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Saga - OT [DDC 2019] The Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, Jedi Action Hero (or Something) | AU, mostly OCs

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Title: The Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, Jedi Action Hero (or Something)
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Genre: adventure, humor, romance
    Characters: Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, Noemi Bridger, Wren Ordo, Humookanukoopwaha Flhaskhalhoosa
    Timeframe: OT, 28 ABY
    Canonicity: AU, in the Marzra-verse continuity
    Synopsis: Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, now a Jedi Sentinel, tackles his first big mission, infiltrating an archaeological dig in the Valley of the Dread Lords on Korriban, with the help of an unconventional team.

    Many thanks to @Findswoman, beta-reader par excellence. @};-

    Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who hopes you aren’t reading this in the event of his untimely death
    01/07, 3305 LY

    Is this thing on? [Tap-tap skreeeeeeee] Whoa! Okay, yes, I guess it is…

    So, uh, hi. This is the journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, which is me, obviously. I haven’t really kept a journal since I graduated from NLUPS—that’s Northern Lothal Unified Prep School for anyone keeping track—but since this is my first solo mission as a Jedi Sentinel, I thought it might be a good idea to have sort of a mission log, partly so I can have all the details for the Jedi Council at the end of my mission (assuming I live through it) and partly because...well, if I don’t live through it, I want Noemi to know what happened.

    In case I didn’t live through it, and you’re the one who found this journal after my unfortunate demise, Noemi is Jedi Noemi Bridger. She’s my girlfriend, though, really, I don’t think “girlfriend” is enough. You know all those Force-awful sappy terms they use in holo-roms? “Soul mate”? “Other half”? “True love”? Yeah, that’s Noemi for me. We’ve been together for three years now...well, together like romantically together. We’ve been best friends for a lot longer, since we were both little kids. We built our lightsabers together. We went through our Jedi trials together. We were even knighted in a double ceremony. So if you could get this to her somehow, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

    Anyway, since this is supposed to be my mission log, I guess I should tell you about my mission, right?

    I’m headed to Korriban, and if you haven’t heard of Korriban, you’re not alone. It’s basically a cold, dry wasteland with exactly one settlement. So there’s no reason you should have heard of it, unless of course you’re a Jedi. If you are a Jedi, then you’ve definitely heard of Korriban, and you can probably think of about a million planets you’d rather visit.

    Because if you’re a Jedi, then Korriban is synonymous with the Sith.

    Korriban (or Moraband or Pesagem or whatever you want to call it, because it’s had a lot of names over the millennia) was the home of the original Sith species. Later a bunch of Dark Jedi settled there, took over and declared themselves...dun dun DUNNNN...the Dark Lords of the Sith (egotistical, much? But I guess the Sith never were known for humility). The Dark Lords built a bunch of elaborate tombs there, so no one would forget how fabulously, powerfully evil they’d been after they died (usually at the hands of another Sith. They were also not known for playing well with others). Some of those tombs are still there, and, legend has it, so are some of the Dark Lords’ spirits.

    If you’re not a Jedi—maybe even if you are—you’re probably snorting right about now and saying, “Ronen, you have totally lost it if you believe that ancient Sith Lords are hanging around on Korriban, haunting their tombs. That’s just scientifically impossible.” Yeah, maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I’d probably scoff, too, except that I actually met a couple of ancient spirits when Noemi, Ben Solo and I were trapped in the Lothal Temple three years ago (fortunately, they were Jedi, because the whole thing was weird enough, and they were more or less friendly). So I’m inclined to give those ghost stories about haunted Sith tombs the benefit of the doubt.

    Korriban’s been all but deserted for more than fifty years now. Its only city is Dreshdae, which used to be the planet’s capital but now isn’t much more than a hardscrabble mining town with a couple of third-rate mineral extraction facilities. Turns out most beings don’t want to live on a desolate ball of rock which may or may not be haunted by freaky, evil ghosts—who knew? But suddenly this mining company no one ever heard of before, Chimaera Industries, has acquired mining rights for a large section of Korriban which just happens to include the charmingly named Valley of the Dread Lords—home to the tombs of some of the biggest and baddest of the Dark Lord big bads. And as if that wasn’t already suspicious enough, Chimaera has hired an archaeologist, a Twi’lek named Remiel Belloq, to conduct an excavation first so that any “priceless cultural artifacts” aren’t destroyed when they start mining.

    Yeah. Any Sith artifacts that still exist don’t need to be put in a museum and studied, they need to be destroyed with extreme prejudice before they can tempt someone down the path to the Dark Side.

    And that’s where I come in.

    My job is to infiltrate the dig, find out as much as I can about Chimaera and Belloq and why they’re suddenly interested in Korriban and its so-called cultural artifacts, and, most importantly, keep them from getting their hands on anything potentially nasty that would unleash doom on the entire Galaxy.

    Sure, no problem. I do this stuff all the time.

    No, seriously…. I’ve never done anything like this before. This is huge and I can’t believe the Council is trusting me with it. I was only knighted last year. Sometimes it still feels like “whose brilliant idea was it to make me a Jedi Sentinel, anyway?” (Oh, yeah...mine...and presumably the Force’s, too. What were we thinking?) The only thing I’ve really got going for me—the reason the Council picked me instead of anyone else—is this weird ability I’ve always had to make myself disappear. Not just the ability not to be seen— most Jedi can do some sort of “I’m not here; you don’t see me” Jedi mind trick on beings who aren’t Force sensitive, but I can actually make myself invisible in the Force. Handy if you’re dealing with someone Force-sensitive, like maybe evil Dark Side spirits.

    And I guess I won’t be totally on my own. I have a contact on Korriban: a Squib named Humookanookoopwaha Flhaskhalhoosa. (Yes, really.) He supposedly comes from a long line of famous Squib treasure-hunters. I hope he’s better than the silly name might suggest.

    He could be the most brilliant treasure-hunter ever for all I know, but I’d rather have Noemi by my side. Like I said, we’ve done all the really important things in our lives together, and, lame as it may sound, I feel like I’m stronger when she’s with me. Not having her with me on this mission feels like I’m missing a piece of myself, like I might as well have disassembled my lightsaber and left half of it at home. But the stories say those Sith spirits are attracted to Force-sensitive beings, and though I’ve made Noemi and me disappear in the Force before, it’s a lot harder than just hiding myself. And you wanna know what would be worse than meeting some hideous fate at the metaphysical hands of angry Sith spirits? Having that happen to Noemi. If anything happened to her, I’d never forgive myself. I hope she’ll understand that someday, even if right now she’s not very happy with me for leaving her behind.

    If you’re listening to this, Noemi, I hope it’s because I’m presenting it to the Council and not because, well, you know… But whatever the reason, I want you to know if there was any way I could have you come and keep you safe, I would. I love you, Noemi. May the Force be with you, always.

    Ronen‘s previous adventures are chronicled in (Not) The Ballad of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus

    Korriban: should be a familiar planet for anyone who’s played KOTOR. According to the Wook, it has had several different names over the years, and was known as Pesegam in the time of Xim the Despot (ca. 25,000 BBY) and Moraband at the time of the Clone Wars.

    Humookanookoopwaha Fhlaskhaloosa: a member of the same illustrious Squib family as @Findswoman’s Gleebaloola and Deebeeneebeedee Fhlaskhalhoosa, and I sincerely thank her for letting me add him to the family tree. He is more or less named after the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. :D
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    What a WONDERFULLY PLEASANT SURPRISE! And what a riveting mission!! :eek: Right out of the gate, wham, edge of seatness! =D= [face_love]
    Findswoman and Raissa Baiard like this.
  3. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I definitely look forward to reading more of this.

    Especially since we will be dealing with a relative of Gleebaloola and an Indiana Jones villain.
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing] RONEN’S BACK! [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing]

    Our favorite snarky, smart, self-conscious, slightly dramatic Spectre- and-Baiard/Jade-descendant is back! :D I’m so glad you decided to go through with this, and I like the treasure-hunt-action-hero-Indiana-Jones-type story you’ve set up for him here, especially with the KOTOR connection via Korriban—that environment plus your characters is going to be a winning combination. :) And this Chimaera corporation (a very familiar name... [face_thinking] ) definitely sounds like it’s up to no good, just happening to set up excavations in the neighborhood of all those Sithy old tombs.

    Ronen’s a little older now than in your first of his diaries, a little mellower, and a good bit more experienced—a full-fledged Sentinel whose natural stealth abilities are clearly prized by his Jedi colleagues, enough so that they are entrusting him with a mission that really and truly is Very Serious. But the old Ro characteristics are still there, too, all his adorable ways that we found so endearing in “(Not) the Ballad.” The talkativeness once he gets going. The rather cute proneness to exaggeration. The self-deprecation (my dear fellow your finta sempli ability, while super cool and unique, is most definitely not “the only thing [you] have going for [you].” :p ). And, most importantly, the caring and romantic heart (squee for his heartfelt message to Noemi @};- )

    Plus, yay for a new Flhaskhalhoosa! :D :D :D I feel very honored that you chose to make this new OC part of Gleebs and Deebs’s clan—I can’t wait to meet him and see how he and Ro get on. A vivacious Squib treasure hunter will no doubt make for a very interesting foil to Ronen (who has inherited more than a little of his dad’s Serious Jedi demeanor).

    Off to a great start—not only as a story but also for the new phase in this wonderful character’s life and career. I can’t wait to see how our RONEN’S BIG ADVENTURE will unfold! =D=
  5. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you! I wasn’t sure about doing the DDC again this year, but Ronen and his friends insisted:D Ronen’s just too much fun not to do another story with him. I hope you’ll enjoy the new friends he’s bringing along on his adventure, too.
    Thanks! Nice catch on Belloq’s name; I thought it would be fun to cast self-conscious, low-key Ronen as an Indiana Jones in SPAAAACE :D Squibs, with their natural propensity for treasure hunting seemed like a good fit to play Sallah or Short Round to Ro’s Indy, especially one from Gleebaloola’s family. Heck, I think she’s probably got the Holy Grail lurking somewhere in her shop (I know she has the Maltese Falcon)!
    Oh, stop! You’re making Ro blush! :D

    I have you to thank for the idea of doing an Indy-in-Space story—the reference to Deebs fixing up his siblings and cousins when they ran into hazards while treasure hunting conjured up I ages of them encountering huge rolling boulders and other ancient booby-traps. Korriban, with all its tombs, seemed like a natural fit for the setting, sort of a space!Egypt with its own version of the Valley of Kings, albeit with a more menacing, Sithy aura. It could be just a coincidence that Chimaera chose to set up shop there, just like the familiarity of the name could be a coincidence. I guess you’ll have to wait and see! :D

    Thanks :) It’s kind of fun and yet a bit of a challenge to do a more mature version of the same character I wrote as a totally angsty teen, so I’m glad that he still seems like the same Ronen. He is a bit older and wiser now, and a little more confident, but the kind of self-doubt and self-consciousness that’s plagued him since childhood dies hard. He’s still got the dramatic streak that served him well in the school play, and, yes, more than anything else, he’s still got his love for Noemi [face_love]

    Aww, thanks[face_blush] I love your Squib characters and I hope mine can live up to the examples of his illustrious relatives. He’s definitely going to be a contrast to Ronen, who is, as you note, the most Kanan-like of the S-J siblings.

    Thanks so much! More is coming right up!
  6. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-

    Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who is starting to think he should have taken that posting on Ahch-to
    02/07, 3305 LY

    So—there is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

    That’s what the Jedi Code says, anyway—or maybe “ignorance, yet knowledge”, depending on which version of the Code you use, but either way, knowledge is supposed to be a good thing, right? And when your parents are a Jedi Master and a retired general, you grow up learning the value of Proper Planning and Good Intel, and hearing about all the times someone, usually Uncle Ezra, had to be bailed out of some deep muck because he didn’t bother to think things through before rushing in. So the first thing I did after I got my assignment was to head to the archive to learn as much as I could about Korriban.

    But as I read, another saying came to mind: “ignorance is bliss”.

    Because the more I read, the more I kept thinking: OMF, what am I getting myself into?

    There’s the planet itself: “a cold world of crying winds and dry, rocky fissures”. That cheerful little description comes not from Red Harvest, the H.P. Koenig horror novel about Sith zombies, like you might expect; no, it’s right there in the karking Galactic Atlas. And so is the fact that Korriban has a history as a “tombworld populated by religious cultists” (and if that isn’t the most studiously neutral way ever of describing the Sith, I don’t know what is), inspired a lot of old spacers’ stories about re-animated corpses eating unlucky freighter crews, and has the nickname “Planet of Lost Souls”. Sounds like a great place for a weekend getaway, doesn’t it?

    After reading about the terrain, I moved on to the native fauna. O. M. F. No fluffy little Loth-cats there. Nope, instead they’ve got creatures that the Sith warped and twisted into ravening, bloodthirsty beasts. There’s the tuk’ata, “Sith hounds”, guardians of the tombs, which supposedly can go centuries without feeding. Okay, that’s got to be an exaggeration, right? I mean, did someone really catch a tuk’ata and not feed it for a couple hundred years? Then there’s the hssiss, venomous Dark Side dragons that can camouflage themselves in the Force, and the terentatek, spiky, venomous (of course) mutated rancor things whose favorite snack is Force sensitive beings. Okay, I’m starting to see why tourism isn’t a big industry on Korriban.

    And if all that wasn’t enough to make me have nightmares for weeks, I started thumbing through a holobook about the Sith whose tombs are in the Valley of the Dark Lords where Chimaera’s excavating—Naga Sadow, Ajunta Pall, Marka Ragnow, Tulak Hord. Among the lot of them, it was a veritable parade of horrors: treachery, betrayal, war, conquest and murder, all sprinkled with assorted atrocities of ritual magic and Sith alchemy just for fun. I may never sleep again.

    All this newfound knowledge made me seriously wish I was still ignorant, Jedi Code or not. I started thinking about everything and wondering what made me think I was cut out to be a Sentinel? Why didn’t I just decide to be a Consular? Then maybe instead of going to Korriban to make sure some shadow corporation doesn’t get its hands on Ultimate Evil, I could be like Ben, living on a placid little island on Ahch-to with nothing scarier to do than study some ancient texts. Ok, sure, he’s the only Human on the planet and the Lanai caretakers don’t sound like they’re the most fun neighbors, but the scenery is beautiful, it’s peaceful, and there are these ridiculously cute little mammavians called porgs everywhere. (There’s one little guy that follows Ben around constantly. He denies it’s his pet, but it has its own bed in his cottage and he calls it “Kylo”, so you be the judge.) If I’d become a scholar or something, I could have gone there, and maybe Noemi could have come, too; with her beast-warden talent, she’d probably love to be surrounded by porgs (not sure what her Loth-cat, Spots, would think of them, though). The two of us on an island with a flock of adorable animals didn’t sound half bad... a lot better than being assigned to a desolate, haunted ball of rock full of creatures that want to eat me.

    And that’s where Noemi found me, surrounded by holobooks and data cubes, full of doubts and misgivings.

    “Ro!” she exclaimed as she slid into the seat next to me and threw her arms around me. The QR-8 droid reshelving holobooks looked up, its optical sensors blinking a baleful yellow, held up a grasper and shushed her with an electronic hiss even though we were the only ones there at the moment. (It’s usually pretty unassuming, but Jedi Paroo does story time for the local younglings on Zhelldays, and running the Archive by itself kind of goes to its head). Noemi shot it a look and continued in a slightly more subdued tone, “I just ran into Aunt Annina! She told me the Council assigned you to an important mission! I’m so happy for you!” She hugged me tightly, her eyes alight with pride and love, but pulled back when she realized I was responding with all the enthusiasm of a boiled topato. “But you don’t look very happy. What’s wrong?”

    I told Noemi about the mission, about Chimaera’s sudden interest in Korriban and their excavation to protect its “cultural artifacts”. I told everything I’d read about the planet, its horrific history and its lethal fauna. And I told her how all of this was making me seriously doubt my career as a Sentinel. Maybe you think I shouldn’t have said anything to her. Maybe you think I should have put on a brave front for her, because a real man never shows weakness especially in front of his girlfriend or something. Yeah, that doesn’t work so well when your girlfriend’s a Jedi who can pick up on your emotions. And even if she wasn’t, Noemi’s the one who understands me better than anybody else; if I couldn’t tell her how I felt, who could I tell?

    “Is this the kind of job the Council should really give to a first year Jedi? They’re sending me to a place with the fun nickname ‘planet of lost souls’, for the Force’s sake!” I laughed, sort of a hollow chuckle. “‘Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus and the Planet of Lost Souls’ sounds like a great title for a Jedi Action holoflick, doesn’t it? Except that I’m totally not a Jedi Action hero. How desperate for entertainment would someone would have to be to watch a holo of my life?”

    Noemi listened to my whole rant, her chair pushed as close to mine as possible and her arm around my shoulders. “You’ve always been my Jedi Action hero, Ro,” she said softly, reaching up to smooth my chronically messy hair out of my face. Her fingers brushed down the side of my face, and she leaned over and kissed me (just lightly, because we were in the Archive, after all). “You’ll be brilliant, I know it. And, of course, I’ll be right there with you.”

    That caught me by surprise, because no one had mentioned anything about Noemi when the Council briefed me, and you’d think they’d mention something like that, wouldn’t you? “The Council assigned you, too?”

    “Well, no, not exactly. But I haven’t been given a formal mission yet, and I do have an in with a couple of Council members!” Noemi smiled the lopsided smile she has, the one that means she has a plan and it’s probably one that’s going to get me in over my head. “Besides, it’s not like I’d let you go by yourself!”

    If I’d been thinking more clearly, I wouldn't have said what I did next, or at least I would have found a better way to say it. But at that moment, my mind was full of tuk’ata and terentatek and Sith spirits. “You can’t come! It’s too dangerous, and I can’t keep you safe.”

    The minute the words were out of my mouth, I knew I’d made a big mistake. Noemi pulled away, her sky-blue eyes both hurt and angry. “Keep me safe? Excuse me, Ronen Ildephonsus Syndulla-Jarrus, but I’m a Jedi, too! I think I can take care of myself!”

    The QR-8 droid hushed her again, gesturing more emphatically this time. We both ignored it. “Weren’t you listening to me about all the things there that eat Jedi?” I shot back. Why didn’t she see that it wasn’t that I doubted her as a Jedi, but that this was really, really dangerous, like tightrope-walking-over-a-sarlacc-pit dangerous? I didn’t even know how safe I was going to be able to keep myself, really. “I can make myself invisible in the Force, but I’d never be able to keep both of us hidden all the time, especially not while I’m trying to excavate tombs and spy on Chimaera!”

    Noemi’s expression hardened further. “So I’d just distract you from your mission, is that what you’re saying? Oh, switch off!” she shouted at the Archive droid who had now moved past a simple “shhh” and started in on a binary harangue that this was an Archive, for the love of the Maker, and didn’t young organics have any manners any more that would have done Chopper proud.

    “No! That’s not…” I lowered my voice as the droid continued its invective. I’ve dealt with my share of irate droids (okay, mostly just Chopper, but he’s enough), and while I don’t think page droids have electroshock arms, I wasn’t going to risk seeing what havoc it could wreak with library implements. I took Noemi’s hand and pulled her back towards me, at least as much as she would let me. “It’s not that I don’t want you with me, it’s just... if anything happened to you, I don’t know what I’d do. I love you, Noemi. If some Sithspawn attacked you, I think it would kill me.”

    “So I’m just supposed to let you run off to Korriban all by yourself, knowing there are all these horrible things that could be hunting you but not knowing what’s happening to you because you’re undercover? What do you think that’s going to do to me?”

    “I know. But I have to go, because I’m a Jedi and that’s what we do—we put the Galaxy’s needs and the Force’s will ahead of our own.”

    Noemi’s expression finally softened and she looked like she was trying to blink back tears as she answered. “You’re right. Oh, Ronen, I hate it, but you’re right…”

    I pulled her against me, she nestled her head on my shoulder and we sat there just holding each other for a while. Every now and then, the QR-8 droid would sniff about young organics’ lack of decorum and public displays of affection and back in its day… but it lacked any real conviction in its grousing, because we were still the only ones there and, hey, at least we were quiet.

    And Noemi...she may have accepted my assignment, but I know she still doesn’t like it. When we said good-bye, she had this strange look, like she was trying to keep herself from saying something, and she had her emotions shielded really tightly. I guess she didn’t want her feelings about this to spill over and ruin our last moments together, but I wish she hadn’t. I wish...well, it doesn’t matter now. All I can do is try to get through this and get back to her as soon as I can. I’m almost to Garel, where I’m supposed to meet my ride to Korriban, and I’ve got a few other things to take care of first. With all the dangerous creatures—and maybe dangerous people, who knows?—I’m going to need some way to protect myself and I can’t very well use my lightsaber without giving myself away as a Jedi. Fortunately, Aunt Sabine and her family are in Garel City right now, because she’s setting up an exhibition at the Noogenheym Museum, and no one knows weaponry like a Mando. I’m sure she can give me a few pointers on defense.

    I’m a Jedi after all, how hard can using a blaster be?

    Right there in the karking Galactic Atlas”: the quote “a cold world of crying winds and dry, rocky fissures” and the other details Ronen attributes to the Galactic Atlas are from Star Wars: The Essential Atlas by David Wallace and Jason Fry, in its article on Korriban.

    Jedi Paroo: a reference to possibly the most famous fictional librarian: Marian “Madame Librarian” Paroo, from The Music Man

    Korriban’s fauna

    Valley of the Dark Lords

    The Noogenheym Museum: The Guggenheim in spaaaaaace; from @Findswoman’s fanon post on Garel City
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
    Mira_Jade , Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Yikes, those predators of Force-sensitive beings would give anyone nightmares for weeks! I am not surprised at all that Ronen's second-guessing the wisdom of going there at all himself, and that having Noemi along would be too nerve-wracking because of the whole danger factor seems over the top, except perhaps for a seasoned Jedi Master :p
    I loved their talk, and I just know Noemi's planning something :D [face_love]
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    You know, I have to say: even when he's (understandably) all freaked out about the terrain, flora, and fauna of Bleak!Dead!Sith!Zombie!Tomb!Planet (and what a fun touch to integrate the Essential Atlas description of Korriban), Ronen's still adorable. Is it mean of me to say that? But it's all because of the way it brings out his dramatic, expressive, even slightly exaggerative (!) side. I just want to hug him and say, "yes, you'll sleep again, my dear fellow, don't worry." :p And also remind him not to doubt himself—the Force knew what it was doing in sending him along the Sentinel route! Though there's no doubt that the Ahch-To gig sounds quite tempting, and I hope that sometime Ronen will have the chance to go there, because I bet those mammavians would love him as much as they loved his dad way back when. (By the way, I love how you've integrated Ben into this universe, both here and in the previous Ronen diary, as a monklike Jedi scholar—and Kylo, too, in a very different much cuter form! :D )

    Ronen's chat with Noemi was great, which is not surprising of course—nor is it surprising at all that she immediately expresses her intention to come with him! Though, ohmigosh, he came a bit close to putting himself in the mookahouse with statements like "I can't keep you safe" and with his talk of keeping them both hidden—tsk, tsk, tsk, you kind of put your foot in your mouth there, Ro, because your lady is a brave and talented Jedi too and perfectly capable of taking care of herself. (Indeed, I wonder how her beastwarden abilities would play out vis-a-vis all that Sithspawn... it could really come in handy, methinks, and Ronen should think of that when he worries about Sithspawn attacking her!) She resigns herself to letting him go, in accordance with the will of the Force, but like Nyota, I think this isn't the last we'll see of her and that she defnitely has something planned. [face_thinking] The QR-8 page droid (a little familiar, as I think Bonvika has a similar one! ;) ) was a fun touch with its binary interjections throughout the conversation. Young meatbags these days just have no home training, do they? I bet she (?) and Chopper could converse a long time on that topic! :D And of course Jedi Paroo made me smile, too (again, I didn't realize what Marian's last name actually was, so I learned something new there!).

    So now, onward to Garel City, Garel, to meet up with Aunt Sabine at or near the Noogenheym—that's going to be a colorful meeting in many ways, I'm certain, especially with your keen characterization and love for this extended spacefamily. :) And I also have a bit of a feeling that Ro's "how hard can using a blaster be?" might get filed under "famous last words." :p This so much fun and I can't wait to see what's next! :D =D=
  9. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Like, same.
  10. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Korriban is definitely not a place to go for fun, but Ronen's more capable than he gives himself credit for. He acquitted himself quite well in his trials in Lothal's Jedi Temple in terms of bravery, wisdom and skill, and the Council surely recognizes that. They also recognize that his talent for making himself disappear in the Force makes him uniquely suited for this mission. He needs to learn to trust the Force and himself. As far as Noemi...[face_whistling]

    That’s okay, I think he’s kind of cute when he’s freaking out, too. Which is good, because he does it a lot :p He’s got his first Big Grown-Up Job, and it’s a real doozy, so not only is he smack in the middle of that “oh wait, I have actual adult responsibilities now” feeling, he’s realizing that this job could go Horribly Wrong in a dozen different ways. It’s no wonder his dramatic side comes out full force, but, as you note, the Council and the Force knew what they were doing when they gave him this assignment. I’m glad you like Ben’s fate in this universe. I loved the idea of inverting Luke’s fate from TLJ for him. Instead of bitter, self-exiled Old Man Skywalker, we have Ben , who’s turned his religious zeal from (Not) The Ballad... into a life of scholarly contemplation, with Kylo the porg by his side.:D Perhaps once Ro finishes his mission, he and Noemi can visit Ben (though I’m not sure Spots and Kylo will hit it off!)

    I don’t think Ronen doubts that Noemi is a capable and powerful Jedi, it’s just in his nature to want to protect her because he loves her so much—just as it’s in her nature to jump right in and announce she’s coming with him, even though it’s not her mission. And since he’s already having serious doubts about his own safety and abilities, those doubts and concerns spill over in a rather unfortunate way. It would indeed be interesting to see Noemi’s beastwarden talents would stack up against Korriban’s Sithy fauna...hmmm...[face_whistling]

    Glad you liked the little QR-8 droid; I can’t resist working in library humor when I can. And now I really want to write a vignette with Chopper and QR-8 commiserating over young meatbags and their lack of manners. Maybe she could give a certain caf-maker a run for his affections! :D

    Thank you! Yes, Spectre family get-togethers are always interesting and there’s sure to be some surprises in store for Ronen!

    That was another direct quote from the Essential Atlas. Doesn’t it sound like one of those dry academic sources that gloss over all the interesting parts so that it won’t offend anyone? :p
  11. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-

    Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who is totally going to regret this, no matter what Wren says

    My visit with Aunt Sabine did not go exactly as I expected.

    Who are you talking to, Ronen?

    What? Oh, I’m just...this is my mission log for the Council.

    Trying to explain why I’m here, huh?


    Okay, okay. Do your Jedi stuff. I guess I’ll go play solitaire...again.

    That was my cousin, Wren. More about her later. Anyway, as I was saying, my visit to Aunt Sabine didn’t go like I expected. But then, pretty much nothing about my stopover on Garel did.

    Aunt Sabine is Sabine Wren Ordo. She’s an artist, and she’s famous. Okay, all the Spectres are famous, but she’s probably the most well-known, not just because of her paintings but because she’s a Mando artist. Somehow she manages to be totally bad shebs and kind of glamorous at the same time with her multi-colored hair and beskar’gam. Her “Phoenix and Flame” is so popular that half the girls at NLUPS had posters of it in their lockers, right next to their posters of holo-stars and sparkle-bop singers. And her painting “The Skies Over Scarif” is hanging in the Senate Building on Coruscant, but you would not want a poster of that one in your locker, unless you really liked contemplating the horrors of war every day when you hung up your satchel.

    I expected her to just meet me at the spaceport, give me some nice little holdout blaster I could hide in my boot, like Mom’s old Blurrg, and that would be that. Instead, Aunt Sabine took me to a blaster range on the edge of the city where Uncle Maximus and my cousins, Bellona and Wren, were waiting for us with a veritable crate full of blasters of all shapes and sizes. I would have asked why they’d brought so many weapons with them when they were just on Garel a couple weeks for Aunt Sabine’s exhibition, but the answer was obvious: they’re Mandos and this was just another Benduday morning for them.

    Aunt Sabine had me try every single blaster, trying to find out which one I could handle best. The answer, it turned out, was none of them. I am not good with blasters, apparently. Because while I pretty much grew up with a lightsaber in my hands, I never learned how to aim a blaster. None of them felt right to me, not like my saber, which almost feels like an extension of my body sometimes.

    It’s not like I think blasters are evil or barbaric or uncivilized like some Jedi do. Blasters are only things, after all, and you can kill someone with a lightsaber as easily as you can with a blaster (maybe more easily; you can set a blaster to stun, but not a lightsaber). It’s just that sabers and blasters are completely different sorts of things, the way you hold them, the way you use them. Like it uses a whole different part of your brain or something. So I was fumbling around trying to make a shot, while Bellona coached me on how to hold a blaster properly—”That’s too loose, it’s not a dead giju! Too tight, you don’t need to strangle it! Relax, Ronen!” Meanwhile, Wren, who is five years younger than me, was zapping off fancy shots like she was playing Flight Simulator Squadron and Aunt Sabine and Uncle Maximus were having a very serious Mando discussion about my weaponry options.

    “Maybe some other type of weapon would be a better choice for him. A staff? It might be more like using a lightsaber.”

    “Max, he’ll be working at an archaeological dig; he can’t very well carry a staff with him everywhere!”

    “Hmm… vibro-shiv, maybe? Grenades?”

    I just about dropped the DL-whatever blaster I was holding (like a dead giju, probably) when I heard that suggestion, because the idea of stabbing someone or blowing them up was really kind of quease-inducing. I’m pretty sure that’s against the Code somehow or at least against one of the fiddly little subsections in the Teyan Apologia that forbid everything. Even if Jedi are technically allowed to use grenades and shivs, it just seems like bad form, if you know what I mean. (And before you ask why stabbing someone with a shiv is any different than doing it with a lightsaber, it just is. And I’m not in any hurry to try either one, thanks.) Luckily, Aunt Sabine picked up on my horrified expression and suggested we all take a break and get some caf and squagels.

    Bellona sidled up to me as we were leaving. Bellona is the same age as I am, and she is definitely Aunt Sabine’s daughter, artistic with a capital aurek. She has long, straight hair with one side dyed sky blue and the other the same electric blue that she painted her beskar’gam. Her armor isn’t like any I’ve ever seen; it’s shiny and iridescent, almost like a beetle’s carapace and it Makes a Statement, which is what Bellona is all about. Her hobby is metal working, which may sound like an odd choice to most people, but almost all Mandalorians know some so they can forge their own beskar’gam and sometimes daggers and swords, too. Bellona does all of that, but what she really likes is jewelry making—fabulous, glamorous, Statement-Making pieces of sparkly awesomeness. And from her satisfied tooka-that-caught-the-convor smile, I knew that she had something for me even before she said, “Hey, Ronen, I finished your piece! Sorry it took me so long, but it took me a while to find the right stone. Blush-green solari crystals aren’t easy to come by.” Her smile turned knowing as she handed me a small velvoid bag and punched me heartily on the shoulder. “So, I get to be the first one to know what she says, right?”

    “Er....” I shoved the bag in my pocket hastily. Fortunately, I was able to avoid answering that question because I noticed that Wren was also lingering behind and was shooting Significant Glances at me. “Hey, Wren, what’s up?”

    “I need to talk to you. Privately.” Another significant glance, or maybe a scowl, this time at Bellona, who seemed amused by her sister’s dark expression.

    She punched my shoulder again (There’s a bruise there now. Two “friendly” Mando punches is about two too many. No wonder they wear armor all the time) and murmured, “May the Force be with you” as she went off to join her parents for caf. I wasn’t sure if she was referring to my mission, my...other plans, or just dealing with Wren.

    When I was growing up, I wanted to be just like my older brother. Jacen was cool, popular, good-looking—everything I wasn’t. He could fly anything and fix anything, even when he was a kid. So why wouldn’t I want to be like him? But Wren—it’s like she tries to make herself as different from Bellona as possible.

    Bellona is all about making a statement with her hair and her beskar’gam and her jewelry. Wren, on the other hand… if she makes any statements, they’re “I’m not my sister” and “stop looking at me”. Her hair is dark brown, almost black, the same color as Bellona’s before she started coloring it. It’s short and choppy, and sometimes I think Wren cuts it herself with her dagger. Her armor is brown and gray, about as plain as it gets. The only decorations on it are Clan Ordo’s insignia on her left pauldron and her personal sigil, the silhouette of a bird in flight (a wren, get it?), on her right. And she hates art. Hates it. I remember when she and Bellona would come to Lothal for Life Day, they’d stay in my sister’s room. Bellona and Ayelet would get caught up in a frenzy of wreath making and decorate Aya’s room with like a million fabulous, sparkly Life Day crafts. Meanwhile, Wren would lay on her bed hanging upside down over the edge, making strangling noises like she was slowly dying of boredom. She spent most of the holidays bugging Jacen to teach her how to fly and trying to convince the adults to let her set off the Life Day fireworks. Wren’s the youngest of all the Spectre cousins by four years, but she never let that stop her from doing anything the rest of us were doing (except making crafts).

    “So what’s going on?” I asked. Knowing Wren, whatever it was would be reckless, impractical and probably involve explosives.

    The way she grinned did nothing to allay my suspicions. “I have the perfect solution—since blasters are, um, not really your thing, you need to take someone with you who’ll have your back!”

    Oh, yeah, I called that one. I had to give Wren some credit. Saying blasters “weren’t really my thing” was an exceptionally kind way of saying I sucked with firearms and couldn’t hit the broad side of a Corellian freighter if I tried, especially for a Mandalorian. On the other hand, I knew what she was going to suggest. That someone she was proposing wasn’t a New Republic soldier or one of her parents or even, you know, a responsible adult. She was thinking of a certain sixteen-year-old Mando with choppy hair and drab armor who, as far as I knew, had never been in any sort of actual combat situation.

    I shook my head, but before I could even get the words “no way” out of my mouth, Wren launched into an impassioned defense. “You saw what I can do!” she exclaimed, gesturing back towards the blaster range where our scores were still displayed on the leaderboard. Hers was substantially higher than mine, of course, and slightly higher than Bellona’s. “I’m checked out on pistols, rifles, explosives....haven’t tried rocket launchers yet, but I’m sure I could handle them.” Wren ticked off every new weapon on her fingers. “And not to brag, but I am at least two percent more accurate than Bellona!” When I failed to be moved by this logic, she tugged at my arm, moving on to the emotional part of her presentation. “Come on, Ronen! You have to take me with you! Mom’s going to be doing another installation on Coruscant after this one, and I swear, if I have to go to one more art museum, I will go totally Mando!”

    “You’re already a Mando.” Obviously. Because only a Mandalorian would think going to a planet full of evil Jedi-eating creatures as her blaster-impaired cousin’s bodyguard sounded like more fun than visiting the New Republic’s capital, where the worst thing she’d have to face would be boredom.

    “Exactly! And when an actual Mando goes Mando, it’s not pretty,” she warned me darkly. “You don’t want that on your conscience!”

    Somehow, I was pretty sure I could live with myself. “Wren, this isn’t going to be some Spectre cousin outing to play smash-ball…”

    “You don’t think I get that? That’s why you need me. Even a great Jedi like Revan didn’t go to Korriban alone; he had my great-great-however-many-greats grandfather with him. You need backup and I can do it, Ro, I know I can!” She thumped a fist against her chest plate over her heart, a gesture of salute and promise. “By the honor of Clan Ordo!”

    When you realize that a certain course of action is the will of the Force, sometimes it feels like everything is suddenly clear, like all the pieces of the puzzle have just fallen into place. Other times, though, it feels like you’ve been maneuvered into a corner; this was one of those times. Because Wren had a point. I was pretty hopeless with a blaster, and whatever Uncle Maximus suggested, I didn’t think much of my chances with a vibro-shiv or grenades either. There wasn’t time to find someone from the New Republic to act as my backup. There wasn’t even time for Noemi to get here from Lothal before I had to catch a freighter to Korriban. However, there might be just enough time for Wren to throw all her weapons in a satchel and go. She was actually a good shot, with more than her share of the characteristic Mando combination of determination and craziness when it came to tackling challenges—and having a descendant of Canderous Ordo accompany a Jedi to Korriban seemed dramatically appropriate, somehow. And if that descendant was only a teenage girl, well, I was no Revan, either. “I’m going to regret this…”

    Wren hugged me enthusiastically, even though she’s not really what you would consider a huggy person. “You won’t! I promise!”

    “Your mom is totally going to kill me.”

    “Oh, you might be surprised,” a voice came from behind us. Aunt Sabine was there, arms folded across her chest, a wry smile on her lips. “Wren, go help your dad get the caf, please.”

    Wren opened her mouth to say something, looked at her mother, thought better of it, nodded and scrambled off to help Uncle Maximus. And I was left alone with a Mando mom whose youngest daughter I’d just invited to come with me on a horribly dangerous assignment. Surely after all the time she’d spent with Dad and Uncle Ezra she’d accept the will of the Force as a good (or at least plausible) reason to do something that seemed so spectacularly stupid. And if she didn’t, she wouldn’t go Mando on one of her nephews, right? Much? I hoped. “Aunt Sabine, I’m sorry. I know it’s dangerous and crazy and Wren’s just a kid…”

    “Ronen,” Aunt Sabine held up a hand, cutting off my awkwardly stammered apology. Her smile edged up a little further. “It’s okay. Mandalorians look at these things differently than most people. For us, it’s not a matter of if our children will see battle, but when and why. If Wren is going to put herself in danger, I’d rather she does it for a good cause and with someone I trust. And if I don’t give her permission to go, she’ll just find a way to sneak along with you.” She laughed at my dismayed expression “It’s what I would have done at her age.”

    And that apparently settled that. It didn’t take long for Wren to throw together a travel case—I think Mandos pack more weapons than clothes—and in one of those supremely ironic examples of the Force’s sense of humor, after leaving Noemi on Lothal because I couldn’t keep her safe, I now had an overly enthusiastic teenage Mandalorian who thought she could keep me safe. I couldn’t help but wonder how much good a blaster was going to be against Sithspawn and angry spirits, but I didn’t have much time to ponder it before we were back at the spaceport to meet the freighter that was going to take us to Korriban.

    And that turned out to be a whole new kettle of giju.


    Sabine’s art: the names of Sabine’s paintings are fanon, although in canon, Sabine apparently does become famous enough that posters are made of her art. One can be seen hanging in Torra Doza’s bedroom on Resistance.

    Bellona; takes her name from the Roman goddess of war.

    Wren’s “great-great-however-many-greats grandfather” is of course, Canderous Ordo, who accompanied Revan in KOTOR.
    Mira_Jade , Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004

    I love Sabine and Max's kids. They have SUCH personality as you'd expect. Wren is going to be a true asset and fun to boot on this very dangerous mission of Ro's; she has the skill with weaponry and the Mando courage. [face_thinking]

  13. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    "Art sucks. I'm gonna go with My Jedi cousin to Korriban, where we might get eaten by Sithspawn. That sounds like a lot more fun."

    If that's not a Mando for you.....

    Meanwhile in Force Ghost World, Obi-Wan is facepalming. "And I thought Skywalkers were pain in the butt drama queens."
  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh, how wonderful to meet the Ordo daughters! I’ve been looking forward to this ever since you told me they were going to be part of this story. As always you do a bang-up job with the characterization—Bellona and Wren are so different, and yet both so like their mom in such different ways. (I’m sure like their dad, too—I just mention their mom specifically because we know her a little better.) And both manage to be quintessentially and unmistakably Mando, bursting with fearlessness, presence, and self-confidence.

    Really, the whole Wren/Ordo family make wonderful foils for the serious, timid Mr. Ro, who I can see getting much, much more than he bargained for with this visit, their hefty shoulder punches, and this full-on weapons training. His quandary is a very real one: the one weapon he knows how to use isn’t a good idea to use on this particular mission, but he’s not very good with any other ones (and I kind of don’t blame him for being creeped out by the more assassinly ones). Fortunately a solution presents itself pretty much immediately, in the form of a Very Gung-Ho Teenage Mando Cousin! Ro is understandably taken aback at first, but being the reasonable sort of fellow that he is, he comes to realize that she does indeed have a point, and that maybe the Force is dropping him a hint too. I love Aunt Sabine’s reassurance and Mando perspective on the whole thing: it’s Inevitable that her daughter will see battle sometime, and it’s best that it at least be in the company of someone she loves and trusts. (You’ve really gotten quite handy with the whole Mando culture and ethos—I’m very impressed!) And I see what you did there with the parallel with Canderous and Revan: I can see Wren very much being a Canderous to Ronen’s Revan on this expedition, in that same very complementary way (though without so much of the trigger-happiness and bloodthirstyness, I think!).

    So off they go, this dynamic duo (and I’m pretty sure it won’t stop at duo), on to begin some awesome adventures. You most definitely won’t regret this, Ro, I promise you! :D
  15. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks! I'm glad you like them. Wren has been after me for a while to get her in to a story; as you can imagine, she's been quite insistent :lol: Like Ronen, she just sort of showed up and started talking to me one day and hasn't stopped since. She's definitely got the Mando skills and attitude--and more than a a bit of her mother's reckless spirit as a teenager. Hopefully, she'll be more help than not to Ronen!
    Yep, that pretty much sums Wren up. She does come by the drama honestly, though. Sabine had more than her fair share of it a Wren's age-- Hera won't tell me who Fulcrum is! I'll just stow away on her nest mission because I NEED TO KNOW. Kanan thinks we should be diplomatic with the Mando who shot at Hera's ship. Nuts to that! I'm going to challenge him to a duel even though he's three times my age! That will totally not screw up Kanan's plan!
    Thanks! I've had Bellona in mind for a while as the daughter who follows in her mother's artistic footsteps, complete with brightly colored hair and uniquely decorated beskar'gam. Wren surprised me. She's one of those characters who just bursts onto the scene and takes over. (which is a pretty Mando thing to do). She's so different and yet so like her mom--she may hate art, but she's got a young Sabine's can-do attitude and flair for drama. She is closer to her dad and she's got the Ordo "call me if you want something done right" spirit. I identify with Wren a bit on the issue of trying to distinguish oneself from an older sibling. There were definitely things that I wouldn't do because my sister did them and I didn't want to be just her shadow.

    Oh yes, the Mandolorian ethos may have a lot in common with the Jedi, with its emphasis on honor and camaraderie, though the ideals manifest completely differently! Unlike Kanan, Ronen's never needed to use a blaster instead of his lightsaber--at least until now. I'm sure young Kanan went through a similar process of figuring out what weapons he could use; unfortunately, Ro doesn't have the time to figure it out. Luckily (!) Wren is more than willing to take on the project, because, hey, it beats going to another kriffing art museum! :p And thank you--I learned a lot about Mandalorian culture writing "Strategic Alliances". It's one of the most well-developed cultures in the GFFA (which is part of what made writing Mando mush so intimidating) and I have to say, I'm starting to understand why they have such a following. The good thing is that Mandalorian culture has evolved since the days of Canderous Ordo, when they were pretty much set on conquering the entire Galaxy. So while Wren's got her ultimate grandfather's determination, she's unlike to advise Ronen to kill everyone he has trouble with, the way Canderous did in KOTOR. (She might think it, though :p)

  16. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-

    Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who hates dealing with politics

    Jedi aren’t supposed to be political. We don’t serve the New Republic, even though most people think we do. We serve the Force, and all the things that go along with it like truth and justice and goodness. Hopefully, those things align with the Republic’s interests.

    But sometimes, we have to rely on the New Republic for help.

    Normally, if I had to travel somewhere for Jedi business, I would have taken the Phantom. I may not be an ace pilot like Jacen, but I can do okay for ordinary hyperspace travel. Most of the time Chopper decides he has to come with me anyway to calculate the routes so I won’t wind up in the middle of a planet (because I would totally do that without his help). But this time, I was going to be undercover, and the kind of beings who sign up to work on excavations on Korriban aren’t the kind of beings who have their own ships, not even leftover Sheathipede shuttles from the Clone Wars. If they did, they wouldn’t be on Korriban in the first place.

    In order to stay with my cover story of being an impoverished young man with no better prospects than manual labor, the Council had arranged for me to hop a ride on a freighter that belonged to senator from Hosnian Prime. He owns a shipping business which makes monthly runs to Korriban, delivering supplies in exchange for whatever minerals Dreshdae’s tiny extraction facilities have produced. Luckily for me, my mission coincided with this month’s run. (Yeah, I know, Dad, there is no luck, there is the Force.)

    Mom’s ship, the Ghost, is a VCX-100 light freighter, though she never actually hauled cargo with it. It’s practically a member of the family, just like Chopper. They’re both a little persnickety and worn after having been around the Galaxy a few times and having gone through the War (or two wars, in Chopper’s case). That was the kind of ship I thought would be waiting for us at the docking bay. However, the Dutiful was a newish Ghtroc 720, a giant turtle of a ship with the cockpit as its head, engines where its front flippers would be and escape pods for back legs. It was sleekly rounded, shiny, and very commercial, not at all like the Ghost. Its captain was a middle-aged Human wearing a dark blue flight jacket emblazoned with the logo of Xiono Transport, Ltd.

    Standing next to him was a tall, stern-looking man. He seemed to be a bit past middle-age; his short, dark hair was threaded with silver at the temples. His clothes—well, Garel City is a lot more cosmopolitan than most places in this part of the Outer Rim, but this guy looked like he was ready to go to the opera on Coruscant. Putting his Core-World fashion together with the deferential way the captain stood next to him, this was evidently my benefactor, Senator Xiono, though I had no idea why a senator from Hosnian Prime would want to hang around a docking bay in Garel City on a Benduday afternoon.

    There was a boy of about sixteen with him, and they looked enough alike that I guessed he was Senator Xiono’s son. The boy’s dark hair was swept back from the front on top, buzzed short on the sides, and there was the pale line of a scar over his left ear. He wasn’t quite as dressed up as the senator, but the dark green nerf-hide racer’s jacket he wore looked like it was probably more expensive than anything I owned. He didn’t seem to be entirely sure why he was hanging around this docking bay, either.

    “Master Jarrus, an honor to meet you. I’m Hamato Xiono, and this is my son Kazuda.” The senator smiled as he extended his hand to me, an “I’m smiling because that’s what one does at introductions” kind of smile. His son gave us an awkward little half-wave, though his smile seemed genuine, if a bit uncertain.

    “Um, hi. Actually, Master Jarrus is my dad,” I said as I shook his hand. “I’m not a master yet, just a Jedi. Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus.” If Senator Xiono had been expecting Dad—the Master Kanan Jarrus, headmaster of the Jedi Academy, distinguished Jedi Council member, hero of the Rebellion, etc.—he must have really been disappointed to get me instead--his undistinguished twenty-one-year-old novice Jedi son.

    “Syndulla?” Kazuda perked up at the name. “Like General Hera Syndulla?”

    “Uh, yeah, she’s my mom.” When I was growing up, sometimes I wished Mom and Dad had settled on one last name for us. Not only is Syndulla-Jarrus kind of a mouthful for a kid and hard to write when you’re just learning Aurebesh, it also says straight off “Hey! This kid has two famous parents! Ask him about them!” I’ve more or less gotten used to it now, but questions about General Syndulla weren’t something I expected from a random kid.

    I also was not expecting him to light up like Life Day fireworks. “Oh, man, she’s like a legend among pilots!” he exclaimed. I don’t think anyone has gotten that excited about my mom since my old ModGalCiv teacher, Master Feipel, invited her to speak to my class—though Feipel was totally! excited! about history! in general. Kazuda, on the other hand, sounded like he was waxing rhapsodical about a holo-actress whose movies he knew by heart as he enthused, “I’ve studied all her battles! Ooh, my favorite was her maneuver at the Second Battle of Lothal, that one where she…”

    “Kazuda!” Senator Xiono cut him off with a severe look, and he fell silent looking as abashed as a kicked mooka pup. “Please forgive my son’s exuberance, Jedi,” Xiono apologized smoothly, oblivious to his son’s chagrin. “He gets a bit carried away sometimes.”

    “It’s okay, really. No big deal.” Okay, it was kind of strange to discover that my famous mom had a fanboy, but at least it was only her piloting skills that made him gush. I could handle that, and I felt kind of bad about the way his dad shut him down. I had the feeling this wasn’t the first time Kazuda had “embarrassed” his father over something totally minor.

    “And who is this young lady? I was given to believe you were traveling alone.” Senator Xiono turned a skeptical eye towards Wren, maybe to change the subject or maybe he’d finally realized that she wasn’t going anywhere. I could almost read the chain of his thoughts as he tried to figure out exactly where she fit into this: hmm, a young female. Mandalorian armor, therefore not a Jedi. No lekku, not his sister. Tsk, tsk, tsk, Jedi. And I really didn’t like that assumption, because we don’t have the non-attachment doctrine anymore, but come on, Wren is sixteen and also sort of my cousin.

    “This is Wren Ordo, my cousin,” I informed him. (Okay, we’re not related by blood, but it’s easier to say “cousin” than to explain the whole family-but-not-really-family dynamics of the Spectres.) “She’s… um, she’s joining me on my mission, as my… assistant.” I thought that sounded better than “coming with me because I couldn’t shoot a bantha at point blank range”. “I hope it won’t be a problem. It was kind of a last minute change of plans. I mean, I’m sure the Council can reimburse you for any expenses…”

    “Wren Ordo? Sabine Wren Ordo’s daughter?” Of course he knew Aunt Sabine; he probably saw “The Skies Over Scarif” every day when he went to work. I wondered if it made him contemplate the horrors of war whenever he passed by it. Senator Xiono looked Wren over again, re-assessing her as Someone Famous’s daughter, and not just some angsty teen wearing armor.

    “And Maximus Ordo’s.” Wren didn’t quite scowl as she said it. As weird as it can be for me to have Mom and Dad both be famous, it’s a whole other dynamic of weirdness for Wren. Her mom is a famous artist in the Galaxy at large, and to most people Maximus Ordo is just Sabine Wren Ordo’s husband. In Mando space, though, it’s her dad who has the most prestige because of his clan’s history, and it really annoys Wren when people just skip over him and call her Sabine’s daughter.

    “Of course.” Xiono dismissed this triviality with a patronizing smile. “An illustrious little company you have here.” By which of course, he meant that our parents were illustrious, because Wren and I hadn’t actually done anything worth being considered illustrious yet. “And no compensation is necessary. I’m more than happy to support the New Republic and the Jedi in any way possible. It isn’t as if this slip of a girl could unbalance a freighter the size of the Dutiful.” He gave another little smile and a chuckle, apparently not noticing that there was murder in Wren’s eyes. Senator Xiono couldn’t have had much experience with Mandos to dismiss her like that. There’s no Mando’a equivalent of “you fight like a girl,” because Mando girls are just as tough as the guys. And as far as being a “slip of a girl”—well, a grenade will blow up, no matter what size it is. I thought for a minute I was going to have to step between them so she wouldn’t fly at him like a berserk Loth-cat, but she stayed where she was, hands clenched at her sides. Her emotions were so loud, I could pick up on them without even trying: I MUST NOT SHAME CLAN ORDO!

    And I began to suspect that Senator Xiono had an ulterior motive for being at the Garel City spaceport on a Benduday afternoon and his son instead of on Coruscant going to the opera (or whatever it is senators do for fun). He was Doing a Favor for the Jedi and the Republic, and he wanted to make sure that we knew how generous, thoughtful and loyal he was… just in case we were ever in a position to do a favor for him.

    My suspicions were pretty much confirmed when he insisted that Wren and I join him for lunch at a nearby sulyet restaurant, even though we were supposed to be leaving at 13:00. (The freighter pilot, who probably had a schedule to keep, didn’t seem happy about this delay, but would you say anything to the guy who owned your whole company? Yeah, me neither.) While we were eating, Senator Xiono talked at length about Korriban’s tiny mineral extraction industry and how Chimaera’s proposed mining operations would affect these family-owned businesses that were barely hanging on as it was. It was probably all true, and maybe he really was concerned about the poor citizens of Korriban, but I could read between the lines. Xiono Transport exported the minerals they extracted, and if Chimaera shut down the small timers, it would affect his bottom line.

    The whole situation made me a little uneasy—like I said, Jedi aren’t supposed to be political. We’re supposed to do What’s Right without being influenced by friendship or favors or any of that, and I guess while I knew it happened, I never figured it would be something I had to deal with because I don't have any actual influence. But I guess every mission affects someone somehow. Mom and Dad would have known how to handle Senator Xiono without offending him, but all I could do was keep my responses vague and try not to promise him anything.

    At another restaurant, I might have been able to occupy myself with the meal and kept my mouth too full to say much, but here the food consisted of tiny slivers of raw seafood and vegetables arranged artistically, or rolled up with tikit grain in colorful patterns. (It definitely wasn’t like Flossie and Delzina’s back in Jogan Grove, where the fanciest dish is a breaded groat chop, and even that costs less than ten credits.) So I had plenty of time to observe my tablemates. Senator Xiono seemed happy to keep talking as long as I nodded and made the appropriate noises at regular intervals. Kazuda was mostly quiet, seeming not to know what he was supposed to say. Once, he looked up from his plate while his father was holding forth about the fact that his staff had been unable to find much information about the mining company. “You said it was called Chimaera, right?”

    “You’ve heard of it?” I asked. Hey, why not? Stranger things have happened, after all.

    “I…” he began, but shrank down beneath another of the senator’s “do not embarrass me” looks. “N-no. It just...reminded me of something, that’s all.” And since he’d effectively been discouraged from saying anything else, Kazuda divided the rest of his time between wolfing down sulyet (hey, it takes a lot of tiny tikit rolls to fill up a hungry teenage guy) and sneaking glances across the table at Wren—and he wasn’t as subtle about it as he seemed to think he was being. I would say that she had to have noticed, but she was focused on her sulyet, eating the stuff with a fierce determination not to Shame Clan Ordo by showing how she really felt about eating uncooked seafood. Once or twice, I thought I saw her sneaking a look in Kazuda’s direction, too, but I could have been wrong.

    Somehow, I made it through without committing myself to anything, Wren managed not to gag on raw fish, and neither of us caused an incident with Hosnian Prime by offending its Senator. I think we were both glad when lunch ended and we were finally able to get underway. (Poor Kazuda was apparently so bored from being brought along as a prop for his dad that he disappeared before the senator said good-bye.)

    Hey, Ro, the captain says we’re coming up on Korriban!

    What? Oh, right there.

    So, I guess this is where the fun starts, or something like that. Since there is no luck, I’ll just sign off for now by saying may the Force be with us.


    Ghtroc 720
    Sulyet: the GFFA version of sushi.

    Kazuda Xiono
    : Kaz is a bit younger here than he is on Resistance and not yet a pilot for the New Republic. I couldn’t resist bringing him into the Marzra-verse because he’s such a fun character.

    Senator Hamato Xiono’s personality is my extrapolation from the one brief scene he’s in on Resistance. Kaz calls his dad to tell him he’s joining the Resistance. He gets as far as “I need…” (as in “I need to tell you…”), and Hamato goes off on him: “As usual, you always need help. My help. I help you get into the Academy. I help you get into the Navy. I help you get everything you wanted. So what is it that you want this time?” This is despite the fact that Kaz, a New Republic pilot, has just completed a dangerous mission at considerable risk to himself.
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  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Enjoyed the exuberance of Kazuda and the not so subtle schmoozing of the Senator -- "hey, I wanna a favor whenever I call one in!" :p

    Ronen's reaction to sushi made me laugh, being as I am an unashamed lover of all things sushi. :D

    "This is where the fun begins..." More like the [face_nail_biting] ;)

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  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ooh, what a great idea to bring the Xionos, especially Kaz, into this 'verse! I know you've been wanting to bring him for a while, and he really is a good fit—I can see him hitting it off well with Ro and Wren. As always, you do a bang-up job with everyone's characterization here, from Ro to Wren "I MUST NOT SHAME CLAN ORDO" Ordo, to Kaz, to pompous old Hamato.

    But oh man, I so don't blame Ro for feeling very, very awkward at this meeting. :oops: Politics is most definitely not the sort of thing Jedi do, and especially not retiring, self-conscious Jedi like Ronen, and matters are only made more awkward with Sen. Hamato Xiono's very subtle-not-so-subtle ways of lording it over everyone around him and his hints that Ro and co. are now *BEHOLDEN!* to him. I also don't blame Kaz for feeling rather sheepish, too; it's clear that he gets a lot of this kind of micromanaging from his dad, even just for expressing his harmless little enthusiasms like his admiration of Hera's piloting (though I hear Ronen about the frustrations of the "two famous parents" dynamic—I mean, not from personal experience or anything, just in general :p ). Nor do I blame Wren for feeling indignant about Hamato's insinuations and minimizations, and I caught an interesting hint of her own "two famous parents" dynamic, which is totally different from Ronen's but no less awkward in its way (and my guess is she's closer to her dad than to her mom). With all those things combined, no wonder it's kind of a quiet, desultory, awkward lunch (though as a sushi fan myself I have to say the food sounded tasty). Though I'm definitely making a mental note of the fact that the mention of Chimaera Corp. caused Kaz to perk up—it sounds very much as though he might know something, whether
    from his studies of Republic military history, or a Marzraverse version of the espionage activities we know he's engaged in in Resistance, or both.
    But of course Hamato shuts him up before he can say much else, because Force forbid that he (Hamato) no longer be the Center of Attention in this conversation. :( (Also, I wonder if Hamato knows what it is his son knows, and specifically doesn't want him to pass it on—I sense possible ulterior-motive vibes, here... [face_thinking] ) Poor Kaz just beetles off out of chagrin, and I don't blame him.

    And now here they are on approach to Korriban—the fun is definitely about to begin, I'd say! May the Force be with these two crazy kids as their mission begins in earnest! :D
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
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  19. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Yes, Senator Xiono is a piece of work. As I mentioned, he only gets a brief scene in Resistance, but he struck me as very political and pretty self-absorbed. He seemed like the kind of person who would use even a small thing like letting Ro hitch a ride on his ship to his advantage. Yes, he probably does want to help the Republic, but if he can get something from it, so much the better. If Ronen can get some dirt on Chimaera and close it’s oper down on Korriban...well, that would be nice (hint, hint)

    I’m not a huge fan of sushi myself, and I could imagine that a Mandalorian like Wren doesn’t think much of tiny, artistic little bits of food. Also, she wants her meat cooked, thank you very much. Preferably with fire :p
    Thanks! I love Kaz; he’s such a dear, sweet goof on Resistance that I had to find some way to bring him into the Marzra-verse. It took a bit of doing with the timeline and the fact that he’s younger than most of my next-gen characters, but here he is! He and Ro can both be a bit awkward at times, but they both have good hearts and will do the right thing, no matter what.

    I think Hamato likes to believe that everyone is beholden to him, even when they’e not. On Resistance, he clearly believes it’s only due to his influence that Kaz got into the Academy and the New Republic Navy, when Kaz is actually a very good pilot (he holds off the “Red Baron” type TIE-pilot and keeps up with Poe Dameron) and probably needed no help. Ro’s not used to dealing with that sort of self-aggrandizing behavior, having grown up among Jedi.

    Oh yeah, Hamato has definite ideas how this meeting is supposed to go and what Kaz is supposed to do, which can probably be summed up as “stand there and make me look good”. He is lucky indeed that Wren’s been instilled with the importance of clan honor, or she’d kick his shebs for the whole “slip of a girl” thing, if not for forgetting that, hey, she has a dad,too. She is closer to Max than Sabine, partly because she has so little interest in art.

    You might want to file that observation away for later ;) As far as the spoiler—Kaz is younger here than on Resistance, so he’s not involved in any espionage—yet ;) But don’t feel too bad for Kaz just yet; he’s more resilient than he seems.

    Yep, things are going to get interesting right about now!

    So, I meant to post these drawings I made of our heroes in the last entry:p Here are Ronen, Noemi, Wren, and, just in case you’re not familiar with him, Kaz:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
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  20. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    As always, thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading@};-
    5. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who’s had it with kettles and giju
    03/07 3305 LY

    Did I say that meeting the freighter at the Garel City spaceport was a kettle of giju? Well, it led to another, even bigger one-- only as kettles of giju go, this one was more like an industrial-sized vat full of firaxa sharks.

    Dear Force—no more kettles and no more giju, okay? Thanks. Your friend, Ronen.

    Korriban was everything the Galactic Atlas promised: a cold red rock of a world lurking in a nearly empty sector of the Outer Rim, inconveniently far from the major hyperspace lanes. The whole planet had a sullen, brooding feel to it, even when seen from space. Dreshdae hunkered resentfully on the edge of a cliff, as if it remembered its heyday as the Sith capital and the site of their Academy and hated that it had been reduced to nothing more than a handful of rundown buildings. It looked like it could all blow over the edge with the next good dust storm.

    We touched down at the disreputable looking spaceport a little after 21:00, and Captain Minato was irritated. Senator Xiono’s impromptu lunch with us had set the Dutiful’s schedule back a good two hours. While he wasn’t about to say a bad word about his employer, especially to a Jedi, he grumbled that he was going to have to cut things short and wouldn’t even be able to get dinner if he wanted to make his next pickup on Elom.

    Fortunately (I guess), customs was only a bored-looking docking agent who knew the captain by name and let the cargo droids start unloading the ship without even inspecting its contents or checking the manifest. He barely glanced at the fake ident-card Aunt Mara had forged for me—which was kind of disappointing, actually. She'd gone through the trouble of making a whole cover identity for me, and I’d memorized all the details. I figured the agent would ask me something, even if it was only “why in space would you want to come to a pit like this”, but he just handed the card back to me and said, “You must be the one Shorty’s been looking for.”


    “Yeah, you know, fuzzy blue guy with a name bigger’n he is—Moomoopapawoohoo or somethin’ like that,” he said, describing my contact, more or less. The agent’s eyes flicked over me, and settled on Wren. “Didn’t say anything about a girl, though.”

    “Oh, heh...yeah, my cousin decided she’d come with me at the last minute. That won’t be a problem, will it?” I asked, realizing we could have a situation on our hands. I had a cover story, a new identity, and the documents to back it up. Wren didn’t have any of that, and while I could always do the old “you don’t need to see her identification” trick here, sooner or later we were going to have to come up with a good explanation of how she fit into my story.

    “Not for me.” The docking agent shrugged, too apathetic to even require Jedi mind tricks. He gave Wren another, slightly more interested look. “Kinda young to be workin’ at the dig, but that Twi’lek gal up at the Chimaera office can probably find somethin’ for her. Anyways, Shorty’s hanging out at the caf counter.” He waved a hand in the direction of the bay doors. “Better go over there before he gets all hyped up on instant latteccinos and I have to scrape him off the ceiling—fuzzball’s excitable enough as it is.”

    I thanked him, and Wren and I grabbed our gear—which he also had not bothered to inspect (probably a good thing given the array of weaponry in Wren’s case and the disassembled lightsaber in my satchel)—and headed off to find my Squibbish contact.

    The caf counter was in a shadowy corner of the spaceport’s main concourse. A vending droid was desultorily polishing the counter while its sole patron, a blue-furred Squib, emptied the entire contents of the sweetener shaker into his cup. His tufted ears twitched as we approached, and he spun around and leapt down from the rickety stool. “Ah-ha, here you are at last, Master Janos!” he exclaimed with a wink so exaggerated that if there had been anyone besides the vending droid there, they would have known immediately that “Master Janos“ was not my real name. Whatever mad skills he had as a treasure hunter, subtlety was definitely not his strong suit. “I expectorated you ages ago!”

    Neither, it seemed was a command of Basic. Now that he was standing, I could see now why the docking agent had called him “Shorty”—the tops of his furry ear tufts barely reached my waist. His button brown eyes and impish smile gave him the appearance of a child’s favorite plush toy come to life—a plush toy that had been dressed in rejects from the rag bag. His baggy shirt was a bright meiloorun orange, and it was belted with a purple sash embroidered with enormous fuschia pom blooms. His pants seemed to be repurposed children’s pajamas with blue and pink pittins frolicking on them, and he wore a pair of shiny black boots that came up to his knees and were at least two sizes too large.

    “Nope, nope, nope—no need to be sorry!” Humocanoepoo… um, Hoomoopanoo… Humookoo—you know what, I’m just going to call him Humoo, okay?—mistook my dumbfounded silence for embarrassment. He seized my hand and began pumping it enthusiastically; those tiny little claw-tipped fingers had a surprisingly strong grip. “Humookanookoopwaha Fhlaskhalhoosa--of the Fhlaskhalhoosa Fhlaskhalhoosas, you bet!—very much at your servants! And who might this fine young Mandolinorian warrior be? Honorificated to meet you!” He dropped my hand as suddenly as he’d grabbed it and started shaking Wren’s. She looked completely flummoxed and tried to pull loose of his grip without success. I guess dealing with garrulous meter-high rodents wasn’t what she had in mind when she signed on for this adventure.

    Humoo‘s beady eyes lit on her holstered blasters, and his whiskers twitched in excitement. “Say, those are some mighty nice WESTARS you’ve got there. Real quality work, don’t see them much nowadays, mhm.” He pulled a small pouch from the folds of his sash, rummaged through and pulled out a tarnished utensil. “How’s about I trade you this actual, real-life Naboo jewel-spoon used at Her Highness-ness Queen Pat-me’s coronation-fest for the pair, huh?”

    Wren stared at him as if he was out of his tiny, furry little mind. “They’re not for sale.”

    “Oooh, she’s a haggler, you bet!” Most beings would have at least paused if a Mandalorian looked at them like that, but Humoo grinned as if this was all part of a game. “Okay, so how’s about I make it two spoons and I throw in this exceedifyingly rare limited edition FizzyGlug Nuclear Fizzion cap”-- he pulled another small bit of metal out of his pouch and held it up for her inspection —”only sold for six months before the Imperial Safety Commission banned it for excesserive radiation, hmm? Sound fair? Of course it does!” Humoo pressed the bottle cap into Wren’s hand and reached for the blaster at her left hip.

    Her eyes narrowed and she swatted his hand away with a crack that had to have stung. “Do not touch my blasters again if you like your fuzzy fingers where they are.”

    I sighed. “Wren…” While Humoo had gotten off lightly—people have lost hands (or worse) trying to take a Mando’s blaster—I kind of needed him in one piece for this mission, and it was going to get tedious if I had to keep running interference between these two. “Sorry about that. So, um, this is my cousin, Wren. She’s...going to be staying with me… us… um…if that’s okay?” And once again, I was aware that I hadn’t really thought about any of the details before including Wren. I was supposed to be sharing a flat with Humoo, but I had no idea how big it was. For all I knew it was a one-room dive with a couple hammocks in the corner.

    “No worries, we of the Squibbish persuasive respect a hard bargainer, you bet!!” Humooo smiled and patted my kneecap reassuringly. “And no problems at all! I have arranged a most elegant and spaceful two-bedroom flat in beautifully scenic downtown Dreshdae for us! Fortunifically, each bedroom has two bunks, so we can be roomies while the young lady has her girlish-type privacy! What say, Roomie?”

    “Sounds... great.” This was going to be an interesting experience. I’d never had to share a room, except on Life Day holidays, when I bunked with Jacen because Aunt Sabine and Uncle Maximus took my room, or when Caleb slept over. Something told me Humoo could outdo either my brother or Caleb for keeping me up telling jokes and stories, but at least he couldn’t levitate my pillow and blankets in the middle of the night.

    “Koovy!” Humoo exclaimed with a grin full of pointy little teeth. “Let’s go!” He grabbed one of my hands and one of Wren’s and dragged us off towards the exit.

    Just then, I felt a telltale tingling in the Force—we were being followed. These kinds of Force premonitions can be really useful. They can let you know when your older brother is sneaking up on you for nefarious noogie purposes or when some bantha-brain like Dack Vinolo thinks it would be funny to put a spider droid in your hair. However, in this case the Force might as well have saved itself the trouble, because ten seconds later I heard, “Hey! Hey, Master Syndulla-Jarrus! Wait up!”

    Kazuda Xiono was bounding toward me, grinning and waving broadly, his green racer’s jacket standing out like a beacon in the grungy gloom of the concourse.

    Beside me Wren sucked in a sharp breath and I caught a tremor of uncertainty from her. She was supposed to protect me. Kazuda didn’t look like a threat, but what if he was? Oh, Mand’alor...please don’t make me have to shoot him… I could have told her not to worry; there was no sense of malice or hostility coming from him. Whatever Kazuda had followed us for, it wasn’t to hurt me. But the fact that he was there at all—well, I had a really bad feeling about that.

    Kazuda skidded to an awkward stop in front of me, a bit breathless from his sprint across the spaceport, but still smiling. “Hi! For a minute, I didn’t think I was going to catch you, Master—”

    I pulled him aside; there was a story here, and I needed to hear it without interruptions from over-familiar Squibs or edgy Mandos. “Don’t say it,” I told Kazuda, putting the tiniest touch of Force persuasion in my words, enough so that he stopped mid-word but not enough so that he’d know what I’d just done. “Right now, no one here knows who I am or why I’m here, and I’d really like to keep it that way. So—I’m just Ro, okay?”

    “Oh, right!” His eyes widened and he nodded eagerly. “Right. Got it. And, uh, you can call me Kaz. It’s really only my dad who calls me Kazuda all the time.”

    “Why are you here?” Maybe I should have been less abrupt, but I wanted to know how bad my bad feeling ought to be.

    “Well, I thought maybe you could use some help… with your thing… that you’re doing …for those people…” Kaz’s attempt at subtlety was slightly better than Humoo’s wink-wink nudge-nudge act, but unless he had a sign that said “SECRET JEDI SPY STUFF GOING ON HERE” it would have been difficult to do worse.

    “Help me how?” What was it about this mission that made otherwise reasonable kids want to volunteer for it? Okay, maybe that didn’t apply to Wren, but Kaz wasn’t a Mando, so presumably he didn’t feel a cultural obligation to throw himself headlong into danger. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be there, and I was technically an adult (though I didn’t really feel like it on days like this) and a Jedi who could theoretically handle stuff like tuk’ata, Sith spirits and Dark Side talismans.

    I wondered if Kaz knew about any of those things. Maybe he didn’t, or maybe he didn’t take them seriously. Or maybe he just hadn’t thought the whole thing through. “Well,” he continued, his enthusiasm undimmed by my obvious lack of it, “I’m a really good pilot! I’ve already won a couple of races back on Hosnian Prime, and I’m hoping to qualify for the Junior Sabers in a year or two.”

    Okay… “That’s great, but I don’t have a ship. I took your dad’s freighter here, remember?”

    “Oh…yeah.” His smile slipped as reality finally caught up with him, but only for a moment. “I… I could do research for you, um, run errands… I can even cook!” Kaz offered brightly. “Sort of.”

    “I’m sorry, Kaz.” And I was, in a way. He was such an earnest, guileless young man that it was hard not to like him, and under other circumstances, we probably would have gotten along pretty well. But the last thing I needed was another teen to look after. At least Wren knew how to use a blaster. “This is a really dangerous mission, and your dad’s not going to be too happy with me if I let you accidentally get eaten by a terentatek.” And then that bad feeling returned, along with another premonition. “Wait… He doesn’t know you’re here, does he?”

    “Um, not...not exactly.” Kaz looked away sheepishly, and I had to suppress the urge to smack him the way Jacen had been known to smack me when I did something really dumb. True, his dad wasn’t the most supportive parent ever, but seriously, hopping a freighter to Korriban without telling him? That was just… yeah… So since I couldn’t actually give him a fraternal smack a la Jacen, I decided I’d take a page from Ayelet and give Kaz an earful in the Kindest, Most Loving Way. Before I could, though, he gave me another sad mooka pup look. “My dad…”—Kaz shrugged as if to say “you saw how he was”— “…he wants me to be a page at the Senate this summer, but that’s just not me. I don’t want to be in politics; I’m not good at talking. I want to really do something for the New Republic. I’m going to the flight academy on Hosnian Prime in the fall, but I thought if I came with you, it could be a chance to do something important now. A lot more important than fetching caf for my dad or filing papers, anyway.”

    Okay, where had I heard all that before? Oh, yeah—me at his age. I’d complained to Mom that I was never going to be able to do anything a millionth as important or interesting as she and Dad had done. And I remembered how unsatisfying her reply that I had to give it some time had been. I wished I had another answer for Kaz, but there really wasn’t one. “I’m sorry, Kaz, I really am, but Korriban is just too freakishly dangerous, especially without your dad’s permission. You should comm him to let him know you’re okay. He’s probably really worried about you by now.”

    Kaz’s shoulders slumped, all his cheerful enthusiasm gone. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” He pulled a commlink out of his pocket and I stepped away, steering Wren and Humoo back towards the caf counter so he could have some privacy for what was more than likely not going to be a fun conversation.

    They must have heard enough of what Kaz and I had said to have figured out what was going on. Humoo looked back at Kaz, his ear tufts and whiskers drooping. Wren’s expression was indecipherable, but her fingers twitched against her blasters like she wanted to shoot something (because if there was a problem, then obviously something needed to be shot). Neither of them said anything, which was kind of a wonder, and I appreciated it. I wasn’t sure how I was going to straighten this out without causing some sort of incident with the Senator. The best idea I could come up with was to take Kaz back to the Dutiful and have Captain Minato take him back to Garel, even if they had to go by way of Elom and wherever else he had to stop.

    The rumble of a large ship taking off interrupted my thoughts. I suppose there could have been another freighter besides the Dutiful at the spaceport, but I doubted it.

    Well, karabast, that was going to complicate things…

    I tried not to listen to Kaz’s conversation, but Senator Xiono’s voice carried. He wasn’t happy and, what’s more, he was Not Happy at great length. The commlink’s connection was staticky, but I could still I pick out phrases like “reckless, ill-considered”, “what possessed you”, and “always need my help”. Kaz’s voice was lower but every now and then I heard “but Dad…” And then the conversation broke off abruptly. “Dad…?”

    Kaz walked over to the caf counter in a daze, holding the commlink out in front of himself and frowning down at it like he was trying to figure out what just happened. He stood in front of us still staring at it for a moment before he finally looked up. “He’s not coming. He said I’d already caused enough havoc and I could just stay here until the next transport comes, that maybe by then I’d have learned something about chasing after these hoojib-brained ideas of mine.”

    “Ibic shabl’hut’uun!” Wren swore volubly, and I hoped that Kaz didn’t understand Mando’a. I don’t speak a lot of it, but Bellona taught us Spectre cousins a fair number of their insults and swear words (because isn’t that what kids always want to learn first in a foreign language?) Even though “hut’uun” only translates as “coward”, it’s considered one of the worst insults a Mandalorian can use. And “shabla”...well, let’s just say that as the responsible adult cousin, I really should have gotten after Wren for using that kind of language. I probably would have if I didn’t agree with her sentiment, if not her choice of words.

    I couldn’t imagine Dad responding like that, even if I had been crazy enough to run off on a mission so far above my ability. He and Mom have always been big believers in learning from the consequences of one’s actions, but that was for stuff like not being able to go to the holos with your cousins because you spent your whole allowance on fizzy sweets, not fending for yourself on a strange planet. Well, that’ll teach you, kid… And even if Mandalorians did look at things differently, I couldn't see Aunt Sabine shrugging it off if Wren was stuck on a dangerous world without any resources, either.

    So even though I didn’t want to take on another responsibility on this mission, I knew what I had to do. I laid a hand on Kaz’s shoulder. “Come on.”

    “What?” Kaz blinked, still half in shock.

    “You need someplace to stay, and lucky for you we have an extra bunk.” We didn’t, really, but I’d sleep on the floor before I left Kaz on his own. I had a feeling charity was in really short supply on the streets of Korriban. Whatever annoyance I’d felt at having Kaz show up, he didn’t deserve to be treated this way. Emotion, yet peace, I reminded myself. I made myself smile as if this was all just a big adventure—and dear Force, I hoped that’s all it would be for Kaz. I’d find some way for him to contribute, even if it was only “sort of” cooking. “Now you’re part of the team.”

    Team. How did that happen?

    Wasn’t this supposed to be my big solo mission? Okay, I guess it was never exactly a solo mission since working with Humoo was part of the specs. But I wasn’t expecting him to be so… Squibby, you bet, with all the chattering, and the mangled Basic, and the bargaining. He tried all night to get Wren to sell her WESTARs for various bits of junk. If she doesn’t throttle him before the week is out, I’ll be surprised. And Wren may be a crack shot and know how to use fifty different kinds of weapons, but she’s still a kid and still my cousin. I know she thinks she’s looking after me, but someone’s got to look after her. Kaz—he seems like a good kid, really, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with him. I can’t very well have him stay in the apartment the whole time, but I just can’t see him working at the dig either. How am I supposed to keep this whole bunch safe? I have to. What kind of Jedi would I be if I didn’t?

    Because if we’re a team—then that makes me the leader, right? I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. What if I make the wrong decisions? What if I screw everything up and I can’t keep Wren from shooting Humoo or Kaz wanders off and gets eaten by a tuk’ata and everyone hates me?

    And on top of it all, I’m just waiting for the other boot to drop. I can tell the Force isn’t done with this mission yet, not by a long shot. I had another one of those premonitions—someone else is going to be joining us.

    What have you got planned for me, Force? Who else are you throwing into the mix—some wispy little Bimm grandmother? A Huttlet that can’t squirm on its own and burps slime? A litter of orphaned pittins? Whatever you’ve got in mind, can I ask you to please reconsider? I’ve got my hands full right now as it is. Thanks again—Ro.
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Kazuda is so enthusiastic and Ronen can actually sympathize with the entire teen attitude of "That's boring, I want to do something adventurous and IMPORTANT!" But Ro is right... Korriban is icky and dangerous even for fully trained Jedi. :eek:

    But what with his dad not knowing Kaz is there and the freighter taking off, :oops:

    Then this:

    And on top of it all, I’m just waiting for the other boot to drop. I can tell the Force isn’t done with this mission yet, not by a long shot. I had another one of those premonitions—someone else is going to be joining us.

    What have you got planned for me, Force? Who else are you throwing into the mix—some wispy little Bimm grandmother? A Huttlet that can’t squirm on its own and burps slime? A litter of orphaned pittins? Whatever you’ve got in mind, can I ask you to please reconsider? I’ve got my hands full right now as it is.

    [face_laugh] =D=

    I have a sneaking suspicion I know who this new arrival is gonna be. [face_love] [face_mischief]
    Findswoman and Raissa Baiard like this.
  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    “Part of the team now”—the team. If that doesn’t herald a new phase in this story, and a whole new dimension to Ronen’s mission, I don’t know what does! :cool:

    Such an exciting and momentous chapter, in so many ways. First, we meet Beautifully! Scenic! Downtown! Dreshdae! with its chahming dilapidated buildings and run-down spaceport and tired, blasé customs agent! :p Then we meet the famous Squib contact, Humoo (as I’ll call him, too)—but that part is a real treat, because you’ve done a great job with him, from the mismatched colorful outfit to the boundless caffeinated energy to the haggling to Squibspeak (which I know you were concerned about at first but which I think you’ve pretty much nailed). Extra squee for the fact that he’s a Flhaskhalhoosa scion, and that he gives every impression of carrying on admirably in his family’s scavenging-haggling tradition! (Though I don’t blame Wren for being irritated with him, the way he keeps offering to trade various bits of junk her WESTARs... she’s going to be quite an interesting foil for him, I can see!)

    But then the whole mission turns sideways when who should show up but young Mr. Kazuda Xiono! Aw, poor fellow, I really feel for him here. He’s just this happy, enthusiastic, nice young guy who just wants to help out and be part of something important (and I do indeed remember when Ronen, at a similar age, felt the same way). But his dad seems intent on quashing his spirit at every turn—and that’s putting it very lightly, because leaving him behind with nothing at all on a dangerous, remote planet in order to teach his son not to chase hoojib-brained ideas?! Really, just REALLY?! :mad: Thank the Force that the good-hearted Ronen is right there beside him on that harsh, dangerous world, to take him in and give him shelter and a place to sleep (even if it means giving up his own bed). Nor does it stop there: Ro makes him part of the team, gives him the chance to be part of something important, just as Kaz has always wanted. This must mean so much to Kaz at this moment. Ro’s doubts and worries about this new state of affairs is very understandable, given that he’s in loco parentis to this motley little crew, but I know his good heart and natural conscientiousness will see him through. <3 (Wow, another found family in the making! Always a theme with which you do great things. @};- )

    And I, too, think I know whom the Force has in mind to join this team next! Just a guess... Better not keep us waiting too long for the next excellent chapter, so Nyota and I can see if we’re right! ;)

    P.S. The drawings are fantastic—everyone looks great! You realize you have to do Humoo next, though! :D
  23. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Ronen has definitely "been there, done that" as far as wanting to do something important--and that same attitude of teenage invincibility led him to follow Ben into the Jedi Temple instead of letting one of the adult Jedi know what was going on. He might not have been quite as in over his head as Kaz is here, but he can certainly sympathize.

    The Huttlet is a reference to The Clone Wars movie, where Anakin and Ahsoka were stuck with Jabba's son Rotta (aka "Stinky") and spend a lot of time lugging him around in a GFFA baby sling :p And I guess you'll have to wait with Ronen to find out who it is ;)
    Yep, it's something he wasn't expecting when he signed up for this gig, that's for sure!

    Downtown Dreshdae's...quaint, isn't it? (And by quaint, of course, I mean "depressingly run down") It's gone waaaaay downhill since the KOTOR days and turned into the sort of dead end world where no one is there who has any better options. And thank you, so much! :) I'm glad you like Humoo. I consulted your Squib stories often to get the feel for Squib-speak--it's kind of fun once you get going, isn't it? :D The RPG guide that introduced the Squibs said something along the lines of that to Squibs, a "no" answer only means they haven't offered you the right deal yet, and that's the attitude Humoo has here. He may have met his match in Wren, though, because a Mando is not going to be parted from her favorite blasters for love, money or any amount of jewel-spoons and bottle caps.

    I like your description of Kaz--he's really one of the most average young characters in Star Wars. He's not a Jedi or a Mando or anything like that. He's just a young man who's trying to do good and gets thrown into the middle of stuff that's a lot bigger than him. (And that's one of the interesting things about Resistance; there aren't any of the usual high profile character types. Most of the characters are blue-collar to upper-middle class citizens.) His dad is quite a piece of work. I think he fully expects Kaz to comm him begging for help before the night is out (Which will give Hamato another thing to add to his "see what I do for you" list), but he's underestimated Kaz and not taken Ro's good heart into consideration. Ro has a little bit of each of his parents in him here. Like Hera, he's not about to turn away a youngster in need, and like her with Sabine and Ezra, he can see something of value in this awkward young man.But like Kanan, faced with taking Ezra on, he's got some of the same doubts and pessimism about the new role he's taking on. But because he is so much like them, we know he'll get through this --not without making mistakes, but by being the kind of compassionate leader that they taught him to be.

    All I can say about the new arrival is [face_batting][face_batting][face_batting]. And I will add Humoo to my list of art projects!
  24. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading and encouragement [:D] @};-

    6. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus Ildephonsus Janos, whose fictional parents obviously hated him
    07/07 3305 LY

    Hey, so...sorry it’s been a couple days since I’ve updated my journal. Things have been pretty busy, and, well, our new living arrangements aren’t exactly conducive to recording new entries.

    Our apartment is not, as Humoo claimed, either elegant or “spaceful”. We are, however, located in what passes for “scenic downtown Dreshdae”, in a multi-unit complex that’s squeezed in between a droid repair shop (which I’m pretty sure is a front for spice dealers, because plenty of people go inside but none of them ever have droids), and a cantina that’s charmingly named “The Drunk Side”. They advertise that they’ve been there since the days of the Sith Academy, which might be a selling point if: a.) Dreshdae actually had any tourists and b.) it wasn’t a depressing hole in the wall.

    I think the apartment complex has been here at least that long. If it was ever elegant, it sure isn’t now. The furniture seems to be Clone War-era military surplus and the rest of the decor could be charitably described as “eclectic”. Humoo has an extensive collection of… stuff. Some of it is kind of nice, like the set of dejarik pieces carved out of “genuine Black Spire basalt from Batuu”. Some of it is dubious, like the entire set of spoons he claims was used at “Queen Pat-me Amygdala’s coronation-fest”. Some of it is downright bizarre, like the desiccated simian hand with three of its fingers folded down (which I finally hid in the back of a cabinet because it reeks of the Dark Side). But most of it is just plain junk: bottlecaps, broken hardware, wires, a giant ball of lint (at least I hope it’s a ball of lint and not some dead, fuzzy creature), artwork made of chewing gum, the AI core from an old caf maker, you name it… I’m kind of glad I gave Kaz the other bunk, because there isn’t much space left in the bedroom. It’s only as big as one of the Ghost’s cabins, and with all of Humoo’s odds and ends spilling out of the drawers and off the shelves, there’s hardly room to walk.

    I sleep on the government surplus futon in the conversation circle/ dining room/ kitchen/ common area/whatever. Which is about as comfortable as it sounds. It’s a good thing I can use Force relaxation techniques to sleep, because otherwise the squeaky springs would probably keep me awake all night.

    Wren is the only one of us who has any sort of privacy. She’s lucky that Humoo hadn’t started using her room for storage yet.

    The whole apartment is smaller than the Ghost—just the two bedrooms, the common area with its tiny cooking area that’s not really even big enough to be considered a kitchen, and a closet-sized ’fresher. It might have been “spaceful” for a Squib, but when you add three Humans, it’s definitely getting a bit tight.

    Kaz is adjusting to things a lot better than I would have expected. I mean, this cramped little apartment has to be a far cry from what he’s used to on Hosnian Prime or Coruscant, given that his dad is a senator who owns at least one company. Since he didn’t actually bring any gear with him, he’s been wearing whatever he can find in Humoo’s collection of treasures that more or less fits. But he seems to have a naturally cheerful attitude and he throws himself into everything, even if the results are a bit mixed sometimes. (There was an… incident at the dig site with one of Wren’s grenades. Let’s just say if I do find any Sith artifacts, I’ll give them to Kaz. They’ll never make it to civilization in one piece.)

    That first morning, it seemed like we were all tripping over each other (literally, in Kaz’s case) trying to scrounge breakfast from Humoo’s sadly limited provisions, which consisted mainly of highly processed instant meals and nutritionally dubious snack foods, along with a handful of sad-looking kibla greens and a carton of expired nuna eggs in the conservator. There was a caf maker lurking beneath a pile of hand towels in festive Life Day designs, but no actual caf, so I had to make do with some powdered Intergalactic Moments hubba gourd spice latte (seriously, why does everyone like that flavor?) to go along with my Blue Bantha Breakfast Biscuit, which made me kind of miss my usual ration bars. Sure, they taste like chak fiber, but they don’t have enough sugar to make your teeth ache. I made a mental note to hit Dreshdae’s marketplace as soon as possible.

    “Okay, so we need to go over a few things before we head out,” I told our crew as we crammed ourselves around the not-quite-functional dejarik table that doubled as our dining table. “First of all, while we’re here, I’m not Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus and I’m definitely not a Jedi. My name is Ildephonsus Janos and…”

    “Ildephonsus?” Wren wrinkled her nose while Kaz nearly choked on his insta-noodles trying to stifle a snerk. “What are we supposed to call you?” she demanded. “Ill?”

    “Phonse?” Kaz suggested, once he’d managed to swallow his noodles without dying. “Fonsy?”

    Humoo looked up from his bowl of StarPop cereal and FizzyGlug TurboCharge (no wonder he always has so much energy), perplexed. “But Ildephonsus is a perfectly koovy name! Almost Squibbish in its magnifitude!”

    All right, Ildephonsus is a little over-the-top, but it happens to be my actual middle name and my dad’s middle name, the only part of his real name that he kept when he became Kanan Jarrus. That’s why Aunt Mara chose it for my cover identity, so it would be easy for me to remember and respond to. And it’s not that bad, right? I mean, it’s not nearly as hard to say as Humookanookoopwhaha. “Look, if you can’t remember Ildephonsus, just call me Ro. It can be my nickname or something.”

    Wren still looked dubious. “How do you get ‘Ro’ from Ildephonsus?”

    “I don’t know—maybe I like to go boating.” (Wren groaned and rolled her eyes and Kaz snerked again at this.) “Or maybe it’s my middle name.”

    “Ildephonsus Ro Janos?”

    “Yeah, well, my fictional parents obviously hated me. Just go with it, okay?” Really, Wren was making this a lot harder than it needed to be. We had bigger things to worry about than whether my made-up name sounded silly—like the fact that she didn’t have a cover identity, silly sounding or not. I gave her and Kaz my best Very Serious Dad look, trying to be the Authoritative and Responsible Leader that I totally did not feel like. “And do not answer any questions about yourselves, because I still haven’t figured out how the two of you fit into all this.”

    I wished later that I’d remembered my own advice.

    It took some effort to get myself ready to go to the dig site. I’ve gotten good at making myself disappear in the Force, but usually when I’ve done it, I make myself invisible, too, kind of pushing the Force out around me like a bubble that reflects what’s around it. This time I had to hide my Force presence but stay visible, and it was trickier, like I had to make my presence smaller and build sort of a shell around it. It was vaguely uncomfortable--the best way I can describe it is that I was wearing armor a size-and-a-half too small. Then, once I got my Force-walls in place, I had to figure out how to anchor them so I didn’t have to be constantly maintaining the whole thing. But I’m glad that I took the extra time to get it right, because when we got to the Valley of the Dark Lords...OMF.

    It was Dark.

    Not physically, of course. The sun was high overhead; it beat down on the red rock, but did little to warm it up. But the chill wind was nothing compared to the cold Darkness that seeped through the valley like a malevolent fog. The accumulation of thousands of years of evil and hatred, the residue of the atrocious acts that the Dark Lords had committed there pooled and fed on itself and grew until it was almost an entity unto itself--a presence so tangible, I didn’t know how anyone, Force-sensitive or not, could stand to be there. I stood gasping in the shadow of a half-toppled pillar carved with runes that made my skin crawl and jumped like a startled Loth-cat when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

    “Are you okay?” Kaz asked, peering into my face in concern. Ahead of us, Humoo and Wren stopped bickering over whether six jewel spoons was a fair trade for one of Wren’s WESTARs and looked back at us.

    “Yeah,” I managed, my voice raspy. “I just need a minute.” I wanted to lean against something, but the only thing nearby was the pillar and there was no way I was touching it.

    “I’m not paying you to stand around and gawk,” a voice with a Rylothean accent so thick I could have cut it with my lightsaber came from behind me. It belonged to a tall, orange-skinned Twi’lek. He was impeccably dressed in a white jacket and pale blue tunic, khaki pants and glossy nerf-hide boots, which seemed to be sort of an odd choice of attire to wear to an archaeological site, what with all the dirt and dust. Next to him was a young Twi’lek woman with pale purple skin holding a datapad. Her gray jacket and pants were somewhat more practical than his clothes, but still perfectly tailored and kind of form-fitting (not that I was looking or anything).

    I don’t know if it was just his skin color, his accent, or that and his age together, but for a second he reminded me of Grandpa Cham. But that impression only lasted until he spoke. “Janos, isn’t it?” he asked, looking me over like I was some sort of vermin that had crawled out of the rocks. “What have we here? Hair and lekku—now that is something one doesn’t see everyday.” Thank the Force his tone suggested, and he crossed his lekku in the old Twi’lek gesture of warding against bad luck or evil.

    So this was my boss, Belloq. Great…

    There’s this whole, weird thing that some Twi’leks have about Human men “stealing” their women (our women? I don’t even know…). Needless to say, they don’t care much for hybrids, and as hybrids go, I’m pretty obvious. I spent most—okay, all—of my childhood convinced that I was the biggest freak this side of the Perelemian Trade Route, and I only really started to get over it when I realized that Noemi has always loved me and believed in me because of who I am—and not despite the way I look. Seeing the disdain on Belloq’s face made all those old feelings come creeping back. I wanted to disappear the rest of the way—fade slowly into the red rock and never come back. But I couldn’t do that. I was a Jedi and this was my mission. Emotion, yet peace. I ducked my head and mumbled, “My mother was a dancer. Never really knew my dad…” The words stuck in my throat because they were so untrue—Mom and Dad love each other and all of us kids—but I wasn’t Ronen here. I was Ildephonsus Janos, and his dad had been a jerk.

    Belloq gave a superior sniff, as if he’d expected something like that old Twi’lek dancer cliché, as if that explained everything he needed to know about me. “And tell me, Janos, what are these children doing here?”

    “Uh, yeah…well, I was hoping maybe I could find jobs for my, um, cousins, too.” I realized I was still mumbling and not really looking at Belloq as I spoke, like I was trying to make myself invisible without using the Force. Don’t look at me; I’m not really here. I kind of hated that I was slipping back into those old habits, that they were still so easy to fall into when I ran into someone like Belloq.

    “Cousins?” He sniffed again, his upper lip wrinkling in distaste. “I thought you said you didn’t know your father.”

    Oh, karabast… I’d been so flustered, I’d already forgotten what I told Wren and Kaz: don’t answer any questions. Yeah, that was part of my cover story. Dancer mom, no dad, grew up poor with no prospects and no skills. How did a couple of “cousins” fit into that? There was no way that Wren and Kaz could pass as hybrids. My brother Jacen looks mostly Human, but even he has some traces of his Twi’lek half in his green hair and the pale green dappling on his ears and cheeks. Think, Ronen, think. You’re a Jedi Sentinel now, so you’d better learn to think on you feet.

    Unexpectedly, it was Wren who came to my rescue. She and Humoo had been walking a little ahead of me and Kaz, but now she returned to (flank) me, standing at my right hand with Kaz at my left. While her posture was a teen’s slouch and her hands were on her hips, her fingers brushed against her blasters. “There are Twi’lek Mandos, you know. We’re not specieist,” she informed Belloq with the sort of “please contradict me because I would love to shoot you” look that only a Mandalorian could pull off.

    “I stand corrected.” Belloq’s lekku twitched in annoyance, but it seemed he wasn’t stupid enough to challenge a Mando with an attitude, even if she was just sixteen. He turned his disdain to an easier target—Kaz. At my suggestion, Kaz had left his stylish racer’s jacket behind and was wearing a brownish-gray tunic he’d found in Humoo’s stash. Whoever the Squib had gotten it from must have been short and bulky, because it hung on his shoulders but the sleeves stopped well short of his wrists, emphasizing his lanky form. “The boy doesn’t strike me as much of a warrior, though,” Belloq sneered.

    Kaz looked mortified. “Wha—...uh…I...,” He stammered, but again, it was Wren who answered.

    “Aliit ori'shya tal'din,” she said, shifting so that she was standing in front of me and Kaz. Her hands slid a little father towards the WESTARs at her hips. "Family is more than blood.”

    Belloq ignored her—or tried to; I noticed his lekku still twitched—and skewered me with a look. “What exactly do you think they can do to make themselves useful?”

    “You’ve got a lot of rock here.” Wren waved a hand in the general direction of the valley, where there was indeed plenty of rock, from boulder-sized chunks of fallen pillars to piles of scree at the bases of crumbling temples. “Looks like you could use someone who knows something about demolitions.”

    “You?” Belloq scoffed. “You’re a child!”

    Wren straightened, her eyes flashing with the same dangerous gleam they’d had when Senator Xiono called her “a slip of a girl.” “No,” she retorted, “I’m a Mandalorian.”

    Oh dear Force, this was heading Rimward really fast. Somehow, I had to keep Wren from offending Belloq so badly he fired me and kicked all of us out of the excavation site. That would put a serious crimp on my mission; I could just imagine what the Council would say if I came back to Lothal less than a week after I’d left, my job shot to Mustafar because I couldn’t stop my cousin from mouthing off.

    Aid came from another unexpected quarter. The Twi’lek woman, who had been watching this interplay, spoke up, “We do have those boulders blocking site 37. Perhaps as a test…?” She had a Rylothean accent, too, but hers was less pronounced and more musical than Belloq’s, a softening of consonants and blurring of the ends of words. She glanced down at her datapad, her fingers skipping over it efficiently. “And we also need someone to fill in for Struggs.”

    “What’s wrong with him?” Belloq looked annoyed again. I was beginning to suspect that petulant frown was his usual expression.

    “He’s still recovering from the…accident.”

    “Hmph,” Belloq snorted. Though there was plenty of room on the path that wound through the crumbling pillars and down to the valley, he pushed past me, shouldering his way between me and Kaz. He turned to jab a finger under my nose. “Just keep your cousins out of my way, Janos. This is an excavation, not a crèche.” And with that, he thankfully marched off to the dig site, where no doubt the rest of the workers were awaiting him with great enthusiasm.

    “He’s a real charmer, isn’t he?” I muttered, watching him go.

    “He has his moments.”

    I jumped at the sound of the feminine voice. I’d forgotten that Belloq’s assistant was still there, and she was watching me.

    My lekku started twitching they way they do when I get nervous and I could feel them start to flush. I hadn’t even officially started my job yet and I’d already managed to offend my boss with my existence and offend the assistant who’d actually been nice to me by disparaging him (schutta that he was).

    Except she didn’t exactly look offended. She looked more amused; her magenta eyes sparkled and her lips curved into a half smile. She was regarding me as if there was something kind of intriguing about me, and for some reason that was more disconcerting than if she’d been angry. “Uh, sorry, I shouldn’t have…” I stammered. Oh great, Ro. Way to improve that first impression. She’s going to regret helping you, and you need all the allies you can get here. Trying desperately to salvage something from this situation, I forced a smile and held out my hand. “Uh, hi. I’m Ildephonsus Janos. Thanks for helping us.”

    “Yuthura Jolanta. My pleasure.” She smiled as she shook my hand. Her fingers were warm and surprisingly soft, but since she probably didn’t work at the dig, I guess there was no reason for them to be calloused or rough. She clasped my hand for what seemed like an inordinately long time before letting go. “Perhaps we’ll see each other around the site?”

    Twitch, twitch, twitch. My lekku kept going and I was pretty sure they’d turned meiloorun orange by that time. “Yeah, sure! That’d be great. Um, nice. Um…”

    Yuthura laughed a musical, tinkling laugh, and she raised a hand in a graceful wave as she glided down the path, lekku swaying as she went (again, not that I was looking…).

    There was a sudden sharp poke in my ribs. Wren was scowling at me. “Don’t let Noemi find out about her,” she said darkly.

    “What? No!” Okay, so Yuthura was kind of attractive, but I love Noemi and nothing’s ever going to change that. Just because I’d noticed Yuthura’s long lekku and pale violet skin didn’t mean…. “She helped us out, I was just being nice. Anyway, she’s Belloq’s assistant, she could be a useful contact.”

    “Yeah,” Wren snorted, “You just keep telling yourself that.” And she strode off towards the dig without waiting for the rest of us, while Humoo, Kaz and I exchanged baffled looks. Kaz shrugged. Girls…

    Ronen, would you please shut up already?!

    Wren! You’re supposed to be in bed!

    I was, but it’s hard to sleep with someone constantly whispering to himself out here. Some of us are going to be using explosives tomorrow, and insomnia and demolitions don’t mix.

    Fine… Well, I guess that’s all for tonight then. Ronen or Ildephonsus or whoever I am out….
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
    Mira_Jade , Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    This exchange cracked me up!

    “Ildephonsus?” Wren wrinkled her nose while Kaz nearly choked on his insta-noodles trying to stifle a snerk. “What are we supposed to call you?” she demanded. “Ill?”

    “Phonse?” Kaz suggested, once he’d managed to swallow his noodles without dying. “Fonsy?”

    [face_rofl] =D=

    Bravo for Wren thinking quickly and answering smoothly.

    Belloq is not what I'd call a charmer. :p

    Yuthura ... she sounds gorgeous and proved helpful and more than a little intrigued by Ro.

    Noemi will have something to say about that, I can bet ... if she finds out, which I have no doubt Wren will be all too glad to fill her in on. ;)
    Findswoman and Raissa Baiard like this.