Beyond Shores Yet Untrod (AU; Kyp, OCs, post-TUF; A/N - on hiatus, 3/19)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Onderon1, Mar 5, 2011.

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  1. Onderon1 Force Ghost

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    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: Thanks. :D I wanted to be sure that I captured the otherworldliness and creepiness of Dromund Kaas - it is one messed-up planet according to the Wook, and everything I've seen about The Old Republic. [face_worried]

    The results of Dalonera's mission will be explained a bit below, as the action returns to the "present." There will be a definitive answer to her question ... and on one of the planets with a praxeum, no less. :eek:

    For the moment, however, the focus is going to shift to some of the other members of Kyp's crew ...

    -------------------------------------------------------
    28.3 ABY: Atin, Vakkeya Spaceport, Vakeyya,
    Socorro, Kiblini Sector, Outer Rim Territories:
    -------------------------------------------------------

    "... and, so, I hauled Thold back to Ord Radama, returned the tablet to the Gotal's academic friends, and had them carbon-freeze Thold for me. And I got a retainer, so it wasn't entirely a charity case," Dalonera finished explaining.

    "Yub. I still not happy we have dark Jedi in cargo hold. Yub. Thought you hung him in home on Vorpa'ya," Norbok complained, frowning for a moment until Dalonera looked at him with an intense gaze.

    "Better the little chakaar remains a wall hanging than out running around after the last resting place of Darth Malgus. The galaxy's still bleeding from a dozen different wounds right now. A Sith Lord rising again could take advantage of the damage in the worst possible ways," Dalonera said, closing her eyes and frowning.

    Val'shira looked like she was about to say something, but she finally just shrugged. "I can't really argue with that. I'm sorry I yelled at you, Dalonera," the Twi'lek female said, and Dalonera half-smiled while Kyp turned the whole affair over in his head.

    "Well, I could've been a little more clear about what's on the ship's manifest. I'd just rather take responsibility for one darjetii I can control than try to bite off more than I can chew. Assuming the jetiise representative who's present doesn't mind," Dalonera asked Kyp.

    Kyp slowly nodded, still parsing the news. "Having Thold along could actually be a useful thing. I remember a fragment of lore from one of Tionne's holocrons, passed down by a Kel Dor Jedi archivist from Malgus' time period. Rumor had it that Malgus kicked off while fighting a Republic strike team over Ilum," he said, cupping his chin with his free hand.

    Dalonera and Norbok traded a look, while Ejen's whole expression brightened. "We're going to Ilum? Does it have a praxeum too?" the boy asked, more energetic than he frequently was.

    "Eventually, Ejen. We sent a Cathar Jedi artisan - a lightsaber craftsman, name of Taslar - to Ilum, to try and reclaim the old naturally-occurring crystal mines, maybe restart a Jedi outpost. The biggest worry was that since the Empire had learned where Ilum was, that the Remnant, or the Chiss Ascendancy, might try to claim it. Trick now is, Ilum's so much further galactically north of where we have to go that I was leaving it for later on the travel list," Kyp said.

    "Yub. Nobody said we messing with Chiss. Yub," Norbok grumbled.

    Kyp gave the Ewok his most reassuring grin and said, "It's not likely that the Ascendancy found Ilum. It's above the galactic plane, for starters, and it used to take a Force-assisted pilot to get there. But it might be wise for us to keep Thold on ice until we get there, and then ..."

    Dalonera's eyes widened, but Kyp held up his free hand before the Mando woman could speak. "I get that it's risky. It's also probably a long shot. But if Malgus survived somehow and crashed on Ilum, it'd be reckless to go all that distance and not at least check out where his resting place might be," Kyp said.

    An unsettled look passed over Dalonera's
  2. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4

    A/N: urgh. RL has been really, really busy lately ... [face_blush]

    A short update here, from Kyp's POV ...

    ------------------------------------------------------
    28.3 ABY: Llanic Spice Route, headed galactic
    south-southwest, Astal Sector, Outer Rim Territories:
    ------------------------------------------------------

    If the last few months had been chaotic for Kyp's journey, he was expecting worse in this region.

    It wasn't the Llanic Spice Route itself - the region was quite well-navigated, since the Route was one of the most stable and active hyperlanes in this region of the Outer Rim. The Vong hadn't gotten further south than Rodia, galactically, and BOSS stations in the southeast corner of the Rim had maintained contact, so the hyperjumps were smooth compared to Kyp's trip from Ossus to Ukio months earlier.

    The fact was, from Socorro down along the Llanic Spice Route to its junction with the Five Veils Route - which the Atin would, in theory, turn "right" on and double back toward Vohai - many of the sectors in the region were notorious hotbeds of criminal activity.

    For example, the Bahalian system, where Kyp hoped to stop and let Ejen get a new wardrobe - the kid hadn't had a chance to go shopping since he'd fled Molavar with the clothes on his back - was also a central front for the dreaded Tenloss Syndicate. While the Syndicate had many legitimate businesses, they also had a sizeable profit margin from less savory products, such as disruptor pistols.

    And seeing a Jedi Master who's got a history of hunting smugglers and other would-be clients for Tenloss show up on their doorstep would probably not go over well, Kyp thought, one night as he kept the watch in the Atin's cockpit.

    The journey from Socorro to Vohai wasn't supposed take more than a week, 10 days at most, but Kyp and Dalonera had factored in the unfactorable - bounty hunters, smugglers with grudges, Daala, Morgax Viszla, the works. The plan was to run as fast and hard as the Atin could take, getting to the Five Veils Route and heading back galactic northwest toward Vohai before anyone knew they were passing through the region.

    The trip was navigationally simple, but covered a lot of ground. From the Kiblini Sector, which Socorro was part of, the Llanic Spice Route cut southward through the Cor'ric, Portmoak, Thuris and Parmic sectors. It was in Parmic where the Spice Route terminated, merging with the Five Veils Route. The northern spur of the Five Veils would carry the Atin back toward Vohai, which was in the Parmel sector.

    Once we're on the Five Veils, the trip should be simpler. I hope. The biggest problem we might run into is pirates in the Elshandruu Pica system, in the Quence Sector. But news from this region's been so rare, who knows? Kyp considered.

    It was a lot to consider, even without the drama-fest within the Atin. Kyp was hardly going to deny that his old attraction for Dalonera had returned ... but while messing around with her might be fun, he wasn't sure it was smart.

    What happens when the trip is over? We map a good chunk of the galaxy and go back to Ossus, and then what? She goes off bounty hunting again and I ... what, return to the Council and teaching Ejen? Do we even see each other again? Kyp wondered, shaking his head as he watched the blue tunnel of hyperspace go past the viewport.

    Then, there was the other adult female organic aboard the Atin. Val'shira was ... well, she was a Rutian Twi'lek in the prime of her life. Any healthy adult male sentient would have to be blind not to notice the slicer's beauty.

    And courage. Signing up with us, after ditching the Ghosts ... she's got guts. But there's still so much we don't know about her. And she didn't even tell me she had a gift for Ejen from his cousin Farsta ... that holocron. Who knows what kind of stuff really IS in that thing? Kyp worried.

    And then there was Ejen. Kyp and responsibility were two very different creatures, not prone to moving in the same
  3. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    I'm very glad that Egen did share about the Holocron at last -- better than keeping secrets and now that he knows Kyp is approachable that way :* !!

    I do hope that Egen gets to stay with him after all the traveling is done. ;)

    LOL about the update where Kyp gives a rundown on his crew and which one of them he understands the best.

    :p

    Qewpie is indeed a marvel.



  4. Chilla Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Argh! Missed several chapters again.

    Great updates, Ond'ika! =D= I liked seeing Dalonera in action, getting the crazed Jedi. Jedi and Mandalorians.... *sighs* Still my favorite combination.

    I'm glad they talked about the holocron. Maybe Kyp will even learn a bit from it. That might come in handy in the future.

    But...the clock is ticking. Crazy Jedi is going to wake up soon. Again, you are great at describing space travel and building up suspense.

    QP. Everybody loves astromechs and she is amazing. I like her cheerful spirit.

    *sighs* Can I get a little bit of romance? A happy ending for Kyp and Dalonera? [face_batting]

    =D= Good job and sorry for being so late!
  5. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4

    Jade_eyes: Thanks. :D I wanted to do a chapter where Kyp sort of took stock of where things were at. Ejen isn't going anywhere, either - as things continue, his story, and how he approaches what he's been given, will definitely play a role.

    Chilla: Thanks for commenting. :D I've been slow in updating - RL's been crazy lately ... [face_blush]

    There'll be more with Dalonera - and the Mandos - relatively soon. Before the crew reaches Vohai, as a matter of fact ... [face_thinking]

    Romance - I'm playing that close to the vest for now. With what (and who) is planned for the next few chapters, things will not be boring aboard the Atin any time soon. ;)

    Kyp probably won't be learning much from the holocron, but Ejen definitely will be. More on this as things play out over the next few planets.

    Speaking of which, here's a short update ... [face_peace]

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Andasala, Cor'ric Sector, Llanic Spice Route,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Wow. He's really trusting me ...

    Ejen rechecked the amount on the credit chip Master Durron had given him, still not quite believing it. The Atin had been running fast for a week or so, and they'd made good time down the Spice Route, so Captain Milthiad had said they could stop over for a day or so.

    Which was fine with Ejen, because as much as he hated shopping, he hated having to borrow leftover spacer coveralls to wear - it was a good thing Captain Milthiad hadn't thrown out the gear from the Atin's old crew. Norbok had kind of joked about getting Ejen a set of Mandalorian armor, but Master Durron had had a better idea.

    "Take this, spend as much as you need, and get yourself a new wardrobe. And if you do have to spend some of it on junk, don't spend too much?" he said, Ejen remembered, looking in the window of a clothing store.

    Master Durron - Master Kyp - had given him a 500-credit chip. It was more than Ejen had ever had at one time, more than he'd ever been able to steal back on Molavar.

    I might've tried to swipe stuff from a store like this back then. I learned how to do it, too ... but I don't have to do that anymore. I'm a Jedi, now - well, learning to be one, Ejen reminded himself, trying not to blush as he walked into the store. It was fancy, and he felt out of place.

    The droid at the counter, a 3PO with a kind of orangish-shiny finish, looked at Ejen and asked - kind of snottily - "May I help you, young master?"

    "Yeah - uhm, yes, please. I'm looking to buy some clothes," Ejen said, hating how nervous he sounded. He cleared his throat and added, "I'm looking for a whole bunch of new stuff - pants, shirts, shoes, socks, everything. But not too fancy."

    "Ah. Very well, then - I'll show you to our young adult department," the 3PO said, and Ejen followed it, holding the credit chip in his hand. The chip meant a lot - it meant someone was trusting in him, and not just to distract an easy mark for a con or keeping a guard busy.

    This is ... normal. And that feels pretty good.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    "... been meaning to discuss your situation with you," Luke said - Qewpee had managed to get a secure HoloNet uplink, and the Atin's dish antenna was as powerful as the Falcon's, so Kyp was finally talking with Ossus.

    "We're moving a little faster than we'd anticipated. I trust the crew, and we're hoping to reach Vohai within another week. The BOSS network out here is still pretty stable. If we keep our heads down, everything should work out," Kyp said. He was sitting in the Atin's cockpit with Qewpee - Dalonera was giving them some privacy, while Val'shira and Norbok helped the captain recheck and recharge systems.

    Luke nodded, but he had a telltale wrinkle in his brow that made Kyp squint. "Something else on your mind, Master Skywalker?" Kyp asked.

    The senior Master smiled a little and shrugged. "Mara always says I'm bad at keeping secrets. We've been
  6. Chilla Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Norbok had kind of joked about getting Ejen a set of Mandalorian armor, but Master Durron had had a better idea.

    I want on board of the Atin, too! I want a Mando armor!

    Master Durron - Master Kyp - had given him a 500-credit chip. It was more than Ejen had ever had at one time, more than he'd ever been able to steal back on Molavar.

    That will be very strange for Ejen. I hope it won't tempt him....

    The chip meant a lot - it meant someone was trusting in him, and not just to distract an easy mark for a con or keeping a guard busy.

    Nice part! I like seeing Ejen's thoughts.

    This is ... normal. And that feels pretty good.

    I don't think Luke would have an issue with this, but I could see some of the other Council members raising eyebrows, Kyp considered.

    Luke doesn't strike me as the one to be bothered by it, either. Liked this civil exchange between them.

    "For much of his childhood, Ejen's been forced to make moral compromises."

    I hadn't thought about it this way. He does have a point.

    "True. But I remember a hot-headed ex-slave who managed to rein in his outrage and get past some serious temptation to eventually do the right thing," Kyp said, raising an eyebrow.

    [face_laugh] Great retort.

    "Or a carbon-frozen dark Jedi. How's Laskan Thold's storage going?" Luke asked.

    I'm surprised, but happy that Kyp told Luke about the frozen Jedi.

    "Just remember that we're no longer mandating that students become Jedi."

    Well, that's a smart move for once. =D=

    "Or, he could be driven to use the holocron without guidance. And that, I KNOW from personal experience, is a BAD idea."

    That's exactly why I thought Kyp was acting this way (yay, I was right!). Good call on his part. The forbidden is always tempting, so he's letting him access it without making a fuss.

    =D= Nice update!
  7. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    I enjoyed very much the talk Kyp had with Luke; very thought-provoking and insightful to point out that Ejen's past may preclude him being an outright Jedi but that he does need to learn to harness his abilities.

    And yuppers, curiosity or the idea of the forbidden leading to him 'playing' with the Holocron :eek: major oops factor [face_thinking]
  8. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4

    Chilla: More with Ejen's training is coming soon - in fact, in this very update. :) And Ejen may be getting armor soon ... [face_thinking] Thanks for the reply. :)

    Jade_eyes: I'll definitely be exploring the type of Jedi that Ejen may become. One of the strengths of the NJO, IMHO, is that not every Jedi has to be the same. Nor do they have to be like the prequel Jedi. Thanks for reading. :D

    And now, to the weekly update ... and some new challenges/revelations for the Atin's crew ... [face_thinking]

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Freighter Atin, Thuris Sector,
    Llanic Spice Route, Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    "I don't know, Master ... I mean, I'll give it a try," Ejen said, trying not to show fear as he stood at the edge of the mat set up in the Atin's rear port cargo hold. With the YT-1300 (usually) not serving as a cargo ship any longer, Dalonera had converted the spare hold into a small gymnasium and combat training facility.

    "It's easier than it looks. Just focus on tumbling for right now; we'll work on the jumps and other stuff once you get comfortable with the basics. Trust me on this - acrobatics is a key Jedi skill. You find yourself two stories up and running from Yuuzhan Vong, being able to avoid a fall without the Force really can be a lifesaver," Kyp encouraged, gesturing for Ejen to work on a forward roll.

    The Atin was three days out from Andasala, heading directly for Spice Terminus, a massive space station in the Parmic Sector near where the Llanic Spice Route merged with the Five Veils Route. The plan was to stop over at Spice Terminus, refresh the Atin, then attempt another push through to Vohai.

    Kyp had decided that if they were going to be stuck in hyperspace for a while, he'd better teach his apprentice as much about Jedi skills as possible - including ones that didn't rely so much on the Force. Ejen had already shown he had basic control over the Force, what with being able to move small objects telekinetically - Kyp had seen that much on Molavar when the boy had lifted a rock with his mind.

    He'd even surprised Kyp by demonstrating a basic knowledge of the Jedi healing trance, which was no simple matter; self-learning the ability to heal oneself wasn't something that every Force-sensitive could do. And with initial training with Yaja'torva, Ejen had rapidly learned basic Force defenses, creating a telekinetic shield or deflecting Force-based attacks. The boy had even managed to lift Qewpee once during a meditation lesson, suggesting a talent for mind over matter.

    But with any amount of control comes the risk of pushing oneself too hard, or getting sloppy and over-relying on the Force. Being a Jedi isn't just about being able to lift astromechs ... or Sun Crushers, Kyp recalled, nodding approvingly as Ejen did a wobbly, but effective forward roll and sprang to his feet.

    The boy grinned a bit, but then frowned, sighing a little. "I almost fell over," Ejen said, self-doubt leaking from him through the Force like tibanna gas from a damaged Bespin storage tank.

    "But you didn't. It's not going to be perfect overnight. Nothing is. The important thing is to keep trying. Eventually, you'll be able to do it without even thinking," Kyp said, firm but kind.

    Ejen started to frown, but instead thought for a moment, then stood straighter and nodded. "I'll try it again ... thanks," he said, trying to smile before he looked forward and rolled again.

    "You're welcome. Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Kyp said, sitting on a bench and assessing Ejen's technique. There was no doubt that the kid was a fast learner, but there was as much for Ejen to unlearn as there was for him to learn. And some of the former were lessons that Kyp recognized.

    He's still got to overcome that self-doubt. He slouches when he shouldn't have to; sticks to corners, like he's still hiding. Survival instincts, and ones I don't want to make him lose ... but he needs more opportu
  9. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    A/N: A short update - RL's been hectic again, but with the new year, I hope to pick up the pace a bit. :)

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Spice Terminus Station, Docking Bay
    44, Parmic Sector, Llanic Spice Route,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    "I, for one, cannot wait to get planetside as soon as possible. Assuming it's a nice, green world - all this recycled air's getting old, even if we're riding in style. And I've seen enough desert planets for a lifetime," Kyp quipped, leading the Atin's crew off of the freighter.

    Dalonera smirked a bit, sparing a moment to do a visual sweep of the ship's exterior before replying, "Maybe if you weren't so coy about our later destinations, we could work on an itinerary that'd give us a better layover on a suitable planet."

    "We can afford to take our time at our next major destination. I'll settle for getting there in one piece. Everyone remember the plan?" Kyp asked the others, looking at the gathered crew.

    "Freep-tweet!" Qewpee chirped, rolling to follow Kyp to the BOSS station and exchange the Atin's latest set of hyperspace coordinates with the local hierophant.

    "Get in, do the basic maintenance, check our supplies, and get out as fast as safely possible," Dalonera said, growing serious.

    Norbok nodded, his ears twitching a bit as he sniffed the air. "Yub. Did supply check during last jump. I have list here. I head to station shops," the Ewok said, holding up a datapad and walking away.

    "I'll help the captain with the system refresh, and keep working on my technique," Ejen said, following Dalonera back aboard the ship. While Kyp planned to let Ejen stretch his legs a bit, he wanted to wait until he'd assessed Spice Terminus' safety levels for himself.

    "And I started actually earning my keep. Here's the collation on the data you've collected so far. I'll transmit it to our ... friends back home after I've found what we discussed," Val'shira said, giving Kyp one of two high-storage datachips. She pocketed the other one and looked around carefully, heading for the nearest cantina.

    Good luck, Kyp wished the Twi'lek. While the data they'd collected was hardly secret, neither did Kyp want to run the risk of some unwelcome attention by transmitting the entire condensed set of hyperspace routes through the Atin's com-systems. And the miniaturized hypercomm he'd been using to send routine updates to Ossus didn't have the memory storage to handle the sheer quadrabytes of data involved.

    Thus, the crew had decided that the best way to get the massive datafile back to Ossus safely was through a rather hefty payment to an underworld slicer for use of their Holonet access - legal or otherwise. While Kyp still wasn't thrilled about the exact methodology, he had to admit that this far out on the Outer Rim, the shadownet might well be the most viable means of sending that much information. Val'shira was the best-suited to make contact with Spice Terminus' robust underworld presence, and Kyp had made sure she had a credit chip with a very sizeable amount of credits.

    We're nowhere near broke, at least, he thought, checking the expense account the Order had set up for his trip. Even with the Atin's docking fees, supply costs and related expenses, there were still plenty of credits available for the long haul - of which there was still plenty to accomplish.

    After Vohai would come the midpoint of the journey, on Utapau. Caro Benvier, a female Duros Jedi Guardian, had been assigned with setting up a praxeum on the sinkhole-filled world, and Kyp wondered what headway Caro had made in recruiting Jedi from the Pauans or the Utai.

    It won't be the furthest point on the trip - Ast Kikorie, out by Endor, probably ties with Ilum for that title - but Utapau's still pretty mysterious. I bet we'll see a bunch of weird stuff before it's all over, Kyp mused, motioning for Qewpee to follow him.

    He kept his Force-senses sharp, but still didn't notice a hooded figure with
  10. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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  11. Onderon1 Force Ghost

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    Jade_eyes: Thanks. :) The Death Watch situation will be resolved in the next few chapters ...

    In the meantime, here's a short update, focusing on a certain blue Twi'lek - and the first appearance of a new recurring character. :eek:

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: The Unsheathed Blade cantina,
    Spice Terminus Station, Parmic Sector, Llanic
    Spice Route, Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    I sure know how to pick 'em ...

    Val'shira just nodded at the bartender, waiting for the watered-down Corusca ale she'd ordered 10 minutes earlier. The cantina was busy, sure, but the service was miserable even for a crowded space station watering hole.

    The booths were dimmed, while a noisy jukebox pumped out some retread jizz-wailer band piece. It was the kind of stereotypical dive seen in a hundred cheesy holomovies, which was all the better for covering the place's real purpose.

    Word on the shadownet is that the Blade is the main slicer meeting place in the Parmic. Makes sense - Moff Balfour used to run the whole sector from here before the New Republic ran him out. Then the smugglers took over after the New Republic splintered, Val'shira recalled.

    Her comlink chirped when the bartender finally served her drink. Val'shira paid him, checking her comlink before sliding into a booth - where she saw the scruffy-looking male human who fit her contact's description.

    He was maybe 20-something, with shaggy brown hair and a day's worth of beard, a patched flight suit his garb. Bloodshot brown eyes met the Twi'lek's gaze as she sat across the booth from the man, but there was a focus there that Val'shira could recognize.

    "I'm Ujos Wranik. You must be the lady asking about a secure broadcast all the way back to the Auril Sector. Long way from here, especially for the size of bandwidth you requested," the scruffy human said, sipping his drink even as he tapped the tabletop with one of his free fingers.

    "I'm willing to pay well. My associates and I are aware of how difficult the transmission is from here, and we want to be sure that the encryption we're talking about is met," Val'shira said, keeping her voice low. She didn't want to draw any undue attention, especially if Wranik started giving her grief.

    The slicer smiled, revealing surprisingly well-maintained dental work that clashed with the rest of his appearance. "We talking top-secret intel, or the locale where you're sending it? The Auril's not known for much besides some historical anomalies," Wranik said, raising an eyebrow.

    Shavit. He's as cunning as he must be smart, Val'shira cursed mentally. Kyp hadn't told her to hide the existence of the Ossus praxeum - it had actually been announced Coreward and on Mon Cal, according to the newsnet feeds. But if word got out that a high-density data packet had been sent to the Jedi Academy's central office, it would draw dangerous attention to the Atin.

    Aloud, she just said, "If the cost of silence goes up, that's also something we're willing to pay. Within reasonable measure."

    Wranik shrugged, sipping his drink before replying. "I pride myself on professionalism. A slicer who blabs his clients' business is quickly unemployed, dead, or both. You just give me an estimate on how much, and we'll see about getting this set up," he said.

    Val'shira slid a datapad across the table with the amount of credits Kyp had authorized for the expenditure. Wranik picked it up, nearly choking on his drink, and set both his glass and the datapad down as he coughed. "OK - KAF - I think I can do this. Right after I start planning my early retirement," he tried to joke, wiping his eyes.

    "I'm glad we're able to -" Val'shira started to say. She tensed, though, when a wave of muttering swept the cantina, followed quickly by a deadly silence.

    In the underworld, that meant only one thing. Law enforcement - the dangerous kind, the kind that couldn't be threatened, bribed or corrupted - was close by.

    Half the cantina's customers slipped
  12. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    A/N: Introducing the latest member of Kyp's little band [face_mischief] ... and some Death Watch misbehavior ... [face_worried]

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: The Unsheathed Blade cantina,
    Spice Terminus Station, Parmic Sector, Llanic
    Spice Route, Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    For the first time in her 18 years, Karina felt she might be worthy of being a Jedi.

    Master Stast keeps telling me to believe in myself, and to trust in the Force ... and this time, it's paid off, the female Cathar Padawan thought, tensing for the fight with Grrohh'kh.

    The Gammorrean was a robber and an occasional murderer, enjoying the thug-for-hire racket that the lawless Outer Rim seemed to be filled with - even more lawless with the Yuuzhan Vong War distracting galactic peacekeepers. It was just good luck, or the will of the Force, that Grrohh'kh hadn't gathered more Gammorreans, or other criminals, and formed some kind of pirate gang.

    As part of her advanced training, Karina had been assigned to prevent Grrohh'kh from getting more dangerous than he already was. She was going to try and talk the Gammorrean out of doing anything stupid, even if part of Karina hoped for a fight ...

    No. Don't give in to your anger. You've worked so hard to leave that part of your life behind, Karina reminded herself, drawing on the Jedi Code - the newer version, the one that the almost-legendary Master Skywalker had written with the help of the Yavin Masters.

    Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.

    <Stupid little kitten doesn't belong in a grown-up bar. And with Jedi toys! Hah!> Grrohh'kh taunted, standing up and aiming his blaster. He wobbled a little, and the Duros bartender dove for cover when the big bull aimed at Karina.

    Her claws twitched in their sheaths, biting into the palms of her hands until she willed herself to be calm, and drew on the Force to center herself. Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, she recalled, ignoring the Gammorrean's insults.

    Aloud, Karina called, "This is no game, Grroh'kh. My lightsaber is drawn, but only because you drew your weapon first. Put away your blaster, and I'll do the same with my 'saber. We can talk about this."

    Jedi respect all life, in any form, Karina meditated briefly, while Grrohh'kh wobbled some more and stared at his blaster. He was pretty obviously drunk, even if Karina's enhanced sense of smell hadn't already picked up the booze fumes wafting from him.

    The stench of alcohol brought back a holo-reel of bad memories, but Karina grasped her old hurt and forced it back down. She refused to let that pain drive her to strike down the Gammorrean for what he reminded her of. Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy, she recalled.

    Only her trust in the Force, and her species' heightened reflexes, let Karina deflect the first blaster bolt when Grrohh'kh opened up with his pistol. She tried to aim the shots into the floor, where she hoped they'd do less damage than if she redirected one into the bar or an innocent patron - but it was difficult. But she wouldn't fail.

    Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training, Karina reminded herself, refusing to give up. The blaster fire was tough to deflect, but she had to try, to -

    VSHYEEOWWW!

    The stun blast caught Grrohh'kh on his right side, staggering him just enough to let Karina dart forward with a leap over one of the tables. She struck the Gammorrean on the temple with the butt of her lightsaber, and he finally fell, while the Cathar turned to see where the stun bolt had come from.

    "Nice work. Figured I'd help," a blue-skinned Twi'lek female said, smiling a little and standing beside one of the booths. Sitting across from her was a scruffy-looking human male, his eyes wide, who gave Karina an uneasy feeling. The Twi'lek, though, felt friendly enough through the Force, and Karina wasn't about to turn down some assistance.

    "It's appreciated. I'm Kari
  13. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Oops on the Deth Watch front but cool stuff with Karina the Cathar - :D that's got a flowy ring to it ;)

    Seems like there's still a spark of something-something between Kyp and Dalonera - of course, one never loses the spark one feels for Kyp :D :D

  14. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: Thanks. :) Karina's definitely in for the long haul, and more will be revealed about her soon - including her connection to another praxeum besides the one on Vohai. [face_thinking]

    Meanwhile, it's time to deal with Death Watch ...

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Spice Terminus Station, Docking Bay
    44, Parmic Sector, Llanic Spice Route,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    Kyp tried to keep his frustration off of his face; Vizsla's persistance was just annoying, and it didn't help that the Mando goon had brought more than a few friends. Close to a dozen, Kyp counted, glancing at Dalonera as she tensed beside him.

    Morgax looked at Dalonera with an expression that Kyp thought was meant to be sad, but which Vizsla's stare just made creepy. "K'olar, cyar'ika," Vizsla said, rather arrogantly, and Kyp tried to process what it meant.

    "Get over here, darling?" he translated, glancing at Dalonera when her emotions surged in the Force - and not in a good way, but close to pure rage. Her lips curled in a disgusted sneer, and more than a few of Morgax's troops took a step back, their fear evident through the Force.

    "Kote lo'shebs'ul narit, chakaar," Dalonera spat back, her tone like poison. Kyp winced, especially when Morgax's face lost color, then flushed with rage.

    "HAAR'CHAK, dala! Gar jareor!" Morgax barked back, commanding. Dalonera's eyes narrowed, and she drew her lightsaber, igniting it while she gave Morgax a look that was almost pitying - then as hard as beskar steel.

    "No, you maggot-eating piece of osik. I'm through throwing away my life. I'm not some starry-eyed kid, Morgax, and I won't be pushed around ever again. You want a slave, not a partner. And I DON'T do slavery," Dalonera snapped, bringing her blue-bladed weapon to a guard position.

    Morgax took a deep breath, shrugging melodramatically while he removed the Darksaber from his belt. "Fine. When this is over, don't say I failed to give you a chance. I'm going to kill Durron, skin that Ewok you call a co-pilot, and sell that Twi'lek tramp to the greasiest Hutt I can find. And you ... I've decided what to do with you," the Death Watch leader hissed, a truly disturbing look in his eyes.

    OK, THAT'S it, Kyp decided, igniting his own lightsaber as Morgax activated the Darksaber. The Mando glared at Kyp, who smirked and said, "You have to finish me first, Vizsla. Not gonna be easy."

    "Damn straight it won't be easy!" an angry female voice shouted - and Kyp grinned when two of the Death Watch troopers went down under blaster shots from the front entrance, as Val'shira, Norbok and the female Cathar Jedi they'd found ran into the docking bay.

    "In the name of the Jedi Order, stand down!" the Cathar shouted. She didn't flinch, admirably, when one of the Death Watch goons swung at her with a beskad short sword, and the Cathar managed to block the strike with her yellow-bladed lightsaber.

    Morgax glanced at the Cathar with a flicker of surprise, then smiled in an ugly way. "Oh, this is too much fun. I missed out on the Cathar genocide millennia ago. Always wondered about how nasty you kitties could be," he sneered, starting to turn toward the Cathar, whose fur rippled with repressed anger.

    "Leave her alone, Vizsla. Your dance card's already full, remember, 'cyar'ika'?" Dalonera sneered, swinging for Morgax's neck. He blocked the swing, growling, and the Death Watch goons started to rally.

    At least, until Kyp waded forward, letting the Force guide his attacks, and the Mandos realized what had happened.

    A Jedi Master and lightsaber expert had gotten fed up with them ... and it was about to get ugly.

    -----------------------------------------------

    "Dweep? Pweet-bwee-deweep!" Qewpee cried, stirring Ejen from where he'd been trying to meditate - the Force had gotten wild, outside the ship.

    "Qewpee? What's wrong?" Ejen asked the little droid. He stood, stretching, an
  15. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    I love Kyp with Ejen :* :* -- he really does make super master/mentor material ;) Karina's definitely in for adventures. :D

    And Ejen's help was very useful without being reckless. :)

    LOL over the slicer, very eager... o_O

  16. Chilla Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Yay, finally caught up! Sorry it took me so long.

    Cool showdown between Kyp's merry band and the Death Watch. I liked Ejen's solution. My first idea was to use the cannons as well, but I think that has been used abundantly in profic already and I love the idea with the comm signal.

    Karina looks like an interesting addition. She seems to have had a rough past, full of pain and close to the Dark Side.

    =D= Great writing once again! Keep it up!
  17. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: Thanks. :) More about Karina's past will be revealed as the team reaches Vohai; there'll be a few chapters spent there, with some surprises for all of the Atin's crew - and a new crew member will join them there, also. ;)

    As for Ujos, he's not going to be a recurring character, but I thought it'd be nice if not every scoundrel had a problem with Kyp. :p

    Chilla: Karina's come a long way. Unlike Val'shira - who at least has a family who care about her - Karina's childhood was less than ideal. And as she starts asking questions, she's going to find some answers she might not expect. [face_thinking]

    As for Ejen, he's working hard to stick to the light side, avoiding unnecessary violence and generally trying to be a good person. How long that lasts depends a lot on the pressures he's dealing with ... and how he can work through those. [face_worried]

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Spice Terminus Station, Docking Bay
    39, Parmic Sector, Llanic Spice Route,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    Filthy osik-eating aruetiise-loving -

    "WHAT!?" Morgax raged, stomping across the hangar bay toward the converted battle barge he and his contingent of Death Watch were using for transportation. The craft looked ready enough to go, but the main hangar door was closed - not just with the usual mag-con field, but literally by the blast shield.

    "We're having problems with port control, Alor. Something about a programming glitch," one of the maintenance officers said, while several of the other Death Watch members who hadn't been on the raid against the Atin scurried to get the ship ready to go.

    Morgax closed his eyes, ready to launch into another stream of profanity, when his Force-sense spiked. "We're about to have company ... if it's port control about to give me grief about what happened in Durron's docking bay, I'm going to take my berth rental fee out of some bureaucrat's hide!" the blond-haired man snarled.

    "Well, someone's about to get skinned, that's for sure."

    "SHABUIRADE!" Morgax raged, watching the airlock cycle open and admit Durron, Dalonera, that Twi'lek schutta, Dalonera's Ewok pet, and Durron's astromech - they'd actually followed him and his troops?

    I only ever wanted to give you the galaxy, Dalonera. But you had to reject me, to run around with non-Mando vermin, Morgax grieved, igniting the Darksaber.

    "Fine. This is the last," he snarled. "For Shae, for Pre, for all my Vizsla ancestors ..."

    "Time to die."

    -------------------------------------------

    "Are you sure this is a good idea? You might need us," Val'shira asked, but Kyp shook his head - the plan had been hastily thought out, but it was solid on the surface.

    "We need you and Qewpee to get the Death Watch astrogation data. It might help shave off some travel time. We'll be fine," Kyp reassured the Twi'lek female. Val'shira shook her head, her worry obvious, but she followed Qewpee as the R2 unit bravely rolled forward through what was starting to become a free-fire zone.

    Well, for as long as that lasted.

    "YUB - TAL'DIN!!!!" Norbok howled, charging forward as fast as his stubby legs could carry him, brandishing a shiny steel axe. Kyp actually flinched a bit at the Ewok's battle cry, recognizing the Mandalorian word for "blood," and turned to focus on his own targets - three beskad-wielding swordsbeings, one of whom was female.

    "Should've stayed at your ship, Durron. The Alor will reward us for killing you - and we're not fresh recruits," the tallest of the Death Watch bladesbeings snarled, lunging forward.

    "Good to know. I'd hate to be disappointed," Kyp bantered, digging deep into the Force. While Juyo was a useful offensive lightsaber form, it had its limits; it was primarily for one-on-one duelling, and was meant mostly for a fast victory. Multiple opponents could easily overwhelm even a Juyo master,
  18. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Super edge of seatness there and Kyp is just awesome LOL

    ;)
  19. Onderon1 Force Ghost

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    star 4

    Jade_eyes: Thanks. :D Kyp's not down by a long shot, but he could use some help ...

    To be introduced in this very chapter. [face_thinking]

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Spice Terminus Station, Docking Bay
    44, Parmic Sector, Llanic Spice Route,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    Ejen knew it was bad when he felt Master Kyp's Force-presence - flicker.

    "Something's happened," he told Karina while they waited in the Atin's main hold. He thought the Cathar lady - she was 18, so to Ejen, she wasn't a girl anymore - was nice, and she'd told him about how green Vohai was. There were even cities there, instead of just the small scrub towns that Molavar had.

    Karina squinted, nodding, and she reminded Ejen of a felinx he'd seen once hunting rodii near a butcher shop. "I feel it too. Master Durron's Force signature is - there, but ... dimming," she said, looking (and through the Force, feeling) scared for a second.

    Ejen's comlink rang and he answered it with a quick, "Ejen here - Captain Milthiad?"

    "Ejen, thank the manda you paid attention to Durron. Listen to me VERY carefully - get the medkit from nearby the game table, give it to Karina, and then go check on the engines. I left them warming up just in case something like this happened. If port control gives you any grief, stall them as long as you can. We'll be there inside five minutes - probably closer to two. Be ready to leave," Captain Milthiad said, serious and sad.

    That just meant that it was really bad, and Ejen had to take a deep breath - he couldn't panic or run away. "We'll be ready, ma'am," he promised, getting the kit and handing it and the comlink to Karina before running for the cockpit.

    Please, Master Kyp, be OK ...

    -----------------------------------------

    How would I feel if Master Stast was hurt? Karina thought, sympathy for Ejen filling her as she checked the comlink.

    "Captain, this is Karina. Ejen's gone to check on the ship's systems - what do you need me to do?" Karina asked, setting aside her instinctive mistrust of the Mandalorian captain. After all, Master Durron and the others seemed to trust her, and the massacre at Cathar Prime had been almost 4,000 years ago.

    And I listened to too many of Mother's racist stories, Karina recalled, ashamed of herself until Captain Milthiad's voice replied.

    "We need bandages, and prep a medpac. And tweezers - SHAB, people, MOVE! He's losing a lot of -" Karina heard, and then there was a noise at the bottom of the ramp.

    She sprang into action, getting the items ready, as Captain Milthiad and Val'shira carried Master Durron - Val'shira had his legs, the Captain his arms - aboard, and Norbok and Qewpee followed. "Yub! I get us out of here," the Ewok called, running for the cockpit with Qewpee following.

    "Keep Ejen up there until we get a better idea of how bad this is!" the Captain yelled. She closed the hatch, and the freighter started to rumble as the repulsors came online. Karina was glad of the distraction, because there was a lot of blood on Master Durron's tunic when the other women set him on one of the cots that had been set up.

    "I'm not a field medic - NORBOK! Plug in Qewpee, see if the astrogation data she swiped has a faster route to Vohai! Kyp needs a doctor, NOW, and we don't dare stick around Spice Terminus!" the Captain yelled into the intercom.

    But, if he needs a medic ... no, Spice Terminus is full of people who probably want to kill Master Durron. The captain knows what she's doing, and maybe I can help, Karina reminded herself, trying to remember her Master's contacts.

    She watched Captain Milthiad open Master Durron's tunic, and all of them cringed involuntarily - the wound looked nasty. "The slug's in his abdomen ... Val, irrigate the wound. Karina, get me the tweezers and stand by with bandages and rags. We have to get that slug out before we do anything else. Typical of Morgax to use a slugthrower ...
  20. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    I admire greatly the help and composure of Karina and Ejen =D= even in the midst of strong worry.

    Yes, Kyp inspires strong emotions all right :* And he's not the type a lady "gets over" quickly if at all =P~ ;)



  21. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: More with Karina and Ejen's reactions will be in this very update - it's been a rather busy two days while Kyp was recovering. [face_thinking]

    And as for Dalonera ... more with her, as well. ;)

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Varkin, Vohai, Parmel Sector, Outer
    Rim Territories: Two standard days before
    previous chapter's ending:
    -----------------------------------------------

    "Yub ... Dalonera, hyperdrive is redlining," Norbok said, concern obvious in his voice as Dalonera drummed her fingers on the main control panel.

    "It'll handle it. We're both good mechanics," Dalonera said, unusually distracted - she blinked at that, was she distracted?

    Well, clearly, given that six standard hours went by ... she thought, a little embarrassed. Then again, she had reason, waiting as she was for the osik'la hyperspace reversion alarm to go off.

    To tell them that they'd made it to Vohai. To saving the life of -

    Shab, I have it bad. But then, Kyp got shot helping me ... Dalonera remembered, fighting the urge to go check on Kyp again. Through the Force, she could sense that he was stable.

    That, and after the first three hourly checks, Val'shira had not so subtly suggested that Dalonera get some rest and leave Kyp to his own much-needed slumber. Between Ejen, Qewpee, Karina and Val'shira, Kyp was hardly alone back in the main hold.

    Then again, it wasn't like he was leaving Dalonera alone, either.

    The breep breep breep of the reversion alarm went off, and Dalonera had to restrain herself from shoving the motivator switch forward as she brought the Atin back into realspace. Vohai, blue and green and surrounded by orbital platforms and ship-filled approach vectors, appeared at a safe distance. "Yub. I bring us in," Norbok offered.

    Dalonera nodded her thanks, hitting the intercom button. "Karina," she called, "We're at Vohai. We need you up here to call your medic contact."

    "On my way, Captain. He's still asleep," the Cathar said, kinder than she might've had to. Dalonera could still sense the young adult Padawan's caution around her and Norbok, and didn't entirely blame Karina. There were still Mando'ade who had a sick taste for hunting Cathar, even millennia after the shameful massacre at Cathar Prime.

    The past leaves its marks ... Dalonera thought, trying not to blush as she remembered ... time with Kyp.

    She nodded as Karina entered the cockpit, followed by Ejen, who looked out with awe at the temperate world in the main viewport. "It's ... I can feel it, in the Force - strong with life. Not like Molavar," the boy said.

    He blushed a bit, then, but Dalonera gave him a reassuring smile. "Don't be embarrassed. The first time I saw Desevro after growing up on Vor'paya, I felt like a farm kid too - out of my depth. Just don't bite off more than you can chew while you're down there, and you'll be fine," she said to Ejen, and he relaxed a bit.

    "Thanks, Captain. I ... after we get Master Kyp to the medic, I'd like to ask you and Norbok a favor. It's time I got serious about my training - and about being careful," Ejen said, suddenly sounding years older. Dalonera traded a look with Norbok; the bajur'ad had clearly been affected by what'd happened to Kyp.

    Then again, almost all of them had. Nevertheless, Dalonera promised herself she'd help Ejen - and keep an eye on him while Kyp was recovering.

    For the moment, she turned back to Karina, who'd donned the comm station headset and was working with the comm panel. After a moment, the Cathar smiled with a fangy grin and said, "Master Stast? This is Karina. I'm unhurt, and with friends, but we need Dr. Tarvis' services. We're bringing a wounded Jedi Master in to Varkin. He needs treatment immediately ... yes, Master, one of the Yavin Masters. The rest of the Order have survived the war. Requesting clearance to land at the Praxeum ... yes, Master. Thanks. See you soon."

    She removed the headset, pressing a series of butto
  22. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Karina's got the best of both sides of her heritage :)

    It's good that it's honed more and she learns other skills [face_thinking]

    Finding her dad will be a very NICE d'aww! moment :D

    She is like Ejen in many ways - coming from hard pasts but showing a lot of emotional strength and compassion and courage. @};-
  23. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4

    Jade_eyes: More about Karina's past will be forthcoming over the next few chapters (and, indeed, for much of the 'fic); while she's not Juhani, she has had her rough moments while finding her identity (and that quest will be continuing). [face_thinking]

    Meanwhile, here's a short ([face_blush]) update, getting back to Kyp. :D

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Varkin, Vohai, Parmel Sector, Outer
    Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    Once he'd had a chance to shower and dress, Kyp took Dr. Buan's advice and moved slowly, toward where he could sense the Force-presences and life-signs of his companions - he was still a little winded from the slugthrower wound.

    At the same time, he also looked around the praxeum's topmost floor. As with Socorro, the Vohai Praxeum maintained a disguise; the top floor was disguised as an export/import warehouse, while the majority of the training facilities were in a series of sublevels below.

    The major difference between Vohai and Socorro, however, was that the living facilities were above-ground, and the "warehouse" had several gardens and skylights. One of Stast's senior apprentices, a Pantoran youth named Mar Tyu, showed Kyp around, but also sensed Kyp's impatience to check in with the others.

    "You're probably sick of the med-bay, Master. I understand. I broke a leg once while trying advanced acrobatics, and Dr. Buan fixed me right up. But I had to put up with his lectures the whole time, and at every checkup," Mar said, keeping his voice low while he led Kyp into the central garden.

    "For a non-Force-sensitive, Buan's got a good skill set for treating Jedi. I won't complain too much, as long as he doesn't," Kyp said politely. The truth was, he agreed with the Padawan - the Mrlssi doctor was pushy - but getting shot had reminded Kyp rather bluntly about his own need to pay attention to his surroundings.

    Not that my danger sense failed me; it did go off. Problem was that it wasn't fast enough. I'm starting to think I'm getting soft, Kyp worried, thanking Mar when they found the main garden. The Pantoran teen left, and Kyp turned to wave to the rest of the Atin's crew.

    Only to stop and blink at a most unexpected tableau.

    Val'shira, Qewpee, Norbok and Karina looked the same as before. The Twi'lek female wore a simple tan jumpsuit with her blaster pistol at her right hip, while Qewpee was shining orangish-pink and white and chrome in Vohai's sunlight. Norbok was working on what looked like one of his axes, and Karina sat cross-legged, levitating a little.

    But it was Ejen and Dalonera who surprised Kyp.

    Dalonera was wearing a sweatsuit, instead of her beskar'gam, and she was flipping through a datapad. Logically, Kyp recognized that his ex wouldn't always wear armor, but seeing her let her guard down in a Jedi praxeum was ... different.

    Not as different as Ejen, though, Kyp realized, watching his Padawan - who was wearing a green and blue suit of Mandalorian armor, with the helmet sitting nearby - concentrate. Something that looked like a four-tined sawblade rotated around the boy, who'd also cropped his sandy blond hair into a crewcut (probably to make wearing the helmet easier, Kyp figured).

    Kyp coughed a little, also amplifying his Force-presence a bit, and the others looked at him with surprise - then, from all but Norbok, happy expressions. (The Ewok just nodded, then went back to polishing his axe.)

    "Master Kyp! You're out of bacta," Ejen greeted. He plucked the flying sawblade (a Zeison Sha discblade, Kyp recognized) out of midair carefully, placing the weapon in a leather case on his hip, and clasped Kyp's hand in greeting while the others gathered around.

    "And you're ... looking seriously better-protected than the last time I saw you. I'm guessing the armor is Norbok's work?" Kyp asked, while Ejen smiled a bit more and Norbok nodded.

    "Yub. Squib has decent forge on lower levels. Yub. I keep spare beskar on Atin. Not hard to create new suit,"
  24. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Oooh, I'm for leaving Laskan that way but I suppose his possible info is too important - did enjoy seeing Ejen's progress through Kyp's eyes and woot he and Dalo'nera ;)

    Sizzly sparks still there it seems [face_laugh]

  25. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: Ejen has definitely made progress, but whether it's positive is a legitimate question. There're still quite a bit of issues he has to deal with ... maybe sooner than later. [face_thinking]

    As for Kyp and Dalonera ... more below. [face_whistling]

    -----------------------------------------------
    28.4 ABY: Varkin, Vohai, Parmel Sector, Outer
    Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    This is ridiculous ...

    "I exercise plenty - lightsaber sparring, hand-to-hand practice, fighter simulators," Kyp insisted, looking down at Tarvis Buan.

    The Mrlssi doctor shook his head and pointed at the treadmill, then at Kyp, who was wearing modest workout shorts, a T-shirt and shoes. "All of which are contra-indicated for someone who was shot in the spleen, at least for a few more weeks. You were lucky I was able to salvage the organ. You can walk while I do some diagnostics," Tarvis snapped.

    Inwardly, Kyp heard a small, horribly embarrassing voice whine, Don' wanna walk. And the bird can't make me.

    Was that my inner child? Kyp worried, thanking the sea-gods of Deyer that he hadn't crossed his arms and pouted.

    Well, not outwardly, anyhow.

    "Look, Durron, either you can walk or I can give you to Captain Milthiad. She was saying something about Mandalorian 'motivational techniques,' which I hope I mistranslated - my Mando'a is still my poorest language. Last thing I need is to have to stitch you back together after she gets all stabby-stabby with one of those freaky knives," Tarvis warned, shuddering with just a little melodrama on the last words.

    Kyp repressed a snerk at the thought of how embarrassed the doctor would be if he had to witness Dalonera's real motivational techniques. Oh, great. From my inner child to my inner adolescent. At this rate, I might actually achieve emotional maturity by the time the mad doctor gives up, he mused.

    On the other hand, Dalonera's motivational techniques might be helpful ...

    No. Oh, no no no. Hot ship captain or not, reopening a romantic can of space slugs with my ex-girlfriend is too risky right now - did I just think 'hot'!? Great, now I'm dealing with my inner frat boy, Kyp groaned, shaking his head.

    He got on the treadmill, turning the speed dial to 2, and said, "I'm not going to overdo it."

    "Good," Buan said, actually pleased. "That's what I've been saying all along! Just work back up to your usual pace, and we'll discuss how soon you can return to Jedi exercises. I'll run some diagnostic scans."

    The Mrlssi walked to and fro, clucking a bit every so often - Kyp had to resist a mean-spirited comparison to Vergere when he heard the noises - as Kyp started to walk. It wasn't as simple as he'd thought it would be, and that troubled him.

    I'm only 35. I can't be so out of shape that walking is tough ... except for getting shot by a slugthrower ... and the various extravehicular incidents with the Dozens ... and the fights with the Vong and so many thugs ... and compacting myself in that message drone years ago when I finished the Sun Crusher ... and the time I spent as Exar Kun's host ... and the slave labor before that ...

    Kyp hadn't ever really stopped to think about just how much he'd endured over the years - both self-inflicted and otherwise. He'd been lucky to survive Kessel, although Luke would say it'd been the will of the Force; and then there'd been the bleak, savage bitterness of being a Sith apprentice, and then the youthful recklessness of Knighthood, and the Vong War ...

    Wow. Lucky I'm not a mass of scars, Kyp realized, shaking his head clear - he was getting introspective, and that bothered him. Really, that was the central problem he was facing anyway.

    I'm a man of action. Give me an idiot to hit or a dark-sider to fight or an asteroid field to navigate, I'm good. Kark, I'm not even a half-bad sparring instructor when it comes to lightsaber technique. But this whole trip's been more about learning, negotiating, putting back together ...
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