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Before - Legends The Road to Rediscovery (KotOR Gap Years) 5/25: Complete!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SoA, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    I never did know anything about Mical as I usually played a Male Exile. Interesting take - probably doing that research for Carth to give him clues to find Ev. Poor guy, Carth will never give up.
  2. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    And the game never actually gives Mical's name if you play as a Female Exile. That game is tragically incomplete. Carth really will never give up. I think if he ever gave up on Ev, that would be the day he'd give up on the Republic itself.


    Part 27- The Conclave of the Jedi

    Bastila hung back in the doorway to the large transport hangar of the Jedi Temple, watching the last remaining Jedi file onto the final transport, wishing she could be a part of it. The hopes of all the Jedi rested on the conclave on Katarr. Now, fewer than fifty Jedi and their apprentices remained alive. They all believed—or at least hoped—that concentrated meditation of the entire Jedi Order on such a Force-sensitive world as Katarr would finally bring them the answers about their shadowy attackers. The Miraluka were all seers, the Force giving them sight where solar radiation had deprived their race of eyes. The Jedi desperately hoped that with the Miraluka, they too would be able to see clearly.

    Jedi Conclaves, through history, were momentous, dramatic moments for the Order where much was decided and much was learned. This moment seemed far from those histories. This conclave was a desperate attempt to grasp at the truth and save the Jedi. A heavy shadow weighed on the departing Jedi's shoulders: if this does not work, then what? Are the Jedi really doomed?

    Bastila gave a start as she felt a gentle hand resting on her shoulder. She turned and saw the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order standing beside her, swathed in a green cloak. Nomi looked pensive and concerned. There was beauty in the wrinkles of her face and compassion in her green eyes as she stared out at the last transport. Nomi Sunrider's presence was always such a gentle one, despite her position in the order and power as Jedi, yet Bastila suddenly found herself in awe of the wispy woman. So much rested on her shoulders every moment of every day and yet she handled it with fairness, wisdom, and grace. Bastila hardly deserved to be called a Jedi, when compared to Nomi.

    Take care of the temple for us while we are gone, Bastila,” Nomi said at last, letting out a long breath.

    I will, Master Nomi,” Bastila promised, bowing her head.

    Force willing, with our return, we will bring clarity,” she said, squeezing Bastila's shoulder, “Thank you, Bastila.” She released Bastila's shoulder and strode off smoothly towards the transport, forest green cape billowing in the wake of her footsteps.

    May the Force be with you,” Bastila said numbly after her.

    After Nomi boarded, the transport's passenger door slid shut and loading ramp retracted. The engines began to hum, glowing a brilliant white-blue. Repulsorlifts hissed and the ship lifted off the docking bay's deck, slowly pivoting in the air, then, with a rushing roar from the engines, it blasted out of the hangar and away.

    Bastila turned back into the Jedi Temple and started slowly back down the corridor with a sigh. She followed a winding path from one hallway to another until she reached the center section of the temple again. Dustil was waiting there for her, as he had promised he would be.

    So they're all gone then?” Dustil commented as he saw her coming.

    Bastila nodded, “The last transport has gone and Master Nomi Sunrider went with them. The Jedi Temple is under our care now.” Although Dustil was now officially her padawan, and had been for almost a year now, Bastila still could not bring herself to think of him as such. He was Ev's Padawan learner, and Snow was hers, but Ev was gone and Snow was dead, so they had to make do with each other.

    Why did they leave you behind here anyway?” Dustil asked.

    To take care of the younglings and other apprentices still at the temple while all of the Masters are gone,” Bastila replied, “The Masters are all too important to the conclave to remain behind here and babysit.”

    I know that,” Dustil retorted, “But why you? Not that you're a weird choice or anything like that.”

    Bastila sighed. “Because I still have my bond with Ev, however weak it is now,” Bastila explained heavily, “And there are some among the Jedi that suspect all of this is her fault. They do not want me to be a part of the conclave for fear that I might leak something of their discussions and feelings to Ev through our bond.”

    That's crazy!” Dustil blurted, “Ev would never attack the Jedi like that. She's—”

    There was a soft chiming sound at the other end of the hall and the lift doors slid open. Atris strode briskly out, long white tabards flapping against her knees.

    Master Atris,” Bastila gaped, “I did not know you were still here. The last transport has already—”

    I know,” she replied tersely as she brushed by them, “No matter. I will take one of the fighters myself.”

    May the Force be with you, Master Atris,” Dustil called after her, but she gave no response verbally other otherwise. Soon, she was out of sight down the hall and around a corner. “I would have thought that she would be one of the first ones on the transports to Katarr,” he thought out loud after she had gone.

    Bastila nodded, pursing her lips. “It isn't like Atris to be late for anything,” she agreed, “and certainly not for something as important as this; the Jedi conclave that she herself planned and organized.”

    Well,” Dustil began with the shrug, “All the apprentices are in the main briefing hall, waiting for you. I hope you have something planned for the next week, or we're going to have lots of bored kids on our hands.”

    Master Waykennit gave me a plan of activities for them,” Bastila replied, wishing she felt as confident as she sounded. “Let's go.” Leading two hundred-some Jedi apprentices, if only for a few days, was a daunting task, and not one she had ever been trained or prepared for. Her own Padawan had been older than herself. These students ranged from toddlers still pushing toys around with the Force all the way up apprentices as old as Dustil who never were chosen by a master as the Jedi numbers grew too thin.

    Dustil and Bastila started off together. They did not have far to go. Chatter in the large, circular hall was low and anxious. Apprentices of all ages were scattered throughout the chairs on each raised stair-step of the chamber, talking and waiting. Bastila felt apprehension and hope thickly in the air.

    Bastila did not need to call for attention. As the apprentices noticed her and Dustil's arrival, they broke off their conversations and fell silent to many young children's insistent, “Shh!”

    Projecting her voice out with the Force, Bastila began, “As you all have doubtless heard, I am Bastila Shan and I will be taking care of you all and the Jedi Temple until all of the rest of the Jedi return from Katarr. My padawan Dustil Onasi is also here to help with anything you might need.” She paused and took a deep breath, mustering all the hopeful feelings she could to project outward towards the apprehensive younglings, “The conclave on Katarr will give the Jedi clarity on the mysterious threats we face. May their mediation bring us answers.

    All of the apprentices age thirteen and up,” Bastila continued—and there were frighteningly many older apprentices these days, “have each been assigned to one or two youngling clans. Younglings, you can count on them to help you with anything you need. If you have any troubles that go beyond what they can do, please come and find Dustil or me right away.

    The Jedi Masters wish us to use this time to find peace within us. Without classes for the week, I urge you to practice, play, read, meditate, do whatever brings you peace and balance,” Bastila instructed, “Only you may not at any time leave the temple. These are dangerous times for the Jedi and we are all safest within these temple walls.”

    We want help the other Jedi too,” a youngling on the second row of chairs mewed.

    Yeah, Bastila,” Lashowe called from the back, “We want to meditate too. Maybe we can help the conclave from here once it starts. There are still a lot of us here.”

    The idea was met with enthusiastic entreaties from all corners of the room.

    Bastila raised her hand for silence, and the room fell quiet, to only a low murmur. “If that is what you all want, then so we shall,” she decided for them, “Master Nomi Sunrider said that the conclave should begin tomorrow evening. I will find out exactly what time, and we can all meet together here and mediate on the threat.”

    Beside her, Dustil nodded approvingly. Confidence rose up in Bastila again, glad to really be doing something for the Jedi and not moping around the temple as a cast-off Jedi Knight stuck with the duty of babysitting.


    Jolee hung around the airfield, admiring the Miraluka at their work. Jolee half expected Katarr to be a drably colored world with off-balance aesthetics, but that was far from the truth. Despite their lack of eyes and normal eyesight, the Miraluka managed to maintain a world that was both pleasing to however it was that they saw through the Force and to those seeing their world through the seven-color spectrum. The Miraluka at the airfield were tastefully dressed in a wide range of colors, even the pilots and ship mechanics. They went about their business without faltering, and without eyesight. The only part of it that Jolee found somewhat unnerving was that the direction of their head and attention was not necessarily towards the jobs they were focused on. Many seemed to be staring off into space—if they had been able to stare at all. The few Miraluka Jedi Jolee had known all seemed to have ironed out that habit, being around enough other sentients who found that unnerving. These planet-side Miraluka had no need to accommodate queasy aliens.

    The last of the Jedi transports had just landed on the duracrete landing field. Jolee saw it coming in from orbit, and even sensed its approach. Four years of being back in the Jedi order, trying to think like the Jedi, had certainly honed his senses in the Force.

    Jolee strolled over to it, past two Miralukan freighters. Their crew paid him no attention. The side door of the Jedi transport slid open with a hiss and a low ramp slid out and tilted into the pavement. Among the first off the transport was a face Jolee knew well. “About time you showed up Nomi,” he called, sauntering up with a lop-sided grin, “We were going to start without you if you had dragged your feet getting here any longer.”

    Nomi laughed, her eyes dancing, and swept up to him. Even at her age, she still looked magnificent. “You're getting to be just as impatient as a youngling, Jolee,” Nomi teased and began walking with him away from the transport.

    Now don't you go there Nomi,” Jolee scolded, waving a finger playfully at her.

    Nomi laughed again. “It is good to have you back, Jolee,” she beamed, “I don't know what we did without you all these years.”

    You keep saying that,” Jolee said, proudly rolling back his shoulders into a taller posture, “But I know you Nomi, and I know you were doing just fine before I got my wrinkled behind back in the Jedi Order, no thanks to that ambitious kid Ev. As soon as I come back, the Jedi start dying off like fruit flies. You might have been better off without me, if I bring that kind of luck.”

    Nomi's expression darkened. “By the time you rejoined us, Jolee, we had already lost over half of the Jedi Order,” she said quietly, “We have lost over half again of our numbers even since then. In these days, ever Jedi counts. If only for that, I am so glad to have you back.”

    Oh, so you were fooling with me this whole time,” Jolee feigned offense, “I thought you liked having me back because the Order was missing some good old Bindo sense of humor.”

    And some good old Bindo sense of loyalty,” Nomi replied, nudging him with her elbow as they walked.

    Beyond the wide field that was the airfield, the small Miralukan town of Evia spread out around them in neat rows on gently curving streets. Jolee had thought that the city plan, woven through with arcing roads and alleyways, run through by an ebbing stream or two, looked a bit like a flower beside the huge rectangle of the duracrete airfield. None of the shops or houses stood higher than three stories, and most not even that. Greenery, bushes, and flowers lined the streets. Most of the traffic was pedestrian with a few small, quiet speeders gliding through at relaxed speeds.

    Evia was not the capital of Katarr, or even a capital city of any of the provinces. However, it was the site of a powerful Force nexus. If Evia was a flower, then its center was the sprawling temple in the middle, built right over the top of the Force nexus. Local history held that the famed Miraluka Jedi Tropis Langan had held his own Jedi Enclave in that very temple many centuries ago, before the Miraluka Jedi joined up with the Jedi on Ossus. To this day, the ancient temple stood as an impressive monument, cared for with pride by the local Miraluka.

    As they drew nearer to the center of town, Jolee began to catch glimpses of the great domed structure of the temple over housetops and down alleyways. Miraluka paused in their work as the train of Jedi passed by. They raised their heads in silent solutes, respectful smiles on their faces. Jolee felt their respect and optimism for the Jedi. The Miraluka, all who had no more idea of the threat the Jedi faced, believed in them. They knew the Jedi were here for answers, and the truly believed that the Jedi would find the answers the sought, meditating in their temple. Jolee's spirits had lifted ever since he stepped off the transport and onto Katarr's soil, drinking in their hope. It had been too easy to feel bitter and dismal during the long hyperspace journey.

    What do you think we will see, Nomi?” Jolee asked her as they walked, craning his neck for another view of the temple they approached down winding roads.

    Or will we even see anything? I don't know, Jolee,” Nomi answered honestly. “I can only hope that it will be more than the shadows that have clouded the Force for the last months. Today, we must break through or forever be in the dark.”

    Jolee sensed the doubt roll off Nomi in waves. It caught him by surprise. Usually Nomi was very guarded in her thoughts and emotions. As the head of the Jedi Order, she had to be. He stopped in the middle of the foot road and, turning to face her, caught Nomi's arm with a firm hand. “Nomi, let me tell you this,” he said, fixing his gaze steadily on her, “Even if we don't find anything today, that doesn't make you any kind of failing leader. You said yourself that these are dark times. You're doing the best I damn well know you can do. You've got worse Jedi to deal with than me on your council, and you're doing everything you can do save it. There might not be many of us, but we've been in worse spots as an order. Don't blame yourself, Nomi. If you want to blame someone, blame Mandalore, blame Revan—but I won't let you go blaming Ev for any of this—blame this boogie man that wants us all dead, but not yourself. You hear me, Nomi?”

    Nomi pulled away from him and smiled distantly. “Thank you Jolee. This is why I am so glad to have you back. You always seem to see everything so clearly. I can only hope that your clarity will lead us to some answers today,” she replied. “Master Thon did say something like that a few days ago. I do always wonder what the order could have been like if he had taken the role of Grandmaster years ago, but he insisted that he did not want to sit on the council for longer than his short term during the war with the Krath. He preferred the life of an outer rim Watchman.”

    And he didn't want you to think you could go on relying on him all the time,” Jolee put in as they began to walk again. They walked the rest of the way to the center of town where the rest of the Jedi waited for them with a group of Miraluka hosts. The other Jedi from Nomi's transport had caught up and were following along right with them by the time they reached the wide field around Langan's Temple.

    About sixty Jedi and Padawans milled about the field or sat on the wide steps up to the interior of the temple. Among those nearest to him, Jolee spotted the young Jedi Master Embrik Waykennit deep in a heated conversation with the Bimm seer Tyjesh Kay, swathed in her usual brilliant yellow robes.

    And I am telling you that it cannot be Ev behind this,” he said vehemently, “It does not have her signature about it. Certainly, Revan always acted with calculated subtlety, but secrecy and espionage is not her style. I do not sense her in it at all.”

    She is a changed woman, is she not?” Tyjesh argued evenly, “What is to say that she has not learned new strategies in this new mind of hers? I did hear that she had an intense research project that took her to archives all over Coruscant when our own archive could not satisfy her, spending a particularly concentrated effort at the military archives.”

    I can't tell you what that was,” Embrik retorted impatiently, “But you are right, she is a changed woman. She loves the Jedi. She loves and works for peace. She truly is repentant in this new life we gave her. Ev would never seek to do the Jedi Order harm like this.”

    Master Waykennit,” Tyjesh began seriously with an irritable twitch of her long, furry ears, “You have a blind spot, and that blind spot is Revan Roan'evrue Pell. Will you forever think back to that mewing babe in your arms as a teen or that astute child you wished you could have taken as your own apprentice? Revan was and is dangerous.”

    It is you who has it wrong, Master Kay,” Embrik replied, fighting to keep his temper even. “We will find nothing if we go into this with any sort of pre-conceived notions about who we think has been killing these Jedi.”

    And thus you should not be so fixated on denying Ev as a suspect,” Tyjesh retorted.

    Enough,” Nomi strode up to them, unable to watch the argument go on any longer. “Both of you are right. We must go into this with clear minds, free of assumptions and suspicions.” She paused, leveling warning stares at each of them in turn, “and, most of all, free of conflict. I should not have to tell you this.”

    Of course, Master Sunrider,” Embrik said, bowing his head and looking thoroughly chastised. Tyjesh Kay, on the other hand, only nodded briskly and turned away to seek out other conversation partners.

    Nomi looked up and saw a cluster of regal looking Miraluka at the entrance of the temple. She swiftly mounted the long set of shallow stone steps leading up to the temple, Jolee following less gracefully after. At the top, she turned down to the grassy lawn and began, projecting loudly, “Knights, Masters, and Padawans of the Jedi Order, we have called this conclave, the first since the conclave on Exis Station forty years ago, in order to discover the source of the threat that hunts us now from the shadows. The people of Katarr have graciously allowed us into this, their holy temple of the Force in order to connect with the Living Force. Let us enter and begin this conclave.”

    The Jedi, some of whom had been lazing around Evia for a day or more waiting for the conclave to begin, all straightened up with a sense of grim purpose and began filing into the temple.

    Again, Jolee hung back, staying by Nomi's side as all the Jedi passed by. For nearly the entire order being present, the gathering seemed meager. Jolee had not been at the Exis Station conclave himself, but he knew it had been far more impressive and lively, but that was a more prosperous time for the Jedi Order.

    As he watched the Jedi pass by, a thought occurred to him. “You know, Nomi,” he said quietly, “I don't see that old icicle Atris. I thought she organized this whole thing.”

    Nomi drew back, and nodded. “You're right,” she said, “I don't think she is here. I thought she was supposed to be on your transport.”

    Jolee shook his head. “Our logs said that she was supposed to be on yours,” he replied.

    Nomi pressed her lips together thoughtfully. “I hope she finds her way to us in time,” she said.


    Back in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, Bastila and Dustil gathered the Jedi Apprentices in the large debriefing hall once again. Each cluster of younglings followed on the heels of a shepherding older apprentice, quietly and seriously finding seats near their friends and clan mates. Bastila had never seen the playful children of the Jedi look so concentrated, so grave before. It was as if, somehow, even the youngest understood what was at stake, and they wanted desperately to help.

    Bastila stood in the center of the circular room on the lowest level of the floor, watching the seats fill up while Dustil directed each group to an empty section. All sound in the room seemed dead, far from its usual reverberations. Bastila felt an itching at the back of her mind. She tried to fight off a feeling of apprehension, but could not when she saw it in the faces of so many others. Perhaps the Jedi on Katarr had already begun their meditations. Perhaps that was the source of the tickling at the back of her mind. Somehow, the sensation felt familiar.

    She brushed away her fears and concentrated on the large lecture hall around her, counting the groups. All of the clans were accounted for.

    Dustil returned to her side and nodded meaningfully. “Everyone's here,” he reported. “How are we going to do this?”

    Alright everyone,” Bastila announced, “Here we have our own conclave on Coruscant while the rest of the Jedi meet together on Katarr. Let us meditate together and may the strengths of our minds bring us answers. Close your eyes and reach out into the Force. See the darkness hiding in the shadows and pursue it. Push the fog away until we have clarity.”

    With that, she glanced at Dustil and nodded. They retreated to two seats on the lowest level, sat down, and closed their eyes. Bastila breathed deeply, feeling the Force surge around them, drawing them all together as a part of the living Force itself. She sank deeper away from consciousness, letting her meditations draw her into the ebb and flow of the life and universe around her.


    The domed hall of the ancient Jedi training temple was massive from the inside. Each footfall, comment, or even whisper reverberated from every corner of the room. The Force sang through every fiber, ever wisp of air in the chamber. It echoed with every sound and with every movement. It tied together every living being, every Jedi and every Miraluka in the temple, to the very fabric of the universe. Just feeling it around her, seeing all of her fellow Jedi joined with almost as many supportive Miraluka, Nomi's doubts and fears for the conclave began to fade away.

    Stone carved reliefs, softened by the elements of the ages, and faded frescoes decorated the walls and domed ceiling. The Miraluka of Evia had generously provided over a hundred floor cushions of different shapes, sizes, and colors for the Jedi and all those others gathered with them to sit on.

    Nomi knew her place. She walked among the concentric circles of cushions to find the cushion at the very center. She slipped off her low boots and set them aside, then stood on the cushion, waiting. The other members of the Jedi council formed the first circle around her, followed by the other Jedi Masters, then the Jedi Knights, with the padawans sitting behind their masters. Around the edge in several more rows were all of the Miraluka who also came to support the Jedi with their own sight in the Force. As the Jedi shuffled around, trying to arrange themselves auspiciously according to rank, the Miraluka were the first to sit down. Soon, the other Jedi got the point and, from Nomi's vantage point, the circular room was now a sea of eyes, hairlines, and foreheads.

    Turning slowly around in a circle so that she could see every last person in the room, she spoke, “Knights of the Jedi Order, people of Katarr, thank you for answering my summons. The Jedi are faced with an unprecedented threat, one that could wipe us off the face of the galaxy, but we are grasping at what few clues we have without finding an answer—a source for the danger. This cannot go on any longer. A galaxy without the Jedi is not one I want to imagine.

    Today, here, we must do together what none of us has been able to do alone. We must see through the hazy darkness that has clouded the Force and discern who or what is attacking us. If possible, we must find out where it is coming from and how to stop it,” Nomi said. She raised her hands into the air for added effect and entreated, “Then join me, friends, in meditation. Let each man and woman give themselves over to the Force, so that they are no longer themselves, but a part of a greater whole in the Force. Let the Force guide us to the answers we seek.” With that, she lowered her hands and sat down onto her cushion. Her joints complained, but she tried to ignore it. She would not let her age bother her, not now. Jolee caught her eyes as she sat and flashed her a grin. She could not help but smile back him.

    With a sigh, she pushed even Jolee's quirky charms out of her mind. She closed her eyes and settled into the cushion, joining in with the collective rhythmic breathing that was overtaking the hall.

    Nomi sunk into the Force, letting herself go. Her own identity was swept away by the currents of the Force around her. She was no longer Nomi, she was the Jedi Order. With every individual that let go of their own self, the 'self' she felt as the Jedi grew in strength, clarity, and purpose. Nomi felt bigger than she ever had before, the Force Nexus boosting all of it together.

    Slowly, something began to resolve itself in the collective mind of the Jedi.

    Smoldering anger, resentment, an uncontainable desire for revenge.



    The Jedi balked at all of these emotions, overwhelmed by such powerful feelings that their collective presence had rarely felt before. The Miraluka mind around them reassured that these were normal, but powerful feelings, far more powerful that they ought to be.

    Sith? the Jedi wondered.

    Shadows. A scream of many voices, far greater than the combined voices of the Jedi here. Shadows. Pain. Malachor V.

    Now there was something, the Jedi realized, a source.

    The hunger, the yearning, it grew. It intensified. It resembled a being, a single signature in the Force. The hunger knew no bounds.

    The anticipation for what would come. The collective Jedi conciseness reached out, probing, eager for what was about to happen. There was a rush of something—the truth—coming closer, an unvoiced scream of exhilaration.

    There was


    Earsplitting screams pierced the air in the Jedi temple. Bastila's hands flew to her ears, trying to block out the pain. She did not realize that she was screaming herself until her voice cracked, throat painfully raw. Her eyes were open, but she could not see anything. She doubled over with a pain that was beyond just herself or her own body. It was the pain of the Jedi. The Force was screaming through her, and through every apprentice and youngling in that chamber.

    Bastila came to her sense and found herself again. I am Bastila Shan. This is the Jedi Temple. I am a Knight of the Jedi Order, master to Dustil Onasi, and temporary care-taker to all of the apprentices of the Jedi. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again then took in what was all around her. She knew something was wrong. No, worse than wrong. Devastating.

    The apprentices were like a chaotic swarm, flailing, wailing, and crying. Some stood, ripping at their hair in gestures of anguish. Others lay collapsed on the auditorium floor, quivering with fear and exhaustion. Nearby, a cluster of the youngest of the Jedi younglings poured around one of their friends. One child tugged at his boots while another furiously shook his shoulders.

    Wake up! Come on! Wake up!” another cried shrilly.

    He's dead! Kevu is dead! Kevu's Dead!” the older apprentice who was supposed to be caring for the group screamed in horrified dismay.

    Dustil, grasped at her arm and held tight. His hand trembled and his face was pale. His attention snapped up to the top ring of the auditorium, and Bastila followed his gaze. The Force screamed out a silent warning. An instant later, a silver lightsaber hissed to life. Lashowe screamed. Her eyes were wide with an insanity beyond her control. With a roar, she swung her silver blade at the nearest students. Two of them crumpled to the ground, cut in two.

    More screams.

    Bastila watched in horror as Lashowe thrashed her way through apprentice after apprentice, rooted to the spot. All of whom were too stunned, to confused, to overwhelmed with the wound in the Force to defend themselves.

    Dustil rocketed forward, leaping up the terraced rows of seats through the masses of other youth. He pushed them aside like blades of grass in a wind-swept field, never slowing. “Lashowe!” he roared as he leaped in front of her, both lightsaber blades ignited: blue and violet.

    With a crazed scream, she tightened both hands around the hilt of her lightsaber and swung hard and high. It was a stupid move. Dustil attacked like lightning, blocking her lightsaber with his left and stabbing into her gut with his right. More younglings screamed. With a gurgle and a gasp, her lightsaber hilt fell from her hands and she felt to her knees, then back onto her haunches before tipping over to the side with her eyes rolling back into her head.

    A flicker of self-loathing crossed over Dustil's face, but he shook it off. He extinguished both lightsabers and leaped up onto a chair. “Everyone calm down!” he yelled, Projecting over all the frantic cries that still reverberated throughout the room. “I don't know what happened, and yeah, whatever it was, it was bad, but we can find out what it was. Screaming and yelling like this isn't going to get us any closer to the answer. Now calm down! Take lots of deep breaths. Remember where we are. We're safe in the middle of the Jedi Temple!”

    The surge of pride Bastila suddenly had for Dustil was swiftly overwhelmed by the intense, familiar prickling at the back of her mind. She tried to push it off, blaming it on the shock in the Force moments before, but it only grew stronger, more ominous. Realization hit her like a gong, leaving her trembling with fear. “They're here!” she blurted frantically, “Everyone protect yourself! They're here!”

    The air in the doorway, and even filling the lowest level of the room, shimmered with personal cloaking devices. With hissing, hungry roars, a dozen assassins just like those she and Snow had fought on Onderon materialized. Seeing them again sent a stabbing feeling through her heart, but revenge and mourning were the last things on her mind. They have been in the Temple all this while. There were certainly more than just a dozen. Her senses were muddled, but they were clear in at least that much.

    Bastila was on her feet with her lightsaber humming in her hands before she knew it herself. Two of the assassins charged her and she swung down at their charge, using her advantage of higher ground as best as she could. She cut one down, but the second swung his Force pike fiercely, working to get behind her defense.

    Around her, children screamed in terror and in pain. All around her, the assassins were slaughtering defenseless children. She faltered for a moment, as it hit her that only a handful of the oldest apprentices actually carried practice sabers around the Jedi Temple, and of those, really only the ex-Sith students knew much about using lightsabers well. At best, there were twenty other lightsabers in the entire hall.

    Bastila leaped down, beating back her attacker while keeping her senses wide open to attacks from behind. Glancing around the room, the number of attackers seemed to have doubled, and yet she sensed even more. There were even fewer active lightsabers than she had hoped for. The death and pain all around her rang through her spirit as loudly as the reverberating cries of pain.

    Dustil was still half way up the stairs, fiercely defending three younglings from two eager assassins. He seemed focused on nothing else. Elsewhere, the attackers had spread out across the room, taking down anyone in their path.

    Everyone run! Get out of here if you can!” she ordered, whirling herself and her saber around her to keep the attackers away. If only I could get into battle meditation, then we would stand a chance. But there is no way I can in the middle of a fight, with all of this pain and noise around me. She tried and tried again, but it kept slipping away from her.

    She hazarded a glance at Dustil. All three of the younglings he had been protecting were dead. Now he fought fiercely for his own life. Suddenly, another attacker materialized behind him. “Dustil, behind you,” Bastila yelled, swinging off her own attackers.

    He made a frantic glance over his shoulder, then gathered his energy and leaped over the heads of the assassins in front of him. Somersaulting in the air, he landed in the fray on the lowest level with Bastila.

    We don't stand a chance, Bastila,” Dustil yelled as he cut down two surprised assassins around him, “Let's get out of here!”

    Bastila did not need any urging. She gaged the distance between herself and the doorway, backed up onto the higher step behind her then leaped up and over the assassins. Two sabers whirling, Dustil cut and batted his way through.

    Moments later, the two of them were tearing down the temple corridors at top speed, taking energy from the Force to propel them forward faster than their bodies could normally handle. A few of the assassins tried to follow, but unassisted by the Force, they quickly fell behind.

    This way!” Dustil said, veering sharply down a side hallway. While Bastila fled aimlessly, Dustil seemed to have a plan. “To the hangar,” he added.

    Bastila nodded wordlessly, just concentrating on their flight and probing the area around them for signs of more assassins. Her long saber hilt bumped against her leg as they ran, but she was ever ready to use it again if needed.

    Fortunately, there was no need for it. The pair skidded into the hangar and looked around. Dustil dashed straight for the nearest serviceable looking speeder and vaulted inside. Bastila was close behind him. Even before she was fastened in with her safety belt, Dustil had the speeder running. He fired up the repulsor coils and grasped the steering yoke then steered it through the hangar and out.

    Even as they joined the Coruscant traffic and zipped away, Bastila's heart pounded loudly in her ears and her breathing came shallow and raggedly. She sunk back into the cloned leather seat and tried to make sense of all of her thoughts and memories from the attack. “Force,” she cursed out loud with sudden realization at the decision she had made, “We just left all those younglings there to die.” Guilt, almost heavier than she could bear, overcame her.

    What were we supposed to do?” Dustil shot back, on the edge of his nerves but not angry, “Die there with them? At least someone got out to tell the tale and continue the Jedi Order. We would have died if we hadn't run.”

    I can only hope that others made it out as well,” Bastila mumbled, numb with shock. “Do you have a plan now?” she asked, feeling helpless.

    I'm taking us to the Navy headquarters. “If I throw Dad's name around, we should be able to get asylum there, and they need to know what has happened.”

    If only we even knew ourselves what happened,” Bastila replied, “Dark Side assassins attacked out of nowhere and killed all the Jedi Apprentices on Coruscant. Force! They must have known that all of the other Jedi were going to be away leaving the children practically defenseless. They must have known of the meeting on Katarr. Then the other Jedi...”

    We felt them die,” Dustil realized out loud, “All of that pain, the wound in the Force, that was all of the Jedi dying on Katarr.”

    It was more than that,” Bastila said, trying to recall the feeling she had immediately after being ripped out of their meditations. “More than just Jedi died. Thousands, if not millions, died. It felt like Taris, only worse, only all at once.”

    Force,” Dustil cursed quietly, “We have to get to the Republic Military. Someone has to go and find out what happened on Katarr.”

    Bastila pressed her lips together and nodded gravely. What now? What can we possibly do now? Tears despair watered at the corners of her eyes, dried away by the wind almost instantly as their speeder tore through the Coruscant skyways.


    Visas Marr groped wildly with her hands then stumbled and fell, tangled in her long skirts. The obstacle she tripped on felt sickeningly like the body of another person as she struggled to stand again. Even as she found solid ground, her legs wavered and her knees gave out beneath her. She fell to her knees with a weak cry.

    All around her was death and pain—unimaginable pain. She wanted to scream just to be rid of it, but she had already screamed herself hoarse. Katarr was dead. The Force had utterly abandoned it, leaving her as blind as any other sentient cursed to be without eyes. Desperate tears wet her cheeks. Why?

    The pain of it all overwhelmed her. She felt so weak. Shaking and hugging her knees, Visas curled up on the ground and let it take hold of her. She let herself slip into blissfully painless oblivion.

    Visas awoke again to darkness. Her sight did not return, no matter how much she strained her mind. Her head throbbed and every part of her, right down to the soul within her ached with what had happened. Katarr remained as silent as the grave.
    And then she saw him. Where there was nothing else to see, a man approached her with long, sure strides. Swathed in robes and armor of black, a white and red mask obscured his face. Her spirit leaped out to him as he came, as if he held a part of her spirit inside of him. The Force radiated from his being more loudly than anyone or anything she had ever encountered. It was more than a full planet's signature in the Force, all in one being. He blazed brilliantly in her inner sight.

    He stopped, standing over her. He stared down through black pits of eyes at her, a puzzle to him. Reaching out a hand to her, he spoke in a language Visas had never heard before, but he forced the meanings of his words into her head. “You live,” he observed.

    Who are you?” Visas wheezed.

    I am Nihilus,” he replied, “And you are mine.”

    I...” she stammered, but had no words. She was weak, abandoned on a dead world. She took his gloved hand, and he pulled her roughly to her feet. He forced her to walk and she stumbled sightlessly with every step. She wished only to lie down and die, but the powerful being that tugged her along seemed to have other plans. Visas had no choice.


    Atris waited for two or three days in hiding before venturing to Katarr. It had been worse than she feared. Atris could spend no more than a few exploratory minutes on the surface before fleeing the planet back into space. She had never felt a place so empty before. All life was gone. The Force was gone. She shivered at the thought of it.

    In the cockpit of her small, borrowed Jedi fighter, she tried to contact the Jedi Temple on Coruscant again, but got no response. She began to fear the worst for the Jedi children who had been left there as well.

    But, despite all the death, her ploy had worked. The leaked information she planted everywhere she could, telling exactly where and when the Jedi Conclave would take place, drew their enemies like a moth to a flame. Now she knew more about this enemy than she had ever hoped to before. It fed on the Force and on all life. Like the assassins that both Bastila and Thon had met, it sucked the Force away from other living beings. Their enemy was far more powerful than they had suspected, but now armed with that knowledge, she could face it.

    And she might be the last remaining Jedi.

    The thought chilled Atris but it did not frighten her. She would have to rebuild the order herself. First she would return to Coruscant to take the supplies and knowledge she would need, and then she would find a quiet place, far from where the enemy of the Jedi would be looking for her, rebuilding and waiting for the moment to strike it down. Patience and time would give her an opportunity.

    Had the risk she took been worth it? Had the losses been worth the knowledge they brought?

    She could not say. What was done was done, and now she had to move forward with her plans.


    That was terrifyingly hard to write. I hope I did the conclave justice.
  3. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Sorry for the delay on this one. Spring break turned out to be busier than I expected it to be.


    Part 28- Hiding

    Dustil, Bastila, what is it?” Carth asked with bleary urgency over the comm. The small blue holo of him from the waist up showed him wearing only a hurriedly wrapped robe. “HQ said it was urgent.”

    Carth, the Jedi have been attacked,” Bastila replied then waited for that cold fact to register with him. He looked as if he was still half asleep.

    Attacked, what do you mean?” he asked, growing in concern.

    Pretty much all the Jedi in the entire order went to Katarr to have a secret conclave,” Dustil explained, “But somehow, our enemies found out about it. We don't know for sure until someone goes to check it out, but we think they're all dead now.”

    Our enemies coordinated their attacks and stormed the Jedi Temple with Force-sensitive assassins. We barely escaped ourselves,” Bastila continued, and paused, unwilling to speak the terrible truth. “We fear that they killed all of the other apprentices. I doubt any of the others had the skill to get out alive.”

    Kriff,” Carth cursed, “That's terrible. How could someone do that?”

    Someone has a grudge against the Jedi Order,” Dustil replied darkly, “A powerful one.”

    What will you do now?” Carth asked, looking more awake than he had moments before.

    Your friends at the Navy Headquarters are keeping us safe here until we can figure something else out,” Dustil answered.

    We might be the last Jedi left,” Bastila added, “We have no idea if any others managed to escape notice of our enemies.”

    You can't go after these enemies yourselves,” Carth said quickly, “If whoever they are can destroy the whole Jedi Order in a day, you can't face it just the two of you.”

    It crossed my mind, Carth,” Bastila answered, “But you're right, we can't. We still don't know where to look or what we face, only that it is dangerous.”

    Maybe if they think that you are dead along with the others, they will leave you alone,” Carth suggested, “You could come to Telos and hide here.”

    No,” Bastila replied quickly, “We couldn't do that, Carth. If they did find us there, we would put your whole project in jeopardy.”

    And even if we run, it might be able to find us in the Force,” Dustil added.

    Aren't there any places you can go that will hide from even that?” Carth asked then added quickly, “I'm sorry, I just want to see both of you safe.”

    Bastila thought for a moment, and then nodded slowly. “Where there is sufficient Dark Side power or a wound in the Force, we would be difficult to sense.”

    Please not Korriban,” Dustil said immediately.

    Wounds in the Force?” Carth asked. “What's that?”

    Places where lots of death and terror left its mark on the Force,” Bastila answered. “Many of the more terrible battlefields of the last wars have left wounds behind them.”

    Like Taris or Duxn?” Carth offered.

    Bastila nodded. “But we dare not go to those places. I would not go near Onderon again, after...” Bastila started, but could not finish her sentence.

    How about Eshan?” Carth asked.

    Eshan?” Dustil asked.

    Home world to the Echani,” Bastila answered him, “They were attacked by the Mandalorians and fought brilliantly against them, but were slaughtered in the end. Yes, Eshan would give us the shadow of death to hide in. Why do you mention it, Carth?”

    I have some contacts there,” he answered, “Republic Military often uses Echani combat trainers for hand-to-hand fighting instruction. I know of a training academy that accepts off-worlders for training.”

    If we enrolled, then we could continue my training, in a sort of way,” Dustil suggested, liking the idea already.

    Bastila nodded. “Thank you Carth,” she said earnestly, “This may be our best option, at least for now. At least until we know more or if we find that other Jedi have survived.”

    You two stay where you are at HQ,” Carth ordered, “I'll work out my contacts on Eshan and I will come to get you on Coruscant myself as soon as I can get away from here.”

    Thank you Carth,” Bastila said again.

    Thanks Dad,” Dustil said, sounding relieved.

    I'm so glad you're both alright,” Carth said with a ragged sigh.

    We won't keep you up any longer,” Bastila said politely.

    Yeah,” Dustil agreed, “See you soon.”

    See you soon,” Carth echoed, “Until then, please be safe.”

    The connection between them shut and Dustil sank back into his chair with another heavy sigh. “I wish we didn't have to run from this,” he moaned, “We're Jedi... but if we tried to face whatever it is now, it would kill us.”

    I wish we could do something,” Bastila agreed, “Besides hide and hope for the best. I feel like we are abandoning the galaxy.”

    And maybe we are,” Dustil replied, voice heavy with pain and bitterness. “And maybe that's what's best anyway.”


    And this means I can finally get to posting the beginning of the parallel 'What has Bastila been up to?' story. I'll be working through those revisions, so look for that one on the next couple of weeks.
  4. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    That was horrible to read. Not that you didn't do it any justice, but because everyone died like that.
  5. cbagmjg

    cbagmjg Jedi Knight star 3

    Jul 12, 2006
    No no no! Revan has genitals!

    Sent from my LG-VM696 using Tapatalk 2
  6. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Nov 3, 2003
    Yes. Revan does have genitals. In this case, they are of the female variety. If you don't wish to read a story with a female Revan, there are many stories that feature a male Revan. As for fanfiction, both genders are equally valid and every author can choose how they want to write the character. None of them are obligated to conform to the way you think the character ought to be written.
    SoA and LaForzaViva like this.
  7. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Well that was interesting. o_O

    Anyhew, yes, I am really glad I am past that. However, now that I've killed pretty much the entire Jedi order, I am no longer afraid to kill characters I like. Ahaha.


    Part 29- Abandoning All for Silence

    The Jedi Master Lonna Vash had no more idea the true cause of the shock she felt through the Force two weeks ago than anyone else. Its timing in relation to the Jedi Conclave on Katarr, which neither she or her padawan could attend because of their duties to the Republic Fleet in the Quelii system, seemed too much to be coincidental. There were no coincidences in the Force. Word from the Jedi about the findings of the conclave never came. Her hails to the members of the Jedi Council went unanswered. Then she began to hear rumors about Katarr, terrible rumors that all life on the planet had been destroyed, down to the very last Miraluka. Though she held it in from her padawan, that knowledge cut her deeply. It devastated her. She could not believe that the Jedi Order could fall so easily, so spectacularly.

    Lonna contacted the Jedi Temple on Coruscant as soon as she heard those rumors, hoping for some clarity to the news, but got no response there either. Surely the younglings and the Jedi who had been left behind to care for them were still alive, and simply not paying attention to the communications center.

    Lonna's optimism faded as she landed her speeder in the Jedi Temple's western hangar. The Jedi Temple felt like a lifeless, empty shell. Even as she and her padawan Kaah Ohtok exited their speeder and lingered in the hangar, no one came to greet them.

    Where is everyone, Master?” Kaah asked, his orange lekku swaying apprehensively.

    I don't know, Kaah,” she answered, shaking her head. She closed her eyes and stretched out her senses in the Force. There, in the center of the temple was the taint of pain and death. This just confirmed her worst fears. With a sigh, she opened her eyes, asking her padawan, “What do you sense here, Kaah?”

    Nothing,” he replied, “Nothing like it usually feels. It's strange.”

    Probe deeper,” Lonna encouraged, wishing him to reach the same conclusion himself.

    And there's...” he searched for the right word, “pain, I think.” Kaah paused with a sudden realization, “They're all dead.” He looked stricken.

    I fear that as well,” Lonna replied, “And any that survived are not here anymore. We must be cautious, Kaah, as we explore the Temple. We need to find out what truly happened here, but be wary of any enemies that may be lurking here.”

    Enemies? Within the Jedi Temple?” Kaah seemed aghast at the idea.

    More possible than any of us would have liked to think,” Lonna replied with a sorrowful shake of her head, “Something killed these Jedi right here in this temple. The killers may still remain, hiding in the shadows of their deaths.”

    Kaah nodded gravely and unclipped his lightsaber from his hilt, grasping it readily in his hand. “Let's go then,” he said.

    Let us go to the source of that feeling of pain you sensed and see what we can find there,” she suggested, then warned, “What you see may not be easy for you to bear.”

    I have seen dead bodies before,” Kaah replied defensively, “In the war.”

    But have you seen dead children or dead friends?” Lonna asked warningly. Kaah was still young and proud; proud to be chosen as a padawan at the young age of eleven when so many others were left without masters. That was two years ago, but he still remained convinced of his own superiority, no matter how much Lonna tried to iron it out of him.

    The long halls of the temple remained as empty and lifeless as the hangar bay in which they landed. Lonna followed her senses at each turn, drawing closer to the center of darkness in the temple. It was not a darkness she feared, but she did not long to see it either. Kaah kept his thoughts to himself, though apprehension and eagerness rolled off of him in waves, crests and troughs. He wanted desperately to know what had happened, and yet feared the past as well.

    Nothing moved in the temple but the shifting light and the wafting dust in their wake.

    Here,” Lonna said as they approached the large meeting hall from across a wide corridor. She knew that if they were to find anything still in the temple, it would be here. The feeling she followed in the Force grew stronger, accompanied by a sour, unpleasant smell. At that, she instantly knew to expect the worse.

    What's that smell?” Kaah exclaimed, pinching his nose shut.

    Lonna raised her wide left sleeve to her face and cupped the cloth around her nose and mouth. “I fear it is the smell of death,” she replied, muffled by the fabric.

    Kaah drew back with a sudden realization, stopping in his tracks. He quickly put his own sleeve to his face and stepped quickly to catch up with his master.

    Taking as deep a breath as she dared, Lonna rounded the bend and entered the hall. The sight that greeted her caused even her to stop mid-step. There were dead everywhere. Some dismembered, some halved, some whole but caked with rivers of dried blood. Nearly all were Jedi. Yet, the Force had totally abandoned them. She had never encountered bodies, even as long dead as these, that felt so entirely cut off from the Force. It was as the Jedi Council said, these enemies drained the living Force right out of you.

    Lonna spotted two dark-clad bodies on the floor not far from here. Gingerly, she approached, her curiosity demanding that she investigate. Just what kind of sentient would murder defenseless children? Destroy the entire future of the Jedi Order? She suddenly realized that there may still be attackers lurking around the time. Casting a glance over her shoulder, she ordered, “Stay close, Kaah.”

    He nodded at her, looking stiff and stricken. Kaah was only able to take two steps into the room before he turned and retched against the wall. It was all too much for him.

    Lonna knelt down next to one of the mangled bodies of the attackers and pulled back his gray mask with her free hand. Underneath the duraplast was the face of a man. He looked so much like any other man that it repulsed her. She quickly placed the mask back over his face, stood up, and backed away a few paces.

    They're all dead,” Kaah mewed weekly from behind his sleeve. He seemed to be doing his best not to look at any of it.

    It falls to us to make sure the truth of that statement,” Lonna said, “We must identify all of the younglings here. If any are missing, then there is a chance that some are still alive somewhere.”

    Kaah nodded, not looking at her or any of the bodies.

    Just then, a feeling pricked at Lonna's senses. Someone was coming. “Kaah, get behind me,” she ordered with quiet urgency.

    What?” he asked listlessly.

    Get behind me,” she repeated more forcefully, “Now.” She moved to cover her padawan while he stepped into the shadows of her robes.

    The sound of a single set of footsteps echoing down empty corridors now accompanied the feeling of someone drawing closer. Lonna reached out, probing the approaching mind for intentions, but the thoughts were too well guarded. She braced herself, unlit lightsaber ready in her right hand.

    Finally, deliberately, a figure stepped into the doorway. At the sight of the familiar brown robes, blond hair, and chiseled features, Lonna immediately relaxed. “Master Kavar,” she breathed.

    Lonna Vash,” Kavar observed, looking relieved himself, “And your padawan as well. I am relieved to see you survived the tragedies of late.”

    And you, Master Kavar,” Lonna stepped towards him. “We thought we were the only ones back in the Temple.”

    I only just returned myself, yesterday,” Kavar answered, “Long enough to know that there is nothing to be found here but the faces of the children we failed.”

    Lonna bowed her head mournfully.

    Kaah could not find his voice, even in the comforting presence of another Jedi Master. He teetered unsteadily over towards them as well, presenting Master Kavar with an uneven bow.

    Let us get away from here,” he urged, “There is much to discuss.”

    Lead on, Kavar,” Lonna agreed. She reached out her arm and steadied Kaah around the shoulders. He immediately leaned into her as they began to walk.

    Master Kavar took them to the Jedi Archive where the gentle glow of consoles gave some comfort.

    Interestingly, there are a number of things missing from the archives,” he assessed, “And even many of our most precious holocrons from the vault. I cannot explain it myself, where they have all gone.”

    Scavengers, most likely,” Lonna suggested, “Looking to sell our unprotected treasures to the highest bidder.”

    But only members of the Jedi Council can enter the holocron vault,” Kavar pointed out, “And the entrance shows no signs of struggle or tampering.”

    Then perhaps we are not the first to return home,” Lonna suggested.

    As it seems, we were not,” Kavar nodded in agreement. “But, whatever course we take from this point, we must make protecting the Jedi's history and knowledge a priority.”

    How many others do you think may have survived this?” Lonna asked. As a member of the Jedi council, she hoped he would be privy to more useful information that she herself had. Her tenure on the council was years ago.

    If all the Jedi who went to Katarr and all the younglings who remained here are dead,” Kavar began, “Then very few, I am afraid. We called back nearly all of the Jedi from the field when this threat became gravely dangerous to us. You and Kaah were among the very few in important enough positions that could not be recalled.”

    How many others were there?” Lonna repeated. This was not a time for beating around the bush.

    Other than yourselves and me,” Kavar took a long breath before he finished, “Master Zez-Kai Ell was called to advise the Chancellor at the last minute at a meeting on Corellia. Master Vima Sunrider was investigating the disappearance of agricorps. Master Vrook was last heard from at the Perkkik Mining Station in the outer rim. Kaden Thuvell was last stationed on Sigil, which was in a delicate post-war position, politically, so he could not be spared. Oss Willum and his padawan were to be on their way back in time for the Conclave on Katarr, but either they were delayed or they too fell to the assassins somewhere on the outer rim.”

    Lonna waited for another, but that was the end of Kavar's list.

    Is that all?” Kaah blurted. Until then he had sat by and listened in shocked silence.

    There are other Jedi that we lost contact with during this purge,” Kavar added, “They could be still alive and simply out of contact, but I dare not put too much hope on that.”

    Then the Jedi Order is reduced to no more than ten Jedi, at best,” Lonna assessed quietly, “I had no idea it was that bad.”

    We're as good as dead,” Kaah moaned.

    Don't say that, Kaah,” Lonna admonished sharply, “There is hope for the Order as long as we still live, and live we will. More is at stake than our lives now. Remember that.”

    Yes master,” Kaah acquiesced and bowed his head, ashamed.

    There may yet be other Jedi we have forgotten about,” Lonna pointed out, “Deserters we lost during the wars who are simply in hiding. We should put out a call for them.”

    No, that would be too dangerous for them while our enemy is still at large,” Kavar countered, “And I doubt little would motivate any deserters to rejoin a Jedi order under attack as we are.”

    Then what do you suggest now?” Lonna asked.

    I feel that we must discern our assets and work from there. The more we know, the better we can plan,” Kavar replied.

    Lonna nodded, “I agree. We must try to contact any Jedi who might still be alive. We should also take stock of the dead. Perhaps some may have escaped or survived.”

    What about the security feeds?” Kaah asked. “Maybe they can tell us something about what happened here.” Suddenly growing shier with both masters' eyes on him, he added hesitantly, “You did say the more we know about what happened, the better.”

    Yes, you are right,” Kavar nodded, “Very good idea, Kaah Ohtok. We will leave that to you. Go to the communications tower and look over the security feeds and any communications that went in or out of the temple immediately before, during, and since the attack.”

    Right,” Kaah nodded, “I'll do it.”

    Lonna, you should go with him and see if you can contact the other Jedi. I will give you access to the top-level files that give a report of all Jedi's last known positions,” Kavar said and pulled a small code cylinder off his belt and placed it on the table before her. With a meaningful glance at Kaah, he continued, “I think it would best if it went to me to look over the dead. If you can contact any of the other Jedi, schedule a council meeting for the earliest possible time. This evening, if we can. All the remaining Jedi are on the Jedi Council now, and that includes you Lonna.”

    She nodded gravely. No need to defer to Kavar any more then. She took the code cylinder and stowed it in her belt pouch. “Then we will go to the communications tower,” she said, standing up, “When our work is finished, we will return here and wait for you. Come Kaah.”

    Kavar rose slowly. Lonna could sense that it was not from the stiffness of age but the heavy burden of a survivor in these dark times. “I will see you back here when it is finished,” Kavar nodded to her.

    The High Council Chamber was emptier than Lonna could ever remember it being, even in the heat of the Mandalorian Wars when Jedi Masters were sent far and wide to discern the true weight of the conflict. She and Kavar each took a chair in the circle. Kaah seated himself awkwardly in one of the seats nearest to the door. He was not part of the temporary council, but it was important that he be present and hear all that was discussed. He may even have insight that others did not. In such a situation, Lonna would never dream of shutting her young padawan out of the meeting.

    Fuzzy projections of Vrook Lamar, Vima Sunrider, and Zez-Kai Ell hovered in their seats. It was a council of five.

    We could not reach many of the Jedi that we hoped survived, though there still may be others out there,” Lonna reported.

    Vima sighed and shook her head, “I would have thought Kaden Thuvell more resilient than that. His position with the Sigil government would have made him a very public and obvious target, however.”

    Many great Jedi have already fallen. He is another among their number,” Zez-Kai Ell replied darkly.

    There is the mystery of Bastila Shan and her padawan,” Kavar put in, “Their bodies were not found among the dead here, and scattered security feeds show them fleeing together. Although we cannot know for certain because the security feeds from the hangar are corrupted, one of our domestic speeders is missing. They could have fled successfully on that,” Kavar explained, “But we do not know where they went to contact them.”

    That is good news in the midst of all this death,” Vima said.

    The security feeds were corrupted?” Zez-Kai Ell asked, “How is that possible?”

    Lonna glanced at Kaah and nodded, prompting him to speak.

    It looks like a day or so after the attack, someone came in and hacked our systems,” he explained, “They corrupted a number of the security feeds so that we lost all previous data and they are not taking any new data. Other than the hangar bays, we lost the whole archives are and several main corridors.”

    I should note that we are missing a number of important documents, including holocrons, from the archive and the vault,” Kavar added.

    A thief and a slicer,” Vrook rumbled, “we must protect the legacy of the Jedi.”

    I agree,” Kavar nodded, “Lonna, Kaah, and I were discussing that before this meeting. Kaah is skilled enough with computers that he can lock down the temple so that only recognized Jedi in our database can enter. There are always ways to slice past such defenses, both technological and physical, but it will deter casual thefts.”

    Then please do whatever you can, Padawan Kaah,” Vrook encouraged.

    I will,” he promised, nodding so vigorously that his orange lekku wagged like two tails of a friendly feathered dog on the back of his head.

    Which brings us to the real questions posed to this council: what really happened two weeks ago when we all felt that shock through the Force,” Kavar said, “And what should we do now?”

    The military reports I have seen confirm it,” Zez-Kai Ell said, “Katarr was devastated. Nothing is left alive there, though there are no signs of struggle.”

    Just like Felucia and the Perkkik Station,” Vrook commented. “But there was a wound left in the Force from their deaths. The Force was utterly gone.”

    The children here suffered the same fate, though most of them were killed by conventional means,” Lonna added.

    Our enemies have powers we have never seen before,” Vrook said, “They drain the very Force from us. I am sure they drained every last drop of the Force from Katarr.”

    Where Jedi gather, the enemy strikes,” Vima observed quietly, “Katarr, the Jedi temple, agricorps, Dorin, I am sure there are others.”

    One thing is very clear to me now,” Vrook began after a moment of thoughtfulness, “We cannot gather again. Even though there are few of us left, we would ring out like a beacon in the Force to our enemies. Where we gather, we are risk to all other life. It is our duty to protect all life in the galaxy, not endanger it.”

    I fear you may be right, Vrook,” Zez-Kai Ell acknowledged, “Gathering together again is too great a risk, after what has happened.”

    Although we know more about our enemies than ever before, we still do not know enough to face them directly, especially weakened as we are,” Vrook pointed out, “I suggest we retreat into hiding. If we let them believe that we are all dead and that they have won, perhaps it will lull them into a false sense of security in their victory and they will step out of the shadows. Only then can we face them, our strength renewed.”

    I hate to concede victory to an enemy that would punish an entire planet for the gathering of Jedi on it,” Vima said cautiously, “But I think you are right, Master Vrook. Our silence may be the best way to draw them out. Only when they have revealed themselves can we gather again to bring the battle to them.”

    We should choose our hiding places carefully, places where an abundance of life or an old wound in the Force will mask our presences,” Kavar suggested.

    But we should leave Coruscant behind at all costs,” Lonna added suddenly, “If a gathering of Jedi can lead to the destruction of a remote Miraluka colony, think what would happen of our presence here tempts our attackers enough to destroy Coruscant. The fall of the Republic should not be on our hands.”

    You are right,” Kavar nodded.

    I will return to Dantooine,” Vrook volunteered, “There is much there to protect and rebuild, and much darkness to hide in after the attacks on our enclave.”

    I will go to Ossus,” Vima said, “The attacks of the Great Sith War still leave their scars there, and I am sure there is still plenty to be learned in the ruins of our ancient great library.”

    I will head to Nar Shadaa,” Zez-Kai Ell decided, “It is not far from here and it is the last place anyone would look for a Jedi in hiding. Perhaps in a seedy place like that, I can learn something of our enemies’ motives.”

    I will go to Onderon, where some of the earliest attacks of this kind occurred,” Kavar offered, “Maybe there is something to learn of our enemy even there.”

    I do not want to give up hope on the other Jedi who may still be out there, out of the range of our contacts,” Lonna said, “I will search the galaxy for any sign of them. Oss Willum, Bastila Shan, Deesra Lur Jada, Kaden Thuvell, even his sister, and others may still be out there.”

    Kaden's sister, the exile?” Vrook asked, “Even if she is still out there, why do you think she would help us?”

    She always had a good heart and pure intentions, no matter what terrible actions her beliefs let her to take,” Lonna replied.

    She has been away for so long,” Kavar said wistfully, “You are right, she may yet be alive. I hope you find her, and the others, Lonna.”

    Before we leave this place, we must leave messages for any other Jedi who might try to return or try to contact us,” Lonna suggested.

    You and your padawan should see to that,” Vrook suggested, “when you lock down the temple. Suggest that they too should go into hiding until the time is right for us to face our adversaries in an open fight.”

    The thought of inaction, of giving up even if it was only for the time being, in the face of grave danger to the galaxy stirred conflicting feelings within Lonna. She hated to disappear just when each Jedi was needed most, and yet, Vrook's suggestion really did seem like the only option.

    But until then, let the galaxy think that the Jedi are dead and gone,” Kavar concluded heavily.
  8. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Smart, smart Jedi. And I think we all know who broke into the Temple after...
  9. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    I would hope you'd be able to figure that out. :p The main point of the chapters from here on out, including that last one, is set up for KotOR II, so I shall be dropping hints at things to come all over the place.

    Once again, I am borrowing Leiraya and Kylan from the illustrious DWH.


    Part 30- History of the Dead

    You really ought to come down here more often, Kionee, and not just on business,” Leiraya said scoldingly, but the smile on her face was warm and welcoming.

    We hardly get visitors,” Kylan added, “Hardly anyone besides the Ithorians and the tech teams have clearance to come down to the surface, especially for a casual visit. With the farm in such delicate state now, we can't leave here for long ourselves either.”

    I promise, I'll be back every time I get a weekend,” Kionee replied beaming, her arms filled with a brimming basket of all the fruits the Sheffield-Moran farm produced. In the year since this small section of Telos had been 'restored' Kylan and Leiraya were given almost complete autonomy over it for their experimental fruit farm. Granted, an Ithorian from the supervising herd came down to check on them twice a month or so, but that was more to make sure the environmental containment was working and the ecosystem was working like it was supposed to. So far, so good.

    The twenty acre plot of land was enclosed in flickering environmental containment fields that stretched up to the sky—transparent red walls that kept the good environment in and the bad environment out. It was eerie, this little patch of life struggling to grow and be fruitful, wrapped in technology, surrounded by atomic wasteland nearly as far as the eye could see. Huge generator towers at each corner of the orchard plot stretched towards the sky like giant spires.

    Leiraya and Kylan's house was a small pre-fabricated structure, boxy and rectangular. If it looked like a miniature version of one of Citadel Station's space modules, it was because it actually was. The same technology was used to keep them safe, in the event of a breech in the shields. It could be sealed off against the hostile environment as easily as it could be sealed off against the vacuum of space.

    In their boxy home, under the unnerving red glow of the environmental shields, Kylan and Leiraya were happy even still. Like Kionee, they were thrilled to be a part of Telos's rebirth in their own way. Already they had proved that agriculture, especially organic, was successful on Telos. Their orchard sported healthy adult trees that had already begun producing fruit months ago, after they had settled from the trauma of replanting. Tiny saplings grew with only the usual struggles. Bushes and vines of several varieties were already producing berries with merry abundance.

    Send our love to Laylien and all the others up station-side,” Leiraya said. “And let that Bao-Dur know that that connector hasn't sparked at all since he came and replaced it. He found the problem this time that that other tech had missed.”

    That is Bao-Dur for you,” Kylan said, “I would count on him for wiring this whole planet and getting it right the first time.”

    Will do,” Kionee nodded over her bushel. Few people used wicker baskets for anything but expensive decoration these days, but Leiraya seemed to have taken to basket weaving while on the surface of Telos. Kionee suspect that her baskets could be sold for a fortune in the core, but Leiraya chose to use them for more practical purposes, like carrying fruit. Kionee’s basket, however, was beginning to feel heavier and heavier the longer she lingered in front of her ship, saying her goodbyes. “Well, I should probably get this into the hold,” she said, trying not to sound impatient to go. “It is nice to be hauling fruit again instead of critters or jungle monsters. Familiar territory.”

    Leiraya laughed, “No, we won't hold you any longer. Go enjoy your weekend. And remind Mrogo Habot to deposit our earnings from this crop into our account Station-side this time. There is absolutely no reason for them to deliver cash to us down here. There's no need for it on the surface.”

    Right, I'll do that,” Kionee replied, making a mental note to the already lengthy list of people she needed to track down for Leiraya and Kylan.

    Enjoy the fruits of our labor, and yours,” Leiraya said with a final smile.

    Take care guys,” Kionee said, waving her fingers on the front of the basket. It was the best she could do with her arms full. “Let me know whenever you've got another crop to bring up.”

    Just assume we want you down here every weekend you've got off, and we'll make a schedule of it,” Kylan replied.

    I can handle that,” Kionee grinned, “I'll see you next weekend then.”

    Take care,” Leiraya said.

    May the Force be with you,” Kylan added. Kylan still always talked like a Jedi. Though, he and Leiraya made it very clear in the previous months that Kionee was not to mention that the two of them had ever been Jedi, even if they belonged to the Corellian order. With the central Jedi Order completely wiped out, it was a dangerous time for anyone with Jedi powers, and Kylan and Leiraya were no exception. Kionee promised to do her part to keep their secret.

    You too,” Kionee replied. She turned and boarded her ship. At the top, she deposited the wicker bushel into the only one of her fruit refrigeration units that had not been converted to live storage. She snagged a handful of mooja berries before closing the door on her load. Shoveling them into her mouth unceremoniously, she savored the sweet-bitter flavor and juicy texture. Organic always tasted better. Far better.

    The Viridian glided into docking bay 126-B6. Kionee really did love having her own personal docking bay at the station. It made her feel permanent. Beyond her own apartment, it made her feel like this was her home and that this was her career. She had had a career for some fifteen years already, but somehow this private docking bay, just for her because she did a job that was vital to the Telos Restoration Project, tickled her pride and sense of purpose.

    And what will it be now, Mistress Kionee?” Emtee asked of her.

    I was going to have a relaxing evening and girl time with Laylien,” Kionee replied, “We're going to make cookie dough and eat it raw while watching our favorite Exter Mackler holo drama.”

    Mr. Mackler. I see,” Emtee nodded his mechanical head stiffly. Whenever he attempted human gestures, it always came out looking awkward. “I do not see how one man on the holos can generate so much attention. I do not find his acting particularly outstanding.”

    It's not about the acting, Emtee,” Kionee replied, rolling her eyes and knowing she could never win this argument with a droid, “It's about his excellent facial features, dreamy eyes, nice haircut, and deep voice.”

    Well, I hope you and Laylien enjoy yourselves,” Emtee replied, clearly still unimpressed, “And do not get sick from raw dough. You would be better off cooking it anyway.”

    There are some things that call for raw cookie dough, and girls’ nights with Exter Mackler vids is one of them,” Kionee said with a laugh and stood up. “You'll take care of the cargo, then?”

    As always, Mistress Kionee,” Emtee replied, “Enjoy your evening.”

    I will,” Kionee grinned from ear to ear and headed out of the cockpit. She collected the gift basket of fruit from the Sheffield-Moran farm and descended the loading ramp out of the Viridian. She would store all of that in her refrigeration unit back home in her own apartment for snacking during the weekend. Fresh produce was hard to come by on the station, though that was getting easier thanks to Leiraya and Kylan, and Kionee fully intended to take advantage of her current bounty before any of it went bad.

    With those pleasant thoughts in mind, she headed for the hangar exit, humming a song she couldn't remember the words to. Suddenly, she realized she was not alone in the hangar. A tall, broad-shouldered man stood waiting for her in the exit.

    Good evening,” Mical greeted her with a pleasant smile.

    Oh hi, Mical,” Kionee replied quickly, trying to keep the startled blush from her face. She had not expected to see him here at all, but his appearance was far from a bad thing. She suddenly wished that she had not been humming that silly tune, whatever it was, or skipping along to her own music in front of him. She was thirty years old, after all. “So how are you?” she asked, shifting the basket of fruit in her arms to a less awkward posture.

    I am doing quite well, thank you,” Mical answered politely, “And yourself? You are just returned from the surface?”

    Oh, I'm doing great,” Kionee responded, “I was just down visiting the Sheffields' experimental fruit farm down on the surface.”

    Their experiment seems to be succeeding, I see,” Mical observed pleasantly with a nod to the wicker basket in her arms.

    Oh, you can have a piece or two if you'd like,” Kionee offered rapidly as the thought occurred to her. She hoped she had not come across as rude for not offering sooner. “This all was a gift from them. They're both old friends of mine—and this is all way more than I can eat on my own before it all goes bad. And you know that Emtee isn't going to be much help on that front.”

    No, I suppose not,” Mical chuckled. He reached in and took two pieces of fruit; a mrenji and a meilooroon. Transferring them both to one hand, he said, “Thank you.”

    So, what can I do for you?” Kionee asked, feeling awkward at the shift in conversation.

    I hate to ask you to go out of your way,” Mical prefaced, “But I am looking for a ride to Ossus for my research on the Jedi.”

    Ossus?” Kionee asked. Now that was some place she had never been before, and that was saying something.

    I will pay for your services, as always,” Mical added swiftly.

    Kionee thought for a moment, trying to recall just what and where Ossus was. An old Jedi world. Her old history lessons with MT-412 were coming back to her. It was not too far off the Corellian Trade Spine, if she remembered correctly. That being true, it would be about a fourteen hour journey, give or take. She could make the run this weekend and be back in time for her next trip to Onderon.

    There was her date with Laylien, though.

    If it is too much trouble for you, please don't worry about it,” Mical amended, “I am sure I can find another pilot able to take me.”

    Oh, no, no,” Kionee replied quickly. She and Laylien could have their girls’ night some other time. If she refused Mical now, he might not come back asking for a ride again. “I can take you. No problem. I've got the next two days off before I have to head back to Onderon again, and we should be able to get to Ossus and back by then, no problem at all. I just have to get Leiraya and Kylan's fruit unloaded and into the right hands before I head out.”

    Thank you, I really appreciate it,” Mical replied with a smile, “And please, take your time. I am not in a hurry.”

    It's alright,” Kionee replied earnestly. “Give me two standard hours, and I'll meet you back here, ready to go.”

    I will see you then,” Mical said, and turned to go. She could not guess where he was headed. He already had his traveling satchel strung over his shoulders.

    Kionee herself ducked back into the ship and pressed the comm button at the top of the loading ramp. “Emtee, we're going to take a passenger to Ossus in approximately two hours,” she called, “Can you get everything off-loaded and the ship refueled by then?”

    Is this that Republic scholar again?” MT-412 asked.

    Yes,” Kionee replied, “So be on your best behavior. I'll be back in two hours once I've got everything else straightened out.”

    As if I would not be,” Emtee shot back indignantly, but Kionee was already on her way off the ship again.

    She fished her comlink out of her pocked and dialed Laylien's office. Her friend picked up immediately, “Hello?”

    Hey Laylien, it's Kionee,” she said.

    Oh hi Kionee,” she replied, “What's going on?”

    I know I sound like a terrible friend, but can we reschedule our girls' night?” she asked, pleading.

    Something has come up?” Laylien asked, sounding concerned.

    Well,” Kionee started slowly, suddenly embarrassed, “I've got a passenger run again. Mical just showed up at my hangar and asked for a lift this weekend.”

    Oh, him,” Laylien cooed deviously, “I understand. And you'll have to tell me all the juicy details of your trip together when you get back.”

    Laylien!” Kionee exclaimed indignantly, “It's not like him and me are...”

    Well, have fun and fly safely,” Laylien interrupted her. “I expect to see you when you get back, understand?”

    Kionee laughed, “Sure. Of course. See you then.”

    Like the trips to and from Onderon, Mical deigned to sit in one of the passenger seats in the cockpit behind the pilots' chairs as the Viridian took off from Citadel Station.

    The improvements of Telos already are remarkable,” Mical observed appreciatively. From orbit, the long red lines of the shield barriers punctuated by silvery gray towers cut across the surface in irregular grids. The most promising climate zones around the planet's middle half were criss-crossed with the most shields. Even sections of the ocean had begun to be shielded off by the environmental shields for delicate detoxification. Between the shielded zones, the earth was beginning to regain tints of green amid the barren red. It was more than many had even dared to hope for.

    Proves all those nay-sayers wrong,” Kionee replied forcefully, “Telos is recovering.”

    They may yet be able to have their smug victory, though,” Mical cautioned.

    Why's that?” Kionee asked, her spirits dampened. “It looks like everything is progressing as planned, or even better.”

    The budget is still a sore issue with many in the Republic government,” Mical explained, “Telos is succeeding, but at what cost? It is already very near exceeding its budget, and, as you see down there, there is much yet to be done. Restoring an entire planet is a monumental task.”

    But you believe it can be done?” Kionee asked, implying her own beliefs by the sound of her voice.

    Yes, I do,” Mical answered. Kionee saw him nod in the reflection in the front viewport. “But I fear for politics. Politics can kill even the noblest of projects, even Telos.”

    I hope politics can stay out of this as long as possible,” Kionee said, “Even if it probably is a pretty stupid hope, I hope it all the same.”

    I hope so as well,” Mical replied, “But even so, there are some great politicians on the side of this project ready to defend every centimeter of it. Jerol Onasi is a very intelligent and persuasive man himself. Telos is in good hands.”

    Kionee nodded in agreement. She looked down at the screen on her controls and observed that they were safely away from Telos IV's gravity shadow. “So Ossus, you said?” Kionee asked to make sure.

    Yes, Ossus,” Mical replied with an affirmative nod.

    You got those coordinates all punched out, Emtee?” Kionee asked her droid.

    Yes, we will have to make a few adjustment jumps through this part of the arm, but it is a clear path,” Emtee replied from the co-pilot's chair. “The Viridian is ready for hyperspace when you are.”

    Let's go,” Kionee urged. MT-412 drew back the activation lever for the hyperdrive and the Viridian lunged forward, gaining speed rapidly until the stars drew out long white-ish blue lines around them.

    We should arrive at Ossus in thirteen hours and forty-two minutes,” Emtee announced crisply.

    Thank you,” Mical said, although it was unclear whether he was thanking the droid or the pilot.

    Well,” Kionee started, unstrapping, “We've got some time on our hands now. Are you hungry? I've got some of that fruit from the surface back in the hold if you want some.”

    That would be lovely,” Mical replied. He met her eyes and smiled. Kionee quickly averted her eyes and repressed a blush. As they both stood up in the cockpit, its close quarters almost felt embarrassingly confining.

    After you, please,” Mical said with a small sweeping gesture to the door.

    Kionee shuffled through, again trying not to blush and half-jogged down the stairs into the cargo hold. Mical followed after her. She reached the aft-most cooler and opened it up. On Citadel Station, Kionee had selected about half of her produce to bring along on the trip and froze the rest back in her apartment in the station for later. Still, there was a great variety. She pulled out the plasteel storage crate—she couldn't bear to use such a beautiful basket for just hauling produce—and opened the lid. “Take whatever you like. You're welcome to this as long as you're on board.”

    Thank you,” Mical said and gingerly took a prisht that was on the top of the crate.

    Kionee took another of the prisht and bit into it as well. Its sweet juice dripped down her chin. She briskly wiped it off with the back of her sleeve.

    It has been a long while since I had something as fresh as this,” Mical commented. For a moment, he looked almost relaxed, before his mask of formality took over again. “Not rehydrated or frozen.”

    Have you been around Telos all this time?” Kionee asked. I wonder where he lives on Citadel Station, or if he lives there at all.

    Most of it, yes,” Mical replied, “Admiral Onasi has been a most generous patron and supporter of my research, misdirected as it often is.” He paused then asked, “What is the surface like? I have never had cause to go down there myself.”

    It's kind of weird,” Kionee admitted, “Those towers are really strange-looking from the surface. Everything, near the barriers anyway, looks a bit red from them. On one side it's green and starting to grow, and on the other side it's dead and barren. Sometimes it gives me the chills to look at it. Other times, it makes me excited that we've come this far.”

    Mical nodded. “Telos will never be the same, but it will be alive again,” he replied, “We cannot bring back the ecosystem that was lost, though Onderon's replacement ecosystem will eventually replace what was in all living memory. Those towers may remain for hundreds of years yet, and people will start to even think of them as normal.”

    You're right,” Kionee nodded, “It's kind of scary how fast time moves, and how fast things become a part of history.”

    Mical smiled. “It is because of things like these that I study history as I do,” he explained, “The interweaving present and past make a history that lives, affecting everything that will be in the future.”

    I could take you down there sometime,” Kionee realized suddenly. “I mean, I could get you clearance to go to the surface of Telos if you want. That is, as long as you're willing to help me with my cargo on a surface drop-off.”

    I would love to have an opportunity to visit the surface,” Mical replied, brightening up at her sudden offer, “I would not mind helping you with your work at all. It would be a chance for me to see just how the Ithorians are working the restoration.”

    Kionee twittered inwardly at the success of her invitation. And Laylien will make sure he has the right clearance for me. No problem. She repressed an excited grin.

    So, I guess next time you're free, drop me a line and I'll work out my next drop off schedule for you,” Kionee assured him.

    If it's no trouble for you,” Mical replied.

    None at all,” Kionee replied firmly, “Like I said, I like to have company that isn't MT-412 now and then.”

    You really are too generous, Kionee,” he insisted with a gentle smile.

    The sound of her own name set a shiver down her spine. “Do you want another?” she asked awkwardly, pointing to the crate on the floor between them.

    No, I'm fine for now,” Mical answered, “Thank you.”

    A silence fell between them.

    Well, I should probably be getting out of your way,” Mical started to excuse himself.

    Desperate not to let him drift away for the rest of the voyage, Kionee asked quickly, “Mical, can I ask you something?”

    Yes, you can ask,” he turned back to her. His distant tone implied that he might not answer her question, however.

    Well, you seem to know a lot about, well, a lot of things,” Kionee stammered quickly, “About the Jedi, in particular. Do you have any idea what's going on with them now? I keep hearing terrible things like, they're all gone, or that they've abandoned the galaxy.”

    With a sigh, Mical cast around him for a place to sit. An empty crate nearby caught his eye. “May I?” he asked, gesturing to it.

    Yeah, of course,” Kionee answered, waiting for his reply.

    Mical sat back onto the crate and answered finally, “I wish I knew. It is somewhat of a mystery to all of us. I had thought, or at least hoped, that with the end to war, the violence between the Jedi and the Sith would come to an end.”

    You think the Sith killed them all?” Kionee asked, thinking about Bastila, Ev, Juhani, and Jolee.

    I don't know,” Mical shook his head. “This quiet war is unlike them. If it can be considered a war. The Jedi did not fight back. They allowed themselves to be swallowed up by this darkness, and thereby abandoning the Republic.” He sounded bitter.

    How do you call getting killed off abandoning us?” Kionee asked critically, “Assassination isn't the fault of the victim.”

    It is if they ignored the signs, and chose instead to sit and wait complacently,” Mical continued with bitter disapproval, “Once again, they chose inaction and suffered for it. Once again, the galaxy will suffer for their inaction, only this time, there is no Revanchist to mobilize them, and now, they are gone. The Republic needs the Jedi more than either the Jedi or the Republic know, and neither did a thing to preserve the Jedi Order.”

    You sound like you hate the Jedi,” Kionee observed quietly, sinking down onto the lid of the low fruit crate.

    Hate? No I don't hate the Jedi,” Mical clarified, “I simply believe that the 'wisdom' that they frequently act with, or refrain from acting at all, is hardly wisdom. They would do better to examine the galaxy around them than spend their days locked away in meditation, grasping at the unseen.”

    Kionee nodded, not sure if she agreed or disagreed. Mical knew far more about any of this than she did. She stared at the floor, feeling a bit ashamed for arguing with him at all. Who was she, a simple contract freighter pilot, to argue with a historian like him?

    As Mical started to get up again, another question occurred to Kionee. Quickly, she braced her hands on her knees and stood. “What about Katarr?” she asked. “Is it true what the HoloNet is saying?”

    That the day the Jedi Order held a conclave there, the entire planet died?” Mical asked.

    Kionee nodded.

    No one can say if Katarr's death was the fault of the Jedi directly, but I suspect indirectly it was,” Mical answered, “The Jedi have made many enemies in the past decades, and one enemy caught up with them all at once, it seems. Whatever little proof I have, that is my theory.”

    Thanks,” Kionee replied quietly. There was the bitterness towards the Jedi again. “I was wondering ever since I heard.”

    He smiled a slightly forced smile. “You can ask me any time,” he assured her, “Examining events such as these is a hobby of mine.”

    As much as Kionee wanted the conversation to keep going, Mical was much less talkative after his little history lesson and particularly reticent about himself, once again. Without any other conversation topics to throw at him, Kionee had to let him go. She put away the fruit and retired to her own bunk. They day had been a long one and it was catching up with her. She would need to be awake and alert for their descent to Ossus and into unfamiliar territory for her. From what she knew of Ossus, there were no organized settlements there, so no traffic control to guide her in. Finding a landing zone would be on her shoulders and hers alone.

    Before she knew it, Emtee's mechanical voices was waking her up over the comm, announcing reversion to real-space in five minutes. Kionee rolled off of her bunk with a groan. She threw back on her clothes, fastened a belt around her waist, and pulled on her boots. Often times, she did not even bother with that last step, but she had a guest aboard the Viridian and felt the need to be completely dressed for work. She started out of her bunk room but caught sight of herself in the small mirror by the doorway and thought better of it. She snatched a brush out of the small compartment beside the mirror and roughly brushed at her hair, drawing it back into a ponytail. Then, mostly satisfied, headed back to the cockpit.

    Mical was already there waiting for her, strapping into his passenger seat. “Did you rest well?” he asked.

    Yeah,” Kionee replied then added quickly in his own pattern, “Thanks. Did you?”

    Fine, thank you,” he answered.

    As she settled into her chair and swept a gaze over all the dials and screens to double check that everything was alright for landing, she asked, “Where exactly on Ossus are we going?”

    To the ruins of the old Great Library of the Jedi,” he answered, “According to my research, it should be right around the coordinates of 15.76 north, 48.03 west.”

    Do you know if there is good, flat landing ground in the area?” she asked.

    Unfortunately, your guess is as good as mine,” he answered with an apologetic shrug.

    Alrighty,” she nodded, “I guess we'll find out when we get there.” She punched Mical's coordinates into the ship's computer and let it calibrate.

    Reverting to real-space,” MT-412 announced.

    Here we go,” Kionee murmured absently under her breath. The ship slowed abruptly, jolting them in their seats. The stars slowed down as they did, resolving into familiar points of light, and the green and brown sphere of Ossus sprang up in front of them. “So this is Ossus,” she observed quietly. Momentarily distracted, Kionee studied the navacomputer readouts. The coordinates gave a location on the day side of the planet, but it would not be day there for much longer. “It looks like your library is on the other side of the planet,” she said, “Let's get on over there and see what we can find.”

    Kioneebrought the Viridian around the planet in a wide, descending arc, drawing nearer as they rounded to the other side of Ossus. When the angle was right, she pointed the nose of her ship planet-ward and dove down towards the surface.

    Ossus was tangled with jungles and devoid of any cities she could see, not unlike Onderon. As they descended, however, Kionee was struck by the tortured angles of the trees and the distinct absence of foliage. The green she had seen from space were mostly vines and ferns, wound around the trunks of dead trees. Ossus was devastated in the war with Exar Kun, wasn’t it? That’s why the Jedi aren’t there any more. Kionee suddenly began to marvel that the jungles were alive at all.

    There it is, on the horizon,” Mical said suddenly, pointing out the forward viewport. “Do you see it?”

    Kionee squinted into the orange setting sun. Sure enough, on the horizon was what appeared to be some sort of small stone mountain jutting out of the jungle treetops. As they drew nearer, it resolved into ruined towers and halls; the old stronghold of the Jedi.

    Finally they were on top of it. Kionee circled around slowly, looking for a place to land. Jungle crowded in around and even through the library from all sides.

    The Great Library of the Jedi still stands, after all these years of abandonment,” Mical marveled, oblivious to Kionee's dilemma.

    I'm going to have to take the ship down on top of the library,” Kionee warned, “Unless you want to jump from here. The jungle is too thick to put the Viridian down safely anywhere else and expect to actually be able to lift off again. Do you think the roof will hold?”

    Kionee's question brought Mical back to the issues of the present moment. “If you select a sturdy section to land on,” he responded slowly, “Or that courtyard down there.”

    Too small,” Kionee shook her head.

    That section of roof over there?” Mical suggested, pointing to another open section, several stories higher up, “The architecture still looks sound from here.”

    We'll give that a try. It looks like our best bet,” Kionee agreed and started to bring the ship down. This was going to have to be one of the gentlest landings she had ever performed. Engaging the repulsor coils at full power from twenty meters up still, she eased off the ship's main engine until the Viridian's vertical descent was hardly more than a crawl. She bit her lip in intense concentration. With her eyes on the ground sensors, Kionee shifted their trajectory just slightly closer to the edge of the platform roof, closer to where the supportive walls would be underneath. She gradually eased off the repulsor lifts and let gravity have more of its hold over the Viridian. Then, with a gentle bump, the Viridian touched down. Kionee held her breath for a moment, waiting for the inevitable creaking and crumbling sounds, but it never came. She let out a relieved sigh and half-laughed, “Well, we're here.”

    Magnificently done, Mistress Kionee,” MT-412 praised.

    Mical even clapped his hands twice. “Yes, well done indeed,” Mical applauded.

    Well, do you want to go check it out?” Kionee asked, beaming.

    I'll go get my bag,” Mical replied excitedly. He slipped out of his seat, out the cockpit exit and into his quarters. By the time Kionee finished her routine system checks and shut-downs, Mical was back with his leather satchel strung over his shoulder.

    I'll be right there,” Kionee assured him as she caught sight of his reflection in the window.

    May I remind you, Mistress Kionee,” Emtee put in as she got up and gathered her own things, “That we can remain her for no more than half a standard hour if we are to return to Telos IV in time for your pre-departure meeting with Chodo Habat for our next run to Onderon.”

    Right,” Kionee nodded absently. Mical's light-hearted excitement to see the surface of Ossus was contagious. Now, she too was eagerly curious to see the ruins for herself as well. Turning to Mical, she followed him down to the cargo hold and lowered the ramp for him. Warm evening air greeted them as they descended.

    Ossus was far drier and cooler than Onderon, even at this time of day. The trees were smaller and the drone of insects was gentler. Somehow, Ossus felt much less wild than Onderon, even without any living settlements. The setting binary suns Adega Prime and Adega Besh cast a yellowy-orange hue over the forest from the west.

    A gentle warm breeze teasing at her ponytail, standing in the soft evening light with a sweet Republic historian on the roof of the ruins of an ancient Jedi library, Kionee could not recall ever feeling so peaceful in her life. All the unknowns, uncertainties, and ungainliness in her life was washed away by a pervasive calm that warmed every corner of her being. She stood there watching the suns set with Mical, feeling neither self-conscious nor a rush to be on her way to her next job.

    No wonder the Jedi established their library here,” Mical breathed.

    It's so peaceful,” Kionee murmured.

    Mical met her eyes with a relaxed smile and nodded. “You feel it too, then,” he observed. He began to wander towards the edge of the roof, glancing around for a way down. Kionee followed contentedly, practically forgetting about the schedule she had to keep.

    A rectangular gap in the roof opened up to an uneven set of stairs. Mical brushed away a clump of resilient vines and started down with a glance over his shoulder at Kionee. She followed slowly after him into the dim, dusty interior. Golden evening light streamed in through large, arched windows on the western wall and another doorway opened into a much larger room on the other side. Mical continued through without a word.

    The hall they entered was massive, easily big enough to fit two whole modules of Citadel Station within it. Though overgrown and crumbling, Kionee could still see the masterful work that went into its creation. Colorful painted murals had not yet flaked away. The remains of tiered fountains blossomed up out of the floor at regular intervals.

    The Jedi's Court,” Mical said with quiet wonder, “It is said that the Jedi trained here for centuries. Everything from saber practice, to meditation, to debate was all practiced here, together in community.”

    It's beautiful,” Kionee commented.

    It is a shame that the Jedi never returned to this place,” Mical said with a sigh, “Now that the land is beginning to recover from the radiation and shockwave of the Cron Cluster. The plants and some of the wildlife seem to be returning to life with veracity. Even if the Jedi had not left us now, they have their grand temple on Coruscant. They are intertwined with the governing of the Republic and their presence is needed on Coruscant more than either they or the senate knows. Even now. Even if the Jedi were to return to the galaxy again, I doubt it would be to this place.”

    Aren't you worried about the lingering effects of radiation here?” Kionee asked.

    Mical shook his head. “I will test everything before I ingest it,” he replied firmly, “I have the necessary equipment for such tests with me.”

    Kionee felt only slightly comforted.

    Mical stiffened and scrutinized the room around them.

    What is it?” Kionee asked at a whisper. She had not seen or heard anything.

    I suddenly felt,” Mical replied slowly, “Like we are being watched.”

    Watched? By who?” Kionee asked. “Would could possibly be here?”

    I don't know,” Mical shook his head, then turned to Kionee and said abruptly, “I should not keep you here any longer. You have your appointment to make.”

    Are you sure it's safe for you here?” Kionee asked, “I could stay here with the Viridian while you do your research, if you want.”

    No, I can't ask you do that,” Mical replied decisively, “The Telos Restoration Project needs you more than I need the shelter of your ship.”

    Then I can stop back on my way to or from Onderon on one of my next runs, if I work it out right,” Kionee offered. “Would four days be enough for your research, or would you rather it be eight or twelve?”

    I don't know,” Mical admitted, “There is probably more material here than I could take in for a lifetime of research. I may need plenty of time to find what I am hoping for. Can I hail you when I am ready to be picked up?”

    Of course,” Kionee replied and dug one of her business cards out of a vest pocket. She pulled out a pen from another pocket and scrawled as long number onto the back. “Here's my card. I can't believe I didn't give you one earlier. That's the Viridian's info on the front, and I wrote my personal comm contact number on the back, in case I don't pick up on the ship. As soon as I hear from you, I'll come by on my way to my next run.”

    Thank you, Kionee,” Mical replied, suspiciously scanning the hall again, “You really are too generous.”

    How long do I wait to hear from you before I assume the worst and bring in a search party?” Kionee asked. She did not like leaving him here without even a tent or a weapon to protect himself. She really hoped he kept a hold-out blaster in that travel satchel of his.

    Mical laughed at her. “Don't worry about me Kionee,” he replied nonchalantly, “I will be fine. And even if Ossus claims me, I am not a man that the galaxy will miss; just another hobbyist historian.”

    Don't say that,” Kionee scolded and surprised herself at her own forcefulness, “Every person, no matter what their occupation, has importance to the grand scale of things, to the universe. And besides, you're—you're...” Kionee swallowed, trying not to seem too forward, “I consider you one of my friends, and I'd hate for something to happen to you and for me do nothing about it.”

    I don't know what I have done to earn your friendship, but I appreciate it,” Mical replied, looking a bit surprised but pleased all at once, “It has been a long while since I had someone I could call a friend. Perhaps I have far too many professional acquaintances.”

    Kionee suddenly felt very sad for him, but then she thought to her own long list of professional acquaintances and short list of personal friends. Maybe she wasn't so different from him in that sense after all. “If I don't hear from you in a month and a half, I'm coming back,” Kionee promised, “So if you're doing just fine and want more time by then, please drop me a line so I don't have to worry about you.”

    I will,” Mical promised, “And I promise I will be careful.”

    Thanks,” Kionee grinned, then teased, “I'll hold you to that.”

    Mical chuckled.

    But I guess I really should get going back to Telos,” she admitted reluctantly, “Take care of yourself, Mical, and good luck with your research.”

    Thank you again, Kionee,” Mical replied, “I will contact you when I am finished here.”

    See you,” Kionee added in one last farewell and turned back to the room they entered through, then headed up the stairs. Again, she looked forward to the next time she would be called up to take him from one planet to another. In the back of her head, she prayed that he would stay safe on this polluted, alien world.


    So, I know that was mostly fluff, but after Katarr, I needed to write some fluffy set-up.
  10. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008

    Just kidding. Kind of. I hardly remember Mical's story, so the hint-dropping is sadly leaving me in the dust :(
  11. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Hahaha. Sorry to disappoint, but that's not a part of this story. :p Really, Mical doesn't like to talk about his history, even in the game, so I'm building a lot of it from scratch here.

    This week we have one that could probably stand alone outside the larger story. I apologize if it gets a bit rambly.

    Part 31- Mandalore the Preserver

    Heat and humidity pressed at Canderous through his thick armor, but it did not faze him. Complaining of discomforts was a sign of weakness, and he had long since shut weakness out of his life, long before even his test at thirteen years old, Canderous was wholly Mandalorian and wholly strong.

    He grew up into what the Republic called the Mandalorian Wars. He gained honor and renown in battle. He crushed his opponents and lived out to the end of each day. He became a strategist and commander in Mandalore's armies for Clan Ordo, and they swept through the galaxy with unchecked victory.

    Then Revan entered the battle, bringing with her only a handful of Jedi. The other Jedi were inconsequential next to Revan. Her decisive and bold strategies had the same subtleties, the same flexibilities as the Mandalorians. Canderous eagerly looked forward to the day that he would be considered worthy to lead and assault against Revan, knowing that that day would probably be his last. The glory and honor of fighting on the same battlefield as such an enemy was worth whatever the cost.

    And then Revan and one of her top Jedi generals lured the bulk of the Mandalorian forces to the taboo world of Malachor V. Revan met Mandalore the Ultimate in single combat on the edge of the battle and emerged victorious. It was a duel that none could contest. And then, with Revan still far from the front lines, her general unleashed the most terrible weapon the galaxy had ever known. They called it the Mass Shadow Generator. Canderous did not know how it worked, nor did he want to know, but the aftermath of its power still remained in orbit around Malachor V, a floating graveyard around a dead world. It destroyed nearly everything, even much of the planet. Mandalorian ships imploded, Basilisk War Droids shattered, Republic Cruisers burned. Millions upon millions of warriors died that day.

    Canderous could not count himself lucky to have been held in reserve on the edge of the battlefield. As his comrades died in the vacuum, he remained unscathed. It fell to him and the few remaining Mandalorians to take the surrender and call the war to an end. They faced ultimate shame at the hands of the ever-compassionate Jedi and Republic leaders. The clans would not be killed, finishing the job. They would not be imprisoned. They only would be stripped of their armor, their weapons, their war droids, and thereby, their honor. Left with nothing, the Mandalorian Clans were broken and scattered, left to be wandering thugs for hire.

    Worse yet, Revan's carefully calculated war plan did not end with the war. She knew that felling one Mandalore would only leave another to rise up in his place, so she took the one think that assured that would never happen again: Mandalore's Mask. She had the Republic hide it away from the Mandalorians so that the clans would never be united again under one leader.

    Canderous, ashamed as he was of it now, fell into the trap that so many Mandalorians did after the war, of becoming muscle-for-hire. He worked a number of jobs, eventually ending up on Taris, employed by the local Exchange lord, Davik Kang. Like most other jobs before, he found Davik's work without challenge or stimulation for such a great warrior and strategist as himself. Crushing Davik's rivals or extorting credits from his debtors brought neither glory nor honor. It rarely even brought battle. Most of the spineless lower-city types would spill out their pockets the instant Canderous showed up with his repeating blaster rifle.

    The galaxy erupted into war again, but this time the Mandalorians stayed out of it. Revan and her trusted second Malak returned from the unknown regions as changed, dark Jedi. They attacked the Republic without warning, catching Republic leaders off-guard. Revan waged a calculated, devastating campaign against the Republic. Eventually, Malak became discontent at his position as only her second, and fired on her ship in the middle of a battle against the Republic. It was a cowardly move, unworthy of any warrior. He shot at her when she was distracted, when she trusted him to hold his part in the battle. Malak should have fought her in single combat and challenged her leadership openly, but he must have known he could not have won that way. Any respect Canderous might have had for Malak was shattered that day. He was an honorless usurper. Although Malak escaped that battle, becoming the leader of the Sith, Revan did not, and the Republic won the day. Malak sacrificed that crucial battle for his own gain.

    Canderous watched all of this from the sidelines of his mercenary work. He admired Revan's strategies and reviled Malak's. There were days when he longed to rejoin the war effort, on one side or the other, but he could not. A Mandalorian without his armor, without his honor, had no place on the battlefield.

    But then Revan returned to the scene again, as a Republic soldier by the name of Evrue Pell. Canderous did not recognize her at the time, and she did not even know it herself, but Ev quickly proved to be one of the sharpest humans and keenest warriors the Republic had ever seen. Canderous should have recognized her for what she was immediately, except that Revan was supposed to be dead.

    With Ev's help, Canderous stole Davik's prized ship, the Ebon Hawk and fled the Sith blockade of Taris, just as Malak decided to bomb the planet into oblivion in a desperate search for Bastila Shan, who had fallen to the surface from a recent battle overhead. They escaped with Bastila, a Republic Lieutenant named Carth Onasi, and two more hangers-on from Taris: a Twi'lek kid Mission Vao and her Wookiee friend Zaalbar.

    Ev was ‘discovered’ to be powerfully sensitive in the Force, and so they went to the secret Jedi training enclave on Dantooine. Canderous went along, as he had no other place in mind to go, and Ev did not seem to mind having him along, whatever Carth or Bastila's objections might be. Then the Jedi commissioned Bastila and Ev to seek out the secret to the Sith's power. They followed clues—star maps—from planet to planet until they finally came to the Sith's super space station and weapon's factory.

    The Star Forge supplied all of the Sith's new ships, fighters, armor, weapons, and droids. It was an ancient Force-powered space station built by an all-but-extinct race, the Rakata. Ev infiltrated the Star Forge, faced Malak in one-on-one combat as it should have been long before and emerged victorious. With the help of the Republic fleet, the Star Forge was destroyed.

    Then there were the endless victory parties and tours for these heroes. It was bad publicity for a Mandalorian, to be seen on the Republic side of the war, even if it had been the winning side, fighting alongside Revan. Canderous slipped away from the tours as quickly as he could.

    But he could not find is place in the currents of the galaxy again. Traveling with Revan had changed him. Her high morals yet complex motivations were disorienting to the values of anyone her influence touched. He tried to work for the Exchange on Coruscant again, but found even less satisfaction in it than before.

    He had fought alongside Revan. Nothing could be as glorious again.

    And then she came to find him again. Memories were returning. The line between who she was before and who she was then was becoming increasingly blurred. She suspected that there had been something more behind the Mandalorian Wars, and wanted to know what Canderous knew about it. Admittedly, he knew little, but he had heard the rumors of a deal with the Sith. That was all she needed to hear, setting herself on an obsessive quest to discover the truth of the suspicion.

    She returned to him again, this time with the knowledge every Mandalorian hoped for and yet lost hope of years before. She knew where the mask of Mandalore was kept, and she wanted him to retake it. She wanted him to become Mandalore and to reunite the clans.

    So, with her blessing, Canderous went with two of his new-found Ordo brothers on Coruscant, to the Republic Military outpost on Ruac II. They sneaked in and stole the mask. They stole weapons and armor, things they would need to rebuild the clans together. The Republic never saw it coming. And, thanks to the brilliant tech work of Zuka and a couple of high-end stealth field generators, the Republic did not see it going either. As far as Canderous knew, the Republic still did not know that their vault had been breached and that Mandalore's mask was gone.

    Canderous was now Mandalore. Few of even his closest brothers in Clan Ordo knew who he truly was. He rarely took off his armor or his mask, even at night. Canderous’ association with Evrue Pell was widely known. It could produce some interesting politics among the Mandalorians if they knew that it was Canderous Ordo behind the mask. There was no place for politics among the Mandalorians, so he would avoid such a thing at all costs.

    He traveled the galaxy following rumors of recent strongholds of Ordo warriors, where they gathered and hoped for a better future. He sought out names of old friends he knew must still be alive somewhere. Little by little, he gathered Clan Ordo back together.

    He made his base on Duxn, the jungle moon of Onderon. It was perfect for his purposes. The jungle tested his warriors. It kept them on edge. It made them respect the cycles of life and death and strive to win over them. Duxn was also the sight of one of the bloodiest battles in the Mandalorian Wars. The hollowed-out hulls of ships and occasional skeletal remains of soldiers from both sides of the war were a constant reminder of what they were once and what they could be.

    The old outpost in the jungle had once been used by the Mandalorians as a command center for their war efforts on Duxn, and now they would use it again, not for war, but for training and preparation. Many of the Mandalorians had fallen far from their peak conditioning of the wars, of the glory days. Here, Canderous would whip them all into shape and into readiness for the day that Ev returned to the Republic and called for the aid of the Mandalorians.

    Canderous surveyed the grassy field of their enclosed fort. Mandalorians in cobbled-together suits of armor sparred and trained. Others worked hard at the outposts defenses. This place was the start of something new. He was the start of something knew. He was Mandalore.

    There were already a number of young Mandalorian clansmen who had never even had the chance to fight in the wars, but jumped at a chance to become what their forefathers had been. They were the least disciplined of his men—barely warriors at all.

    Canderous' own armor looked hardly any better than the rest of them. It was salvaged from what they found at the Republic outpost. Canderous opted against the bright colored Neo Crusader armor. As Mandalore, he could not look the same as the rest of the Mandalorians. Unfortunately, there were very few samples of generic Mandalorian armor to be had. Silvery gray spiked pauldrons capped off a red breast plate. His leg armor was even darker red, while blackish-gray armor was fastened around his arms. On his head was the helmet of Mandalore, and he finished off the outfit with a garish red cape. It hadn't been his idea but Kex insisted that Mandalore needed a cape. Mandalore the Ultimate and Mandalore the Indomitable both were rarely seen without capes.

    The cape tugged in the jungle breeze on his shoulders. It was another irritating inconvenience he tried to ignore. He watched clouds roll in from the north over the jungle and waited.

    Right on time, Bralor and Kelborn approached his administrative building from around the corner. They walked tall and upright in their bright Neo Crusader armor, with the pride in their bearing that Canderous hoped every Mandalorian would soon learn. Though there were a number of other men at camp with red or yellow armor like theirs, Canderous could always recognize these two by their bearings.

    Kelborn reporting for duty, Mandalore,” he said, stopping crisply before his leader. Kelborn wore the red armor that he had managed to salvage several years back from a war-deserter and kept it hidden for the day when he might need it again. The day Canderous found him working as a scout on Duros was the day he had been long waiting for. He needed no urging to don his armor again and regain his honor as a Mandalorian again.

    Bralor reporting for duty,” Bralor added. His armor was the bright yellow of a field marshal in the Mandalorian armies. He was older even than Canderous and had been higher ranking during the wars. Somehow, he too had survived the final battle at Malachor V. This trip today was his idea.

    Alright then, let's move out,” Canderous said with a crisp nod, and headed out across the lawn towards the hangars to their shuttle.

    Bralor had been present in the early war, when it had first started. He had been on the committee that cast out a false Mandalore in order to follow the war path of Mandalore the Ultimate.

    Now, Bralor had his doubts. Mandalore the Ultimate won that contest unfairly, and now saw with the clarity of hindsight that outsiders had been involved in Mandalore the Ultimate's victory: the Sith. Immediately after he assumed the title of Mandalore, he initiated their campaign of war against the Republic and all of their aligned systems.

    Most importantly, Bralor remembered where Mandalore cast out the 'false' Mandalore and his followers; to the fourth moon of their home planet Mandalore, Haranarpat. If they were still alive, this whole clan of cast-out Mandalorians would be among the best allies Canderous could hope for. He needed to begin reaching out beyond Clan Ordo, and this seemed to be a powerful place to start.

    They boarded the shuttle and Kelborn took the pilot’s seat with Bralor at his right. Canderous was content to ride behind and bark out orders whenever he thought it appropriate. Thus was the position and privilege of Mandalore.

    The journey was not a long one, ten hours at best, but most of it was spent in silence between the men. Bralor briefed them on what he could remember of the struggle and of the exiles. Although many of the 'false' Mandalore's clansmen followed him into exile, so did others from other clans who believed that it was better to cast in their loyalty with him than with a usurper.

    They dropped into the Mandalore system and skirted around the edges of the planet sensors. They did not need to confront any of the Mandalore government just yet. Canderous needed more allies before that day would come. They skirted around its orbit to the dark, fourth moon. Haranarpat was small, but its gravity pull was strong from its heavy metal core. Like his own home planet of Ordo, the moon's greenery was concentrated only in a wide belt around the equator. The exiled clan, if they still existed, could only be living there.

    Bralor, prep the scanners for signs of life,” Canderous ordered, “begin your scans as soon as we are through the atmosphere.”

    Understood,” Bralor replied crisply and set to work.

    Kelborn continued to pilot his course deftly in silence. They rumbled through the atmosphere in their old, rickety shuttle, but it held together as well as it always did. Kelborn brought them lower and began flying a circle around the moon's center life belt.

    I've got something here, Mandalore,” Bralor announced after nearly half an hour of flying. “I think we've got people down there, ten clicks ahead.”

    Then bring us down, Kelborn,” Canderous ordered. Bralor was never wrong on things like these.

    Kelborn found an open clearing in the scattered low brush of the forest, though it could hardly be called a forest. The trees were hardly taller than a man, low and gnarly with blackish-green evergreen leaves. It made ground visibility tough and gave plenty of cover for scouts and sentries. If there were Mandalorians here, Canderous knew that there would be scouts on them already. Their own bright colored armor would make easy targets of them, and that was part of the idea. Canderous wanted to talk, so he wanted to be seen. All the better if he got shot at and could shoot back at them. That would prove his honor and prowess as a warrior.

    The three of them disembarked from the ship and locked it up tightly with all the security systems live. If these Mandalorians had been exiled here for decades, they would be eager to steal any form of transport to get off the moon and finally rejoin society. They might not even know of how the wars had turned out.

    Kelborn wanted to lead the way as protection for Canderous, but Canderous would not have it. Mandalore would lead them, with all of the pomp of his ridiculous red cape and bright brassy mask of Mandalore. They would see him and know who he was. Mandalore did not cower behind others for protection like other leaders of the galaxy. He had his weapon ready in his arms. He might look like a walking target in all of these bright colors, but he would not make it easy for them.

    Through the darkened visor of his helmet, Canderous caught sight of movement ahead.

    Mandalore,” Kelborn warned lowly, “There's someone up ahead.”

    I see him,” Canderous rumbled back. “Let's go say hello.” He continued at his same, brisk pace, without veering in his path or slowing. So they are still here after all these years. Good.

    More movement in the low brush ahead identified at least six more warriors, all behaving like well-trained Mandalorians. “Weapons at the ready,” he warned into the private helmet channel between the three of them.

    Suddenly, there was a yell and a gun fired. It went wide of their group, an intentional shot to scare them off, but Canderous would not be deterred. He leveled his blaster rifle at where the shot had come from and let off a volley of shots. There was another cry, this time a death rattle, and the other guns all ahead of them opened up in fire.

    Canderous blazed forward into the denser trees, placing each of the six remaining attackers in his head. Bralor and Kelborn took to the bushes for cover and sniped off attackers one at a time. Canderous felt shots ricochet off his armor and the thrill of battle overtook him. His determined, plodding charge into the middle of his apponents was a daring move, but it proved his determination and bravery. He trusted Kelborn and Bralor with his back.

    Soon enough, Canderous was right on top of the front line of their little group. They were Mandalorians alright, though they lacked the colorful, streamlined armor of Neo Crusaders. Their personalized armor spoke of an era before the Neo Crusaders. These were the soldiers he was looking for.

    With a roar and flash of his cape, Canderous lunged forward at the man nearest to him. The man flinched, giving time for Canderous to shoot him through the sensitive gap in the armor at his neck. Not waiting a moment to see if he was dead, Canderous rounded on the next nearest attacker. Soon, he too was dead.

    It was not long until all seven of the advance guard were dead. Canderous suffered a grazing shot in the gap in his armor on his upper arm, but he had had far worse. Kelborn and Bralor seemed to have escaped mostly unscathed. If they had been injured it all, neither would admit it.

    They left the dead behind them and continued as they were through the scrub forest belt. Up ahead, there was movement again. This time, it was a figure jogging towards them. Canderous stopped and trained his weapon on the approaching man. Kelborn and Bralor followed his example. The man, also armored from head to toe in silvery gray Mandalorian armor skidded to a stop in an opening in the small trees ahead of him. He raised his hands to the sky and called, “Peace, brothers. Who are you and why have you come for us after all this time?”

    Canderous lowered his blaster rifle but his two companions did not. “I am Mandalore and I am here to call for support of this exiled clan. I come to bring you back out of exile,” Canderous announced, stepping forwards towards him. “Take me to your leader, messenger.”

    Mandalore would want to see you then,” the messenger in silvery-gray said, lowering his hands, “Come with me, 'Mandalore.'”

    Lead on,” Canderous replied, and motioned to Kelborn and Bralor to lower their weapons. Again they fell into step behind him as the old Mandalorian guided them through woods.

    The scrubby trees gave way to broader clearings and to small huts built up out of the gnarled wood, forced into woven walls. There were several guards in old, but well-kept Mandalorian armor around the perimeter. If they really were the first guests to the moon in all of these years, the vigilance of these guards on the small settlement was impressive. The true ethics of proud Mandalorians even in Exile. Canderous liked them already.

    Mandalorians scrutinized them through darkened visors and unarmored men, women, and children of the village watched them pass with curiosity. Some acknowledged their presence with looks of respect while others seemed to harbor bitterness.

    Locked up on this barren rock for this long without a transport for this long, I'd be bitter too, Canderous thought.

    Finally, their guide led them to the largest of the gnarled huts in the center of the settlement. Here also were two more guards at the door. The first real sign he had seen of technology beyond weapons in the settlement were two large antennas protruding from the roof of the hut. This must be the home of their leader.

    The two guards watched their movements carefully the three outsiders as they passed trough the doorway and inside.

    The hut was lit with gentle glows, hardly enough to read or work by, but this was not a place for work. On the far wall was a wide bed frame piled high with blankets. The figure of a slumped man lay propped up on several pillows. Although he lay in bed like a weakling, his posture fought to appear alert and his gaze followed them as they approached through the visor of a polished black helmet.

    Dar'mand'alor,” the guide announced with a respectful bow and hand to his chest, “This man has come to us via shuttle. He claims to be Mandalore, here for our alliance and to bring us out of exile.”

    And why should I give my allegiance to another pretender?” an old voice rattled from beneath the helmet.

    Dar'mand'alor,” Canderous stepped forward, closer to the bed. “Mandalore the Unknown?”

    Unknown and unseated by that pretender 'Mandalore the Ultimate',” the old man snapped, “I am the true heir of Mandalore the Indomitable, and he took my claim from me from behind my back. He had me and my people exiled here, refused my challenge, saying only that I was unworthy to lead the clans if I would not move with the times, if I would not take the deal of the Sith. Who are you to call yourself any better?”

    I am the new Mandalore,” Canderous said impressively, “Mandalore the Ultimate is long dead, at the hands of one of the greatest warriors the universe has ever seen: Revan. She took his mask from his and hid it, knowing that it would break the clans without a leader to gather us together. I have found this mask and I am reuniting the clans. They will come together and the Mandalorians will be a force to be reckoned with in the galaxy once again.”

    You talk big for a scavenger,” the old Mandalore on the bed scoffed. Turning to his guard, he ordered, “Leave us.” He turned his visored gaze to Kelborn and Bralor as well, “You too.”

    With a bow and without any protest, the three other men left. Mandalore pushed himself up on his elbows to sit higher in the bed. For the first time, Canderous saw the gray pallor of the skin on his hands. He was either very ill or--

    Slowly, Mandalore pulled his helmet from his head and set it on the bedding beside him. He had a gray-green face of sharp angles with piercing eyes. He was a Taung, perhaps one of the last living Taung in the entire Mandalorian Clans. “Do you know who I am?” he asked, his rasping voice now free of the echoes of the helmet.

    You are another Mandalore,” Canderous answered, “One who defied Mandalore the Ultimate's battle plan and was exiled for it.”

    History forgets so quickly,” the old Taung shook his head, “He was not even named Mandalore then. His name was Yant Vizsla. He was one of my senior strategists. When those red-faced Sith appeared out of nowhere, telling us to attack the Republic, offering raw materials, factories, and weapons for our effort, he was there. I was new, the old Mandalore having just fallen to my hand, but I knew that Mandalorians answered to no one. To fight for a secret master, it was the beginning of the end. I saw what became of my predecessor under the slavery of Exar Kun. That is why I challenged him in the first place. I would not allow the Mandalorian pride to be enslaved to the Sith again.

    Yant thought differently. In fact, many of my circle did. He used his supporters to overwhelm me,” Mandalore continued, “They pried the mask off my face, but they would not kill me. For greater shame, they would exile me to a moon in my very own home system, where I could see the world I had once ruled, but never again touch it. They did the same to my followers. Others chose to follow as well, not from my clan, and thus we formed a new clan here in this barren place, the Unknown clan. We are never lax in our vigilance.

    We know what has gone on out there, 'Mandalore',” he continued warningly, “We listen to the broadcasts. We know that the pretender has fallen. We know that there was another war, fought without us. We know that the galaxy is in shambles, a the point of tipping past rescue. Had I been at the head of the Mandalorians, this would never have happened. It is my shame and it is my pride. Do you understand that?”

    I understand as any other Mandalorian who has fallen from glory and seeks to see it rise again. We are the Mando'a,” Canderous replied firmly, “It is my shame and pride that I survived to see the day that the Mandalorian clans were defeated in brilliant battle and strategy. I am glad that I was able to live for that glory, even if losses caught up with us in the end. As long as I breathe, I will never forget what that felt like or forget my promise to rebuild the clans to their former glory. If the clans fragment now, if our sons' generations lose their loyalties and history, the Mandalorians will never again stand as one. We will forever be seen as an army that failed and remained broken, the mockery of the galaxy. I will not stand for such a history.”

    Good,” the old Mandalore chuckled. “I heard that you and your two men defeated seven of my best scouts. Your senses are keen and your drive is keener 'Mandalore'. You are a great warrior, and it shows in your bearing and in your words, but do I trust you to lead the clans?”

    Canderous waited quietly for the answer. If he took the mask that Mandalore the Ultimate wore but had the blessing of the Taung who Mandalore the Ultimate sole it from, he could ask for little more. That was all that could be given. The rest, he would have to earn for himself.

    Who are you under that armor, 'Mandalore'? What is your clan? Where do your loyalties lie?” Mandalore asked, his gaze was piercing.

    Canderous hesitated, but knew that he could not go forward with this old Taung with anything less than honesty. At least to the questions directed at him. He reached up with thickly gloved hands and removed his mask and then his helmet. “I am Canderous of Clan Ordo,” he replied.

    Ordo,” Mandalore mused, “Fine warriors with true spirit. There are some of Ordo Clan among my exiles. And you are not young and foolish as many Mandalores have been before you. What drives you, Canderous?”

    To see the clans reunited to their former glory,” Canderous replied mechanically.

    To wage war on the galaxy again, is that it?” Mandalore asked shrewdly.

    No,” Canderous replied, meeting the old Taung's steely stare, “To show the galaxy what true warriors are—what true discipline, brotherhood, honor, and glory are. To set and example and to be ready for when battle does find us. The Mandalorians will never be a people of peace. We are a people of battle and we must live as if each next day will bring war to our fronts whether it comes or not.”

    Well spoken,” Mandalore said approvingly.

    And if you take my people back with you, what will you do with them? Will they be subordinate to your Ordo brothers?” he asked, scrutinizing Canderous closely.

    They will be equal to all of the others in my camp,” Canderous replied, “Until they prove otherwise. If they are strong and great warriors, they will become my leaders. If they sloth about, they will be put back into training with the pups that are Mandalorians in name only. A man earns his place in my camp.”

    As you have earned yours, Mandalore,” the old Taung said with an approving nod. “You will lead the clans well. You will follow that drive until it kills you. You are loyal beyond your own knowing. I can see that all. But what will they call you? You are no Mandalore the Ultimate. You are no Mandalore the Indomitable.”

    Canderous waited. It was never Mandalore who named himself. His actions earned a name for him. Canderous had not yet earned his name, but to receive a name from this dying Taung, a previous Mandalore who yet lived, that would be an honor.

    You seek not to wage war or seek victory over the galaxy but to reunite and preserve all that is Mandalorian,” he observed, “You shall be Mandalore the Preserver. I retire the name of Mandalore and give it to you. From this day, I shall just be The Unknown.”

    Thank you, Dar'mand'alor,” Canderous replied, “I will bring honor and loyalty back to the clans where it was lost.”

    Take my people back to your Ordo clan-mates,” Mandalore urged, “They have suffered exile with honor for me all of these twenty-five long years. It is time for them to live the life of the redeemed. Redeem them, Mandalore.” He gestured to a woven stick closet at the other end of the hut, “And take what is in there, my armor, and this helmet. Show the galaxy that you are my successor, Preserver.”

    I will make your legacy mine, and I will bring it glory,” Canderous promised.

    Now put on your mask and never take the name Canderous again,” the old Taung ordered, “You will never be just a man any more. Mandalore is so much more than just a man, but you know that. I will remain here on this moon, to live out what little time I have left of my exile in honor, but I order the rest of my people to go with you. There is more glory in the future than in the past.”

    I will take my men to the nearest free spaceport and arrange for transports,” Canderous told him. “Have your men ready to travel at a moment's notice. Pack their armor and weapons away. The galaxy is not friendly to the clans in these days. It is not yet time to reveal our presence. We are still to fragile to bear the brunt of the Republic's paranoia.”

    I will see it done,” the old Mandalore promised, “Today is the day they have all longed for. Te Taylir Mand’alor, your armor.” The old Taung again gestured with a shaking, gray hand.

    Canderous stepped to the cabinet and pulled the creaking door open. Polished as pristine as Madalore’s armor should be, a full set black and silver armor hung ready for use on an armor rack of gnarled wood. Canderous stripped out of his armor with ceremonial solemnity, setting each piece aside at the foot of the cabinet, starting with the garish red cape. He fastened on the black and silver armor from toe to head. Seeing his cape piled with the mismatched armor he had shed, Canderous could not dawn it again. Mandalore the Ultimate and Mandalore the Indomitable may have favored that particular item for drama, but he was neither. He was Mandalore the Preserver, one who would walk in his own footsteps.

    Finally, he took the mask of Mandalore and approached the dying Taung’s bed. Wordlessly, he knelt before the bed. Mandalore the Unknown hefted the helmet that still rested on his lap onto Canderous’ head and then Canderous fastened the mask over it. The visors did not quite line up, but the effect was important. He would incorporate the two pieces better later.

    Ret'urcye mhi, Mandalore the Preserver,” Mandalore the Unknown said with approval, “Remember, a warrior is more than his armor..”

    Ret'urcye mhi, Unknown,” he replied and rose. He turned back towards the doorway then stepped out into the dim daylight as Mandalore the Preserver. This era was his.
  12. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Ohhhh I love this one. Not rambly at all - I didn't know about this exiled group! And if you did it consciously or not, you wrote in Canderous' voice very well with short, punctuated sentence mostly in subject-verb-object sentences. Very well done!
  13. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Thanks! I'm glad! This was another one I struggled a bit with, as I really did want to get inside Canderous' head. I didn't consciously go with that structure, but it looks like it worked!

    With that, the story is winding down as it leads up to KotOR II. As long as I keep to my schedule, this should all be done by the end of May.


    Part 32- Bait for the Trap

    Mistress,” Riva ventured, stepping inside the open door of Atris's private meditation chamber. The glow of red and blue from the holocrons cast fuchsia shadows on her bleached clothes, hair, and pale face. Atris's striking white hair, Jedi robes, and geometrically patterned tabards were also eerily lit. She was not in meditation, but staring up at a particular Jedi Holocron stored high on the wall above her with her hands clasped behind her back. “May I enter?” Riva asked.

    Atris slowly spun around with the careful, calculated dignity that Riva and all of the other handmaidens admired. “Yes, you may enter Riva,” she invited. “What is it?”

    I have news,” Riva said as she entered smoothly, masking her hesitance. The glare of the holocrons always unnerved her and the others, who could not feel the Force as Atris did. “We have found where the Jedi Exile has been hiding all of these years.”

    Atris straightened up and her blue eyes flashed. With five swift steps she closed the distance between herself and Riva. “Where have you found her, and how?” she asked. There was eagerness in her voice that Riva had not heard in ages.

    She is living in her own self-imposed exile on the planet of Tchuukthai,” she answered, “One of the few traders trusted by the locals to know the location of their planet happened to mention that there was a human woman living there, under the blessing of the late Master Thon.”

    Master Thon,” Atris said slowly and nodded thoughtfully, “He did always have a soft spot for her. He never really knew her for what she became after he left the Jedi Council for the outer rim.”

    She has been quietly living there, alone in a hut of her own making, since shortly after the war, never once leaving or initiating any communications with the outside world,” Riva continued, “She has taken her exile to its completion.”

    Her respect for the councils decision is remarkable, and even baffling, given her history,” Atris said with bitter sarcasm. “She defied us over and over again, and it led to her own downfall. It led to her exile. It is one she has earned.”

    Then perhaps she has realized that now,” Riva suggested.

    Unlikely, for one as proud as she was,” Atris responded, “For one as certain of herself in anything she does. Ah, but it us good to know that she is still alive. She may be just the Jedi we need to set our plans into motion.”

    You refer to your plans for drawing out the enemies who attacked the Jedi,” Riva asked.

    Atris nodded. “She will be the bait,” Atris declared, “I am glad you found her. You did well to follow so many leads.”

    It would be remiss for me to claim credit for such a thing,” Riva admitted, “Although I am the one who was elected to bring the news to you, it is the least of the handmaidens who discovered this trail of evidence to her existence.”

    Brianna it is then?” Atris mused, “I am surprised that the least of you would be the one to discover the greatest bit of information that we have had in a long time.”

    I am sorry for our failings, Mistress,” Riva apologized, head bowed. “My sisters and I will redouble our efforts.”

    You are forgiven,” Atris said dismissively, “Perhaps it is only that Brianna is earning her place among you, finally.”

    She is still too distracted, to undisciplined,” Riva replied swiftly, “She has far to go before she can truly be considered one of your handmaidens.”

    Just as well,” Atris nodded, “Bring her in. I want to hear from her myself.”

    Riva turned back to the doorway, but Brianna was already standing in the open space between the two ajar doors, waiting expectantly.

    You have anticipated me,” Atris observed. “Come.”

    Brianna approached slowly each step a laborious process of demeaning herself before her older sister and her mistress.

    Tell me, how did you discover the location of Bryony Thuvell, who has evaded us for the long years?” Atris asked.

    I was combing our contacts and recordings from the station and heard mention of a man bragging that he had a secret contract with Tchuukthai,” Brianna explained, “I knew from your lessons that there have been more than one great Tchuukthai Jedi in the recent ages, most notably the late Master Thon, and thought I would investigate it further. Tchuukthai would be a perfect place for a Jedi to hide during this purge. It is off the maps and outside of travel routes in the unknown regions. Only a select few know its coordinates, and one of those was a Jedi Master. I sliced into the station dock logs to see where he had been coming from and going to lately, and found more conversations on records, some other pilots curious about the planet. Though he gave away nothing about the location of the planet, he did mention that there was a woman living on the planet, a human woman, some exile from after the Mandalorian Wars. He often saw her hut and garden as he flew in and asked the Tchuukthai about it, as their dwellings look nothing like such a human home.”

    Well done,” Atris praised. Brianna started to beam with pride but quickly caught herself and looked stoically at the ground and at the hem of Atris's robes.

    Now we must find a way to bring her back into the Republic space, or even better, the outer rim unaligned territories,” Atris concluded, “The best option would be to find your pilot and ask him to relieve her of her exile for us, paying him for her passage. What was his name?”

    Arvor Flowers,” Brianna asked. At least her memory was flawless for details, despite its common wanderings, “Pilot of the Lightning Nerf, hailing from Corellia. As far as I can tell, he is a legitimate tradesman, who probably also occasionally engages in smuggling.”

    Like most freighter pilots these days,” Riva added.

    Then he will hopefully respond well to our bribes,” Atris replied, “Riva, I want you to meet him. Privately give him our offer. Ask him to take her to wherever his next stop in his journey is, and find out the location.”

    Yes mistress,” Riva replied, bowing her head respectfully.

    For a moment, it looked as if Brianna would protest, begging for the position herself, but she caught her tongue and held it.

    Then we will make it known to the networks, Republic, smuggler, and otherwise that Bryony Thuvell, Knight of the Jedi Order is returned to republic space.”

    But why?” Brianna asked, “I don't understand, Mistress. There is a bounty on Jedi now. She would immediately become a target.”

    Bryony could always handle herself without the support of anyone else,” Atris replied shortly, “I am sure she has not changed much in that respect after her exile. And this knowledge will draw more than just bounty hunters. It will draw out the Sith who seek to destroy us. I cannot risk myself, the last historian of the Jedi Order, but for an exile, who does not belong to the Order any more, she works perfectly for our purposes. When our enemies think they can move openly to take out one last Jedi, a Jedi famed for her participation in the Mandalorian Wars, we will see them for what they are and trap them. Then this dark war can finally end.”

    You can't mean to sacrifice another Jedi, even one so misguided as the exile, in order to draw out the Sith,” Brianna blurted. “If she has been disconnected from the galaxy for all this time, she does not know what has happened. She will not know of the danger she is in.”

    Do you question my wisdom, Brianna?” Atris asked pointedly.

    No mistress,” Brianna murmured and stared even more fixatedly at Atris's hem.

    She will discover the danger she is in soon enough. The great general of the Mandalorian Wars surely has not fallen so far that she cannot recognize when her own life is in danger,” Atris replied, “And she earned nothing more than this by her actions in the past. She deserved far more than exile. Now, as the sole remaining member of Jedi council, I decree this to be the completion of her punishment for straying so far from the ideals that brought her up and betraying us.”

    Last Handmaiden,” Atris said sternly. She rarely used the title, though it was the only named used among the sisters who served her. “You may go. Continue your research on the whereabouts of the last of the remaining Jedi.”

    Yes Mistress,” Brianna said so softly it could hardly be heard and departed with a low bow.

    Now Riva,” Atris began again as soon as she had gone, “I want you to take Brianna's research and learn all you can about this man. How much he will need to be paid to ensure he does what we want and how trustworthy he is to keep our involvement a secret. Whatever that amount is, we will pay it.”

    Understood, my mistress,” Riva replied with a bow of acknowledgment, “I will contact this pilot as soon as I am able.” With that, she too departed, leaving Atris alone to her musings.

    A day was coming that she could reveal herself. A day was coming that she could openly rebuild the Jedi with her ideas alone forming their precepts. The Jedi Order had fallen far from its original ideals, mired by factions and debate, reforms were never reformed. Alone, Atris could rebuild the Jedi as they never had been before, ready to serve the greater good of the galaxy. This could only be accomplished once the Sith haunting the outer rim of the galaxy were dead, and Bryony Thuvell, traitor though she was, was the key to drawing them out. Bryony would be a prize they could not resist.
  14. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Atris is so deliciously evil. Love this cunning side of her!
  15. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    I love to hate that about her. Atris is so very blind to herself.


    Part 33 - The End of Exile

    Bryony Thuvell stood in the open door of her small hut and let the breeze stream through her small living space. The grasses on the rolling hills around her undulated in yellow waves across the land. Insects chirped and droned away the afternoon while a small flock of the orange birds that the Tchuukthai called mariith chirped in the treetop above her hut. It was the only tree for kilometers in any direction. There was no telling how that single seed had made it to the top of the small hill, but it had planted, rooted itself, and grew on that spot. Rather like herself, in fact.

    That was one of the reasons she chose this knoll for her home. She built the mud and adobe walls from bricks that she baked for herself in the summer sun and kept it thatched from the elements with the grasses of the fields that surrounded her. The first rainy season, her roof leaked torrents and her walls melted into mud. It had been a steep learning curve. It was a frustrating cycle of building and repairing, but the process was purifying. All the work she did with her hands seemed to purify the dark taint left in her from the wars. By now, ten years later, she had more or less perfected her little mud hit. It kept the weather out and the warmth in. It was her home, her exile.

    Every day, she still meditated for hours. First when she rose in the morning, again in the mid-afternoon sun, and once more in the evening before bed. Although the Force had abandoned her ten years ago, at the end of the wars, she still meditated. It was comforting. It helped her forget and it helped her remember. She gave the signal that killed so many. She did not know at that moment just what destruction it would bring, but desperation moved her hand. The guilt of her desperate action would stay with her for her entire life, as would all of the deaths she caused. Bryony would never be truly pure again.

    She gardened all of her own food. Since that day, she had never taken the life of another animal, directly or indirectly. She ate no meat. The Tchuukthai who first welcomed her helped her find the supplies she needed to start her little garden and provide herself with food. Still, several times a year, she would hike the long trek to the nearest settlement to trade for supplies she needed. She had little to trade with, only grass weavings of different sizes, shapes, and functions. They were worth very little, but the Tchuukthai had sympathy for her—more sympathy for her than she deserved—and gave her what she needed in return. The guilt of being a dependent guest got to Bryony sometimes, so she did her best to subsist on her own from season to season.

    She worked in the dirt, drew life out of seeds into flowering and fruiting plants. This also was part of her purification. If she worked to live, worked not to harm any other living beings, not to be a burden to any other living beings, just maybe she could find peace with herself.

    That was what she kept telling herself, but the peace never came. The longer she stayed in her exile on Tchuukthai, the farther away that hope of peace seemed to get.

    As she stared out past the waving grasses to the strand of trees at the horizon that marked the beginning of the village territory, she saw someone moving through the grasses. Instinctively, she reached out her senses to investigate, but she sensed nothing. Even after all these years, her subconscious kept forgetting that the Force had been ripped from her, a punishment for her actions during the war.

    Instead, she watched. She followed no schedules. Time for her was organic, rather than the clicking of a chrono her her wrist. She squinted at the figure that headed directly for her tree and her hut. The figure became more than just a speck as it drew nearer. Whatever it was, it was not a Tchuukthai. The brilliant blue color gave that away. Was it blue skin or blue clothing? A blue shirt was more likely, given how many alien races there were in the galaxy that had skin that particular shade of brilliant blue.

    The figure was also too small, she realized as it came closer still. Too thinly built to be a Tchuukthai, it also walked on two feet with arms swinging at its sides.

    For a moment, the figure disappeared behind a rise in the land and the waving grasses. When he appeared over the crown of the hill—and it was a he—Bryony could easily make out that he was an average looking human man with dark hair and olive colored skin much like her own. For a moment, from the shaggy cut of his hair, she had the thrilling hope that he might be her brother Kaden, come to get her and to forgive her. That hope was quickly dashed. His eyes and his walk were all wrong. Still, why would another human come looking for her here? Who even knew that she was here, other than the Tchuukthai of the nearby town?

    This man, evidently.

    As he approached the base of her own little hill, Bryony stepped out of the shadows of her thatched roof and onto the dirt path from her garden to her front door. Whoever he was, she would greet him. It had been years since she spoke Basic to another human being. She hoped all this time alone had not altered her too badly.

    Hello there,” he called with a congenial wave as he topped the hill to her house. “Sorry to intrude on your privacy,” he apologized immediately.

    It's nothing,” Bryony waved, “I haven't had company in a long while. It isn't so much privacy as exile, and even an exile welcomes company.”

    Especially an exile, huh,” the man commented with a warm grin as he walked up the path towards her. He extended his hand in greeting, saying “I'm Arvor Flowers, pilot and businessman. I trade with the Tchuukthai here.”

    Pleased to meet you, Mr. Flowers,” Bryony replied, shaking his hand, “I am Bryony Thuvell. I garden and serve out my penance for the war here.”

    You're that famous Jedi general, aren't you,” Arvor wondered out loud.

    She nodded. Her fame chased her still. “I served under the Revanchist during the later part of the Mandalorian Wars,” she admitted, “But I returned to the Jedi to face judgment for my war crimes.”

    And they cast you out for daring to end the war,” Arvor whistled, “Funny how things like that work out for Jedi like you. I never understood how the Jedi run things.”

    I am a Jedi no longer,” Bryony clarified, “Just a war exile. The Jedi Order cast me out. I no longer feel the Force like them.”

    Tough punishment for Malachor V, if you ask me,” Arvor replied. Bryony did not need reminding. Every day that she woke up, feeling the silence of the Force pressing in around her like the void, it tore at her very being. She was incomplete in a way that could never be completed again. History could not be rewritten. “Though, you wouldn’t know it if you’ve been out here all this while: the Jedi are gone now. No one has seen or heard from the Jed council in over a year, maybe two. I'd say there's no reason for you to hang around this bit of unknown space any longer. No one is going to send you back out.”

    They're gone?” Bryony gaped, “But how?”

    There was another war. I guess if you've been out of touch this long, you wouldn't have known that Revan took all of her ships and went out to the Unknown Regions herself, chasing after Mandalorians, or so she said. Two years later, she came back, with an even bigger fleet, and spent the next couple of years beating the Republic to a bloody pulp. Until she reformed, turned around, killed Darth Malak, and ended the whole bloody war herself. I hear the Jedi and the Sith wiped each other out pretty good and kept picking each other off since the war ended until now there's none of them left at all. Except you, I guess.”

    I told you, I'm not a Jedi,” Bryony reminded gently.

    Fine,” Arvor raised his hands defensively.

    So how did you find me here anyway? Why walk all the way out here?” Bryony asked. Not even the Tchuukthai visited her.

    Arvor shrugged. “I was curious,” he replied noncommittally, “When I heard the locals mention that there was another human on this planet, permanently, who came into town now and then, I had to see for myself why anyone would want to live out here alone. They said you were a war exile, so I had my guesses, but I had to know for myself. I was a soldier in the Republic Navy back then, pilot, actually. But my squadron was on escort duty for the Leviathan, we didn't see that last battle, except for the aftermath of it.” He let that hang in the air with all of the images associated with it.

    But you did not go with Revan when she went into the unknown regions?” she asked.

    Nope,” he replied causally, “My squadron was actually on loan from Corellia's Royal Navy. When the war was over, we went home and defended our own borders again. I served up my tour and moved into freighting. I got set up with this job on Tchuukthai by a favor of an old friend who was retiring, on the condition that I keep it a complete secret, and I have until this day.”

    Bryony nodded but found nothing to say. It had been too long since she had held any kind of conversation, even with the locals.

    Say, why don't you come back to the living? It’s been, what, ten years since the war ended? That’s a long time to waste away in the Unknown Regions. I can give you a ride back to known space on my way out of here,” Arvor offered, “Your Jedi Council is gone, so what harm can it be? You might find life more fulfilling with more than just this tree for company.”

    Bryony wanted to refuse. Duty pinned her to exile, but if the Jedi truly were gone, the same duty drew her back to the Republic, wanting to help. She missed people more than she could admit to herself. She wished for a normal life again, but what could basket weaving do for her future career? It was something, though. At the very least, she could find work on a remote agricultural world. That would be a step in the right direction, a step that was difficult for her to take even after all this time.

    Arvor waited patiently while she thought. Again, she reached out to the Force for guidance, but found nothing, as always. “Thank you, Mr. Flowers, but I don't have anything to pay you with besides what's in my garden and a few baskets I've woven.”

    Then call it a deal,” Arvor grasped her hand and shook it to confirm his commitment to it, “I wasn't expecting you to be rolling in riches: an ex-Jedi living by herself in a mud hut in the Tchuukthai wilderness.”

    I will need a bit of time to get ready,” Bryony said slowly, still terrified of the commitment she was making, stepping off into the unknown. “When do you plan to leave?”

    Sometime tomorrow morning,” he replied with a shrug. “I can come and pick you up,” he offered.

    No, that's alright,” Bryony argued lightly, “I will walk to town when I am ready. I don't have much.”

    Suit yourself then,” he shrugged again. Glancing at the sun, he raised his hands to the horizon and counted his fingers, “It looks like I don't have much time left before the sun sets. It does set quickly here. I should get going back to the village.”

    Thank you, Arvor,” Bryony said, “Thank you for the offer. I will see you in town tomorrow.”

    Alright, Bryony, I'll see you tomorrow,” he said, and with one last wave, sauntered off down the hill, back towards the trees on the horizon.

    Bryony watched him go. The sun sank lower on the horizon and cast long shadows on his departure. The shadows accentuated each wind-teased blade of grass. She thought over the afternoon. Where had he come from? Why? Why would a trader like him want to visit her or offer her a ride, an escape from this long exile?

    Camaraderie perhaps? He might bear survivors guilt from the war, just as she did. Though she doubted anyone's guilt could be as heavy, short of Revan or Malak.

    She wondered about her old friends, Alek and Roan'ev. Malak and Revan. They had turned to the Dark Side, that much was evident from Arvor’s story. Half of her wanted to deny that that was even possible, but the other half knew that it was entirely too likely. She had seen the beginnings of their fall in the end of the war; their desperate tactics and calculated sacrifices. Roan'ev had known exactly what she was doing with every move. She knew exactly what it cost her, as much as she would deny it publicly. Alek—Malak followed her lead with all the subtly of a hammer, never catching onto Revan's subtleties himself. If Revan fell, Malak would have followed her into the darkness.

    And then she was redeemed, but Malak was not. Again with the subtleties of character. Bryony stared at the sky, the first starts beginning to appear by twilight. She mourned for him. She had mourned for the people she had killed for years, but never thought to mourn for her friend. Malak may have become a villain, and she was sure that the galaxy celebrated with his death, but Bryony would always remember Alek Squinquargesimus, her friend. While no one else mourned him, she would.

    With a sigh, she started out at the horizon and the tree line again. Even if Arvor hadn't reached the village by now, his silhouette was lost to the shadows. Bryony turned back to her hut and slowly walked back inside. It was time to get packing. She needed to decided what of these ten years she need to take with her and what she would leave behind.

    It was time for a new beginning.
  16. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Part 34- Chances and Rumors

    Mical's hail to the Sojourn came as somewhat of a surprise to Carth. He had not expected to hear from Mical so soon. Only last week he returned from Ossus with two months’ worth of findings on the Jedi, but little that would help Carth in his own search for Ev, or any of the other Jedi. Upon receiving the message from one of his lieutenants, Carth immediately ordered for a shuttle to be sent down to Citadel Station to retrieve the young historian.

    Mical arrived approximately an hour later at his office door. “Admiral Onasi, Mical Tarwellen is here to see you,” the soldier who had escorted him announced through the comm system at the door.

    Let him in,” Carth instructed. A moment later, the door hissed open and Mical stepped inside. He greeted Carth with a small, polite bow.

    Mical, good to see you,” Carth said, standing to greet him, “How are you?”

    Fine thank you,” Mical replied and stepped up to the desk. He waited for Carth to take a seat before he sat down in his usual chair across from it, “How are you?”

    Not bad,” Carth admitted. He knew he looked tired. He was not sleeping much these days. The better he did at administrative work for the navy, the more they poured it on to him. The Sojourn was now his own portable office and command center. He coordinated seven other fleets indirectly through their captains on completely unrelated campaigns from Telos. One of these days, he would do badly on purpose, just so they would take one or two of those fleets out from his command. “What can I do for you today?”

    I have some news you might find interesting,” Mical replied.

    Oh? What did you find this time?” Carth asked, “I didn't know you were out in the field again?”

    I was not,” Mical replied, “I was simply surfing around the HoloNet and discovered this tidbit about a Mandalorian Wars Jedi General who seems to have returned to republic space after a long absence on the outer rim.” Mical slipped a datapad from his satchel and slid it onto the desk in front of Carth, or as close as he could get amidst all the other management clutter.

    As Carth took it in his hands and scanned over it, Mical summarized, “Bryony Thuvell, Jedi General most notable for the victory at Malachor V has been in exile all of these years, out in the unknown regions, and has just returned,” he explained, “No reasons for her return are giving in the article, but I can only guess that she has heard of the trouble for the Jedi order had has come back to do something about it. Thuvell was a great leader, though the Jedi order gave her little credit for it after the war.”

    This is from Galactic Personnel,” Carth observed the source material, “That's a celebrity rumor monger magazine. Are you sure that's a reputable source?”

    In this case, it seems so,” Mical replied, “The criminal circuit that has been placing bounties on Jedi in general just placed a bounty on her head twice as high as their general bounty. They take these rumors seriously enough to stake lots of credits on her.”

    She is that important?” Carth asked.

    She was then, and history does not exaggerate,” Mical replied.

    Then we need to find her and bring her here safely,” Carth said, “The Republic Military can provide her with sanctuary.”

    And you wish to ask her about her travels on the outer rim, no doubt. Maybe she has seen the one you are looking for in her travels,” Mical observed. “It appears that she was last seen on Thila in the Illisurevimurasi sector.”

    Carth inclined his head in a slight nod. “I have a friend, a Captain Quenlin who pilots the Harbinger. He was close to the Mirial system last I heard. In fact, he is under my command, as of last week. I could make this happen.”

    Then I will leave that to you, Admiral,” Mical replied, “I have not seen you this excited in a long while. I hope she has answers for you.”

    So do I,” Carth replied heavily, “So do I.”
  17. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Part 35- The Hunters

    Nar Shaddaa hummed with life, and with death, as it always did. Mira was right at the center of it, as she always was. The area around the refugee district seemed to always have the most going wrong with it, and the most folks hiding who really did not want to be found. Finding them was her specialty. As a bounty hunter, Mira rarely had to leave Nar Shaddaa, or even the area around the refugee district, to earn her keep. Besides, she was the best, and she did not have to kill her targets to prove it. Where there were bounties, she would cash in on them in the end.

    She sat along the bar of her favorite human-friendly cantina just outside of the refugee district, the Entertainment Promenade. Some Biths played mellow music on a low stage at the other end of the cantina while the patrons carried out their business in the well-lit space. The cantina's owner seemed to believe that adequate lighting would keep down the illicit business that often happened under the tables at such places, but Mira knew better, especially when it was widely known that he did not have adequate security recording equipment installed. Sure, invest in a few extra lights and neglect your cameras and bugs.

    Not that Mira had any illicit business to do here. She just wanted dinner and a drink, with hard-earned, legal credits. Then again, there wasn't much that was illegal in Hutt space. That suited her just fine.

    Mira sipped at her drink and browsed through the latest HoloNet headlines on her datapad as she waited for her meal to arrive.

    More assassinations, more senators caught in scandals, more speculation on the disappearance of the Jedi. I would have thought they'd have gotten over that fixation a year ago,” Mira murmured as she flicked her finger along the scroll bar, looking for something interesting. “Oh, what's this?” a headline from one of the gossip presses caught her eyes, 'Mandalorian Wars famed Jedi General Thuvell, thought long dead, recently sighted on Thila.' “So they aren't all dead after all,” Mira mused to herself. “I wonder if this one has made the Black List yet.”

    She navigated away from the more main-stream news and to a listing she herself used much more frequently: the Galactic Exchange Bounty List. Mira scrolled through, looking for new postings, and then she saw it: 'Jedi General Thuvell: wanted, preferably alive.' She whistled appreciatively at the price on the Jedi's head. She had never seen a bounty that high in her life, save when some lower-level idiot in the exchange decided to put a bounty on Darth Malak himself. Stupid idea. Neither the bounty nor the man lasted long. With the amount offered for this one Jedi, Mira could buy her own planet and still have some left over for retirement.

    If that Jedi ever comes near my territory, she's mine,” Mira told the datapad with a confident grin.

    Oh, you think so, do you?” trilled a familiar voice that Mira loathed to hear.

    Lovely huntress, you are mistaken,” a nearly identical voice cooed.

    Mira spun around on her stool, and glared sourly at the two lithe Twi'lek women standing behind her. Both wore skin-tight black pleather clothes that hardly covered more of their skin than the average two-piece bathing suit. The Twin Suns were two ex-slave dancers who were part cocky, blood-thirsty killers and part man-hunting sluts. Mira hated them, but the Bounty Hunter truce prevented her from doing anything to get rid of them. “Get out of here, tramps,” Mira snapped, “Can't you leave a woman to her meal?”

    That doesn't look like a meal to me,” Seer'aa observed as she slunk up to Mira and leaned on the bar next to her, “I would say that looks like business research.”

    Research that we have already done, little huntress,” Teer'aa added. “You are already behind.”

    Doesn't mean I can't catch up with you,” Mira shot back, “The minute she steps foot into this sector, she will be mine.”

    But won't you be too squeamish to take a Jedi on your own?” Teer'aa taunted, “Jedi must be killed before they peer into your mind.”

    Still don't believe me that I can do it better than you can?” Mira retorted, “And still keep my targets alive? Just watch me. A Jedi is no different than any other target to me, and I will have this one. She’s worth far more alive.”

    Oh, I am sure you will,” Seer'aa said with silky sarcasm. She backed away from the bar, drawing two fingers lightly across Mira's hand as she went.

    Don't touch me!” Mira snapped, and drew her hand back. “Now either you buy some dinner like every other customer here or you get out of here.”

    She talks big, but can she deliver?” Teer'aa taunted, then turned and sauntered off. Her sister followed after her, lekku and hips swinging alluringly with every step.

    Tramps,” Mira muttered angrily and turned back to her juice. I will have that Jedi.
  18. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Sounds like our Exile might've been picked up by someone involved with this bounty... tsk tsk Arvor. Or just a random coincidence, but the Jedi don't believe in those...
  19. bellatroll

    bellatroll Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 21, 2013
    I love it so far, even though I'm a male Revan storyline fan.
  20. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    LaForzaViva, neither, actually. If you recall, he's the pilot that the handmaidens found out about and quietly paid off to go pick up Bryony. He's getting some money out of it, but not a bounty.

    bellatroll, good to have you here! I'm impressed you read all that in one go, and I guess that's a good sign you put up with my female Revan too. The thing I love about KotOR era fic is that it's been equally acceptable to go male or female with both Revan and the Exile, though TOR taking the canon genders and solidifying them has made female Revan and male Exile less acceptable in the last year or so. I just like the variety to character dynamics it adds in varying people's stories.

    And now for more Kionee and Mical. This is the last one of these, I promise. :p


    Part 36- The Scholar and the Pilot

    With her favorite pop music blaring, Kionee jammed around her apartment with a dust rag, half-sweeping, half-dancing the dust off of all of her furniture as she sang along, not caring how ridiculous she sounded.

    It had been far too long since she last gave her apartment a good cleaning. There was still the hamper of recently washed clothes in the corner that she had to fold and the clutter unceremoniously shoved under her bed to be dealt with later. But a good cleaning day was what the Orange Nova Girls were best for. They were always best enjoyed when singing along at the top of your longs while not paying too close attention to the lyrics.

    When, in the midst of all this, there came a rapping sound at her door, it took her a moment to realize that it was not an extra drum fill, but that she had a visitor. Kionee dashed over to her speakers and turned down the dial and then rushed over to the door. Her visitor was knocking again. Without inquiring through the visitor comm first, Kionee punched the release button and the door shot upward in its tracks.

    Mical stood patiently outside, waiting for her.

    Mical,” Kionee blurted, a bit stunned, “Hi. Good to see you.” I did give him my module address with my contact info, didn't I?

    Hello Kionee. I hope I'm not interrupting anything,” Mical said apologetically with a cautious glance into the apartment over Kionee's shoulder.

    Oh, no,” Kionee shook her head quickly, “Not at all. I was just cleaning my place up a bit.” She paused, trying to think of something clever to say, but nothing came. “Come on in,” she invited finally and stepped back out of the doorway to give him space.

    With a nod, Mical came inside, and Kionee let the door shut behind him.

    You have a nice apartment here,” Mical complimented.

    Thanks,” Kionee replied. “Considering it was one of the first residential modules on the station.” They stood across from each other in the apartment's entry, not really making eye contact. After a pause, she added dumbly, “I guess I forgot that I told you my module number.”

    I'm sorry I did not contact you before dropping by,” Mical apologized.

    No, don't be,” Kionee protested, “I wasn't doing anything important. I'm always glad to have visitors.”

    I stopped by,” Mical started while pulling something out of his back pocket with his left hand, “Because I found an article I thought you might find interesting.” He held out a small datadisk for her.

    Taking it, Kionee replied, “Thanks.”

    It's about an experimental chef on Coruscant who has invented a line of cuisines of gelatinized fruit and vegetable juices, in beads,” Mical explained, “while keeping it completely organic.”

    That sounds pretty cool,” replied, brightening up at the gift and the thought rather than the topic of the article. “Do you want to sit down?” she asked, gesturing to the small sofa on the opposite wall, a recent addition to her furniture.

    Oh, thank you,” Mical said and moved over to the sofa.

    Meanwhile, Kionee strode over to her desk and placed the holodisk on top for later reading before returning to her small plush chair near where Mical sat. “Thanks for coming by,” she started, “Where did you find that article?”

    In a chemistry publication I subscribe to, oddly enough,” Mical admitted with a laugh, “The chemistry needed to produce such beads without additional chemicals is really quite fascinating.”

    I bet,” Kionee replied, trying to sound as excited, “I'll have to ask Dad about it next time he calls. I'd be willing to bet he's already had his sample of those fruit beads, or will very soon. He always keeps on top of stuff like that.” She paused then added, “But really, I thought you studied history. Chemistry too now? What don't you study?”

    Mical laughed, “There is very little that I don't dabble in from time to time. I really am a student of the galaxy, and whatever it has to offer.”

    Man, I wish I could live like that,” Kionee said wistfully, “Always seeing new places and learning new things.”

    Mical laughed. “Correct me if I am wrong, Kionee,” he started, “But I think you already do just that, only I study with my nose in a book, and your studies are studies of experience and interaction. I would hazard to say that you are one of the most knowledgeable people on Citadel Station when it comes to the galaxy at large.”

    Kionee blushed. “It's not because I try at it,” she protested.

    And that is precisely why your knowledge base is so broad,” Mical insisted, “I am sure you have been to perhaps a hundred times as many systems as I have in my lifetime.”

    I'm a pilot, it's what I do,” Kionee replied.

    There are days I wish I had learned to pilot, myself, when I got the chance,” Mical admitted.

    I could teach you the basics sometime,” Kionee offered before she was aware the words were coming out of her mouth.

    Always generosity,” Mical chuckled. “But no, I have enough on my plate at the moment. As always, I appreciate the offer.” Glancing around the apartment, he commented, “You have some lovely photos on your wall here.”

    Thanks,” Kionee said, “I kind of collect them. I didn't take them myself though. I’m no photographer.”

    I see Ahto City there, and is that Telos before the Jedi Civil War?” Mical asked. Kionee nodded affirmatively and he continued, “What of these three? I don't recognize those places.”

    Places I've lived as a kid,” Kionee answered. “The first one is the Western Plains of Nubia, where I was born.”

    It looks pristine, a lovely place,” Mical commented, “I think I would like to visit there one day. When one hears of Nubia, the first thing to come to mind is the shipyards. The Nubian natural world is not often spoken of.”

    It really is nice,” Kionee nodded. “But maybe I'm biased, because that's where my family came from. The next one there is Drall, the first place Dad moved us to when he started Rinnh Imports, and the third one is Rodia, where we lived after that.”

    All much more beautiful places than told by the geography texts,” Mical praised.

    Those were all great photographers too,” Kionee insisted, “It's amazing what a good camera, lighting, and perspective can do to make a place look beautiful. Get one of these guys down on the surface of Telos and I'm sure they could make it look like a dream too.”

    Mical laughed, “You might be right. All the same, they all seem to be beautiful places.”

    I won't argue with that,” Kionee replied.

    Kionee, I wanted to ask you,” Mical started again, “Could you take me Dantooine? Not immediately, of course, but whenever it's next convenient for you. I have more research on the Jedi that I would like to do there.”

    Sure, of course,” Kionee replied. She could never turn him down. “I can't really this week or next week. Dantooine is a bit farther and would take more than my usual two-day break. I would need to arrange for a longer break between runs in order to take you out there.”

    As I said, there isn't any rush,” he insisted, “I have plenty to keep me busy here yet. I appreciate you taking me whenever you are able, amid your already busy schedule.”

    It's no trouble at all,” Kionee excited, “I sometimes get kind of bored just running back and forth between two planets all the time. Your little research trips puts some interest back into my routes. I enjoy it.”

    I'm glad it isn't any trouble for you,” Mical sounded relieved.

    I'll have to get back to you on this, though,” Kionee said. “I can let you know after my next run and back when would work for me. It's hard to know when the busy periods are going to be down on the surface. Sometimes the Ithorians realize they suddenly need something in large quantities to balance off the ecosystem in one of the sectors down there.”

    Of course, I understand,” Mical said, “Your work with the Telos Restoration Project should always take precedence over the research whims of a friend.”

    Thanks for understanding,” Kionee replied, struggling for something to say.

    Well, I should not keep you from your cleaning any longer,” Mical said, standing up.

    It's alright,” Kionee assured him, standing up as well, “I could make you some tea.”

    No, I really should be going,” Mical protested, “But thank you.”

    Well, I'll get back to you about going to Dantooine as soon as I have a better handle on my schedule of shipments,” Kionee promised as she saw him to the door. “Thanks for the article and for dropping by. It was good to see you.”

    If need be, you can find me in Residential Module 171 B-2,” Mical said. It was the first time he had trusted Kionee with personal contact information beyond a temporary number for the comm that he carried. “It was good to see you too, Kionee.”

    With that, he let himself out of the apartment and headed out into the main corridor. Kionee's heart beat fast as she watched him go. She did not close the door again until he had turned the corner and walked out of sight.

    As she turned her music back on and resumed her cleaning, Kionee could not wipe the silly grin off of her face. She doubted she would even be able to frown at all for several days to come. Mical came to visit with a gift and even called her his friend.

    Starting into her pile of unfolded laundry, Kionee turned her music back on and began to sing again at the top of her lungs.


    Two weeks later, with the Viridian safely in hyperspace headed for Dantooine, Kionee could relax, that is, if didn't feel quite so compelled to be on her absolutely best behavior with Mical around. Emtee seemed to find the whole situation amusing, but respectfully kept his opinions to himself while Mical was on board.

    There was not much social space for relaxing in the Viridian, only the cockpit, the two small bunk rooms, and the large hold. Kionee and Mical pulled a couple of crates together in the hold for chairs and a small table where Kionee brushed up on her crib-cage game against Mical. The game of counting cards to fifteen and thirty-one was not one she had played since her youth, but Mical was endlessly patient, as always.

    It's your cage,” Mical reminded her, pointing to the extra hand of cards lying on the crate between them, “You get the extra cards this round. You dealt.”

    Right,” Kionee said, snatching up the cards and counting their points quickly then added them to her total. “It really has been a while. This was one of grandpa's favorite games. Dad used to play it with me a lot on long hyperspace voyages, before I had my own ship.”

    You certainly have had a rich life,” Mical commented as he dealt out the cards, “And I don't mean your father's corporate fortune.”

    What do you mean, then?” Kionee asked. Sure, she had a lot of money coming to her one day, and already had earned plenty that she never spent, but she never lived like a wealthy heiress. The wealth had come gradually, and her family had never really stopped living like entrepreneurs, even as the company grew.

    You have had the blessings of a warm, and supportive family that is always in your life,” Mical explained, “You have had fulfilling work, seen the galaxy, saved lives, and followed after your dreams. You seemed to always know what your place was in the galaxy. You have always had the support you needed to chase those dreams, all along the way.” He paused then added, “Please forgive me if I'm being presumptuous.”

    Uh, no, not at all,” Kionee stammered, the cards in her hand almost forgotten, “I really have been lucky. My family has always been awesome and there for me, letting me do whatever crazy things I get into my head to do. I've also been pretty lucky that none of those crazy things have gotten me killed. Not yet anyway.” Kionee let out a forced laugh. One day her recklessness would catch up with her. In that moment, she met Mical's eyes and held his gaze, having self-consciously avoided eye contact throughout the game. In those light blue eyes was a look of longing, regret, or resignation. Kionee could not quite place it, but she could see that Mical's life had been less than perfect. “The way you say that,” she started slowly, looking down at her cards, “You make it sound like you haven't had that kind of life.”

    Not many people do, Kionee,” Mical replied. Hazarding a glance up at him again, Kionee saw that he too was staring vaguely down at his own cards. “Perhaps I travel the galaxy, chasing history because I do not yet know my own place in it, and perhaps history can shed light on the present.”

    Don't you have dreams?” Kionee asked.

    Dreams and goals do give one a sense of purpose,” Mical replied enigmatically, then reminded, “You play first.”

    Right,” Kionee said and selected her first card to lie down on the crate.

    Do you ever look back at your career with Rinnh Imports from Telos and regret leaving that life behind?” Mical asked as he played is own card off of hers.

    Fifteen,” Kionee said triumphantly as her second card went down, “Two points for me.”

    Well played,” Mical nodded and added his own card to the stack, “Twenty two.”

    And nine makes thirty-one,” Kionee slapped down her third card enthusiastically.

    And two more points for you,” Mical smiled, then started over the count from the bottom with his next card. He laid his palm on the table and looked expectantly at her. “Do you regret it ever?” he reminded her.

    Sometimes, yeah,” Kionee replied with a shrug, “I miss seeing more of the galaxy all the time. Just Telos and Onderon all the time gets kind of boring, but maybe I'm spoiled. I bet that's more than most people in the galaxy get to see week to week. Though, there's a whole lot of folks I'm not really seeing any more now that my travels and my business is confined to two systems.”

    Yes, I imagine you would have plenty of friends all over the galaxy,” Mical commented, nodding.

    More like lots of acquaintances,” Kionee replied, “When you travel around as much as I did, as quickly as I did, you wind up with lots of great acquaintances and not a lot of close friends.”

    I have found myself often in a similar situation,” Mical admitted. “But I am not tied to two planets these days as you are.”

    But you don't have a ship of your own,” Kionee teased, “And trust me, I'll gladly take you wherever you want to go from Citadel. It's like a vacation for me. I miss hopping around the galaxy.”

    Mical laughed. “I will try not to hold you to that,” he promised.

    I'm serious,” Kionee protested. They counted their points and the game continued into the next round.

    What is going on on Telos really is encouraging,” Mical said, “Amidst all of the other dysfunction in the Republic.”

    Yeah,” Kionee agreed, “It's amazing to see people actually cooperating and that cooperation actually going someplace. Telos was a gamble, and people say it still is, but it's working so far. So far, so good.”

    And with people like you, Carth, and Jerol dedicated to the cause, I do not think it can fail, barring detrimental outside interference,” Mical asserted.

    I really hope so,” Kionee agreed, “Keep those sticky fingers of the doubters out of our project.”

    I really am glad for having a chance to go to the surface and see for myself how it is progressing,” Mical admitted, “And even help with my own two hands, however small it may have been. Thank you for that, again.”

    I should be thanking you,” Kionee replied brightly, “It was you that the cannok bit, not me. Not this time anyway.”

    Mical laughed.

    Your leg is doing better now?” she asked. He had not been limping at all lately.

    Yes, fine, thank you,” he chuckled, “Just surface bruising. Nothing I could not treat myself. I am completely recovered.”

    Good to hear,” Kionee replied, and played one of her cards down.

    It was enjoyable to see your work,” Mical said, “Even if I had that close encounter with a hungry cannok. You and your droid really do an admirable job keeping those creatures from killing each other all over your hold.”

    Most of the time,” Kionee said humorously.

    Although Telos is being planted with the seeds and the creatures of Onderon, it still remains its own distinct planet,” Mical said, “I admit that I had feared, at first, that Telos would look like another Onderon, without its own personality and signature on the galaxy, but I now see that it will always remain Telos.”

    Had you ever been there before the war?” Kionee asked.

    Mical shook his head, “But I came shortly after the attack, a volunteer medic. It was still possible then to see what Telos had been underneath all the death and dying. Not long after, it withered into what much of the surface still is today.”

    We might have been there at the same time,” Kionee realized, “I joined the volunteer supply caravans myself as soon as I could. Dad was thrilled, but he did use some of his fund-raising clout to finance a whole hold or two full of supplies for the war victims before people realized that they had to get everyone off the planet anyway.”

    The day the first settlement on the surface of Telos is opened up to Telosians will be a glorious day indeed,” Mical said with a smile.


    Dantooine's gold-green sphere filled the entire front viewport of the Viridian. The ship hummed as it slid into the atmosphere, glowing around the edges. Keeping a steady, practiced hand on the steering yoke, Kionee said, “I assume you're wanting to be put down near the old Jedi Enclave, right?”

    How do you know of the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine?” Mical asked, a little startled. “I do not believe I had mentioned it before, and it was a secret Jedi enclave, not meant to be known of by the galaxy at large.”

    You forget how much I get around,” Kionee laughed, “I've had contacts in that part of the continent since I was twenty. Dantooine is a fantastic agricultural world, and Rinnh Imports wasn't going to stay away from something like that.”

    Mical laughed. “Fine, you really have gotten around the galaxy,” he admitted, “Sometimes it is easy to underestimate the breadth of your travels.”

    Malak got the enclave near the end of the last war, didn't he?” Kionee asked.

    Mical nodded, “I hate to think of how many younglings died in that attack, but Darth Malak was ruthless. In a way, I do not look forward to my first sight of the Jedi Enclave, after so many—” he caught himself and cut short.

    I guess that was just another step along the way to all of the Jedi disappearing on us,” Kionee said quietly, “More deaths. What do you hope to find there?”

    Any history or artifacts the Jedi left behind,” Mical replied, “Things that can teach us about the Jedi and preserve their knowledge for a day when they rise again.”

    Do you think any Jedi might still be hanging around there?” Kionee asked.

    Doubtful,” Mical admitted, “But I do hope that I will find some sign up them, still living. I cannot bring myself to believe that they are all dead.”

    Me neither, I guess,” Kionee replied, lessening the slope of the Viridian's descent as they neared the settlement around the ruins of the enclave. Again, her thoughts went to Ev, Juhani, Jolee, and Bastila, wanting to believe that they were all still alive, but with time, she was beginning to doubt. “The Jedi always seemed so powerful, so invincible. It was like no one could touch them. Except for the Sith.”

    Jedi are bound by the same laws of life and death as all the other sentients in the galaxy,” Mical sighed, “And in the Sith, their weaknesses were exposed to the bare bones. Had they acted more responsibly in action against the threats of these last wars, perhaps we would not now be facing an uncertain future without them. But it is useless speculating on what could have been. We have only to focus on what can be done now not to fail without them.”

    I really hope they come back,” Kionee said.

    Soon, the Viridian touched down on the single wide landing strip that sufficed as the only 'spaceport' in that remote region of Dantooine. At most, four freighters could park side-by-side, and that was only with some very carefully maneuvered landing. Thankfully, there was only one other, smaller ship landed when they arrived.

    Kionee and Mical disembarked. Kionee breathed in the warm, crisp air of the first temperate climate she had experienced in months. “Ah, it feels good to be back here again,” she murmured as she stared up at the light, fluffy clouds.

    Mical patted his satchel to make sure everything was secure then turned to Kionee, “Thank you again for your services, Kionee, and your company.”

    Any time,” Kionee insisted. “Just let me know when you're ready to leave this planet and I'll come and pick you up again. You know how to get a hold of me.”

    That I do,” Mical nodded. “Will you be returning to Telos immediately.”

    No, I don't think so,” Kionee replied, feeling momentarily lazy, “It's been a long time since I've been to Dantooine, and I haven't seen my friends here in a while. I think I'm going to drop in on the Sandrals, and see how they're doing after all this mess.”

    Mical smiled and nodded, “Then I will not keep you.”

    You can come along if you want,” Kionee offered, “I can introduce you. You might find it handy to know some folks around here with a couple spare bedrooms in their estate.”

    Mical started to protest, then laughed, “I think you may be right. Thank you, I would be glad to meet your friends.”

    Then let's get going,” she insisted. Turning back to the open loading ramp, she hollered, “Emtee, get down here! Do you want to go see the Sandrals or not?”

    Coming, coming,” Emtee's voice accompanied the clattering of his metal feet on the metal flooring, “I am coming, Mistress Kionee.”

    Mical laughed again.

    Kionee could not keep from grinning.
  21. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    But who is in the other ship?!?!?!

    Inquiring minds need to know. Also, how can this be the last time if you end on a cliffhanger?
  22. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Um... someone's Uncle Joe coming to visit? Sorry to disappoint, but that is irrelevant to the plot at this moment.

    As to cliff hangers, because I'm not a very nice writer some times. :p I do love me some cliff hangers. You won't see either of these two again until the sequel.

    There are only two KotOR II cast members I have not yet checked in on. Here's the second-to-last.


    Part 37- A Misplaced Miner

    Living in a cramped dormitory with three dozen other men on an explosive asteroid had never been on Atton Rand's list of life goals, or even in his plans, but screw-ups like him did not deserve logical or even comfortable trajectories. He was lucky to have a job at all, even if it was mining Peragus for fuel so that some idealistic reconstruction project on Telos could go on sucking out the Republic's funds while veterans like him struggled to make ends meet.

    For some of the guys on Peragus, mining was a way of life; it was their life-long career. Not for Atton. It was neither in his past, nor in his future. He was getting off this rock as soon as he could.

    While the rest of the miners poured straight out of the mines and into the dining halls like a bunch of half-starved cath hounds, Atton liked to ignore his hunger for a bit and enjoy the blissfully empty dormitory to himself. He would get his own dinner once the dining hall started to clear out and the dormitory filled up again.

    Atton sat hunched over on his top bunk. It was all the narrow space between his mattress and the ceiling above allowed him. The wonderful silence in the dormitory was something that only the most remote mining channels on Peragus ever afforded, and even then there was the pervasive clicking of the mining droids to keep you company.

    He carefully polished his blaster with a dirty shirt that needed to be washed anyway. Sure, blasters like this had no place on Peragus. They were contraband, in fact, thanks to the explosive nature of the asteroid they mined and lived in. All the same, Atton was attached to his blaster. It had been all over the galaxy with him, and he wasn't about to give it up to some weapons broker just because his new, temporary, job did not want him to have it. It stayed buried under his mattress, and it never caused anyone any trouble—besides that nasty sore spot in his back when he accidentally rolled over onto it in the middle of the night now and then.

    It really was a beautiful blaster.

    Rand, what in the hell are you doing what that thing?” his bunk mate stormed into the section of the dormitory that they shared, whispering loudly.

    Atton silently cursed himself for not being more careful or more aware of his surroundings. He instantly wrapped the blaster in his shirt, the polishing cloth. “What?” Atton asked, feigning innocence, even though he knew it was pointless, “I don't have anything. Just dirty clothes.”

    So you're mending your dirty shirt with a firearm?” Jack demanded lowly, stalking up to the bed.

    There's no blaster here, Jack,” Atton continued to insist. Men like Jack did give in eventually. Jack was no more moral than any of the other miners. He gambled as often as the rest and who knows what else. “Nothing,” he repeated, dropping the wadded shirt and weapon onto the mattress between himself and the wall.

    What are you doing with that here, I know you're new here, but—” Jack whispered hoarsely, but Atton cut him off.

    And I don't plan to stay any longer than it takes to earn enough to pay my way to another rock,” Atton interrupted, “Let's just say I can't let my old girlfriend go, even when I have to spend all this time earning my keep surrounded by nothing but a bunch of smelly men and mining droids.”

    Jack sighed and turned away. “You really won't last long if anyone finds you with that,” he muttered.

    Finds me with what? I haven't got anything to find,” Atton continued to play innocent.

    You're right, I didn't see anything,” Jack faced him again with a hard stare, “You've got nothing, and there isn't anything for me to know about.”

    Hey now, I thought we were talking about my estranged lady-friend,” Atton raised his hands defensively.

    Ha,” Jack laughed coarsely as he walked away, “Last lady-friend you had was some Hutt-slime whore on Nar Shadaa, I'd bet. I'm sure she's not waiting long for you, Rand.”

    Atton's face reddened at the insult, but he pushed it back down. This was no time to get angry, especially with a blaster on his bed. With one hand, he gingerly slid it, dirty shirt and all, back under the mattress beside him, while he forced a laugh and joked, “Hey now! Don't go trashing my girl. For a Hutt, she has a beautiful complexion!”

    Jack laughed again without looking back at Atton and flopped down onto his own lower bunk on the other side of the chamber.

    I have to get off this rock. This place is such a dead-end, it just might kill me. He heaved himself over the edge of the bed and onto the floor. It was time to get some food—and pray that Jack did not mention the blaster amid his usual sleep babble. That was the last thing Atton needed right now.


    And, with that, there is only one part left now.
  23. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Oh Atton, a more cowardly version of Han Solo (at least that's how I remember him...)

    Only one part :( :( :(
  24. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    There is something more to Atton, but yes, something like that.

    So here's the final installation of The Road to Rediscovery.


    Part 38- Rediscovered

    Thila was just as filthy and crawling with insidious life as any other major port in the outer rim. Here, anything could be bought and sold, from illicit services, to ships, to other sentients. Kreia reached out with the Force and combed the surfaces of all the minds around here. All the rumors she heard led her to this planet, and even to this very port, but she had arrived too late. The Jedi Exile had moved on. It was not long ago, however. The Exile’s presence, a wound, echoed in the Force all over the spaceport, wherever she had stepped, she left a trail. Kreia would follow that trail to its source, even if it took her all over the galaxy. In the Exile was something she desperately needed to see, to experience, to harness.

    Deep brown hood drawn over her head, Kreia's wrinkled face and white hair was lost to the shadows. Some might say an old woman had no business being in the Thila space port, but Kreia took her business where she would. Anyone who attempted to tell her otherwise, would soon be sorry for it.

    Kreia followed the echoing trail in the Force through the docks, when suddenly she felt prompted to stop. There was the Force, meddling in her every move, as it always seemed to want to do. She would humor it. She stopped abruptly and looked around, reaching out through the Force. An Aqualish mumbled something angrily at her as he had to veer his path around her. She ignored him. In the docking bay set down below the raised walkway to her left was something she did not expect to see: the Ebon Hawk.

    The old orange-striped Corellian freighter looked just as it had in all of the glorious war holos. To all knowledge, it had disappeared from known space four years ago, when Revan herself left the Republic for the unknown regions. That fact was not widely know, but Kreia made it her business to keep tabs on the Jedi, especially one who had once been her padawan.

    And here was Revan's ship, on the remote spaceport of Thila. Revan was nowhere near by, not even in the system. Kreia did not have to look or inquire at the ship to know that. Revan's presence was so strong in the Force, that even if Kreia had not known her as a padawan, she would have shone out like a beacon among all of the dull, normal life forces that dimly glowed around her.

    This begged the questions: just how did Revan's ship come to come here without her? What was it doing here? And, did anyone else here know the true value of the ship?

    Kreia descended the durasteel stairs into the docking bay and approached the ship. There was a green-skinned Mirialan man under the ship, examining its underbelly.

    You there,” Kreia called sharply, “Are you the owner of this ship?”

    Owner and pilot. Avet Kandis at your service,” the man answered proudly and walked out towards here, “Who wants to know, old woman?”

    Kreia did not answer. He would not get her name unless she wanted to give it to him. “If I am not mistaken,” she observed keenly, “This ship is the freighter known as the Ebon Hawk.

    For an old lady, you sure know a lot about ships,” he replied, both impressed and wary.

    I knew one of its previous owners, as it happens,” Kreia replied crisply. Let him stew on that.

    Hey now,” Avet said defensively, “I got this ship fair and square. It's mine now, no matter who flew it before.” Deceit rolled off of him in waves

    Is that so?” Kreia asked, taking a step towards him. The lean Mirialan held his ground, but he gave no further explanation. If he would give none, she would take it from him. Kreia extended her hand towards him and found his mind with the Force. She slipped in. Finding her answer was easy. Avet was thinking hard on precisely the event that he was determined not to tell her about. She shuffled through his thoughts, forcing him to think about earlier events that led up to his ownership of the Ebon Hawk.

    What's—ah!” Avet moaned and grabbed at his head with both hands.

    Kreia's lips parted in a thin smile.

    Nice ship there, don't you say?” Avet observed to Kepsii, his friend and business partner.

    And it's been there at the refueling station for over an hour,” Kepsii observed. No one has come on or off it, just that little droid busy making sure it’s fueled. Who lets their astromech do all their maintenance for them anyway?”

    I haven't even seen anyone in the cockpit either,” Avet added. “I think we have an abandoned ship here.”

    Kepsii grinned at him. “Shall we take a look around?” she suggested, “We've been stranded on Barseg for long enough. And it's such a shame for such a nice looking ship to waste around like that.”

    I like the way you think. You ready to leave this rock, now?” Avet asked. With this chance before them, they couldn't waste time to go back to their shoddy apartment for anything. It was now or never.

    Let's get out of here Avet,” Kepsii replied, grinning even more broadly, “It's time was got ourselves a ship.”

    So the pair of Mirialans walked right onto the Ebon Hawk and took it for themselves. Only the little astromech droid gave them any trouble. An ion blast and a restraining bolt took care of that quickly enough. Now the two of them were parading around the other rim with it, pretending that it was theirs, all the while watching their back for any owners who might come back to claim it.

    Kreia pulled out of his mind and observed, “So it's finders keepers, is it now?”

    I don't know how you...” Avet panted.

    Oh, there are many more terrible things that one can do with the Force,” Kreia cooed dangerously under her breath, “I now have the information I wanted to know, and I was able to spare your lips the trouble of speaking it.”

    You're, you're one of those Jedi!” Avet exclaimed with a shaky finger pointed at her warningly.

    No,” Kreia said, “You would not have to fear a Jedi.”

    What do you want?” the man blubbered.

    I have a place I need to go, a person I need to find,” Kreia said, “And I want to go there aboard the Ebon Hawk.

    We don't take passengers,” Avet said warningly, “Especially not crazy old—”

    Either you will take me there, fool,” Kreia snapped sharply at a dangerous whisper, “Or I will take myself there and leave you dry on these docks. Do I make myself clear?”

    Yes, yes,” he stammered, “Very clear. When do you want to go?”

    Now,” Kreia replied shortly, “The trail to my quarry is growing staler by the minute.”

    I will just call Kepsii, she's out getting supplies,” Avet stuttered.

    You do that,” Kreia said smoothly, “And I will be aboard, waiting for you to return.”

    You can't think me that stupid, to let a total stranger aboard my ship while I am out,” Avet pointed out, irritated.

    Then you should pray that I am still feeling generous,” Kreia threatened, “Get your friend. I will wait for you.” She nudged his mind again, planting the suggestion firmly within his consciousness.

    I will go get my friend,” he said, shooting her one last distrustful look, he dashed off.

    Kreia smirked beneath the shadows of her hood and slowly ascended the loading ramp into the Ebon Hawk. There would be much to learn aboard this ship. Where had Revan gone and why did she not have her ship with her anymore? Because she did not need it any more. That much was clear. The real question was: why? Revan did nothing without careful calculation.

    A small silver astromech scooted into the chamber at the sound of her footsteps. Revan's droid too, no doubt. It tilted its head piece side to side and regarded her with a curious, “Dwooo?” This droid alone could have invaluable information in its memory banks, if the two Mirialans had not been stupid enough to wipe its memory already.

    A second, orange plated astromech of the same shape scooted into behind the first and fired off two inquisitive beeps at her as well. She ignored them both.

    Before she investigated the droids or even the mysteries of the Ebon Hawk, she had more pressing things to discover. Where had the Jedi Exile gone? Now that she had a ship, she needed direction. Kreia sat down on the cold, metal flooring of the ship and began to meditate. She could sense that the Exile was still nearby, in the relative galactic neighborhood. The Force might have used her to reclaim this ship, but now she would use the Force to direct that ship to her goal. “Where are you, Exile?” she whispered into the Force, and, across the vastness of space, the Force gave her an answer.
  25. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008

    I've loved this piece since the beginning and I'm so glad it's complete and that there is STILL more to come in this universe! Congratulations!