1. 2017 Fan Fiction Awards!

Before - Legends The Blue Side of the Force: Book I- Complements (9/28 - to find a mysterious planet)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Commander-DWH, Aug 15, 2005.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. LaForzaViva Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2008
    star 1
    Just fantastic.

    Thank you, honestly, for this story. You've inspired me to return to writing (as has SoA's own KotOR story) and I can't thank you enough for that. I hope there's more to come, and soon! [face_praying]
  2. Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2003
    star 4
    *blows dust off thread*

    Wow, apologies, all. I really let my writing slide- Darth Real Life got the best of me, and I got wrapped up in my NaNo ovel (in which Leiraya grows up into her own fully original character, no Star Wars added!), but I'm not finished with this story just yet. I'm determined to see this through to the end, and on that note, I have a chapter for you.

    But first, replies!

    Striker: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed, and I'm really sorry the reply took so long. :oops:

    Ale: Thanks. :p Gotta love the candor of Canderous (see what I did there?).

    emerald54: Not as hard as you think- we're not talking slave Leia here, she's got a very full skirt. It won't be too hard to strap it to her leg and hide it there. Thanks for reading! :)

    SoA: Aiden pushes himself, maybe a little too hard. We shall see if it comes back to bite him. Also, thank you for poking me into finishing this chapter. ;)

    LaForzaViva: Thank you. It's inspiring to me to know that my writing has inspired others... my posting schedule may not always reflect this, but really, your kind words mean a lot. So thanks. :)

    Anyhoodle! I finally knocked out this chapter. I'll be honest, Korriban is killing me, and I can't wait to get off this planet.



    So, my lovelies. I just discovered that my document containing my entire story is corrupt, and I'm going to have to do some technical wizardry to get it back. But fear not! I have mad computing skillz and by golly, I will make it happen. Hopefully in the next day or two. Until then... uhh....

    [link=http://s19.photobucket.com/albums/b179/JediDWH/Leiraya%20Moran/]Look at this shiny album of pictures of the Leiraya costume I made![/link]

    Sorry folks, I'll work on fixing this file and having the new chapter up as soon as possible.

    To the techie-mobile... away!
  3. Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2003
    star 4
    Document uncorrupted!

    That actually didn't take so long, but what took a while was fixing all the punctuation. It took my quotes and apostraphes and replaced them with spaces, and nuked all my italics. It did this for the whole document. I definitely have not rescued the whole document's punctuation/italicization yet, but I do have a nicely reformatted chapter for you.

    Chapter 41

    Dustil Onasi hated very few things, and of that he was rather proud. His fellow Sith were often full of hate, and he found it made them irrational. Though it wasn?t necessarily an intuitive leap of logic for a Sith, he found that if he could detach himself from the situation, he had a much easier time finding his enemy?s weakness. Which, around the Academy, was often centered around hate or anger. Cold as ice, they d called him.

    One thing, however, made him seethe, and that was his father.

    He hadn?t even realized how badly his father offended him. For the most part, he had pretended the man didn?t exist. It wasn?t that hard. He?d always been away with the military when he was a child, even before the Mandalorian Wars started. His mother, on the other hand, he missed her more than he would ever admit to his classmates. She was the one who had always been there for him, fixed up his wounds, helped him with his homework... everything that most kids he knew had two parents to help with. And then she?d died, and father hadn t come until just now, and it was seriously disturbing his calm.

    He wasn?t sure what was worse- that the man had left, or that now that he was back, he seemed sincere. Dustil never figured his father would come looking for him, not after all these years. But somehow he?d managed to infiltrate the Sith Academy, and if the action didn?t say enough, he could feel the emotion rolling off the man in waves. All the relief, joy, hurt and anger mixed into a giant bundle, and worst of all, he could tell that the only thing holding those emotions together was love.

    Dustil didn not like having his notions upset. This man was not the monster he d thought of as his father for years.

    And so he?d taken to meditation. Isolated, he had less of a chance of broadcasting his thoughts to his classmates. That was the last thing he needed- to let them know that he, too, had weaknesses. He?d worked hard to maintain the illusion that he brooked no unnecessary emotion.

    That, of course, begged the question of whether or not his emotion was unnecessary. To be fair to himself, he hadn?t seen his father in years, and hadn?t had a reason to think well of him in that time.

    He sat silently for nearly an hour, centering himself, before he felt the very presence that was most likely going to undo all the work he had just done. Still, he wasn?t going to allow himself the irritation. If he was irritated, that would lead to anger, which would lead to who even knew what. He shoved his annoyance below the icy surface, where he always kept it, and stood to face the entrance to the hallway by the time his father walked in, this time with two people in tow- the woman, Leiraya, he?d met before, and another man he?d seen around, but didn t know.

    ?Father.? He said flatly. ?I trust you have a reason for this visit??

    ?I do,? his father said calmly, and handed over a datapad, which Dustil accepted suspiciously. ?I think you?ll find this interesting.?

    Dustil opened the file on the datapad and started reading. As he scanned through the text of the file, his eyes went wide, and he looked back up, a dangerous look on his face. ?Where did you get this??

    The unfamiliar man answered, a mischievous look in his eye as he ruffled his own dark hair. ?Oh, we might have liberated it from Master Uthar?s quarters.?

    ?No,? Dustil shook his head, stepping backwards. ?This can?t be true. There?s no way.?

    ?I?m sorry, son,? his father s voice came, infuriatingly gentle.

    ?I thought... they said... she went home,? he insisted, choking the words out. ?She wasn?t up to Sith standards, so she went back to her family on Chandrila. And wha
  4. SoA Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2008
    star 3

    Aiden is growing more amusing. I can totally support his wish to retire after all this. It has been a traumatic couple of months.

    Hoorah for Dustil too.
  5. LaForzaViva Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2008
    star 1

    Also add me to the PM list in case you're doing one. I love how Aiden reacts to the stress in the academy - that's something definitely unexplored by the game when you send a Jedi down into the academy to just sort of hang out with the Sithly folks. And I liked the perspective from Dustil and his wondering who the real adults were.

    More por favor!
  6. RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2003
    star 7
    Keep me on the PM list, please. :) Also, some interesting twists and turns, there. I take it the droid in the cave was part of the game?
  7. Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2003
    star 4
    SoA: In fairness, you are part of my distraction from writing. :p

    LaForzaViva: Absolutely! I know this next part was a long time in coming, but from here on out it should be less spread out. I'm so glad you're enjoying the story!

    Striker: Yeah, the droid was actually one of my favourite caves. There's something hilarious to me about the mental image of a droid just wandering out and rocketing off to freedom. :D Thanks for your continued patience with my slow updates.

    And on that note, I actually wrote... not all the way to the end, but very near it for NaNoWriMo. Some of it's a little garbled, but it's within fairly easy editing distance. In any case, the posting interval should be much shorter now that I have so much of it finished. Huzzah!

    Chapter 42

    For perhaps the millionth time since arriving on Korriban, Aiden wondered what in the name of the Force he was doing.

    Masters Uthar and Yuthura had left him at the mouth of Naga Sadow?s tomb with little to guide him but for his goal of retrieving his true Sith lightsaber at the end. After all, they couldn?t have him running around with that distinctive Jedi blue longer than they had to. Frankly, he?d been surprised they hadn?t made him swap out the crystal sooner. Maybe they were trying to make him feel like he couldn?t belong until he had earned it? Whatever their reasons, Aiden wasn?t about to try to sort them all out. Not now, with the biggest trial he?d faced so far before him, and without his friends there to help him.

    He closed his eyes and tried to center himself by reaching into that place where he?d always been able to find Bastila. He hadn?t felt her there since Malak took her, but it was a reflex he couldn?t shake, and didn?t really want to. It was probably a silly hope, but he couldn?t help but believe that one day, he?d look there and her presence would be there, comforting and judging and friendly and critical and everything that made Bastila a good teacher and a good friend all at once. Sure, she drove everyone a little crazy, but he?d grown to like her for it. Maybe even more than that, but she?d been ripped away before he?d had the chance to do anything to figure that out.

    Shaking his head, he tried his best to clear such thoughts from his head. If this tomb was anything like the others, and all reports held that it was much worse, he was going to have to be paying the best of attention to his surroundings if he had any hope of surviving.

    With no map in hand and no real idea of the layout of the tomb, besides knowing that there were some large and angry lifeforms down the corridor to his right, he decided to explore the area to the left first.

    His footsteps echoed eerily in the hallways. The only other sound was the distant grunting of what sounded like more than one wraid, and the pounding of his heart in his ears. He tried to breathe deeply and slowly as he pressed forward. Fear would do him no good. Fear was the path to the dark side. The dark side was why he was here in the first place. He shook his head again, as though it would fling the unwanted thoughts out his ears and splatter them against the stone walls. He couldn?t dwell on that, not here, not now-


    All concerns about the dark side left his head immediately as he spun around, just in time to see the door he hadn?t even noticed behind him slide closed. He jogged the few steps back to it and pushed, but it had no give. Across the way, he saw an identical door, also closed.

    ?Great, just great,? he sighed aloud. The sound of his own voice was somewhat startling, but made it seem a little less lonely in there. ?Well, either this is the lamest trap the Sith have ever come up with to weed out initiates, or there is a way out.?

    Examining the room, he could see that there was a large and ancient looking mechanical apparatus, hooked up to a computer that was older than any he?d seen this side of a Star Map. Who knew, maybe it was even from the same era. Seeing nothing else to do in the room, he blew the dust off the
  8. SoA Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2008
    star 3
    That was well worth the wait. Well done including those infuriating tomb puzzles. I particularily enjoyed the banter between Aiden and Yuthura at the end. For an ex-Sith Lord, Aiden really is pretty chill.
  9. RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2003
    star 7
    Aye, worth the wait. Ah, Aiden. Out of the frying pan and all that. [face_laugh] You almost make me want to play the games.
  10. Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2003
    star 4
    Thanks for reading before the move, SoA and Striker! Unfortunately, anyone who didn't see that last chapter in the week before the old boards closed now can't read it due to truncated posts.

    Now, I'm left with a few options. I've actually written at least three chapters beyond this one (I haven't divided it all up yet, but it's there), and am in fact almost done with the story as a whole. Yay being almost finished! Unfortunately, new readers are going to be super lost because, well, most of the story isn't here anymore. I also can't just have an epic copy pasta session, since the document containing this story is extremely large, has been corrupted and rescued.... and has about 200 pages with no punctuation. Clearly this is no good. And I'm a little reluctant to fix up the punctuation when my big project for November is a massive global edit of this story.

    I hate leaving new readers out in the cold, but I also don't want to make those of you who have been reading this story since the beginning (seven years now! Yikes, this has taken me a long time) wait even longer for the end.

    So, I guess my question is how you guys would like to experience the end. Should I:

    • Be evil, start the global edit and make you wait for another 6-12 months to get to the end
    • Post the rest really quickly! I WANT MAH STORY ENDING NOW.
    • Post at a normal-ish rate, finish it up, finish the global edit, and start over.
    I'll probably post on a weekly or biweekly basis from here to the end, since, oh hey, it's almost finished. But I'd like your feedback, as consumers of the story.
    Unrelatedly, the copy/paste format preservation on these boards is GLORIOUS. Posting has never been so easy! [face_love]

    Anyway, enough of my yammering. Here it is again, in all its untruncated glory:

    Chapter 42

    For perhaps the millionth time since arriving on Korriban, Aiden wondered what in the name of the Force he was doing.

    Masters Uthar and Yuthura had left him at the mouth of Naga Sadow’s tomb with little to guide him but for his goal of retrieving his true Sith lightsaber at the end. After all, they couldn’t have him running around with that distinctive Jedi blue longer than they had to. Frankly, he’d been surprised they hadn’t made him swap out the crystal sooner. Maybe they were trying to make him feel like he couldn’t belong until he had earned it? Whatever their reasons, Aiden wasn’t about to try to sort them all out. Not now, with the biggest trial he’d faced so far before him, and without his friends there to help him.

    He closed his eyes and tried to center himself by reaching into that place where he’d always been able to find Bastila. He hadn’t felt her there since Malak took her, but it was a reflex he couldn’t shake, and didn’t really want to. It was probably a silly hope, but he couldn’t help but believe that one day, he’d look there and her presence would be there, comforting and judging and friendly and critical and everything that made Bastila a good teacher and a good friend all at once. Sure, she drove everyone a little crazy, but he’d grown to like her for it. Maybe even more than that, but she’d been ripped away before he’d had the chance to do anything to figure that out.

    Shaking his head, he tried his best to clear such thoughts from his head. If this tomb was anything like the others, and all reports held that it was much worse, he was going to have to be paying the best of attention to his surroundings if he had any hope of surviving.

    With no map in hand and no real idea of the layout of the tomb, besides knowing that there were some large and angry lifeforms down the corridor to his right, he decided to explore the area to the left first.

    His footsteps echoed eerily in the hallways. The only other sound was the distant grunting of what sounded like more than one wraid, and the pounding of his heart in his ears. He tried to breathe deeply and slowly as he pressed forward. Fear would do him no good. Fear was the path to the dark side. The dark side was why he was here in the first place. He shook his head again, as though it would fling the unwanted thoughts out his ears and splatter them against the stone walls. He couldn’t dwell on that, not here, not now-


    All concerns about the dark side left his head immediately as he spun around, just in time to see the door he hadn’t even noticed behind him slide closed. He jogged the few steps back to it and pushed, but it had no give. Across the way, he saw an identical door, also closed.

    “Great, just great,” he sighed aloud. The sound of his own voice was somewhat startling, but made it seem a little less lonely in there. “Well, either this is the lamest trap the Sith have ever come up with to weed out initiates, or there is a way out.”

    Examining the room, he could see that there was a large and ancient looking mechanical apparatus, hooked up to a computer that was older than any he’d seen this side of a Star Map. Who knew, maybe it was even from the same era. Seeing nothing else to do in the room, he blew the dust off the terminal and activated the power button.

    The machine thrummed ominously to life as the screen lit up, displaying energy levels for four systems, and controls that seemed to indicate he could transfer them between the three pillars.

    “Caution,” he read, “’Some of the systems are very delicate and an improper transfer of power can cause the system to overload. To unseal the chamber, you must transfer all the power systems to the rightmost pillar.’ Well, isn’t that the best thing I’ve read all day? Ancient computer systems and puzzles. Just what I always wanted.” He paused, as if one of his companions would magically materialize and supply a witty reply, but was greeted only with the continuous thrum of the towers. “I guess I’ll just have to do… whatever this thing wants me to do.”

    He scrutinized the instructions detailing how he could transfer the power, wishing fervently that Carth or Canderous or even Mission were there with him. All of them, he was pretty sure, had a better grasp on mechanics than he did, and this looked like an engineering problem.

    Breathe, he reminded himself. Somewhere inside you is the guy who built HK-47. Just remember that. After several deep, calming breaths, he managed to steady himself, reaching to the Force for inspiration. As he sank deeper into its currents, he could feel the thrum of the energy, nearly a life force of its own. Even when he closed his eyes, he could see the particles swirling around, and the delicate balance between them.

    Energy. It’s just another part of life, a part of the Force. The more he calmed himself, the more obvious this fact became. He thought back to the Leviathan, when Leiraya discharged excess electricity from Carth’s body, and ventured a small smile. In matters of the Force, he knew he was on top of things, and now that he’d made the connection, the puzzle didn’t seem so intimidating. Looking back at the screen, he began to manipulate controls, ever feeling the balance of the energy, and listening when the Force suggested that his next move would end poorly. It was a concert of electrons, and he was the conductor. He was half tempted to wave his arms around in a pantomime of what he felt like he was doing, but he also realized he lacked the grace to carry off such a thing, even in private.

    It was a mere matter of minutes before the puzzle was solved. So attuned to the flow of the energy was he that it was startling when, after a brief moment of pure harmony, the entire system shut down and the doors pulled open.

    Grinning to himself, he couldn’t help but chuckle. “Not bad, Star. Not bad at all.”

    He walked through the door to face a giant statue of who he assumed to be Naga Sadow himself, judging by the ominous expression. Mounted directly beneath it was a sword. Aiden picked it up and looked at it critically. He caught a whiff of what smelled like poison and held it far from his face. “Poison blade. Yeah, that’s a tool of the Sith.” Shrugging, he decided to hold on to it. If he wasn’t mistaken, the two angry lifeforms he’d felt down the other end of the hall were Tarantareks, and he’d barely survived meeting them before even with the help of his friends. Poison was a pretty underhanded tool, but anything to weaken that grade of monster was a good thing in his book.

    As he made his way back down the hallway, he tried to formulate a plan based on the things he had with him. Too bad I didn’t think to bring Leiraya’s bag of goodies, he lamented internally. Land mines had proven extremely effective against the Tarantarek on Kashyyyk, and he simply didn’t have room to carry any in his belt pouches. A quick inventory of his supplies included a blaster pistol, his lightsaber, a plasma grenade, a sonic grenade, and now a poisoned sword.

    He slowed his approach, knowing the Tarantarek in the next room would be able to smell their next Force-sensitive meal before too long. He wanted to think he could enter the room, perhaps strike a heroic pose, and Jedi his way out of things. However, he knew better than that. Hefting the sonic grenade, he held back and waited until he could sense the two monsters were situated in the same relative area of the room. Once they were, he wasted no time. He ran like a man with nothing left to lose into the cavern, and hurled the grenade at the monsters, using the Force to land it directly between the two Tarantarek even as they turned to face him. He braced himself against the shock, building a wall of Force energy to act as a buffer. When the shock subsided, the two stunned looking monsters still lumbered towards him, but more slowly.

    Heroics be damned. He hurled the poison blade at them and began his run, guiding the blade to strike each one at what he hoped was a weak point, before calling it back to his hand as he ran through the rest of the cavern at a full sprint and dove through the far doorway whose door was mercifully too small for the Tarantarek to follow, even if he hadn’t hurt them. He picked himself off the ground and brushed the dust from his increasingly abused robes, which bore a couple of fresh tears from the dive. Surveying the room, he found himself faced with two opposing obelisks- one appeared to be made of molten rock, and the other of ice. Neither exuded any temperature difference, so he assumed the effect to be for the drama, but it was certainly compelling. Upon further investigation, both held grenades. He pocketed both, knowing that if he only chose one, he’d want the other.

    “Nothing else in the room? Great.” He took a deep breath. “I could go out there and face the ugly Sith monsters, or just… talk to myself.” He paused. “Yeah, I should not make a habit of this talking to myself thing.”

    Peering through the doorway, the Tarantarek were still slowed, but clearly angry. Hopefully his poison was setting in. Maybe if he just sat here, they’d die on their own… or, the poison will wear off and I’ll have to fight them at full strength. No, better to get this over with while they’re weak.

    He armed the plasma grenade and tossed it in their direction, ducking back behind the door as he did so. He’d already gotten one nasty burn from fighting these monsters, he didn’t need any more.

    The explosion nearly rocked him off his feet and he could feel the heat exuding from the entryway. Not wanting to waste any time, he held the poison blade in his off-hand and lit his lightsaber in the other and charged into the main cavern. He was greeted by the sight of charred walls and two injured and very angry Tarantarek. Centering himself as best he could, he ran straight at the one that seemed weaker, launching into a flying flip over its head. As he reached the apex, he thrust down into what he was pretty sure was the area between the creature’s head and neck with both blades. The poison blade barely impacted, but the lightsaber punched through. He heard an angry wail as he completed his path towards the ground, curling into a ball and hitting the ground in a rolling somersault back to his feet. The Tarantarek lurched a few more meters before collapsing. He couldn’t allow himself any moment of satisfaction, however, as one beast still remained, and much as a large part of him wanted to run, he also knew that the galaxy would be a better place without any such creatures in it.

    He jogged away from the remaining beast, running through his options. He’d used his grenades, and he wasn’t sure he’d get as good a shot at the other Tarantarek just by jumping over it. What he needed was space between him and the monster, and to switch things up a little. Still running, he deactivated his lightsaber and clipped it to his belt, and retrieved the blaster pistol he’d brought from its holster. This will either work, or kill me. One of the two. Aiden squeezed his eyes shut and threw himself fully into the Force. Without breaking his stride, he threw his arm back and let the currents of the Force guide his aim. The first bolt hit the monster above the eye, and it barely left a mark. It irritated the creature, though, as it threw its head back in an angry roar. Aiden seized the chance. He stood his ground, turned around, and as the monster’s head came back down, still open, he hurled the poison blade directly into the monster’s gaping maw, firing shots into the soft tissue of his mouth. It lumbered towards Aiden, waving its craggy arms in pain and desperation before falling forward and letting out a final heaving breath, stopping only inches from Aiden’s feet. He could smell the beast’s acrid breath as it rolled over him in waves, but he was too stunned to be nauseous.

    Aiden stood still for a full minute, breathing heavily and processing the fact that somehow, in spite of the extreme stupidity of his heroics in that moment, he was alive. Alive.Either I am amazing, or the Force really can’t stand to see me die. He suspected the later was the case, else he never would have gotten himself into this position in the first place by being captured by Bastila.

    Bastila. The thought smacked him back into the present, and the task at hand. He wasn’t just in here to slay ancient Sith monsters, he was here to retrieve the Star Map. Forcing himself to move, he jogged around the corpse of the Tarantarek and back down the corridor. Reaching the center of the corridor, he looked to his right. It was the only path he hadn’t yet taken, and he was pretty sure the Star Map was that way. It was hard to sort out any sort of concentration of dark side energy on this planet, but something about that direction called to him.

    He made his way down the hall, stepping over bones and other, fresher remains of those who he could only assume never successfully completed their Sith trials. He shook his head sadly. What must it be like, he mused, not knowing if you’ll survive to join the Order of your choosing? The Jedi were tough taskmasters, and he seriously questioned their ethics in their dealings with him, but if there was one thing he could say with absolute certainty about the Jedi order is that if at all possible, they refused to let you die. If having your identity replaced is living.

    His journey ended at the edge of a pool of acid. The acrid smell pierced his nose; his gloved hand flew quickly up to shield it from the burning sensation as he took a few steps back. “Well,” he said out loud, “I did not see that coming.”

    * * *

    Carth paced while Leiraya nervously gathered their few belongings into a contained area. “In case we need to make a hasty retreat,” she’d said, and he’d agreed. Still, it was hard to stand here, not able to do anything. Even slipping into the cafeteria for a bite to eat was torturous- Aiden hadn’t been there long, but as was his tradition, he made a huge impression, and quickly. He’d gone from being some clown who won his entry in a drinking contest to a serious threat, and it did not escape the notice of the other Sith initiates that he brought his own people with him. He was no Jedi, but he could feel their coldly calculating eyes on his back the entire time. Even Leiraya, who was by far better equipped to defend herself if they decided to attack, shuffled out of the hall as quickly as she could.

    He didn’t bother to ask her if she thought Aiden was fine. She would have known if something bad happened, and hopefully long enough before the other Sith did that they’d be able to make a run for the Hawk if necessary. Stop thinking that, Carth admonished himself. Aiden knows what he’s doing.

    Leiraya stopped her packing to walk over to him and place her hand on his cheek. “Don’t worry,” she said, as cheerfully as she could manage. “Aiden’s gotten himself out of plenty of terrible situations.”

    “Yeah, and he usually had us, or other people on the crew to help him,” he replied, but his gaze softened. “Do you ever step back and look around yourself and wonder how you got to where you’re standing right now?”

    Leiraya nodded. “It’s a little insane.”

    Carth sighed. “I’ll be happy when I can go back to my normal job.”

    “And give up this life of espionage?” She teased, pulling him in for a quick hug. “Yeah, I think I agree.”

    “Are we ready to make a run when we need to?”

    Leiraya stepped back and held up her bag of assorted supplies. “It’s mostly in here.”

    “And that dancer’s outfit Aiden put you in the first day?”

    Leiraya frowned. “I don’t have room to pack it in here. If we run, it stays. What would I even use it for?”

    Carth shrugged innocently. “I’m just saying, it wasn’t a bad look for you.”

    “Sure, flyboy.” She raised an eyebrow, but grinned mischievously. “It was a pretty fantastic skirt, I’ll give you that. If by some miracle we don’t have to run for our lives, I’ll grab it on our way out.”

    “That sounds like a great plan.” He allowed himself a smile and pulled her in for a kiss.

    “Mmmph,” she grinned, pulling away. “Trying to distract yourself?”

    “Any objections?”

    “Not really,” she said, leaning back in for another, deeper kiss, allowing herself to ignore the dangers of the Academy around them, even if only for a short time.

    It wasn’t until she looked up and was reminded of the Academy’s open floor plan that she broke the kiss. “Uh.”

    Carth looked mildly worried, but chuckled. “What, is my breath that bad?”

    “More to the point,” she nodded her head towards the open corridor, “this place has no doors.”

    He groaned and laughed all at once, falling back and pulling her down by his side. “Right. Can’t have any funny business going on between initiates.”

    “Aiden did mention that they think love is dangerous.” Leiraya ran a hand through his hair. “So yes, definitely no funny business.”

    “It’s probably better for us to be alert whenever Aiden needs us,” Carth admitted ruefully. “Even though I was having more fun before you pointed out the door problem.”

    “I know, I’m just no fun at all.” She curled up. “Nothing says we can’t sit and wait instead of pace and wait.”

    “Nothing at all,” he agreed, pulling her close. “In fact, I like this much better.”

    “Me too.”

    * * *

    Aiden weighed the two grenades in his hand, ice and fire. He was pretty sure that one of these would get him across the pool of acid, and it didn’t take him long to decide that tossing a fire grenade into a pool of acid sounded like a supremely bad idea. Without a further thought of potential consequences, in part because he was too damn tired to analyze anything else, he threw the grenade into the center of the pool. The effect was impressive- the initial splash froze almost exactly in place, and the acid rapidly crystallized out from the center until it hit the edge of the pool. It was mere seconds before the pool appeared solid. He ripped a loose bit of fabric from his tunic and tossed it on the frozen acid at his feet. It didn’t burn, so he shrugged and moved forward. His boots only had moderate traction so he had to concentrate on keeping his balance- no telling how deep this pool was, or if he hit it at any sort of speed if he’d break the surface and burn himself to death. Fortunately, he never had to find out. He stepped on the other side of the pool and through a new door. Before him stood an all too familiar sight. He reached forward and stroked a control panel, and the Star Map folded open. Pulling his datapad out of the one large pocket he had, he plugged it into the map and set it to download the data before looking around the room.

    On the far wall was his supposed prize- a Sith lightsaber. It was all sharp edges and hardness, its silver pommel never quite round. It was almost as though it had been taken from a stone and polished into its current sheen. He flipped it on, the red blade thrumming to life. He’d had one just like this, once. It felt alien in his hands, and he wondered if that meant he really was the Jedi the council seemed to be trying to make him. Or maybe it was just that the weight of it was wrong. His old saber had always felt more balanced, and sat comfortably in his palm like it belonged there even before he built it.

    Aiden blinked, and almost dropped the saber. Where the hell did that come from? Was it holding a Sith saber again? He knew he couldn’t go back without it, but suddenly he had much less of a desire to touch it. He unclipped his Jedi saber and hooked the Sith saber to his belt, hoping that maybe holding the other saber would return his equilibrium.

    The datapad pinged as the data transfer finished, and he hastily gathered his things and made his way back across the acid pool and back to the tomb’s entryway.

    Master Uthar and Yuthura were waiting for him upon his arrival. “Congratulations,” Master Uthar intoned, sounding genuinely pleased. “I see you have retrieved the lightsaber, though you do not carry it. Curious.”

    Aiden tried to shrug nonchalantly. “I like the balance of this one better. I made it for myself, after all.”

    Master Uthar seemed unimpressed, but shrugged microscopically. “It is of little consequence. You can build another, if you like. But first, I do believe we have some business to deal with.” He turned to Yuthura. “I’m sorry, but I do believe I have found your replacement.”

    “Do you?” Yuthura raised her eyebrow nonchalantly. “I think not.”

    He grinned wickedly. “Oh, how little you know, Yuthura. Your overconfidence was always your weakness.”

    “No,” she shot back, “the overconfidence in this case is all yours. That poison you tried to give me? Please. I’m insulted you’d send an initiate to do your dirty work for you.”

    Master Uthar’s eyes narrowed. “You found it? It doesn’t matter, Initiate Star and I are more than a match for the likes of you.”

    “No, you blind fool,” Yuthura bit out. “If you had any understanding at all, you’d have realized by now that you’re the one who was poisoned.” She cast a glance over at Aiden. “You did put the vial in his quarters, didn’t you?”

    “It’s a slow working agent,” Uthar replied, understanding setting in. “But the effect is irreversible, and incurable. Blast. And here I thought you scoffed the idea of sending an initiate to do the work.”

    Yuthura shrugged. “He did it of his own initiative. That’s how he did a lot of things. It’s why I chose him to replace me when I take your job.”

    Master Uthar scowled. “So. You’re siding with her, then, Initiate?”

    Aiden nodded. “She did teach me most of what I learned here.”

    “So be it.” He grasped his lightsaber and lit it. “If I die, you will both be joining me.”

    Faster than Aiden would have thought possible from a man who had been ingesting poison over the last couple of days, Uthar charged between the two of them. Aiden lit his blue saber immediately, spinning out of the way and deflecting the crimson blade as it came down towards his head. So, Master Uthar thinks I’m probably the easier kill. His mistake. Aiden was pretty sure in a one-on-one battle he could have taken the Sith Master, but with Yuthura on his side, they had the clear advantage. She was already twisting and leaping, her red saber twirling gracefully through the air. In some ways, her style was what he imagined a very angry Leiraya’s might have been- all grace and beauty, but extremely deadly.

    With two opponents, Uthar was left with little choice but to try incapacitating one. Lightning arced from his fingertips towards Aiden. He caught the bolts on his saber, inching ever closer to the enraged but clearly weakening Sith Master. Yuthura kept up her flurry of assaults from the other side, holding his attention enough that he wasn’t paying attention to Aiden’s steady advance. He snarled. “You think you can win this?”

    Yuthura held his gaze and her stance, deflecting each of his blows with ease. “Yes.” Whirling around, she grabbed a pile of rocks from the corner with the Force and flung them directly at Uthar. His eyes widened, and he ceased his lightning attack as he warded off the rocks flying at him, but he was not fast enough to stop both the blades of Aiden and Yuthura. Aiden’s blade connected at his shoulder, and continued down, cutting straight through his arm. Uthar collapsed, breathing heavily and uttering obscenities in what Aiden determined was at least three languages before trailing off. When his breath stopped completely, Aiden looked up at Yuthura. “Well, then.”

    Yuthura smiled broadly. “Well, indeed. You’re a strong fighter, Star. No wonder you came out of all of those tombs alive.”

    “I’ve got a few miles on me,” he admitted, deactivating his blade and stepping back.

    “I expect there will be many more, though I feel you’re almost wasted here at the Academy.”

    “Actually, you’re right about that one.” Aiden said carefully. “I can’t stay.”

    “What?” Yuthura looked at him in confusion. “I’m not going to say I can make you stay, but why ever not?”

    “The truth is,” Aiden admitted, “and I’m a little surprised you hadn’t noticed sooner, I’m here on a mission with the Jedi.”

    Yuthura crossed her arms. “I have a feeling it wasn’t just to oust Master Uthar.”

    “No,” he shook his head. “It’s much bigger than that.”

    “Bold of you, coming right out and saying it like that.” She narrowed her eyes. “I should kill you for such treachery.”

    “You could try, but two things.” Aiden held up a finger. “First, you know I could take you in a fight after this. Second,” he held up another finger and smiled knowingly, “such treachery is why you like me.”

    She sighed in exasperation. “I can’t do anything with you, can I?”

    “Should have seen that coming when I got in through a drinking contest.”

    “True enough.” She finally deactivated her own lightsaber and put it on her belt. “So, do you expect me to just let you go, then?”

    Aiden shrugged. “Your choice. I actually do like you, and don’t really want to kill you. You don’t seem as evil as most of the people who would have happily taken your job in my place.”

    “Evil is relative,” Yuthura shot back. “I don’t share the same lust for blood and violence as many others here, it’s true. But I am just as Sith as any of them- as are you.”

    “You don’t even know the half of it,” Aiden replied flatly. “I’m just saying, you don’t have to stay here. The other students, at least the ones everyone seems to notice, are seriously disturbed.”

    “And you don’t even know the half of that,” Yuthura quirked a smile. “Go. I won’t chase you down, but you’d better leave before the other students find out what happened.”

    Aiden nodded. “Just remember, I told you I think you’re a decent person.”

    “Out, Star, before I change my mind.”

    He grinned and gave her a mock salute. “Thanks for the Sith lessons.” With that, he released the door to the cave and jogged out.

    * * *

    Mission flopped over on the narrow bunk. “They’re never coming back. I’ll bet some Sith killed them all days ago, and we’re just stuck in here forever.”

    “That is not true,” Juhani insisted. “And we have not been here that long. You are just tired of being inside.”

    “Inside, I can handle.” She flipped herself back up again. “I spent my whole life growing up in the Lower City, where the sun is just an idea. But this space is just so small.” She fell back on her pillow. “Like any time Griff was in trouble.”

    “Your brother?” Juhani asked gently. “It must have been difficult living with him.”

    “Difficult, yeah.” Mission sniffed. “I loved him, you know. I thought he was coming back for me. I even tried to blame that table dancing schutta Lena for taking him away from me. But… he would have come for me if he really cared. No matter how much trouble he was in, he always came for me. This time he just… didn’t.”

    “But you still love him,” Juhani replied, sympathetically.

    Mission looked up at her. “He’s my brother. I can’t not love him.”

    “Sure you can,” Canderous’ gruff voice came from the hallway. “I saw more than one Mandalorian take out his brother because he was fighting dishonorably.”

    Mission sat up again. “We don’t do stuff like that in the real galaxy, Canderous.”

    He merely shrugged. “Galaxy seemed real enough to me.”

    “And yet we still beat the pants off you.” Aiden’s voice sounded from the entryway, and he poked his head around the corner to wave hello. “Anyone else ready to get the hell off this Force-forsaken planet?”

    Zaalbar’s roar could be heard from all the way across the ship, and Mission jumped up enthusiastically. “Finally. Geez, you guys took long enough.”

    “He broke just about every curve they had as it was,” Carth replied, taking off the nondescript brown robe he’d been wearing and tossing it in a storage bin. “What’s our next step?”

    “Get off this planet, and then analyze the Star Map data we have.” Aiden sighed. “I suppose we still have to find the map on Manaan, don’t we?”

    “Maybe not,” Jolee offered. “I don’t know much about this technology, but even since I’ve joined you all, I’ve noticed these maps have started to repair themselves. It’s like bringing them together makes them stronger.”

    “Huh.” Aiden scratched his head, then shrugged. “Well, let’s find an empty piece of space far from here, where we can plot our next move.”

    “You got it,” Carth grinned, and headed for the cockpit. “Strap in everyone, we are leaving as soon as I get this baby warmed up.”

    There was a flurry of activity, strapping things into place that had been sitting loose, and making sure everyone was on board. By the time Carth had permission to depart, everyone was safely on board and strapped in.

    As the Ebon Hawk soared into space, the entire crew breathed a collective sigh of relief. For just a moment, they could breathe.

    * * *

    I'll post the next chapter soon! Sooooooon. This 'already having stuff written' thing is pretty awesome. I should do it more often. :p
  11. RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2003
    star 7
    I vote for normal rate. Also, due to the new follow feature, no need for PMs for updates anymore. *Tracks*
  12. emerald54 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2007
    star 1
    Ooh, lookit that, update! :D

    I really love how you pointed out that Aiden is a Jedi, he's also a little bit Sith. And, how Mission says she still loves her brother. It rings true for me.

    Also, normal speed, which anyone that looks at my driving record would laugh at.
  13. Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2003
    star 4
    Striker - Noted! I'll also take you out of the PM pool, though if you ever want to go back to that method rather than thread notifications, just let me know. :)

    emerald54 - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter, belated though it may be.

    Since it looks like the vote is for a normal rate, a normal rate it shall be! I'll probably post about once a week, barring DRL and such (I'm going on vacation in October, so there'll be a blip in there). So with that, I give you the next chapter!

    Chapter 43

    Aiden peered at the data swirling before them. “So, this isn’t an entire galaxy.”

    “It’s not,” Carth agreed. “There is definitely still some missing data.”

    “So, Manaan.” Aiden groaned. “Do you know how much I don’t want to go to Manaan?”

    “A lot,” Leiraya supplied.

    Jolee squinted. “What are you looking for, here?”

    Aiden rubbed his temple wearily. “The location of the Star Forge. If we don’t have everything, we can’t find the planet?”

    “Have you even looked closely at the map?”

    Aiden blinked. “No, because it’s missing data.”

    Jolee looked at him in exasperation. “Missing data only matters if it’s data you need. You didn’t even check to see if your Star Forge was on there, did you?”

    Aiden, Leiraya, and Carth all looked at each other sheepishly. “Maybe we should have tried getting a full nights’ sleep before attempting this,” Leiraya laughed, her face resting firmly on her palm. “Or had anyone else look at it.”

    Jolee shrugged. “You let an extra set of eyes nose in on your proceedings.” He leaned in. “So here’s Tatooine, Kashyyyk, and Korriban,” he said, pointing out each planet in turn. “This fourth planet, however, is not Manaan.”

    They all leaned in close, and Aiden squinted at the dot Jolee was pointing at. “Let’s get its coordinates into the navicomputer. Where’s T3?”

    A helpful whistle sounded from the corridor, and Aiden grinned. “Let’s find out what this mystery planet is.”

    They made a semi-organized rush into the cockpit, where T3 was already plugged in and feeding the coordinates from the Star Map data collection into the Hawk’s navicomputer. A single planet profile popped up on the screen in front of them.

    “Lehon?” Carth read aloud. “Never heard of it.”

    “Usually there’s a reason why for such things.” Jolee rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Revan went to a great deal of trouble to make sure nobody else could find this planet.”

    Aiden looked up at Carth. “Can you get us there?”

    Carth punched the numbers into the ship’s controls. “It’ll be two days’ travel from here, but we have the fuel to make it.”

    “Then let’s do it. And then,” he stretched, letting out a monsterous yawn, “mandatory sleeping. Both of you. And me. I guess I can’t enforce it because I will be asleep, but just know that I’ll be really disappointed in you both if I find out you were awake the whole time.”

    Leiraya leaned against Carth’s shoulder. “Believe me, there are no arguments here.”

    “None at all,” Carth agreed, setting the last few dials into place before pulling the hyperspace lever. “I never thought I’d be so excited to sleep on a ship’s bunk.”

    “Then to sleep with us all,” Aiden gestured grandly towards the doorway. “Our problems will still be here when we wake up, but at least we’re not surrounded by Sith anymore. For now.”

    “We’re not thinking about that yet.” Leiraya replied, walking out the room.

    “Right.” Aiden followed.

    Jolee could only shake his head as he watched the weary three depart the cockpit. He’d only gleaned a few small stories of what had happened during their time on Korriban, but it had clearly taken a toll on all of them. He didn’t put much stock in reading destiny, but even he couldn’t deny that what was facing them next was huge, and they’d all need to be at their best.

    Jolee chuckled. Well, this is why I left the forest. On a crazy treasure hunt across the galaxy for something that they only had a name for. The Force kept his life interesting, that much was certain.

    * * *

    Aiden woke exhausted. A quick glance at his chronometer told him that it was something like a reasonable hour of the morning, and his ears were telling him that people were up and milling around the ship. Unwilling to get up, however, he pulled his blanket in tighter, rolled over, and closed his eyes.

    Unfortunately, while his body was unwilling to move, it was also unwilling to let him drift back off into sleep. So there he stayed, with nothing but his thoughts. He’d had more than enough of that lately, but at least now he was surrounded by allies instead of enemies who could read any stray emotions he let loose. That in itself was a relief- he hadn’t slept a full night since they’d landed on Korriban, and that was probably why even now he was tired.

    He let his mind drift, hoping it would find its way to more pleasant shores. Unfortunately, it ended up drifting to memories he now knew to be false- friends and family from Deralia, laughing and smiling and telling him they were so proud of all he’d done. He wondered when the false Aiden’s memories ended and his began- the most he was sure of was everything since the Endar Spire. That was where he met Carth, and everybody knew Carth wasn’t in on the conspiracy. Up until that point, though? He had no idea. There was no serious gap in his memory. He followed the lines back, trying to trace to where something rang false, but it was proving difficult. There was an authenticity to the memories that couldn’t be denied, which Aiden supposed meant that the memories did, in fact, belong to somebody else. He turned over on his bunk again, disquieted by the thought. Would such a person still be alive? How did the Jedi get permission to access someone else’s memory like that? He shook his head. These were questions for a man far less exhausted than himself. Right now, all he wanted to do was lie there and wish that the galaxy’s problems would solve themselves without his intervention. He’d apparently been the cause of them all in the first place; maybe the galaxy would appreciate him stepping out of the fray.

    That, of course, he could not do. Not now, when he was so close, and with Bastila unaccounted for. Her absence was even more acute now that he was back with the whole crew. Their collective Force signature had become a familiar and comforting thing for him, since generally if everyone was in the same place, they were safely away from whatever dangers they’d been facing. Just as surely as a missing instrument would impact a symphony, Bastila’s missing presence was a sad gap in the group dynamic. It was the kind of constant bother that was like to drive him to distraction if he wasn’t careful. He just had to remember to focus on what was important: getting to Malak, presumably by way of the Star Forge, and rescuing her. At this point, he was pretty sure he cared more about that than finding the Star Forge- she may have been the reason he was here like this, but she gave herself up so he could go and save the galaxy.

    Heaving a sigh, he reluctantly sat up. He wasn’t ready to get out of bed, not really, but his stomach was starting to make noises and he wasn’t doing himself any favours by lying there alone with his thoughts. He quickly pulled on a clean robe and slid into his boots, then entered the main hold.

    Mission looked up brightly when she saw him come in. “You’re okay! Did you sleep all right? We tried to make sure Canderous wasn’t going to go tromping around all bad and Mandalorian-like, but he thought we were exaggerating about the amount of noise he makes.” She paused to take a breath. “Do you want some caf?”

    “You have no idea how much,” he said and slid into the nearest seat of the small table. “Not enough caf in the universe right now.”

    T3 offered a series of whistles and beeps. When Aiden looked at the droid blankly, HK helpfully translated, “Statement: the tiny astromech merely points out that there exist sufficient quantities of caf in the universe to kill a man much larger than yourself, so somewhere between your current state of grogginess and death, there is an amount of caf that would rouse you.”

    “Thank you, HK. And T3.” Aiden shook his head ruefully. “I really don’t know how I’d get along without you.”

    “Answer: Poorly, I suspect.”

    “Duly noted.” Aiden nodded gratefully as Mission handed him a steaming cup of caf.

    “It’s as strong as I could get it,” Mission promised. “This stuff can make Big Z jitter sometimes, so hopefully it’ll get you moving.”

    “Thanks,” Aiden replied, taking a sip. It was strong, though not the strongest thing he’d had in recent days. Still, it would at least get him through a respectable portion of the day before crashing again.

    “Good to see you’re still functioning,” Canderous nodded in his direction as he walked into the main hold. “I see you got the Star Map.”

    Aiden raised his mug. “And thank goodness for it having all the information we need. We’re heading to a planet called Lehon, and everything I know about it I learned from the records on thenavicomputer. Which, incidentally, isn’t much. It appears there’s lots of water there.”

    Canderous snorted. “That’s not exactly the kind of intelligence I like to go into a planet with.”

    “Me neither, but I don’t really see what other choices we have.” Aiden shrugged. “You wanna defeat Malak?”

    “I’m with you, no matter what you do,” Canderous affirmed. “Since that happens to be defeating Malak, I’m in. Never really liked the guy anyway.”

    “I did,” Aiden replied reflexively, not even thinking until after the words left his mouth that in his own memory, he’d certainly never cared for the man. “At least, I must have,” he corrected hastily. “I can’t imagine having my second in command being someone I hated.”

    Mission raised an eyebrow. “I dunno, he seems pretty much like a monster to me.”

    “Maybe he wasn’t always,” Aiden replied. “I mean, a lot of Jedi thought Revan was a monster. Force knows the Jedi on Dantooine spent a lot of time reminding me about how horrible Revan was and how I shouldn’t repeat his mistakes. People were very willing to demonize him. And okay, so Revan did a lot of really terrible things. But on the other hand, Revan is also me. And I’m not really a galaxy-conquering maniac. So… I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that maybe Malak wasn’t always like this, or even that there’s more under the surface than we see while he’s blowing people to bits.” He stared intently at his caf. “Or something.”

    Canderous chuckled. “Bastila would have a fit to see you giving a human face to the Sith.”

    “Well, Bastila’s their prisoner right now, so I guess she has that right,” Aiden snapped. “You seem unconcerned.”

    Canderous shrugged. “Bastila can take care of herself. She’s annoying and preachy as hell, but she’s good in a fight and stubborn as anyone I’ve ever met. I don’t waste time worrying about people who are probably fine.”

    “That’s one way to look at it,” Aiden replied skeptically. “I just… I feel like something’s wrong. I haven’t been able to feel her through our bond since the Leviathan.

    “I’ll bet Canderous is right,” Mission assured him.

    “Did I just hear the words ‘Canderous’ and ‘right’ in the same sentence?” Leiraya entered the room, rubbing her eyes. “Sorry, reflex. I’m sure whatever Canderous said was fine.”

    “He thinks Bastila is okay, wherever she is,” Mission offered.

    Leiraya thought about it. “Well, she’s not dead. We would have noticed that one.”

    “But as we have ample proof on this mission, there are far worse things than death that can happen to a Jedi,” Aiden replied sourly.

    “Even if Canderous is wrong, there’s no point in worrying,” Leiraya replied as she prepared a pot of tea. “We’re not exactly in a place right now where we can help her, and our goals are converging on a place where she’s likely to be, so we just have to be ready to spring into action when we find her.”

    Aiden threw his head back and heaved a sigh. “When did things get so complicated?”

    “I think they were always this complicated, we just didn’t realize it at first.”

    “True enough,” Aiden replied, then downed the last of his caf. “All right, I’m awake. Now what?”

    Mission shrugged. “Beats me. I’m out of things to do. While you all were running around playing Sith, the rest of us have done everything on this ship we like. We were kinda hoping you guys would come back and liven up the place, but I guess you’re pretty tired.”

    “That’s putting it mildly,” Aiden replied, rubbing his temples. “I never want to spend that long surrounded by Sith again.”

    “I, for one, am going to go practice some of my forms,” Leiraya said, taking a sip of her tea. “I’ve been really neglecting them since coming on this mission.”

    “Forms?” Aiden looked at her curiously. “I thought you were more of a dance enthusiast.”

    “There are Jedi arts that are very much like dancing, in a lot of ways,” she replied. “They’re not in as wide of use anymore since they’re not seen as combat practical. Funny thing is, they are designed to be practical, it’s just also important to be graceful and centered.”

    “Huh. Is it anything I saw on Dantooine?”

    “Similar, probably. There is overlap, but the approach is different.”

    “Interesting. Maybe you could show me later?” he asked. “Later, when I’m sure I won’t fall over.”

    Leiraya smiled. “Of course. And yeah, you’ll want that balance.”

    “I guess for now, I’ll just go meditate,” Aiden stood. “Thanks for the caf, Mission. I am now less likely to go back to sleep in the next few hours.”

    “No problem,” she grinned. “Never say I don’t do my part around here.”

    * * *

    Leiraya breathed deeply. She had commandeered the cargo hold for herself, and now was standing in the center, clad in a pair of loose brown Jedi pants and her customary fitted blue knit sleeveless shirt. It had been far too long since she’d given any time to working on her forms. Not since she’d left Corellia, really. She was so focused on making sure that she wasn’t caught up in all the violence that was constantly surrounding her, that she’d neglected her own training. A pacifist she was, but she was also a Jedi. She was also coming to terms with the fact that there were things she deemed worth fighting for. And as they drew nearer to the Star Forge, she knew that she’d need to be in her top fighting form if she was going to be able to help Aiden.

    She bent at the knee, lowering slightly towards the floor before gently picking up her right foot and sliding it further to the right. Breathing in again, she straightened, then sat comfortably back down into her ready position: knees bent, hips tucked, arms at the ready in front of her.

    It was like a familiar dance. Her feet pivoted and her arms moved through the air slowly, gracefully as she’d been taught all those years. Her masters had realized early on that she wasn’t interested in fighting like all the others, and dance was one of the ways they taught her to use a lightsaber. This branch of the Jedi arts was the other. And she actually did like it- it was at its essence a defensive art, and it was one of the most effective tools she had to center herself. Kylan had never taken a shine to it; it was too slow for his tastes. Her steps faltered at the memory, but she cleared him from her thoughts and continued, focusing on the way the Force was coursing through her and around her. As she stepped through the motions, she found herself relaxing into herself, into the Force, and all the anxiety built up during their stay on Korriban started to melt away.

    When she finally finished, she looked up and saw Carth standing in the doorway. “That’s beautiful. I haven’t seen you do that before.”

    She shrugged sheepishly. “Not just a dancer. I kind of wanted to keep it that way, but my masters said I’d never be a true Jedi unless I was trained in a proper combat art. For a little while, I thought that meant I’d just never be a full Jedi. But fortunately, we had a Master in Silver Hills trained in this particular style.”

    “You would have given up being a Jedi?”

    Leiraya paused. “My younger, even more idealistic self might have. I didn’t want to do anything that would ever put me in the position of being the aggressor, to the point of giving up anything that would have even given me the skills to do so. I’m glad I didn’t, though.”

    Carth smiled. “Me too. I mean, not that I’d ever consider you aggressive. But you are good to have in a fight.”

    Leiraya smiled and moved through a few basic motions. “It’s the years of training I’ve valiantly pretended not to have.”

    “Why is that?” Carth asked. “Nobody here would have judged you for it.”

    “Stupid pride, probably.” Leiraya sighed. “It’s a form that is often seen as useless by a lot of people, both outside and inside the Jedi Order. Too decorative. Personally, I think it’s closest to the essence of what a Jedi should be, but I didn’t see anyone practicing on Dantooine, and Bastila and I fought about enough things that bringing in combat forms was just not something that interested me.” She shrugged. “On top of that, I was pretty vocal about not fighting. What would it look like to start practicing kicks and punches?”

    “Like a Jedi,” Carth replied, taking her hand. “I really respect how much you respect life. It’s one thing that gives me hope in all this. But that respect is why I would trust you to fight more than anyone else here.”

    “Really?” Leiraya asked doubtfully. “I’ve easily the least combat experience of anyone here.”

    “You don’t undertake fighting lightly,” he replied. “I know that when you go into a fight, you are committed to ending it as quickly and as bloodlessly as possible. That’s a quality that more people could use, and that I wish had been the guide for the Jedi in the Mandalorian Wars.” He shook his head. “Those Jedi saw a lot of things they shouldn’t have had to, and I think it affected the entire Order. They lost sight of what really mattered.”

    Leiraya blushed. “Well, I really can’t claim to exemplify what the Jedi ought to be. But it’s an underappreciated art.” She paused. “Would you like to learn some?”

    Carthh looked momentarily shocked. “I’m no Jedi, I couldn’t possibly-”

    Leiraya waved her hand dismissively. “This can make use of the Force, but doesn’t have to. Legend has it the Jedi adapted it long ago from monks on Ansion when one of them joined their ranks. We’ve added our own exercises to it, but the basic form remains the same.”

    Carth thought about it a moment, and then shrugged. “Okay, why not? It looks… relaxing, I guess.”

    “It’s a form of meditation. Force knows the lot of us can probably use more of that these days.”

    “Could’ve used that on Korriban,” Carth added, removing his boots as he spoke.

    “And pull out a distinctly Jedi set of moves? That would have worked brilliantly.” She shook her head. “I thought about it a lot, but it would have blown what little cover we had.”

    “Can’t argue with that,” Carth acknowledged, taking off his jacket and setting it aside, leaving him standing in his well worn pants and a simple white cotton shirt. “Okay, so… how does this go?”

    “First things first, your posture. You want to sit down a bit, with your hips tucked, knees bent, and arms resting in front of you.” As he attempted the pose, she walked around him pushing and pulling his arms and legs and back into place. “The idea here is to rest all your weight on your upper thighs, so it takes all the strain off your back. Your arms shouldn’t be engaged at all, that should all be in your shoulders.” She gently took his elbows and rotated them down. “See, doesn’t that feel better?”

    “Strangely, yes.” Carth replied, feeling slightly off kilter but determined to at least try this. It seemed that there were more Force users in his life than he’d ever planned on having, so if there was anything at all that he could share with them, he was going to make damn sure he could do it.

    “Good.” She grinned enthusiastically, and then joined him. “I’m obviously not teaching you everything I know right now.”

    “I’m pretty sure I’d fall over if you did.”

    “Well, then let’s not have that.”

    Carth paid close attention and tried to emulate her moves as she went through several warmup exercises that involved sweeping arms and twisting hips. It was an entirely different range of motion from what he was used to doing. More than once she chided him about leading with his arms instead of swinging from his shoulders, and twisting at the waist instead of just moving his hips and letting everything else follow. It was not intuitive, and it was not easy. But slowly, he began to feel the movements more clearly. He was working less to do the same movement, and by virtue of that, he was even looking almost graceful. All things considered, he figured ‘almost’ was the best that could be expected of him in one night, and possibly ever.

    “You’re a pretty quick study,” she gave him a look of approval after completing a set of horizontal arm sweeps. “Must be all those dance lessons they made you take back in the day.”

    “It must be, because that’s the only thing that would give me any sort of coordination.”

    “I wouldn’t say that,” she replied, “you’ve got lots of field training that makes you good at running and shooting things. Also, as a pilot I know you need crazy levels of hand-eye coordination, particularly in a combat situation.”

    “Careful, you’re beginning to sound like someone who hangs out with the military,” he joked.

    “What can I say? You’re a bad influence. You and Aiden both.” She sat down and grabbed the glass of water she’d brought with her. “Kylan, too.” She took a long sip of her water and was silent for several moments.

    Carth sat next to her. “He was your best friend. It’s okay to be sad about him for as long as you need.”

    “I just keep thinking of what it’s going to be like when I finally get back to Corellia- if I ever get back. What kind of funeral should we give? We can’t give him the traditional burial for soldiers who die away from home, because nobody collected his body.” She sipped her water thoughtfully. “And even if we had, would he get that burial? I mean, he joined the Sith. And I don’t even know if I can tell his family that, either. Or anyone. I may have disagreed vocally with his choice to leave, but to a lot of people in the enclave, he was a hero. Going out to fight the good fight, make the galaxy a better place. How can I tell them that their hero did something terrible?”

    Carth shook his head. “That was how most of the galaxy felt when Revan-” he broke off, looking up towards the doorway and then lowering his voice. “When Revan came back from the Unknown Regions, having turned to the dark side. He attacked a Republic shipyard on Foerost. Those soldiers, I knew a few of them. We’d fought together in the Mandalorian Wars, and they should have been safe. We were all supposed to be safe, and Revan was the one who had saved us. To suddenly have that turned on its head was devastating, for a lot of people.”

    “I heard about that. That was when I started planning to leave to find Kylan,” she said softly. “He’d been missing for a while, but I figured if his hero the Revanchist was back, and wasn’t on our side anymore, then it couldn’t be good news for any of us.”

    “So Revan got you both off Corellia,” Carth shook his head. “Who knew.”

    “Some days I wish he hadn’t,” Leiraya replied wistfully. “Except for meeting you, that was all right.”

    “Just all right?” He raised an eyebrow.

    She grinned broadly. “More than that, which you know full well by now.”

    He pulled her in for an embrace. “I guess we have to get some bright spot out of this mess.”

    “How about if we win? That seems like it would add to the overall experience. And we’re off to this crazy unknown planet nobody’s ever heard of, which may or may not have anything to do with the Star Forge, but if it does, we’re definitely on the right track.”

    “That plan sounds perfect,” Carth agreed.

    “Fantastic.” She yawned. “Now let’s get moving before I fall asleep in the middle of the day.” She extracted herself from his arms and stood up in one fluid movement. “Come on, let’s take this ship by storm.”

    Carth chuckled and joined her in standing. “Count me in.”

    * * *

    Sasha felt homesick, but she wasn’t sure for where.

    It wasn’t for the Mandalorians. She had little love for them, as they’d only ever treated her as a slave and a nuisance. The only Mandalorian she actually liked was Canderous, and he wasn’t anything like the others. Not to her, anyway. Sure, he was gruff and didn’t talk in long sentences, unless it was about how to kill other people, but he treated her like a person. With, what was that word… respect.

    The Mandalorians had taken her when she was little, and she’d lost what Basic she’d had. The thought of it made her angry, and she got even more angry any time her thoughts came out in Mando’a. She was determined to drench every aspect of her life in Basic if she could. So she’d taken to reading everything she could get her hands on. It wasn’t much on the ship, but when she’d started, she couldn’t read much. It wasn’t until that day on Korriban when Mission hacked into one of the planetary databases that she’d acquired all kinds of interesting stories. They told of planets all over the Republic, and some even beyond it. Some of them didn’t even exist, though she wished they did. It wasn’t until she started reading about all the adventures that all these people were having that she realized… she just wanted to go home.

    Problem was, she wasn’t really sure where home was anymore.

    She remembered Dantooine, and being captured by the Mandalorian raiders there. She remembered that the Jedi weren’t far, but they still couldn’t help her when she needed it. The Jedi were gone, though, so she didn’t know if anything was left of her home, wherever it was in relation to them. She only dimly remembered her parents, anyway.

    The more she thought about it, the more she realized she didn’t actually have a home. Her place with her family had been stolen away from her, and even when she was with the Mandalorians she never stayed in one place for long. Not that she’d ever call anything with those monsters ‘home.’ And then she’d stowed away on the Ebon Hawk, and they’d taken care of her. She never really got to go outside the ship, either, since it wasn’t safe.

    Maybe she was just homesick for the outside world.

    “What’cha doing?” Mission popped her head inside the door of the cabin where Sasha was situated. “Still reading?”

    “No, just thinking.” Sasha turned to face the blue Twi’lek and brushed stray blonde hairs from her face. “Do you ever miss home?”

    “Taris?” Mission asked, plopping down ungracefully next to her. “I don’t know. I guess I miss the Hidden Beks, and I had some good times running around the sewers with Big Z and causing trouble for the Vulkars. But truthfully… it was a pretty rotten place.”

    “Yeah,” Sasha sighed. “I guess I just wish I had a home to miss.”

    “Aww, sweetie, don’t feel bad about that. Did I ever tell you I was shipped to Taris in a box with my brother?”

    Sasha shook her head. “That sounds awful.”

    “It was. I was five, he was probably running away from people who wanted the money I’m pretty sure he owed them.” Mission shrugged. “I guess what I’m saying is that, even if how you get there is terrible, a place can still be home. You’re home with us, right?”

    Sasha considered it. “I guess I might be. But… what about when all this ends? I know the only reason I’m still here is because there hasn’t been a safe place to drop off a kid since you guys found me. I know Aiden was planning on leaving me on Dantooine the first chance he got, but I’m glad he didn’t get the chance.” She pulled her knees in tight. “I don’t like this war.”

    Mission shrugged again. “Hey, I don’t even know what I’m doing when all this ends. I figure? I go where Big Z goes. He’d never survive in the galaxy without me. And since Big Z has a life debt to Aiden, he’ll go wherever Aiden goes, whether he wants it or not. Right now, luckily for all of us, everyone’s happy with the arrangement.” She sat back and grinned at Sasha. “I learned a long time ago that home is where you are. You can’t always count on a roof over your head or people who won’t shoot at you first chance they get, but you make the best of it.”

    Sasha paused for a few moments. “Do you think I could stay wherever you are?” she asked hopefully. “I don’t really know anybody else, except for Canderous, and I think he’d rather be off fighting.”

    “Are you kidding? I’d never turn you away,” Mission pulled her in for a hug, and then looked at her seriously. “Of course, I’m going to have to teach you all my survival tricks.”

    “I’d like that,” Sasha grinned, returning the hug enthusiastically. “It’s like having a sister!”

    Mission smiled. “You bet, kiddo. Now, do you want to learn how to pick electronic locks?”

    * * *

    Aiden wasn’t sure he liked sleeping anymore. He was exhausted, so he needed the sleep, but on the other hand, it worried him. Before Korriban, he’d been woken by horrible visions of Bastila being tortured every time he tried to sleep. Now, he wasn’t getting any of that. He was sure something was wrong, but he couldn’t know what, because he couldn’t feel anything. And that lack of feeling would wake him up after a while, because he was worried about what he wasn’t feeling, and then he’d just start thinking about any of the five million things he didn’t want to be thinking about right now.

    For instance, the Jedi. He really wasn’t sure where he stood with them anymore. His allegiance was definitely with the crew of the Hawk, as he’d been fighting side by side with them since this whole mess started. Carth had pulled his lifeless form out of an escape pod on Taris and nursed him back to health before any of them realised what a mess they’d gotten themselves into. Back in those days, their mission seemed so simple. Find Bastila, return her to the Jedi, and then get assigned to a new mission. Now, the mission wasn’t all that different. He still had to find Bastila, but now he also had to save the galaxy from Darth Malak and the mysterious Star Forge while he was at it by hunting for Star maps all over the galaxy.

    He sighed. This hadn’t been what he signed up for. Real him or fictional him. He wasn’t sure what the real him had signed up for. Originally, it was a lifetime of service to the Jedi and the Republic, but obviously he’d ditched that for something he’d deemed more important. That thought kept niggling at his brain. What could be so important that he’d forsake his Masters, everyone he’d presumably respected for all his life, to turn around and attack the Republic he’d just saved? The Jedi would have him believe that the dark side made him crazy. Aiden, however, was sure at a level so deep in his gut that he couldn’t deny it that there was more to it than that, and an increasing part of him wanted to find out exactly what that reason was.

    Not now, though. As he’d said, his allegiance was with his crew. He owed it to them to see this mission through to the end, to save Bastila, to save the whole damn galaxy. They deserved as much, even though he was pretty sure the Jedi didn’t.

    That was a knot of bitterness that he couldn’t uproot, and wasn’t sure he wanted to try too hard. After all, they’d stolen his identity from him, and they’d kind of managed to do it twice. He didn’t know if they’d ever been planning to tell him who he really was, but the life they assigned him hadn’t been so bad. It bugged him to know that it wasn’t his.

    In any case, he doubted they could have kept his identity from him forever. It had started with the healing trance Leiraya put him in on Korriban, but he was remembering things. Things he had no reason to know except that he knew that he had once been Revan.

    Perhaps his mind was not as damaged as Bastila led him to believe.

    It was a problem he couldn’t deal with right now, however, as the Jedi were far from his reach and fairly low on his list of concerns. No, he had a planet to find, so that he could hopefully find the Star Forge. He wasn’t sure what relation the planet had to the Star Forge, but he really, really hoped that they were in the same place, because he was tired of chasing things all over the galaxy.

    Some days, saving the galaxy was just not very much fun.

    He rolled over. Sleep may be difficult, but it is beyond necessary. Pulling his blanket over his head, he concentrated on a single phrase until he drifted into a restless sleep.

    I’m going to find you, Bastila…

    * * *

    Jolee jumped as Leiraya burst into the main hold early in the morning. “Heaven’s sakes, young lady, you can’t go jumping out like that any time you want,”

    “Sorry,” she said apologetically and stretched her arms out wide. “I have an unusual amount of energy, I guess.”

    “Sleeping well, then?” Jolee raised an eyebrow. “I know you folks haven’t been doing so well there.”

    “Yeah, well, I crashed really early last night. Possibly too early.” She pulled the Jedi robe she was so fond of wearing as a sweater around her to stave off the chill of the ship. “We’ve all had a lot to keep us up.”

    “And Aiden most of all,” Jolee agreed. “How do you suppose he’s been?”

    “Thinking too much,” Leiraya said almost immediately. “He doesn’t talk about it, but I can practically feel the gears turning in his head. I’m sure you have too, which makes me wonder why you’re asking.”

    Jolee gave her his most innocent look. “Oh, no reason. Just an old man wanting to know how the kids are holding up these days. I told you when I came along, and I said it again after that whole nonsense on the Leviathan, I’m just here to observe. Aiden’s got an interesting destiny about him, and I want to be there to see it.”

    Leiraya looked at him curiously. “You keep saying interesting, and I’m never quite sure what to make of that.”

    “Neither am I.” Jolee sat back and sipped his cup of tea. “Truth be told, I don’t know how things will shake down with him on that planet, but I can tell something’s coming, and we’d best all be ready for it.”

    “How can we be ready for something when we don’t even know what it is?”

    Jolee grinned. “Now there’s a question worth asking, and if you find the answer before I leave this mortal plane, you’ll have to let me know.”

    Leiraya sighed ruefully and poured herself a cup of tea. “I knew I was missing something when we were on Korriban.”

    “Now, don’t go making fun of the cranky old man just because you can,” he wagged his finger at her knowingly. “I’m not always this unhelpful.”

    “No, when you’re being unhelpful you never admit it,” she replied easily. “But I’m not kidding. Your sense of humour would have been welcome. I think out of all of us, you’re the least intimidated by the Sith.”

    Jolee raised a skeptical brow. “And how’s that?”

    “Like you said when we met you. You’ve seen both the light and the dark side, and both extremes annoy you. Whereas the rest of us? We’ve got a lot of baggage. Carth hates what they did to his family, Juhani fears giving into temptation and turning to the dark side again, Mission is angry about the destruction of Taris, Aiden, I think, is terrified at the idea that he was Revan…”

    “And they took your best friend from you,” Jolee finished. “Yeah, and they took my beautiful Nayama, too. But we all have the chance to move past that, if we want to. I figure, holding a grudge against the Sith is just as logical as me holding my breath and waiting for them to pass out.”

    “Huh.” Leiraya pondered the statement for a moment. “I can’t argue with that.”

    “Darn right you can’t,” Jolee gave her a satisfied smile. “It’s something we all get the chance to learn at some point, Sith or no Sith.”

    “Well, it’s good to have someone with more perspective on the galaxy than most of us along on this insane trip,” Leiraya replied.

    “That is the nicest way any of you have told me I’m old.”

    Leiraya shrugged. “It’s the best way to be old.”

    Jolee paused, and then relented. “I guess that’s the most I can hope for, isn’t it?”

    “Probably,” Leiraya grinned.

    * * *

    When Carth rolled over, finally ready to roll out of his bunk and face the day, he saw Canderous doing push-ups on the floor. “Mmmmph.”

    “Can’t hear you,” Canderous grunted. “I’m not sure if that noise was meant to be communication, but it doesn’t work. Is this how the Republic trains its soldiers to wake up in the morning? That would explain a lot.”

    Annoyed, Carth sat up and rubbed his eyes. “No, it wasn’t supposed to be communication. Just waking up, is all.”

    “Noisy waker,” Canderous observed, not breaking his rhythm. “Of course, I’ve rarely seen you sleep this late.”

    “It’s been a long week,” Carth replied dryly.

    “I’m sure,” Canderous replied, finishing off his set of push ups and rocking back on his heels, continuing back into a sitting position. “Can’t be easy pretending to be a Sith for long.”

    “You don’t know the half of it,” Carth shook his head. “Not that I really had to be terribly Sith like, but to pretend that it didn’t bother me…”

    “Must’ve driven you half crazy,” Canderous grinned.

    Carth narrowed his eyes. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

    Canderous shrugged. “Can’t say I am. Though,” he admitted, “it does do me good from time to time to see a straight-laced Republic soldier type such as yourself thrown into extremely uncomfortable situations. So yeah, I guess I am kind of enjoying it. But not as much as you probably think.”

    “I…” Carth trailed off. “I guess I should know you better than that by now.”

    “That’s surprisingly non-defensive of you to say,” Canderous offered.

    “We’ve all been together on this ship so long, it’s getting harder to be defensive,” Carth admitted. “I know we don’t agree on a lot of things, but you’re not what I thought you’d be.”

    “Which was a bloodthirsty monster, right?” Canderous replied easily. “I spent enough time in the cantinas on Taris to overhear the chatter. We Mandalorians were not well regarded, even in a cesspit like Taris.”

    “You did start a war that none of us wanted,” Carth pointed out. “Well, your Mandalore did. A lot of people lost family, friends, their homes… it’s easy to make you guys out to be monsters when all they saw was armored troops coming to destroy their homes. At the beginning, they never even saw it coming.”

    “And the Republic did precious little to stop us,” Canderous countered. “I won’t argue with you about the ethics of going into battle, since this is a small ship and we need a pilot-”

    “Thanks,” Carth replied with no small amount of sarcasm.

    “Never say I don’t consider practicalities,” Canderous replied evenly. “Look, of all the people on this ship, next to Aiden, I probably respect you the most. And believe me when I say I never would have thought I’d end up saying that when we met.”

    “When we met, I told Aiden we’d probably have to end up shooting you,” Carth admitted.

    “It’s a good thing he has more faith in people than you do,” Canderous grinned and offered his hand. “But for a Republic soldier, you’re not half bad.”

    Carth accepted the handshake. “For a Mandalorian, you’re pretty all right.”

    “So we’re in this until the end,” Canderous replied, leaning back against a storage locker. “To whatever the Star Forge is, and wherever Malak is hiding.”

    Carth shook his head. “I have a feeling that we haven’t been through remotely the worst yet.”

    “We’ll get through it, or we’ll die.” Canderous stated firmly.

    “Yeah, those are pretty much the options,” Carth sighed. “I just wish we could find some time to rest before the final battle.”

    “Sleep now while you can,” Canderous advised. “I doubt we’ll find much rest otherwise.”

    “But then who would fly the ship?” Carth stretched his arms out and grabbed his clothes. “No, I’d better get moving. Wouldn’t do to stay holed up in here all day.”

    “Try staying holed up on this ship while you guys were gallivanting around Korriban,” Canderous countered.

    “Point taken, though ‘gallivanting’ is not the word I would choose.” He quickly slipped into his familiar black pants and well worn orange jacket. “Anyway, stuff to do. I’m going to go find it.”

    “Sure thing, Onasi.” Canderous returned to his exercise regimen without further pause as Carth stepped out of the door.

    Carth didn’t make it all the way to the main hold before the ship rocked violently. “Dammit,” he gritted his teeth, regained his footing, and ran to the cockpit. The ship had come out of hyperspace. Had he really slept that long? Shaking his head, he grabbed the controls and tried to steady the ship.

    “What’s going on?” Leiraya ran into the cockpit, Juhani close on her heels. “Are we here? Are the Sith shooting at us?”

    “Hold on,” Carth replied through gritted teeth. “I’m trying to figure out what’s happening. There’s something massive on my scopes…” he pulled the ship around so the viewport was facing the anomaly, and were greeted with the sight of a space station, larger than any of them had ever seen before.

    “Oh my.” Juhani gasped. “Is that…”

    “A Star Forge?” Leiraya finished incredoulously, eyes wide and jaw slightly agape. “I’d guess so.”

    The station was a spherical center with two towers encasing either side of it, extending upwards and downwards and slanting almost to a point. A long tendril of solar energy twisted up from the sun to the base of the station, a swirl of fire that was all destruction and life and energy. It was a beautiful, terrible sight to behold. However, they were not able to behold it for long before the ship rocked again, throwing both Leiraya and Juhani against the cockpit’s walls.

    “Leiraya!” Carth shouted, wrestling with the ship’s controls. “Are you guys okay?”

    “We are fine,” Juhani managed as she helped pull Leiraya off the floor. “What was that?”

    “I think we hit a disruptor field of some kind,” Carth replied, and hit the intercom. “Everybody, strap in if you haven’t already. This is going to be interesting.”

    Juhani was already out the door, but Leiraya hung back. “Define interesting?”

    “We’re not going to die,” Carth replied. “But you need to strap in right now.” He pointed at the copilot’s chair. “Please, just sit down.”

    Leiraya didn’t have to be told twice. “I hope I don’t have to do any actual copiloting from here.”

    “Wouldn’t do me much good,” Carth replied, frantically flipping switches, “since I don’t appear to have very many controls here.”

    “You what?” Leiraya gasped. “Repeat that part where we’re not going to die, because that just got a lot harder to believe.”

    “I’ve got something,” Carth said, furrowing his brow. “It’s not much, but it’ll take us down. Mostly.”

    Leiraya sank down into her chair. “Oh, good.”

    “Just don’t worry,” Carth assured her. “It’s going to be all right.”

    “I believe you,” Leiraya replied uneasily.

    Carth had to put all his focus into slowing the ship down and controlling its glide. As they entered the atmosphere of the planet, he opened up all the flaps and vents and every feasible surface he could find to increase the drag of the relatively sleek freighter, and tried to coax the backup generators into action. Thoughts of what would happen if they crashed now, so close to their goal, tried to press into his consciousness, but he shoved them away. He had to assume that they were all going to make it out alive, unscathed. That was the only acceptable outcome, so it was the only one he would entertain in this moment.

    As the ship descended, he could see and island. He did his best to point the Hawk towards it- even if he couldn’t make it, they could feasibly swim to shore. Closer, closer, closer they descended. He pulled the nose up, trying to prevent the kind of crash that would send them plummeting to the bottom of the ocean. The Hawk skipped along the water’s surface a few times like an overgrown stone. Shore was in sight, he could only hope they would--

    He jolted as the ship hit bottom, almost throwing him out of his seat in spite of the strapping. He could hear the screams and cries of the entire crew- hell, he wouldn’t swear his weren’t among them- as they spun around, skidding along the ocean floor until finally sliding to a halt on the beach.

    Carth couldn’t even move for a full minute, he could only try to breathe enough to calm his racing heart. They were alive, he was sure of that. Maybe they were hurt, but if they were strapped in, they should be okay. He looked over at Leiraya, who was still strapped firmly into her chair, but her eyes were squeezed shut and she’d pulled her knees up to her chest, her green skirt cascading to the edge of the chair and flowing over. He unstrapped himself and walked over on unsteady feet, placing a gentle hand on her cheek. “It’s okay, Leiraya. We made it.”

    She cautiously opened her eyes, looking first at him, and then out the viewport. “We did?”

    “We did.” He grinned, unstrapping her from the chair. “We’re-” he was cut off as she jumped up and planted a messy kiss on his lips.

    When she broke off, she looked up at him sheepishly. “Sorry. I honestly thought we were dying, and I’m pretty excited to be not dead right now.”

    “It’s a cause for celebration,” Carth agreed. “But first, let’s go make sure everyone else is okay.”

    “Right.” Leiraya gave him one more kiss. “Let’s go do that.”


    And that's your chapter for the week! I hope you all enjoy it. :D

  14. SoA Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2008
    star 3
    Fun times! It's the deep breath before the battle erupts. I really enjoyed Mission and Jolee in here, and I am interested to see where Sasha is going to wind up when this is all over. The droids were lots of fun too. I do wish you had checked up on Juhani and Zalbaar too. But, I shouldn't complain, that was a pretty long chapter as is. :)

    And now here's the part where you don't have to leave all but two of your companions back on the ship and they do exciting things on Lehon?
  15. RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2003
    star 7
    Great chapter. :D Can't wait for the next one. I found Aiden's sleeping patterns to be oddly humorous. ;)
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