Before Up To Our Neks (c. 487 BBY; OCs, Yoda; concluded 3/26)

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  1. CelseteAntola TF.N Books Staff

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    May 18, 2002
    star 3
    Nice little filler post! I'm looking forward to hearing about Donal's third Master! :D

    ~Celeste
  2. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
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    Chapter 17: 487 BBY: Perlemian Trade Route, outbound from Coruscant:
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    Tiegan watched as Master Donal finished checking the autopilot, then nodded and turned to Tiegan with his funny half-smile. "You remember that Chaar gave me a datachip on Vorpa'ya when he told me he was my uncle?" Master Donal asked.

    "Yeah ... did it have a com-code?" Tiegan asked. He remembered that Mr. Varnas had given Master Donal a datapad that showed their genetic links as uncle and nephew, so the datachip probably had something different, Tiegan figured.

    Master Donal laughed a little and said, "Got it in one. Chaar really had meant that if I ever got tired of the jetiise thing, I could come home. He never quite approved of the Jedi ... part of our family's history."

    He took something out of his tunic - a greenish crystal on a chain - and plugged it into a dataport on the ship's control "dash," while Tiegan watched. After a second, the holoprojector showed an image of several people, including a few wearing Mandalorian armor without helmets.

    "This is an abbreviated family tree. Mom gave it to me when I met her ... I'll tell you that story in a minute. There's Dierna and I, at the far left," Master Donal said, pointing to a miniature image of him in his full Jedi robes, standing beside Lady Dierna.

    Next to them was a younger-looking image of Master Donal's mother, Redona, and a blond man in Jedi robes who Tiegan didn't know at first. But Tiegan squinted at him, then looked at Master Donal, and asked, "That's Master Marnis - your father, right? You kind of look like him, but you look more like your mother."

    Master Donal grinned again and said, "Yeah ... Mom and I have a lot in common. Dad's contribution is more subtle, mostly in my midi-chlorian levels and quirky charm. Dad could channel that charm into something useful, which is what made him a decent negotiator ... when he wasn't arguing with giant bears."

    Master Donal sounded - and felt, through the Force - sad and mad at the same time when he talked about Master Marnis, and Tiegan wasn't sure what to say. He finally asked, "Was ... what was Master Marnis like? I know you only had one mission with him, and ... you told me how it ended. And that he was ... reckless."

    Tiegan watched as Master Donal's smile twisted again, but this time, Master Donal didn't feel mad. He was just sad, but also kind of happy, and he thought for a minute before he spoke.

    "It took me a long time to understand what I told Tharmag when we caught Al'rev: Torman Marnis was human, as well as a Jedi," Master Donal said, still thinking.

    "Riedis Gilt - Proctor Gilt for Borrat Clan, and my dad's Jedi Master - pulled no punches telling me what Marnis was like ... and that convinced me to call Chaar. Both because I wanted to know my birth parents, but also because I was in a typical snit ..."

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    496 BBY: Offices of Proctor Riedis Gilt, Jedi Temple, Coruscant:
    ***********************************************************************************************

    Donal blinked - had Master Yoda just said ... !?

    "Master Marnis ... was ... my father? Masters - I - was that why he wanted to be my Jedi Master?" Donal asked, trying to understand just what Master Yoda and Master Gilt were telling him.

    Master Yoda nodded, sad and serious in the Force. "Averted a crisis, your father did, by bringing you to us when you were born. Your bloodline, strong with Mandalorian history, it is. Your mother, Redona, the descendant of Canderous Ordo, she is. Carries the mask of Mandalore the Preserver, Clan Varnas does," the ancient little Master said.

    He sighed deeply and said, "If stayed you had on Vorpa'ya, grown up a Mandalorian, likely it was that you would be a rallying point for a new Mandalorian crusade. A Force-stro
  3. CelseteAntola TF.N Books Staff

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    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 3
    Poor Donal's got such a complex past! But it's so addictingly good!!! :D

    Great update!!

    ~Celeste
  4. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Author's Note: I just want to thank everyone who nominated Up To Our Neks for the Before the Saga Awards for 2010. :D I really appreciate all the noms, and everyone for reading. :)[face_dancing]

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    Chapter 18: 487 BBY: Outbound on the Perlemian Trade Route, headed to Desevro:
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    "Master Donal? I've been reading up on Mandalorian armor colors, and what they mean ... your mother's armor is all gold, right?" Tiegan asked, trying to keep the fear out of his voice - Mrs. Varnas had been nice to him, but if her armor meant what he thought it meant ...

    Master Donal sighed, smiled, and nodded at Tiegan. "Gold for vengeance. That's Mom, all right. The people she loves, she'd die for. The people she hates ... usually end up dead. She's very good at what she does," Master Donal said, shaking his head.

    Tiegan gulped, figuring he'd better just ask ... "She wants to kill Master Gilt?"

    Master Donal looked over at Tiegan and shrugged. "Once, she did. If circumstances came around that they fought again, she might even make a go of it. But it's died down, now - Mom just kills dark-siders when they pop up, and snarks at traditional Jedi a lot. Not that that's really a healthier coping mechanism either, but I suppose it beats sitting at Chaar's and getting drunk a couple times a week," he said, trying to laugh at the end.

    Master Donal smiled, then, and said, "Mom likes you, and Taeryn and Kelnam. She's not so much anti-Jedi as she's trying to deal with her loss. And her choices."

    Mrs. Varnas is still hurt, Tiegan thought sadly. He wished there was something he could do to help Mrs. Varnas, and he looked at Master Donal as his Master checked the controls again.

    Even if he drinks ... too much ... Master Donal seems better off than Mrs. Varnas, Tiegan thought, wondering what'd made the difference.

    Master Donal looked at Tiegan like he knew what Tiegan was thinking, and chuckled a little. "Mom'd appreciate your concern, Tieg. But don't feel too sorry for her. She's not perfect - nobody is."

    "Shab, I learned that the hard way when I really got to talking with her ..."

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    496 BBY: Vorpa'ya, Mandalore Sector:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Oya, Redona! Who's this jetiise you brought in, a bounty?!" Donal heard as he and his mother walked into a dimly-lit cantina just off of the Vorpa'ya spaceport's grounds.

    Maybe the robes were a bad idea ... Donal worried, looking around - everyone else he'd seen, even the children, were wearing armor of some kind. He stuck out like a sore thumb, but Mother - Buir - shook her head and frowned at the Rodian bartender who'd spoken.

    "Stand down, Vordi. This is my ade - anyone who's got a problem with my son has a problem with me. Understood?" Buir said, loud enough for the whole bar to hear.

    Donal tried not to blush, and thanked his mother for not calling him a kid. I guess, even Jedi or Mandalorian, I'm still a teenager ... he thought, as they found a booth to sit in.

    Mother - Mom, Donal thought, happy and still a little overwhelmed at finding her so quickly - smiled at Donal, then said, "You'd be an adult in Mandalorian society. Chaar told me about your fighting those Reau hut'uune, so I guess that'd suffice for a verd'goten. Thanks for saving your uncle, by the way."

    "Sure. Chaar's a good guy. A little rough, but Jedi are probably soft, by the Mando way of thinking," Donal figured, as Mom waived a waitress over.

    Mom laughed out loud and said, "You're more Mando than you probably think, Don'ika. But I'll let you order your own drinks. Don't want you overdoing the tihaar on your f
  5. HelloKelly Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2009
    star 3
    Wow, the story just gets more entrancing as it goes on!

    I want to hear more about Donal's past! Especially about his Parents!

    Keep it up!

  6. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
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    Chapter 19: 487 BBY: Dreshdae, Korriban, Stygian Caldera:
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    The rather plain shuttle came in for a swift landing at the worn, weather-scarred platform. Like much of the rest of the graveyard world of the Sith, the unofficial "capitol" of Korriban was showing unnatural age, although Czerka still maintained Dreshdae as an outpost for explorers of the Stygian Caldera.

    And, unofficially, such a distant, feared world makes for an excellent transaction point for less-than-legitimate matters ... ironic that I'm here on an ostensibily legal errand, Istlan D'arsan thought, thanking his reliable (and human) manservant and pilot Fraak before leaving the shuttle with two hefty labor droids.

    The sudden, scratchy feeling of dark-side energies rubbed against Istlan's mind as he left the shuttle - an unpleasant, but too-familiar, sensation he'd learned to identify while on his exile from Desevro. He'd explored some of the other worlds of the Caldera, attempting through trial and error to hone his Force sensitivity into real strength. And those explorations also had led him to discover the vicious tuk'atas his smuggling ring now sent to fighting pits across the galaxy.

    Trial and error indeed ... the younger D'arsan heir thought, a brief flicker of honest remorse bubbling up from deep inside him as he remembered ...

    Focus, Istlan. Weakness here would be as deadly a mistake as if you'd been foolish enough to visit the Valley of the Dark Lords.

    He nodded - never bowed, not to an actual Hutt Hutt - as Smarma Tillio Besadii, offspring of Istlan's Coruscant contact Smorgasborga the Hutt, slithered out of the shadows of a nondescript warehouse, a large machine behind him. The device was guarded by several lethal-looking nonhuman guards - Niktos, mostly, Istlan remembered with distaste.

    In fluent Huttese (the words practically burning his tongue) Istlan said, "Greetings, mighty Smarma. My thanks for procuring the device so quickly."

    The rather runty Hutt - at 100 standard years, still young by the unholy conquering species' standards - chuckled, the Hutt version of a tenor as opposed to Smorgasborga's dangerous bass rumble. "You'd better be thankful, D'arsan. My father's not pleased that you've suspended the tuk'ata shipments. We told you using Al'rev as a go-between would be risky. He's always been unreliable," Smarma complained.

    Istlan bit back a particularly scathing comment and just shrugged, handing a bag full of gold coins to Smarma's Nimbanese aide. "With this device, my plan to put an end to the current crisis will take a large step forward, Smarma. Your efforts - and your patience - are appreciated," Istlan said.

    Smarma harrumphed, but nodded as the labor droids took the geological compressor and the repulsorlift pallet it was on back toward Istlan's ship. "We can afford to be patient, Istlan. We are Hutts, after all. But even my father's patience has its limits ... he's only given you this long to restart the network of tuk'ata shipments because of how regular you've been with your payments. Whatever you need this compressor for had better make this problem go away soon," Smarma warned, slithering off with his retinue.

    Sooner than you or my brother-in-law might think, Istlan thought, grinning wickedly for a second.

    Istlan turned to go, but sensed a note of bemused malice from Smarma, and turned on his heel to ask the Hutt, "The compressor WILL work, yes? I'd hate to have to complain to your father that you tampered with it just over a delayed shipment."

    Smarma's eyes narrowed as he rumbled in an offended tone, "Don't accuse ME of double-dealing, Desevran. That device is practically new, and it was diverted from profitable operations where it likely be put to better use."

    He smiled in a disturbing manner and added, "If you don't get this matter ta
  7. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Author's Note: Much of the Desevro setting information, including Jigani Port, the Swamplands, and even the D'Arsan name, comes from the SW roleplaying game supplement Geonosis and the Outer Rim Territories. Credit where credit's due ... [face_peace]

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    Chapter 20: 487 BBY: Perlemian Trade Route, approaching Desevro:
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    Tiegan looked at Master Donal, surprised all over again, and asked, "You ... couldn't save Master Fooz because you were getting married?"

    Master Donal smiled sadly, and said, "His orders - 'Finish the mission.' I had to seal the treaty we'd negotiated. Didn't hurt that I'd honestly fallen for Dierna - we DEFINED 'whirlwind romance' - but I could sense Qorvis' ... passing ... through the Force."

    He felt angry, then, and kind of smiled - more like gritting his teeth - when he said, "I ... wasn't very Jedi at the reception when I took care of Istlan for butting in. I'm not proud of what happened ... well, OK, smacking down Istlan was satisfying. But it shouldn't be any surprise that I started visiting Chaar's bar after I got back from Desevro."

    Tiegan nodded, feeling sad for Master Donal. The Force isn't really fair, Tiegan thought.

    He was surprised for a second that he'd thought that, but listening to Master Donal ... it kind of made sense. The Force hadn't answered all of Master Donal's issues. Being a Jedi had even kind of made things harder for him.

    "Master ... do you ever wish you hadn't stayed a Jedi?" Tiegan asked while Master Donal checked the systems.

    Master Donal shrugged. "There are days, sure. I could walk away, yet - I won't, though, not now that I've got a Padawan. Someone's got to teach you," he said, grinning at Tiegan for a moment.

    He got more serious, then said, "I could walk away, sure. I'm the Lord of House D'arsan, after all - by Desevran law, they have to accept me if I really get serious about the position and settle down with Dierna on Desevro. Or Clan Ordo would fall all over themselves if I were to go back to Vorpa'ya and take up Canderous' mask. But I'd be abandoning my Jedi responsibilities - and more importantly, the people I could've helped by staying a Jedi - for other responsibilities."

    "You have to look out for your friends and family, and help people," Tiegan agreed, remembering a time ...

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    489 BBY: Jedi Temple Maintenance Level, Coruscant:
    ---------------------------------------------------

    Tiegan knew this was a bad idea - he didn't know hardly anything about machinery, and Celdir had been so dumb to accept that dare from Yorkov ...

    Who listens to Aqualish, anyway?! Tiegan thought, feeling guilty for thinking that way. It wasn't very Jedi ... but then, neither was sneaking into the waste disposal control room just to say you had.

    I'm 9, and even I know THAT much, Tiegan thought, following Celdir's Force-trail. The other boy was good at hiding his Force signature, but they'd grown up together in Borrat Clan, and Celdir was a friend.

    That was when Tiegan sensed someone else in the Force, and he looked behind him as he reached the door to the control room - he nodded, as Ridi - Ridinia Basever, a human girl from Borrat Clan and another friend of his - caught up with him. "Sorry I took so long," she said, but Tiegan just smiled.

    "It's a long way down here. Celdir must've started down a few minutes before we did, and he didn't take the turbolifts," Tiegan said, concentrating on the keypad for the door. He could punch buttons at random, but that might set off an alarm ... but Celdir's trail went past the door.

    "Let me try. I'm part-Kiffar, Master Gilt said. Only reason he told me was 'cause I'm good at reading Force signatures. He thinks I could be psychometric someday if I study hard," Ridi said, shaking her bro
  8. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Author's Note: Catching up ... again ... [face_blush]

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    Chapter 21: 487 BBY, D'arsanCorp warehouse, Maslovar, Desevro:
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    "Sir ... are you sure you want to do this alone?" Fraak asked, watching as Istlan loaded a pile of carbon chips into the geological compressor and started its cycle.

    Istlan smiled at his loyal servant and clapped the taller man on the shoulder. "I have to, Fraak. The meditation required is critical to making sure the crystal turns out properly, and that'll take a standard day. Isolation is key, here, which is why you'll serve me better making sure I'm not disturbed," he said.

    Fraak nodded, and Istlan knew he could count on his bodyguard to make sure things went properly. Dierna is correct in that, at least - good help is hard to find ...

    Istlan sat cross-legged, then, and started to concentrate, focusing on the material inside the compressor - making sure that the lightsaber crystal he was forging wouldn't be red in color. The last thing he needed was for that idiot Donal to accuse him of being Sith.

    But if the blade has the other usual characteristic of being from a super-compressed crystal - being harder to block in a duel - then so be it ...

    It would be just another incident where Istlan had outmaneuvered his accursed brother-in-law, and he smiled viciously as he savored the irony of who had killed Jedi Master Qorvis Fooz ... and that Donal had no hard evidence to prove it.

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    Perlemian Trade Route: Approaching Desevran space:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ah, my wedding. What a day ...

    Donal shook his head, remembering how fast everything had come together, while Tiegan concentrated on studying his datapad's upload about Desevro. The boy looked over at Donal and said, "Master Donal, could ... could I ask you about your wedding?"

    "I'd meant to tell you sooner than later, Tiegan. Just ... a lot involved in something so simple. We put it together pretty fast, to keep from giving Dierna's political enemies an edge. I definitely broke a few rules comming Mom and Kel with invites to the wedding," Donal said, smiling a little at the end.

    He smirked, remembering who else had shown up, and said, "The ceremony was the simplest part ... the reception was crazy, though."

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    494 BBY: D'Arsan Mansion, Maslovar, Desevro:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "DONAL MILTHIAD, WHAT THE OSIK HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOURSELF INTO!?"

    "Ah. Hey, Buir - Master Qorvis Fooz, my mother, Redona Varnas. Mom, Master Qorvis Fooz," Donal tried to joke while a tailor droid double-checked his measurements and his mother stomped into the private suite of rooms he'd been assigned.

    Mom nodded at Master Qorvis, and Donal was relieved she was polite when she said, "Master Jedi. Good to see the Council's sent someone who'll ruffle some Desevran feathers. Donal speaks highly of you."

    "Ma'am. Your son is a credit to the Order and the Mando'ade alike. Although I too am questioning just how he managed to get himself into this situation ..." Master Qorvis said, shrugging and smiling helplessly while Mom crossed her arms and looked at Donal.

    "Measurements complete, Master," the tailor droid said, a little nervous, and Donal dismissed the droid with a kind word before turning to face his mother - he'd expected something like this ...

    "What I've 'gotten myself into,' Mom and Master, is an opportunity we can't let slip through our fingers. Not to mention that I'm trying to prevent m
  9. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Author's Note: A quick update ... and a bit more backstory ... [face_thinking]

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    Interlude: 487 BBY: Vorpa'yan Sunset, YT-400 class freighter, headed Rimward along the Perlemian Trade Route near Castell:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Redona checked her blasters' power packs as her pilot droid updated her on their progress. The hyperdrive was, predictably, being "persnickety," as the mechanic on Coruscant had warned her, so they were already at least a day behind her "targets."

    I suppose I should trust Donal to know what he and Tiegan are headed into ... but a bounty's a bounty. And since Dierna hired me to take down her brother ... Redona figured.

    She chuckled at her own twisting of the facts. She was getting as irresponsible about creatively interpreting facts as Torman ever had ...

    I still miss you, you great, overgrown twit. No surprise there ... Redona thought, taking Torman's lightsaber from her belt and examining the pits and dings from the acid it'd been washed in.

    Redona hadn't wanted to believe that a giant bear had managed to get the better of Torman Marnis. So, after Donal had told her what'd happened, she'd gone to Kerensik to learn what she thought the truth really was.

    I should've trusted my son. Donal's not one to kark around when things are so terrible ...

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    496 BBY, Kerensik, Southern Core Regions:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Redona knew her armor was weather-proofed - if it was vacuum-rated, it'd handle even Kerensik's nasty weather - but she was more concerned about the greeting she'd get from the locals. The ursinoid Botori had been at peace for a few years with the human Dauferim, but it was always touch and go - and Redona knew how sensitive her request was.

    A human woman asking to walk on sacred ground to recover an item that the Botoris' sacred "guardian" ate ... yeah, this'll go over well, Redona thought, waiting outside the cave she'd been directed to stop at before she headed any further into Botori territory.

    She arched an eyebrow, glad she was wearing her buy'ce to hide her surprise, when a fur-wearing, tall Botori holding a staff walked out, flanked by a few warriors and a youth. Redona bowed, then removed her helmet - trying not to shiver at a fresh gust of wind - to let her hosts see her face.

    The one with the staff narrowed his eyes, then widened them, and barked - in a language Redona somehow understood - "Lower your weapons. She is related to Donal. I can see it in her features and her life-glow."

    "You know my son?" Redona asked, unable to totally hide her surprise. Some of the Botori made what could've been laughs for their species - they sounded more like coughs - but the Botori with the staff just nodded.

    These must've been the Botori who watched over Donal for a year ... after Torman's death. That makes this one ... Redona realized, her heart torn.

    "I am Grorworr, the shaman of this tribe. Donal was my foster-son while he stayed with us. And ... I am the one who summoned the Great Watcher. I am sorry for your mate's death; Torman Marnis tried to stand for peace," the Botori said, and Redona bit the inside of her cheek while she nodded.

    I owe you my son's life and my husband's death ...

    But Redona knew which debt Torman would ask her to hold in higher esteem. And it wasn't the Botoris' fault that Torman had been arrogant enough to walk onto their lands, then smack their 'god' with a lightsaber, and expect to walk away. It still hurt to admit that Torman had been responsible for his own death ...

    And that made Redona's heart clench, while tears flowed down her face and threatened to freeze.

    She wiped them quickly, then said, "Thank you for helping Donal. I have a request ...
  10. CelseteAntola TF.N Books Staff

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    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 3
  11. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    A/N: WAY overdue update ... my sincere apology to all of my readers. [face_blush]

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    Chapter 22: 487 BBY: Maslovar, Desevro, Tion Hegemony, Outer Rim Territories, Galactic North-Northeast:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wow. It's like Master Tierlax told us about double star systems in astronomy class - the light's all funny, Tiegan thought, trying not to squint while he and Master Donal left their shuttle.

    Jigani Port was as old and strange-looking as Tiegan had read, with the landing pads held up by kind of thin, tall platforms, and rope bridges connecting them. Tiegan hefted his duffle bag, which had a few changes of clothing Lady Dierna's servants had given him, along with his Jedi robes.

    Maybe I should've hidden my braid, Tiegan wondered, watching as four red-and-blue-uniformed guards met Master Donal at the stairs down from their shuttle's landing pad. He shook his head - the Desevrans already knew Master Donal was a Jedi, and neither he nor Tiegan had hidden their lightsabers.

    "Tiegan? C'mon - we've got to stop in at the Concourse, do the whole 'pay our respects to the Bureaugarchy' thing," Master Donal called, carrying his own duffle. Tiegan kept up with him, nodding at the D'arsan guards while they looked at him, a little surprised.

    "My apologies, Lord Donal, but shouldn't your squire be carrying your bag also?" one of the guards, who seemed kind of gruff and whose moustache looked waxed, grumbled.

    "My Padawan is more than a servant, Hajrak. I'm not going to overburden him when I can take care of myself. I expect you'll give Tiegan proper respect?" Master Donal asked, and Tiegan tried not to blush - he didn't want to cause trouble.

    But it's nice of Master Donal not to be bossy to me, either, Tiegan thought, while the guard, Hajrak, harrumphed. The other guards smiled a little, though, so Tiegan didn't feel too worried.

    "As you command, M'Lord. As per your request before you left ... Coruscant ... we tracked Lord Istlan's arrival. His last known location was at one of our manufacturing stations out in the Outer Wash," Hajrak said, frowning while they reached the repulsor-limo waiting for them.

    That's way out in the Swamplands, Tiegan remembered from his studies of Desevro, thanking another of the guards who helped him put his duffle bag in the trunk. Master Donal felt distracted in the Force, so Tiegan took his duffle from him and put it in the trunk as his Master concentrated.

    Maybe he's trying to find Istlan? Tiegan wondered. He opened himself to the Force, but almost fell over at all the different sensations that hit him - there was a LOT of life here, which was good, but a lot of noise and feeling and anger. And something deeper ... that felt old.

    It was hard to focus, until Master Donal's Force-signature wrapped around Tiegan's and helped him focus. "Easy, pal. Desevro's not a place you want to just dive into the Force-presence of," Master Donal said, as they got into the repulsor-limo.

    "Thanks, Master. I'm sorry I'm not being much help," Tiegan said, feeling a little useless. Master Donal shook his head, though, and smiled with aayhan again while the guards got into the limo's forward compartment.

    "No worries, Tieg. Istlan's a sneaky murglak. I'm not surprised he's hiding. Fortunately, I have Dierna's spynet to turn to, so we can let it do its work while you and I work on some finer techniques - both Jedi, and not so Jedi," Master Donal said, grinning a little.

    Tiegan tried to smile, but he didn't feel all that safe. "Master Donal ... are the Desevrans upset with us? I mean, you're Lord D'arsan, but we're not really hiding that we're Jedi, even with our clothes being fancy," he asked.

    Master Donal shrugged, while the repulsor-limo got going, and nodded. "The D'arsan retainers will do what I expect of them. Istlan's local, but he's als
  12. SHADOW_MASTER_W Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 11, 2005
    star 1
    Hmmmmm yes.....

    Very interested to see what Donal will be facing in his brother law's new found power....

    Excellent story as always!
  13. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Author's Note: An update ... been busy with other 'fic and RL. [face_blush]

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    Chapter 23: 487 BBY: Maslovar, Desevro:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That lunatic Istlan better not be doing what I think he's doing ...

    Donal tried to relax; he'd begged off speaking directly to the Bureaugarchy, citing clan feuding as the reason. Fortunately, the other Lords of the Houses had understood - blood feud was a legitimate, even weirdly-respected, reason for not tending to politics.

    But if Istlan is going all out with this - if he's seriously built a full lightsaber using techniques attributed to the Sith - does it mean ... ? Nah. Istlan's a punk, but he's too vain to get all blotchy and grey and wrinkly from dark side overuse, Donal figured, sitting cross-legged on the bed of the room he'd taken at the D'Arsan-owned hotel he and Tiegan had ducked into.

    As Lord of House D'Arsan, Donal had every right to go directly to the D'Arsan mansion, demand every luxury, and just wait for Istlan to show up. And once upon a time - before four dead Jedi Masters and half a decade of work as something between a Jedi Sentinel and a Jedi Consular had made Donal both cunning and slightly paranoid - he might've walked into what could easily be a trap.

    I'll just make sure Istlan's been properly stomped first. Then I can relax, show Tiegan the better parts of Desevran culture ... check on the latest vintage at the mansion ...

    Donal chuckled, trying to sink into a deeper meditation and lock onto Istlan's Force signature. Amateur dark Jedi he might be, but Istlan had evidenced an annoying ability to mask his Force presence - one that still nagged at Donal's confidence that this was "just" a matter of Istlan being a sore loser.

    Now, stop thinking he's gone Sith. Seriously, there are plenty of half-trained anti-Jedi fanatics with red lightsabers out there - Ruusan fried the Sith for good. Well, so everyone thinks. Besides, if anyone was a candidate for Sithliness as far as the Council was concerned in recent years ... heh, well, look in a mirror, Donal reminded himself.

    Aayhan filled him again, as his mind drifted back seven years ... to the aftermath of Qorvis Fooz's death, and Donal's marriage to Dierna.

    Yeah. Sith was definitely the topic of discussion that day ...

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    494 BBY: Jedi High Council Chamber, Jedi Temple, Coruscant:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "You WHAT!?"

    Well, and a "Congratulations on the new spouse" to you, too ... Donal thought, trying not to snap. He couldn't help but find irony in the look that Jai-Badi-Komo, a Cerean female Master on the Council, gave him when he came to the stickier part of his report about what had happened on Desevro.

    "Master Komo, calm you must remain. The wedding, the Council knew of - agreed with, only with great reluctance, yes. But necessary, the union was," Master Yoda kindly pointed out, while Grand Master O'Val gestured for silence.

    The other Council members calmed down, and the Caamasi nodded at Donal. "Continue, Padawan," O'Val said, and Donal thanked him before trying to find his place again.

    Qorvis' calm resignation at his own death haunted Donal again, and Donal took a deep breath before saying, "Master Qorvis ... he had his concerns, also, about my decision, Masters. But I did ask the Force for guidance, and given the intelligence assets that Dierna - ah, Lady D'Arsan, has access to, it seemed the wisest course of action in the short time we had."

    "Hmph. You're equivocating, young Milthiad," Umlaw Wawral, the grouchy Ithorian biology expert on the Council, rumbled. "I am attuned to the Liv
  14. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 24: 487 BBY, Maslovar, Desevro, Tion Hegemony, Outer Rim Territories:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ah, Umlaw, you old grouch ...

    Donal chuckled a bit, shaking his head as he remembered his fourth and final Jedi Master's grumbled threats, and looked at Tiegan with a wry smile. "Umlaw Wawral was a classic Ithorian - dedicated to life, the pursuit of knowledge, and healing. But unlike a lot of Ithorians, he wasn't easy to get along with," Donal said.

    "Some Jedi Masters are like that - not you, Master Donal, but -" Tiegan said, wincing until Donal laughed kindly.

    "No, it's OK. I know the kind. Gilt's the classic example in our generation - you get the more traditionalist, emotionally locked-down Masters, and they're not easy to relate to. Umlaw was like that, so focused on the ideals of the Order that he didn't live as much in the moment as he could - nor was he that great at understanding non-Force-sensitives," Donal said, shaking his head at the end.

    "It was ironic, because if there was ever someone who had a mastery of the Living Force, it was Umlaw ..."

    ******************************************************************************************
    494 BBY: Botanical Research Gardens, Jedi Temple, Coruscant:
    ******************************************************************************************

    The first thing Donal sensed, besides the blaze of plant life and some animal life in the Force, was the scent of plants - some fragrant, some stinky, and some just being plants.

    Well, DUH, Don. It is a greenhouse, Donal reminded himself, finding his new Master's Force-signature with relative ease. Umlaw Wawral stood in the heart of the greenhouse, the Force flowing through and from him as he tended to a tall tree, and Donal stopped at the edge of the clearing to bow.

    To Donal's surprise, Master Umlaw said - in a kind voice - "Welcome, Padawan. I don't think you've been here for years, am I correct? Probably on one of the creche tours of the greenhouse, to familiarize yourself with plant life?"

    "That's right, Master Umlaw. I don't suppose many Jedi outside of the Agricorps or researchers like yourself visit here often," Donal said, trying to figure out why the Ithorian was being so polite. During the Council meeting, it'd been Umlaw who'd accused Donal of being a Sith agent.

    Master Umlaw's already-bent neck twisted, allowing him to peer around the tree directly at Donal. "We all have our blinders, Milthiad. We get so busy in our own little specialities - even though as Jedi, we're expected to be good at everything - that we fail to look at the greater picture of the Force. Thus, I owe you an apology. When I spoke before at the Council's review of your ... mission ... to Desevro, I hadn't thoroughly considered your situation. I'm sorry I judged you so quickly," he said, his two mouths creating the echo effect most beings associated with Ithorians.

    "I ... thanks, Master," Donal said, meaning it. He felt a bit of relief - he hadn't been looking forward to an apprenticeship to a grouch ...

    Umlaw's eyes narrowed, and Donal winced at a flicker of aggravation from the Ithorian. "That said, I'll not pretend that I'm pleased at your situation. Your marriage to this Desevran noblewoman might have been 'necessary,' but Jedi should neither have attachments, nor should we overrely on non-Force-based information. I'll heed Grand Master O'val's decision - and the necessities of the arrangement you have with Lady D'Arsan - but I want things to be clear between us," he said.

    "I ... understand, Master," Donal said, keeping his own feelings in check. Umlaw
    did have a point, but Donal didn't agree with all of it - after all, he'd been the result of a Jedi's marriage to a non-Force-sensitive.

    Umlaw chuckled a little, then, but not cruelly, and nodded for Donal to sit on a bench while the Jedi Master fin
  15. HelloKelly Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2009
    star 3
    Wow. That was really good! Somehow I wasn't expecting that.

    KIU!
  16. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    A/N: FINALLY getting back to this ... [face_blush]

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 25: 487 BBY: Maslovar, Desevro, Tion Hegemony, Outer Rim Territories:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tiegan tried to concentrate on what Master Donal was saying, instead of feeling frustrated about what Knight Vah'lis had said. He knew that the Knights were just trying to look out for him, even if Tiegan didn't think he needed to be protected anymore.

    Don't be whiny - Master Donal doesn't have to tell you all this stuff. He's trying to teach you, Tiegan reminded himself as Master Donal started talking about his fourth and last Jedi Master - Umlaw Wawral.

    "I've only actually been a Knight for about five years. Dierna teased me a little the night you and I met, about how I wasn't a Knight - she really meant that I wasn't exactly 'chivalrous,' which she already knew," Master Donal tried to joke.

    He sighed, feeling sad again, and mumbled, "Force knows there's been enough moments like that ... the mission where I earned my Knighthood being one of them. That was where Umlaw was killed, too."

    "What happened, Master?" Tiegan asked, hoping maybe things'd be better if Master Donal talked about them. It seemed to help, anyway.

    Master Donal smiled his aayhan smile again and said, "It was Tatooine. Arguably the farthest spot in the galaxy from the bright center of the Core, or at least it feels like it. Imagine a desert - dry, dusty, gritty, leaches the moisture out of you. Spend enough time there, you age prematurely. Last place in the galaxy you'd think Hutts would find a use for, right?"

    "I'd guess so ... but if it was far enough away from the Core, and close enough to Hutt Space, maybe it could be a site for illegal stuff?" Tiegan wondered, trying to think things through.

    Master Donal grinned, and he nodded at Tiegan as he said, "Keep using your head, kid. Yeah, Tatooine's definitely a black marketeer's playground - plenty of spice trading, sometimes worse. And then there's the podracing circuit ..."

    He frowned, looking off into the distance like he did when he was remembering something, and he added, "Yeah. Podracing."

    ************************************************************************
    492 BBY: Mos Espa, Tatooine:
    ************************************************************************

    Once, during a particularly bitter-cold night on Kerensik, Donal had wondered if he'd ever visit a place that was the exact opposite of the nearly-frozen world.

    Some place as hot as Kerensik had been cold, some place where meltwater didn't seep into one's clothes, where one didn't have to wear lots of layers, where one could find excuses to do nothing but have a drink at noon in the shade.

    Be careful what you wish for, 'cause you just might get it. I'm sweating as much as I did on Kerensik, though ... Donal thought, shielding his eyes against the reflection from the salt flats as he and Master Umlaw watched the latest practice heat of the podracers they were investigating.

    "Go over the mission briefing again, Padawan. I'm finding myself a bit light-headed with all this heat," Master Umlaw said from one mouth, sipping a non-alcoholic Corellian spritzer in the other mouth as Donal focused on the rundown they'd received before leaving Coruscant.

    "The Council recently received reports that Hjask Altoreen, an Aleena podracer, tried to sell the Mirror of Teveth Kaur, a Sith artifact belonging to a hybrid Sith Lord from the Galactic Cold War period, on the black market. Our remit is to find Altoreen and request he surrender the mirror to us for its disposal - or, if we have no choice, take it from him," Donal began, his concern overriding his urge to be sarcastic in his recitation.

    "The complication is Altoreen's race sponsor, Smorgasborga the Hutt, who CANNOT be allowed to know that he has a potentially priceless Sith artifact within
  17. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Interlude: 487 BBY: Sentinel Saferoom, Jedi Temple, Coruscant:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A geological compressor on Korriban ...

    Tharmag Elender set down the earpiece he'd used to listen in on Milthiad and Vah'lis' conversation. While the friends' discussion of Milthiad's mission had been encrypted, most masterfully, it had still been transmitted over the Jedi reserved-com-frequency.

    And as a Jedi Sentinel, I have override access to said frequency ...

    Tharmag leaned back in his chair, considering what he'd heard. The word "Korriban" alone would be enough to draw the attention of Tharmag's superiors; "geological compressor" was even more eye-opening.

    Whomever Milthiad and Vah'lis had been discussing knew enough of forbidden Sith techniques - at least how to create synthetic lightsaber crystals - and had visited the Sith tombworld. The situation had grown far beyond exotic animal smuggling and Milthiad's tiresome familial issues - oh, yes, Tharmag knew far too much about "Lord D'arsan-Milthiad's" relatives.

    It does not take a farseer to guess that Milthiad's arrogant brother-in-law is at least involved in this imbroglio. And Smorgasborga the Hutt puts an even more dangerous angle on this. A strike team of Sentinels should be switched in to complete the investigation, instead of an emotionally-compromised, ill-trained, dark-side-flirting hothead, Tharmag thought, scowling in the dimly-lit hidden office.

    The Temple was honeycombed with such chambers, connected by both the service tunnels and lesser-known passageways. Despite the Sentinels' relatively fewer numbers compared to the Consulars and Guardians, they had no less a sense of the long view of history.

    After the fiasco that had been the Jedi Covenant, however, the Sentinels had been more thoroughly watched by the Council, and their most ... eyebrow-raising ... activities required approval of a ranking Jedi Council member.

    In Tharmag's experience, however, the current Council usually turned to more flamboyant agents for their dirty work.

    He took a deep breath and shook his head at his bitter, petty thought. Such resentment was a dangerous trait for any Jedi, especially for a Sentinel who walked among the dark to better crush it before it harmed innocents.

    And if I am to lecture Initiates and Padawans about knowing their own minds, their own intentions, then I must be brutally honest with myself, Tharmag reminded himself, smiling a vicious, humorless smile at his memories.

    His run-in the other night with Milthiad's mother came back to Tharmag's mind, making his smile twist into a sneer. He could almost respect Redona Varnas for her dedication to hunting dark-siders, except for two inescapable facts.

    First, she was rarely known for mercy to her targets. Such an extreme response rarely allowed for an attempt to redeem the misguided.

    Even Tharmag acknowledged that some dark-side users could be saved, even if the work involved might take time. His preferred method to support avoiding the dark side was prevention - proper education of the young so they were aware of the risks and how to avoid falling prey to temptation - and destruction of dark-side nexii and items.

    And second, the Varnas woman was Milthiad's mother. Mandalorian, crass, hard-drinking, condescending, emotional ...

    Yes, I know exactly where my 'old friend' gets his less desirable personality traits, Tharmag thought, shaking his head.

    A flicker of a happier memory, of sneaking out with Donal, Taeryn, and Vo'dil as a child to see a Fete Week parade, stirred deep within Tharmag's mind. He sighed; Donal hadn't always been aggravatingly ...

    Human? Fallible? And so I return to the first true lesson I had with my Jedi Master, Jaulan, Tharmag considered, smiling a bit at the memory of the Cathar Master.

    Jaulan had been kind and patient, if a bit strict at times, but Tharmag had gr
  18. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 26: D'arsanCorp Manufactum Aurek-1-Orinda, South Wash, Maslovar Swamplands, Desevro, Tion Hegemony:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Fraak Ar-Shadan was a simple man; he'd profited by serving the D'Arsan family, mostly by looking after their "black gornt" Istlan, and not asking many questions.

    Granted, Istlan's extracurricular activities were somewhat eye-opening to a commoner from the Maslovar slums, but Fraak had pledged his loyalty to Istlan for two important reasons. First, the younger heir to the D'Arsans treated him with respect, paying Fraak well but also being polite instead of snotty.

    Second, the travel itinerary was never boring. Fraak had seen more of the galaxy chauferring Istlan than he would ever have been able to running a boat in Maslovar's swampy marshes or hunting the native Desevran thoi to sell at market. Eriadu, Ord Mantell, Tatooine, Coruscant, Nar Shaddaa, even the eerie Old Sith worlds of the Stygian Caldera - there was no telling where their next business transaction might take them.

    As far as the morality of working for an exotic animal smuggler and suspected mastermind of at least one Jedi murder (possibly two) ... well, Fraak was a citizen of Maslovar. He'd been at risk of being a pawn in some plot of the various 37 Families from the time he was born.

    Working for Lord Istlan at least gives me the chance of dying in my own manner, the towering, shaven-headed manservant/butler/chauffer/insert-job-title thought, nodding appreciatively as his employer finished another practice maneuver with his recently completed lightsaber.

    "Thank you, Fraak. Nice to know someone of intelligence appreciates the work I've been putting into this. Seven years, I've been waiting for this moment, working and striving ... soon, I'll face my obnoxious outlander Corist brother-in-law. And once Donal is dead, I'll deal with my 'dear' sister - I wonder if Smorgasborga needs a new dancer," Istlan said, grinning viciously while he shut down his orange-bladed weapon.

    Fraak just nodded; he neither hated nor felt respect for Milthiad. The Jedi was brash and had all but strongarmed his way into the D'Arsan family, although he was kind to the lower classes, and that spoke well enough of him to Fraak's reasoning. Nevertheless, Fraak's loyalty was to Istlan, and if Milthiad was his master's enemy, then Fraak would oppose him.

    And Lady Dierna had shown her lamentable, but ultimately disloyal, colors. Fraak felt more regret for what might befall the lady, but she had rejected Istlan over her affections for Milthiad.

    Blood should matter more than the random nature of one's heart, Fraak thought, sadly. He shuddered a bit at the idea of Lady Dierna being given to Smorgasborga - not only was the criminal a Hutt, but a particularly sadistic and vile example of the ancient enemies of the Desevran people.

    But my loyalty belongs to Master Istlan, Fraak thought, watching the reddish-brown-haired young man check the latest flow of data from the various spy sources of the D'Arsan family. Even out of favor as he was, Istlan had a hereditary right to access the D'Arsan spynet scattered across the rest of the 37 Family estates.

    "Hmm ... as I sensed, Donal's arrived. He's even declared blood-feud. How very native of him - I might have to show some more respect before I start the duel. And ... well, this is interesting," Istlan said, activating a holoproj and raising an eyebrow.

    Fraak's eyes widened as he saw Milthiad leaving one of the better hotels in Maslovar's business district, accompanied by a young boy with short hair. "A squire - or a student?" Fraak wondered, glancing at Istlan.

    "Both. The Jedi call them 'Padawans,' an ancient term for apprentice. Milthiad was a Padawan when he married Dierna ... and my agents managed to kill Milthiad's wretched Quermian Jedi Master, Q
  19. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 27: 487 BBY: Cafeteria, Jedi Temple, Coruscant:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Let me get this straight," Taeryn asked across the table, raising a sandy-blonde eyebrow at the last person she'd ever expected to ask her to help him assist Donal. "You want to go help Donal and Tiegan?"

    Tharmag shrugged, unusually casual for him, as his Padawan, Celdir Harulan, and Taeryn's Padawan, Ridinia Basever, shared a worried and hopeful glance. Both human children were sitting in the booth beside their respective Masters, and Taeryn repressed a wistful smile as she recognized the echo of personalities.

    Celdir's softer than Tharmag is, though - which is a good thing - while Ridinia's got too much energy for her own good. Much like me, Taeryn reflected, musing on who was missing from what should've been a doubled trio of Masters and Padawans.

    "Of course I'll help Donal and Tiegan. But where did your sudden burst of altruism come from?" Taeryn asked, keeping her eyebrow raised.

    Yes, it was petty, and yes, it was a poor example to set in front of the Padawans - but she wanted Tharmag to explain himself. Especially if his sudden change of heart meant what Taeryn thought it did.

    Tharmag sighed, a bit of his usual arrogance returning before he sent through the Force - surprisingly narrow-band for Force-telepathy from a Jedi - All right, Milthiad isn't as worthless as I've often insisted. We were like brothers, once ... long ago. And I've come to recognize that blaming him for Marnis' death is beneath me. Is, in fact, wrong.

    Out of respect for your position as a Knight with a Padawan, I'll avoid saying 'I told you so.' At least for now. And ... thanks for coming to me, Tharmag, Taeryn replied, eagerly-released snark turning to a long-buried flicker of camaraderie.

    Tharmag had been like Taeryn's brother, too, a long time ago back in the creche'. It was a good sign that he could grow up enough to remember those days, or maybe his responsibility as Celdir's Master was influencing him.

    We all have to grow up eventually, Taeryn thought, smiling at Ridinia as the girl watched, eager if confused - innocent, Taeryn recognized.

    She just hoped that whatever Donal had gotten himself into this time out on Desevro, it wouldn't force the kids to grow up too fast in facing it.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Outer Wash, Maslovar, Desevro, Tion Hegemony, Outer Rim:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tiegan was the first one to notice it - something like a big, black echo of a drumbeat, just underneath the swamp.

    It doesn't feel good ... am I seasick? Master Donal said the root we ate should help, but ... the boy wondered, holding on as Captain Arjnar's boat headed deeper into the swamp and Master Donal focused.

    Master Donal shook his head, frowning a little, and nodded. "You'd better draw your Force-senses in. You're noticing it, too. Istlan's been a very naughty boy," he said, shielding himself a little more.

    Tiegan concentrated, shielding like he'd been taught, and the sick-sounding drum died down; he felt better. "Master Donal, is that ... the dark side? What's Istlan been doing? Is it the tuk'atas - are they being stored here?" he asked over the noise from the boat.

    Master Donal didn't answer for a moment, and Tiegan felt a little scared. Master Donal usually always answered, even if he was kind of joking.

    What really worried Tiegan was the funny little tremor in Master Donal's voice when he said, "Maybe it's tuk'atas, Tieg."

    "But given the concentration of tainted power ... I think it's something more. Something old and dangerous."

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

    Sweet manda, tell me I'm wrong ...

    Donal wanted to tell Arjnar to turn the boat around. He'd be
  20. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 28: 487 BBY: Far Wash, Maslovar, Desevro, Tion Hegemony, Outer Rim Territories:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tiegan blinked - he could've sworn Master Donal had said called the old lady "Grandmother."

    "But - uhm - I mean - sorry, ma'am, I just ... you're Master Marnis' mother and Master Donal's grandmother?" Tiegan stammered, wishing he didn't sound so stupid.

    The old lady - Trinoia Marnisova, Tiegan remembered Master Donal had called her - nodded, waving a hand toward her shack. "'Master Trinoia' is a little too pompous, young man, since I got thrown out of the Order. So ma'am will have to do. Or maybe 'Grand Madwoman Supreme of the Far Wash,' 'Crone of the Corists,' and other select insults from those too-bitter poor Desevrars down the way. I enjoy scaring the neighbors a little too much, Donal worries," she said, laughing while she led Master Donal and Tiegan toward the shack.

    Master Donal smirked with aay'han again and leaned toward Tiegan. "I met her about four years ago, running an ... errand ... for Dierna. Trinoia's actually originally from Falang Minor. She was a Jedi seeress and loremistress who asked a few too many questions," he said.

    Master Donal got kind of sad, then, as they entered the shack, but Mrs. Marnisova just shook her head and poured some tea from a kettle she had on a small stove. "I always asked too many questions, boy. That's part of what Jedi do. Problem was, I didn't accept the answers the Council always tries to spoonfeed the up-and-coming Knights, and that got me in trouble with my Jedi Master. That ... and your grandfather, Force rest his bones," she said, sitting on a stool after she served Tiegan and Master Donal the tea.

    Tiegan sipped it - it was pretty good, and he said, "Thanks, ma'am. But ... how'd you and Master Donal meet?"

    Mrs. Marnisova smiled, looking at Master Donal, who snorted and said, "Someone fell overboard from her boat while I was checking the South Security Station at the edge of the Far Wash. Dierna had an informant there, and I was coming back from picking up some intel."

    "I was coming past here, and heard a splash ..."

    **********************************************************************
    491 BBY: Desevro:
    **********************************************************************

    Donal knew he should keep going - the datapacket he'd received from the Van-Visev agent feeding intel on that family's illicit tibanna imports would be important to the Council - but he stopped his airboat nonetheless when he heard and sensed the panicked cries for help.

    I'm not going to let somebody die, especially not from the things running loose around here, Donal swore, angling the boat toward a small, reed-surrounded island. A rowboat with primitive fishing gear floated nearby, and someone was thrashing about in the water.

    Worse, several thoi - armored crustaceans that made up the average Maslovar resident's diet, but which had nasty claws and a nastier taste for meat - were approaching the person who was treading water. Donal figured the best plan of action was to telekinetically lift the person - a human woman who looked like she should've been in a nursing home - while shooing the thoi with beast speech.

    He was surprised by a few rapidly-occurring, decidedly not natural events - first, the old woman levitated, radiating Force power that Donal swore he'd sensed before.

    Then, she telekinesed four thoi, smacked them into each other head-first, and dropped the now-dead animals into her boat, before landing in the craft herself. She gave Donal a friendly nod and said, "Thanks for the gesture, but I was just getting dinner.

    "Dinner?! You were almost their snack!" Donal snarked back - he couldn't help it, this old woman was obviously crazy!

    But if she's also Force-strong -

    Donal immediately regretted t
  21. CelseteAntola TF.N Books Staff

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 3
    Whew! All caught up! :D

    You spin quite a tale, O! Answering some questions and then leaving even more unanswered!

    I'm loving all the layers and twists and turns! Can't wait to see what happens next!

    ~Celeste
  22. Master_Haggis Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Apr 11, 2007
    Freaking fantastic. I just got on the site two days ago, and I can barely tear myself away from the story. Just finished it up. thanks for all your hard work, excellent characters, and skillful way of weaving stories, memories, backstory, and changing perspectives.

    I enjoyed seeing Donal's brother-in-law's reflection on being Sith or not, and also Tharmy's change of heart over time. Good job, good character development. I'm looking forward to the rest. Don't you dare pull off one of those month long hiatus's now!!!
  23. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4

    Celeste: Thanks. :D I'm finally getting closer to the end ... although some of those leftover questions might need a sequel to be answered ... [face_whistling]

    There's still a roughly 5-year period, from 492 to 487 BBY, of Donal's life before he became Tiegan's Master, that needs exploring. And there's still his extended family - on both sides - to meet ... ;)

    But by the end of Neks, I'm hoping that I'll have addressed the core questions of Donal's existence. That doesn't mean that things will get easier for him, but at least he's got more friends on his side. :D

    Master_Haggis: Welcome! :D And thanks for reading. :) I'm trying to keep to weekly updates on Neks, nowadays. [face_blush]

    Thanks, all - [face_peace]
    Onderon1
  24. HelloKelly Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2009
    star 3
    Hey sorry about not reading. I've been gone this whole month!

    Really liked these three posts though. Your characters are really maturing! And your writing stlye has definately imporving!

    Keep it Up!
  25. Onderon1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2008
    star 4
    Thanks for reading. :)

    I've been a bit busy this week, so I didn't get to update like I'd planned (and I'm still ironing out some plot points) ...

    But ... :D

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Interlude: 487 BBY: Jigani Port, Maslovar, Desevro:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh shab, this isn't good ...

    Redona hadn't expected a particularly warm reception on Desevro, which was why she'd come in quietly and used one of her various aliases - "Ophida Magtharshabla," a particularly pointed jab at the thorn in Donal's side. But the datafeed she was getting from the D'Arsan spynet was more troublesome than the relatively minor difficulty of bribing a port guard to overlook the "outlander" ship she'd arrived in.

    Pays to be related to Lord D'arsan ... Redona considered, flagging down a hovercab to take her to the D'arsan manor. She'd ditched her jetpack and was wearing her armor beneath a Kuati-inspired gown that made her look like a noblewoman; Redona's buy'ce was stored in the ridiculously large bag she had with her.

    A sensor scrambler had hidden the otherwise obvious beskar'gam. Redona thanked the manda that while the Desevrans weren't stupid, their tech was nevertheless behind the standard curve of the shadow market - or, rather, the engineering skills of a certain Bothan Jedi.

    Pays to be on good terms with Lord D'arsan's friends, Redona mused, keeping an eye on her surroundings as the hovercab driver took her to the docks, and the transfer ferry to the D'arsans' island. She double-checked her datapad - her armor's wrist-gauntlet feed would've been too obvious - and sighed again inwardly.

    Donal had been neither subtle nor overly blatant about his arrival; he'd gambled that his status in Desevran society, and the declaration of blood-feud with Istlan, would fend off petty challenges from lesser nobles. While the really dangerous members of the 37 Families played their games over the space of the average human lifetime, their younger sons and nephews had a very annoying tendency to spring honor duels on each other, attempting to gain some ephemeral notch on their belt by defeating a rival family's latest champion.

    Redona could understand the desire of young people to make a name for themselves. It was a cultural constant among most human civilizations she'd encountered, and the Mando'ade were no exception. It was just the pettiness of Desevran bickering that disgusted the Mandalorian bounty hunter.

    These aren't verd'goten, the hunt to prove one's adulthood. The Desevrans' games are those of spoiled children who never grow up. And too often, they ignore the suffering of the innocents caught in their bratty fits and starts, Redona thought, scowling for a moment.

    She smiled with aay'han, then, remembering at least one young man who had been seeking to prove himself, and for a worthy cause ...

    ************************************************************************
    514 BBY: Vorpa'ya, Mandalore Sector:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Redona spun, gunning down another Clan Reau chakaar who'd taken a potshot at the jetiise ship sent by those cowards in Kalevala to try and stop the clan war that'd broken out. The rest of the shabla cowards broke and ran, leaving Redona and her mother, Caendra Ordo-Varnas, to greet the arriving negotiators.

    In Mando'a, Caendra told her daughter, "Try not to bring up Canderous. The jetiise aren't going to be very happy with us as it is, and even if our ancestor helped Revan stop Malak, Jedi are ... sensitive about us."

    Redona tried not to snort from within her buy'ce; her buir had a delightfully understated sense of humor. "I'm 20, Mother, not 10. The jetiise aren't that scary, not anymore - they're dangerous, but I know now that they don't provoke easy. They don't start anything, I won't be the scary Mando
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