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Old 03-03-2009, 10:07 PM   #121
CommanderQ
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Ahhh, so this one will be long? Well, then, chop chop I say!! The Sith look forward to reading!


you very much
If a tree would fall in the woods.....would the other trees laugh at it?
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:29 AM   #122
Kado Sunrider
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oh yay!

Looking forward to Sri's next adventure. I must say this is really an awesome story.

BTW, Endo, did you receive my PM?
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Old 06-28-2009, 12:42 AM   #123
M@RS
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3 months and no chapter 7? Please continue Sri's adventure.


Looks like a fruit cake to me. - Brutus
Quote:
Originally Posted by Q View Post
I don't want to get my hopes up, but it's like the planets are aligning or something.
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:43 AM   #124
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^ No spammy posts asking for updates, please:P I'm sure Endorenna will update when she's ready!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 07-03-2009, 11:46 AM   #125
CommanderQ
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^^But she hasn't posted in like.....a long time Aren't we allowed a small form of protest Okay, nevermind, no more spammy posts...

Well, I just reread the last chapter, and I have made the prediction that Sri is Darth Talon soon-to-be....


you very much
If a tree would fall in the woods.....would the other trees laugh at it?
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Old 07-03-2009, 05:52 PM   #126
Endorenna
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I'm sorry about the wait, guys--life has been incredibly busy. :/ I have the first draft of the next chapter and half of the second draft, so I'll go kick Ani and get her to help me finish proofreading it tonight.

I really have to get back to this. There are waaaaaay too many things I want to do later in the story to end now!


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:50 PM   #127
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Okay, this chapter is really, really, really late in coming. I'm really sorry I didn't get this out sooner. Actually, I have a very good reason for doing so--mainly rewriting...and rewriting...and rewriting again...... If ya want the grisly details, send me a profile message (not a PM, 'cuz I'm still fiddling with my PM box), and I'll tell you.

So, anyway, without further ado...


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Chapter 7
An Uninvited Guest



Jedi Knight Tion Kortas ran his fingers through his short brown hair and stared at the datapad in his hand. These readings didn’t look odd at all. He snorted. As if a Hutt’s freighter would have anything but normal readings! He had to give the slugs one thing; they were thorough. He blinked a few times and finally switched off the datapad, dropping it on the desk in front of him. Enough of this. He’d been studying that pad for fifteen hours now, and he was no closer to finding any incriminating evidence against the Hutts than he was before. Maybe he was just tired. A quick trip to the local tavern wouldn’t hurt.

A few minutes later, Tion entered a small, run-down cantina, his lightsaber hidden in his cloak. He politely brushed off a scantily clad young woman trying to cling to his arm and made his way to a table after procuring a small plate of suspicious-looking food. The Jedi began shoveling the rude fare into his mouth, deciding to forego table manners. As he was finishing his quick meal, a couple of drunks reeled into the cantina and dropped down at the bar, talking loudly. The knight ignored them for a few moments, but then started listening to them for lack of anything else to do.

“Rattatak’s a dustbowl! There ain’t no reason to go there!”

“Like I been tellin’ ya, there’s every reason!” His voice lowered into what was meant to be a secretive whisper. “You know about those fights they have there?”

“So? I wanna see blood, I can start a barfight.”

“You mean you haven’t heard!”

“Huh?”

“There’s some Twi’lek schutta that’s been tearin’ up the arena for about a year now! No one’s been able to beat her! And they say she uses laser swords, couple blue ones!”

Tion’s ears pricked. Laser swords? Lightsabers? On Rattatak? There was a Jedi who had disappeared in that sector a few years ago, but it had been a male, not a female, and he was presumed dead. Could it be possible that he’d trained an apprentice, and that somehow, this apprentice had begun fighting in the brutal arenas there? It could be…he needed to find out who this young woman was, whether she’d been trained by a Jedi or not. He quickly rose and left the cantina.

When he reached his seedy apartment, Tion threw his few possessions into a sack and paid his final rent; then he returned to the hollow where he’d hidden the small ship he’d once shared with his master and took off. Once he had left the atmosphere, he started patching a signal through various networks to the Jedi Temple.

After what seemed an eternity, a droid's voice finally came through. “Greetings. Master Yoda’s Help Desk, this is. What help may I be, hmm?”

Tion scowled. Skywalker had been at it again. Oh, well. Master Kenobi would find a way to punish that little computer hacker—ahem, ‘very gifted padawan’ adequately for this prank. The Knight decided to ignore the droid’s greeting and replied, “This is Jedi Knight Tion Kortas, code number 987304. I have an urgent message for Master Yoda.”

“I believe he’s meditating, Master Kortas.”

“It’s imperative that I speak to him immediately!”

“Very well.” Another minute or two passed before the voice of the revered Jedi Master was heard.

“Knight Kortas. Urgent, your message is?”

“Yes, Master. I just ran into a rumor about a young lightsber-wielding gladiator on Rattatak. Twi’lek, female.”

“Lightsaber? Know her name, do you?”

“I’m afraid not, Master. I’m only a few hours from there. Shall I go investigate?”

“At once you must go. Sensed a powerful disturbance there, I have. Wild it is; dark and dangerous. Careful you must be, Tion Kortas. Bring this girl to the Jedi Temple, you must. If left untrained she is, a great danger she could be. One Sith there is—a potential apprentice, we must not leave him.”

“Understood, Master.”

“May the Force be with you.”

“And with you, Master. Kortas out.” The Jedi switched off his comlink and put the coordinates of Rattatak in his navigation system. The stars blurred, then stretched into endless ribbons of light.



=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=



Sri leaped forward, striking a Chagrian across the face with the black metal vanguard on her forearm. The sharp scales composing it ripped into his flesh as they passed. Her lightsaber darted in as he dropped his sword, screaming in agony—his screams died with him.

Sri turned a bit to the right, and her lightsabers spun into an impenetrable shield as a barrage of blaster bolts flew towards her. A heavily muscled, seven-foot-tall, slimy alien was firing a massive blaster cannon at her. The Twi’lek analyzed it quickly. It was modified to have a handle, but there were two pegs on the sides where it used to be mounted on a base—it was made for a battlefield. Sri closed her eyes and bowed her head slightly. A small grin crept onto her face. This was her last living enemy here. She could toy with this one. The grin disappeared, and she concentrated, gathering her power for a blast. It had always seemed to satisfy some craving when she did this, ever since she’d discovered it a year ago.

Sri whirled, slashing the head off of a droid. Its smoking parts dropped to the ground, right beside several other piles of scrap. The Twi’lek glanced around, disappointed to find that there were no more droids. All that remained were those thirty guards Cor had placed to watch her. Cor…she hated that man as much as she’d ever hated Kazic, though he’d only been her master for a day or so now. She spun her lightsabers experimentally, then the blue energy began twirling in complex exercises her former mentors had taught her. One of the guards was speaking—about her. She could hear him even over the hum of her blades. Sri continued her exercise, listening closely.

“Not a good idea, Jey. She’d tear you apart if you laid a hand on her.”

The one called Jey laughed. “And risk Lord Cor killing her friend? Never! Come on, Cap’n, at least let me try!”

“Fine! If you want to act like some drunken thug, do it! Just don’t expect me to help you when you drag back here in ten pieces!”

“I won’t have to.” One of the younger human guards swaggered closer to Sri. She didn’t turn to face him, or even make any sign that she knew he was there. She just kept her blades spinning.

“Hey, kid! Come ‘ere!”

Sri’s face never changed expression as she turned her sabers off and walked closer to the man, stopping about eight feet away.

He spoke again, hefting the blaster in his hand. “What do you look like under that outfit?”

Sri’s eyes glittered murderously. “You’ll never know!”

The guard leered at her and took a step closer. “We’ll see about that.”

“Filth!” The word spewed from her mouth with righteous poison. The sabers clattered to the stony floor as one of her hands flew up. The guard, much to his surprise, was lifted almost four feet into the air by an unseen force. Sri glared at him for a few moments. She could feel his chest, his heart pounding wildly with fear, his diaphragm heaving, forcing the air out in desperate screams for mercy, the air itself as it rushed through his bronchial tubes to his trachea, the tendons connecting his flesh to his bones, his muscles rippling as he struggled to free himself. Her hand closed, and he screamed one last time before his head lolled to one side, blood spilling from his mouth and splattering on the ground. Sri’s mouth formed a grim smile of pleasure as she observed the corpse. Jey’s ribs, heart, lungs, muscles—everything had been crushed into a bloody pulp, contained in his shell of a skin. She cast the body aside with a wave of her hand. It flew into one of the walls and fell limply to the ground.

Sri’s glare turned to the other guards, and she cried angrily, “Anyone else care to try!”

They snapped out of their horrified fascination at their companion’s sudden, violent death. “She’ll kill us! Get her!” The twenty-nine men left their assigned stations and charged her, their blasters firing. Sri dove under the first volley, throwing both her hands forward instinctively. A wave of energy washed over them; the force shattered their bones, killing them instantly.

Sri glanced around the room. She was alone.

Then she realized what she had done.

Sri sank to her knees, staring at the corpses around her. They had been running, and suddenly, they’d been on the floor. That first one, Jey—he was dead. She hadn’t even touched him! He’d been almost six feet away from her when he’d risen into the air. Then, she’d—crushed him, from the inside out. No remorse filled her for their deaths; she’d been acting in self-defense, and they’d all deserved to die, anyway. Hope rose in her. If she had that kind of power, she could escape from this place and take Nya’van with her! Her lightsaber flew to her hand, flashed up, and gave the collar a clean, neat cut.

Nothing happened.

It was still there! Her hand touched the metal. It wasn’t even scratched! No…Cor had provided for this situation and had made the collar out of a metal-cortosis alloy. She couldn’t break it. All she could do was sit here and…wait for someone to arrive.

An hour or so later, the door opened, and five more guards entered. They saw the Lethan kneeling on the floor a few yards away as if in brooding meditation, and behind her were the remains of her guards. The men ran back out of the room, locking the door behind them.

After a few minutes, the door opened once again. Cor entered, along with several guards. He said calmly, “You killed my men.”

Sri’s eyes rose, and her alto voice stated evenly, “I was defending myself.”

“I should kill you for this.”

“You don’t believe me? Fine! Check your security records!” She jerked her head back towards the cold corpses. “It happened a little over an hour ago.”

Cor snapped his fingers, and one of his personal guards stepped closer, handing him a datapad. The warlord skimmed through it a few moments before finding the correct record. He watched about a minute of it before turning it off and handing it back to the guard. “I see.”

Sri rose smoothly. “And if any of your mercenary animals ever try to touch me in that manner again, I’ll do the same to them.” She added sarcastically, “And of course, my
Lord, I’m prepared for whatever devious punishment you have in store for me for daring to protect myself against the fauna.”

Cor smiled thinly. “On the contrary, I must thank you for removing such a fool from my ranks.” He took a step closer, and the smile disappeared. “But if you ever try that again, you and your friend will bear the consequences.”

“Understood, Master.” Sri bowed in pretend respect.

Cor motioned for the guards to take her. After relieving her of her lightsabers, two of them grasped her arms tightly and started dragging her out of the room. The warlord waited a moment, then he called after her, “Your friend will learn of your rash behavior.” Before Sri could say or do anything, the door closed.


A year had passed since that fateful day. She hadn’t seen Cor since then—obviously, he’d thought it best not to give her any opportunities to dispose of him.

The power she’d discovered that day had aided her immensely. Her enemies could wear cortosis, but they couldn’t stop something they couldn’t see or understand. Sri looked up, her eyes blazing with her anger and the power she felt. As her hands came up, wielding the spinning lightsabers, the cannon was wrenched from the alien’s hands. It flew up into the ceiling and was crushed into a worthless piece of trash. The alien blinked with surprise as the gun crashed into the ground, then he looked up, expecting to see a lightsaber coming down on his head. There was no sign of the Twi’lek.

A blazing blue blade emerged from his chest. He stared at it stupidly for a moment. It dissipated with a sharp hiss, and he fell dead at Sri’s feet.

Sri sensed something behind her move. She turned to face the new threat as it entered the arena. It was a large, muscular man in a full suit of body armor. He strode closer to her and drew two hand blasters from his hip holsters. She twirled her lightsabers expectantly and waited for him to start firing.

Much to her surprise, the man dropped them! He took off his helmet, revealing that he was a human, barely into his adulthood. His white teeth stood out starkly against his tanned skin as he grinned and shouted, “Come on, kid! You’re good with those swords, let’s see how you are without ‘em!”

Sri cocked her head slightly. This was a rare kind of fool. Very few people were stupid enough to engage her unarmed. A smile crossed her face, and she turned off the lightsabers, dropping them on the sandy floor. “Anyone I should inform of your untimely demise?”

He smirked and lifted his hands defensively. “Any other worm-heads around who know some death rituals?”

Sri darted forward without bothering to continue the ritual trash talk. His racial slur had been a rather obvious, poorly executed attempt to distract her from the business at hand; this one was nothing more than hot air in fancy armor. He made a powerful swing at her. She dropped low and skidded, sliding between his legs and tripping him. The Twi’lek threw herself to the right as his bulk crashed down where she had been. Her left forearm slammed down onto his unprotected neck and jerked back the way it had come. The choked scream told Sri that her vanguard had done its intended work; his neck had been torn open. He was temporarily incapacitated. She rose and stood over him. One of his blasters flew to her hand; she pointed it at his face. Five shots blazed from it before she threw it to the ground. The Twi’lek turned her back on the dead man.

Suddenly, a small chunk of the roof fell a few yards in front of her. She drew her lightsabers to her hands and prepared to defend herself. Someone else was coming…someone not on the guest list.



=-=-=-=-=-=-=



Tion Kortas’ small ship descended into the atmosphere of a desert planet unnoticed. While he’d been traveling to Rattatak, he’d looked up his quarry. There had been no pictures of her, and there had been no name listed, but there was a short entry in the central database about a female Twi’lek gladiator. She was owned by a warlord (whose name was also not listed), and, as the drunk had said, she’d appeared about a year ago. Several people had tried to buy her, but none had succeeded—somehow, he doubted her master would be more receptive to the offers of a Jedi. Just before he’d reached the planet, he’d managed to dig up a schedule for the Rattatakis’ favorite sport; she was actually engaged in a conflict at this very moment, in a nearby arena. He brought his ship in low and landed on the relatively flat roof of the arena, still attracting no attention.

Yes, he could sense her now; she was finishing off the last few contestants. If he were to complete his mission today, he’d have to work fast. Tion took his lightsaber from his belt and began cutting into the roof.

It was only about a minute before he’d almost finished slicing a decent-sized circle out of the rock. He heard a few muffled blaster shots and a scream from below as he made one final, precise incision. The weight of the stone slab tore it from the ceiling and sent it crashing to the floor, shattering on impact. Tion jumped after it, landing among the pieces with his undrawn lightsaber in hand.

A red Twi’lek female was facing him; two blue lightsabers blazed to life in her hands, and the Jedi knew he’d found who he was looking for. She was pretty short—just barely over five standard feet tall—but she looked quite agile, making her just as dangerous as the tallest, strongest member of her race. Her tight black pants were coated with dusty sand, almost obscuring their true color, and her midriff-exposing, sleeveless black top would’ve elicited a frown of disapproval from many of the stricter Jedi Masters. But what disturbed him wasn’t her clothing—it was the dark, visceral aura that surrounded her.

Tion was about to make a hasty explanation for his uninvited presence when she sprang at him. His green lightsaber activated and rose, barely parrying the three quick strikes aimed at his neck and torso. The girl spun back toward him without a pause, continuing her fierce attack. The Jedi managed to dive away from her for a moment, rolling to avoid the blue blade that stabbed into the ground. “Young lady, stop it! I’m not here to fight you!” He caught her blades as they descended on his head.

She glared at him through the crossed lightsabers and snapped, “Then you came to the wrong place!”



=-=-=-=-=-=-=



Sri leaped back as her new opponent tried to knock her legs out from under her; he failed, but he did regain his feet. He exclaimed in an urgent tone, “I’m here to help you escape! You must come with me, now, before your master’s servants arrive!”

The Twi’lek darted toward him and tried to weave her blue sabers around his green one—she had to admit, he was really good, far better than most everyone she’d faced over the past year. Her opponent thrust her away and opened his mouth to speak. Sri saw her opportunity. He was good, but he couldn’t defend against this! One of her hands thrust forward momentarily, and a blast of energy flew towards him. The man simply held up his own hand. Sri was hit by a shockwave from him, and she found herself thrown back several feet. She leaped to her feet and turned her lightsabers back on. Her brow furrowed angrily. No one could stop that, but he’d just turned it back on her! Sri shouted, “Who the hell are you!”

He smiled slightly. “Jedi Knight Tion Kortas at your service, miss.”

Sri almost dropped her lightsabers in surprise. A Jedi? Her father had told her tales about the Jedi, about how good they were, about how they protected people like her! And…he’d mentioned once or twice that they used laser swords…like the one in his hand.

Her mouth twisted. No! The Jedi hadn’t helped her! For five years, she’d been a slave, and they hadn’t bothered to help her! She crouched, preparing to attack, as she spat out her thoughts. “The Jedi have never helped me! Why now!”

The Jedi replied quickly, “We did not sense your presence until now. If we had, we would have arrived much sooner.” He glanced around at the many doors leading into the arena. “Come! We must hurry!” His eyes returned to her, and he stepped forward. “I can get you out! You just have to trust me!”

Sri’s eyes darkened, and she hissed, “Trust can be betrayed, Jedi!” The Twi’lek prowled to the side, looking for a way past his defenses.

“Young woman, I understand your doubts. But tell me—how often do you get a chance to escape your master?”

Sri wavered slightly. The possibility of escape had been non-existent for the past year. Now, it was just in front of her, within her grasp…she just had to take it. Her lips trembled. “I-I can’t leave. He’ll kill my friend!”

The Jedi reasoned calmly, “If your friend is a true one, then he would want you to take this opportunity.” He took another step forward and added earnestly, “If you stay here, eventually, you’ll die. All it takes is one false move, one stray blaster bolt—and your life ends. Your friend knows this.” He took another step closer, coming almost within reach of her lightsabers. “Let me help you escape. You can return for him.”

Sri shook her head, her face hardening again as she snapped, “I can’t come back for a corpse!” The Lethan darted forward and slashed at him, her strikes hard and fast. Jedi or no, he would die—even if he was willing to help her escape. Keeping Nya’van alive had been her main objective over the past year, and she refused to change that just because she had a chance to leave.

Tion skillfully blocked all of her vicious attacks as he exclaimed in frustration, “What do I have to do to convince you! You must come with me!”

“I’ll kill you first!” Sri threw all her strength behind her blows. This person was trying to make her kill Nya’van! Her anger filled her, and she stopped thinking. Everything was a blur of flashing lightsabers and pure rage. She hated the Jedi! He wasn’t a bastion of freedom and good! He was a murderer—a murderer hiding behind the legend of his Order!

The Jedi parried two strokes, spun, and sent a pulse of energy into her face, sending her flying back once more. “I have my orders! I must bring you to the Temple!”

Sri sprang to her feet and hissed, “I don’t give a damn about your orders!” She charged him, her rage ripping out of her in a blood-curdling scream. The Jedi pursed his lips and held his hand out towards her. The Lethan felt herself get tripped by the invisible energy; she skidded through the dirt a few feet before she came to a complete halt. The Twi’lek glared at him murderously. He stared her in the eye, his face stoic. She threw all her rage at him in the only other way she could—through her eyes. The Twi’lek gripped her lightsabers more tightly and prepared to finish him off as he cowered under the blazing fury of her emotions.

Nothing happened.

The Jedi merely cocked his head slightly, almost curiously, as if waiting for her to do something. Sri slowly got to her feet once more, never breaking eye contact with him. He just reiterated in a calm, yet urgent tone, “We have to leave now.”

Sri felt the rage boiling within her rise at this new failure. It wasn’t working! Everything and everyone she’d channeled her anger towards had cringed in fear, and this, this—person was merely shrugging it off as if nothing was happening! The girl crouched slightly and growled, “I’m not going with you!” She spun her lightsabers and charged him once more, knowing that she was, in all probability, committing suicide by the act.



=-=-=-=-=-=



Tion sighed. Nothing he had said had even begun to change her mind. Normally, he would respect her wishes and remove himself from her life, but Master Yoda had told him to bring her to the Temple at all costs. Whether she wanted to or not, she was going to leave with him.

The Jedi extended his hand towards her once more, tripping her again, but this time, he didn’t stop there. He gripped her with the Force and lifted her into the air, then he threw her across the arena as hard as he could. She slammed into the far wall. Tion gritted his teeth and jerked her back towards him; he allowed her to fall to the ground a few yards in front of him. She was quite dazed, and he could see she wasn’t about to attack him again. The Jedi drew her lightsabers to himself and tucked them safely into his belt as he strode towards her.

Suddenly, she began screaming, convulsing from a shock of pain. The Jedi cursed mildly and ran to her. There was the cause; a collar was around her neck. He concentrated on it. The catch was practically invisible, but it was there, behind her neck. The Jedi closed his eyes and reached deeper into the metal. The collar suddenly broke. The Knight flung it aside with the Force, his face twisting with disgust as he did so. A person with a heart so black as to put one of those things on anyone, much less someone barely out of her childhood, was nothing more than a beast in a man’s body! He pushed aside his emotional response, quietly reminding himself of the job at hand. The Jedi gingerly picked up the unconscious girl and positioned himself under the hole in the roof. He closed his eyes again and allowed himself to sink into the Force. It flowed through him, like a warm current in a stream. It was everywhere, filling everything…including himself.

The Jedi opened his eyes once more and breathed a sigh of relief. He was on the roof again, but he felt drained. Performing such a task as he just had took a lot out of almost any Jedi. Tion shifted the Twi’lek in his arms and entered his ship; the hatch closed automatically behind him. He carefully set the girl down in the co-pilot’s seat before dropping into the pilot’s seat. One press of a button, and the ship took off. It rose rapidly, soon exiting the atmosphere of the dusty world beneath. Tion activated his hyperdrive—before he’d landed, he had gone ahead and had the nav computer calculate the trip to Coruscant. No doubt the young lady’s former owner would be highly displeased once he found out about her impromptu rescue, and he would have the area around Rattatak combed by any and all mercenaries he could hire. There was no time to waste.

A few moments later, the stars stretched into mere streaks of light, and the ship was gone.



=-=-=-=-=-=-=


The first thing Sri was aware of was the cool, clean air. She breathed it in deeply, glad to be out of the dust-filled, burning hot air of Rattatak. Then she remembered the Jedi.

Sri sprang to her feet with a sharp, angry exclamation. The Jedi was seated beside her; he glanced up at her calmly and started to say something. The Twi’lek drew one of her lightsabers to her hand and darted back behind the two chairs. The Jedi sighed deeply and swiveled his chair around as she ignited the blue blade. Sri pointed it at him and demanded harshly, “Where are you taking me!”

The Jedi ran his fingers through his hair absently and stood. “To Coruscant.”

Sri edged closer. “Well, you better find a way to turn us around right now, ‘cause I’m going back to Rattatak!”

The man shook his head slightly. “I’m afraid not, young lady. I have specific orders to bring you to the Jedi Temple.”

Sri stepped closer and held her lightsaber about a foot from the Jedi’s throat. She growled menacingly, “What’s to stop me from killing you where you stand?”

Tion ran his fingers through his hair once more, not seeming to notice the blade hovering dangerously close to his vital organs. “Maybe the fact that you don’t know how to fly the ship?”

Sri smirked. “I’m sure I could figure it out, Jedi.”

He pursed his lips and asked matter-of-factly, “Is that before or after you punch the self-destruct button?”

The Twi’lek glared at him as the logic of his words sunk in. After a few moments, she turned off her lightsaber and flung it at the Jedi. He caught it; after what looked like a split-second decision, he took her other lightsaber from his belt and held both of the weapons out to the teenager. Sri eyed him warily, trying to figure out his angle. He wanted something from her—huh, everyone wanted something from her. She drew the lightsabers to herself and gripped them tightly, ready to kill the Jedi if he made one wrong move.

Tion folded his hands behind his back and glanced away, clearly embarrassed at being alone with her. He turned and knelt in front of a low chest shoved up against the wall and started rummaging around in it. Sri watched his back—it was turned to her. Now would be the easiest time to kill him, if she was going to do it. The Twi’lek resisted the urge to plunge her lightsabers into his spinal cord and watched him closely. What was he looking for?

Tion pulled a long, soft brown cloak out of the chest and stood. He turned and held it out towards Sri, saying quietly, “Here, put this on.” The Jedi added quickly, “It’s cold in space.”

Sri carefully clipped one of her lightsabers onto her belt and took it from him. The Jedi gave her a courteous nod and resumed his seat in the pilot’s chair. The Twi’lek slipped on the cloak and wrapped it around herself, practically being swallowed by it; it had been made for a much taller, broader person, and it did cover her quite thoroughly. Sri frowned. This guy was a puzzle. He’d fought her, beaten her into unconsciousness, and abducted her, but now, he’d given her back her weapons, turned his back on her, and, to top it all off, he’d given her something to cover herself with instead of gawking at her, like most members of the opposite sex had done for the past year.

“So, what’s your name?”

The Twi’lek’s jaw almost dropped in surprise. It had been what? Five years since anyone had asked her that? Her expression hardened again after a moment, and she muttered, “Sri.”

A stony silence filled the craft for several minutes. Sri prowled from one side of the ship to the other, her eyes glistening with pent-up rage. She felt so helpless! Nya’van was dying right now, and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it! A single tear rolled down her cheek and dripped onto her cloak. Her jaw started working, and her fingers flexed, itching to hold her lightsabers. If only she could kill him!

All her frustration and anger finally burst out in a scream as she spun to face the Jedi. “Why did you take me! You had no right! You should be the one dying, not her! She didn’t do anything wrong! It’s not fair!” She accented her last word by throwing one of her knives at him; it buried itself deep into the soft padding, barely an inch from his ear. “Why did you kill her!”

Tion’s eyes filled with pain, and he stood. “Sri, I’m so sorry about your friend.”

“Sorry!” The shrieked word was followed by a bitter laugh. “Of course you are! That makes everything better, doesn’t it! It’s okay for Nya’van to die, as long as you’re sorry, is that it!” Another knife appeared in her hand, and she sprang forward; its edge scraped lightly against his neck. “Tell me why I shouldn’t slit your throat right now!”

The Jedi kept his eyes focused on her face. “I took you because I knew Nya’van would want this.”

Sri whipped her knife back and plunged it into his shoulder with a scream, driving him down into the chair. She shoved it in up to the hilt and hissed in his face, “If you ever speak of her like that again, I’ll have your head!” The Twi’lek stepped away and sat down in the co-pilot’s seat, leaving the knife in his flesh. She turned her back to him and crossed her arms, silent tears rolling down her face.

Tion gritted his teeth against the pain and closed his eyes, trying to steady himself. His first instinct was to pull the knife out, but—no. She needed to know he was in pain right now. Her friend was dying horribly at this very moment; the knowledge that he was in agony would help this poor child.




=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Criticize away!


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.

Last edited by Endorenna; 07-23-2009 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:30 PM   #128
Tysyacha
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Criticize?! Oh...my...gourd! You have made me say the five words I hardly ever say because they sound way too fan-girly: PUT ME IN YOUR STORY! *LOL!* 1,000/10

You're far better, I daresay, than some of the people who write actual Star Wars books.
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:13 PM   #129
machievelli
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read: again.


'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 07-29-2009, 08:01 PM   #130
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inspired me to start my own story up again. Thanks for the inspiration!


Chapter 12 of Renewal released!

Chapter 2 of Heir to the Force released!
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Old 07-31-2009, 02:03 AM   #131
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Whoa I would've commented earlier, but I just happened to have no excuse whatsoever to give. You got a lotta fans posting and asking for more. One of whom only has time to read things once who read this again... that's a lot from him.

As I go through and revise SID, I'll be keeping this on the back of my mind. Your skill at adding so much detail to only a few moments is inspiring. I would criticize, assuming I had something to criticize about.

~D_Y
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:28 PM   #132
Endorenna
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Chapter 8

The Temple


“We’re exiting hyperspace now.”

Sri scowled and turned her chair to face the window. Neither of them had spoken since she’d driven the knife into his shoulder; according to her estimation, the silence had lasted at least four days, broken only by Tion getting food and water. The Twi’lek watched the streaking stars impassively. She wasn’t interested in this ‘Coruscant.’ It was just another place for the powerful to live in opulence, ignoring those they should be helping while they forced their decisions on others.

The lines of stars suddenly disappeared, revealing a huge brown planet patterned with golden lines. Sri’s eyes widened slightly. She’d never seen a planet from space before. It was magnificent. Her face returned to its cold, impassive expression almost immediately as she reminded herself of what this place represented.

The planet grew larger and larger in the window; finally, they entered the atmosphere. Sri’s mouth dropped open slightly when she saw the view. Tall, stately buildings filled everything as far as the eye could see. Ships of all shapes and sizes flew in organized lines, criss-crossing the landscape. She bit her lip and shrank back in her chair. For some reason, she felt…small. In the arena, she’d been powerful, deciding who lived and who died, but here…here, she had no power. Her expression reverted once again. She’d never really had any power. If she had, this damned Jedi wouldn’t have been able to kidnap her, and Nya’van wouldn’t be dead.

“There it is; the Jedi Temple.”

They approached a building set somewhat apart from the rest. It was sort of a pyramid with its top cut off; spires and small platforms stuck out from it in every direction. Statues, lavishly distributed around the outside, decorated it, making it seem quite grand. Sri sniffed in contempt. It must have cost a lot to make all those extra frills on that temple. The credits would’ve been better spent on food, or more training facilities. These Jedi were wasteful with their resources.

The ship set down on a small landing platform sticking out from the temple. Tion opened the hatch, and a cool blast of air blew in. The Jedi stood and motioned towards the back of the ship; Sri merely replied with an icy glare. He waited a few moments; then he walked out himself, carefully supporting the knife, which was still embedded in his flesh. Sri stood to follow him. There wasn’t any point in staying on the ship alone. She hesitated for a moment, then dropped the cloak she was wearing on the floor. If the need to defend herself arose, tripping on her own clothing wouldn’t help.

Sri swallowed nervously as she stepped onto the landing platform. The landscape was even more intimidating outside the ship. She felt…lost. For years, she’d known what it was like to be totally alone in a harsh, cruel world, but now, that feeling was overwhelming. The girl shivered and turned away from the city. She had to calm her fears, now, or that Jedi would try to take advantage of them and manipulate her.

Her attention was drawn to a near-human male walking out of the Temple. His attire was almost exactly like Tion’s—obviously, he was another Jedi. He grinned and called, “Tion, welcome back!” The grin faded as he noticed the knife in Tion’s shoulder. “Force…what happened to you?”

Kortas cast the man a strained smile. “The survey mission turned out to be a little more dangerous than I thought. Thelion, this is Sri.”

Thelion bowed to her politely. “I’m pleased to meet you.” He turned back to Tion, lowering his voice to a whisper that even Sri could barely make out. “Was she responsible for the knife?”

“I’m afraid so—a mistake, on my part.”

“We need to get you to a medic immediately.”

“No!” Tion interrupted sharply. He continued quietly, “I will see that Sri is properly cared for, and then I’ll go to the infirmary. She’s having a very hard time right now; I have to do everything I can to help her.”

“But she was the one who—“

“She’s angry and confused. I’ll meet you later, all right?”

Thelion frowned, but he nodded. “I suppose that would be best.” He cast Sri a courteous nod; then he walked back towards the Temple.

Tion turned back to Sri. “Sorry about that. Shall we go to your quarters?”

The Twi’lek bit out harshly, “Anxious to get me to my new cell?”

The Jedi shook his head. “You won’t live in a cell here, Sri. You’ll be given a room to sleep in, just like all the other Jedi living at the Temple.”

Sri glared at him. “I’m not a Jedi!”

“But you’re a guest here, and therefore a recipient of our hospitality. Please, come with me.”

Sri scowled again. ‘Guest’ was just another term for ‘prisoner’. He’d trapped her perfectly. There were only two ways off this platform—the door into the temple or a long, long fall to the ground. She set her jaw and gave him a sharp nod. He turned back towards the Temple and started walking towards it with a steady, even stride. Sri trailed a few feet behind him, watching for any sign of an ambush or trick.

The halls of the Jedi Temple were just as grand as the outside. The late afternoon sunlight was shining through the wide, glass-less windows, glistening off the patterned marble floors under Sri’s feet. Reliefs portraying great battles lined the walls, as well as tapestries with pictures of people talking peacefully and kneeling on the floor. The Twi’lek couldn’t help but feel awed; the splendor of it all was strange to her eyes. Still, it was all a waste, she reminded herself. No amount of carved stone and artfully woven cloth would save these people from determined attackers.

Tion glanced behind him and saw Sri looking at a relief as they passed it. He stopped and studied it himself.

After a few moments of silence, the Jedi said quietly, “This is the Sixth Battle of Ruusan. Hundreds of brave Jedi died there, but that victory saved the Republic from certain destruction.”

Sri replied acidly, “Really. Should have let it die. It doesn’t seem to be terribly effective.” She stepped closer. “Looks like not all of your precious Order agreed that the Republic needed to be around.”

The Jedi’s brow furrowed. “What?”

The Twi’lek nodded towards one of the many individual battles squelched into the frame. “There. Two people with lightsabers are fighting each other.”

Tion shook his head. “No, only one of those people is a Jedi. The other is an enemy of the Order. The lightsaber isn’t a weapon exclusive to the Jedi. You should know that better than anyone.”

“Then why are you the only person with a lightsaber I’ve fought?” she challenged.

“To wield a lightsaber effectively, one must be able to feel the Force.” He observed the quizzical expression on her face and quickly elaborated. “It’s an energy field that spans the universe. One in a hundred million people can feel it and use it; the rest remain oblivious to its existence.”

Understand dawned in Sri’s eyes. “Then…that’s why I can do all those things.”

Tion gave her a genuine smile. “Yes, exactly.” He hesitated, then added, “That’s why I had to take you from Rattatak. The Force is strong in you, but it’s unfocused. Without guidance, you’ll be a danger to yourself…and your friends. A moment’s anger could mean someone else’s death.”

Sri’s eyes hardened yet again, and she asked stiffly, “Then you’re saying I would’ve killed Nya’van myself?”

The Jedi paused for a moment. “I sense that you cared for her greatly. She was like a sister to you. But…you were angry with her the last time you met.”

The Twi’lek spun to face him and shouted at the top of her lungs, “That’s none of your business! Stop prying into my affairs! She’s dead, you killed her, and there’s nothing you can do to change that!”

Tion bowed his head slightly. “As you wish. We’re almost to your quarters.”

“Then take me there and leave me in peace!”

Sri suddenly noticed that several other people had paused in the hallway and were staring at her, obviously surprised by her presence. She glared at them; most continued on without a word. But two men, one old and one middle-aged, watched her for a few moments more before going on their way.

The Twi’lek glanced back at Tion, only to find that his attention was fixed on the two strange men. Her eyes narrowed. “What is it?”

Kortas pursed his lips slightly and shook his head. “I’m afraid you couldn’t have picked a worse time to raise your voice. One of those two men is the leader of the Jedi Council.”

Sri decided the best course would be to feign indifference, though inwardly she was cursing herself for not restricting her temper to her cell. “Why should I care?”

Tion replied emphatically, “Because he is the leader of the Jedi. He will decide who trains you.” He shook his head. “Don’t worry about it—what’s done is done. Come.”

Sri laughed harshly. “Does he have the power of life and death over me?”

“Of course not!” Tion exclaimed, surprised. “No one here will harm you, Sri—I give you my word on that.”

Her eyes gleamed, and she gripped her lightsaber. “If that promise is broken, you’ll pay for it with your life.”

“If my promise is broken, I wouldn’t blame you.” The Jedi started walking again. “Your room is just around the corner.”

Sri followed Tion silently. Sure enough, he stopped at a small door a few feet past the corner. He pressed a button on the wall; the metal panel slid open, revealing a dark room. The Jedi stepped in and pressed another button on the inside wall, activating the light. Sri cautiously entered after the Jedi and glanced around. The room was a little over twice as big as her cell, and there was another door in the back, probably leading to another room. Inch-thick blue carpet molded itself around the soles of her boots. There were a few pieces of furniture—a bed, a table, a desk, a chair, and a small shelf.

Tion turned to Sri. “This is where you’ll be staying for now, Sri.” He gestured behind him. “The refresher is through that door. If you need anything, please ask one of the Jedi in the hallway. I’ll send someone to you with something to eat.” He paused for a moment, as if trying to remain steady; the pain of his injury was getting to him, Sri noted with satisfaction. “If you’ll excuse me…I think I’d better run over to the medic. I’ll return your knife to you later.” Sri stepped aside without a word, allowing the Jedi to walk past her out of the room. He closed the door behind him.

As soon as he was gone, Sri began searching the room for listening devices or cameras. After several minutes, she gave up. The only things she’d found were a stack of flimsi, a pencil, and a pen, all in the desk. Her eyes turned to the refresher door. Perhaps they’d hidden something in there…and what was a refresher, anyway?

Sri studied the panel beside the refresher door. There were three buttons. She tentatively pressed the top one; fortunately for her ego, the door slid open instead of locking. The girl tapped the middle button, and the light came on. She cautiously stepped inside. This room was considerably smaller than the other one, and it seemed cleaner. White tile was on the floor instead of carpet; the same white tile lined the walls. Something above the—err, well, a bowl and a metal spout in the wall—caught her eye. She crept closer. It was a reflective sheet of glass mirroring the wall opposite it—and her.

Sri stepped up to it and licked her dry lips—her mirror image did the same. It was—strange, looking at herself. It had been years since she’d seen herself in anything but a bowl of water, and then she’d never paid attention to what she looked like. She had a straight nose and wide-set eyes, mirrored by high cheekbones and full lips—too full, in her opinion. Her black eyes seemed to show herself her cold, calculating nature—she liked what she saw. The girl turned away from the mirror. Vanity was a luxury she couldn’t afford. Right now she needed to figure out why the Jedi was treating her well, and she needed to get used to the rich surroundings—she couldn’t afford to allow herself to be awed by the beautiful room or comfortable furniture.

Sri glanced down at the basin in the wall and frowned. There were two small handles beside the metal spout, one marked red, the other blue. She carefully turned the red one; a steady stream of warm water flowed out of the spout, circled around the bottom of the basin, then drained out through a hole. She turned the lever back the other way, shutting off the water. That must be how these Jedi accessed water when they were thirsty. Her eyes turned to a much larger, more rectangular basin against the side of the small room; it, too, had a metal spout with its accompanying red and blue levers. The Jedi probably washed themselves in that. She’d tend to that later.

The teenager stepped back out into the main room just as a bell somewhere gently sounded. Her eyes narrowed. What did that mean? Was it announcing the time, or—

Knocking came from the door, and Sri immediately berated herself. The bell was a signal that someone was at the door, nothing more. She stepped towards the door and grasped her lightsaber before calling flatly, “Who is it?”

A faint male voice replied, “Padawan Leram. Master Kortas told me to bring you something to eat.”

“Come in.” The door opened, and a human male a few years older than she was stepped inside. She observed him coldly. He was quite unremarkable. His clothes were the same cut that everyone else in the Temple seemed to wear, his height was average, and his hair was cut off short—well, except for a long, very thin braid that hung over one of his shoulders. Leram gave her a friendly smile and walked over to the desk, placing a covered tray on it. “There you go, special of the day. Ithorian salad and some sort of stew, as well as some hot tea.” The young man pulled a bundle of dark brown cloth out from under the tray. “Master Kortas asked me to borrow this from one of the female padawans for you to wear.” He held the bundle out to her and waited for her to take it—which only earned him a frigid glare. The padawan shrugged slightly and dropped it on the bed. “If you’ll excuse me, miss, I need to meet my master in a few minutes. I’ll stop by in the morning to see how you’re doing.”

“Wait!” Sri exclaimed sharply. She took a step closer to him. “What do you mean, ‘master’?”

Leram tried unsuccessfully to conceal his surprise at her question. “Well—um—my master is—my teacher. He trains me to use the Force and wield my lightsaber effectively, but more importantly, he teaches me how to keep my emotions in check.”

She kept her face passive. “And when do you leave this ‘teacher’?”

“When he deems me ready, I’ll take the Jedi Trials and become a Jedi Knight. Eventually, I’ll take my own padawan—student—and the cycle will begin again.”

Again, Sri’s face remained passive. “Then your master has no control over you?”

“He has a great deal of control over me! He’s the one who teaches me right from wrong; if he had no authority over me, then he wouldn’t be able to teach me effectively.”

“Really.” She pressed her lips together. “That’s all I wanted to ask.”

He smiled at her again and stepped back towards the door. “Very well. If you have any more questions later, I’ll endeavor to answer them.” The young man stepped back once more, this time into the hall, and closed the door.

Sri frowned. Everything that person—Leram, was it?—had told her was probably a lie fabricated by ‘Master Kortas.’ She wouldn’t touch the food. The chances of it being drugged were high.

The Twi’lek quickly took apart the cloth bundle, inspecting every piece. It turned out to be a dark brown version of that Jedi outfit, complete with a cloak like the one she’d worn on her way from Rattatak. She shivered and bit her lip. The temperature on this planet seemed to be considerably lower than the desert climates of Ryloth and Rattatak; in fact, it was down-right frigid in this room. The soft cloth didn’t seem to be laced with any sort of drug, and she hadn’t felt any devices hidden in the linings and seams of outfit, so it was probably safe to wear. She cast a glance towards the refresher. Her skin was covered with dried sweat, blood, and dust; if she wanted to keep these clothes clean, she needed to take a bath.

About fifteen minutes later, Sri tucked the long, soft brown pants of the Jedi clothing into her boots. This was far warmer than the skimpy black clothes she’d been wearing previously. The girl hung her lightsabers on her belt and checked her other weapons. Her vibrodagger, which had formerly been strapped to her thigh, was now safely tucked into her shoulder armor, quite out of sight. The one throwing knife she had left was strapped to her left forearm under the loose sleeve; the weapon’s twin would take its place on her right forearm once that Jedi returned it to her—if he returned it to her. The metal vambraces she’d gotten used to using had no practical place, much to her annoyance. If she put them over her sleeves, she’d have no place to hide her throwing knives, but if she put them under the sleeves, she’d literally shred the sleeve every time she moved her arm. She sighed and placed them together on the desk. Hopefully, the knives and her lightsabers would be enough to protect her. The girl folded the cloak in half and dropped it onto the back of a chair.

Now, all she could do was wait for something to happen.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Tion Kortas walked down the hall briskly. His trip to the medical ward had been relatively short; the knife had damaged some bones, and there had been a bit of infection, but a mere sling and some antibiotics were all that he’d required. He’d have to put up with his right arm being disabled for a few weeks, but it wasn’t much of an inconvenience.

“Tion, wait up!”

The Jedi glanced back and saw Thelion running after him. Tion slowed until the other man caught up with him.

Thelion crossed his arms. “So, would you care to tell me whom you brought back to the Temple?”

Tion shrugged with his undamaged shoulder. “You know almost as much as I do. Her name’s Sri. She was a slave until a few hours ago. She hates my guts. That’s pretty much it.”

The other Jedi sighed deeply, unconsciously brushing his shoulder-length, brown-and-white striped hair out of his face. “Any idea why she hates you?”

The human winced slightly. “Yes.”

“Well…?”

Tion frowned. “You won’t leave me alone until I tell you, I take it?”

“Tion Kortas, we’ve been friends since we were younglings. I can read you like a book. Something serious is bothering you, and it’s not your wound.”

The human gritted his teeth. Whenever his Firrerreo friend used his full name, there was no getting out of it. He sighed. “All right, all right.” The Jedi motioned towards a doorway ahead of them. “There, that meditation chamber’s not in use. We’ll talk in there. I’d rather not have this spread through the whole Temple.”

The two Jedi entered the meditation chamber and shut the door behind them. Thelion sat down on one of the two low, cushioned stools. “No one can hear us. Go ahead.”

Tion remained standing for a few moments, his face contorting a bit. Finally, he burst out, “I killed her friend, Thelion! I killed an innocent woman, just to follow my orders!”

Thelion held up his hand. “Slow down and start from the beginning. How did you find her?”

The Jedi paused and calmed himself before beginning. “I was studying the results of my survey mission, and I decided to go get something to eat. While I was at the local tavern, I overheard two drunks babbling about a slave gladiator on Rattatak who used lightsabers. Naturally, I reported it to Master Yoda, who ordered me to retrieve the Force-sensitive and bring her back to the Temple. When I reached Rattatak, I broke into the arena she was fighting in. After I told her what I was there for, she attacked me even more ferociously than before. She mentioned that her master, a Rattataki warlord, would kill her friend if she escaped. Instead of leaving, I abducted her.” The man closed his eyes. “That’s why she stabbed me. Her friend is undoubtedly dead now—all because of me.”

Thelion replied gently, “You were following your orders, Tion.”

“But I didn’t have to!” the Jedi exclaimed sharply. “I should’ve put the good of an innocent sentient above my orders! I was so sure I needed to follow Yoda’s instructions when I took her, but now…” His voice trailed off.

The Firrerreo stood. “Tion, the past is the past. You can’t change it. The only thing you can do now is protect Sri.”

Tion’s brow furrowed. “Protect her? From what? I can’t think of a safer place for her than the Jedi Temple.”

Thelion’s grey eyes became grave. “You said her master was a Rattataki warlord. I doubt he became a warlord by allowing his slaves to escape with impunity. He’s going to send someone to kill her.”

“But she’s constantly surrounded by Jedi. Surely no one could slip in unnoticed.”

“I wouldn’t count on that.” Thelion frowned. “Perhaps I should keep an eye on her. She has no reason to like or dislike me. And, besides that, you need to talk to the younglings. Several of them are almost ready to be padawans, and you’re experienced enough to take one of them.”

Tion shook his head. “No, I’ll watch over her. I’ve already decided not to take a padawan yet.” He smirked slightly. “And, besides that, you need to talk to Charcana more. Somehow I get the idea you’ve already chosen her to be your padawan.”

Thelion smiled. “I talked to her about it yesterday, and she seemed to like the idea of me becoming her master.” He straightened. “That’s not the point. It’ll be a few days yet before she becomes my padawan, and you need to convalesce. I should guard Sri, not you.”

The human opened his mouth to argue, only to be cut off by his comlink beeping. He snatched it off his belt and held it close to his mouth. “Yes?”

A voice that clearly dictated it was not to be argued with replied, “Knight Kortas?”

Tion cringed. He’d known this call was going to come, but he hadn’t been looking forward to it. “I’m here, Master Windu.”

“Kortas, Master Yoda has told me about your impromptu rescue mission. The Council will convene tomorrow evening to discuss the Twi’lek. Bring her to the Council Room at six o’clock.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have your report ready. We’ll expect it in full.”

“Yes, sir.” He hesitated for a moment, then asked, “Master, if I may, I’d like to begin familiarizing her with civilization tomorrow, before the Council meeting. I’m under the impression that she’s led a very secluded life up until now.”

No sound came from the comlink for several long, tense moments. Finally, Windu replied flatly, “Do as you see fit, but watch your back. She’s strong in the Dark Side. I could sense her arrival all the way from the Senate building.”

“I’ll follow your advice, Master.”

The voice that answered was edged with ice. “If I didn’t know that, I’d make my advice an order. Windu out.” The signal cut off abruptly.

Thelion sighed heavily. “I guess that means you’ll have to watch over Sri yourself, despite your injury. But not alone.” The Jedi continued firmly, “I’ll follow her, just in case more than one attacker comes.”

Tion laughed and put his comlink back on his belt. “Oh, come on, Thelion. This warlord is just a minor criminal in the galaxy. He won’t be able to send anyone capable of dealing with the Force. If he were a Hutt, I’d be worried, but he’s not.”

The Firrarreo’s jaw stiffened, and he exclaimed emphatically, “Tion, never underestimate a criminal, or the resources he has at his disposal! Tell me, how long has Sri been competing in the arenas?”

“A little over a year.”

“And how many matches has she lost?”

The muscles in the human’s face tightened. “They only have death matches in the arenas of Rattatak. She’s alive.”

“Exactly. This warlord probably made enough on the first month alone to pay for the best bounty hunters in the galaxy. Since then, I’m sure many people have pitted their seasoned fighters against Sri, and each time, her master has raked in more profits. He knows that she’s with a Jedi, so he’ll send people experienced in dealing with Jedi. I cannot overemphasize the danger she’s in, and the danger her guard is in.”

Tion gripped his friend’s shoulder with his good hand. “Then I have even more reason to ask you not to come. One innocent person has already died because of my actions. I don’t want to be responsible for my oldest friend’s death as well.” His grip tightened. “Now, I want you to promise me that you won’t make yourself Sri’s bodyguard.”

Thelion scowled. “On one condition.”

“Which is?”

“Keep your comlink with you, and if there’s the slightest hint of danger, call me.”

“Agreed.” Tion let go of his friend’s shoulder and glanced at a silent timepiece on the wall. “It’s late. I’m going to turn in. It’s been a long day.”

“Just remember what I said.”

“Every word.”


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


There--another chapter. Sorry it's taking me so long to get these things out. >_<

But, anyhow, as usual--please comment/criticize.

Also, special thanks to my new beta reader (aka my mother), who's nice enough to go over these things with me now that Andurilblade's in college.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 10-03-2009, 12:04 AM   #133
M@RS
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Great job, I loved it.


Looks like a fruit cake to me. - Brutus
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I don't want to get my hopes up, but it's like the planets are aligning or something.
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:56 PM   #134
Endorenna
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Thanks, M@rs. Glad to know someone enjoys my work! XD


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 10-08-2009, 12:35 AM   #135
The_Catto
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I read it yesterday but forgot to post! Haha.
I'm really interested as to how Sri is going to cope being on Coruscant. If she wil release her angry slightly over the next few chapters or will it grow even more? I have even more questions that I don't want answers to, haha. I wait for the chapters to come out for that! xD

Nice work, Endo!
10/10 once again!
Looking forward to me and possibly the answers to my questions

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Old 10-08-2009, 12:56 AM   #136
Endorenna
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I read it yesterday but forgot to post! Haha.
I'm really interested as to how Sri is going to cope being on Coruscant. If she wil release her angry slightly over the next few chapters or will it grow even more? I have even more questions that I don't want answers to, haha. I wait for the chapters to come out for that! xD

Nice work, Endo!
10/10 once again!
Looking forward to me and possibly the answers to my questions
Thanks! That put me in the mood to go write on the next chapter.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:04 PM   #137
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I see I wasn't the only one writing a fic about a red twi'lek. I have to admit that I read this a few months ago, but I didn't really comment on it ever. I've not read your last three chapters, but I'll get around to it.

This is a very interesting fiction about an original character, but I thought it was a KOTOR era-story. No matter. I really liked your chapter 'two collars' because it reiterated the fact that people with bonds are vulnerable to the fear of loss. I really don't know if I want to see what happened to Nya'van. *I did see at least that much*

I'll comment when I read what you've come up with in the last few months.
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Old 10-14-2009, 05:02 PM   #138
Endorenna
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Thanks, Shuttle. Hope you like what you read!


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:47 PM   #139
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Chapter 9
Council


Sri’s eyes flew open. There was knocking at the door.

The Twi’lek glanced around, getting her bearings. She was sitting in the corner of the refresher with the cloak wrapped around her. The girl scowled. The four days she’d gone without sleep on her way to Coruscant had taken their toll on her. Her eyelids still felt heavy, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been before her short nap.

There was the knocking again. Sri gritted her teeth and stood, returning to the main room. She folded the cloak in half and tossed it onto the back of chair again. “Who is it?”

“Tion Kortas. May I come in?”

Her eyes hardened, and she came fully awake. How very nice of him to ask for permission to enter ‘her’ cell—as if he needed permission. “What do you want?”

“I came to return your knife.”

Sri frowned and took one of her lightsabers from her belt. “Come in.”

The door slid open, and Kortas walked in, leaving the door open behind him. He bowed slightly and held her knife out to her, handle-first. She took it from him and stepped back, keeping her lightsaber prominent in his field of vision.

The Twi’lek slipped the razor-sharp blade into its sheath and asked
coldly, “Anything else?”

The Jedi folded his hands, despite the sling on his arm. “The Jedi Council will convene tonight to discuss your situation with you, but until then, I’ve been given permission to familiarize you with Coruscant. Have you ever been here before?”

“No,” she replied curtly.

“Would you rather stay here and rest, or leave the Temple for a while?”

Sri almost let her jaw drop in disbelief. Leave the Temple? Was he nuts? She’d seen the massive crowds of people on the planet! It’d be easy to give him the slip—which was exactly what she would do. The Twi’lek carefully kept her face passive. “I’d rather leave.”

“Very well. Would you like to eat something before we leave?”

“I’m not hungry,” she lied. Four, going on five days without food was hard on her, but she didn’t want to eat anything drugged.

His eyes fell on the uncovered tray sitting on the desk behind her. His brow creased with concern. “You didn’t eat anything. Was the food bad?”

“I wasn’t hungry then, either.”

The Jedi frowned, obviously not convinced. “Well—while we’re out, we’ll stop by a tapcafé and get something there. You haven’t eaten for almost five days.”

“I’m aware of that.”

Tion stepped back out of the door. “Shall we?”

“I suppose.” Sri snatched the cloak from the back of the chair and strode past him as she put it on. Her eyes darted from side to side, noting the lack of Jedi walking the hallway. “Why aren’t there others?”

“The Temple’s a big place, and most of the Jedi here are teaching or meditating right now. The few who are out and about are probably studying at the library.”

Sri’s only reply was a short grunt. The Jedi were probably out indoctrinating other people they’d ‘rescued’, just like this man was trying to indoctrinate her now. Still, she’d only have to play along for a few hours more—after that, she’d be away from him. Her eyes glittered darkly for a brief moment. If the Jedi tried to stop her, she’d find a way to kill him. In a city full of places to hide, people to hide among, and many places to ambush a person, it wouldn’t be hard, despite his impressive performance in the arena.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Half an hour later, Sri found herself walking into a large, bright room filled with aliens. Strange smells filled her nostrils, making her mouth water. There were tables scattered throughout the shining, tiled room; each one had two to six chairs pushed up beside it. A bright orange Twi’lek on a podium several inches higher than the rest of the floor was singing into a short metal stick that resembled Sri’s lightsabers. Behind her, several sentients were plucking at stringed instruments, producing some sort of slow, twanging music.

A young human female in a rather skimpy green dress strutted over, grinning saucily. “Tion, where ya been? Haven’t seen ya in a few weeks.”

Tion smiled politely. “Sorry, Meral, I was traveling.”

“What’s with the sling?”

“A minor injury.”

“More official Jedi business?” Meral laughed and glanced behind him. Her face lit up. “Hey, you got a padawan! Guess I better call ya ‘Master Jedi’ from now on.” The young lady stepped past Tion and extended her hand to Sri. “Glad to meet ya! What’s your name?”

Sri kept her arms crossed and snapped shortly, “Sri.”

The smile froze on the human’s face. “Uhh—well, nice to know you.”

Tion suppressed a chuckle. “Sri isn’t my apprentice. She’s just a friend.”

Meral’s face brightened slightly; obviously, she was relieved to know that she wouldn’t have to put up with Sri every time Tion came. “Oh—well, you’ll get one soon! Want your usual place?”

“Please.”

“Right this way.” The young woman somehow managed to spin on her stiletto heels and strutted over to a small table in the corner of the room. Tion followed her, motioning for Sri to come as well. Meral dropped a few metal utensils on the table, then again spun to face Tion. “Well, I gotta go tend to the pazaak and sabaac tables. I’ll see ya!” She flashed the Jedi Knight a quick smile, then sauntered away without casting Sri a glance.

Tion pulled one of the two chairs at the table out partway and motioned for Sri to sit. She slid into the cold, polished metal seat and continued observing the room uneasily. There were so many people…

Her thoughts were broken as Tion began speaking. “Here, they have lots of food set out, and they allow you to choose what you want.” He gestured at a metal counter set into the wall near the door; it had previously been out of Sri’s sight. “Do you want to get the food yourself, or shall I just get it?”

Sri considered for a split-second, then replied tersely, “Get it yourself.”

He inclined his head slightly, then turned away and began walking towards the metal counter.

The Twi’lek watched him for a few moments. She started to rise to her feet. This was the perfect opportunity for her to slip away…

Suddenly, a short, lean-faced Devaronian appeared beside her; his friendly grin only accented the thick, devilish horns on his head. He blocked her way and hissed, “You want ryll? Glitterstim? Make you feel good!”

Sri glanced down at the short man and scowled. He’d ruined her chance. If anyone, including him, noticed her leaving, it could allow the Jedi to track her. She slowly sat back down and snapped, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Go away.”

His eyes lit up. “Oooh, you never had glitterstim? You waitin’ for a man, perhaps?”

Her jaw stiffened. “None of your business.”

He leaned closer. “Yes, you waitin’ for your young man, I see. You want to feel really good when with him, use glitterstym. Lets you feel what he feels!”

Something inside Sri caught his last line and stopped her from spitting a string of obscenities at him. She kept her eyes focused on the seat across from her, but she cocked her head slightly, as if interested. “You mean…I could read his thoughts?”

“Yeeeees, read his thoughts! Know if he really cares about you!” His eyes took on a sympathetic glint. “Too many poor, beautiful girls, used by men now. Glitterstym let the girls know so they break before too late!”

The Twi’lek thought for a few moments. Perhaps…perhaps this glitterstym would let her read the Jedi’s mind and learn what he had planned for her! That would be invaluable! She carefully kept her tone noncommittal. “How do I use it?”

“Expose strands to light. When they sparkle, put them in mouth and let dissolve. Simple, child could use it!”

“How much?”

“Hundred credits per dose. Best price on Coruscant!”

Sri glanced at him. “Do you have it with you?”

“Yes, yes, keep it with me always!”

“Let me see it.”

The Devaronian’s eyes darted around, as if making sure no one was watching them. He slowly produced a small black vial from under his heavy brown cloak. “Hundred credits!”

Sri frowned and stood up, towering over the short man, despite her own small stature. She glared at him fiercely; he backed up as she took a menacing step towards him. Sri hissed sharply, “Get out, scum! If you haven’t disappeared by the time I sit down, I’ll throw you out the window!”

His throat bobbed nervously. “Y-you can’t kill me! Against law!” He managed to work up a brave smile. “You go to jail!”

Sri smiled coldly and brushed back the edges of her cloak, revealing the two polished lightsaber handles on her belt. “Really?”

His eyes widened. “You—you Jedi! I-I sorry I bother you, I leave!” He stumbled back a few steps, then whirled around and ran for the exit as fast as his stubby legs would carry him.

Sri smirked after him and returned to her seat. She bowed her head slightly to look down in her lap. A small black vial rested in her hand, barely concealed by the sleeve of her cloak. Her dark eyes glittered slightly. When the Devaronian had taken out the sample vial, she’d seen where he stashed the glitterstim in his cloak. While she was menacing him, she’d managed to draw one of the three-inch vials to her hand.

Sri glanced over at the metal counter. Tion was threading his way back through the crowded room, carrying a tray with two steaming plates on it. She licked her dry lips and snapped the cork off of the bottle. Her slender fingers caught a sheaf of dull white strands as it slid out; she tucked the black glass into her belt. The Twi’lek took the time to cast another quick glance towards the Jedi. He was trying to negotiate passage past a crowded table; his eyes were fixed on a few other people trying to get through the same place, but in the opposite direction. Sri surreptitiously edged the sheaf into a bright ray of light coming through the window beside her.

The white strands sparkled brightly, as if they’d been touched with electricity. Slowly, the white turned blue, glistening like a gemstone. There; the white had all disappeared now. The Twi’lek faked a cough and put her hand up to her mouth, slipping the strands under her tongue.

A jolt went through her, like an unexpected thrill of emotion. She placed her hands on the table to steady herself. Her normally stoic face twisted into a slight grimace as other peoples’ thoughts invaded her own. The man at the sabaac table was using a skifter, hoping no one would catch him. Meral was thinking about a dress. The orange Twi’lek on the podium was trying to remember the next line of her song. One of the musicians cursed inwardly when one of her notes quavered—he was thinking about firing her. A drunk’s slurred thoughts consisted of deciding whether to have another drink. An old Chalactan was—

With a sharp gasp, Sri managed to stem the flow of random thoughts. She glanced up just as Tion was sitting down. Her grip on the edge of the table loosened, and her face relaxed once more. She just had to let his thoughts in…

“Here you go.” The Jedi set a plate with several different types of food on it in front of her. “I hope it’s not too hot.”

“She must be starving. The poor girl must wonder if I’m trying to drug her.”

A few moments later, Sri remembered to reply to his words. “It’s fine.” She pulled the plate closer, keeping her eyes off of him, but keeping her mind right where it was.

“Good, maybe she’ll eat something. She needs her strength after what I’ve put her through.” A wave of guilt and sadness washed through him, almost making Sri choke. “Damned orders! Why did I—no, there is no emotion, there is peace. What’s done is done. I have to protect her. Bounty hunters…” Tion quickly glanced around the room. “No, none in here. Calm down, Tion! You’re getting far too jumpy! You can’t help her if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder!”

Sri felt as if icy water had gushed over her. She swallowed hard and unconsciously wrapped her fingers around the edge of the table again. He…he was trying to help her? What? He’d been telling the truth? No! He killed Nya’van! He didn’t want to help her! But—but she could hear his thoughts! His emotions! He couldn’t lie to her there! Wait—maybe—maybe he knew she was probing his mind! No, there was no indication of that! His mind was open, clean! There were no barriers!

“What can I do to show her my intentions? She has so much potential, but—poor child. Her hatred is all she’s had for years. It will be hard to convince her that there’s a better way.”

The Twi’lek gripped a glass of water Tion had set in front of her and drank it shakily. He—he blamed himself for Nya’van’s death! He felt pity for her! There was no treachery, no undertones of gleeful deceit! It was all she could do to keep the fragile glass from slipping out of her fingers and crashing to the hard floor. Sri tensed her jaw muscles and tried to force herself to show no more physical signs of her astonishment.

“How many years has it been since she had a true meal? I wonder if…”

Sri let out a slow breath. The glitterstim was gone. She couldn’t hear him anymore.

Sri watched Tion for a few moments. Maybe…maybe she’d give this Jedi another chance. Her eyes closed for a moment. Nya’van...he killed her! But—he understood her. Somehow, he’d sensed Sri’s emotions about her and managed to piece together what Nya’van would’ve wanted.

“Leave me behind.”

The Lethan felt a lump forming in her throat; a tear started to form in her eye. She flicked it away with her finger before it could start its descent. That was what Nya’van had said on their way to Rattatak—leave her behind.

Sri gritted her teeth and clenched her fists, willing herself to think straight, back to that brief conversation in the dark, dank hold of Kazik’s ship. Nya’van had made her promise to escape. The little girl, what Sri had been five years ago—she’d said she would come back and rescue Nya’van. The older Twi’lek had told her not to, just to…leave her behind.

The Twi’lek snatched up the glass of water again and gulped down more of the cold, clean liquid to cover the sob that wanted to burst to the surface. No! She wouldn’t cry! That was something the naïve little girl, Sri’lo, had done years ago! Sri didn’t shed tears! She was above that!

“You’ll always be Sri’lo to me.”

Sri started coughing in an effort to cover another sob that was trying to make itself known. That was the last thing Nya’van had said to her. Dammit, why was this happening now!

“Sri, are you all right?”

Her head snapped up. Tion was looking at her strangely. She gritted her teeth and picked up one of the dull metal knives on the table in front of her, stabbing it into a small, tender piece of spiced meat. “I-I’m fine.”

He looked distinctly unconvinced, but he went back to his food. Sri pressed her lips together and glanced down at the unfamiliar food on her plate. She had to eat something. She had to think about something besides—!

Sri shoved the meat into her mouth and chewed it furiously, desperate to do something besides think. It tasted far too spicy, she told herself. Spices weren’t part of her usual cuisine, so everything on the plate probably tasted too spicy. The Lethan downed another mouthful of water and scooped up a small heap of moist grain on the tip of her knife. It, too, was heavily spiced. Just needed to concentrate on the new tastes and smells and textures…

Two interminable minutes later, Sri found that she wasn’t hungry anymore. A hollow feeling remained inside her, but it wasn’t from lack of food. It was just…emptiness. She set the knife on the plate and crossed her arms, forcing herself to concentrate on the people milling about the room. There were at least a hundred different species represented in this room, many of which she could identify. There was a Cerean, a Mirialin, a human, a Sullustian, a Zabrak…

“Are you full?”

Her hand tightened into a fist. He seemed to break into her train of thought a lot, she mused angrily. Finally, she muttered, “Yes.”

The Jedi stood and opened his mouth to say something, only to get cut off by three short beeps. He frowned and took a comlink off his belt.

“Hello?”

A razor-edged voice came through. “Kortas, the Council has decided to examine the girl now. Bring her back to the Temple at once.”

“As you wish, Master Windu.” A sharp click came from the comlink in reply.

Tion frowned slightly and tucked the comlink back into his belt. “I’m sorry, Sri. I was hoping to show you more of Coruscant before we returned to the Temple.”

The Twi’lek stood, silently grateful that she had another distraction. She uncrossed her arms and replied tartly, “So I gathered.”

The human chuckled slightly as he walked towards the exit. “Yes, I suppose you did.”

Sri scowled, not at all amused.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

The turbolift finally stopped. Sri breathed an imperceptible sigh of relief as the metal doors opened. She hated just standing there, waiting for the tube to arrive at its destination. A frown flitted across her face when she realized that she was nervous! This was stupid—she’d faced creatures a thousand times more fearsome than any technology without a tremulous breath, but this simple machine brought her fear!

She flexed her fingers uneasily as Tion stepped out of the lift. Ever since they’d arrived back at the Temple, she’d felt a cold finger creep up her back, chilling her to her marrow. An oppressive shadow had seemed to fall over her, becoming denser and darker with every step she’d taken towards this Council. Now, she was here—and the shadow was smothering her.

Tion glanced back at her and gave her an encouraging smile, motioning for her to follow him. She swallowed hard and stepped out of the turbolift. Her senses automatically stretched, trying to take in everything at once. They were in a medium-sized, round room. Instead of walls, there were tinted, wide bay windows with a few struts to hold them to the roof. From the ships zooming past, she could easily tell that they were extremely high up, in a spire of some sort. Her eyes flicked from the room to the people in it. Twelve chairs were positioned around the room in a circle; each chair was occupied by one person. Some of them were species she could recognize—Togruta, human, Zabrak, Chalactan, Cerean—but she couldn’t even begin to guess about the others, especially a certain short, green creature that distinctly reminded her of the sand toads she’d chased as a child. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tion bow respectfully. She merely crossed her arms. If there was one thing she was determined to do, it was not to bow to anyone until they proved to her they deserved her respect.

The small green creature spoke first. “Knight Kortas, a pleasure it is to see you. Sorry about your injury, I am.”

Tion smiled slightly. “Thank you, Master Yoda.”

The same impatient voice Sri had heard from the comlink spoke next, coming from a bald, dark-skinned human. After a moment, she recognized him—that was one of the two men who’d seen her outburst in the corridor the day before. “Knight Kortas, please tell the Council how you found this girl.”

Tion quickly related the facts to him, glossing over the part where she’d stabbed him. The Council listened in silence until he’d finished speaking.

The bald man spoke again. “This girl caused your injury?”

The Jedi hesitated for a moment, then replied, “Yes, sir. I believe I brought it on myself, however.”

“How so?”

“I was thoughtless. In her position, I can’t say I would’ve done any better.”

“She should have had more self control.”

“Perhaps—but Master, I must point out that Sri was grieving over her friend.”

“Hmm.” The bald man didn’t look at all convinced. “Indeed. How do you explain the Dark Side within her?” His eyes strayed to her for a split-second, as if he was observing an insect. “I felt it the moment she came here.”

Tion’s jaw stiffened, and he straightened his back. “Master Windu, Sri has been a slave for years. She’s been forced to fight to save her friend. Neither one of us knows what kind of hell she’s been through. Before her captivity, she had no training in controlling her emotions. We can’t reasonably expect her to have come through that with her soul unscathed.”

Sri cast Tion an incredulous look, though he couldn’t see it. He was defending her to his leaders? That was strange…

Windu replied flatly, “I believe we can. All sentient creatures know the difference between good and evil. She’s undoubtedly murdered hundreds in the arena.”

“In self-defense!” Tion interrupted, half-indignantly.

The dark-skinned man ignored him and continued, “She has willingly become part of the Dark Side. If she were younger, perhaps we could do something. Obviously, she’s in her late teenage years, when most Jedi are padawans, firmly entrenched in the Light Side. For the safety of the Order and therefore the safety of the Republic, I must advise that we kill her.”

A ripple of surprise ran through the Council. Sri, who had been glowering at Windu ever since he’d begun speaking, finally felt her anger boil over, washing away the shadow and melting the cold finger. She instinctively drew her lightsabers to her hands and snapped them on in a cold blaze of fury. All of the Masters but Windu and Yoda rose to their feet; their own lightsabers flew to their hands and ignited.

“Sri!” Tion had spun around, alarmed. He held up his hand and shook his head slightly. “Sri, he wasn’t seriously considering killing you. It’s against the Jedi Way. Please…put your lightsabers away.”

Sri glared at him for a few long moments, studying his eyes. He looked sincere…but…but…

The Twi’lek lowered her lightsabers, but she didn’t turn them off. She tore her gaze from Tion and glanced around at the Council members. Her mouth twisted into a bitter smile, and she took a few steps forward, turning to face Windu. “You—you will listen to what I have to say.”

His eyes had become like shards of dark ice. “You will not dictate rules to me, young one.”

There was a sudden hiss as one of Sri’s lightsabers flicked up and pointed at Windu. Her voice trembled with anger, and her hate-filled eyes bored into his. “You dare to call yourself good, but you won’t even let me speak in my defense? You’re a damn hypocrite!”

Yoda lifted one of his gnarled hands. “Say what you will, Sri.”

Her lightsaber drifted a few inches down. “I want to know something. Who here has been a slave?”

The only sound in the Council chamber was the humming of twelve lightsabers.

A tight smirk appeared on her face. “I thought so.” She slowly started pacing in a circle, meeting each of the Council members’ eyes as she spoke. “Let me enlighten you on such matters. When I was ten years old, slavers attacked my village. My father told me to run; I did. He stayed behind and fought them off, trying to give me time to escape.” Her throat tightened with emotion as the memories flooded back, fully refreshed. “I saw him and my mother die. My uncle stunned me. When I woke, I found that he had betrayed me, my parents, and my village to the slavers for a few paltry credits.” A tiny tear slid out of her eye, unnoticed by her as the grief and anger from the last five years rushed back. Her voice rose. “I was bought and thrown in cage by my new master. For four years, I was trained to use blasters and swords to the best of my ability so I could kill people in the arenas of Rattatak.”

Windu interrupted coldly, “You haven’t been through anything that thousands of other sentients haven’t experienced.”

Sri spun to face him, her face twisted with rage. Her voice rose to a shriek. “I don’t care! I don’t care if others have gone through this! It doesn’t make it any better, does it! Do you know what it’s like to see your parents murdered in cold blood! Do you know what it’s like to have your own flesh and blood betray you! Do you know what it’s like to watch your only friend tortured! Tell me!”

Again, the council room was silent, except for the humming of the lightsabers. Another tear worked its way out of Sri’s eye. Her anger burned even more fiercely, fueled by the passive look on Windu’s face. Her lightsaber flashed up again; an even louder, strangled scream burst from her throat. “Tell me!”

Windu stared at her coldly once more and gave no reply.

One of the other Council members, a Togrutan female, said calmly, “Sri, we don’t deny that you’ve been through a great deal of hardship. Your life is in no danger. Please turn off your lightsabers.”

Sri’s hands trembled slightly as her adrenaline dissipated. She took an unsteady step back from Windu and replied shakily, “I-I don’t trust him!”

Tion’s gentle voice intruded on the storms of doubt welling inside her. “Sri, remember what I promised you?”

The Twi’lek looked at Tion, her dark eyes wide with a mixture of fear and rage. She glanced back at Windu for a moment, then back at Tion…and slowly lowered her lightsaber.

Sri deactivated the weapons and dropped her hands to her sides, as if defeated. The Council members’ lightsabers dissipated with a few sharp hisses and returned to their belts.

Dead silence filled the room for a minute as the tension eased away. Finally, the Togrutan female spoke again, in the same calm, soothing voice she’d used before. “Sri, may I look at your lightsabers for a few moments?”

Sri’s grip on the smooth handles tightened instinctively, and she whirled to face the woman. The Twi’lek shook her head and exclaimed harshly, “No! I’m not going to leave myself defenseless!”

Tion placed his hand on her shoulder in a reassuring gesture. “Sri, take my lightsaber while Master Ti is examining yours.”

She swallowed hard and shook her head again, more firmly this time. “No. I work best with two lightsabers. I’m not relinquishing them both.”

The Togrutan woman rose to her feet and smiled. “Then I will give you my own lightsaber, as a sign of good faith.” She motioned with her hand; a smooth metal cylinder rose from the woman’s belt and drifted through the air, finally coming to a stop a foot in front of the teenager. “Take it.”

Sri frowned and carefully let go of one of her lightsabers; it hovered in midair for several moments while she grasped the Jedi Master’s lightsaber. The slender weapon finally drew back to Master Ti. “Knight Kortas, give Sri your lightsaber.”

Tion took his lightsaber from his belt and held it out to Sri on his flat palm. She dropped her lightsaber into his hand and snatched his, gripping it tightly.

A few moments later, both lightsabers were in the Togrutan’s possession. The tall woman sat down and placed the sabers in her lap, studying them closely. Silence prevailed once again.

Finally, Master Ti looked up and said flatly, “These lightsabers belonged to Master J’rale.”

A collective gasp went through the Council. The Zabrak glared at Sri and asked harshly, “Where did you get those? Did you kill Master J’rale!”

Sri pursed her lips and snapped back, “I’ve never heard of Master J’rale, and the first Jedi I ever met was Tion! My master gave me those lightsabers—he never told me where he got them!”

Tion stepped past her. “Masters, as shocking as it is to see the lightsabers from a Jedi killed years ago, you must realize that she couldn’t have possibly taken them from him! I defeated her in single combat; Master J’rale was far more powerful than I. If she had faced him, she wouldn’t be standing here today.” He turned to Master Ti and held out his hand. “If I may, Master?”

The woman nodded stiffly and twitched her fingers, causing the weapons in her lap to levitate and go to his hand. He quickly walked over to Sri and handed them back to her. The Jedi tossed the Togrutan master’s lightsaber back to her and hooked his own back on his belt in one swift movement.

Yoda spoke up again. “Perhaps a recess, we should call. Tense, are we all. Knight Kortas, Sri—may the Force be with you both.”

Tion bowed somewhat stiffly. “May the Force be with you, Masters.” He turned and strode back into the turbolift. Sri glared at Windu for a moment, then followed the Jedi Knight.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

They walked down the corridor of the Temple for several minutes, not speaking to each other or those they passed. Finally, Tion broke the silence, sounding almost tentative. “Sri…you mustn’t judge all the Jedi by Master Windu. He was probably just testing your reaction to a direct threat.”

Sri scowled darkly and snapped back, “He’s on the ruling council! His actions reflect your whole Order!” She gritted her teeth, willing herself not to continue on to saying exactly what she thought of the Council, despite the anger that boiled inside her whenever she thought of Windu. After a few long moments, she asked flatly, “Where are we going?”

“To the training rooms. I thought you might like to stretch your muscles a bit.”

The Twi’lek snorted derisively. “What’s the point? We already know that you’re the superior fighter! There’s no use in having a rematch!”

He shrugged slightly. “If you feel that way, you can fight one of the padawans. It would be good practice for any of them.” They turned right through a doorway. “Ah, here we are.”

Sri found herself facing a room at least as big as the arena she’d fought in, made out of the same smooth crème stone that the rest of the Temple seemed to built with. Teenagers dueled in pairs throughout the room, supervised by some older people, who seemed to be giving advice and direction. Sri frowned. The dueling seemed very tame compared to what she was used to. They all seemed to be staying in one place…very odd. One of her main tools in the arena had always been her agility. A large percentage of the attacks thrown at her had been dodged, not directly blocked. She would’ve died long ago if she’d followed the style that these people seemed to be using.

The high, cheerful voice of a girl came from behind them. “Hello, Master Kortas.”

Sri spun around. She found herself looking down at a girl younger than herself—an odd-looking girl, if somewhat pretty, she noted. Her features were unnaturally long and thin, and somehow…delicate. The strange girl smiled politely and brushed a few silky strands of her caramel-brown hair behind her ear. “Hello.”

Tion grinned broadly. “Charcana, I was hoping to see you.”

Charcana laughed lightly. “I was hoping to see you as well. Thanks for telling Thelion to take me as his apprentice. Master Aryiall was thinking about it.” She lowered her voice slightly as she added, “She’s awfully strict.”

The Jedi Knight laughed as well. “Indeed. She’s the terror of the younglings! But, anyway—Charcana, I’d like you to meet Sri. Sri, Charcana.”

The padawan held out her hand. “Pleased to meet you, Sri.”

The Twi’lek pressed her lips together, narrowing her eyes slightly. “Are you a Jedi?”

Charcana withdrew her hand, keeping a pleasant smile on her face. “I’m a padawan learner. When I—“

“You’re a lower-ranking Jedi?”

“I—suppose you could call me that.”

“Good.” Sri crossed her arms. “Are you up for a fight?”

Charcana seemed slightly confused. “I—I guess. What did you have in mind?”

“Lightsabers. A duel.”

The female’s delicate eyebrows knitted together. “If you wish. Are—are you a Jedi?”

“No!” Sri snapped back, a little more sharply than she meant to.

The fair-skinned girl glanced at Tion, receiving a reassuring nod. Charcana’s smile brightened slightly. “I’d be happy to duel you. I’ll go get the training sabers.” She slipped her thin, fragile form between Sri and Tion in an instant and ran deeper into the training room, disappearing through a small side door.

Tion strolled over to an empty patch of the floor; a few moments later, Charcana joined them, holding three lightsabers. She held two of them out to Sri. “Here. I saw that you have two, so I thought you might prefer—“

“Thanks,” Sri replied curtly. She turned on the training sabers and spun them. Good—they were both blue, like the ones she was used to. Charcana ignited her own green lightsaber and held it up defensively; all traces of her pleasant expression had disappeared, replaced by a look of deep concentration. “Whenever you’re ready.”

The Twi’lek sprang towards her without a word, making two precise strikes at her opponent’s neck and head. Charcana parried them easily and counter attacked with a quick stab. Sri closed her eyes as she dodged the weak attack, feeling her own power surge through her. She spun around and swept the green lightsaber to the side with one powerful blow. Immediately, she spun again; before Charcana had time to bring her lightsaber to bear, Sri’s foot slammed into the frail girl’s face.

“Enough!”

Sri stopped herself from attacking Charcana again and glanced at Tion, silently wondering why he’d stopped them. The Jedi Knight ran over to Charcana. The Twi’lek rolled her eyes. Oh, that was it. The kick had broken the poor little dear’s nose.

Charcana looked stunned. Tion gingerly examined the padawan’s broken nose, cursing softly. After several long seconds, he turned to Sri, looking angrier than she’d seen him before. “Why did you do that!”

The Twi’lek glared at him. “It was training. Without consequences for failure, training is meaningless.”

“She’s just a padawan!”

“Master Kortas, it’s okay.” Charcana placed her hand on the knight’s arm. “I’ll just go to the infirmary.” She gave him a strained smile and handed him her training saber, obviously blinking back tears of pain. The padawan turned and stumbled towards the door.

Tion pressed his lips into a line. “Sri, there is one rule in here. You do not injure another trainee.”

Sri scowled angrily. “That’s stupid! How is anyone supposed to learn!”

“The Order has been training padawans this way for millennia!”

“Then your Order has been wasting potential for millennia!” She crossed her arms. “How old is dear little Charcana?”

“She’s only twelve!”

“I defeated her in all of five seconds! That’s unacceptable for anyone her age who’s been taught how to fight, especially someone in a society like this! And she’s too damned delicate! Anyone can see that! That kick should’ve bloodied her nose, but not broken it!”

“She’s an Arhan! Everyone in her species has fragile bones!”

Sri frowned. That explained her strange, slightly elongated face. “How the hell was I supposed to know that?”

“You should’ve been more careful, no matter what species she is!” He visibly forced himself to calm down. “All right. Now you know the rules. Listen—I’m going to go check on Charcana. You wait for me in here, and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Tion brushed past her and headed for the door.

Sri glared after him and sauntered over to the wall; she sat down, set her training sabers on the floor, and hugged her knees to her chest. Tion had been more than a match for her, but the students here were ridiculously inexperienced. What little respect she had for the Jedi was waning fast.

“What’re you doin’ over here?”

The Twi’lek glanced up and cast the speaker a mocking smile. “Well, if it isn’t Leram! Has your master promoted you to Jedi Knight yet?”

The human frowned. “I just asked you a question.”

“None of your damn business.” Sri rested her chin on her knees and fastened her eyes onto a random floor tile.

Much to her annoyance, Leram sat down beside her. “So, were you trained at one of the academies in the Outer Rim?”

“No.”

In her peripheral vision, Sri could barely see his face light up. “Oh, then you were recently discovered! How were you found?”

Sri replied dryly, “A Jedi dropped in on me.”

“Tion Kortas?”

“Yea.”

“So…um...” His eyes dropped to her belt. “Where did you get your lightsabers?”

The Lethan finally looked at him. “Since you haven’t taken a hint yet, I’ll go ahead and say it—leave me alone!” She returned her head to its former position, silently hoping that he’d just go away.

Leram seemed slightly taken aback. “I’m just trying to make you welcome.”

After several long moments of silence, the padawan figured out that she wasn’t going to answer. “What are you planning to do after you become a Jedi Knight? I mean—is there any particular area you want to focus on?”

Sri’s tattooed eyebrows knit together. “What?”

“The Council sometimes allows Knights to work in their area of interest. What do you plan to do?”

The Twi’lek frowned. What…what did she want to do now? She hadn’t really thought about it—but now she was free, she could go anywhere, do anything she wanted to. Apart from killing Gaeva’ib, she’d never thought about it before.

“Are you interested in any particular field?”

Sri ignored him. There wasn’t really anything she could do, besides kill people—and no one would hire someone in her mid-teens as a bodyguard. She’d resolved long ago that she would never lower herself to selling her body to perverts and drunks. Being a bounty hunter wasn’t an option, because she didn’t know enough about the galaxy to track her quarries.

Suddenly, something occurred to her. Windu had said something during the Council meeting— “You haven’t been through anything that thousands of other sentients haven’t experienced.” The thousands mentioned included Twi’leks, hundreds of thousands of Twi’leks, maybe even millions. More were being abducted from Ryloth every day and forced into slavery, just like she’d been. At that very moment, there was probably a little girl crouching behind a rock somewhere on Ryloth, watching her village get burned and her friends murdered. Sri’s hands balled into fists, digging her sharp fingernails into her calloused palms. She could stop at least part of the slavers! Once they were dead, they couldn’t harm her people anymore! That was what she would do—she’d go back to Ryloth.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:48 PM   #140
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Leram spoke again, breaking her line of thought. “Erm…what are you about to go do?”

Sri clenched her teeth and hissed back, “I’m not about to go do anything! I’m just waiting for Kortas to finish checking on some precious little padawan and get back here!”

“Oh.” Leram fell silent for a moment. “Well…if you’re bored, we can spar until he gets back.”

The teenager glared at him. “The last padawan I sparred with ended up in the infirmary after a few seconds! I doubt you could handle me!”

The human drew himself up indignantly. “Indeed! You can’t have had as much training in the Force or in lightsaber combat as I have!”

“The same went for that padawan I sent to the medbay a few minutes ago!”

He stood up and took a lightsaber from his belt. “Care to test that theory?”

Sri’s eyes gleamed eagerly; she picked up her training sabers and stood. “Two rules—no holds barred, and no complaining if one of us is injured.”

Leram frowned uncertainly. “It’s unusual to have those rules for any training session…”

The Twi’lek grinned menacingly and taunted, “Afraid?”

“Of course not!” The padawan thought for a moment. “All right—as long as we use training sabers. Do you have one?”

“I have two.”

“When one of us strikes the other, it’s over?”

“Agreed.” She walked past him and took her place on one of the large crème tiles. Her blue lightsabers ignited and spun once or twice, then she turned to face Leram. He positioned himself a few feet away from her and turned on his own saber. The green blade flashed up defensively, awaiting her attack.

Sri closed her eyes and inhaled slowly, focusing herself. Despite her bravado, she knew that Leram wasn’t nearly as inexperienced as Charcana. He’d be a good match for her. Before she struck, she needed to gather her anger—her strength.

Suddenly, Leram attacked! Sri threw up her defense just in time to deflect his blow, then she threw herself into the combat wholeheartedly, following nothing but her senses. She spun and whirled, darted forward and back, snaking her lightsabers towards her prey and blocking his when it came close to her. The Twi’lek closed her eyes again and reveled in the emotions flooding through her. It was just like the arena…

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Leram carefully blocked his opponent’s blade, just as he’d been taught. She was better than he’d expected her to be, but…she felt so…strange. The emotions whirling inside her were more potent than anything he’d ever felt; they were what she relied on for strength, just as he relied on his calm and peace of mind. Where he was clear-headed and precise, she acted only on instinct. It was alien to him—it was the Dark Side.

He ducked a vicious slash from one of her sabers and drew back, giving himself a meager second to drop into another attack form. The other sparring padawans had cleared back, away from him and the young woman. They looked on silently. Leram blocked a strike and counterattacked. It was understandable that they’d backed away. The Twi’lek was doing anything but keeping her feet on the tile, like she was really supposed to. Their bout had strayed at least fifteen yards to the right of their starting place.

A wave of energy smashed into him, throwing him back a few feet and knocking his breath out of him. He doubled over for a moment, then brought his lightsaber to bear as the Twi’lek slashed down at his head. He gritted his teeth and pushed her back. He really had underestimated her. Force Push was used by those with the most minimal command of the Force; even younglings could do it. He’d assumed that her skills with the Force were barely rudimentary, and therefore, she’d caught him by surprise. The padawan automatically tucked the experience into his memory.

Leram saw a hole in her defense open up for a millisecond. His lightsaber flashed through it and sliced across her ankle, tripping her.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Sri found herself on the floor. She lay there for a moment, stunned. He’d…he’d defeated her? A mere padawan had defeated her? The Twi’lek sat up numbly. These Jedi were more powerful than she’d realized, if an apprentice of theirs had fought like that. Her mind raced. She was one of the few people in the galaxy who could potentially match a Jedi’s skill. Their teachings about light and good were nothing but rubbish they brainwashed their students with to ensure their loyalty, but the skills they taught were sound. If only she could…of course.

“Sri!” She glanced over at the door. Tion was running towards her. Leram reached down and took her arm; before she could yank away or curse at him for touching her, he’d pulled her to her feet and released her. Sri turned off the training sabers in her hands as Kortas skidded to a stop beside her. “Sri, are you all right? What’s going on here!”

Leram shuffled his feet, as if he were embarrassed. “I, um—the young lady and I were merely crossing blades to test our skills.”

The Lethan lifted her chin so she could look into the much taller Knight’s face. “I want to speak with the Jedi Council again.”

Tion’s eyebrows sprang up. “What?”

“You heard what I said. I need to speak with the Council again.”

“Why?”

Sri crossed her arms, silently hoping that she wasn’t about to make the biggest mistake of her life. “I want to become a Jedi.”

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=





Well, there it is. Next chapter.

I can't say I'm entirely happy with this chapter. There's something about it that doesn't sit well with me...I dunno. (shrug)

Anyway, as usual, please comment or criticize as you see fit.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:02 AM   #141
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Ahh, very nice, Endo! Very nice indeed!

The past couple of weeks ... Perhaps even months, I've been checking back with the CEC to see how has posted and what not, and it seems that it is very, very quiet!!! As quiet as I can remember since I joined back in 2006!

But I'm glad to see that one person has continued their story!

It was a great chapter - albiet, a long one! lol - but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.
Sri wants to become a Jedi, hnn? .. Well .. Let's see if her impressions of the Padawans change after a couple of months of training.

Looking forward to more, Endo.
Please continue!

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Old 12-09-2009, 03:49 PM   #142
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I'm glad you liked it, BFA. Hope I don't go and muff it later, hehe. >_<

Well, I've finally gotten around to finishing chapter 10. And, as usual...

Please comment/criticize as you see fit.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


Chapter 10
The Code


Sri sat on her bed, studying the tips of her boots. Tion was talking to the Council right now—he’d talked to Master Yoda about her request over a comlink, and then he told her that the Council had said for her to remain in her quarters while they discussed the situation. She’d complied, but for some reason, she thought that Tion was lying to her. It was his idea for her to stay behind, not the Council’s. The Twi’lek’s lekku twitched slightly, and a tight smirk appeared on her face. He was probably afraid that she’d pull her lightsaber on Windu again.

The teenager sighed impatiently and stood up. This was maddening! Her future was being decided at that very moment, and she wasn’t even there!

Finally, she sat down at the desk and went through its drawers. Some flimsi and a pen had been here earlier…ah, here they were. Sri carefully placed the thin, paper-like sheet of flimsi on the desk. If she was going to remain out here in the galaxy, she needed to practice her Aurabesh. Her parents had told her that it was the most commonly used script. She closed her eyes, trying to remember the symbols. The pen gave two quick, horizontal strokes. That was Aurek…probably. After that, there was Besh, then Cresh, then Dorn…what was the next one…Esk? That sounded right. If only she could remember what they looked like…

She remembered that when she was learning her letters, she’d always connected Besh with ‘bloodstone,’ one of the rare gems of Ryloth. Gem—a jewel box, that was it! She’d always thought that the symbol for Besh looked like a jewel box! As her pen scratched out the figure, a smile appeared on her face. Learning her alphabets for the first time had been exciting; her mother had been so patient with her. She could see it almost as if it were yesterday. While Taisan’kye was out hunting lyleks with some of the other men, she and her mother had sat at the little table in their kitchen and practiced the letters.

The smile faded; her hand trembled a little, and she slammed her fist into the table angrily. Her mother was dead, and she was alone! Now, there was no one to practice her letters with her. She dug her fingernails into the hard finish of the table and willed herself to push away the memories. It was foolish to dwell on a past she couldn’t bring back, on people that were dead. Now all she had were her lightsabers—and the Force. They’d been enough for years. When she finished her training with these Jedi, they’d be enough for her again.

Cresh was like a stack of crates, like the crates holding the food stores of the village—no, like the crates of weapons in the warehouse where she’d killed Kazic. The pen scribbled out three vertical lines; one line, then a shorter one beside it, then another the size of the first one, but aligned with the top of the short line.

Now for Dorn…what was her memory trick for Dorn?

=-=-=-=-=-=

Sri lifted her head hazily. That pounding…oh, the door. She yawned and stood up, pushing her chair back. A quick glance at the table informed her of what she’d been doing before she fell asleep. Several sheets of flimsiplast were scattered across the desk, with the Aurabesh and Twi’leki alphabets neatly written on them. She swiftly put them in a neat stack, placed the pen beside it, and snapped in the general direction of the door, “Who is it?”

“It’s Tion. May I come in?”

Sri swallowed hard. Tersely, she replied, “I suppose.”

The door slid open; Tion stepped in and closed it behind him. He smiled broadly. “Forgive me for taking so long. I’m happy to inform you that the Council has decided to accept you into the Order.”

The Twi’lek’s throat muscles tightened. Now, there was no turning back. She studied Tion’s face closely. He was clearly smiling, but his eyes…they seemed almost…nervous. “What’s wrong?” she asked shortly.

The Jedi drew in a long breath and folded his hands as best he could. “They’ve also assigned you to a Master.”

“Who?”

His smile cracked slightly. “Well—they’ve assigned you to Master Windu.”

Silence reigned for a lengthy moment; Sri’s eyes darkened angrily. Suddenly, she strode forward and shoved past him. She slammed her hand into the panel beside the door.

Tion spun around. “Where are you going!”

The door opened as Sri glanced back at him, her eyes flashing. “I’m going to chat with the Council!”

“Sri, you can’t—!“

The Twi’lek turned to face him fully and snarled, “I’m good at taking orders—but only from those I choose to put myself under! Windu is not one of those people! I won’t sit idly by and allow him to force his authority on me!” She spun on her heel and started stepping through the door.

Tion sprang forward and grabbed her left arm. “Sri, wait!”

One of her lightsabers flew to her free hand; she whirled around violently. Her lightsaber ignited and started coming down towards him. “Let go of me!”

“Stop!”

The lightsaber stopped a mere three inches from his head.

The Jedi’s grip on her arm remained tight. His eyes were steely and hard, harder than she’d ever seen them before. Slowly, he began speaking, in the same firm voice he’d used a moment earlier. “When you chose to become a Jedi, you put yourself under every Jedi Master in the Order, especially those on the Council. Therefore, when you chose to become a Jedi, you put yourself under Master Windu’s authority. If there’s anyone to blame for this, it’s you—not me, not the Council, and most definitely not Master Windu!”

Sri glared at him angrily, trying to think of a reply. Slowly, as the logic of his words sank in, her lightsaber lowered, then closed down and returned to her belt. She pressed her lips into a thin line and nodded once. “All right.”

Tion released her arm and hit the door panel, closing the door. He took a couple steps back and glanced around, as if looking for something to talk about. Suddenly, he stepped over to the table and picked up the stack of flimsiplast she’d been writing on. “Good, you know Aurabesh. Where did you learn it?”

Sri scowled at him. “My mother.”

Tion froze for an instant, realizing his blunder. Quickly, he changed the subject. “I don’t recognize many of these characters. What are they?”

“Twi’leki script.”

“It’s beautiful.” He quickly flipped through the stack. Suddenly, he looked up at her with another one of his bright smiles on his face. “I just had an idea. Tomorrow, you begin your training with Master Windu; he’ll be impressed if you’ve already learned the Jedi Code.”

Sri rolled her eyes inwardly. Could he be any more obvious? He was trying to make her feel better about being apprenticed to that pig of a Council member. It was a nice courtesy, but hardly a necessary—or even convincing—one.

Abruptly, she sat down, placed a blank sheet of flimsi in front of her, and picked up the pen. “What is it?”

Slowly, Tion began reciting the words, one line at a time. “There is no emotion; there is peace. There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. There is no passion; there is serenity. There is no chaos; there is harmony. There is no death; there is the Force.”

Carefully, Sri printed the words, straining her memory for how to spell some of the longer ones. When she’d finally finished, she read it over again. This code was…odd, to say the least. It made no sense. No wonder most of the Jedi were confused fools.

“Do you know what it means?”

Sri glanced up at Tion and sniffed. “I doubt even you know what it means. This sounds like the author was drunk when he wrote it.”

To her surprise, Tion laughed. “Well, I doubt he was, but I can understand being confused by it. Would you rather learn it first and then have it explained, or vice versa?”

The Twi’lek shrugged and leaned back in the hard chair. “Just tell me what it supposedly means, and then I’ll bother to learn it.”

“As you wish.” Tion folded his hands again inside his wide cloak sleeves. “The first line, despite saying ‘there is no emotion,’ doesn’t mean that emotion should be completely forsaken. It simply means that your emotions must be under your control. When they are, your mind will be at peace, and you’ll be able to feel the Force clearly. Does that make sense?”

Sri considered for a moment. She saw how the Code could mean that—but it still made no sense. Her emotions were how she accessed the Force. Without them, the Force was just a whisper in the dark, a breath of wind without a scent. When she was angry, she could feel it swirling around her in a whirlwind, waiting for her command. Still, Tion wouldn’t be satisfied unless he thought she believed him. “Yes, I understand.”

Tion shook his head slightly and sat down on the edge of the desk. “Perhaps you do, but you don’t believe it. I can sense your denial.”

The Twi’lek kept her face passive, but inwardly, she started boiling. She prided herself on being able to keep her face clear under all but the heaviest strain, but this man could see right through her expressionless mask!

“Please, don’t be angry. After you’ve studied the Force yourself for a while, you, too, will know what those around you feel.”

“Just keep going!” she snapped sharply.

“Very well. The next line states that, though ignorance is a part of life, a Jedi must seek to understand everything he can and to use his senses and reason to discover more knowledge. Does that make sense?”

Sri scowled at him again, this time just voicing her thoughts. After all, he seemed to be able to read her like she read the sheets of flimsi. “Of course I understand. How do you think I’ve managed to survive for the past five years?”

“Good, then I won’t have to figure out another way to explain it.” Tion continued without pausing this time. “On to the next line. It’s an extension of the first line, really. A Jedi has great power, but when he uses it because of his emotional response to strain, he begins to stray down the dark path. Though he may be doing good, he’s corrupting himself. However, when he is in control of his emotions and does the same thing, he is using his power wisely. Do you understand?”

“No!” Sri hissed. “You’re saying that if I attack a slaver in anger, I’m doing evil! Do you know how many innocent people his death would save!”

The Jedi replied gently, “That’s why you must learn to control your feelings, Sri. When you’re faced with that situation, you must be able to kill him without your anger clouding you and tainting your good deed. A Jedi doesn’t run from evil. He destroys it, but he does so calmly, passively.”

“Why! Why is that better!”

“Sri, the Dark Side destroys those who serve it. Eventually, they are consumed by it, and all that they were disappears. Instead of destroying evil, they themselves become the evil that must be destroyed."

“No!” Sri stood up, knocking the chair over. “No! I would never become like the slavers! I couldn’t be like them!”

Tion nodded solemnly. “You’re right; you wouldn’t be like them. You would be worse. Your connection to the Force would become a curse to others, making you feared and hated by everyone who formerly thought of you as a hero.”

The Twi’lek’s black eyes blazed hatred at him. How dare he say that! He had no right! He didn’t know her!

“You’re so blind you don’t realize your hate is perverting everything your parents ever taught you. As soon as it finishes its work, they will truly be lost forever.”

The echo of Nya’van’s voice stung her. That was one of the last things she’d heard her friend say. When the older Twi’lek had said it, Sri had threatened to kill her. Now…this Jedi was saying almost exactly the same thing. Something occurred to her, something that made her feel small and frightened. What if Tion was right? What if, by destroying an evil, she became a greater one? What if she couldn’t control her power?

Sri quickly stood the chair up and sat down in it. “Continue.”

Tion nodded slightly. “Very well. ‘There is no chaos’ means that the universe, despite its outward appearance, is well-ordered. Every event, every birth, every death is intertwined in the Force. A Jedi doesn’t blind himself to the evil and horror in the galaxy. Simply put, bad things happen. A Jedi feels the consequences, certainly, but he doesn’t let them control him. He keeps his life as balanced as possible, no matter what happens.”

Sri remained silent. That made sense, she supposed…in some situations. Minor inconveniences couldn’t be allowed to disrupt her life, but…some things couldn’t be ignored.

Kortas continued speaking, interrupting her thoughts. “Lastly, ‘there is no death; there is the Force’. No one denies the reality of death. A Jedi is always prepared to face it. However, when he dies, his spirit—his soul—becomes one with the Force. As long as the Force lives, he lives.”

The Lethan studied her fingers for a minute. What he said was possible. There really wasn’t much to think about. Something in the back of her mind twinged; she looked up at Tion, her eyes cautious. “What about—what happens when a Dark Sider dies?”

Tion shook his head. “I don’t know. All I know is, they don’t become one with the Force, like a Jedi does.”

Sri drew her legs up into the chair and hugged them to herself. She stared at the sheet lying on the desk in front of her, going over and over its words in her mind. It was all possible. All of it, even the first line. It all made sense.

Finally, she lifted her head. “Well? What now?”

The Jedi slid off of the edge of the desk. “It’s evening, so I thought you might like to go to dinner—a celebration of your acceptance into the Order, if you will.” He picked up the flimsi in front of her, folded it in quarters, and tucked it into his belt as he continued, “We can take this along, and you can memorize the Code while we’re eating.”

With a start, Sri realized that she really was hungry. She stood up and nodded in reply. “Sure.”

He hesitated, then added, “There’s—there’s just one thing. The Council said that unless you’re outside the Temple with Master Windu, you have to leave your weapons behind.”

Sri’s eyes narrowed, and she felt anger boiling up inside of her again. She asked stiffly, “Why did they decide that?”

“You have to admit, drawing your lightsabers in the Council Chamber itself was bound to leave an impression.”

“I suppose,” the teenager conceded flatly. She reluctantly took her lightsabers off her belt and carefully placed them on the desk beside the metal vambraces she’d put there yesterday. Her hands started moving faster as she unstrapped the knives from her forearms and put them with the lightsabers. For an instant, she considered taking her dagger out of her shoulder armor as well—but wait. Tion didn’t know it was there. Perhaps she could—

“I’m afraid I must insist that you leave your other knife here as well.”

Sri scowled at him, but she placed the dagger on the desk with the other weapons. “There. Satisfied?”

“Yes, very much so. I wasn’t sure that you’d give them up at all.”

The Twi’lek picked up the loose cloak from where she’d thrown it on the bed. “Let’s just go.” She put on her cloak and pulled it close around her slim figure.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Sri followed Tion out of the small turbolift. She glanced around. They were in the same place they’d gone earlier that day, but the lighting was now much dimmer, and candles gleamed from every table. A human woman was crooning a song into a microphone on the stage where the orange Twi’lek had been; Sri instantly decided that she preferred the human singer over the Twi’lek. Far fewer people were here now, seriously contrasting with the crowd that had been there earlier. Meral, this time in a light brown dress, strolled over, smiling far more politely than she had earlier. “Twice in one day? Careful, Tion, or that Temple food won’t taste good anymore!”

Tion and Meral both laughed quietly; Sri decided that it was some sort of private joke. “Yes, twice in one day is unusual, isn’t it?”

“Usual table again?”

“Please.” Meral led them over to the same table they’d sat at earlier; of course, they sat down again. “Whatcha want me to bring ya?”

“Do you still have that good nerf stew I used to get?”

“Yep.”

“I’ll have that, then.” He glanced at Sri. “What would you like?”

She shifted uncomfortably. “Uh—I’ll have the same.”

“’K, I’ll be back in a minute. Pretty sure the cook already has some made up!” She flashed them both a smile and sauntered away.

Tion sighed and leaned back in his chair. His injured shoulder pressed into an ornamental knob on the chair; he winced and shifted his weight. For several long moments, he stared out the window beside them. Slowly, he stated, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

Sri’s brow furrowed, and she glanced out the window herself. Lights gleamed for as far as the eye could see. The street wasn’t far below. High above, she could see the engines of speeders and ships flying in invisible traffic lanes. Neon advertisement signs flashed everywhere. It was impressive, to be sure, but…beautiful? She crossed her arms and glanced around at the rest of the massive window. It wrapped around three of the four walls of the restaurant, but none of the views looked any better than the one beside her. “Can’t say I see anything deserving of that word.”

He shrugged with his good shoulder. “I suppose it’s a matter of taste.”

They sat in silence for a minute. Tion finally shifted his weight again andasked, “What do you consider beautiful, Sri?”

The Lethan blinked twice, caught completely off-guard by the question. “Well…I’m not really sure…”

“What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?”

Sri closed her eyes, trying to think. It had been a long time since she’d thought about anything like this…

“Crystal,” she replied suddenly. “My father gave me a crystal once. It was faceted. When I held it up to the sun, light reflected through it, out of it—some of it came out in colors, some of it was intensified and brightened.” Her face hardened into granite, and she looked out the window. “I only saw it once.”

In her mind, she finished the sentence. I only saw it once before Gaeva’ib took it, my mother, my father, and my freedom from me.

Gently, Tion asked, “What happened to it?”

Her back stiffened, and her eyes hardened even further. She replied flatly, “It was taken from me.”

Tion leaned forward and rested his good elbow on the table. “I’m sorry.”

Sri nodded once. “So am I.”

At that moment, Meral walked up, balancing a tray containing two steaming bowls in her hands. She set it down on the table and carefully placed one of the bowls in front of Sri, smiling brightly. “There ya are, hun. Hope you enjoy it!” The woman’s smile remained on her face as she picked up the other bowl, carefully leaning closer to the Jedi. Out of the side of her mouth, she muttered, “Tion, ask me to sit down. Loud. Now.”

As if on cue, he plastered a broad smile on his face and exclaimed loudly, “Thank you, this looks excellent! Join us for a minute!” He stood up and dragged a chair from another table over, motioning for her to sit down in it. She smiled charmingly and did so.

Tion sat back down and leaned towards her, keeping his smile on his face. “What’s up?”

Meral’s face didn’t change expression either. “I just heard a little rumor about your friend, here. Someone’s paying a nice pile of creds to either bury her corpse or slap a collar around her neck.”

“Really?” Tion replied off-handedly. “Where’d you ever hear a silly rumor like that?”

“A big guy and his friends were askin’ around about her back in the kitchen. Seems they intend to collect.”

“I see.” His smile slackened, and his voice dropped. “Meral, get out of here, now. Don’t come back for anything. In a few days, send your manager a note notifying him that you’ve quit. Do not—do not—tell him where you are. Contact me at the Temple in a few weeks. Get up and walk to your right, then circle around to the door. Do not look behind you.” Loudly, he said, “Well, I’m sorry you have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Meral stood up; Sri had to admit, for someone who obviously didn’t have many reasons to hide her feelings, Meral had a pretty good sabaac face. The young human tucked her tray under her arm and replied prettily, “I’ll be here!” She spun to her right and started walking.

Scarcely ten seconds later, a broad, armored Trandoshan knocked aside the chair Meral had vacated. Sri glanced at him, feigning disinterest. Instantly, she wished that she hadn’t left her weapons at the Temple. The scaly alien was far too strong for her to face in hand-to-hand combat—and—was that armor cortosis? He’d come prepared to face a Jedi. Her eyes returned to the table, taking note of the two brightly burning candles and the steaming stew. If all else failed, she could probably improvise with those. After all, it was only one man.

The Trandoshan hissed something in his native language. Tion looked up at him and stated coolly, “You seem to have a nasty cough. Would you please move away from our table?”

The armored alien spat out something that sounded suspiciously like a curse. Sri instinctively braced herself; sure enough, he took two blasters off his belt. One he aimed at her; the other was pointed squarely at Tion.

The Twi’lek’s hand automatically slid down to where one of her lightsabers usually hung. Of course, her hand found nothing. The Trandoshan started squeezing both triggers. Sri’s eyes widened. Time seemed to slow; she realized that it had been a mere instant since the Trandoshan had pulled out the blasters. A bolt of red energy emerged from the barrel of the gun and flew directly towards her chest. It was too close; there was no time to get out of the way.

A green blade of energy intercepted the blaster bolt. The red beam flew back into the Trandoshan’s face. Abruptly, the music stopped. A strangled cry echoed in Sri’s ears—but it wasn’t the Trandoshan’s.

Sri leaped to her feet. Tion lay on the floor, a smoking hole burned into his throat. She darted to his side and fell to her knees. He’d used his lightsaber to protect her—at the cost of protecting himself.

The Jedi gasped for air, but was unable to draw any through his burned trachea. Blood seeped out of the corner of his mouth. Feebly, he stretched his good hand towards her. She cupped her small hands around his larger one. His hand slipped out of hers, leaving the cold metal of his lightsaber handle behind.

His chest rose, fell, rose, fell…and did not rise again. The Jedi’s brown eyes glazed over.

Tion Kortas was dead.

Sri reached over and closed his eyes. The Twi’lek bowed her head and whispered, “There is no death; there is the Force.”

Her head rose again. There were eight other malicious presences in the room. Most of the diners had taken refuge under their tables, leaving only her and the eight out in the open.

Sri sprang to her feet and snapped the lightsaber on as one of the eight fired. The green blade caught the bolt and sent it into the ceiling. Her eyes took in her opponents instantly. They were all wearing cortosis. One of them had a rapid-fire gun; it was charging up to fire at her right now. She’d faced gladiators wearing cortosis before, but not eight of them at once, and definitely not without both of her lightsabers and all of her knives! Her only option was to escape, and the only way out was the window. She was only three stories up, but still…surviving the fall would be tricky.

Sri spun away from the steady stream of red bolts streaming out of the chain-gun. She darted behind a table and pulled it down to the floor with her, allowing its broad top to catch the bolts meant for her. It shook from the force of the energy striking it. The Twi’lek closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and turned off the lightsaber. The only way to get out the window a scarce meter in front of her without getting shot was to use the Force. Sri concentrated on the glass and tested it. Good, it was weak. She heard the harsh thrumming of the chain-gun slow as its charge ran out. One…two…three…

Sri flung herself forward, simultaneously hurling as much of the Force as she could muster ahead of her. The glass broke a mere instant before she plunged through, out into open air.

The Twi’lek caught her breath and instinctively folded her arms and legs in close to her, closing her eyes. She felt something wrap around her, burning, like fire encircling a shard of ice.

Sri suddenly found herself standing on the ground. She let out her breath. What had happened? Not only had she landed without injury, but she’d also landed on her feet! But there was no time now—she’d have to figure it out later. She yanked her hood up over her head and darted into the crowd that had started gathering around her. A faint curse came from the broken window; a grim smile flitted across her face. They knew one thing as well as she did—now that she was in the endless, milling crowds of Coruscant, they’d lost her.

Sri frowned. She and Tion had come here in a taxi…how could she get back to the Temple? She had no idea where it was! The Twi’lek matched her pace with the crowd around her, easily blending in. All she could do was keep walking until she found a comm station. From there, she could call the Temple. She started walking a little faster. If she hurried, maybe the Jedi could catch the bounty hunters who’d murdered Tion.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:27 PM   #143
Kado Sunrider
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Whoa!

Tion was shaping up to be my favorite character too. For a while their I thought he might become Sri's Master. Just another twist.


Keep it up Endo, I love it!


Chapter 12 of Renewal released!

Chapter 2 of Heir to the Force released!
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:36 PM   #144
Endorenna
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kado Sunrider View Post
Whoa!

Tion was shaping up to be my favorite character too. For a while their I thought he might become Sri's Master. Just another twist.
Good. I was wanting people to like Tion and expect him to become Sri's master. Looks like I actually managed to pull off something I was planning, for once.

Quote:
Keep it up Endo, I love it!
Thanks very much! I shall try to keep the story decent, hehe.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:11 PM   #145
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Current Game: inFamous/Uncharted 2
Chapter 11



Sri crouched in the shadow beside a comm station, completely concealed in her cloak. She’d found the station about ten minutes after she’d escaped from the restaurant; the operator had put her in contact with the Jedi Temple, but she’d only been able to get a hold of a service droid there. It’d said that it would pass her message on to a Jedi—but, of course, since she had no security code, the message would have to go through all the proper channels. Who knew how long that would take?

That had been five hours ago. The droid had told Sri to stay near the terminal until someone was sent to retrieve her, so she’d remained in sight of the comm station. Eight people had stopped and used the station, but no one who felt even remotely similar to a Jedi had passed by. She’d noted the beggars and scum stuffed into various nooks and crannies as they begged for money or made illicit business transactions; no one cast them a second glance. However, someone just standing nearby, like she had been, drew attention, so she’d dropped into the shadow by the station; no one had shown the slightest interest in her since then.

Sri shifted her weight slightly. No Jedi yet. Curse them, Sri thought bitterly. Curse them and their official channels! Five hours she’d been waiting here! It was too late to go after those bounty hunters now! The scum had killed a Jedi in Jedi territory, and they’d gotten away with it! Didn’t the Jedi have any self-respect at all?

Another sharp, angry thought pierced her mind, just as it had many times while she’d waited. Now that the bounty hunters were gone, she couldn’t find out who was trying to kill her, why, and for how much. Chances were, Cor had hired the bounty hunters…but there were other possibilities. Perhaps her uncle Gaeva’ib had heard of her escape and decided to eliminate her before she could avenge her parents. Other than those two…well, she didn’t have any other enemies. But still, she knew she would rest easier when she knew for certain who had put a price on her head.

The Twi’lek shifted her weight again and frowned; she began pondering another question that plagued her. She felt almost…upset about Tion’s death. Why? It was his fault that Nya’van was dead. All he’d really done was cause her misery and drag her to the Jedi against her will. Still, he had treated her like a person—not a slave, not an animal, but a living, thinking, feeling person. He hadn’t blatantly tried to use her to reach his own ends. He hadn’t looked at her lustfully even once. He’d defended her to his superiors. He’d attempted to help her reach what he considered “good”. And then, as his final act, he’d sacrificed himself to protect her. Her. A Twi’lek slave who’d treated him with nothing but contempt and hatred.

It didn’t make sense.

It was completely the opposite of what her instincts told her to expect.

It was—

Sri broke off the thought as something in the back of her mind twinged. There was a familiar presence near her, very nea—

A tall, broad figure in a cloak similar to her own stopped in front of her. “Sri.”

The Twi’lek studied him from under her hood for several long moments. He was elusive, as if he’d somehow been concealing himself from her. The man pushed back his hood, revealing—

“Windu,” Sri responded coldly. She stood up and folded her arms, conveniently placing her right hand just above the pommel of Tion’s lightsaber.

“Master Windu,” the Jedi Master corrected her. “A droid at the Temple told me that my apprentice had sent a message to me. I dispatched a few Republic officials to secure Master Kortas’s corpse; they should be back at the Temple right now. Let’s go.” He put up his hood again and turned away from her.

“That’s it?” Sri asked tersely. “Just pick up his body and forget whoever killed him?”

“When we reach the security of the Temple, you will tell me and the Council exactly what happened. Killing a Jedi is a serious offense.”

The Lethan silently followed Windu. A serious offense? That was all? The Jedi should hunt down the bounty hunters and kill them for what they did, if for no other reason than to prove that no one could get away with murdering one of their own! But right now, at least, she couldn’t say anything about it to Windu—not in front of the rabble passing by. Sri quietly followed the Jedi Master with her hands folded, silently formulating exactly what she was going to say to Windu as soon as they were back in the Temple.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

“Tell us what happened to Master Kortas.”

Sri glanced around at the silent, seated Masters. As soon as she’d gotten back to the Temple, Windu had whisked her here to the Council chamber. Now he was sitting in his low, wide chair, watching her dispassionately, as if he were about to pronounce judgment on her. Coldly, he repeated, “Padawan, tell us what happened to Master Kortas.”

The Lethen crossed her arms. “We went to a tapcafé to eat. The waitress that brought our food warned us that there were some bounty hunters in the back looking for me. Tion told her to leave, and a Trandoshan wearing cortosis armor walked up. He drew two blasters and fired at us.” Sri cast a glare around at the Masters; a note of anger crept into her voice. “Since this Council decided to deny me my lightsabers, I was defenseless. Tion drew his lightsaber, deflected the bolt aimed at me, and took the other one in his throat. He handed me his lightsaber and died a few moments later. There was nothing I could do to bring a corpse to life, so I ran from the other eight bounty hunters in the room. They were between me and the door, so I broke the window and jumped out. I made my way to a comm station, called, and waited there until Master Windu came and brought me here.”

Windu asked flatly, “Can you identify the bounty hunters?”

Sri glared at him and spat, “I didn’t exactly have time to stop and study them! If you want to know what they looked like, confiscate the café’s security holos!”

“The bounty hunters turned off the security cameras before they attacked.”

Sri folded her arms across her chest and waited for several long moments. None of the Council members spoke. Finally, the Twi’lek asked sharply, “How are you going to avenge Master Kortas?”

Master Ti, the Togrutan woman, smiled gently and shook her head. “We can’t avenge him, Sri. The Order will do all in its power to find those who killed him, and then they’ll be tried for murder. However, we would do the same for anyone who was found dead, not just a Jedi.” The woman rose and folded her hands in front of her. “Masters, we should all get some rest and meditate on this. There’s nothing else we can do right now. Perhaps the Force will grant one of us some insight on this tragedy.” She turned her sharp, wise black eyes to Mace. “Master Windu, I believe you should refrain from attending Council meetings for a few days. Your padawan needs your undivided attention.”

Sri laughed harshly. “You waited fifteen years to find me! I’m sure a few more days’ delay won’t do any more damage!”

Windu ignored the Twi’lek’s outburst. “I agree, Master Ti.” He glanced at Sri. “Your training begins tomorrow. If you can’t find your way back to your quarters, ask one of the droids for help. May the Force be with you.”

Sri spun on her heel and strode into the elevator. As soon as the door closed, the lift descended, taking Sri back down to the main part of the Temple. She rubbed her eyes wearily. The words she’d been preparing for Windu would have to wait until tomorrow, when she had slept and wasn’t distracted by her fatigue.

After a few minutes of walking through the dark, marble hallways, Sri found her way back to her assigned room. She entered, locked the door behind her, and quickly returned all of her weapons to their usual places. The Lethan curled up on the hard, cold tile floor of the bathroom, where she fell asleep almost instantly, a lightsaber clutched in her hand.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Early the next morning, when a gentle chime sounded in Sri’s quarters, the Twi’lek was already awake. Her shoulder armor and boots were lying neatly on the bed, leaving her clad in her pants and tunic. She glared at the door as she slowly stretched her arms, carefully working the kinks out of her muscles. “Who is it?”

An unfamiliar voice replied quietly, “Thelion. May I come in?”

Sri closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I suppose.” She crossed her arms and turned towards the door as it opened. The near-human who’d met her and Tion on the landing pad walked in—the one with the strange-looking black-and-white striped hair. Her sharp black eyes didn’t leave his face, but she did take note of a folded piece of flimsi in his left hand.

The man bowed slightly. “Forgive me for not stopping by sooner. I’ve been rather busy for the past few days.” He hesitated, then added, “I heard about Tion.”

The Twi’lek, as usual, kept her face expressionless. “What is it to you?”

Thelion cast her a strained, unconvincing smile. “Tion was like a brother to me. We trained together since we were younglings.” He bowed his head, as if trying to work something out in his mind. After a prolonged silence, he continued, “I can’t believe he’s dead.”

Sri was unmoved by the Jedi’s hurt. She’d felt loss before; it was something everyone had to get used to eventually or go mad. “Why did you come here?”

“Tion asked me to give this to you if anything happened to him. I don’t know what it says, but I promised I would.” He held out the folded flimsi. “Here. Can you read?”

The Lethan covered the distance between them with two strides and snatched the flimsi out of his hand, snapping irritably, “Of course I can read! Do you think I’m an idiot?”

Thelion crossed his own arms and replied tartly, “Young lady, as far as I know, you’ve never had the opportunity to learn how to read. I was simply going to offer to read the letter to you if you couldn’t do so yourself. Forgive me for extending you a simple courtesy.”

Sri’s eyes locked with his blue ones for several long moments; finally, she gave a forced nod. “Sorry.”

The man bowed again. “I’ll leave you to read his letter in peace.” After a moment’s hesitation, he finished, “If there’s something in there you don’t consider private…I’d like to know what Tion last wrote.” He turned and stepped out the open door, then turned and hurried down the hall.

Sri closed the door and sat down in the chair. She turned the folded flimsi over in her hands. There was no writing on the outside, just a small seal to keep it from unfolding. Why had he written this to her? How had he known that something would happen to him? He couldn’t have seen his impending death; he would’ve never left the Temple if he had. The Twi’lek sighed and snapped the seal. Perhaps the letter would answer her questions.


Sri,

The Council has ruled. I…at least, if I do as I intend…I have lied to you. The Council didn’t accept you into the Order. They only decided to allow you to be trained. Someday, when the Council is convinced you have turned to the Light, they may allow you to become a Jedi, but until then, you will be a…a rogue Jedi, if you will. Please believe me, Sri—I haven’t lied to you about anything else. I swear, I will only tell you that you have been accepted into the Order to spare your pride, not for any other reason.

If you’re reading this letter, I’m dead. When I’m done with it, I will entrust it to my dearest friend, Thelion. I’ve felt…uneasy since the meeting with the Council. Master Windu has the rare ability to sense actions that will affect certain people, and he has sensed that by agreeing to train you, his life, your life, and my life will be changed. I sense something is wrong, and I believe my death is rapidly approaching. I only hope that you will survive whatever happens to me. Your life has been tragic so far; I would do anything to keep the rest of your life from following that pattern, and to give you the chance to change. Your potential is great—please, please don’t waste it. You have the power to help countless people, but if you choose to squander that power on the Dark Side…you’ll live for nothing but satisfying yourself, and your existence will be empty.

During your training, seek out Charcana. Your lightsaber skills are quite good, for your age, but you haven’t had much training with the Force. Charcana is the exact opposite. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of the Force, and the use thereof. Unfortunately, she hasn’t shown the same interest in her lightsaber; that’s why you were able to defeat her so easily a few hours ago. She isn’t nearly as capable as a Master, but she can instruct you in the basic use of the Force, if nothing else. Her new master, Thelion, is skilled with the blade, but I doubt you’d find his instruction very helpful, since he uses a style very different than your own.

Well, Sri, I should probably head to your quarters now. You’ll be wondering why the meeting is taking so long, and I’ve spent a long time walking the halls, trying to compose this letter as best I can…especially since this could very well be the last thing I’ll ever write. I don’t have many possessions—I’ve never needed any—but I want you to have my lightsaber. Thelion would have no use for it; he uses a completely different blade than I. Charcana couldn’t wield it effectively. Really, they’re the only two Jedi I’m truly close to. But you—you can use it. Keep it. I’ve tried to show you what a Jedi is. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded. When you use my blade, remember me, and never, never use it in anger.

Finally…I am so sorry about Nya’van. I wish I had the words to express the regret I have for my actions. I sent a transmission to Cor soon after I took you, begging him to spare your friend, and saying that I would pay whatever price he asked for her. It was too late. He said that she was already dead, and that even if she weren’t, he wouldn’t have sold her to me or anyone else. Please, Sri, if you can ever find it within yourself, forgive me, and if you can’t, then don’t let that dissuade you from the Light. What I did was completely against the Jedi way.

Jedi Knight Tion Kortas



Sri folded the letter and set it on the desk. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. They hadn’t accepted her. They thought she would fail, and if her teachers thought she would fail, it was almost guaranteed she would. These Jedi would see only what they wanted to see, what they expected to see. Tion was the only one who’d had any faith in her ability to succeed, and he was dead.

The Lethan forced herself to relax her jaw; she opened her eyes, stood, and looked down at the desk. Tion’s lightsaber was sitting there near the letter. She picked up the cold, hard handle and wrapped her hands around it; it flared to life, and she snapped it into an aggressive stance. Kortas had bequeathed her his lightsaber, and she would use it. She couldn’t forget the fact that his actions had caused Nya’van’s death—but she also couldn’t forget the fact that his sacrifice had caused her to survive. He had been a flawed man, but he had tried to show her a path to greatness that she’d never looked for. For his sake, and for Nya’van’s sake, she would endure these pompous Jedi. Sri took one of her blue lightsabers from her belt; it blazed into existence beside the green blade. She spun them gracefully and dropped into a defensive posture. The blue—her dark past—and the green—her uncertain future—would become one, and she would destroy anything that tried to keep them from doing so.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Sri was still practicing with her lightsabers when Windu arrived.

The door slid open without so much as a knock, and the Jedi Master simply walked in. The Twi’lek stopped in mid-swing, switched off her sabers, and hung them on her belt. Annoyance permeated her voice. “Ever heard of something called ‘privacy’?”

Windu replied unapologetically, “You don’t need privacy for spinning a lightsaber. Put your boots on and come with me.”

Sri grudgingly obeyed, forcing herself to keep her angry thoughts from coming out her mouth. Windu led her through the halls of the Temple, down beautiful marble stairs, past countless grandiose statues, through cold, stately halls brought to life with Jedi doing various activities.

Finally, the master and apprentice stopped in a vast room filled with countless objects of differing shapes, sizes, and material. Jedi, old and young, presumably other masters and apprentices, were all around the room. One pair, a fatherly-looking Chagrian and a human in her early twenties, were sitting by a box filled with fine sand; the human closed her eyes, and the sand rose in the shape of a creature—some sort of wolf, if Sri wasn’t mistaken. Another master and apprentice, this time a middle-aged Zabrak schooling a young creature she couldn’t identify, were standing near some small geometric shapes. The shapes rose into the air slowly before Sri took her eyes off of them and forced herself to concentrate on following Windu. The sheer amount of activity in this room was…distracting. If she wished to get through her training quickly, she would have to keep her mind focused on what she was doing, and not what other people were doing.

Windu eventually stopped by an empty wall and motioned for her to stand a few yards away from it. He snatched a smooth, fist-sized metal ball from a nearby table and tossed it to her, then ordered her curtly, “Show me what you know how to do with the Force.”

Sri frowned and turned to the wall. She closed her eyes and concentrated, stirring up the memories of her captivity. Images of her being beaten by Kazic, of Cor torturing Nya’van, of her killing her would-be rapist, of Tion getting shot, of the Jedi kidnapping her—everything rose to the forefront of her mind. An overwhelming wave of anger rolled through her; she released it through her hand. The ball in her palm streaked away from her and smashed into the wall with the force of a charging reek.

The Twi’lek smiled to herself as a wave of intense, unadulterated satisfaction washed through her. Her power was unlimited. Her anger made her strong. Her will was unbreakable. Wrath, deep, warm, intoxicating, ran through her veins. Windu…it was Windu’s fault! He had to have been the one to make her leave her weapons behind! If she’d had her lightsabers with her, then Tion wouldn’t have had to sacrifice himself! Windu had been on the Council, the Council who’d ordered Tion to bring her to the Temple! If those orders hadn’t been given, then Nya’van wouldn’t have died, and she wouldn’t have come here!

Sri whirled to face Windu and threw out her hands with a shriek of pure rage. A wave of energy washed towards the Jedi Master.

The sand creature collapsed.

The geometric shapes dropped.

A horrified silence fell over the room in an instant.

Windu simply raised his hand, and the wave reflected back at her.

The Lethan suddenly found herself flung back through the air, into the wall behind her. A startled scream wrenched from her throat, choking her. She dropped to the floor and coughed violently. A sharp, stabbing pain ripped through her left side; she involuntarily clutched the wound. The Twi’lek glared up at Windu, trying to breath normally.

The Jedi Master crossed his arms. “What was that for?”

Sri’s face twisted with hate. She spat out, “You—you son of a schutta! It’s—it’s all your fault! Tion would still be alive if you hadn’t been so paranoid!”

Windu’s face remained perfectly stoic. “How so?”

“If I’d had my lightsabers, I could’ve killed the bounty hunter! I could’ve stopped the blaster bolt! He could’ve defended himself, and he’d still be alive!” She caught her breath with a sharp gasp as pain flooded through her again.

Mace Windu replied coldly, “I was protecting the innocent civilians your very presence threatened. You are dangerous to them unarmed, but doubly so when your lightsabers are available to you.”

Sri gritted her teeth and ignored the pain as she hissed, “You didn’t have the right to make that decision for me! I’m not part of your Order! You have no authority over me!”

“Then why did you leave your weapons at the Temple last night?”

“I didn’t know I wasn’t part of the Order!” Sri exploded, barely feeling the coinciding explosion in her side. “Tion told me the Council had accepted me! I thought I had to do what you said, but I didn’t! I didn’t! I don’t now!”

Windu took a few steps forward and crouched down beside her. “Listen to me very carefully, because I will only say this once. You are my padawan. I am your master. You will do what I say, or you will never be considered for acceptance into the Jedi Order. Do you understand me?”

Sri glared at him steadily, a bright flame burning in her black eyes. He met her fierce gaze with a callous, unfeeling expression, a silent command to obey him. Gradually, the anger inside her dissipated, cracked, and slipped away into the shadows of her mind to wait for her to call on it again.

The Twi’lek dropped her eyes and said stonily, “I’ll do what you say, but you’ll never be my master. No one will ever be my master.”

Windu shook his head with something akin to disappointment. “What a shame. No one can push themselves to the limits of the Force without mentors to guide them. You’re not an exception to the rule.” He grasped her arm and pulled her to her feet. For an instant, his eyes dropped to the hand clutching her side before returning to her face. “You’re hurt. The medical droids will patch you up; then we’ll return to your training.” He took her arm again; Sri shook him off and stumbled away, casting a cold glare back at him over her shoulder for an instant before turning away again.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Windu sat in his darkened quarters. Purple light shone on his face from the ignited lightsaber in his hands. He stared into the shining white center, unblinking and unmoving.

Three weeks had passed since his apprentice had attacked him. Windu had, of course, continued attempting to train her. His progress was…disappointing, to say the least. His former apprentice, Depa Billaba, had been eager to learn the ways of the Force. She’d progressed quickly. The Twi’lek was far different. She was sullen all the time, except for when she was angry. He pressed his lips together in annoyance. No matter what he said, she wouldn’t listen to him, even in the most trivial of matters.

The Jedi Master sighed and turned off his lightsaber. The Force hadn’t given him any insight on the matter. He saw only one solution. Sri’s contempt for the Jedi ways was painfully obvious; his presence was only exacerbating the situation. She seemed convinced that her apprenticeship was a captivity not unlike the one she’d suffered through on Rattatak.

Such a waste. She could become a powerful Jedi if she would just accept our principles.

Windu stood up and slowly walked over to a communications console by his desk. When he’d seen the Twi’lek standing in the middle of the Council chamber, her ignited lightsabers clutched tightly in her hands as she shouted her defiance, he’d sensed a shatterpoint. That was when he’d first thought about training her himself. If he did, it would make a profound difference in her. The hard, cold shell she’d built around herself was impenetrable…except in one place. If someone could find that place, the shell would crack, splinter, and eventually break. He thought that he could help her free herself from her anger…but he’d been wrong. Now, when he looked into her face, saw the barely controlled rage behind her eyes, he sensed another shatterpoint. If he continued training her, she would break, not the shell.

Mace Windu sat down in front of the console and turned it on. There was only one option. He could not be her master.

He stared at the softly lit blue screen and began rereading a message that had reached him a few hours earlier. For a brief moment, he’d considered having her reassigned to a different Jedi Master, but that was impossible. No Jedi, Master or Knight, was experienced enough to train her without being dragged down into the Dark Side himself.

The Jedi Master let his eyes idle over the screen once again. There was one chance for the girl, one person who could teach her. He glanced at the option to reply at the bottom of the screen and touched it with the tip of his finger.

Another shatterpoint.

He had to discuss this with Yoda right away.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

When Mace WIndu entered the ancient Master’s meditation room, Yoda was levitating two feet off the floor, his three-fingered hands folded around his cane. He opened his eyes as the door quietly swished closed; the tiny Jedi gently lowered himself to the floor. “Troubled you are, Master Windu.”

Windu folded his hands and nodded once.

Yoda leaned on his cane. “Your apprentice?”

“Yes, Master.”

A green hand gestured towards the floor of the bare room. “Sit. Discuss the matter, we will.”

Mace obeyed and waited silently as Yoda slowly sat down himself. The ancient Jedi fixed his eyes on Windu. “Problems with your padawan, hmm?”

“I’m afraid so,” he replied reluctantly. “She’s sinking further into the Dark Side. All her anger is focused on me, and nothing I’m doing is dispelling it.”

“Hmm.” Yoda stroked his chin slowly. “More to say, have you?”

Windu straightened his back. “I’ve never given up on a student before, but I know one thing—if I continue training this girl, she will never come to the Light.”

“A new master she should have, think you?”

“Yes.”

“One you trust?”

“Yes. I…know this is irregular, but…” Mace drew in a deep breath. “I believe she requires training outside of the Order to ever become suitable for the Order.”

Yoda stared at Windu intently. “Continue, Master.”

“I received a message from an old friend of mine earlier. He’s coming to Coruscant tomorrow, and he was wondering if he could come see me while he’s here. I was reading the message when I sensed the solution. He can help Sri where every master in the Order would destroy her.”

“Unusual, this is.”

“Sri is unusual. Most padawans have been trained at the Jedi Temple since they were toddlers. She’s been living in harsh circumstances for a large portion of her life. All of her training up until now has revolved around a lust for vengeance.”

Yoda bowed his head and began considering Windu’s words.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Sri tossed aside a sheet of flimsi, disgusted. Her “master” had used a letter to tell her she was no longer his apprentice, like he was dismissing a servant. He’d made no mention of her future training.

Since Windu had begun teaching her, she’d felt herself growing further and further away from Tion’s memory. She reread the letter every night and tried to do as Tion asked—after all, she owed him her life—and it was the only reason she hadn’t attacked Windu again—but it was hard to believe that Tion, a seemingly decent person, had looked up to a man like Windu.

The Twi’lek gritted her teeth. She needed to get out of this room before she broke something. Sri stalked towards the door and opened it.

On the other side stood an old, but still well-built human man with his hand raised to knock; he dropped his arm, stepped back, and nodded to her politely. “Good morning, young padawan.”

Sri glanced at his belt. A curved lightsaber handle hung there. She barely restrained a snort of disgust. Another Jedi. Tersely, she asked, “Who are you?”

The tall, bearded, silver-haired man replied pleasantly, “I am Count Dooku. Master Windu has asked me to continue your training.”



=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Guys, I'm really sorry that the chapters come so irregularly. Life is pretty busy right now, and my beta reader is in college and therefore very busy too, so between that, it takes a while. >_<

Also, sorry I don't have a chapter title. Couldn't think of one, and I wanted to get the chapter out.

Anyway...comments? Criticisms?


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.

Last edited by Endorenna; 02-28-2010 at 02:10 AM.
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:10 AM   #146
The_Catto
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Ahhh, Endo.
I know the feeling of being too busy!
It sucks!

But you have been able to still come up with an excellent addition to the story!

Betrayal is a far more dangerous weapon than a fired bullet, and Sri was betrayed when the Council lied to her about being accepted into the Order.
No wonder she holds even more contempt for them.

Windu reminds me of Vrook.
Really strict, and not easily persuaded to keep trying to teach somebody who seemingly either doesn't want to be taught, or are dangerously close to the dark side. Worried that they will be tainted themselves.

Paranoia!!!
Gah!!! Lol.

Anyways ... Once again, nice work Endo. You continue to be an awesome writer
Thank you for that!

Oh, and hello! Haven't spoken to you for a while!

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Old 03-01-2010, 12:27 AM   #147
Endorenna
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Originally Posted by Mr_BFA View Post
Ahhh, Endo.
I know the feeling of being too busy!
It sucks!

But you have been able to still come up with an excellent addition to the story!

Betrayal is a far more dangerous weapon than a fired bullet, and Sri was betrayed when the Council lied to her about being accepted into the Order.
No wonder she holds even more contempt for them.
Thanks very much! I really do enjoy writing betrayal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_BFA View Post
Windu reminds me of Vrook.
Really strict, and not easily persuaded to keep trying to teach somebody who seemingly either doesn't want to be taught, or are dangerously close to the dark side. Worried that they will be tainted themselves.
Exactly. ^_^ I'm glad I managed to convey that. Wasn't sure I had. >_<

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_BFA View Post
Paranoia!!!
Gah!!! Lol.

Anyways ... Once again, nice work Endo. You continue to be an awesome writer
Thank you for that!

Oh, and hello! Haven't spoken to you for a while!
Thank you very, very much. And hey.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 03-06-2010, 01:49 AM   #148
M@RS
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I know I'm rather late in commenting but I must say...You've done a good job with Sri's story. Count Dooku's appearance seems kind of odd though. He left disappointed with the Council and retired. I'd recommend making up a new character, or even having Yoda teach Sri (since she noted Yoda as strange when she entered the council room for the first time) just to keep things somewhat canon. Again, great job.


Looks like a fruit cake to me. - Brutus
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I don't want to get my hopes up, but it's like the planets are aligning or something.
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Old 03-08-2010, 04:40 PM   #149
Endorenna
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Originally Posted by M@RS View Post
I know I'm rather late in commenting but I must say...You've done a good job with Sri's story. Count Dooku's appearance seems kind of odd though. He left disappointed with the Council and retired. I'd recommend making up a new character, or even having Yoda teach Sri (since she noted Yoda as strange when she entered the council room for the first time) just to keep things somewhat canon. Again, great job.
Thanks very much for commenting, and thanks a lot for the suggestions. However, from what I can tell from Wookieepedia, Dooku and the Jedi Order are still on speaking terms at this time and remain so until the Clone Wars.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:11 PM   #150
M@RS
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Originally Posted by Endorenna View Post
Thanks very much for commenting, and thanks a lot for the suggestions. However, from what I can tell from Wookieepedia, Dooku and the Jedi Order are still on speaking terms at this time and remain so until the Clone Wars.
Ahhh, ok (I'm still not sure how far before the Clone Wars this is). I guess that does fit into the canon.


Looks like a fruit cake to me. - Brutus
Quote:
Originally Posted by Q View Post
I don't want to get my hopes up, but it's like the planets are aligning or something.
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Old 08-07-2010, 01:26 AM   #151
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Chapter 12
Lesson



The Lethan stared at him blankly for several long moments. “You?”

Dooku replied evenly, “Yes.”

Sri frowned again. Him? An old man? There wasn’t a chance could keep up with her, much less teach her. And…had he said “Count”? She crossed her arms. “That isn’t a Jedi title.”

“Because I’m not a Jedi. Do you have any possessions?”

The Twi’lek arched her tattooed eyebrows. “I find it hard to believe that Windu would allow anyone besides a Jedi to train me.”

His chin rose slightly, and his back straightened. “I was once a Jedi Master. Seven years ago, I left the Order to claim my ancestral title.”

“Really. Why?”

Dooku folded his hands behind his back. “We will discuss that after we depart.”

Her frown deepened. “Depart? Where are we going?”

“To my home planet, Serenno.”

“Why?”

“I believe you would benefit from the solitude. If you have any material possessions, gather them. We leave immediately.”

Sri shifted her weight onto her left foot and asked flatly, “What’s the rush?”

“I’m eager to begin your training.”

The Twi’lek smiled thinly. “I’m sure you’ll be ready to hand me back to Windu before you’ve had time to teach me anything. I’m carrying everything I own, so let’s get this over with, Master.”

The Count did not return her smile. “That rank no longer applies to me. My name is Dooku; that is all the title I expect from my apprentice. Please follow me.” He spun on his heel and strode down the marble hall, his dark brown cape billowing behind him.

Sri obeyed the old man, surprised by his alacrity. She practically had to run to keep up with him. He didn’t expect her to refer to him as “Master”—that was different, to say the least. Windu had insisted on her using that title when she addressed him, but this Jedi—former Jedi, she corrected herself—seemed completely uninterested in being referred to in that manner. His voice had a commanding edge, compelling, but so subtle that she hadn’t picked up on it until now. His eyes bore none of the watery cloudiness she expected in old people; instead they were sharp and bright, every bit as commanding as his voice, but not in a way she found obnoxious or condescending. He radiated charisma, strength—

No, she reminded herself. He wouldn’t be able to handle her training, no matter how powerful and charismatic he was. She’d been hardened to commanding presences and power long ago; this man would have no more authority over her than Windu had. He was just another Jedi. Still…he had left the Order, apparently of his own free will. No, no—he hadn’t left because of any difficulties with the Order, just “to claim his ancestral title.” He was a Jedi using a different name, and nothing more.

Several minutes later, the old man and the teenager emerged from the Temple onto a landing platform. The sun was rising in the sky, but a slight chill was left in the air from the night before. An acrid breeze blew by, carrying the scents of machinery and unwashed organics to Sri. She barely noticed the stench. Her sense of smell had become accustomed to foul odors soon after she’d been sold; these were simply new aromas. Unconsciously, she pulled her cloak closer about her against the coolness. Coruscant was still too cold for her tastes.

Dooku never broke stride. The boarding ramp of a small shuttle resting on the landing platform was down; Sri followed him inside. Her eyes darted around, taking in the interior of the shuttle in an instant. It was very simple. The back was a hollow, bare hold obviously meant for cargo. A wall separated the cockpit from the cargo hold; a simple hole reaching from the floor to the low ceiling served as a door. Dooku, bent slightly to avoid brushing his head against the ceiling, stepped through the hole and sat down in what seemed to be the pilot’s seat.

The Count’s hands played over the console in front of him, and the back of the shuttle closed, cutting off the sunlight streaming in. The sound of engines starting rumbled in Sri’s ears; the floor shook slightly, and she saw the scenery visible through the cockpit window drop away.

Dooku glanced over his shoulder and saw her still standing in the hold. He motioned towards the co-pilot’s seat with one hand. “Sit. There’s no need for you to remain back there.”

Sri glanced around the cargo hold one last time—no sign of weapons, or even a place to hide weapons. He just had his lightsaber. The Twi’lek walked forward and sat in the indicated chair. She turned her eyes to the window and folded her arms across her chest.

They both remained silent the entire time they were on the shuttle. Sri watched the scenery change rapidly, but she wasn’t awed by the view like she had been a few weeks ago with Tion. She was accustomed to the endless sea of metal now; it held little value to her, even aesthetically.

Several lengthy, silent minutes passed before the shuttle approached an orbiting ship. The long, sleek vessel shone brilliantly in the sunlight, forcing Sri to hold her hand in front of her eyes. Dooku seemed completely unfazed by the blinding light and simply guided the shuttle into the back of the ship.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Half an hour later, Sri had found herself in her new quarters, alone except for a droid. She and Dooku had disembarked, then he’d led her here. This ship had seemed to be deserted apart from some droids, Dooku, and herself; she’d felt no signs of life aboard. When she’d questioned her new master about it, he’d simply said that he didn’t want unnecessary attendants and preferred droids for the few tasks he couldn’t do himself, such as pilot the ship—or, in the case of the one he’d left with her—attend to her needs. Why he was using a ship large enough to carry several extra passengers had remained unexplained.

The droid had shown her around her spacious quarters with alacrity, though its voice had never broken out of its steady monotone. The rooms were fairly simple, and Sri could easily figure out everything the droid showed—in fact, she’d been tempted to shut down the droid for stating obvious things like “This is your bed. It is for sleeping.” There was very little to tell, really. The “suite”, as the droid called it, consisted of two rooms, each about the size of the main room she’d had in the Jedi Temple, plus the small refresher room. The other two rooms seemed to have separate purposes, though the single room at the Temple had accomplished both purposes beautifully; one of them was for sleeping, and the other one was for quiet recreation such as reading. The only thing of interest in either room was the closet in the bedroom; it contained several changes of clothing for her. As the droid had so thoughtfully explained, Dooku had acquired some extra clothes for her at the Temple before he’d picked her up.

Soon afterwards, Dooku had rejoined her and led her to a “training room”. She was now kneeling in the center of the circular room, bathed in a circle of strong white light from above, completely cut off from the darkness filling the rest of the room. Dooku stood beside her.

Sri glanced up at the old man. He motioned out at the darkness; a small, clear sphere flew into the light and settled on the floor in front of Sri, glimmering. The Twi’lek glanced up at her new master. This was rich—he was gonna start out her training the same way Windu had.

“Lift the sphere into the air.”

The Lethan closed her eyes, summoning the malice lurking just beyond the shadows within herself. It leaped into the center of her mind, dragging the blackness with it, swirling with the light, shrieking like a mighty storm. Sri motioned towards the tiny sphere with her hand; it spun into the air, as if borne on the wings of the wind.

“Now put it back down.”

The storm became a tornado, sucking the sphere down into its center.

The sound of smashing glass splintered the wind. Sri’s eyes flew open. Shards of the sphere lay scattered on the floor.

Dooku’s deep voice stated, “The sphere was hollow, fragile. Remember it when you are faced with a task. What seems to be simple may be an illusion designed to trick you into making a mistake.”

Sri glared up at him for a moment, then laughed quietly. “Already giving me wise sayings?”

“You would do well to listen to them,” the old man replied flatly. He motioned into the darkness once more, producing another translucent sphere. “Again. Try not to break it this time.”

The Twi’lek scowled and closed her eyes again. The anger and hate flooded her again, twisting her, filling her with the strength of the whirlwind. The sphere rose, hovered, and dropped.

It suffered the same fate as the previous sphere.

Again, Dooku’s voice filled her ears. “You lack control. Calm yourself. Your emotions are a source of great strength, but they cannot be allowed to rule you. You’re beyond that.”

Sri’s scowl deepened. How was she supposed to “calm herself”? She could only reach the Force with her emotions, and then only her strong emotions.

Dooku continued speaking. “Your passions are your power. You must learn to direct them, slow them when subtlety is needed, stir them when you face your enemies.”

For several long moments he paused, as if waiting for her to say something. When the silence drew out, he spoke again. “Have you ever had to withhold your wrath from your prey, even for a short time?”

Sri nodded sharply. “Yes.”

“How?”

“I had to stop and gather myself to destroy them.”

“Do you remember what it feels like, Sri?”

The Twi’lek glanced back at him again and snapped, “What does this have to do with anything?”

“Just think. Do you remember how waiting felt?”

“Of course I do!”

“Good.” Another sphere came to rest on the floor in front of her. “Try again, but this time, think of the waiting. Think of the simmering emotion underlying that—and don’t break the sphere.”

Sri rolled her eyes and closed them once more. What a fool this man was. Waiting? Concentrating on her feelings? Really? She’d do what he said, just to show him that he’d failed.

The wind started to rise once more. The Lethan breathed slowly. She was facing an enemy. He was firing at her. She was blocking his shots, spinning her lightsabers into an impenetrable shield, crouching slightly to remain behind the whirling, shimmering light. Her power was growing, welling within her like the waters of a rain pooling in a cistern. The man rose up into the air—slowly, not with the crushing force she usually applied. He rose several feet into the air, then slowly began the descent. One…two…three heartbeats passed. Four…five…six…seven…

A soft clatter touched her, and she opened her eyes. The sphere sat on the ground five inches to the left of where it had been before, unharmed.

Behind her, Dooku said quietly, “Very good, Sri. You have taken a new step into—“

Sri flung herself to the side. A shining blue blade missed her by mere millimeters.

The girl’s head snapped up, her eyes glowing with rage. That son of a bitch had attacked her! She was on her feet instantly; her lightsabers flew to her hands and blazed to life as she propelled herself towards the Count. Dooku darted to the side, easily avoiding her initial attack—he was smiling, Sri noted. She slashed backwards at him without pause. The two azure blades clashed together. The Twi’lek spun around to continue, drawing her green saber back to deliver a quick thrust towards his abdomen.

When you use my blade, remember me, and never, never use it in anger.

The girl gritted her teeth and ripped herself away from her master without finishing the thrust, choking back a shriek of rage. Damn Tion for writing that!

She couldn’t use her green lightsaber unless she forced herself to calm down—Tion had saved her life with his own, and self-sacrifice was one of the few things she truly respected. Desecrating his memory by ignoring his final wish wasn’t an option. Throwing away the green saber also wasn’t an option, as she was only used to fighting with two blades. Though she usually didn’t relegate either blade to only being for defense or attack, she would have to do so now. Sri parried two loose, but precise attacks from Dooku. Her green saber seemed to move with a mind of its own, defending its wielder from the slow, deliberate blows of Dooku’s lightsaber while her blue blade attempted to eviscerate or dismember the old Jedi.

Sri closed her eyes and allowed herself to slip into her center. She sank into a pool of water. Her head went under, but her feet touched the bottom. All sounds were muffled. She felt cool, weightless in the still liquid. It was…almost tranquil.

Her eyes opened, and she brought the green saber to bear, aiming two quick slashes at Dooku’s ankles, hoping to cripple him. He deflected the lightsaber easily. Much to Sri’s surprise, he took a few steps back, saluted her with his own saber, and deactivated it.

“Very good.”

“Very good!” Sri shouted, feeling her anger rise the surface once more now that she had no need to use Tion’s weapon. “You tried to kill me!”

“I had no intention of doing so,” Dooku replied matter-of-factly. “Had you not moved, I would’ve stayed my blade. If I had attacked you in earnest, you would be lying dead right now.”

Sri smirked slightly, almost bitterly. “Sure, old man. If you weren’t trying to murder me, why’d you attack in the first place?”

“To see if you could keep control in a supposed life-and-death situation.”

“And your verdict?”

“Excellent, for a beginner. Most who walk your path have far more trouble adapting to the ways of the Jedi than you have so far.”

Sri’s smirk tightened. “Yea, thanks a lot. You’re a big help.”

Dooku’s eyes showed the faintest hint of amusement; he drew his lightsaber once more. “I’m happy to be of service. Are you prepared?”

The Twi’lek grinned ferally and took a defensive stance. “Bring it on, old man.”

Almost before she realized it, Dooku’s blade was practically touching her ribs. She swore and knocked the lightsaber aside; its tip singed her shoulder armor. Sri parried the weapon as it drew back, threatening to bisect her.

A few instants later, Sri found herself struggling to keep up with the old man’s lightsaber. Dooku’s style was unlike any she had seen, as flowing and smooth as sand drifting across a dune, but as quick and deadly as a lylek’s poison. It was all she could do to keep his blade from slashing through her flesh—attacking him was out of the question. Sri gritted her teeth, forcing herself to remain composed. If only she could unleash her wrath! Dooku would be cowering in moments!

Dooku shoved Sri’s emerald lightsaber aside and slashed at her, stopping just far enough away from her neck to not burn her. Sri froze; her black eyes locked with his brown ones. The silence was only broken by the low hum of the lightsabers.

After what seemed an eternity, Dooku turned off his lightsaber. He smiled—a genuine smile, something Sri really hadn’t expected to see—and nodded slightly. “Excellent. For one so young and untrained to have lasted so long against a Jedi Master is remarkable. Your power is great.”

Sri lowered her own blades. “Untrained?” She laughed harshly. “I was trained for years, Dooku.”

“By those who could not feel the Force,” the ex-Jedi finished. “Without training by those who can use the Force, one’s power is significantly suppresed. It is fortunate that you were found before you became too old to train.”

Something beeped three times, echoing in the dark room. Dooku sighed and hung his lightsaber back on his belt. “Excuse me. Meditate until I return.”

=-=-=-=-=-=

Dooku knelt in his quarters. A hologram of a robe-clad man appeared before him, his facial features concealed by his low hood.

The former Jedi asked in a low voice, “What is thy bidding, my master?”






=-=-=-=-=-=





Okay, once again...the chapter is far later than I thought it would be. My first beta reader took a couple months to get back to me, and my second beta reader still hasn't. >_< I'm really sorry, folks.

Well, again...criticisms and comments are both welcome. Especially criticisms, since this chapter has only been beta'd once.

PS: Actually, I'm not sure this is the copy that my first beta reader sent me. My computer has died twice since she gave it back to me, so...yeah. I think this is it, but it might be an old version. :/

Sorry again.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.

Last edited by Endorenna; 08-07-2010 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:42 AM   #152
The_Catto
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No apologies are need, Endo! Quite an interesting chapter this one is.
Dooku as her teacher? Interesting indeed....

One thing I have to comment on though.. Now, I not one to disagree with a bit of 'swearing' here and there in a story, in my opinion, it adds a bit more realism to the characters and situation, but, for a Star Wars story, I've never really heard someone being referred to as a 'son of a bitch' before. It caught me a little off guard, but in a good way

My suggestion, however, is instead of that, how about putting something a little more natural to the SW universe? "Kath Hound", or, "mudcrutch" etc etc... I'm sure there are pages somewhere that have a whole list of names that one can call a person from SW. There has to be! Haha.


But I digress ... A nice addition, and I am particularly intrigued as to what will become of Sri now that, in the care of Dooku, she is a lot more closer to the Sith, than the Jedi.

As always, looking forward to more Endo

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Old 08-09-2010, 09:35 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by Mr_BFA View Post
One thing I have to comment on though.. Now, I not one to disagree with a bit of 'swearing' here and there in a story, in my opinion, it adds a bit more realism to the characters and situation, but, for a Star Wars story, I've never really heard someone being referred to as a 'son of a bitch' before. It caught me a little off guard, but in a good way

My suggestion, however, is instead of that, how about putting something a little more natural to the SW universe? "Kath Hound", or, "mudcrutch" etc etc... I'm sure there are pages somewhere that have a whole list of names that one can call a person from SW. There has to be! Haha.
Bleh. I knew I'd forgotten to change something in there. I just put the "son of a bitch" in as a placeholder when I was writing 'cuz I didn't want to stop right then and look up something good to replace "bitch", and, uhh...yeah. >_< Whoops!


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Originally Posted by Mr_BFA View Post
But I digress ... A nice addition, and I am particularly intrigued as to what will become of Sri now that, in the care of Dooku, she is a lot more closer to the Sith, than the Jedi.

As always, looking forward to more Endo
Ooo. Now I feel like writing more of the next chapter.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 08-09-2010, 12:18 PM   #154
The_Catto
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Hehe, yeah I do that as well xD


And in that case... *gets the whips out*... get writing!!!

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Old 10-13-2010, 12:07 AM   #155
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Great installment, Endo!! But 2 months since last chapter!? Mr. BFA has the right idea! *cracks whip* WRITE!


you very much
If a tree would fall in the woods.....would the other trees laugh at it?
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Old 10-14-2010, 12:07 PM   #156
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Just a tip, guys: Endy doesn't respond to whip lashings. Believe me, I've written with her. She's much more responsive to gentle nudging and guilt.

I've been meaning to take a look at this ever since I popped up again, but have been putting it off for various reasons. I'm out of reasons now, though, and I'm happy to say I've resisted the urge to blow through the whole thing in ten minutes - as tempting as it was - and've spent the last two-ish days (not counting the forum's downtime yesterday) reading through it slowly.

Your story was engaging right from the off, even during the parts you mentioned you felt were slow or dull. This is, I think, primarily because of the characters, and their seemingly inherent likeability. A lot of people struggle with making the reader like their characters, and the story itself struggles as a result. Quite often, though, all it takes to make a character likeable is to make them believable; likeability comes naturally after that. This even applies to villains - despite being a total bastard, Gaeva’ib is still in a sense likeable because he's a bastard; he doesn't try to make excuses for what he's done, he's really just a selfish traitor. Sometimes such characters are more refreshing than the hopelessly tortured anti-hero figure many Star Wars villains are/become.

You've mentioned to me in the past that you don't feel you're often able to do canon characters justice. After your most recent chapters, I have to say I whole-heartedly I disagree. Your depiction of Count Dooku is spot on, in my opinion; far better than I feel I would be able to do with such a relatively unfamiliar (to me, anyway) and obscure character.

As for the technical side of the story, I can find very little to criticise beyond what's already been mentioned - occasional word usage slips (fewer and fewer as the chapters progress) and the like. You have an excellent balance of narrative, description, and dialogue, and I'd like to reiterate what Darth Yuthura said almost a year ago about the diversity of your descriptive words. I don't know if it comes naturally or if you occasionally need to pause and think or even use a thesaurus, but whatever you do, keep doing it. It's something maybe half of authors can do reliably, and even fewer are actually good at it. Well done.

All in all, this definitely deserves a place among the best the CEC has to offer. You say this was your first attempt at a fanfic, and the only reason I really believe that is because of the visible evolution and progression of your writing style over the course of its two year (!) life - everything else speaks of a talented, reasonably experienced author.

Keep going, Endy, you've got a great piece here.
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