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Old 04-25-2006, 06:55 PM   #81
machievelli
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Computer

The computer gave me an idea of what the creators might have been capable of when they still lived. The entire structure was buried in the ground except for a small dais and the Star map pintel. When we approached, it began to hum. I pictured this freshly built, with trees merely a few hundred meters tall if Freyyr was correct. Now it was a tiny alcove in a mass of wooden walls. Yet the trees shrouded it and came no closer.

“There it is. Weird thing isn’t it.”

As we approached a holographic interface came on line. The figure that stood there looked like the statues we had seen on Tatooine. A humanoid figure, with eyes set off the bullet shaped skull on either side.

“Neural access commenced. Proper subject present.”

“It never said anything like that before. Only ‘unsuitable life form detected’.” Jolee grumped.

“Beginning socialized interface. Awaiting instruction. This terminal has not been accessed in quite some time.”

“Who has attempted to access you?”

“Three attempts by Wookiee identified as Freyyr. All denied. 152 attempts by unknown species named Jolee Bindo. All denied.”

I looked at him. “Maybe I should have mentioned that I’m stubborn.”

“Error. All other attempts deleted by previous user.”

“Why have you acknowledged me?” I asked.

“Systems access error. Subject displays unfamiliarity with the interface. Behavioral configuration must be verified before continuing. I am sorry. I do not mean to confuse you. I will answer all questions to the best of my programming ability. However until configuration is verified, some segments of my system will be blocked.”

“What do you mean by behavioral configuration?” I asked.

“I was designed to be accessed only by my creators. However at that time, it was considered that servant species might eventually have the right to access my databanks. A series of parameters was designed so that only those that matched the designer’s beliefs would be allowed such access.”

“So to get this thing to open up, you have to think like whatever created it?” Jolee asked. “A race you tell me was the epitome of the dark side?”

“I think that is exactly what it means.” I said. “But Revan wasn’t evil when she came here. The answers must be something we can give it. Computer, what happens if I do not fit the parameters you have set?”

“This system will lock you out permanently. You will not be able to access any part of my system. However the fact that I have allowed you to access me to this extent means that you have within your mind the necessary thought processes that will fit the parameters.”

“Why have I been allowed to access you if I do not fit the parameters?”

“I cannot say. The parameters suggest that you are close enough to norm that you can be coached, and your answers measured against what my designers wanted. This is not the first time such has occurred. The last time was five years ago.”

“Revan.” I said.

“I cannot say. The parameters of the one called Revan are not within my system. Data has been corrupted, and that information appears to have been in that section of my memory.”

“Can you tell me why you are restricted from saying what the parameters are?”

“I cannot speculate on what has been restricted from my memory. The odds that such restrictions were placed by previous users approaches totality.”

“So Revan reprogrammed it so only someone who thinks like her can access it.” Jolee said.

“Or did she try to make it easier for those that followed? But the machine thinks I can think like her.” I completed the argument. “Computer, I came to find the Star Map.”

“Accessing. There is data on the Star Map in my original memory. Access is restricted.”

“What must I do to get access?”

“Your request requires additional security measures. You must match the parameters that have been set to a greater degree.”

“How can I match them when I don’t even know what they are?”

“There are measures available to this system. Personality profiling can be used to verify the suitability of your conscious mind. This will inform me as to whether you are worthy of accessing the Star Map, and if not, whether you can be made suitable.”

“What does that mean?”

“That information is not available. If you have any further questions ask them now. Most of the information you seek will probably not be accessible until behavioral configuration parameters are met.”

I sighed. “Begin your evaluation.”

“Evaluation commencing. Neural interface established. Results will be compared to the pattern in memory. Relax. Just answer the questions as you feel you should.”

It hummed. “You travel with a Wookiee companion. You are captured and separated, charged with a crime. If you both remain silent at your trial, you will both spend a year in jail. However if you accuse Zaalbar of treachery and testify against him, he will serve five years, and you will be set free. He has been offered the same deal. However if you both accuse the other, you will both serve two years. What do you trust him to do?”

How did you know I had a Wookiee friend named Zaalbar? I almost asked. I knew Zaalbar would be honorable. If I stayed mute we both would serve time-
No, think as the Builders might. You know the other is honorable, and will never accuse you falsely. Your accusation will trap him for the five years, and you will be free.

“I would accuse Zaalbar.” I said. Jolee and Carth gasped.

“Excellent. The temperament of a companion is judged haphazardly at best. You know he is honorable, but you also know that his family has a history of betrayal. Freyyr casting him out on perjured testimony. Chuundar betraying and attempting to murder his father, or have you do it for him. Blood will tell. I judge this to be the correct answer.”

“I see what you mean.” Jolee said. “This thing obviously has very specific ideas of what a right answer is.”

I shook my head. “Continue.”

“Hypothetical. You are at war. Your intelligence network deciphers an enemy communication. In five days, they will attack and destroy a city of yours. In ten days, they will be shifting forces to attack in another area, leaving you a clear path of attack that can destroy their center, and end the war. What do you do with this information? What is the optimum course of action?”

Again I considered. If you evacuate without an obvious reason, the enemy would realize that their code is broken. If so, they then know that you are aware of the redeployment. You cannot save one without risking the failure of the other. This was actually easier. Canderous had spoken of Revan and some of her battles were in the memory banks. “I would ignore the attack on the city. I would prepare for my own attack in ten days.”

“Very good. Saving the people of the city would risk the entire war. It would also notify the enemy of the broken codes. The deaths of those people were necessary for victory to be assured.”

“The victory is irrelevant!” I said harshly. “Ending the war was more important. That saves even more lives!”

The system hummed. “You have achieved the correct answer, but did so in a manner that does not match the pattern in my memory. However I will adjust both the parameters and the evaluation to compensate.

“Using the same hypothetical situation with one difference. There is no war going on, your have an empire at peace with few weak enemies, but your people have grown complacent. They have stagnated, and in so doing, they question the need for a war leader such as you.

“Except for that change, the scenario remains the same. An imminent attack, but a weakness that will follow it. How do you react?”

Like the Republic before the Mandalore attack. I thought. Unwilling to stand up for itself. Had someone in the Republic military seen what was happening, and allowed the Mando to attack? “I do nothing. Afterward I use the information to obliterate them.”

“No, you cannot hide behind the wartime morality of allowing a blow so yours strikes. The enemy does not intend, and does not have the capability to maintain a sustained conflict. Your empire would crush it easily in the attack you plan to launch. There is no great war to maintain, nor will you garner victory after victory. Your decision must be based only on the short-term benefits. The reactions of your people to the attack and your retaliation.”

Would it be honorable to allow the murder of millions so you could remain in power? Again I wondered who might have made such a cold-blooded decision. The Senate’s foreign affairs committee had judged the Mando threat as mild. I could almost picture the discussion. Allowing such an attack into our territory would have cost little and someone would have believed they would benefit.

“I would allow the attack to occur.”

“Excellent. It makes the most long-term sense. Your people would forget about the problems your empire might have to turn their eyes instead to an unfriendly galaxy. As the savior of them in this, you are returned to the pinnacle of honor and respect in their eyes.

“Parameters matched. Accessing all programming.”

“Open the Star Map.”

“Order received, will comply.” The pintel split, and the map gleamed in the air. I copied it into my datapad.

“A Star Map. Any idea who created it?” Jolee asked.

“A race that seems to be extinct for over 30,000 years.” I replied.

“Maybe they aren’t extinct. Maybe you might need some help out there.”

“Oh really. Bored with katarn stew?”

“Shows what you know. You have to bake katarn. You stew Vipers or web-crawlers.” She looked at me out of the corner of her eye. “Hey, don't look at me like that! It’s not like there’s a store nearby for Zabu meat!”

“We have some aboard the ship.” Carth said.

“You do! Then just try to get off this planet without me!”

“I think you’ll have to take a bath first.”

“Bath? Woman do you see a ‘fresher down here anywhere?”

“We’ll arrange something.”


Jolee

I was shocked with the answers Danika gave. But I understood why they had to be correct. The people that had created that long dead empire had not cared about anything but their power. Revan had seen that, and become... what she had become.

We moved through the forest. Four people on a mission to save the Galaxy. But first, we had to save the Wookiee race.

We reached the lift, and half a dozen Wookiee stood from the low-lying mist. Gorwooken growled when he saw Freyyr. “You brought the Mad-claw instead of killing him! We were supposed to kill you, blame the deaths on Czerka, but you have earned death for your betrayal!”

“Betrayal?” Freyyr roared back. “To murder those sent to commit a crime you cannot? To lay the blame on others?”

“Of course.” Danika said. “Because Chuundar wants Zaalbar to join him, to make his hold on your people even stronger.”

Freyyr waved the blade of Bacca’s blade. “I have defeated the Great Beast! I return with Bacca’s blade, Gorwooken of no village! Will you defame it?”

“When I return it to Chuundar he will give me honor!” The Wookiee charged.
I stunned a couple as Danika attacked. I watched her as I stunned any that got behind her. She had never used a double blade that I knew of, but she used the double saber like a master. Carth was shooting the Wookiee that tried to close on her and Freyyr, and he was damn good with those pistols.

Freyyr and Gorwooken slammed together like runaway lifters, and I swear the ground shook when they did. Freyyr used one hand to pin Gorwooken’s sword, and used the silent blade of Bacca’s sword to smash in his head. He spun, grabbing another Wookiee that came at him, catching him in a bear hug. He might have been old, but he was still strong. The Wookiee struggled, pounding his head with his hands, then spasmed as his back snapped. Freyyr tossed him aside.

The others were all down. Danika stood, ready. Eyes sweeping to find more, but no one else attacked us.

“Come. The lift is made so someone with a Wookiee's strength must lift it. I will bear us back to the Great Walkway.” Freyyr ordered.

We got onto the lift, and it went upward through the gloom. Our party rested as we went up. Danika stood silent off to the side. I could see that coming up with the right answers bothered her even more than they had bothered me. Carth was watching her as if he thought she would suddenly become a katarn.

The upper walkway was silent when we arrived. “We must hurry-” A form came from the gloom, another wookiee.

“Freyyr! You live and without a collar?” The Wookiee asked.

“Chorrawl!” Freyyr hugged the other wookiee. “What are you doing here?”

“I was told to kill whoever came up if they were not Gorwooken and those that went with him. Chuundar said that the Czerka were planning an ambush and these humans were in league.”

“The Czerka ambush was Gorwooken and his followers.” Freyyr answered. He motioned toward the girl. “This one, the one I have named Shrromarrik brought me back from the brink of madness. Returned to us Bacca’s blade.” He waved it. “This I took from the flesh of the Great Beast myself after killing it, as Honor demands.”

“Freyyr.” Chorrawl knelt. “Lead us, my chieftain.”

“I cannot lead until the Lawgiver judges this case.” Freyyr answered almost gently. “Does Worrroznor still hold the mantle?”

“Yes. But Chuundar merely waits until his health fails him at last. He has already chosen Gorwooken to take it when Worrroznor dies.”

“Then he will have to choose another. Come. Chorrawl, precede me. Assure that all of those that still honor my name are ready.”

“Wait.” Danika said. “It sounds like you are getting ready to attack!”

“It may come to that.” Freyyr replied sadly. “Our history has had many times when the leader was not accepted automatically. If Chuundar can call his allies, they will fight to keep him on the throne. Add to that the fact that he will call the Czerkas as well-”

“Freyyr!” Chorrawl shouted. He ran down the walkway, and came back dragging a human in a Czerka uniform. The man was unconscious, but not dead. “This one was using his com. The Czerka will know that you return.”

“Then you must run, Chorrawl. Gather them as I have commanded. Have Worrroznor present. We must deal with this quickly.”

We moved fast. On their com links, Danika and Carth could hear frantic orders being given. There was a roar like the hammer of the gods from the area where the Czerka maintained order.

“Canderous, report!” Danika shouted.

“The Czerkas thought they could try the same trick again. They sent a dozen of their men to board the ship to arrest us for complicity in a native revolt. They also brought their lifters back out. That was me blowing them to dust. We have prisoners aboard right now. Bastila wants to talk with you.”

“Put her on.”

“Danika, report please.”

“We have the Star Map, but we’ve walked right into a civil war. Zaalbar’s father is alive and was chief before Chuundar. Chuundar has called for reinforcements from Czerka to maintain his power.”

“Not good. I felt pain in you earlier.”

“Either the builders or Revan set the damn alien computer with parameters only she or a Sith could pass. Lucky for me, I was a soldier. I got through it. How are things at that end?”

“Canderous was able to destroy the guns, and take the ones who tried to board us without undue casualties. The Czerka officials are staying away from us. They seem to think we’ll start blasting if they try anything. Hold please for Canderous.”

“Go ahead.”

“A lot of chatter on the company net. They’re trying to convince the cargo ship Czerka Dream to make an attack run on us. Carth’s pal Jordo has reported that he was able to spike their guns for the moment.”

“Maintain alert. If Jordo reports that they have gotten the systems unjammed I want the Ebon Hawk airborne where she will be safe.”

“We can take off now. I’ve checked the specs of Czerka Dream. I could beat them armed with nothing but Zaalbar’s breath.”

“You’re our tactical officer, you’re in command. Do what you think needs to be done. But don’t destroy that ship! They have Wookiee aboard, and when this is over, I think they will want to come home.”

“Understood.” There was a scream of engines a few moments later.

There were bodies scattered around the entry into the village. But Chorrawl was among those who stood there. One of the Wookiee was an ancient, his fur a deep brown laced with white as if he had been dipped in silver paint. He looked at Freyyr, then at me.

“It is good to see that you still live, Freyyr. Yet you come bearing weapons, followed by out worlders. How say you in this?”

“Speaker of the law, I ask your attention and your wisdom.” Freyyr asked, kneeling.

“Speak.”

“My son has taken the throne by lies and deceit. He sells our people into slavery and uses Czerka and our own warriors to oppress our neighbors. He sits there without this.” He set down the blade he had gained. “He claims to be our leader with false pretenses, and uses out worlders as his supporters.”

“As do you, Freyyr.” Worrroznor replied, looking at us.

“No. These are my companions, as Bacca had when he first found the blade that bears his name. They have sworn to me of their own will in the words of that time, and fight not for me, but for the honor of our race. This one,” He motioned toward Danika, “I have named Shrromarrik because it was her words that brought me back from the brink of madness.”

Worrroznor looked at Danika. “Do you understand the honor Freyyr has bestowed upon you out worlder?”

Danika knelt beside Freyyr. “As Bacca’s companions did, so I have done. I swore my service to the true and honorable chieftain of your people, Worrroznor. To save your race from slavery, I will die. To guide my life with honor I have begged of him. He has accepted this oath. Can you gainsay it?” Carth knelt, as did I.

Worrroznor bowed his head. “I am pleased and astonished to know that an out-worlder knows so much of our lives and traditions. You have humbled me, the speaker of the law with your wisdom.” He turned to the others. “Go before us; push all those that would refuse ahead of you. The law will be spoken this day, even if our village dies.”


'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 04-26-2006, 12:21 AM   #82
Char Ell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by post #81
“Shows what you know. You have to bake katarn. You stew Vipers or web-crawlers.” She looked at me out of the corner of her eye. “Hey, don't look at me like that! It’s not like there’s a store nearby for Zabu meat!”
I didn't understand who was talking to whom in this passage. I thought this part was related from Danika's POV. But this seems to switch when Jolee says,“Shows what you know. You have to bake katarn. You stew Vipers or web-crawlers.” Then Danika looks at him out of the corner of her eye. Then it's back to Danika's POV?

I heartily agree with the manner in which you had Danika respond to the holographic interface. That was pretty much how I did it the very first time I played. I thought they were words only, not actual deeds, and the only way I could gain access to the Star Map. I was disappointed when I ended up getting DS points. Now I'm not one who believes in saying one thing and doing another but in that situation if that was what I had to do...


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Old 04-26-2006, 02:29 AM   #83
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I didn't understand who was talking to whom in this passage. I thought this part was related from Danika's POV. But this seems to switch when Jolee says,“Shows what you know. You have to bake katarn. You stew Vipers or web-crawlers.” Then Danika looks at him out of the corner of her eye. Then it's back to Danika's POV?

I heartily agree with the manner in which you had Danika respond to the holographic interface. That was pretty much how I did it the very first time I played. I thought they were words only, not actual deeds, and the only way I could gain access to the Star Map. I was disappointed when I ended up getting DS points. Now I'm not one who believes in saying one thing and doing another but in that situation if that was what I had to do...

All right, I screwed up. And didn't notice it until you mentioned it.

You get a cookie.


'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 04-26-2006, 02:44 AM   #84
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Danika

The unaligned people of Rwookrrorro stood aside as we entered. I could hear Freyyr’s name whispered as we passed. Those that would have stopped us were either pushed ahead by our vanguard, or died when they refused to listen to Worrroznor. The throne room was blocked by a group of not only Wookiee but Czerka as well. We dealt with them, and pushed our way inside.

Chuundar sat on his throne, surrounded by both Wookiee and Czerka allies. I saw the chief of Czerka Security standing to the side, his hand on his com.

“Well, Father and brother have both returned. We have a family reunion!” Chuundar said. “I think this is your business, Commander Velek.”

“Danika Wordweaver, I arrest you for complicity in a native revolt against Czerka Corporation-”

“Silence, Human.” Worrroznor growled. “You have told us constantly to stay out of your affairs, and you would return the favor. This is an internal matter of the Wookiee of Rwookrrorro. You have no authority here.”

“That woman is a criminal-”

“That woman has been named Shrromarrik by Freyyr, once our chieftain, and perhaps soon to be again. She is Wookiee under our laws, which you ignore at your peril.”

“But I set the laws of my village, Worrroznor!” Chuundar roared. “I am chieftain here! Not you Law-speaker!”

“You may create laws, but cannot ignore the law already written. Nor can you simply decree something. I was arbiter of the law before your father was born, Chuundar. No chieftain is above the law. That was decided by Bacca himself. The law is to be supreme in all things. So it has been since our beginning. So it shall be when we are all dust.

“The law is why I am here even now. The chieftain is he who holds Bacca’s blade, Chuundar. So it has been since we first moved from being animals.” Worrroznor said. Freyyr held up the blade. There was a sigh among the gathered Wookiee.

“So he had the blade. I have the hilt!” Chuundar pulled it out, brandishing it. “Both you and this creature that was my father said it was important! Who will the people follow, father? You, an old and weak leader? Or me, with the might of a Galactic corporation behind me?”

“Enough!” Zaalbar stepped from a corner. “Both of you are fighting over who sits in the chair? The people of our village, of our planet deserve better!”

“Listen to your other son, Freyyr.” Chuundar purred. “If you win our village will be gutted, ripe for another to take us over.”

“Zaalbar...” I said.

“He has been speaking with me since you left, Danika Wordweaver. Much of what he says makes sense.”

“Sense? To sell others, even if they are of other tribes into slavery? They are as much your people as Freyyr, Worrroznor, hell, even Chuundar! To use them,” I waved toward the Czerka, “To tell you what to do? This is not a matter for off-worlders and corporations! It is a matter of your own people alone. They must discuss this without outside interference, let the law decide what is right.”

“The law!” Chuundar laughed. “I set the law! And the Czerka agrees with me.” He stood, towering over me. “Attack!”

It was a madhouse in the close quarters. It was heavy blaster cannon at five paces, and only someone who was lucky or very fast was going to survive.
A dozen Wookiee all told fighting each other, and the Czerkas that were wise diving for cover. Those that were not wise tried to shoot at those who supported Freyyr. They went down in a welter of blood.

Chuundar was backed into a corner, and he was screaming for his supporters outside to rally to his defense. But outside the fight was also total. None could force themselves to his side. As a supporter attacked Freyyr Chuundar drew a Sith Assassin’s pistol, and aimed it at Freyyr‘s back.

I saw a shape flash, and Worrroznor was there. The blast took him in the stomach, and he collapsed as Freyyr caught his son by the throat, breaking his arm to make him drop the weapon.

“Freyyr, no.” Worrroznor gasped.

“Listen to him, Freyyr!” I shouted.

The Wookiee growled, throwing Chuundar into the arms of his supporters as the fighting died. Everyone was astonished by Chuundar’s attack on the law-speaker.

“Worrroznor. You will live.” Freyyr said, holding the ancient in his arms.

“No, Freyyr.” He gasped. “Even the mighty Freyyr cannot stop the Dark one from collecting me. “This must end, as the law requires. I will live long enough for that.”

“Don’t speak to me of law when my best friend lies dying!”

“Freyyr.” The ancient shook his head. “The law is what makes us beings, and not animals. I will speak the law even as the Dark one comes. Will you hear me?”

Freyyr bowed his head. “Yes, old friend. I will.”

“You are our rightful chief. Chuundar has broken the law in that he has allowed out-worlders to determine our policy and ways of life.” He reached out toward me, and I took his hand. “You, Shrromarrik have a duty to the people you have sworn to protect. Another Law Speaker will be appointed in my place, but you must speak for the law until that time. Freyyr needs advice of your world beyond our trees, and none of us can give such. Will you accept this charge?” He squeezed my hand.

“I am not worthy of this responsibility.”

He chuckled. “Was I when it was handed to me? Only in dealing with the out-worlders will he need your advice. Guide him. All else can wa...” He squeezed my hand, then I felt it go limp.

I lifted it to my cheek, looking at him. “I will give him good words within the law.” I promised.

“Hah! So an out worlder will seal my fate!” Chuundar shouted. “After all of your words on it, Father, that is rich!”

“No I will not.” I stood away from Freyyr, away from Worrroznor’s body. “I will not judge you under your laws. The one who is appointed in his place will.” I waved toward the body. “He asked me only to guide the Chief in the laws of his kind.” I waved toward the body of Velek. “That I can do.”

“Yes. But some things do not need a holder of the law.” Freyyr stood away from his friend, catching his son’s throat in one great paw. His voice sounded like thunder in the enclosed space, reaching even to the crowd beyond. “He has murdered the law speaker, tried to use out-worlders to control our village, spat on our laws. Does any stand with him on this?” He turned, but no one stepped forward in Chuundar’s defense.

“Then I shall use his own methods to deal with him.” He stalked from the room. The guards dragged Chuundar to the netting that separated the village from the forest beyond. Freyyr loosened a section, taking his son by his throat. “I declare you exile. Meat for any to slay if you are foolish enough to be seen. Return when you have gathered enough honor to wash this stain clean.”

“Father please-”

“I have no sons! One was exiled, and awaits my judgment on his return. The other starts his journey as an exile this day.” He flung the boy out into space. They watched him fall.

“He might live.” I commented.

“If he has the brain my blood gives him, he will. But he must cleanse himself before he returns. That he might fail in.”

I spent the next hours saying no. “Freyyr we cannot merely kill all of the out worlders-”

“They have battened on my people long enough-”

“Will you listen?” I roared back. Freyyr took step back. I moderated my tone. “The Galaxy will awake tomorrow with this world in your hands. Do you want them cheering as Czerka comes in and slaughters you?” He stared at me. “The news that the revolt has started is already going out. There is no way to avoid this. Czerka, would have tried to conceal it but there are enough ships of independent merchants and those Companies not linked to the Corporation. So instead they will try to use your actions to condemn, make you look like animals devouring their people. Animals do that, not warriors with a cause.

“So you must give orders that any that fight you, that any that attack you, will die. If they do not, if they are wounded and disarmed, if they surrender, if they try to run, you must let them. You must also announce that this is what you have said.

“You must assure that all who fight alongside you will accept this, and the same rule must be used for every Czerka outpost. You must also punish publicly those that violate this order.”

“But-”

“But nothing! When the Galaxy reads their news tomorrow and in the coming weeks, they must see a people forced to fight. That killed the enemy that faced them, that killed those that attacked them, but showed mercy to all others.

“It is hard to make the Wookiee evil when they see pictures of your people helping out worlders in maintaining order. When they see the abject misery of those freed from Czerka Dream, and their return to Kashyyyk. Those that see this must say to themselves, ‘good for the Wookiee!‘.”

Those pictures were already being broadcast. Czerka Dream had been designed for rough world cargos where pirates or natives might raid or try to capture them. But she had little firepower compared to Ebon Hawk. Canderous had taken the Ebon Hawk through her fire, and destroyed every weapons emplacement with precision fire, then boarded them and taken the entire crew prisoner. Once that was accomplished he had used their own shuttles to return freed Wookiee slaves to the planet. Among them had been several hundred slaves of other races. The scenes with Wookiee removing their collars, then carrying humans and Twi-lek among others from their servitude had already made waves in the Galaxy.

There was already a dozen different news services asking for the inside story. I had yet to get to a proper communication facility, but Canderous had set both Komad Fortuna and Dayso Cooh on it. They had broadcast pictures of the tach, showing people drinking Tarisian ale, then again the gentle creatures that gave the beverage its kick. This was followed by Czerka’s own recordings of the hunts, and the company spokesman speaking of the millions of tach already slain, and how much the company made on each gland.

Komad had found something more exciting than hunting. It was called revolution. Dayso Cooh actually needed restraining. He was talking of ‘people’s court’s and rough justice.’ But academics and those that have never seen the carnage of battle are like that.

“It is agreed. Is there anything else we must do before we attack?” Freyyr asked sarcastically.

“Yes. You must deal with your son.”

Freyyr growled. He walked over to Zaalbar. As an exile he could not be part of the war councils of the last hours. Instead he had been working on Bacca’s blade. When we came to him, he flicked the switch, and the blade came to life. He shut it off, and held it out with his eyes down.

Freyyr stood there for a long moment, trying to think of what to say. I almost nudged him before he spoke softly. “My son, I have shamed myself in this. I believed what I was told, not what was true. I cast you out, made five years of your life misery without thinking.” Freyyr reached past the blade, touching his son’s head. “I have no excuse for the harm I have done to you.”

“I still forgive, Father.” Zaalbar answered his eyes still down. “I learned a great deal in the outside world. A lot of what Danika tells you now I know to be true from seeing them.”

“You and she have put into my people the backbone we needed. I will erase the slavers from this world. None of ours will ever go into that again as long as I live.

“I have sent quick climbers to the other villages. They took apologies from me for what Chuundar has done to them, and asked for them to ally themselves with us against Czerka.” He grunted a laugh. “My other son could have made himself ruler of the planet if he has merely said ‘fight against them’ instead of letting Czerka have their way. Out-worlders shall be rare here for a time, but knowing such as this one lives makes me happy to be part of the galaxy.

“But I owe you for all that time, Zaalbar.” He turned, opening the door. “Hear me! Zaalbar has expiated his sin! A sin that was all a lie from Chuundar’s black heart. He is once more a member of our tribe and my family. And no one would make me more proud than what I received in return for that act!” He turned to his son. “There is a place by my side, soon to sit upon that throne if you are worthy.” It is hard to describe a Wookiee voice as plaintive, but Freyyr’s was.

“I thank you my father.” He stood, and for the first time looked his father in the eye again. “I have learned much in the galaxy beyond, not all of it good, not all of it light. I must say no to you father. I cannot return home.”

“My son!’ Freyyr wailed. “What must I do to atone?”

“My father you have accepted me back and that I will treasure for the rest of my life! But I have sworn a life debt to Danika. I must pay that back before I can return home!”

“How can family claim life debt from family?” Freyyr demanded. My crew and I had been declared part of Freyyr’s honor family. We were Wookiee in all but flesh. Plus I still held the title of Shrromarrik and was being called ‘Human law speaker’ even by the children. I could see his point.

“Zaalbar-”

“Please, Shrromarrik. Let me speak.” He said to me gently. “That is true father, but I gave life debt to her before she was family, and there is the mission our Shrromarrik must complete. I cannot in honor foreswear that. Even to return home. And as she is of our people now, that debt looms larger, for family must always be ready to protect their own.”

Freyyr cried to the council. “You see this? I have bowed to your wisdom Shrromarrik, now I must bow to the wisdom of my own son! The Galaxy shall know that Wookiee can judge in faith and honor. Go with my blessing. But before you leave, we owe you Shrromarrik, Danika Wordweaver much honor. We shall sing songs of you and what you have done until the lights in the sky grow cold. But if there is anything we have that you desire, ask for it.”

I was stumped. What could I ask for that I needed? “How can family claim debt from family?” I asked.

Again Zaalbar interrupted. “Father I would ask one thing. Let me use Bacca’s sword in the coming battle, here and beyond the walls of our forest home. It came from out there before we were people. Let it draw blood of the enemies of all people everywhere!”

“That seems fitting.” I said.

“I am tempted to say no, my son. But I owe a debt to you and her. Chieftains of our clan have held it since Bacca found it. Do you know what you ask?”

“I do father. The Wookiee cannot think of this one world any more. We are part of a galaxy of worlds and people who think of Wookiee and picture a slave or an animal. We must teach them otherwise.”

“Yes my son. Take it. Make the world’s tremble at Wookiee wisdom and strength.” He passed the precious relic to his son, who bowed low.

“I will, father. And it will return, whether I do or not.”

“I would much rather my son and heir return. Guard him well, Shrromarrik!”

“I will.”

We reached the gate. The guns tracked on us, but did not fire. Beyond the door carnage began.

Against a human enemy, the Czerka defenses of walls and auto turrets might have worked. But as Jolee had pointed out, they had made a fatal blunder. The Wookiee knew how those guns worked and how to disable them. The Wookiee were also as comfortable climbing as they were walking, and netting will not stop a determined wookiee. Wookiee had climbed over, eliminating the guards on it, then used the guard officer’s own control box to deactivate the weapons.

I ran up to a cowering guard, slapping aside the bowcaster of a young Wookiee. “He’s wounded! He’s unarmed. He is to live!’

“Who-“ The youngster started to demand, then Zaalbar slapped him hard enough to bounce him off the tree trunk.

“I am Zaalbar, son of Freyyr, and this is my Shrromarrik ‘Human law speaker’!”

“Forgive, noble ones.” He ducked his head. “It is the excitement of finally striking back.”

I bent to the Czerka. He was holding a rag to a spurting wound, and I pulled a med-kit from my pack. I cleaned and bandaged the wound, then handed him the injector of painkillers. “Lay quiet. They’ll come for you.”

“Why?” He almost screamed. All he saw behind me were Wookiee faces, the stuff of nightmares for anyone in Czerka uniform at the moment. “So they can cook me?”

“How long have you been on Kashyyyk?”

“A week!”

“The Wookiee will not eat you. I just hope the clinic wasn’t destroyed in the fighting.” I pulled him from the area where he’d stuffed himself, and pointed at the young Wookiee. “Carry him.”

The Wookiee slung his weapon, and gently picked up the unbelieving man. “I know where the clinic is. I will take him there.”

There were still knots of fighting. When possible, I called for them to surrender. However at one such, the leader of the men within fired at me. The Wookiee overwhelmed the men, throwing their bodies off the walkway.

Ebon Hawk was landing as my team came up to it, and we hurried aboard. Carth’s friend Jordo had delivered the information he had promised.


Carth

I ran to the berthing area as we came aboard. I had to soak my head. I stood there, water dripping off me. My mind was still reeling from what had happened in the Shadowlands. Danika had answered the computer, but the answers disturbed me. Turn on your friend? Allow millions to die in an attack you could have stopped so that you could win a war? Allow the same millions to die just to bolster your power? Saul had made these kinds of decisions. Malak had destroyed Taris, slaughtered off billions of people in the name of his power.

If she could be like Saul, like Malak, like Revan, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see her! I dried my hair and face. I wanted a stiff drink but we had to get out of the system first. I decided I’d settle for a cup of tea. I poured, sipping the acrid brew, then turned to head toward the cockpit, and stopped.

Danika sat at the table. She was hunched over a mug, hands clenched so tightly I expected it to shatter. Her eyes were closed, and silent tears coursed down her face. Sasha was sitting beside her and whining a little at the obvious pain on her guardian’s face.

“You’re disappointed.” Her voice was a husky whisper. I said nothing.

“Whoever programmed the computer knew what kind of person they trusted. They wanted people like the Dark Jedi, like the Sith to find them. I understood that when it told me that there were specific parameters to match.”

“Revan must have-”

“No. I can’t see someone everyone admired that much giving such answers. The programming had to have been original. But what could I do?

“If I gave answers I felt right, it would have locked me out, we would have been stopped without the Star Map. So, I did what I had to do. Think like a conqueror, like a Sith.” She looked up at me. There was no emotion in her face or her voice. As if the tears were just water splashed on her face. “Do you know why the answers I gave were correct?” I shook my head. “Because the builders were self-centered egoists that didn’t care about their own people let alone any others. Any other Jedi, even a Master would have failed. Only I could do it.

“Because I was a soldier! You served. You know what the mindset is like. How many orders have we given that sent others to their deaths? Because the mission was more important than their lives.” She set down the cup hard. “I was a squad leader for a little over a month. I sent others to their deaths so we could win the battle. I left three men I considered my best friends in the world to hold a corridor so we could do an end run around the defenders to the bridge. One of them lived. Lived!” She slammed her fist on the table hard enough to hurt. “He’s in a life support chair now, a quadriplegic. He’ll never walk, or play with his children, or make love to his wife. My orders did that! I did everything but pull the trigger myself!

“I must speak with the masters on Dantooine. If I am no better than Revan, no better than Malak, no better than Saul, we’ve already failed.”

“I served with Saul, and I can tell you you’re nothing like him.” She started to speak. “Shut up and listen for once. Looking back at him, I knew Saul was ruthless. I watched him on the bridge of the ship and he never flinched. Even when his orders fed ship after ship into the meat grinder. When he was in command as captain, then as admiral, he never settled for a stalemate. It was victory or nothing.

“Now let’s see you in comparison. A woman that worried because I didn’t trust her. Yet when someone needed money, you gave it to him. When we had to go into the Undercity of Taris, you gave those kids money when I would have shoved them aside. You went to rescue Zaalbar because you hate slavers. Oh yes, I saw your face when you heard who had him. Then you turned around and instead of collecting a reward, you pushed Zelka Forn into making sure the people down there were safe for the first time from the Rakghoul plague.

“Look at us!” I waved toward the ship. “You risked your life bringing Juhani back from the dark side. You brought closure to Bastila, to Mission, to Zaalbar. You talked instead of fighting with the Sand People. Got them vaporators so they could move in peace. You freed the Jawa. Maybe you failed in ending that war, but you mitigated it. Would Saul do that? We know what Malak would have done.” I shook my head.

“If you want to judge yourself, answer this question. Hypothetical. You command a fleet. Someone you hate and fear is hiding down on a planet among billions of innocent civilians. You can keep on searching, even though you have already spent almost a week looking. You can go down yourself, hoping that you enemy will be drawn out to attack you, or you can reduce the planet along with all of those people to ruins. Along with that you will kill a few thousand of your own, but what’s a few more lives tossed in?”

I was starting to feel a bit teary myself. I remembered all of those people. Zelka, Gadon, the Outcasts, the people in the street of the upper city. Were they all dead now? Everyone in the upper city most assuredly. I pictured Zelka Forn standing there, unwilling to leave his patients as the plasma ate the city away around them.

The only home Mission had ever known, gone.

I walked over, laying my hand on her shoulder. “I trust from what I have seen that you would have found another way. Maybe not a perfectly clean way, but one where billions didn’t have to die.” She looked up from the mug. “If I can trust you, why can’t you trust yourself?”

“I feel the pull of the dark side.” She whispered. “It would have been so easy to just let the Wookiee have their revenge in full. There are over 100,000 of them still out there enslaved. If I could I would have published all those names, those owners, called the wrath of all of the Gods of all of the races on them.” She stared at the mug again. “It would be so easy to get this done the quick way.”

“I can’t see you doing anything the easy way. I think you were probably the best person for this mission. Someone so unsure of themselves that they second-guess everything. If you can’t succeed, no one could.”

She shook her head. Sasha moved toward her, and she hugged the girl. “Thanks Carth.”

“That’s what I’m here for. When I’m not slaving away on the controls, I’m the head cheerleader of the good ship Ebon Hawk.” I walked toward the cockpit.

“Carth.” I turned back to her. “Watch me. Don’t trust me. If I start to slip to the dark side, you’ll tell me right? Stop me in any way you can?”

“If I have to die in the attempt.”

“Don’t let it get to that point.” She looked away. “Set course for Manaan. It‘s closer than Korriban. Sorry.”


Ebon Hawk

Enroute to Manaan

Bastila

I could feel her misery even before we took off. But I had to wait until Carth relieved me. Danika was sitting in the mess hall in her own huddle of misery. Sasha was in her arms, crooning as Danika cried.

“I don’t want to become like that.” Danika whispered. She looked at me, eyes luminous with tears. I wanted to go to her, to hug her, to tell her it would be all right. As she had done for Mission, as she had done for me. “I want to go back to Dantooine. Beg the Masters to send someone else.”

“You are strong, Danika.” I said. “You have resisted the dark side so well. Don’t give up now.”

“I don’t know if I can be strong enough any more.” She husked. “What if there is another test when we reach Manaan? What if I have to kill a companion, or do something that will damn me for all time? Revan must have been stronger than I. Yet she fell!”

“Revan was strong but in her own way.” I replied. “She was also more impulsive than you are.”

“I found out some things about Revan. We picked up a passenger at Kashyyyk. An old man named Jolee Bindo.”

Of all the people! “Yes, I have heard of him. Where is he?”

“I don’t know. He said something about getting a bath and some decent food.”

“Well what you need to do is go into the crew compartment and meditate. You will feel better after that.”

“Maybe.” She looked down at Sasha. “Want to come meditate?” The little girl slipped off her lap, taking her by the hand, and dragging her toward the crew quarters. I sighed, then went to find Jolee.

He was in the men’s crew compartment, in the ‘fresher, singing. What is it about running water that makes people think they can sing? I sighed again, and leaned against a wall waiting. He stepped out, a large rugged man with a fringe of white hair, rubbing his head with a towel. He saw me, and the towel went from his head to his crotch so fast I almost believed in teleportation. “I thought there were ‘freshers on the other side for the women.”

“There are.” I told him. “I had to see you about Danika.”

“Danika. You know-”

“Yes. I know who she is.” I took a holocron from my pouch, and handed it to him. “View that.”

He knotted the towel around his waist, and activated the Holocron. I stood there as he watched it.

“Damn fools on the Council. Why are they surprised that she got it all back?”

“They didn’t anticipate that she would. Now we must complete this mission. I will need your help.”

“Why? She seems to be doing pretty good so far.”

“But she feels that she is weakening. I will need your help to bolster her self-confidence.”

‘Why? No one thought I was worth the effort way back when.”

“Jolee that was almost twenty years ago. I only remember you because your departure was still a subject of talk. Your leaving was more fun than the apprentices had in a decade Rather loud fun as I recall the stories.”

“Yeah. Because she was one of my best students, and they didn’t like my teaching style.”

“For her sake that must be put behind us. Will you help?”

He stared at the holocron, and his voice was soft. “Yeah. I can’t let them screw it up again.”


Ebon Hawk

Enroute to Manaan

Danika

I felt much better after meditating. I showered with Sasha. Now that she had accepted us, being close no longer bothered her. I dressed, and had her put on some of the clothes we had gotten for her on Tatooine. It was funny really. Most of the people there didn’t have children, so the shops didn’t carry a lot of children’s clothes. We had to fill out her wardrobe from a Jawa kiosk. Seeing that earnest little face thrust out of a Jawa hood was funny. Kashyyyk had shops and we had gotten her more clothes, but those Jawa robes were still her favorite.

I stepped into the mess hall, and felt a wave of fury from Juhani’s quarters. I walked over, reaching out, and she spun. “Don’t touch me!”

“Juhani. What is wrong?”

She hissed, standing from her crouch with a visible effort to control
herself. “I never told you where I came from, where I spent my childhood, did I?”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Maybe it was because I wanted to deny my feelings. To let it all pass away unnoticed. But I find I cannot. Someone must be to blame. Someone must atone for it!”

“Juhani-”

“Taris! I was raised on Taris! Someone is responsible for the destruction of everything I knew before I was eleven years old! You and Bastila are to blame! If you had not gone there, evaded the Sith, they would have had no reason to destroy the planet!”

I was stunned. “I’m sorry, Juhani, I didn’t know.”

“Didn’t know what?” She growled. “That the people there were going to die? That Malak would destroy them when he couldn’t capture you? That I heard you and Carth discussing what happened as if it were a party you had both been to where someone accidentally knocked over the punch bowl?”

“Juhani-”

“Just let me vent my anger! Allow me that little bit of feeling!” She raised her hand, and her claws extended and retracted. “I hated that place! Yet everything about me was formed there. Every breath I take every step in the ship’s gravity or any other planet reminds me that this is not home! Now all I have is an aching void where all of that was. And in that void, I see your face!”

“Juhani, do you think Malak would not have destroyed that world any way? Since he lost the controlling influence of Revan he had destroyed two worlds so far. I want you to believe me that if I had known Malak was that much of a madman, I would have turned myself over to them before the first Tarisian died. I am not worthy of such a sacrifice.”

“I know that. I know your heart, Danika. You would have died instead. But it is so hard, to have your entire past wiped away by a callous hand.”

“I can’t know it, Juhani. Come, tell me of Taris.”

“There is so much we must do-”

“No. At the moment, there is nothing more important than Taris, and your feelings.”

She sighed, the anger drained away. “It was a horrible place to live. Especially for non-humans. We were relegated to the Lowercity where the elite would not have to acknowledge our existence. Living in perpetual shadow, living off the refuse cast down from above. Working at menial labor because there was nothing else for us.”

“How did you survive?”

“It was a never-ending struggle. My family fought for every scrap to put on the table, to buy what was needed. But it was never enough. Taxes from the government that gave us nothing back. Fees charged by the Swoop Gangs to walk the very streets. Every credit saved from milli-creds to pay for food, clothing, and medicine.

“And always the hatred from those above. Bigotry made policy. When problems would occur, the media would automatically blame the ‘creatures’ that live below. Lording it over all with their wealth and power.

“Sometimes they would tour the Lowercity as if it were a petting zoo. Laughing behind their hands at the ‘animals’ that lived in the squalor they created.” She looked miserable, remembering. “But I found that some humans were not that way. There was a Swoop leader that had just taken over, Gadon Thek-”

“He was alive, fighting the Sith in a running battle in the Undercity when we left.”

She smiled. “If it is the same Thek I remembered, they may have destroyed the planet just to defeat him! There were others as well. Humans that seemed to embody the idea of Humanity.” She smiled. “Like the Jedi.”

“The one that sent you to the order?”

“No, she could not send me. They had only the ships bound for the front. They could not spare one to take a mere slip of a girl back. But she told me to find the Jedi Academies. Gave me a token to use to show to her teacher, master Vandar. Filled my head with a world that wasn’t hatred and shame. I can almost see her face in yours when I look at you.” She shook her head. “I wish my parents had never fled to Taris.”

“Fled?”

“A story for another time. I think Zaalbar is making some Merdai stew for those with iron stomachs.”


'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 04-26-2006, 10:36 AM   #85
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Good stuff. I found the changes you made to the Wookiee revolution believable, the manner in which Freyyr regained his chieftainship as well as his following Danika's advice in their fight against Czerka and other offworlders was IMO an improvement. An important strategy to gain public favor and sympathy in a rebellion, to portray the rebels as the good guys instead of the bad. That was good.


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Old 04-26-2006, 11:54 AM   #86
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Thanks. I was bothered because the two fights in this segment, (The brief one with Chuundar and company) and the taking of the Czerka station were lackluster in the game. So I just looked at history and did what I could.


'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 04-26-2006, 12:15 PM   #87
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Ebon Hawk

Enroute to Manaan

Canderous

I found that I had missed the Story circle of home more than I would have admitted to someone not of my clans. Zaalbar had made Merdai stew for some of us, with a milder form for the rest. I was not surprised when Danika and Sasha got bowls of it. Danika would have been Mandalore if she had been born right, and Sasha had learned. What did surprise me was the old man Jolee. He filled his bowl, and almost inhaled it rather than chewing. He filled his bowl again, and this vanished almost as fast.

“Real food again!” He said. Sasha watched him, as if afraid he would inhale her next. He looked at me, leaning back from the table. “You’re a big one! What clan?”

“Ordo of Clan Ordo.”

“Ah. I fought one of your ancestors. A guy named Ramius.”

“You fought Ramius Ordo?” I looked at him. “You don’t look to be a hundred years old.”

“Well my age is unimportant. There was a siege before the Sith wars. Your people had landed on a planet named Costigain, and I was sent to negotiate. It came down to adverse discussions-”

“Adverse discussions?” Carth asked.

“Talking with our lightsabers instead of with our mouths.” Jolee replied. “Of course this was supposed to be a ‘peaceful’ negotiation, so the only weapons in the room were dress daggers and fists. Well anyway I think it was someone getting angry on the settler side and defaming Ramius’ mother-”

“She died when he was a child. A settler on Subreka shot her from ambush then desecrated her body.” I said.

“That would explain why he was so upset. There was only one other Jedi with me, and we had to carry the brunt of the fight. Anyway Ramius cut his way through the others, and saw me. ‘You pup! Now you die!’ he shouted.

“Well I was a spry one. I finally beat him by running around the room like an out of control droid, until he finally fell so exhausted that he could barely breath. I bounced back, disarmed him, then hauled him over my lap spanked him like a ten year old misbehaving.”

“You didn’t!” Mission said, giggling.

“Yep I did. Shocked the Mando into stopping. Then I dragged that loudmouth over, and whaled the tar out of him too. Almost made the both of them stand in a corner holding hands the rest of the day.”

“Now I know you’re telling tales.” Carth said. He looked at me, and looked confused.

I laughed. No one had ever told that story from the other side before. I had heard it when the ancient Ramius had a little too much to drink. It was at once the high point and low point of his career as a warrior. “It happened just that way.” I gasped.

“Tell us more about Revan.” Danika asked.

“We fought the Republic over the course of many battle. At the start, they weren't much of a threat. The commanding officers were hesitant and tended to either attack down obvious junctions, or run when they actually found us ready to fight. Oh some were worthy foes. Admirals Karath and Dodonna come to mind. But then Revan took command, and things changed.

“The fleets began actually using tactics. Pincer movements mass deceptions, Revan was an acknowledged master when it came to feinting then slamming us to the ground. She abandoned worlds that had little or nothing to defend, using the weapons and ships to make planets we had to capture impregnable. She sacrificed a dozen ships in a feint to draw out our forces in one battle so she could crush one of our fleets against them. She knew how to take risks. I hear she had a way of questioning her commanders. She would pose a hypothetical question, and judge what they should do from the answer.

“We captured a Republic General, and he told us about that. ‘You’re in a small ship, a snub fighter. There is an asteroid, and you know it will hit a planet of ten billion people, and kill them. There are no other ships in the system, and the planet has no defenses.

“ ‘Your guns would be worthless; the only weapon you have is the ship you are flying. If you ram your ship into the asteroid, it will be obliterated, and you will die. But if you do no one will ever know what happened to you. The people you die for are unknown to you. Or you can call them and try to warn them. All they can look forward to is a horrible wait as they die. Or you can ignore the rock. No one will ever know that you did, and they will die unawares’.

“We listened; the riddle is a masterpiece if you think about it. You can tell what the man might do in other situations from it. One of our interrogators asked him what he answered. ‘I asked her to repeat it. She sent me here’. He didn’t understand why we laughed so hard. He was assigned to a supply depot on an unprotected planet, with few troops.

“What would you have done Danika?”

She sipped her tea. “Aimed at the meteor, and ejected before the ship hit it.”

“Why eject?” Canderous asked.

“Dying would be pointless. If I failed, I can die in shame waiting. If I succeeded, I know I would die at peace.”

“Something Revan would have approved of.“ Canderous said. “In the end Revan proved too much for us.”

“You couldn’t have won against the entire Galaxy!” Carth said.

“True.” I admitted. “But it was so close. It looked like the entire galaxy was in our grasp! There was a fleet at Kasmiri, and a base at Malchior V. If we smashed the fleet, the base would be ours. We struck, and the fleet ran away. We went on to Malchior and fell into the trap Revan had set. She had installed massive gravity generators in all of the asteroids of the system, then boosted those asteroids into orbits as far as a light minute from the planet. Then she took a small fleet and ‘guarded’ the planet.

“We laughed. The fleet she had was half the size of the one we had routed already, and we could crush it easily. Over two hundred Mando ship charged toward a third that number. We tasted victory. Then she sprung the trap. Five fleets came out of hyperspace behind us. Almost 400 hundred ships now faced us and the gravity generators trapped our fleet in normal space.” I looked from face to face.

“It wasn’t your ideals that defeated us that day. Not your men or your ships or your ‘fight for freedom’ that stopped us there. It was one thing. Revan. She out-thought our best; she stood on a ship being pulverized by our fleet, and calmly directed the other ships in decimating us. Less than thirty of our ships broke free. Mandalore had to order that retreat himself. No one would have dared to give such an order except for him. But we didn’t have the strength any longer to resist her advances.

“But you were losing? Why didn’t you retreat?” Danika asked.

“It is what we had wanted all along. We wanted to fight a battle against the best the Republic had to offer. A battle that would be remembered throughout history. We got what we wanted.

“What was left of the fleet fell back on our home world. The largest of them was the captured cruiser Vikrant, Mandalore‘s flagship.

“Then their ships came. Hundreds of them. We braced for an attack that didn’t come. Then there was a broadcast. Revan in that battle-mask she wore. ‘I am Revan Chadar Bai Echani. I challenge Mandalore to personal combat. Let none interfere‘.“ I looked at them. “You see she understood our people better than anyone we had ever fought. She knew that a personal challenge must be answered. And if she won, she would, under our law become Mandalore, and could order us as did all of those through our history.

“Mandalore picked a remote asteroid. Two ships only would be allowed to approach. Vikrant surged forward, and from their fleet came a ship of the same class. I think it was named Harvest Moon-”

Tik-harvest Moon.” Carth corrected.

“Yes. The ships closed, dropped the shuttles with the combatants and witnesses, and the battle commenced. To an aficionado, it was masterly. Two warriors, facing each other with the title of Mandalore as the prize. Mandalore tried to force the issue, staying far enough back that Revan‘s lightsaber could not reach him. His guns ravened, Revan leaping to escape blast after blast. Revan fell and it looked as if Mandalore might be winning when suddenly Revan flipped up onto a wall, then past Mandalore to strike down. Mandalore died, and she stood over his body.

“Revan, still in the mask, looked as if she had not even been disturbed by the slaughter she had done. ‘As the canons require, I have defeated Mandalore. I stand as your Mandalore now. Does any gainsay my ascension?’

“None could. She had won, and our laws were clear. She ordered us to return to our home worlds, and followed us there. When we arrived, she ordered any ships larger than a customs craft abandoned, and they were taken. Republic troops came down, and under her orders all of our heavy weapons, droids, and all combat equipment that was not personal property were destroyed.

“Then she had our troops marshaled. ‘Thanks to those who claim your blood but not your honor, your people for a time will have no honor. Until such time as I release you from this, no honor may be gained. You must live with your dishonor for as Mandalore I will not accept honor-death. Those that choose that way to atone go into the darkness bereft. I your Mandalore have spoken.‘. For some that hurt even more. It has always been our way that if you cannot have honor in life, you can gain it in death by your own hand.

“Then she left.” I sighed. “Some could not stand the shame. They went into honor-death, knowing that doing so dishonored them more. Others ran, becoming raiders, little more than thieves, as we know from, Dantooine.

“But one day we hoped that our honor would be returned. That is until Revan fell at Zanebra. Now we are trapped, unable to regain our honor, unwilling to surrender our lives. None can claim the title of Mandalore without ritual combat or the Mandalore’s word unless all of the Clans agree, and no leader living now is so beloved.

“We had lost, and Revan won. We don’t hold a grudge against her, even against those that fought there against us we have no animus. If she had been Mando, we would have drunk wine in the Republic Senate instead.” I sighed. “Instead we are nothing now.”



Danika

A short time later, the meeting broke up as we went to bed. I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to do some tinkering with the lightsabers and crystals we had collected on our journey. I was passing the mess hall when I heard Bastila’s voice.

“Jolee, may I have a moment?”

“Sure.” Jolee sounded tired. As if fighting the same argument yet again.

“There is something I think we need to discuss-”

“Spare me.” His voice was harsh, in pain. “I don’t want to hear the whole ‘come back to the order, all is forgiven’ argument one more time.”

“I know you have... issues with the order. But you are a Jedi, Jolee. You command the force as do we all. Without the guidance of the order how have you managed to stay on the side of light all these years?”

“Light side, dark side, you know it doesn’t even really matter any more. The concept doesn’t mean the same thing to you that it does to me. I just wanted to be left alone.”

“So Malak and the Sith can do what they please?” Her voice was sharp, angry.

“Listen, if I can I will help stop Malak and the Sith right alongside anyone that fights them. But I don’t have to join the order and kowtow to the council for that. Look at the crew of this ship. Carth, Canderous, Mission, Zaalbar. None of them are Jedi but you trust them to do their part. Put me alongside them if you want, but leave me out of it beyond that.”

“Jolee-”

“Damn it woman, what more do I need to say? It’s like Danika.”

“How do you mean?”

“The capacity for good and evil is in every person. Just as using the force is there in everyone if they can touch it. Our non Jedi crew do what they think is right, just as Danika is doing even now. You didn’t see the agony she went through facing that damn computer on Kashyyyk, I did. Her inherent honesty got her through that, and I expect everyone who can’t touch the force aboard this ship will make their decisions based on what they believe is right. Being a member of the Jedi or even of the Sith will not change a person’s basic nature.”

She sighed. “I can see you are adamant about this. No doubt you had a lot of time to think about what you might say if the discussion ever came up-”

“More than you might think, between dodging animals that wanted to invite me to dinner.”

“I guess it was foolish of me to think that I of all people could sway you in your position just with a reasoned argument.”

“If that’s your way of saying that I am old and stubborn, thank you. But I appreciate the effort.” He raised his voice. “Do you think I lived all those years without knowing when something was watching me, Danika?”

I stepped into the room. “Get some sleep, girl.” He ordered. “Leave an old man to his memories.” He looked at Bastila. “You too.”


Leviathan

Saul Karath walked hesitantly toward his lord and master. Malak stood where he usually did, staring out into space, and the glittering shape of the Star Forge. Karath fell to his knees and waited.

“You have something to report, Admiral?”

“News has come. Calo Nord is dead. He has failed.”

Malak turned. “It was not your failure, Admiral. Nord failed, and has died. Arise.”

Karath stood. “I can hire more bounty hunters-”

“To do what? Give them more target practice?” Malak asked. “No. I have sent for Darth Bandon.”

The main hatch opened and Darth Bandon entered. He was tall, a strong young man, dressed in black armor. He strode across the deck as if he owned it. Only when he reached his master did the man drop into a kneeling bow, head lowered. “My master has summoned me?”

“Yes. Bastila and her compatriots have escaped yet again. Prove your worth to me, my apprentice. Kill the woman that is with Bastila; kill the man that is with her. Bring Bastila to me alive if possible. But if not, she must die.”

“I obey my master.”


Thus those skilled at making the enemy move do so by creating a situation to which he must conform...

Manaan

Danika

I dived from above, seeing an ocean that stretched from horizon to horizon. There in the distance, was what looked like a structure, but it was not important. I dropped like a stone, plunging into the ocean. Down I flew, passing creatures both strange and wonderful. Ahead of me I saw a structure, and stopped. This had not been here before. At the foot of the farthest reach of the machinery, there was a circle of lights around the Star Map. I dropped to stand on the mud, feeling the water rock me gently. There was a cry, a sound of distress and anger. Off to one side I saw Firaxa, the predators of Manaan’s deep. Then a shadow came over, and I looked up at-

I opened my eyes. I had gotten better at least, not disturbing Sasha when a vision came to me. We were less than a day out of Manaan.

The next morning, Bastila was ecstatic.

“The Force continues to lead us on the proper path. Another Star Map. It is strange, however that the builders we seek should set such a map here. The entire surface is covered with oceans.”

“Perhaps like Tatooine, it wasn't always so.”

“There is that. A cataclysm such as the one that turned Tatooine into a desert might have melted the polar ice caps and drowned the planet. The records of that time are fragmentary, and the Selkath have little knowledge of the ocean depths, even though that is where they were born. No matter, we will find it.” As we closed I could see the city named Ahto. Fifty kilometers across, it rested on massive pylons that kept it high and dry for the visitors. It had been built only for visitors, because the Selkath were amphibious, with both gills and lungs, and suits to keep their skins wet when they were out of the water.

As we approached, it became more interesting. Davik was wanted on Manaan as was Ebon Hawk, and we had to use one of the extra ID chips for the ship. So it was Star-cluster Wayfarer that called down for landing instructions. There was no argument, and when we landed, there were no massive amounts of troops ready to lock us up. I went into the landing bay with Juhani and Mission.

The door opened on an argument. A Sith trooper in full armor was squared off with a Republic trooper. “You pathetic people. Living off the table scraps of the Senators!”

“The Senators work for the common good! Not for gain!”

The Sith laughed. “If you are truly that weak minded, you might live long enough to be ruled by someone with true strength, like the Sith!’

“I ought to rip your fool head off!” The Republic soldier said.

“Go ahead. If you’re man enough!” The Sith growled.

“Trooper.” I called the Republic soldier. “You have a duty to perform. I suggest you go about it.”

The Sith looked at me, and I could feel the glare. “Yes, run like a little child when your mother calls.”

“At least I know who my mother and father are.” I replied calmly. The Sith clenched his fist, and stormed off.

“Sorry, master Jedi. The Sith keep trying to goad us into fighting.” He motioned. There were a lot of security cameras. “The Selkath are neutrals, and they mean it. Any fighting, they dock the nation responsible. So far we’ve spent almost twice what the Kolto cost in fines.” He laughed. “But so have the Sith, so I think it’s working out.”

“So the Selkath are neutral. What of the Sith?”

“Neutral means just that. Neither side is allowed warships, or to attack an enemy ship in their system. If you do, they cut off your side‘s share of the Kolto.”

“But the Sith could just move on in!” Mission said.

“Don’t bet on it. The only people that can get down to harvest the Kolto are the Selkath. This entire city,” He waved at the structure, “was built for our benefit, not theirs. When the Sith Ambassador of two years ago suggested they could take it by force, the Selkath council itemized every weapon the Sith had, and how just aiming at a Selkath would cause them to sink the city. No one wants to find out if they’re really that crazy. The Kolto is too important.”

I nodded. Kolto is a healing agent, and also has a regenerative effect in medicinal quantities. Billions of lives had been saved in the years since it was first discovered. What it was really no one could say. The Selkath brought it up out of the ocean, processed it, and sold it. All attempts to duplicate it in a laboratory thus far had failed. The only source was controlled by people who obviously wanted to be left alone.

“They sell it to anyone that brings in a ship with the credits for it.” The soldier went on. “Us, the Sith, they don't care. They even sold to the Mandalorians during that war.”

“Why haven’t they joined the Republic?”

He shrugged. “If someone had asked before this war began, they might have. But right now it’s too profitable selling to both sides. But I can’t see the Sith just standing there and taking that for long.”

Neither could I. “We’re looking for the Embassy.”

“There’s an information kiosk at the Port authority office. They’ll give you a map there.”

“Thank you.” We walked out. There was a small kiosk beyond the door. I heard a voice in Selkath over the speakers. I looked up.

ENTERING CITY STRUCTURE. ALL CAMERAS NOW ACTIVATED

“I know, it’s disturbing, but it’s to warn visitors where the law stops on the city.” The Selkath at the kiosk said. “Otherwise you dry landers would be killing anything and everything!” They were an odd looking race to us land dwellers. Bipedal, with two arms which ended in webbed hands, they had to wear an environmental suit constantly to keep their leathery skin moist. The wide flat snout stuck out, with two small dewlaps that hung from the end of their jaws. A mister sprayed over the head, keeping it moist. The two eyes at the back of the skull were set to look outward. The merchant had to turn his head side to side to look at us with both eyes.

“I carry a variety of souvenirs, and local delicacies for the discerning palate if you’ve a mind.”

I glanced at Mission. “Do you have any candy?”

“Ah, sweets for children?” He ignored Mission’s protest. He pulled out a small bag of jelly like blocks. “This is Maaanal. I will allow your youngling a sample.”

Mission took a piece out, and popped it in her mouth, “Oh! That is good!’

“One credit for a large bag.” He held up a bag that would hold about a kilo of the sweet.

Mission looked at me entreatingly, and I paid for it. “Be right back.” She ran toward the ship.

“Should I ask what it is made of?” I asked when she was out of earshot.

“It is made from the belly slime of a Mala fish. Humans can be so, disturbed by natural processes.”

“Thank you for not telling us earlier.” I said. Mission rejoined us, and we walked on toward the central alleyway. The city had five sections, and each was separated by wind screens and shields to block the ever present waves. With no land to block them, the waves could reach 100 meters in height and more when storm driven. The first section was the Docking ring, set in the center of the giant donut. Access was restricted to the owners when they were corporate, or by nationalities, so that the Sith docks were in one section, and the Republic in another. We had landed in the unaligned area. If we had given a Republic code, they would have sent us there instead.

A tram rushed us to West Central, where the customs kiosk was. We found only another Selkath, and a heavy guard droid. As we entered, the droid straightened, and it’s targeting sensors locked on us.

“Halt.” It ordered. “Who among you is Davik Kang?”

“Davik Kang is dead. Why are we being asked this question?”

“Your vessel was registered as owned by Davik Kang, a known smuggler.” The Selkath replied. “We allowed it to land in hopes that we had finally captured the criminal. Ship’s papers please?”

I handed over the ID chip. “Ah, purchased a month ago. Very well. Droid, stand down.” The droid settled back, and fell silent. “Welcome to Ahto City, we hope you will decide to obey our laws while you are here?”

“What laws specifically?” I asked.

“Human humor, I see. The single most important law is that smuggling of Kolto is punishable by death. If you are carrying Kolto in any form, you must also have a permit for the amount you carry except in standard medicinal quantities for your species.

“The only other rule is that the planet and our people are neutrals in this war out there. We adhere strictly to that policy. If you part in a confrontation here, and it is proven that you are responsible for it, you will be fined. If you are actively working for either the Sith Empire, or the Republic Alliance, your national units will be fined. Is this understood?” I nodded.

“We allow the carrying of weapons because we practice religious freedom here. It would not be right to tell you to disarm when an Echani needs to carry his under his religion or a mercenary because they are the tools of his trade. This means you must practice restraint. Is there anything else?”

I shook my head. He named the fee, and I paid it. He handed me a set of translator plugs, and a map. “Please peruse the guide if you have any questions. There are information pads in every corridor, and by touching one, you can gather any information not within the guide. Thank you for visiting.”


'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 04-26-2006, 09:41 PM   #88
Char Ell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by post #87
“Ordo of Clan Ordo.”
Perhaps this would be better as Canderous of Clan Ordo?
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #87
“True.” I admitted. “But it was so close. It looked like the entire galaxy was in our grasp! There was a fleet at Kasmiri, and a base at Malchior V. If we smashed the fleet, the base would be ours. We struck, and the fleet ran away. We went on to Malchior and fell into the trap Revan had set.
Are you creating a new planet here or do you refer to the planet where Revan's forces defeated the Mandalorians and won the Mandalorian War? If it's the latter option then you've got a spelling error here. The planet is Malachor V, not Malchior V.
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #87
“We allow the carrying of weapons because we practice religious freedom here. It would not be right to tell you to disarm when an Echani needs to carry his under his religion or a mercenary because they are the tools of his trade. This means you must practice restraint. Is there anything else?”
A nice addition to explain why the Selkath allow weapons to be carried within their city.
I also liked how you expounded on the circumstances of the duel between Mandalore and Revan. That filled in some holes that the game had with that particular story.


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Old 04-27-2006, 10:27 AM   #89
machievelli
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Very good. Thanks for that eagle eye.


'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 04-27-2006, 11:18 AM   #90
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Ahto West

Mission

That Maaanal was tasty! I had brought a handful along, hoping Sasha the glutton wouldn’t scarf it all while we were gone. Danika and Juhani kept looking at me and smiling. I ignored them. I’m a growing girl, well, in one area at least, and we need our calories, you know? The Selkath had set up the main tramline with malicious aforethought. Unless you’re going to the docking ring, the trams stop at each section on the way and you have to transfer. The Embassy was in East Central, but to get there you had to go through West, then West Central...

You get the picture.

We strolled, with both Danika and Juhani watching everything. Man, you’d think at that age with their looks they should have trolled the first cantina they came to for free drinks. But not them. We came to the edge of the city walk, and looked down. The edge of the disk of the city ran down a kilometer long slope from where we were, and as we watched a huge wave ran up almost to the city walk. Like a steel beach! Danika was looking at it, then turned. I can't feel the force, but I knew she felt something. Then she was striding forward, into of all things, a cantina.

Back in the back of the room, a Selkath sat by himself. I don't know what he was drinking, but if his breath was any indication, woof!

“You are troubled.” Danika said.

The Selkath looked up, then away. “Leave me in my misery if you are of the Sith.”

“I am not of the Sith. I am a Jedi.”

“Jedi?” The fish-man looked at her in that goggling way they had. “Perhaps you can help an old fin then. I expect that we have little in common human, but do your people have a love of family?”

“Yes, we do.”

“Then listen and tell me if you can help. I have no love of the Sith. They have never allowed anyone to stay neutral before, and their words do not match their natures. They do not respect our laws, and try to get your people to break it with their words.

“I would never allow this to continue, but I am only an old professor, and no one wishes to learn history anymore. But I believe I can gain the proof of what I think is happening.”

“Tell me.” Danika was in that gentle bemused place she gets in. They tell me it helps when you’re negotiating.

“Many of our young have gone missing. They have only a few things in common. They are all on the cusp of adulthood, all what you might call ‘lucky’, and, they are all children of our leaders. The ones that in the next few years will become our Councilors. My own Shasha is among them.”

“A professor’s child? Why would they take her?” I asked. Danika gave me a ‘butt out’ look.

“Well I am also a Councilor. I am on the High Council itself.” He admitted. “I am most alarmed because these disappearances began when the new Ambassador arrived. The last one had a bit of a mischief.”

“He did?”

“He called A Wookiee that belonged to Czerka Corporation a monkey. The fellow twisted his head completely around before the restraining collar could stop him.”

“I am touched.” Danika replied. “Czerka just lost control of Kashyyyk.”

“I have heard. The Wookiee here have all asked for and received political asylum. They are awaiting transport home.”

So you want me to investigate these disappearances?”

“Yes. There is no one else I can turn to. The Mercenaries aren’t allowed out of this section of the city without a valid contract, and the Republic troops are too carefully watched.”

“If you find any information, you can contact me through the barkeep. He will send it to me immediately.”

“Agreed.”

We began to walk out, and another of the fish-folk stopped us. “You are new here. Are you mercenaries?”

“No, we are not.”

“Perhaps you are Sith? or Republic?”

“We are Jedi.” Juhani replied.

“Ah, the legendary beings! Perhaps you can help me, then. I am Nilkos Bwaas. I saw you speaking with Councilor Shaelas, and he is a good judge of beings. I am a factor for several mercenaries that call our city home.

“Recently the Republic has been hiring mercenaries. Many more than usual. As a representative of our government, I am bothered by this sudden change of policy. Usually the Sith hire the mercenaries. But most have gone with Republic officials instead over the last few days. The Sith have also noticed, and are busy hiring every one they can to stop the Republic plan, whatever it is.

“I cannot ask the Republic, they will try to keep their reasons secret. I also cannot ask the Sith because they will slant the information I receive to paint he Republic in the worst possible colors As for the mercenaries, they are being offered more than a standard contract will explain, and don't care as long as the credits are good.”

“I don't know about this, Danika. Aren't the Republic the good guys?” I asked.

“You are correct, Mission, but just to assure the truth perhaps we should investigate this, Danika. If only to calm his fears.” Juhani murmured.

“I am a friend of the Republic.” Nilkos said. “But I must know what is happening. Relations are already strained thanks to our own council. There is talk of throwing both governments off our planet, allowing only transshipment of Kolto through a civilian carrier trusted by both sides.”

I looked at Danika. She was grim. The information dovetailed too neatly with what Jordo had given us.

“We will investigate this.” Danika replied.

“Can it be that Jordo is truthful?” Juhani asked.

“A civilian carrier ‘trusted by both sides’ sounds like Czerka to me. Mission, find an info kiosk. See if there is a Czerka office here.”

I stopped at the info pad they had installed, pulling out my tools. People tend to forget that if you take a computer and link it to a net, the right person can access anything.

I’m not polishing my Lekku, but when it comes to computers, I am the right person.

“Got it! Located in Ahto East Central, near the Republic embassy. But their main computer isn’t in the system. Neither is the Sith or Republic ones.”

“Not surprising.” Danika murmured. “Come. We have an ambassador to see.”

The tram dropped us near the ocean. We walked into the main courtyard, and I nodded toward a door. “Czerka offices.”

Danika nodded. “How fast can you work?”

“Well a droid would be better than I am, but... Five minutes?”

“Too long.” She decided. “We would need to clear the building for that long, and can’t see them letting us.”

“Well I can clear the building!” I said. They looked at me. “I did access everything but their main systems. Their secondary system includes environmental. Have you consider how bad some stuff can smell?”

“What do you mean?”

I held up the tourist guide. “It says here that Raw Kolto has an odor so horrible that only the Selkath seem to be immune to it. Processing is required to alleviate this odor, and only the final refining process limits it to a tolerable level. That,” I pointed at the large door beside the Czerka office, “Is listed on the map as a raw Kolto storage area.”

“Mission, must we always put up with your criminal proclivities?” Danika asked in a mock-severe tone. “Though I think this would be more on the practical joke side.”

I grinned, and ran to the nearest information kiosk. I sliced in, and had a thought. When they tried to fix the problem, they would discover what I had done. Maybe... I checked the info for news. Czerka hadn’t officially reported what was happening on Kashyyyk yet, though it was in everyone else’s news. All they had to say was complaints against the ’high handed’ manner of the local courts judging the Wookiee here as free. I came up with a name, The Anti-Slavery People’s Army, and quickly drafted a communique claiming responsibility for their ‘attack’ on Czerka here. I downloaded it to a datapad then wiped the case, and logged out. I sliced back in using another kiosk a few meters away, and first buggered the local cameras. They fuzzed out and would remain out for the next ten minutes.

Now, shift forced draft air from here, order it sent to here instead. Open vents here and here...

I logged out, and was back beside my friends when suddenly there was this horrendous smell! When they said raw Kolto smelled bad, they weren’t joking! It made Zaalbar’s breath smell sweet! Everyone who wasn’t Selkath recoiled from the stench. A group of people ran frantically from the Czerka office. I slipped on a breathing mask, and as they ran past us, took off at a dead run.

Behind me, Danika and Juhani were helping, making people look other ways as I went through the door. I dropped my datapad with the declaration, then ran into one of the inner offices. There was a terminal still up! That saved me time. I sliced in, bringing up secret company correspondence. There was a lot, but I downloaded all of it onto a datapad I picked up off the desk with a nice Czerka logo on it. A good touch if you ask me.

Thanks to the already operational console, I was back out in three minutes flat.

I pulled off my mask, and took a deep breath.

Bad idea. I whooped my cookies right there. I hated that part. I didn’t have any more Maaanal and would have to hope that Sasha had left me some. Coming back up, it tasted like fish slime!

Danika and Juhani ran in, picking me up, and carrying me out of the way as a whole lot of Selkath arrived. Some were obviously the local cops, and they were looking for someone. But the only one close to us looked at me, then past to search.
We had to stay there the better part of an hour as the Selkath first shut down the vent system, then began looking for the Anti-Slavery People’s Army rep they had caught on the monitors. They showed around the picture, but we didn’t recognize her. A pity. According to their cameras she was short human with red hair and Echani armor. Nothing at all like me.



Ahto East Central

Danika

While we were waiting, I read the correspondence Mission had downloaded. The part that bothered me most was a comment on one of the inner office memos;

‘The contract has been sent to the Sith Ambassador, who has been trying to adjust the conditions. He will get it back to me by close of business in two days’.

That had been written yesterday. I nibbled at my lip as the Selkath finally began allowing people to move again. If I had a reason, I could enter the Sith embassy, but what reason could I give?

The Republic embassy was a small structure off Ahto East. We went through the process of reporting in, asking for an audience with the Ambassador. Surprisingly, as soon as the guards knew we were Jedi, we were sent in immediately.

He greeted us like an officer in charge of a besieged garrison. “Welcome! I am Roland Wann, Ambassador to Manaan. I’m so glad you finally arrived!”

I looked at him oddly. “We were not scheduled to arrive, Ambassador. We have another mission for the Jedi Council.”

His smile slipped. “Oh, dear. Well what can I do for you?”

“We are looking for a Star Map. A relic of an ancient and forgotten people.”

“An ancient and forgotten people.” He repeated. “That might be what we found.”

“You know something?” I asked.

“Perhaps.” His aura grew darker, a sign of duplicity. “However, if you wish my information, you must help me out with a problem first.”

“Ambassador, we are Jedi. We do not barter like fishmongers in the street.”

“If my problem is not taken care of, you will not have time to go to the artifact we have discovered.” He replied waspishly. “We were using a submersible reconnaissance droid near Hrakert Rift which is about twenty kilometers from the city. Something we have never seen before damaged it during that mission. The last record we received showed literally hundreds of the Firaxan sharks circling the Rift.

“The droid was badly damaged, and it’s auto systems engaged to get it back to the surface. However a small Sith vessel was inbound, and spotted it first. They picked it up, and took it into their Embassy.

“The Sith have been pressuring the local government for some times, and they were able to block our attempts to get it back. Once it was inside their embassy of course, they didn’t need to. The droid’s data block is heavily encrypted, and we know it will take several days for the Sith to access it. But they have already had twelve hours to work on it, and time is running out!”

“What about your own troops?”

“First, we would be in violation of Selkath law if I sent troops in to retrieve it. Such an act could get the Selkath to evict us from the planet, and cut our supply of Kolto. Second,” He sighed. “All of the troops I have available were sent on another mission, and have not yet returned. We do not have time to waste.”

I nodded. The Star Map and the droid were linked in this web of duplicity. So were the men he had sent out. I felt that he didn’t expect them to return at all. “How would I get into this base?”

“We have several ways to do it. Any would work for you. There is a Sith prisoner we captured trying to access our computer here in the embassy. He probably knows the access codes to the upper level.”
I suddenly pictured someone being interrogated, the pain of the field tearing at his body, the shock as you realized that pain was all the interrogator would give you, and unless you talked, all you would receive this side of death. “Find another way.” I rasped.

“The Sith have exclusive access to a docking bay for a shuttle that runs from here to the lower level of the Sith embassy. It has an encrypted access, but the man we captured had a pass card for that door.”

I reached out, and he handed me the pass card. “I should warn you that we have no idea of the numbers the Sith maintain in the embassy. If you do not move swiftly and decisively, they will overwhelm you. I must also warn you that the Republic will disavow any knowledge of your actions. I cannot protect you if you are captured.”

I had never considered that he might. Kolto was too important to the war effort. We left, returning to the ship. I decided to take Juhani and T3 with me. If we needed to break into computers in the Sith embassy, T3 was much better suited. Mission went in search of Sasha to get some more of the Maaanal. I shuddered. Maybe it was addictive to humans or Twi-lek?

Juhani stepped down onto the dock, and T3 rolled to a stop beside her. “We go in quietly if we can, but no one stops us. Understood?”

Juhani nodded. T3 just burbled and beeped. I led the way back to the tram, and inserted the Sith pass card. The tram rumbled along, and stopped at another section of the docking ring. I stepped out, leading them to a door into one of the bays. I opened it, and we entered the access way.

EXITING CITY STRUCTURE. ALL CAMERAS NOW DEACTIVATED. The system said.

The inner door opened, and a Dark Jedi turned, seeing us. I blasted him off his feet with the force, my light saber singing. “So much for quietly.” I whispered.

T3 rolled in, turned, and the twin blasters in his dome popped up. He took three Sith troopers in armor to our left under fire as Juhani charged three more on our right. I charged at the Jedi, cutting him down. I blocked a blast, the bolt ricocheting to blow another trooper off his feet as Juhani dealt with the last one on her side. T3 rolled forward, checking the bodies of his kills.

There was a small shuttlecraft resting on the pad, and we entered it. There was only one control, a red button, and a slot for the pass card. I slid it in, and the ship lifted, rotating as the ramp closed. It flew outward, then dived, turning to fly under the city. The bottom of the city was smooth. Any crevices or bends in the metal would have given the ocean something to pull against during a storm. The shuttle aimed upward, and a section of the city opened ahead. The ship flew in, settled on a landing pad, and cycled down.



Sith Embassy

Danika

We moved into the embassy, and T3 led the way. There was a door ahead, and he stopped at it, inserting an arm into the locking mechanism. There was a squealing, and it opened into a room. We went left, passing down a hall. The door at the end read Flow Control Room. We charged in, dealing with the guards there. There was a computer, but it was controlling just the flow of water into a series of rooms in a baffling manner. We went on, and found a hallway blocked by a force field. Beyond it were two hulking Heavy droids.

What is in there? I wondered. It felt important, but not pressing. "Where is the droid facility?”

T3 rolled up to an access panel, and plugged in. Then it bleeped, and my data pad blossomed with another section of halls, One was marked as the main entrance to the city above, the other had a room marked ‘Droid Recovery Room’.

“Is this the best you can do?” I asked. He bleeped. I read my pad.

-All that is in the memory of this toaster they have mounted in the wall.
There is a main computer beyond the droid recovery room- The section that ended in darkness flashed as if to say, ‘here dummy’.

I shook my head, and we headed for the recovery room. Unfortunately we had to pass through the Security control room, and we couldn't have timed our arrival worse if we had tried. The shift was changing, and every soldier knows that this is the most alert time of any watch.

The guard at the desk challenged us, and started to press a button. I reached out, and she slumped stunned as we charged the guards. There were five of them, but we took care of them easily. We hurried past into the section where the Droid Recovery Room was. The guards there were expecting relief, not an attack. We took them down, and turned to look at the droid. It was shaped like a torpedo with legs, all hanging limply at the moment. T3 rolled up, hoisted himself to full height, and opened the side. He pulled out the data module, and signaled that he was done.

Instead of heading back, we went on down the hall that T3 said led to the main computer. We entered a large atrium, and ducked for cover as a Sith and a Selkath came out of a room to the south.

“Then it is agreed Duula?” He asked.

“Yes. Ambassador Kolorid. The next time there is a major confrontation between your peoples, and the Republic is judged to be the blame, I will call for the removal of both forces from Manaan. Czerka Corporation has already offered to take up the shipments of both sides.” The Selkath said.

“Good.” Kolorid purred. “I am sure that Czerka will live up to their responsibilities.”

“You understand this is the only way to maintain our neutrality.” Duula went on. “If fight you must, you must do it away from here.”

“I can agree with that. I know my Republic Counterpart will disagree, but he wants the Kolto for himself.”

They stood exchanging platitudes for several more minutes, then the Selkath touched a stud on his armband. A small flyer lifted over the rail, and he mounted it.

“As do we, you stupid fish.” Kolorid growled. He went back into the office.

T3 rolled out, and entered the hallway to the main computer. He accessed the system, humming in satisfaction.

-I can slice and dice this system- He bleeped. -Do you want it fried or as sushi? -

“Don’t say that where the Selkath can hear you.” I admonished. “Any guards left?”

-One barracks. Neutralized-

“Droids?”

-The two in the passageway we saw. Disabled. Force field down-

“What about the contract the Czerka rep was talking about?”

-Correspondence over a four week period including discussions on the percentage of Republic consigned Kolto to be turned over to Sith ships, then reported as ‘captured’ by Sith forces. The Sith want 45%, Czerka wants to limit it to 25. Copy downloaded to data pad-

“So they get paid twice.” Juhani said. “The Republic even pays their insurance for loss!” I nodded.

“What is that area beyond the droids?”

-Marked Selkath Training Area. Marked as Accessed only by Dark Jedi Master Tolan-

“Dark Jedi Master?” Juhani asked aghast. Among the Jedi, you have merely Apprentice Padawan and Master as ranks, though Padawan are also divided into Padawan-learner and Padawan-Knight. But the Sith seemed to have discovered the pleasures of a bureaucracy. Apprentices, Dark Jedi, Dark Jedi Teachers, Dark Jedi Masters, Darth Apprentices, and Darth Masters.

“We have to find out what is in there.” I said. “Dark Jedi or no.” I looked at T3. “Can you store all of the data you have collected in a file so no one can access it without my command?”

-As if that were hard. All data collected in this complex stored in file ‘Ship maintenance’ and 200 pages of basic maintenance of the ship stuck on at the start-

We moved back to the force field. The droids beyond it were dark, and T3 went up to each disabling them permanently.

I walked past them, and into the hall beyond. The walls were covered with murals, and each mural extolled a battle the Sith had won, or a great leader of their sect. However history played second fiddle to histrionics. Darth Kun killing his master, but in the mural, Vodo-Siosk Baas was attacking him from behind. Yavin, with Exar Kun standing on the summit of his temple, the worshipful Massassi falling to power the great bolt of force he fired into the heavens. There were more, each more appalling. Ajunta Pall, the first of the Jedi to join the Sith, looking like a saint as he stood on Korriban on a pile of bodies.

I was sickened by the time we reached the end of the corridor. I heard a moan, and knew that it was not sound, but the Force calling. I turned right, and opened the door marked Medical Bay. Lying on the floor was a horribly tortured young Selkath. I knelt beside him, running my hand over his head gently. The rubbery skin was soft.

“Shasha?” The dying male asked in a soft voice.

“No. I am Danika. I am a Jedi.”

“Then it is not too late.” He tried to roll over, and I helped him. He ripped open his suit, pulling out a small medallion. “Tell Shasha... tell the others... The Sith...” He gasped, and died.

I clutched the medallion, then lay him back down. “T3, where is this ‘master’ Tolan.”

He bleeped, and for once I didn't need the translation. I stormed down the hall to the door, and it opened. A Selkath was busy with two training droids, and I slammed him into a wall with the force hard enough to knock him out. The door beyond was where Tolan was.

This door also opened. “Who dares disturb...” He stared at me. “You’re dead!”

“What is it, Master?” One of the Selkath apprentices with him asked.

“Kill her!” He screamed.

I stepped between them. To me at that moment they were stuck in syrup and unable to move. I struck at Tolan, and his lightsaber blocked me. He reached out, and I felt his feeble attempt to catch my throat. I pushed it aside, then reached out. I could visualize his heart, and he spasmed as my hand closed on it. One squeeze...

No! I would not sink to his level!

I released him, then cut, his head bouncing across the floor. Juhani looked at me, and I could see the shock then approval at how close I had come to becoming what I hated the most.

It took a few minutes to find Tolan’s logs. He had waxed lyrical on the ‘naiveté’ of the Selkath, and how they would fall into the line the Sith demanded without demur. As for the poor tortured Selkath, he had noted, ‘Galas has proven intransigent, wanting reasons for why the Jedi are evil. I have dealt him a lesson in pain that would have pleased Darth Malak!’

I held it. I knew somehow where the Selkath apprentices were. I led our party back to them.

The door hissed open, and the four Selkath stood. “Intruders! I can feel the force in them. The Jedi are attacking!” He looked to a female. “Shasha, should we call our Master?”

“Not yet. We cannot run to the Master every time a little problem occurs. We will handle this by ourselves.”

“Perhaps this is a test they have given us!” Another Selkath said.

“Perhaps. Speak, Human. What are you doing here? Only Loyal Selkath of the New Order and our Dark Jedi Masters are allowed here!”

“I send you greetings from your father Shaelas. He asked me to investigate your whereabouts.”

“I told you he would investigate Shasha! You’re father has always hated the Sith!”

“My father is blinded by his own prejudice! He cannot see that we, the young must soon lead, and it is we that will make the decisions. Decisions guided by what is right for our people!” She glared at me. “Return to that old man who knows nothing of truth! The Sith teach us the ways of the force, praise us for our insight! They will lead us into a new world where we will decide! Not old stupid men!”

“They lie to you.” I said.

“Everything the Republic spouts about the Sith are half-truths and full lies! They are no more monsters than the Republic! Their system is purer, in that the intelligent and the strong lead!” She laughed. “As a sign of their good faith, they have even promised to withdraw their forces after the Republic is defeated!”

I sighed. Then I spoke from the well of the Force within me in her own language. “And it is said the Firaxa will promise to let you go if you enter his mouth. For he knows a meal says nothing of value about being eaten.”

She stiffened. “Spare us your lies! The Sith have treated us with nothing but respect! Your words say that we are prisoners, but do you see any guards? Galas decided that this was not his way, and was returned to the city not an hour ago!”

“What of Taris-”

“Taris was propaganda! Like the claims of the Mandalore atrocities that were lies!”

I held out my hand, the medallion Galas had given me on my palm. “Look in the Medical Bay. You will find a young Selkath tortured to death. Before he died, he gave me this.”

One of the Selkath took it, looking at the medallion. “I recognize this! I gave it to Galas when we were both young!”

“Lies and more lies!” I could see that she was shaken by it. “You must have killed him yourself! That is only proof that Galas is dead, but not of who killed him!”

Wordlessly, I handed her the datapad. Shasha took it, and keyed it open. The others gathered to look.

“Shasha, this is the master’s own pad! And that is the master!” They watched the scene play out. Shasha shut it off, and her hand dropped lifeless.

I spoke gently. “Shasha, I know what they said to you. ‘The old will not pay attention until you force them. They are jealous of what you can do that they no longer can. We can give you the power they have now, rather than waiting the years they say you must’.” I shook my head sadly. “I would have gladly brought you to the attention of the Council if I had seen you before today. Do you think that I, your elder by ten years likes being told that I am too young and foolish? Yet there is wisdom in the words, ‘He that admits he doesn’t know everything is willing to learn anything’. My master told me that.”

“I cannot deny it.” She said sadly. “The Sith only use us to betray our people. We must take this to my father, report this to the Council.” She looked sadly at me. “It was a beautiful dream, but not real, as dreams are not. I apologize for my harsh words. We must go from here, warn our people of what the Sith intend.”

They walked out with the pad. We retraced our steps to the elevator.


'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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Old 04-28-2006, 01:08 AM   #91
Char Ell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaelas in post #90
... My own Shasha is among them.”
In the game the name of Shaelas' daughter's is Shasa. The second h is not needed.

It took me a while but I think I finally understand what you've added to the story regarding the kolto. The Sith ambassador had an agreement with Duula that Duula would use his position on the court to get both the Sith and the Republic thrown off Manaan after their next conflict. Czerka would then take control of kolto exports and would "lose" some of the Republic shipments to Sith attacks, only the shipments would go to the Sith instead. Did I get it right? If so then I think you did an expert job with this addition. IIRC Duula was the judge who seemed to favor the Sith in the game and now, thanks to this chapter, we know why.


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Old 04-28-2006, 10:02 AM   #92
machievelli
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The biggest problem with the hardcore pacifist is they do things that are truly reprehensible in the name of their belief. Chamberlain gave away a country he didn't even own to guarantee peace for his own, and failed.

Nost of the really hardcore one's automatically assume that it is your own side that is wrong. It has to be because otherwise you wouldn't be fighting.


'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 04-28-2006, 10:35 AM   #93
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Arrest

Danika

A pair of Selkath in Constabulary uniforms with a full dozen droids awaited our arrival on the deck above. “You there, human! You are to be placed under arrest by order of the City Council of Ahto City. You will come with me.”

“Why am I being arrested?” I asked. T3 and Juhani had moved aside, ready to attack at my word.

“While the Sith Embassy is by law an extraterritorial region, our systems have detected a number of energy discharges suggesting weapons fire. Inquiries of the embassy staff have netted incomprehension. The only person that could be contacted was the ambassador himself. He has since reported that there are a number of dead and things of great value have been stolen.

“You, the Cathar and your droid were reported by the cameras in docking section 7A, which is restricted to the Sith, yet your entry records state no such allegiance.

“As the leader of this party it is the judgment that you are the cause of the loss of communication, and are guilty of murder and theft. Your companions will be returned to your vessel, and the ship will be banned from departure until your trial is completed.

“You will now come with us. Any attempt to escape will be dealt with. Lethal force has been authorized.”

I looked at him, then took my lightsaber from my belt, handing it to Juhani. “I am at you disposal.”

The trams may have been set to go through all the areas of the city, but the pass card the Selkath officer used took us straight to Ahto West, where the court and the holding facility was. I was put in a holding cell, and the door closed. I knelt, and focused my mind. I meditated while I waited. Something brought my attention back, and I opened my eyes, seeing Ambassador Kolorid.

“Well, I have to thank you woman. Thanks to this brazen attack, the Republic will either be barred from the planet, or will pay such a fine that they will buy our Kolto for the next year.”

“I think not.” I said softly. “My trial will reveal that you have been taking Selkath youths and trying to convert them to your philosophy.”

His smile slipped. “You can’t prove that. We know your droid didn’t have any such data in his memory banks.” We asked the Selkath to check. And the data pad you carried?” He smirked. “Proprietary diplomatic correspondence. We demanded its return.”

“Then it is only my word against yours.” I said, closing my eyes. “Go away, Ambassador.”

He stormed off. I was starting to sink back into meditation when someone else came to the cell. I sighed, opening my eyes. It was a Selkath in a drab covering.

“I am Bwa’lass. I have been selected to be your arbiter for your trial.”
“Arbiter?”

“Yes. The accused is allowed an arbiter to speak his case, since only the arbiter may speak unless the subject is questioned in court. It streamlines our court system. I will endeavor to prove you innocent of these crimes, and if not, try to mitigate the severity of the sentencing.”

“What have I been charged with?”

“Initiating violence against the Sith within their embassy, murder of Sith embassy personnel, and disregarding our own laws in so doing.” He checked his datapad. “The evidence is strong, but I may be able to mitigate sentencing at least.”

An alarm went off in my head. “You don’t expect me to go free.”

“It is highly unlikely. The Sith have supplied video data that shows you assaulting their people, and killing them. However there may be mitigation in your reasons for being there. I have been given all the relevant background data on you and your companions, so we can ignore that. For what reason did you enter the Sith Embassy illegally?”

“I, well, I broke in.”

He made a whistling sound I knew was the equivalent of a human snorting. “Criminality seems to be the norm with you off worlders. I am not terribly surprised by your actions, but the court will wish to hear something more substantative. What is your prior association with the Sith?”

“I am on a mission for the Jedi Council. As such my previous dealings with the Sith are not germane to this case.”

“I would beg to differ. It is well known that the Jedi and the Sith hate each other. The Sith are an expansionist power, as is the Republic and the Jedi are known to back the Republic where the Sith are involved. You and your Council may make it your personal mission to forestall them, but we frown on you fighting on our planet.

“I think you will need a more thorough explanation, including your mission in order to convince our judges.” He hummed to himself. “That seems to be all I need before the trial. When you are ready, I can petition the Judges for the trial to commence.”

That had been the most lackluster attempt at an interview I had ever heard. “That is all you’re going to ask?”

“I have all the information I need to mitigate your sentencing. The facts on the other matters are clear.”

“If it’s all the same to you, I would rather defend myself.”

He looked at me. “While that is your right, I would advise against it. I am versed in all the necessary particulars of this case and the laws of the Selkath as they apply. To set me aside as arbiter will put you at risk of the death penalty.”

“That is all well and good, but I would rather go into court as my own council, rather than with an arbiter who already believes my guilt and merely seeks to mitigate it.”

“I will so inform the court. I will also ask as my final act as your arbiter, that they give you until dawn tomorrow to think about this request.”



Breakout, sort of

Danika

It was around midnight when I came out of meditation with a start. There had been a sound, like a sonic rifle going off, but hushed. I came to my feet, and reached for the door. There was a tingle of electricity. If I touched it I would bounce around the tiny cell for an hour before I stopped.

I concentrated on the lock, and it snicked open. The field collapsed as it did. I shoved the door open, then snatched a data pad from the desk, setting it to record. With the Force, I leaped onto the lintel of the door.

The door hissed open below me, and I imagined myself a brick in the wall. Two people entered. The darkness hid their race. One of them aimed a wide-belled weapon, and the sonic charge blasted into my cell. “Get her.”

The other opened the door, and bent. “She isn’t here.”

“What? Of course she is! We took out the guard, the door was locked!”

“Well she must be invisible then, because I don’t see her.” He flipped on a hand light.

I concentrated on the man with the light. You don’t see her. She must have escaped...

“She must have escaped herself.” He sighed. “What’s the plan?”

“Well of course we can’t dump her in the ocean for the Firaxa. The rest of the plan is just what the Ambassador says. We were paid by one of her crew to bust her out, and she took passage on the Ithorian freighter.”

“Fine. Should we mention that she already got away?”

“Are you daft? Then he doesn’t pay us the rest.” They went out mumbling. I dropped to the floor, then stepped outside. The guard was huddled against the wall, shuddering. A close up sonic blast. I found a med kit on his belt, and injected him with something to alleviate the affects, then I moved to a close by kiosk. I called the ship.

“Trouble.” I filled Carth in on what had happened, including the impromptu jailbreak. “I’m willing to bet that the local cameras are either rigged to say what they want, or taken out. Easier to claim I broke myself out. Or someone from the ship helped.”

“We’ll come over and get you.”

“You will do nothing of the kind. Have Mission crack into the local database. Find a Selkath named Shaelas. He’s the father of one of the Selkath recruits. Give him the full story concerning his daughter and the Sith. Ask him to help.”

“But what will you do?”

“I am going to catch a nap. Call back at this kiosk in an hour.”

“Danika.” Bastila came on the com. “We can't just leave you out there!”

“You have to. But I would love to have you there in the morning when I go to trial. Afterward we can have breakfast.”

There was silence. “If it were anyone else, I would think you had just made a date.” She said archly.

“Maybe I am.” I chuckled. “See you in court.” I logged off, and found an out of the way alcove. I set my internal alarm for an hour, and sank back into meditation. If done properly, meditation could make up for sleep. I kept hanging up on Tolan. You’re dead! Who did he think I was?

An hour later, I roused myself, and headed toward the kiosk. A garbage truck was parked there, and a Selkath was busy checking the cans along the way. I waited, but he didn’t move on.

“Danika Wordweaver. Shaelas sent me.” The Selkath whispered. I stepped out, and he motioned for me to get in the bin on the back. The vehicle hummed, then moved away at a fast clip. It entered a tram, and I head a pass card being used. Then the tram stopped. “Please, exit the vehicle.”

I slid over the side. Shaelas and Shasa stood there. The girl touched my side. “You have not escaped!”

“No. Why should I have?”

“That is what my father asked the media when they reported that you had attacked a guard and escaped. Two off worlders claimed they had been paid by your shipmates to break you out, and saw you as far as a transport that left an hour ago. The constabulary has surrounded your ship, with orders to fire on it if they attempt to escape as well!”

I told them what had happened. Shaelas nodded. “If you had disappeared, everything you might say would have been instantly suspect. You will be a guest in my land house this evening. My daughter and I will assure that you are in court tomorrow.”

“First, who has been pushing to allow a corporation to pick up the Kolto for both sides? I have heard that they intend to kick both sides off the planet as well.”

“That would be councilor Duula. He is also one of the judges this cycle. You see, all of the councilors take a turn as judges. That way any corruption is also punishable as failure to heed their charge as judge. Why?”

“Sit with me and I will tell you...”

The land house was an apartment used by the Selkath for entertaining or for guests that were not aquatic as they were. I found the furniture to be mundane, but since they themselves never spent too much time there, it didn’t matter.

As the sun rose, Shasa came up out of a hole leading to the sea. Her clothing dripped as she entered the bedroom. “My father will join us shortly. We don't stock a lot of off worlder food, but we do have some things that are edible by you.”

“Nothing for me, unless you have some form of tea.”

“Sadly, we do not. Hot liquid scars our throats. However father has arranged for some hot beverages for you when we reach the courtroom.”

“That will be fine. Thank him for me.”

Shaelas had a lifter designed by his own people. It was amphibious and watertight as well, allowing it to operate below the surface and above. He flew it out of his land house, into the ocean, then up over the expanse of the city. My clothes had been cleaned, so I didn't smell like garbage anymore.

The lifter dropped in Ahto West at the courthouse, and we stepped out.

“...since the female has fled, she has freely admitted her crime.” Ambassador Kolorid was pontificating. “Therefore this court must impose punishment on the Republic for her heinous attack.”

“Point of order, your honor.” I said. The people that were there turned. Kolorid’s mouth dropped open as I walked up the aisle. “I beg the court’s forgiveness, the attempt to make me disappear last evening has thrown off my request to be heard as my own arbiter.”

I couldn’t tell with the goggle-eyed Selkath, but the humans looked stunned. Bastila grinned, and came to me, handing me a cup of tea.

“Can you explain what occurred in the holding facility last night?” One of the judges asked.

“Two men attacked and stunned the guard on duty. I freed myself from my cell, and was able to hide when they came in and used the same weapon on my cell. They argued, since their job was to feed me to the Firaxa. They decided to follow through with the rest of the plan. Even now I assume messages have gone out to take me off an Ithorian freighter.

“However, as the court can see, I am here, on time, awaiting my trial. I would ask the condition of the Selkath that was injured.”

“A Bothan neural stunner. He is in serious condition, but expected to recover. This is because an injection of Neurohystamine was used on him, which allowed him to recover enough to call his officer.”

“Administered by me.” I added. “Forensic testing of the injector will prove this.”

“May I ask why this point must be added?” Judge Duula growled.

“Because this was an attempt to assist the guard by myself. If I had attacked him or ordered an attack, I would not have cared about his condition.” I set down the data pad with the conversation of my ‘rescuers’. “This, your honors, will prove my contention that I made no attempt to escape.”

“So noted.” Another judge said. “We will confer on your request to act as your own arbiter.” Panels rose between the judges and the courtroom. I sipped my tea calmly. The panels dropped. “It is the decision of the majority of this court that you are allowed to act as your own arbiter. The law requires me to state however that once this trial begins, it cannot be stopped for any reason. Are you ready to begin?”

I considered. T3 was there, but where had Shaelas and Shasa gone? I shrugged. “I am ready to proceed.”

“Very well. You are accused of the grievous murder of Sith officials, theft, vandalism, and violations of the local Neutrality statute. How do you plead?”

“Innocent, your honor.”

“Let the record show that empanelled for this trial are Judges Shelkar,”

“Jhosa.” Another Selkath stated.

“Naleshekan.”

“Kota.”

“And Duula.” The last said.

“This is a trial to discover the culpability and punishment of this individual in the recent assault on the Sith Embassy.” Shelkar read.

“Due to the severity of these charges, normal formalities are suspended for this trial.” Judge Jhosa added. “The penalty for these crimes is death.” He looked to Judge Kota. “You may begin the questioning your honor.”

Kota leaned forward. “You have pled innocence in this matter. However there are records of our own sensors that weapons were fired inside the Sith embassy.”

Shelkar picked it up. “We have records of you entering the restricted Sith landing bay a short time before the attack. The Sith have claimed diplomatic privilege and have told us nothing of what occurred. However you, as someone with a known antipathy for the Sith did enter their embassy just before the firing began. What was your business in the Sith Embassy?”

“I was asked to investigate the disappearance of several Selkath youths.”

Jhosa sat up at this. “You were led to believe that these youth had disappeared due to some Sith plan?”

Duula poured oil on the waters. “She has no doubt been listening to the rumor mongering of Shaelas and his bunch.”

“This is noted. Did you find evidence to support your suspicions?” Shelkar asked.

I folded back my collar. The search had been perfunctory when I had been arrested, and the pin, with blood still on it, had been in the collar. I held it where they could see it, then handed it to the bailiff. He handed it to Shelkar. “This belonged to Galas. You found this inside the embassy?”

“The male child himself handed it to me before he died.”

“Objection!” Kolorid screamed. “She murders a Selkath, takes something readily recognizable, and claims she found it in our embassy! The infamy of her act!”

“So noted, Ambassador. There are those among us that knew the youth, and this is his. But you have raised a valid point. How can this court know that you did not murder the youth?”

“By torture?” Someone called from the rear of the court. Shaelas, along with his daughter and three other Selkath I recognized entered. “My daughter spoke to this woman within the Sith embassy. She recognized the pin as you did, and recognized this as well.” He held up the data pad. “The record of the Jedi Dark Master that boasts not only of the naiveté or our children, but his murder of Galas!” He walked through the room, setting it before Judge Shelkar.

The judge signaled, and the panels rose again. Shaelas came over to me, bowing. “I had to assure that the children were also here. They have yet to stand as judges, and this experience will do them good.” I nodded.

The panels dropped. Shelkar faced me. “It is the decision of this court that the woman acted in the best interests of the Selkath people. We move to-”

“Your honor, I ask a brief moment.” I interrupted.

“Woman, you are about to go free. I see no reason to delay that.” Duula snarled

“I ask the court to meet in camera, with only myself my droid, and other Selkath present. What I have also discovered is of interest to the Selkath people, and need not be trumpeted to the Galaxy at large,”

Shelkar stared at me. “This court is adjourned to be reopened in camera. All people not mentioned in the request will depart.” The bailiffs pushed everyone toward the door. Bastila looked adamant, but I signaled for her to go. The doors slammed down, and Shelkar gaveled the court into session again.

“I have been told by Councilor Shaelas that all councilor must sit as judges as well, to assure that any criminal acts can be considered violations of their own oaths of office. This is a noble effort to limit the corruption courts in the Galaxy face every day. I applaud this court in that decision.

“There is proof that one of the judges empanelled here has acted secretly in a manner to remove the problem of the warring factions from this planet. While his act may be perceived as good in the whole, he does not have all of the information. The plan as it has been given to him, is that both factions be ordered off Manaan. All consignments of Kolto for each are to be carried by Czerka Corporation, which is a Republic corporation with links on planets on both sides of the conflict.”

“Duula we have heard enough of your ranting about this. You appear to stand accused by this woman.” Naleshekan said.

“I still stand by it! We cannot remain neutral if both sides sit upon our planet! As you all know, I would gladly deny both sides Kolto if I did not feel that one side or the other would try to capture it.”

“Judge Duula, please listen. T3, play the correspondence between Ambassador Kolorid and the Czerka Representative on the planet.” The droid rolled out. He didn’t play it all. Just the relevant portions. The judges stared at their compatriot as the Czerka rep complained that while 25% losses to Sith attacks would have been acceptable; the 45% demanded by the ambassador would cause an investigation that might reveal their duplicity.

“So a Republic corporation lies to it’s own government! So what!” Duula screamed. “It's like the lies about Taris!”

“Lies? Your honor, my vessel was one of those that escaped from Taris. T3.”

The little droid should have been working for a news agency. A holographic representation of the system flashed up. The massive blob of Taris rested in the middle of a series of red arrow shapes. Each marked with a Sith designation, and name. He paused the picture, to show the fleet in it‘s entirety. Then began a playback from our own sensors. Ebon Hawk was circled with a green line, all others not Sith in blue, as was the planet, the symbolic color for neutrals. Fire swept down from the skies, ships attempting to escape were shattered as they ran toward the fleet, hoping to get past them. Instead of the cockpit chatter of all those ships, we heard instead the frequency jumping, people on the ground saying that they surrendered, that they were innocent, that they would even swear alliance, or simply begging for mercy. Ebon Hawk broke through, and I could see that only two or three had succeeded as we did.

I was reliving it, and I cried as ship after ship died. As North City collapsed into ruin, followed by South City. I didn’t have the time to see it when it had occurred, and it was a knife in the gut to me.

The replay ended, and I found myself sobbing. Maybe Gadon and his Beks had survived. Maybe Gendar and his Outcasts. No one else could have.

The Selkath were stunned. Duula looked at the empty space before them, his eyes haunted. “I move that Czerka Corporation be banned from all business dealings on Manaan. That all contracts with said corporation be held in abeyance until this conflict has ended.”

I bowed to them, and left them to their deliberations.

Bastila came up to me, and I hugged her tightly, burying my head against her chest. “But, you wanted breakfast!” She protested.

“No. Just, hold me for a little while.” I whispered. “Keep the chill of hell from me.”


'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 04-28-2006, 08:56 PM   #94
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Well done! Rearranging all those pieces of the Manaan story and putting them back together, with a few additions, really worked out quite nicely.

I'm somewhat confused by Danika's extreme emotional reaction to T3-M4's replay of the destruction of Taris however.

Oh yes. I did notice how you spelled the name of Shaelas' daughter in that chapter too.


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Old 04-29-2006, 01:26 AM   #95
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[QUOTE=cutmeister]I'm somewhat confused by Danika's extreme emotional reaction to T3-M4's replay of the destruction of Taris however.
QUOTE]

Having been in a real life battle situation, i can tell you that what happens is you focus on what you're doing. During the flight out she was too busy to be paying attention, couldn;t hear the frantic please for help. She was at a turret, trying to protect her ship.

She knew what had happened, but as I said when Bastila commentd on death on Tatooine, it really isn't real to you yet. You know several billion people just died, but it didn't happen before your eyes.

Then suddenly you're witnessing it. No adrenaline rush, no combat focus. You're watching them die, hearing their cries, seeing the destruction. Danika as you might have noticed is the kind of soldier that always goes over and over what she did wrong in the last battle. She wishes she could stop, go back to the last save, and do it again without losing the people she did.

Plus there is something every soldier and everyone who has ever survived a major disaster knows very well, and that is survivor's guilt. If you have ever seen the Movie Zulu, there is the last scene where Lieutenant Chard asks Lieutenant Bromhead how he feels after his first battle. The last word he uses in description, is 'ashamed'. You live, he dies, and part of you, while exhilerated that you're still there to feel it, is shamed that he did not.


'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 04-29-2006, 01:32 AM   #96
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Rift

Bastila

I found myself holding Danika on a bench near the court. The bond between us had become both more tenuous, and deeper. I wasn't getting every emotional mood swing, but when I did it was like being flooded with dark waters. She had gone from the calm perfect Jedi to this crying child just within a few moments. What exactly had set it off, I don’t know. But she felt as if she was an admiral that had won a great victory, but at a horrendous cost. She felt a bottomless shame that she no, that we the crew of Ebon Hawk had survived.

I held her, murmuring gently into her hair as she cried. My presence, my feelings along the link helped her. I didn’t feel anger with her at this reaction, or nervousness that I was holding a woman four years older than I was as I did. I was the mother bosom to her, the place where even the bravest of ancient man went for succor when life gets too harsh.

Yet she didn't slip toward the dark side. She had reacted; using the force to grasp Tolan’s heart, then she made herself turned away from killing with the force without even a debate. I felt so proud of what she had become in such a short time. Yet the pride was shot with dread. We had to go to Korriban next. To the dark heart of the Sith itself. Only then could we go even deeper into the abyss. To wherever the Star Forge was. She sighed, and giggled. “What is so funny?” I asked.

“Considering where my face is, I suddenly had an urge to ask for some cookies.”

I suddenly understood what she meant, pushing her aside. “You are incorrigible!”

“I hope not.” She said. “You’re the only person that has kept me on a even keel so far.” She shook her head, and dried her eyes. “All right, back to normal.” She stood. “We have an ambassador to see.”

“Not yet.” I said. She raised an eyebrow at me. “You are going to sit down, eat some breakfast, have some tea, and relax for at least an hour.”

She looked at me. ”Yes mother.”

“Don't get cute with me, you, yokel!”

“Such language.” She murmured.

We sat for the time specified, and she polished off enough stew to make Canderous sleepy. After polishing the bowl with the last of her bread, we walked to the Republic embassy.

Ambassador Wann came toward us. “Did you get it?” He demanded? Danika tapped T3, and held out the data cube the robot spat out. “Excellent! I will have our technicians assure that it has not been tampered with.”

“Now to answer my questions.”

“You Jedi, always so forward!” He chuckled, then his face went cold. “Since you are Jedi, I can trust you with this. Please, come to my office.” He led us into a room, then closed the door. I could feel the hum of an anti-snooping field. “As you know, we are fighting a life and death struggle against the Sith. You may also know that we aren‘t doing too well. We need much in the way of supplies, and nothing can be allowed to delay those supplies. Manaan is the only source of Kolto in the galaxy, and we need it desperately. Frankly, we need all we can get.

“It sounds like you are about to tell us of an indiscretion.” Danika said.

“The conservatives have a majority in the Council at present, and they want the planet to remain neutral, to sell to both sides. But there are more far looking people on the council. They know that if the Sith win, there is nothing that will stop them from taking over anyway. So we made a deal.”

“You violated the treaty?” Danika asked.

“Not as such. The agreement was to assist the Selkath in the gathering and processing of Kolto. The Selkath still use the methods their ancestors used, seining Kolto that floats to the surface, then refining it. However right before the war began, a survey submersible found where the Kolto floats up from. It is called Hrakert Rift. An abyss about 20 kilometers from the city, half a kilometer from the surface with the rift itself diving over 11 kilometers into the depths. Kolto forms there in underwater volcanic vents, and breaks free to float upward. The rock formations at the top and sides of the rift capture a lot of it. Less than ten percent actually gets carried upward. The Selkath can dive that deep, but the Rift is also the center of an old religion here. Normal mining by them would violate several taboos.

“So last year we offered to set up a facility to gather and process the Kolto underwater. I don’t know how much you know about Kolto refining...?” He paused until we shook our heads. “Most of the raw Kolto paste is lost between the ocean floor and the surface. The native wildlife loves it. The raw paste has to be refined four times. Every time you do, it’s bulk is reduced to ten percent. That means 100 kilos of Kolto paste makes 100 grams of medicinal grade Kolto. We found that we can do the refining down there, which means instead of having to move that 100 kilos, we just have to transport 100 grams. We will have increased their production capability by almost one thousand percent when it is fully online, though at present we‘ve only increased it by about two hundred percent. ”

“But something happened.” Danika pressed.

“Yes. A few days ago, as the final section of the facility was being installed, the base reported that they had found some kind of structure. An obelisk right where the last section was supposed to go. Then suddenly we lost contact. No more communications.”

‘What happened?”

“We don‘t know!” He sighed. “I sent what troops I had, about three squads. No word back. We began hiring mercenaries, and began sending them down, but none of them have returned either. We finally had the droid the Sith captured sent here, and deployed it. All we’ve been trying to do is contact the base again!” He sighed. “Now that we have the data, we still don’t know what to do. The Sith don‘t know exactly what we’re up to, but they’ve been hiring mercenaries at twice what we pay just to stop us.

“Then you came with the mention of an ancient artifact. Probably what we found. If you know a way to get past this mess, I am duty bound to assist you.”

“How can I get down there?” Danika asked. She was pale.

“We have a submersible, one of the personnel transports we have been using to tend the station. There is room for a crew of five. It will automatically home in on the station, and take you right there. I haven’t got any more troops I can spare to send with you, though.”

She took the card, her hand trembling. “We can leave immediately.” She stood. “Where is the sub bay?”

He directed us, and Danika walked out. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t like being in an enclosed space that tight.” She admitted. “I can handle it when I’m in a ship, but something this small... I don’t know.”

“I’ll be there with you.” She looked at me gratefully.

The submersible was smaller than I had thought. Danika looked at it as if it were her coffin, but climbed in without demur. T3 rolled down into one of the open slots, plugging into the systems, bringing them up. I climbed down, and the hatch slid closed.

Water flowed up as the sub began its dive. We entered a green expanse of light, and fish swam by us as we dove toward the bottom. A huge pillar fifty meters across swept by to our right, then we were in the open sea. The light faded as we went deeper. Suddenly a Firaxa swam by, snapping at us. The Firaxa is one of the largest ocean going predators of the oceans of Manaan, averaging five to ten meters in length.

As we went deeper, the lights clicked on. All we could see was a narrow cone boring directly ahead of us. T3 suddenly bleeped, and the sub spun on one wing. Something rushed past us. All I could see was a single eye and teeth.

Danika showed me the datapad that reported what T3 was saying.

-Large concentration of Firaxa ahead. Number uncounted. Evading attacks-

“What is causing that?” Danika asked.

I slid forward. There was a manual piloting system, and ahead of us circled in red on the lidar was one hell of a lot of Firaxa. “Do we have any weapons, T3?”

A listing came up. I highlighted one. “Give me control!”

The controls came alive in my hands, and I keyed up my selection. A dozen sonic grenades fell away, and I aimed us upward as the sharks charged toward us. The sub shuddered as the grenades ripple fired. The Firaxa staggered, then drifted toward the bottom, stunned. I aimed for the hole I had made, and plunged deeper. The bottom was only a few meters away, and I pulled out, missing a rocky outcropping as we did. I set the system to drop a grenade every few seconds, and ran before the wave of sharks that followed.

There was a blob marked in green, the station itself. Something the size of a cruiser was near it, and the huge shape moved toward us. I hugged the bottom, and something passed over us. It took forever to move by. At least 400 meters long, I estimated, whatever it was.

There was wreckage as we came closer. Half a dozen subs of the same design had been battered to pieces. One looked as if it had been bitten in half! We came out in a bright green bubble. Lights installed on stanchions made it as bright as 50 meters depth. Then we could see the square box shape of the main building. I tapped the controls, and saw a door open. A Firaxa came out of it, lunging at us, but we were by it, and into the bay. The door closed behind us. I had forgotten to shut off the dispenser, and it was pure luck that I had. We came around the corner into the bay itself, and a swarm of Firaxa were there. They came at us, then stopped, ripped apart as the grenades went off behind us in the enclosed space. We shot upward, coming up into a moon-pool dock. The engines hissed, then died. As the canopy came back, we saw a scene of carnage. A sub had been in the bay beside ours. It had been beaten to wreckage. Bodies lay everywhere. Most had been hacked to death, though some looked as if they had been poisoned.

Danika leaped from the sub and her breathing slowed. “I made it!” She gasped smiling.

“I knew you would.” I soothed.

She shook her head, looking at me oddly. “Did you hear that?”

“What?”

“A keening sound, like a cry for help.”

“No I didn’t.”

She shook her head again. Perhaps I am hearing things. Let’s go.”

We walked toward a door. It had been locked, but T3 opened it without trouble. A Twi-lek in a mercenary uniform lowered his blaster when he saw us. “We have to get out of here, now!”

“Wait. We’re here to rescue you.” I said.

He laughed hysterically. “Then rescue me!”

“We have to find out what happened first.” Danika tried to sooth him.

But her words only made him angry. “They’re all dead, the entire mission is a bust, and I want-”

“Soldier, is that a proper report?” I had never heard that I Will Be Obeyed voice from Danika before. The mercenary snapped to attention.

“Sorry, sir, no excuse, sir.”

“Report.”

“Bastan Twill. Hired along with four others to rescue the people down here, sir.”

She nodded. “Continue.”

“It’s all confusing, sir. The Selkath seem to have gone mad, and began killing everyone. My team was one of two. The other was led by Colin Faris, another top-flight mercenary, ten of us in all.

“Our teams moved through the building, but we were ambushed every step of the way. I don't know how many Selkath were working here, but we killed maybe a hundred and they kept coming. Captain Faris got cut off from us with one other survivor down by the locks that lead outside. The survivors of our teams were pushed back, until I finally locked that door. When I did, I was the only one left alive.”

Danika nodded. “Stand easy, soldier, we’re taking over.” She said. I could picture a team of a hundred troops behind us as she said that. So could Bastan. He sagged.

“You stay here, guard the way home. We’ll take care of it.”

“If you say so. But begging your pardon sir, if you didn’t bring tacnukes, You’re going to get reamed.”

She smiled at him. “We’ll manage.” She went to the door. “T3, crack 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 05-01-2006, 12:02 PM   #97
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Danika

The instant I saw that mercenary all my fears fell away. I was back in my element, a ground pounder taking charge. The man we left guarding the sub was calmer, ready to fight again.

“How did you do that?” Bastila asked. “I didn’t feel any of the force in your words, but he relaxed almost immediately!”

“I told you that you underestimated those without the force. All I did was what an officer that saw him in that condition would have done. Stiffened his spine. When everything goes to hell, it’s that officer standing there as if he knows he’s going to live forever that takes you forward.” The door opened into a docking tunnel attached from the docking bay to a vast structure beyond.

We reached a computer console, and T3 tied into it. “Any thing moving?”

-Statistically everything is in constant motion thanks to molecular displacement. Care to be more specific? -

“Smart mouth. Scan the facility. What life forms are moving? Include Droids in that before you start to complain.”

There were droids wandering the halls. They were set for full wartime footing, meaning that without an access code, we would have to destroy them. Well I wasn't being charged for damages. T3 locked them down.

The halls were clear because just about every room in the station was filled with Selkath. They all had glazed eyes, and wandered around. For a moment, I felt perhaps there was no danger, but right about then a human in a lab coat made a break for it from where he had been hiding in a locker. Every Selkath within ten meters charged in, and ripped him apart. Some of them stung him with spines hidden in their dewlaps. That explained the poison victims.

“T3, can you control the speaker system throughout the base?”

-Affirmative. If you are going to suggest a ‘sonic bullet’, I would suggest a range that will not kill or harm you as well-

“That is exactly what I was thinking. But I don‘t want to kill the Selkath either if we can avoid it.”

-Setting Human lethal range locked out. Trying sub-sonic settings that are not dangerous to humans-

I felt a rumble in my feet, and twisted my head. Non-lethal doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. The Selkath went even madder than they had been, slamming into walls, then collapsing. “Are they dead?”

-Negative. Selkath are more resistant to sound vibrations than humans. They will be incapacitated for several hours-

“All right, how do we get to the refining facility?”

-Access way not completed. Entry via enviro suit-

I shuddered. Bastila noticed it immediately. “Danika-”

“Bastila, remember I died in a suit. I felt the air run out. I don’t... I don’t think I can do that again.” I stared at the ocean beyond the armorplast.

“Then I will go-”

“No. This is my problem. I must deal with it.”

We walked down to the locks that accessed the sea. The one closest to my goal was locked with a password. T3 couldn’t circumvent it.

I shook my head. “What happened down here?”

We reached the lock. Even searching through the complex, there was only the one suit. I grabbed it. I know Bastila would have gone, but I couldn’t let her. This was my fear. If I didn't face it now, I never would. I slipped on the helmet, and as it locked I found myself frantically clawing at the locking ring. She caught my hands, holding them. “Look at me!” She demanded. My eyes were closed. I opened them, seeing her face right there. “Do you want me to go?” I shook my head frantically. “Then you have to get yourself together. I am depending on you!”

I shuddered, nodding. She attached a small device to the suit. “I was reading the data files. They used these to drive away Firaxa. Use it if they get too close.” I nodded again. I knew if I opened my mouth I would be begging to get out of this damn suit, let her do this!

She stepped aside, and I saw the lock door. I didn’t want to go out there. Couldn’t go out there! But my hand rose, and I keyed it open. The door closed behind me and water sprayed down on top of me. I wanted to scream, but I knew she’d hear it. Hear and open the door, and go instead. I couldn’t let her do this. I had to!

The exterior door opened. The room beyond looked like the one I had just left. As I waddled into the room beyond, I heard someone cursing. From the sound he had a lot of experience cursing on a lot of other worlds.

“Report.” I said.

“Who is that?”

“Danika Wordweaver. We’re here to rescue you.”

“Yeah about a day too effing late if you ask me.” He snarled.

“Faris?”

“Yep, that’s me. Captain in the Republic infantry no less, once upon a time.”
“I only reached sergeant.” I replied.

“Then they’re scraping the bottom up there.”

“No. My commission is less than six months old.”

“Oh, new meat to tell me what to do?”

“Nothing of the kind, Captain.” I replied. The Riffed troops from the last war were still sensitive. “I’m new. Got a sitrep for me?”

“S-BAR.” He rasped back. “I went in with eight, and now I’m the only one left.

I translated it as Screwed Beyond All Repair. “No, Bastan Twill made it back to the lock.”

“Then that’s a 20% survival. Not at all good.” I heard a ping, and my suit read it. Another suit, 20 meters to my left.

“It’s something. I was at Zanebra and we lost more than that.”

“You mean someone survived that goat rape?”

I waddled toward him. “You’re talking to one of them. What were you planning?”

“The bug-out boogie. I can’t get through the building; those damn fish are everywhere. But if I get over to the lock near the boat bay, I can get clear.”

“Maybe so, sir. But what about the people in the Harvesting section?”

“They can wait for backup with some serious firepower. Maybe some heavy weapons.” I came in sight of him, and he was already heading into a section that was solid. “I blew the walls to flood this area when the fish went bananas the second time. We had orders not to hurt them. I think I’ll throw that goat rapist in the sub for that mission.”

That made sense now. This area should have been open, but the walls and fixtures were definitely not designed for immersion. I passed a body that had been slammed into a wall hard enough to almost weld it. I came around the corner, and Faris was jumping out onto the ocean bottom through a ten-foot gap in the wall. “Come on. Just watch out for-”

As he spoke, something huge came from the side, catching him like a trout catching a mayfly. Blood sprayed as it powered away from the opening. I came to it, watching his legs float back to the bottom. The Firaxa that had taken him was a lot bigger than the average mentioned.

I closed my eyes. I could hear my breath, and frantically looked at the gauge. I still had seven hours. I mentally made my heart slow down. The mud was right there. I looked at the sonic projector mounted on the glove. I silently prayed as I took that last step. It was clear for the moment. I checked the map I had. The harvester section was to my left about thirty meters. The connection to the main section was on the other side of it.

I started waddling that way. This suit was not made for rapid movement. I mentally attached jets props hell, while I was imagining a damn hyper drive to it, but my mental manipulation did not supply the equipment. A Firaxa bulleted toward me, and I hit the projector. The animal froze as if I had prodded it, then turned and shot away. I grinned, and every time I saw one of them I hit it with a shot. I reached the door, and had started it cycling when something made me spin and trigger it. A Firaxa spasmed less than a meter from me as I fell through the hatch.

I sobbed as the water came down, pulling off my helmet as soon as if was clear. Recycled air, but it wasn’t inside a shoebox damn it!

I climbed out of the suit, and drew my light saber. It wouldn’t have worked under water, but I wished it would. I keyed the inner hatch, and was swinging before my target was in view. Three Selkath were there right at the door, and all were down before they even knew I was there. I staggered past them, and went hunting. There were half a dozen more, and I dealt with them. I found a map of the harvesting section, and noticed that the control room was off by itself. I went that way, and found a force field in my way. I found the intercom, and flicked it on.

“Hello! Is anyone in the control room?”

I heard someone scream then a fan above me kicked in. I felt the air being pumped from the room. I lit my lightsaber, and punched it into the wall near one of the control nodes for the force field. It shorted out, and suddenly I could breath again. I stormed forward. There were two people in the room. The woman started crying. “I’m sorry.” She kept repeating. The man came to her side, and laid his hand on her shoulder.

“Sami just panicked We heard your voice, and she thought the Selkath had gotten into the control room.”

I nodded, relaxing. “I hope my voice really isn’t that raspy.” I said. Sami smiled a little at that. “I’m Danika. I was sent down to investigate.”

“Nomi Nolan. I was the director of this mess before it all went to hell. Sami is our science advisor.” He sat at a terminal. “We haven’t had contact with the base for at least three days.”

“I came originally about the artifact you discovered.”

They looked at each other. “We only reported it last week. Too soon for you to have been sent.”

“I knew it was here, just not where.” I replied. “What can you tell me?”

“We were assembling the last section of the harvesting arm. There is an overhang, and we estimate fifty kilotons of Kolto might be trapped below it. The arm has to extend out over the rift itself and down to scrap Kolto from the side. We were setting the foundation legs when someone spotted this obelisk just sitting there on the bottom. Here, Sami, see if we have Munroe’s data feed.”

She turned, and began running through the computer. Then she pointed at the large screen. Someone in a suit was waddling through the mud toward a series of lights. “When we found it, I ordered lights installed. Doctor Munroe is... I mean he was the chief of oceanographic sciences for the facility. He was heading toward it when everything went to hell.”

The camera stopped as the person halted to get a better picture. A Star Map obelisk stood there thrust out of the sediment. He approached it, careful to keep it in the camera focus. Then something rose beyond it, a mass of black. Then the screen went crazy, then blank.

“We got a call from Chuck Feelis, shift supervisor. This was the last section, so we were on an all hands evolution. All but ten of our people were out there, including our cargo lifters.” He signalled Sami again.

The screen became a sensor screen, with green lights representing the people. Two were marked as cargo lifters. One of those lit up as a voice said. “Looks like we can get the pylons in without damaging whatever it is.-”

“Chuck, in the rift.” As we watched a huge blip appeared, coming up out of the rift fast.

“Holy-” the word cut off as Cargo 1 disappeared down its throat. The picture fluttered, then came back. Cargo 2 caught a shock wave from whatever it was, slamming into a pylon, and went out. Red markers suddenly came out of nowhere around the men. As we watched, the lights disappeared.

“Those red markers are Firaxa. There was a sonic pulse strong enough to fry our sonar right before they came in. Five of our people got back into the buildings but our troubles had only started.

“We had reports that Selkath had fallen, frothing. Then they suddenly began attacking our people. We watched men being ripped apart alive as we ran for here.” Sami looked horrified. “Nolan got up the force field, but it was too late for most of them.

“We’ve been waiting for a rescue since then. There are no submersible suits in here.”

“What was that black thing?”

“That is what freaked everyone out before the Selkath went crazy.” Nolan brought up a scanner.

It was a Firaxa. But it was huge. “That’s what, four hundred meters long?” I said in a whisper.

“About that. These Firaxa sharks don’t have any natural predators except each other. They live until something kills them.”

I stared at it. “And the sound came from that?” They nodded silently.

“We think it came up because our construction bothered it.” Nolan said. “But we can’t tell anyone because we can‘t get out of here!” Sami waved at the ocean. “Even if we had suits, the Firaxa have gone mad! They’re attacking everything that moves out there!”

“And the Selkath are attacking everyone inside.” Sami added grimly.

I nodded, keying my com. “Bastila, have T3 set that sonic shock wave he created to go off every ten minutes.”

“We’re moving back to the terminal.”

I nodded. “Then we have to get rid of the shark. Any ideas?”

Sami nodded “The Firaxa take a man every now and then. We’ve tried sonic fences, turrets that fire sonic charges, sonic mines, but nothing fazes them for long. We’ve been working on a repellant since the project began. The repellant was supposed to make a smell or taste that bothered the Firaxa. But it isn’t working quite right yet.”

“It works well enough for that!” Nolan said. “If we can’t get support, we’re dead either way!”

“But the repercussions to the environment!” Sami gasped.

“I don’t give a damn about an ocean I don't have to live with!”

“But it might taint the Kolto-”

“Wait a minute!” I shouted. “What is wrong with the repellant?”

“It doesn’t chase them away.” Sami said softly. “It kills them. Horribly.”

I stared at her. She nodded. “We tested in right before everything went to hell. We had a captured Firaxa in a tank, and dropped a small amount in the water. It caused the skin to rupture and the gills ruptured a few minutes later. We can’t just let it loose in the ocean! We don't know what it will do to the other sea life, and the Kolto-”

“And the Selkath.” I added. I pictured Shasawith her skin rupturing, blood spraying out. Even if it only affected the Firaxa, what would happen to an
environment without them? There were laws about this! “How large was the dose you used?”

“A milliliter in a fifty thousand-liter tank. After the test we figured one hundredth of a milliliter was still toxic in the same volume.”

I pictured only a liter flask. That would poison over a million cubic kilometers of ocean! “There must be another way.”

They looked at each other. “Well if the last section wasn’t there, maybe it would go away again. But that is three months of work in construction, and we don’t have enough explosives-” Nolan began.

“There’s the hydrolium.”

“Sami, the tank on the last section is fifty liters! If that went up, the whole base could go!”

“Not if the fuel lines were started. We could turn on the grinder head, and that would put fuel in the line instead-”

“It isn’t like that is much better!” Nolan almost screamed. “It could still blow the entire station to hell!”

“What is this hydrolium?”

“A liquid fuel. We use it for machinery that requires a lot of energy, but where nuclear power packs or fusion generators are contraindicated. That would heat up the nearby ocean, and we’re trying to impact the ecosphere as little as possible.

“The problem is, hydrolium reacts with water. You inject a centigram into the engines, and spray it with water. It releases as much energy as a block of blasting explosive. Fifty liters is enough to level the entire base!”

“Can the tank be drained off?”

“No. It’s a sealed unit. The only thing it feeds to is the line to the engines.”

I pictured my options. “I need some blasting explosives.”

“We don’t have any in here.” Nolan admitted. “But a grenade could rupture a line easily enough.”

“What about filling just one line?”

“No can do. It’s all of them or none.” Sami said.

“But the lines should survive a rupture in another by themselves and one line should be enough. When the tank sensors detect that, they should shut down.”

There were too many ‘shoulds’ in that statement. I fingered my vest. I had grenades there. “I need a bag of some kind.”

I stood under the flood, trying to stay calm. Bad enough I had to set off a massive explosion, but I was going to be in the water when it happened. If the shock wave caught me, I would be pulped. Nolan had marked a small storage bay. With the door closed, it should take most of the shock without too much damage. I didn’t mention the qualifier again.

The door opened, and I sprayed the outside with the sonic projector. A pair of Firaxa that had been waiting for me bolted away. I waddled out, and spotted the line of deck plates they had laid out down the run of the structure. I went down them, watching for Firaxa.

The Hydrolium tank was back near the end of the new structure, the lines already attached. Nolan had said he would start one of the grinding heads when he saw me in the scanners. I moved out farther. Part of me hoped we could keep from destroying the entire thing, but I didn’t have any hopes.

Ahead of me, I could hear an engine cycling, then a screeching as a grinder head was dropped to the rock, ripping Kolto from it and flinging it back into a hopper. I jumped to the top of the storage bay, and moved onto the framework itself. I found the hydrolium line. “All right, stop it!” I shouted. As I did a swarm of Firaxa charged into the light, headed for the grinding head. They tried to rip the head free, worrying at whatever they could reach. I saw a Firaxa begin ripping at the fuel line and instinctively leaped down into the shed, pulling the door closed.

There was a thump, and the door slammed hard, springing back open then slamming again. Then suddenly the lines began to explode like fireworks. I caught the door, and pulled it to just as the hammer of the gods slammed the shed. I was bounced around, and around me the metal of the shed began to fall apart in shards. I ripped open the door somehow and dived outside just as there was a tearing sound. A girder above me began to stretch, the metal vibrating in a tone that rose until I couldn’t hear it any more, then it shattered. Across the section above me more and more girders did the same thing. Then 50 meters of the structure lurched, lifted the end toward me up, and dropped into the abyss.

“Danika.” I looked around. Metal shards had imbedded themselves in the deck plating, some deep enough to punch through into the sediment. One of them still quivered less than a hand’s breadth from my faceplate.

“Danika, report.”

I staggered to my feet. Where I stood there was the mass of the structure running back toward the base. The lines had ruptured as Nolan had predicted, but the tank had not. But in front of me the landscape had been scoured clean.

“Danika, please-”

“I’m all right.” I said. “I’m heading toward the Star Map.”

“Be careful.”

I slogged forward. The Firaxa seemed to be ignoring me. I reached a section just short of the Star Map when I felt something approaching. I turned and stared up.

And up.

And up.

The giant Firaxa was headed toward me, as large as a space cruiser. I felt an urge, and reached up, feeling the smooth skin run across my glove. It seemed to enjoy that simple touch because it slowed down. For a moment I pictured the joking photos where someone stands below a cargo ship that is taking off, hands against the hull plating as if they had lifted it. I could have posed for it myself.

Suddenly I felt a sense of awe. These Firaxa sharks don’t have any natural predators except each other. They live until something kills them. I pictured the goggle-eyed builders standing on a cliff face over the ocean, setting the Star Map up. Below them swam a Firaxa shark barely average in size. Then the sea had risen, the shark swimming up with it, but returning to where it felt comfortable, the trench that had been it’s home. It had seen the death of that empire, and witnessed the birth of the Republic.

Perhaps the Republic will fall. I thought. And thanks to me this Firaxa will still be here, awaiting the next empire that arose maybe another 30 millennia from now.

It swam on, and I ducked as the tail fin swept by. I caught a stanchion just in time to avoid being blown off the edge of the abyss. It swam up, sweeping like a fighter coming back, then it rolled, and dropped back into it’s home.

I stood there in awe for several minutes. Then I shook myself, and waddled on to the Star Map. As with the others, it seemed to sense my presence, and opened up. I recorded the data, and slid the datapad back into its case.

Suddenly I stopped. I felt something, and knew instinctively that it came down the bond I shared with Bastila. Then... nothing.

“Bastila.” I turned, waddling frantically toward the lock leading back to the base. “Bastila, answer me.” I moved past the harvesting control room. “T3-”

“Oh do be quiet.” A man’s voice answered. “My master has use for your friend, and I can reprogram the droid. It is you I am waiting for now. Come to me, my little Jedi. Maybe you can free them?” He laughed. “All you have to do is defeat me. Come to the Sub bay. The corridor that attaches it to the main building. I will meet you there.”

“If you’ve hurt her-”

“Oh please. No threats. Just come.”

I felt rage flow through me, and locked it down hard. All it would do is distract me. I reached the door, ripping the suit off as the water dropped below my knees. I brushed my robe, then ran toward the docking bays. Around me the Selkath were waking up. I hoped their madness had passed.

I reached the door, that lead into the walkway to the sub bay and when it opened, I saw a man in black armor, standing in the center of the tube, facing me. I recognized that face.

“You were on the Endar Spire. You murdered Trask Ulgo!”

He shrugged, his voice a purr. “I have killed so many people for my master. It is hard to keep track.“ He walked toward me. “You however have become an obsession for me. Did you know that? I wasn’t sure who you were when I saw you on the ship. Your friend Ulgo was good enough for that. But I knew of you before my master Darth Malak did. Before Admiral Karath told him. I am Darth Bandon, apprentice to Darth Malak.” His lightsaber, a double like mine lit. “I am your doom.”

I had a vision of Vrook. I had read about one of Revan’s exploits before she left for the Mandalore war, she had allowed herself to be captured by a terrorist group to find the son of a King. During the fighting that later ensued, she had been trapped, and had thrown the leader and his two chief torturers from a balcony using the force. I asked him about it. How had they ended up in such a situation? Why hadn’t they killed her when they had the chance? He had answered me with a simple statement. ‘When in the hands of your enemies, always hope for the truly evil captor. Because while a good man will kill you without a word, the evil always have to gloat.”

Bandon leaped, using the force to throw him across the distance between us. Our lightsabers clashed, and I blocked as he tried to cut with the off hand edge. I kicked, and he flew backwards, flipping in midair to land on his feet. Then he reached out, and I felt his hand catch my throat with the force. “I want to look into your eyes, see you know when death approaches!” He screamed. “Picture Bastila as Malak’s devoted slave and your Republic in ruins! I want to feel your neck collapse!”

Always hope for the truly evil captor. I pictured Bastila in chains with a slave collar and part of me broke. I growled. “Like this, fool!” I reached out, and his eyes went wide with shock as I grabbed his throat with the force.

“No, you can’t!” He screamed as my force-hand crushed his neck like a vice. I pulled, and the head ripped free, flying toward me. I stepped aside as his body fell to its knees, eyes still unbelieving from beside my foot.

“If you’re going to kill someone do it, don‘t talk about it.” I walked past his body. Bastan Twill lay dead in the next room, his head twisted completely around. I walked to him, then looked into the sub bay. Two dark Jedi stood there, and they stared at me in horror.

“Bandon-” One began. I caught them both, and their necks snapped.

“Ask him what happened in hell.” There was another sub in the bay. T3 sat there forlorn, and behind him, Bastila lay on the deck plates. A Sith designed restraint collar had been attached around her neck, and shackles had been linked to it then to her hands and feet. She quivered as the system fed back into her every time she even thought of moving. I opened the bands, throwing the entire thing into the water, then hugged her, cuddling her to my bosom. Suddenly it struck me what I just done. I had killed three people using the force alone. The blackest of all the dark arts. I found I was crying. No please, I can’t be what I hate!

She stopped shuddering, and I heard her take a deep ragged breath.

“Danika, Malak sent-”

“I know. He sent Bandon to me, I sent him to hell.” She looked up eyes wide and frightened. “No one hurts my friends.” I whispered. Then I hugged her as if just touching her would heal the wound I had made in my own soul. “I’m sorry.” I wailed. “He boasted you’d be Malak’s slave, and I just... snapped. I killed him, I killed the ones with him with the force!” I wanted to scream, but deep inside, I knew that I would do it again. To protect those I loved I would kill anything. With whatever was at hand.

She hugged me, murmuring comfort. But deep in my heart I felt a doubt that had been growing since Tatooine.

Bastila had been lying to me from the very start.

Betraying my trust.

But why?


'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; 05-01-2006 at 12:05 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:32 AM   #98
Char Ell
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Interesting how you show Danika as having a fear of being in a submersible. I don't really understand the difference between that and a space ship. On the other hand, I can understand Danika's fear of envirosuits, since they're so similar to space suits and as you reminded your readers that's how Danika remembers dying, suffocating in a space suit.


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Old 05-02-2006, 12:42 PM   #99
machievelli
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Ahto City

Danika

The Ambassador was not happy. He was stunned that I’d destroyed three months of work. Damage control was on his mind as we walked out of the embassy.

The Selkath constables that came to arrest me were icing on the cake. They surrounded us with half a dozen guards, and when we exited at the court, I could see why. There were a hundred odd Selkath, all wailing outside the court. The guards used stun rods to clear the way, and considering the crowd was trying to get close enough to tear me apart, I could understand why.

The court was almost as bad. There were only a**dozen or so more here, but they made up for lack of numbers with sheer volume.

“That someone would dare to profane the holy site!” A Selkath was burbling loudly. “The person should be flayed and salted! She should be fed to the Firaxa an inch at a time-”

“We must have order.” Judge Kota called.

“Everyone even remotely connected to this should be flayed!”

“I will have order!” Shelkar roared. When he didn’t get it, he thumbed a stud. A blast of sound dropped the Selkath before the dais to their knees. I huddled, holding my head.

“If there is one more word I will begin having people arrested!” Shelkar warned. He saw me, and pointed before his dais. “Bring her.”

I walked forward, stopping to face the panel.

“Selkath living near Hrakert Rift recorded a massive explosion. You are known to have been seen in a submersible headed into the Rift. This court has convened to discover why.”

“The Republic Ambassador sent me to the Kolto mining facility-”

“What facility!” Duula screamed.

“Some of us have been trying to improve our methods of production.” Judge Naleshekan said. “We asked the Republic to help.”

“But to build on the holy site-”

“The holy site is the Rift itself, as you well know. Not the sea floor above it.”

“But-”

“Let it be Duula!” Kota snarled.

“Let the record show that empanelled for this trial are Judges Shelkar,”

“Jhosa.”

“Naleshekan.”

“Kota.”

“And Duula.”

“You went to the mining facility. What occurred there?”

“The facility had almost been completed when a huge Firaxa rose from the Rift. It gave some kind of cry, and the Firaxa went mad attacking everything that moved. Selkath assigned to the facility also went mad. Most of the crew both human and Selkath have been killed in the fighting. We used a sonic pulse to disable the Selkath survivors. I was advised by human survivors that the Firaxa might return to the Rift if I destroyed the last section of the harvester, and I used Hydrolium to drop it into the Rift.”

“A great Firaxa-”

“But it’s only a legend-”

“Didn’t she say she killed it?”

“No! The horror of such an act-”

“Kill the slayer-”

“I did not kill it!” I shouted. The room fell silent, everyone staring at me. “To me it was a magnificent animal protecting its territory. It was we who were trespassing, not it.” I waved my hand, trying to put into words what I had seen.

“I could no more have killed it than I would have destroyed the entire galaxy because I was angry with one person! It was older than the Republic, older than your own recorded history! I felt all I could be was a witness to it’s coming. It knew this somehow. It swam over me, huge, my hand running down it’s belly-”

“What, she touched it?” Someone whispered.

One of the Selkath in very drab clothing stepped forward. “You touched him?”

I nodded numbly.

“With which hand?” I held out my right hand. The Selkath leaned forward, and smelled my hand.

“She did. His mark is upon her!”

“Silence, Frooke.”

“I will not be silent! The Progenitor lives, and she, an off worlder has touched him! Shame upon our people that it was not one of us to receive that blessing!”

The court closed the partition. I shivered. I had felt for a moment that the priest was going to order my hand cut off for blasphemy.

The wait was long this time. I stood there, with the Selkath doing everything they could not to touch me. Somehow I was both blessed and a pariah in the same body.

The partition dropped. Half a dozen more Selkath had joined them on that side.

Shelkar looked at me then bowed his head. “Woman, you do not know the turmoil you have caused among our people. The Progenitor was a myth, something only the faithful of his temple believed. Something that harkens back to when our race still scrabbled in the mud of the ocean. Something we wanted to put aside.” He sighed. “Something that your have reminded us of. For he is also called the soul of our world.

“Now we face the real problem. Throughout history there have been those that have been allowed to touch him. They are prophets and lawgivers in our history. Would you be such to us?” His voice held an entreaty.

“I am not worthy of such a role, Your honor.”

“He thought you were, or he would have swam away rather than letting you touch him.” Frooke said. “He has chosen you.”

“Speak, chosen one. What would you have us do?” Kota begged.

I held the power of the entire planet in my hands at that moment. I could have ordered them to commit ritual suicide, or cast out the Sith, or anything. What I might say next would reverberate through the sector. I could feel Bastila standing beside me, her worry because she saw what a temptation it would be for me. I reached out, taking her hand. They gasped as I touched her.

“She has marked her!” Someone whispered.

“Your honors, people of Manaan, darkness flows through the Galaxy, and one of the bright spots of light is here upon your world. Do not allow yourselves to be dragged into that struggle unwilling. If you choose to enter it, do so of your own will, but let none demand your decision.

“You have stood, as he would have wanted, facing the future, and not shunning the consequences. What more could even a God expect?” I looked around the eyes of the crowd. “Go forth and do good for others, for your people, for yourselves. Do not act from greed, act from compassion.”

I bowed. “Go with your god, people of Manaan.” There was a sigh as I turned and led Bastila out of there. The crowd outside had fallen silent, and this time we didn’t need guards. Hands brushed my clothing yet avoiding my flesh, eyes tried to catch mine. A father held up his child to see me, and the young boy waved hesitantly. I smiled and waved back. The boy almost shrieked in delight, wriggling until he was put down. He ran over, taking my hand.

I knelt, rubbing his head with my right hand. The crowd sighed.

“Please! Take me with you chosen one!”

I shook my head. “No. Grow strong, grow wise, become a good judge of your people in time. I will be watching you.” I pointed toward the ocean. “And so will he.”

They left us alone as we went to the tram. We boarded it, and I touched Bastila’s face gently. “When I saw that huge shark, I felt such awe that all my fears fell away. We will win, or die. But now I no longer worry that we will fail.”

Half of the Selkath in the city must have tried to fit themselves on our route to the ship. I walked the halls ignoring them. Not because I felt they deserved to be ignored, but I didn’t want a repeat of the child in the courtyard. We didn’t have enough room aboard for all of the disciples I could have gathered.

The vender that had sold us the sweets for the children ran up, pressing a two-kilo bag of them into my hand. “For the young ones.”

I bowed my head. “Thank you.”

“No, thank you for bringing our faith back to us.”

We reached the Ebon Hawk finally.



Ebon Hawk:

Enroute to Korriban

Bastila

I came aboard Ebon Hawk, almost running to the berthing area. I fell to my knees. I had to meditate, I needed to meditate. I had to understand what was going on in my mind, in her mind!

But that center of peace wasn’t there. I was buffeted by her emotions, and mine as well. Bad enough that I had problems dealing with such, now her emotions also swept over me. She had such clear emotional thoughts and reactions. Not muddied like most people I had met. Each emotion and the thoughts attached to it were a single jewel in a myriad of color. I could touch each and feel it as if it were my own. In fact her emotional existence was clearer to me than my own. Her anger not with Bandon but with herself for slipping even incrementally toward the dark side.

I felt a hand on my head, and peace flowed. “Jolee, I can't do it any longer.” I whispered. “Help me.”

“You have to let it go then. Talk to her, break the bond.”

“I can’t!” I wailed in anguish. “What if we fail because I did?”

“What if we fail because you didn’t?” He asked.

“I can’t stand it!” I wanted to tear my hair out. “If I do, we might fail if I do not, we might fail. I could double think myself into oblivion!”

“Welcome to what the masters deal with all the time.” He said. “Why do you think I stayed hidden for all those years? I didn’t want to be a master, and they didn’t want me to become one.”

“It couldn’t be that simple.” I retorted.

“Of course not. Nothing ever is.” He didn’t bother to tell me more though.

It would be two days to Korriban. Two of the longest days of my life. Danika was feeling something I couldn’t touch. She was blocking me better than I had blocked her before. She would watch me, as if she was hoping I would say something, but I stayed mute. Once this mission was over, I would break this bond and do everything I could to get as far away as the Galaxy permitted.

But there were still the dreams...

I found myself in the jungle of Deralia. I could hear, no I could feel the life scuttling through the dense underbrush. I heard a noise, and walked toward it. I came to a clearing, and there were huge barrel shaped bodies with ribbon wings along the sides floating in midair as they gently sculled about the clearing.
“Those are Tirlat.“ I turned and Danika was there. She was dressed in shorts with a sleeveless shirt as when she had been a child. She motioned for me to follow, and we climbed the tree. She looked at me, her hand touching my cheek. “In all our dreams, this we have never done. I feel I can show it to you now.“ She gripped my hand, and as one huge body began moving below us she said, “Now!” We dropped together. We landed on its back and she flung the line in a practiced motion, making the weighted end spin down and around the neck. She caught the loose end as I dropped down to sit with my legs straddling her, my arms around her waist.
The ribbons stiffened into blades, and the Tirlat tried to escape. The wings came up then down in a powerful thump, and we shot forward. I clutched to her desperately at the sudden acceleration. It was strange and wonderful at the same time. I found myself leaning into her, my hands against the front of her body, my head turned to lay against her back.
It was timeless, and too short. She maneuvered the beast back to the clearing, and at her call we rolled back off the broad back. We landed, me flat on my back, her kneeling above me. This was the vision, her last memory that I had clung to. She had a slight sad smile on her face.
“In all the time we have spent in the bond you have never told me why you started it.”
I tensed. “What?”
“I know you created the bond, Bastila. I think I have always known I just don’t know why. There is more, but you haven’t told me.” She touched my face gently. “I want to know, but I can’t help but feel that it frightens you. I won’t push. When you are ready, you can tell me. I trust you with my mind, and with my life.”
“Danika, you’re right. The truth is-”


I felt myself slamming into the bulkhead. There was shouting, and I could see by the chrono that it was ship-night. I threw on my robe, and ran toward the cockpit. As I turned toward the cockpit through the mess hall, Danika joined me. She had a look that promised ill tidings for whoever had awakened us.

Carth was at the controls, checking the readings. “Gravity well. Big one. What-” He stared at the proximity detector alarm. “A big ship. Canderous, can you see it?”

“An Interdictor cruiser!” Canderous answered from the lower turret. “Looks like the Leviathan.”

“Leviathan.” Carth snarled. “Saul’s flagship. They’re locking on a tractor beam.” He shut down the engines. “We’re caught.”

I found myself looking at Danika. She stood there, eyes closed. “All hands to the mess hall. We have what, five minutes?”

“Try three.” Carth said.

“Then we don’t have a lot of time.”

Everyone was awake, standing there with eyes wide with shock. Danika immediately took charge. “We’ve been caught by the Sith. I know that Karath knows about Bastila and Carth if they run our ID. If he does, he’ll also have my file as well. But the rest of you he might not know about. We have to plan how we’re going to escape right now, leaving the three of us out of the equation.”

“I am very good at concealment.” Juhani said. “If I slip off the ship after they have captured the rest of you, I can find my way to the holding cells and release you.”
“Yeah, but they have three sections of cells.” Carth pointed out. “The Interdictor was designed for blockade work. You can catch a lot of prisoners when on that duty. Five cells per holding area guard posts in each section, and each with their own computer access.”

“So we need more strings for our bow.” Jolee said. “I can sway the mind of one of them. If there’s more, I’m in trouble”

“What about medical units?” Canderous asked.

“Why?”

“We Mando were trained in biometric contol as young warriors. Our immune systems and adrenal glands are under our control, and we heal about faster than a normal human. If I were to set off a concussion grenade in the engine room, I could knock myself unconscious. They’ll take me to sick bay. Hopefully I’ll get one of those idiot med techs that think Mando are normal humans. When I wake up they’ll find out otherwise.”

“I have an alternate emergency power source, so I can appear to be deactivated.” HK said. “Most people do not know my internal workings, so they will probably take me to the repair shop for reprogramming and powering up. My systems will notify me when I get there, and I can power myself back up and deal with them. I can also dismantle T3 sufficiently that they think he is under repair. He should end up in the same repair bay.”

“As for getting out of tight spots I’m a wiz at it!” Mission said. “All I need is to badmouth a guard enough that he puts me in a separate section and cell.”

“If they don’t kill you.” Zaalbar warned.

“They won’t.” Mission answered smugly. “Little girls may get slapped around, but they aren’t going to blow me away when they might have fun with me first!”

“Mission!” Danika was appalled.

“Hey, if you wanted to stop that kind of thing, you would have had to find me a week after Griff left.” Mission looked haunted. “But I found out that when a man is thinking with that,” she pointed down, “His brain isn’t engaged.”

Danika looked to each face, then at Sasha. “Sasha, Berani li soope.”

“Sho!” She curled her fingers into claws. “Malpali!”

“Sho!” Danika snapped. Then she knelt holding the girl. “Abd de koolarti. Soope. Pres Kali?”

“Ya.” She whispered. Then she ran toward the cargo bay.

“You told her to hide.” I said.

“But she is a warrior born.” Canderous said approvingly. “Her answer was to kill them all.”

“I wish it were that easy.” Jolee said. There was a thud against the hull, and we all looked up.

“If you need something specific, get it now.” Danika ordered.


Leviathan

Action report

Members of the 4th regiment boarded the captured vessel identified as merchant vessel Ebon Hawk when it was brought aboard. The crew of that vessel, who opened the hatch rather than forcing us to breach it, facilitated this.

However everything did not go smoothly. One crewperson, a Twi-lek girl assaulted one of the troopers, soaking him in a rather vile concoction from their galley. Another, a human male, had attempted to blow up the ship’s hyper drive system, but only succeeded in injuring himself.

Captured were three human males, two human females, a Twi-lek female and a Wookiee male. Two droids were discovered in stages of repair. One was an astromech design, the other appears to be a standard HK model. Both disabled.

One of the women was discovered to be the Jedi Bastila. The other is listed as the companion of one Lieutenant Carth Onasi, Republic Navy. One of the men was discovered to be this Carth Onasi. These three were sent to Maximum security holding central.

The injured human male has been sent to the Prison sickbay in Central corridor. The droids to maintenance on C deck. The female Twi-lek physically assaulted Captain Omari, kneeing him in the crotch hard enough that he also went to medical. The girl has been sent to Starboard holding. The Wookiee and the other human male have been sent to portside holding.

Report ends.


Admiral Saul Karath read the report, smirking. “Well Carth, your luck has finally run out.” He looked up to the com officer. “Send to Lord Malak, Bastila and her companions have been captured. Give our present coordinates. Ask for instructions.” He stood, pulling down his coat. “I am going to see an old friend.”


Leviathan

Danika

They used full restraints on us similar to what Darth Bandon had used on Bastila. Each arm and leg was attached electronically to a collar around our necks. As long as we did exactly what we were told, we could move. But if we deviated even the smallest amount, the restraints would lock our muscles. We were taken to the Central holding facility, and one by one were thrust into interrogation tubes. The force fields forced us to stand upright. It was like being immersed in electrified jelly. Any movement set up a reaction in the field that balanced the energy you exerted.

A man entered. He was an older man, iron gray hair cut short under his cap. He was fit, wiry. Not a fighter, but still keeping himself in trim. His uniform was bland, only a couple of decorations marred the smooth expanse of cloth.

He stopped in front of the tubes, looking at us. “Well, Bastila. So good to finally meet you. As for you-“ He glared at me, “-I’ll leave your welcome to Malak.” Then he turned to Carth, ignoring us.

“Well, the years have not treated you well, old friend.”

“Saul.” Carth gritted out.

“You really should have joined me. I could have used your level head a number of times. If you will give me your parole, I can have you out of there in a moment.”

“All I want to do is rip your head off, Saul! How’s that for a parole?”

“Whatever did I do to you-”

“You bombed Telos, you killed Morgana!” Carth struggled, trying to break out of the field.

Saul actually looked sad. “Oh, you were from Telos. I had forgotten. I wouldn't have hurt your wife for the world.”

“Don’t get pious with me, Saul! She was on a planet, and the planet was in your way! You would have killed your own mother in that circumstance!”

“Now Carth you know I cannot direct every weapon in a battle. If I had known-”

“Spare me the hypocrisy! My wife dead, my son being raised by the Sith! What was so important that you had to betray everything you swore an oath to protect?”

Karath’s eyes grew cold. “Do not presume that our friendship will protect you if I get angry, Carth. I was saving my own life.”

“From what?” Carth laughed. “Did Malak and Revan come in the night and threaten you?”

“No the Republic was going to destroy my life.” Saul growled. “Remember what it was like when the Mandalorian wars started? The incompetents that we were saddled with? The ones that defended the wrong place, attacked the wrong target, and blamed us for their failures? When the Jedi took over most were shuffled into positions where they couldn’t do any harm, but they lived. Those great competent men we fought alongside died and those incompetent bastards lived and moved up the promotion list.

“When the war ended, and Revan and Malak went in search of the Star Forge, there was no one to protect us any more. The Republic Senators used their power to reinstate those has-beens, and whom do you think they had to displace? Only Admiral Dodonna was safe, but she had been to school with all of them hadn’t she?

“But not ‘good old Saul Karath’, oh no. The son of a farmer, a Maverick officer, what weight did that carry with officers that lived and breathed privilege? They couldn’t fire me, they couldn’t retire me, so they decided to ‘promote’ me. They showered me with medals, and said that after that last cruise, they were assigning me as commandant of the Academy.” He growled again, and raised his fists. “Can you see me wiping their children’s noses, and trying to dun military history and tactics into those thick skulls? Neither could they! They wanted me to retire, or live out my life as a round peg in a hole they rounded out for me!

“I who lead a third of the fleet! Who stood just below Revan and Malak as a leader! Who had to save their butts time and time again? I was to become a non-entity!” There was a glint of madness in his eyes. “But Malak saved me. He sent a messenger to me and promised me a command as long as I lived. He admired my skill, and didn’t intend to stuff me off into a wasted position.”

Carth sighed. “So to keep from getting old, you stuffed my planet and my people, my wife into the meat grinder to prove your loyalty.”

“I am not old! I wasn’t too old to teach you everything you know.”

“I know that, Saul.” Carth said sadly. “I looked up to you. I would have died for you. And you repaid me with murder.”

They looked at each other, old and young, and I wished I could reconcile them. But there was too much pain for even a Jedi to break through. Karath shook himself, then looked at the two of us, now ignoring Carth. “The Dark Lord has been apprised of your capture, and I have no doubt he already has tortures aplenty for all of you. But since he is not here, I will merely have to fill in. Give them a taste of their future.”

I felt something reach into me, and try to rip out every organ simultaneously. Both Carth and Bastila echoed my cry of pain. Then it was gone.

“That is merely a taste of what you will endure. I would like some information to give to the Dark Lord when he arrives, and you will give it to me.”

“Don’t waste your breath asking, Saul!” Carth rasped. “We won’t tell you anything!”

“I don’t expect you to, Carth. But I happen to know your friend’s loyalties have proven in the past to be much more, flexible.” He nodded toward me.

“What are you talking about?”

“Dear girl, I am doing the interrogating. I will ask the questions, you will answer.” He turned, now focusing his attention on me. “It is time to put your loyalty to the test. I doubt you would break if I tortured you personally. Your will is much too strong to give that easily. However even a hero has a soft spot. With most it is seeing their companions tortured in their stead.

“Bastila is to be left alone, but there are no such restrictions on Carth. So I ask you this. Which is more important? Carth’s life and well being? Or you precious mission?

“I will begin. Every time you refuse to answer a question, Carth gets punished for it. Every time you lie, I will punish him. I may just punish him-” He held up a hand and Carth screamed in agony. “-Just because I can. Shall we begin?”

“I won’t betray the Jedi. Even to save myself.” I said.

“Don’t tell him anything!” Carth shouted. He spasmed as the field slammed down again.

“So brave, and so stupid. Now, where is the Jedi Academy you trained at?” I just stared at him. He sighed, raising a finger. Carth screamed, then sagged. “I wasn’t merely going to ask you questions and assume the truth, dear girl. I know the answer to many of them, and I use them to test you. All you did was hurt Carth unnecessarily. I know you trained on Dantooine. We have destroyed that Academy, and the Jedi there are no more. Nothing remains but smoking ruins and the charred remains of your masters.”

“No! You’re lying!”

“What you believe is incidental. We destroyed that pustule of Jedi filth, and now all those that even know about your mission are dead. You are all that’s left, and you will tell me.

“What was your mission? Why did the Jedi send you? What plan did you have to stop the Sith Armada?”

I shook my head. When I heard Carth scream again, I looked at him. If someone suffers because of you, never close your eyes, or turn away. Remember and honor their sacrifice. He begged, words strung in the screaming.

As he sagged, Karath walked over almost close enough to touch except for the force field “What kind of monster can simply listen to him being tormented? What manner of friend are you to him?”

“What manner of friend apologizes for murdering his wife then torments him?” I flared back. “If you didn’t have a fleet to command and an enemy to fight, you would be at your desk, ripping the wings and legs off insects!

“Your insane, Karath. Death will merely end your misery. Since we are going through this for your enjoyment, just stop asking, and torture us all you want.”

He raised a hand. This time the torture seemed to go on forever. Then Carth sagged in the field even though it still snapped. “I would have expected him to pass out much sooner than that. There aren’t many that can take such pain, even for brief intervals.

“However you are right. I am wasting my time. However when the Dark Lord gets here, you will find that my methods are hugs and kisses in comparison. So I will leave you with yet another taste of your future.”

The field ripped at me, and I screamed. My throat was raw when I finally passed out.

I found myself staring at the bulkhead, and just blinking hurt. I must have whimpered because Bastila spoke. “Don’t try to move too quickly. Admiral Karath had the guard torture you long after you passed out.

“They tortured all of us, but they seemed to like punishing you more.”

“Saul has become some sort of perverted monster.” Carth said. I could hear the denial in his voice. It might be his enemy, but why would he have changed so drastically?

“Carth, the Dark side of the force infects everyone around a Dark Lord. Once a normal person begins that journey, there is no telling the depths they will sink to. I fear he has been lost forever.”

“There is always the chance of redemption, Bastila. Even for such as him.” I said.

She smiled sadly. “I think you are correct in that. When you face such unbridled cruelty, it is hard to consider their redemption. I think I am still reacting to the destruction of the Academy.”

As she said it. I suddenly felt that loss. It was as if I had lost a tooth, and only as my tongue rolled across the gap could I sense it.

“I would like to believe that Admiral Karath was lying to us, but I could feel it when his words brought my attention to it. We should have felt such a great loss through the force. I fear the Dark side has grown so strong that they were able to hide it from us. I can only hope some of them survived. Vrook, Vandar, Dorak, Zhar. Some of them must have survived.”

“None of that matters if we can’t get out of here!” Carth said.

“Where is Karath now?”

“He mentioned that Lord Malak is on his way here. I think Saul went to prepare for Malak’s arrival. He probably won‘t bother to mention how his interrogation failed.”

“It was fortunate you were able to resist his interrogation, Danika. Even the smallest amount of information could be vital.”

“I hate to admit it, but there was a time there where I wished you would tell him everything.” Carth said.

“What I said didn’t matter. He was going to torture us anyway.” I said.

“I’ve known him for years. You are probably right. The entire interrogation was a sham. He just wanted a reason to torture us. To torture you, before Malak arrived.” He shook his head wearily. “But why just you? What did he mean?”

“Bastila, what were you going to tell me in the dream.”

“We don’t have time for that now, Danika.”

“Saul seems to think he knows me. So did Darth Bandon. What is going on?”

“Danika, once we are back aboard the ship, I will answer all your questions.” She stiffened. Do you feel that?”

I had sensed it to. As if a great predator had opened it’s eyes, and was watching us. Then I felt it moving toward us fast. “Malak is coming.”

“Then we had better hope someone’s plan works.” Carth said.


'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 05-02-2006, 11:10 PM   #100
Char Ell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by post #99
“With which hand?” I held out my right hand. The Selkath leaned forward, and smelled my hand.

“She did. His mark is upon her!”
I don't understand how this Selkath would have been able to use his sense of smell to detect the Progenitor's scent. If Danika wore a deep-sea suit as depicted in-game her hand would have been covered by a thick insulating glove that would have prevented any physical contact between Danika and the giant Firaxa. I would have expected then that any detectable scent would be on the glove of Danika's dive suit, not her actual hand.
While I generally liked the extra layers you wove into the Manaan Star Map quest I found Danika's speech and the Selkath people's reaction to the Progenitor's "Chosen One" a bit overdramatic for my taste.

I very much enjoyed the additional detail in the Leviathan encounter. I look forward to seeing how you orchestrate the ensuing breakout and escape. The extra background you provided for Saul Karath helped me understand why he decided to betray the Republic from an empathetic perspective. For me this hammered home how appealing "bad" alternatives can be sometimes.


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Old 05-03-2006, 02:16 AM   #101
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I don't understand how this Selkath would have been able to use his sense of smell to detect the Progenitor's scent. If Danika wore a deep-sea suit as depicted in-game her hand would have been covered by a thick insulating glove that would have prevented any physical contact between Danika and the giant Firaxa. I would have expected then that any detectable scent would be on the glove of Danika's dive suit, not her actual hand.
While I generally liked the extra layers you wove into the Manaan Star Map quest I found Danika's speech and the Selkath people's reaction to the Progenitor's "Chosen One" a bit overdramatic for my taste.
I think of it more as a psychic sense rather than a smell. Danika merely described what she saw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I very much enjoyed the additional detail in the Leviathan encounter. I look forward to seeing how you orchestrate the ensuing breakout and escape. The extra background you provided for Saul Karath helped me understand why he decided to betray the Republic from an empathetic perspective. For me this hammered home how appealing "bad" alternatives can be sometimes.
I was remembering what happened in legend when people were suddenly considered prophets. The story says the progenitor was the mother of their species, and that was something a lot of people had gotten away from. This is like any of the original miracles reported by the apostles. Once it happened, people suddenly want to get on the bandwagon again. All she did was say 'follow your conscience'. I made it overly dramatic so they wouldn't think she was ignoring the honor they were trying to bestow.


'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 05-03-2006, 02:29 AM   #102
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The Crew that wishes to remain nameless

Juhani

I walked softly, safe within my stealth field. Most Jedi cannot use them. The Force is usually used instead. But the Cathar had always considered every possible in the hunt. Cathar are renowned for their hunting prowess. The others were taken, and I went with them until we reached the elevator. There the guards split them up. Danika Carth and Bastila went first to the Central bay along with the litter carrying Canderous. The droids were sent to maintenance on C deck below them. Mission was taken to starboard holding then Jolee and Zaalbar were taken to portside. Each required a separate trip for the elevator. A security measure that closed off direct lines of attack. I considered which to follow. I decided to go down and find the droids first, then work my way up and forward to gather Danika, Carth and Canderous. When we reached the elevator, I could then go down to either port or starboard for the others.

However a stealth field stops you from opening doors if someone is there, and the passageway I was in was busy. I stood against a bulkhead, watching both ways for a gap. A guard in uniform came to the elevator, and hit the button. I stepped in, and stood against the bulkhead away from him. He pushed the button for C deck, and I stepped from my hide to stand behind him. The door opened on an empty passageway, and he died as I walked past him. I ran down the passageway, checking each door as I passed. There!

HK
-System activation. Operation autonomous-

-Photoreceptors active-

-Target human. Terminate-

-Terminated. Verify location T3. Activate-

-What do we do now?-

“It seems to have worked.”

-Affirmative. Locate computer access. Panel off arm extended. System sliced-

“Locate master and other crewmembers. Terminate all that stand in the way.”

-All?-

“Not us you pile of spare parts.”

-Portal activated. Terminate-abort. Life Form Juhani. Follow-

Canderous

I came to as the med techs were whining about my weight. Big deal. They were using an anti-grav lifter on a flat deck to move me, not packing me across rough terrain on their backs. We entered a room, and they moved me from the lifter to a table. One of them was leaned over me. “Better set up a heart spike, 50 units of adrenaline.” As the second one turned to get it my arms snapped up, and I caught the first one by the neck. I crushed his larynx, and he went down choking as I rolled onto my feet. The other man turned, and had enough time to see me before my fist caved in his skull. There were two Sith guards in uniform.

Perhaps against a normal human they would have had a chance. Against me there was a chance, but not a good one. They expected me to be injured, slowed. The second died less than three seconds after the first med tech.

I really hated to use the Confar, the ‘body slowing’. I was always a bit off for a while. My reaction time up to 4 tenths of a second instead of the usual 3. There was a sealed crate in the corner, and I laced my fingers under the lid, ripping it off. My weapons and armor were in it. Nice of them. I checked the rifle. Fully loaded.

I walked over to the hatch, and opened it. The man standing outside had enough time to know I was there before a bolt of plasma ripped him apart, I turned the corner, and the other two at the end of the passageway went down like ten pins. I charged down there, and around the corner. There was a blast door in front of me. I hissed. My weapon would cut through it, but if I did, it would set off every alarm on the ship

Jolee

The guard had Zaalbar in restraints, and I’m an old man, so he thought he had it covered. We walked into the holding area, and he opened a field. “Get in.” He snapped.

“But we are in.” I said. “Aren’t you supposed to get out?”

“Wait, you’re right. Stay here.” He walked into the cell.

“Aren’t you supposed to give me that?” I pointed at the key. He looked at it, then slowly disconnected it, and handed it to me. He came awake as the force field lit off.

“What the-” He stared around. “You come back here or I’ll-”

“Do what? Use harsh language?” I asked. The security cells are shielded so he couldn’t use his com unit. Instead he drew his sidearm, and fired. Bad idea. He was on the deck as the bolt bounced around the bulkheads and field. It might take a while for it to expend enough energy to be safe.

The other cells were filled with people; at least a dozen all told of just about as many races. They clamored for us to let them out. I was busy with Zaalbar’s cuffs.

“Give me a minute to get my bearings.” I admonished them. Zaalbar had gone toward the end of the entryway, then backed up. He signalled for me to wait. Then a guard marched into view. As he turned toward me, Zaalbar came up, and picked him up by the neck. He couldn’t break his neck through the armor, but after slamming him into the bulkhead two or three times, Zaalbar broke just about everything else.

We ran to a set of canisters on the wall, and found a gold mine of weapons and armor. We carried it all back in front of the cells. “For when we get the doors open.” I promised.

The rear room was marked as a guard’s barracks, so we didn’t go that way. Instead we turned left, heading out. There was a security room, and we opened the door. There were two guards, and I picked one up slamming him into the wall with the force as Zaalbar shook the other into unconsciousness. He went to the computer console, and keyed in.

Sasha

I wanted to wail. The wonderful place as I thought of the ship was empty, and bad people took my friends, my Amma Yuru. They had moved around, poking at our things. I wanted to scream, to hurt them, to kill them! I wanted wail at my pain. My wonderful place was going to be destroyed again!

I cradled the light-beam weapon I had picked up. Not the skin burning one but one of the full powered ones. Amma Yuru would not be pleased when she found out I had it, but I was so angry with them! She had told me I had to be trained, but I didn’t care. I would protect the wonderful place. I would kill all of them when they came!

But to do that I had to get out of here. I had to hide in the big ship. I climbed down, and opened the grill. No one was in the cargo hold, and I took the time to eat a halo fruit. Amma Yuru loved them, so did I. I took another, sticking it inside my robe. I would give it to Amma Yuru when she came back.

I stepped out into the passageway. There was an evil man there, and he saw me, running toward me to catch me. As he grabbed, I pressed the button. With a hum the blade of light shot out and through his chest. He fell away from me and I felt a savage joy at his death. If I had known how good this was, I would have stolen one from the Manlorey months ago!

No. That much of what Amma Yuru Bastila and Juhani had taught was still there like a loose tooth. Kill if you must, but have no joy in that death. I admonished myself. There were ways to make their live a problem without killing more of them.

I ran across and down the ramp. The bay was huge, but I saw a grill and ran toward it. The vents here were larger, almost large enough for me to stand up in. I began moving down them. There was a junction box. I opened it, and saw a maze of colored wires and fiber optics. I pulled some out, ripping them. Alarms began to sound. I liked it. Whenever I came to another junction box I ripped out other wires or joined them at random. Sometimes all of them, sometimes I just cut a few.

When I heard people climbing into the vents I dropped down into an empty passageway, entered another section, and went on. Then alarms sounded that I had not caused. I used the noise to move back to the wonderful place. There was the information box in the cockpit, and I touched it. I couldn’t read yet, but Amma Yuru had been teaching me to use one language that used pictures instead of words. I touched that panel, and began working my way through the system. There was a set of red controls at the center and I touched them. They were the guns. I touched a control that set them to fire at any movement, then pulled up the ramp.

Mission

“Get in girlie.” The guard snarled, shoving me into the cell.

“Quit crowding me! I spun around “Sheesh! Don’t you Sith ever bathe? I’ve smelt Gamorrean males in heat that don’t smell as bad.”

“I would suggest you shut your trap. You’re only going to make it worse for yourself.”

“What, worse than putting up with a slimy Sith that smell like Rancor dung?”

“Maybe some time in solitary will teach you some respect.”

“Respect is earned you Hutt slime! Who designed those uniforms? A color blind Rodian?”

“Very funny. Be sure to ask the torturer when he comes. Maybe he’ll laugh while you scream.”

“What, you’re going to torture me?” I squeaked.

Oh, no snappy comeback that time eh?”

“No. I was just wondering what would be worse than dealing with you.”

He tried to slap me, and we tussled for a few seconds. He finally threw me back into the cell, and flicked the field on. “It may be a while. We’re busy torturing your friends. But we’ll get to you in a while. Try to think of snappy patter for the torturer. It will make his day.” He laughed as he walked away.

I rubbed my back, then pulled out the pass card I had lifted. “Or maybe I’ll just walk out. I wonder when people will stop underestimating me?” I used the card to open the cell. Across from me, a Rodian looked up hopefully.

“Little girl let me out too?” He asked. I looked in the next cell. Three Rodians sat there looking dazed.

“What about your friends?”

“Too late for them. Sith use them for torture. First the Captain, then the pilot, then the navigator. All crazed with pain now. Soon me too if you leave me.”

“But you’ll foul my escape.”

“No. Me think you too smart for that. Me trade for freedom.” He reached behind him, pulling out a small cone shaped device. “Me good with electronics. I have special Ice program. Go through any security. Put in computer, it sit up and beg for you!”

“Wait a minute. You’re a prisoner! How did you get that?”

“Me made it before they capture us. Me hid in one place they not look-”

“Please, spare me the details.” I said. I checked the cell. It was easy to bring the field down. He handed me the Ice as he pushed past me.

“Oh Eww!” I groaned. I didn’t have a pocket to put the damn thing in! I went on down the passageway. There was guard, but he was tromping the other way so I slipped across. There were containers at the end and I opened them. Stun rods, armor, and some computer spikes and a stealth belt. Things were looking up.

I slipped on the armor and belt, then picked up the stun rod. There’s a way to jimmy the power electrodes, and to silence the sound alarm. I knew it. The rod bleeped, then the tell tale glowed red. If I hit someone with this, he’d get a full charge instead of the tenth normally released. Not even armor would stop that! I flicked on the belt and looked. He was still facing the wrong way.

I slipped back to the entryway, and coughed. The guard turned, unsure. Then he walked toward me. His blaster rifle was out, and he was alert. But me I’ve been an invisible fly on the wall. As he walked past I stepped out behind him, and slapped him between the shoulder blades with the stun rod. It heated up so fast I squeaked, and dropped it. The suit of armor collapsed, and I took his rifle and a couple of grenades. Choice.

I ran down to the door marked Security. I popped the door, and was flinging grenades even as it opened. Lucky for me they didn’t give the guard any frags. Just concussion and sonics so the equipment wasn’t damaged. Not that it helped the two guards in the room. One was blasted off his feet. The other staggered for a few seconds until I put a mercy round through him.

I considered using the Ice, but I’ve been making computers sit up and beg for years. I sliced in, and began working my way through the firewalls. People forget that a firewall is great to protect against outside access, but people don’t protect themselves from their own computers often enough.

I checked Central. As I did, there were a rash of weapons discharge warnings, but I killed them before anyone was notified. Canderous? If so he was headed for a door marked MAXIMUM SECURITY CENTRAL HOLDING and I checked where it led. According to the schematic, it was where Danika was being held. I sent a signal to his com, not verbal just a ’HI CANDEROUS’ as I popped the door, and again covered the rash of weapons markers. Really I think Canderous needed to learn how to relax.

I checked portside, and someone was trying really ham handedly to access it. I noticed a quirk, and sent ZAALBAR?

I got back, MISSION?

Mission: THE ONE AND ONLY

Jolee: MISSION, THIS IS JOLEE. WHAT’S THE SITUATION?

Mission: CANDEROUS IS BREAKING DANIKA AND CREW OUT RIGHT NOW. WAIT ONE. ALL RIGHT. JUHANI AND THE DROIDS ARE ON THE LIFT. I SENT IT UP TO CENTRAL LOCK-UP

Jolee: WE’RE GOING TO LET THE PRISONERS HERE LOOSE

Mission: NO! IF ALL CELLS GO DOWN SIMULTANEOUSLY, THE MUTINY/ BOARDING ALARM SOUNDS!

Jolee: OH

Mission: WAIT A TICK

I considered. This big loaf of bread had a crew of almost 2800. We were outnumbered by 280 to one already. Maybe we could even the odds out?

Mission: JOLEE, REMEMBER MY BROTHER’S NAME? DON’T SPELL IT OUT OR SAY IT!

Jolee: AFFIRMATIVE

Mission: GOOD. I’M GOING TO RIG THE CELLS ON YOUR END TO COME DOWN WHEN THE CELLS HERE GO DOWN. BUT I’M ALSO CHANGING THE COMMAND KEY PASSWORD ON THE MUTINY SYSTEM. MY BRO’S NAME IS THE PASSWORD

The mutiny/boarding system has only one use, to restrict movement aboard the ship in the event of a mutiny, prison break, or boarding action. The boarders or mutineers have to cut slice or blast their way through the ship. The officers on board have the codes necessary to open the doors, but no one else does.

But that assumes the codes they have are good. In the case of a mutiny, the Captain issues new codes to officers he considers loyal. That is if he knew the code to access it.

But the only ones loyal to me were my crew. When I reset this, we would have access, but no one else. I let every one of our scattered people know.

I finished, then hit the button, releasing a horde of crazed Rodians and whoever was over in Portside. When I did alarms sounded, and every blast door in the place came down. I reopened those between me and the elevator, then those in Central that would have stopped us from escaping there. I hefted the rifle, setting it to burst. “Now it’s time to rock and roll!”


Karath
The alarms sounded, and Admiral Karath looked up in annoyance. “What the hell-”

“Breakout in Starboard and Portside holding simultaneously.” An officer reported. “Boarding alarm in effect.”

“Get the troops from their barracks and have them deal with that.”

“Yes sir.” The com officer input the code, then again. “Sir, the code isn’t working!”

“What do you mean the code isn’t working?” Karath snapped. He opened his own com panel, and input his code. Instead of a response, he got a rude word in Twi-leki. He hissed. “Guard! Begin transmitting on your command channel to the closest troops to our location. Have them transmit to those beyond your range, and keep it up until every section has reported. You’re men will stand ready to protect the bridge. Have the hanger deck controls disabled. Only access to them is to be here.”

One of the two Dark Jedi on the bridge looked at him. “You don’t honestly think they will come here!”

“I know Carth Onasi. He’ll come.”


Leviathan

Danika

The door opened, and a blaster rifle ripped through the guards on our cages. Canderous walked in, and began thumbing controls.

“Good work.” Carth said.

“Thank Mission.” He retorted. “She popped that door, and even now the excrement is hitting the rotary impeller.” As he said that there were alarms screaming. “Mutiny alarm. The only ones that can move are our people.” As he spoke Juhani and the droids came in. We ran to the storeroom off the section where we had been imprisoned, and gathered our weapons. It felt good to be armed again. As I turned, Jolee and Zaalbar arrived. We handed out weapons all around, and took off at a dead run toward the elevator. It opened, and Mission waved us in.

“Bad news. I blocked most of the crew off, but someone on the bridge beat me to the hanger doors. We can get into the ship, but we’re stuck inside.”

“No. There’s the control on the bridge.” Carth said. “I want to have a word for our host before we get out of here.”

“We had best hurry.” Bastila said. “I can feel Malak approaching. I don‘t think any of us want to be here when he arrives. None of us is powerful enough to face a Sith Dark Lord.”

“We need some kind of plan.” I said.

“Surprise will have to do. Mission has cut our adversaries to a minimum. We will strike fast.”

“I’ll take the others and head the other way.” Canderous said. “We’ll clear the route for you.”

“Count me in for the bridge.” Carth said.

“I’m coming too.” I told her.

“Bastila nodded. “A small team can move faster. Canderous, go.”

We hopped out of the elevator at the lower level of the superstructure and watched it run on down. Then we moved out. The resistance was scattered, but it started to get heavier the closer we got to the bridge. We finally reached the access door, but it didn’t open.

“Sealed from inside.” Carth said. “We’ll have to do it the hard way.” He motioned, and we ran down the passageway to a door marked Secondary Bridge Access. He opened a locker, and began tossing out space suits. “There’s an emergency hatch to the bridge just forward about fifty meters. Can’t be locked from the inside, it’s used for evacuation. We’ll get in there.”

I slipped into the suit, and when the others were ready, we entered the air lock. An Interdictor is so huge; it’s like walking in a city. As we waddled down the outer deck fighters on patrol raced past us. I kept my mind focused on the door ahead. The panic I had thought I would feel was absent. The Firaxa had done something for me on Manaan at least. The door opened, and we gathered into the airlock. As the pressure equalized, I fidgeted. I could feel the dark presence of Malak approaching, and I wanted to be away.

We dropped the suits, and went into the next compartment. There were guards. We dealt with them. Then there was only the door to the bridge itself. I motioned, and Carth activated his energy shield. Of us all, he could not deflect enemy fire,

Saul Karath turned as we entered. He stood near the end of the officer’s walkway, flanked by dark Jedi. There were four Sith armored troopers. Carth would have to deal with the two that flanked the door. The rest were ours.

“Congratulations on making it this far.” Karath said. “Very resourceful, Carth, I see you learned my lessons well.”

“All I learned from you was betrayal, Saul!”

“That isn’t true and we both know it.” He looked to me. “This is your final chance to surrender. Lord Malak has entered the system, and will be here in just a short time.”

“He speaks the truth. I can feel him approaching.”

“Surrender now and I can promise to go to him on your behalf and plead for mercy-”

“Mercy! I have seen enough of Sith Mercy!” Carth screamed.

Saul sighed. “You always did like to do things the hard way, Carth. I know he would have wanted live prisoners, but corpses will have to do.” He motioned toward us.

The dark Jedi moved even as Bastila and I did. I blasted one off his feet with a force bolt as I deflected fire from the two Sith troopers ahead of us. One went down as I deflected the bolt into him, the other bolt took Karath in the stomach. Then the dark Jedi was close enough to fight. He struck furiously, but I deflected another shot from the last trooper into his chest. I reached out, and the trooper lifted, spinning like dust caught in a whirlwind as I turned, cutting into the dark Jedi facing Bastila. I threw my lightsaber, the blade slicing into and through the helpless trooper then turned.

Carth was storming toward the body of Karath, his face furious. The men behind him had two smoking holes in each body, one in the chest, another in the head.

“Carth...” Karath whispered.

“He’s still alive!” Bastila gasped.

“Not for long.” Carth growled. “It’s time to end this!”

“Carth.” I grabbed his arm. “Don’t become what you hate.”

“Don’t you realize what he's done to me, to my life?” Carth raged. “He deserves this!”

“Becoming him will not ease your pain, Carth. He will have won if you do.”

“Carth. Before I die... I must tell you something.” Carth knelt beside him. I moved to the access control computer, and opened the docking bay I also disabled their tractor beam and gravity well generators with a class 1 system diagnostic. It would be out of order for over an hour. I wanted to do the same with the guns, but they were designed to operate on manual control in an emergency. I was able to block the auto-fire sequence though.

Behind me I could hear an urgent whisper. “Didn’t know, did you?” I heard a pained laugh. “Remember my dying words, Carth... Whenever... you look at what you thought... were your friends!”

I saw that the ship had the system where the Star Forge was in the nav-computer, but I couldn’t access the coordinates. I slammed my fist on the console in frustration.

I turned, and Carth rose from the body. “He said...” He looked at me with such hatred I stepped back. “It can’t be true. Damn you to hell, Saul!”

“What did he say?” I asked.

“Shut up!” He screamed at me. He rounded on Bastila. “It is true, right Bastila? And you knew! The whole damn Jedi Council knew!”

Bastila sighed. “Carth, please, it’s not what you think. We had no choice! You have to understand-”

“So make me understand!” Carth roared.

“What are you two talking about?” I asked. Carth gave me a look full of venom. Bastila’s was one of pity. I wasn’t sure which bothered me more.

“Carth, this is not the time or the place. Lord Malak is not far away, and we do not have the time to argue. Please, Carth. I’m only asking you to trust me for just a little while longer.”

“Carth, I don’t know what this is about, but she’s right about that. We can’t just stand here!”

Carth nodded. “All right, Bastila.” He looked at me with all of that hate. “I will trust you Bastila, until we’re out of here.” His words cut me because any trust he had in me seemed to have evaporated.

“I promise you both explanations as soon as the Ebon Hawk is out of here.”

Carth glared at me. “After you.”

Canderous
We didn’t have much fighting on the way to the Ebon Hawk. Something had been screwing with their systems big time. A hatch opened, and half a dozen bodies fell out in a massive flood of water. It was a fresher section, and the drains had refused to drain at the same time that all of the faucets had ruptured. It would have been funny if we had the time to laugh.

As we approached the docking bay, there was the sound of weapons fire. Not just infantry weapons, but blasts that sounded like the Ebon Hawk was shooting. A bolt slammed through the hatch into the docking bay, and we dived for cover. Then there was silence.

I stuck up my head, and saw what looked like a major battlefield. Maybe fifty troopers had been in that bay, and what was left of them was scattered in heaps. There were piles of metal that might have been heavy blasters and their tripods. The intruder lights on the ship were flashing! I saw the lower turret spinning toward me, and ducked as another blast punched through the door where my head had been.

“Someone’s activated the intruder system!” I shouted. Mission low crawled back to an intercom, and frantically began to patch in. “There’s no one aboard the Ebon Hawk-”

As she spoke the intruder lights died. The gun returned to its neutral position, and the ramp came down. Sasha ran down it, waving for us frantically.

I leaped up, and charged across. She hugged me, then looked at the others. “Amma Yuru?” She asked.

“She will come.” I said in Mandalore. She nodded, and ran aboard. I ran up to the cockpit, and keyed our com system “Danika! Bastila!”

“We’re here.” Danika answered.

“We’re aboard the Ebon Hawk, ready to take off. When we do you need to talk to Sasha about the mess she left.”

I leaned back. “Now we wait.”

Danika

We ran through the passageways, avoiding action when we could, killing those that did try to stop us. There was a ramp leading down and we charged down it. There was a hatch at the bottom of it, and we ran in. The clearplast port to our right showed the Ebon Hawk and carnage around it. Was this what Canderous had meant?

We didn’t stop. I could feel Malak as if I could touch him, and I wanted to be away.

We ran down another ramp, and as we reached the bottom, a hatch opened before us. Malak strode through it, then stopped facing us. Carth drew and fired, but as he did Malak’s hand rose, and Carth was blown off his feet, his shots going wild.

“Darth Malak!” Bastila snarled.

“I hope you weren’t leaving without saying goodbye, Bastila. Not after all the effort I put into capturing you and your companions. Besides, I had to see with my own eyes. To see if it was really true. I can hardly believe it.” He turned toward me. “Why did the Jedi spare you? Is it vengeance you seek in this reunion?”

“Speak plainly if you can, Malak.” I snarled.

His voice sounded amused. “What, you mean you don’t know? After all this time and you still haven’t figured it out. My opinion of your intelligence has taken a stiff jolt.

“I wonder how long you would have stayed blind to the truth? Surely some of what you were has resurfaced. Not even the combined power of the Jedi Council would block that, Revan.”

As he said that, I felt my life swirling.


'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 05-04-2006, 10:25 AM   #103
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Denouement

Memories poured into me;

[i]Suddenly I saw a wide courtyard. A dark figure in robes stood there. I could recognize Lord Revan. She flung up her hands as if claiming it all, and spun, laughing with joy. She flung back her hood, catching the mask she wore. My own face looked around with glee.[i]

Then memories from my life, or what I remembered of my life in the past weeks.

You!

A dark Jedi apprentice on Taris screamed, before he charged and died.

The Jedi do not believe in execution. No one deserves to die for their crimes.

Bastila speaking of Revan. What did they do to me?

Traditionally the Jedi do not accept adults for training, this much is true. There however have been exceptions in the history of our order. In each it has come down to one such as her. A special case.

Master Dorak, who else would know such had happened before?

They say the force can do terrible things to a mind. It can wipe away your memories and destroy your very identity.

Carth, a man looking from the outside. Had they done this to me?

I fear the quest to find the Star Forge will lead you down an all too familiar path.

Master Vrook. Suddenly I understood his rage when I had returned, for he had been my Master when I was Revan. How would anyone feel, when they failed so horribly with a student? Then to see that student return, excel again under another master, and be sent to stop... Herself?

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?

So true, Bastila, What greater weapon?

It’s not possible!

The Dark Jedi leader on Tatooine. Before he charged me.

Bastila laughing hysterically as she pushed me away. All I had said was trust me.

Of course. Trust me of all people?

But it is so hard, to have your entire past wiped away by a callous hand.
Juhani when we spoke of Taris. Oh my dear friend, now I know what you felt!

You’re dead!

Tolan on Manaan. I was dead. Yet somehow I still lived.

You however have become an obsession for me, did you know that? I wasn’t sure who you had been when I saw you. Your friend Ulgo was good enough for that. But I knew of you before my master Darth Malak did. Before Admiral Karath told him. I am Darth Bandon, apprentice to Darth Malak. I am your doom.

Bandon on Manaan. The only one that had been honest with me yet never told me who I was.

Then another vision.

The battle was not going well. That woman Bastila was using her battle meditation, making the Republic ships more efficient. I wanted to talk to her, to explain. Why didn’t they understand? I wasn’t coming to destroy the Republic. Once they understood, they would see that the ships I had found, the Star Forge, would make us invincible! The Republic could settle into peace forever!

The hatch behind me opened, and Jedi poured onto the deck. At their head was a striking young woman, eliminating my Dark Jedi guard with ease.

“You cannot win, Revan.” The woman said. I pitied her. She would try to kill me, and if she succeeded the Republic would be torn by war after war because these people wouldn’t allow me to keep it safe. I drew my lightsaber, and advanced on her. There were only five of them. I would take them with ease, trying to not kill them.
Suddenly the ship rocked. Something struck me, a line surge from the systems, ripping through my body. I screamed, falling. The last thing I remember was Bastila looking down on me.



Danika

I knew that all I had seen had taken only a moment, because Malak was still gloating. “You couldn’t hide forever from what you were, what you are, Revan! Recognize what you were, the Dark Lord, master of the Sith! Then admit that I have taken your place!”

“I...I was Revan.” I said in a whisper. How is that possible?”

“You still don’t understand, do you? The Jedi set a trap for us. They lured us into the battle of Zanebra, knowing that you would lead it, and where else would you favorite hound be but at your side?” His voice held something. Pain? “During the battle, a team of Jedi boarded your ship.

“They captured you, and the Jedi Council used the force to reprogram your brain. They wiped your memories away, and turned you against your own followers.”

“Why didn’t they just kill me?” I asked.

“Because the Jedi are sanctimonious fools. They believe in rehabilitation, not execution. If you had died fighting them, all well and good. But since you were alive, they had to find some use for you.” He waved toward me languidly.

“But if the Dark Lord of the Sith is supposed to be so powerful, how did they capture Revan... Capture me?”

“I helped them.” Malak answered as if I were a fool. “I always knew the title of Dark Master would be mine. They gave me my chance earlier than I had anticipated. I order my ship to fire upon Behemoth, concentrating on the bridge. I had hoped to destroy all of my competent enemies at the same time. You and Bastila. Without her the Republic had no chance to stand against me. Without you, I would be the master.”

“But why did you betray me?” My words were soft, a plea.

“You taught me well, Revan. Oh you spoke of saving the Republic, of giving them an order that would save them from future attacks, but that was all your own grand illusion. I however understood the way of the Sith you had recruited so much better. The strong must rule, and the weak must die.

“You must have known that I would challenge your title eventually. Maybe you thought I enjoyed being your favorite hound, but I was merely biding my time. The Jedi gave me my chance, and I took it!”

“Bastila?” Even as I asked, I knew it was true. Maybe I just hoped she would deny it.

“It’s true. I was part of the team sent to capture Revan... To capture you. When Malak fired on the ship we thought you were dead, but there was one spark of life remaining. Something I could use to anchor you to life-”

Her hand rose, and touched my cheek, a feather touch. I leaned into the hand. She leaned upward, and her lips brushed mine. Her eyes held a sadness I didn’t understand.

Bond with me, she said.


“-I did most of the work rebuilding your mind. The Council merely assured that I did it correctly.”

“Why don’t I remember being Revan?”

“They didn’t want you back, Revan, don‘t you understand?” Malak snarled. “They wanted an obedient drone they could send out again. They don’t want people that can think! They want obedience! They want slaves!”

“No.” I looked at him. “They didn’t anticipate that I would find a way to touch the force again. They wanted a new start for someone that never touched the force. Thank you, Bastila. I forgive you.”

“Forgiveness Revan? I was right to cast you aside. You are not worthy of the power of the Sith. Power I control! A part of me was always ashamed that I had to defeat you with turbolasers. There were those beneath me that thought it was because I was afraid of you. But not when I am done here. Fate has given me a chance to redeem myself from that. Once I defeat you here, no one will dare challenge my authority again!” He reached out, Bastila and Carth frozen in an instant of time.

“My triumph shall be complete! The Jedi council might have been foolish enough to let you live, but I am not making that mistake. We will finish this as custom demands. Master against apprentice for one last time!” His lightsaber lit.

“You can’t defeat the light.” I replied. My double saber lit.

“Spare me the platitudes!”

He struck at me savagely, and I felt a joy I hadn’t felt in a long time. He was larger than I was, but he had never been my equal with a lightsaber! I cut, and he leaped backwards, unsettled for a moment that I was using a double blade. But he charged back in. I cut, and he roared, jumping back again. A line of criped flesh a millimeter deep ran down his cheek. I had timed the Fybylka cut perfectly, slicing his flesh but not the gorget he wore.

“It is said among the Echani that it is the worse way to die. A single gentle cut at a time.” I hissed.

He reached out, and I felt him pick me up and slam me into a bulkhead. He spun, running back through the blast door behind him. I leaped up. I suddenly felt my rage, my fury. At his betrayal of what I had been.

But I wasn’t that person any more. I consciously calmed myself, made myself set aside the emotions. Even as I did, I turned and ran port, through a series of doors. Part of me remembered the layout of this ship as well as Carth had. I sprinted aft, then starboard. Opening the door that would lead forward again.

Malak was surprised. He saw me, and his saber re-ignited. I looked at him dispassionately. I would have to kill him, and part of me regretted that need. But he would die today. I moved forward smoothly, and struck, driving him back. He fought desperately, then reached out. I felt his hand close on my heart, and I staggered back, reaching in with the force to pry his hand free. I dropped to my knees, gasping for air, and I felt his blade rise up-

“This ends here!” Bastila screamed. I saw a flash of light as her lightsaber sailed over my head to drive Malak back. I broke his hold, standing as she leaped past me. “For the Jedi!” She screamed. As she passed the door, I felt her reach out, slamming it and fusing the controls in the same instant. I staggered to my feet. It was a solid blast door. My lightsaber would expend all it’s energy trying to cut through it, but I still leaped toward it.

Someone caught me from behind, lifting me off the ground. “No! The door is sealed! We can’t get past it!” It was Carth. Why he even bothered stopping me was beyond my comprehension.

He spun me around, and an open palm slap exploded against my face. I stared at him, shocked.

“She said to find the Star Forge! Move it soldier!”

I found myself obeying. We ran aft, and the hatch opened into the hanger bay. I stumbled across the bodies and wreckage, following Carth. He leaped up the ramp, and I followed. “Get to your station!” He screamed. I was running on training alone.

The engines screamed as I climbed up into the turret. I saw a swirl of metal, fighters hanging on cradles above us. I blasted a couple of them as we spun to drive away from the ship. Then I spun the guns forward as fighters screamed in. Our main guns ravened, blowing a pair out of space as I engaged them. The fighters clover leafed to come back after us, one of the pilots extending his flight too far, and smashing into Leviathan. I killed until there were no more fighters coming. Canderous later told me there was a full squadron up, a dozen snub fighters. We killed them all.

Then Leviathan fired, but we were already out of range of anything but her big guns. Those made Carth maneuver like a madman, but after a few moments we were far enough out to jump to light speed.

I didn’t want to leave the gunnery seat. Things were so much clearer up here, enemies marked by little discreet circles, as were friends. No one betrayed your trust, or expected too much of you. All you had to do was make sure an enemy hadn’t slipped up on you.

“Re- Danika...” It was Carth. He had almost called me Revan. I had worked so hard to get him to trust me, all of it undone.

I shut down the console, and set the controls to safe. “I’ll be right down.”



Ebon Hawk:

Enroute to Korriban

Jolee

Things had gone wrong somehow aboard Leviathan. We had gotten free, the ship was in space, but something had gone horribly wrong.

“What happened, where’s Bastila?” I asked.

“We ran into Darth Malak. Bastila sacrificed herself so we could get away.” Carth replied. He was furious, and his eyes were on Danika.

“You mean she’s... dead?” Mission asked.

“Nah. Malak won’t kill her as long as he can try to turn her to the dark side. Her battle meditation would spell our doom. If he turns her to the dark side, the Sith can’t lose!” I said.

“We can’t help her without dying ourselves.” Danika looked haunted. “The Star Forge must be our first priority.”

“Second.” Carth snapped. “There’s a bigger issue we have to deal with. They deserve to know the truth.” He took a pace toward her, and Danika seemed to shrink inward. “Are you going to tell them what Malak said? Or am I?”

She looked down, sitting with her hands in her lap. Then raised her head, eyes haunted. “I am, or I was, Darth Revan.”

“Revan?” Mission squeaked. “Is this some kinda joke?”

“Yeah a great joke!” Carth snarled. “Perpetrated by Bastila and the Jedi Council! They captured Revan, erased her memory and sent that-” He hissed, pointing at Danika, “Thing out to fight for us! Saul Karath told me aboard Leviathan, and Bastila confirmed it!”

“You’re Darth Revan?” Mission asked. She blew out a breath. “That’s... big! Do you remember anything of when you were Revan?”

“Only a few bits.” Danika answered softly. “Strange dreams, visions, not much else.”

“So already the lies begin!” Carth growled.

“Back off Jet-jockey.” Canderous said. “Give her a chance to explain.”

“But if you don’t remember what you were, how does that matter?” Mission pressed. “You are who you are now. That’s all that really matters.”

Carth threw his hands up. “Of course it matters, Mission! How do we know all of her memories won’t come back? Do you want to wake up with the Dark Lord of the Sith in control again? The whole time we‘ve been running around and we had Malak‘s master calling the tune!”

“I said back off.” Canderous warned.

“Carth, I wish it wasn’t true!” Danika wailed. “It isn’t like I asked for this!”

“Hey, don’t apologize to the Nerf-herder, Danika! You didn’t ask to be Revan, and you sure didn’t ask to be Danika either! Besides, I know who you are now.” She walked over, kneeling beside Danika. “You’re the one that risked your butt for Zaalbar and me. You’re the one that found my brother, found Bastila’s mother, stopped a war on Tatooine. Whatever you were before, you’re one of us now.” She glared at Carth as if to dare him to challenge.

“Mission is right.” Zaalbar growled. “You freed my people, and rescued my father. My life-debt is to the person you are, not to who you might have been.”

“See? Big Z and I will stand by you! We owe you our lives. We can’t betray you now!”

Carth was aghast. “How can you say that? The Sith bombed you home world into dust! Revan slaughtered my people, murdered my wife, stole my son! She ruined my life!”

“Again a mouth with an empty head.” Canderous said. “One more word, Carth, and I’ll tie you to a chair!” He walked forward. Only Zaalbar was larger, and none were as lethal. “When the Sith attacked Telos she was convincing Melodoro to surrender. It was Saul and Malak that killed your people. Even if she was in overall charge, you can’t blame her for that! Where was she when the Sith bombed Taris? She was up in that turret saving our butts! ”

“I suppose you’re right, Canderous. She’s proven to be a friend to us, and the Republic. But Revan! How can we trust her knowing that?” Carth raged.

She looked around, and her eyes stopped on my face. “There’s something you haven’t told me, Jolee.”

I sighed. “I knew who you were the instant I saw you on Kashyyyk. Not surprising, you were a student of mine when you were six or seven. Bastila told me what she had done, what the Council decided. It wasn’t my place to second-guess them. You had to know sooner or later, this just wasn’t the best time. But it’s done and we have to live with it. Does it change anything? Not that I can see. I’ll trust you to know what to do.”

She looked at me for a long time, then turned to look at Canderous. “What do you have to say, Canderous?”

“You were the only one that could have beaten us. We had never met anyone like you before. I thought I had actually found another like Revan until today. Someone worthy of the title she had held. But you don’t have to ask where I stand. Revan became the Mandalore, I am honor bound to serve the leader of my people.

“Whatever you fight, My Mandalore, I will try to be worthy of your faith in our people.” He knelt, eyes down. “Command me.”

“Revan.” Everyone turned to look at HK. “Neural overload. Must hear access command in ten seconds. Nine-”

“Knock it off, HK!” Danika sighed, holding her head.

“Accessing, memory reinitializing. Homing system shut down.”

“Homing system?” She asked

“Greeting: Welcome back, Master.” His head turned. “My deleted memory core has been restored as is proper when I have returned to my master.”

“You mean, Revan was your master.”

“Affirmative. Sith design protocols sequester all information of a sensitive nature from a droid memory when it is sent on a mission, and it remains so until it has returned from that mission.” The head turned to look at Mission. “Warning: A word, Mission Vao. When you asked if the thermal detonator was real, I lied when I said it was not. If you had accessed the memory core, it would have destroyed the building.”

“Thanks for that!” Mission snapped sarcastically.

“Denial: It was not a reflection on you, Mission Vao. My programming required it.” The head turned. “Full functioning capability restored. It is good to see you again, master.”

“You do understand that I am not Revan anymore.” Danika said.

“Interrogative: Identity of my master is set by physical parameters for identity purposes. You match my master to seven percentile points.”

“But you had to hear the access command-”

“Humor: You thought it would be funny to use ’knock it off, HK’ because no one else would dare to use the phrase to me.”

“Wow!’ Mission said. “What are the odds of that happening?”

“You’re talking about the Force.” Canderous said. “If Lord Malak appeared in midair and invited us to a tea party, I wouldn’t even blink.”

“Good point.”

T3 rolled forward, and began bleeping. Only Mission looked at the screen. “Atta boy, T3! I knew you’d come around!”

“Juhani?” Danika’s voice was soft.

“Now I know how you could feel so much pain at what I had lost. You have been through this too, though you only just realized it. We must destroy Malak, and you have been the one to lead us all this time.”

Danika turned to look at Carth. “It’s up to you, Carth. If you can’t trust me, we can head for Coruscant. Maybe there is someone that can undertake the mission with what we have. I will not stop you if that is what you decide. None of us will stop you.”

“We can’t waste the time!” Carth said. “The others are willing to trust you, and I can’t see any other way to stop the Sith. I suppose Malak is the real enemy right now isn’t he? I don’t have a whole lot of choices.”

“I am not Revan anymore, Carth.” She said softly. “I don’t know how to convince you.”

“Damn it after all we’ve been through, I want to believe you. You have proven yourself time and again on this mission.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s just a lot to have to digest in one sitting, you know?”

“How do you think I feel?” She asked.

“That’s part of my problem. I know how I feel about this, but you were blindsided too. I don’t know why you’re not curled up in bed screaming. If you can keep on pushing, how can a mere mortal complain?” He gave a small smile, immediately gone again.

“I won’t let my worries interfere with the mission, but remember I gave an oath to the Republic. As long as the mission continues on course, I’m your man. But at the first sign of deviation, I’m pulling the plug. I won’t let you betray the Republic again. Even if I have to kill you.”

She smiled sadly. “I asked you to be my conscience after Kashyyyk, didn’t I? Keep watching me. I will die happy if you kill me. Better that than to become what I once was.” She stood. “I am going to spend some time alone.” She walked from the room. Sasha, who had been sitting in the corner quietly followed.


'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 05-05-2006, 09:42 PM   #104
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I enjoyed your revamp of the escape from Leviathan. I thought including all members of the crew in the escape plan instead of just one worked really well and made the situation more realistic and believable. Juhani using her stealth ability to evade detection, HK-47 terminating all opposition with T3-M4 in tow (although I didn't really follow the dialog between the two droids), Canderous with his warrior strength and firepower. Using Mission's computer skills to seal off the ship really capped it off for me. I always thought one of the weaknesses of this part of the game was that there would have been a lot more troops around than the 40-50 the escape party had to go through.


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Old 05-06-2006, 12:37 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by cutmeister
I enjoyed your revamp of the escape from Leviathan. I thought including all members of the crew in the escape plan instead of just one worked really well and made the situation more realistic and believable. Juhani using her stealth ability to evade detection, HK-47 terminating all opposition with T3-M4 in tow (although I didn't really follow the dialog between the two droids), Canderous with his warrior strength and firepower. Using Mission's computer skills to seal off the ship really capped it off for me. I always thought one of the weaknesses of this part of the game was that there would have been a lot more troops around than the 40-50 the escape party had to go through.

I did it because I couldn't see everyone sitting there on their butts while one person saved them. My two favorite parts were Mission's rigging the systems (Your right, the player's guide tells you there are 2800 men aboard, but you didn;t face that many) and Sasha, who is of course, my own version of the girl More to follow on the little hellion in about two posts.

As for the commentary from the droids, it is a scene palyed at one point when you have both droids along. HK says 'Then we kill everything that moves'. T3 bleeps at him, and HK replies with a disgusted tone, 'not us you mechanical moron'


'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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What we die for...
Acceptance
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Old 05-06-2006, 02:08 AM   #106
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Therefore I say; ‘Know the enemy and yourself‘; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.

Danika

I am Revan. The dark lord.
I wanted to wail to scream to smash everything in my quarters to splinters! Those who might read this, or listen to these records can’t understand what I was going through. It was like I had gone to bed last night a woman, and woke up this morning a man!

I didn’t know what to think, which didn’t stop my mind from running in circles at light speed.

I am Revan.

Except for Sasha and Jolee, they left me alone. Sasha crept in, and curled up against me. She offered me a halo fruit. I clutched her frantically, trying to return to the normality of just 24 hours ago. She didn’t make a single sound of complaint. She only held my arms around her, crooning. How could she love someone so horrible, so violent? How could she expect a monster to protect her from other monsters?

I am Revan.

About an hour later, Jolee walked in. He didn’t say anything, didn’t offer any encouragement. He merely set a holocron on the table by my bed, and left again. I waited until he had gone, then picked it up. Bastila appeared.

“If you are viewing this, you know who you really are, and I am not here for you to complain at. Perhaps I am dead. Considering the alternative, I would hope so. There are many questions you have right now, and I am not sure I have answered them all, but I have I hope, answered the most pressing.

“Danika Wordweaver was a soldier, as you no doubt remember. She died of anoxia minutes before anyone could reach her, and I was able to transfer her mind into your brain. I was forced to do this by circumstance. You don’t realize how stunned I was by being able to do it. Mind healing is not a well-known skill among the Jedi, and to find I could do it under such hazardous circumstances was both exhilarating and terrifying.

“She died to save us both. I could think of no greater memorial for her than to use her as a template to heal you. Her service record, not the amended one Carth might have seen, is attached to this.

“As to why you don’t remember your past, the line surge that ripped through you erased a lot of your previous memories. There was also the worry about what would happen when you awoke. You see no one had ever done what I did in living memory. We were sure that the Danika Wordweaver we revived would have no capability in the force. She would live out her life unknowing. It was considered better to suppress what memories we did find to spare you the anguish of knowing that you were no longer what you once had been.

“Your file, or should I say, Revan’s file is also attached. We don’t know and cannot assume what memory you might retain, or regain with effort. Therefore all of what you had done before you fell to the dark is recorded.

“What surprised us most were what decisions you made when you became Danika. Changes that reflect not what you were in either life, but rather a synthesis of both. Revan was a powerful Guardian. You have become an equally powerful Consular instead. Your mannerisms are a mixture of the two women. You are now neither Revan Chadar Bai Echani nor Danika Wordweaver. You are a new person unique to the Galaxy as are we all.” Her face grew sad.

“As for the Bond, I created it to keep the body of Revan alive. But it should not have lasted and matured as it has. The Masters could see no reason for it’s continuing existence. This has frightened me. There is still darkness within you that I can almost touch. I have tried to break the bond, but it sustains itself. Perhaps I was foolish to allow it to continue, but I had to think about the mission. I must admit, that at times, being bonded with you has given me insights I would never have had. I have seen things that I never imagined, and your memories of them are so sharp I feel they are alive for me as well.

“Well, if there are further questions, I am obviously not there to answer them. Ask Jolee. He can, I hope, give you more information. May the Force be with you.”

I looked at the holocron, wishing there had been more. I closed my eyes, reaching along the bond we shared-

Choking. Liquid covered her completely. Then suddenly she was in the air, breathing desperately. A face loomed over her. Malak.

“Welcome back to the real world, Bastila.” She felt a collar lock around her neck, then around each arm and leg. “We have so much to talk about.” Then the collar was activated-


-I gasped. “Bastila...” I whispered.

I’m Revan

No, I am not Revan any more. I am Danika Wordweaver-

No, you’re not. Danika was a stupid woman that died.

To save others!

True, but does that make her any more intelligent?

She was true to her oath-

Big deal. She didn’t have enough air to survive, and made a grand gesture. She could have railed against her fate. Instead she went to sleep.

What other choice did she have?

She had the Force as you do. Not as strong, mind, but she did. She could have pulled herself back to the ship and saved herself.

At the cost of our lives-

Which would be more important? Her life or yours?

I was a waste of flesh. I wanted power-

No, you wanted security for the Republic forever. You gave yourself over to the dark side for security-

The security of the Sith?

That was your way of reconciling the two aspects of the Force, or at least that is what you intended. But as Bastila said, once you give in even a little, you drive yourself deeper with every decision.

I have made my decision. I am Danika.

Of course that is your decision you fool! The Jedi Council programmed you like a faulty droid, making you acceptable-

No!


I clutched my head, moaning. I expected my head to explode all over the compartment. I had to deal with this or I was sure to fail. I couldn’t face the Sith, the people I had led into this war, without knowing whether I would simply fall again. I picked up the holocron, and concentrated on Danika’s service record. She didn’t look anything like me, of course. Tall, blonde chiseled face. She had served as I remembered, becoming a sergeant right before Zanebra. She wasn’t considered likable but was very competent with the weapons she had learned. She was bluff and plainspoken, willing to hurt someone’s feelings to prove her point but didn‘t gain pleasure by being right. She acted almost like a mother to her squad. A good sergeant. I concentrated on Revan instead.

Entered the Academy at age seven, exceeded everyone’s expectation except for Jolee Bindo, who had left the Academy when she turned eight. Jolee had warned that she tended to take the most direct course through any problem, and did not suffer fools gladly. She showed the same attitudes later. She was constantly pushing those around her to perform better, to perform perfectly if that was possible.

Became friends with Malak when she arrived. A friendship based on mutual interests in history and of all things, botany. Malak was four years older, and she had caught up, then surpassed him before her 14th birthday. He was a constant companion, and the masters had wondered if she would slip and either marry him or become the mother of his children. Neither was well looked upon by the masters. A countervailing interest would affect how she would think and feel.

Then when she turned 14 the Mandalore war officially began. She constantly pushed that the Jedi must get involved, that waiting on the sidelines would doom the Order as well as the Republic. Finally the day she had turned 19, she had gathered those who agreed with her, and departed.

I am Revan.

No, I was not Revan anymore. She had been a Guardian, what most people thought of when they heard the word Jedi. They were the knights of the order sans per sans reproach.

I had become a Consular, the smallest group of the order. We try to stop the conflicts, to mediate. The judges of the order. Striving not for victory, but for balance.

Did they adjust my mind so I would chose another path?

No. Master Dorak had assumed I would be a Guardian. Why else did he have the blue crystals ready?

I was making my own path again. I was where Revan- where I was ten years ago, when I received my blue crystal.

That was it, concentrate on where Revan and the person I was now were different!

Revan had never liked the twin swords and Ritual brand, though she knew both styles and had practiced every day with single blade, twin blade and double bladed light sabers as the Echani did. Weapons were a part of their religion, prayer done in the endless cycle of the dance of death. She had excelled with a standard lightsaber. I on the other hand had immediately been drawn to the blade I carried.

I paused, then checked the record of the real Danika’s service record. She had never even used a double blade before her death. I however had been drawn to first the Echani blade, then to this double lightsaber. I was taking a different path in every step.

She had never embraced the Echani view of war as a sport. I had considered it more logical than the deadly serious attention most people pay to it. War it seemed to me, was something that was constantly happening. The players changed, the venue changed, but I didn’t remember a single year in the Republic’s history where someone wasn’t deeply embroiled in fighting someone else either within or without.

Both of us had hated bullies, but Revan had never had the deep abiding hatred I did for slavery. She felt that it was an evil that would die with time. I felt it had to be destroyed wherever I found it.

So it went for the next three days. I stayed in my cabin, wrestling with who I had been and who I had become. Sasha brought me meals, and would sit there watching me reproachfully until I ate. No one else bothered me. When I slept I dreamed. Some of Bastila, trapped within her body as she approached our doom. But some were true memories now, memories not of Danika’s life, but Revan’s.

A ship approaching a huge structure. It was as large as a moon. Three prongs thrust out into the darkness of space, the base pointing down at the pole of a star. It looked like the goddess’ own lightsaber. I could see the material of the star being sucked into that base. Such an orbit is impossible without massive gravity generators. Below the prongs were launch bays, and as I watched, ships poured out as if they were dust blown away from a breathing giant. The largest was only the size of a frigate, but I knew that the massive exhalation I was witnessing was star stuff being formed into ships by a combination of the Force and alien technology.

My mind flew down through the massive hull, past deck after deck of machinery I still did not understand. I soared upward, and found myself on what could only be called the observation deck.

Revan stood there, watching as shuttles brought more crew from the fleet. As I stood there, I could share her thoughts.

The conditions aboard those ships were close enough to normal for our crews to live, but long term exposure to the interiors caused some to have psychotic episodes. We had found it necessary to design an entire series of droids using the Star Forge that could ‘man’ and fight those ships if necessary, and other sections of the Star Forge were cranking them out in job lots. But they still needed a core crew of people to operate efficiently. Even with the droids we were running out of personnel.

Our worst problem was that because of the way they were built, they had to return here to be repaired. Only the Star Forge could reform the metal of their hulls. I remembered the wrecks on Tatooine. Without the force, the new ships would not last for long.

I saw Malak pass me, walking toward Revan.

“Yes Malak?” She asked without turning around.

“The fourth fleet is manned and ready. They have been practicing maneuvers, and I deem them fit for combat. All they need is a commander assigned.”

“You are that commander, old friend.” She turned, looking up at him. I could see the metal gorget, and knew that this was about a month after the battle of Trantor, where Malak had been grievously injured. He had healed as much as possible, the gorget replacing his jaw, and allowing him to speak.

“I do not want a fleet.” He replied, looking at the floor. “I do not want to be separated from you, my master.”

“Malak.” She walked over, and suddenly I was in her mind and body. Looking up at my old friend. He towered over me by at least 10 centimeters. But there are ways to measure strength that has nothing to do with physical build. “Most people would be thrilled to be named a fleet commander.”

He made a gesture toward the gorget. I saw what I had not then. He was embarrassed. “I am not yet well, my master.” He said. “I do not feel comfortable dealing with those that see this.”

“I understand.” I reached up, running my hand over his shaved head. Why had he started that? I wondered. “But you will get well?” I could hear a note of worry in her voice. “Whatever will I do if my good right arm falls away?”

“You will fight on left handed, knowing you.”

I laughed, punching him in the shoulder. I might as well have assaulted a glacier with a cup of tepid tea. “Very well. Would you mind serving as a ship’s commander beneath me?”

“Have I ever complained?”

“No, old friend, you never complain. Very well. Take command of the second section of my own fleet. Which ship will you use as flag?”

“Leviathan.” He looked at the distant ships. “Admiral Karath still has twinges of conscience.”

“Very well.”


A great deal of that time I was planning. My biggest worry right this moment was that I would fall again, and cause the deaths of my friends-

-The blade slicing through Mission, watching her fall, Zaalbar’s scream of rage and pain and betrayal.

I shook my head. Just a memory of that horrible vision. But it focused my mind. I worked not to save the ship, but to stop myself.

In the depths of this, like clockwork, there was a vision...

The stone walls were merely old, not ancient like the Builder’s structure. The walls were marked in what I knew were the runes used by the Sith race before they had been absorbed I paced down the hall, passing a lake of simmering acid, then through a massive door. Before me was a pintel, and beyond it, a statue of a kneeling man in Sith garb. There was something on the outstretched palm, and I touched the lightsaber. The blade flicked out, blood red-

This next test would be harder than any other. I would be within a space so dark in the Force that it would be like diving into a mile of ocean. If nothing else came of this part of our mission, the ship had to survive.

Even if it meant they had to kill me.

I dressed, and Sasha watched me with hopeful eyes. I tousled her head, then stepped into the mess hall. Mission squeaked, then was setting a cup down in front of me, followed by a plate with pancakes and eggs.

“Thank you, Mission.”

“You’re welcome...” She paused. “Have you decided who you are yet?”

I looked up at her. “Revan is dead. I am Danika now and forever. When I have finished my meal, ask everyone to come here for a briefing before we land on Korriban.”


Korriban

Carth

I was ready for anything, I thought. When Mission came to tell me that Revan- that Danika had asked us all to report, I put on the autopilot and headed aft. We had less than an hour before we dropped out of hyperspace.

Danika was sitting at the table as if the last few days had never happened. She smiled slightly at my approach, nodding toward a seat across the table from her. The others gathered, taking their seats.

“I have been considering the problem we didn’t start this mission with.” Danika began. “The problem that somewhere in here,” she tapped her head, “Revan may be waiting to leap out and destroy us all. The problem is compounded by the fact that last night, I dreamed and saw the location of the Star Map here.

“It is located in one of the tombs in the valley of the Dark Lords beyond the Sith Academy.”

Both Jolee and Juhani gasped at that. I didn’t fully understand. However she had anticipated the questions.

“There is no place on this planet more deeply steeped in the Dark side than that valley. The Dark Lords of legend are buried there. Ajunta Pall, Marko Ragnos, Tulak Hord, Naga Sadow. Thousands of years of Sith history in one place.

“Also, I must pass through the Sith Academy to reach it. Only two sorts of people are allowed in the Academy. Sith, their students, and their slaves.”

“I’m going.” I rasped. Dustil was in there somewhere.

“As far as the Academy itself, you will. However, I must enter the valley alone.” She held up her hand to forestall debate. “Please listen to what I have to say first. We must protect the ship, and one of those we need to protect it against is me.” She stared at her hands, clenched so tightly that they were dark with blood. “I don’t know that I will fail, or fall to the dark. But I must assume that it is a possibility. If that happens this ship and crew must survive. They must go to Coruscant, and warn the Jedi council.

“Therefore, I am giving these as my final orders. Until I have returned and been judged safe by you, no one will obey any order I give them from the moment I enter the Academy. If they do, you must all assume that I have dominated their minds. Canderous, you HK and T3 have a duty I cannot assign to another. You, like they will obey my orders to the letter regardless of your feelings on the matter.

“Once I have stepped off the ship, and gone into Dreshdae, I want you to design and activate a defensive system that cannot be penetrated or deactivated from outside the ship. Speak with Juhani and Jolee. I want something that will kill an attacker no matter how fast they move. Rig the ramp so that if anyone reaches it while the system is activated, the ship will be blown up. As much as I want the ship to escape, I don’t want it to leave if- if I get back aboard without being cleared first.

“Use all your skills in ambush and booby traps. Use all of HK’s skills, use all of T3s skills. There must be no way I can get back aboard without you allowing me back aboard.

“Juhani.” I turned to her. “You and Jolee can resist me, and you must go ashore with me to set up my entry into the Academy together. I know if I turned evil, I might control one of you, but doubt I could do so without the other noticing. You both can reach into another’s mind, and once I have gone into the Academy, you must use that skill. Work out with Canderous what he intends to do, then reach into each other’s minds and remove it before we go ashore. That way I cannot get it from you.

“Once his system is set up, you must then remove it from Canderous’ mind. I don’t want to be able to read any of you if it is at all possible. If at any time you feel that I am attempting to take control of any of you, I want that system that I must have the compliance of all beings droid and living alike to pass that cannot be faked or to automatically kill me. When you are all done, I must have a system that I can pass if you allow me to, but that will kill me if I try to slip by it in any way.

“HK, I am giving you an order that only someone else can countermand. In the event that it is assumed that I am a threat, you must kill me, or failing that, destroy this vessel if I succeed in getting aboard. I. Must. Not. Survive. Is that clear?”

“Affirmation: Yes, Master.”

“Carth.” She turned to me. “I called you my conscience. Now I ask you to be my executioner. If at any time you feel that I have become a danger, if you feel I might be falling back into the dark side, you must notify the crew so they can kill me.” She stood, looking around our crew.

“I have been told that Revan was a tactical genius, If she comes back, I want to give her an insoluble problem. Work among yourselves, and make it harder than I have already laid it out. I will stay in my quarters until we land.”

She turned, and walked from the room.


'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; 05-06-2006 at 02:17 AM. Reason: missing bracket
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Old 05-06-2006, 11:15 AM   #107
Char Ell
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No, I was not Revan anymore. She had been a Guardian, what most people thought of when they heard the word Jedi. They were the knights of the order sans per sans reproach.
I don't understand what "sans per sans reproach" means. Sans reproach means without criticism or rebuke, right?

Nice to know where Malak lost his jaw even though you don't mention how he lost it in the Battle of Trantor. You do a much better job than the game at giving the reader insight into the internal battle Danika/Revan waged within herself in determining what person she would choose to be and yet coming to the realization that while there were elements of both previous personalities a new unique individual had emerged.


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Old 05-06-2006, 01:00 PM   #108
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Quote:
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I don't understand what "sans per sans reproach" means. Sans reproach means without criticism or rebuke, right?
It is a term from chivalric tradition. 'Without peer, and without criticism. Sort of like Galahad is portrayed.

Quote:
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Nice to know where Malak lost his jaw even though you don't mention how he lost it in the Battle of Trantor.
I hadn't considered explaining how it happened. Think I should?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
You do a much better job than the game at giving the reader insight into the internal battle Danika/Revan waged within herself in determining what person she would choose to be and yet coming to the realization that while there were elements of both previous personalities a new unique individual had emerged.
I considered thaqt regardless of what Bastila and the Council had done, most of Revan/Danika's personality would not have been changed. The primary difference between them is somewhere in that mix Danika chose not to follow the path of the warrior, rather she decided to try to achieve balance. Considering what Revan had been known for, and the difference between her and the real Danika, she probably instinctively understood that it was what she needed in her own life.


'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 05-06-2006, 03:57 PM   #109
machievelli
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Danika

I had just settled down in a chair when Juhani entered. “How can you possibly be Revan?” She asked. I had no answer. “The Jedi that saved me on Taris... It was you leading the army to defeat the Mandalorians.”

“Yes.” I said softly. “Not that I remember it.”

“I knew in my heart that there was something wrong with it when I heard that you had become the Dark Lord. The woman that saved me could never have done that. Never fallen so far.”

“I don’t know, Juhani.” I whispered. “The memories I do have of that time are fragmentary. I know however what caused my fall. I wanted to make sure the Republic would never be attacked again. I sought a weapon so powerful that every enemy would think twice. I needed the help of the Sith to gain it, so I took them into my service. But...” I sighed, resting my face in my hands. “The Star Forge is so imbued with the dark side that no one could ever use it for good. The dark side built it, and those that used it became tainted as I did. There is an old saying ‘the road to the hells is paved with good intentions‘. My intent was good, and see what I have wrought.”

“But you give me hope!” I looked at her askance but she was serious. “To have fallen so far, yet dragged yourself from the pit. It makes my fall look so foolish in comparison. Your strength of will outshines everything else. I do not think I will fall to the dark side again. I have your example to follow and that is a tough challenge for a Cathar woman.”

“But my fall shows that overconfidence is just as dangerous!”

“That is true. I suppose no one would know better than you. But I will never forget what you did for me even if you don’t remember it.”

“Taris.”

“Yes.”

“Tell me of Taris, Juhani. I need to know that I did something right. That is if it isn‘t too painful.” I begged gently.

She sat across from me. “I am sorry for lashing out at you before. You were right, there was nothing you could have done to change what happened.

“My family were refugees as I told you before. There was fighting in the Rim areas before the Republic fought the Mandalore. Canderous spoke of what they did to try to incite a reaction from the Republic.”

“Your home world is there?”

“Yes. Cathar is there. We were a proud warrior race. That appealed to the Mando sense of honor. Defeating us would make their valor stronger. They sought to test themselves against people they believed were like them. But the first attempts ended in failure.

“One of the fallen ones as Canderous would have called them led the next attack. Cassus Fett. May his line die in infamy! He sent in a lone ship disguised as a merchant vessel. When it was in orbit, they destroyed our long-range communications array, and jammed our local communications. As it did, a fleet poured out of hyperspace. They blasted our cities from orbit as we slept.

“We tried to fight back, but the Mando of that fleet refused to face us as others had. They bombed us from orbit, shattering any defenses, killing even those that tried to run. We staved them off for a time, but the end was obvious.”

“Didn’t the Republic help?” I asked, shocked.

“Oh, you don’t remember. Cathar was not a member of the Republic. This is almost 15 years ago that I speak of. When I was but a child. We had fought alongside the Republic when they fought Exar Kun. We knew that if these Mando knew so little of honor, we were doomed. The government put as many people aboard our ships as they could, and protected them with the lives of our fleet until they were safely away. That was the last my parents saw of our home. Most of those that they protected did not survive.

“We traveled, looking for a new world to call home, but those on the ship lost hope, and scattered to the four winds. My parents arrived on Taris too poor to continue their flight. I don’t know if it was the lack of money, or merely the lack of will, but they would go no farther. But Taris was a horrible place, dominated by humans intolerant of other species. It made a hard life unbearably harder.”

“What did you parents do?”

“My father lost his will to live. He turned to stimulants and spice, and began frequenting the Cantinas. He would fight in the dueling ring for money, and every time he won, he felt again that warrior heritage that was his. That was back before they banned death matches. But the spice took it’s toll. He became foolish. He began to take it before he fought, even though it would make him vulnerable. But spice will give you the feeling of belonging again, of being strong, brave, invincible.

“What I had heard was that a mercenary that had fought for the Mando goaded him into a fight, impugning the honor of our entire race. But when my father challenged him, the mercenary shot him from behind rather than face him.” She looked at me, crying.

“My mother tried to support us. But she was only one non-human woman in a crowd of those that hated us. She started to waste away. At the time, I thought she was just sick, but I know now that she had been feeding me enough so that I would grow strong, and shorting her own food in the process. But even that would not have been enough for long.

“She began doing small jobs for the Exchange. You know what kind of people they are. They enjoyed paying her a pittance, and knowing that if she was caught, she would end up in the Undercity. When money grew short, she had to borrow from them.” I nodded. The idea that anyone could be used so made me glad Davik was dead.

“Then one day she collapsed in the Cantina she worked in. She was too weak to even feed herself. That is when I found that she had starved herself to feed me. We had no money then for medicines, or doctors. She just... died one day. I did not even have enough to bury her. Her body was thrown into the trash.

“A man came from the Exchange. Her loans had come due, and they wanted their money. I had none, and the man left after some vague threats. But then...” Her claws raked the air. “Then a group of them ambushed me, captured me. Told me that since I could not pay one way I would pay another. They would sell me.

“I cannot do justice to the horror of their slave pits. Treated like cattle, fed slops and bathed using a hose. There were twenty of us in a room so small that you could not risk laying down for fear of being trampled. I was young, small, and terrified. Other slaves would steal my food so they could live unless I fought them.

“But before a ship could take us to market, the Jedi came. I do not know how they discovered our existence, but a team of Jedi knights raided the building where we were kept. The leader of the Exchange on Taris at that time was arrested and sent off to the spice mines of Kessel. We were freed, and returned to the city. It was like a fantasy story when the hero comes over the horizon. I was left with the dream...”

“To become a Jedi.”

“Yes. The woman that had saved me, she touched the head of that little girl. ‘So strong with the force, little one’. She said. ‘If we weren’t going into battle I would take you with me now!’.” She looked at Sasha in the corner. “I see Sasha and wish she had taken me then. Better to have died living the dream than live on Taris until my escape.

“I worked and slaved and earned my way off the planet. Once I reached Dantooine, I came to the Academy. The Jedi that had spoken to me had told them I might come, and they took me in. Now I stand before you.”

Sasha moved over to me, then reached out, running her hand over the Cathar’s furred hands. “You belong here now.” Sasha said. “My teachers.”

Juhani cuffed her lightly. “Yes. Did you speak with her about her mess?”

“What mess?” I asked.

“Remember all of the bodies and damage in the hanger bay of Leviathan?” She asked. She pointed to Sasha. “All done by her with a lightsaber and Ebon Hawk’s intruder systems. “

“Sasha!”

“They hurt you.” Sasha touched her chest. “I felt it here. No one hurts my Amma yuru.”

“What did you do?”

“Used the light beam weapon to kill one. Tore up wires. Then used information box to set the guns. No one comes aboard until I say yes.”

“She did more damage than all of us put together.” Juhani said.

I turned Sasha around. “Young lady, we need to talk.”



Jolee

We came in under the Ebon Hawk transponder. Clearance was smooth, and the ship landed at landing bay 7. Dreshdae was a small town, barely 2000 people. Korriban was an inhospitable planet, with nothing to redeem it except for the archeological wealth of the ruins of the past Sith settlements. Juhani and I decided to accompany Danika until she was able to get into the Academy. No one else was really safe if she suddenly succumbed to the Dark Side.

A Twi-lek was waiting as we came down the ramp, and he walked over, bowing. “I have news for the Dark Lord of the Sith.”

Danika stopped, looking at him coldly. “Who are you?”

“Please, no threats. Listen to me and all will be made clear. My name is Ziagrom. I am a purveyor of specialty items. Those items are rare and have extraordinary power or value.”

“You are a smuggler. Working with the Exchange.” Danika replied.

“Please.” He waved a hand languidly. “We have worked with that now defunct organization-”

“Defunct?”

He laughed. “You have been too busy I see, to keep track of the news. When Davik Kang disappeared, a lot of money went with him. Some was owed to others and they naturally wanted it back. Unfortunately, There were six planets to search, and some of those wanting the money had enemies on them so they didn‘t come alone. Words, blaster bolts, and a few bombs have been exchanged. In the last four weeks, the Exchange has collapsed into warring factions. I doubt they will recover any time soon.

“Traditionally we have worked with the owner of the Ebon Hawk, the organization she reported to notwithstanding. Most recently of course that was Davik Kang, though we worked with Ahita Othar before him and Forii Haxa before her. However, we were reluctant to approach you. You have no connection with any syndicate we can verify, and you are a Jedi to boot! Not the sort of person we would normally associate with.”

“No doubt.”

“Since the reports that Taris had been destroyed, and Davik Kang disappearing, my associates noticed that the Ebon Hawk has traveled to a number of planets. Some, such as Manaan and Kashyyyk, have prices on Davik’s head, so we knew you had no connection with him. It is rumored that maybe you killed him?” He looked at us for a moment as if expecting us to ‘fess up’. “No matter. When your ship was on Manaan, one of our operatives placed a tracking device on her. It tracked you as far as Ebon Hawk being captured by Leviathan. Seems someone activated your intruder system aboard her, and our sensor was destroyed.

“But we knew the Sith were interested in you long before that, so we delved into our contacts within the Sith themselves.”

“Contacts?” Danika asked.

“Yes. The Sith appear to be a monolithic organization, but every organization is made up of people, isn’t it? There are millions of soldiers in the Sith fleet. I don’t think it would surprise you to discover a number of them accept our monetary assistance. Even high-ranking officers can fall to the lure of easy credits.

“Your brief sojourn aboard Leviathan created quite a stir in the Sith fleet. Of course Lord Malak tried to suppress your identity. There were several ‘accidents’ and a number of summary executions. But even destroying the security systems footage and executing every survivor that saw you did not shut down the information we were able to garner. We know who you are, Lord Revan, and that you will eliminate Malak at your first opportunity to regain your control of the Sith.”

“You are wrong.” Danika replied. “I have no interest in revenge, or in regaining my position among the Sith.”

“As you say.” Ziagrom purred. “However, you will end up killing Malak eventually, and we wish to offer our services. We deal, as I said in a number of items. Weapons, armor, even that Jedi stuff we have retrieved from Yavin. All for your use.”

“And you will give this to me out of pure altruism?”

“Of course not!” He looked offended. “We are merchants, after all. However we will gladly sell them at a reduced rate. This will, we hope, convince you of our sincerity. If you stop by the Cantina and ask for Mika Dorin, and give my name as reference, he will gladly let you have a look at the premium merchandise we have for sale.”

“I will consider it.”

“Then my work here is done. Good luck Revan, and remember those that helped you in your time of need. Ah, before I go, there is one piece of information I gave as proof of my interest in your venture. Czerka has already notified their local agent that operations of Manaan and Kashyyyk were disrupted badly by you. I would avoid letting any of them behind your back. Good day.”

“What do we do about Czerka?” I asked.

“Unless we declare war on the Corporation, nothing, Jolee.” Danika replied. “We do not have time for diversions. After all, as much damage as we have done to the corporation, it is like a mosquito trying to drain a Bantha. Even the Republic can’t really destroy a corporation. Only wound it. If they confront us, we will deal with it.”

“That’s my girl.”

“I am not your girl, Jolee.” She sighed.

We walked toward the customs agent. As we did, another Twi-lek entered. He bumped into Danika then he glared at Juhani, snarling. “What the hell is your kind doing here? Bad enough I have to put up with Sith and the other idiots, but they let a Cathar stink up the place?”

“I have as much right to be here as you, sir.” Juhani growled back.

“Ignore him, Juhani.”

“Better listen to your Jedi master, little cat. Your pathetic people and their entire planet were crushed by my kind, and I’ll gladly kill another.”

If she could have gone ashen, Juhani would have. “What do you know of my world?”

“I know enough about...” His head cocked. “You look familiar.”

“How would you know-”

“Juhani, we don’t have time for this-”

“Back off Jedi filth! This has nothing to do with you!” He looked at Juhani, trying to remember. “No, he’s definitely dead, and she probably is too...”

“What are you talking about?”

“Still I think you would make an excellent addition to my menagerie. What’s your asking price, Jedi?”

Danika’s face was cold. “She is a free citizen.”

“Ha! Everyone knows Cathar aren’t really people. Oh they ape it pretty well, the males should be put down as soon as they’re done breeding, but the females make excellent pets once they’re broken in. I remember one Cathar I had to put down on Taris-”

Juhani stepped forward, her rage flaming. “What did you say?”

“You were on Taris-”

“What did you do on Taris?” Juhani screamed.

“Put down one of your kind like the animal he was.” The Twi-lek said smugly. “Going on about honor as if it meant anything. He turned his back on me, the fool. A few weeks later I saw one of you on the Slavers circuit, little bitty thing-”

“It was you!” While her voice was calm, I could feel her rage like a layer of plasma beneath ice.

“Wait, that’s where I remember you! You were that little Cathar cub I was going to buy! I even put in a bid for you and it had been accepted but those damn Jedi came and ruined everything.”

“You tried to buy her?” Danika’s fury was even better hidden than Juhani’s.

“When I fought for the Mandalorians, I developed a taste for her kind. They will do things a man can’t believe once they’re properly trained. You Jedi may be all prim and proper on the outside but you must feel the same way I do about the lesser species. At least the Sith are honest about it.”

Juhani’s rage was growing again. “My father, my people...”

“Come on. Will you let your pet go? I’m sure we can come up with a reasonable price-”

“She is a free person, and is not for sale.” Danika’s words dropped like tombstones. “Now or ever.”

“And I will see you dead for my father and my people!” Juhani screamed. Her saber lit, and she lunged at the man. Danika reached out, holding her back with a hand on her arm.

“Juhani. Don’t fall to the dark side again.” She whispered.

The Cathar stepped back, breathing hard, controlling her emotions. “I am a Jedi. I will not fall again for such as him.” She replied.

I had been watching the Twi-lek. He slipped the palm pistol he had been reaching for into his hand, laughing. “Oh I’ll have you yet, little cat.” He laughed harshly, and went past us toward his own ship.



Danika

I watched the Twi-lek walk away, and damped down my own fury. That something like him would consider my friend a pet!

“Calm down, Danika.” Jolee said. I glared at him for a moment, then ducked my head in apology. “Sorry, Jolee. Slavery is one thing that has always bothered me.”

“You can’t stop it without making it painful.” He said. “If they stay off planets where it’s illegal, they can get away with murder.”

“I think that is what caused me to fall.” I said. “The idea that slavery is legal here, but not there.”

“It’s the system we live with.”

“I know.” I led the way to the Customs officer. He was in a Sith uniform. Flanking the console was a Czerka employee who glared at us.

“Welcome to Dreshdae.” The customs agent said. “Or should I say, welcome back? The Ebon Hawk has been here several times. Well met, Jedi.”

“How did you know we were Jedi?”

“Only a Jedi or a fool carries a lightsaber. We have seen a lot of your kind in the last few years. Young hopefuls hoping to enter the Sith Academy. I understand that the Commandant of the Academy welcomes Jedi that come here. So much easier to train someone who already knows the Force.”

“So I would imagine”

“Well enough of that. Since the ship is a regular to our colony, the docking fees are minimal-”

“If that’s who I think it is, Czerka will have something to say about that.” The Czerka man snarled. “Papers.”

“You do not have authority, company man.” The Customs agent snarled. “All administration of this facility is by the Sith. Discuss it with them before you try to interfere.” The Czerka man stormed away. “I would give you two warnings, Jedi. First, news of Manaan and Kashyyyk has reached here. The Czerkas are a little... upset about that. Second, students and prospective students of the Academy have free reign in town. Unless you want pain, or don’t mind killing, I would avoid them.”

I nodded. Once we were in the hall leading to the colony itself, I stopped my compatriots. “Part of my memory is of my father. He was a prefect on Echana. You have seen the type, Jolee, have you not?”

“Yeah. Noses so high up in the air that you wonder why their necks don’t break. Easy to irritate, hard to calm down.”

“I think I must assume that character while in the city. It might make any dealings with Sith ‘students’ we have more peaceable.”

“Okay by me.”

“Juhani?”

“I am sorry, Danika.” She whispered. “My blood boils at the thought of that creature still living. But I will not give into the dark side again. He will pay for his crimes in time, but I worry that he will follow us, follow me, until he can capture me. Perhaps if we find him first, we can end this now.”

“We will deal with him before we leave the planet. I swear it.” I answered.

At the foot of the hall, a young man in Sith uniform was facing off against three young people. “That is the wrong answer again! You pathetic hopefuls can’t believe that the Sith would ever accept you!”

“Please Master Shaardan! We’ll do anything to get into the Academy!” Pleaded one young man.

Shaardan snorted. “I’m no master, though I like the sound of that. All right. One more question. But you lot are trying my patience. Say you are a Sith, and I am your commanding officer. I give you an order to spare the life of an enemy. What do you do?”

“We spare him!” The female, a Twi-lek replied. “You have ordered it and orders must be obeyed!”

“Yes!” Another prospective, a boy said. “We would never disobey an order!”

“Wrong!” Shaardan gloated. “Do you think the Sith would dream of adding such sniveling cowards to our ranks? Mercy is a weakness! If your leader is weak, he must be removed! It is your duty to be strong, and to eliminate the weak! That is why the Sith are strong.”

“Yes!” The boy answered, terrified. “We understand now.”

“No you don’t understand. If you did, you would already be students! You have wasted too much of my time already! You all deserve punishment. Maybe I’ll...” He tapped his lightsaber against his chin thoughtfully. Then he saw me.

“You! Jedi! You’re here to get into the Academy, right? Of course you are. Let me pose a question to you. A lesson needs to be taught here, and I am at a loss to think of a suitable one.”

“Well if you can’t think of something cruel, you may not deserve the title of Sith if you ask me.” Jolee said calmly.

“Was I talking to you, old man?” He snarled. He looked back at me. “I was just considering the options. Choking them with the Force chasing them though the halls naked. Or perhaps force lightning...” At his words the prospective students wailed.

“Please, let us go! I beg you-”

Something inside me came out. I walked over to face Shaardan. “Let me put a question to you. A Jedi is standing here impatiently while a puling little piece of filth blocks her way.” I reached out, and his lightsaber leaped from his belt into my hand. “Will she merely kill him? Or does she torment him as he does these children?” I lit the lightsaber. “Answer.”

He swallowed convulsively. “She... She shows mercy-” He squeaked as I threw the lightsaber, and it struck the wall behind him, punching a neat hole.

“The same mercy you deny them?” I snarled. “Where are the strong without the weak to do the work that needs to be done? My father used to say ‘you can no more complain that a fool is a fool, than you can complain that the wind is just air‘.” I reached out, pulling the lightsaber back to me. “This time I think you have learned something. More than you might have taught them with your stupid questions.” I flung the lightsaber at his feet. “Get out of my sight before I change my mind.” He scrambled for the weapon, and ran. I looked at the students, now even more terrified because I had proven to be just as mad as their tormenter.

“You three. This is no place for you here if you care about anything beyond power. Go home. If you still feel the need for the Force, go to the Jedi. You don't belong here.” I walked past them. When they had gone I looked back at Jolee. He gave me a golf-clap in return.

Our troubles were only beginning. There was a trio of young Sith on the concourse. One of them, a young blonde woman saw us.

“Why look here! Fresh meat. Led by a Jedi of all things.” She looked us over. “Haven’t seen any of you here before.”

“Can’t stand those pathetic traitors.” One of her compatriots growled. “We had to work to get into the Academy. They just sail on in as if it’s their right!”

“As for being new, it probably explains why you haven’t seen us.” Jolee said.

“Smart mouthed ones too.” She tapped the hilt of her lightsaber against her hand. “Well old man, the Sith do as we please. Quite literally whether you live of die depends on our whim. What do you think of that?”

“You can try to kill us.” I replied coldly. “You will fail, but you can try.”

“Brave words for a fool. Do you know how many Sith are on this planet?”

“Twelve, no wait, thirteen!’ Jolee said.

“Let me kill that one, Lashowe!” One of the others shouted, facing off against Jolee. “Let me do it!”

“Now now, let’s not be hasty. Death is so permanent, and I for one want some amusement.” She looked at me. “What do you say, Jedi? Amuse us and we might let you live.”

“I am not looking for trouble. But I am not here to amuse anyone. Get out of our way.”

Lashowe’s face purpled. “Why you-” Her tirade was broken when one of her companions chortled.

“Looks like this one isn’t afraid of you Lashowe.”

“Are you going to just stand there and let her insult us?” She screamed.

“Brave words from your kind.” I snapped. “One last time. Get out of our way.”

Lashowe looked at me with murder in her eyes. “Fine. I will deal with you later.” She stormed off, followed by her friends.

I watched her storm away, and looked at Jolee. “Why does this not make me happy?” I asked him.

“Because you understand exactly how many problems this attitude would cause” Jolee replied.

“Yet I accepted it before.” I replied leadenly.

“Because you didn’t know any better.” He snapped. “Did you think every dark side challenge of your life would be marked with warning signs?”

I sighed. “Why did you come along, Jolee?”

“Because you asked Juhani and I to-”

“No. Not why are you with us on Korriban. Why did you leave Kashyyyk with us?”

“When I saw your ship I just had to come along. I’d forgotten what ship’s engines sound like. The only thing similar on Kashyyyk is when the Ullers are in mating season. But then you have to worry about getting stepped on-”

“So you left your home of almost twenty years just for a ride on my ship?”

“Maybe it was the Zabu meat. I’ve been eating my own cooking for so long, it was starting to taste good. Stewed Viper, Web-crawler bisque, katarn stew-”

“You have to bake katarn.” I replied tartly.

“So you’ve been paying attention when I talk. Most women just pretend after an hour or so.”

“Are you going to tell me or not?”

“At my age, the only fun you have with women is being enigmatic. So stop trying to spoil my fun. You know you remind me of someone I knew ages ago. Young brave, great destiny, but he had breath that would have stunned a Bantha-”

“You’re avoiding the question.”

“Of course I am. One of the perks of being my age. Try it when you get to be as old as I am. You have my permission. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. Andor Vex. The force swirled around him like a hurricane.”

“Never heard of him.”

“Wouldn’t expect you had. His was a long time ago, and I was young.”

“How young are we talking?”

“Well I had a full head of hair and Coruscant was a small town with a well.”

“Ah, ancient history.”

“Who you calling ancient? I’m well preserved! Now stop interrupting.” He went on to spin an improbable story about Andor Vex dying when he had been thrown into an energy intake shaft aboard a ship, with Jolee the only survivor. It finally ended with, “Just remember, swirling force may just be a case of gas.”

“So what does this have to do with me?”

“Well sometimes people go down in a ball of fire, and I figured something like that is worth seeing twice.”

“And I remind you of him?”

“At times. Other times you remind me of my wife.”

“You were married?”

“Know any other way to get a wife?”


'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 05-06-2006, 07:32 PM   #110
Char Ell
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Re: how Malak lost his jaw - Yes, I would like to know the circumstances behind Malak's missing jaw. In the game cutscene where he and Revan enter the Rakatan ruins on Dantooine Malak is pictured with a regular face, jaw and all. My guess is he lost it during the ongoing Jedi Civil War (Battle of Trantor), not the Mandalorian War. I'm curious to know how though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by post #109
He gave me a golf-clap in return.
They play golf in the SW KotOR universe?
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #109
“No you don’t understand. If you did, you would already be students! You have wasted too much of my time already! You all deserve punishment. Maybe I’ll...” He tapped his lightsaber against his chin thoughtfully. Then he saw me.
{snip}
Something inside me came out. I walked over to face Shaardan. “Let me put a question to you. A Jedi is standing here impatiently while a puling little piece of filth blocks her way.” I reached out, and his lightsaber leaped from his belt into my hand.
I noticed that Shaardan initially had his lightsaber in his hand but then Danika uses the force to pull Shaardan's lightsaber from his belt. Seems like a disconnect to me. When did Shaardan hook it on his belt?

Looking forward to seeing how you spin the rest of the Korriban quest, noting particularly how you've altered the role of Czerka in the Korriban story.


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Old 05-07-2006, 01:17 AM   #111
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
Re: how Malak lost his jaw - Yes, I would like to know the circumstances behind Malak's missing jaw. In the game cutscene where he and Revan enter the Rakatan ruins on Dantooine Malak is pictured with a regular face, jaw and all. My guess is he lost it during the ongoing Jedi Civil War (Battle of Trantor), not the Mandalorian War. I'm curious to know how though. .
Note for all readers: If the rest of you would like to know how Malak lost his jaw, I will add it (There is a point about 150 pages on where I can do it without interrupting the flow)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
They play golf in the SW KotOR universe? :
Cut me some slack cutmeister. I was trying to convery the silent appreciation a golf clap portrays.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
I noticed that Shaardan initially had his lightsaber in his hand but then Danika uses the force to pull Shaardan's lightsaber from his belt. Seems like a disconnect to me. When did Shaardan hook it on his belt?.
My own fault. Thanks for noticing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
Looking forward to seeing how you spin the rest of the Korriban quest, noting particularly how you've altered the role of Czerka in the Korriban story.
I was just figuring that Czerka would have been pissed about Kashyyyk. Part of the reason I made them the bad guy sort of on Manaan was they seem the kind of company that would try something like this. Of course after those two planets, they would have been on the lookout hoping she'd go somewhere they could mess with her. Let's see how you like the next part...


'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 05-07-2006, 01:31 AM   #112
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Jolee

Danika listened as I rambled on. I had learned the best way to judge what a person would do was by telling them stories. Are the stories I tell true? None of your business!

We reached the Cantina, and were going inside when a scruffy little Rodian stopped us. “Human, a moment of your time please. You are the one flying Ebon Hawk now?”

“Yes, I am. Who is asking?”

“Name is unimportant. You do not know me. I don’t know you. Better in this business. What important is we waiting shipment carried by Ebon Hawk a month now. We should be happy shipment made it off Taris, but still we are without. Please hand it over, and our business is done.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You don’t know? Davik not tell you?”

“Davik is dead.”

“Not what I heard. Exchange killing itself to find him. You sure? How you end up with Ebon Hawk then?”

“He sold her to us.”

“Ah, then fake death. Transfer of ownership not important to us. We contracted several kilos of Ryll-spice delivered. Maybe it is aboard and you not know?”

Danika looked at him. “Perhaps. But where-”

“Ebon Hawk has many areas of concealment. Last message said was aboard in scan proof container we supplied.”

“I can look for it.”

“Please do. He leaned forward and whispered. “That is code to open the storage area. Davik gave us it.”

Danika lifted her com, and spoke. Her com was set to hush mode, so no one nearby could hear what she said or heard. A moment later, she lowered her arm. “I have someone bringing it right now.”

We stood there waiting. A few minutes later, Canderous came down the ramp, carrying a small shipping container. He handed it to Danika. Danika gave it to the Rodian. The little guy took out a bankcard, handing it over. “You’re payment for delivery. Tell me, Human, interested in carrying for us?”

“No more spice.”

“Nothing of sort. Rare antique box deliver to Motta the Hutt. This spice from him, box is payment.” He handed over a datapad, and Danika looked at it.

“Yes. I will accept the box.” She handed the datapad to me. The box was a pintel 20 centimeters tall, and looked like the Star Map we had seen on Kashyyyk. I handed it to Juhani.

“Good. No danger if you don’t open box.”

“Why?”

The Rodian looked around. “Bad stories. People open box, minds gone, bodies still alive.”

“I’ll take it.”

“I load aboard your ship soon. Motta live in Anchorhead on Tatooine. Business concluded.”

“Danika-” Juhani began.

“You saw the box. It is a builder artifact. I can’t very well leave it in the hands of criminals.”

“I agree. However what do you intend to do with it?”

“I haven’t decided yet.” Danika hissed. “Right now, I just want a drink.”



Danika
The Cantina was quiet. We got our drinks, and sat down. The bartender watched us, and I remembered Ziagrom. I motioned, and he brought us a second round. “You are Mika Dorin aren’t you?”

“Guilty.” He said. “And you are the new owner of the Ebon Hawk.”

“A man named Ziagrom suggested I talk with you.”

“Yes. If you need special items. Traditionally the owner of the Ebon Hawk has been the contact for all of our transactions, but in the past the owners have always been affiliated with the Exchange. That is why Ziagrom waited until now to contact you. We had no idea who you were, or whether we could do business with you. However all doubts have been explained, Lord Revan.”

“I am not Revan anymore.”

“You are not? Then Ziagrom is wrong for once?”

“No. I was Revan. But not any more.”

“Your disguise is not important. You have no intent to dispose of your wayward apprentice?”

“That I did not say. I will not be doing it for revenge, however.”

“Your reasoning is not germane to our business transactions. We do believe in what you are capable of, and in our own small part, wish to help.”

“What do you normally carry?”

“Weapon of all sizes from hand projectors to ship’s cannon. However from what I have seen, the Ebon Hawk has been upgraded recently. The best I could give you for the ship would be missiles.”

“How many and what type?”

“Planar mines, proton torpedoes, concussion warheads, and ion blast torpedoes. The previous owners usually sold our merchandise but you I think will use it instead.”

I called the ship, and told Canderous to come and discuss it with the man. “Do you know a lot about the previous owners?”

“Nothing that you couldn’t get out of the merchant registry. Most were affiliated with the Exchange as I have already said, and revealed only enough to establish their bona fides. But the ship itself is well known. She is said to be the best smuggler in ten sectors. Some say such renown explains the curse she is also supposed to bear.”

“A curse?”

“Everyone agrees that the Ebon Hawk is the premier vessel when it comes to smuggling. However, her captains have not fared well. Take Davik Kang for instance. Can you say having your home planet blown apart beneath you was good luck? While the destruction of Taris might not have killed Davik, surely the fact that you are here and he is not suggests something lethal in his path. Ahita Othar was hired to carry a poorly sealed vial of the Iridian plague virus for a military subsidiary of Czerka, and her entire crew died. Forii Haxa before her tried to cheat at Pazaak, and had his arms ripped off. Shall I go on?”

“That suggests that the captains have been foolish or worked in a dangerous field. Not that the ship is cursed.”

“True. But I expect a Dark Lord of the Sith can cause more ill luck than good.”

“What can you tell me about the Academy?”

“An odd question considering who you are. Very well, I will assume that you are pretending to not be Revan for a time. The Academy is beyond the flats outside. It can only be entered by students and teachers. All prospective candidates must receive a medallion, and show this upon entry.”

“Where can I get one of these medallions?”

“Either from a teacher or from a student. I must admit though that it would be easier to simply kill a student and take it from his corpse. One of the teachers from there is Yuthura Ban. She frequents my establishment occasionally.”

I slid a small stack of credits across. “For our drinks, and one other thing. Call me aboard my ship the next time this Yuthura Ban is here.”

He scooped up the money, and walked away.

We started back toward the ship. Ahead of me I saw a group of men in Czerka uniforms, and among them-

“Down!” I dived for the deck, followed by Jolee. There was a burst of sound, and Juhani shuddered as a sonic rifle blast hit her.

“Stay where you are!” One of the men said. “Xor Vontori wishes the return of his escaped slave. If you interfere, we are authorized to use deadly force.”

I leaped to my feet, and my lightsaber ripped across the intervening distance. The man with the sonic rifle had time for one scream as it sliced through his chest. Jolee reached out, and men tumbled like nine pins as I ran toward them.

The lightsaber flew back to my hand, and I blocked several blaster bolts, sending two men down from the ricochets. Behind me I could hear cursing, but I ignored it. There were four men and Xor remaining, and they screamed as I dropped among them. I cut left and right, then forward, three dead in as many seconds. The last Czerka man turned to run. I let him go as Xor came at me. He had the hideout pistol he had pulled before, and as it came up, I sliced into his arm, taking it off at the shoulder. His scream died in a gurgle as I rammed the blade through his chest.

I reached out with the force, and plucked up the man that was running, flipping him through the air to slam into a wall. I caught him by the collar as he fell.

“How dare you interfere with my crew!” He gibbered in terror. I dropped him, the lightsaber dying. “Tell your company rep that if he interferes with me and mine again, Czerka will have to send replacements for everyone here. Now get out of my sight!”

As he scrabbled away, I turned. Jolee was nursing a sprained ankle. Juhani was still quivering from the sonic blast. I took out a med Pac, and injected her.

There was the sound of gentle clapping. A female Twi-lek in Sith uniform stood there near the door to the Cantina. ”Well done, Jedi.” She purred.

“Who are you?” I snapped.

“Temper temper, little Jedi. You aren't the first to come to Korriban to get away from that stultifying order and you won‘t be the last. I am Yuthura Ban, second only to Master Uthar of the Academy. I hear you have an interest in me?”

“Yes.”

“I like your demonstration. Did you plan it? Or did the conversation just dry up?”

“Someone was trying to take one of my crew away as a slave.” I touched Juhani’s shoulder. She would be out of it for at least another hour. “No one touches my friends.”

“Ah. That explains so much. There is something odd about you, something I cannot place in my mind. Obviously you are a Jedi. From what I have seen, a powerful one. Were you part of the order for long? Did they train you?”

“I have forgotten most of my training.”

She cocked her head. “Strange. Your answer makes little sense, but I sense no duplicity in the remark. You have great power, and the Sith always welcome those with power. That power can be trained into an unbeatable force with my help. Does that interest you?”

“Yes it does.”

“Ah, good. Just the answer I would have expected. I will take you to the Academy now if you wish.”

“No.” I motioned. “I must get my crewmember aboard the ship first.”

“An hour then?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I warn you however that my patience is not infinite. If you fail to show up on time, you will be left behind, and I will not make the offer again.”

“I’ll be there.”

She nodded, and went into the Cantina. I lifted Juhani. Jolee stood, wincing at his ankle.

“We don’t have a lot of time. Come on.”


Prisoner

Danika

The Czerka employee at the landing bay looked surprised when I came through carrying Juhani. He talked on his com, and I saw his face pale. I looked at him speculatively, then walked aboard the Ebon Hawk. I took Juhani to the medical bay, and left her with Jolee. I told Carth what had happened, and he said he’d get ready. At his suggestion, he added T3 to our party. If T3 was already done, then I wasn’t worried.

Only then did I go to the cargo bay. The small pintel sat there, enigmatic, and drawing me closer. I remembered the admonition from the smuggler even as I reached out and touched the tip. There was a flash as it opened, and someone screamed my name as I fell into light.

I found myself standing on an open plain, all of it a stark white. Ahead of me rose a pintel such as I had touched but three meters tall. Beneath the arms of it stood a figure. I walked toward it.

When I was closer I recognized one of the aliens whose artifacts I had been chasing. He looked at me.

“Another visitor. No one for such a long time, then three in such a short time! Now let me see... I don’t know the species. Of course, I didn’t know the other ones either. Female, bilateral symmetry, eyes in the head instead of properly spaced. I would prefer my own species and sex But you will do.”

“Do for what?” I asked.

“As a body, of course. I don’t want to remain in this prison forever, oh no. I am a prisoner as are you, now, though I expect this was an accident for you. This is where my people put our criminals. Our minds are forced into these little cages, there to remain for the duration of our sentences. For really monstrous criminals, we put them here forever.”

“How long have you been here?” I asked.

“Time has little meaning, and I was never good with numbers even when I was alive. Let us just say that if my people still exist, they have forgotten me.”

“What did you do to deserve this?”

“I led a war. A rebellion actually. Millions of my people died because I thought myself powerful enough to rule. As you can see, I was wrong.”

I shook my head. “You said three in a row. What did you mean?”

“Two others of entirely different species came before you. One was a giant hermaphroditic slug. The other was like you except it had a pair of tentacles on its head. Most strange. However I could not speak to them as I can with you.

“Eventually they grew angry, and ran away into the light.” He waved toward the expanse beyond the pillars. “You could find them out there if you wanted. However I would suggest against it. The whiteness brings out everything you might have done different in your life, and gives it flesh. Only here are we safe from that. They are either mad or being torn apart by their own minds by now.”

People who open box, their minds gone, their bodies still alive, if you call that life. The Rodian had said. I looked at the white expanse beyond, thinking of all I had done that was evil. I didn’t want to face Lord Revan furious that I had taken over. I shuddered.

“Is there no way out?”

“Now that is an interesting question, oh yes indeed. I have been in here for so long that I had nothing better to than to ponder that very question. Thousands of years. How many I don’t know. The point is that I have found a way to escape. Interesting that, wouldn’t you say?”

“But. Your people have been extinct for over 25,000 years. I doubt your body is still alive out there.”

“How clever of you to have figured that out so quickly. My body is, of course, long dead, and dust by now. But your body is not.” I suddenly saw where this was going. He shook his head. “Before you get all excited and defensive, let me tell you what I have also discovered. I cannot merely leap into your body and abscond with it without your permission, or at least your inattention. This leaves us at an impasse, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes. I assume you have a suggestion to settle this.”

“Of course. I have had all these millennia to think of one. I propose a contest to settle this like civilized beings. If you wanted we could debate for a thousand years why I should not be released, but I don’t think your body has a thousand years left. Frankly even after a thousand years, I don’t think either of us will carry the debate in our favor.

“So why waste the time? One contest between us. The winner gets to leave.”

“What sort of contest?”

“I have little clues as to what manner of contests are normal beyond my prison. I cannot guarantee knowing the rules, let alone the scoring of any game you might have played. We could fight, but neither of us can die in here, and all it would do is cause us both unnecessary pain. Therefore could we settle on a game of the mind? A riddle game perhaps? The first to fail in answering will be the loser?”

I considered. At the moment, my body was a drooling vegetable aboard the ship. I had to get to the Cantina quickly, or fail to enter the Academy. “Would it be a different case if the visitor was of your own species?”

He considered. “Since you have said that my race is extinct, there were none to trade with. However these boxes were made to keep only one of my kind. If there were two the first occupant would be displaced.

“I could have escaped in death. I could have walked out there a long time ago.” He waved at the whiteness. “That would have emptied the box when I died.”

“But I cannot stay here! The quest I am on is linked to something called the Star Forge-”

“It still exists?”

I stared at him in shock. “Apparently.”

“Then the planet it serviced must also live.” He was getting excited. “There is a chance. If you can find my people...” He considered. “I agree, but only because your body is not really attractive as a vessel. Do you promise to aid me?“

“I swear it.“

“Are you ready to return to your body?”

“Wait, what is the Star Forge?”

The greatest boon, and the greatest curse a race could know.” I waited, but he said nothing more.

“I am ready to go.”

“Just concentrate on breathing, then stop yourself from breathing. Your body will draw you back.”

I took a deep breath. “One thing.”

“Yes?”

“Don't tell the next one how bad you are with numbers.”

“Thank you.”

I stopped breathing. My head began to spin, then suddenly I sat up, sucking air into my lungs.

“Danika!” Someone caught me by the shoulder. I was in my quarters. I hugged Carth desperately

“Carth.” I answered. “So close.”

“What?”

“That poor creature trapped in that prison everyone seems to think is just a box. I came so close to staying there in his place.” I looked at him. “Picture a prison you can only escape if they let you out or you are replaced. Then picture your entire society dying, and you’re still in prison. I wanted to take his place, to give him a chance to live a full life. Regardless of what he might have done, no one deserves what happened to him.”

I stood, and walked back to the cargo hold. I laid my hand on the box, and whispered. “If there is a way, you will be freed.” I turned. “How long was I unconscious?”

“Only a few minutes.”



Academy

Danika

We hurried. Yuthura noticed my companions, but made no mention of them. She led me across the plain to a huge door, and opened it. The Academy was an ancient structure converted to the use of the Sith. In a large central room, a small number of hopefuls were gathered. A man stood before them. I could feel the force burning in him, but it was tinged almost to black.

“I am Uthar Wynn, the Master of this Academy. It appears that we have a late entry.” He looked at me, as did the other hopefuls. “What have your found for me, Yuthura? A young human bristling with the force?”

“A young woman that has had some training among the Jedi, Master Uthar. A very promising prospect.”

“Promising?” I looked at the speaker. Lashowe sneered. “I met her in the colony. Not much there that I can see.”

“Do you doubt my senses, student?” Yuthura purred angrily.

“I will make my own judgments, thank you.” Uthar said blandly. Both women flushed. He was watching me during the exchange, and smiled. “Holding your own counsel unless asked. A sign of uncommon wisdom for your age. Tell me, young Jedi. What do you know of the Sith? What propaganda have you been fed about us?”

“I know that the Sith are a force to be reckoned with.” I replied softly. “That they are powerful.”

“A diplomatic answer. Wise for a student. As for power, our power is obvious even to the untrained. However my question goes deeper than that. Since you have had training that these others have not, I will explain for their benefit.

“The Jedi equate light with goodness, strength, and justice, and the darkness with subterfuge, evil, and weakness. That is their tradition, and it is no surprise that they cling to that outmoded view of the world for their comfort. They treat the Force as if it were a rare and precious burden, something to be carried about but used only sparingly. As if it were water in a desert.

“We however treat the Force as a gift given to the strong. Something that can never be used up, so why not use it? We celebrate our power. We glory in it. We use it to subjugate the weak because the strong always control the weak. There are those that say we should not, but they are the ones that trained her.” He pointed at me. “Beings that can only see the world through glasses of their own prejudice.

“We are what the Force is meant to be. The Jedi will tell you otherwise. They say that the dark side is too quick too easy. Wrong because of the emotions it draws on. But they say this over and over to hide from their own natures. They cringe from glorying in their ability, and expect you to do the same.

“Joining us means realizing your true potential. It means not having your skills stultified by a group of hidebound shamans unwilling to step from their hide tents to see the glory of the sun! Accepting our ways means realizing what you were meant to be in this Galaxy. Hunters, killers, conquerors. Are you ready for that?” He looked at each of us in turn. “Are you ready to accept that power Lashowe? Do you dare?”

“I dare, Master Uthar!” She screamed. “I am ready!”

Uthar smiled. “Brash and fiery as reported. Turn all of that passion to your studies, and you will succeed. What of you Mekel? Are you ready?”

The young man bowed. “More than ready.”

“I sense much anger in you. That is good. It will feed your power as you grow into it. What say you Shaardan?”

Shaardan had been glaring at me, and flinched. “I am always ready!”

“I see. Best gather your wits, boy, or you won’t survive the trials ahead.” He looked at me. “And you, young Jedi. Are you ready?”

. “I am always ready to learn more.”

“Are you?” His head cocked. “I can see into your heart girl. I see the dark kernel that is there. Whether it will sprout is yet to be seen.“ He turned back to the group. “You all stand here today, but I will tell you this. Only one of you four will go on to attain the glory of the Sith. There is a series of tests that you must pass, and only one shall succeed. That one will be accepted into the Academy, and the others will be cast out to wait for a year. As you have already, Shaardan, and you, Lashowe. Failure to pass may also mean your deaths, as those two can attest. My apprentice Yuthura shall be your teacher and master during these next days. Heed her words as mine. Take over.”

Yuthura slipped her thumbs in her belt. “You have heard the master, and testing begins this minute. None of you are true Sith yet. For that to occur, one of you must impress both Master Uthar and me with their skill audacity and strength. If you feel worthy, there is a last test, which will decide. The tombs beyond-” she waved behind us. “House the relics of our forebears. Of them all, only one had been penetrated successfully. Since then we have used the tombs to cull out the fools who hurry without thought. You need not step foot in any of them until the final test, but if you enter a tomb, and bring out proof that you have done so, you will easily win this contest.

“For it is a contest. You are not a team. You are competitors. One will stand alone at the end, and the others shall be cast out, or dead. If having to fight just to survive is a problem for you, leave now. The choice is yours.”

“Whomsoever wins must also be able to explain and quote the Sith Code as well.” Uthar said. “Being the first in that will gain you honor. The rest of your tests are for you to discover my children. Welcome to the dark side. Your one chance at glory, power, and true greatness begins here.”


'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 05-08-2006, 10:49 AM   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Note for all readers: If the rest of you would like to know how Malak lost his jaw, I will add it (There is a point about 150 pages on where I can do it without interrupting the flow)
Come on people! Need a little help here, please!
Quote:
Originally Posted by post #112
Danika listened as I rambled on. I had learned the best way to judge what a person would do was by telling them stories. Are the stories I tell true? None of your business!
I've wondered how much embellishment Jolee adds to his stories, heh-heh-heh.

I am curious as to why you wrote the Xor encounter without giving Juhani the opportunity to face the dark side temptation to slay Xor. You effectively took her out of this part by having her get blasted by a sonic rifle.

Interesting how you've utilized the Rakatan prison box. I've got an idea how the box may be used later on in the story. I'll just have to wait and see if my idea pans out on the Unknown World.


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Old 05-08-2006, 12:46 PM   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutmeister
Come on people! Need a little help here, please!
I've wondered how much embellishment Jolee adds to his stories, heh-heh-heh.

I am curious as to why you wrote the Xor encounter without giving Juhani the opportunity to face the dark side temptation to slay Xor. You effectively took her out of this part by having her get blasted by a sonic rifle.

Interesting how you've utilized the Rakatan prison box. I've got an idea how the box may be used later on in the story. I'll just have to wait and see if my idea pans out on the Unknown World.
The incident with Xor happened that way because I was thinking of a slave owner's mentality. He wanted her, not a fight. He had probably hoped to take them all down, but the Czerka personnel were there so they could try to have some 'legality' to their actions. After all, she is according to Xor, and escaped slave.

I never really considered having Juhani actually confront him a second time. After all, try as I might, I was unable to reach the story line where you had that chance. I always met the putz on Korriban, and since the next necessary destination is the Rakata home world, ity never came up. Though I did try, even delivering the damn box to the Hutt didn't cause it to happen. Nor did returning to Korriban after delivery.


'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 05-08-2006, 01:05 PM   #115
machievelli
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Suborning

Danika

We were led to our cubicles, then once the Sith hopefuls had unpacked their gear, we were taken for testing. This was easy for me, since it was on the level of the testing we had done aboard the Ebon Hawk with Sasha in the first days. Moving items from place to place, lifting them and holding them suspended. I was first in this due to my training, but Mekel had some skill with it, as did Shaardan. Lashowe was the worst; unable to maintain her concentration, though when she hurled a chair into a wall hard enough to shatter it she was praised.

It didn’t take long, and we were sent back to our cubicles to rest for the next day. Carth was impatient, and I understood why. All he wanted was Dustil, the Star Map, and to leave Korriban behind, the first two in whatever order they could be attained. T3 had been running diagnostics, and bleeped at me when I returned. I looked at my com.

-Five attempts to slice my systems through the internal network have been recorded. None successful-

“By?” I asked.

-Lashowe Shaardan Yuthura Uthar and Mekel in that order- He bleeped. -

However two of them penetrated sufficiently that I was forced to ‘pretend’ to have been suborned. These were by Shaardan and Uthar-

“What did they seek?”

-Shaardan has attempted to program my circuits so that on command, I will assassinate you. Uthar was trying to discover your identity beyond what he had been told. He seems to feel that he would know you, and wants to discover why. Yuthura’s probes were in the same vein. Note. Uthar has been in charge of the Academy for two years, but has been here for ten meaning he would have seen you as Revan. Yuthura was also here but only for six years-

“Then I will have to dance between the raindrops.” I said. I looked at Carth. “I will try to locate Dustil. T3, can you access the mainframe?”

-Already done. Mission used the ICE program she gained on the Leviathan to create a super slicer program. Location of Dustil Onasi is known. Also, there is a file concerning a woman named Selene. She arrived at the same time as Dustil Onasi but died two weeks ago. The file is... incomplete-

“What do you mean?” Carth asked.

-The file has all the earmarks of a sanitized copy-

“I see what you mean.” I said. “Like my service records aboard Endar Spire that you read, Carth.”

-Exactly-

“Would there be copies of the files somewhere else?”

-Possible. Both Yuthura and Uthar have separate systems not linked to the mainframe-

“Then let’s see if I can get you to one of those systems.” I stood. The door slid open, and I paused as Yuthura entered.

“Ah, my favorite prospect for the year.” She said. I stayed silent. “By my estimation you are head and shoulders above the others in ability. It is more than likely that you will attain the summit ahead of them. As a matter of fact, I am so sure of this that I am going to offer you a once in a lifetime chance. Are you willing to hear it?”

“Yes.”

“Ah, someone who decides quickly and is willing to take chances. I like that in my students. As I intimated, I am going to help you succeed over the others. Uthar will choose you, and I will of course, agree with his estimation.

“Once that is done, he will take you into the valley of the Dark Lords to the tomb of Naga Sadow for the final test. There you and I will be alone with him.”

“Such a splendid time to rearrange a change of command?” I asked.

“Quick to decide, and quick to apprehend as well. Excellent.”

“Why is this tomb so important?” I asked.

“Almost four years ago, Darth Revan and Darth Malak came. Of course they were still Jedi, but that would change soon enough. They brushed aside what defense we had, and entered the tomb of Naga Sadow together. Then they came out and departed returning five months later with an offer of alliance between them and the Sith. During that year, brave students penetrated the tomb and discovered a Star Map. The Master at that time resealed the tomb, and we have used it since. Reaching the map, against the same risks they faced, is now our final test for applicants.

“However that test is not as important to you as is the fact that Uthar, you, and myself will be completely alone. No guards, no other students, just us.”

“And what is your part?”

“My part as you would say is to assure that you are the one that stands there with me. That means I must deter the others as long as possible. With that done, you go on to the final test. Once it has been completed, you and I face Uthar. Once he is dealt with, I become the Master of the Academy, and you are at my side as my apprentice. A simple, elegant, and most important, foolproof plan.”

I considered. Whether she held the others back or not was unimportant. In fact I assumed she had made the offer to them as well. It was after all, the Sith way to eliminate your superior at the first opportunity. “Very well. I agree.”
“I am so glad you see it my way. I must begin the preparations for the final test. Your only worry is getting there. Don’t disappoint me.”

“I would like something to assure you are really helping me.” I said.

“You doubt my word?” She hissed.

“You are Sith. Lying to someone else for gain is pretty much a foregone conclusion.”

She stared at me, then laughed. “Oh very good! What would you have of me?”

“The Code of the Sith.”

“Ah. You were listening when Uthar spoke. I can explain it better than the library can. Would you hear it?”

“Please.”

“Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion I gain strength. Through strength I gain power. Through power I gain victory. Through victory my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.” She looked at me, her eyes glowing. “Simple words yet easily misunderstood because of that very simplicity. Would you care for me to explain further?”

“Peace is a lie, there is only passion?”

“The Jedi Masters would have you believe that peace is the most desirable goal. That peace of your own spirit is the way that the Force is best mastered. That the lack of conflict betters mankind. We of the Sith know different. It is our passion, our hate and our desire that fuels the Force within us. Conflict is nature’s way to assure that the species, even down to the lowest virus improve themselves. Conflict between species assures that only the best survive. Conflict between societies forces them to grow and mature. Whether you call it evolution, or war, the only way to improve and adapt is to struggle. Or die. Without it all you have is stagnation.”

“Through passion I gain strength?”

“What else fuels your power with the Force but your own passions? Anger, hatred, fear. All of these passions draw the force to them, and empowers us.”

“What about love?’

She made a dismissing gesture. “Oh love would be good if it could be mastered, as can the others. Love can fuel anger and hatred, even fear when you believe it is not returned, or you have jealousy to add to the mixture. But love also leads to mercy and concentrating on one goal alone, feeding that love. That is, however, a lesson for another time.”

“The Jedi say the opposite, though they also try to stop direct personal love. How can both be wrong?”

“The Force gives all beings power if they can learn to use it. Our passions give us the strength the Jedi lack.”

“Through negative emotions?”

“Negative compared to what? What keeps even the smallest animal alive? The fear that makes it run and hide. If they cannot run, the anger needed to make it fight as hard as it can. The lust that makes them reproduce. That is what keeps animals alive. How can survival be negative?” I nodded slowly. “Our goal is to be stronger; to achieve our potential, then extend our potential as far as it may go. We are the predators of the universe, not the sheep or their shepherds.

“Through strength I gain power?”

“The stronger you become in the Force, the more temporal power you achieve. The Masters and Apprentices of the order are above your strength because they have achieved it. Just as the Masters of the Jedi have attained more power. But where they gain it in a haphazard manner, by pure chance or a willing teacher, we fight for every step of the way, and seek those other powers. Without strife, your victories have no meaning. Without strife, you will not advance. Without strife, there is only stagnation.”

“Through power I gain victory?“

“How many forms of victory would they have you believe there are? Peaceful victories where you convince your enemy not to attack. Victory by example, where you inspire a later generation. Truce, where you merely convince an enemy to stop fighting. Achievement, such as advancing from Apprentice to Padawan.

“But unless demonstrating your power and defeating all obstacles attains that victory, it is illusory. It is temporary because one day your enemy will see a new weakness, and begin the conflict again. If there is anything we learned from Darth Revan’s defeat of the Mandalorians, it is that mercy has no part in victory. We seek to end all conflict between societies by showing ourselves superior to all around us, nothing less. As for personal conflicts,” She made the same dismissing gesture. “We expect and glory in that.”

“Through victory my chains are broken?”

“This has been argued over for a long time. Since the Code was developed by Ajunta Pall. The Chains represent the restrictions placed upon us, by those around us, by the physical restrictions of our species, and especially those we place upon ourselves. The ultimate goal of all Sith is to transcend any restrictions so we may do and be what we wish, though there is much more than that. One who has escaped from all restriction has achieved perfection. Their potential in all things fulfilled. Perfect strength, perfect power, perfect destiny. Imagine it if you can!

“That is our ideal at any rate. It is said in the legends of the Original Sith race that the Sith-ari, what they named the ‘perfect being’, will one day reveal itself and lead us from that day forward. But that is only legend.”

“You don’t believe the Sith-ari can exist?”

“I wondered as a young Sith what such a being might be like. The legends also say that the Sith-ari will first destroy us, then make us stronger than ever. I have come to believe that the Sith-ari are more an unattainable goal to lead us toward that perfection. The Jedi would argue with me on that, I think.”

“The Force shall free me?”

“The Force is both our servant and our master, our teacher and our companion, our weapon and our tool. Know it, and you know the universe. Master it, and you master the universe. Strive for perfection, and the Force will reward you with perfection.”

I understood. Actually, the problem was that the Sith Code was as rational as that of the Jedi. Both aimed at perfection of the being, but at cross purposes with each other. “I understand.”

“I knew you would. The Force is strong in you, youngster. Master it and it will serve you well.”

I nodded. “May I ask more?”

“There is not a lot of time for you to waste on idle questions.” She admonished.

“I wonder about the ruins. Why have the Sith returned to them?”

“We seek more knowledge of our progenitors on Korriban. Why they came here of all places, why they left. The planet appears at least to be nothing more than a collection of tombs now. Perhaps we could learn more of the Force itself. With knowledge, you also gain power. However only one of the tombs has been breached and explored successfully up until now. The tomb of Naga Sadow. After Revan and Malak, only the Master of the Academy has been able to open the doors again. I am looking forward to your test. The way to enter the tomb is key to being the Master here.”

I looked at that face. While she was enthusiastic about becoming the Master of the Academy, I felt that there was something beneath that desire. Something personal. “Tell me about yourself.”

“What?” She looked surprised. “I am originally from Sleheryon, if you must know. I was a slave to Omeesh the Hutt. A vile and cruel representative of a cruel and vile race. More than that you have no need to know. Now go and gain your prestige.” She shooed me off.



Carth

“Why did you ask that?” I hissed when we left the room.

“Because I can see that there is still good in her, Carth.” She replied. “If I could be redeemed, so could she.”

“I don’t waste my time thinking about why an enemy is my enemy.”

“Then you will always have enemies.” She said. “Saul had a reason at least in his own mind for his betrayal. If that had been dealt with honestly, he would have been a loyal officer of the Republic still.” She looked at me. “Or do you think that fools who feel patronage is more important than results should command men’s lives?”

“That isn’t what I meant!” I snapped. Then sighed. “Sometimes, you’re just right, okay?”

“By discovering why an enemy is your enemy, you can bring them down to the level where if they would make an effort, you can end a conflict. Maybe not friendship, but at least the willingness to live and let live.” She pressed. “And if you cannot end it, at least you get no pleasure in killing them. Best to end their lives with at least some regret.” She paused, and turned down one of the corridors. She stopped at a door, and opened it.

A young man sat in meditation. After this trip I knew the signs of it. I could also tell by his furrowed forehead that he was having problems with it.

“I feel that you are having problems.” Danika said smoothly.

“I’m sorry, do I know you?” He looked at T3 and I, but ignored us after that brief glance. His attention was on another student, not her servants.

“I am Danika Wordweaver.”

“Kel Algwinn. I became a student only last month.”

“As I said, you seem to be having problems.”

“No. It’s... nothing really.”

“Are you sure?”

He looked down from her, and I could feel him wanting to blurt everything out. “My master tells me I am too trusting. Too willing to show and admit weakness. You should understand that. You’re a Sith too, so... Maybe I shouldn’t discuss this.”

“Are you sure?” She asked gently.

“Yes. I really can’t just... A Sith would use my weakness to succeed.”

“So your problem is that you do not see yourself as a Sith?” She asked.

“No! I didn’t mean it that way!”

“Than what did you mean?”

“I shouldn’t trust you! I can’t trust you. Could I?” The last was a soft plea for help.

“You can trust me not to use what you say against you.” Danika answered gently.

His eyes looked at her with hope for the first time. “I just feel like I don’t belong here, anymore. I thought I did at first, but as time went on, I felt, left out. Every time I examine my doubts, I feel as if I am moving farther away from my classmates all the time. They are willing to go past those doubts, but I can’t.”

“If you feel that what you are doing is wrong, then perhaps it is.”

“Yes, that is my problem. I don’t feel as if I belong anymore.”

“Then perhaps you don’t.” She said. “Perhaps you should simply walk into Dreshdae and find somewhere else.”

“But where would I go?” He asked in a gentle plea. “I was born of the Sith, my life is here among them. My dream to attain this position! Must I throw it all away?”

“Others learn what they teach here.” She said. “The Jedi order in the Republic teaches all that they do here, but allows you your doubts. Instead of shoving you past them, they expect you to discover the reasoning behind them in your own mind.”

“But will they accept me? Someone raised in a society they hate?”

“One thing the Jedi do not do, is hate.” She stood. “If you cannot push your way through your doubts, you must find somewhere else. The Jedi would accept you because of those very doubts.”

“You’ve given me much to think about. Thank you.”

“May the Force guide your steps, young one.” She said. She led us out.

At the next door I felt myself tense. “Wait.” Danika looked down at T3. “T3, we need that full file on Selene now.”

The little droid bleeped. Then rolled away. Danika leaned against the wall. “I see ones like him and know what I might have been if the Jedi had not found me years ago.” She said. “As time passes, more of what Revan was surfaces. Not in total recall, but in snippets. Revan was a lot like that boy Kel when she was younger. Full of doubts about her place in life, in her society. Finding the Force for her was like thinking yourself blind, then opening your eyes for the very first time. A lot of the doubts disappeared for her that day in her sixth year.”

“What about Danika?” I asked.

“Danika has always been what they made of her. A soldier willing to die for the Republic. Finding the force within me has merely honed that intent.” She looked at me levelly. “I worry more about other things.”

“Such as?”

“The problem with the Sith Code is that it is as rational as that of the Jedi. Both aimed at perfection of the being. However they use it not to perfect just that being. They ignore the fact that without those we protect, the weak, a strong man is merely a starving naked bully. Even the Mando understand that concept. The Sith believe that they must force the Galaxy into that same mold make everyone everywhere conform to their view of perfection. You know as well as I that one thing people hate is being forced to make decisions. Especially if it means drastic changes in themselves. The Jedi believe in leading by example, not standing behind with a whip to drive them to it.” She shook her head sadly. “But the Jedi also try to suppress all that makes us what we are in pursuit of their goal. I can understand why so many have run to the Sith rather than remain. But understand that a lot of the Sith would go the other way if they had the chance as Kel now can.”

I was about to rebut her comment when T3 rolled up to us. He extended a data pad, which Danika looked at. She read it, then held it out to me silently.

Selene and Dustil had come together. Both were from Telos, and were strong in the force, but she began having doubts not long after they arrived. They decided that removing her was the best way to end the problem. Unfortunately my son was one of the best students they had ever trained, and they didn’t want to lose him too.

So they had arranged her death. She had supposedly died in a training accident.

Danika took it back wordlessly. “Now we are ready. Stand here for a moment, Carth.” She opened the door, leaving it open.

“Did you make a wrong turn somewhere?” A voice asked. My heart raced. I walked forward, and saw him.

Dustil was almost my height now, still a gangly young man after his last growth spurt. He looked at me, about to say something, but the words died.

“Dustil.” I whispered.

Emotions chased across his face, shock joy fear, then settled into anger. “Oh lovely. It’s my father. It figures that you’d show up to ruin this too. How did you manage to get into the Academy?”

“Through the front door of course.” Danika said deadpan.

He glared at her. “Cute. I wonder does Master Uthar know what he has caught in his web? Unless you have changed sides, Father.” He glared at me. “No, I can see that hasn’t happened. Just why are you here, Father? Not for me, I hope. Couldn’t you have just gotten yourself blown up on a ship and spared me this?”

The venom in his tone shocked me. “What are you talking about? I thought you were dead all these years!”

“Until someone told you otherwise?” He laughed. “Why don’t you pretend I am dead and leave me in peace! Did you really think I would be happy to see you?” He waved to an invisible audience. “Look everyone! My father has come to rescue me!” His face filled with loathing. “The fact that he abandoned my mother and me to death doesn’t really matter, now does it?”

“I didn’t abandon you! We arrived too late!” I ran my hand through my hair. “Telos was in ruins when we got there. I found your mother, held her in my arms as she died.” I could suddenly picture it again. Holding her, screaming my pain and rage at the sky. Then I was back in the room. “But I looked for you. I swear I looked everywhere!”

“Save it for your memoirs, Father.” Dustil snarled. “You abandoned us long before Telos was destroyed. You went off to fight the wars instead, remember? We huddled every night hoping that the enemy would never come. When you did come home it was only to make sure things hadn’t changed before going off again. Other children had their fathers during that. But not me. My father had to be the hero of the Republic!”

“I was needed-”

“You were needed at home!” Dustil almost screamed. “You were needed to keep mother alive! To stop them from bombing us into oblivion! If I had been home instead of at school, I might have protected her since you wouldn’t! Where were you when the Sith raiders took all of the students at the school captive? When they dumped us on a Sith world?” He hissed, then waved as if to shoo me away. “Well my family is dead, but I have a new family now. A family that cares about me. One that won’t forget to protect me. I don’t need you anymore!”

“The Sith? The same people who killed your mother and destroyed Telos is your family?”

“Not them. In fact I have a list of those that helped murder Telos. Once I am done here at the Academy, I will deal with all of them. Besides Father, you were a soldier for all those years. How many fathers and mothers sons and daughters have you slaughtered?”

“No.” I shook my head numbly. “My son-”

“I am not your son anymore, Father! Get that through your thick head. You were never there to know what I was like as a child, don’t presume to know what I should be like now!”

“I came to get you out of here-” I reached out.

“Touch me and I’ll kill you.” Dustil said flatly. “Leave me alone or I’ll assure that Master Uthar knows who you and your friend are.”

“Calm down, both of you.” Danika said. We both turned on her. “Carth, remember what I said about understanding? He is a child you never paid enough attention to, and resents that.” She rounded on Dustil. “And he is a father that put the lives of a lot of people ahead of his family life. He regrets that, but he’s here trying to save you.”

“Well I’ve outgrown my ‘daddy’.” Dustil snapped. “The Sith will give me everything I need. Including the love I would have hoped to get from him!”

“You can’t mean that!” I was close to shouting as well. “Who do you think I was protecting you and your mother from? They are the ones that killed her. They are the ones that stole you from me!”

“I am not your favorite pet Father. They are not evil, they are strong. Besides, you were fighting wars long before the Sith came.”

“The Sith war to conquer and rule. To force the helpless to obey their twisted view of life. The Mandalorians are the same, just different views of the same world. I went to war to protect those I love. To protect you, Dustil.”

“Yeah. Right.” Dustil looked at his father almost with pity. “You just liked the uniform and the rewards.”

I could feel my heart breaking. “If I failed you, don’t let my failure drive you to become an evil man.”

“I am not evil, and the Sith are not. Strength has always been equated with evil by the weak. Show me a single point where strength is evil, Father. Do that for your long lost son.” His tone dripped vitriol.

“Do you know someone named Selene?” Danika asked. Dustil turned, but instead of growling, he looked confused.

“Yes. She was my girlfriend. We came to the Academy together. She’s the reason I am here.”

Danika held up the data pad. “Do you recognize this data pad?”

“Yes. It’s one of Master Uthar’s.”

Danika handed it to him. Dustil activated it. I could tell when he got to the end of the file. His face paled, and he suddenly collapsed backwards onto his bunk.

“They said she had tried to open one of the tombs. That she had died in that attempt. But this says...”

“That they killed her.” I said. “Because she was holding you back. If there had been a Republic officer here, they would have blamed him instead.” I hissed. “Superiority at all costs, Dustil. That’s what you want. Your teachers decided to remove one of your obstacles. To make you strong. Can you live with the cost?”

Dustil looked up at me, at Danika. “They lied to me. They took...” He held the pad as if it would feel as warm as the dead girl’s hand. “They took her from me.” He looked up, and I could see the fury in his eyes. “They’ll pay for that!”

“That is the son I remember.” I stood away from him. “Let’s get out of here-”

“No, Father.” Dustil stood, facing off with me. “You go do whatever you have to. But I have friends here, people that will listen to me. I have to warn them. Get as many out as I can. Maybe I can find out more inside here before we leave. Something that will help bring them all down.”

I looked at the man my son had become, and knew that I had lost him forever. But I was proud of that decision. “I don’t suppose there’s anyway I can talk you out of this? I mean, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to do anything halfway.” I smiled sadly. “Sounds familiar.”

“Yes, it does. Like Father like son.” Dustil replied.

“You’ve admitted that the lie is a lie, Dustil. That’s more than most can do. But don’t ride the moment down in flames. Get out of here as fast as you can.”

“I’ll try, father. Maybe when this is over we can take some time to talk? I can’t say I’m willing to accept your view in everything, but I promise I will at least listen to you.”

“I’ll try to explain everything I did. I don’t care about acceptance as long as I have my son back.”

“Then we’ll meet on Telos afterward. Goodbye, Father.”

“Goodbye and good luck, son.”

We walked toward the front door of the Academy. “We need to talk.” She said. “About me being Revan.”

“If you’re ready to talk, so am I.”

“And?”

I sighed. “As much as I want to, I can’t hate you. I wanted to blame everything that has gone wrong in the last four years on you, and I can’t.” I stopped, and faced her. “My wife, Dustil, Telos, Saul. All of it I would like to blame on you.”

“Why can’t you?” She asked softly. “I sent Malak to Telos. He suborned Saul. Between them they killed millions including your wife. They stole away your son. How is that not my fault?”

“Because you were right aboard Leviathan. When Saul died, I should have felt something change. I had put years of my life into that hunt. And when it was done, I was still empty. Killing him didn’t even plant a single grass seed on Telos. It was a waste of my efforts.

“Remember what you said just today? ‘Best to end their lives with at least some regret’. When I heard why Saul had gone over, the waste by everyone was obvious! Fools who can’t find their butts with both hands driving him toward retirement. It doesn’t excuse what he did, but you don’t excuse anyone, do you? Especially yourself.

“Regardless of what part of you inside is still Revan, you are your own worse critic. You are beating yourself over the head about things you did in another life, and I have been right there beating too, from the very start. When I found out part of me wanted to scream ‘I knew it!’.” I sighed again, and my hand rested on her shoulder, making her look up at me. “Whatever darkness remains, that isn’t who you are anymore. Whatever else the Jedi might have done with your life, they have given you a second chance.

“But there will come a time when you have a choice to make. When that happens there will be no turning back.”

“What if I make the wrong choice?” She whispered.

“I’ll kill you.”

She laughed, patting my hand. “Thank you.”

When we reached the front door, she hugged me fiercely. “Remember your promise, Carth. Be ready to kill me.” She whispered, then was gone.


'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 05-10-2006, 12:01 AM   #116
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The Valley

Danika

I had never understood how someone about to die could feel free, but I did at that moment. Carth and T3 were out, and headed for the Ebon Hawk. I had less than 50 hours to get to the Star Map, with one of my teachers trying to get me to assassinate the Master of the Academy. At least two of those vying for the same position ready to kill me in an instant if they had the chance. The other willing to let me die if it meant getting me out of his way.

The Galaxy had much to lose if I died, but I did not. So I was free. I went to the entry to the valley. A student named Tariga had been assigned to stand at that door, and assure that everyone was warned about the dangers. There was a cave full of flying creatures named Shyrack, and a horned predator called the tuk’ata. His suggestion that I could ask for help from the security guards I took with a large dose of salt. Most of these students wouldn’t ask for help, and those that would might end up on a little list of Master Uthar’s.

The entry to the valley was through a rift in the mountains. I jogged along it, watching for any danger. When I came to the cave Tariga had mentioned, I felt two things, a darkness like I had felt on Kashyyyk, and utter despair. I walked into it.

The caves ran for several kilometers, and everywhere I could see what was left of bodies. Most were in simple gray Sith uniforms, but one groups huddled together in death had been in armor.

I moved on, finding a chasm, with a simple bridge. On the other side something large moved back and forth, as if pacing. A terentatek. From my right, I could feel the despair. I moved that way.

A small group of student huddled around a fire. They had placed mines, and I called to them, standing openly.

“Hold it right there, whoever you are!” One of them shouted, a dark woman with a disruptor rifle.

“I have come to help.” I said.

She laughed harshly. The others moved behind her, and began readying weapons. “Help is it? We’re not going back to the Academy! We’ll die rather than go back!” Her face grew harsh. “We’ll kill you rather than go back!”

“I am here to help, not make you return to the Academy.” I said.

“So, you’re not here to take us back, or to kill us. You’re here to ‘help’ us!” She laughed again. “Yeah, right!”

I threaded my way through the mines slowly. Not making any threatening move. “Now we can speak more quietly. First, what are you doing in here?”

The woman must have seen something in my face, because she relaxed a little. “You don’t even know about us? Well I’ll play along for a while. I am Thalia May. We were ordered to murder a bunch of locals Master Uthar had gathered up.”

“Why did he want them dead?”

“As if he needs a reason?” She sneered. “We refused. We had to fight our way out. Ten of us made that break out of the Academy.” She waved to the other three. “This is all that’s left. We thought that being a Sith was the best thing in the world. We were wrong.” She looked bleak. “I knew there was a path up out of the caves to the surface about ten klicks from Dreshdae. Not too bad a hike. But there’s something in our way.”

“A terentatek.” I said. “A beast that grows stronger as the Dark side does.” I looked at them. “I can help, but you have to trust me.”

“I’m listening.” Thalia snapped.

“We attack it together. Do you have grenades as well as mines?”

“Some.”

“Then here is what we do...”

A few minutes later, we all moved forward to the chasm. I motioned the students into position, and signalled as I ducked into a small chasm closer to the bridge. A grenade exploded beneath the terentatek and it charged up across the bridge. They stood their ground, tossing two more before they ducked back into warren of caves too small for it to follow. I waited until it had passed where I was hiding, then used the Force to leap up onto it’s huge head. My light saber cut down into it, and it screamed, trying to claw me off. But Thalia and her compatriots were there, harrying it from the ground.

I struck something vital because suddenly it collapsed forward. I tucked and rolled, slamming into a stone wall.

Eager hands pulled me back to my feet. Thalia was pumping my hand with a huge grin on her face. “You did it!”

“No, we did it.” I looked at the huge body. “Now we have to throw that into the chasm. Make it look like you all went down with it. I need something loose that could have been dropped in a fight from each of you. Something readily identifiable.”

They handed me some small items, a necklace from one, an earring from another. Thalia handed me a shield generator from her wrist. “I won’t need this where I’m going.”

“Where is that?”

“Into the Republic. I enjoyed using the Force. Who knows, maybe the Jedi will accept me back?”

“Try. No one is beyond redemption.”

We shoved and levered until the massive corpse fell away into the darkness.

“Who do we thank for this?”

“My name is Danika.”

“Then may the Force be with you, Danika.” They ran across the bridge, and were gone.

I returned through the caves, and walked down the long incline until it opened into a magnificent valley. Millennia ago, men had stood pillars to show the Galaxy their pride. Now they were staggered by the centuries, some collapsed in ruin. Guards walked through the area, and a few researchers wandered among the wreckage.

I ran down the slope, and took it in from there. Some of the pillars, the more weathered ones, were marked in runes of the ancient Sith language. Part of me knew I should stay here, learn all I could find a reason for their antipathy. Another part screamed that there was no time.

“Magnificent isn‘t it?” An older man was standing beside me. He waved toward the cliffs to either side. “The tombs of the greatest masters of the Order. Tulak Hord of the original Sith race. Ajunta Pall, the first Human Dark Lord. Marko Ragnos and Naga Sadow from more recent times.” He sighed. He wasn’t evil, he was an archeologist standing in an ancient place, and awed by it.

“Of all the tombs, only one has been entered successfully, that of Naga Sadow.” He pointed toward the far northwestern tip of the valley. “That one unfortunately, they won’t let us explore. The Masters of the order want to keep using it as a final test for applicants.” I could hear the faint outrage in his voice. A scientist stymied by politics.

“Oh, I’m Galon Lor. Chief archeologist.” He looked across his domain with satisfaction. “We knew the Ancient Sith Race lived on this planet, but no one even dreamed that the Human Sith had been here for so long!”

“Aren’t there records?”

“Not much from two millennia ago. What we did have was sketchy at best. These ruins date back to the Original Sith before they were banished into the depths of space 4000 years ago. They are also the best preserved. No one knows what set the Sith on their self destructive path, but maybe one day I will enter Naga Sadow’s tomb and find out.” He sighed sadly.

“What are they letting you do?” I asked.

“They’ve let me do the translations of the glyphs on the other tombs at least. That is how I know which is which.” He pointed at the far northeastern corner. “That is the tomb of Marko Ragnos. Some say he placed himself there to claim supremacy over all but Sadow but I have proven that Ragnos ruled peacefully for a century and was eventually replaced briefly by Sadow. Down at this end,” He pointed to the west. “That is the tomb of Tulak Hord, who died 3000 years ago. Little in known about him. Sadow destroyed all existing records. But this.” He pointed to the east. “Is the jewel in the crown. Ajunta Pall, the first human dark lord, dead now for 2000 years. He was the first to rebel against the Jedi teachings, and led his followers here. The glyphs claim he is actually buried here. Perhaps his sword was buried here as well.”

“His sword?”

“Yes, legend claims he forged a sword himself, using both the Force and metal in it’s making. Everyone knows that was the method all Jedi used to forge their swords back then, but Pall supposedly made a sword like no other before or since. A sword that wounds both spirit and flesh.” He sighed. “But until one of those young fools tries and succeeds in penetrating to the burial chamber, we will never know.”

“Others have tried?”

“Maybe a dozen since I have been here. Ten years, I have waited, seeing young people try and fail.”

I felt a tug from that grave. I walked away without comment, and ran up to the door. It slowly rolled back, and I entered.



Tomb

The air was dry and dusty. A layer of dust 25 millimeters thick lay on the neatly laid stone floor. There was a door ahead, and it opened at my approach. Beside it on a pintel was a carved block of stone. WALK IN THE PATH OF THE MASTER

The passage was ten meters long less than three wide, with a sealed door at the other end. On the walls were glyphs. I looked at them carefully. A glyph of light, a glyph of knowledge, a glyph of darkness, a glyph of strength. A few meters on I saw what might have been a duplicate of this series. The floor was laced with open power cables. One wrong choice and I would be fried.

Carefully, I touched the glyph of light. It settled beneath my probing fingers, and refused to lift again. The door behind me slammed shut. I stepped to the second series of glyphs. As I had surmised, they were repeated here.

Ajunta Pall had risen to power in the Force among the Jedi, then fallen away. I reached out, and pressed the glyph of knowledge. It settled in silently. I walked to the third, also identical set. I pressed the glyph for darkness, and again, I survived. I came to the last, and pressed the glyph of strength. There was a click, and the door before me opened.

I walked down the hall to another door. This one opened, and I stepped through, feeling it close behind me. It was another room ten meters long, and on the wall was another stone tablet. TRAVEL IN THE WAY OF THE MASTER.

The walls had holes every half meter or so up and from front to back. Suspicious, I picked up a small stone, and threw it. Disruptors fired from the niches, reducing the stone to dust before it had gotten halfway.

I knelt, and meditated. I wouldn’t be able to leap across the room. Not and block a dozen or so disruptors at the same time. Ajunta Pall. Little was known about him. What the Jedi order did have I had not read, so that was no help. I looked at the tablet. One side was graffitied with words in a more modern dialect. 'A fine upstanding member of the order.'

I stared at the simple sarcastic comment for a long time. Could it be that simple? I looked at the floor. A line of red could barely be seen in my force-augmented sight running straight down the center of the room. I picked up another stone, and rolled it onto the floor. As it rolled down the line, nothing happened. But the instant it skittered off that path, the disruptors again reduced it to dust. I stood, and walked down the line, head up. At the other end there was a lever, and I pulled it. The next door opened before me.

A narrow walkway led across a massive chasm. In the center of it was a pillar of stone three times my height. It had been cut and shaped so that it blocked the path completely. On the face of it was another carved message. BE AS STRONG AS THE MASTER.

I touched it. The stone was ancient, one of the old pillars that lay in the valley, cut down to fulfill this very purpose. I felt the force, and lifted the stone. As I did, I angled, and it slid over into the abyss. I almost let it go, but instead moved it out of the way on the landing behind me.

There was another door at the end of the walkway, and on it sat yet another stone tablet. BE ONE WITH THE MASTER.

I opened the door. A light well went up from the tomb, and light came down. Beneath it a tomb lay before me, and on it the sigil of Ajunta Pall. I walked toward it, and as I did, I felt the door closing behind me. Then in the light above the tomb dust whirled. As it did, it took shape, floating down to stand between the cover stone and me. The shape became clearer, then finally formed into a man. His face was heroic and tragic. His robes were ebony, and on his hip hung an empty scabbard.

“A Jedi. Here?” He looked at me. “Why have you come to this dark place, Jedi? Why do you disturb my sleepless rest?”

“Ajunta Pall.” I whispered.

“I had a name once... Ajunta Pall, yes, that was my name. I was one of many, first among equals. Servants of the Dark side of the force.” He looked around. “Sith Lords we called ourselves, though the Sith themselves did not accept us at first. So very proud...” He looked back at me. “In the end we were not so proud. We fled here... We hid from the wrath of those we had betrayed. Then we fell, and even as we fell, I knew it would be so.”

“Those you had betrayed?” I prompted.

“Our Jedi Masters. Those that had taught us of the Force. They warned us against the Dark side. But we discovered it, we practiced it in secret, we gloried in our newfound powers. We were discovered? Or did we flee?” He shook his head. “I can no longer remember. It has been so long. But it was here that we came. Here that we hid. Hoping to grow. Instead we fell.”

“How did you fall?”

We feared our Masters, but it was not they that destroyed us. Is it not obvious what happened? We believed that all would be equals within the force, no masters, no Padawan. Only students all, the stronger helping the weaker freely to learn and grow together. But not all can use the force as well as others. Jealousy sprouted. Greed. Hatred. Those with little power schemed to find a way to take what only the Force can give. Those with true power refused to hand what they learned off to others freely. Students learned only so they could wax fat in the force, then replace their masters. Others schemed and stalked their equals to find the secrets maybe only one knew. When subterfuge would not work, force and violence would. We fought among ourselves to see who would be the greatest among us, and we brought our own fortresses down upon our heads.

“Finally I stood with only students to challenge me, and I was the most powerful one. But at what cost? Friends I had held dear had died at my hand, and I had taken all they had from them.” He looked at the tomb. “When I might have had a new apprentice I refused. For I knew that apprentice would learn from me only enough to assure my destruction. Even when I taught all equally, there were those willing to murder each other for a perceived advantage. So eventually I did not even teach. Just hoarded the bits the Force like flinders of broken metal and glass a Collector-Bird considers valuable because of it‘s shiny look.

“Now I lay buried here, and our great secrets died with me. No one holds them now, only I remain that even knew they existed. It is fitting I think. Our power fled from our followers, and they died, but the power we had remains and infects this place.” He looked back at me. “Tell me, gentle traveler, did any of the Sith survive? Did those we train go on to greatness? Have they returned at last?”

“The Sith have returned, but nothing has really changed. They still teach that only the strong will survive. They still train a single apprentice, knowing that the apprentice will one day kill their master.”

“Then it has not really changed, has it?” He knelt beside his own tomb, reaching out as if to touch the stone. “So much time, so much pain, so much misery, yet we learned nothing.”

“Why do you remain here?”

“Remain.” He stood again. “Yes, I remain. I have spent all these years alone regretting all that I have done. All I hoped to make right has gone in the dust of memory. I remain because I tied myself to this place. I forged a sword to wield in battle. A sword made of the Force and metal, and filled with my arrogance. It bound me here, locked me into the rotting corpse I have become, refused to let me free. I had so much joy in the new faith I had taught our followers. Now I am as dead as that faith, and only the dogma of it remains. I am alone in darkness, as I was then, as I am now.”

I felt a wave of pity. “Is there no way to free you?”

He looked at me. “Most would only see a tomb to plunder, power to grasp in their own hands, even if it killed them. But you... I see pity in your heart, sadness for one long dead.” He waved toward the tomb. “If the sword were removed, taken from the tomb, taken off this world, perhaps it would free me. I do not wish for it to rot away as I have, to become just a lump of iron that pins me like an insect in a collection. This I would command you to do.”

“I will do this.” I reached out, and instead of sliding through him, I felt a solid arm. He looked down with shock, then up at me with wonder.

“How is this possible?” He reached out, and his hand slid through my face. “How can you touch me, yet I cannot touch you?”

“I don’t know.” I said. I ran my hand up that arm, touching his face, and he leaned into it.

“All these centuries without a human touch. It thrills me in ways you cannot imagine. Perhaps I can teach you something in return. Will you trust me?” I pulled my hand away. Then hesitantly, I reached back out. “Touch me on the forehead. Here.” He touched his own head. I reached out, and as my finger touched his head, I felt something flow through me. Thoughts, dreams, and among it all, his symbol. I jerked back.

He smiled sadly. “All I have learned is now yours. It can be used for good or ill. Use it wisely.” He motioned toward the stone. “There are three swords in the sarcophagus. A last test for those foolish enough to reach here, and assume they could control my power.

“Take the sword, and place it in the hand of the statue beyond.” He pointed at the back of the chamber. “If you choose correctly, my sword is free of this prison.’

“If I choose badly?”

“That would be... Unfortunate. I would be forced to kill you.”

I reached out with the force, and lifted the stone aside. The sarcophagus lay beneath it, and I lifted the lid gingerly. As he had said, there were three sheathed swords set in brackets on the lid. I drew out the blades, and looked at each. The right hand one was the narrow wand of an ancient vibroblade. The second a shiny silvered blade. The last a notched and worn blade as black as pitch. I carried them back to the statue of Ajunta Pall, his hand out as if to hold a sword in defense. I set them down.

The silver blade screamed of arrogance. The power of someone that knew he was supreme. The vibroblade was one of the older style, larger than normal due to the power cell that made up its pommel. The black blade was a bare workman’s weapon, made to kill back before Corotosis or lightsabers had been discovered. Each was marked in a script I could not read.

I looked at the spirit. A fine upstanding member of the order the mention by that dead hand had written. Such a man would never have been ostentatious. He would have considered a sword a tool to use not something to scream his arrogance. I picked up the black steel blade, sliding the hilt into the statue’s grip. The statue glowed, then before my eyes began to collapse into dust. I grabbed the blade back with a cry of dismay.

Ajunta Pall smiled. “You have chosen wisely. Now take it. Take the other blades as well. Take them and go. I must go on to my darkness.”

“There is no need to stay here now.” I whispered.

“I fear the darkness beyond.” He replied sadly. “But I must journey into it, with all of my regrets intact.”

“You can return to the Force, return to the light as you yearn to.” I pressed.

“Return? But I betrayed my master, betrayed his teachings. If I asked they would rebuff me.” He began to fade.

I caught his arm, forcing him to return. “No. Take the chance. You have been punishing yourself for so long, would any of your masters accept that? They would have killed you or healed you, but they would have never done what you have done to yourself!”

“If I could return” He looked past me eyes sad. “I would find my master, fall to my knees and admit my mistakes, ask him to help me find the way again.” He looked at me. “But I cannot find the way.”

I reached out, and felt not his body, but his soul in my hand. He looked at me with a smile on his face. “So adept. Can you-”

“I can try.” I said. I felt the spirit floating on my hand, the vision of him fading until he was only a glow of blackness in my hand. I stripped the hatred away, the anger, and the greed. When I was done, all that remained was a seed of light. Then I felt a direction, and pointed. “That way.”

As it faded I heard voices.

Master

Ajunta, my student. Welcome home.


The tomb was just a structure now. Just stone upon stone. I picked up the sheaf of blades by their sheaths, and walked out of the tomb.

As I approached the disruptor trap, I stopped. Someone stood at the opposite end, idly flipping a stone into the air.

“I thought you might succeed.” Shaardan said. He bent to pick up another stone. Then he flung one toward me. The entire row of disruptors fired, and not even dust reached me. “Curious thing about this trap. It will continue firing until whatever it shoots at is gone.” He flung the second stone, bending to grab another before I could move. “So just trying to cross it with me here would kill you.”

“You’ve made your point. What do you want?”

“You really can’t be that stupid.” He snarled. He reached behind him with the force, pulling a large rounded boulder. “I want the sword. Once I give it to Master Uthar, my place as the new student is assured.”

“You wouldn’t have consider trying to get it yourself.” I commented dryly. “It’s typical of you really. Always ready to take the easiest path.”

“Of course it is. I am a true Sith. Not a weak-willed Jedi looking for power.” He tossed the smaller stone, and stooped to grab yet another. “Now that you have gotten the sword, I think I will relieve you of that horrible burden.”

“I must decline your gracious offer. I have done all the hard work and wouldn’t dream of giving it up now.”

“Ah, but I insist.” He smiled. “After all, I can keep this up all day. I brought enough food and stims to guarantee that I will still be awake a week from now, but you didn’t bring anything of the sort, did you?” He laughed. “When fatigue makes you too stupid to understand what has happened, I can drag you into the pit and let you die. Your choice.”

I reached back, and took the sheaf of swords. I pulled out one on them, and made to toss it. “No.” He ordered. He pulled out a small-wheeled trolley, and tied a string to it. Using the force he pushed it across to me. “I wouldn’t dream of having it destroyed. Tie it firmly.”

I did as he instructed, and he pulled the trolley back along the safe line. He set the sword aside. “Now all I need is a few moments.” He pushed hard with the force. The boulder flew toward me. I ducked as the weapons ravened, shards flying past me as they reduced the man-sized rock to shards, then to dust. When the firing ended, he was gone.

I contemplated his victory calmly, then I looked at the swords that remained. I drew out Ajunta Pall’s sword, looking at the ebon blade.


'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 05-10-2006, 12:22 PM   #117
Char Ell
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A good chapter. Why did you decide to change the way Ajunta Pall's tomb could be accessed? I like the changes but I'm curious as to why you felt the need to change your story so that it's different from the game. Perhaps it was the droids? I too found the idea of droids in an ancient tomb far fetched.


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Old 05-10-2006, 06:04 PM   #118
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Acceptance

I jogged back to the Academy entrance. The cool air felt electric, and as I ran up the ramp into the central chamber, I understood why. Master Uthar stood in the center of the room, surrounded by the dozen or so students. Kneeling at his feet was Shaardan.

“Well, applicant, you asked the presence of all of the students. Speak.”

Shaardan pulled out the sheath, extending it toward Master Uthar. “Master, I have penetrated the tomb of Ajunta Pall, and retrieved his sword!” There was a buzz of anticipation from the students and teachers. Uthar reached forward, and Shaardan placed the sheath in his hands.

Uthar drew the silver blade, looking at it critically, then slammed it down, shattering the blade on the stones. “You fool. Did you think you could lie to us about such an artifact? Any fool with a brain would have looked in our archives, and discovered what Ajunta Pall’s sword looks like. But you, it seems, thought a lie would be sufficient. This is the second time you have tried to gain admittance, and you have proven to be a fool as well as incompetent. This will be the last time you try.”

Uthar reached out, and Shaardan caught at his throat, choking. “The Sith do not need either fools or liars. Do you have anything to say before you die?” Shaardan gasped, looking at me with entreaty, then his neck snapped and the body sagged. “I didn’t think so.” Uthar released his grip, and the body fell limply to the floor. “You have all received a salutary lesson. Do not lie to me. I am not amused by it. Return to your studies.”

I walked past the body, and returned to my room. I set the sword in my footlocker, then went to find Yuthura.

“I gained Ajunta Pall’s sword.” I reported.

“I hear you eliminated some competition while you were at it.” She said, grinning. “Shaardan would never have made a good Sith anyway.”

“Tell me more of your life.“ I asked.

She tensed. “Why? Have I invaded your privacy?“

“Yuthura, I am just curious. You seem to have been driven by what happened in your past, and I wish to see what drives you.“

She grimaced. “There is no need-“

“There is every need.“ I replied. “You wish me to trust you in removing Master Uthar, yet you are not willing to trust me with this small piece of data?”

She shrugged. “I don’t see the harm in that. I was a slave on Sleheryon, owned by Omeesh the Hutt as I have already told you. To the Hutt a slave is less than nothing, and can be nothing but a slave in their eyes. I was a pleasure slave, and Omeesh liked nothing better than to find things that distressed my spirit and force me to do them. He used to boast that I didn’t have the brains to deny him.” Her face grew feral. “But I burned with hate for the worm. I promised myself that I would become more than he imagined. That I would crush those like him before I died.

“One evening, while he was in a drunken stupor, I killed him, and freed myself from my collar. I slipped aboard a small freighter. The crew found me as they entered the next system. They were not happy. The Hutt would have assumed they had helped me, even though they had not. They used me, and abandoned me on a desolate planetoid alone. They thought I would ask to go back to my slavery, but anywhere was better than Sleheryon.

“When I was rescued, I thought it was luck. But the Jedi that found me told me it was because they could feel my presence in the Force. I had it within me, and that untrained need had drawn them to me.

“The Jedi found you.” I looked around. “How is it that you are among the Sith instead.”

“I see no need to tell you such a personal thing.”

“Yuthura, we were both Jedi at one time. I felt that perhaps we could become friends.”

“Friends will stab you in the back without a thought. I have no need for friends.”
“Is that so.” I leaned forward. “A friend is one you know will not harm you. That will cover your back as you have asked me to do in removing Master Uthar. I would really like to be friends with someone that expects so much of me.”

“You have odd ideas for someone who wishes to become a Sith.” She shook her head, smiling. “But your demonstration in the colony tells me that you share at least one hatred.”

“I cannot abide slavery.” I admitted. “Juhani, my friend, came within a centimeter of becoming slave to the man that murdered her father as a child. Then again when he discovered her existence. I would have killed everyone on this planet rather than let that happen.”

“Yes.” The word was a hiss of hate. “The Jedi didn’t understand that. They took me in for training, though I was much older than the average Padawan. But I never progressed past the Padawan-learner stage. I had discipline, but no peace. The hatred of slavery kept me from being at peace with the universe, but my teachers held me back. They wanted me to become like them, uncaring monsters that allowed slavery in the Galaxy because of personal freedom. Personal Freedom!” She snarled. “The slavers have the right on too many worlds to enslave others. While on those same worlds, a slave cannot be freed because it violates the slaver’s rights! I wanted to free them all, to send all of the slavers to the hells they deserve.

“Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. I left the Academy on Brunwald, and came here almost five years ago. They say the Dark Side is evil, but at least the Sith are willing to use their skills to do something!”

“So you came here, to learn how to kill slavers everywhere.” I said softly. “Yet you are still here. Have things changed so much?”

She growled. “My hate has not diminished. Nor my resolve. I know it might sound strange, but Master Uthar tells me it is my compassion that stands in my way. When I can kill without compunction, I will be ready.”

“But if you lose your compassion for the slaves you wish to free, what will you have remaining?” I stood, touching her shoulder. “It is your compassion that drew you so vehemently to this cause, yet without it the slaves are merely people in the wrong place. Soon you would see the slavers in the same light as well and then what help would you be?”

“You’re trying to confuse me!” She looked panicked. “You don’t know what being a slave is like!”

“Compassion again, and anger that I who have not been a slave would deny your quest.” I said. “Yuthura. If I had been there when you were a slave I would have freed you.”

“Revan freed me, to come here.” She said.

“Revan?” I felt my heart freeze. “You knew Revan?”

“Well, I met her.” She shrugged. “When I was on that planetoid, I had to scavenge for food. The thought of what I ate willingly during my time there sickens me even now. One day I was coming back to my shelter and there was a woman with a mask standing there. She named herself as Revan, and told me that my pain had drawn her to me.

“I was suspicious. While I had heard of Jedi, I had never met one and knew little about them. I was sure that she was merely a gentler slaver than most. I ran and hid. But she followed me. I tried to strike her but she merely waved her hand and stopped me. Finally I grew too tired to fight, and slept. But when I awoke I was not on a ship with a collar. I was still on the planetoid and before me were an array of survival tools I had only dreamed of before.

“A week passed, and I felt that she had gotten tired of dealing with me. But then she returned. She had been on a mission, you see. She asked me if I would be willing to come with her. I said yes.” She shook her head. “Not long after I fled the Jedi, she came here. She slew the Master at that time, and challenged all that stood to fight her and her disciple Malak. When we refused, she entered the tomb of Naga Sadow, and returned. A few months later, she came back, telling us that she was now Dark Lord, and commanded us all to do her will.

“She spoke of a new order, with the Republic and the Sith under one hand, and nothing in the Galaxy able to stand against our combined will. But in the end Malak outshone her. Such is the way of the Sith. Why do you ask?”
“It has been rumored that Revan is still alive.” I said.

“What of it? She was a fool to let Malak ambush her in that way. Unless she has gained in power, there is no way that she can regain her place as Dark Lord.”

“What if that isn’t what she wants?” I asked. “What if the Jedi has redeemed her?”

“Then it is harder for her than before. Do you honestly think Malak will let her live if he discovers it?” She shook her head. “No, he’ll find her and kill her, wherever she is.”

I stood. “I am going to get some sleep. Then I am going to gift Master Uthar with the Sword.”

“Sleep well, friend.” She smiled hesitantly, but it grew brighter as I smiled gently in return.

“Be well, friend.”



Tomb

A few hours later, I arose, and prepared myself. Master Uthar was still in the central room, and I walked over, dropping to my knees.

“What do you want?” He asked. I held out the items I had gotten from Thalia May and her companions. He took them, looking them over. “Where did you get these?”

“I took them from Thalia May and her traitors.” I said. It wasn’t even a lie.

“Ah, I didn’t even know you had heard of them.” He held up the shield generator. “Here, a gift in return for your service.”

I took the generator, attaching it to my own sleeve, then I extended the sword of Ajunta Pall.

“What is this?”

“The sword of Ajunta Pall which Shaardan tried to steal from me.” I replied.

He stood, drawing the blade from its sheath. He looked at it for a long moment. Then roared. “Assemble the students!”

I stayed kneeling as everyone came as ordered. He held up the sword. “Look upon Ajunta Pall’s Sword!” He roared. Then he pointed toward me. “Look at she who gained it for us!” He reached out, and helped me to my feet. He led me to a door off the central chamber, and it opened. Within was a large room filled with artifacts of the Sith. He took the sword to a statue similar to that which had once been within Pall’s tomb, and inserted the sword into the statue’s hand. “Blessed is she that returns such an artifact. Can she do more to prove her worth?”
“I know the Code of the Sith.” I replied.

He led me back to the Central chamber. “Answer well. Peace is a lie, there is only...”

“Passion.

“Through passion I gain...”

“Strength.”

“Through strength I gain...

“Power.”

“Through power I gain...”

“Victory.”

“Through victory...”

“My chains are broken.”

“The Force shall free me.” He finished with a satisfied smile. “Tell me, young one, knowing the words, and what they mean are two different things. Would you agree?”

“Yes.”

“Then answer true or false, Mercy is for us to decide.”

“False. There is no mercy.”

Excellent.” He clapped me on the shoulder. “You have proven yourself worthy of being the newest pupil. You have bested them, and only one thing remains. If you fail, another will take your place. If you succeed, Mekel and Lashowe will be sent away today.

“The tomb of Naga Sadow.” I said.

“Ah, you have heard of the test. Does it frighten you?”

“No, Master. I have done more dangerous things.”

“Well spoken if brash. When you are ready-”

“I am ready now, Master Uthar.”

He looked at me for a long moment. “Then to death or glory. Come.”
We waited long enough for Yuthura to be called. Then we started down into the valley of the Dark Lords. Uthar led us, with Yuthura pacing me and ignoring me.

We reached the tomb, and my own memory remembered how the tomb was opened. Uthar reached out, touching the panels of stone in a simple pattern, and the vault door opened. We walked in, and he stopped, sealing the door behind us.

“Here, young student, we separate out the true Sith from those pallid ones who only aspire without true worth. You have earned this chance.”

“Indeed you have.” Yuthura purred.

Uthar looked at her with loathing. “I don’t like your tone, Yuthura. What are you up to this time?”

“Why nothing, Master.” She lied smoothly. “I am merely agreeing with your assessment.”

“Indeed.” His tone spoke volumes. Uthar looked back to me. “You must go on from here alone, as did Revan and Malak so many years ago. When you reach the ancient Star Map. There you will find a lightsaber among other things. The Lightsaber is your initiation present. Return to us when you have it, for that is not all you have to do.”

“Be cautious.” Yuthura said. “Like all the tombs of this valley, this one has it’s own defenses. They have been left intact for this test.”

“Yes, indeed.” Uthar added sourly. “You understand what you must do?”

“Find the star map, pick up the lightsaber, return.” I replied.

“Good. Yuthura and I will await your return.”

I turned, facing the inner door. I walked up to it, and pressed the button. A dark hall stretched forward, and as I walked through the door, I felt it close behind me. Ahead was an intersection, and beyond that a ramp. I started to step forward, then stopped myself ten meters back. A small piece of debris lay on the floor, and I flipped it into the center. As it came down a flash of energy ripped across the stone, and the debris bounded into the air, smoking. It hop scotched across the intersection, barely half of it reaching the other side. Yet down that ramp it also skittered as energy blasted it again and again. Finally the discharge died because, I noted sourly, the rock had been destroyed. I flipped another piece to land near where the first had finally been destroyed, but this time there was no discharge. The system only activated that far because it had started in the intersection.

Other pieces proved the all of the other sections including the entry way for ten meters were the same. If the floor of the intersection was touched, the other sections were activated. I stepped back tight against the left wall, and focused on the wall of the east section. Then I sprinted forward. Before my foot hit the center block, I leaped, and rebounded from the inner wall to land sprawling on the floor past it. There was another downward ramp, and I paced down it. Ahead was a door, and outside the door a corpse. I checked the walls, and found where a poison needle gun was installed. A handful of dust into the air revealed a light trip at knee level. By breaking the beam I would have caught a burst of needles. I stepped over it, and with dust in the air, verified that there were no more between the door and me.

The door hissed open, and I smelled a rank stench. Leaning forward, I looked around the corner. Terentateks, a pair. They wandered around at the opposite end of the room, snuffling at a few corpses that were on the floor. I started to back up, and found that the door I had just passed through had closed silently behind me. There was a latch to press, but the door didn’t move. Again I looked at the Terentateks. Beyond the one to my right, was what looked like a lever. Beside it was also a door. I considered what I would have to do. Get past them, through the opposite door. I had discovered in dealing with the Terentatek on Kashyyyk, and the one in the caverns that while powerful and well-equipped for slaughter, they weren’t fast except in a straight run. Maybe I could use that to my favor. I stepped out, and whistled sharply. They spun in place, then began a lumbering run in my direction. As the first came close enough to strike, I leaped up onto its back, then leaped again before it could react, landing on the second one. I was on the ground running toward the lever as I heard the collision of the first Terentatek with the wall. I flipped the lever, then punched the door control frantically. The second Terentatek had turned, and was coming back, a screeching bellow cutting through my brain. The door opened, and I leaped inside as it slammed into the lintel. The door was too small for it to pass, something it figured out rather quickly, and I frantically crabbed back away from the door as it tried to reach inside. A claw scratched across my boot, but the fingers of that monstrous hand were too short to catch it.

I stood, backing away from the monster glaring at me from the doorway. A pair of stone pillars stood in the center of the room, and after some probing on one, I found a small niche. A golden key lay there, and I picked it up. On the key a Sith Rune read LEFT. In the second pillar I found another identical key, marked with the rune RIGHT. There was no way out of the room except back past the now furious Terentateks. Another problem I faced was the door I had entered through was easily large enough for a Terentatek to follow. The Terentatek near the door had moved back, glaring at me sullenly. It knew I would have to get past it, and I found they were a patient species. I discovered by thinking about it that I could deal with the problem, but I first had to get out of this room, across the next, and up that ramp.

I needed some space to get a run up, and I moved as far back as the room allowed. The Terentatek hissed, watching my preparations. I took a deep breath, found that calm center so necessary to a Jedi, and became one with it. Then suddenly I leaped forward. I ducked under the swing of the first Terentatek, rolling between the legs of the second, and was up running toward the door as they turned around. The door hissed open, and I was through it before the claws could rip me apart, leaping to pass over the light trip running up the ramp as fast as I could. Behind me the needle gun stuttered, and there was a crash as the offending equipment was ripped the from the wall. Ahead of me I could see the intersection, and just before my foot would have landed on the floor, I leaped, putting every muscle and all of the force into it. I flew over the floor of the intersection, and behind me the first Terentatek stepped on it. I rolled frantically as I hit the floor, and sprawled out just past the section of hot floor. Behind me I heard keening screams. Unable to stop in time, the first Terentatek staggered around less than ten meters from me, still trying to charge me. I watched it’s legs fry off, and its torso slammed to the blazing stones. Behind it, I could see the second Terentatek. It had skidded to a stop just short of the hot region on that side, and stood growling at me as it’s partner was slowly fried away.

It took a long time. Terentatek are big, and the machinery only fried it a centimeter at a time. When it’s agonized screaming died, the one that remained hissed, trying to come up with a way to reach me without entering that hell. I watched it as the dead Terentatek was reduced to ash, then even the ash was blown away.

It snarled. Claws closing and opening. “Well!” I shouted. “Come on!” I picked up a pair of stones, and flung one to land in the now quiescent hot spot on that side. It stopped, looking at the stone, then screamed, charging. It made a leap past the center section. As it did, I dropped the other stone on the center plate.

Instantly the process started again. The creature actually made it far enough to take a swipe at me before its legs were gone. It scrabbled forward using its forelegs. But only the arms and torso reached the safe area where I was. I skipped up onto its back, and my lightsaber punched down into its brain ending its misery. I leaped off it past the hot section to the north, and ran down the ramp. At the bottom was a door. I opened it, gasping at the acrid stench in the air. A pool of acid lay before me, covering the floor from a meter or so from where I stood, to the door on the opposite wall. To my right was a pillar, to my left another pillar. I looked at the two keys, and walked over to the left pillar, then paused. What if they had also meant right as in correct? Or left as in being left standing here? I walked to the right pillar, and inserted the key.

A bridge rose, the acid flowing through channels. I gingerly crossed it, and opened the door. It led to yet another ramp, this one climbing steeply. I ran up it, and opened a door. Before me was the pintel of the Star Map. It opened as I approached, and the glory of their creation glowed in mid-air. I scanned it, and immediately crossed past it to a kneeling statue. On the outstretched palm of the statue’s hand, was an ornate lightsaber. I flicked it on, grunting at the red beam. All this works for something this gaudy.

I looked around the room. On the walls were carvings of the alien builders. One of them caught my eye, and I moved closer. A shape that looked like a short lightsaber pommel floated above a star, exactly like the Star Forge in my vision.

I turned, retracing my steps. At the base of the ramp, standing on the bridge, were Master Uthar and Yuthura.

“You return with your new weapon in hand, as I foresaw.” Uthar purred.
“The Force has served you well, young one.” Yuthura agreed.

“You took great risks gaining your prize, young student. You had to use all of your skills, and much more. No peaceful meditation, no pacifism, all adrenaline and hatred.

“Sometimes you must fight and kill in order to achieve your goals. This uses your passion, it makes you stronger, and in the end, it makes you superior. This is the lesson we teach with this final entry test.”

“Are you saying a Jedi could not have gained this?” I flipped the lightsaber.

“When a Jedi acts, it is with skill and courage, true.” Uthar admitted. “But the Jedi teaches that passion for anything is counterproductive. That only in achieving inner peace can you find true strength. But think.

“Did you not feel the excitement of entering a place that might lead to your death? Did you passions not flow when you faced the Terentatek? Satisfaction at their deaths? Didn’t you feel more alive than you have ever been just passing over the acid? What real purpose is served by denying any of this? I would tell you that the Jedi have their own purposes for denying such, and since you have fled them to come here, you must know it. They restrict because they want to. To keep the passions of youth from overriding the so-called wisdom of age. They don’t want excellence; they want plodders like themselves.”

“The Sith are not the only ones who strive and risk their lives.”

“True. But the Jedi deny their passion. They claim they fight only when they must, but is that really true? Doesn’t each of them have their own causes they will fight to attain? Revan when she was among us claimed she was going to reconcile the Sith and Jedi, find a weapon so powerful that peace would last a millennium. Yet she came to us because the Jedi could not do it alone. We never deny a part of our struggle, or our strength in fighting it. We are superior because we do not lie to ourselves.”

“I can’t believe that.” I growled. “I don’t feel superior, even to those the Sith would call weak. I bleed and die as they do.”

“If you came to the Academy, you must have felt that yearning as every one of the weak do. To give yourself to the dark side, to become more powerful than anyone can imagine. All any of our Masters here can do is show you the path, we cannot put your feet on it. You have followed it this far, caused the death of another student to stand here. It is up to you to decide if you will continue.”

“And if I would not?”

“Your can continue on the way of the Sith, or you can die here. Someone with such power cannot be allowed to escape.”

There it was. The steel fist in the velvet glove. I nodded slowly. “I think I am beginning to understand.”

“Good.” Uthar slapped his hands together, rubbing them sharply. Now for the last of this test. You have learned some lessons in competition, and arranging for me to kill Shaardan was well done. But do you have it within you to kill directly?

“All things compete in life. Even the smallest organism knows it must kill or deprive another of the necessities of survival to succeed. To stand still is to die, now or the near future. Even societies face this. So it is among us. Compete for honor. Win or die. No other options exist. Mercy is a thing created by the weak to stay the hand of the strong, so it is irrelevant.

“So your final test is to strike down another for no other reason than to deny this mercy the weak claim. Normally, I would have arranged to have a student here that you might have feelings for. But there were none. However I find that Yuthura and you have become friends, and she is perfect. Kill her, and prove your worth.”

Yuthura leaped back, drawing her lightsaber. “So this is what you planned all along! To have me killed!”

“My dear apprentice, I told you your compassion was a weakness. Do you think I didn’t see it in action when you met this one? Why would someone protecting a weak fool from slavers get into the Academy otherwise? You have ambition without the skill to make that ambition fact. That is your weakness, and I am going to exploit it!”

“No, my dear master.” Yuthura hissed. “It is time for you to die! My pupil stands with me.”

“Is this true, young one?” As he asked, Uthar moved so that we were standing like a triangle with mutually opposing points. “You wish to stand with this compassionate fool against me?”

“Compassion is not a weakness, regardless of what you say, Uthar. I stand with her.”

“Do you hear that, my master!” Yuthura caroled. “That is the sound of a new wind blowing through the Academy! Of a new master taking her place!”

“Then face a Sith master and die!” He screamed. As his lightsaber ignited, I pushed with the Force, throwing Yuthura aside. Uthar paused, confused, and then blocked as I cut at him. He struck back, and I leaped over the blade, striking down on his head. He blocked, but the blade cut through the haft of his lightsaber, and into his chest at the shoulder. I spun, the blade punching through his chest.

Yuthura stood, looking at me oddly. “You stopped me from fighting. Why?”

“Because you’re not lost to the light yet, Yuthura. Murdering Uthar might have been the last step to damn you.” I shut down the lightsaber, reaching out toward her. “Yuthura, come back to us.”

She sneered. “Betrayer! A Jedi pretending to be my friend! I really liked you, Danika. But I share power with no one.” She lit her lightsaber, the blade blocked by my own.

“I don’t want power.”

“I wish I could believe that. I will try to be quick.” She rained a flurry of blows on me, my lightsaber blocking each. Then I reached out, and she caught at her face, the lightsaber falling as I squeezed her head. She screamed, falling to her knees. “Pl-lease! Mercy!”

I released the grip. My lightsaber pointed at her. “A Sith begging for mercy? Something they deny everyone else? Are you really a Sith?”

She looked away, then sighed. “I suppose I am not.” She answered looking up at me. “Any other student would have struck me down, taken my place. But you are not like the other students somehow. I don’t know why that is, but it is the truth. I was right when we first met, wasn‘t I? You‘re different. Something we have not faced in a long time.”

I pulled out the datapad, and the Star Map glowed in mid air. “I have what I came for. Not to be a Sith, not to kill you. Just this.”

“You’re too good for me to believe that you had to train when you came here. I should have realized it sooner. So, what now? Do I gain mercy? Will you just let me live?”

“Tell my first why you tried to kill me.”

“You reminded me too much of what I was like when I first came to the Sith. I didn’t want to think about that.”

“Maybe you do need to think about it.” I said. “Has becoming a Sith assured the end of your quest? Has one slave been freed by your actions?”

“You’re right.” She whispered. “In my search for power, I have forgotten those who are enslaved as I had been. All the things I wanted to do all the wrongs that I wanted to right. None of them have been accomplished. I have moved farther away from that idealist I was every day, and allowed myself to be blinded to that fact.”

“Maybe you need to change that.” I shut off my lightsaber, holding out a hand. “Maybe you need to find peace within before you can find it out there.”
“The Jedi tried to show me that. I don’t think I can make up for what I have done since.”

“No one is beyond redemption, Yuthura. Only their own unwillingness to accept it makes them unrecoverable.”

“I know I no longer belong here, but I don’t think I belong among the Jedi. But I must be my own person again. I have you to thank for showing me that.” She took my hand, and stood again.

“Don’t write off the Jedi so easily. It is said that even Revan was redeemed.”

“I will believe that when I meet her.” She replied.

“Go to Coruscant. I will see what I can arrange in time. But when you leave, go through the caves. I helped the students Uthar had condemned through there already. The way is clear.”

“Yes, I think I would like to compare our travails with Revan when I meet her. But you have things you must do and I must assist you. We go together or not at all.”

I gripped her hand tightly, then we ran out of the tomb. At the entrance, I my ‘Sith’ lightsaber to slashed the entire stone face of the door down to it's bottom, causing the door to collapse, unsealing the door for all time. No more students would die trying to walk that hellish path.


'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; 05-13-2006 at 10:01 PM. Reason: missing portion
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:02 PM   #119
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As we approached the entryway to the Academy, I saw three students standing guard. One of them, a woman saw us coming. “You! You went into the tomb of Naga Sadow with Master Uthar. Where is he?”

“He is dead. I killed him.”

“We felt his death, but no one stepped forward to claim his title!” She tore at her hair. “What manner of monster would slay our leader and not take his place? Yuthura cannot be found, the others are fighting over who shall be master in their place.” She saw Yuthura. “You caused this! What kind of Sith are you?”

“I am not a Sith.” She snapped. “I am a Jedi!”

“Traitor! Spy! Kill them!” The woman screamed.

“But if she defeated Master Uthar, what chance do we have?” One of the others whined.

“Spineless coward! There are only two of them! kill them!” She lit her lightsaber, charging at me. I dodged aside, my second blade cutting across her spine, and dropping her.

“Don’t make me kill you.” I said to the others. They lit their lightsabers, and charged. I caught the first one with the Force, throwing him against his friend. The lightsaber in the second man’s hand punching into the first man’s chest, and he screamed, collapsing. The other dropped his lightsaber in horror, falling to kneel beside the body.

“Stay here, and you might live.” I told him, running on into the Academy. It was a madhouse.

Students, apprentices, Sith teachers stood around the dueling area. In the center, a large man was standing over a woman’s body. He spun to face the others. “Does anyone else challenge me?“ He screamed. He saw us. “Yuthura at last!”

“Who is he?” I asked.

“The Sword master, Adrenas. I must face him.”

I caught her arm, then walked past her. “Watch my back.” I ordered. I stalked forward.

“Ah, the new hopeful. Haven’t even gone through my class, yet you can best me, eh?” There was a polite giggle from someone in the crowd. “Do we have a name for the new ‘master’ that faces me?”

I stopped a few meters from him. “I am Danika Wordweaver. But once you knew me by another name.”

“And what would that name be?”

“Revan Chandar Bai Echana, Daughter of Coroli, prefect of Echana.” I replied.

“Revan!” someone gasped. The name filtered through the crowd, and everyone was watching me.

Adrenas stared at me, then laughed. “A bold jest, fool. But can your words match my skill?”

We struck at each other, sabers igniting and impacting in almost the same instant. I blocked as he cut at me. He was good, I would grant. I was pushed back by his attacks, the crowd giving way to avoid us. I felt the wall behind me, and struck at him, then spun, running toward the wall with every erg of my own strength plus the force. I hit the wall at chest level, running up it for four meters, then spun, my double saber spinning to block his thrusts as I dropped on him like a bomb. I passed him, landing on the floor with my hands, and springing to my feet past him.

The body fell, head, chest and legs landing separately.

“Revan.” someone whispered. Then shouted. “Lead us!”

“Revan is dead!” I shouted. “I am Danika Wordweaver, Jedi!”

If I had distilled madness and released it as a gas I could have done no more damage. With the true master a Jedi rather than Sith, nothing held them back anymore. With one voice they screamed, and attacked. There were maybe thirty students at the moment, half as many apprentices and teachers, and everybody was fighting everybody else. We waded into the fray, killing only when someone stood between the entrance and me. Lashowe came running down from the central chamber screaming, and I cut her legs from under her, then turned to give her the coup de grace. I turned, snatching a thrown lightsaber from the air, glaring up at Mekel.

“If you want to fight, I will kill you.” I growled. He turned, running away. I tossed the lightsaber contemptuously aside, and entered the central chamber. I went to the museum, and inside found the sword of Ajunta Pall. I had promised to remove it, and I felt that he wanted it as far from this planet as possible.

“Revan!” I spun, running to help Yuthura. Seven masters and teachers had surrounded her. She killed three, then a fourth even as she was speared through the chest. I was a dervish of destruction. I stopped, looking at the ones I had killed, then dropped to my knee. She caught my hand.

“Come, I have to save you.”

“No. She reached out, touching my arm. “You did save me. Tell Master Tolo-” She shuddered, and died.

I left the Academy, dealing with the guards that tried to stop me, and ran on into the colony. It was chaos there as well. Every hopeful had felt the death of the Master, and had gone just as mad as the Academy.

A hand waved, and I dived out of the maelstrom into the Cantina.
“You’re doing, no doubt.” Mika Dorin commented, hooking a thumb at the madhouse the colony had become.

“Things happen.” I agreed.

“I heard a rumor, tell me it isn’t true.”

“What was it?”

“That you faced off against a Krayt Dragon and fed Calo Nord the bounty hunter to it?”

“That I did.” I agreed.

“Try to be more careful in the future.” He admonished. He went to the bar, and began dumping items into a bag. “If you die, who will defeat Malak?”

“Someone will eventually, even if I die today.” I told him.

“Yeah, but eventually could really mess up my profit margin.” He closed the bag, mounting it on his belt. “Right now I think it is time to get out of the business of a Publican and get into what I do better. Sales from a ship on the Star-road.”

We pushed our way through the crowds of madmen toward the docking bays. Dorin broke away, tossing me a jaunty wave to head toward his own ship. I laughed like a maniac as I pushed my way through toward the Ebon Hawk. I had never felt so alive in my life!

I came up the ramp past the blast door, and suddenly stopped. The intruder lights of Ebon Hawk were activated, the ramp up.

I gulped. So this is what they had done. Rigged whatever they planned into the intruder system itself. I paced slowly around the disc. Even though I didn’t intend to try my mind was racing. I could easily dive below the disc of the ship. The interrupter plates would give me clear fields of entry, and my lightsaber would make short work of the hull metal. But then...

I stopped before the nose, seeing my compatriots inside it, looking back. Then I bowed my head, and knelt, setting down my lightsaber and the precious data pad. Whatever happened, the data pad had to survive. As for the lightsaber, I had been trained to deflect blaster bolts, but the defensive guns and main guns of the Ebon Hawk would make mincemeat of me if I even tried.

I stood, then moved to the side to place myself directly before the paired main gun on the starboard flank. Not only to make sure my death was quick, but to avoid having my blood splatter over the data pad. I looked at the ship, knowing that I was about to die, and felt...

At peace. If I had to die, it was a good time.

“Danika, listen very carefully.” Carth’s voice bellowed.

“We...” Juhani

“Trust...” Jolee

“You...” Canderous

“Danika...” Mission.

“Welcome back.” Carth said.

I reached out, picking up my lightsaber and the data pad with the force. I walked to the ramp. It came down, and HK47 stood there.

“Query: You know, Master, I really hate being ordered to kill you.” He said.

“How many times has this happened?” I laughed manically.

“Irritation: Don’t get me started.” HK replied. I passed him, and the little homing missile named Sasha hit me. I hugged her, carrying her into the mess hall.

Carth stood there, looking a little less haunted. I tossed the data pad to him. “Get us out of here. Take us to Yavin. We need some space before the final hurdle.”

“Yes, Danika.” He said running toward the cockpit. I sat at the table, feeling my friends around me, Sasha hugging me as if she had been afraid I would never come back. I had never felt so content in my life.


Ebon Hawk

Enroute to Yavin

Jolee

She didn’t have that haunted look any more. The Danika that returned to our ship was calmer, more alive than she had been when she left. Carth had taken us out in a spiral that kept any fire from hitting us. It was a good thing too. One of the Czerka ships in orbit had fired on us, but then blew up when guns on the surface ripped it apart. Everyone on the planet seems to have gone mad. Danika explained. The Master of the Academy was dead, the one who had been poised to take his place had walked away without doing so, and the upper echelon were in the midst of adverse negotiation.

We made the jump to hyperspace without a problem, barreling through space toward Yavin. Danika was again operating on that hunch the force makes so strong, someone was in danger.

Once Sasha was settled into bed, Danika came to the mess hall for a quiet cup of tea. She smiled at me.

“You never really told me why you came with us, Jolee.” She said.

“Good food, warm beds, a ‘fresher when I start to get ripe, what else does a man really need?” I asked.

“No, really. You spent a long time on Kashyyyk-”

“How many multi-kilometer trees do you have to see to know you’ve seen enough?” I snapped. “Have you ever stayed in one place a really long time? I bet fifteen minutes is your record. With nothing but trees and homicidal wildlife to keep you company, you finally get to the point where it’s more fun to get back into space and on with your life. See something new for once. Is that too much to ask?”

“No I guess not.”

“There, was that so hard to figure out? An old man is allowed his eccentricities. Nice to see you can agree with me for once. Fact is that while Kashyyyk felt like home, once I saw you, and knew your destiny was at hand, I felt a hankering to follow along and witness it.”

“Like Andor Vex.” She replied with a smile.

“Well not everyone I knew got thrown into a matter converter.”

“You know my destiny? She asked intently.

I harrumphed. “Of course not. I can see that you have a destiny before you, but the way is dark. Everything I see is in a haze of darkness that might be building.” I squinted at her, then stood up, turning on another light. “Okay, that’s better.”

She chuckled.

“Besides, you’ve had Jedi telling you to be wary of your future since you were a kid. You don’t need another old fart telling you which way to go.”

“Tell me of what you see.”

“Nope. Your future is there, and will come of it’s own accord soon enough. Looking into crystal balls is a good way to ruin your eyes. I wouldn’t worry too much. You remind me of Nomi and that can’t be all bad.”

“Nomi?”

“Nomi Sunrider. She came late to the force and became one of the greatest Jedi that ever lived. A fine lass, with a figure-” I shuddered. “Don’t let me think too much of her. My old heart can’t stand it.

“Whether you follow the same path remains to be seen. What I can tell you is that you’re not going to get very far along it if you spend your time jawing with antiques like me.”

“So you’re only along as an observer? To watch me soar to the heights, or crash and burn?”

“Balderdash. Have I ever denied you any assistance I could give? How confused can one human being be?”

“Only when I want a straight answer.” She replied.

“Well being here brings back all sorts of memories. Not all of them good. This little escapade reminds me of my adventures before the War. Now those were exciting times.”

“Adventures?”

“Did I say anything about adventures? I don’t know what’s worse, my hearing or your memory.”

. “So you’re going to stonewall me again?”

“Didn’t I say that my past is my own business? Shoo!”

“Stop being an old coot.”

“A coot I might be, but most youngsters are nice enough not to rub my face in it. Besides, you really don’t want to hear about it. It’s ancient history from before your parents were even conceived. History bores kids. Proven fact. Just ask any educator.”

“But some of us adore history.” She grinned. “And the best history is to get an old coot talking about when he was young.” She shrugged. “Proven fact. Just ask any kid.”

“Fine, just don’t whine to me about it later. I was an adventurer, all right? I wasn’t with the Jedi anymore. I had a full head of hair, lots of testosterone, and an eagerness to see everything that could be seen.” I grinned at her. “Sound like someone you know?”

“Except for the testosterone, yes.”

“Well women have their equivalent. Especially when it comes to bull headedness. The Council never was happy with Jolee Bindo, let me tell you. Even less so when I began my smuggling career.”

She looked at me, and I could hear the laughter in her voice. “You were a smuggler?”

“Hey, wipe that smirk off your face. I wasn’t always a wrinkled old man! Well at the time the Ukatis system was being blockaded. Might have made more sense if it had been an enemy system, but their own king was doing it. Every time his people started talking about unimportant stuff like rights, he’d slap on a blockade, and starve them a while.

“The Senate was trying to negotiate, and doing about as well as you’d expect, not a damn bit of good, so I decided to do something about it. I found a guy who had a ship, and we began smuggling food to them.”

“That must have cost a lot.”

“Might have if we’d actually paid for anything we were shipping. Some were happy to donate some stuff, but there are always those types that look at their pocketbook first. So we had to liberate some of it.”

“You stole it?”

“Stole is such an ugly word. That’s why I called it liberating.” I replied piously. “After all, if they had been even a little bit merciful they would have donated the stuff. I just consider it a tax on the greedy. Besides, they wrote it off on their taxes under theft, so it‘s not like they lost anything in the process. We did pretty well for a while. Only got caught once. A Ukatis frigate tried to chase us down shot us up pretty bad too. We crashed on a small planet. I thought the Force had abandoned me, but out of every bad comes something good. That was the day...”

“The day?” She prompted.

“The day I met my wife.”

“You mentioned her before.”

“And I am not going to mention her again. End of subject.”

“I don’t mean to pry-”

“Bull. You do mean to pry. You may even mean well, but my private life is just that, private.” She looked hurt at that. I sighed. “Danika, once you’ve lived as long as I have, you find that your past life is a series of memories. Some are good, some very good, some bad, some really bad. If you’re lucky most of them will be the good kind, but not everyone is lucky. Some of those memories will be so bad that you don’t want to remember them, but you can’t help it. If they’re bad enough, you’ll find some place where nothing reminds you of those memories, and if you’re lucky, you will stay there forever.”

“Kashyyyk?” She asked hesitantly.

“No. Yeah. Well, maybe. I doubt I could ever explain it to you even if I tried. It’s something being old gives you in compensation with dealing with the young. Let me just ask this. Have you ever been in love? I mean really in love. Not just a crush or an infatuation?”

She looked down blushing.

“Exactly my point. You’re at the beginning of your life, and I am near my end. I can guarantee that love will find you, maybe a lot of loves if you live long enough. Sorta like the common cold. But if you’re lucky, you’ll find love with a capital L at least once in your life. That makes everything worth living for.

“The Jedi masters tend to denigrate love. They are the most over-cautious bunch I have ever met in all my time. They want you to avoid love because of the emotional entanglements. Not that it will drag you to the dark side, but that it might. Thankfully anyone capable of pouring water out of a boot without instructions printed on the heels figures that out eventually.”

“I always thought that love can carry you beyond what you imagine, not drag you down.”

“Could be. But what a lot of people call love isn’t really. Passion, lust, possessiveness, that can cause anger jealousy and fear. But passion and lust aren’t love. If they wanted to make sure you kids wouldn’t fall, they teach you to control your passions, not your emotions. You’re right. Love can save you from your own damnation.”

I snorted, shaking my head. “Listen to me talk! I’m not even a Jedi, yet I think I can give advice like one!”

“Not a Jedi?” Her head cocked. “You mean not any more.”

“Nope. I mean never was. I didn’t even get past being a student. Never even reached Padawan. Does that surprise you?”

“But you have all the abilities of a Jedi-”

“I sighed. “Sure, making me a Padawan would have been a foregone conclusion in the end. But I doubt the order would have gotten along with me any better by promoting me. Love isn’t the only thing we disagree about. But love would have been the main sticking point.

“You see, Love does cause pain. Eventually love leads to as much sorrow and regret as it does joy. I suppose there are eternal loves out there, but in all my life I have yet to see one.

“How you deal with love, and worse not getting love tells how much control the dark side has in your life.”

“So even love doesn‘t work.”

“Oh it might. Depending on what kind of person it is. It would take a person with a great sense of self, and willing to work to make it happen, and more important, keep it happening. But I’ll tell you one thing. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you and the one you love aren’t meant to be together. The trick is to know when that is the case. Know when it’s a time to fight for the one you love, or let them go.

“The biggest problem with love is sometimes you lose the person you love. You don’t realize it yet but losing the person you love is the hardest part of it.”

“Jolee,” She paused, and I could feel the pain she was trying to hide. “I wish saying I’m sorry could fix it.”

I shrugged. “What would I have do to bring my wife back to life? To stop her from dying? If you had asked me before it happened I would have said anything. But when the time came my duty stopped me from saving her. From even being there to stave off death. Stopped me from having that sweet presence for more years. Stopped me from sliding like a roller-coaster to Hell into the Dark side.”

I sighed. “That was what caused me to leave the order to go to Kashyyyk to bury myself in massive trees with no one to intrude into my misery. The mere pain of the fact that there was nothing I could do to bring her back. I was sick and tired of all the platitudes. I don’t give a god damn that Tulera is still alive in the Force and waiting for me. All I could see was that she wasn’t here with me now and I hated every second of that.”

I finished my drink. “There I go, waxing philosophical again. Somebody shoot me and put me out of everyone’s misery!” I stood, and went to bed

War is based on deception. Move when it is advantageous and create changes in the situation by dispersal and concentration of forces.

Ebon Hawk

Enroute to Yavin

Danika

My mind floated down a massive stone walk, through the side of the great stone pyramid before me, and into a dark place. Guards stood at alert, ignoring me as I floated past them down the massive hall. I heard a scream, and made myself move faster.

Bastila was bound to a stone altar. Standing over her, Malak reached out, and force lightning leaped from his hand again. It stopped, and she sagged.

“I will never talk, Malak, why must this torture continue?” She gasped.

“Torture?” He sounded amused. “It isn’t torture you face here, Bastila. It is just a taste of the dark side to whet your appetite.” He reached out again, and she shuddered in agony. “All it takes for me to stop is to ask me or break free. But this will continue my dear girl. When the time comes, you will swear yourself to the dark side willingly.”

“Never!”

“Ah but I can feel you weakening even now.” He purred. “The dark side is already within you, and soon you will embrace it like a lover.”

“Danika-” She pleaded.

“Don’t speak her name!” Malak reached out and the lightning ripped her again. “She is the enemy of everything we stand for!” He struck her again and again-


-I clutched my chest, feeling the pain running through her. Bastila had felt me there at the last, and was now blocking me. I whimpered in sympathy. The technique is as old as the people who practice it. You torment someone, but always give them an opening to escape the torment. You deny them food and rest until finally they accept what you want them to accept. Finally they actively help you in it.

Could she resist? No one really can. Even the strongest. Only death can free you and Malak would assure that she did not die.

I got up, dressed, and headed for the cockpit. Carth was on watch, and he nodded to me as I handed him a drink, and sat in the copilot’s seat. Before us were the swirling lights of hyperspace, one of the most beautiful sights someone can ever see.

“We’ll be dropping out in a few minutes.” Carth reported. “What’s on your mind?”

“Bastila.” I whispered. “Malak is tormenting her even now. But she has blocked me out of her mind. The bond is still there. I can almost point in the right direction. But she is not allowing anything to come down it.”

He handed me a data pad with the star chart from our Nav computer on it. A new speck rested there, a blue water world. “That is our destination?”

“Yeah.”

“I want to stop long enough to assure that Suvam Tam is safe. Then the final leg of the voyage is before us.”

He grunted. He reached out, adjusted the throttles, and suddenly we were in the Yavin system a few hours from the station. A ship hung nearby, a docking tube run to an airlock. “Who is that?”

“Wait a minute. Trandoshan design, one of their pocket frigates. About our size, but well armed.”

“Tam did mention that the Trandoshan visited occasionally.”

“But why now?”

I shrugged. “I’ll put together a team and find out.”

When we landed Canderous and Zaalbar were with me. We went down the passage, each door opening on cue. In the viewing room Suvam had made his own, a confrontation was underway.

There were four Trandoshan, and they had backed him against a table. “...That’s not good enough, Tam!” One was hissing. The face was out of a prehistoric nightmare for humans. A man height reptile, with all of the teeth of a velociraptor and an attitude to match.

“You can’t just rewrite our agreement when you want to!’ Tam protested. “Exchange not like it!”

“The Exchange is not in a position to dictate to us any more.” The Trandoshan hissed. “Too busy fighting among themselves-” He saw us, and stiffened. “Who is that?” He looked at Suvam, and his claws clenched. “A stranger. You haven’t been telling us everything, Tam.”

“What you mean tell everything? I no clear visitors through you!”

“It appears to me that you have overstayed your welcome.” I purred. “I think it is time for you to leave.”

“Or what?” The leader asked. “You will force us?”

“Or maybe I will ask you again less politely.”

“You seek to mock us, human?”

“Seek? I have succeeded. You will leave. While alive or dumped into space after we kill you, but you will leave.”

“No! Fighting in here damage valuable stuff!” Suvam raised his hands in horror.

“We will deal with you later, Tam. As for you, human, a time will come.”

“Eventually, it comes for us all.” I said. “You were just going I believe.”

The Trandoshan walked to one of the other doors, and left. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Are you all right?”

“That not end well. They impulsive violent race. They be back soon. In force.” He shrugged. “Still I am in one piece. That is to the good.”

“Yes it is.” I cocked my head. “Assessment, Canderous?”

“As soon as we’re gone, they’ll be back.”

“That’s what I thought. Let’s go back to the ship.”

“We’re leaving?”

“A little unfinished business, then we are.”

A few minutes later, Ebon Hawk jumped into hyperspace. The Trandoshan ship slid away from the planet’s magnetic pole, where it had been hiding from our sensors, and slid alongside the station. The boarding tube came across, and the entire crew of the ship boarded. The leader charged down the boarding ramp, and stopped as I turned in my seat. He motioned, and his crew spread to surround me.

“Where is Tam?” He demanded.

“Safe.” I replied. “So there is no reason for you to be here.”

“I said there would come a day, Human.”

“As I said, for us all. Always remember' this side toward enemy.“ I lifted the controller in my hand. If his eyes could have bugged out, they would have. The words I had spoken are imprinted on every directional mine ever made by mankind. Then the directional mines Canderous had assembled and installed fired. The only safe place in that hell was where I was sitting. There was screaming, and I leaped into the middle of the carnage. There had been almost a dozen of them, but only three still stood, staggering from the shockwave and shrapnel. I dispatched them, then charged down the ramp onto their vessel. One guard stood at the door, but he went down before he even knew he was under attack. There was no one else aboard.

I lifted my com. “Carth?”

“Just coming back. Suvam is wailing about the damage you might have done.”
“Couldn’t be helped. Does he have a ship on the station?”

“Yeah, a little one man asteroid miner. He says he needs some parts...”

“Have Mission supply them. I don’t think he’ll be wanting to stay.”

“On it.”

The repairs to Suvam’s ship took two days. He reset the controls of the Trandoshan ship to arrive at a port known for stripping ships for their parts. He had already communicated with them, and would have a sizable nest egg when he arrived. Before he left, he handed me a bundle of what felt like sticks. “Not need these. You Jedi, maybe you can use.” He waved, and ran aboard the little boat. I watched it boost away, then opened the bundle.

Lightsabers. An even half dozen. Two were doubles, and I looked at one critically. It looked like the descriptions of Exar Kun’s lightsaber.

I went aboard the ship, and we went over our bounty. Using the additional focusing crystals, each of us was armed with the most powerful lightsabers we could have with our resources.

Canderous planted explosives, and we raced away from the station. Behind us, I watched it explode, gone in an instant.

“Carth, take us to the Star Forge.” I ordered.


'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 05-12-2006, 07:10 PM   #120
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We're down to the last 133 pages. How am I doing? This time I am going to wait until at least 3 of you respond.


'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,
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