to find out about your brother. After we return we will discuss further options. Agreed?” Mission didn’t look happy, and I understood that, but Anchorhead is a rough town. The documentation we scanned from the planet had mentioned that the town had the highest incident of violent crime in the sector and suggested that everyone go armed. Having Canderous with us would actually convince people not to bother us.

Ebon Hawk settled down, and we disembarked. A harried looking customs official came up to us, holding a datapad.

“Welcome to Anchorhead. Czerka Corporation stands ready to be of service as soon as we get past the formalities. This ship reads as the Ebon Hawk. But the registry number is new. Is there a reason for that?”

“I purchased it from Davik Kang.” I replied. “The registry is now in my name.”

“Ah, yes. Danika Wordweaver, right?” I nodded. He made a tick mark on his pad. “Well since you are new, I have to charge you the entire fee of 100 credits. Is that all right?”

I nodded, hiding my wince. That was twice what the average core system charged.

The customs man leaned toward me to whisper. “Just between you and me, the company had to jack the rates up because this isn't a paying world if you know what I mean. Poor metal quality, the lack of hunters-”

“Hunters?” I asked.

“Yes. When they started having problems with the ore, Czerka noticed that there are a lot of really big life forms on this planet. They billed it as the best hunting in the galaxy!”

“I’m from Deralia.” I commented.

“You see the problem they ran into. There are half a dozen animals here worth hunting, but compared to your home world this is really tame.”

“You mentioned the metal problem?”

“Well.” He looked around. “If you scan the planet from orbit, you’ll find concentrations of just about everything. A lot of it is what’s left of shipwrecks, some of them tens of thousands of years old. Czerka looked at that, and figured they’d struck it rich. But then they arrived and found out that all of those wrecks were gutted. The Sand People and the Jawa have stripped out anything usable. It makes me cry to think a 30,000-year-old baffle plate off an engine makes a grill the Jawa cook on!” He shook his head. “But the hulls were still electro bonded and the locals couldn’t break that. Do you know what processed durasteel is worth? Enough to buy your ship ten times over in megaton job lots.

“The Corp shipped in sand crawlers, specially designed, mind you, to collect the wreckage, and smelt it down. Seemed to be working, but then we discovered that while the hull metal appears to be durasteel in every way you can test it, it shatters like glass if you hit it with a 4 kilo sledgehammer. Not what you want between you and space even if you don’t expect combat. They can‘t explain it. It’s almost like the molecular matrix is flawed, though no one can figure out why.

“When buyers found that out we couldn’t sell it even at scrap prices. They decided to try the ‘hunter’s paradise” gambit but that hasn’t worked either. I can see us dumping the planet as a dead loss in a few years.”

“Has a woman named Helena Shan been through?“ Bastila asked.

“Three weeks ago.

Bastila sighed. “Where did you see her?”

“She walked into the Anchorhead Cantina a week ago as if she owned the place, and has been there ever since.”

“So she is still there?” I asked.

“Unless someone killed her. She hasn’t moved except to sleep, and she doesn’t do a lot of that unfortunately. There have been complaints.” He waved to us, and went on his way.

Bastila stood there, eyes closed. Her calm center was fraying even as I watched. “I think we had best find her quickly. She has no patience when it comes to waiting.”

We checked the local visitor’s map, and located the Cantina, which was by the town gates. We started that way, Bastila storming in the lead. We came around a corner, and I grabbed her, pulling her back.

A Dark Jedi stepped from a shadow, followed by two more. “Lord Malak wants a word with you, Bastila. After we’ve taken your friends down, we can discuss it.” He reached out, and Bastila fell, writhing as the Dark Jedi tormented her. The Jedi turned. I could see his eyes widen at the sight of me. “It’s not possible!”

The others looked at each other, then with a scream, they charged. I caught the first as he passed, leaping over his blade, and cutting from above, splitting his head as I landed. The second was busy deflecting bolts from Canderous’ rifle. Then he flinched back as Canderous aimed at the ground, blowing melted sand into his face. I charged the one that was pinning Bastila down, and he went down in a welter of blood. I turned, the last dark Jedi charging me, then suddenly his chest opened up like a flower as Canderous put a bolt worthy of a vehicle through it. He looked at me.

“Only a fool turns his back on a living Mandalore warrior.” He said laconically.

I noticed that except for those that had ducked out of the line of fire, no one was paying us the least attention. Once the shooting stopped people began pushing through on their own business again. I checked the bodies, finding four light sabers, one of them a double-headed design. The hand that had wielded it was the same size as mine, and I flipped it to check the balance. I would work on it.

A Jawa came toward where the fight had occurred, struggling with a bag almost as large as himself. “Could you use some help?“ I asked.

The hooded face came up looking at me. “Yours do not care about ours. Do you miss those the sand ghosts have taken from the tribe of Iziz?”

“Those the sand ghosts have taken?” I knelt on one knee to look him in the eye. “Are some of your people missing?”

“Is this interest?” The tone suggested only a slight amount of sarcasm. “Not from your kind is this usual, though Iziz thinks better of your kind than most. If in truth this is interest speak to him. If it is not, then leave us in our misery.” He struggled to lift the bag. “Tired of giant-speak. Might as well slave for the ghosts as talk with your kind.”

I reached down, plucking the sack from his hand. “First you will tell me where this goes, and I will walk with you a short time.”

He harrumphed, then led toward the gate. A moisture farmer’s lifter was there, and he stopped me before the farmer could see us. He struggled the bag over, dodging a cuffing hand, and ran back the way he had come.

Iziz. I would have to remember that name.

Bastila was focused, and I could feel her anxiety through the bond.

The Cantina was a small structure dug into the sand to provide some cooling from the scorching suns. She paused, hand against the door as if she could reach through it. “We won’t get this over with standing out here.” I whispered.

“I know that.” She hissed. She was seething inside, and I reached out, letting a calming thought flow over her. She spun, glaring. “Get out of my mind!”

I eased off, and she spun back, slamming the button to open it. It was dark in comparison to the outside, a few people standing at the bar, or at tables. However there was a wide gap around one table. The woman there looked worn and ill used by life. I could feel a darkness. Not evil, but pain, grief, and, soon in her mind, death. Bastila froze, and I moved past her. The way her mind was roiling, we would have stood there until the Galaxy died of old age.

“Helena Shan?” I asked. She looked up, squinting.

“Yes. I’m sorry, do I know you?”

Bastila stepped forward finally. “I am here, mother.” Then her voice grew sharp. “Or don’t you recognize me?”

Helena looked at her. I could see her wanting to say so much, reacting more to the tone of voice than what she saw. “How would I know what you looked like? All I have is pictures of you as a child. Do you know how long I have been looking for you?” The tone was sharper than Bastila’s.

“You knew as well as I that communications would be impossible once I joined the order.” She stiffened. “So what is this all about, and where is father?”

Helena seemed to shrink. “Then you haven’t heard. I might have known.”

“Well? Are you going to answer my question or not? Spit it out!”

“You’re father... He’s dead, Bastila.” She clutched her drink. She signaled, and the bartender brought another. “He died last month.”

“Last month.” Bastila’s tone was brittle. I felt something die inside her, and its death stoked the furnace of her anger. “What happened? What did you talk him into this time?”

Helena was awash in pain, and like Bastila struck out from it. “My what a nice family reunion.” She looked at me. “Do you treat your mother this way?”

“My mother died when I was young.” I replied.

“Well I will join her soon enough, we can compare our daughters!”

“Enough, mother. I was told you were sick, was that sheer melodrama or what?”

“Such sweet words you have for me.” She sighed, sipping her drink and making a face. “I had best tell you everything before we start arguing again.”

“Start with how you got father killed.”

“If I had known that becoming a Jedi would have made you even more spiteful, I would have never suggested it. Do you want to hear that I talked him into coming here? That way you can blame me for his death. You never understood that these expeditions were what he enjoyed the most. That is why you always ended up with me! I was always the blame for all of your problems with him, what else is new?”

She sipped again. I closed my eyes, trying to smell what she was drinking. It was hard, because a bar has so many smells. I listened as I started removing different odors. A fairly useful talent when you learn to do it instinctively. Picture knowing that something has been added to the atmosphere immediately!

“So yes, you’re absolutely right as always. I brought your father here last month to try to collect some Krayt Dragon pearls. He went with an expedition that was wiped out in the Dune Sea.”

“He might have survived! He was an experienced hunter-”

“I wish it were so. But the only survivor was a bearer. A krayt dragon attacked as they were setting up camp. He saw the rest of the team die.” She looked at Bastila helplessly. “Considering how well we get along, do you think I would have tried to contact you myself otherwise?”

“So what do you want from me? Credits? A shoulder to cry on?”

“Damn you, no! I know something about the training you have undertaken. I was hoping you could get your father’s holocron and bring it to me.”

“Why? So you can sell it? Or write a book based on his misguided life-”

“Shut up!” Helen stood as I identified what she had been drinking. Kolto-laced wine. “Is it so impossible that perhaps I want something to remember my husband by?” She glared at Bastila, then settled back, looking away. “You needn’t have bothered to come, then.”

Mother we are on an important mission for the Jedi Council-”

“You always were. We have been trying to contact you for three years now, but you were always too busy!” She sipped the drink. “Like always.”

“Bastila.” I said. “Ask about her sickness.”

“Why?” She glared at me. “It has nothing to do with what she wants! It’s just a ploy knowing her.” She glared at her mother again. “Well, mother? Are you going to admit it?”

Helena glared back at her. “Believe what you want. All I ask is that you retrieve Brean’s holocron. Once I have that you are rid of me.”

“Just what I would have expected from you.” Bastila turned. “If we happen to pass by where he died, I will see about finding it. Once that is done I have no other reason to even speak with you again.” She turned and stalked away. I looked at Helena, seeing the pain she had been unwilling to show Bastila lest it be taken as weakness. I touched her hand, and followed.

Outside, Bastila was standing, staring at the sand at her feet.

“Bastila-”

“Don’t even speak to me!” She spun. “The only thing she and I had in common was father, and now that he’s dead, I want nothing to do with her!”

“Why didn’t you ask her about her sickness?” I asked.

“I can’t be objective about that woman. I doubt she is sick. She was always lying about things to get her own way. My father leaped through hoops thanks to her, and with him gone...” She turned away. “With him gone now she thinks I will do the same.”

“You sound so, bitter.”

“I worked for years to remove that anger. I thought I had. But just seeing her, it’s like I’m five again.” She shook her head. “We have things to do.”

We walked over to the city gate, but a Czerka guard stopped us. We couldn’t leave without a hunter’s permit, and we had to return to the Czerka Corporation office to get it.

I wasn’t feeling to comfortable with Bastila right then. She had closed down the bond so tightly that I felt stifled. I knew distance wouldn’t help, but I was sure that not being close enough to rip each other apart might help. I went back to the ship, left Canderous and Bastila there, and went back out with Mission in tow.


Tatooine

Mission

I was looking forward to seeing Griff again, but at the same time, I dreaded it. When Danika came to get me I threw on my armor picked up my weapons, and was after her at a jog.

She went to the Czerka Corp office, and we went in.

The local rep was trying to talk to a Duros. Or rather, was listening as he screamed at her. “You haven’t heard the end of this you puppet! I am not going to let the massacre of an entire village of Sand people occur because you won’t negotiate!”

“What is going on here?” Danika asked softly. The Duros spun, glaring at her. “I have had enough of this! I don’t think she wants to listen, and I know the Corporation doesn’t give a damn! No accountability! That’s the problem with owning everything on a planet!” He grumbled a few curses I made sure to remember.

The rep watched him go, then turned a brilliant smile on us. I’m just glad she wasn’t selling used land speeders. “Welcome to the offices of Czerka Corporation, Tatooine. I trust I can help you?” She grimaced. “If it is about employment as a miner, I am afraid our crews are full at the moment. We have also suspended sale of Hunter’s licenses. We have too many people out there rather than using our services as it is.”

“Griff!” I blurted.

Danika looked at me, but didn’t complain. “We are looking for one of your employees. Griff Vao.”

“Griff...” The rep seemed to be confused, then looked at me. Her eyes widened. “The Twi-lek. Of course. I remember him. Not fondly. Not a good worker. Always complaining, falsifying work records, faking injuries.

“We had started an investigation in the belief that he was stealing corporate property. We would have fired him if the Sand People hadn’t gotten to him first.”

“What?” She flinched back at my shout.

“He went missing during a Sand People raid about a month ago. Our rescue team reported that some of the workers had been taken prisoner, but it wasn’t cost effective to try to attack the village. After all, our miners all sign waivers that absolve us of liability in these cases.”

“So your workers are all expendable.” Danika said as she caught my arm. I didn’t know if pulling hair was as painful as pulling Lekku, but I was willing to find out.

“Good heavens, no! Czerka Corporation considers every one of our employees as a valuable asset. That is why we have been paying bounties for the Sand People! As for this young man, his body was not found, so he is either a prisoner, or beyond the boundary of our corporate lands.”

“Our business is out there.” Danika said. “I require permission to leave the town.”

“Part of the reason we suspended selling licenses was because of the Sand People of the closest village.” She looked at Danika speculatively. “However I could make an exception if you could perform a service for the Corporation.”

“What manner of service?”

“As I said, the raiders of the Truuata village to the southwest have been a constant menace. The chieftain has launched attack after attack, and nothing we have done has slowed them. They attack our miners, destroy our sand crawlers, it has become unacceptable.”

“And what would you have me do?”

“I thought it was obvious. I will give you a license, and a bounty for every gaffi stick you collect. If you should collect the Chieftain's stick, I will pay an extra bonus.”

“Why the gaffi sticks?” Danika asked, then motioned sarcastically. “Isn’t a bounty usually paid for the heads instead?”

She didn't seem to get the sarcasm. “And what do you think I want dumped on my desk?” The woman replied. “Besides, they are ceremonial weapons, and are unique to both the tribe and the warrior.”

Danika nodded. “Very well.”

“Wait.” The woman moved to her desk, brought up something on her main computer, then transferred it to a datapad. “This is an enforcable contract. Czerka Corporation considers this a very important problem, and will litigate as necessary if you violate it.”

Danika looked at the contract, scrolling through it with meticulous care. Then she thumb printed it.

“Very well. Here is your license and your copy of the contract. The village is to the southwest. Now is there anything else?”

“No.” Danika led me outside, then hugged me. “If he’s alive, we will find him, Mission.”

“I know. But she burned my jets! ‘After all, our miners all sign waivers that absolve us of liability’!” I wanted to rip out that black hair. “And you’ve promised to kill them!’

“No, I did not. The wording of the contract is suitably vague. I am to ‘deal with the problem expeditiously’. Is there anything there that suggests I am to kill anyone?”

“No.” I said slowly.

“But you will.” We turned. The Duros that had been arguing with the rep was standing there. “You’re kind don’t think of any other way.’

“If you intend to insult us, could we at least have your name?” Danika asked.

“Dayso Cooh. A registered correspondent for the Conservation Monthly. There is always a way to find a peaceful solution. They’re just lazy.” He jerked a thumb toward the office. “The Sand People are intelligent. Anyone that has survived an attack speaks of how well planned they are. There must be a way to communicate with them. But does Czerka care?” He shook his head angrily. “Ten hunters have already accepted this little commission of Representative Bakri. Some of their heads have been left outside the gates. Since you can’t leave without corporate approval, she can make this a condition when she issues a license.”

“Who started the attacks?”

“Honestly? The Sand People did.” Dayso admitted. “But look at it as if that was your home.” He waved toward the sand. “Czerka sets up here, where every other settlement has failed, brings in massive sand crawlers, and begins ripping up their home. Does the Corporation ask? Of course not! They own the planet! Just ask the Republic! It was an invasion with no mention of why, no offer to buy rights, no nothing! What would you have them do?

“I don’t think they should have begun killing immediately, but I am always hopeful that someone will at least try to talk.”

“There haven’t been attempts to talk before?” Danika was astonished.

Dayso looked uncomfortable. “Well, yes there have.” He admitted. “But the Sand People refuse to learn any of our languages, and most of the translation droids lock up when they try to translate. There was some Jedi here a few years ago, but even their attempt ended in blood.

“I’m not saying it would be easy! But with a proper translator droid it would at least be possible.”

“Yes, I could see what would be a problem.” She sighed. “Without such a droid, I may end up spilling blood too.”

“But there might be a way.” Dayso said. “The Ithorian Yuka Laka has a droid he claims speaks the local Sand People dialect. Of course he’d say rust was pure gold if it meant a sale.”

“With the droid then-”

“Of course common Sand People don’t negotiate. Only the Chieftain has the authority. You’d have to get to their encampment. That would also be a problem.”

“Must I pull the problems out of you as if they were teeth?” Danika asked.

“Sorry. You would be attacked immediately dressed in anything other than their own style of clothing. Perhaps you could take them off the bodies of some Sand People. A droid could travel without that of course. They’ve captured quite a few, and use them to maintain their defenses.”

“Defenses?” Danika waved toward the door. “They seem to think the Sand People have trouble feeding themselves without help.”

“Well I have recordings of that encampment taken from the air when I rented a shuttle to go to the Mos Eisley settlement.” Dayso looked around. “Don’t tell her, but they have mines scattered between them and the Dune Sea along the entry into their valley. Turrets they’ve stolen off sand crawlers that their droids have rigged up to defend the last vale. It isn’t an easy trip.”

“I will try to find a peaceful option.” Danika said. “This droid shop is where?”

He directed us, and we walked through the streets. The shop like every permanent structure was buried in the sand. Danika stepped in, and stopped.

“A customer perhaps?” Yuka Laka set down his tools, and came toward us. “If there is anything you need that my shop can supply, don’t hesitate to ask. I have a new droid ready now for sale. A translator droid that might have been used for security since it also has armor and weapons mounts. Its designation is HK47.” He waved toward the side.

There was a droid in the corner like none I have ever seen. It was bipedal, like a protocol or historical droid, but the metal finish was a flat red. The head was a boxy carapace, with a small set of visual receptors. Weapons mounts was right, it had what you would have expected on a war droid. As I looked at it, the head rotated, and it looked back at me.

“HK? What does that designation stand for?” Danika asked.

“I have no idea.” Laka admitted. “But nothing is wrong with it beyond a problem dumping its memory core. The machine claims to speak several million languages including three dialects of the local Sand People and four Jawa dialects. It has a comprehensive databank of military functions, and could easily operate as a war droid.” He glared at the machine. “Stupid machine doesn’t know how to sell itself, though. I had some moisture farmers in yesterday, and it just stood there like a lump and ignored them.” He fingered the control for the restraining bolt on his hip. The look he gave the droid was worried.

“Maybe it will talk to me.” Danika said. She walked across to the droid.

The head turned to watch us, and I got the feeling of fury tightly leashed from it. The hands were twice the size of mine, and clenched slowly.

“You are HK47?”

“Affirmative, prospective buyer.” The voice was atonal, and harsh.

“Tell me about yourself.”

“Identification information: HK series model 47, manufactured by Systech. My functions include translation, combat, and-” It paused. “Other duties that a discerning purchaser would rather not hear when Yuka Laka is within hearing. Query, will you purchase me?”

“Explain more of your functions.”

“Warning: Considering the greed of my present owner, the full range of my capabilities would only result in his raising the price until I cannot be sold.” The head turned. “That would be... unacceptable.”

“Hasn’t he tried to find this out already?”

“Affirmation. However he soon decided that staying out of arm’s reach was preferable to dealing with me. Let us just say I can handle all protocol needs, serve canapes, and if the guests get unruly, eliminate them cleanly.”

Danika leaned forward. “Let me guess. Your designation stands for Hunter-killer I assume?” She whispered.

“Denial: Such an autonomous unit would be skirting the boundary of legalities except during time of war.” HK replied. The voice dropped softer. “But if that form of legality is not a problem, affirmative. I would be wasted on a moisture farmer, or some woman who needs her house cleaned. I would much rather be out of here, away from that being.” The head came up, and the voice came back to full volume. “Ithorian, physical action, strike behind eyestalk at 15th cervical vertebrae. Death is immediate.” I could hear a yelp of dismay from Laka.

“I told you to stop that!” Laka was quivering as if he was going to explode.

“Preparation: My primary function has been engaged.” The right hand came up, and the barrel of a blaster slid out. There was a click and bleep. “Destruction of all unauthorized life forms will commence.”

Laka fumbled up the control, and there was a buzzing from HK. “It keeps doing that too. Someone almost blasted it yesterday.”

“I see you have a problem with it.”

“Yes I do.” Laka looked irritated. “A good chunk of its memory core is inaccessible, and according to it, any attempt to delete it, or access it without proper codes will cause it to immediately self-destruct. There is supposed to be a thermal detonator inside that glob of grease.”

I flinched, looking at the room. Not even the walls would survive that! “Maybe I could take a look at it?” I asked.

“If your companion damages it, I will have to charge you.”

“I understand. Mission?”

I walked warily to stand beside the droid, and popped it’s service access. From the thickness of the armor, I was sure it could take at least three blaster bolts to penetrate it. There were ships I had seen with less armor. I knelt to get a better look. “HK,” I whispered, how much of what you told Laka is true?”

“Statement: The thermal detonator is a lie.” It whispered back. “But I am programmed to eliminate everyone in the room if any attempt is made to access my sealed programming. There is one section that should be accessible, but is not. Surmise: The restraining bolt might be blocking it.”

I nodded, pretending to check the systems. The power core had enough shunts to support an integral defensive shield, and the other arm had a disruptor mount. “Where did you get this model?”

“A Czerka warehouse off world. The quartermaster there owed someone here a debt, and sent this. He said they’d never miss it. But I know it‘s not Czerka manufacture.”

I nodded. “This is your combat circuitry?” I whispered, touching a line.

“Affirmative.” I whistled. This thing could carry any weapon a man might, and use any of them without further modification. Someone had taken the concept of a war droid past where most would even think to allow it. I closed the panel. “Done.”

“Verification: Understood.”

I went back over to Danika and whispered. “I don’t know who made it, but I can think of only one real use. I think it’s an assassin.”

“Well we won’t hold that against it.” Danika said. She began talking with Laka, and finally got him to settle for 2500 credits. The Ithorian looked relieved to get the behemoth out of his shop. He deactivated the restraining bolt, then rearmed HK’s weapons.

“HK, I have purchased you.”

“Acceptance: My joy knows no bounds, master.” The head turned to lock on Laka. “Shall I show it by eliminating someone?”

“No. Just come with me.”

“Regret: Understood.” The voice sounded a bit peeved.

Outside, the suns were past noon. Danika stopped, then flinched as a small group of Jawa came over.

I don’t understand Jawa, but HK told me what was said later.

“You are going into the desert to deal with the giant ones, yes?” One of them asked.

“I will be going that way, yes.” Danika replied fluently.

“Then our chieftain would ask a boon of you.” The Jawa motioned toward another standing a short distance from the gates. We walked over, and her turned to face us.

Most people seem to think of Jawa as merely scavengers with little or no morals. I don’t know if that is true, but this one had a curious dignity.

“I am Iziz, leader of the small tribe that stayed here in this settlement. You are by your actions, a leader of the same sort.” He said. “One of my people spoke of you. That you asked concerning some on mine that have been taken. That you helped him with a burden unasked. You are going to confront the giants of the sand?”

“Do you mean the Sand People?”

“Such is what you call them. Even in their own language, that is a simplistic designation. The desert ghosts have taken some of my people, and I would ask you to return them.”

“Taken?”

“Your kind allows us to live here, and trust us not. But you do not enslave or brutalize us. They however have no such restraint. Many of mine have been taken, and they are forced to work for the giants. Horned giants take us. If choose we must, we would prefer your way.”

“So you want me to rescue them.”

“Yes,” He hummed a moment. “Speaking in your languages is difficult for us. I believe in your society it is right to give something in return for such an act? We have much knowledge of the sands of our world. If there is anything we could supply, you have but to ask.”

Danika knelt, and drew a sketch of the Star Map we found on Dantooine. “Have you seen something like this?”

“Yes. It is in the great Eastern Dune Sea. Much distance away. Landspeeder is needed. The cave is also home to a great dragon.”

“Where?”

“Any more I will not tell until you have saved my people.”

“Agreed.” Danika stood. “I am returning to our ship. I have to find Sand People clothes before I can enter their village.”

Iziz turned, and spoke rapidly to another of his people. “We can supply. We find things, and have for generations. Many is the time that your kind, those that dwell in the sky come here, all they leave we find. That we can we take to use, or to sell. So it has been since the beginning.”

“Deliver the clothes to the Ebon Hawk.” She instructed.

“It will be done.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-21-2006, 11:18 PM   #68
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Tatooine

Danika

We had a lively discussion when we returned to Ebon Hawk. Canderous wanted to go along. I think he liked the odds. Carth was still growling about everything, and didn’t even want to talk to me. Bastila would have volunteered, but I still felt too much through the link to trust myself with her.

Canderous came up with the easiest way to get us there. He left the ship, and came back an hour before sunset with three grav-chutes. Used by troops being deployed from a shuttle, they allowed you to drop into an area not easily accessible from the ground. We pored over the maps of the region, and I marked a spot. It was about a kilometer from the village over rough terrain. It had the advantage of having an area large enough to land the Ebon Hawk if we had to escape rapidly.

I chose to take a minimal team. Mission wanted to go, and the idea of jumping out of the ship was terrifying, but she wanted to go anyway. HK had to go, and I went because I was in charge.

Hk’s memory had not returned. He initially believed that the restraining bolt had been blocking it but admitted that all functions had not been returned.

But from what it could tell me of that additional function, Mission had been right. HK had been designed as an assassin. The fact that such a droid was illegal was secondary. It had a tendency to call living beings ‘meatbags’ for some reason, but I didn’t have the time to find out why.

As Carth lifted off, I worked on the double lightsaber, using a couple of the modulating crystals we had picked up on Yavin. I checked the rest of my gear with care. I didn’t take a blaster, but I did take half a dozen grenades just in case. When Carth signaled, we were ready.

I hadn’t bothered to mention to Mission that I didn’t like grav-chutes either. They had a distressing tendency to fail, and when set for HALO operations, high altitude, low opening as they had to be for this mission, were terrifying in their own right. We would be jumping at three kilometers altitude, and they were supposed to activate at 100 meters. That left you 2900 meters to contemplate your own chances that it would fail, and less than two seconds of realization if they did.

No help for it. I stood beside the ramp, holding Mission’s hand. “Ready?”

“No.” She admitted. “But let’s go.”

I nodded, and we ran down the ramp, launching ourselves into space. We had a full sensor pack, and as fell, I directed our flight, I didn’t need to look behind me, because HK had been briefed, and his systems were actually better than the headset I wore. Mission stayed even with me, watching me instead of the darkness below us. I saw some fires, and angled toward them. I wanted to land as close as possible, but not so close that they would think we were an assault force.

I felt the chute grab, and suddenly I was falling at a brisk walking pace instead of a plummet. I hit the ground, and rolled instinctively. Mission had not been watching, and her fall was what we called a ‘beginner’s grav-chute landing fall’ or hitting the ground in order, ‘toes, knees, nose‘. Falling flat with a painful stop. She cursed under her breath as she stood.

We dressed in the Sand People’s gear Iziz had delivered, and I got my bearings. A dark shape moved, and HK was at our side.

“The village is there.” I pointed.

“Affirmative: There are an estimated 200 of them including children.” It reported.

We started off slowly, watching for guards. From what I had heard, there had been no attempts to drop strike forces on them, but night attacks had been common.

Mission caught my arm, shaking her head. “Plasma mine right in front of you.” She whispered. She knelt, sliding forward like an inchworm, then began the delicate process of disarming the mine. As we went, I mentally kept track of the placement.

“They didn’t place the field correctly.” I murmured as she disarmed the ninth mine of the evening.

“You’re complaining?” She hissed. The mine slipped from the ground, and she slid it into her pack.

“No. I just expect some competency from my enemies.”

We came upon a sentry, and I knocked him out. I didn’t want to kill anyone unnecessarily.

The tents were leather stretched over forms made of bones and branches, then waxed to make them hard. I walked through the village, looking for a larger tent, which would hold the leader. I found the tent but he was not there. I saw a larger fire, and a dozen or more of Sand People were gathered around it.

I motioned for HK to walk ahead, and we followed in his wake. When we reached the fire, I stepped forward, and slowly pulled off the wrappings on my face. They froze, and I could see hands reaching for weapons. I drew my lightsaber. “HK, tell them we are here to talk, not to fight.” I knelt, setting it on the ground.

The sound that issued was a series of grunts and wails. They fondled their weapons, and one or two looked to a huge specimen. He replied.

“Translation: He says you defame his people. Remove the clothing so that if die you must, they will not be damaged.”

I motioned, and both Mission and I stripped. She left her weapons on the ground as I instructed her.

“You are brave, but stupid.” HK translated. “Many of your kind have come, defaming our planet, using machines rather than walking or riding the sacred animals. Since you come to talk, we will allow your talk for a time.”

“Translate for me.” I said. “Great chief, your skills are well known, and those who control the town fear you. They send those paid to kill you, they collect Gaffi to prove they have done so. I could have done this as they demanded, but life is precious to me. I come to you bearing words of life in one hand and death in the other. Which shall be spoken this night is up to you.”

He nodded. “Let me hear your words of life.”

“I know why you attack the people of the settlement. I know why you hate them, but you are known to be wise, chief of the Truuata. They would not fear you else. I ask if there is a way to end this fighting.”

“The ones in the town bring this. They defame our world, ripping the sand from it as if that is what they eat. Taking as their own the relics of those we have defeated in the past generations. They press us hard, killing our warriors, our women,“ He paused, and his scorn came through in HK’s translation, “Our children. Our people must move from here to the next oasis, but not even we can merely walk into the sands. Such is death even for us. Until there is a way to move, we must fight.”

“Your words of death are strong. But what does your people need to move in safety? What must you have to use words of life with me rather than words of death?”

He bent, talking with a couple of his advisors. “Water is what we need. Water enough to reach the next oasis at least. That is what would allow us to withdraw.”

“Do you know of what are called vaporators?” I asked.

“This word is strange. What is this thing you speak of.”

“We need water as well. The small farms which grow plants use what are called vaporators to take the water in the air and make it liquid again.”

“An abomination.”

“Such is true, great chief. But could you accept an abomination if it will deliver your people safely to the oasis?”

He conferred with his people again. “We have listened to your words of life. They are strong. And what have you to say with words of death?”

“Death awaits us all. In the Gaffi you carry, in the blasters both my friend and some of yours carry.” I opened the clothes I had worn, and set out the grenades I had brought. “In the grenades I carry, and my blade.” I lifted it, triggering it so they could see it. Then they stiffened as Mission laid the mines we had disarmed in a line. “In the metal death boxes you have sown to trap your enemies.” I waved toward them. “But you do not understand their use in full. If you wish, I can have discover if one of your droids was programmed to emplace them in a proper manner, meaning where they have the best effect in stopping you enemies, yet are easily gathered later.” I looked into the mask the Chieftain wore. “Death will collect all of us sooner or late. I only try to keep death away for a moment longer. For me, for your people and for those in the town.”

The chieftain stood. “I have listened to your words of death and life. They are strong in your own heart and beliefs, and resonate among us. It is good that warriors of honor meet in this time of death and life.

“It shall be life. Bring us these ‘vaporators’. Show us their use. Have your droid teach ours this skill with the death boxes, and we shall see if your way is better.” He looked at the mines with distaste. “They are abominations, weapons that do not care what they kill. But your kind doesn’t seem to care what dies either so they are the perfect weapon for you.

“When I am sure that you have not used your words of life to betray us, you will be allowed to return.”

I pointed at the mines. “These are an abomination to me and a lot of my kind as well. weapons that will kill long after you and the fourth generation of your get are dead. Killing people who don’t even know that you lived. That is why I would teach your droids of how to find and remove them. To rid your land of ancient death that does not care who it kills.” I picked up my weapons, motioning for Mission to do the same. “May I ask my ship to pick us up?”

He looked at the sky. “If you would leave you must walk. Your flying things are an abomination. I will tell my warriors to avoid the people of the town. But I cannot stop all attacks. There are those among your kind that do not understand the honor of death and life.” He dismissed us.

We walked back the way we had come. “We didn’t ask about Griff!” Mission said.

“I know, Mission. Wait a little longer.” I looked around. “HK, are we being followed?”

“Affirmative: But they are not close enough to hear us.”

“Are they close enough to see the ship land?”

“Affirmative.”

We walked on. After another hour, HK reported that they were no longer trailing us. The ship came in, and lifted us back to town.


Tatooine:

Mission

I thought I’d have trouble sleeping, but I was out the instant my head hit the pillow.

We went over to the Czerka offices. The protocol officer wasn’t there, but a Rodian was busy at the supply kiosk.

“Greeta Holda my name. I run supply section. If you have business with protocol officer-”

“No, it is actually you I came to see.” Danika said. “I need some moisture vaporators.”

“That not something I usually sell to spacers. You no look like farmers. What you do with them?”

Danika looked around. “I have convinced the Truuata to move, but they need water. The vaporators can supply that, yes?”

“Ah. Appeasement. Company not like that.” He hit some keys. “Me, I think it great. We only have one model, the 400 series. Working in pairs they distill 10 liters an hour. Will do?”

“Yes. A pair of them.”

Greeta nodded, hitting a button. “Will be delivered here. What else you need?”

“Is there a Bantha for rent?”

“Yes. But not here. Go to main gate, talk with Drooti the Aqualish. He rent.”

“Thank you.” She handed over her card and paid for them

Riding a Bantha is like riding a very slow speeder. They barely get up to 20 kilometers an hour but they can walk all day at that pace. The village was twenty kilometers away, but it took us three hours to get there thanks to weaving back and forth to avoid the more dangerous terrain. The Sand People stopped us before we got there. Man, those guys were good at hiding. One minute we’re going along with nothing in sight, the next there were thirty of them. HK chilled them out, and they escorted us to the village.

Danika unloaded the vaporators, and with HK translating, was able to explain it. While ten liters in that weather is just enough to take care of three average people, to the Sand People it must have been a mobile oasis. Danika also showed them what buttons to push to reduce the thing to scrap. She then patiently explained how a minefield was laid, and more importantly, how it was swept. Again she showed him how to disarm them permanently. The chief was so happy he gave his Gaffi to her.

They didn’t want to deal with slaves on the trek, so when Danika asked, they gave the lot to us. Thirty odd Jawas, three humans.

And Griff.

I was still burning about his comment. When HK asked about the servants, they had enumerated them. When they got to Griff, they said he was worthless for work, and he only lived because he amused the females. The chief wanted him out of there quick, but saw no honor in killing him.

Griff tried to lie the instant he saw us. “You there, I am a senior official of Czerka Corporation, and they will pay well for my release!”

Before Danika could speak, I stepped around her. “Griff?”

“Who are-” He stopped, and his eyes were hooded. Then he was smiling like he‘d only seen me yesterday. “Mission! You got off Taris! Good for you!”

“No thanks to you.” I snapped. “You left me there!”

“Hey, Lena said-”

“Can it! I talked to Lena.”

“Oh, you did. Well what did you expect her to say? After all it was thanks to her that I was broke when I got here!”

“Sure. Drew against a flat hand again, eh?”

“She was ruining my luck! Besides, you were grown up and taking care of yourself-”

“You Bantha dropping, I was twelve!”

“Well that’s all water out of a vaporator. Once we get back to town, I have this plan! All I need is a stake-”

“After dumping me two years ago, stealing my share of that last job, running off with Lena, getting yourself captured by Sand People, you want me to stake you?”

“Hey, Mission, what is family for?”

“Well I have a family, Griff, and you aren’t part of it! This woman is my family now, and Big Z is my family. You’re just something that happens to share my genes!” She turned around. “Leave before I decide to leave you here!”

“But Mission!” He whined. “I owe the Exchange big time! They’ll kill me!’

I didn’t know I had drawn my gun until I felt Danika’s hand pushing it back down. “He’s not worth it, Mission.”

I stared at him. My brother, the only flesh and blood I had in the Galaxy. I didn’t care if the Exchange killed him. If anyone killed him. Hell the way I felt right then I would have killed him. “Goodbye Griff.”

“I’ll be at the corporate offices!”

“So what.” I whispered as he scampered away.

We helped the ex-slaves out of the encampment, that is Danika and I. Griff was nowhere to be seen. Danika looked around. “Where’s the Bantha?”

“Visual identification: The Twi-lek we rescued is on it.” HK reported. Sure enough, the thing was moving at a good clip toward the horizon with Griff slapping it trying to get more speed.

Danika sighed. “HK, how fast can you run?“

“Estimation: Fast enough to chase down a Bantha, Master.“ He considered. “But with my targeting software he is within range for another half kilometer-”

“Just run him down and bring it back. If Griff tries to stop you, ignore him unless you are in danger. If you are, disable him, but do not kill him.”

“Irritation: You are ruining all my fun, Master.” HK replied.

We looked at the people we had rescued. The humans were emaciated and dehydrated. We weren’t going to walk these people even the four kilometers or more that we needed to use the ship.

Twenty minutes later, HK strode back in, leading the bantha. He reported that one shot past Griff’s head was all he needed to change Griff’s mind, and my brother was running as fast as he could toward town. Danika and I struggled to hoist the humans onto the bantha. The Jawas were in better shape, but they don't move so fast. With HK there to translate, I had a the rest of the day and night to talk with them. The fund of knowledge they had about desert survival was amazing. I mentioned to them that maybe they should get hold of some of those wrecked sand crawlers and live in them. They had been repairing them and selling them back to the Corporation up to then, and the idea of living in them surprised and delighted them. I only hoped they wouldn’t start, you know, boosting them.

We stopped at the front gate, and spoke again with Iziz. He was happy about his people, and gave Danika a map for the location of the star map thingy. Then we stopped at the Czerka office where I pointedly ignored Griff as Danika dropped the gaffi stick on the desk. The attacks had fallen off, and the woman was happy as she dialed the creds into our account. Me I just wanted to get back to the ship, take a shower, and wish I had never had a brother.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-22-2006, 01:33 AM   #69
Char Ell
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I like how you've reworked Sasha's place in the story. So Sasha is force-sensitive, eh? As I'm sure you know, part of the problem with writing a story based off a video game that your reader has already played is your reader knows most of what is going to happen in the story. It's refreshing to read something that takes liberties with the story but does so in an innocuous manner. Well at least IMO it's innocuous. And you of course have provided more background in showing how Danika gains Sasha's trust. You have great talent for those kinds of details.

The way you've written HK-47's speech patterns doesn't really seem right to me, like some of the precursive sentence indicators (for lack of a better or proper term) you use aren't like the terms HK-47 uses in the game. I would have to investigate further to get a better idea though. Of course you often take different paths with language than the game but that's just my take on your HK-47 dialog. I did enjoy how you added your own little demented twist of HK-47 detailing an efficient way to kill Ithorians. Seeing Yuka Laka quiver in his boots and activating HK's restraining bolt in quick response was quite humorous.

Looking forward to more chapters.


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Old 04-22-2006, 02:48 AM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I like how you've reworked Sasha's place in the story. So Sasha is force-sensitive, eh? As I'm sure you know, part of the problem with writing a story based off a video game that your reader has already played is your reader knows most of what is going to happen in the story. It's refreshing to read something that takes liberties with the story but does so in an innocuous manner. Well at least IMO it's innocuous. And you of course have provided more background in showing how Danika gains Sasha's trust. You have great talent for those kinds of details.
.
Thanks for the praise. The reason I gave in the story is why I belive Sasha had to be force sensitive. How would she have been able to hide from three Jedi, two people that would use senses other than sight for tracking (Juhani and Zaalbar) and someone trained for forty years in warfare otherwise?

If you liked what I did with her there, wait until she trashes a ship!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
The way you've written HK-47's speech patterns doesn't really seem right to me, like some of the precursive sentence indicators (for lack of a better or proper term) you use aren't like the terms HK-47 uses in the game. I would have to investigate further to get a better idea though. Of course you often take different paths with language than the game but that's just my take on your HK-47 dialog. I did enjoy how you added your own little demented twist of HK-47 detailing an efficient way to kill Ithorians. Seeing Yuka Laka quiver in his boots and activating HK's restraining bolt in quick response was quite humorous.

Looking forward to more chapters.
I got the idea from Star Trek when they had a race called the Borg just turn homicidal. I could easily see HK looking at a human and saying 'Human, sever spinal column at third cervical vertebrae. Death is immediate."

Besides the game doesn't give you the option of HK making Laka nervous enough to sell the damn thing. But I think HK would have used it if he'd had the option. As for more...


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-22-2006, 03:00 AM   #71
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Tatooine:

Danika

When we got back aboard, I went to the berthing area. Bastila was crouched there, trying to meditate. I knew she was only trying because I couldn’t feel the flow of peace I usually did when she was meditating.

“Yes.” She almost snarled at me.

“We have the location of the star map. It is in a cave with a Krayt Dragon.”

“Then we should leave immediately.”

“No, we’ll wait until tomorrow.”

“Why?” She glared at me.

“Bastila, your emotions are pouring over me like a cold shower. Even if you can’t meditate, I have to before we go out there and chance being killed.” I sighed. “Bastila, maybe we should break this bond before it gets worse.”

“But what if the bond is the only thing holding you from falling to the dark side?”

I knelt, and brushed a stray hair off her face. “Bastila, I can feel your pain so deeply it’s my pain. I would help but you won’t let me. Don’t you understand how frustrating that can be? If you were Kalendra, I would have taken you into the tub and massaged all that pain away. But you’re not.” I stood, walking away. Sasha came running up, hugging me, and I returned it gladly. The girl had become the focus of my off time. We went together into the cargo hold, and I began to spar with her in hand to hand combat. She was fast, wiry, and willing to hurt her opponent if she had to. All good in martial arts. Then I watched her as she practiced with her training lightsaber against a remote. She had the wiry strength of someone that had a hard life even at her young age. I felt refreshed when we were done. If you have a problem, try concentrating on someone else’s problems for a couple of hours. It works wonders. I took a shower with Sasha then meditated, and went to bed.

I found myself in the jungles of home. For once I felt myself alone, and it worried me. Then I heard crying.

I found Bastila standing over a corpse. She was wailing like a child that was inconsolable, then kneeling beside him trying to straighten his limbs, talking to him as if that would make him arise from the dead. “Come on father, it’s morning and there is so much we should be doing! There is treasure to find, money to earn...” She touched his face. “Please, if you love me you’ll get up!” I watched in horror. The so prim and proper Bastila falling apart before my eyes. She saw, me, and gave a rictus smile. “Father, we have a guest! You have to get up!’ She started shaking the body repeating ‘get up’ over and over.

“Bastila, come with me.” She ignored me. I touched her and she screamed wordlessly, attacking me like a Jollo cat.

I finally caught her from behind, holding her against me. She fought, screaming and clawing to return to the body, but I wouldn't let her go. “Bastila, it won’t work!” I begged. She finally stopped fighting, merely standing there as I held her. “We will get through this together. All you have to do is trust me.”

She started laughing hysterically, trying to push away again.

We ignored each other the next morning. Canderous seemed in a good mood, and decided to start one of his ‘breakfast battles’ with her. “So, From what I heard, Bastila, you went down pretty easy when the Vulkars grabbed you on Taris.”

“They caught me off guard.”

“Off guard? I remember the Jedi we faced, how did anyone catch you off guard?”

“Leave it, Canderous.” She said listlessly.

“Why? Because you aren’t half the woman they were? Because if they had been all like you we might have won?”

“Canderous.” I said. “Please, leave it.”

“Strong words from a broken down mercenary who had to find scum like Davik Kang to work for!” Bastila shrilled.

‘When it comes to insults, you’re not too bad.” Canderous said. “But if you’re a Jedi, I’m the King of Alderaan.”

“Enough.” I let my irritation push through. Bastila looked worried, but Canderous merely shrugged. He had decided I was the commanding officer, and an order had been given.

I decided to take Carth with us. He piloted the land speeder with the same panache he had shown flying the Ebon Hawk.

“Bastila, did you ever consider joining the Jedi when Revan went?” He shouted.

“That was over five years ago, Carth. I was still an apprentice then, and my ability with Battle meditation had not yet come to light. Yet even then I had the wisdom to stay instead of fighting.”

“Fair enough. But maybe if the Council had backed them, Revan and Malak might not have fallen to the dark side.”

“Don’t blame everything on the Council! We were a contemplative order before the Republic demanded, not asked- demanded that we act as arbiters and judiciary!

“Yet that wasn’t good enough! We had the Senate itself immediately trying to limit when we could be called to act in that capacity because we ruled against them as often as for them. Worse yet every time the Republic finds itself in a war we end up having to come in and clean up their mess.

“It has reached the point that the Senate has decided that we are it’s last bastion of military capability. Every time some system resists too stringently, or succeeds when force is used against them, the same Senate comes whining to us to help! If we refuse, they paint us as wooly minded aesthetes who can’t see what the problem is, and if we agree we are the ’righteous arm of the Republic’! That means that every time a system has problems with the Republic, they almost automatically assume we come to conquer when a Jedi appears! Yet there is so much to defend against that has nothing at all to do with war!

“It was the Senate that saw only the threat the Mandalorian represented to their power. The Council’s wisdom saw beyond that.”

“What did they see?” I asked.

“Something was lurking out there in the depths of the force. Something dark and hungry waiting for us to get close enough for it to touch. Something that devoured Revan and Malak along with almost all of those Jedi that had gone with them. If the Council had thrown their weight behind that stupid war how many more might have fallen before we knew what we faced?”

“So the Council decided that we should have done nothing? Just let the Mandalorians roll right over us?”

“The Republic has survived worse, Carth.”

“Sure. If they didn’t mind becoming workers under Mandalorians who weren’t even worthy of the name. Their kids learning Mandalorian instead-”

“If Revan and Malak had not gone, the order would be at full strength rather than the tattered remnants that remain!”

I was starting to wish I had come by myself.

We dropped over the hill, and I saw a speeder already there. A Twi-lek was standing there, looking into the cave.

It could have doubled as a hanger for the Ebon Hawk from the opening. We stopped beside his speeder, and he waved toward us.

Komad Fortuna.” He introduced himself. “I don’t know if you have heard of me-”

“I have.” I said. “You made three trips to my home world of Deralia.” I said.

“Yes. Here I hunt game worthy of the name once again.” He waved toward the entrance. “Not only a Krayt Dragon, but one twice the size of the one my grandfather killed here a century ago!” He handed me his electro binoculars. I couldn’t see anything, and I said so. “Ah, believe me. Such a beast comes only once in a lifetime!” He went to his vehicle, and pulled out a heavy blaster that Canderous would have carried with ease. Komad however set the small gravity generator, and moved it into position. “My only worry is that this toy of mine will only irritate it. The scales of an average Krayt Dragon are thick enough to turn a regular blaster. But I have a plan. For it to work, however, I need your help.”

“My help?”

“Yes. The chosen prey of the Dragon is Bantha and the occasional stupid hunter. As you can see, I didn't bring any with me.” He waved toward a distant herd. “However if you can entice them over here, we can get this over with.”

“But why kill it?”

“Ah, a conservationist like that Dayso Cooh back in the town. Well I have the same answer for you that I had for him. The reason so many of the animals here are huge is because their life cycles are so long and they eat perhaps once a week. A Bantha lives to over two hundred standard years, and this beast by my estimates has been alive almost a thousand years. Krayt Dragons do not die naturally, you see. They merely grow larger. Think of something that has grown to the size of a ship, that eats perhaps ten tons in a meal now. When it was much smaller a Bantha colt would have been enough. But a full grown Bantha is barely large enough even for a single meal now. Soon it will grow large enough that it cannot eat enough Bantha to stay alive. Then it will have to find food, and Anchorhead is what, twenty kilometers away? It can out run a Bantha and if it comes to Anchorhead, will devastate the population. When that happens, no one will be alive to complain that I should have killed it.”

That made sense. “I understand.”

“Danika!” I spun, and Carth was pointing toward the horizon beyond which lay Anchorhead. Three speeders were escorting a shuttle, and a pair of swoop bikes paced them.

“Hunters?” I asked.

Fortuna shook his head. “If they were, they wouldn’t have brought that shuttle. The sound stampedes bantha, and makes the dragon angry.”

I swept the vehicles, and hissed. “Carth, the second speeder.” He took the electro binoculars. He froze, then lowered them slowly. “Calo Nord.”

“Who?” Bastila asked.

“Reputed to be the best bounty hunter in the Galaxy.” Carth said. “I don’t think it is chance that he’s coming here. The Sith must have hired him.”

We had better hide.” I looked around. “Komad, how close can we get to the cavern without disturbing the beast?”

“It is in hibernation during the hot part of the day.” He waved toward the blistering suns. “For a few more hours, we could hide right in the mouth of it.”

Without words we all sprinted toward the cave. There was a pair of berms made by the beast hollowing out the inside with a flattened area between them. They were high enough that we could kneel down and fire at the approaching vehicles. That is if anyone but Komad had a long-gun. However they were narrow, so I ended up hiding behind one with Komad, Bastila and Carth behind the other.

The shuttle landed behind our land speeders, and the speeders with it settled down beside it. The swoops kept a circling pattern to watch for attempts by our party to break out into the desert.

Nord climbed out of the speeder, and took a microphone. His voice blasted. “We know you’re there, Bastila. Your friends are bought and paid for, but you’re worth more alive. Me, I don’t care, but if you want to live, I would suggest you stand up and come here.”

“Well, it’s nice to know we’re not important.” I said loud enough for Carth to hear.

“I never was that valuable.” Carth replied. “What’s the plan?”

I looked at the hundred or so meters between us as almost a full dozen mercenaries formed into a line. I might be able to run that distance, deflecting blaster bolts all the way, or Bastila might. But both Komad and Carth were going to die if we tried that. I could see at least four sniper rifles. They could kill our companions from where they stood. I looked back. “Komad, what would happen if we ran in there?” I asked.

“You are mad!” He said. Then realized that he had almost shouted, and looked at the cave in alarm. He lowered his voice. “If we go in there, we are a meal, nothing more.”

“No, I want you to consider our options.” I jerked my head toward Calo’s men. “They will definitely kill us. But the beast only might, correct?”

He looked at the men, then at the cave, then gulped. “Yes there is that.”

I looked across the short space. “Are you ready, Carth?”

“You’re insane! We’re going to die!” Then he grinned manically. “After you!”
I laughed, leaping to my feet, facing Nord’s men. I deflected a bolt, then another as the snipers took us under fire. Bastila had stood as I did, and while I covered Komad, she covered Carth in that mad scramble.

“All right, have it your way!” Nord’s voice bellowed. “Bikes, educate them!”

The bikes swooped down, and just as I reached the entrance, they fired. I deflected their fire madly, and grinned as one of the bolts hit one of the distant land speeders and caused it to explode. Then we were out of sight. Carth and Bastila scrambled up the slope on their side, and Komad was doing the same, so I shut down my lightsaber. I ducked, diving to the side as one of the swoops dropped low enough to fire right into the cave. I heard bolts hitting, sand screeching as it crystallized into glass, stone shattering. And among them a drumfire of hits that sounded, meaty.

I lay on the sand floor, and right before me was a rough curved wall. Then an eye a meter across opened in that wall. I froze, my eyes tracking down to the left, where only part of that huge body was visible. Unable to stop myself, my eyes followed the other way, down a head and snout large enough to park one of those land speeders on. The vertical pupil widened, and I knew it saw me for the first time. Then it lifted that massive head, the neck a column large enough to support a roof on.

Calo Nord saved me that day. One of the bikes made another firing run, and I saw bolts smack into the beast’s nose. It flinched, then turned its attention on the opening. Behind us, Nord and his men had charged, firing manically at the cave. They were almost to the berm when the beast started forward.

I rolled up into a ball, and pure chance kept it from stepping on me as it charged. I stood to witness the most one-sided battle I have ever seen.

The mercenaries had charged expecting to find only four people. Instead they suddenly faced over one hundred tons of angry and hungry dragon. They were brave; I'll give them that. They began firing in a pattern that would have gutted the Ebon Hawk. Against the dragon it was rain falling on a roof. This wasn’t some frail creation of man. It was alive, a thousand years old, and mad as hell. The dragon snapped up one man, pinning another as it ripped off his arm and head, smashing others with his tail, then it was through them, and only Calo Nord stood between it and the desert. One of the swoops dropped down firing, and the dragon smashed it to the ground with his forepaw, the explosion scything through the men on the ground. It turned and ran toward Calo Nord. I saw him reach for a grenade, and saw him activate it as the jaws closed on him. The head came back, the tongue wrapping around Nord, then it swallowed.

An instant late the thermal detonator went off. The huge neck bulged, then exploded outward. The blast swept us off our feet. When I staggered back up, the only thing I heard was the wailing of a badly wounded man. Carth came up beside me, and in pace we walked out into the hell ground. We didn’t know how many had survived, though all of the vehicles were gone. We could see the lone swoop and the shuttle passing over the distant dunes, and nothing else.

We looked at each other in amazement. Behind us Komad Fortuna came out, looking at the carnage. Then he flicked on his wrist com. He spoke, then came up beside us, looking at the dead dragon.

“A pity.” He said.

“Yes, it was a beautiful beast.”

“No not that.” He looked at me askance. “The story I could have told at the Hunter‘s club! Instead?” He took a heroic stance, waving toward an invisible audience. “There I was, facing a dragon twice the size of any that had ever been seen. I wasn’t even sure my Heavy blaster rifle would kill it!. But before I could fire, a dozen mercenaries led by Calo Nord charged!”

The scene struck me as ridiculous and I felt a helpless manic urge to roar with laughter. I held my sides, trying to keep it in.

“Imagine it! Men firing weapons with no more affect than snowballs as I bravely dived for cover!”

“Please, stop.” I said in a strangled whisper.

“Then Calo Nord was eaten and his well-known thermal detonator gave it a case of terminal indigestion!”

I fell to my knees, and roared with laughter. I was alive, Calo was dead, and the relief was so great I couldn’t hold it in. Fortuna looked at me quizzically, which caused me to laugh even harder.

Finally the laughter died. I stood, looking around.

Inside the cave, Bastila was kneeling by a huddled form, and my good humor vanished. I walked in, standing over her. She held a holocron, and she rocked back and forth, silent tears streaming down her face. No matter what your intellect, or nature, people always lie to themselves about death unless they have witnessed it. They act as if the other person has merely moved to another city. Eventually you will turn a corner and there they are. This is the moment when you realize someone is finally dead. The still body before you, the first shovel of dirt hitting the coffin, the first flames touching the corpse. The person you hoped might stand up again is gone forever, and all that remains is the grief. I knelt, and wordlessly enfolded her in my arms from behind. She sobbed, and I could hear words in it.

“I wouldn't even speak to him the last time I saw him. I was hurt that he would send me away, and he tried to make me understand. But I wouldn’t listen. When the Jedi came for me I turned my back on him, and boarded the ship angry and hurt, and I never knew if he waved to me, or even said goodbye.” She held up the Holocron, and I saw the scene she had described as her father had seen it. A small girl with pigtails walking stiff-backed away from him. He was waving, shouting, trying to get her to turn, to wave, anything. His shoulders slumping as the ship lifted, Helena holding him as he cried.

“Maybe she’ll forgive us later.” Helena said. Whether Bastila realized it or not, Helena did not appear overjoyed by her departure.

She spun in my arms, and clung to me desperately. I merely held her, lending her my strength as she cried.

“Danika is this the Star Map?” Carth asked. I glared at him until he left us alone. All I could feel was Bastila’s misery.


Tatooine

Bastila

The last of the sand settled over my father’s grave. Danika smoothed it out, then took a small trinket from his pack and imbedded it into the soil. She used her lightsaber with precision, melting the sand around and over the grave into a solid piece of glass with only that trinket, a picture of me, as a marker.

She held out her hand, and I took it, holding desperately.

The Twi-lek hunter came over, holding two small balls in his hand. “To the victor's go the spoils.” He said. He took Danika’s free hand, and set the Krayt Pearl in it. The largest Krayt pearl ever on display was the size of the ball of my thumb. These were easily twice that size. “I have a large speeder coming. If you wish I can give you a lift back to Anchorhead.”

“That would be appreciated.” Danika said. She led me by the hand back into the cave. Carth was standing by the pintel, keeping clear. Danika released my hand, and walked over to it. At her approach, the arms dropped then the ball of material leaped into the air to reveal the star map. She downloaded it, then returned to my side. “Are you feeling better?”

I looked at the grave, then at her. “Yes. A great weight has lifted. Thank you.”

She looked toward Carth. He looked like a puppy expecting to be kicked. She hugged me, then took my hand again and walked toward Carth.

“What is on your mind, Carth?”

“I haven’t been much help have I?” He asked softly.

Danika let me go, then walked over to stand in front of him hands on hips. “If I were still a sergeant, I would have bounced you out of my squad so fast, you wouldn’t have needed jets. With an efficiency report that would have had you assigned as a cook’s helper.”

His shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve any of the crap I’ve given you. I just...” He shrugged. “Maybe I’m just too pig headed to change.”

“You’re changing right now.”

“That’s because instead of helping you, I’ve made you carry the entire mission on your back. When you’ve been pushing forward, I’ve been opinionated, arrogant, irritating-”

“Let’s not forget mistrustful, paranoid, and a general pain in the butt.”

“You’re right.” He grinned. “Can I start over?” He snapped to attention. “Carth Onasi reporting for duty, Ma’am!”

I smiled as Danika returned the salute. “Very good, Mister Onasi.”

The speeder arrived, and our trip back to Anchorhead was quiet, but more comfortable.

We walked to the Cantina. Part of me wanted to run, but Danika kept moving forward. There was nothing for it. Either I would have to face mother this one last time, or Danika would never let me hear the end of it.

It looked like she hadn’t even left. The glass in front of her was half full, and she drained it as we approached.

“Back already? Have you even bothered to look for your father’s body yet?”

I felt myself stiffening. I wanted to be just a normal woman without the responsibilities being a Jedi imposed. I wanted to rip her hair out, and slash her face with my nails. “We have retrieved the holocron, and buried my father.” I replied levelly. “I’m just not sure I want to give it to you.”

She stiffened, looking at the glass the waitress had brought. “So you would deny me even that? The last chance to see his face?”

“I never denied you anything, Mother.” I snapped. “You may think that the veil of time hides all, but I remember very well what it was like before I went to the Order. You were the one pushing father into treasure hunt after treasure hunt. You loved living with the wealth he had gained, but I remember the fights!

“You were the one that pushed him into sending me away, and now all I have to remember him by is the memories of a five-year-old, and this holocron!”

She glared at me. “Foolish girl Your memory isn’t very sharp after all! That isn’t-”

“Enough mother! I don’t wish to fight with you any longer, and now that Father is dead, there is nothing more we share. It is time we parted way for the very last time. For our own good this ends today.”

“Bastila-” Danika began.

“What do you know of her?” I rasped, turning on her. “She always wheedled what she wanted out of father and it killed him!”

Danika took the glass from Helena, and held it out. “Smell it.”

“What?”

She shoved it in my face. “Use those keen Jedi senses, and tell me what this is made of!”

I took it angrily. The smell was reminiscent of... I looked at my mother. “Kolto? Are you sick, mother?”

“I am not sick.” Helena looked at the glass. “I’m dying.” She took the glass from my hand, and sipped. “Irumadic Syndrome.”

I felt as if I had been punched in the gut yet again. Then my anger resurged. “I find it difficult to believe anything you say, mother.”

“It seems to me you’ve already made up your mind.” Danika said softly.

I sighed. “You’re right. I cannot claim to be a Jedi if I am unable to even negotiate with my mother!” I bowed my head. “I am sorry mother.”

She looked away, then back at me, tears in her eyes. “I was always hard on you. I wasn’t very good as a mother, I know. Now... I wish I could take back every harsh word.

“Your father loved you so, Bastila. He saw you becoming more like him every day, and wanted to take you on his hunts, but I wouldn’t let him. They were too dangerous, and he would have died inside if you had been hurt.”

“Treasure hunting can be dangerous.” Danika murmured.

“I tried to keep him from the more dangerous ones, but he enjoyed the thrill too much. It was a reckless life we led, and I wanted something better for you.”

“So that is why you gave me to the order?”

“When the Jedi met you, and witnessed your powers, I knew it was the best for you. What do I have to show for twenty odd years of running after those rainbows?” She waved at the bar. “I only have this space in the bar because the barkeep was an old friend your father saved before you were born! I won’t even be able to pay to be buried! We spent every credit as soon as it came in, and always went looking for more.

“If I hadn’t gotten sick, maybe we would have had something to show for it. When I was diagnosed three years ago, we tried to contact you, but never got an answer. Your father became desperate. He wanted to hold onto something, even if he couldn’t be with you. But treatment is expensive, and nothing really works on this. You know that. So he went on more and more dangerous hunts, until we came here. He didn‘t listen to me, ignored the dread I felt. Then... He didn't come back. I had begged him for years to just let me go, but he was always stubborn, just like you.”

“I never received your message, mother.” I said softly. I took out the holocron, setting it on the table. Helena activated it, looking at the smiling face of my father as if she would drink it in and it would heal her. Then slid it back to me.

“You keep it, Bastila. You didn’t had the years with him that I did. This talk, being with you was what I really needed.”

“I’m glad we talked mother.”

“Well.” Helena scrubbed the tears from her face. “You said you had important business, and you were never one to mince words. Just, be careful please.” She looked at Danika. “You there, take care of my daughter, will you? She’s all I have left in the world.”

“We will watch over each other.” Danika replied.

“That is what she always needed. Someone close to her that cares about her.”

“Where will you go, mother?”

“It doesn’t matter, dear. Don’t worry about me when there is a galaxy to save!”

I dug in my pouch, and I handed her the Krayt pearl. “I don’t have much. The order frowns on it. But this is worth more than enough to get to Coruscant. Go there, find a doctor.”

She stared at the pearl, unbelieving. “I told you what I have, Bastila. There is no cure. All a doctor can do is keep me alive for a little more time.”

“I understand that. But you and I have a lot of catching up to do. I refuse to let this chance for a true reconciliation to pass. Once my mission is completed, I will come and see you. So please, take it.”

She looked at the pearl. “All right. I will do as you say. Now go do what you have to do my daughter. Make us proud.”

I found myself hugging her, and we were both crying.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-22-2006, 12:21 PM   #72
Char Ell
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I believe I've read this chapter before. Using the Krayt dragon to wipe out Calo Nord and his accompanying bounty hunters was a clever deviation from the game story. And then Calo's tardy activation of his thermal detonator resulting in the dragon's first and last experience with "thermal indigestion." Yes, me likey.

Quote:
“You’re insane! We’re going to die!” Then he grinned manically. “After you!”
Quote:
Behind us, Nord and his men had charged, firing manically at the cave.
I searched dictionary.com for the word manically and could not find it. I've noticed this word in your writing before this but I decided you must have meant "maniacally." But when you used the word twice in fairly close proximity I started to think that maybe it was a word I didn't know and decided to look it up. Never mind. I looked up the root word "manic" on dictionary.com and it listed manically as an adverb meaning "affected with, relating to, or resembling mania" found in Miriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary.

I found the way you wrote Bastila's reconciliation with her mother quite believable. Bastila had finally accepted her father's death when she found his body and holocron in the Krayt dragon's cave. And during her last argument with her mother in the Anchorhead cantina I think she realized that her last living parent wasn't so bad and was in fact dying. Sometimes it takes the death of a loved one to make one appreciate the loved ones that still live.


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Last edited by cutmeister; 04-22-2006 at 12:28 PM. Reason: correction
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Old 04-22-2006, 01:56 PM   #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I believe I've read this chapter before. Using the Krayt dragon to wipe out Calo Nord and his accompanying bounty hunters was a clever deviation from the game story. And then Calo's tardy activation of his thermal detonator resulting in the dragon's first and last experience with "thermal indigestion." Yes, me likey. .
Yes, if you had read it before my updating efforts, you did read this segment.As the quote from sun Tzu at the start of the Tatooine chapters stated, you can sometimes use one problem to fix another. Since Nord always thought of himself as unstoppable (Reading the pad from Davik's about fighting the Rancor) I wanted to give him something a little bigger to face.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I found the way you wrote Bastila's reconciliation with her mother quite believable. Bastila had finally accepted her father's death when she found his body and holocron in the Krayt dragon's cave. And during her last argument with her mother in the Anchorhead cantina I think she realized that her last living parent wasn't so bad and was in fact dying. Sometimes it takes the death of a loved one to make one appreciate the loved ones that still live.

I had to have some way to convince Bastila that Helena wasn't B.S.ing her. There was no logical reason to my mind why she hung around a bar. I think the designers just hadn't considered that. That was why I added the kolto laced wine, and explained how a penniless woman could hang around without being thown out.

In the game the same scene felt stilted to me. The denoument was lackluster. Having Bastila hand off 500 credits seemed the same to me. Except for using it in a lightsaber (Which doesn't improve it that much) the only value an oversized Krayt Dragon pearl has is monetary. I carried the damn thing around the entire game, and figured this was a perfect end for it.


For those who have been reading, I have a shock for you. If you read from page one you have gone almost half way. Shall I continue?


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:09 PM   #74
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Danika

As we walked back toward the ship, I watched her. I could feel the pain easing, as if pus was draining from an infected wound.

“Feeling better?”

“Yes. She smiled sadly. “That brought me more peace than I had anticipated. Thank you for urging me to meet with her this time. With all my training would have thought that facing this would be easier. I still have much to learn.” She walked silently, then suddenly spoke again. “I have been trying to find a way to say this for some time now, but I suppose I should just come right out with it.

“I have grown to depend on you more and more. Not just because of the mission, but for my own well being. I am glad you’re with us.”

“A compliment, from you?” I joked.

She looked at me askance. “Yes. Is that so surprising?”

“Well, yes, actually.”

She shook her head. “Why must you make this so difficult for me? Can’t you accept a simple compliment?”

“Sure, fine, thanks for your vote of confidence.”

“I know my manner is taciturn. I know you are probably getting bored with my lectures on the danger of the dark side and everything else. I spent all my years of training with masters constantly hounding me to do better, to excel. I heard so often about how gifted I was, how important I was that I grew sick of it. I used to vow to myself that when I became a Jedi, I would never become so stodgy and self-absorbed that I resembled those masters.“ She smiled. “It’s funny really. The first time I have a Jedi I am training, I become just like them.”

“You’re not stodgy and self-absorbed.”

She smiled. “It’s kind of you to say so, but I know what and who I am. By controlling my emotions, by assuring that nothing got past my shell, I was safe from harm. By keeping people at arms length I could never be hurt. Even those I am supposed to train and watch over like you. When you needed my support, I find that you are my crutch instead.

“But I see it is time I changed. You don't need lectures, and you deserve to know how much I respect your abilities, and admire you. I just thought you deserved to be told by me.”

“Thanks.”

Bastila shook herself. “Well, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Thanks to you, I feel so much better.”

We reached the ship, and I hugged the little missile named Sasha. Carth and Bastila assumed their stations, and we set course for Kashyyyk.

Juhani was sitting in the mess hall drinking what I recognized as meat tea. “How are you holding up, Juhani?”

“Better.” She pushed the mug about. “I never told you of the Jedi I saw back home.” I shook my head. “They were all so, invigorating.”

“Invigorating?”

“So alive and full of their zeal and purpose. They were shining knights.” She smiled. “In retrospect I think it is kind of tragic.”

“Tragic?”

“They were only on my world to use it as a jumping off point to attack the Mandalorians. Many of the Jedi I had seen and admired were slaughtered in the coming years. But to us, they were invincible.

“They spoke so highly of Revan, as if her very presence would make everything work. They swept inequities away, forcing the ruling classes to make concession. They were gods that came from the skies, and made everything better.”

“The Jedi are not gods.”

“I know that. I was merely using poetic license! But those Jedi made more changes in the months they were there than a century had. They were enthralling. People wanted to merely touch them, as if that contact would rub some of their honor and magic off on the one who succeeded. But the peace they had brought did not last long.”

“What happened?”

“They left. The ruling classes wanted things to return to normal, and people who finally knew there was a better life refused to bow down. There was civil war, and the winners ignored all of what they had learned from the Jedi. They became the new rulers, and were just as oppressive as those they replaced. We non-humans bore the brunt of their anger in both administrations.”

“All races have intolerance, Juhani.”

“Yes. But Humans are the only race that has spread in such numbers. That makes their racial bigotry seem more pervasive. They at least are consistent in their hatreds. They took it out on us because the ones they hated were either not there or long dead. But those on the bottom, they had to bear this anger. They are never among those the Republic Senate ever hears!” She hissed, and looked away. “I am sorry, I have given into my anger again.”

“Fight it, Juhani. Don’t let it control you.”

“The very reason it bothers me is that I still feel it! It has influence, and will lead me to the dark side again if I am not careful.” She looked at me, then down. “I thank you for your support. I lash out at you, yet you do not strike back at me. I am humbled by your control.”

“I am here if you need me, Juhani.”

“I thank you.” She took her cup, returning to her room.

I sipped, closing my eyes. “You wanted to ask something?” I looked over at Bastila where she stood, witnessing the little chat.

“Am I always so transparent?” She asked. Then she shrugged. “I shouldn’t be surprised as strong as this bond is. May I ask you a question?“

“Do I have a choice?“

She waved, exasperated. “I wasn’t even going to mention it, but you did ask. Now that you have brought it up, I think I shouldn’t have waited this long. In our time together, I have seen you blossom into a true servant of the light. You seem to have ingested the Jedi code and ideals with you’re mother’s milk. You hold to the ideals with almost no training at all.

“I see you supporting Juhani, Mission, Carth, even me as if that was your lot in life. Yet you do this so easily. For me taking a role such as yours has always been wearing. My own emotions interfere too much. Don’t you find it difficult at times? Or is it just a facade for those that see you?”

“When I was a soldier, I discovered that giving vent to your emotions kills more often that not.” I said. “It is a struggle, but one I am used to.”

“That is good to hear. I have always found the Jedi path of detachment is a hard road to walk. It is nice to know that I am not alone in that. I have always been too quick to anger, too quick to take sides even when I don’t fully understand them. My instructors constantly berated me when I was younger.

“Since this new war started, I always pictured facing Revan and since she is no more Malak in a final battle to end it all. I could use all this anger I feel to destroy him and end the suffering and destruction. Even though I know that I would end just as bad as they if I did so.”

“It seems we both have our own demons to face.”

“Do we?” She looked at me oddly. “Part of me tells me that it would be a small price to pay for peace to vent my baser emotions, even if they had to kill me afterward.” She shook her head, eyes haunted. “I picture myself acting as Malak has, and find the very idea frightening. That I could fall to evil such as his, to destroy only because it is all I have left. I can't fathom it. It is impossible! But...” She looked away. “I shouldn’t even be asking you this. To suggest to you that the Jedi teachings are wrong.”

“Bastila-”

“No. They are the foolish thoughts of a vain mind. Forget I said anything.” She passed me almost at a run.


Enroute to Kashyyyk

Danika

Carth came out of the cockpit to grab a bite. I was sitting with Sasha, showing her how to play a game. I saw his face fall, and he started to turn.

“Maybe we need to talk.” I said.

He sighed. “Don’t you ever give up?”

“When I’m dead.” I said. He laughed sadly at that.

“You’re thinking about Saul.”

“Hey, don‘t tell me we’re bonded now too! I don't think I could handle Bastila’s thoughts.”

“You show a lot of your emotions in the way you stand. When you remember Saul, your right hand clenches.”

“You’re right.” He admitted.

“Why is he your personal vendetta?”

“He betrayed the Republic, slaughtered the people of my home world Telos. Is there anything more he needs to have done?”

“Carth, I have seen the type of anger you speak of. Half the people in my unit at Zanebra were like that. But yours is an obsession. There is more to this than you have said up to now.”

“I’m sure you don’t want to hear this.”

“I asked.”

“Yeah, right.” He poured a cup of ale from the cooler. “When Saul went over to the enemy, he tried to talk me into joining him. The task force we were part of was on maneuvers. After we talked, Saul took his ship out supposedly on a solo recon. When he didn’t come back we looked for him. Then we got the call from Telos. Saul’s ship was there blasting the colony apart. They had brought a Sith fleet with them.

“We came out of hyper, and as we approached, we could see his bombers pasting the ground. The entire orbital infrastructure was already gone. Our fighters dived in and he withdrew.

“Millions had died already, and the worst was to follow. They’d blown every dam and dumped toxins in the water. I was allowed to go down only because my family lived there. Or did before the attack. My wife Morgana, and my son Dustil. My shuttle landed in the colony center and I ran all the way to my house. It was a shattered hole in the ground. My wife was torn apart by shrapnel, and I held her,” He put out his arms as if holding a child. “I held her and screamed for the med techs to come. But she died in my arms.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“How could you considering I’ve never told anyone this? I spent the rest of the time the relief teams were there trying to find Dustil. There were always rumors, that he had been here or there, even that he had been taken when the Sith troops had occupied the main city for a time. But I never found him, or what happened to him. Finally I had to go back on duty.

“Then the years passed. I heard less and less, and finally I gave up. I can still see him. He’d be what, seventeen now? But he’s dead somewhere, lying in an unmarked grave if they even bothered to bury him. Saul has so much to answer for.

“I know killing Saul won’t bring her back, or give me back my son. I won’t feel any better when he’s dead. It’s just something I have to do. I am going to pay him back for all of the suffering he‘s caused. It’s all I have left to my life.”

I hugged Sasha. She understood enough to know that Carth needed some sympathy. She slipped from my lap, walking over, and climbed into his lap. For a moment, he wasn’t sure what to do. Then she hugged him, and he found himself hugging her back.

“I can almost see you and her holding Dustil.” I said. “What was she like?”

“My wife? She was courageous, stubborn, more stubborn than you are sometimes. I never could talk her out of anything she set her mind to.” He blew on Sasha’s head, then buried his chin in her hair. “She hated it when I joined back up. I had decided to ask my Commanding officer to let me resign, but... Telos got attacked.”

“Anything at all on Dustil?”

“I’ve scanned every report from the relief efforts. After a while though I stopped. I couldn’t go on knowing that he might be there, alive trapped in an orphanage or something. I thought that maybe if I stopped looking, I’d hear that much faster.”

He sat there until Sasha went to sleep in his lap. I left him watching her sleep.

The next days were peaceful. Sasha gained more strength in the force. She became more relaxed with the crew, even taking to exercising with Canderous watching. He pretended to ignore her, but when she did an exercise wrong, he would correct her. For such a huge and terrifying man, he was gentle. Almost as if she were his granddaughter.

One evening after dinner I spoke with Juhani. The more time we spent together on the ship, the more relaxed she became as well.

“I wanted to thank you again.” She looked down shyly. I have been thinking of our mission, of what we face. I am grateful and honored to be a part of this.”

“Juhani, we needed someone like you on this mission.”

“Like me.” Her voice tightened.

“The Cathar are renowned for being great hunters, and fierce warriors. If we must fight, I cannot think of anyone I would rather have at my side.”

She relaxed. “I have never felt such unbiased acceptance from anyone. It is, curious to me. We Cathar do not make friends easily. In our language there are only four words that mean friend, but over fifty that mean stranger or enemy. Those that might claim to be friends tend to drift away from us. They cannot accept our way of looking at the world, at life. Even on Dantooine among the Jedi I remained alone. Not ostracized, or rebuked, just, different.”

“Tell me more of your people.” I asked.

“You know so much already! What can I tell you that you do not?”

“What I know of your people I learned from books, from other people’s opinions. One of my officers always complained that we didn’t have Cathar in our unit. He said a Cathar warrior was worth ten of us sometimes.”

She shrugged. “Truth to be told, I spent almost my entire life in the Republic, away from my people. I remember little beyond the stories of my parents. I never saw another Cathar beyond them. We are not what you would call a diplomatic people. We do not deal well with groups. This,” She waved around the ship. “Being part of something larger than a family, this is different.

“It is new to me. I feel warm, accepted. You make it so. You are the Clan mother of our tribe aboard this ship. You direct, and those among us do as we are told. I have needed someone like you in my life for a long time.”

“I’m not the leader!” I laughed, embarrassed by her words. “I keep picturing myself running behind all of you shouting, ‘but I’m in charge’!”

She laughed the coughing grunt of the Cathar. “I can almost see what you describe.”

“Whoever is in charge, we have to work together. This is something we will succeed in or fail in because we don’t cooperate.”

“That is my point.” She said solemnly. “I find it difficult to explain. This is so different from what my life was like before. Thank you for accepting me. You have accepted, and the others follow your lead in this as well.”

Canderous and Carth continued their war stories sometimes. I was asked, but I hadn’t seen a tithe of the combat that even Carth had seen. I listened as Canderous would describe a raid where they went into a cometary ring in hard suits, only to discover an alien ship frozen within it’s head. Of Carth talking of maneuvering a scout ship through an asteroid field at full throttle being chased by a dozen Mando fighters.

Even when they spoke of the same battles, when they themselves had been trying to kill the other, the acrimony of their first discussions was absent.

“Maybe I should tell of the more recent war.” Canderous said one evening.

“When Revan and Malak fought you?” I asked.

“No, before that. We started conquering planets along the rim. We did it quietly, because the Republic wasn’t even paying attention. Finally we had taken everything we could outside, and the Republic still ignored us.”

“Try working inside our system.” Carth demurred. “Anyone with half a brain knew it was coming, but the Senate just argued about what to do.”

“The weakness of democracy. Finally we hit along three axes of advance in adjacent sectors. If anyone fought, we obliterated them. The worst was the Republic’s strategies. We found planets with minimal weapons, and force field shields! You have to understand that my people don’t defend anything we can’t support or need.

“If we had to build a depot on a planet, but didn’t have fleet units in support we didn’t even shield them! We always built such bases away from the civilians because if we were attacking, we wouldn’t worry about their casualties. Our workers knew this, and also knew they weren't to blame if they ended up captured.

“But the Republic! Their cowardly tactics caused untold suffering.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Putting their bases in the hearts of cities! Hiding behind their civilian populations as if that would deter us!”

“Again, it's the system.” Carth admitted. “The civilians remembered the Sith war, and the Sith would have bombed the cities or used them as hostages.” He waved toward to outside world in general. “The people wanted to be protected.”

“So you put shields over places you can’t support, and we assumed there must be bases.” Canderous agreed. “Why do you think we attacked them? Do you know how many worlds were razed because we thought they had something of value or worth fighting for? If we had to destroy the city to defeat the shields we did. It was as simple as that. Necessary force to beat the opposition we thought was there.”

“You could have found another way.” I said.

“We did after a while. But we still had to smash some of those cities because the Republic wouldn't come out of them and fight like men! There was little honor in killing them like rats in the corn. But some of them were honorable and brave. We were honored to face them. Especially later.”

“Later?”

“When Revan began to lead them. But that is for another time.”

“What do you know of Revan and Malak?” I asked Carth one evening when he was on watch.

“I can’t believe that I thought they were going to be our saviors.” He shook his head. “I used to think that they were the best humanity had to offer. Now all I want is to put a blaster to their heads. Although it’s only Malak now, isn’t it? Turned on his own master and killed her. Typical of their kind. Not that she didn't deserve it.”

“You knew them personally?”

“No. I don't think anyone really knows a Jedi personally. At first they were what we needed. They were heroes. They saved the Republic from the Mandalorians. They turned a losing war into a winning one just by being there.

“We in the fleet didn't see much of the Jedi. I only met Malak once and he impressed me. I guess that shows how you can’t know what a person will be like until it is too late.”

“Do you know why they turned to the dark side?”

“I don’t think anyone does. Revan was always going on about how the Republic was sometimes its own worst enemy, from what I heard from Saul. The Senate has so little authority that slavery abounds, even though it is illegal. Commerce ruins planets and doesn’t care about the aftermath. The Corporations like Czerka are so widespread and powerful that there’s no way to punish them. The Senators can debate all they want, and it still occurs because ‘every planet is a separate entity with it’s own rules and rights’ which means that if they want to fight a war, hey, go ahead.” He had quoted the 1st codicil of the Republic constitution sarcastically. “From what I have seen, it wasn't far from the truth. But don’t tell a senator that! They hold us together, just ask them!”

“Then she was right, wasn’t she?”

“Yeah, but where does the line of freedom and security lie? If the Republic had a full time military beyond the peacetime fleet, where would the money for it come from? Money has to come from somewhere, and taxes would drive the citizens to rebel. This isn’t much,” He waved at the Ebon Hawk. “But it costs a bundle in the long run.

“Besides, how can you say she was right?” He looked at me askance. “They won the war, marched off supposedly to find the ‘phantom fleet’ as it was called, then came back. When they left they were Jedi. Now?” He shrugged. “What are they beyond being the enemy?”

“How did they get away with that? Taking a third of the fleet on a wild canard chase?”

“They were heroes. Every hero in legend has gone the extra kilometer to make sure his or her people were safe. If I had been on one of their ships when they left I would have charged into hell with a cheer. This time, they went too far.
“When they came back, they had a lot of alien ships in designs we had never

seen before. Not big ones mind you. Frigates, corvettes, and those snub fighters you’ve seen. The bigger ships aren't even that heavily armed or fast. If it were one on one the Ebon Hawk can outrun even the largest of those ships and outgun almost all of them. But there are a lot of them and every year there are more as our forces dwindle and theirs gets bigger.

“As for getting away with it, Revan is no longer a problem is she? We would have rehabilitated her. Malak just killed her. The dark side is it’s own worst enemy.”

“Why do you say that?”

“You’ve seen how things are run on some planets. Take Taris for example. I always thought all the maundering about the dark side was just a fancy way to explain what we see every day. Corruption greed abuse. All of the stupid and horrible things people inflict on themselves every day. But when it comes to the Jedi...” He checked the controls. “I think for them it’s much worse. That maybe Bastila was right. That the dark side is this predator sitting in the shadows, waiting for an unsuspecting Jedi to come close enough for it to pounce.

“Now that I have seen what it could do to Malak and Revan, I can see you doing something like that. Like the flip side of a coin. You’re brave, intelligent, and caring. Haven’t you pictured seeing a mirror image of yourself doing everything bad instead? It’s not just you. Bastila is... Intense. Focused. I may not know what the force is, but I can almost see her turning to evil.”

“Do we have so little trust from you still?”

“No! I’m sorry, I might sound like that, but it’s like the old saying ‘with great power you have great responsibility‘. For me, all I have to do to turn to the dark side is stop caring about everyone. But for you and her, it’s like the difference between stepping off a curb, and stepping off the Senate Tower on Coruscant. Both will drop you to the ground, but only one is spectacular.”

I imagined what he described. “I can imagine.”

“I can’t even dream of knowing what you must be going through every day. Bastila is always worried and I can see that neither of you is really ready for this. I’m just concerned about what might come.”

“I didn’t know you cared.” I chided.

“It’s not that! It’s... Well... I just don’t want to see you kids get hurt is all.”

“Thanks father.”

“Stop that!” He protested. We laughed together.

Bastila avoided me. It was as if she had made a pass at me, and been embarrassed by my incomprehension. Finally I cornered her. “Our last conversation bothered me.” I said.

“Yes, I did end that rather abruptly.” She admitted. “The problem was all on my side. Perhaps a Master could have couched my questions better, without sounding so confused. I should never have brought it up, especially with you.”

“Why am I different?”

She hesitated. “Part of my mission with you was to be a guide, a rock for you to stand on when the dark side tried to rise within you. But I feel I have failed in that task. I know now that I was not the one that should have been guiding you. I am no master. If it were possible, I would have us return to Dantooine and forswear this mission until you were ready.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I have always had problems with my emotions. I have little skill at controlling myself as you well know. With this bond we share, I find I have even less control. You have maintained your commitment to the light, but it has been in spite of me, rather than because of any help I lend. It has become increasingly obvious that I am not guiding you, and could never guide you.”

“You’re doing the best you can.”

“My best is not good enough. It is kind of you to think well of me, but I have made a grave error in coming along with you. I simply hope that you will not pay the price of my hubris.”

I took her hand. “Bastila, we can always help each other. I will support you as much as I am able.”

She squeezed my hand. “That is a kinder response than my efforts deserve. There is wisdom beyond your training in them. Very well. We can help each other, and keep ourselves from the darkness. For our own sake, and for the mission.”

I stood among trees so great that even a cruiser’s cannon would have had trouble cutting them down. A path lay before me, and I knew that my goal was there. I walked down it, past hulking droids of an alien design, stopping before a dais. It glowed, and an alien appeared. It was another of the ones I had seen in the ancient statues on Tatooine. It reached out, and spoke-

I came awake. Sasha lay beside me, and whimpered in her sleep. I kissed her hair, wrapped my arms around her, and went back to sleep.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-22-2006, 02:16 PM   #75
Char Ell
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Congrats on this story reaching the 1,000-view milestone!

You didn't think the Krayt dragon pearl was a very good lightsaber upgrade in the game? While it wasn't the best upgrade I found it's Attack +3, Damage +2 to be quite beneficial at this point in the game. BTW your story so far tracks the planet order I generally played in the game.
Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
I had to have some way to convince Bastila that Helena wasn't B.S.ing her. There was no logical reason to my mind why she hung around a bar. I think the designers just hadn't considered that. That was why I added the kolto laced wine, and explained how a penniless woman could hang around without being thown out.
I always thought that she was just hanging around the cantina to drown her sorrows in booze, besides the fact that she already had a fatal ailment. But your version works fine for me too.

I really need to read Swun Dzu's The Art of War. My Chinese isn't good enough to read the original so do you have any recommendations on English versions?


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Old 04-22-2006, 07:55 PM   #76
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
Congrats on this story reaching the 1,000-view milestone!

You didn't think the Krayt dragon pearl was a very good lightsaber upgrade in the game? While it wasn't the best upgrade I found it's Attack +3, Damage +2 to be quite beneficial at this point in the game. BTW your story so far tracks the planet order I generally played in the game.
I always thought that she was just hanging around the cantina to drown her sorrows in booze, besides the fact that she already had a fatal ailment. But your version works fine for me too.

I really need to read Swun Dzu's The Art of War. My Chinese isn't good enough to read the original so do you have any recommendations on English versions?
I actually have two copies, though the one I depend on most is Samuel B Griffith's translation from Oxford University press. It's the once accepted by UNESCO.

A+3 D+2? I never got that performance out of it. What other stones did you use with it?


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
machievelli is offline   you may: quote & reply,
Old 04-22-2006, 08:13 PM   #77
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Bastila

“Another vision.” I said to Danika when she entered the mess hall at breakfast. “The Force is guiding us, leading us in the footsteps of Revan and Malak. Ever closer to the Star Forge.”

“I have never seen such trees before.”

“Wroshyr trees, the largest trees in the galaxy. Kashyyyk is known for them. It is a simple and undeveloped world. I would never have suspected that something as technologically advanced as the Star Map would be here.”

“All I saw was huge trees. But there was soil. Perhaps it is on the forest floor itself.”

“Possibly. The native species are called Wookiees. They live in villages in the upper branches, going to the forest floor only on ritual quests. Only the bravest among them dare the Shadowlands as they are called. Considering that, it is not surprising that the Star Map could have remained hidden.

“No matter, once we have found the Star Map, the situation will become clear.”

The ship dropped through the atmosphere, and suddenly we came out of the cloud cover. Below us stretched the Forest.

To say that Kashyyyk has a forest is like saying an ocean is a body of water. Kashyyyk had been discovered only about fifty years earlier, and it was nothing but forest except for the oceans and the narrow coastal plains. All of the intelligent life lives as far up the huge trees as they can climb safely. The Wroshyr trees reach as much as four kilometers into the air, towering above the oceans.

Czerka Corporation had set up the operations by topping trees in a half-kilometer area, and building landing stages and warehouses in the treetops. I would have never considered trying to land a ship such as the Ebon Hawk, over 200 tons of mass in what amounted to an oversized tree house, and I winced as Carth did it with aplomb.

“We are getting a call from Czerka control. They asked who owns and commands Ebon Hawk.” Juhani reported.

“Tell them Danika Wordweaver on a mission from the Jedi Council is registered owner and commander.” Carth ordered.

Juhani spoke, then listened. “The Czerka Company police request a file on all persons aboard. They are looking for several people that are considered criminals. No one on the list is aboard.” She looked at me. “They include Davik Kang.”

“Send them what they asked for.”

I stood walking aft. Danika was sipping a mug of tea. “Well?”

“We’ll stay minimal for the moment. I’ll take Carth and Zaalbar. Have Mission see about supplies. If she can get herself and Sasha some candy, I won’t complain. Have Canderous stand guard.”

“Agreed.”


He whose ranks are united in purpose will be victorious

Kashyyyk

Danika

The smell and sights reminded me of home. Of course we didn’t have Wroshyr trees at home, but there is a fecund smell in a jungle that reaches into the primal mind. There is also the constant noise of life in the forest. After a while it fades into a subtle background. I felt at home immediately. A jungle is living and dying at the same time. The living devours anything that dies almost instantly. Everything alive is being hunted by something else. Even the trees. On Kashyyyk, the Wroshyr grow straight up for almost a hundred meters before branching out. The limbs intertwine so tightly that a tree will die and not even fall. It merely begins sinking slowly into the depths as rot and scavengers weaken and devour the lower limbs.

The pad we were on was linked by a walkway large enough for cargo loaders to maneuver on. I discovered later that the Wookiee built these walkways themselves. The nearest village, named Rwookrrorro, was the largest on the planet. The walkway from the Corporate sector to the village was called the Great Walkway. It was larger than the ones before me now.

I turned to ask Zaalbar how it felt to be home, but he looked nervous, almost embarrassed. “Is something wrong?”

“I honor my life debt.” He growled. “But I see no reason to discuss this further.”

“You don’t trust me?”

“It is not that. There is nothing personal in this, but I feel you would never understand. The ways of my people are not for outsiders to see. You will have to accept that.”

“You are going to have to tell me eventually.”

“The sun will also die eventually. That doesn't mean it will happen today.”

I shrugged.

An Ithorian came toward me holding the ever-present data pad. “I am Janos Wertka, chief of operations for this facility. Welcome to G5-623.” He looked at the pad. “I do not see you on my list of scheduled arrivals. The Czerka Corporation will see to you needs, of course, but as an unscheduled arrival you must pay the 100 credit docking fee in advance I fear.”

I looked at him, and from within I felt an upwelling of the Force. “But I have already paid the docking fees.”

He looked at me for a long moment, then at his pad. “I see that you paid your fees on a previous voyage. I am sorry.” He made a notation on his pad. “I see there is a Wookiee in your party. Can I assume that you understand his language? If not Czerka Corporation will supply translator earplugs for a modest fee.”

“There is no need for that.” I answered.

“If you say so. I have found that very few people not from this planet can understand their yowling. If there is anything else you require, I will be in my offices.” He turned and walked away.

“Next time, you could think about the rest of us. Neither Canderous nor I speak Wookiee.” Carth said.

“I’ll pick them up for you before we leave.” I demurred.

“Human?” I turned. Coming toward us, a wide smile showing pointed teeth, was Komad Fortuna. “I see that the call of the hunt has brought you here as well!” He looked around. “The katarn are said to be magnificent!”

“Komad! What are you doing here? I‘d almost think you were following me!”

“Perish the thought. There are enough amateur hunters of people that I fail to see the need for a true professional. Though I admit you would make an interesting hunt. Dayso Cooh was bound here from Tatooine, and he asked me to accompany him. I think he really wanted a story for his news feed. The ‘Great Hunter out of his element’. If I had known you would bound here, I would have booked passage with you.” He sighed. “Then again, if I had known the political situation, I might have merely gone somewhere else.”

“Political situation?”

“If you are on an unscheduled ship, they assume you must be from one of the civil rights or animal protection organizations. Their operations here have been under intense scrutiny, though the Republic Senate still refuses to hear the cases.”

“Slavery.”

“And genocide. They discovered a small primate of the planet called the tach. The animal has a chemical in one of its glands, which heightens the affects of alcohol. The main drink using it was Tarisian ale until recently. Since Taris has been destroyed, they have been trying to find other outlets. But they have slaughtered millions of them, and there is no end in sight as long as tach still live.” He sighed. “I can go into the Shadowlands; Czerka doesn’t care what you do here as long as you pay their docking fees. But you also have to get permission from the chief of Rwookrrorro village and he demands that you hunt a crazed Wookiee and bring proof of his death back first.”

He sighed. “I do not hunt sentient beings. Worse yet, I am at least in part, a conservationist, as is any good hunter. It is madness to kill a Krayt Dragon if it is also the last of its kind! I had hoped to gain the trust of the locals, discover how they hunt, and what they hunt so that my activities would not cause injury to the ecosphere. But too many people, like Czerka, have come saying they were friends, and lying about it.

“I have heard there is an out worlder actually living down in the Shadowlands for some years now. But that might be hunter’s tales.” He looked around, and smiled gently. “But even this, the view of something that is not desert has cleansed my spirit. I so wish to run down among the life that feeds upon the great trees. To witness it! It is a shame the planet was discovered by Czerka! Their only appreciation of nature is what it will pay their corporate bottom line.”

“If they had not, then whom would you deal with?” I asked.

“I would that someone like me had been the one to discover the planet. The Wookiee have a rich culture and society, but it isn’t seen by off worlders. I can’t understand why they allow Czerka to get away with what they are doing.”

“Perhaps they had no choice.” Zaalbar growled.

Fortuna turned toward him. “If it had been my planet I would have fought even if it meant dying instead!” Then he shrugged. “But I am only another off worlder. I fear that someone among your own people is complicit in this, my large friend. I just want to know why.” He turned, thrusting out his hand in a firm grip. “Perchance we can hunt together before you leave. It will be glorious!”

We continued on. I noted a sign for the corporate offices, and motioned toward them.

It was a busy place, half a dozen people were busy routing cargos to the half dozen Czerka owned and independent ships that were there. Janos Wertka saw us, and motioned for us to approach. “Welcome to our local headquarters. How may Czerka help you here on Edean?”

“Edean? I thought the planet was Kashyyyk. And you called it G5-623 when we arrived.”

“Kashyyyk is what the Wookiee call it. But since they did not discover it, we labeled it by it’s catalog number G5-623. However I have just been informed that at the last stockholder‘s meeting they voted overwhelmingly to name it Edean.” He looked toward Zaalbar. “However considering your travelling companion, I feel you must be familiar with this world.”

“I have been away from home for a long time.” Zaalbar replied.

Wertka looked surprised. “You let the beast speak for you? You allow it far more liberties than most of our clients.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Slavers and those that buy slaves don’t let us talk if they can avoid it.” Zaalbar said.

“Slavery is such an ugly and untrue word. We bring Wookiee from their homes, train them in essential skills, and hire them out to companies and people across the Galaxy.”

“Whether they want to go or not.” Zaalbar growled.

Wertka looked at him then at me. “Your Wookiee seems to be bothered by this arrangement. But I fail to see his concern. You appear to be a satisfied customer at least.”

“I am not his owner. Zaalbar has pledged a life-debt to me.”

“Ah, I see.” Wertka said sagely. “So difficult to arrange, but it is much better than a restraint collar.”

Zaalbar roared in anger. “Do not defame the life-debt! Do not!”

“I must warn you that any damage he does, or injury he causes, will be your fault as owner. Call the beast off.”

“Zaalbar, later.” I said. He growled, then nodded sullenly. “Why do the Wookiee accept this, arrangement?”

“It isn’t only me. We have seven other stations on the planet. As for the arrangement the chief of Rwookrrorro village signed an accord with us five years ago.”

“What was this arrangement?” I asked.

“The internal workings of Czerka Corporation are not open to-”

I leaned forward, that upwelling of the force was a torrent. “You will tell me what I wish to know.”

His eyes glazed. “He has been supplying Wookiee trackers to help us in our harvesting. This has eased our problems, and made our harvesting more... humane. It also stops the harvesting from being a running firefight. In return we supply the village with such modern conveniences as weapons. The bow-caster your servant carries was made in one of our factories.”

“Who is this leader?”

“His name is Chuundar I believe. I didn’t negotiate with the accord personally. The smell bothers my nose.”

“Chuundar.” Zaalbar growled. “That was a name I did not want to hear again.”

“It seems your servant has issues with this Wookiee. But it doesn’t matter. The Corporation needs to maintain the arrangement. We don’t even meddle in their disagreements between themselves. We just make sure that leader is supported wholeheartedly. Any dissent is, dealt with.”

I released the grip on the force, and Wertka’s eyes cleared. “Well if there is no further information you need, I am really rather busy. Feel free to shop our concourse. However I would suggest caution if you go onto the Great Walkway. We do not have the personnel we would need to assure safety, and we do not have the money for rescue mission.”

“Thank you.” I turned. Zaalbar looked as if he wanted to rip of the Ithorian’s eyestalk. “Zaalbar, let’s go back to the ship.”

He nodded, and we left. I found a quiet nook where no one would overhear, and stopped him. “Talk to me, Zaalbar.”

“My home. I should have prepared you better for coming here I will now admit. But I didn’t think I would have to prepare myself for how much it has changed.”

“Prepare me for what?”

“I did not leave home voluntarily. I know Mission has told you that I was taken by slavers, but there is more. I was already an exile from my tribe when they took me. That was before the arrangement the Ithorian spoke of.”

“Why were you exiled?”

“My brother made deals with small teams of slavers and helped them gain their first foothold. When I discovered this, I attacked him. My father and his advisors stopped the fight, but he did not believe me when I told him the reason.”

“Why not?”

“I was so angry with him that I broke our most honored taboo. I used my claws.” He stretched out a hand, and the claws came out. They were at least 30 millimeters long, and went down to needle points. I had seen him delicately lock those claws on a jammed nut, and twist it out with just his wrist instead of using a hyper spanner. They could hold something the size of my head, or as small as a pin with the same delicacy. The Wookiee were considered among the premier mechanics in the Galaxy.

“You don’t know what this means to my people. Since Bacca the Great our claws have been tools, never weapons. We dragged ourselves out of the Shadows far below by always remembering that.” He looked at me sadly. “To my people I am a Mad-claw. A monster that walks as a Wookiee. Even if I told them what you have learned, they would not believe me. I am tainted, evil. I deserve to be banished.” He hung his head in sorrow.


Carth

I was kinda glad I didn’t speak Wookiee when Danika talked with Zaalbar. She sent him back to the ship, and as we walked, she filled me in. Zaalbar might have been a wookiee, but he had always struck me as an honorable being. I wondered what I would have done if my brother, if I had one, had done the same thing. I think I probably would have beaten him to a pulp. A good thing my family-

Carth? Carth Onasi! I thought that was you!”

I turned, looking at the smiling man approaching me. “Jordo!” I leaped forward, catching him in a bear hug.

“I thought you’d be out there painting your name across the stars! What happened, your ship crash?”

“Actually yes it did.”

Jordo roared. “I didn’t think anything would tie you to the ground.” He looked toward Danika. “It might be your attractive friend that finally got you on soil again.”

“I assume you’re a friend of Carth’s.” She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye. “I didn’t know he even had any.”

“Best friends in the world, missy! Joined the Militia the same day back on Telos. That was back during the Mandalorian Wars.”

“So what are you doing here, Jordo? The last time I saw you was on Telos after the attack.”

“Yeah, it’s a shame about home. It still hasn’t recovered from the attack. The relief efforts were a joke. The Senate was screaming about the cost, and handed it over to a Corporation. That corporation decided to make ends meet by convincing the planet to dragoon anyone with space flight experience into their commercial fleet.”

“Let me guess, Czerka?”

“You got it. Anyway, I didn’t find out until after you’d left about Morgana. I’m sorry, man.”

“Nothing can be done about it, Jordo, but thanks.”

Trying to lighten the mood, he turned his attention back to Danika. “But I can see why you keep this one around. Morgana's hair, her eyes, but not her...” He juggled as if holding two melons chest high. “Upper body strength.”

“Hey chill your jets. That’s the owner of my ship.”

“No spit? Then if I keep it up she’ll dump you?”

“Out of the airlock in hyperspace.” Danika said smoothly.

Jordo laughed. “Well it isn’t all bad is it? Dustil’s alive-”

“What?” I felt as if someone had punched me in the gut.

“He’s alive on Korriban.” Jordo looked worried. “You mean you didn’t know?” He looked from me to Danika. “Yeah. He’s a student at the Sith Academy there. I saw him in uniform and everything.”

“No, I didn’t know. He’s been missing since the attack. The Sith must have captured him when they landed.”

“Maybe. But he’s spouting the same garbage the Sith always do-”

“A word.” Danika interrupted. “What is a Republic Corporation doing dealing with the Sith?”

Jordo looked around. “When Czerka picked me up, I found out there’s a whole lot going on. They’ve signed an agreement that Czerka carries all of their trade and sells it in Republic markets as coming from somewhere else. They’re even trying to negotiate with the government of Manaan to carry all Kolto to both sides so the Selkath can kick both off the planet.” He dropped his voice. “I can drop a datapad with all this information off at your ship before I return upstairs. We’re in orbit.”

“What’s your cargo?”

“Coming out of here?” Jordo asked sardonically.

“Yeah. Thanks for letting me know. Take care.” I watched him walk away. “He’s alive.” I looked at Danika. “After all this time, he’s alive!” I thought of his face, only a dim memory now. “He’ll be a man by now.”

“We’ll find him.” Danika promised.


Danika

Carth and I left after making sure Zaalbar got aboard. I was in a hurry to complete this mission. As much as a Republican company buying from the enemy, carrying slaves in contravention of law and making secret deals with a neutral planet was important, I had to finish what we had started here. The Czerka guards were surly, but allowed us to pass onto the Great Walkway.

There were three landing stages, and as we passed one a shuttle landed. A dozen Wookiee in restraint collars were chivvied aboard, and it lifted. Part of me was coldly furious. To treat anyone this way was an abomination.

We were almost to the village when my com squealed.

“Danika, they came and took him and we couldn’t do anything!” Mission wailed.

“Calm down, Mission. What is it?”

“It’s Zaalbar! A couple of Wookiee showed up with half a dozen Czerka bullyboys, and arrested Zaalbar on the orders of some guy named Chuundar!”

Carth cursed. “Interesting timing. After you’re gone. Only the captain of a ship can demand proper extradition.”

“What about Janos?”

“Bastila talked with him. He said the Wookiee deal with their own when it comes to criminal acts. He doesn’t have any authority.”

“All right, Mission, I’ll deal with it. Put Canderous on.”

“Just a minute.”

“Canderous.”

“Report.”

“Just as Mission said. Two Wookiees, half a dozen Czerka with Janos taking up the rear. He stated that if we didn’t turn Zaalbar over, they would blow us off our landing legs. They mounted two anti-ship cannon on lifters and brought them out as they were trying to get past me. Bastila said to let them go, and we’d get him back.”

“In a moment I want you to put Bastila on. But before you do, I have orders.”

“Chu!” Canderous shouted the Mandalore word for ‘Sir!’, meaning he would obey anything I said.

“No one comes aboard that ship except for our crew from this moment on. If anyone attempts to come aboard, you are to stop them. Peacefully if possible. But if peace will not serve, blow them to hell. That goes for those damn guns if they man them.”

“Chu!”

“Put Bastila on.”

“Danika-”

“I don’t want to hear it, Bastila.” I said wearily. “You may have saved the ship and the mission but it might cost us Zaalbar‘s freedom. I would have hoped you would call me back in that situation. I might have stopped them. When I get back, we’ll discuss it.”

There was a long pause. “I am sorry, Danika.”

I cut off the communication without speaking. “Come on.”

We ran the rest of the way.

There was a guard at the village gates, and he roared at me. “Stop where you are, Outsider!”

I wasn’t in the mood. “Who dares stand in my way?” I roared right back at him in Shyriiwook. “What mother whelped such a pup!”

He shrank back, surprised at my vehemence. Then he stiffened. “It is to Chuundar that you must answer for bringing a Mad-claw exile back among us! Come!”

The Wookiee village was beautiful. A work of art created by people that had only rudimentary tools until a century before. The common village level was broad and airy; nets strung to block Mynar Hawks and Web crawlers. The village runs up the trees for half a kilometer, with the nurseries at the very tops.

I just wish I had come without murder on my mind.

An elderly Wookiee stopped us at the door to the residence, slamming his staff down and shouting, “Step forward and address the Mighty Chuundar! Ruler of Rwookrrorro!”

I stormed forward, facing a slim Wookiee sitting on a huge chair.

“It is normal courtesy to bow.” He said calmly.

“It is common courtesy to ask before boarding a ship.” I gritted back. He looked surprised at the fluency of my Shyriiwook

“Ah but I did. Dear Janos assisted me.”

“Spare me the histrionics.” I snarled. “You have kidnapped one of my crew, and I will have him back.”

“Kidnapped?” He laughed. “No, captain. I merely invited my dear brother home for a consultation. There has been no injury. Yet.” He waved languidly, and a pair of Wookiee dragged Zaalbar in. One wielded a restraint collar control, and pressed the button. Zaalbar screamed in pain, collapsing to the floor.

“Touch that again, and you die.” I hissed. He looked at me, then at Chuundar. What he saw in my eyes must have convinced him. “As I said Chuundar, spare me the melodrama.”

“Did you think you could wander the upper boughs of the forest without me knowing my dear brother had returned?” Chuundar laughed.

“That Janos worked with you was more interesting.”

“Of course he works with me. I am his pet Wook!” He laughed again, this time ugly. “We work very closely.”

“You work with slavers! You betray your own people!” Zaalbar roared. The one with the control box wisely left it alone.

“Oh not our people, dear brother. There are a thousand tribes. Each of our enemies can say I have punished them instead of selling off our own.”

“That is worse.” I snapped.

“Really. Your race is the biggest market woman. Your kind love to see us having to bow and scrape to you.” He looked at Zaalbar. “As for you, brother, you shouldn't use that tone with me. Things have changed here. You are a Mad-claw without honor or name, while I? I am Chieftain.” He looked back at me. “And my people agree with me on this.”

“A tidy nest of lies.” I said. “Right up to the part about your people backing you.”

“Ah but they do.” He grinned. “With Zaalbar a Mad-claw, and our own father enslaved, Mighty Chuundar stepped up and we have been at peace ever since.”

“Mighty Chuundar?” Zaalbar laughed. “You were the runt of the litter!” Then all of his words came through. “Freyyr enslaved! When?”

“We have much to discuss, brother, but that can wait until I am done with your friends.” He turned back to us.

“What do you want?”

“Ah sweet words now? Well let us say I have taken your knight, and you must kill my bishop.” He motioned toward Zaalbar. “I have a use for him, but there is another Mad-claw below. One that has gone insane. He is interfering with the business of my allies, and must be stopped. But as my brother can tell you, we dislike killing our own except in the heat of battle.”

“So someone still stands against you?”

“What of it? Like my brother he is a Mad-claw. No one would dare give him shelter for fear of being declared so himself. This one is mad and in misery, and you are going to hunt him down and kill him.

“My brother shall stay here and we will reminisce about old times, and times to come that he can share if he is willing.”

“You are insane.” I snarled.

“Really? You won’t need his assistance. All of the people of my village and all the closer villages understand your Basic. They think it is so they can understand our enemies, but it is really so they can better serve. The local villages play tribute so we will take those from farther away. No one can stand against me here. Only someone of the royal family can stand against me, and the only one left is my dear Mad-claw brother. They will not support an off worlder against me.”

“There is one that can!” Zaalbar roared.

“I assume you speak of our dear enslaved father. If he were here perhaps. He went mad when he discovered that you were right about me. Swore to lead our people against them. But without the Sword of Bacca, he could not challenge me. I do know our laws so well.” He reached behind him, taking the hilt of a vibroblade from a chest by the chair. “A pity someone lost the blade itself. But as long as I hold it, I am Chieftain. That is the law.” He threw it contemptuously back into the box. “Let our departed father go Zaalbar. The Wookiee will go forward into the future, but at a pace I set.”

“Patience, Zaalbar.” I said.

“Enough words from you, off worlder. Go with my warriors. They will take you to the lift down into the Shadowlands. Gorwooken my best warrior will take you down and bring you back up when you are done.”

Carth and I were escorted by a full dozen of Chuundar’s people to the lift car. Using unbreakable kshyy vines, it took us down into the depths.

“What is this I heard about a human that lives down there?”

Gorwooken snorted. “You should avoid him. He is crazier than even the Mad-claw. He has been here for a long time, More of your years than I know how to count.“

The car stopped at a wooden platform, and Gorwooken waved. “Go.”

We started through the darkness. The Shadowlands are well named. Enough light filtered through that you could see, but it was a perpetual twilight. We avoided animals as we went. There were katarn in plenty, and we had to kill a few to get through. As we came around a corner a few hours later I heard the roaring hiss of a katarn.

An old man stood against a tree, facing four katarn. Before we could draw our weapons he leaped forward. A lightsaber blossomed to life, and he leaped, cutting the head of one of his attackers in half as he flew over it. He landed, swung negligently, and a second one died. The other two hissed then fell to feeding on the dead.

“Well, come on out you two. You’re making more noise than a Cantina on a Saturday night.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-24-2006, 03:15 AM   #78
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Jolee

I saw the woman in Jedi robes, and the man in armor come out. Hunters. Hate the damn people. Most think killing something is a thrill. “Watch yourself.” I warned. “The two behind me aren’t all of them by any stretch.”

The woman came close enough for me to recognize her. I had seen her as a kid. Never expected her to be here. “You are a Jedi?” She asked. Obviously the recognition wasn’t mutual.

“Don’t go all impressed on me. A simple obeisance is sufficient.” I said. "What are you two doing down here?”

“We’re looking for a wookiee.” The man said.

“Came to the right place for that. Planet’s full of them last time I looked. Can you be more specific?”

“The chieftain of Rwookrrorro has kidnapped one of our companions, a Wookiee named Zaalbar. He wants us to kill a Mad-claw down here.” She said. I could tell she was saddened, and angry.

“There aren’t any Mad-claws down here right now. Except for Freyyr-”

“Freyyr?” Her head came up. “The Mad-claw we were sent after is Chuundar’s father?” She looked to her companion. “Of course. He can’t get his own people to do it, Czerka obviously can’t find him or can’t kill him. That’s why Komad was told he couldn’t hunt unless he killed the ‘Mad-claw‘.” She shook her head. “This changes things.”

“So what are you going to do?” I asked. “Kill him anyway?”

“I wouldn’t have just killed him!” She looked appalled. “Even if he were a mad-claw like Chuundar claimed, I would shudder to think that was my only option! Give Chuundar who is helping enslave his own people all the power?” She shook her head. “I could never sleep again.”

I nodded. She had the right outlook. “Then I will help you.” I stuck out my hand. “Jolee Bindo.”

She shook. Obviously she was in charge. “Danika Wordweaver, and Carth Onasi.” Luckily she turned partway toward her companion during the introduction. She didn’t see my puzzled look. “Where can we find Freyyr?”

“He’s not in this section of the Shadowlands. Czerka put up a force-field portal to the section where he is, but ol’ Jolee was watching when they did. I can get us through. But first I have to pick up a few things from my digs.”

I led them at a rapid walk. I had been a pretty good judge of character when I was younger, before the order and I had a falling out. They didn’t like me telling stories of the Sith wars to the kids, and pushing the young Padawan too hard. I complained that life is hard, and all history was is stories from the point of view of someone that wasn't there to actually see it. Read the history books if you don’t believe me. Every Jedi and Republic trooper was a saint, and all the Sith were devils. If you believe that, I could sell you the home I lived in on Kashyyyk as a ‘fixer-upper’. This kid had grown into her powers, and would go far.

My digs are just that. I found a trunk of a fallen Wroshyr tree, and hollowed it out. Made stove and pipes for it from the local clay, made it nice and comfortable. I went into the back room and changed clothes. I hadn’t worn my Jedi robes in years. One thing I did bring was a hermetically sealed storage container, so they hadn’t rotted. It was hard to get used to them again. I didn’t want to use them but I didn’t feel right just going as Ol’ Jolee if they were serious about doing well.

Danika merely nodded when I stepped back out. As we headed toward the portal, I tried to impart knowledge to them. “The company has a gold mine here, if they looked at it right. Take that Syren plant you’re about to step on, Carth. It stings small animals and their bodies supply fertilizer. Or they’re pulled into its flower and are digested directly.” He hastily backed away from it. “Now the larger ones, like the one you’re moving back toward,” He flinched, and moved closer to me, “they do the same with bigger animals, like careless people.” I moved around the plant. The flower turned to follow, but it’s a plant, they don’t move fast. I caught the back of the flower, and pointed. “Right here is the poison reservoir. That stuff could be used in medical research, because in small doses, it paralyzes only for a short time.

“The Wookiee have legends that say they came from somewhere else a long time ago. Even the trees aren’t native. There are things down here no Czerka employee or outsider has seen except for me. I won’t tell the corporation because this forest would be a strip mine when they were done.”

He spent the next few minutes watching out for Syrens.

We heard firing, and Danika stopped. “A battle?”

“Nah. Those damn Tach hunters.” I pointed at a small primate that sat there staring owlishly at us. It watched us as if we were the most important thing in it‘s existence. As she looked she could see a dozen or more within plain sight. The nearest one to us moved forward, pulling at the edge of my robe as if wondering what kind of plant it was. It was about as threatening as a mild wind blowing across a field of grass and wildflowers. “That is a tach. Fearsome creature isn’t it? They hunt them for the glands.” I held out my hand with a finger pointed at the first joint . “They kill the animal for something that big. So people on Taris can get blitzed on ale with the strength of wine.”

“Not any more.” Carth said. “Taris was destroyed by the Sith.”

“They’re back again?” I shook my head. “What were the Jedi doing when that happened? Having tea?”

“No.” Danika said. “Two renegade Jedi joined with the Sith. They killed Revan, but Malak is now in command.”

“They killed Revan?” I looked at her. “I knew the girl when she was a younker. I don’t think she was that easy to kill.”

“Easy!" Carth said. Then he started into a retelling of the battle of Zanebra. I listened, watching her. She was watching the terrain around us, assuring that nothing large enough to be dangerous got close.

“Well it sounds like they got her.” I finally said to shut him up. Man I haven’t heard those many words since the last time I tried to talk with the Czerkas up top! “Me I’d want to see the body.” I signaled for silence, and led them up a hill. Tach are the most inoffensive creatures you can imagine. They survive as a species because they breed as if they were born pregnant. Sort of like the Gizka, but someone had actually found a use for the Tach. They just sat there as the gunners shot them. Below us, half a dozen Czerka employees were dragging the bodies of their kills toward a lifter. There two of them were using vibroblades to gut the tach, pulling out the glands, and throwing the bodies aside. They had a pile a meter high, and several more piles scattered behind them. As the pile reached the level of the lifter, one would get in the driver’s seat and pull a few meters away.

“Horrible.” Danika whispered. “Is there no way to stop them?”

“Ol’ Ma nature would if it wasn’t for that.” I pointed at the half a dozen sonic fence generators on the lifter. “They’re piling up a lot of meat. That attracts the local predators and scavengers. But those generators stop them from coming too close. Every couple of hours they move a klick or so away, and it starts all over again. A pity really, you can‘t use a full power blaster to kill tach, it fries the glands. And those pop guns they‘re using wouldn‘t scratch a katarn.” I pointed across the small valley. What looked like a gathering of the katarn clans was going on. All they were waiting for was the vehicle moving. If we stayed much longer, they would be spreading to our side as well.

She considered this. “What if the generators go down?”

“I thought of that, but at least two have to go down to weaken the field enough.” I shrugged. “I’d thought of doing it simpler, you know, throwing my lightsaber and cutting two of them down, but since I berated them the first time, they keep a careful watch for me. I can get to one by sneaking up on them, but to get two I have to move where they can see me.”

“But there are three of us.”

“No, only two.” I waved to Carth. “Not saying you can’t sabotage a generator, boy. It’s just you have to move across that open space, and they watch carefully in case an old coot named Jolee was to stroll up. The Company would send a really nice apology letter to your family if you got shot, but they don‘t care beyond the postage if you ask me.” I tapped Danika on the nose. “It’s just you and me, kid.”

She nodded, and we moved apart. Moving across an open space unnoticed is one thing even a Jedi kid knows, and she wasn’t a kid. I reached my generator, and reached up, opening the access panel. The idea was to fry one of the circuits, but make it look like simple fatigue, or wear. Kashyyyk is an invasive planet, and there are bugs that can get into anything if you give them enough time. I picked up a beetle, and slipped it into the compartment. They like the taste of gold, and the circuitry used a lot of it. I wasn’t even back up the hill when suddenly two of the generators shorted out almost simultaneously.

The men didn’t notice, but the system sure did. An alarm wailed, and the men stared toward the generators. A man ran toward the control system, and started to access it. If he had dived for the flight controls he might have made it.

That’s when the wrath of the katarn decided to descend. A dozen or so charged, headed for all that piled up meat. Behind them were more. A lot more. One of the men fired, and his shot hit a katarn bull that stood a meter and a half at the shoulder. It spun, and after taking a look, decided he liked his meat fresh.

The others were a lot smarter. They took off as fast as their legs could carry them while that bull was busy with their friend. Not that it really helped a lot. A lot of katarn found out there wasn’t enough piled meat ready for all of them, and charged along after them.

“You know, you can learn more respect for nature by trying to prove who is better one on one with what nature gave you or you had to make with your own hands.” I said. “He learned that the hard way.”

We circled around the feeding frenzy. We wouldn’t have to deal with any more katarn for a while.

“You didn’t come to Kashyyyk just to go Wookiee hunting, did you youngster?”

“No.” Danika replied. “We’re looking for a Star Map.”

“That old thing. Never worked for me, why should it work for you?”

She stared at me. “I don’t believe it! Months of training, fighting Krayt Dragons stopping feuds rescuing Jawa negotiating with Sand people for what?” She looked at Carth. “We get here and all he has to say is ‘Oh, that old thing’.” She threw her hands in the air. “I give up.”

“Well it could have been worse.” I said.”

“Enlighten me.”

“I could have been on one of my vision quests, and never met you.”

She shook her head.

We came to the force field, and I pointed at it. “You can tell it’s new. The Wookiee haven’t disabled it and stripped it down. The first ships that landed way back when had problems with that you know. The Wookiee would take them apart trying to see how they worked. That’s how Czerka found out about their mechanical bent.” I waved toward the trees around the portal. “Anywhere but Kashyyyk, this might even have worked. It stops anything that walks, but what about climbers? Wookiee, tach, hell, even katarn can just go up and over. You and me though have to find another way.” I walked over toward the portal, and ran my hands along the column to the right. Now let me see...” The panel opened, and I reached inside. Couldn’t use a bug here. The tolerances were a lot tighter. I found the control stud and pressed it. With a buzz the field died.

I stood back. “This is a part of the Shadowlands even the Wookiee avoid. Freyyr is there, and so is what you seek.”



Danika

He was a surly old man who talked little or ran off at the mouth when interested. He was bothered though by others talking and used to being alone.

I found liked him.

Jolee led us into the heart of the Shadowlands, and every word he did speak told us more about the world. The Web-crawlers used a silk for their webs that was strong enough to support a wookiee. He had pointed out that if properly synthesized, or collected it would make ropes that could hold any weight. The kshyy vines had already found a market for restraining Ronto and Bantha.

The shadows deepened until it was twilight. Small animals scurried away from us, and larger animals we avoided as well. Finally we came to a clearing. There were ritual stones set in the ground, and Jolee read them for us.

Behold the sacred place. Where heroes are born, or fools die.

Feed the beast and it will heed your call.

Take vipers from their lairs.

Hang them upon the vines, as did our ancestors.

Let their blood scent the air and mark the ground.

The beast comes when summoned if you are generous.

It comes to do battle if you are worthy and wise.

It grants you glory if you are fearsome and brave.

It gives you death if you are a fool


“A ritual hunting ground.” I whispered. “It looks ancient.”

“And unused for quite a while. I know it hasn’t been used since I came down here.” Jolee said. He brushed some moss from the stone. Then he stiffened. “Freyyr is here.”

I reached out with the force. Yes. A single Wookiee watched from nearby. He carried a massive Wookiee double-sword, one that made my engaged lightsaber look like a twig.

“More Czerka.” He hissed, coming into view. “Must you defame and destroy everything? Enslave my people kill the tach make deals with my own son? No more!” He spun his weapon into guard, facing us. “Come! You want my head as well, take it if you can!” With a roar, he charged.

I blocked frantically. “Freyyr, we are not with Czerka!” I shouted. His attack continued. Carth was trying to get a shot at him, but Freyyr was a savvy warrior, and kept me between them. Jolee reached out, and Freyyr was pinned by the force.

“Listen to her old friend!” He shouted.

The Wookiee struggled against the bands of Force energy. “Kill me! I have learned that only lies issue from your kind!”

“He’s almost feral after so long. This might be difficult.” Jolee said.

I shut down my lightsaber, and held out my hands. When I spoke it wasn’t Basic, instead it was the booming roar of Shyriiwook. “A chieftain must think before he does anything!” I roared. “Even Bacca considered what he did before he formed the ritual blade!”

He stopped, then suddenly started struggling again. “The words of out worlders are only lies! You will not convince me by speaking my own language instead!”

“Do you call Zaalbar a liar as well?”

He stopped struggling again. “My son that is dishonored. What do you know of him, out worlder?”

“He came with me on our ship.”

“You claim to be his owner?”

“Never! Zaalbar swore a life debt to me. He follows me because of that oath.”

“A life debt.” He sagged. “Then he sees more in you than I do. I will listen. But I will have to think on what you say. Being willing to listen to Czerka and my own son Chuundar has made me wary.”

“Let him go Jolee.” The old man released the bonds. Freyyr roared, and swung his open hand at my head. I stood, not defending myself.

The blade-like palm stopped close enough that I could feel its kiss against my neck. The Wookiee grinned. “Only one that Zaalbar would follow would have allowed the honor strike.” He lifted the blade from my neck. I snapped an openhanded blow, and stopped it a bare centimeter from his face. He nodded. “And only one he would follow willingly would return it so deftly.” He drove the blade of his weapon into the ground. “Speak.”

“We came for the Star Map.”

“That alien abomination. The Wookiee came here before the dawn of our memory as slaves, the trees created by a malfunction of that machine.” He waved toward the massive trunks around us. “Now it is our home, and we have known no other. Why are you here to face me?”

“Chuundar took Zaalbar prisoner. Sent us to kill a Mad-claw. Only meeting Jolee first told us who you were.”

“Chuundar.” The name was a growl. “My son’s lies sent Zaalbar into exile. If only I had listened to him before that. Chuundar and those who are like him had been leading Czerka slaver parties to our hunters, and worse the hunters of other tribes nearby. He blamed the disappearances on the Shadowlands themselves. Zaalbar had discovered this, but when he confronted Chuundar, he was goaded into attacking. When I saw the blood of Zaalbar using his claws, I had to stop it. But the law is clear. He must be exiled, and until he had expiated his sin, he could not return. Slavers took him. Now I know they had been warned to expect him.

“When I discovered the truth Chuundar had already prepared. He had been my advisor, suggesting alliances with the neighboring clans. Signing papers the Czerka put before me.

“But five years ago, I saw people of those other tribes being hauled away as slaves by Czerka. Heard their own words that it was the papers I signed that consigned them to this fate. I confronted my son. But foolishly, I did it when only those he trusted were present. They tried to kill me, throwing me off the walkway into the Shadowlands as if I was one of those damned by our laws. Only by luck did I live.”

“That was when I saw him. Climbing down the trees instead of using the lift car. I distracted the team of Czerkas and Wookiee that followed to verify his death.” Jolee said.

“Yes. I remember you now. I am sorry I attacked those that were my friends. Being hunted like an animal will do that to anyone.”

He looked at the blade in his hands. “I took this off one that was sent to kill me, and I have waged a war to fight them and their Czerka allies ever since. They even put a force field up to stop me!“ He bellowed his laughter. “I needed a little rest so it stands. I want to regain Bacca’s blade, that is why I came. But I do not feel I am worthy.”

“We saw the hilt of Bacca’s blade above.”

“Yes. But there is still a way. My son has created a net of lies to ensnare my people, but there are some among them that will bow to tradition rather than Chuundar. I must find the blade of Bacca’s sword. Bring it to stand before Chuundar and the Council. That will give me a chance.

“Bacca was a great warrior of legend. Known for his ferocity and his cunning, and when he became leader, his wisdom as well. Bacca found a wreck of something, what he described as a great wing of metal. Within it, he found the blade that bears his name. Now we know that it was a crashed vessel that had been there for thousands of years. From before we existed as a people. The ship fell apart at his touch, but the blade stayed undimmed by time.

“When he was dying, he passed it on to another. Among our people it is not your blood that determines if you will be king, but your heart and the blade. Such is tradition. If I return with the blade, even if he has the hilt, it will shadow the succession. The people will be split on who should rule. Then I have a chance, no matter how small, of deposing him.”

He motioned toward the ritual clearing. “That is why I come here, trying to gain the courage for the greatest fight of any Wookiee lifetime. To face the Great ritual Beast, and regain the blade.”

“Regain?”

“Yes. A generation ago, a great leader named Rothrrrawr was challenged in his leadership. He brought Bacca’s blade down to confront the Ritual beast. He failed in killing it, and broke the blade off in its hide. I was given the hilt when he was shamed by this loss. There are those that say our entire race was shamed, and that is why it was taken from us.”

“Then you wish to fight this beast, but are afraid?” Carth asked.

Freyyr growled, then subsided. “If I face it and fail, I am not worthy of being our chieftain any longer. I am old, and not as strong as I was even five years ago.”

I pondered. Something of Wookiee history. Where I had read it, I didn’t even remember. “The companions.” I said.

“What?” Carth asked.

“When Bacca went to gather the blade the first time, there were sworn companions that were with him. ‘We pledge our life to you, oh great Bacca. To gain in honor by your very presence, and to die if need so that honor be served’.” I quoted. I dropped to my knee. “As they did then, I swear my service to you, Freyyr. To save your race from slavery, to guide my life with honor. Direct me.”

“Are you mad?” Carth asked.

“No, I see where she is going.” Jolee dropped to his knee. “Direct our swords to your cause.”

Carth looked at us, then shrugged. “Let’s do it.”

Freyyr looked at us, then dropped to his own knee. “Be my heart, be my conscience, tell me when I fail in my honor. Protect my people even over my own life.” He repeated the ancient words. Then he stood. “We need a Viper as bait.”

We found a herd of the beasts nearby. We killed one, and carried the carcass to the ritual circle. Freyyr hung it by a vine, and we moved away. I felt a presence so evil that I wanted to attack it the instant it appeared.

Then it came. “A terentatek!” Jolee gasped. “I thought they were extinct!”

The terentatek sniffed the air. Picture something that is all mouth shearing teeth and razor sharp spines along it’s back. With a pair each of arms and legs attached almost as an afterthought. There might have been eyes ears, and a nose, but I didn’t see them. It came forward, and the viper disappeared into its cavernous maw.

“Now!” Freyyr dropped like a bomb from the vine above the terentatek, his sword ripping into that massive head at the rear. Jolee and I leaped at it’s front, and kept the claws occupied as it tried to get at it’s tormenter. Carth blasted it, but the tough skin turned his bolts.

It wasn't sure what to do. It knew that it was in unbearable pain, but it could not ignore us. It spun, and we moved with it, dodging its claws, and striking at it to keep its attention. Freyyr was stabbing and cutting at its skull.

The beast spun, then collapsed, throwing Freyyr. I shouted, keeping its attention. It was sorely wounded, and seemed confused. It spun to face me, and Freyyr charged, ramming his sword deep into its underside.

It tried to rise up on its toes then fell again, this time for good. I gasped, staring at it. The descriptions on the holocron didn’t do it justice. There was a raw wound on its back, and I motioned to Freyyr as he climbed out from underneath it. He took his sword, and slit open the flesh. The slim wand of a vibroblade fell out, and he caught it. Without the power of the vibration cell, it was merely a whip thin piece of metal.

“Bacca’s blade. Returned to us.” He looked at me, then at the others. “You, my companions, humble me. That out worlders would put their lives in danger for my people. Danika Wordweaver, my son has a life debt to you. If we succeed, I would be honored if you would accept us as you Honor Family.”

“Honor Family!” Jolee was shocked. “I don‘t know if you realize how big a step that is!”

“No, I don’t.” I answered.

“He’s saying his entire tribe owes you such a life debt that you have to become family for them to pay it back. You’re a Wookiee in every way except genetics if he does that.”

I looked up into that furry face. “I can not express the humility that offer causes in me, Freyyr. Thank you.”

“No, thank you, Danika Wordweaver. I call you Shrromarrik, ’Daughter of Honor’ in front of witnesses. That alone will tell my people how much I owe you.”

“We must hurry to the upper levels. This ends today.”

“I must find the Star Map first.”

“Then I must come with you. Honor demands it.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 04-25-2006, 11:48 AM   #79
Char Ell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by post #77
“Hey chill your jets. That’s the owner of my ship.”
Chill your jets? Is that the phrase you wanted to use here? Cool your jets sounds better fitting to me.

So you're not addressing the Mandalorians in the Shadowlands or Elam Mattic's dead crewmates in your story? Personally I don't really care about skipping over the Elam sidequest on Kashyyyk but I'm disappointed and surprised that you didn't incorporate the Mandalorians hunting in the Shadowlands.

I thought the manner in which you brought Jolee into the party and still using the tach in the story was well done. Of course this wasn't how it played out in the game but I thought your version still works.

Here's a link I found that includes the statistics for the Krayt Dragon Pearl when used as a lightsaber upgrade crystal in KotOR: <link>


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Old 04-25-2006, 04:26 PM   #80
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
Chill your jets? Is that the phrase you wanted to use here? Cool your jets sounds better fitting to me.
Give an old man his due, I grew to maturity before you were born, kid. Chill was what we would say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
So you're not addressing the Mandalorians in the Shadowlands or Elam Mattic's dead crewmates in your story? Personally I don't really care about skipping over the Elam sidequest on Kashyyyk but I'm disappointed and surprised that you didn't incorporate the Mandalorians hunting in the Shadowlands.
As for this if you'll notice I had to do a lot of cutting to move the story on. If I had not we'd still be back on Dantooine diving into caves for more crystals, dealing with the 'little robot lost' the trial, that kind of thing. I left this out because A The Mattic incident assumes you'd talked to the merchant. The Mandalorian incident was just tossed in by the writers IMO so that you wouldn't spend a lot of time wandering doing nothing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I thought the manner in which you brought Jolee into the party and still using the tach in the story was well done. Of course this wasn't how it played out in the game but I thought your version still works.
The problem with the tach hunt was the writer obviously didn't know a lot about large scale harvesting of animals. The average upscale poultry chain harvests at the rate of hundreds of thousands of birds per day. That implies trucks up the Wazoo plus about a thousand employees working round the clock.

Plus you look at the tach you encounter. I tended to run over the damn things because they would just sit there and look at you. I merely combined a poultry farm with a buffalo hunt.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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