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Saga - PT Fading Stars - A Star Wars story

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Winter1231505, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. Winter1231505

    Winter1231505 Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Oct 16, 2020
    Prologue: Sparks in the rain


    The rain lightly dripped on his scaled nose as Jex tried to look around and see through the thick fog enveloping him and his colleague. His people weren’t used to colder climates, they were cold-blooded, needed a lot more heat to be able to live comfortably, and his suits UV heaters were currently going off the fritz trying to keep him from freezing.


    “Thought this place was supposed to be a tropical retreat. People don’t go to retreats to freeze their asses off in the rain.” He mumbled just loudly enough to be heard against the sounds of rain hitting the ground.


    “Hruuuuuuuuu.” His Wookie companion roared in response.


    “Yeah right, don’t tell me you’re not soaking yourself to an early grave in all that fur.” He’d been on Unhic VII for some time now, doing odd jobs here and there, working his way up to earning a reputation as a hired gun. Over time, he managed to catch up learning some new languages he never knew before; the Wookie’s being one of them.


    Still, the life of a merc isn’t luxurious. He had done more than his fair share of dirty work, from raids to assassinations, yet the worst of them all were jobs like these, grunt work. Too tedious and indescribably boring, yet his contractor was paying good money to keep this place on lockdown. So he wasn’t picky.


    “How long until this guy arrives, I’m freezing my scales off here.” he asked his wookie companion. Trying his own to generate a bit of heat outside of the suit. He had already decided that the pay needed to be much bigger if he was ever going back to such a frozen hell again.


    “Hruuuuuuuuuuu.” The Wookie replied loudly.


    “Listen pal I don’t care how much Almira’s payin’ you, keep up that sass and you’re gonna lose that snout.” Jex wasn’t too fond of his appointed partner, he was some low-level warrior wookie from Kashyyyk that got exiled from his tribe or something like that, he couldn’t really keep himself interested enough to understand.


    Time passed and the rain slowly began to falter, something Jex was grateful for. Yet despite that, the mist still enveloped them. His eyes were used to hazy or foggy environments yet even he struggled to adjust. However, just as he was about to blink, a figure caught his attention, two of them. He froze up for just a second, before training his eyes and making sure.


    “Stop right there!” he said almost automatically, pointing his rifle towards the approaching shades. “Almira’s orders, no one goes through here without her say so.” he recited the script he was given in an almost eloquent fashion, were it not for his people’s way of speaking perhaps a job in poetry would have been good for him.


    “Hruuuuuuuu!” the Wookie stepped forward a few steps, away from the little holes in the ground they managed to dig themselves into.


    The figures did not stop nor even slow down, it seemed they were here for a purpose. Everyone on this planet knows not to mess with the local gangs, actions like that one they were taking were the equivalent of spitting in Almira’s face. Despite that however, the two persisted, and Jex raised his rifle up higher for it to be seen even more clearly.


    “Last warning.” Jex said calmly, in his head he was glad though. If anything, he might finally see some action.


    Just as he was about to put his finger on the trigger one of the cloaked figures raised his hand in a gesture, the other figure behind him immediately stopped, as if on command. “We mean you no harm gentlemen.” The voice Jex heard was unlike anything he was accustomed to, calm, almost tranquil, yet through the rain, the mud and the fog he could hear it as if every other sound in the world had gone out. “I believe your boss had a word about us already.”


    Jex squinted, and extended his pupils’ sight as sharply as he could to make sense of the man he was talking to. He saw a face, ragged and weary, yet there was no question about it, he was a human. His eyes were obscured too much by the cloak he wore yet his lower half carried with it a strange smile, one Jex could not describe.


    “Hruuuu…” the Wookie lowered his gun, Jex was too focused on the two people in front of him so he couldn’t really focus on what he said, yet it seemed he trusted them.


    “Yes, that would be us.” the man responded in an ever so sickeningly sweet tone, there was something unnatural about it, yet Jex could not spare the mental fortitude to think further on it. “Almira told us that this town had a small pest problem in need of being taken care of.” The man explained calmly, yet still carrying that smile.


    “Hruuu.” Jex was not informed on any of this, yet the Wookie seemed to be. No point in making a fuss about it though, he was used to having information being withdrawn from him. If Almira thought it wasn’t important to mention it to him, then it probably has nothing to do with him. Need-to-know basis and all that. He learned a long time ago to not stick his nose into anything too shady, lest it come back to bite his tail off.


    “Alright then, we’ll take it from here. However if you two are willing to help it would be most appreciated.”


    This time it was Jex who took the initiative. Their orders were clear, stay put and don’t let anyone through, that’s what Almira said and that’s what Jex intended to do.


    “Sorry, but we’re paid to guard the door, if Almira says its ok for you to enter then fine but we go no further.” he said, doing his best to keep his tongue in his mouth, as to not let off any hissing noises.


    “Hruuuuu.”


    “What?” his eyelids shot open as the main cloaked figure huffed in amusement. “What do you mean I’m going with them?” He asked in a confused tone


    “Hruuuuu.”


    You be the guide then, I don’t know my way around this scrapyard.” it was a little bit of a lie, he had gone in there a few times to try and scavenge for ship parts and maybe sell them for some quick credits, but every time he did Jex made sure no one else was there, and that he wasn’t followed.


    “Hruuuuuu.” the Wookie was quite the negotiator it seemed.


    “Well, you heard him.” the human said. “Almira’s orders.”


    Jex sighed, it seems now he knows why Almira didn’t tell him anything, he came in here expecting a regular guard duty job, so he didn’t bring any of the equipment he usually carried with him, just his heat suit and a spare rifle he carried around when not using his main one. He was no coward, but Jex knew that going into situations unprepared was akin to running head first through a minefield.


    “Don’t worry. I may have asked for help, but should there be any danger we can keep you safe.” that same calm voice echoed in his ears as the human seemingly teleported right in front of him whilst Jex wasn’t looking. “Besides, like you said you were paid for guard duty, and we’re being paid for some simple pest clean-up.” he placed a hand on Jex’s soldiers, it was warm, warmer than anything on this planet in the last few days. It almost caused Jex to jump out of shock.


    For a second, Jex felt a moment of calm, as if his home planet’s sun had just been teleported to Unhic VII and began washing over him. The sense of calm was quickly dashed however when Jex looked past the human looking at him with warm eyes and a smile to the cold and wet sight past him, and the Wookie currently having a massive grin on his face.


    “Get off.” he pushed the hand off, and regained his senses. “Alright, letsss just get this over with.”


    Pulling out the key, Jex unlocked the steel gate that barred anyone from entering, and had the two cloaked figures go through first. Once they were through, he threw the key back to the Wookie. “Anything happens, or we don’t come back… well, you know what to do.”


    “Hruuuu.” the Wookie remarked with the same grin, and closed the gate behind them.


    As his two new companions slowly made their way forward without him, Jex managed to spot a glance at the other cloaked figure that was too far away before. He seemed strong, for a human that is. With hazel brown eyes and features that screamed “bred for war”. The face seemed familiar, like he had seen it somewhere long ago.


    Quickly, the other human seemed to sense Jex’s eyes on him and shot a glance towards him. “What are you looking at.” The voice was the complete opposite of the first human, rough and untethered by any sense of politeness. It was clear from just looking at his expression but now Jex knew that this one was not at all happy being here. ‘On that we can relate, smoothskin.’


    “So… uh, what are we looking for exactly.?” Jex tried to make conversation with the two, though he was meant to be the guide, it seemed that the more kindly-looking human was leading them, carrying his steps with not even a shred of doubt the entire time.


    “Well, your boss said the scrapyard has a wild animal problem. And we are here to solve that. Everything else we were not informed of sadly.”


    “So in other words you just wanted some quick credits and be off with this place, is that right? Can’t say I blame ya.” Jex commented, he had a habit of trying to guess people’s motives, do it long enough and you get good at it, but it seemed he was off the mark this time.


    The kindly looking human turned around, and Jex tensed for a moment. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind, anything could happen at this instant. He tightened the grip on his rifle as he saw the man ruffling something under his cloak. Just as he was about to say something though, the man reached out his hand towards him.


    “I didn’t introduce myself, did I?” he spoke in a balanced tone, yet still with a sense of warmth to it. Ironically though, the only thing this man’s warmth did was make him shudder. “My name is Garlen. Garlen Dolomar.” he was glad the human wasn’t trying to grab him this time, however this level of courtesy is usually not meant for mercs like him.


    “Jex.” he said simply, shaking the hand he only now realized seemed to be somewhat armored. ‘I guess that’s what the cloaks are for.’


    “Alright then Jex, Snik over there told me you’ll be our guide, so please, lead the way.” so that was the furry bastard's name, well at least he heard it this time from a language he could understand.


    “Before we do.” Jex walked in front of the two humans. “I’m not following you two to my death here, either you tell me what it is we’re hunting here or I’m not stepping another foot past this point.” His old life philosophy was fading away as danger might well present itself now. He needed to know what was going on.


    His new companions looked at him with varying expressions, one of surprise and one of annoyance, you can guess which ones had which. “Look here scales, we don’t answer to you.” the other figure said with the same level of hostility as before, only this time it cause Jex’s tail to straighten up. He wasn’t equipped to handle one of these guys, let alone two of them at the same time, so intimidation wouldn’t work, he would have to play to their sense of reason.


    “Then how can you expect me to lead you to wherever we need to go to find… whatever it is you two are looking for?!”


    “Leave that to us Jex, and don’t worry. Like I said, worst comes to worst you just stay behind us and we’ll protect you.” Garlen said with a hushed smile, unlike the other man, Jex could hear him no matter how hard the rain poured, yet the humans word nearly made him bite his tongue from anger. Yet somehow, even with his anger, he trusted in Garlen’s words, he really did believe he would protect him should push come to shove.


    “Alright… fine.... If whatever you’re looking for is smart, then it's most likely heard us by now, we shouldn’t be in a cramped corridor with our guns like this. Follow me, there’s a spot I know that's open enough for a trap.”


    “Lead the way.” Garlen said calmly as he gestured forward.


    And so Jex led the way as requested, and walked to the one place he knew would be good should any conflict begin. It was a place he originally intended to stash his possessions should anything go south with the conduct of business. He wasn’t the most trusting in the galaxy.


    Sometimes he wished he had eyes in the back of his head. Garlen and his companion followed right behind Jex. Still watching his every move. At least one of them must be keeping his hand on a gun at all times, just waiting for an excuse to draw.


    After some time they finally arrived at their predetermined destination and Jex made sure he was facing the both of them at a comfortable distance. He didn’t have his blaster pistol with him, and this rifle was made more for show rather than with actual shooting in mind.


    “Ssssso here we are.” Jex said as he stretched his arms out as if he was presenting it to a cruiser full of schoolchildren. Emphasising this was the place they were looking for.


    The two humans looked at each other for a second. As if silently agreeing if they thought he had led them right. Garlen walked to the very center of the open area and sat down on his knees, at least from what Jex could tell, the cloak did a well enough job hiding any and all features the two could have.


    His other human companion did not seem to be as keen on hiding his equipment however, as he dashed away the cloak that covered his body to reveal a full suit of white armor, decorated with an assortment of belts and equipment that lined said suit. There was no doubt about it, Jex thought, these two are either mandalorians or they’re someone who killed mandalorians, and those kinds of people he does not want to cross.


    He always heard stories of the famed warrior race of Mandalore, they once spanned an empire so large they nearly conquered the known galaxy, before being stopped by the combined might of the Jedi and the Republic. He had never seen any mandalorian armor himself, but he heard descriptions, and the thing these two were wearing seemed to fit the bill well enough, at least he assumed so as the only part of Garlen he’d seen so far besides his face was the gauntlet he wore over his left hand.


    “So what now?” Jex asked, a bit impatiently.


    “Now we wait.” Garlen informed him, like it was matter of fact.


    Of course, it’s always waiting on this cursed planet. It’s what he’s been doing for the last six hours, and for a moment Jex thought he would have been granted reprieve, but then it all backfired just as he got settled into it. Well, he’s waited this long, what’s a few more hours in the freezing rain.


    “Do any of you fellas want some death sticks?” might as well have a smoke while he’s here.


    “Don’t smoke.” Garlen replied, still kneeling down as small puddles began to form around him. “And frankly, neither should you.” He suggested with a special tone in his voice that Jex hadn’t heard before.


    “Yeah, I think you’re right.” he threw away the pack without a second thought.


    Time passed, and the cold began seeping in more and more into his suit, no matter how much he turned up the lights inside Jex couldn’t help but shiver at this point. It was too damn cold for him on this planet. Once he was done with this job, he made a mental note to himself to find someplace more warm. Maybe…


    “Hey, don’t suppose you two-” just as he was about to suggest a business venture, a sound knocked all of them away from any sort of pleasant atmosphere Jex was trying to build up.


    He readied his rifle, as did the human in the suit of armor, yet Garlen stood crouched, not moving save for a slight twitch of his head. Jex scanned around as best he could. His eyes dotting around from corner to corner, looking at every single mount of scrap metal that was within his vision.


    His grip tightened as his ears straightened out. Trying to pick up the smallest sound. That was when he heard it, the scraping of claws against solid metal, it was a blood curdling sound, and from the looks of it the creature making them was well aware of it. “Over there…” Garlen pointed to the furthermost mount of scrap. Jex tensed up, his arms shaking as he looked to where Garlen was pointed.


    The beast was nothing like Jex had ever seen before. He’d fought most of what the Galaxy had to offer, from Rancor’s to tribes of Ewoks, which were really annoying to fight. But he had to admit… He was scared, a feeling he hadn’t felt in a long time.


    It was a four-legged beast, with blood red eyes and black as night fur coat lining its figure. with claws and teeth as sharp and tough as plasteel it cut a formidable hole in the sheets of iron it walked through to be at the top of the scrap heap. ‘It’s intelligent.’ Jex thought, so he could at least count up some basic predator instincts, perhaps it was a common tactic used by its kind. He’d never seen or faced anything like it, that much was for sure,


    It let out a mighty roar as a bolt of thunder struck behind it, giving Jex and his companions enough of a window to see its full figure. With that figure came a look at one other feature the creature had, a spiked tail that started at the base of its spine and ran down along its body, flailing wildly as if it had a mind of its own. Its ears were elongated and stretched farther than its snout, which was busy giving an ugly growl towards the three of them.


    “Sir?” the human aimed his rifle at the creature, calling to Garlen for orders, it seemed he was his subservient then.


    “Hold your fire Kaz, it may look mean but we don’t want to aggravate it further.”


    Aggravate it? That thing’s practically slobberin’ at the mouth to tear our throats out.” Jex stood at the ready with his rifle, this time his finger was placed soundly on the trigger.


    “Stay calm Jex.” Garlen’s voice did not shift even an octave higher or lower than how he had always heard it.


    “I am calm!”


    “Don’t yell you moron! You’re going to rile it up.” the mandalorian shouted louder than Jex’s initial response.


    Before he could bring his head back to looking at the creature, Jex realized his mistake. He had taken his eyes off of it, just what it was looking for. He fired off a blind shot at the direction where his gun was pointed at, not even looking if the creature was still there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and the only thing his blaster hit was a ruined sheet of scrap metal.


    The beast was lunging towards Jex at a lighting speed, jumping around the many piles as if they were lush tundra trees like the ones back in his home planet. He couldn’t keep track of it, he wasn’t sure if he could keep track of it if the Force itself imbued him with lightning fast reflexes. His heart was beating a thousand miles a minute, threatening to burst out of his chest.


    For a split second, Jex’s mind wandered off the imminent danger fastly encircling him, and looked towards his two human companions. When his gaze met the man who introduced himself to Jex as Garlen, he remembered the words that were promised to him.


    ‘We’ll protect you.’ in his heart, Jex truly believed those words. Yet, like with many things throughout his life, he knew not to be too hopeful. ‘I guess this is it for me.’ had he the time to react, he would have tried closing his eyes so as to not see the beast hurdling towards him, jaws open and aiming for his throat. But he did not have the force, and he could not react so swiftly.


    “Move!” yet it seemed someone else did.


    The mandalorian used his entire weight to throw him and Jex out of the way of the beast’s path. They were on the ground, Jex bruised, the Mandalorian dirty, but both alive. He hadn’t expected something like that, but in his head he was thankful they at least tried.


    “You shouldn’t have bothered.” Jex murmured, barely hearing his own voice amidst the rain pouring down on him, he could barely feel the cold at this point, only the blood flowing through his veins. “It’s too fast… we’ll never even lay a finger on it.”


    “You shouldn’t quit so early Jex, it’s rather unprofessional of you.” he heard Garlen speak, that same soothing voice nearly brought life to the merc as Jex managed to pick himself up at least partially.


    Yet what he saw paralyzed him more than the fear he felt just a moment prior.


    The beast was floating in the air, completely still, as if it had just been frozen in a sheet of ice. Below it, Garlen stood, his hand outreached towards the beast, yet from where he was it looked to Jex as if he was reaching out his hand towards him once again.


    The cloak of his had been thrown away and under it lay not a set of mandalorian armor, but the robes of a jedi.


    He never met a jedi, but he heard the stories, and saw a few pictures here and there of the war effort between the Republic and the Separatists, the robes those jedi wore were nearly identical to the figure currently in front of him, however it would be more accurate to describe it as a combination between armor and religious clothing, like that of some holy warrior.


    As he got up from his crouching position, Garlen remained bone dry, the droplets bouncing off a good few inches away from his figure as if he had a shield on him, yet in his mind Jex knew what he was using.


    It was the Force.


    “Bloody Hell. Couldn’t have done that sooner could you?” the one Jex thought of to be a mandalorian stood up. As he looked closer now he understood, this wasn’t mandalorian armor, it was clone armor, that man wasn’t a man at all, he was a clone.


    “I had to get it in place first, wouldn’t want one of these piles collapsing on us now would we?”


    “I suppose you have a point sir.” the clone walked over to his blaster rifle on the ground and picked it up. “Still, do be more careful next time, unlike the droids these things don’t tend to miss. And standing around is a good way to get yourself killed.”


    “I’ll try to remember that next time Kaz.” Garlen gave a smile as he continued to levitate the beast, still stuck and unable to move even an inch.


    The two continued having a conversation, yet Jex couldn’t follow it. A million possibilities ran through his head right now. A jedi? Here? Why in the seven heavens would a Jedi be anywhere near the Outer Rim? Shouldn’t he be out there fighting a war or something? Was he supposed to know this? What if he wasn’t? Are these religious freaks going to hunt him down and kill him now?


    “Settle down Jex, you must have hit your head pretty hard there. Is your suit working alright? You’re shaking pretty bad.” Garlen turned his attention towards the lizard, and Jex froze, unable to find any words.


    “You alright there mate? Sorry, must have pushed you a bit too hard, sometimes I don’t know my own strength.”


    “Get yourself off the ground there lad, you’ll catch a cold if you stay in the puddle for too long.”


    As Garlen… no, as the Jedi said that, Jex felt a sudden gravity begin pulling him up out of the mud, that was when he noticed the Jedi using his other arm and lazily waving it up. He manipulated his own body as if it was nothing, and Jex didn’t want to think of what else he could do with that kind of power.


    Slouched and speechless, he looked at the two figures that now seemingly towered over him. Where a few moments ago he may have perceived them as equals, now he can only see himself as an ant compared to them.


    “So, what should we do with it?” the clone asked.


    “Almira never said we should kill it, who knows, maybe it was just trapped here.”


    “No, it’s too smart for that. It knew this was a good place to take out any would-be scrapper coming through to earn some quick credits. I say shoot it dead and let's be done with it.”


    “Out of the question.”


    “Sir, I know your code and all forbids it but if you let go of this thing it’ll rip us a bloody new one. If you don’t want to do it…” he pulled out a vibro dagger that was strapped to the lower part of his ankle. “... I’ll do it myself.”


    “The Force sees all life as equal Kaz, your life, my life, Jex’s life, yes, even this animal's life. We’re all part of the same universe.”


    “That’s great and all Sir, but it doesn’t change the fact it almost ripped out the scalie’s throat.”


    “Then let me handle it, step back Kaz.”


    The jedi walked forward towards the beast, he could see it in its eyes that it was terrified. Predators like this one aren’t used to being trapped, and when they are, they’re usually dangerous enough to keep anything else around it far away. But here it was helpless, unable to move even a muscle. He put his hand over the beast's eyes, and slowly hummed. The beast breathed erratically for a few seconds, and Jex could swear he saw it twitch a few times as if it was breaking out. But soon enough the breathing calmed, and the twitching stopped, and slowly but surely the Jedi began lowering it back to the ground.


    By the time he let go of it, it was sleeping soundly in the mud, no different than a small pet would lounge itself on a sunny porch.


    “There we are.” he said simply.


    “Great, and what exactly are we to do with it now?” the clone asked.


    “We’ll bring it back with us to the ship.”


    That was when the clone's eyes shot open, it seemed he couldn’t believe what he was hearing as much as Jex couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “With all due respect Sir. Have you gone bloody mad?”


    “We’ll keep it in the cargo hold, it can survive cold environments, that much seems to be confirmed, and the plasteel on the ship should be enough to hold it at bay should it attempt to escape.”


    It looked like the clone was about to protest, but stopped himself halfway. “I’ll not argue with you Sir, I know better at this point.” the clone then turned his head towards Jex. “Now, what about you, eh scalie?”


    His tail straightened, and it seemed Jex finally found the words to speak once his life was beginning to be threatened. “I-... I-... I-...”


    “Come on then lad, spit it out.” the clone slowly walked over to him, his rifle still in hand.


    This was it, he thought he was going to die by the beast, but it seems that his death would be at the hands of a jedi and his clones. There were worse ways to go out, and Jex always knew that at some point he would meet his end on the job, but now that it was in front of him, he couldn’t really process it all in time.


    “Wait! Wait, please just stop! It’s alright, I won’t tell anyone, I promise, please!” he begged and groveled on his knees as the clone raised his brow at the merc.


    The two humans in front of him stood in silence for a moment as Jex hissed pitifully, before the Jedi grabbed the clone’s shoulder. “Let me handle this.”


    He walked over to him, and crouched down to look at him eye-level. The same tone of voice and expression, yet now Jex could see it clearly, and he couldn’t have been more terrified. It was a face not marred by scars or open wounds or marks of any kind, simply a ragged and weary face, a face that must have seen more conflict in his early years than Jex could ever hope to see in his lifetime.


    The Jedi ran his hand down to his belt, and took something off it, something Jex could instantly recognize. A lightsaber. At this point, he looked at the Jedi’s face and accepted his fate. If he was going to die, at least he could tell his ancestors a good story in the afterlife about how a Jedi was the one that got him, maybe his father will finally be impressed with him that way.


    “Do you know what this is?” the Jedi asked.

    “Yes.”

    “And do you know what we use it for?”


    Jex paused for a moment, he knew what they used it for, he had seen it on all those old holotapes. “To… to ssssslice things. To cut all those people in half.” he responded as meekly as he could.


    “No.” that simple word shocked him to his core, because it was perhaps the first time he heard the Jedi speak differently.


    “It’s a tool. A tool I built myself a long time ago.” the Jedi’s eyes wandered down towards the lightsaber as he saw him grip it tightly. “I can’t tell you what kind of person I was back then. It’s been so long, I can hardly remember myself honestly. But what I can tell you is I’m not that same person now.” he raised his head, and looked Jex straight in the eyes. “What kind of person do you think I am? Rather, who or what do you think I am?”


    “You… you’re-” and just as he was about to answer, Garlen interrupted him.


    “I’m no one special.”


    Jex’s mind went blank for a second, before a cold surge through his spine sent him careening back to reality.


    “What?” he asked, mainly to himself. Rubbing his head he looked around a second to try and recall what had just happened. “What just-...”


    The moment he saw the beast, everything came back to him. The mandalorian had saved him just in the nick of time, but he must have hit his head or something, because everything else was blank from there.


    “You alright there Jex? Must have hit your head pretty hard.” Garlen asked as he fastened back on his cloak.


    “Yeah… must have. Heavens you hit like a ship don’t you?” he looked towards the Mandalorian who grabbed hold of the beast’s unconscious body and slunked it over his shoulder.


    “What can I say, don’t know my own strength.”


    “Guess you don’t. Anyways, looks like you two managed to take it down just fine without me. Good work, I wouldn’t have used tranq darts myself, but hey, Almira probably wants it for her zoo or something.” he got up to his feet and wiped the dirt off his suit as best he could, he’d have to clean it once he got back to his ship.


    “Yes, tranq darts, indeed.” Garlen chuckled to himself about something, but honestly Jex was too tired to ask at this point. “Anyways, Jex, lead the way.”


    “You got it. Hey, when you get back to the HQ, you mind giving a good word to Almira for me? I hear she’s a good tipper for people who do their job right.”


    “Don’t worry, we’ll tell her all about you.”
     
  2. Winter1231505

    Winter1231505 Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Oct 16, 2020
    Chapter 1: A Starry beginning


    Space, some call it the final frontier, others a place of endless discovery and opportunity. Kaz looked through the windows of his room towards the perpetual contradiction that was his home ever since he left Kamino. Since he had completed his training, the Republic high command would send him and his squad to countless planets, to fight even more countless battles, yet when the firing died down and the dust settled he always found himself back on a ship heading somewhere else.


    He wondered what his brothers thought of their lives. Perpetual fighters, all of them, made to be expendable. ‘And yet we tell ourselves it will be worth it in the end, because we’re fighting for something greater than ourselves. For the republic, for democracy.’



    He couldn’t complain however, after all he wasn’t much different. Kaz believed in the Republic, in the values they espoused, after all it was all that he was taught, yet that didn’t stop him from believing in it. ‘With men like Skywalker and Kenobi leading our front, who can say we’re not in the right?’ he thought to himself as he took a sip of his tea.


    Once his cup was back on the table the intercom lit up, followed by the voice of their pilot. “Ladies, Clone and Jedi we will be arriving at our destination in T-minus 0600 standard hours. Take a step back, relax and get yourselves some sleep, because I’m kicking you all out the moment we land.”


    That one was trouble to the bone. Perhaps it was just him getting old, but Kaz grew a natural distrust of most youths over the years. Back in his generation, clones were taught battle tactics, guerilla warfare, close quarters combat, how to operate a jet pack and so on. Nowadays new clones might as well be thrown out the vats in armor and holding a blaster they never even learned how to aim. This disappointment with his younger brothers eventually seeped into other factors of his life, such as said pilot.


    Kyle Norrin, a freight cruiser operator from Coruscant, if his record could be believed. Everything about him reeked of business that he and General Dolomar shouldn’t be getting themselves mixed up in, but the Jedi Council and Senate apparently wanted this mission under wraps, so you can’t exactly be having a dreadnought flying about the Outer Rim.


    Speaking of his Jedi Commander, Norrin’s message reminded him of the general’s words, to inform him should any new information be relayed. This was more or less a fancy way of saying “Come get me once dinner’s ready.”, but this is technically information, and Kaz wanted to check in and see if his commander hadn’t frozen himself down in the cargo hold.


    He got up from his chair and closed the shutters to his window, the void of space was a good place for him to look at whenever he wanted to start contemplating, but it wasn’t useful for much else besides stargazing.


    Kaz’s room was placed adjacent to Garlen’s, however the commander rarely used it, being more fond of testing how much his body could handle before hypothermia kicked in, or as he called it, ‘Meditating’.

    Still, their rooms were in a good enough position should anything happen to the ship. Kaz had more or less memorized every single corner, room and hallway of the ship before they even lifted off for the first time. An old clone's habit? Perhaps, but it was a requirement almost, given their company. To the exit of his room, there were two ways to go. Towards the right was where the escape pods were, or rather pod singular, but it was large enough to fit a crew of ten so it was useful enough. Towards the left was where he was headed, a hallway leading up the main navigation room of the ship, the bridge, the mess hall, but more importantly, the cargo hold.


    Whenever he wasn’t on a mission, he would wear the overalls Garlen had given him to try and blend in more as a member of a crew aboard your everyday average transport cruiser. Still, he wasn’t used to it. The clothing was too light, too loose, and just a size too big for him, but nevertheless he endured, he wasn’t going to endanger their mission just for his own personal comfort.



    Once he got to the main navigation room for the ship Kaz took a quick glance around the room, hoping in vain that his commander had perhaps come to his senses and got out of the cargo hold. Unfortunately for him the only person in the room was Kaz himself, however he did hear some rumblings coming from the kitchen.


    “Esna, that you in there?” he called out.


    An annoyed clacking of some silverware and a disgruntled “Yeah!” was the response.


    “Don’t suppose Dolomar’s in there with you as well?”


    “If only. Kaz, get in here, I need an extra pair of hands.” another round of violent metal smacking could be heard as the Togruta spoke.


    The scene in front of him was something that sadly became a common occurrence on their journey. Esna had her hands literally full with ingredients made for dinner, all the while having to balance several pots and pans that were either boiling or frying something. The room itself was lined with cooking utensils, bowls, cutting boards, and general stains ending up in places he didn’t want to know how.


    “Making your special again?” he asked half-sarcastically, her home cooking was the only thing that could cause such a ruckus, and since this ship is her home it was no surprise she knew how to exploit it to its fullest.


    “You bet. Thought you two might like it, especially after that last job of yours.” she walked over to him and handed over all the ingredients currently in her hold, mainly an assortment of vegetable packs and boxes of sauces. “Hold this for me will you?”


    “I’m sure Kyle and Lys will be thrilled, the General especially.”


    “And what about you?” she asked with a smile while stirring the mantis soup in the first pan and flipping over the fried grain blades in the other. “You don’t like my cooking Kaz?”


    “I’ve eaten cold and flimsy rations that taste worse than unfiltered medical-plastic for years now, from my days at the academy to when I got on this ship, you could say I’m not used to it.” He placed the ingredients on the small coffee table away from the stove and helped get the excess silverware out of the way.


    “Funny, back before we got this ship, me and the kids had barely even that.”


    “A soldier’s life isn’t the easiest, it sure isn’t peaceful neither, but it’s stable. You know what you’re eating and when, you know where you’re sleeping and how. More importantly, you don’t have to worry about acquiring it, it's provided.”


    “You talk as if you spent your entire career guarding the chancellor’s ceremonial toilet seat. Being a soldier isn’t all just sitting around, especially in these times.” After another round of swivelling, flipping and grilling she reached into one of the cupboards and pulled out a pack of plates and bowls. “Set these for me, will you?” Kaz did as he was told and set the table down on the round table that was placed in the very middle of the mess hall.


    “I’m not a soldier Esna, I’m a clone.”


    “There’s a difference?” the sizzling of a new batch of blades could be heard alongside her words.


    “Soldiers live their lives, clones fight. Simple as.” It was a personal motto of his at this point with how much he said it. The life of a soldier is not a normal one, no doubt, but the difference lies in what happens before, during and after that life. For clones, there is no before, during or after. They were made for a reason, and that was it. That’s just how it was.


    “Is that so…” Esna’s voice got quiet while the commotion from her cooking continued. He had said something wrong, he knew the woman well enough at this point that whenever she got quiet like this it was because of something he would say. Best not to dwell on it.


    “Right, I’m done with the table. Anything else you need from me?”


    “No, I got it.” she exclaimed half-heartedly, her actions still had energy to it, but it was clearly nothing like a few moments ago.


    “You sure? I may not be a five star chef but I can still stir a pot al-” he interrupted himself as he remembered why he had come here in the first place. “Ah, sorry Esna, I should hurry up and get Garlen before he freezes his ass off down there.”


    “Don’t let me stop you.” just as he was about to leave however, Kaz stopped himself at the sound of her voice. “How was the tea, by the way?”


    “It was good… sweet.” he tried his best to describe it, like with all things that didn’t involve a crash course in frontline tactics though, he wasn’t quite good at it.


    “Did you like it?”


    “I did.” Sometimes the least amount of words was the best course to take. “If you ever catch the time, you mind showing me how to make it?”


    “I’d love to.” despite her shady past, Esna never let out an air of danger nor suspense of any kind. It was perhaps the first time Kaz had been around someone like her, someone with a warmness not even the most powerful force user could trick you to feel.


    “Good, that’s good. Anyways, I’ll be off and out of your montrals.”


    “Stop a second.” Kaz froze and looked at the Togruta. “If you’ll be going down to the cargo hold, you should probably bring this with you.” she reached out and grabbed a much smaller pan that was being heated on another stove. Once in her hands, she grabbed a cup and poured, he could see it was more of that tea she made for him. “I wasn’t sure which of you would like it since I never made something like this before so I just left some heated bottles and cups in both your rooms.”


    “And I assume his cup has gotten as cold as the vacuum we’re currently travelling in.”


    “Considering the fact that it’s been 8 hours since I did that and he still hasn’t come up, yes.”


    “Well if anything it will warm him up for sure, can’t say for certain if he’ll give it equally glowing reviews though.”


    “Please.” Esna scoffed and crossed her arms. “Now that I know you liked it I’m certain he will as well. You two have such similar tastes I’m surprised you’re not related.”


    “I have a lot of relatives, just so happens they’re all the same person.”


    “Right. Well run along now, I should have this mess done soon.” She waved the old clone off and went back to the battleground known as the kitchen.



    Kaz made his way through the hallway leading to the entrance of the cargo hold, after that it was a simple stairway down and he would be there. Above the cargo hold was the engineering bay, or perhaps it was a decade ago, nowadays it’s mainly a playground for Esna’s kids to tinker with whatever machinery is unlucky enough to stumble into their hands. And as they say, speak of the devil and her annoying daughter will appear.


    When he entered the engineering bay, he was not surprised to see Lys tinkering and calibrating with a batch of new electronics they brought in from Unhic VII. She was a gear-head in that regard, and while Kyle made sure the ship flew alright, it was Lys who kept it all running. For that at least, he could be grateful to her. It was the General’s suggestion they acquire the previously mentioned tech as a show of gratitude to the girl, but while Esna showed her thanks with some nicely brewed tea Lys seemed to respond with mere dejection and a scowl. ‘No pleasing that one.’ he thought, and it was what he told his commander when the notion came up, but as always the Jedi would have none of it.


    For a moment Lys tore her head from her work to see who came through the doors. “Oh, hey Kaz.” she said in a monotone voice and got back to her work.


    “He still down there?” Kaz moved on to the topic at hand immediately, there was no point trying to teach this one any manners.


    “Is water still wet?”


    “Do kids these days not know the function of ‘yes’ and ‘no’?” Perhaps Kaz would not be so irritated with the little she-devil if she didn’t exude an air of arrogance with every breath she took. Unfortunately for his nerves, that was not the reality.


    There was no point in arguing with her however, he learned that lesson a long time ago, so he simply kept moving and went down the stairway leading down to the cargo hold. The moment he did however, whatever heating the floor above him had became that much more apparent. He grasped the still warm cup of tea with both his hands to absorb as much heat as he could and continued his venture into the freezing depths of the abyss.


    Save for the heating, it was also perhaps the most dimly lit place in the ship. With very little lighting and various metal cargo surrounding him, Kaz had to make an effort not to accidentally bump into anything. ‘Should have brought my goggles.’ He hurried his pace, feeling the cup in his hands already beginning to lose warmth just by being here.


    The General would be in the same place he always was, a small little room he made for himself so he could meditate. It was a quiet corner of the ship for the most part so Kaz could understand why he chose this place, ‘Still, his quarters could have been equally good if he just planned to sit in one spot for a while.’


    His time in space had lulled his senses a bit, Kaz couldn’t deny it, yet the old clone still tried to keep himself sharp when needed. Now was fortunately one such moment as he spotted the beast they had taken on Unhic VII standing in a dark corner, looking like it was ready to pounce any second. Had he not already known it was on their ship he would have been alarmed, perhaps even jumped a bit, but that would spill the tea.


    “It’s alright Kaz, he won’t bite.” Garlen called out to him, still sitting in that same spot he would always find him at. Those words were possibly the first movement he had done in hours, knowing him they most likely were.


    “I know, just wish it would at least pretend to be happy to see me.” he approached the jedi who was knelt facing back from him and sat beside him, legs crossed. “Here, some tea Esna made. Thought you might like it.”


    Garlen turned his head and gently grabbed hold of the cup. “Thank you.” he said with a smile warmer than the cup in his hands. For a moment Kaz managed to feel a touch of Garlen’s fingers, cold as ice, colder even.


    “You know Sir, maybe it would be better if you moved your uhm… meditation, to your quarters.” Kaz knew it was a foolish endeavour, as amiable as his commander was on many topics and discussions, when he sets his mind on doing something, it’s rare you could convince him otherwise. The black-haired beast currently approaching them was proof of that.


    Garlen took a sip of his tea. “Sweet…” he commented, before turning back to Kaz. “It’s quite alright Kaz, this place is good for my focus. Plus, now I have someone to keep me company.” he gave the beast a stroke across the head, it purred almost like a common house pet.


    ‘Well, it was worth a shot. Still, he’ll freeze himself to death here.’


    “The cold’s good for me.” Garlen commented as he took another swig from the cup. “Here I can cut off my senses and concentrate my mind. Besides, it reminds of my days back on Ilum.”


    “Right, you got your training there. I suppose it makes sense.” Kaz thought out loud. “Also sir, I thought I requested you refrain from reading my mind.”


    “Sorry, force of habit.” Kaz knew of the Jedi’s force abilities capable of delving into someone's mind, most did not have the level of power to actually perform such a feat, at least not without a massive amount of effort. Because of this Jedi would usually just use the force to have the person they wanted information from to simply tell them, however, his commander was an adept in many of the powers the force had to offer, so he was one of the few who managed to skip that barrier all together.


    The beast seemed to grow a fondness for his Jedi commander, at least compared to when they first met it a few days ago. Speaking of Unhic VII, “Any luck with deciphering the map that woman gave you?”


    “Almira’s true to her word, I’ll give her that. Salian IV is our next destination either way, but I managed to gain some useful insight thanks to her.”


    “May I ask Sir?”


    “Clues mostly, random pictures gathered here and there as to the whereabouts of our objective. It’s not much of a lead, but it's better than the headless race we’ve been running thus far.”


    “Very well, I’ll not pry further.”


    “I’m sorry Kaz, but you already know how important this is.”


    Kaz raised his hand to stop his commander. “It’s fine Sir, I know that if it was essential to the mission you’d tell me.”


    “I’m glad to hear that.” the beast next to Garlen leaned in as it seemed to sniff the tea in his hands. “Ah,” the Jedi stopped it with a finger, “you’ll get yours once dinner is done.”


    “It seems you two are getting to know each other well.” Kaz commented. “Wouldn’t have guessed any sort of sight like this when we first saw it.”


    “He knows he can’t do anything to me, but he also knows we don’t mean any harm, otherwise he would have ripped your throat out the moment he saw you.”


    “I’m aware.” he narrowed his eyes at the beast, who was busy licking its paws nonchalantly after being rejected for a spot of tea. “Still, I’ve seen some wild animals in my time, but nothing like this one. It’s almost like he understands what we’re saying.”


    “You’re half right, actually.” Garlen put his cup down on the ground next to him. “This one here is actually force-sensitive.”


    “Really now?” Kaz put his fingers to his chin in contemplation. He knew all races were more or less capable of being force-sensitive, all the natural ones at least. “So what? It can… feel us, or something?”


    “No, but he can sense when someone, or something, is using the force, myself included.”


    “Makes sense then, it would probably connect itself with someone who feels familiar.” he had met other force-sensitive creatures during his operations in Kashyyyk and Allen V, non-sentient beings mostly but some possessed a modicum of intelligence to use their force-sensing powers, at least that was what Commander Windu had told them. “Speaking of, have you decided on a name for it?”


    “I was hesitant at first. Naming a creature is a responsibility, one that often comes with forming a bond with said creature.” Garlen reached out his palm towards the beast, to which it gave him its paw without a second thought. “Though eventually I thought that he wouldn’t mind it, so I named him Lan.”


    “Lan, eh? Short and concise, like my own. I like it.”


    “It was my late father’s name.” Garlen said with a solemn expression as he looked into the beast's eyes.


    “Oh, sorry Sir I didn’t know.”


    “You’ve nothing to be sorry about Kaz. I never knew him for very long. A sickness took him a few months after I was born, but my mother often talked fondly of him. The name stuck with me even after I was recruited into the Jedi Order, and I would occasionally wonder if he would approve of the man I am now.”


    “Permission to speak freely Sir?” Garlen let go of Lan’s paw and looked at the old clone.


    “Always.” he said with a smile.


    “I think he’d be proud. Any blind idiot who’s good with a lightsaber can become part of the Order. But it takes character and willpower to stand up for the ideals of what you all represent. Frankly, I’ve never met a Jedi who holds firm to those ideals more than you Sir.”


    Garlen looked at Kaz with a mixed expression, both happy and sad at his words from what he could tell. The two had known each other for about 3 years at this point, and fought together for about half that time in the war. In this period Kaz had seen not only the Jedi’s prowess in combat and with the force, but also his strength of character. Yet, there was still something he could not see, and that was in these moments, when Kaz tried to look for anything past the model Jedi Knight Garlen had always strived to show himself as.


    He could not even truly tell the man’s age. Depending on the time of the day or his mood he would either look twenty years younger or older than what he probably was. He was with the Jedi Order for some time, longer than most human Jedi usually are, that was for sure. Despite that however the two always looked around the same age as one another, despite Kaz being perhaps some thirty years or so younger than Garlen.


    “Thank you Kaz.” the general’s words were sincere, he knew that much. “I do have a question though.”


    “Yes sir?”


    “Do they teach boot licking in commando training courses or is that another habit you picked up during the war?”


    “Heh, you kidding?” he chuckled. “I’m surprised Kaminoans don’t have those necks of theirs bent in half with how much they love kissing the Republic’s feet.”


    That got a laugh out of him, it was nice to see every once in a while. As he took one last sip of his tea Kaz remembered why he had come here, both reasons actually. “Before I forget again sir, we’ll be arriving in Salian IV in about six standard hours. Our pilot may be a lot of things but if there’s anything I trust him with is regarding the ship, so I believe the information to be accurate.”


    “Ever the soldier you are.”


    “Dinner's almost ready as well.”


    “Ah, and there is the vital information.” Garlen got up from his spot, Kaz could hear the Jedi’s knees cracking as he did so, he really must have not moved from that spot for hours. “Well then, let’s not keep our gracious cook waiting.”


    “Right you are Sir.”


    As the two of them began to leave the cargo hold Kaz silently thanked the Force for giving his general a reason to get out of here. Yet while they left there was one member of the ship who seemed content with staying. Black-haired Lan lied comfortably on the space the two used to occupy, and seemed ready to fall asleep. It was none of his business, but Kaz wondered if the beast was alright staying down here in this cold.


    “It’s fine Kaz, he’s a warmblood, it seems they don’t mind the cold as much as we do.”


    “Sir…”


    “Sorry, sorry… couldn’t resist.”


    They climbed up the stairs and out of the engineering bay, it seems Lys had already gone off somewhere, most likely to the same place they were going. “Do you mind if I ask you another question sir?” he asked as they walked through the metal hallway, to which Garlen nodded half-handedly. “We’ve got quite the crew here, what with the five of us plus Lan down there. Don’t you think we’ve exceeded the capacity of a mission like this?”


    “Good company is hard to come by Kaz, especially where we’re heading. Besides, there’s still a long way to go before the journey’s end, you never know who we’ll meet along the way.”
     
  3. Winter1231505

    Winter1231505 Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Oct 16, 2020
    Chapter 2: A Light in the Black


    A spin, a dodge, and a pirouette and she was behind her opponent in the blink of an eye. Twisting her wrists, she swung her lightsaber with all the strength she could muster. No good, it was too slow. She used the force to knock both her arms and herself back from the oncoming attack. It seemed that her programming may have been a bit too thorough this time round.


    “Are you alright Mistress? You look tired.” There was one thing she was too thorough on though, and that was her battle-droids vocal parameters. “Shall we stop for a moment and fetch a spot of tea?”


    ‘Should have cut your cords a long time ago you rust bucket.’


    She got down low and prepared herself for a full frontal assault, but not from the battle-droid. Using her force powers once again she propelled herself forward, now with both sides of her lightsaber ignited she had hoped the extra angle would give her the edge she needed. The droid was ready as ever for her, and immediately began blocking every single one of her strikes with effortless ease.


    “You know mistress,” the droid spoke casually in between blows, “I’m not a great strategist or tactician, but I do believe a common tactic when facing an unbeatable opponent is much more well known than I’ve seen you organics show.”


    “I will cut your head off so help me!”


    “Anger is the death of beauty mistress…” sometimes she wished she left the damn thing on Raxus before she embarked to the outer rim, but there was no arguing in its uses.


    She released another flurry of blows, each one taking more effort than the last, yet throughout it all it would be worth it just to shut the thing up. Her cocophy of strikes proved as ineffective as they were the last five times she had attempted to break the droids guard, it simply blocked, parried and riposted anything that came near its range.


    Had she more control over her abilities, Zara was sure she could have simply crushed the droids exoskeleton hours ago, but unfortunately that type of knowledge was still foreign to her, and she had neither the time nor the energy to go through the decades worth of training to achieve that level. But that left her in the predicament she was facing currently, left to go against a foe that was quite obviously superior to her in sheer fighting ability, ‘I should know, I bloody programmed you to be that way.’


    The droid deflected one last blow from the woman and forced her to make distance between the two of them. “A suggestion Mistress, if you will .” it said.


    Zara sighed and lowered her guard for a moment. “Go on.”


    “I noticed that the entire time you were close enough to my sensors to activate self-defense protocols you were calculating on me lacking the reflexes or speed necessary to deflect or guard against your blows. Correct?”


    “Indeed, I see now how wrong I was.”


    “On the contrary, mistress. You might have been on to something.” Zara raised her brow in confusion and watched as the robot adjusted himself into a stance sideways. “You see here that as I am now, I can most likely block you in any which direction you come at me from. Up, down, left, right.” The droid methodically moved its arms in lightning fast speeds between the directions he was showing before detaching the safety bolts around his waist and slowly beginning to rotate its upper body around. “As well as the fact that should you try to get behind me or to my sides, the sensors in my circuits will go off and I can simply rotate myself the direction in which the attacks are coming from. Provided I cannot simply turn myself around in time anyways.”


    “Right, forgot I gave you that.”


    “There were several times when you attempted to jump across me that I could have easily cut you in half with my vibroblade mistress. Though most of your opponents may not have the reaction time of my servos, I advise you to take caution in the future.”


    “Get to the point already Q.”


    “Of course mistress.” the droid relocated its upper half back to its waist and took up its previous pose once more. “You see, while my servos may have more than adequate reaction times and my binary parameters more than enough knowledge to calculate your attacks, I only have two arms.” it let one hand go of its vibroblade and raised a mechanical fist in the air to simulate a block with its arm. “This blade is more or less the only thing currently on me capable of deflecting your lightsaber. While I of course can deflect say one blow after another, I might just be taken aback by…”



    “Two at the same time?”


    “Quite. And should my blade be preoccupied with, say, another attack coming from the opposite direction…”


    “So it’s all about the speed of it all.” Zara turned off her lightsaber, the crimson red light it emitted quickly retracting back into the hilt, and put a hand to her chin whilst examining it. “Mine is a double-bladed lightsaber, there was really no other way I could stabilise the kyber crystal otherwise.”


    “Useful when fighting multiple opponents, perhaps, but against a singular target you are merely giving the enemy another attack to counter after the initial one. As said before, mistress, not everyone you face will have as quick of a reaction time as me, but heavens forbid you encounter a Jedi, that saber will be flying from your hands faster than you could perceive, along with your hands most likely.”


    “I suppose you are correct.” she thought on the notion, perhaps a bit too much. “Very well then, we’ll end it for today. Good job Q.”


    The droids vibroblade nearly slipped from its hands as the words entered into its hearing receptors. “Gasp!” It said. “Could that have been… praise? From the mistress? Oh joyous day, joyous day!” Q jumped and clapped his mechanical limbs together, its thrilled demeanor being opposed to the droids unchanging expression, which was nothing as it did not have anything resembling a face.


    “I’m off to wash myself of all this sweat, we’ll meet back up here tomorrow.”


    “I will be counting the seconds mistress! Oh how happy I am, enough to start crying! I must oil my servos lest I start rusting!”


    She couldn’t help but chuckle at the droids childish nature, it was perhaps the one thing she could never bring herself to program out the damn thing. Thinking back on what Q was when her father had bought it, it was perhaps strange to consider just how effective a former caretaker droid was at combat-training. ‘Best not to dwell on it.’ she concluded, clasping her lightsaber to the belt around her waist.



    There were perhaps few feelings that could topple a nice shower after some gruelling physical exercise. Back in her days of court at the family estate, she would have to shower several times a day to keep herself as presentable as possible, so over time she had gotten used to doing it as a routine. Granted she had very little such duties as of late, and her ship was hardly of the same scale or caliber as her father’s old estate. Still, there was some comfort in the routine.


    “A3, bring me that map again!” she shouted to the droid on the other side of the bathroom as she put on a fresh pair of clothes. From the outside she heard the little maintenance droid respond in his own binary sounds and scramble to find the hologram.


    Hers was an unusual crew, if it could be even called that. The main reason for that being that she was the only actual living creature on the ship, with the rest of the personnel consisting of her own personal droids. Though perhaps not as unusual a sight in the Outer Rim, on one of the main planets in both the CIS and the Republic such things would have been clearly a setup for some sort of smuggling operation. Thankfully, no such thing was happening here, she would not tarnish the reputation of her family name by doing something so unsavory.


    When she exited out the bathroom she had clothed herself in what would basically be attributed as pijamas. Loose fitting clothing, made of fine weaving silk that was smoother than most gemstones. Her training for the day had been completed, and they would not be arriving at their destination for some time yet, so leisure clothing was suitable to say the least. The only problem with it ironically was the amount of time it took to put it on, it was far too short and required no help, something she would have most definitely not been used to a few years ago.


    A3 was waiting there, ever the willing servant, the maintenance droid was perhaps the one Zara had grown the closest too ever since her father and sister’s passing. Q had always been there for her, a gift from her uncle when she was born, a nanny droid essentially, though these days it was doing anything but, mainly just annoying her with it’s condescending banter. S was her pilot, a droid she had built specifically for this task, but it was lacking in any conversational program skills so she couldn’t talk to it even if she wanted to. That left the little droid currently skittering over to her to deliver the holographic map she had requested.


    It was a small and rusty little thing, a side project she had been working on for a year or so to restore when she had found it in a scrapyard. To her surprise however, the damage to much of its inner core remained practically untouched, so it was more a case of trying to repair its outer shell. It was an older model, using far more primitive technology then what most droid manufacturers currently have, so procuring the parts was difficult, but it was worth it in the end.


    “Beep boop.” The small droid extended its mechanical arms and handed her the hologram. No matter what she had asked of the droid, it always did its best to satisfy, yet it was no worker, and the tools it had at its disposal were as limited as the model it was based on. Standing at around ankle height it did not really cut an intimidating figure, what with its beaty red eye sockets and blocky frame that resembled that of an early power droid.


    “Thank you A3, you’re free to go now.” she patted the little thing on the head as it happily beeped and rolled away on its tracks, leaving her alone in her room.


    Placing the hologram on the table she powered the device up and opened her journal. It had been a month now since she had left her home, a month since she had gone on this wild goose chase across the Outer Rim. From planet to planet, she wandered, searching every corner of civilization this lawless space had to offer for just a clue, a speck of it even.


    “Grandfather would not have spent his life researching this only for it to not even exist.” she muttered to herself. In the past, her family had a strong connection with the force, and many even joined the Jedi Order during the time of the High Republic. Better times for better men, they no longer lived in the time, and she was all that was left. ‘If they were looking upon me now, would my ancestors be laughing at me? Embarrassed at my naivete and inexperience?’ she quickly dashed the thoughts from her head and began to focus on the map once more.


    In front of her lay a blue-lit holographic map of the outer rim. She quickly zoomed into her own location, or at least the one she predicted the ship to be at this point. It was thanks to her little pit-stop at the thieve’s den planet of Satirn that she acquired this map, for that she would have to be thankful to the Hutt clan, or rather their charred corpses. Zara imagined the Hutta to be far more reasonable in their dealings, but it would seem they were stubborn as ever, and it was made only worse that this was not even a true Hutta, but some two-bit exile wishing to replicate their own criminal empire outside of Republic or Seperatist control. She had put a stop to that right quick.


    She had thought she encountered another dead end before finding the map hidden deep in the Hutt’s personal treasury. It was not a clear sign, but it was still something to go off at the very least, rather than the headless chase she had been leading thus far.


    “Salian IV…” she muttered. That seemed to be the next destination all clues pointed to, and that was where they were currently heading, however, what would happen after she did not know. There were contacts she managed to reach on the planet, hopefully they will be of use, but other than that if her hunt on Salian is not successful she will have to return to her previous strategy, going from planet to planet and hoping she could find somebody, anybody really, with information on what she was looking for.


    A yawn and a sense of drowsiness had suddenly overcome her. Training had become a rather gruelling thing. Back in the day she would look forward to it, a change from the monotony of court life, but in these past few months her physical abilities had been strained to their limits for some time now. She sometimes considered cutting the training sessions with Q out of her daily routine, if not for only a few days so she could rest her body from overexertion, but that notion was quickly brushed away by both herself and, surprisingly, Q. “It would be useless to stop at this point.” the nanny droid said, and she agreed.


    Another yawn came upon her as she got up from her chair and turned off the holographic map. “No point… already know where we’re going…” she said to herself. There was no hidden messages or encrypted code within the holograph, it was a simple map with basic instructions of where to go. “Might as well go and check up on S.”




    “Ah, hello Madam. How may I help you?” the female voice echoed across the bridge as its mechanical body fiddled with the ship’s controls.


    “Just checking in S. How are things with our journey?”


    “Everything is performing as per the expected parameters. We should be arriving at our destination in 0800 standard hours.”


    “8 hours huh? I suppose that’s enough time to catch some rest.” She walked up to the other captain’s seat and sat down, leaning both her body and the seat itself backwards so she could have a better angle.


    “Are you sure you do not wish to rest in your quarters Madam? It would no doubt be far more comfortable.”


    “Perhaps, but my quarters don’t have this kind of view.” she looked out the window of the bridge in front of her. A sea of stars layered upon an utterly black void, each one a planet, a comet, a meteor, all bits and pieces of the great canvas that was their galaxy. It was calming, such vastness, such size, it could not really be imaginable to any other eye than one who could see it with their own. She wondered what civilizations thought space was before they had invented space-travel. What was their perception of it? Did they even acknowledge it? Or was it something they could not perhaps comprehend?


    “Very well then Madam, please inform me if I am being too loud and I shall revert all controls to the AI part of my coding so as to enable the ship continued travel.” S snapped her out of the little stargazing session she was currently having whilst trying to silently keep performing its job. She could at least appreciate the droid for that. Unlike Q, it seemed S had developed a sense of politeness after some time since its initial activation.


    “That’s quite alright S, I like listening to you talk.” she spoke in a whisper, the lure of sleep already beginning to claim her. In truth she had quite loved the feel of falling asleep at the helm of her ship. The sounds were one thing, the rumbling of the engines, S’s clacking and climmering of the controls, the slow hum she could hear of their ship traversing through space. All of it calmed her nerves and helped her sleep. Yet another thing of it all was the feeling of it all. The ship was at its most vulnerable here, ironically, yet that meant she could feel it moving and shaking with every single sway and turn, the rumbling of the engines and turbines, the air coming through the vents, all of it.


    Slowly but surely, her eyes began to close, until the stars on the outside were replaced with a calm yet dark nothingness. And soon sleep came to claim her.


    In the dark nothingness suddenly appeared on a bed, and soon after it two figures, two girls. One with hair as bright and red as the morning sun, the other with flowing locks darker than the void surrounding them. Despite this, the two wore opposite clothing. The bright haired girl wore a black dress, finely laced and decorated with jewelry. The other girl with the black hair wore a simple white gown, stained and rough, made with little care and passion.


    The girls talked of things Zara could not hear, yet she knew of it all. She knew who the girls were, she knew what she was seeing. How could she not? She lived through it all once already. And yet every time it hurt to watch.


    She looked at the black haired girl's face, the face of her sister Eva, so happy and carefree, not aware of the fate that would befall her just a few months later. Her gaze quickly turned to herself, a much younger version but Zara could still recognize the girl she used to be. They both looked so happy, so unknowing of the horrors life would throw at them.


    She had this sight in front of her every time she would fall asleep. It was nothing new. Yet despite that, the memories will always be fresh, fresher than the scars her sister left behind.


    Soon enough a towering figure joined the two girls, a being whose face was too misty to be recognized, yet she knew who it was. In an outfit of pure white regalia lined with golden jewelry, the figure was the exact opposite of the black-haired Eva’s small and miniscule figure. Their father sat down on the bed and embraced the two girls. She remembered the exchange, how could she ever forget? For the first time she could remember, their father had actually acted as a parental figure. So taken aback was her Eva that she did not know what to do, and so she stood there, confused as much as Zara was at that moment.


    Their father did not speak, he did not utter even a single word that entire day, ever since he had come into her sister's room. Yet later on she had finally figured out why that was the case.


    Her dreams did not take her so far however, and they were usually over with sooner than they had begun. This was yet another case of that. Stars slowly started to show up here and there, in the corners of her vision, then soon they became more frequent, and then even more frequent. Soon enough they began merging in on themselves, forming more and more bombastic balls of light, until eventually, that once hollow and dark void was replaced with a light that one could only describe as blinding. In this case however, it was followed with a mechanical voice dragging her out of slumber.


    “We have arrived at our destination Madam.”