main
side
curve

Beyond - Legends "Operation Green Sowing" (AU; OCs, Vong War; drama, action, PG-13ish, completed 6/30)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Onderon1, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: This is a side project I've been working on for a while now; the name's an homage to the classic cover name for Return of the Jedi, but it's also supposed to be a reference to hope and planting new seeds.

    Given the timeframe, and ... well, Vongishness of the Vong, o_O I was hesitant to tackle this particular project. However, with some kind words from various folks, and working myself up, I've committed to it.

    As always, mods, if there's anything here that raises eyebrows, please call me on it.

    Basic concept is, what if Luke and the NJO decided to do an end run around the whole "oncoming Force-resistant Jedi-hating fanatics" thing and learned from past Jedi purges?

    So, if you're wondering what the "average" robe-wearers were doing between supporting the NRDF or dodging those Peace Brigade schuttas - or what civilians might've been dealing with behind enemy lines as the Vong advanced ... there's a lot of both in here.

    (And a deep dive into Legends Jedi lore, and planets both obscure and famous. The Essential Atlas was a huge help in the starting work on this project.)

    That said - disclaimer/warning: There be Vongy stuff in here - more towards the front than the end, and nothing near Traitor-level in detail.

    So, expect occasional biotech, slavery, speciesism, SW-level violence, an occasional flash of pain, alien philosophy, and general warrior-Vong obnoxiousness. (Those warrior guys are jerks.)

    And, just maybe, some nuance among the crazy extragalactic intruders. (They aren't all mynock-shavit insane.)

    This is in the same timeline as, and starts between chapters 25 and 26 of, my revived NJO SkySolo-focused story: http://boards.theforce.net/threads/...any-more-action-etc-26-updated-4-22.50043475/

    But enough of the frontispiece. Time to jump to lightspeed and spread some light in the darkness ...

    (2nd disclaimer: LFL, Marvel, etc. are all Disney's. No ownership is claimed, although please don't use my OCs without asking. I'm rather proud of most of them.)

    ----------------------------------------
    Chapter 1: 25.6 ABY:
    Jedi Praxeum, Yavin 4,
    Yavin System, Gordian Reach,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    ----------------------------------------

    The ugly red stain had swept across the northern range of the holomap as far as Garqi.

    To Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, the unspoken message of the Yuuzhan Vong's advance was clear.

    It's time to step in and make sure the Order doesn't get slaughtered again, he decided, examining the products of the in-depth project he'd commissioned from the Order's Master Archivist, Tionne Solusar.

    The 10 cubical holocrons on Luke's desk were, quite simply, the sum total of the Order's rediscovered and newly-discovered knowledge, each packed with the exact same information.

    Lightsaber construction, Jedi and galactic history, Force powers, other Force groups ... even the dark-side organizations were detailed. Luke had been clear that if things went to a worst-case scenario, that whichever Jedi survived the coming night would need all the knowledge the Order had accumulated in its short revival.

    Those, with 10 identical credit-chips - each containing 10 million credits, to be spent on the establishment of 10 hidden praxia, or Jedi academies across the galaxy - awaited his next arrivals.

    The Knights, and one Master, were an eclectic mix - a cross-section of species, backgrounds, experience levels, and outlooks. Some were barely adults, while the Master was middle-aged; one was actually a Shard, a silicon-based Force-using crystal animating a droid as a member of the Iron Knights.

    None knew which other 9 Jedi would be receiving holocrons. The praxia would be independent, with the Jedi who founded them entrusted with the duty and freedom to enroll those Force-sensitives whom they felt would be best suited for training. Dissident views might develop from Jedi orthodoxy.

    It was a leap of faith - one some of the more established Masters had spoken against, less out of concern about the Jedi chosen than out of concern of Jedi going astray. But Luke chose to trust.

    It can't be about the Skywalkers all the time. There were Jedi for more than 25,000 standard years before my father was found on Tatooine. I have to believe that the institution will survive some innovation and change. I certainly wouldn't be viewed as a traditional Jedi, he thought, smiling.

    With that, Luke switched out the galaxy map for a list of the Jedi selected for the project:

    Ardea Bynar: human female Consular from Talravin. Destination: Tython

    Adlusha Kloj, Rodian male Consular from Rodia. Destination: Ossus

    Nali Toleth, Miraluka female Consular from Alpherides. Destination: Ukio

    Ban'torva: Twi'lek female Guardian from Teth. Destination: Socorro

    Taslar: Male Cathar Sentinel from Taris. Destination: Ilum

    Stast Whaphoon: Squib male Sentinel from Skor II. Destination: Vohai

    Make'shalas: Nikto male Guardian from Kintan. Destination: Ast Kikorie

    Bondar: Shard male Sentinel (Iron Knight) from Orax. Destination: Telos

    Dalia Nalju: human female Sentinel from Serenno. Destination: Serenno

    Caro Benvier: Bith female Guardian from Clak'Dor 7. Destination: Utapau

    None of the names particularly flickered with a sense of hope or impending doom - Luke figured that was a good sign. If the Force was keeping quiet, then maybe it had a good reason for doing so.

    You're trying to put this off. Do, or do not - there is no try, Luke reminded himself.

    He took a deep breath, activated the intercom, and asked, "Artoo? Please call Knight Bynar ..."

    -------------------------------------------
    Dubrillion, Outer Rim Territories:
    -------------------------------------------

    Edair's Landing had been one of the outlier communities created by those among the settlers who hadn't wanted the noise and commercialism bubbling over in the Tendrando-sponsored cities.

    The folk in the small fishing village weren't backwards, by any measure - if you could work, treated other sentients decently, and didn't cause trouble, you were welcome. There was none of that Imp-noise hate-mongering tolerated among the residents; Basic, Bocce, or credits were all acceptable languages from newcomers or the occasional rare tourist.

    Still, it was majority-human, more by simple numbers of settlers to the ocean world than any particular choice. For Kleej Anstrod, the occasional sight of a Twi'lek or Rodian was the most unusual event in his summer days.

    Time to make some money, the human boy thought, hiking up his tan swim shorts and adjusting his goggles before wading into the water, transplas bag in hand.

    He took a deep breath, proud of his lung capacity as he dove. The restaurants in Dubrillion City paid well for vior-molluscs; the rich folks thought they were "delicacies," and paid good credits for them and other seafood. And Dubrillion was just full of wildlife.

    Kleej didn't mind school, but he liked the beach more. He was wiry from all the swimming, and didn't really expect to need enough knowledge to get off-world (he'd lived with his parents on Raxus for most of his life, but Dad kept complaining about how "the Corists still discriminate against ex-Seppie worlds", so they'd moved to Dubrillion ).

    Don't really mind moving here. Raxus was kinda boring, the 10-year-old thought, pushing light brown hair out of his view. He'd have to get it cut soon, so he relied on his gut to home in on ...

    There, Kleej thought, grabbing a clam-like shell. He threw the mollusc in his bag, then started back toward the surface; sometimes, he just got feelings, that directed him toward what he was looking for.

    But I can't hold my breath forever, either, he thought, surfacing for air - maybe Mom had lunch ready?

    He stuck his head above the water just as the first BOOM! hit the waterfront.

    Whuathestang - !? Kleej thought, treading water and gaping as what looked like rocks floated in toward Edair's Landing, blasting it with - well, fire.

    He felt sick, less from accidentally swallowing seawater and more from feeling - well, it was like lights going out, and Kleej paddled toward shore as the rocks - no, ships? - landed.

    Oh no. Oh, no no no ... the boy thought, hiding behind a rock near one of the few undamaged houses as nonhumans in dark, chitin-like armor left the ships and started attacking the survivors. Mom and Dad'd heard the news from Dubrillion City, but they and the other adults'd thought it was just rumors.

    Kleej knew a lot about biology - he liked it best of his subjects at school - but who believed that aliens from outside the galaxy were coming to attack Dubrillion? And in living ships?

    These aliens didn't look like any Kleej had ever seen. They were humanoid, but their armor looked grown, and they had pale skin, sloped foreheads, no real noses, and not much hair (most of them were bald). They held weird, snake-like spears or small knives, and their language was mostly snarls and growls.

    Maybe they really can grow their ships ... Kleej thought, as curious as he was scared. He really wanted to find his mom and dad, but he was afraid to peek out from behind the rock.

    He took off his goggles, watching as the surviving adults - mostly humans, with a few Twi'leks, one Rodian, and a Devaronian - were lined up and forced to kneel before the invaders. Kleej didn't see any of his few friends - Edair's Landing had never had a lot of young families - or his parents.

    Someone - Old Man Rondeth, a vet of the Rebellion - ran at the invaders, then, and Kleej wanted to yell to him to run, didn't he see what they'd done already!?

    He felt sick again as Rondeth shot a blaster rifle at the attackers, and one of the aliens laughed. He threw some kind of bug at Rondeth, that wrecked his rifle, but the middle-aged man yelled and kept charging at the aliens.

    The tallest alien nodded, holding his snake-staff in some kind of salute, and ran at Rondeth. Kleej watched as they struggled - Rondeth was stronger than he looked, for being middle-aged - but the alien punched him in the stomach and knocked the human man down.

    He said something in an almost-respectful tone, and Kleej looked away as the spear came down.

    The aliens turned back to the survivors, who were crying or kind of quiet; Kleej thought they might be shocked. He was - he still wanted to run, but somehow, he couldn't.

    What're they doing? he wondered, watching as the aliens held up what looked like worms. Kleej shivered as the aliens went from each captive to the next, sticking the worms in their ears. The grown-ups struggled, making faces, but blinked with surprise after a few seconds while the aliens talked.

    The worms help them understand them? he guessed, trying to get a better view.

    He hadn't even heard the people behind him when someone grabbed him by the upper arm, and Kleej yelled as he spun around - to see two of the aliens standing there. The one holding his arm looked male, and wore the same armor as the other - soldiers.

    The other, though, was female, with tendrils where her hair might be, a hand with a few too many fingers, and a wetsuit-like outfit that covered her from neck to toe. She had a bag slung over her right shoulder, but no weapons. Both of them had scars on their foreheads, but the male had more scars, and growled at Kleej, who stopped struggling.

    I'm dead I'm dead I'm dead ...

    The female looked at Kleej, seemed to smile a little, then said something in a less-growly voice to the male. He took Kleej's whole head in one hand, and Kleej tried not to faint - he was sure this was it.

    The female took one of those worms from a bag, and Kleej shut his eyes; there was a little bit of tickling at his left ear, and he tried not to panic when it stopped.

    The male released Kleej's head, and he opened his eyes as the female said, "Can you understand me, colt?"

    "Y-yes'm," Kleej said, blinking - it sounded like Basic, and the female alien smiled. Kleej figured it wasn't a bad idea to be respectful, since they hadn't killed him yet.

    "Very good. The tizowyrm in your auditory canal should translate our language efficiently. I am Borja Kwaad, a Master Shaper of the Yuuzhan Vong. Your planet has been added to the nascent Yuuzhan Vong Empire. We are here to liberate your worlds from the heresy of machine worship, and establish our new civilization. This is Nor'kai Grav, one of the warrior caste," the female said, nodding at the male.

    Kleej just nodded - he was really confused, and walked with the - Vong? - or was more or less dragged, since Grav still had him by the arm. "I'm Kleej Anstrod," he said. "Uhm ... what're you gonna do with us, please?"

    Borja watched as the adults were hauled aboard one of the rock-ships, then held one of her fingers over Kleej's arm, and he felt a stinging for a second. "We are going to see what you are useful for, Kleej domain Anstrod," she said, waving to Grav. "I think I can handle one uh'maan colt, Warrior."

    "Better you than me," the warrior grunted, and Kleej rubbed his arm - it felt like Borja'd taken some of his blood.

    "A-are you testing my blood, ma'am?" Kleej asked. "We do that sometimes in science class."

    She seemed happier, then, and smiled as she asked, "You study life, then? You know of biology?"

    "Yeah. It helps me figure out which molluscs are worth credits when I dive off the coast," Kleej said, happy he'd found a topic they shared.

    Borja smiled more, then, and took Kleej by the shoulder. "You are a rare colt indeed, Kleej domain Anstrod. Young and healthy, intelligent, somewhat educated about things that matter, and somewhat skilled. I think you will fit in well," she said, guiding him toward another of the rock-ships.

    "Wh-why'd you call me a colt? I mean, I'm a boy - a male - but I'm a person," Kleej said, trying not to whine as he walked with Borja.

    She looked at him, and Kleej couldn't feel her like he sometimes felt other people - but she seemed a little sad, or at least nicer than the other Yuuzhan Vong.

    "The Yuuzhan Vong, as you will soon learn, believe we were created by our gods as a superior species, Kleej domain Anstrod," Borja said, her hand still on his shoulder.

    "You will find a place among our servants ... but you uh'maans are still just clever, hairless apes."

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

    to be continued ...
     
  2. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Another update, more with the Jedi themselves this time ... and more with the Vong, including some of their POV ...

    Also, a warning for scenes of slavery, discussion of violence, and Vong arrogance and customs (including stratification of garb - more explanation below).

    -----------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 2: 25.6 ABY: Dodonna's Beard,
    low-cost passenger freighter, eastbound
    toward the Cron Sector, Outer Rim:
    ----------------------------------------------------

    I am the Force, the Force is me ...

    The odors of unwashed bodies, cheap alcohol (and cheaper t'bac), and not-quite-thoroughly-recycled air permeated the overcrowded passenger compartment. The Beard was the absolute farthest from any definition of luxury, and was the sort of cheap method of stellar transit preferred by those trying to get lost.

    In Adlusha Kloj's case, it was more about trying to blend in.

    Rumblings of betrayals of Jedi were already reaching Yavin, and while a Rodian male by himself on the spacelanes was actually fairly normal, the Jedi Knight had no interest in drawing attention to himself. He was still trying to process the enormity of what he'd been entrusted with.

    Master Skywalker told me I was one of a select few, worthy of carrying a holocron full of the Order's lore, and millions of credits ... to start a praxeum ...

    Adlusha had long tried to be humble; he'd never particularly felt himself to be better than the average sentient, just because he could use the Force. He'd actually stumbled into the Jedi accidentally, coming across the holocron of a Rodian Knight of the old Jedi Order in a junk shop on Rodia proper.

    But I knew - or, at least, suspected - I was meant for more than herding gornts on my family's ranch. We were a minor clan, and I long sensed strange things that left my father scratching his scales, Adlusha recalled, his snout curling with amusement beneath his robe's hood.

    At a tender age, Adlusha had been sent to live with a kind but rather befuddled aunt in one of Rodia's cities; his intellectual curiosity was "unbecoming a rancher's son," his father Aldrik had derisively snorted. Luciere Kloj, however, had had the instinct to sense her youngest son's gifts, and had encouraged Adlusha to read, study, and generally follow his dreams.

    He'd been barely into adolescence, in 12 ABY, when he'd uncovered Bo'rak Dinal's holocron, and the gatekeeper had told Adlusha his true potential.

    Well. How could I not follow my heart to Yavin 4? Master Tionne was kind, and indulged my fascination with Force esoterica. I even learned to direct my farsight, becoming a seer ... I've never really been a very good lightsaber duelist, but the Force has blessed me with an affinity for its secrets, Adlusha mused.

    He'd not been home for too long, but he doubted his father or brothers had missed him much. Adlusha still commed his mother once a standard month, grateful to the other Jedi for their understanding of his costly Holonet bill. Master Skywalker's wisdom extended to knowing that family enhanced a Jedi.

    But now, I've been given a sacred duty. To found a praxeum - a JEDI ACADEMY - and on the jewel of the ancient Jedi worlds, Ossus itself! Adlusha thought.

    He knew that, strictly speaking, such happiness was ill-advised; it bordered on pride. But Ossus had been a center of Jedi learning for 20 millennia, before the horrible multiple supernovae which had devastated the Cron Drift and scoured Ossus' surface. The surviving descendants of the Jedi, the mostly-human Ysanna race, were primitive but not savage, and had both numerous Force-sensitive members and a high respect for the restored Jedi Order.

    And the ancient Jedi Library - a legend among the Order - ! There's still at least an entire wing that hasn't been explored, the entrance believed lost beneath a subterranean lake ... ah, Adlusha. Don't indulge your obsession with lore - you've got a job to do, and credits and a holocron to safeguard, he reminded himself.

    Adlusha was only 25 standard years, and hadn't been a Knight for hardly 3 of those. He could only hope to prove a competent teacher - and first, he had to survive long enough to reach Columex and arrange passage on a private craft to Ossus. An X-Wing might have been faster, but would've drawn unwanted attention.

    Instead, I'm just another boring Snout, drifting from bounty job to bounty job. And Father never thought I was a "good Rodian," Adlusha mused.

    He grew solemn, thinking of the reports he'd read about Belkadan, Dubrillion, and other worlds conquered by the Yuuzhan Vong.

    No, Adlusha reminded himself as he sank back into a Force trance to pass the time, I'm better a boring Rodian than a captive of the invaders.

    ------------------------------------------
    Ruins of Dubrillion City,
    Dubrillion, Outer Rim Territories:
    ------------------------------------------

    Nor'kai Grav returned the salutes of the low-rank guards at either side of Commander Shedao Shai's damutek entrance, barely sparing them a glance. Neither guard bore many scars or implants, wearing kilts and shoe-socks instead of vonduun crab armor - more than warrior-cadets, but not yet subalterns.

    Best relegated to this honor guard until they blood themselves more - or spiral down to the Shamed Ones, the warrior thought, letting the portal lock bite into his left hand for a moment. The pain cleared his head for a mini-ket or so, and Nor'kai thanked Yun-Yammka for the gift of awareness.

    He'd need all his wits about him when he faced the chief general of the Yuuzhan Vong's successes in these hinterlands of the new galaxy.

    The door opened, satisfied that the warrior of Domain Grav was who he claimed to be, and irised open with an organic slurping noise. Some species - weaker, more cowardly or even heretical, unlike the Children of Yun-Yuuzhan - might find living tools unsettling.

    Grav enjoyed the sound, and allowed himself a dark grin at the thought of crushing more unliving heresies in the names of the Y'uno.

    He entered the main living area of the commander, snapping fists to opposite shoulders and kneeling as he intoned, "Belek tiu, Commander."

    "Rise, Subaltern. And share with us the latest news of your taming of this world's surviving inhabitants," he heard a rumbling rasp call.

    Nor'kai complied, gazing up at the scene before him. Unsurprisingly, the commander - whose observation of pain-as-faith extended, some warriors whispered, to the dreaded and venerated state of zhaelor, or the battle rage where one understood pain being the core of life - was venerating the gods.

    Instead of the Embrace of Pain extending and contorting Shedao Shai's limbs, however, the commander merely sat in a thorn-chair, the spikes in the seat feeding from his blood, but not so much as to debilitate the sitter. It was considered an honor to be asked to sit in such furniture, but Grav merely stood at attention - sparing the commander's aide, Deign Lian, a glance, as the sniveling low-rank warrior curled his frayed lips at the new arrival.

    "At your command, Superior. The unclean 'settlement' called - Edair's Landing, I believe is the uh'maan name for it - was razed, with most of the heathens slain and 15 fit captives taken. There were several suitable for sacrifice; six will make suitable slaves, once tamed," Nor'kai reported.

    "Such a grand and glorious feat - aghk - !" Lian mocked, until Shai's left hand flashed faster than Nor'kai could see and grasped the aide's throat.

    "Do not mock loyal warriors' accomplishments when you have yet to show their dedication, Deign," the commander reprimanded the choking brenzlit. The use of only Lian's first name was a deliberate insult, slighting the condescending glory-seeker by ignoring his domain, and Nor'kai savored the sight.

    The commander nodded, shrugging his robeskin a bit higher around his shoulders. Nor'kai didn't dare take it as a sign of weakness; that had been disproven mini-kets before by Shai's speed in nearly throttling his mewling subordinate.

    Shedao Shai released Lian and waved him away, before turning to Grav and asking, "And what of the new Master Shaper? Borja domain Kwaad has proven her commitment to the True Way, by devising the new yorik-kul to give us options in how tightly we yoke our servants. But how is she in the field?"

    "She is competent, and faithful, not straying from the sanctioned practices. But ... I find certain of her actions ... puzzling, Superior," Grav confessed. He'd been warned by his creche-parents and combat instructors that while being assigned to Shedao Shai's command was an honor, that anything less than honesty risked drawing the faithful superior's ire. Besides, sniveling and deception were the ways of intendants, not warriors.

    Shai merely tilted his head a bit, and Grav took it as permission to continue. "She took into her custody a uh'maan colt - he was swimming when we attacked the village, and we came upon him skulking. The whelp was wise enough to submit to us, but I would estimate if he were one of our crechelings, he would be a mere first-year student at the warriors' academy," he explained.

    "So no more than 60 klekkets?" Deign Lian asked, honestly confused.

    Shai's sidelong glare of annoyance sent Lian into another fit of apologies, but the commander made a sharp gesture with his hand. "Quiet," he rumbled.

    Lian backed away (and Grav imagined the air turned a bit sweeter with the aide's retreat), while Shedao Shai added, "I see no offense if a loyal shaper wishes a servant of her own. Results imply the gods' blessings, and in her striving to speed our empire's hold on these new worlds, Borja Kwaad has demonstrated faith."

    "We warriors claim our glory in the conquest; let the shapers sift and measure the servant species to find the most useful."

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

    The shock had finally worn off by the time the rock-ship landed - a yorik-et, Borja had called it, or a coralskipper, the tizowyrm translated.

    Kleej tried not to cry - his home was gone, his family probably dead, and he was being bossed around by aliens who'd taken over his home.

    He felt a gentle tug at his shoulder, and wiped his eyes as Borja led him toward what looked like a gate made of bones, hanging on - tendons?

    "I know you are mourning, Kleej Anstrod. And I am not unsympathetic. When I was but a crecheling myself, we lost life support in the section of the worldship in which I lived. I was able to evacuate ... but we were between galaxies. Stopping would have killed all of us aboard, and I had to leave friends behind," she said, stopping at the gate and sticking her free hand in what looked like a mouth.

    Kleej tried not to wince as Borja pulled her hand back, with a small bite mark, and the warriors at the gate nodded. It opened, and the whole fence pulsed a bit - like it was alive - as he followed Borja into the camp.

    "I'm ... sorry about your friends. I-is all your - equipment - alive? Your clothes?" Kleej asked, looking around at the scene.

    It was odd - seeing Dubrillion City in ruins, being torn down by what looked like building-sized creatures, while star-shaped, plant-like structures rose over the rubble. There were a mix of species, mostly Yuuzhan Vong and humans, wearing a variety of clothes - warriors in armor or kilts, some other Yuuzhan Vong in sleek outfits like Borja's or loose-fitting robes or kilts, and some Vong and the humans wearing rags or just enough to be modest.

    Kleej looked at Borja, following her as they headed for one of the plant-like buildings. "Indeed. We believe artificial constructs are abominations. The gods created life, and we worship them and thank them for their blessings.The highest form of worship is the ability to endure - indeed, embrace - pain. However, the different castes worship the Y'uno in different ways," she said, motioning for Kleej to follow her.

    He nodded, scratching his head as they walked down the halls - the place smelled sort of like fish. There were more Vong in the sleek outfits here, some that looked like sleeveless wetsuits and others that looked like the full 'suit Borja wore, most with the weird hands with extra fingers. The few humans who were here had what looked like little spikes of coral at the base of their skulls, or sometimes growing out of their chests, and they were quiet - really quiet.

    "Wow. And you're a shaper? Do you ... grow your clothes and weapons and stuff?" Kleej asked, watching Borja stop in front of what looked like a big door.

    She smiled, holding her hand to a panel beside the door, and it made a schlurping noise as it opened. "Just so. You noticed that the different castes wear differing garb? The warriors, especially high-ranking officers, wear vonduun crab armor. Shapers like myself tend more toward the ooglith - varieties of cloakers, sleek for functionality, and the workers wear simple robeskins. The Shamed Ones and slaves wear the basic luurzith, or loincloth, as well as whatever rags they can find or are permitted," Borja explained.

    Kleej thought about that; he never bothered with more than shorts during the summer, since he was at the beach so much. "I ... guess I understand that. Sort of. Why are warriors higher than shapers, though?" he asked, sitting on what looked like a stool (and hoping it wouldn't bite him).

    He glanced around, seeing what looked like a table and a tray full of tools - and things, like really big shellfish, cleaning the floor - and watched as Borja held up something like a wrinkly shuura the size of her head. She stroked something on the object, and it unfolded, showing another Yuuzhan Vong's face. Borja concentrated, then smiled a bit, closing the object before she set it down and looked at Kleej.

    "I am not a priest, but I know the sacred stories. It is said that our primary god, Yun-Yuuzhan, created this universe, and the lesser gods from parts of himself. Yun-Ne'Shel, the Modeler, was a handmaiden of the Trickster, Yun-Harla, and Yun-Harla gifted the secrets of creation she stole from Yun-Yuuzhan unto her handmaiden. Yun-Yammka - the Slayer, god of warriors, twin of Yun-Harla - is held in higher regard than Yun-Ne'Shel. We shapers still hold a critical place in our society, creating the biots which we use - clothing, weapons, and so on," she explained.

    Kleej nodded, his head still reeling. He looked down at himself - he'd lost his goggles, but he still had his swim shorts - then at Borja, and remembered the scene on the street, how the Vong yelled at the humans.

    "I'm ... I'm a slave, aren't I? I mean ... you called me a 'servant,' but really ... I'm a slave. Or I will be," he asked, trying not to shiver.

    Borja looked at him, nodding once. "I will not lie to you about this. You have shown courage in not breaking down, and wisdom - because had you struggled, the warriors might have given you an 'honorable' death. You remember the uh'maan male with the rifle, whom Tvakh Grash slew in combat?" she asked.

    Rondeth, Kleej recalled, nodding as he felt sad again. The old guy'd yelled a lot, but he'd been nice sometimes, too.

    He wiped his eyes, looking at Borja as she said, "And that was a semi-aged uh'maan, who stood his ground. A warrior of your galaxy who demonstrated true prowess - such as a Jeedai - would be sought for sacrifice by the priests. Such deaths ... involve demonstrations of pain."

    Kleej felt a little sick, but something cut through his fear. "You're - trying to save me?" he whispered, trying to figure out why.

    Her eyes bored into his as she leaned down and said, "I am loyal to my people, Kleej Anstrod. But it does not mean that I find joy in carnage for its own sake. The priests tell us this galaxy - and its' native species - are our gods' gifts to us, if we are willing to take such gifts. But superior as we are, we should tend our new flocks, not slaughter them like thoughtless, crazed vua'sa."

    "o-oh," Kleej said, shrinking down a little. She still thinks I'm just a 'colt,' he thought, looking up when Borja ruffled his hair.

    "Take heart, colt. You've proven you're adaptable, and that is a valuable trait. There is no dishonor in submission, or service. In truth, I plan to make use of your interests and skills," Borja said, smiling a bit.

    "Really? You want me to - dive for molluscs?" Kleej asked, wondering what kind of sealife the Vong had.

    Borja laughed a little, then motioned for Kleej to stand.. "In a manner of speaking. Our war coordinators, or yammosks, and other of our biots grow best in water, so Dubrillion was picked as a priority target. Your swimming skill and knowledge of biology will make you well-suited to examine them in their native habitats and report back to me - once you are properly prepared," she said, looking him up and down.

    "So ... you'll help me swim better?" Kleej asked. "I could just cut my hair super-short. That'd cut down on drag. And my shorts are baggy - they slow me down."

    "Both excellent points," Borja said, taking a black object out of what looked like a big bin. The cloth felt slippery, but warm, and Kleej held it up - it looked like a racing swimsuit, and Borja turned away from him while he changed into it. The new 'suit was tight, but comfortable, and more modest than Kleej had expected.

    "That luurzith is designed for primarily aquatic operations, and will reduce drag on your body in the water," Borja explained, turning back around. She took Kleej's old swim shorts, throwing them into a hole in the wall that gurgled. "Now, for your hair," she said, as the door opened.

    A male Yuuzhan Vong in a sleeveless cloaker, his black hair cut short, bowed to Borja and said, "J'han Kwaad, reporting, Master Shaper. Is this uh'maan the one you spoke to me about?"

    "Yes, Adept. This will be a simple procedure - cropping the colt's mane, and implanting the new strain of yorik-kul. He has seen the wisdom of submitting, and I deem it wise for you to witness an implantation," Borja said, motioning for J'han to come closer.

    Kleej tried not to be afraid - he didn't want to be a slave, but he really didn't want to die, either. Stay alive, Dad always said - I think, he hoped.

    He looked up from his hands, watching as J'han held up something like a tube worm, and walked when the adept waved him over. "This biot is used for hair maintenance. As the Master Shaper commanded, I am to crop your mane," the adept explained.

    "OK - uh, sir," Kleej said, tipping his head forward. He figured it was better to be respectful, even if Borja was in charge. "Are you Borja Kwaad's student?"

    He closed his eyes, feeling a tingly sensation move over his scalp, while he heard J'han make a snorting noise. "You ask many questions for such a young colt. But perhaps that's better than one of the slaves with the old form of yorik-kul. Those drones end up useless after a klekket or two. Yes - I study with the Master Shaper, learning from her wisdom and experience," he grumbled.

    After a couple minutes, the feeling stopped, and Kleej opened his eyes. He ran his hand over his head, feeling just fuzz left on scalp, and returned Borja's smile as she nodded. "You'll be faster in the water now. And now - for your yorik-kul implant," she said, walking over with a small piece of coral.

    This is it, Kleej thought, closing his eyes as Borja walked behind him. He took a deep breath, then tipped his head forward again, and said, "I - I'm ready."

    "Very good," he heard her say - then, there was a twinge of pain, and Kleej gasped as he felt, as much as heard, voices in his mind.

    He wobbled a little, and let J'han help him sit on the exam table while the voices died down to a whisper. Kleej couldn't quite understand what they were saying, and he felt tired, like after a whole day of swimming - but it was a good tired, sort of.

    I'm ready for a nap, Kleej thought, looking up at Borja as she motioned for him to stretch out on the exam table, face-down..

    "How do you feel?" she asked, covering him with what felt like a warm blanket while he folded his arms under his head.

    "Tired, ma'am," Kleej said, starting to doze off. "But ... not so scared. I'll swim really fast now. Thanks - for not letting the warriors get me."

    "Of course, little colt. Rest now," Borja said, ruffling his scalp as the voices rocked Kleej to sleep.

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

    J'han looked at a display on the wall, then at Borja and said, "The monitoring array indicates successful integration and hardly any resistance, Mistress."

    "As I suspected. His sensitivity makes him an ideal recipient of the war coordinator's directives, and his duties will mostly be something he already enjoys," Borja said, checking the robeskin covering her test subject. It would keep Kleej warm as he recovered from the procedures.

    All slaves were required to have a yorik-kul implant, linking them via telepathy to the central yammosk. However, nobody said the Yuuzhan Vong had to reduce their slaves to mindless drones, and Borja planned to win over her new acquisition's loyalty, instead of forcing it as a warrior might.

    The real question would be whether the colt would be able to answer back to the war coordinator, as Borja checked her scan of his blood.

    J'han joined her, blinking at the living light as he realized what the display indicated. "His energy-producing organelles number that high?" he asked.

    "Just so. Fortunately, the new strain of yorik-kul will not interfere with his ability to access the energy, once he knows to reach for it," Borja said softly.

    "We have stumbled across a Fohrze-user, my Adept, and unlike my aunt and her whispers of heresy, I plan to guide him to best serve our people."

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

    to be continued ...
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  3. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Urgh. Apologies this got so far behind. RL's been very busy lately ... :p

    More of a focus this time on the Jedi who are establishing the various praxia - three of the remaining 9 get highlighted here. [face_thinking]

    Plus, some speciest flim-flammery. Not all of the Jedi here are necessarily nice all the time, even if they are good-hearted ...

    ------------------------------------
    Chapter 3: 25.6 ABY:
    Empress Teta, Deep Core:
    ------------------------------------

    Arnea Bynar took a deep breath, looking over the crowd she'd been entrusted with - refugees of low- to medium-midichlorian counts, as well as a handful of ancillary Jedi, decendants of Antarian Rangers, and others who might well be targeted by the oncoming Yuuzhan Vong and not be easily protected.

    She'd been picked for one of the most critical elements of Operation: Green Sowing - reclaiming the VERY first Jedi origin world ... Tython itself.

    "Colonists, jumping into a system that could prove a deathtrap because of the navigational difficulties ... and nobody's been there for a good thousand years," mumbled the Pantoran male Jedi beside her. Olun G'marquad smiled wryly as Arnea raised a black eyebrow, flicking one of her braids out of her blue eyes.

    "I've foreseen a successful arrival, OIun. With your navigational skills, certainly we'll be fine," the Talravin-born young Knight said, trying to smile.

    Olun waggled a finger, and grinned in a manner that the old Jedi wouldn't have approved of - but which Arnea appreciated. "And with your persuasive skills and Consular powers, I've no doubt we'll wrangle Tython to welcome us," he said, chuckling as he led the way aboard the retrofitted MC90 Mon Cal cruiser.

    Ashla's Light had cost a significant chunk of Arnea's 10 million-credit chip, as had the supplies and comms to gather the refugees. Although the Yuuzhan Vong hadn't advanced terribly far, the reports from the northern Outer Rim were terrifying enough to sow the seeds of panic - and panic itself could kill.

    There is no emotion, there is peace, Arnea reminded herself, smiling as she welcomed the new colonists. Their nervousness was undercut by hope, and a healthy degree of fear - but, fortunately, most of them were hopeful. Arnea certainly didn't mind the distraction from her own concerns.

    The approximately 2 thousand settlers aboard the ship would serve double-duty, both as back-up crew for the jump and as colonists on the birthworld of the Jedi's predecessor order, the Je'daii; a small army of astromechs and mouse droids would keep the MC90 running for the flight into the Deep Core.

    It was a nightmarish prospect. Still, Olun was no great duelist, like Arnea's fraternal twin sister Aliste, or a Force-"wizard" like Arnea (she took after one of the more widely-skilled Jedi ancestors in her infamous family tree), but he was one of those rare Jedi gifted with a knack for Force piloting and instinctive navigation. As with the Force-guided flights to famous Ilum during the old Order's heyday, only a Jedi pilot-savant was best suited for Deep Core flights.

    And the Masters entrusted me - a 20-year-old barely-Knighted Force prodigy who's better suited in the Seers' wing of the Yavin Temple - to not only lead this project, but to investigate and secure the ancestral home of the Order? Arnea nearly panicked.

    She shook her head, giving a comforting smile to a worried-looking Twi'lek female who held a small child in her arms. Now was NOT a time for breaking down.

    And Aliste's better suited to the battlefield - she got the battle meditation, I got the telekinesis, telepathy, and precognition of the Force-share between us, Arnea recalled, her smile turning a bit wry. There was no doubt which ancestress Aliste took after.

    As their mother Ceamadra enjoyed pointing out, "Some of us take after Satele more than Bastila, darling. And that's not a bad thing, believe me."

    Still ... there'd been examples, during the millennia, of family members getting ... out of hand.

    That battered mask hanging on the wall back on Talravin was a warning to every member of the "Bynar" family:

    Heed the warning of Revan. Neither shun nor indulge in the Force - heed and master it, lest ye be mastered.

    And it's not like we're the strongest descendants of Revan in this generation, Arnea reflected, turning her attention back to the last-minute preparations.

    If there was one past lesson which Arnea found comfort in, it was that Satele - whom she resembled, vaguely - had led the Jedi through trying times.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Gymnasae Salle, Tor Caevar,
    Lands of House Nalju, Serenno,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    -----------------------------------------------

    The flash of the rapier danced across the crowd's eyes as the recently-returned daughter of House Nalju deftly disarmed her detractor.

    Dalia removed her fencing mask, keeping the not-quite blunted tip of her rapier near Polus Dooku's throat, as she said, "Do you yield, sirrah?"

    Polus gritted his teeth; unlike his famous ancestor (oh, yes, the infamous Darth Tyranus had had heirs of the blood, although their legitimacy had kept the Serenno court system busy with suits and countersuits throughout the Empire's reign), he lacked the ability to cool his hot-blooded pride. "Needs must," he spat, and the 19-year-old heiress of House Nalju flicked her blade away while their gathered fellow nobles politely clapped.

    Strictly speaking, Dalia's younger brother Dolf was the heir, but he was generally considered too dull-witted to be more than marriage bait. Dalia had a slightly scandalous reputation - a Nalju, taking some of her education in the Gordian Reach instead of on Serenno? - but her manners were impeccable.

    Doesn't hurt that I also can maneuver through our complicated network of unspoken social rules to become a power behind the throne of my House, she thought, returning the vapid smiles of her various peers.

    Dolf - besotted with the just-acceptably-exotic Lorrdian Nelani Dinn, who'd accompanied Dalia for her "homecoming" - just waved, and Dalia smiled at him.

    She did love her brother, but he was so easily distracted ... which actually helped, since the whole point of her return was to create a secret Jedi praxeum.

    Ah, Count Dooku. What would you think, that the Order you so spurned has come in secret to reclaim and redeem your spurned birthworld? Dalia mused.

    Although Dalia identified more with the Sentinel branch of the Jedi, she was actually one of the best bladesbeings in the reformed Order - not by her estimation, but she'd impressed the Masters with her early grasp of Makashi. It certainly complimented her noble upbringing ... as did her talent for deceit.

    Of course, I did have to fend off that boor Polus' antiquated marriage proposal before claiming my place back here at home. As if I'd dilute the Nalju bloodline with that clod's genetics?!

    ----------------------------------
    Sensyno Station, Vohai,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    ----------------------------------

    "Hey - hey, you! Yeah, down here. How much for this fine piece of architecture?"

    Garn Belhaas glanced down as he finished assessing the unfinished Arkanian Microtechnologies skyscraper; AM had taken a few hits in recent years as competitors in the Imperial Remnant had been slowly allowed to start selling goods to the New Republic, so this expansion project was called off.

    "You're ... serious?" the human construction manager asked, raising an eyebrow at the unlikely figure who came roughly to his waist.

    It was a Squib - blue-furred, with a red-and-white R2 chirping softly beside - him, Garn guessed from the slightly-more-tenor tone to the Squib's voice. The furry offworlder wore a plain spacer's coverall, various tools on his belt, and he looked up at Garn with a look that would've been amusing were it not so serious.

    "Look - " Garn began.

    "Stast Whaphoon. And my business partner, Rusty - not a slur, his code-number is R2-ST," the Squib rambled, shaking Garn's hand and patting the droid.

    "Fre-weep-btwewoot!" the astromech warbled, an almost offended tone to its Binary voice as Stast shrugged.

    "Well? You're too valuable to memory-wipe, and I think it adds character," the Squib continued, turning back to Garn. "So - project's stalled, I hear?"

    Garn just nodded, not as surprised as he might be. Squibs were, after all, known for their ability - indeed, tendency - to scavenge and repurpose old tech (hoard it was a less-polite way of phrasing the seemingly innately-Squibbian practice of making credits out of scrap). "Cancelled, actually," he confessed.

    A low, mournful whistle rose from Stast, and the Squib made a box with his hands as he watched Garn's crew finish their work for the day. "What a waste. Arkanians never do like to take risks, though. At least, not with their necks. The stories I could tell you ... stay outta their labs," he said, squinting at the site.

    Garn started to get an idea, but shook his head - he was getting paid to shut down this project. "Look, I've got a contract to demolish this site," he said.

    "How much? Because I am looking for some prime real estate, and let me tell you, brother? That? That is some fine skyscrapering there," Stast replied.

    Garn flushed with pride - the AM contract was a lot of good work, and he hated to see his workers' efforts go to waste. "Thanks," he began. "But -"

    "Weeks - months? - of work, wasted because some lab geek decided their bottom line can't take the honest sweat and risk of real sentients? Tsk tsk," Stast continued, pacing as he craned his neck to look at the 40-story facility. "How far'd you get on the wiring and power? Plumbing's finished, I'd bet."

    "Well ... yeah. It's practically ready to move into, and those stylus-necked Arkanians pulled the gornt-wool rug out from underneath us," Garn commisserated.

    He looked around - this wasn't a good idea, but a LOT of effort was due to be trashed - and he asked, "How much are you offering for it?"

    "How much is your contract with AM? I'm willing to pay enough to meet your work and the inevitable ... settlement AM'll ask for. I find credits have a real tendency to make those pesky lawyers run like roach-rats," Stast said, a twinkle in his rodent-like eyes.

    "Well ... the contract's for a million-five. And the breach-of-contract fine's another 500K," Garn said, starting to worry.

    Stast held up a credit chip, and Garn held out his comlink - then tried not to gasp at the number that came up.

    "Here's what happens. Arkanians hate one thing more than sunlight - protracted legal shavit that keeps them out of the lab. Some sentients might call me specieist, but I just call 'em as I see 'em. So, you pay off AM's nek-pack of legal types and make sure your men get their due, I get a ready-to-go building to move into, and the Arkanians get more credits for their twisted latest misuse of science. Everybody wins," Stast said, waving his hand and grinning.

    "Uh - sure! This is more than fair!" Garn cheered, thanking Stast as the credit transfer finished.

    Once the last of the workers left, Stast patted Rusty on the dome and led the astromech toward the building, saying, "Another deal, huh?"

    "Blaat. Be-tweep-dwoop-twoot," the astromech remonstrated the Squib, who held a paw to his chest in mock wounding.

    "A mind trick? Seriously, pal, I'm a Squib. Sure, a Jedi Knight Squib, but if I had to mind trick a business deal, I'm not much of a Squib," Stast riposted.

    "Ftweep? Bwooo-dewoop bwurt," Rusty replied, extending his scomp-link probe to unlock the front door.

    Stast waved a paw, his eyes lighting up as he saw the nearly-finished foyer of what would have been a sizeable labratory and office building.

    "Oh, that? Nah, most Arkanians aren't that bloodthirsty. There's even a few decent ones in the Order. But everyone thinks the arrogant murglaks are like Adascorp and that whole exogorth scandal from around Revan and Malak's time. And really, who likes snooty know-it-alls?" Stast replied, grinning.

    "It's not a lie if you can sell it well. And Rusty? I am a sales-Squib. The whole Force-thing is just a nice addition to the resume'. Now, let's recruit ..."

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

    to be continued ...
     
    Force Smuggler likes this.
  4. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    How exciting of a new story idea. This is the best era in SW imo.
    Are we going to get Guardians of the Whills, members of the Church of the Force, Bendu, etc?
     
  5. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Force Smuggler: Thanks. :) This is actually the backstory of another 'fic I started, and never finished, before the truncation ... :oops:

    Mild spoilers, since I do plan to revive that one (Shores Yet Untrod was the title):
    After the Vong War ends in 28 ABY - a bit earlier than in canon, and with a lot more living Jedi than in Legends - Kyp and a crew of OCs travel the galaxy, seeking to learn what happened to the praxia and help remap the galaxy's hyperlanes in the process. Of course, it's not that simple ...

    But that's down the road a ways. I've tended to jump around too much in the past, so I want to finish one or two stories at a time - this one, and Sernpidal's Amethyst. I'll try to update both of those later this week. :)
     
  6. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    The plot of your other story sounds intriguing. Sounds like the Jedi Marshals patrolling the galaxy after the NJO series idea before the ending of TUF came about.
     
  7. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Force Smuggler: I get where you're going with the comparison (and I'm honored) - and that idea certainly aligns with some of my ideas for other post-Vong-War Jedi activities in this timeline (one of the Old Order's greatest failings, IMHO, was the apparent lack of Jedi Sentinels in Yoda's era, and Jedi dedicated to seeking out and opposing injustice and dark-side Force users would be very helpful in preventing at least some of what took place later on in Legends ... [face_thinking])

    I'll keep that idea in mind for the future. Right now ... back to the Vong - [face_worried] - and, possibly, a start towards a better place for some characters.

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

    A/N: Warnings for Vong philosophy and biotech, varying degrees of mind control, and brief scenes of specieism, violence, and torture.

    Also - while the Vong's slaves in Conquest wore what were described IU as loincloths ... I prefer to err on the side of a bit more modesty for characters. Form should follow function, but not be ridiculous about it, I say. :)

    --------------------------------------------
    Chapter 4: 25.6 ABY:
    Main Shaper Damutek,
    Ruins of Dubrillion City,
    Dubrillion, Outer Rim Territories:
    *************************************

    Kleej dreams.

    He's not quite sure how he knows he's dreaming, but he does; maybe it's the nagging sense that he should remember something bad had happened.

    But right now, he keeps swimming - he's underwater again, where things really are best, and he's fitting in under the waves even better than before. He has a duty - he's to examine the new life-forms the Yuuzhan Vong have brought to Dubrillion.

    Villip paddies, coralskipper ponds, and other biots draw his attention, and he examines them before going deeper. The yorik-kul implant at the base of his neck pulses, not so much with pain as with direction - Kleej is being called, and he wants to follow it. The implant is more like a fin than a source of drag.

    There's a rhythm to the tides; people on the beach hear it as it goes in and out, and underwater, it's a low pulse. The same sort of pulse rolls through Kleej as he dives toward the rhythm's source.

    It's not so deep he risks nitrogen bubbles, and there's the final biot he needs to examine - and be examined by, Kleej realizes, smiling behind his gnullith.

    The yammosk, the Yuuzhan Vong's war coordinator, reaches into Kleej's mind, and he reaches back, feeling the interconnected web of biots the jell-fish-like creature directs and guides.

    There are other humans and non-humans both, implanted like him with yorik-kul, linked to the yammosk, all working to make Dubrillion a base for their Yuuzhan Vong masters to spread from and continue to improve the galaxy.

    Improve? Kleej wonders - but he looks at himself, how he's been changed to fit his particular duty, and admits he is improved.

    He's a swimmer and observer, after all - his buzz-cut hair, sleek luurzith swimsuit, and gnullith breath mask help him move faster and stay underwater longer, and the yorik-kul connects him to the biots and other slaves.

    He's happy he's changed from the shaggy-haired, shorts-wearing beach kid he'd been. He's got a purpose, now, and echoes the yammosk's thought:

    We serve the Yuuzhan Vong Empire.

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

    "Whua - !?"

    It's OK - I'm on dry land, Kleej thought, sitting up on - what was it, an exam table?

    He blinked sleep from his eyes, looking around; there were some kind of - blaze bugs, a voice in his mind explained, flying around in lanterns on the walls. The walls themselves reminded Kleej of the membranes in mynocks' wings, and the table he'd slept on felt like coral.

    Coral - ! Kleej remembered, feeling at the back of his neck. There was a little, hard knob there, now, that felt like coral, and it pulsed with his heartbeat.

    The yorik-kul implant ... where Mistress Borja put it in yesterday, the boy remembered, shivering a little ... but it wasn't so awful, anymore, either.

    She talked about pain, but I don't hurt - I feel kinda good, really, Kleej thought, smiling a little. He slid off the table, standing as he removed the warm, almost-alive-feeling blanket he'd been draped with (a robeskin, the voice in his mind explained).

    Everything the Yuuzhan Vong use is alive - their tools, their weapons, their clothes, Kleej remembered, folding the robe and putting it on the table. The air was warm enough to walk around in, and he glanced around before walking to the table full of tool-biots Mistress Borja had worked at yesterday.

    Mistress Borja? ... yeah. I'm a slave, now, Kleej realized, shivering again at the thought - but the voice rippled in his mind, helping him calm down.

    We are biots, young fish - well, I am a biot, and you are a slave. Remember what the Master Shaper told you - there is no dishonor in service, the voice called back.

    Yeah ... like when I'll swim to look at the biots. You're ... the yammosk, right? Kleej thought back - he'd been implanted and changed, too, after all.

    The voice chuckled a bit, kind of like a grown-up who was amused, but not condescending, either. I am, young one. Take up the living light, it instructed.

    Kleej looked at the tool-biots, then held up a villip communicator (he guessed the yammosk was telling him what stuff was, and he thanked it silently).

    The lumpy, fruit-like object in his hands unfolded, then, and Kleej blinked as a small eyestalk-like object rose from the villip and glowed, scanning him. After a second, another stalk rose, pointed about 90 degrees from the first, and projected an image - a hologram, Kleej recognized.

    He smiled a little, examining the hologram ... of himself.

    It was a static image, of him with a hand outstretched, holding the villip, and real-Kleej examined the image.

    His hair was buzzed close to his skull now. He wore a sleek black brief like the ones some competitive swimmers at the beach wore - the luurzith swimsuit, Kleej remembered from the dream. Walking around the image, Kleej could see the yorik-kul implant at the base of his neck, and he looked down at himself.

    I look like I did in my dream - fast, strong ... ready to ... serve, Kleej decided, smiling as he patted the villip and it shut down, closing.

    Indeed, young one. What are you? the yammosk asked, and Kleej stood, tall and proud.

    I am a slave of the Yuuzhan Vong, he thought back, eager to - obey, he thought the right word was.

    The moment was ruined when Kleej's stomach rumbled, and he blushed a little; he wasn't sure what he'd eat.

    The door-membrane irised open, then, and Kleej snapped his fists to his opposite shoulders, kneeling - it just felt right.

    "B-belek tiu, master," he said, keeping his face down; he wasn't sure how he knew to show proper respect, but he was glad he did.

    A happy chuckle rang back, and Kleej heard a familiar voice say, "'Command you,' indeed, colt. You may stand; we have much to do."

    "Mistress Borja!" Kleej said, leaping to his feet and smiling - he'd wondered where she was. She nodded, smiling, and examined him for a few moments before finally ruffling his scalp, in what Kleej thought was approval.

    "The yammosk has been inside your mind, I can tell. Good. Hopefully, however, it's not yoked your thoughts too tightly - here, drink from this. These biots create a nutrient paste which will meet your needs," the Mistress said, giving Kleej what felt like a warm, fuzzy bag of some kind.

    He thanked her, then drank from it; it was like topatoes, just with less flavor, but it wasn't gross, either. "It showed me a dream where I was swimming, and I 'saw' how I'm linked to the biots. I feel ... like I'm part of something, bigger than me," Kleej tried to explain as his Mistress watched him.

    He blinked, blushing a bit at how he'd waved his free hand - was he talking too much? - but Mistress Borja grinned, nodding.

    "Perfect. You're calmed, but not nearly tamed. I want you to have some leeway in interpreting orders. Your genuflection when I entered, however, was excellent. Warriors will expect you to bow and scrape, and if you do not react fast enough, they may trigger your implant out of spite," she said, growing serious.

    Kleej shivered a little as he finished his meal, and set the bag on the tool-table. "The ... pain you talked about, right?" he asked, scared now.

    "Yes. I will demonstrate - only at a low setting, and only so you are forewarned. You have done nothing to merit punishment. I merely wish you not to be unprepared," Mistress Borja said, holding a hand over an object on her left wrist.

    Kleej screwed his eyes shut, trying to prepare - but it was like he'd been hit by a sting-eel, the jolt running down his spine. It stopped right away, but he was still rolled up in a ball on the floor for a few minutes before he could open his eyes.

    He looked up at his Mistress, torn between being mad at her - she did enslave me! part of him yelled - and glad she'd at least told him what'd happen.

    She knelt down and helped him sit up, tilting her head. "I ... apologize, Kleej domain Anstrod. You are still young, and I do not wish you undue suffering," she said, sounding almost sad again.

    Kleej tried to smile a little; she had said she just wanted to prepare him. "You ... saved me from the warriors ... Mistress. I'll ... it's like when I first got hit by a sting-eel, when I was a little kid and I was diving. I ... learned to stay away from them," he said, nodding as she helped him stand.

    Mistress Borja smiled back and nodded, waving Kleej to follow her. "An excellent comparison, my colt. The gods gave us pain to learn from ... but nobody ever said the lessons had to take cruel shape. You will go far as a slave. Now - to your first day of work," she said as they walked out of the damutek.

    Kleej shielded his eyes until they adjusted - the blaze-bugs in the lab had been at a low glow, probably since it'd been a night-cycle - and looked around as they walked. There were a mix of Yuuzhan Vong and slave species, mostly uh'maans - another Yuuzhan Vong word popping into Kleej's head from the yammosk - and the slave-biots seemed ... well, Kleej could read them better than the other day, somehow.

    Maybe it's through my yorik-kul implant? the boy wondered, concentrating. If he thought hard, he could sense the other slaves' thoughts and feelings - the yammosk was keeping them from freaking out, helping them accept what they'd become, and some were more ... tamed ... than others.

    "Uhm, Mistress ... can all slaves sense other slaves' feelings? Some of the others feel ... like the yammosk did something to their minds. I mean, more than how it calmed me and tells me Yuuzhan Vong words for things," Kleej asked, keeping his voice low - he wasn't sure slaves were supposed to speak without being asked.

    Mistress Borja smiled - a lot, this time, instead of just the happy little smiles she got sometimes when Kleej did something right - and she said, "Your particular mix of talents is ... the first I have encountered in uh'maans, my colt. For now, just focus on the day's work - you will dive and examine the various biots in the shaping pools, learning of them and what is a healthy state and what is not. We will discuss your senses, and the other slaves, after work."

    "Yes, Mistress," Kleej said, still curious but figuring it'd be better to stay focused. He didn't want to mess up his new duties ... or end up with the warriors.

    They walked into a large, fenced-off part of the city, near the coastline; Kleej recognized what'd been the beachfront district. There were pools sectioned off, with villip paddies, coralskipper pods, and other biots growing, while slaves moved between each one and poured water over them or examined them. In the center of the scene, a huge, bulb-headed creature with a lot of tentacles floated in the water, while slaves examined smaller versions of it.

    Kleej felt a rush of recognition - the yammosk! he thought, flashing back to his dream, and the voice in his head laughed, rumbling like thunder.

    The fish-colt. Welcome to your new existence, young slave. And Master Shaper - greetings, the yammosk sent, as Mistress Borja smiled.

    "Greetings to you, great one. This war coordinator is one of the most powerful in the Yuuzhan Vong's arsenal, colt - capable of directing and controlling millions of other biots across this world and in near-space. Now, where to begin your swim ... ?" the Mistress said, leading Kleej along a walkway between the pools.

    He looked around; the worker slaves were older teenagers and adults of different slave-species, each with a yorik-kul implant at their neck or on their chest, like a droid's restraining bolt. Most wore only a luurzith, although the females wore what looked like sport-tops, and some of each gender had rags on over their living garments.

    Rags'd just slow me down. I like my luurzith the way it is, Kleej thought, tugging at its' waist. The garment sealed itself back against his skin, and he smiled; living clothes weren't so weird, after all.

    He stopped when Mistress Borja did, before a pool of villips, and she took two objects from her belt. Kleej smiled a little when he recognized the star-shaped gnullith breath mask, but blinked a little at the sight of what looked like a grub of some kind.

    "The grub is a chilab - a recording biot that duplicates sensory impressions from your optic nerve. Insert it into one of your nostrils, and it will place itself," Mistress Borja said.

    Kleej tried not to shiver - it'll hook onto my nerves, maybe my eye? he worried - but then, he remembered the tizowyrm in his ear, and his other biots.

    You've already got biot-implants, too, doofus. Quit being a baby, Kleej told himself. He took the chilab and held it to his left nostril, closing his eyes as it placed itself - there was a quick burst of pain, but that went away fast, and he blinked away tears as Mistress Borja smiled proudly.

    "Courageous, as always. Now, the gnullith - this variant draws oxygen from the water, so you can stay underwater as long as you need. Resurface once you are hungry, or grow especially tired," she said, handing Kleej the breath mask. He turned its' back side to his face and let the tube slide down into his airway, as the star-shaped mask sealed itself against his face.

    A sense of rightness filled Kleej, and he bowed to his Mistress. I'm ready to swim - really swim, he thought, happy and ready to dive.

    She nodded, and that was all Kleej needed; he dove into the villip paddy, taking a few strokes, then starting to look at the long root-tendrils of each plant, swirling and splashing about a little bit for a little fun during the work.

    It was like his dream, and he smiled behind the gnullith - he was a slave, doing his duty and obeying the Yuuzhan Vong Empire.

    ------------------------------------
    Ilum, Unknown Regions:
    ------------------------------------

    The X-Wing came to a halt - more of a quick freeze, really - as the first gusts of the storm blew into its' cooling engines, and its' pilot leapt out.

    "No time to waste," said the furred being swaddled in robes and a warm cloak, while his astromech - a dependable R3, nicknamed "Three-Bee" - left its droid socket and used magna-clamps to roll down the side of the ship. The droid fell the rest of the way, but the Jedi hefted him to stand, patting his dome.

    "Sorry about that, little friend. But I have to save my power for - there," the tall sentient expained, examining the castle-like scene before them.

    It was magnificent and foreboding all at the same time; Jedi artisans millennia ago had carved spires and a temple relief into the living ice itself. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, an avalanche of snow and ice had covered the entrance to the legendary Crystal Caves.

    Fortunately, I am as determined as I am gifted with the Force, thought the brown-and-tan-furred Cathar Knight, before he concentrated.

    Taslar had come to the Order later in life than some, as a young adult; he'd befriended, and saved, Master Streen on Taris.

    The "cat-like reflexes" of swoop-riding which had lifted the Cathar out of the low-level slums and into the more middle-class streets of the upper city were, in fact, the Force - and while Taslar hadn't been one of the very original members of the new Jedi Order, he had been around for a while.

    Enough to move a few tons of ice, at least, he thought, sweeping away the debris and leading Three-Bee into the temple.

    It saddened Taslar to see the blast-marks, and a few skeletons of slain Old-Order Jedi (and not a few stormtrooper corpses, as well; the stories of the final battle here during the Empire's rise were accurate after all). He said a silent benediction for those Jedi who'd come before him, and set to laying them to rest.

    "Btweep-dwooo. Bet-beep?" Three-Bee chirped, tugging at one of the robed bodies with a manipulator arm, in a touching gesture of help.

    "Yes, Three-Bee. We'll give them a proper burial by fire - yes, even here on Ilum I can manage that much - and give the stormtroopers the same respect. They were broken, enslaved conscripts, most likely, and don't deserve anger for following orders, no matter how evil," Taslar explained.

    He hid a toothy grin, which quickly turned sad; once upon a time, he'd have been full of fury and rage, flailing claws against "the bad guys."

    But life is never so one-sided. And as Jedi, we're taught to examine all sides of the situation. If the Masters ask me to guard this place until we can reclaim it fully for Padawans to make new lightsabers in the old ways, then I'll do my duty ... lonely though it may be, Taslar reflected.

    He repressed his sadness; his daughter, Karina, was just 15 standard years old, back on Yavin. He'd not wanted to leave her, but she'd said she'd be fine ...

    I'm a fool. First I couldn't save her mother, our precious Kaliva, and now I run like a scared cub to the back end of the galaxy, Taslar lamented.

    But he certainly couldn't ask a young Cathar to spend her remaining youth here, on an ice-cube, no matter how sacred it was to the Order. There might even well be conflict with the Imperial Remnant or the Chiss; it'd never been officially determined whether the new Jedi Order could legally reclaim Ilum.

    Taslar blew out a breath, smiling as it condensed and dropped like snowflakes in the chill. He couldn't be miserable forever - he'd accepted Master Skywalker's request, and even if it'd been an excuse to avoid his own guilt and inability to reach out to his cub, he did have a sacred responsibility.

    I just hope that Karina will understand someday. She's safe on Yavin, and even if I never have students, I must hold this ground, Taslar decided.

    The Force seemed to swell in him as the storm roared outside, and Taslar nodded, returning to work. It would be a long vigil, but fulfilling in time.

    -------------------------------
    Ruins of Dubrillion City,
    Dubrillion:
    -------------------------------

    It'd been a few hours, and Kleej was starting to get tired; he'd made sure to swim between the different pools, wading at some points because it wasn't deep enough everywhere. The other slaves had nodded or, even, sometimes waved to him; the ones who'd waved seemed surprised to see him.

    There aren't any other kids who are slaves, Kleej realized, a little worried about that. The youngest of the other slaves was maybe 15 or 16, he'd guess, and there weren't hardly any non-humans among them, either - that seemed weird, too.

    Kleej decided not to worry about that; he guessed the other kids would've been sent off-world with the refugees. He wondered for a moment if maybe his parents were out there, but shook his head - he wasn't going anywhere, not now that he'd been converted.

    And he had to report back to his Mistress. She'd been - well, kinder to him, at least, than any other Yuuzhan Vong. Serving her might not be so awful, at least, compared to how the warriors treated the other slaves.

    He found her talking with one of the warriors - Nor'kai Grav, Kleej recognized, bowing before his masters until he felt a foot nudge his shoulder.

    "So, you've been tamed, have you, colt? Stand, and let's see what the Master Shaper has made of you," the warrior ordered.

    Kleej leapt up - he didn't want to make anyone angry - and his Mistress nodded at him, tugging the edge of his gnullith. Kleej removed the breath mask and gave it to Mistress Borja, then held a finger to the right side of his nose and acted like he was about to sneeze - and the chilab came free into his hand.

    "Very well done, colt. How was your swim?" Mistress Borja asked, replacing the biots at her belt while Grav looked Kleej over.

    "It was astral, Mistress!" Kleej blurted - well, it was true, he'd had a lot more fun than he'd expected he'd have - but he blushed when Grav stared at him.

    "The other slaves lack this colt's ... enthusiasm. I had thought taming the workers involved dulling their cognitive functions," the warrior asked.

    Mistress Borja just smiled, patting Kleej's wet shoulder as he tried not to shiver - the sun was getting lower. "There are many routes to ensuring compliance, Subaltern. Sometimes, one must use spark-bee honey as bait, instead of fresh vua'sa flank," she explained, starting to guide Kleej away.

    That was when he sensed it - anger, from one of the other slaves, a uh'maan man in the coralskipper pen, and Kleej said, "Mistress - look out!"

    She ducked, as he did, just as a chunk of coral went flying past, and Mistress Borja shielded Kleej as warriors yelled and ran over.

    "Thank you, my colt. Now, stay down until I tell you - there may be pain, as the guards subdue this revolt, but I will do my best to shield you," she whispered.

    Kleej just nodded; he was too scared to say anything else, and there were more yells and screams and noises - and a quick flash of pain, there, then gone.

    Apologies, fish-colt. You, at least, are properly obedient - or, at least, compliant. Some slaves ... resist, and must suffer for it, the yammosk sent.

    Suffer ... ? Kleej thought, the edge of his fear soothed as the yammosk broadcasted calming thoughts ... it was better just to obey, Kleej thought.

    Finally, he felt a tapping on the top of his fuzz-covered scalp, and looked up, standing when Mistress Borja gestured for him to rise.

    "If you need to look away, you may bury your eyes in my shoulder. This ... is not how I would have dealt with this revolt," she said, as Kleej looked around.

    The older slaves were lined up, kneeling, along the walkway, while the man who'd tried to attack Mistress Borja was held, struggling, by two low-rank Yuuzhan Vong warriors wearing luurziths. Nor'kai Grav spat at the rebel slave, then held a short, snake-like spear in his right hand.

    "Witness the price of defiance, you non-Yuuzhan-Vong-brenzlits!" Grav shouted - and he held the spear high, then drove it down, yelling:

    "DO-RO'IK VONG PRATTE!!!"

    Kleej clung to his Mistress, wincing, and tried not to cry as the older slave's presence just - vanished.

    He heard a dragging noise, then a splash, and walked with her, not asking any questions.

    I was wrong. Being a slave - it's - it's - Kleej started to think, until he felt Mistress Borja pull him behind a damutek and she made him look at her, gently holding the back of his head.

    "You have exceeded my expectations, Kleej domain Anstrod, and I am sorry you had to be near that - punishment. However, now is the time for answers. Tell me, and hold nothing back - how did you sense the older slave's anger? In your mind, like with the yammosk's sendings?" she asked, serious.

    "Y-yeah - sorry, yes, Mistress. It was just like this spike, of anger - it almost hurt, and I think he wasn't really thinking so much as lashing out," Kleej tried to explain.

    Mistress Borja let go of Kleej's head, then smiled - not as happy as before, but a little bitterly, he thought. "A break-through, then, if not in the manner I would have preferred. It is time you know everything, my colt ... you are what your jeedai call, Fohrze-sensitive," she said, motioning for Kleej to follow her.

    Wait - I've got - I'VE got the FORCE!? Kleej thought, amazed and happy and scared all at the same time.

    You needn't shout it, fish-colt, the yammosk rumbled, and Kleej thought an apology to the war coordinator, following his Mistress into the shapers' damutek.

    They entered the lab, and Kleej sat on the same stool he'd sat on before his conversion. "Uhm ... Mistress, what'll happen to me now?" he asked.

    She paced for a moment, and Kleej kept quiet - sometimes people needed time to think. He sure knew he needed to think about what'd happened.

    "The yammosk is one which I cultivated, so I trust it not to betray us - but Nor'kai Grav is neither a fool, nor blind. A mere colt of a slave shouting out a warning will raise questions neither of us wish to answer, especially not where the Commander of Dubrillion is concerned ... " Mistress Borja said, trailing off.

    She glanced at the door-membrane, and bowed - Kleej knelt in respect, out of reflex - as a growly-whisper voice asked, "Master Shaper. May we talk?"

    "Of course, Honored Commander. My slave needed to recover himself after the - shock of witnessing the revolt," Mistress Borja said.

    "Belek tiu, Master Commander," Kleej said - he really wasn't sure he should even talk, but he didn't want to anger the boss of the masters.

    "Hrmm ... respectful, at least. Good. Rise, colt. I an Shedao domain Shai, Commander of the Yuuzhan Vong forces on Dubrilion. I have heard of you, and wish to see what my subordinates find so curious," the Commander ordered.

    Kleej leapt up, standing at attention like he'd seen soldiers do, and swallowed hard as the most scarred male Yuuzhan Vong he'd seen yet looked down at him. The warrior wore armor (vonduun crab, the yammosk whispered in Kleej's mind), and walked around the boy, finally stopping in front of him.

    "More athletic than I would have expected - from your swimming in this world's oceans, then?" the Commander asked.

    "Yes, Master Commander," Kleej said, trying not to squeak. I don't wanna die, he thought, afraid to look the Yuuzhan Vong in the eyes.

    "A wiser exercise than some of your species' heathen practices. Anything which improves our bodies is to be encouraged, especially if you endure pain in the process and bear it well," Shedao Shai said, tapping another of those short snake-spears in his hands.

    He glanced at Mistress Borja, then at Kleej again, and asked, "And your reflexes - your ... eyesight. Quite acute, to catch a rebel slave before he attacks."

    Kleej felt a trickle of cold sweat down his back, and wasn't sure what to say - until Mistress Borja replied, "Honored Commander ... I -"

    "You, Master Shaper Borja Kwaad, are honored by your devotion to duty and blessed by the gods, with both good fortune and a loyal servant. Continue your work with this colt, explore his hidden potential, and shape what he grows into - for the glory of the Yuuzhan Vong, of course," the Commander ordered.

    Mistress Borja bowed, but Kleej didn't dare move until he caught his Mistress' small nod out of the corner of his eye. The boy knelt and mumbled "Belek tiu," relieved when Commander Shai chuckled as he left.

    Mistress Borja's sigh made Kleej look up, and she squeezed his shoulder as she reached for a villip. "He knows - or, at least, suspects - but like myself, Commander Shedao Shai disdains the conniving of the intendants and the spymasters in the Praetorite Vong. We must nevertheless move quickly," she said, stroking the villip.

    Kleej just nodded as he watched Adept J'han Kwaad's face appear in the villip, and Mistress Borja concentrated for a few moments. Once she was done, she closed the communicator, while Kleej asked, "Mistress ... what can I do to help?"

    He did want to help, after all, and Mistress Borja smiled, ruffling his scalp as she said, "For now - concentrate on communicating with the yammosk."

    "I have long suspected the war coordinators are more than what they seem ... and I will find ways to help you continue to grow in the Fohrze."

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

    to be continued ...
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
  8. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Blerg. Been busy, but I want to keep this moving ...

    Plus, things get a bit better for Kleej. The poor kid's been through a lot already, and there is an end-goal in mind.

    --------------------------------------------
    Chapter 5: 25.6 ABY:
    Main Shaper Damutek,
    Ruins of Dubrillion City,
    Dubrillion, Outer Rim Territories:
    **************************************

    Borja Kwaad pondered the astrographic data recovered from the Praetorite Vong incursion on Belkadan, and leaned back in her seat, thinking.

    Yammosks can only teach so much, and while I hesitate to flirt with heresy - my aunt, Mezhaan Kwaad, is quite foolhardy enough in that regard - there is no stricture against our servants handling heretical materials, she considered, pouring through the data downloaded from the villip-linked qahsa.

    The ancient Jeedai were believed to have solidified their doctrines on a world deep in the Core, called Tython. Borja was neither stupid nor suicidal, so attempting to tap into the very oldest source of Jeedai learning to educate her colt was not a possibility. But the Jeedai appeared to have spread outward, many millennia ago ..

    To Ossus. On the Outer Rim, relatively unpopulated save for some indigines - descendants of those Jeedai who survived a supernova more than 4,000 of this galaxy's years ago ... and their ancestors left a library of some kind, Borja thought, smiling.

    She forwarded a request to Commander Shedao Shai for a frigate analogue and an honor guard - it was time to move her operations, and J'han, as any faithful adept would, had already prepared the laboratory for transplantation into another world's soil. (Damuteks were quite convenient that way.)

    That just leaves Kleej, Borja thought - the colt was sleeping on a bed of hau polyps, wrapped in a robeskin, and she watched him for a few mini-kets.

    He'd absorbed many details of the wider galaxy from her commentary as she worked on various biots. Likewise, his basic control over the Fohrze had progressed, to minor telekinetic control of objects, a healing trance, and basic two-way telepathy with the yammosk.

    He would make any creche-parent proud, Borja thought, smiling at the thought ... and trying not to be bitter. Shapers were not allowed to carry young (DNA was combined in a gestation bin, and the crechelings given to their foster parents for raising).

    Yun-Ne'Shel required many sacrifices of her caste-followers. But Borja thought more highly of Kleej than just as a pet.

    I cannot - will not - attempt to make him Yuuzhan Vong. That would be both heretical ... and cruel. But I can give him more than what I have before ...

    Borja returned to the lab, dug in one of the cloaker growth pods, and examined one of the black, full-body garments, nodding. She returned to Kleej's alcove, then gently nudged his shoulder and sat beside him on the bed as he stirred. "M-Mistress ... ?" he asked, wiping his eyes.

    "I apologize for disrupting your sleep, Kleej Anstrod. However, we will be moving to a different world on the morrow, and I wish you to be better prepared than you have been. The planet, Ossus, will sometimes be colder than here, with fewer beaches, and a luurzith will be insufficient," Borja explained.

    "Oh. OK ... is that an ooglith cloaker?" Kleej asked, surprise turning to a faint smile as Borja handed him the garment. "It's OK for me to wear it?"

    "In cases of colder environments, yes. This one is not designed to cause pain during donning or removal. Occasionally, there are times when such shows of devotion to the gods are ill-advised," Borja said, while Kleej stood and stepped into the cloaker.

    The ooglith responded quickly, fitting itself to the uh'maan crecheling (did I just think of him as more than a colt? Borja reflected), and he looked at himself with a measure of awe. The cloaker covered Kleej from neck to toe, and he smiled at Borja as she helped him drape the robeskin back around his shoulders.

    "Thanks, ma'am - er - sorry, Mistress," Kleej started to say, but Borja just ruffled the brown fuzz atop his scalp.

    "You are more than respectful, Kleej. Sleep now, and we will talk more when we leave," Borja said, watching him curl back up on the bed and drift off.

    Ah, Va'kla Kwaad ... did you feel like this for us in the creche? she wondered, remembering her creche-mother as she left for her own quarters.

    It was a strange thing, to feel this way, Borja reflected - but shaping often led one to strange discoveries.

    And sometimes, happy ones ...

    -----------------------------------------------
    AST Kikorie, Outer Rim Territories,
    Galactic South:
    -----------------------------------------------

    While Make'shalas certainly appreciated the mysteries of the edge of Wild Space, he had to deny his curiosity.

    Visiting the astrographic station in orbit will have to wait a while. Maybe a few years, after I get settled, the green-scaled Kadas'sa'Nikto thought, letting Customs scan his comlink.

    He was traveling as himself - well, as a bodyguard for hire, anyhow. Strictly speaking, it was true.

    He'd been raised on Kintan as a fighter for Grobulla the Hutt, expected to work for the (then-) female mid-level kadijic accountant. However, Grobulla had had a weakness for sponsoring pit-fights between her workers, and Make'shalas' hated rival Vori'hokal had challenged the younger Nikto to open combat.

    Vori'hokol hadn't anticipated that Make'shalas was Force-sensitive ... and knew how to use it, albeit in a basic manner.

    Master Orawbaw probably would not have approved of my telekinetically summoning a knife to meet Vori'hokol's back ...

    Still, Make'shalas had adhered to Jedi ideals since the fight which had won him his freedom. He was a Guardian, with a greater array of weapon skills than most Jedi, and he'd attempted to put his lessons to positive use.

    He allowed himself a faint smile as he cleared Customs - he'd have to create a new lightsaber, but the "meditative crystal" in his few possessions would be a good start to that - and looked out over the rolling fields of the peaceful farmworld.

    The Force rolled through and past the Kadas'sa'Nikto, filling him with a tranquility he'd rarely known.

    Now, to find a suitable farm to purchase, and begin studying praxia design, he thought, checking - yes, the holocron (a paperweight parting gift from his last employer, he'd convinced Customs) in his robe was still safe, as was his credit chip.

    Make'shalas had run from much in his life ... but he thought he might have finally found where he could rest.

    --------------------------------
    Ukio, Abrion Sector,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    --------------------------------

    To the casual observer, Nali Toleth looked like she might be human, but afflicted - the blindfold provoked many responses.

    The compassion is always appreciated; the pity, accepted; the disdain, ignored unless it becomes a threat, the young woman thought, passing through Customs with no problems. She didn't hide who she was.

    Nor, however, did the Miralukan Consular feel any great need to over-explain her cubical "meditation aid."

    As Master Skywalker had suggested, Nali would reassemble her lightsaber from parts found on Ukio; holocrons were rare enough that they could be explained away, but lightsabers were blatant, even with the rarity of actual Jedi in the galaxy.

    My duty is to ensure that the Jedi become no more rare than they already are ... it's helpful that the war is distant from here, and I can pass as a religious pilgrim seeking to found a simple meditation facility, she thought.

    Well? It was true, after all. And Nali had both 10 million credits and her teaching and healing skills to fall back on.

    As for the Force - well, she wasn't averse to using it to help others; she was a Jedi. But she knew the importance of quiet in her mission, and if she described herself more as a member of her species' native Luka Sene Force Tradition - which she had started out in, as a child - it was likely to be less incendiary than the controversial Jedi.

    Master Durron. Your crusade is noble, but its' execution is ... not quiet, Nali thought, shaking her head.

    Still, she refused to speak ill of the more active members of the Order. While she had honed her skills and love of knowledge as an acolyte in Master Tionne's restored Jedi Archives, Nali respected those Jedi who worked in the field.

    And who knows? There are many kinds of action, she thought, smiling as she summoned a hovercab.

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

    to be continued ...
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  9. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: I haven't forgotten about this ... it's just been quite busy this past week. :p

    Here's where the last few Jedi pilgrims are introduced ... and a certain Doctor makes a guest-appearance ... :D

    More with Kleej next chapter; this 'fic is starting to wrap up, although there will be some additional scenes ... and an eventual sequel, but that's down the line quite a ways (the restored version of a truncated 'fic of mine from years ago, involving Kyp Durron visiting the praxia ...).

    ----------------------------
    Chapter 6:25.6 ABY:
    Pau City, Utapau,
    Outer Rim Territories:
    ----------------------------

    Bith were hardly unusual visitors to the distant sinkhole-ridden world - the Pauans and Bith often enjoyed engaging in philosophical and intellectual debates - but Kenal Medon had never quite encountered a Bith like this one.

    The new arrival wore a simple traveler's robe, but filled it out with a powerful form and presence the Port Administrator of Pau City found surprising. She - for the transmitted code on arrival from the small snubfighter had indicated its pilot was Caro Benvier, a female Bith religious pilgrim - stepped off of the fighter's wing, gathered her bag, and nodded to Medon.

    "Administrator. I am grateful for your welcome in person. You honor me," Benvier said, returning Kenal's bow.

    "We seek to welcome all species who come to Utapau in peace, Lady - Seeker? - Benvier. Your customs check intrigued me, however. Might I ask, which religious order you seek to study while staying here?" Kenal asked, walking with her past a crew of rowdy spacers.

    A particularly rude Trandoshan took a swing at Benvier - who caught the Trando's claw one-handed before shoving.

    The Trando went flying, but Kenal noted that Caro hadn't shoved him with the hand she'd caught his attack with.

    Nor did she touch him when she shoved him, the Pauan realized, as Caro gave him an embarrassed look.

    "I ... still have trouble with some of the tenets of my faith," she said, embarrassed, but Kenal just smiled toothily.

    "We, however, do not. Welcome Caro Benvier. Perhaps we can assist each other with ... forceful matters," he suggested.

    ---------------------------------------
    Vakeyya, Socorro, Outer Rim:
    ---------------------------------------

    Her swagger was what drew the cantina crowd's attention - purple female Twi'leks weren't rare, but her moves were.

    The lady had an air of confidence, paired with a serious, don't kriff with me expression that discouraged harrassment. (Her sleeveless leather bodysuit certainly complimented her well, but the oversized blaster pistol on her hip added to the general sense of be polite she was projecting.)

    She sat at the bar, nodding as a brown-haired human in his late 30s sat beside her - and that drew the locals' attention.

    After all, it wasn't every day that the legendary Drake Paulsen - son of the even more-legendary pirate king Kaine Paulsen - deigned to show up himself to greet a new arrival. Strictly speaking, Paulsen had gone semi-legitimate, focusing on freight.

    Not so strictly, hardly anybody disbelieved that Paulsen's hands were entirely clean. He simply knew too much about the myriad illicit activities going on in the system, and did favors for a variety of sentients.

    The Coynite bartender slid Paulsen a drink - free, of course - before the human man asked, "So. Looking for ...?"

    "Old junk. Old ruins, actually. I'm willing to pay well," the Twi'lek said, raising what would've been her eyebrow.

    Paulsen just smiled a little, and something seemed to pass between them - then, he asked, "You're ... ?"

    "Ban'torva," the Twi'lek said, offering Drake her hand as she started to smile.

    "You're not exactly the real estate agent I'd expected, but then ... I'm not a typical Twi'lek, either."

    ---------------------------------------------
    Telos IV, Outer Rim Territories:
    ---------------------------------------------

    I really hope Master Skywalker knows what he's doing ...

    The seemingly-rogue FTLCH combat droid marched through Telos' polar regions, scanning for the entrance to the old - as in, millennia-old - Telosian Jedi Academy. Founded by the eventually-fallen Jedi Master Atris near the end of the Sith Wars around Revan's heyday, the academy had specialized in data analysis and collection by the time of the Clone Wars.

    None of that had saved it from the early Inquisitorius, as Master Tionne had told Bondar - the Shard inside the droid.

    Well, Mother Ilum agreed with Master Skywalker that I'd be best to reactivate this praxeum. Looks like it'll need the work they thought, after we checked the Empire's records, Bondar thought, using his droid-body's strength to heave a door out of the way.

    Strangely, while there were still blast-points on the walls of the elevator shaft down into the praxeum, there was far less damage than Bondar had expected.

    He descended, finding a walkway, and extended the Force - and recoiled, at a sense of pained, forced ... conformity.

    Oh, dear. Somebody's moved in in the last few decades, Bondar worried, charging up his body's blaster and lightsaber.

    He tilted the FLTCH's head as a human man, with bushy brown hair, a scarf, and long coat, came darting down the hall, followed by a boxy, canine-like droid which uttered, "ARF-ARF - MASTER, LIFE-FORM DETECTED."

    "What's that, K-9? Well, it doesn't look like a Cyberman, at least! Hullo, I'm the Doctor," the human man greeted, looking over his shoulder as boxy-headed humanoids in silvery armor appeared a few meters behind him. "Ah -"

    "Hello. I'm Bondar, one of the Iron Knights. It seems you know more about these trespassers - may we work together?" Bondar offered, standing back to back with the Doctor, as K-9 started to fire laser blasts.

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

    - to be continued ...
     
  10. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: In the spirit of keeping things moving - and focusing my attention on that which needs focusing upon [face_blush] - it's come time to finish this story.

    That's not to say that the praxia will be left alone - just the opposite - but for right now, I need to concentrate on completing Sernpidal's Amethyst, the story which this is a companion to, then moving on to the end of the Vong War trilogy I'm writing, and stories later on in the timeline.

    Someday, though, there'll be a return to these worlds ... with a blister doing the traveling. ;)

    For right now, however, back to the first Jedi on Luke's list for starting the hidden praxia, and the seed of the eventual Ossus Academy ... :D

    -----------------------------------
    25.7 ABY: Ysannan Lands,
    near Jedi Library ruins,
    Ossus, Adegan System,
    Auril Sector, Outer Rim:
    -----------------------------------

    Adlusha disembarked from the tramp freighter he'd hitched a ride on - a judicious use of some of his considerable store of credits had smoothed negotiations. The Rodian Jedi bemusedly reflected that he had finally found a use for the money he'd been entrusted with.

    And here I am. Ossus, at last - it's ... much like the Masters Solusar advised me it would be, the seer thought, looking around with all his senses.

    In the distance, Adlusha saw a village - a mixture of prefab buildings and huts, with the occasional vicious Ysannan riding beast tied to a post, and the ruins of the ancient Jedi Library rising up in the distance. The ground was a mix of brown and grey dust, fortunately broken by spots of greenery, and the occasional hairless rodent or rough-looking bird flitted by.

    In the street, human children wearing homespun tunics and pants played, kicking a ball around and shouting in a patois of Basic and what Adlusha could almost make out as degraded High Galactic. On a wooden sidewalk down either side of the street, adults chatted or started to look at where the freighter had deposited the new arrival.

    But in the Force, there was a riotous rainbow of goodwill, a groundswell of positivity - the Ysanna had obviously sensed someone coming, and they didn't seem at all upset. Even beneath that current of welcome, the planet itself seemed to resonate with Force energy. The Cron Supernova might have ravaged Ossus, but the four millennia since that disaster had clearly helped to bring Ossus back to a livable state.

    The Rodan Knight started forward, cautiously - Master Kam had advised him to expect questions and wariness from the natives. Descended from Jedi survivors of the Cron Supernova, the Ysanna viewed the Force as akin to magic, and took their generational duty of guarding the Jedi Library seriously.

    As expected, a Ysannan shaman, wearing simple robes and carrying a staff - and a slugthrower rifle slung over one shoulder - approached. The human man's grey hair was somewhat long, while his face bore deep wrinkles from what had to be a hard life, but he was bright and clear in the Force. Adlusha made sure to bow politely, and the shaman bowed back.

    "Greetings, honored sir. I am Adlusha Kloj, a Knight of Master Luke Skywalker's Jedi Order. He asked me to come here and see about beginning a new Jedi academy, hopefully with students from your noble people," Adlusha asked, using High Galactic - he wasn't sure if the Ysanna knew Basic.

    The shaman tilted his head, then squinted, and replied in passable Basic, "I can sense the Force in you, visitor - but no Jedi have come here in some time. Lady Tionne used to make pilgrimages with Knight Kam, but the last time they came was more than a local year ago."

    "I understand your caution, sir. May I show you proof of my identity, and my mission?" Adlusha offered.

    The shaman nodded, his eyebrows rising as Adlusha produced his holocron from within his robes. A small, holographic image of Master Tionne appeared, and said, "Greetings, fellow students of the Force. The bearer of this holocron is one of my fellow Jedi, seeking to share our lore and lessons."

    "The Lady! Forgive me, Knight Kloj - we're traditionally wary. I am Okko, the shaman of this settlement. I fought beside Knight Kam and Master Skywalker, and I am glad to hear the Jedi are doing well," Okko said, warming as he shook Adlusha's free hand. "Come, we'll find you a hut to stay in and a meal."

    "Thank you -" Adlusha began, before he heard a massive sonic boom and the Ysanna stirred, some shouting. They pointed toward the sky, and the Rodian looked upward to see an ominous sight in the distance.

    It looked like an asteroid about to hit, but it was decelerating ... and possibly even worse, it contained blank spots in the Force.

    "Gods! What evil omen is this? No space rock slows as it falls! Some come in from the Cron Drift, but none that feel - ill - in the Force," Okko exclaimed.

    "Agreed. Okko - please, take the holocron and keep it safe. I trust you, and know you'll use it to aid your people if anything happens to me," Adlusha said, handing the cube to the Ysannan man.

    He turned, taking his lightsaber from his belt despite his dislike of violence, and said, "I need to investigate this interloper. As you say, that asteroid is - ill."

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

    Kleej stirred; he'd been dreaming about his parents, and Mistress Borja'd let him sleep through the landing, strapped into an acceleration couch.

    Time to see if I can help ... the boy thought, sighing inwardly.

    He didn't mind his biots - the cloaker was like a wetsuit, and he was used to the tizowyrm and yorik-coral implant at the base of his skull. But he'd been thinking more about how he wished he could be free again.

    There's no yammosk aboard this ship - the damutek's coming out of the rock shell and digging in - so I'm not hearing commands in my head, Kleej thought, leaving the spare room in the shapers' quarters and finding Mistress Borja directing the adepts and the warrior detachment assigned to the mission.

    "Ah, my colt. You slept well? Good. J'han Kwaad will complete the damutek's insertion into Ossus' crust - we will investigate the jeedai library," Mistress Borja said, leading Kleej out of a hatch-portal and into the bright sunlight. Kleej had to shield his eyes at first - but the Force was even brighter.

    There's a LOT of people here with the Force, Kleej realized, scanning - in the distance, he could see a huge ruined building, that felt old in the Force. He smiled a little; it felt good to be able to do something with his gift.

    He looked at Mistress Borja, who started to speak - then, dust on the horizon started to roar, and the shaper growled, "We were spotted - WARRIORS!"

    Kleej tried to stay out of the way as the warriors' subaltern - who hadn't been happy to work with a shaper - ran to Mistress Borja and grumbled with her. After a second, the warrior barked some commands, and the rest of the warriors followed him out, as Mistress Borja pulled Kleej aside.

    "Stay near me. If anything happens -" she began.

    That was when Kleej sensed it - a determined, strong Force-presence, just before a green energy beam punched up through the floor.

    Mistress Borja's eyes widened, and Kleej watched as the beam made a circle, cutting a hole in the floor - then, it fell out, and a Rodian jumped up.

    The Rodian wore robes, and had a green lightsaber - and he looked at Kleej with surprise, asking, "You're Force-sensitive? Has this - person - hurt you?"

    "I - she - she's protected me. From the warriors - and she's helped me get a sense of the Force - you're really a Jedi!?" Kleej asked, grinning.

    This is ASTRAL - but I can't let him hurt Borja, either, Kleej decided, standing between the shaper and the Jedi.

    He looked back at Borja, realizing he hadn't thought of her as his Mistress - and she smiled, sadly, but nodded in a kind way.

    "The colt - the boy - speaks the truth, Jeedai. Yes, he has a yorik-kul implant, but not the kind that reduces this galaxy's natives to drones. I respect Kleej Anstrod - the boy - more than that. He ... means a great deal to me; I would not harm him without need. Do as you will to me, but let the boy go unharmed," Borja asked.

    The Rodian lowered his lightsaber, while Kleej heard blaster fire and fighting outside - he looked over his shoulder and saw New Republic troops and natives fighting the warriors, who were losing pretty quickly.

    "Lad - Kleej - come away. We can help you, if you'll let us - I'm here to start a Jedi academy. My name is Adlusha Kloj," the Rodian asked.

    Kleej nodded, walking over to Adlusha - maybe my Jedi master? he thought, hoping, before he looked back at Borja - who broke off one of her little fingers.

    A cloud of smoke appeared, and he could hear her running, while Adlusha shouted, "Wait! We could negotiate - !"

    He sighed, the smoke clearing as he shut off his lightsaber, and the Rodian turned back to Kleej, giving off feelings of concern and kindness.

    "I - I'll go with you. Surrender, if I have to - I mean, one of their yammosks was in my brain when I was a slave on Dubrillion - that's where I lived, before ... they took over, and ... Borja was really the only one who was n-nice to me ...." Kleej rambled, trying not to cry but shaking - why was he crying?

    I'm free - REALLY free, he realized, happy and sad and alone - but maybe not alone, as Adlusha put an arm around his shoulders.

    "Let it out, Kleej. You've been through so much ... we'll help you, I promise. And - when you're ready, if you want - I'll be your Jedi mentor," the Rodian said.

    Kleej just nodded - he managed to stop bawling at least, but he was tired, like he'd swam and swam and reached the bottom.

    Time to come up again, he thought, leaning on Adlusha as they left the damutek.

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

    The New Republic medics from the field base near the Jedi Library - containing researchers whom the Ysanna trusted and traded with - were still poring over those biots which Kleej had been safely able to remove (some of the data, especially from the cloaker, was already known, but the more intel, the better).

    After multiple bioscans, it'd been decided that trying to remove the yorik-coral implant near his brainstem would be too risky - and unnecessary; what programming the boy had undergone had been minimal, and he'd overcome it over time.

    Still, to enslave a child, even if it was to try and 'save' him ... I'm not so forgiving of Borja Kwaad as young Kleej is, Adlusha thought, shaking his head.

    Once Kleej had been cleared for release - the NR interrogators had been gentle in their questioning, and he'd been quite forthcoming with useful intelligence - the boy had been turned over to Adlusha. They'd share a three-room hut in the Ysannan village - two bedrooms, a 'fresher, and a living area and kitchen.

    Hardly the fanciest accomodations, but that's not the point. I'd romanticized coming to Ossus, but this reality check - this responsibility - is welcome. I'd never considered teaching a Padawan, but how can I teach the Ysanna and ignore this boy? the Rodian Knight thought, sitting in the living room.

    He'd been poring over records transcribed from those scrolls, holocrons, and other records in the Jedi Library which the Order and various archaeological societies hadn't been able to remove to Obroa-Skai, Yavin 4, or other locations. There was still so much left to uncover on Ossus, and Adlusha savored it.

    His Force-sense rippled, and he turned to see Kleej - wearing shorts and a nightshirt - standing at the door to his room, blinking. "Hi - Master?" he asked.

    Proceed cautiously. Remember what he told you - he'd been a slave, and the last thing needed is to encourage blind obedience, Adlusha reminded himself.

    "You can call me Adlusha until you're ready to call me Master, Kleej. I appreciate the respect, but no true Jedi will treat their Padawan - apprentice - as a slave," the Rodian said, smiling as Kleej sat at the kitchen table, to Adlusha's right.

    The boy nodded, trying to smile. "Thanks - uhm, sir. I just want t'be respectful. My folks told me I should respect adults," he said, growing quiet.

    Adlusha started to speak, but Kleej sighed deeply, looking up, and wiped tears from his eyes, radiating a mix of emotions. "It's just - " he started to say.

    The Rodian just nodded; sometimes listening was the wiser thing to do.

    After a moment, Kleej said, "I just feel so - mixed up. One minute, I hate the stupid Yuuzhan Vong for wrecking my village and making me a slave. But then, Mis - Borja, sorry ... she was nice to me, teaching me about the Force and letting me swim as my work. I dove for molluscs back on Dubrillion, so I know about marine life and I'm a good swimmer, if that'll help here ... anyway, yeah, she gave me this implant, but she wasn't mean about it ... sounds weird, huh?"

    "Not necessarily. You connected with one of your captors. It's not unusual - and she did seem to genuinely care about you," Adlusha started.

    Kleej looked at him, as the Rodian continued, "Just remember, Kleej - no one has the right to enslave you. You were a victim, and you have the right to work toward your own future. Just remember, not to let the anger hold you down, or to let it drown you. You can't let it be an excuse to wallow - you can rise."

    The boy thought for a long moment, then smiled a little again and said, "Thanks - Master Adlusha. I'll ... work on it. And thanks for giving me a place."

    He extended his hand, and Adlusha shook it, returning Kleej's smile as he replied, "Certainly, Padawan. Welcome to the Jedi Order."

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

    finis :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019