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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. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh yes, things have definitely gone very dark indeed for Ro and co., and pretty suddenly, too! :eek: Tuk'ata in a built-up area (rather than just out in the wilderness) is a huge, huge red flag, as Ronen sees at once. And the way everyone seems to insist on covering up the truth about them (and particularly about what happened to Mr. Struggs) is another huge red flag. This is where I really have to applaud Kaz with all my heart; he has really been doing a bang-up job paying attention to the conversations of the workers and sorting out the real from the fake in gathering this extremely important and game-changing intelligence. Ro and co. don't know how fortunate they are to have him at a time like this!

    I also don't think it's a coincidence that the news of tuk'ata prowling around Dreshdae is coming to Ro at pretty much the same time things have gone weird with Yuthura (cue Doran quote here). It's interesting that, even though Ro quickly puts two and two together concerning the noises in the city and Struggs's injury, he still seems at least partly to be chalking Yuthura's recent behavior up to "I don't understand women," and I hope that won't run him into trouble later! But this is where he (and the others) are very fortunate to have Wren on their side, too, who I know will be keeping a jai'galaar eye on that long-lekku'd dame.

    And on top of it all, in the "love always finds a way" department, we have Wren and Kaz's growing closeness happening at exactly the same time as all these dark doings! Very cute and clever reference to "Your Best Shot" there! (Right down to the "thinking very loudly" on the part of both parties—and now we know Ro "heard" them both!) Sure, it's one more thing for Ro to keep an eye on on top of everything else that's going down, but hey, at very least, one more being with marksmanship skills is not at all a bad thing to have on hand at a time like this!

    Very, very eager to see what will come of the interview with Struggs (and I love that it's apparently going to be both Ro and Kaz talking to him, because spies really do investigate :D ). I have a feeling the already molasses-textured plot is about to thicken even more! :eek: :eek: :eek:
  2. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Aww, thanks, glad you’re enjoying them!
    It’s never a good thing when Jedi hunting Sithspawn show up, particularly in town. I think most of the residents of Dreshdae are more brushing things off and finding “rational” explanations for things they don’t understand/can’t comprehend than covering things up—but some of those explanations are being supplied by those who are covering things up (and I think you have a pretty good guess as to who that is). Kaz may be a klutz and a little naive, but he’s not stupid and he’s heard Ronen warn him about the tuk’ata enough to put two and two together when he hears the workers talking, and he’s also smart enough to realize this is the kind of thing that Ronen would want to know.

    Coincidence? [face_whistling] Ro has a bit of a blind spot where Yuthura’s concerned, and it’s not so much that she’s attractive as that she’s nice and helpful, and he takes her at face value. Wren’s been skeptical of her for the start, though, and won’t let her cousin do anything too stupid if she can help it.

    isn’t that the way it so often goes? Ronen’s fortunate that Kaz and Wren are kind of awkward novices at this whole romance thing, and they’re being low-key as they’re finding their way through this—and that Wren has found a particularly Mando way of flirting, because as you note, it’s never a bad thing to have another blaster on your side.

    Wait no longer...
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  3. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

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

    13. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who is not, as far as anyone on Korriban knows, a Jedi healer
    29/07/3305 LY

    Struggs lived on the—well, not the bad side of Dreshdae. That would imply that it has a good side, and as far as I can tell, it’s all equally seedy and run down.

    Anyway, Struggs lived in a ramshackle little prefab in a housing development located in a box canyon near the mineral extraction facility. The clangor of machinery echoing off the rock walls sounded like a battalion of tap-dancing armored walkers, and there was a harsh metallic tang to the air that made me cough.

    “And I thought living next to the Drunk Side was bad,” Wren commented, wrinkling her nose. “But at least it’s only loud on Zhellday nights. And it doesn’t smell this bad, even on Benduday morning.”

    I hadn’t planned on bringing Wren along for our chat with Struggs. Kaz is one of those naturally sympathetic people who can talk to just about anyone, and it was Kaz’s discovery that Struggs’s “accident” could be more than anyone was letting on, so I felt like he deserved to be there to investigate. Wren, on the other hand…Mandos aren’t exactly known for their sympathy, and I wanted this to be a conversation, not an interrogation. But that morning, Noemi insisted we take her too. She said she had a bad feeling about things—and far be it from me to write off another Jedi’s bad feeling (especially my girlfriend’s) when I've been living in a perpetual state of bad feeling-ness for the last month.

    The grizzled Svivreni who answered when Kaz pressed the door chime was clearly not well. His mane was ragged, brittle and straw-like, hanging in uneven clumps; his graying fur was patchy and dull. His clothes hung on him. He’d been muscular once, it seemed, but those muscles had dwindled to the point that he leaned heavily on a cane for support. And worst of all, there was an unhealthy smell about him, something sweet and rotten that hinted at death and decay. “Yeah?”

    Kaz stood there twitching like a pocket hare under Struggs’s baleful gaze, both his natural gregariousness and (mostly imagined) spy skillz deserting him at the critical moment. I nudged him, and he faltered to life with a too-big smile and too-cheery wave. “Uh, hi, Master Struggs, I’m Kazuda… Janos, and these are my, um, my cousins, Ildephonsus and Wren. I drive the lunch speeder for Chimaera now. We, um, heard about your, uh, your accident, and we thought maybe there was… something we could do to help you?”

    Struggs kept staring at us. At this point I figured the odds were fifty-fifty that he would just tell us to get lost. I don’t think we looked threatening, per se, but from what I’d seen of Korriban, it wasn’t the kind of place where helpful young people just showed up offering to mow a sick neighbor’s yard (or rake the dirt or whatever one did here). And we were a pretty odd assortment of “cousins”—Kaz in his rag-bag castoff clothes, Wren in armor with blasters at her hips, and me, the hybrid who was obviously not related to either of them. I couldn’t blame Struggs for not trusting us, and even though I hated to do it, I thought I was going to have to use a little persuasion to get him to talk to us.

    But just as I was about to reach for the Force, Struggs shook his head. “Great Herd Mother, they’re bringing children into this now. You’d better come in…”

    Struggs’ s house was only a little bigger than our apartment, but considerably less cluttered. It had the sparse, dusty appearance of a bachelor pad, not messy, just sort of neglected. The sickly-sweet smell of decay was even stronger inside. Kaz looked slightly green and Wren’s upper lip was curled back like a Loth-cat who had found something distasteful.

    Struggs waved curtly towards a threadbare sofa. “What happened to me was no accident, no matter what that lying schutta is telling everyone.” He sank into a nearby grav-lounger with a grunt, and grimaced as he propped up one cloven-hoofed foot and laboriously pulled up his pant leg. “Does this look like it happened in a rockslide to you?”

    I am not any sort of judge of the causes of trauma. I didn’t specialize in healing at the Jedi Academy, nor am I some kind of psychometric crime scene investigator out of a holo-drama who can look at an injury and instantly flash back to how it happened. But it was pretty clear from looking at Struggs’s mangled leg that this was not the sort of injury you’d expect from a rockslide. You’d expect that a limb caught under boulders would be crushed. Struggs, on the other hand...

    “It looks like something chewed you and spit you out!” Wren exclaimed, with her usual Mandalorian talent for succinctness. And while that was probably not the most tactful way of putting things, it was a pretty accurate description of the torn and festering flesh. There were rough semicircles of ragged wounds on the top and bottom of Struggs’s leg. It seemed like someone had tried to close them, but they’d re-opened and the edges were raw, swollen and weeping discharge. “What happened?!”

    “What happened?” Struggs snorted, wide nostrils flaring. “Something chewed me. Never seen anything like it before, and I've been here on Korriban for almost fifteen years.” He shook his head. “Laughed off all those old stories about haunted tombs and Sithspawn… until one of ’em tried to take off my leg.”

    Kaz tugged at my shoulder. “You’re going to heal him, right?” he whispered urgently, his features screwed into a look of horrified fascination as if Struggs’ injury was the proverbial repulsor-train wreck. “I mean, you can’t just leave him like this; he’ll die!”

    Oh, boy… How could I explain to Kaz that there was no way I could heal Struggs without revealing myself as a Jedi? And if I did, my mission would be compromised. What would the Council say if Chimaera discovered the Jedi were investigating them because I gave myself away?

    Except it didn’t matter what they would say, because Kaz was right. I couldn’t just leave Struggs to die. Whatever any other Jedi would do in this situation, I wasn’t the kind of person who could just do nothing. Because I could sense it now--his wounds weren’t so much infected as tainted with the Dark Side. There was nothing any medic could do to help him, nothing anyone could do, except for me.

    I sighed, knowing I was probably going to regret this in the long run. “Do you mind if I take a look at it? I… have a little healer training.” Which was true, kind of. I’d passed Jedi Pypey’s Force healing class and knew enough of the basics to stop an infection or heal a small wound. Whether I’d be able to handle something like this, well….

    Struggs snorted again. “Guess you can’t do any worse than the useless med droids at the clinic.”

    And with that enthusiastic endorsement, I knelt by Struggs’s lounger and took a good look at his leg. Up close, it looked and smelled even worse. He winced and stifled an oath when I gingerly touched one of the festering puncture wounds, and I sensed the familiar cold, greasy sensation of Darkness spreading in thick tendrils up his leg, climbing towards his heart. Revulsion and horror washed over me. I sat back and took several centering breaths to keep myself from gagging.

    “I have some...salve that might help.” I pulled a small tube of ointment out of my satchel, and before you ask, no, it wasn’t some special Force-imbued salve. It was perfectly ordinary, safe-for-multi-species-use anti-bacterial cream like you can find in any medcenter from here to the Core. I always keep some in the emergency kit in my satchel, along with self-adhesive bandages and a mini-glowrod. There was nothing the cream could actually do for Struggs, but I needed to at least pretend I wasn’t healing him by touch alone. “This may, um, sting a bit.” I half-heard his gasp as I laid my fingers to his leg, trying to act as if I was applying the ointment while I opened myself to the Force. I drew it through myself and into Struggs, directing it to flow down the pathways that the Darkness had created and surround it, until the sickly taint was eclipsed by the glow of Life.

    I don’t know how long I was like that. I have a feeling it was longer than I expected, and I’m pretty sure I forgot to pretend to rub ointment into the wounds after that first moment. When I sat back, panting a little from the exertion, the flesh wasn’t oozing anymore and the edges of the wounds were pink instead of angry red. And everyone was staring at me, shades of incredulity across their faces.

    “That’s some salve.What are you, some sort of Jedi healer?” Struggs asked, and though his tone half-joking, his hands were shaking as he touched the newly healed wounds.

    Oh dear Force, now how was I supposed to handle this? I wished I’d thought more about it before I’d started healing him. I could laugh it off, say that the ointment was some sort of cure-all or something, though no one with an ounce of logic would believe that. I could wipe his memories, leave him with no recollection that we’d been here, miraculously cured. But I hated that thought. There’s something a little squicky about playing with people’s memories like that. It’s like taking a little piece of them away, and it’s the kind of thing that gives Jedi a bad name. So I looked him in the eye and said with a Very Serious look worthy of my dad, “If I were a Jedi healer, what would I be doing here on Korriban?”

    His eyes widened and his ears swiveled as he rocked back in the lounger. Struggs stared at me, his mouth half open, for a long moment before nodding. “Point,” he said slowly. “Well, if you were, would the name Ajunta Pall mean anything to you?”

    “It might.” Oh, yeah… I recognized the name, all right. Ajunta Pall, one of the Dark Lords who was entombed in the valley, probably in one of the tombs Chimaera was excavating. The first Dark Lord, in fact, who declared war on the Jedi after they rejected his experiments at shaping life as an abomination. He was exiled to Korriban, where he murdered the Sith king, subjugated the Sith and expanded his new kingdom into an Empire through bloody conquest. “Why?”

    “They’re looking for his tomb,” Struggs answered. “Well, Chimaera’s opening all the old tombs looking for Sith artifacts, but they want to find his in particular.”

    Oh Force… Oh dear Force… If this was true—and I couldn’t see any reason for Struggs to lie about it—it was bad. There was no good reason for them to want Sith artifacts, especially from Pall’s tomb. Well, okay, I suppose someone on Chimaera’s board of directors could have been planning some sort of twisted “Art of the Sith” exhibit, but that seemed like an outside chance at best. I needed more information before I could decide what to do next. “How do you know this?”

    “You kids got time for an old man’s story?”

    “We’ll make time.” I pulled myself back onto the sofa between Kaz and Wren. It was a terrible, broken-down sofa, even worse than the futon in our apartment, but after channeling so much of the Force through myself and into Struggs, it could have been carved from Korriban’s ubiquitous red rock and I wouldn’t have cared.

    Struggs leaned forward, crossed his arms over his chest and began. “When I was your age, I had big plans. Was gonna go to the Svivren Xenomineralogy Institute, become a big scientist and all that. But I made a lot of bad decisions, wound up becoming a miner instead. Made a couple more bad decisions and found myself stuck here on this dustball. Point is,” he said, eying Wren as she fiddled with her blasters, So Not Interested in listening to some old guy blabber on about his lost youth, “I know a few things about minerals and mining. So when this Chimaera company showed up out of nowhere, saying they had new scans proving the richest veins of quorodium were in the Valley of the Dark Lords, it didn’t seem right to me. That Valley’s been empty for thousands of years, and if the mother lode really was sitting out there, someone would have dug it up before now, haunted or not.

    “And Chimaera was sure payin’ enough to make even the most superstitious digger laugh off the old stories. But the longer I worked in the Valley, the less sense it all made. Why would they need to clear out the tombs before they started mining? There’re ways of extracting minerals that wouldn’t bother them at all. When I tried to talk to old Belloq, I figured out two things real quick. One: he didn’t have a clue about anything, and two: that conniving assistant of his was the one who was really pulling the strings.”

    “Yuthura?! What?” That couldn’t be right. Yuthura was nice. Helpful. Okay, so we’d had a weird misunderstanding about...stuff, but she wasn’t the kind of woman who’d be mixed up in something shady. Was she? I tried not to look at Wren, who was shooting me a significant I-told-you-so glance.

    “Oh yeah…” Struggs snorted, ears flicking back in a gesture of distaste. “That schutta—pardon my language,” he added hastily, though I wasn't sure which of us that apology was directed at: me (Jedi), Wren (young female) or Kaz (Kaz). “She kept brushin’ me off, tellin’ me how busy Belloq was, when anyone could see he spent most of his time strutting around in his fancy clothes, twiddling his lekku. When I got reassigned to the site next to the shryack caves, I didn’t think much of it, figured that was business. But when I kept after Belloq, all the sudden Yuthura told me I was ‘not qualified’ for archaeological work and stuck me drivin’ the slop wagon—sorry, lunch speeder.” This time his apologetic glance was clearly aimed at Kaz, who shrugged. Not as if he had any illusions about the quality of food he served.

    That got my hackles up good, and I decided I was gonna find out what she was trying to hide. That was another bad decision—maybe the worst one I ever made.” The Svivren shifted uneasily in his seat, shaking his ragged mane. I caught the tremor in his Force Sense; this was not something he wanted to think about, something he was used to pushing to the farthest corners of his mind and trying hard not to think about. But in spite of the way that tremor shook him to the core, Struggs continued. “I went back to the dig after everyone had gone home one night—thought that if I could take a good look around when no one else was around, I could figure out what it was Chimaera was lookin’ for, because it sure wasn’t minerals. But before I could poke around too much, I heard voices—Belloq, Yuthura and someone else. I ducked into the nearest tomb and hid behind the rubble.”

    “Who was with them?” My attendant bad feeling, which had been lurking quietly in the back of my mind like a fyrnock in the shadows, reared its ugly head again. I wanted to think that I was just picking up on Struggs’s unease, but the bad feeling was quite insistent that, no, Something Bad was going to follow and I was more than likely Doomed.

    “No one.” The Svivreni shrugged, his wasted shoulders rustling his worn canvas tunic. “Yuthura had a holocomm with her, and they were talking to someone on it. Couldn’t tell much about him from where I was, except that he was humanoid. From his stuck-up sounding voice and the way they were fallin’ all over themselves calling him ‘sir’, he seemed to be some bigshot. He was askin’ them whether they’d found any artifacts—masks, gauntlets, swords—especially the sword of this Ajunta Pall guy. And Belloq asked if he really thought swords and masks were gonna do any good against the Jedi.”

    Okay, shut up, Bad Feeling; you don’t need to gloat that you were right. If Struggs hadn’t figured out that I was definitely an Undercover Jedi, I’m pretty sure Kaz the intrepid spy gave up the game with the frantic look he gave me and the way he nearly fell off the sofa in surprise. Wren did a little better in keeping her expression in check, but she reached for her blasters out of reflex. My voice was tight as I asked, “What did he say?”

    “That Belloq didn’t appreciate the power of using your enemies’ symbols against them.”

    Oh, karabast, haar’chak, poodoo and kriff… None of the multilingual profanity I’d picked up from my Spectre cousins or at the Academy did justice to my bad feeling at that moment. Because that just reeked of not-so-Grand Admiral Thrawn’s philosophy of art as the key to psychoanalytical warfare. Which meant that Kaz had been right to pick up on the significance of Chimaera’s name and that the Force, as usual, did not do coincidences.

    “There was more,” Struggs said as I clenched my teeth to keep all those various swear words from escaping. “But they’d almost gotten to the tomb where I was hiding, so I scrambled back as far into the rubble as could.. And that’s when I saw it—all horns and fangs and spines down its back, red eyes shining in the dark.” He shuddered, the tremor in his Force sense reaching the physical level. Without seeming to realize what he was doing, Struggs reached down to the scars on his leg and rubbed at them with quick, agitated strokes. His voice and breath were ragged when he continued, “Ugliest thing I ever saw. I swear it came out of the tomb and before I could even scream, it sank its teeth into me. I must’ve passed out, next thing I knew, I was laying in the med center, that Yuthura standing over me, saying what a shame it was I’d been caught in a rock slide. And when I said that wasn’t what happened, she just patted my hand and said the med droids found so much alcohol and spice in my system, it was no wonder I didn’t remember. Schutta’s been by to ‘check’ on me a couple times, but I get the feeling she’s only checking to see if I’m dead yet.” Struggs gave a harsh bray of laughter and fell back in his chair again, exhausted from his story. “So now that you think I’m barvier than a spice-eating lizard monkey…”

    “I don’t think you’re barvy,” I said and next to me, Kaz shook his head earnestly. “I believe you—we believe you. About everything. We—”

    And then my commlink buzzed.

    By the time I fumbled it out of my belt satchel, it had stopped, but I could count the number of people in Dreshdae who had the frequency on one hand—and half of them were in the room with me. Neither Noemi nor Humoo would comm just to say hi—well, okay, Noemi wouldn’t and Humoo wouldn’t have clicked off before he said “how-de-doodily, Ildephonsus-Ro”. The bad feeling was prodding me insistently again; a nice little headache started pulsing behind my eyes. I shoved the comm back into my satchel and scrambled off the couch. “I’m sorry, Master Struggs, we have to go now. But thank you for telling us your story. You’ve helped us more than you know.”

    Struggs rose, gingerly testing his newly healed leg. He smiled toothily when it was able to bear weight and clasped my hand. “Least I could do, Ildephonsus the-not-a-Jedi-healer.” He pulled me towards him, still gripping my hand, and said in a low voice. “But you take an old man’s advice and get your ‘cousins’ out of here. You might be able to take care of yourself, and the Mando girl, too, but the boy’s too nice for someplace like Korriban.”

    I sighed. “I wish I could, Master Struggs, I really wish I could. But I have a feeling it’s too late for that.”

    And it didn’t take long to find out how right that feeling was.
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  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Lots of helpful information and clues coming together with bad feelings :eek: =D=
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  5. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Well, if Mr. Struggs thinks Belloq and his crew are Up To Absolutely No Good, I think it's a pretty safe bet that he ain't gonna be ratting out Ro and the gang.
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Hooray! [face_dancing] I’ve been looking forward to this chapter ever since you mentioned your plans to write it, and it’s only because things have been so weird and hectic that I haven’t commented sooner—sorry about that. [face_blush]

    First, is it odd for me to say I really like Struggs? He’s just a regular guy doing his job, learns too much, and has to suffer as a result. He’s got a decent heart, as we see from the fact that he welcomes Ro, Kaz, and Wren in—it would have been so easy for him to shoo them away, but he saw them first as children whom he could do something to help. And he’s not at all dumb! It looks to me like he did guess that Ro’s a Jedi, despite Ro’s attempts to hide the fact—and even without Kaz almost letting the cat out of the bag. And thanks to his long experience in the mining trade, he is able to very quickly put two and two together about his employers and figuring out that the whole quorodium veins story (and yay, quorodium! :D ) was no more than a story.

    And boy, what he finds out—which, in a way, we readers have suspected for a while—is a huge game changer for Ro and co. Yes, it is now 100% clear that Chimaera is up to absolutely no good—but not only that, Kaz and Ro’s suspicions about who and what that name is connected to have been completely confirmed. A high baddie muckamuck with a “stuck-up-sounding voice” who bloviates about “using the enemy’s symbols against them”? Yeah, there’s no one else that could possibly be besides the Thrawnster himself. With him involved, the whole Belloq-Yuthura-Chimaera thing takes on a whole new dimension—and a whole new danger. Even if Belloq is mainly a puppet, Yuthura’s clearly got Force abilities, and that plus Thrawn equals real trouble. (And sorry, my dear good-hearted Ro, I’m going to have to join Wren here in saying an emphatic-but-still-gentle “I told you so.” :p Joking aside, though, I fear we have yet to see Yuthura at her meanest, and I doubt she’s done making trouble for Ro and co. [face_nail_biting] )

    Finally, I have to agree that there is something more than a little worrisome about that non-Noemi, non-Humoo comm call coming right at the time when it did. The timing seems a little too perfect. This is all clearly building up to something big, and I can’t wait to read more and see what you’re cooking up for us! In the meantime, tread very carefully, Ro and co.!
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
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  7. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Things are heating up for Ronen and co. Struggs has given them some very important clues!
    Yep, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet. Struggs has no reason to like or trust the folks at Chimaera. And since Ildephonsus the not-a-Jedi-healer has done him a huge favor, he’s got very reason to keep Ro’s secret.
    I don’t think it’s odd at all. I got to like Struggs as I was writing him; he is, as they say “good people”. You’re description of him as a hard-working guy who learns to much—he’s Jimmy Stewart in a Hitchcock movie! And he’s definitely not dumb. He sees the holes in Chimaera’s story and isn’t so blinded by the promise of credits that he overlooks them. The powers that be at Chimaera obviously didn’t expect that; they’re the kind that would automatically dismiss a manual laborer as stupid and easily gulled. Having got himself into a bad situation, Struggs doesn’t want these young people to get themselves into it, too. And here it shows that the Force has the right Jedi for this mission, because Struggs opens up to them in a way he might not have for an older, more authoritative Jedi.

    Yep, the Force doesn’t do coincidences. Kaz was right to point out the connection between the mining company’s name and our not-so-lamented Grand Admiral. You—along with Wren—seem to have Yuthura’s measure. We definitely haven’t seen her at her worst, and it’s not going to be very pretty if (when?) we do.

    More not coincidental coincidences! Big events are indeed on the horizon...
  8. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta reading @};-
    13. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who is glad that Wren’s on our side

    We were being followed.

    I felt the curious, malevolent eyes on us as we made our way across town from Struggs’s house back to our apartment. I shouldn’t have said anything because of course—of course!—as soon as I did, Kaz startled like a twitchy pocket hare and looked behind us. So much for keeping a low profile. I stuffed down my sigh—Kaz’s spy skills needed some serious work. Too late to do anything about it now, and since he had looked, we might as well put that look to good use. “What are we dealing with?” I asked him.

    “Umm...Human, tallish, kind of stringy brown hair. All dressed in black.”

    It wasn’t a lot of useful information, but that “dressed in black,” coupled with the fact that I could sense hostility seeping from our new friend, made me think there was a good chance we were dealing with some sort of Dark Sider. For some reason they all seem to take that “dark” thing literally and it manifests in a really boring fashion sense—black, black and more black, and, if they’re feeling jaunty, maybe a splash of red. It must be required by the Dark Side Style Guide or something. Hey guys, come to the Light—we have color. We’re allowed to wear clothes that don’t make us look like a bunch of sullen teenage poets with anger issues.

    I weighed our options—we could pretend we hadn’t seen him and just keep going. We could try to lose him in the marketplace and the alleys near the Drunk Side. That might work if he was just a normal creepy, stringy-haired guy in black. But if my hunch was right and he was some sort of Dark Sider, simple dodges weren’t going to be enough to shake him. He’d be able to track us and we’d lead him right back home where he could pay us a visit any time he wanted. Not something I wanted.

    If he were a normal guy, I could have used Jedi mind tricks on him. Not to brag or anything but, they’re kind of a specialty of mine. The old “I’m not very interesting; you should look somewhere else” maneuver was how I made it through school. It wouldn’t do anything if he was Force-sensitive, though, and there was the risk that he’d be able to sense what I was doing and it would give me away as a Jedi. So scratch mind tricks, too.

    Fighting was pretty much out, too, even if I had been the kind of person who liked to take on random creepy guys on the street. I had one weapon and once I pulled it, everyone would know what I was. There weren’t a lot of people out and about in this area of town—apparently most were sleeping off their Zhellday ales—but there were still a few vendors with open stalls and a couple old ladies milling around, gossiping. It was all pretty placid and humdrum but the minute a lightsaber started flashing...yeah, I could already hear the shrieking. Plus, I estimated it would take less than a quarter standard hour for the old ladies to pass this juicy tidbit up the gossip chain to someone at Chimaera. Cover blown, mission over, thanks for playing… Fighting would be my last ditch defense.

    Which left me with one option, and not one that I was particularly good at.

    I was going to have to try to talk our way out of this. “Stay behind me,” I told Wren and Kaz as I turned to our new friend. “Hey, there! Don’t I know you from somewhere? Have you ever been on Garel?”

    The guy wasn’t exactly what I pictured a Dark Sider looking like. I mean, he wore a black tunic, black overtunic, black sash, black gloves, boots, pants and various bits of black armor, and he had those freaky red-rimmed yellow eyes. But he was my age and with his stringy hair and sallow complexion, he looked more like an angsty teenager with bad skin than a Dark Side adept.

    He smiled, revealing a mouthful of crooked, blackened teeth. (Apparently, the Dark Side doesn’t offer dental or vision benefits.) “No,” he said in this weirdly high-pitched, almost giggly voice. “But I know who you are, Jedi.”

    Oh, kriff… Yeah, this was bad. I could sense Kaz quivering like a pocket hare facing a Loth-wolf, trying to decide whether it was better to run or just stand still. Next to him, Wren was a detonator with a ticking timer, her fingers inching towards her blasters. I backed away from the Dark Sider slowly, trying to herd the others further away from him. I hoped Wren would have enough sense to get Kaz someplace safe while I distracted him. “Jedi?” I forced a laugh. “Whoa! I think you have the wrong person! Which is pretty amazing, if you think about it. I’ve always been told I was pretty unfor—”

    “Oh, you like to talk, hmm?” the Dark Sider sniggered. “Good, because you’re going to tell me everything I want to know.” He unclipped a dull grey lightsaber hilt from his belt with a flourish and thrust it out in front of himself, holding it horizontally so that I could see the metal ring that encircled it, stretching from one of the dual emitters to the other. And I had just enough time to mutter something really unbecoming of a Jedi before he ignited its crimson blades one at a time.

    Because Dad and Uncle Ezra had described pretentious dual-bladed sabers like that to me; they were the signature weapon of an Imperial Inquisitor. Except there weren’t supposed to be any Inquisitors. There wasn’t supposed to be an Empire, either.

    There were gasps and a couple startled cries from the shopkeepers and old ladies, a noise that sounded like “eep!” from Kaz, and a heartfelt “osi’kyr!” from Wren. Dark Side Guy grinned another horrible, ruined grin and started spinning his saber, slowly at first, then faster and faster until the blades blurred into a ring of crimson fire. The old ladies started screaming in earnest now, and the Dark Sider giggled, enjoying their fear; his bloodshot eyes bored into mine as he strode towards me, swinging his spinning blade into a complex series of loops.

    “I…look…I really think you’ve got the wrong person,” I stammered, backing away from him as quickly as I could without turning tail and running. My lekku flopped spastically as I tried to figure some way out of this that left me more or less in one piece and kept Wren and Kaz safe. Some detached Jedi part of my brain—the part that wasn’t screaming like frightened eopie—noted that his flashy saber maneuvers looked cool, but they weren’t, technically speaking, all that good. There was a chance that I could disarm him if I could get to my own saber, which was currently disassembled in the bottom of my satchel.

    “I… here...just, um...let me give you all my credits and we’ll call it even…” I reached into the satchel and rummaged for the pieces, trying to assemble it without looking like I was doing anything suspicious. Having my saber in two pieces had been handy for smuggling it to school undetected, but it didn’t seem like such a good idea right now. I wondered how Dad had managed to put his saber together at critical moments...and why I’d never thought to ask him before this.

    The Dark Sider watched me like a deranged hawk bat, relishing every twitch and fumble I made, which didn’t exactly help me concentrate on what I was doing. Emotion, yet peace, I reminded myself, to which the screaming eopie in my brain replied, “yeah, right! Have you seen this guy?!”

    But while he was watching me and I was watching him, neither of us was paying attention to Kaz and Wren.

    “Oh, for the love of the Mand’alor!” came the voice of theTotally Annoyed teenage Mando behind me. “Just die, already!” There was the zing of twin WESTARs firing; their bolts sizzled past my right lek and struck the Dark Sider just at the moment when his saber was at the farthest point of its loop and his left shoulder was exposed. His red-rimmed eyes widened in shock for a fleeting second before he dropped like a sack of topatoes.

    “Wren!” I felt a seriously weird mix of emotions as I looked down on the crumpled heap of stringy hair and black clothing. I shouldn’t have been surprised; I mean, Wren is a Mando and her skill with a blaster was the reason I brought her on this mission. She’d just dropped that Dark Side goon with a one-in-I-don’t-how-many-millions shot. We’re talking Jedi-level reflexes here. So on the one hand—go, Wren. On the other—she was also my cousin. I’d patched her up a dozen times when she scraped her knees trying to climb the rock cairns around the Academy. We made tepasi taffy together every year over Life Day holidays. She still had the stuffed Loth-wolf I’d given her for her fifth birthday. It was hard to conceive that that little girl was now holstering her blasters with a look of extreme satisfaction. “You didn’t really…?!”

    “Kill him?” Wren gave an irritated tsk and rolled her eyes at me likeyou moof-milking idiot… “Of course not! But ‘just pass out already’ is a terrible battle cry. Why? Did you want me to?” She peered around me to where Mr. Creepy Dark Side Guy lay face down in the street. “I guess I can,” she said, nose crinkling with a mixture of annoyance and distaste. “Though it’s sort of a hut’uun move at this point.”

    “N-no. That’s...fine….” I was relieved that Wren had only stunned him. Maybe that’s a weird thing to say about someone who’d been ready to slice and dice me like some evil kitchen appliance and who was probably going to turn up like the proverbial bad credit to make trouble later. But I didn’t want anyone to die in the course of my mission if I could help it, not even creepy Dark Siders. I didn’t want death on my hands and Wren, at sixteen, sure didn’t need it on hers.

    It occurred to me that the old ladies were still shrieking—“Did you see that, Floribel?!” “Eh?” “DID YOU SEE THAT?!?! DID YOU?!”—and it was only going to be a matter of time until what passed for Dreshdae’s constabulary showed up to investigate the disturbance. “We need to get out of here. Kaz, grab his lightsaber.” Just because I didn’t want him dead didn’t mean I was going to make it easy for him to make trouble for us.

    “Huh?” Kaz, who had his Blurrg clutched in an awkward two-handed grip—I guess he gets points for trying to help, anyway—was staring at Wren as if she was the Best Thing in the Whole Galaxy. I’m pretty sure if I’d looked closer I would have seen little cartoon hearts whirling in his eyes. “Oh, yeah...right… Yeah, I’ll just...” He inched toward Dark Side Guy as if he was one of those Sithspawn creatures in Red Harvest who get blasted, blown up and otherwise incapacitated only to miraculously revive and attack the heroes when they come near them. After a moment’s queasy deliberation of the best approach vector, Kaz held his breath and yanked the saber out of Dark Side Guy’s limp hand. He held it out to me at arm’s length, as if it was a dead giju, a thermal detonator, or a dead giju with a thermal detonator inside it.

    “Thanks.” With the double blade and circular attachment to the hilt, it was much too big for my satchel. I looped my belt through it, and it hung heavily at my side, resting uncomfortably against my left leg. A small group of onlookers had gathered, listening to Floribel and her friend—“HE HAD ONE OF THEM LIGHT SWORD THINGS, I TELL YOU!!!”—and watching us furtively, because this was Dreshdae and no one got involved in anyone’s business, especially when blasters were involved. I took a deep breath in an attempt to center myself and broadcast a general suggestion at them: Nothing to see here. Just another drunken dispute; there were no lightsabers no matter what Floribel says. And you definitely did not see a Twi’lek-human hybrid fleeing the scene. I didn’t know how well that would work on that many people, especially when I’d just sort of thrown it out there, like scattering bits of flimsi to the wind. Enough to create some confusion for our new friend when he woke up, I hoped.

    It never occurred to me that he might have friends of his own.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Ro's commentary on the Dark Sider's fashion sense and dental coverage made me [face_laugh] WREN ROCKS, and Kaz knows it LOL =D=
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  10. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Ronen: Eep! Dark Sider with lightsaber! I'm about to be busted but good!
    Wren: *casually shoots the dude*
  11. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Oh Kaz. [face_laugh] Having actually seen a bit of the show he's in now, this was so easy to picture. Though Ronen hardly has room to talk about keeping a low profile -- not so much for his skills but for how much of a trouble magnet he is!

    [face_rofl] I love Ronen's completely irreverent views on his first ever (that we know of, I guess) sighting of a Dark Sider in the wild. Though he is genuinely creeped out and in adrenaline mode, the snark just. Doesn't. Stop. (And what is it with the teeth thing anyway? Are the cavities supposed to make you more angry?)

    Wren! :D LOL, the snark is strong in Ronen's whole extended family. She's never to be underestimated and that's for sure. It's really fun to see even more of those Mandalorian skills that she has been perfecting over the years.

    DID SHE? [face_rofl]
  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, some truly hair-raising action here—I was worried for Ro and co. for a little while there! :eek: There was something definitely quite creepy about that callow little inquisitor fellow, Not just the fact that he had been sent to trail Ronen in the first place but also claiming he knew who he was, etc.—not too mention that that silly spinny inquisitor lightsaber could definitely have done some damage, even if it wasn’t really all that skillfully wielded. It’s a definite testimony to Ro’s presence of mind that he was able to notice that fact, even through his very understandable fear. Not to mention that I’m not surprised that his first thought is to protect his young friends from this dark side goon! (Incidentally, his question about his dad’s two-part lightsaber is a very good one—Kanan always does seem able to put it together super quickly in the show, but I bet it took some real practice to get to that point.)

    But Wren—ohmigosh, WAY TO GO WREN! =D= “Oh, for the love of the Mand’alor,” indeed!
    She sees right through Spinny Lightsaber Guy’s ridiculous showoffy moves in literally an instant, and her Mando reflexes spring into action immediately for some truly amazing marksmanship. Whoof, after that, I’d be just as shocked as Ro was—though of course I’m super relieved, too! I just love Wren’s little remarks following, which are so perfectly her and so very Mando:

    Of course she is an honorable Mando warrior, and, as we all know, the farthest thing from a hut’uun! Not to mention that she probably saved Ro’s life, Kaz’s, and her own. And given Floribel and her chums some prime dirt to dish... I have to say, they were pretty priceless, and it’s kind of fun to imagine there being chatty, rubbernecky little Midwestern-style old ladies even on Korriban! :p But I hope, too, that Ro’s mind trick worked, because if their gossip spreads too far that could definitely spell trouble. [face_nail_biting] I guess we’ll find out!

    So, Ro and co. have Creepy Callow Dude’s lightsaber—good thinking to disarm him. I wonder if there’s any way they can learn something for it, perhaps get a little closer to understanding why things like inquisitors are back in the picture. I guess we’ll find out that, too. Definitely a lot of questions raised by this run-in, and I am definitely raring to find out where it will all lead. And I agree wholeheartedly that Ro is immensely fortunate to have the brave and resourceful Wren on his side, especially given that that last sentence of the entry suggests that things are about to come to quite a head! (Once again, [face_nail_biting]! )

    Keep it coming! I can’t wait to see what will happen next. And congratulations once again on making such great headway on this for WIP month—way to go! =D= =D= =D=
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  13. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Oh, Kaz thought she rocked even before he saw her in action! But now...yep, definitely little cartoon hearts whirling in his eyes! [face_love]
    To be fair to Ronen, he was trying to hide the fact that he's a Jedi by not using his lightsaber, while Wren had the use of weapons she'd been training with for years. But yeah, that's about the size of it. Jedi or not, Wren's a lot more combat-ready than Ronen. And the whole scene is based on the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy shoots the swordsman who's showing off all his fancy moves. Since Ro isn't that handy with a blaster, Wren stepped into the Indy role to help him out :D
    Thanks! I love Kaz, though he has got to be the Galaxy's least stealthy spy. And yeah, "trouble magnet" is a great description. Like his Uncle Ezra, Ronen isn't looking for trouble, it just has a way of finding him. (Though one could debate the truth of that in Ezra's case, Ro really would be much happier if trouble gave him a break for once).

    He comes by his snark and deadpan humor honestly. Growing up with the Spectres as role models, he could hardly help it! And yes, this is his first encounter of a wild Dark Sider; there's just so much that Defense Against the Dark Arts Side classes can't cover. (Yeah, really...the pain makes you angry and the look drives away the few friends you had left, I guess.)

    Yep, like Ro, she comes by it honestly. It was fun to finally be able to give Wren the opportunity to put her Mando skills to good use. In my head canon, Wren has been training since the age of about 6 to match her parents' times in the 30-meter blaster pistol event at the Clan Meet once she was old enough to participate.

    Sadly, the Galaxy may never know, due to Ro's mind trick ;) (But I'm going to say yes, because I don't know how she could have missed it :p)
    Well, thank you! Action's not my usual genre, but I've had this particular scene in mind since I started outlining Ro's journal. I'm glad that it came off well. Creepy Dark Side Guy owes a little to Kylo Ren with his angsty teen poet look and a little to Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit with the high-pitched giggly voice. Once Ronen gets home, maybe Kanan can teach him how to assemble his lightsaber in under thirty seconds in any situation.

    I have so much fun with Wren :D She may be a snarky drama queen, but she has the skills to back up the attitude (kind of like another teenage drama Mando...). And yes, Floribel and friends will have much to talk about over caf and galactic tiles. Gossipy old ladies are a constant no matter where in the Galaxy one is!

    Thanks again, and thank you for all your encouragement and enthusiasm in keeping this story going. More is coming right now!
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  14. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

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

    14. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who can slap a half-shebsed plan together with the best of them

    It took us seven and a half million years to get across Dreshdae—or at least it felt that way.

    We zigzagged our way through back alleys and side streets I normally wouldn’t have gone down without a fully stocked anti-tox kit, because who knew what was lurking in those shadowy corners or hiding in the refuse piles. Wren kept her blasters drawn (which was reassuring) and Kaz still clutched his Blurrg (which was not). We doubled back on our trail frequently, just in case. I couldn’t sense anyone following us, but after our run in with Creepy Dark Side Guy, I wasn’t taking any chances; the trip that had taken us less than a standard hour that morning took more than two on the way home.

    By the time we reached our apartment building, we were stressed, tense, and, in Kaz’s case, ravenously hungry. I was getting a headache both from my own stress and from picking up the team’s emotions, which thrummed through the Force like a badly plucked quetarra string. I don’t think I had ever been happier to see the peeling paint and battered frame of our apartment door, and I wanted nothing more than to reach the small sanctuary of our home, such as it was, and decompress after the morning’s adventure.

    People on Mustafar want ice water, too.

    The second the door swished open, a streak of blue-gray fur hurtled at me, yelling in a voice that was entirely too high pitched to ever sound threatening, “Oh, ho! Flee in terrorification of my Squibbish wrath, you miscreantic reject from the Great Scrap Heap!”

    And thank the Force for Jedi reflexes, or else I would have been kneecapped as Humoo brandished a solid and singularly ugly black enamel convor statuette like an aviform club.

    And thank the Force that Wren’s reflexes are almost Jedi-level. She jammed her blasters back into their holters as she bit back a startled and extremely impolite oath in Mando’a. “Humoo, you furry little maniac! What are you doing? I just about shot you!”

    “Ildephonsus-Ro! You’re alive!” Oblivious to Wren’s righteous Mandalorian wrath, Humoo dropped his statuette with a clunk and embraced my knees with all the enthusiasm a highly caffeinated Squib could achieve.

    “Ro! Oh, Ro! Thank the Force you’re safe!” Noemi and Spots popped up from behind the futon like a couple of kneebs from their burrows. She vaulted over the sofa, and caught me up in a fierce, rib-crushing embrace. Spots rocketed after her, launching herself at my legs like a furry guided missile and proceeded to weave figure-eights between my feet so insistently that I could hardly keep my balance.

    Okay, it’s nice to see you guys, too, but...“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?”

    Noemi shuddered in my arms. “They broke into the apartment while you were gone…”

    “What?! When?! They who? Are you okay?!” Questions tumbled out even as my mind started conjuring the worst possible scenarios involving Creepy Guy and his Dark Side friends. Noemi and Humoo seemed all right, but Dark Siders have ways to hurt someone that don’t leave a mark. Now it was my turn to crush Noemi’s ribs.

    “I’m fine, Ro.” Noemi gently disengaged herself from my grip. “Humoo and I were in the laundering unit when it happened, and…” She stopped short her eyes going wide as she registered the Inquisitor-style lightsaber hanging from my belt. “Oh good skies! What is THAT?!?”

    “It’s a long story,” I sighed. “It sounds like we both have long stories. Maybe we should all sit down.”

    We took our usual places in the mismatched chairs around the dejarik table, and I filled Noemi and Humoo in on our visit to Struggs’s apartment and the truth behind his mysterious “accident”. Noemi’s mouth flattened into a thin line when I got to the part about Yuthura and Belloq and their mysterious holocomm caller, and her expression grew even stonier as I related Struggs’s tale of being mauled by tuk’ata and described his festering, Dark-tainted wounds. And Humoo’s already enormous black button eyes grew wider still when I told them about Creepy Guy and his flashy saber moves and how Wren had dropped him with a single shot.

    “And that’s how I got this.” I unlooped the lightsaber from my belt and tossed it on the dejarik table. Spots, who’d been curled in Noemi’s lap, put her paws up on the table, leaned forward and sniffed it. Her upper lip curled back and she sneezed on it violently, shaking her head and licking her lips. “So, your turn—who broke in and how do you know if you and Humoo were in the laundry unit?”

    “Because Spots was still in the apartment.” Noemi rubbed the cat’s ears affectionately, and she purred with a particularly smug Loth-cat grin. Noemi related Spots’s tale for the benefit of those of us who weren’t beastwardens: Spots had been having her early mid-morning nap (as opposed to her late mid-morning nap, which follows her mid-morning grooming) when a strange clicking noise and the sound of the door whooshing open woke her. The pattern of footsteps was wrong for Noemi or Humoo, and there was a faint smell of Wrongness, like the smell of the Wrong Things that had been lurking outside our apartment for the last several nights. (No, I can’t tell you what Wrongness smells like; I’m just relaying the story as Noemi told it to me.) After warning Noemi about the intruders through their Force bond, Spots flattened herself into a cranny beneath the futon to spy on them.

    There were two of them: a young male human and a female Twi’lek (actually, what Spots said was “with head-tails,” but you get the idea) who had what she described as “sort of blue skin”. They rummaged through the apartment, and the human seemed angry that they couldn’t find what they were looking for. He’d wanted to take some of Humoo’s collection, but the Twi’lek snapped at him and he left, in Spots’s words, “looking like a whimpering canid”.

    Thank the Force that Benduday mornings are laundry day. Like all Loth-cats, Spots has limited color vision and doesn’t see shades of red and green well. So if a Twi’lek had purple skin, it would look “sort of blue” to her. A Twi’lek like Yuthura… And after hearing Struggs’s story, I didn’t want her within twelve parsecs of Noemi. (Or Humoo. Or any of us, really, but especially Noemi.)

    “So…We have a problem. Okay, we have a lot of problems,” I amended at Wren’s snort and skeptical expression. “But the main problem is they’ve figured out I’m a Jedi and I still haven’t got any hard evidence that Chimaera is connected with the Imperial Remnant.”

    “But...What about what Struggs said? What about...that?!?” Kaz protested, waving a hand at Mr. Creepy’s lightsaber like he was afraid it was going to jump off the table and bite him. “That’s evidence!”

    “But not the kind the Council can act on.” I hated to disabuse Kaz of his idealism, but with Dad on the Council, I knew how things worked. The Republic wouldn’t take it kindly if we went in sabers blazing and it turned out Chimaera was nothing more than a slightly dodgy mining company who had the misfortune to hire the wrong people. “It’s evidence of a Dark Sider, but we can’t tie him to Chimaera and we can’t prove anything Struggs said. We need direct proof that something illegal is going on here before the Jedi can do anything.” Predictably, Kaz looked unhappy at that, and Wren even less so, but I wasn’t going to blow my mission rushing in without proof.

    Which meant I had to find a way to get that proof. “I don’t suppose your non-traditional skills include picking locks?” I asked Noemi.

    She looked doubtful. “Maybe if I had a lock pick…”

    “What kind? Sonic scrambler? Vibro-pick? Old-schoolish tumbler picker?” Humoo looked up from pulling bits of hardware of dubious legality from the belt pouch hidden in his pom-flower sash to find us all staring at him open mouthed. “What? A scavenger is always preparated for opening recalcitrant-type crates and sealed-up treasure chambers. It’s just good business, you bet!”

    “Right. Okay…” Yeah, I can get past the fact that the guy who looks like a cuddly toy has devices that would get him arrested on another, more civilized planet. Why not? My girlfriend is a slicer and my cousin shot a Dark Sider in the middle of the Dreshdae market. No problem. It’s all good. “So, Humoo, tomorrow I need you to get me and Noemi into the Chimaera headquarters…”

    “You’re not going without me!” Wren half -stood, her eyes flashing, and banged her fists on the dejarik table so hard that Spots jumped a meter straight up out of Noemi’s lap, and came down with a thud that she quickly turned into an I-mean-to-do-that hind leg grooming session.

    “Yes, I am,” I replied. “Because I need you to keep Belloq and Yuthura busy and out of the office. I think a few well placed rockslides and explosions will keep them on their toes, don’t you?” Wren still scowled, but I could see the wheels turning beneath her choppy hair. There was nothing Wren loved more than blowing things up (unless maybe it was a certain adorably goofy senator’s son) and I knew she’d take great pleasure in making Yuthura’s life miserable.

    “And Kaz...I need you to go to the spaceport and find a ship that will hold all of us, whatever you think you can fly…”

    “You want me to steal a ship?!” Kaz looked half horrified, half excited at that prospect.

    “Borrow, “ I corrected. “The Council will make sure it gets back to the owner, and compensate them for any inconvenience.” At least I was pretty sure they would. Stealing ships wasn’t the kind of thing Jedi were supposed to do, if for no other reason than it was really bad publicity. “The only ship we have is the Purrgil. It’s only a two person craft and I’m not leaving anyone here.”

    Does this all make it sound like I had things figured out? Like I knew what I was doing and taking charge? Because that’s not how it felt at all. I was making it all up as I went along and it sounded good and reasonable, but it felt like the thinnest excuse for a half-shebsed plan anyone could put together in under five minutes. There were so many things that could go wrong. What if Humoo’s lock picks didn’t work? If Kaz got caught by spaceport security? If Belloq came back to the office for something? If Wren’s grenades malfunctioned? If… if… if… But the others nodded along. They trusted me even though I don’t know where I’m leading them or what I’m getting us all into.

    And that was all I could think of as I lay there on my squeaky, lumpy, uncomfortable futon: what am I leading them into? I’m a Jedi and this is my duty. I accept the risk for myself. But how can I put my friends at risk? No, not just my friends. They’re more than that, more than just my team. I love them. Not just Noemi and Wren, who are part of my Spectre family, but Humoo with all his over-caffeinated Squibbish enthusiasm, and earnest, trusting Kaz who started as a stowaway and became a pretty decent spy—even Spots, brave little cat that she is. It’s like Wren says, family is more than blood.

    If one of them got hurt...or worse… I’d… I don’t know what… If Noemi got hurt… if I got hurt… if this was the last night we’d ever have together… And once that thought got in my mind, I couldn’t emotion-yet-peace it away. I got up. Went to the kitchen. Got a drink. Toyed with the dejarik pieces. Captured a kintan strider. Started to pace...and wound up outside Wren and Noemi’s room.

    I only meant to take a quick look inside, just to make sure Noemi was okay, but I found myself standing in the doorway instead.

    Noemi slept in the lower bunk with Spots curled next to her, her nose underneath Noemi’s chin and Noem’s arm around her. I might have been restless and anxious, but Noemi was deep in peaceful slumber. Her sunset curls were tousled around her face, her lips slightly parted in what almost seemed like a smile. And I wanted to stroke her hair, touch her cheek, kiss her forehead...just in case I never got to do any of those things again.

    There was a small, throat-clearing noise and a pointed whisper, “I think you’re in the wrong room.”

    I jumped, biting back a startled yelp so that I wouldn’t wake Noemi. “Wren!” I hissed back. “Don’t...don’t startle me like that! Shouldn’t you be asleep?”

    “Shouldn’t you? Mandos sleep light, especially when we’re on guard.” Wren leapt down from the top bunk as lightly as a Loth-cat and steered me back into the conversation circle. I thought for sure I was going to get an earful about trying to sneak into their room in the middle of the night, what my parents and the Jedi Council would think of such behavior, and the way a Mandalorian would normally handle such an intrusion, but instead she gave me a surprisingly sympathetic look and touched my arm lightly. “Don’t worry, Ronen. I’ll keep Noemi safe, just like I will you.”

    “That’s ….” Not necessary, I started to say. Taking care of Noemi was my job. She was my girlfriend—my everything—and I was more than capable of protecting her. But in that moment, I understood Wren wasn’t saying that because she thought I was less of a warrior than she was—she wanted me to know that whatever happened, there would be someone looking out for Noemi. So I nodded. “Thanks.”

    Wren started to go back into their room, but turned back “Why haven’t you given her the ring yet?”

    “What?!” In a move more worthy of a guilty teenager than a Jedi Sentinel, my hand involuntarily strayed to the delicate blush-green crystal and aurodium ring that was nestled in a velvoid bag in my pajama pants pocket. The promise ring I was planning on giving Noemi now that we’d both been knighted. The ring no one else was supposed to know about except Bellona, and I’d made her swear on her beskar’gam that she wouldn’t tell anyone.

    Wren rolled her eyes and tsk-ed the OMF-you-moof-milker noise that she’d perfected during the time we’d been on Korriban. “Oh, come on, Ronen. I know all about the ring you commissioned. And don’t give me that look, I wasn’t being a nosy little sister, if that’s what you think. Bellona’s an artist and she likes to show off her work. She didn’t say it was for you, and she didn’t say it was a promise ring, but I’m not stupid. And I see the way you keep fiddling with it in your pocket when you look at Noemi. So, why haven’t you given it to her?”

    Who knew Wren paid attention to things that don’t explode? It made me wonder how she could be so perceptive and so oblivious at the same time. “It’s not exactly the best circumstances for it, given that we could both get killed.”

    “So?” Wren waved away this objection. “Then if anything did happen, you’d be married.”

    Um, not quite… “We don’t exactly have a priest here…

    She made another OMF tsk. “You don’t need one. Just say your vows like a Mando. During some of the old clan wars, like half the single population of Mandalore was married on the battlefield.”

    “Okay, but Noemi and I aren’t Mandalorian.”

    This time, instead of a tsk, Wren gave a deep, gusty sigh and shook her head at my spectacular aruetii denseness. “Family is more than blood, remember? I consider you part of the Clan, and I bet Mom and Dad would agree—who’s going to argue if they say you are?”

    Mandalorians have a pretty flexible definition of family; they’re not fussed by fiddly details like genetics. Adopted members are considered as much a part of the clan as anyone born into it—which makes sense for a society whose members regularly die in combat. But at the same time, family is incredibly important to them; defense of one’s clan and its honor is a central tenet of their culture. So Wren was right that if Aunt Sabine and Uncle Max said Noemi and I were part of Clan Ordo, then no one—at least no other Mando—would dispute it. And by claiming me and Noemi as clan, Wren was saying that she would not only protect us, but die for us if necessary. So as crazy as her idea of battlefield weddings might sound to an aruetii, it was serious to her, as serious to a Mando as any vow a Jedi could make to the Force. I was touched. “I’ll think about it,” I promised her.

    Wren nodded and gave me a small push towards the futon. “Get back to bed, Ro. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.”

    And so here I am, back in bed but still not asleep. I think I’m finally settled enough to use my Force relaxation skills to get some sleep, though, because Wren’s right—tomorrow’s going to be a long day, even if everything goes according to my half-shebsed plan.

    Which, of course, it won’t
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Eventful update and it looks like Ronen's spontaneous seat of pants strategizing will make the next day even more so =D=

    Love the combination of perceptiveness and obliviousness Wren has ;) :D
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  16. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Huh. I think Ro's plan sounds pretty good for one that is ostensibly half shebsed.
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh yes, a very eventful new chapter indeed, with a lot packed in! :eek: Things are really thickening up plot-wise if Yuthura (I have no reason to doubt that's who it is) and one of her goons are going to the lengths of ransacking the RoPartment. Especial kudos to Spots for her quick thinking and extremely valuable testimony--and, even if he did almost kneecap poor Ro with that Grizmallti Falcon-type doohickus, to Humoo, too, for his Squibbish courage! (I would have loved to see Yuthura or her goon get a nice walloping from him with that statuette--short can be advantageous sometimes!) Yes, between Struggs's testimony, Creepy Guy, and this break-in, it's very clear now that these Chimaerans are up to no good. And it's also clear that it's up to Ro&Co. to stop them and gather as much evidence as they can. I'm with @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 about Ronen's plan--for half-shebsed, it really does sound pretty darn decent! I especially love how it draws on the strengths of each team member: Wren's demolitions expertise, Kaz's piloting skills, Humoo's lock-slicing abilities (don't anyone misunderestimate that fluffy little guy, you bet!). That right there shows how much this team has become Ro's family, just as much as his (very understandable) concern about their safety does, and I can't wait to see how it will all go

    The conversation with Wren was really a wonderful way to wrap up. I know you were originally not sure where to place it, but I think it works very well here--not only is the forthright Cousin Wren an ideal person for Ro to talk earnestly with about his feelings at this tense moment, but also, in the midst of all the action and intrigue, it's good to remember that we're dealing with sentient beings in love, and the effect that this tense situation is having upon their relationship and romance. Wren's definitely given Ro much to ponder; even if the Mandalorian approach to marriage doesn't turn out to be his bag (I'm going to guess it's not everyone's, as generous as Wren and her family are in considering Ro and Noemi their clanmates), it might not be a bad idea to get at least the betrothal side of things settled before something happens to someone. Not only that, the ring sounds gorgeous, and I know you would write these two a beautiful betrothal scene! :D ;)

    Thanks for another exciting chapter--can't wait to see what happens next and how it will all shake out! Whatever happens, I know Ro&Co. will all give their very best. =D=
  18. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    This has been absolutely AWESOME to catch up on so far. :D

    And I mean catching up in a big way. I've only read bits and scenes of Ronen's first journal, the same as with most of the Marzra 'verse to date, but I know enough about these characters and your AU to say eh, let's do it and just dive into the deep end to start - from here I know I will probably still be catching up backwards, but I am enjoying what I'm reading so much that I had to stop and tell you about what I've appreciated in particular so far. :D

    So, for entries One through Five . . .

    Aw! Just so precious! Ronen's entire voice is precious, though; his sweetness and uncertainty and strength! Even when he doesn't quite view himself as any sort of hero yet, let alone a Jedi action hero. He's such an endearing, easily likeable character, and I love the clearly defined voice you've created for him - and for all of your characters, really, both original and established. :D

    Eek, talk about a doozie of a first mission. :eek: Any one of those elements would be quite the hurdle all on its own. Put it all together and you have quite the quintessential SW bad feeling all tied up with an ugly Sith bow. [face_worried] Because if possibly disturbed evil spirits and hellspawn beasts and dangerous devices of unknown power aren't already bad enough, you've got some idiotic New Bad thinking that they're Bad Enough enough to harness all of that Bad o_O . . . and with the name Chimaera to boot. Veeeery interesting, indeed. [face_thinking]

    The Force chooses its heroes, and it most certainly doesn't deal in coincidences. ;) Ronen is such a dear - a humble dear who doesn't quite see his worth like we do. I look forward to his hero's journey to come for more than one reason. [face_love]

    Of the Flhaskhalhoosas! Oh, just brilliant! :D

    Ya know, that's fair. It sure doesn't sound like a walk in a Nabooian meadow, that's for sure. (But I LOVE the whole Indiana Jones style adventure you are setting up here. How cool is that for a SW story???)

    Oh, Ro. [:D] But . . . yeeeah. I can't say I blame him for being freaked out. Just a bit.

    [face_rofl] [face_love]

    I think that this may, officially, be the only Kylo I can accept. Love it!

    Aw. This whole scene hit hard. Because no matter the laughs we get from Ronen's very unique voice and his rambling, this is a beyond dangerous mission. Scarily so. But they're Jedi; it's to them to go wherever the Force wills. No matter how difficult that may be. I love how much they just love each other, and want to keep each other safe all the while. [face_love]

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    I LOVE what you've done for Sabine's family. They're one of my favorite aspects of your AU, and I just adored all of them here. Which was their first introduction, I believe? I know, I am reading all of these stories so out of order. :p

    (Also, Bellona has quite possibly my favorite Mandalorian armor ever. What an awesome design!)

    WREN!!! Of course she would rather invite herself along for Certain Doom rather than go Full Mando if she has to attend another Art Thing with her mother and sister. :p But, all teenage drama aside - which you have a penchant for writing like no one else! - she is concerned about her 'cousin', and like a true Mandalorian of Clan Ordo, she's going to march into the fire with him to keep him safe. It's just what aliit does for each other. [face_love] I love how Sabine understands that, and is not only prepared, but proud, to let her daughter go.

    Plus, I just love Ronen not being able to hit the broad side of a Corellian freighter. [face_laugh] :oops:

    Kaz! What a dear! An absolute dear. I love him already.

    . . . unlike his father. Sheesh, but what an oily, smarmy piece of work. o_O

    [face_waiting] I say let her loose on him. Eugh.

    But I love Wren clinging to the Honor of Clan Ordo to be the bigger person here. Even if I think Canderous would have laughed if she went berserk Loth-cat on him. Just a little. [face_mischief] [face_whistling]


    More Awful Father being Awful, yes, but now I'm mighty curious about what Kaz thought better of saying. Also: Wren vs. Sushi and Sushi vs. the Appetites of Teenage Boys had me snickering. [face_laugh]

    AND THEN THE GLANCES BEGIN. THE SIGNIFICANT GLANCES. As Wren/Kaz is really what made me dive into this journal like I've wanted to fo a while now, that made my shipper's heart happy. [face_love]

    ALL OF THIS. I was dying. [face_rofl] [face_love]

    Kaz! I love how terrible he is at this Secret Jedi Spy Stuff, but determined to tag along and do his best to be helpful because he wants to do something Good and Worthy. He's just too dear, and his heart's in the right place. [face_love]

    I am all for Wren shooting this problem. [face_whistling] (Have I mentioned how much I love your depiction of Wren? Because I do, and so I'll keep saying it.)

    [face_frustrated] [face_frustrated] [face_frustrated]

    Oooh but I'd like to feed this man to a terentatek something fierce, lemme tell you. What kind of parent leaves their kid on a literal hell planet, just to teach them a lesson? (And how did he not realize his son was missing in the first place???) I am proud of Ro for stepping up and taking Kaz in as part of the team, for better or worse. (For better, I bet - the Force doesn't work in coincidences, again.) He's already instinctively showing himself as the competent leader he can be. I really got a strong Kanan vibe from him, particularly at the end of this update! And Hera too, of course. [face_love]

    Alrighty - I'm off to catch up on more, but I had to stop and applaud great writing along the way. Thank you so much for sharing more of these wonderful characters and universe with us. I truly look forward to reading more. :) =D=
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2020
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  19. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    They're definitely going to have their hands full with their respective tasks. Isn't funny how Wren can be so perceptive about Ro's feelings where Noemi is concerned but so oblivious when it comes to Kaz's for her?
    It's not a bad plan, but Ro is always harder on himself than anyone else is--and in that he's a lot like Kanan when he first started to train Ezra: who am I to take on this responsibility? His team members trust him, though, because he's proven that he has a good head on his shoulders and their best interests at heart.
    Yep, even the least assuming members of the team make valuable contributions. I wasn't able to work it in here, but Ro plans to buy Spots several cat-mint Loth-rats once they return home by way of reward for her valor. And Humoo turns out to have some hidden skills and unexpected reserves of courage, you bet! Ro, as usual, doubts himself, even though he's put together a pretty decent plan on the fly. It's mostly because he does care so much about his team--more than a team, his vode--and feels so personally responsible for keeping them all safe. They trust him, now he in turn needs to learn to trust them and their abilities,

    She's given him a lot to think about, that's for certain. Ro's always thought of Wren as part of his family, but this is probably the first time he's really thought about what that means to her in a practical sense. Mandos do have a different--and almost ruthlessly practical--view of things like marriage and adoption into a clan; intent is what matters to them rather than formalities. And since Wren sees that Ro and Noemi have that soul-mate relationship, why not make good on that? It's easy as saying the words. Mando-style marriage is probably not his preferred method, but Ro is touched by Wren's declaration that they are truly clan.
    Thank you so much for this incredible comment! I'm so honored that you decided to jump into this crazy, sprawling AU and that you've enjoyed it. Darth Real Life has been darth-y as of late, so I confess that I've been re-reading your comment a lot [:D]

    Aw, thanks! Ro is one of those rare characters who sprang to life almost fully formed. He started talking when I was looking for a character for the "Introduce an OC" challenge, telling me about his life and hasn't stopped since. Sometimes, it's like I just listen while he tells the story [face_laugh]

    It is a lot to deal with, but Ronen has some unique talents and he's proven himself capable enough that the Council believes he'll be able to handle it. Unfortunately, Ro being Ro, he doesn't feel that he's up to the challenge. And, yes, Chimaera....hold that thought ;)

    It does indeed choose its own heroes, and they're not necessarily the ones you would expect--a Tatooine farmboy, a homeless Loth-rat, a reluctant Jedi... Ronen doesn't think he's anything special, partly because he's grown up being very insecure about his appearance and his worth, and partly because he's comparing himself to these heroes--after they achieved hero status.

    I am indebted to @Findswoman for letting me make him part of the family!

    It has been fun casting my dear, unassuming Ronen in the role of the daring and confident Professor Henry Jones, Jr. ( And like Indy, he's got his, well, sidekicks is too small a word for the group he ultimately assembles, but he's got his Marian, his Sallah, and his Marcus, too.)

    Ro can be a teeeeny bit dramatic at times. Just a little.

    It's the happy endings AU, so we have a stronger Jedi Order and a Ben who, while emo and angsty, never feel to the Dark. I really enjoyed flipping the narrative by making Ben a scholarly monk type who willingly goes to Ach-to to study, along with the cutest Kylo there could be. :D

    I've always had my issues with the non-attachment doctrine because it seems to me that there are many members of the military, the clergy, police force, etc. who put duty above their own desires everyday. It doesn't make it easier for Ronen and Noemi knowing t, but in the end they know that they are called to do the will of the Force, even if that means facing dangerous, scary stuff--or letting the other face it.

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    I LOVE what you've done for Sabine's family. They're one of my favorite aspects of your AU, and I just adored all of them here. Which was their first introduction, I believe? I know, I am reading all of these stories so out of order. :p

    (Also, Bellona has quite possibly my favorite Mandalorian armor ever. What an awesome design!)[/quote] Thank you! I never expected to enjoy writing Mandos so much, but once I got into the culture and lore, they grew on me. This is Wren and Bellona's first appearance, though Maximus appeared previously in "Strategic Alliances". Bellona takes her mom's unique fashion style up a notch. She's Glamor Mando, if there can be such a thing. (Why not? Just because she's stylish doesn't mean she still can't kick shebs--stylishly, of course!)

    Much like her cousin, Wren popped up one day, nearly fully formed and has taken up residence in my head. She was a surprise for me, because I'd planned to make Max and Sabine's second child a boy. I think I was almost as surprised as Sabine to realize that Wren HATES ART, and not having the talent that her mom and sister share drives her to push herself harder in her marksmanship to distinguish herself. And of course Sabine is proud of her for taking on this mission; Wren may not see it but there's a lot of young Sabine in her.

    Kaz really is a sweetheart. He's awkward and klutzy and a bit of a goof, but he is so earnest and enthusiastic. He throws himself, heart and soul, into whatever he does despite that awkwardness, and I adore him, too. Hamato---not so much. WE don't get to see a lot of him on Resistance, so I had to extrapolate a lot, but from what we do see, he really doesn't appreciate the good person his son is. All he sees is the awkwardness and the times he's had to bail Kaz out (some of which, I'm convinced Kaz didn't need. For example, Hamato says he got Kaz into the New Republic Academy and Navy, but Kaz is an ace pilot who holds his own against the series' Red Baron figure and who can keep up with Poe Dameron's fanciest maneuvers. So I doubt he had any trouble getting in on his own merits.)

    Oh yeah, given that I spent a lot of time in KOTOR listening to Canderous tell my Revan he should have killed various obnoxious characters, I'm sure he'd have cheered on his great-great granddaughter if she opened a can of whup-shebs on Hamato. But Wren is Seriously Serious about upholding her clan's honor, so she grits her teeth really hard and stays silent.

    Wren would much rather have a nice hearty bowl of tiingilaar, thank you very much. Something substantial and filling. Food is nourishment, not art. And Kaz is a real chow hound on the show, and being a teenager here on top of that, I could just imagine how many little morsels of fish it would take to fill him up.

    And again, I have to say thank you for your support of Wraz. I've been a little discouraged in the past by how little attention they gotten, because I love them together and they are so much fun for me to write. Having you ship them, too, means so much to me.[:D]

    Immovable object, meet unstoppable force :D Humoo enjoys haggling, and "no" just means he hasn't found the right offer yet. Wren...well, good thing for Humoo that actually shooting him would be against her clan's honor.

    He really is a terrible spy on Resistance, too. Which is not completely his fault, given that he's just thrown into the role and given the least likely cover story. He's just to earnest to be good at subterfuge and too clumsy to be be sneaky. But he tries, really, really hard.

    Well, thank you :blush: Wren has become one of my favorite OCs.

    You know, when I was writing this I wondered if I'd gone too far with Hamato, but in my mind he truly expects Kaz to call back five minutes after hanging up to beg his father to come get him, and of course at that point Hamato will be all magnanimous, lesson learned :p But he underestimates his son's fortitiude, and he doesn't count on the fact that Ro will take him under his wing. He's got Hera's compassion towards those in need and Kanan's leadership skills (even if he also has Kanan's "oh dear Force, what am I getting myself into?" reluctance at times).

    Thank you so much for this lovely comment, and I hope you'll continue to enjoy the story [:D]
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  20. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

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

    15. Unclassified entry, dated 30/07/3305 LY, transcribed by C1-10P

    ….turn this thing on? What? Oh, heh… Hi. Umm… this is Kazuda Xiono, and I’m with Wren Ordo and Humoo...however you pronounce his last name…

    Flhaskhalhoosa! It’s easy-peasy porridgy!

    Uh, right. Ronen—that is, Jedi Syndulla-Jarrus—

    Kaz! Incoming! [the sounds of high pitched shrieking and blaster fire can be heard in the background]

    Not agai--aaah! [loud shrieking, cut off suddenly by a blaster shot]

    Uh... [panting] Sorry about that! We’re hiding out in this cave and these weird mynock things—shyrack? Shryack? Something like that—keep dive bombing us.

    Don’t worry; those shab’ike can’t get past me.

    [nervous chuckle] Anyway, like I was saying...Ronen gave me his journal in case anything went wrong while he was looking for evidence in the Chimaera office, and well, things...things went wrong. Big time. The alarms went off while he, Noemi and Humoo were in there. Humoo got away…

    Thanks to Ildephonsus-Ro! Oh, most exceptionerrifc of Jedi! He gave himself up to those villanelles to save me! Me, most unworthy-ish Squib that I am… [trails off into a wailing sob]

    Knock it off, Humoo! Ro’s not dead!

    ....but Yuthura and Belloq have Noemi and Ronen, and they sealed them in one of the Sith tombs.

    [more wailing from Humoo]

    Ronen said in the event that anything happened to him, we were supposed to get this to the Jedi Council….

    But we’re obviously not leaving him and Noemi here! By the honor of Clan Ordo, we’ll get them out or die trying!

    Hopefully not actually die... but yeah, we’ve got a plan, and maybe it’s a stupid, hoojib-brained plan, but we can’t just do nothing for Ro and Noemi, because they’re our...what’s that word, Wren?


    Right. They’re our vode, and we’re not leaving them behind. Ronen would never leave us. So, um, may the Force be with us. Kazuda Xiono—and vode—signing out.
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  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh! =D= What a unique way to show a whole bunch of action and reaction from Kaz and Humoo and Wren. =D=

    Whew, Ro and Noemi are in a tight spot. [face_worried]
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  22. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Sounds like a bit of chaos. Props to Kaz for pretty much keeping a cool head here.
  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    As I said in the beta, I love this little interlude! You pack so much into this brief recorded testimony of three vode, and everyone’s voice comes through unmistakably, as does the difficult situation they’re in, with the background noise of the shryacks/shyracks (I confess I don’t know which is right either, it’s been a long time!). I love that it’s the once-timid Kaz who takes charge, and I love the way he makes it a point to invoke the Mandalorian concept of vode—both because it’s perfectly true that that’s what his lost comrades are, and because I know he has a personal interest in things Mando these days. ;) I cannot wait to see what their hoojib-brained rescue plan is—one hoojib-brained plan to salvage another, and hopefully both to make everything safe again for Ro & Co.! Keep it coming—and good luck and Forcespeed to our three remaining brave vode! =D=
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  24. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks! I needed to find some way to fill in what happened between Ro's last entry and the time that he was rescued (because I figured as dedicated as he is in keeping his journal, he wouldn't be stopping in the middle of the action to record his thoughts :p) and this seemed like a fun way to show what the others were up to while Ro and Noemi were otherwise occupied. They're in quite a bind, but you know their vode are going to do everything in their power to get them out of it.
    Chaos is a good word for it--and the terentatek from "Come Get Me, Ugly!" hasn't even shown up yet! :p Kaz may be klutz, but he has his moments. His earnest, go-the-extra-mile attitude can turn into dogged determination when his friends are in trouble.
    Thanks :) I enjoyed playing with the record format here. I don't know that it would work for a whole journal, but it makes a fun break here to show what the non-Jedi are doing. (And I think it's shryack). Like I said, Kaz may be a klutz, but when the chips are down, he'll come through for his friends. His plans may be a little hoojib-brained, but his good heart can lead him to impressive acts of bravery to help those in need. I think Kaz has internalized the concept of vode not only because, as you note, he's got a personal interest in all things Mando, but also because it fits with his character. On Resistance, his friends aboard the Colossus become like family to him, and he will do anything for them, whatever the risk might be to him personally. It's that same close comrade/sibling-like relationship embodied in the Mandalorian concept. And stay tuned to find out how the hoojib-brained plan works out....
  25. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

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

    16. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who’s still alive, thanks for asking

    Hey, it’s me again. Nice cliffhanger on that last entry, huh? Obviously, I’m still alive and no longer in Chimaera’s dubious custody, thanks to the efforts of my awesome team. That’s the short version. As for the longer version...

    Mom always said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. And having been a general, she knows what’s talking about. My slapdash, half-shebsed plan certainly didn’t.

    The Chimaera office was the least rundown building in a cluster of old storefronts leftover from some distant time when Dreshdae had a thriving economy. It was hard to tell what the other businesses might have been; their signs were defaced with several layers of graffiti--not the artistic kind that Aunt Sabine used to do, the kind that prominently features words like “kriff” and “bork”. Someone had sandblasted most of the graffiti off of the Chimaera building, but they’d done kind of a quick and dirty job of it, and there were still blotches of color remaining around the shiny new sign whose black stenciled letters read “CHIMAERA CO.”. Yeah, nothing says “totally legitimate business here!” like a brand new, generically lettered and vaguely worded sign.

    Noemi and I, along with Humoo and Spots, waited across from the building in an alleyway that was heaped with the detritus of Dreshdae past: packing crates with the Old Republic’s insignia, droid chassis from models they stopped manufacturing fifty years ago, the stripped down skeleton of an ancient speeder bike. We crouched in the shadows until my commlink buzzed softly, and Wren gleefully announced, “It’s go time! Ten… nine… .eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two…”


    The explosion shook the ground, even though we were several klicks from the Valley of the Dark Lords. Later, I learned that Wren had blown up one of the towering Sith statues, reducing his awesome Sithy majesty into chunks of red stone that, not coincidentally, blocked the entrance to the tomb entrance at site 15. I staggered a bit from the tremor; Humoo, his blue-gray ear tufts standing on end, yelped and seized my knee, while Noemi coaxed Spots down from a stack of crates.

    A minute later, Belloq stormed out of the building with his lekku writhing in consternation. Yuthura was close behind him, her fingers flying over her ever-present datapad. In contrast to Belloq, her lekku were still except for the left tip, which beat a rapid, angry tattoo against her shoulder. The two of them jumped into Belloq’s impractically sleek Luxe speeder and tore off towards the dig site in a cloud of dust.

    We waited a few more minutes, just to be sure that Belloq and Yuthura were well away before we crept from our hiding place. That part of Dreshdae was mostly deserted, but there were a few squatters and spice-dealers who inhabited the ramshackle buildings. And while we probably could have raided the Chimaera office with repeating blasters and flash sticks for all they cared, Noemi and I still provided cover for Humoo, loitering casually in front of the door while he opened his pouch of lock-picking tools. Good business, you bet.

    And that’s when we got our first surprise.

    The door wasn’t locked; it slid open once Humoo got close enough to employ his sonic scrambler.

    And the office wasn’t empty.

    A 4D-M1N droid was standing at the incongruously shiny plas-steel reception desk. “May I help you?” she asked haughtily. If she’d had eyebrows, she would have raised one at the small, furry rodent in pittin-print pajamas and the two young Humans gaping over their shoulders like a pair of giju...and also the Loth-cat.

    “Ummm....” I wished I had Caleb’s knack for coming up with plausible stories off the top of my head, but my talent for getting out of trouble was not to get in it in the first place. I cast around desperately for a good cover story

    Meanwhile, Humoo grinned a bright, Squibbish grin. “Yes, indeedily-doodily, my fair metal lady! I have a deal for you, you bet! Something that will simplistically blow your circuits in sheerifying amazement and awe and all that, you bet, you bet!”

    The admin droid regarded Humoo with some bemusement. “I’m afraid--”

    “Oh, now, now, now,” Humoo chided, as he rummaged through his belt pouch. “Don’t say anything until you’ve seen it, my dear droidy, not a word! Here we go now! What a beaut!” And so saying Humoo tossed a silver disk toward the droid, who raised her hands in dismay.

    There was a small noise like “foom” and the droid’s eyes flickered and dimmed. She slumped as if all her servos had gone offline simultaneously.

    Humoo grinned at my dumbfounded expression, his ear tufts perking and twitching gleefully. “Shortish range ion pulser-ator. Shuts down anything electronic, you bet, but only within a meter radius. Traded some old wooden-type cup and a glassish skull thingy to a nice old Weequay gent on Batuu for it! He was a great bargainer, you bet!”

    There’s an old Jedi philosopher named Odon Urr who argues that Jedi aren’t creatures of morals, not necessarily bound by any society’s particular view of what’s right or wrong when acting on the will of the Force. I don’t know if I would go that far, but I decided not to quibble over the fact that ion pulse scramblers are illegal in most of the New Republic’s systems. I wondered what other nifty little devices Humoo had hidden in that magic belt pouch of his.

    We split up to investigate. Noemi (along with Spots) took Belloq’s office, in hopes that she’d have better luck slicing directly into his computer than she’d had trying to crack into it from her slicer’s station in the laundering unit. Meanwhile, Humoo and I tackled the storage room, which, it turned out, was used for the nefarious purpose of...storing things. There were boxes of broken Sith pottery and bits of carved frieze from the temples, but nothing more sinister than that. The other boxes, which Humoo jimmied open with Squibbish enthusiasm and a speed and skill that spoke of long practice, contained vibro-picks, chisels, brushes and other archaeological implements. And next to those was a pallet stacked with ten-liter drums whose garish fluorescent yellow and fuschia label was printed in an unfamiliar language that Humoo identified as Sy Bisti.

    “One of the biggish trade languages on the way-far Outer Rim,” Humoo said, cocking his head to the side and squinting at the eye-popping yellow squiggles. “Lemme see here.... ‘Nebula Edibles Mama’s Homestyle Hydrogenated Smapp. Safe for consumption by most sentient species and major livestock’.”

    “Hydrogenated smapp?! Is that what we’ve been eating all this time?” I did even know what smapp was, let alone why one would want to hydrogenate it.

    I didn’t have much of a chance to ponder that eternal question, though. Humoo’s head snapped up, whiskers twitching, ear tufts erect. “Did you hear that?”

    “Hear what?”

    “That snickety noise. Like someone locking a door….” His big button eyes grew round with alarm.

    I sprinted for the door; when I touched the access panel, a jolt of electricity shot through me— not as strong as a stun bolt, but enough that I felt back gracelessly on my posterior, my arm numb up to the shoulder.

    And then there was another snickety noise: the sound of an intercom switching on. “Hello, Ildephonsus,” purred a familiar voice. “Or may I call you Ronen?”

    Humoo froze at the sound of that Rylothean accent, looking like nothing so much as a pocket-hare caught out in the open, and I sat there, stunned, literally and figuratively. “What? I...I don’t know....” was my terribly witty reply.

    Yuthura cut me off with one of her tinkling little laughs. “Oh, please, Ronen, let’s dispense with the pretense. Once I realized that you were Force-sensitive, it was easy enough to figure out your true identity. Your appearance is rather distinctive, Jedi Syndulla-Jarrus. And of, course, Jedi Bridger’s little slip when she called herself ‘Ro’s girlfriend’ helped, too.”

    Cold dread stabbed my heart like a blade. Noemi… She knew about Noemi, too. Noemi, who was in Belloq’s office slicing his computer terminal. Or had been…

    I scrambled to my feet and pounded on the door. “Where is she?! What have you done to her?!” Yeah, I know, not exactly emotion-yet-peace. Maybe a better Jedi could have kept calm and detached when he heard the gloating smile in Yuthura’s voice. But I am not that Jedi. I was already thinking of several unpleasant things I would do if Yuthura had hurt Noemi in any way.

    She laughed again, as if I was a particularly amusing child, “Don’t worry, dear Ronen, she’s fine--she and her charming little feline both. I find that a dose of concentrated nitroxide works well to incapacitate Force-users without damaging them. Of course,” she continued as I spluttered incoherently at this cavalier announcement. “Her continued well-being is dependent on your cooperation.”

    “If you wanted cooperation, you should have gassed me, too!”

    “Don’t be tedious, Ronen,” Yuthura sighed. “We both know that you, being the noble Jedi that you are, will do anything I ask to ensure your beloved’s safety. And please don’t get any ideas about your other companions swooping in to rescue you. My associates--I believe you met Erebus in the market yesterday--are already on their trail. The Mandalorian girl may be a bit of a challenge, but I’m sure even she can be made to see reason once we have the boy and the Squib.”

    From over by the barrels of hydrogenated smapp, Humoo gave a little squeak. “But--”

    I hastily waved him quiet. If Yuthura didn’t know that Humoo was here, that gave us an advantage. Maybe. If I played this right, I might be able to give him a chance to escape. I knelt down next to him, whispering as softly as I could, trusting that those tufty ears could hear what Yuthura’s intercom couldn’t pick up. “Hide. Once I’m gone with Yuthura, wait ten minutes and then slip out through the ventilation shaft.”

    Humoo shook his head vehemently; his eyes were the size of saucers now and his ear tufts drooped like wilted celta stalks.

    “No--” I cut off his protests before they began. “You have to find Kaz and Wren and get my journal to the Council.”

    “Ronen, I’m waiting.” Yuthura’s voice had lost all of its charm; the purr had hardened into the growl of a cat who had its prey cornered. “My employer prefers you to be alert and mostly undamaged when he speaks to you, but he’ll make allowances, I’m sure.”

    “Humoo--” I hissed frantically. We didn’t have time to debate; any second, Yuthura was going to get tired of waiting and take matters into her own hands.

    His ear tufts quivered, and he threw himself at my knees for a last fuzzy embrace. “Ildephonsus-Ro, you are the bravest-est of all Jedi-heroes. May the Force be with you, you bet!” he whispered, squeaky voice breaking on “you bet”. He saluted me, scrambled over the barrels of smapp, and climbed into one of the crates of vibro-picks.

    “And also with you.” I returned the salute as I replaced the crate’s lid, loosely enough that he’d be able to move it from the inside after I’d gone. I pushed back the feeling of guilt that assaulted me for leaving one of my team members in a box to fend for himself. Could he really escape, find the others and get offworld, all while Creepy Guy and Yuthura’s other Dark Side goon were on the hunt? It seemed like a huge thing to put on such small, furry shoulders, but I could not, in the words of Master Yoda, judge him by his size. Humoo had a lot of spirit--amplified by liberal amounts of caffeine--and he’d proven unexpectedly resourceful with lock picks, ion pulse emitters and who knew what other sorts of devices. All I could do was trust him and the Force. May the Force be with you, indeed, my friend.

    I straightened, squaring my shoulders and steeling myself for the part I had to play. “All right,” I called out to Yuthura. “Promise me Noemi will be safe and I’ll surrender.”

    The door slid open. Yuthura smiled at me, the same feline smile she’d worn when she’d twined her fingers in my hair at the Drunk Side. She ran her fingers down the line of my jaw, laughing when I pulled away in disgust. “I promise I won’t harm your sweet Noemi,” she said. Which wasn’t the same thing at all, of course, but I let it pass. Let her think I was naive or stupid or both. Yuthura held out an imperious hand. “I’ll need your lightsaber.”

    Yeah, right, lady. “I don’t have it,” I lied. “I left it back on Lothal because I knew I couldn't use it while I was undercover. Scan me for weapons if you don’t believe me,” I told her at her disbelieving sneer. “I don’t have anything.” A scanner wouldn’t find anything, not with my lightsaber disassembled, but I wasn’t going to take the chance that she’d decide to go through my satchel herself. I slipped past her into the lobby.

    The 4D-M1N droid was back online and in security mode; her photo-receptors blinked red and she levelled her built-in wrist blasters at me, but she could have been pointing a full-sized E-web repeating blaster for all I cared. Because Belloq was standing in front of the reception desk. Spots was dangling limply from the crook of his right arm, while Noemi leaned groggily against his left shoulder. Her eyes were unfocused and heavy-lidded like she was going to fall asleep where she stood. “Ro?” she asked muzzily, frowning.

    Does it make me less of a Jedi if I say that when I saw her like that, all I wanted to do was punch Belloq’s smug face? Does it make me a better one that I didn’t because I knew it would be a stupid, useless gesture that would only get me shot? Instead, I stared straight into his weaselly schutta eyes with all the hauteur that a member of Clan Ordo could muster when dealing with a grave-robbing coward until he blanched and looked away. “So, you wanted to talk to me?”

    “Belloq? You still think he’s the one in charge?” Yuthura laughed, but this time it was neither tinkling or musical, just plain nasty. “Won’t you be surprised?”

    But, as it turned out, I wasn’t. Not remotely.

    “Traded some old wooden-type cup and a glassish skull to a nice old Weequay gent on Batuu for it” If you’re a fan of Indiana Jones, you might have an inkling of what those two artifacts are. ;) And that nice old Weequay gent—just might be Hondo Ohnaka, who’s still kicking around the GFFA at this point in time :D

    4D-M1N droid
    Hydrogenated smapp (yes, it really is a thing :p)