Star Wars - A New Power Ch. 24 - Departure




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  1. #1

    Star Wars - A New Power Ch. 24 - Departure

    Coruscant, several years before the Clone Wars…


    “Master Tabano, does his mean we won’t see you again?” The padawan asked the question that had been nagging his mind ever since they had landed on Coruscant.

    “It may, Arias. I’ll be taking a new padawan learner, but we may see each other more often than you expect. You and Miera are more than ready for this and you know it. If not for the strain of preventing a full scale war, the council would have summoned you both for the trials long ago.” The togruta replied.

    “I hope that is the real reason why we weren’t called earlier…” Arias looked down past his feet, through the clear shell of the turbolift at the early morning sun shining past the countless buldings.

    “I hope so too, Arias.” Miera spoke up.

    “Now now, Miera. If the council disapproved of my taking two padawans when I did, they won’t have the same sentiment now. Not only is the need for Jedi greater than ever in these strained times, but you two are the most gifted padawans I have ever had the privilege to train.”

    “Ha. We’re the only padawans you’ve trained, master.” Arias said with a grin on his face.

    This brought an amused grin to Tabano's multi-colored face as. "True enough. Even so, I have never heard of anyone completing the training as rapidly and thoroughly as you two have."

    "You give us too much credit, master." Miera smiled. "It was due more to your persistance than anything else."

    Tabano smiled at his two human padawans. "Now you give me too much credit."

    The turbolift slowed to a halt, and the doors opened to the lobby, with the Jedi Council just past a set of doors on the other side of the room. The receptionist indicated that they should be seated until the Council called for them.

    After several minutes of waiting, the doors opened and shut as a familiar figure walked out, rubbing the sides of his head.

    "I take it the council is becoming more thorough in its debriefings, Obi-Wan?" Tobano asked.

    "Hmm?" Obi-Wan Kenobi looked up, surprised. "Torm Tabano? With Arias Falm and Miera Pannar too? Of course its you, you're the only rainbow with two padawans in the order!" He stepped forward with a grin and clasped hands with the togruta. "It's been a long time, old friend."

    "It most definitely has been, Obi-Wan."

    "Ah, Miera, Arias. You're looking well."

    "So are you, Master Kenobi." Miera and Arias replied in unison.

    "Ah, don't be so modest. You don't think I've forgotten how you came to aid Anakin and I last year, have you?."

    "Well, they're only droids, sir. It wasn't anything extraordinary." Arias said.

    "Wasn't it?" He patted Tabano on the back. "Ah, I wish I could stay and chat, but I'm running on a tight schedule."

    "Yes, that seems to be the case with so many in these times. Be safe, Obi-Wan." Tabano returned the gesture.

    As Obi-Wan entered the turbolift, the receptionist gestured for Arias and Miera to enter to council room.

    Miera took a deep breath as they stood up. "Wish me luck."

    "You won't need it." Arias smiled at her.

    ***

    Several years later on the Ice Planet of Hoth...

    "I REPEAT: Our entire battalion has been pinned down by at least 2, no three dozen droidekas!" The clone trooper yelled into his comms reciever. "Casualties are at 27 percent and piling up fast! We need support NOW!"

    "Any response, trooper?" His commanding officer queried, crouching behind a wall of dead troopers piled on the rim of the crater they were holed up in long enough to replace the power pack on his blaster rifle.

    "None yet, sir. There's too much chatter on the com network to get a clear signal." The comms trooper slapped the side of his wide-spectrum communications transmitter in frustration.

    "Keep trying, then."

    After several minutes of repeating the same message into the transmitter, he barely heard the response over the hellish blaster fire. "Message recieved, trooper. Put your commanding officer on the comm."

    The trooper tapped his commanding officer on the thigh, and handed him the comms reciever as he crouched down.

    "Yes sir. Casualties are currently at...35%. If this keeps up we'll be slaughtered within the hour. Firing coordinates, sir? Hold for a moment." The trooper commander stuck his head up over the barricade or corpses to point a guidance laser at the nearest cluster of droidekas, and nearly had a fix when a blast hit him square in the neck, decapitating him in a shower of blood combined with scorced flesh and armmor.

    The comms officer went to retrieve the transmitter, only to find that it had been disintegrated. The trooper discarded the comm unit and took up his blaster, trying to get a bead on the droidekas, but he could only see the blinding white snow of the raging blizzard. No use trying to sense them with infrared either. The cold cooled the droids' frames to the point where they were indescernable from their surroundings, but at the same time lit up the clone troopers like a cluster of stars gone nova.

    There was simply no way that they could survive this, and the trooper knew it. It's a good thing that clone troopers are incapable of fear. He aimed his blaster toward the nearest source of droid baster fire and hoped to hit something other than snowflakes. Out of nowhere, a blue light suddenly shone from behind the group of droids. Two blue lights extending from a single point, actually, and that could mean only one thing.

    The dual blades spun in a rapid, continuous arc as they rushed the cluster of droidekas so fast that the trooper could barely follow them. The tight cluster of half a dozen droidekas fell apart almost simultaneously, as if their joints had suddenly decided to separate.

    A crashing noise from the opposite side of the barricade caught the trooper's attention. A pair of droids lay in a smoking ruin, as another was suspended in the air at least ten meters above a fourth droid, and suddenly fell to collapse onto another two, destroying all three.

    "All troopers cease fire! Grendades concentraded on points 6.0 and 12.0!" The remaining troopers hurled their last grenades, alltogether taking out at least fifteen droids. The comms trooper, now the commanding officer, then hurled their last thermal detonater, but unluckily the winds changed precicely as it left his hand, blowing the explosive directly towards the exact center of the troop formation. It was a VERY good thing that clone troopers were incapable of fear.

    Just before the detonater was about to hit the ground, it halted and shot off in a completely different direction. In fact, it was headed towards a group of droidekas. The grenade detonated in a flash, showing that at least five droids had been melted down in that blast.

    With that last flash, all was silent. The blue light disappeared, and two figures strode out of the snow toward the trooper.

    "Generals Falm and Pannar, thank you for your assistance!" The comms trooper stood stock straight and saluted. Not that they could likely see him in the snow, what with his white armor and all.

    "Report, trooper!" Arias demanded.

    "Casualties at 45%, ammunition-"

    "Noted, gather your troops for evac. A transport is on the way. All resistance has been eliminated, prepare to return to your ship." Miera said.

    As the trooper gathered the remaining troops and equipment, Meira and Arias headed back towards their airspeeder.

    "Well, that's another planet conquered for the glory of the Republic." Arias grumbled.

    "Arias, it's not like we set out to take it. The seperatists tried to set up a staging area here, and we stopped them."

    "Obviously. And now to prevent them from setting up another, we set up a permanent defense station in orbit and utilize the planet for "The Republic"'s purposes."

    "You've been more and more critical of the Republic lately, Arais. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, especially." Miera help up a datapad indicating their fighters' position.

    "You would be too if you didn't blindly follow your orders like you do."

    "What? You follow them just as I do."

    "True, but you never question them. You never even try to figure out why the war is turning out the way it is." Arias spotted their craft.

    "Just what are you getting at?" Miera tapped in the entry code to her starcraft.

    "I'm not entirely sure, but there's something suspicious about the whole war. There's something rotten at the core of it." Arias sighed as he entered his starfighter. "I need more time to think on it."

    "Then you can think on it on our way to Coruscant."

    The two Jedi took off with not another word between them.



    Once they landed their fighters in the docking bay of the RCS Interdictor, they headed for the command deck.

    Arias could never get over the fact that every damned officer, deckhand, technician, and soldier on these things looked exactly the same. It was just downright....creepy. Sometimes he even thought that the droids looked like them.

    As they entered the command deck of the cruiser, it was of course the officer in charge of plotting the ship's course that recognized them, instead of vice versa.

    "Generals, do you have orders?"

    "The planet has been taken, officer. As soon as the occupation force has arrived, we depart for Coruscant." Miera said.

    The CP officer did a few quick calculations before replying. "Sir, we are too low on provisions to head directly to Coruscant. We will have to make a brief resupply stop at Alderaan first. ETA once occupation forces arrive, approximately two weeks, plus or minus three days."

    Arias smiled. "Perfect..."

    "Sir?" The CP officer said.

    "Nothing, good work. Carry on, officer." Miera said, hiding a smile.

    Arias poked Miera in her shoulder. "What're you smiling about?"

    "The same thing you are." She grinned knowingly.

    Arias noticed the CP officer looking curiously at them. "Ah yes, sparring time. Shall we?" He held out a hand down the corridor that eventually (after eight or ten thousand turns it seemed) lead to a sparring room they had had installed on the ship.

    "Yes, lets." Miera said after looking at him quizically for a second.

    Fifteen minutes later, they were facing each other, wearing their simple Jedi garments, sans cloaks in a room that looked more like an ancient... dojo they were called on some worlds than it did the inside of a starship.

    "So what shall we practice with today, Arias Falm?" Meira said mockingly. "Lightsabers or Force Techniques?"

    Arias gave her a mock scowl. "I suggest lightsabers. You haven't been using yours enough lately. I must admit though, I did like the idea of using droids to bludgeon other droids into submission."

    "You liked that, did you? But you're right, I do need to practice my swordplay." Miera flicked her wrist, bringing her blade to her hand from a shelf on the wall.

    Arias did the same. They ignited their lightsabers with the always-familiar snap-hiss. Arias' being a blue double-blade, Miera's a green single blade.

    "Would you prefer defense or offense first?" Arias said.

    "I'll take defense." She said, just before he dashed forward with a swing to her side. She blocked it easily. He always went easy on her, though.

    Arias preferred to go on the offense more than the defense, mostly because Miera needed the most work in that department, but also because it was so easy with her that he had time to think about whatever vexed him.

    Today it was a culmination of what he had been pondering for the past few years.

    High overhead swing, blocked.
    This is the third system this month that had come under the direct control of the republic.
    Low slash to the side, blocked.
    That wouldn't be so vexing if it wasn't for the fact that the republic in this case was the Grand Army of the Republic, commanded by the Jedi, who were more or less commanded by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, whether the Council openly accepted this or not.
    Quick jab to the abdomen, dodged.
    Wasn't it Master Windu who said that Jedi are keepers of the peace, not soldiers? Weren't soldiers exactly what the Jedi had become?
    Slice from below to the knees, blocked.
    It started just after Obi-Wan had discovered the oh-so-convenient clone army that was just waiting to be used. Obi-Wan had told me that Jango Fett, the original, had been recruited by a man named Tyrannus, in some moon or whatever, but it was outside of Republic space.
    Spin around, chop to the neck, dodged. She's getting better at this.
    But the Camino had said that Saipher Dias had comissioned the army on behalf of the Republic. Saipher Dias was a Jedi from Naboo, always a great supporter of Palpatine, helped him to become a Senator, even. Saipher dias later turned to the Dark Side and was killed.
    Another spin with another attack the the neck, a stab this time. Blocked.
    Palpatine became Supreme Chancellor more or less because the Trade Federation attacked Naboo while in an alliance with a Sith Lord.
    Whip around, stab to the hip. Dodged.
    A Naboo senator who opposed the formation of a republic army was the near-victim of several assassination attempts. Palpatine himself had suggested that Obi-Wan and Anakin investigate this, which lead to the discovery of the clone army, and that the bounty hunter who had attacked the senator was the same who was contracted to be the original for the clones.
    Now she's going on the attack. A swing to the waist, dodged.
    Obi-Wan tracks the bounty hunter to Geonosis, a seperatist world where he is captured and put up for execution. An attack on a Jedi by a near-hostile world is considered an act of war. Mace Windu heads a rescue operation, while Yoda gathers up the clones to provide backup. The war is begun. Supreme Chancellor is voted Emergency Powers, becoming something of a temporary dictator voted into office.
    Slice to the wrist, blocked.
    The seperatist leader is revealed as a Sith, who suggests the the Senate is under the control of a Sith Lord...WHAT THE?!?
    Thrust to the shoulder...connects.

    "DAMN IT ALL!" Arias cursed aloud, not even noticing the wound, and that he has dropped is blade and fallen onto his rear..

    Miera dropped her lightsaber to the floor and hurriedly inspected the wound. "I'm sorry I thought you were going to block it you could have blocked it why didn't you block it are you alright does it hurt a lot-"

    "I'm fine!" Arias growled. Actually, now it's starting to hurt. "Ooh....maybe not." He began to feel dizzy, and lay back on the floor.

    Miera placed a hand on the wound, and the new hole in Arias' body began to regenerate itself. "I'm sorry, I was too serious about it. I hope this doesn't hurt too much."

    Arias noticed that she was crying. He reach up with his non-wounded side hand and stroked her cheek. "I know you would never purposely do anything to hurt me, Miera."

    She smiled weakly and held his hand against her face. "So you forgive me?"

    "There's nothing to forgive. It was a lapse in concentration on my part."

    "That's some lapse. I almost killed you."

    "Well, I'm not dead and there won't be a scar, so lets imagine that it never happened in the first place." Arias smiled.

    "Sounds like a good idea. So what broke your concentration?"

    Arias stopped smiling.

    "What? Is it something I did?" Miera looked concerned.

    "No, nothing you did."

    "What then?"

    "You know how I've been thinking about what we've been doing all these years? This whole war, what it's all about?"

    "Yes, we're fighting to protect the Republic."

    "No, no we're not. I've been thinking it all over for years now, and it just hit me."

    "What did?" Miera prodded the spot where the wound had been, to make sure it was fully healed.

    "This...everything. The whole war, the army, the seperatists, the Jedi...everything's part of a impossibly elaborate coup."

    "What are you talking about?"

    So he explained to her what he had been considering as they had been sparriing, every little coincidence that he had found. When you put it all together, they weren't coincidences. It was a conspiracy, a plot. A plot to slowly eat away at the Republic and remake it as Palpatine's personal Empire. Little by little, just so that noone would notice unless they were unjustly paranoid and had access to all the information and resources that Jedi had. And Jedi weren't supposed to be paranoid. Arias just happened to be that lucky exception.

    They lay slumped against the wall. Arias worked his shoulder to make sure that it was in working order. Miera stared into space, a picture of disbelief.

    "It's just....it's....too much to take in."

    "Now do you still think I was wrong in questioning what we're doing here?"

    "No, I believe you. You've never lied to me about anything. You have every reason not to lie about this. It just seems so...impossible."

    "And there's not a damned thing we can do about it."

    "Why not? We could take this news to the Jedi Council and-"

    "You know that they're suspicious of us already. They think that we're in danger of falling to the Dark Side, just because we broke one little tenant of the Jedi code."

    "Hmph. 'There is no passion; there is serenity.'"

    "And what is love but the ultimate passion?"

    Miera smiled weakly and rested her head against Arias' shoulder. The non-stabbed shoulder, she knew better than that. "Well, we haven't fallen to the Dark Side, have we?"

    "To think that the Jedi Order has become the tool that brings the Sith to power. That's irony for you."

    "Makes you question your faith, doesn't it?"

    "I was just thinking the same thing." Arias stood up and retrieved his lightsaber.

    Miera did the same. "So what do we do now?"

    "The only thing we can do." Arias said. "We leave."

    Miera just nodded in agreement.



    Several hours later, they lay abed. Arias held Miera close, abentmindedly stroking her hand.

    "We'll have to leave it all behind, you know. Everything." Miera said.

    "Yeah. There's no way to avoid it. We'll have to leave Republic Space. Maybe not for good, but for a long time."

    "Arias, once I knew the truth, everything became clear. Not just my thoughts, but my visions, the future."

    "What do you see?" This is the way it always was for them. The was the fighter, the action, he did the planning and got things done. She was the more mystical one, seeing what would happen, where, and what might be done to stop it.

    "I see the Galaxy like a disc of light, with little blue spots wherever the Jedi are. There's a darkness creeping in. The light is growing dimmer, and the blue spots are slowly disappearing, one by one. The light turns to black, and the blue spots soon follow the light into oblivion. Now, in the black, there are two spots that are perfectly red. But there is light still. So little, but still there. Two dots, neither red nor blue, but white, at the edge of the black, barely detectable, so very dim, but undeniably there."

    "Those two white dots. Those are us, aren't they?"

    "There's more. There are more white dots eventually, around the two. It looks like there is another blue dot showing up far, far later, but I can't be sure."

    "So the Republic will fall, and Palpatine will have his Empire."

    "It can't last forever though. No matter how long he reigns, he will fall in time. That's his one huge flaw, but he doesn't see it that way, I think. When he is gone, the black will fade away and be again replaced by the light. But no matter to him. If he's gone, he doesn't care what happens. It could burn for all he cares. And he will fall. Tyrants always do." She snuggled closer to him.

    After a few minutes, Arias asked the inevitable question. "Tomorrow, then?"

    "Tomorrow."
    Last edited by Angcuru; Wednesday, 30th May, 2007 at 02:53 AM.

 

  • #2

    Prologue, Part 2

    Figher Hangar Bay of the RCS Interdictor...

    "Generals, what should we tell the occupation forces regarding your absence?" The hangar officer asked.

    "We have detected a disurbance that requires our immediate and personal attention. We won't be gone for more than a few hours at most." Miera told him as she did a final systems check on her ship. Weapons systems, engines, life support, hyperdrive, check. New cloaking field that the Jedi Order fortunately doesn't know about, check.

    "Are you sure this will work?" Arias asked once the officer had left.

    "Of course it will. I planned it, didn't I?" Miera hit the switch to close her cockpit.

    "The last time you said that we had to fight our way out of a Trade Federation Control Ship." Arias closed his cockpit and started up the engines.

    "No, you forget. You took out half the droids on the ship before I cracked the system and fried the entire network."

    "Same thing."

    A short while later, they were in hyperspace en route to a Seperatist staging point orbiting Bespin.

    "You remember the plan, Arias?"

    "Yeah. Now you're SURE that these cloaking devices will hide us in hyperspace, too?" Arais said over the comm.

    "If they don't it'll be just like any other engagement, and we'll have to come up with another plan. No worries."

    "If you say so. Hold on, we're at the dropout point." Arias watched the hyperspace countdown reach zero, and pulled they out into realspace not ten meters from each other. Right in front of a fleet of Trade Federation Dropships surrounding Bespin. Within seconds of their arrival, several wings of drone fighters scrambled to intercept them. "Ladies first." Arias blew her a kiss.

    "Bah." Miera returned the kiss and set her engines to ramming speed. Arias followed soon after, the two Jedi Starfighters speeding toward what looked like at least sixty drone fighters. The drones split up into two groups, one heading for each of them.

    Arias sped straight towards one group, Miera at the other. As the shooting started, Arias started into a maneuver that was both offensive and defensive, highly effective, and deceptively simple. He set shields to full forward, sent his ship into a speedy spin, and pulled back and to the right ever so slightly on the yoke, firing his ship's blasters all the way. The result was a spinning corkscrew blazing blaster fire that went ramming straight towards the center of the drone fighter formation. This forced the drones to pack into a tight group to improve the likelyhood that their concentrated fire would hit the Jedi Fighter. What few blasts that managed to hit his fighter were deflected harmlessly by the ship's shields, while his weapons took out four or five drones before he purposely collided slightly with the centermost drone, destroying it and jolting him around 180 degrees just in time to see the rest of the drones continue forward and trigger the sonic mine which he had dropped off seconds before. There was a soundless moment as the mine detonated in the middle of the tightly packed drones, taking out at least half of the formation as they scrambled to turn around.

    Arias balanced out his shields and set to work taking out the remaining drones with good old blaster fire, risking a quick glance at his wind monitor screen to see how Miera was faring. Apparently, she had decided to do the exact same thing as him. Figures. She taught him how to do that, after all.

    Half a minute later, they finished off the remaining drones and drifted towards each other to form back up. "Ready?" Miera asked. Their scanners indicated two incoming Mark 6 Concusion Missiles.

    "That's our cue. They sure aren't fooling around with us."

    Though they could keep a steady distance from the missiles by putting their engines on maxiumum, the missiles could keep up as long as their target's engines were firing, as they were powered by the stray ions picked up in their target's wake. The missiles could theoretically track a moving target until their molecular structures completely degenerated.

    The two Jedi spread apart and headed directly away from the Federation Ship cluster, purposely letting the missiles almost catch up to them.

    "I'm transmitting the hyperspace coordinates to you now"

    "On my count. Three..." Miera said.

    Arais stared at the scanner screen, watching the missiles getting closer and closer.

    "Two."

    Four seconds until impact.

    "One."

    Three seconds to impact.

    '"HIT IT!" Miera yelled over the comm.

    Four things happened at once, eight if you're picky. Arias and Miera simultaneously initiated their cloaking devices, started up their hyperdrives, and jettisoned their spare parts canisters. Just as they entered Hyperspace undetected, both missiles impacted the canisters in dual explosions, giving the illusion that two Jedi had just been destroyed.

    Arias and Miera breathed a sigh of relief as the blue tunned of hyperspace greeted them.

    "Well, it worked." Miera said.

    "Thankfully. So what now?"

    "You tell me, you picked out the destination."

    "Well, we only have enough supplies each for a short trip, and for what we have planned, Varonet was the best bet."

    "Good choice. Recently 'liberated' from the seperatists, largely decimated, lots of fleeing refugees, plentiful automated meltdown reclamation plants. Perfect. Well, not really but you know what I mean."

    "We should be arriving in about six hours or so. Best get some rest." Arias said.



    Outer Rim world of Varonet, several hours later...



    They emerged from hyperspace right on schedule, a short distance from the world of Varonet. Miera was thankful that they had set their ships to drop out automatically, since it was the sudden absence of the pleasant hum of hyperspace that awakened her. The apparent absence of her fighter hull was slightly unnerving, but that was also reassuring in that the cloaking device was still doing its job. A shame that they wouldn't be around for much longer, really. She pressed the comm button to contact Arias, and was greeted by an image of him slumped against the canopy, along with his soft snoring. Really, how often did you hear of a Jedi who snores? Miera grinned, upping the comm transfer volume to its maximum.

    "WAKE UP, HUBBY!" She practically screamed into the comm.

    "WHOWHATWHERE?!" Arias woke with a start and a jump, bumping his head on the canopy. He reoriented himself. "So we've arrived then, good."

    "Ha, you should have seen the look on your face." Miera giggled. "Anyway, I've scanned the surface and found a suitable location to ditch. A reclamation plant about thirty clicks from a refugee departation station."

    "Our luck is holding out, good. How long till we can get there?" Arias said, rubbing his head.

    "Fifteen minutes or so. Flight schedules say there's a refugee ship departing for Endor."

    "Why would they send refugees to Endor? There's nothing there but forest."

    "The Holonet is advertising that the Republic desperately needs cheap labor for a mining camp there. Apparently since most refugees don't have any credits, they can pay off their trip by doing some work there, then they can earn enough to afford a trip to wherever they're going." Miera observed.

    "A good opportunity to lay low for a while, then. Good. We'll take that one." Arias said.

    They piloted their ships through the upper atmosphere, having waited for one of the regular meteor showers to provide cover for their entry. Even if their ships were invisible, two parallel lines of fire in the sky would be a dead giveaway. They set their ships down on the flat plains surrounding the reclamation plant, not far from the main smelter.

    Miera opened the canopy on her fighter and checked out the smelter with her electrobinoculars. Two small chutes too small, but two open vats that would be just right.

    "Looks like the only way is in that big vat in the center of the thing. Why it's open to the air I have no idea, but it'll do." She looked across to Arias, who was sitting on the wing of his fighter, getting some much-needed fresh air. "We're really going through with this, aren't we?"

    "Of course we are." Arias said. "If we didn't we'd only be helping the Jedi Order to destroy itself. It's sad really. The Order may have lost its path, but it doesn't deserve to be destroyed altogether."

    "Like you said, there's nothing we can do about that now. Mine first, then?"

    "If you want, they're both going in there, anyway."

    Miera nodded, and gathered her posessions from the ship's hold before hopping to the ground. She concentrated on the ship, and after a moment it rose into the air and was quickly drifting towards the smelting vat. It hovered for a moment, and after a short look of longing, Miera relased the Starfighter, allowing it to fall into the molten mix. Arias follows suit, with the same look of longing on his face. After several minutes, both craft are gone.

    "No turning back now." Arias takes Miera's hand and squeezes it gently.

    "I still can't believe it's turned out this way." She let out a shuddering sigh.

    "It'll be alright, Miera."



    Three hours later they were on a medium-sized transport cramped in amongst a mix of sentients. Primairly humans and some twil'leks, but with a small minority of bothans as well. Fairly representative of the planet's populace, even the ratio of children to adults.

    "A twelve-hour trip to Endor, or so the pilot said..." Arias told Miera. They sat on one of the few cushioned ledges on the largely empty ship. All of the major comforts had been removed, along with many of the walls to maximize passenger space. So much so that there wasn't even a divider between the passenger hold and the cockpit. Just one big shell.

    "It may seem strange, but I can't help but notice that some of these refugees are Force Sensitive. Lucky for them the Order didn't find and recruit them, otherwise they wouldn't survive what's coming." Miera sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. They had rid themselves of their Jedi Robes before getting onto the transport, now clothed in meager disaster relief donation clothing. Not very comfortable, but it helped them blend in. Miera were soon asleep, but Arias stayed awake for the duration of the trip, watching her sleep with a little smile on his face.



    Twelve hours later, they pulled out of hyperspace just as predicted.

    "Wait a minute...this isn't right." The pilor said. "This isn't Endor at all, it's not even NEAR Endor! The navicomputer must have screwed up bigtime!" That got Arias' attention very fast. The Seperatists had developed technology that let them pull craft out of hyperspace, and the Republic had taken it from them. Did they know that he and Miera had deserted?!

    Arias rushed to the 'cockpit', expecting to see a Republic or Seperatist fleet waiting out there, gloating at him. Instead he saw that the ship had come out of hyperspace in the middle of an asteroid belt in a system he did not even remotely recognize. In fact, one thing he didn't recognize in particular was the asteroid headed right for them at what seemed to be a VERY high speed. Arias pointed it out to the pilot.

    "There, it's coming right for us!"

    "I see it!" The pilot seemingly didn't mind getting orders from who was to him just another nameless refugee when his life was in danger. "I don't think we can get out of the way in time!" Panic looked to be setting in on the pilot. It was clear that the transport didn't have the capacity to maneuver out of the rock's path in time. The ships sensors started blaring a warning that the asteroid was on a collision course with the transport.

    Looks like I have no choice. Arias held his palm against the duraglass of the cockpit, reaching out to the asteroid.

    "What the heck are you doing! I can't see-..." The pilot saw the asteroid...slowing down? he looked up at Arias, seeing his face a mask of concentration.

    Arias clutched the rock in his mind, pushing against it to slow it down and guide it away from the ship. It glided past the cockpit, but grated against the ship's hull with a resounding groan from the superstructure.

    Miera (along with everyone else) woke with a jolt. She saw Arais standing next to the pilot and rushed over to him. "What's going on?!"

    "We came out of hyperspace in the wrong place. It's no system I recognize, and what's more, we came out into an asteroid belt!"

    More sensors blared warnings.

    "Another asteroid!?" Arias demanded of the pilot.

    "No, it's something else." The pilot called up a diagnostics list. "Oh hell..."

    "What?!" Miera demanded

    "We're leaking oxygen and fuel." The pilot went pale. "That collision must have ruptured the life support and engine systems." He checked advanced diagnostics. "We have two hours before life support fails!"

    This brought a generous bout of panic and screaming from the tightly-packed refugees.

    "SILENCE!" Arias commanded. Surprisingly, it worked. "If we panic, we die."

    "Quickly, do a scan of the nearby planets. There may be some that can support life." Miera said.

    "Right." The pilot shook his head and went to work scanning. He asked to noone in particular, "You're Jedi, aren't you."

    "What makes you say that?" Arias asked.

    "The asteroid, you kept it from destroying us, somehow."

    "Maybe, but I'm not a Jedi." Arais said.

    Miera looked at him, shocked for a moment. Then her expression softened, and she nodded.

    "Hey, you could be a Wookie Go-Go Dancing Sith for all I care, you saved our lives."

    "That's an...interesting observation." Arias said.

    "Forget about that, what does the scan show?" Miera asked.

    "One planet in the entire system that can support life. Forest/Jungle type."

    "Which one is it?"

    "That one right in front of us." The pilot pointed at a blue-greed sphere surrounded by asteroids. "We can reach it before life support runs out, but then theres's those asteroids the contend with. Doesn't look like we have much choice, though."

    Arias rubbed the sides of his head in frustration. Then he noticed that all of the refugees were silent, and looking at him expectantly, pleadingly, even. Again, no choice. "Just get the ship to that planet, let us worry about the asteroids."

    The pilot looked at Miera and Arias. "Right." He put the engines on full speed.

    For a tense hour, there was silence in the ship as it moved steadily towards the unknown planet. An hour which the two now ex-Jedi spent constanly warding off incoming asteroids as the planet grew larger in their vision.

    "We'll be intering the atmosphere in one minute." The pilot finally announced, bringing a strange mixture of relief and panic to all aboard.

    The threat of the asteroids was now past, but there was still the question of whether the damaged transport could make a successful landing. Everyone who could held fast to the nearest solid object, and a few people were that nearest solid object. Arias and Miera held onto each other. The entry through the atmosphere rocked the ship violently, but passed quickly. They came out into thick clouds, then into an open, blue sky, which would have been a pleasant site in any other situation. Especially considering that the pilot reported having lost control of the ship, and they were heading for an outcropping of rock on the edges of a thick forest. Arias and Miera tried to take hold of the ship through the force to slow their approach, but the ship was moving too fast and they were far too tired to have any noticable effect. Inevitably, they impacted.

    How much time had passed before she awoke, Miera had no idea. The inside of the ship was total black. An occasional moan could be heard, but other than that, there was silence. There was no way to find out how many had survived and how many...didn't. Miera fumbled around, not knowing which way was up. She felt the around until she found the exit hatch, and tried to open it. No luck, it must have been damaged in the crash.

    Miera took the lightsaber which she had hidden in her clothes, held it against the hatch, and ignited it. After a few seconds, she pulled it back. Daylight shone through the hole she had made. She quickly stuck her blade back into the door, this time at the edge, slowly working it around until she had completely cut out the door. With a kick, the hatch fell out and hit ground. Light poured into the ship. Miera saw Arias slumped against a wall, and hurriedly dragged him out of the ship. She shook him gently and pleaded with him to wake up. After several minutes, his eyes opened.

    "Oh, thank the force you're alright." She held him close.

    Arias reached up and stroked her cheek. "That's the second time in two days you've said something like that. Lets try not to make a habit out of it."

    Miera smiled. "You try to stay out of trouble."

    The refugees had begun to come out of the crashed ship. Some lay on the ground, some kissed it in thanks, while others helped carry the dead and wounded out of the ship. All told, surprisingly few had died. Aside from seven or eight of the sick and elderly who had died, there were a few broken limbs, but nothing more serious than that, although everyone had their share of bruises.

    Arias looked over them for some time, and then at their ship, which lay imbeded nose-first in rock at a crazy angle. "I think we're going to be here for a while."

  • #3

    3 - Every Story Has A Beginning

    29 Standard Years Later

    The gangster who was known on Ord Mirrit only as "The Boss" had a look in his eyes that, even though she wasn't accustomed to reading quarren facial expressions, she could tell he was fuming to the point that one just might be able to melt durasteel on his face. Kia Obscura glanced down at her pair of red dice. Twelve. Then to The Boss's blue dice. Eleven.

    Kia smirked as she reached for the pile of credits that had been in the pot, sliding them into her pouch, she looked up at the Boss, "I guess today is just not your day," she quipped after beating him for almost the entire game. "I'll just use these to buy some upgrades and I'll be..." the teenager broke off at the sound of blaster pistols being drawn. Not good. The Boss's face was twitching so violently that it was difficult to determine if he was extremely put off, or having a small seizure. He couldn't know that she had used her rudimentary skill with the Force to nudge one of his dice from a six to a five, could he? Probably not. "Aww, come on, no need to get so serious." she admonishes, looking down at the table for an instant. One of the more twitchy guards fired a blaster shot past her skull. Time to get moving! She connects with the table through the force, and darts away from the table, using the force as runs to fling the table at the boss and the guards. She may not know everything about the force, but tables throwing themselves at people would certainly be a distraction.


    Aasan Tom the Kel Dor found himself wishing once again that his breather mask allowed for even a small tube for him do drink out of. The selection of beverages at the bar looked so tempting. No time for that, though. He had received his payment for bringing in that smuggler, and now it was time to go find another job. Well, he may have been paid for bringing in a smuggler who had betrayed The Boss, but it was one smuggler down nonetheless. Score one point for Justice. And a good amount of credits for Aasan.

    The Kel Dor headed for the landing pad, looking to find passage to nowhere in particular. Whatever was convenient would be whatever he would take. Aasan had just recognized the flight office when a young small-framed human girl bowled him over. He quickly got to his feet, and was just about to tell her off when a blaster shot went right in front of his eyes. Oh, what now? Another blaster shot went by right past his head. Was whoever was chasing that human after him now? A streak of red light singed his cloak. Yep, they were after him! He didn't know where to run, but the stirring of spacecraft thrusters close by provided him a direction. Aasan found himself running at breakneck speed towards a YT-1300 Corellian Transport, and noticed that girl running up the entrance ramp.

    A few seconds later, he got up the ramp just as it closed. Heck, she got him into this mess, whoever she was. She would get him out of it. Aasan strangely found himself smiling. It was a bit unexpected, but he had found his transportation.

    Her hair flapping in the wind as she runs, Kia makes it up the landing ramp of the Dawnsprinter just in time. She slaps the close ramp button behind her and moves on to the cockpit without slowing. "No time for a full boot up, have to hot load." she muttered as she did exactly that, draining power from her Laser Cannon to feed into her engines. Kia, not caring that she was still on the ground, thrust the throttle of the Dawnsprinter straight from stall to full speed. Of course, this would be hell on the engines, but with the credits she had just won, that wouldn't be too hard to undo. Once free from Ord Mirrit's atmosphere, she flew straight for the nearest hyperspace jump point. Home free. A series of tremors rocked the ship, accompanied by a drop in shield power. Or not. Kia set the shields to full aft and checked the radar. A wing of Z-95 Headhunters was right on the Dawnsprinter's tail. The shields kept dropping, no matter what maneuvers she tried. The navicomputer beeped, indicating that the transport was out of the gravity well and could enter hyperspace, reminding her with big, bold, obvious letters to plot a course beforehand. Kia was about to plot a course when she was jolted forward by further hits, this time on the hull from the creaking sounds and the dozens of flashing red lights in the cockpit. 90...80...70 percent hull strength. With a mental note to give herself a beating if she survived this, Kia Obscura pushed the lever that sent the Dawnsprinter into hyperspace.


    Jorran Kaarai woke up in the pilot's seat to the beeping of the navicomputer. The transport was so old and beat up that he was surprised that it could still stand up to the rigors of hyperspace travel. Even so, he couldn't even remember its original name so he could wish it good luck. He just called it The Old Battleaxe, a phrase used on some primitive planets to refer to old women who just wouldn't die no matter how old they got.

    Jorran didn't know exactly why, but this particular area in the galaxy called to him. The Force? Definitely. He had enough Jedi training to recognize the pull he felt. Why? No clue.

    He exited hyperspace to the sight of a blue-green planet ringed by an asteroid field. Actually, the planet filled up most of his view. That is, it did the until the YT-1300 Corellian Transport that exited out of hyperspace right next to his ship crashed into the Battleaxe, sending the ship spinning towards a VERY large asteroid. The big red light that should never ever ever EVER be lit up....was lit up. HULL FAILURE IMMINENT! Well...damn. Being sure to grab his lightsaber, Jorran sprinted into the escape pod and hit the ejection switch, seeing his ship explode into a brief ball of flames seconds after the pod shot away.

    "Sithspit" she cursed as she saw the planet approaching much to fast, "this is sooo gonna hurt."

    Although logic told him that he should be panicking and soiling himself, Jorran was calm. In over thirty years, his senses had rarely been wrong about this sort of thing, though he was technically still a Padawan. Or would be if the Jedi Order still existed. Trusting to the force, Jorran sat back and waited for the inevitable impact with the planet which had been calling to him. Strangely enough, that Corellian ship which had collided with him was headed in the same direction. At a much higher speed.

    "Sithspit" Kia cursed as she saw the planet approaching much to fast, "this is sooo gonna hurt."

    ***

    Rubbing her head, and the sore spot on her right temple, Kia groans herself to wakefulness. She had no clue how long it was since the crash, the cockpit lights were out and she was in total darkness. She knew the ship like the back of her hand, so it shouldn't be that hard to get out and start looking around. "First things first, get outside, see what I have to work with...this could be Naboo, or Malistaire for all I know, hopefully it’s inhabited. She shakily makes her way to the boarding ramp, and manually lowers it as much as she can. The gears were out of alignment, or something, so she had to slide out on her belly, unable to get it full open.

    Kia's first observation upon looking out of the exit ramp is one word. Jungle. Steamy, hot, humid, with plants everywhere. When Kia lowers herself to the ground, she hears a small splash and feels moisture around her ankles. Looking around, she sees that the Dawnsprinter has bisected a good-sized stream. Not too deep, but almost as wide as the transport itself. The stream has diverted to go around her ship, effectively surrounding it with water.

    "Great, just great, I bet this place isn't inhabited at all, just my luck... I hope I can repair her, otherwise its going to be a real long wait for someone to show up." Kia complains, looking out into the jungle, and then down into the river. "At least my boots are keeping me feet dry, it could be worse, not sure how, but it could."


    Aasan awakes to a headache, a neck ache, and a backache. Really, nothing new these days. He was getting was getting to old for this kind of excitement. Of course, he only vaguely knew of where he was and how he'd gotten there. Again, nothing new. As events slowly came back to him, he took in the surroundings of the ship.

    It looked as bad as he felt. With a sigh from within his breath mask, he sat up and allowed his head to stop spinning. Through his goggles, the world was slowly beginning to clear up. He saw some movement, and nearly reacted by drawing his blaster and firing. Quickly, though, he realized it was the same girl who's nearly run him over back on wherever that was. He lost track of planet names these days, too.

    Or maybe it was someone different. Humans all had a similar look to them. After he'd watched her climb out of the ship, Aasan got to his feet and made sure he still had everything. His two reddish, claw-like hands patted himself down. Everything was still there, including the large blaster carbine slung in an old stormtrooper's holster. He still didn't remember exactly how he pulled that one off...

    Another sigh, and Aasan decided that staying inside a ship that had gone down wasn't going to do him any good. Rubbing his forehead and trying to ignore the pain there, he walked over to the access ramp and saw the shape it was in. Yes, that girl could get through that...but him? Definitely getting too old for this. Standing on top of the access ramp and holding on to the wall, he kicked down on it hard a few times until there was finally enough room, he slipped out to see himself in water next to the human.

    Calmly, so as not to startle her anymore that she might already be, the Kel Dor said softly through his breath mask, "I am assuming you didn't plan to bring your ship down into a river..."

    At the sound of thumping on the ramp followed by the splash, Kia turns swiftly away from the jungle, and back towards her ship, her hand flashing to her hip, bringing her lightsaber around and up, calling the Violet blade to life. She dropped into a guard position, or what she hoped looked like a guard position, she didn't really know how to fight with the weapon, but most people thought lightsaber meant Jedi and no one ever wanted to take the chance. "What in the name of the Sith were you doing on my ship? Not that it matters, but no, it wasn't planned to crash at all, let alone here, wherever here is."

    Aasan was surprised to see the lightsaber, but both that and his smile were hidden by the goggles and breath mask. He eyed Kia carefully for a moment, allowing the hum of the lightsaber to bring back old memories. So the question then became an important one...was she just carrying a lightsaber as so many others he'd found in the past years did?

    Calmly, though, he raised a hand, though the Kel Dor's other was resting calmly on his belt...close enough to his blaster is necessary, "Calm yourself. I simply needed a ride and this ship was closest. I can pay for the ride if you'd like, though crashing isn't usually something worth paying for."

    Aasan paused a moment, almost getting lost in watching the lightsaber blade, "Where did you get that weapon?"

    Kia's eyes narrowed as she looked over the Kel Dor, she was not very good at reading non-humans, and the Kel Dor's breath mask made it particularly difficult. She doubted he was one of the Quarren's gangsters, one of those would have just killed her while she was distracted by the void-brawl with the star fighters.

    When the older being raised his hand to calm her, Kia, wasn't fooled, she was paying more attention to his blaster pistol hand then the other. "I'd be more friendly if you hadn't snuck aboard my ship, I doubt you work for he Boss, but I can't be too sure." she says, still watching him warily. "I think we might have bigger problems though, help me fix the Dawnsprinter and I'll get you as far as you want to go, with in reason."

    The CorSec Academy candidate doesn't lower her guard, while waiting for an answer, not being entirely willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, he had stowed away after all, but if they could get the ship repaired, well, it would be worth putting up with a lot.

    As the human and Kel Dor stood there talking, or arguing, depending on how one looked at the situation, they both barely noticed the two dog-like creatures that burst out of the foliage and rushed them without a sound.

    "I would think I have earned this Saber, I 'liberated' it from an Imperial sympathizer on Tattooine..." she breaks off sharply, turning to face away from the stowaway and towards the creatures that were charging the pair of them. Kia’s right hand shoots out towards the animals, leaving the lightsaber in her offhand. The move looked rather foolish until the Blaster that was cradled on her shapely hip jumped from its holster into the outstretched hand that was already pointing at the dog-things. She drew a quick bead on the closer of the pair, and caressed the firing stud with her finger.

    "Yes, we can talk later, just don't turn that thing on me," Aasan commented more off hand than anything, though his breath mask didn't portray his change in tone very well. Either way, it didn't really matter at this point.

    Turning to the creatures, Aasan was at least slightly surprised at their lack of sounds. Passing it off, he quickly drew his carbine and trained it on the nearest before squeezing off a single shot at the nearest of the two creatures. The shot would have hit it right in the eyes, but the thing stopped in its tracks and ducked with obvious effort, the beam skimming over the top of its body by mere centimeters.

    Kia fired off a shot towards the other of the pair which was now less than 10 meters from her, carefully aiming for what she hoped was a weak spot. The blaster shot actually went into the creature's gaping mouth and down its throat. It made an odd sound halfway between a startled yelp and a roar of pain, then collapsed to the ground, shaking for a moment before going still.

    The first of the pair reeled back, scuffing the ground as it wheeled around and retreated.

    "Do you have any idea of where we are or what those things are?" Kia asks the Kel-dor as she double taps the saber's power stud to turn it off. She clicks the blade back to her belt, and lets it bounce on her thigh. Kia looked at her handiwork for a moment before turning back to the Kel-dor, her pistol still in hand, though not pointed. With her right hand, she sweeps the hair that had come out of her pony tail back in under the binder.

    "So, can I trust you to play nice until we're back to civilization?" she asks, smirking.

    Aasan watched the creature disappear before sliding the carbine back into its holster on his thigh. After a short moment, he looked back to the young human, "If I can trust you with that weapon..." he trailed off a moment and then looked around to take in their surroundings, idly commented, "You should not carry that weapon if you are not Jedi..."

    Kia rolled her eyes at the admonishment about carrying a Jedi weapon. "I put it to better use then the Collector that possessed it, and unlike most people that carry them now, I can actually use the force. That makes me the next best thing to a Jedi." she says confidently, returning the blaster to its spot on her thigh. The smuggler, sighs and turns back to the ship.

    "First things first, we need to see what we can salvage in the way of supplies from the Dawnsprinter. Then we need to figure out what it'll take to get her running again. We can sleep onboard her at night to avoid the predators, and there should at least be rations in her galley, not Luxury class, but they should do, if they survived. You get started on the Inventory, I'll do what I can to get a diagnostic going." Kia says, taking charge. She slides back into the Darkened ship, and then ignites her Saber for light. The girl heads back up to the cockpit, intending to get working whatever systems she can.

    The first thing she does is secure her lightsaber into a holder so tat she can have both hands free. After that she works on getting power back, with lights being her main goal at first, figuring if she can get the lights back, it would at least allow the two of them to see and work more efficiently.

    "If anything needs fixing, I've got some experience in holding hunks of junk together..." Aasan called down towards the cockpit before deciding that inventory was a good idea anyway. He had no idea how many supplies were on this thing in the first place, and couldn't help but wonder if she did.

    So, he had a look over everything, trying to find anything useful, be it food, supplies, or simple spare parts. He'd have to speak with her later when things weren't moving too quickly as they seemed to be now. A Force user...this wasn't luck, and he doubted it was also coincidence that she happened to wield a lightsaber. Perhaps the Force did have something in mind for him, after all.

    Upon diagnosing the diagnostic computer for damage, Kia comes to the realization that whoever designed this ship didn't have planetary crash-landings in mind when he designed the shock buffer. As she has considerable experience with making repairs, she can tell that nothing is where it should be. If she were to try and attempt a repair on the diagnostic systems, she would need more reliable, and less dangerous light than that of her lightsaber.

    Kia notices that the part of the control switch that feeds power to the lights on the ship has been damaged. A few quick wire splices have the switch up and running as it should, but the lights still do not turn on. A quick examination of nearby light panels and fixtures confirms her suspicions that the lights themselves have been damage. Repairable, but it would take quite a while to get all of the lights on the ship working. Kia surmises that it would likely take about ten minutes or so an average to fix each light...if she can find the proper materials.

    Aasan's ventures prove a bit more fruitful. He finds that the ship has enough food stored away in various compartments and suchlike to feed a single person for four months, given proper rationing.

    Kia groans when the lights fail to come back on after her efforts. Sighing, she starts the process of cannibalizing every other light panel for the parts needed to fix the other glow panels. From her years of experience repairing things, especially the ship, she figured she could make things work with half-light, or even only a third. Worst comes to worst, and she would strip all but one light out of everywhere that wasn't essential. A single light in the galley, a single light in her cabin and the crew quarters, etc, to get the amount of light she needed elsewhere. She wondered if the Cockpit was the only place without light at the moment, if any of the lights had survived intact, if they had, she could just switch them in immediately and save time.

    "I have the power back up, but it looks like a lot of the glow panels themselves are broken, I'm gonna see if I can cannibalize some to get the rest running. Are any actually working back where you are?" she calls out to her 'guest'.

    After calling out to the Kel-Dor, she gets down to the repairing of the lights, wondering f she should close the hatch in case more of those dog things showed up, she decided against it, the ramp only opened so much, if she closed and opened it too much it might get stuck.


    After an hour or so of moving about the ship and trying to repair what light sources she can, Kia hears a series of odd sounds when she passes by the landing ramp. She hears what sounds like the ripping and tearing of flesh accompanied by frequent growling, barking, and yelping.

    "Hey...uh...whoever you are, I think we have more of those dog things outside the ship. I don't think they'll be able to get on the ship, but I'd like you to cover me with that Carbine of yours while I check it out." Kia calls out to the Kel-Dor wanderer. She heads over to the ramp, and kneels down, to look out towards where she had killed the one animal, expecting to see it get torn to pieces by others. She doesn't get too close to the edge, and she has her blaster pistol in hand pointing down the ramp.

    Kia looks out over the edge of the ramp and sees what has to be at least a dozen of those dog-things devouring the corpse of the one she had killed earlier. They can't have been at it for long, but the remains were near skeletal now. Now having a chance to look at them without worrying about her immediate survival, Kia sees that they are all gaunt, with barely any meat on them at all. She is shocked to see that they have already finished off the meat on the recently dead corpse, and now appeared to be attacking each other. The pack circled around the smallest of their number, slavering and growling, and then they all pounced at once. Within seconds it was torn apart, limb from limb, the pack feasting on it before it was even properly dead.

    Kia watches in horror as the dog things tear ravenously into the dead, and then into their weaker members, it was horrific. The Force Sensitive girl could almost feel the teeth and claws of the dog things digging into her, though it was most likely only empathizing and no force gift. She knew they would attack her given the chance, and she didn't want to give them that chance. Lying on her belly, Kia lines up a shot on the largest of the animals, taking the time to be sure of a hit. Just like her father had taught her, she pulled the blaster stud softly, sending out a glowing red line. Although her shot was well placed, the targeted dog-creature's constant movement from fighting over the scraps of meat on the corpse caused the shot to merely graze its shoulder, doing little more than singing some hair...and getting its attention.

    Although the others take no notice, the one she had shot at ran from the cannibalistic feast to the landing ramp of the Dawnsprinter, trying to leap up and get at her, but it can do no more than claw harmlessly at the edge of the ramp.

    Kia growls in frustration at the glancing shot, she had hoped to do more. She flinches at the creatures darting attack, even if she was safe, it still was startling to say the least. She lines up on it again, this time, not bothering to aim as much, the entire pack was behind it, still feeding, so a miss might not miss entirely. She strokes the firing stud, again. Kia's next shot has similar results, but this time she notices that her target is growing shaky and tired from trying to avoid her attacks. Another shot just might do the trick.

    "We have a whole pack of those dog things out here, eating the dead one from earlier, and they just killed another of their own, I think we are going to have to deal with them if we ever want to go outside the ship to do external repairs and stuff." Kia calls out.

    Kia refuses to give into frustration, she knew that these creatures had to be dealt with and that patience is a virtue. She also knew that it would take her guest a good bit of time to do a full inventory to be able to tell her what she had to work with to repair the rest of the ship. Idly she wished that the ships laser cannon were operational and that the pack was in its arc. It seemed over-kill, it would probably be wasteful, and until she knew just how much power she had, didn't want to waste any of it. The CorSec hopeful, carefully, lines up a shot and then fires at the winded dog thing again.

    Another shot from her blaster strikes the creature square in the chest as it tries to get at her again, bringing a yelp of pain as it falls to the ground and lays motionless.

    Half of the pack leaps upon the fallen creature, tearing into the flesh with complete disregard to the fact this it was one of their own.

    Horrified, Kia fires shot after shot into the mass of creatures, bringing two more of them down before the rest realize the danger and begin to back off. Another few blasts send them scurrying into the foliage, but Kia has a nagging suspicion that they aren't gone for good.

    "Any way we can close this boarding ramp?" Aasan suggests, finally catching up to the sounds. Inwardly, he wishes he hadn't kicked the thing down, but it was too late for regrets like that. Having at least caught a glance at the actions of the creatures, he wasn't at all phased by their eating of their own. It was ironic, really...no, not ironic, more nostalgic.

    It reminded him far too much of the old days. The old days when he was young. After a moment, the Kel Dor brought himself back into the moment and said calmly, "We have food, at least, and there area a good amount of supplies. I assume the ship isn't in great shape, though, and there's only so long we're going to be able to stay cooped up in this thing hiding from those animals."

    Kia sighs at the question and then rises from her belly, holstering the blaster once again on her hip. She shakes her head, "I don't know how difficult it'll be, I for one don't want to go out there at the moment, and they don't appear to be able to get in, the fit is too tight. I think its okay for now, but before nightfall we should definitely do it." Kia explains.

    "Since it looks like we are going to be spending a good deal of time together for the immediate future, I suppose we should introduce ourselves. You can call me Kia, I'm a trader, I work the outer-rim, among other things, and since I'm the only crew on this bucket, I've had to be pretty good at repairing her. Do you have any experience with repair work...?"

    "Our first priority should be to get as much of the lighting working as possible so we can see to work on the rest of the stuff, I've gotten about half of it, if you can get the rest going, I can start on the ship's computer, and figure out how bad off we are and where exactly we are. After that, its just going to be going through system by system, seeing what we can get working. I'd like to wait for tomorrow morning before going outside to work on exterior repairs to the ship."

    At the mention of repair work, Aasan smiled under the breath mask, though it didn't show, he did his best to show a nod, saying calmly once she was finished, "I am Aasan. And yes, I have much experience with repair work. When you have been around as long as I have, you pick up a few things and learn how to keep things together. However the lights are a...ah...minor concern."

    He paused for a moment, curious as to why Kia wanted the lights fixed first. He then remembered, and silently scolded himself for forgetting. It had been so long since he'd been around a human in the dark, "Ah...I apologize, it has been many years since I have been in the lower light with a human. I can see well enough and I truly am sorry, but it slips my mind much of the time that you cannot. If you would like, I can attempt to check on any of the more critical systems first, as I can see without trouble."

    Another pause, and this time it lasted long enough that it was obvious the Kel Dor was slightly nervous, "I must...speak with you of something once we have the important systems back online. I have some questions I must ask...they are ah...important."

    "Feel free to ask while we work, its not like we have anything we need to talk about." Kia says, before nodding. Of course, Ked-Dor could see in the dark better then humans, then again I didn't know if he was any good with repairs either. "I need the lighting to see to make repairs. The other thing it fixing them lets me do is got an eye for the rest of the ship and how it fared in the crash, sort of a visual diagnostic. If you'd care to work on the fixing the landing ramp and getting it closed up nice and tight, now, we'll both be ready to move onto the ships main systems together. I have modified her a bit so I could pilot her more easily, so it would be best if I was in on whatever we do."

    "I don't think the things out there can get in here, but there might be other stuff to worry about, so get the ship shut up tight if you don't need more light to do so. By the time I'm done. I should know what wrong with the ship, physically at least, and we can go from there."

    Aasan nodded and moved carefully to the boarding ramp, pulling out a few tools from various pockets and trying to do what he can to get the thing working enough to close and open completely.

    As he works, he calls back to Kia, though the breath mask makes it sound more echoed than it normally would be through the ship, "Skilled in the Force or not, you should not carry a lightsaber in this day. It is very dangerous, even with the Empire in decline. It is especially...especially not suggested if you are not a Jedi. Those weapons are not toys for every Force sensitive in the galaxy to play with."

    Though his words are a bit harsh, Aasan is doing his best to convey a sense of understanding of the situation...asking questions through simple statements. It had worked in the past, so he had no reason to believe it wasn't the best tactic at the moment.

    Kia continues her work on the lighting as she converses with Aasan, removing the components from a pair of lights to get the parts for the glow panel between the two. "I'm not worried about it, its been less dangerous to carry them ever since the Emperor died, and now even Imperial center has fallen to the Rebel Alliance. Things have changed, the Empire just can't get after everyone carrying one, and now some wealthy people even carry them if they are afraid to carry a blaster." she calls out, laughing at the idea.

    "I am actually passable with the thing, and even if I'm not a Jedi, I'm sure that eventually there will be some Jedi again. Its just a question of when, who knows, I might just be a Jedi Knight some day." she says the mirth carrying through her voice, if not through her facial expression in the dark. "Skywalker was a farm boy before he became one, who is to say that a Corellian trader can't be next."

    "Look, I don't need a lecture, or a father, I used to be on a path not so different from a Jedi’s. You wouldn't be able to tell, but I was accepted to the Corellian Security Force back home before the Diktat and the Empire purged it, just like they did the Jedi, I figure I have a lot in common with them, and that’s really all that you need to know about it." The girl calls out defensively.

    "What happened to CorSec was nothing like what happened to the Jedi!!" Aasan snapped back, a short burst of anger involuntarily grasping him. He paused a moment to calm himself, then spoke again, "I apologize for that...but it is a subject...very close to my life. I have seen enough young Force sensitives killed because of what they were or what they carried. Just because the Empire is dying doesn't mean it is any less dangerous. “

    "I was there, I survived the purge of CorSec, my father and a lot of other Officers and their families were not so lucky. Dead is Dead, both worked to protect innocent citizens, and both were betrayed by those they worked for, being hunted by the Government that they faithfully served because of a shift in the political climate. I know of officers who escaped just ahead of Death marks being placed on them, I have one on me for escaping. If the Empire is going to try to kill me for one thing, I might as well make them do it for 10, or 15."

    "I mean no offense, but the path of the Jedi is gone. Trying to bring back a dead time is useless...believe me, I have tried for many years," with a sigh, he turned back to the boarding ramp, trying to calm himself by trying to get the thing to close completely.

    "I don't think the Jedi will be gone forever, I'm sure that the Empire was as inept at killing all of the Jedi as it was at crushing the Rebellion, somewhere, someone survived, or wrote down what they knew, or passed it on to their children. Somewhere there are Jedi just waiting to be found, and Luke Skywalker is already a Jedi Knight, or a Master, I'm sure he wont let the Jedi way die with him."

    After some quick exploratory tinkering, Aasan finds that there are two main problems with the landing ramp. The power feeds that allow it to be commanded by the various control panels in the ship have been nearly severed. The Kel Dor may be able to repair them to a point, but to bring them back to full functionality he will need several hours, and a whole lot of insulating material so that the power lines don't electrocute anyone. The other problem is that the crash had apparently caused one the hydraulic arms that lower and raise the ramp had been bent near its center. Aasan can probably get it to open up to halfway or close it completely, but to get it to do anything more than that he'll need to remove it and bend it back into shape.

    "Hey, if you can't get it totally working, just get it closed for now, we can always exit out the top hatch, or through the cargo ramp." Kia offers.

    After a few hours of work, Kia has repaired enough of the lighting to be able to see in every room of the ship, though it still isn't as bright as she would like it to be. Her work on the main computer was surprisingly quick and easy. Apparently, it had very effective protection against collision damage. Kia had but to replace a few loose wires, and the diagnostics screen sprung to life.

    Landing ramp..............................damaged, extensive repairs required.
    Sensors.....................................clogge d d, excessive organic matter suspected.
    Communications..........................damaged, limited to short range.
    Environmental utilities...................minor damage detected.
    Repulsor Lifts..............................damaged, extensive repairs required.
    Ion Engines.................................low power.
    Hyperdrive..................................*ERROR * Recommend manual analysis.

    ***

    Adrial Strogg sat cross-legged on a straw mat, feeling the force within and surrounding the basket of stones that floated in the air in front of her.

    "Remember, Adrial. The force not only surrounds the physical materials of the universe, but is within them as well. It is in you, me, everyone and everything. Learn better to perceive the universe with the force instead of just your natural senses, and you'll be better able to control what you perceive."

    Adrial nodded, concentrating on the basket. Although she had considerable skill with this aspect of the force, it was by far her least favorite. She felt the wicker weave of the basket, and the stones within. So like the stones she had unknowingly moved so long ago...Adrial saw in her mind the day when she lost her mother, when her pitiful attempt to save her life with a child's wish had triggered a rockslide that killed not only the nightstalker that was trying to kill her mother, but her mother as well. If only she had known what she was doing...

    The basket fell to the floor with an audible crash. Adrial didn't notice. She was concentrating on holding back her tears. She didn't want to show weakness to Miera, but it was too late, the tears were sliding slowly down her face.

    Adiral's mentor sighed, and began to gather the stones back into the basket. "You're improving, Adrial, but you must learn not the dwell on the past. The more you think of the grief and sadness you have experienced, the less you can concentrate on the matters at hand." Miera handed Adrial a small square of cloth to try her face with. "Remember that you should never let go of the past and loved ones you have lost, but you should not let them drag you down with them, either. You waited eleven years before you began to realize this and came to me for training, but I knew you could feel the force all along. If you had come to me before then, I would have refused you, because your grief could only have been made greater with training in the force."

    Adrial wiped the tears from her face and nodded.

    "Good, now lets go out for a bit. A nice long walk would do you good."

    They left the large, elongated hut that served as a meeting hall and training center for Arias and Miera's Sethi learners, and after a quick gesture to one of the young wall guards, the northeastern village gate opened. A few more minutes of walking and they left the edge of the croplands encircling the city walls and entered the wilderness.

    ***

    Jorran woke to find himself hanging in the restraints of his seat. The escape pod was at rest, and seemed to be vertical; the front window showed only rocky soil, visible in the yellow glow from the emergency lights. Pulling the release-tab on the webbing, Jorran fell forwards onto the window with a thud. He stood up and grabbed the release lever on the exit hatch.

    The mechanical door struggled to open outwards, letting out only an unpleasant grinding noise. Jorran pushed, and the door opened just a crack. Bits of dirt and gravel poured in.

    "Spast!"

    He climbed up to the back of the escape pod, clinging to the various protruding survival-gear compartments. Bracing his back against the floor, and his feet against the back of his seat, he pulled the lever on the rear hatch. Not surprisingly, the near-antique mechanical components had long since expired. So, he pulled the short, black-and-silver lightsaber from his belt. It was heavily battered.

    "I hope I don't regret this."

    He put the emitter of the saber near the 'ceiling' of the pod, and ignited it. The blue-white blade immediately melted through the thin durasteel of the hatch, and he slowly cut through where he expected the latch to be. He turned off the saber and pushed on the hatch. It swung open, and light streamed in. Jorran stood up to his full height, sticking out of the hatch, and surveyed his surroundings.

    As Jorran pops his head out of the exit hatch, he is immediately greeted by a rush of warmth and humidity. As he looks around, the Padawan sees that the escape pod is buried up to half its length in the soft loam floor of a very peculiar looking forest...jungle? It was hard to tell which. There are trees as far as the eye can see, some very tall and coniferous, reminiscent of some of the more temperate planets he had visited, while others are maybe twenty meters tall, but absolutely covered in leaves, vines, and condensation. The flora is typical green and brown, which makes Jorran wonder why the large, predatory-looking creature streaking along the ground towards the escape pod is a bloody red in color.

    With an air of calm, Jorran ducks back inside the escape pod, holding his lightsaber, ready to ignite it and fight if the creature comes in after him.

    Jorran hears the creature rushing towards the pod, and then stop. He can hear a snuffling, sniffing sound, as well as its paws crunching dead leaves and this world's equivalent of pinecones as it circles the pod. There is a moment of silence, and the sound of the creature moving away from the pod. Just as Jorran breathes a small sigh of relief, the 2-meter long, quadruped creature lands on top of the escape pod, thrusting its long neck into the pod, the head stopping barely ten centimeters in front of Jorran's face, giving him a good look at its five very large, very sharp fangs.

    As the dangerous-looking creature thrust its head towards his face, Jorran switched on his lightsaber, the blue blade coming to life and lighting up the tiny space. The creature's focus turned from the human to this sudden rod of light. Jorran thrust the blade at the creature, and it backed off out of his reach, but not out of view. It remained perched on the pod for a moment, watching Jorran's blade cautiously. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the creature had run off.

    After the creature left, Jorran turned off his saber and pulled out his blaster. He proceeded to climb out of the escape pod and walk the perimeter of the clearing, looking around carefully.


    Several hours of calm, wordless strolling through the heavily wooded area surrounding their village, Adrial felt a twinge in the force. Something unusual that she hadn't felt before. She turned to Miera, who was looking off to their right.

    "I feel it too. Something...unnatural has happened not far from here."

    As if to confirm her words, a single red, four-legged, fearsome-looking creature padded calmly out from a copse of trees and approached Miera.

    Adrial felt a wave of hate flow through her. A nightstalker. The same kind of creature that had tried to kill her mother. But despise them though she did, Adrial knew that this one was no threat.

    Miera reached out and scratched one of the nightstalker's ears. "So you've felt it too, Alloj?"

    Alloj's face was dominated mostly by her race's five large fangs, but the small, beady eyes closed halfway for a moment as Miera scratched her ears. The nightstalker shook its head after a moment, and let out a short hissing sound, nodding off to their right.

    Miera turned to Adrial, "I think Alloj has found the source of the disturbance."

    Alloj hissed again, and started off into the forest, looking back towards them to make sure they were following.

    As Alloj headed off away from them, Adrial nodded at her mentor. "Yes Master Miera." She began to go after the nightstalker. As they followed the beast she turned to Miera. "What can do you think it could be?" She gets excited at the thought of something new. "I feel... excited yet apprehensive at the same time. Is this a natural feeling?" Since loosing her all of her family she had always wondered if her emotion were correct. She always strived to 'feel' right. She smiled at Miera as they continued.

    "I'm not sure, Adrial. It could be anything. We'll just have to wait and see." Miera said. "And it is quite natural to feel apprehension and excitement as well as fear together. They are often one and the same." Adrial continues to follow the beast, along with Miera. Adrial, thinking she heard something, stops and turns to look. When she turns back, Alloj and Miera have moved on.

    After several minutes of circling the area immediately around his escape pod, keenly aware and ready for trouble, there is none coming. As Jorran begins to think on his next move, he detects movement to his left, from the far edge of the clearing.

    The same creature from before comes trotting calmly into the clearing, and comes to a stop approximately 20 meters from him. Jorran quickly raises his blaster, ready to defend himself. He did not, of course, expect what he heard next.

    "What is it, Alloj?" A woman's voice? At the words, the red predatory-looking creature's ears perked slightly, and it made a sharp hissing noise, raising an appendage towards Jorran.

    A human woman walked out of the forest and into the clearing. She wore simple clothes, something between a robe and a dress that Jorran hadn't encountered before, along with what looked like a brass circlet on her forehead. Upon seeing Jorran, and his escape pod, she stopped immediately and regarded him with a shocked expression.

    Just ahead, Adrial can see that Miera has stopped in a clearing. She moves quickly to join her. As she steps out of the forest and into the clearing she sees Alloj nearby. She also sees Jorran and his escape pod. Never having seen such a thing she waits for her tutor's lead. She remains silent and looks to Miera.

    "Were you in that ship that hit me?" Jorran asked, lowering his blaster. "And I hope I didn't hurt your...uhh...pet when it met me earlier. It gave me the distinct impression that it wanted to eat me."

    Miera is speechless for a moment before she speaks quickly. "What? No, no. You mean there is another ship out there? Are the communications systems in your pod working? We have to try and contact it if we can!" Adrial is surprised that Master Pannar has reacted in such a manner, having always seen her as calm and deliberate.

    Jorran notices the very short Adrial standing next to Miera, looking unsure of what to do.

    Jorran feels a twinge in the force, and attempts to detect if these two are force sensitive. His probing yields a feeling of strength somewhat lesser than his own from the short woman. When he focuses on the taller of the pair, what he senses can only be described as instant sensory overload.

    After blinking a few times, Jorran regained his composure.

    "I've got a short-range com system in the pod, but I'm not sure how it fared in the crash. Anyway, the other ship looked like it went down after it hit me. But...if you're not from the other ship, how did you get here? Are there others?"

    "You think the other ship crashed? Hurry, try and contact it!" Miera hurries over towards Jorran and his escape pod. "There are many more of us, in a settlement not far off. We were on a refugee ship that crashed a long time ago. Don't just stand there. If the other ship you mentioned didn't crash we might not be able to contact it if it's flown off by now!"

    Jorran nodded and ran back to the escape pod. After climbing up the side, he lowered himself through the hatch. Inside, he brushed dirt off of the com system near the front of the pod. He set it to an open channel, and cleared his throat.

    "Does anyone copy? I repeat, does anyone copy? Over."

    Adrial simply watched for now. She was in awe of someone off world coming here. Arias and Miera had always said that someday this would happen. But for some reason, Adrial had always imagined it would happen when she was much, much older. She also had visualized it quite a bit differently. She figured they would come and land right next to the settlement. A large shiny ship with many comforts. The crew would welcome them aboard. When they returned to where ever, they would be tagged as heroes. At least that was how she had imagined it. But these people seem to have crashed landed just like they had. Her thoughts return to that day so many years ago when she lost her uncle. She shivers just thinking about it.

    ***

    Once Kia had gotten what lighting that she could working, she got down to the real work, the work on the computer system itself. The ease with which she got the diagnostic routines working made her smile, but the damage report killed her lopsided grin. It would mean a lot of work, if it could be done at all, and parts that she might have no way of getting.

    "At least I have a hierarchy to work down, I can get Aasan to start clearing the organic matter off the top of the ship through the top hatch, away from those things." she mutters to herself.

    Not wanting to tamper with the systems too much, Aasan leaves as much as he can as is...just doing his best to make sure the boarding ramp can close completely for safety's sake.

    Once done with that, he heads over to the cockpit to find Kia and ask more politely than he'd been speaking before, "What's next on the list of things to do?"

    "Hey, Aasan, I got a diagnostic up, that ramp is going to take some pretty extensive repairs, we should hit the more vital systems first, just get it closed and we can use the top hatch. After that’s closed, If you can handle fixing some minor issues with the environmentals, I can work on the communications arra....." the girl breaks off as she hears a sound from the comm.

    " This is the escape pod from the Umber Dart, and I'm also planet side. y? I ..peat, does anyone copy? Over."

    Kia is extremely surprised to hear a voice over the comm, slightly staticy at first, but it cleared up quickly. She darts over to the panel, and clicks it open.

    "This is the Dawnsprinter, we have crash landed on the planet and are in need of some repairs, Repeat this is the Dawnsprinter, we are on the planet in the middle of a river, we need repairs to get off the ground, over."

    ***

    Glad to hear someone on the other end, Jorran responded.

    "This is the escape pod from the Umber Dart, and I'm also planet side. I think we met in orbit. Are any of your crew injured?"

    ***

    "No one is injured, just the ship is damaged, Repulsor Lifts, are out, Hyperdrive inoperable, and I don't know that we have enough power to lift us off again and get to orbit. Everything else should be fine with a bit of work. We might be able to repair the Repulsor lifts, but at the moment it’s difficult to get outside, there’s a pack of Red Dog things in the area, we've killed a few, but they keep coming back to eat their dead."

    "You can't have much in the way of supplies on the escape pod, bring what you have and join us, with another pair of hands, we should be able to get her working that much sooner. Bring whatever you can, power packs, energy cells, any parts you can pry off the Pod,"

    "Uhh, Umber, exactly how many of you are there in that pod, I have myself and a Kel-Dor on the Dawnsprinter."

    ***

    Miera stands close to the pod, listening in on the conversation. Her face is a mask of concentration, taking in every word exchanged like it might be the last. At the mention of the dog-like creatures, she quickly taps Jorran on his shoulder, motioning for him to relay a message.

    "They're called masliths. How many have you killed?! You have to get the corpses as far away from your ship as you possibly can!"
    Last edited by Angcuru; Tuesday, 26th April, 2005 at 12:31 AM.

  • #4
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    *Subscribed* Great to see another SW story hour hit the board. Good work so far. I like the story split between the eras. Keep it up.

  • #5
    It's good to see some interest in one of my SH's. The first two posts are all me, with the third being a compilation of the first few days of PbP.,

  • #6
    I enjoyed the jumping between eras - very good story hour!

  • #7

    4 - Repairs, Repairs, and...More Repairs

    "It was just me, but I landed near a settlement," Jorran replies. "One of the locals says that those creatures are called 'Masliths'...you should move the corpses as far from your ship as possible."

    Adrial notices that Miera is standing close to the pod. So she walks over next to her mentor and waits for a good time to ask a question. Once she sees an opportunity, she clears her throat. "Master Pannar! Will we need to lift this metal thing out of the ground?" If she answers in the affirmative, Adrial will continue. "You have taught me that size is not a problem as long as you use the force. May I try to lift the object when the time comes to move it?" Sheer excitement is all over her face.


    "So there are settlements here? Good, maybe we can get the ship repaired. Look, I don't know about moving the bodies around, right now we have our ship sealed up so nothing can get in, we shouldn't be in danger from anything. At the moment the only fully working access should be the topside hatch, so unless those things can climb a starship, we won’t have issues. Well, unless the reason you want them moved is so you can get here easier. We've only killed a couple, maybe 4 or 5, just lowered the landing ramp a bit, but not enough for them to get in."

    "Actually I think the things are more brown then red, if that matters to you. Look, I'll get the things a bit further away from the ship, if you'll use it to get closer. I'll even use my commlink to stay in-contact to you, just use the comm-gear to locate where this signal is coming from and get here." Kia says, frowning, not really wanting to go outside.

    "Aasan, Lets get out there, I don't want to have to spend anymore time outside then necessary, and I want cover while I do it. Grab your Carbine, and I'll start moving them, cover me in case more come while I'm at it." she tells him, setting her commlink to on, and heading to the ramp.

    Aasan follows Kia out, keeping his eyes open and his blaster ready, "Ask them how far we'll need to move them. I can help you and keep a look out at the same time if we need to get these moved a long way."


    "Commlink? Oh, just a moment." Miera fished around in a pouch at her belt for a moment before pulling out a small cylinder with mesh covering one end. She looks over Jorran's shoulder at the comm station, and sets the commlink to the comm channel she sees displayed. I hope this thing still works. "Hello? Hello, can you hear me?"

    "I don't see why not, Adrial. But not yet though." Miera says while waiting for a response.


    "This'll teach me not to make blind hyperspace jumps trusting in the force," Kia mutters. "Yea, I read you; I take it your one of the locals? Exactly how far away do we have to move these bodies? Some of them don't have much left because they ate each other; then again, the last few do since I killed them to chase he others off."


    "Just make sure that they are nowhere near your ship. Masliths never leave a corpse alone for long, for any reason. The planet is crawling with those things. They're smart enough to leave you alone if you pose a danger, but if you get between them and anything even remotely resembling meat, they'll attack you regardless." Miera pauses and thinks for a moment. "Once you have that taken care of, try and locate the escape pod on your sensors."


    "Understood, Dawnsprinter out," Kia replied to the commlink, before getting down to the task. She drags the first of the corpses down stream using the buoyancy of water to make it lighter, as well as the smoothed stream bottom. Once Kia had gone a hundred yards down stream, she splashed her way over to the bank, and dumped the Maslith's body in a hole on the sand streamside. Then she headed back upstream to the Ship.

    Kia repeated the process, dragging each of the brown corpses down through the water to the pit that had been made by a tree falling and having its roots ripped free of the soft sandy soil. Once all of the bodies were there, she draws her blaster and drops the power level, and increases the duration so that it would catch the bodies on fire. Resetting the blaster to kill, she holsters it again and heads on back to the ship.

    "Aasan, they want us to get to the pod and their settlement, but we need the sensors back online for that. I'm going to go up the access Hatch and clear the vegetation away, you work with the computer to see if you can't pin down the Transponder for the escape pod." she tells him.

    Aasan nods and quietly moves to the main computer, waiting for the sensors to come online and then doing his best to sweep the area and see if he can find the transponder signal for the escape pod.

    Kia goes back in through the Dawnsprinter heading to her quarters. The jungle world was a bit hotter and more humid then space, so she decided to change into more suitable attire. Closing the door behind her, she changed into a pair of khaki shorts, and a black mid-drift that left her stomach bare. She slipped her blaster belt and lightsaber on again, tying the bottom to her right thigh.

    Once she was fully changed, she climbed up the ladder and out through the irising top hatch, getting her first look at the top of the ship. She then starts to clear away all the debris from the sensors array.

    Aasan's probing of the area with the ship's sensors yields nothing for over an hour. As Aasan leaned back in the pilot seat waiting for something to happen, he sees a quick blip on the screen which fades into static just as quickly as it appears. A few seconds later, it blips again for all of two seconds, and then fades again.

    On top of the ship, Kia's work on unclogging the sensors has been simply clearing off muck and grime that must have been kicked up when they crash landed. She has gotten most of the heavy mass off, but a thick layer of caked algae clings stubbornly to the main dish.

    Aasan sees the sensor blip becoming more and more frequent on the screen. It looks like it is off to the southeast, though he cannot approximate distance just yet. A few minutes later, the flickering screen stabilizes, and the Kel Dor sees the sensor readout screen clearly indicating that the escape pod is to the southeast of the ship and....moving? Apparently Kia had finished clearing away whatever was clogging the sensor, but something had to be wrong with it still. How would an escape pod be moving after it had landed?

    Aasan searches around for a loose data pad or anything that he can download the sensor information onto. If they were going to go after it, especially if it was moving, they'd need to be able to see where it was going. Curious as to why it’s moving, Aasan determines to see if there's any way to get an exact reference on the distance of the signal.

    Aasan cannot find a loose data pad in the cockpit, but he surmises that Kia would likely have one in her quarters. Of course, it would be prudent to ask Kia before he went rooting through her possessions, seeing as humans tend to become emotional over such things.

    After recalibrating the sensors on a hunch that the crash might have knocked something important out of alignment, Aasan finally sees a grid fade in to the screen. Automatically following up on the Kel Dor's enquiries, the grid expands, shifts, and contracts until it displays the Dawnsprinter and the pod transponder. A faded dotted line continuously shifts to maintain a line-of-sight connection between the two, with a numerical readout placed at the center of the line.

    If the computer is correct, then the transponder, and by logic, the pod is approximately 97 kilometers to the southeast, and steadily moving farther away.

    On top of the ship, Kia's work on unclogging the sensors has been simply clearing off muck and grime that must have been kicked up when they crash landed. She has gotten most of the heavy mass off, but a thick layer of caked algae clings stubbornly to the main dish.

    After she had finished scrubbing away at the Sensor/Communication dish, Kia climbs back down into the ship, making sure to close the hatch behind her to prevent any alien beasties from getting in. The girl proceeded to the cockpit to get the word from Aasan about what was up, and to see if she couldn't figure out where the Pod was in relation to the ship. She was instantly confronted by the motion of the signal, and that didn't make sense, not unless the pod was in motion, and that wasn't likely since a landed pod was pretty much permanently stuck, or if the transponder itself was being moved, and that was much more likely.

    "This is the Dawnsprinter, we have a read on your transponder, but it seems to be in motion, what’s going on? Do you still want us to head in your direction?" she asks through the commlink.

    "I hear you Kia. Do what repairs you can, and we'll send someone to help you if possible. Just don't work outside of the ship after dark. There are creatures on this planet far worse than masliths."

    "Worse then masliths...wonderful... Understood... We'll start work on the repairs, I don't expect us to have to leave the ship, there is more then enough stuff to do inside until the morning, for many mornings to come." Kia says.

    "If you've got a data card and a data pad I can get these readings onto it would really help," Aasan comments before even looking at Kia. He then glances over his shoulder to her and nods quickly, "It is moving quickly, and the sooner we can get after it the less likely we are to lose it."

    "No need Aasan, there is no way I'm hiking across a 100 kilometers when we would need another 100 kilometers back, carrying whatever supplies we could get. Our Sub-light drives are functional, and I'll see if I can't recharge the ships power. More important though is just getting the Repulsor lifts up and running. If we get them going, we can coast our way to wherever we need to get to." Kia explains.

    "The repulsor lifts seem to be bad off, but between us we can probably get them going, and I think at this point, they are our number one priority. So grab your tool belt, and lets get working, otherwise we'll be stuck here for quite awhile." Kia says to him, heading back out of the cockpit, and down to the service tubes that ran beneath the cargo bay to get to the lifts. Once she is down there, she'll get to work on repairing the systems that would let the Dawnsprinter float above the canopy of tree tops, and coast towards the Pod and the settlers.


    Miera turns to Jorran. "It could be some time before they can locate your pod. You should return to our settlement with us." Miera turns to head back towards the village, when she is struck by a sudden idea. "Hold a moment. I don't know how much technology has changed over the years, but I remember that all escape pod-type vehicles used to have emergency transponders. If we can find that and remove it, we could take it back to the settlement with us."

    Jorran nodded and grabbed the transponder Miera.

    "So, just how big is this settlement of yours?"

    "Well, it's essentially a high wall surrounding about three and one half square kilometers of space. It's not very large, but then again, there aren't many of us. Considering that most of us spend our entire lives inside those walls when not tending our small crops, it's not large at all." Miera said.

    She turned to Adrial for a moment. "You go ahead and try to lift that if you want, Adrial. You haven't had much of an opportunity to test yourself against something that large. But be quick about it, we should get back home as soon as we can."

    Adrial nods, the excitement apparent in her face. But then she closes her eyes, relaxes her thoughts and then reaches out with the force to the pod. She wraps her mind around the pod, trying to control its mass. Then she starts to lift it from the ground.

    Adrial's attempt to move the escape pod causes it to shake slightly, freeing itself from the ground to a degree, but it remains immobile.

    "Not bad, Adrial. You're improving. Now let’s get going before any masliths take interest in us."

    Adrial nods at Miera’s complement and smiles. While she was not able to remove the pod from the ground, she was able to free it somewhat. Miera has always taught that you should focus on the positive from any situation. That helps with the confidence. Then later you reflect on the negative in order to improve your abilities. But for now she focuses on her achievement.

    "Thank you Master Pannar. I appreciate your continued patience with me."

    Adrial thought back to her first lessons. She always wanted to focus her attention on the negative of everything. It took many months of training and meditation for her to see the error in her ways. Although it was still natural for her to focus on the positive, she learned each time that she used the force how well this idea worked.

    Adrial walked over to the others and walked with then toward the settlement. She began to think about the idea of leaving her home. She had never really given it much thought. She admitted to herself that the very idea was very foreign. Her thoughts drifted to what was out there among the stars.

    "You're lucky you crashed when you did. The masliths are few in this area at this time of the year because they're up north for mating season." Miera said to Jorran.

    "Well, you could say that. I'm also lucky that I made it into the pod at all. Which reminds me...how long ago did your ship crash, anyway?" Jorran said.

    Adrial's attempt to move the escape pod causes it to shake slightly, freeing itself from the ground to a degree, but it remains immobile.

    "Not bad, Adrial. You're improving. Now let’s get going before any masliths take interest in us."

    As they walk back to the settlement, Miera regards Jorran. "I cannot be exactly sure, since for a long time we focused on survival, and keeping track of time was unnecessary. I would guess that we have been here for almost thirty years. But what of yourself? What was your purpose in coming here? Our ship found its way here only through an astrogation error on the part of the pilot, or the hyperdrive, there's no use trying to lay blame."

    "Thirty years?" Jorran asked, amazed. "I guess you may not have heard about what's happened in the last ten years, then. Palpatine's empire was overthrown by an alliance of rebels, and a new republic is said to be rising. But that doesn't answer your question, does it?"

    Jorran continued. "My...order...was destroyed with the rise of the empire, but I and a few comrades managed to stay hidden on the outer rim for almost thirty years. When I found out that the empire had fallen, I decided to search for other survivors from my order. I followed my instincts to this planet, had a bit of a collision with that other ship, and ended up down here."

    At the mention of Palpatine, empire, rebels, and new republic Adrial gets a far off distant look. She seems to remember her parents speaking of a republic. But the others seem foreign to her. She merely listens to the conversation with Jorran and Miera, not wishing to interrupt. She turns toward Miera to see what she would say to Jorran's comments.

    So Arias was right," Miera sighs. "The Republic became an Empire and the Jedi were destroyed just as he knew they would be; the two of us were right to leave the order when we did. You must have been just a young Padawan when it all happened, by the look of you. It's a wonder that you survived at all." She rubbed her temples for a moment. "Don't give me the details just yet. It's better that we both hear of this at the same time."

    "Fair enough, Jorran says, following Miera.

    The commlink buzzed. "This is the Dawnsprinter, we have a read on your transponder, but it seems to be in motion, what’s going on? Do you still want us to head in your direction?"

    "This is Miera Pannar, I read you. We've removed the transponder from the escape pod so you can track us as we head back to our settlement. Can your sensors detect how far you are away from us?" Miera says into the comm.

    "Miera, this is Kia Obscura, you’re about 97 kilometers out from our current position, and moving further. Aasan and I are going to try and repair the Repulsor lifts, if we can get them running it shouldn't be more then an hour to your position, even coasting with minimal sub-light power."

    While he walked with the two refugees, Jorran turned to Miera.

    "I was distracted before I could ask you earlier," he began, "but I sensed you were very strong in the force. You're stronger than most of the Knights and Masters I knew before the wars. I've met a few people in my travels afterward that were strong--some stronger than myself--who were born that way, but only a Jedi could be as strong as you are. So, were you a member of the Order before you crashed on this planet?"

    When the word jedi is mentioned, Adrial turns to Miera to see what her reaction will be.

    At Jorran's questioning, Miera halts and faces the man. "You are clearly not fully trained, so I would not expect you to have proper insight into such matters. However, I would have expected that your master had taught you in your youth not to confuse power with morality." She resumed walking. "We will speak of this further once we are safe within our home, not before."


    Kia gets down to work, leaving the comm-link clipped to the top of her shorts. The girl keeps working until her stomach tells her its time for a break, and even then, she only pauses in her repulsor lift repairs long enough to return to the lifts with a pair of pre-packaged meals, with one for her and Aasan. Pressing the center button on them, causes them to open up, and the noodles in a naranja sauce with chunks or roast gorrnt to heat up. She indicates the one closest to Aasan for him to eat, if he is hungry, though she wasn't sure about how he would eat through a mask, or even worse, get enough gas to breathe, he might be on a pretty tight time limit. "Or you going to have enough gas or filters, or whatever to get this thing repaired and back to somewhere you can make more?" she asks after getting back to work.

    "If you can seal a room completely in the ship, I should be fine," Aasan says with a nod, and though Kia can't see his eyes or mouth, he's obviously distracted, "I need nothing to eat now...I do...I..."

    He trailed off a moment, thinking on that name 'Miera'. Sitting down, he takes a few minutes to think on it and then sighs outwardly, which comes through as a scratchy noise through the breath mask, "I'm too old for this...I've heard that name before. Years ago...many, many years ago...probably before you were born. I just can't place it." sighing again, Aasan rubbed his cream colored forehead before looking to Kia, "Lets just get this thing moving again and then we'll worry about things like breathing, eating, and old names."

    Kia just nods when Aasan says he doesn't need to eat, its fine with her, she jus slides his pre-prepared meal next to hers and kept working, eating his portion as well, it wasn't like she would get fat, the extra food would go towards the energy she had been burning since the crash, repairing the ship and fighting the masliths. The thought of something more dangerous then the masliths was frightening, but they were safe in the ship, and shouldn't need to go outside regardless. "Feel free to seal off the crew quarters for yourself, or the escape pod, your pick, though if we get to the settlement, we might have people wanting to come aboard. Whichever works for you, but the Escape pod has a double seal between it and the rest of the ship so it should suit being filled with gas much better."

    "I'll be fine for now, thank you..." he trailed off a moment, idly watching Kia, finding himself more curious than anything. There was much he wanted to know, but just couldn't bring himself to pry when they had a ship to fix, "Guess we should get this thing up and running again, hmm?"

    Underneath his breath mask, Aasan grins and then moves to start making the necessary repairs to get at least the repulsorlifts online and operating.

    "Getting the ship running is the plan, though I think it'll take awhile, I wish my music files hadn't all been purged, give us something to listen to, not that you'd like them, Gand music is an acquired taste, same with Twi’lek and Sullustun," the girl offers naming species with sensory abilities beyond that of humans.

    "You've been out wandering the space ways for a long time I guess, since you were talking about before I was born, just exactly how long have you been out here, and how do you know about the Jedi, I mean, in my house, Jedi were always a taboo subject. I kind of figured that I'm related to one, a little distantly, but it’s not the kind of thing you can ask with the Empire's hunters all around." Kia said, working a bolt with a hydro-spanner.

    After Aasan and Kia pull up the floor panels to inspect the damage first hand, it becomes apparent that the diagnostic computer was not exaggerating. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. Wires that used to be contained in neat, orderly bundles were now all about the compartment. At least two large cracks were seen in braces holding something that looked important, and it looked like a lot of the control circuitry was fried.

    The damage was repairable, but Aasan estimates that with Kia's help, he could have the repulsorlifts running within eight or ten hours, with another hour or so for the main computer to recalibrate the system and perform an additional diagnostic to be sure. Just as well, because from the look of the light outside, it would be night soon.

    The Kel Dor suddenly began to feel how tired he really was. He hadn't had any sleep in at least twenty hours, not counting the time he was knocked out. Because really, being unconscious isn't very restful. Although the human girl didn't admit it, she looked like she could use a rest, too.


    After an hour so of walking in silence, Jorran, Adrial, and Miera see the forested wilderness give way to a small stretch of plain, before plowed fields with small plants aligned in neat rows. A short distance from the fields, Jorran sees a high wall of lumber the likes of which he had only seen before in historical Holos telling tales of ancient and primitive civilizations. It apparently surrounds the settlement, as through a small gate at the northwest corner of the rectangular wall, Jorran can make out a series of huts, with a few people walking about their daily business.

    Adrial runs up to the gate and through it. She makes a bee line toward the gathering hut looking for Arias. She yells out as she gets closer to the large hut. "Master Falm! Come look. Someone has crash landed. Off-worlders are here. There is a pod and a ship. The one from the pod is with Master Pannar." She stops as she gets into the hut, trying to catch her breath.

    A blue Twi’lek woman whom Adrial recognizes as Ajoola is inside of the Sethi hut sweeping the floor. She looks up from her sweeping at Adrial, who stands in the doorway, winded. Well, maybe not up, but she does acknowledge the learner's presence.

    "Calm down, Adrial! Master Falm isn't here. He's been out in the woods training Kal for the past few days. Now what's all this nonsense about ships and off-worlders? Did you eat some bad berries or something?"
    Last edited by Angcuru; Tuesday, 26th April, 2005 at 12:35 AM.

  • #8
    I've decided that I'll post the progress of the game every 4 days as my update frequency. Since some days will have more posts, some updates will have more content. I'm currently putting together an update, which will be up soon.

  • #9

    5 - Worse Than Masliths

    "Concentrate on my movements, Kal, not just my blade." The crackling noise of two lightsaber blades colliding burst through the air. "Remember that in a real fight, your entire body must wield your blade. A simple repositioning of the feet or bending of the knees can grant you a new angle of attack, but your opponent has the same capacity."

    To reinforce his point, Arias shifted his footing and brought the tip of his lightsaber's white blade within a centimeter of Kal Donoma's eye. "Dead again, my young apprentice." Arias took a step back and brought a single blade of his double lightsaber to a neutral position. "Now we'll work on your attack. Come at me."

    Kal rushed forward and brought the blade down in an overhead chop that was easily blocked. The blade rose again for another strike, this time to the shoulder. Blocked again.

    "You're wasting your movements, Kal. Once you strike, do not think about where to strike next, follow your instincts. One attack must become the other; do not allow yourself to pause your assault to seek a weak point." Arias held his blade at the ready, waiting for Kal's next move.

    Sweat building up in his brow and matting his short hair, Kal fiercely tries to focus his will.

    With a forward step, he slashes in a horizontal arc, immediately flowing into a vertical cut.

    Master Arias is like a blur, he evades every swing, but Kal is determined not to lose his concentration, focusing, blocking out the jungle teeming with life and noise, until all he can see is the movement of the two shining blades of his opponent. He blocks one strike and another, trying to look confident. A well placed kick makes him stumble, falling backwards into a small pool of warm mud.

    Kal grabs the helping hand of his master and springs to his feet, casting down his eyes as he starts to hear another lecture about his concentration..

    A year of training since earning the honor of being a Sethi learner, and still I am defenseless before my Master. One day I will be as powerful as he is!!

    "Better, Kal. But don't concern yourself with matching my abilities. Focus on improving your own, bit by bit. If you look to the future, the now will pass you by and you will learn nothing."

    Arias scratched his beard, looking over his now mud-covered apprentice. He grinned, and clapped Kal on the back. "Ah, but that's enough training for today! Let’s head back home and get something to eat. And maybe get you some clean clothes, too." He headed off towards the settlement, beckoning for Kal to follow.

    ***

    "I'll be fine for now, thank you..." he trailed off a moment, idly watching Kia, finding himself more curious than anything. There was much he wanted to know, but just couldn't bring himself to pry when they had a ship to fix, "Guess we should get this thing up and running again, hm?"

    Underneath his breath mask, Aasan grins and then moves to start making the necessary repairs to get at least the repulsorlifts online and operating.

    "Getting the ship running is the plan, though I think it'll take awhile, I wish my music files hadn't all been purged, give us something to listen to, not that you'd like them, Gand music is an acquired taste, same with Twi’lek and Sullustun," the girl offers naming species with sensory abilities beyond that of humans.

    "You've been out wandering the space ways for a long time I guess, since you were talking about before I was born, just exactly how long have you been out here, and how do you know about the Jedi, I mean, in my house, Jedi were always a taboo subject. I kind of figured that I'm related to one, a little distantly, but it’s not the kind of thing you can ask with the Empire's hunters all around." Kia said, working a bolt with a hydro-spanner.

    At Kia's comment, Aasan paused from checking over the systems for a short moment. After thinking about it, he then went back to work as he spoke through his breath mask, "I fought in the Clone Wars alongside the Jedi. No, before you ask, I'm no Jedi. I was part of the Antarian Rangers...doubt you've heard of them as they were hunted down just like the Jedi were. I ah, was young then...very young. Probably too young. I saw firsthand what the Empire was capable of when the Purge began and Jedi were murdered...a Jedi Master, my partner through the wars...he...he gave his life so that I could escape Coruscant.

    Since then, just been out in the middle of no where trying to find others that survived. Not had much luck either...to be honest, you're about the only person I've run into in the last thirty years that I don't think is just joking around when you say you're Force Sensitive," he sighed and shrugged, "But its a big galaxy out there."

    After Aasan and Kia pull up the floor panels to inspect the damage first hand, it becomes apparent that the diagnostic computer was not exaggerating. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. Wires that used to be contained in neat, orderly bundles were now all about the compartment. At least two large cracks were seen in braces holding something that looked important, and it looked like a lot of the control circuitry was fried.

    The damage was repairable, but Aasan estimates that with Kia's help, he could have the repulsorlifts running within eight or ten hours, with another hour or so for the main computer to recalibrate the system and perform an additional diagnostic to be sure. Just as well, because from the look of the light outside, it would be night soon.

    The Kel Dor suddenly began to feel how tired he really was. He hadn't had any sleep in at least twenty hours, not counting the time he was knocked out. Because really, being unconscious isn't very restful. Although the human girl didn't admit it, she looked like she could use a rest, too.

    Kia yawned and worked her neck around easing out some of the tension that had built up over the hours of lying out fixing things in cramped spaces. She takes another gulp from her drink pouch before discarding it, and then gets back to work on the repairs. She fought of the urge to sleep, it was more important to get the ship up and running, she could sleep later. Idly wishing that she could use the force to rejuvenate herself, Kia sighed and kept on with the repairs

    Half an hour later, she was ready throw in the towel for the night, she had been trying to tighten the same bolt for the past five minutes, and she kept having to jerk herself back to awake. "I think I'm done for today, I just can't keep awake, and I'd rather fix it then make it worse. I'll make sure the landing ramp is snug, and then I'm turning in, feel free to appropriate any berth or whatever and fill it with your gas, or whatever so you can sleep." Kia says, before slowly and painfully extricating herself from the access tunnels. She is as good as her word in checking up on the ramp before heading into her quarters and securing her door for the night. She barely stops to step out of her boots, shirt, and shorts before crawling into her bunk and falling asleep.

    At the suggestion of sleeping, Aasan can't really justify disagreeing. So, with a nod, and a comment not to come into the quarters he plans to use before the gas is completely out, Aasan finds a place that he can seal up safely, and then uses one of the gas breather canisters to attach to the ventilation system only within the room. After letting the gas vent into the room, he lets out a sigh and finally removes the mask and goggles, glad to be rid of them for at least a short time before trying to get some sleep.

    ***

    Looking at the settlement, Jorran followed Miera in through the gate.

    "This is quite an improvement over my pod.

    "That is an odd sentiment for someone who just crash landed on an uncharted planet." Miera laughed. "It's a simple way of life. In some ways, I prefer it over the Old Republic. The universe seems so much larger when you are in one place for so long a time. Of course it has its hardships, like contending with the masliths, nightstalkers, and other undesirables, but we get by well enough."

    Jorran was drawing lots of attention from the villagers, and several were staring openly. He felt a small tug at his pant leg. Looking down, he saw a young bright-eyed Twi'lek girl, oddly red in color. "'Scuse me, mister, but I don' rec'nize you. Wha's your name?"

    Jorran smiled.

    "I'm Jorran. Miera and Adrial found me when I fell out of the sky."

    After sharing a few more words with the girl, he turned back to Miera.

    "I'm just glad I didn't land in an ocean, and that this planet has anyone on it at all. Just another step on the path, right? This isn't near as bad as hiding in that garbage facility on Nar Shaddaa..." He gets a wistful look in his eye for a moment, then it passes. "So, how can I make myself useful until the people in the other ship arrive?"

    Miera smiled as the young girl ran off to tell her friends about the strange man from the sky. "It shouldn't be too long until Arias comes back from training Kal. Until then, I'd suggest learning the layout of the camp. I'll see what I can do about finding you a place to stay. If you're hungry at all, Old Orran could use a hand getting tonight's meal together. You can find her by the fire pits at the center of the village. Or, if you're mechanically inclined, you could help Nikana fix our generator. It's been acting up lately, and he thinks it might give out altogether one of these days. He's just south of the fire pits in our crafting area. Now if you don't have any questions I'll go find you somewhere to sleep for the night."

    Jorran thought to himself for a moment.

    "I think I'll help cook--I don't think I'd be much help with the generator."

    Following Miera's directions, Jorran finds an elderly woman along with several children huddled around a long table near two shallow stone-lined pits. On the table are various unfamiliar vegetables and several large hunks of unidentifiable meat still on the bone. At Jorran's approach, the children who were busy cleaning soil off of the vegetables stopped what they were doing. Several elbowed each other and pointed at Jorran, whispering amongst themselves.

    "Stop gawking and finish cleaning them veggies!" Orran yelled at the kids. They went stiff for a moment before going back to their chores, several of them muttering under their breath. The old woman turned around as Jorran approached. She did not seem in the least bit surprised or shocked to see him.

    "I suppose you're the 'man from the sky' the kids have all been yapping about. Well, for once they're not just making up some nonsense." She looked him up and down " Well, save the life story for later, there's food to be prepared. Damn arthritis, I can barely hold a knife anymore, and there's no way I'm going to let one of the children do it. Give an old woman a hand and trim those maslith legs for us, will you?"

    Jorran places his coat and belongings beneath the table and gets to work trimming the meat.

    Orran notices the lightsaber amongst his possessions, and gives him a strange look before peeling the husk off of an odd-looking fruit.

    Although it was pitch dark in the wilderness due to the thick foliage blocking out the fading sun, at the settlement it was twilight. With Jorran's help, Orran and the children have prepared a thick stew in a large cauldron. If you could call it a cauldron, as it was actually the crashed transport's sensor dome covered with a sheet metal lid. The villagers had gathered around for their evening meal to eat, socialize, and ogle the "man from the sky".

    Suddenly, one of the wall sentries, and elderly man holding one of the settlement's few blaster rifles, gave out a cry for silence. "Be quiet for a moment!"

    From outside the walls, a faint cry was heard. "Close the gates! Close the gates!" The sentry wordlessly fired his blaster rifle into a brazier at his corner of the wall. The oil within ignited into a bright flame, a quick signal to the other sentries to drop the gates. With four quick tugs of rope, the gates fell to earth, blocking off entry to the village.

    ***

    Just as she had fallen asleep, Kia was awoken by a sudden, ear-splitting screech. She sat bolt upright at the sudden sound, but then there was nothing. After a minute or so of listening, Kia rationalized that she must have imagined the sound, and she lay back down to try and fall back to sleep. Not ten seconds had past before there was a banging, scratching noise coming from all around her, as if she were in a metal canister and someone was assaulting it with rocks and sandpaper.

    "What in the name of the Sith is going on?" Kia yells as she bolts upright, she grabs her blaster pistol and lightsaber as she bolts from the room, not mindful of the fact that she is only wearing her under-garments. She darts off the 8 meters from her door to the cockpit, and throws herself into the pilot chair, looking outside to see if she can see whets causing the racket. She flips a switch on the upper control panel, which should cause the outer hull lights to come on, if they aren't broken.

    As Kia hit the switch for the external cockpit floodlights, she found the source of the disturbance.

    There had to be at least fifty of the things out there, throwing themselves bodily against the hull and scratching, biting at it to try and get through. They were obviously canine, reminding her of 'greyhounds' that some Corellian politicians kept as pets, only they were double the size, had razor sharp claws, and solid red eyes. They took no notice of the sudden light that pierced the dark of night, and kept assaulting the hull. Several of them were on top of the Dawnsprinter now around the cockpit, slavering and trying to get at Kia.

    ***

    Several hundred meters out at the thinning edge of the forest, those who had quickly gathered at the gates could see Arias and Kal sprinting towards the village. The reason for their flight was quickly evident. Not far behind them were dozens of vicious-looking creatures twice the size of masliths and twice as dangerous looking. Their red eyes burned as they chased the Sethi Master and his Apprentice at a relentless pace. One of the forerunners was quickly catching up to Kal, who was having difficulty keeping his wind.

    It pounced, and would have brought the young man down but for the flash of white light that severed its head, the decapitated body landing heavily on Kal. "Go! Get up the wall!" Arias shouted at Kal as he charged the pack of hellish canines. The white double lightsaber danced all about at blinding speed, with another beast falling as soon as it was within reach of the Sethi Master. "NOW!" Arias shouted at his apprentice, who had only just pushed the fallen creature off of himself.

    Kal didn't look back as he ran towards the wall. Never before had his master ever sounded so urgent, and he wasn't about to argue. Kal took hold of a rope lowered by a sentry, and was quickly resting atop the wall, regaining his wind.

    Outside the wall, the beast kept coming and coming. Arias took on five at a time, and with every other slash of his blades, another of the beasts died. There had to be hundreds of them pouring out of the forest, and by the look of things, the lone warrior would soon be surrounded.

    ***

    Kia involuntarily flinches at a particularly vicious jumping attack by one of the hounds. For once her sarcastic wit seemed to have failed her and she had nothing to say. She didn't have any trouble imagining what those teeth and claws could do to her if she was cut out by them. Shivering, she triggered the ship's inter-com. "Aasan, can you come up her? We're under attack... I don't think they can get in though. I'm gonna see If I can't get the Anti-personnel weapons to work. The Dawnsprinter has a pair of e-webs, it should be enough to put down the creatures."

    The girl shivers, wearing nothing but underwear, but she doesn't notice it as she flips the switch to charge the ships weapons array. Waiting a few seconds for the guns to charge, she flips another switch, one that was hidden and would lower the two blasters from their concealed positions, and allow the turrets to fully swing in a 360 degree arc. The next thing the girl did was engage the ships fire-control computer, something that would make it much more accurate then she would be, assuming she was big enough to hold the weapon in the first place. But with the fire control, all she had to do was operate the ships computer, something she was very good at, and the fire control subroutines would translate that into accuracy that would make a storm trooper envious.

    The ship's anti-personnel weapons popped out from their hidden compartments, or at least that's what should have happened. Instead, only one fully extended, while the other was half-buried in the stream and couldn't extend to a proper firing position. Kia set the firing rate to maximum and slammed her fist down onto the firing button. The one functional blaster opened up on the swarm of beasts, firing a mess of red streaks all around them. Shot after shot streaked into them, with one beast falling to the fire every fifteen seconds or so.

    After several minutes of enduring the continual fire, the pack of creatures had apparently pinpointed the origin of the blaster fire, and tried to move out of its arc of fire, while still keeping up their assault on the cockpit. Eventually they all clambered up into the top of the ship out of the blaster's firing zone, swarming around the cockpit. At least twenty of them had fallen, but that did nothing to dissuade their assault.

    The horrible scratching pounding noise continued.

    ***

    Kal desperately watches the creatures’ relentless advance, and his master efforts to keep them at bay.

    My place is at the side of my master, to help him or die trying!
    he thinks, igniting his lightsaber, and grabbing the rope. But a new idea dawns on him.
    Perhaps there is time to try one trick first..

    Kal turns off his lightsaber and sits with his legs crossed at the top of the wall. Eyes closed, the young apprentice tries to focus on feeling the force around him. Against the background of life-rich jungle he senses the aura of his master shining like a powerful beacon. Surrounding him Kal senses the auras of the feral monsters, dozens of them. Simple, vicious. Motivated by instincts like hunger..... or fear. What would scare them, make them hesitate enough for his master to reach the walls? Maybe a wall of fire, or a bigger predator...

    The boy calls to the light side of the force, and summons his will to manifest the adequate illusion between the monsters and his master, trying to fool their simple minds.

    ***

    Kia groans as the dog things climb up the ship and get away from the E-web. Everything was sealed up tight, and there was no way they would get through the transparisteel of the cockpit, and even less likely was them getting through the hull plating itself. The girl didn't really think she was in danger, at least for the moment, but she couldn't really relax either. She wanted the dog things off her ship in the worst way, and she came up with a plan to get that to happen. As plans go, it wasn't particularly elegant, but it should work.

    Kia flips a switch to retract the e-web, and then she shuts down all non-essential systems. Next she connects the power feed directly to the whole, where it should electrify the outside of the ship, sort of like those predator deterrents that scientists used when they were in the field.

    ***

    As she watches the beasts attack, Adrial turns to Miera. "Master Pannar! Can we not help Master Falm?"

    "No, Adrial. Arias may be outnumbered, but that doesn't mean that he's outmatched." Miera watched the horde of beasts continuing to assault her lover.

    Arias' voice entered her mind. Is Kal safe?

    Yes, he's on the wall now. She replied telepathically.

    Good. Arias executed a blindingly rapid series of strikes all about him, killing those beasts closest to him. Before he could be engaged by additional creatures, Arias pushed out with the force and flew back thirty five meters away from the pack and towards the wall. As he landed and began to sprint back to the village, he felt an odd twinge in the force. Looking back he saw a wall of fire spring up out of the ground between himself and the pack of beasts. It deterred the beasts for but a moment, before they collectively rushed through the flames towards Arias. The gap wasn't much, but it was enough. Kal's master rushed head on towards the wall, and just as he was about the crash face first into the wooden barrier, he shot up into the sky and landed on the wall right next to Kal. Those around the wall heard the pack crash into it, with the sound of more than a few broken bones.

    "That was a nice diversion, Kal." Arias said, clapping Kal on the back. "I would have gone with a gigantic Nightstalker myself, but the fire did the trick."

    After running back to the cooking area to arm himself, Jorran saw upon returning to the crown that Arias was already to safety.

    ***

    Kia touched the power line to one of the cockpit struts, and for a moment there was a faint feeling of electricity through the ship. A moment later, Kia saw an unmoving body fall past the cockpit to the ground with a satisfying *thud*.

    Nodding at the thud, Kia simply kept the power line attached to the strut. With all of them climbing on top of the ship, they would all have nowhere to escape except for a leap from the top of the space craft to the ground, at least a 15 meter drop. She kept the charge up for 30 seconds before disengaging it, judging that that amount of voltage could have handled a rancor, or at least disabled it. Against creatures more human sized, well except for the environmental seals, she almost expected to smell smoke rising off of them.

    Kia sighs and watches out in the dark for any of them that had not died. They should certainly avoid the ship from now on, they were chased from beneath by the e-web, and were blasted off the top by the electricity. Hopefully that buys us a wide-berth to fix the repulsor lifts and get out of here, the girl thought to herself. Convinced that she couldn't do anything more about it tonight, she locked down the systems and retreated back to her quarters. Keying in the comm, she wished Aasan a goodnight, and told him that the issue should be dealt with until morning.

    Aasan finds Kia later than he'd meant to, but having to get the normally noxious gas safely vented back to the small canisters for his breath mask so that Kia didn't die took time.

    After finding out that the problem had been dealt with, he sighed but decided it was pointless to try to deal with all of that again.

    After working with the repulsorlift systems for several hours, Aasan has finished welding the cracks whole again. All that was left to do was to repair the wiring and do a systems check. Aasan found that he needed sleep, badly. If he went any further without rest, he guessed that he would fall asleep while splicing power feeds and electrocute himself. Kia could easily handle the finishing touches on her own, as he had taken care of the more critical, complicated components. If all went well, the repulsorlifts could be up and running with only a few more hours of repair work.

    ***

    "I'm fine, Miera." Arias said as she fussed over some scraps and cuts he had gained during his earlier fight. "It'll take more than a bunch of witless beasts to bring me down." He took a gulp of vegetable juice, which next to water was their only beverage.

    "Maybe, but that was still very reckless of you." She looked down at Kal, who was busy answering questions about his encounter to a very inquisitive Adrial. "It's a good thing that Kal had good enough sense not to stop and fight those things. He wouldn't have lasted three seconds against even one of them."

    "True enough, but his skills are improving. He reminds me of myself when I was his age. But still, he shouldn't have had to face those things. It's very unusual for them to come this far south." Arias looked down the length of the community meal table at Jorran, who was being plagued by questions from small children. "Do you think the new arrivals have anything to do with that?"

    "Unlikely though it may be, that is a possibility."

    "Have you asked him about the state of the galaxy?"

    "No, he volunteered to tell me, but I said it would be best if you were with me when we heard the news."

    "Hmm. The meat seems a little undercooked. Is Orran getting rusty?" Arias held up a strip of maslith meat that wasn't thoroughly cooked.

    "Actually, Jorran helped out with the cooking. He wanted to do something to help out around the village, and I sent him to help out Orran."

    "Apparently he wasn't properly trained as a chef." He held two strips of meat next to each other, one triple the thickness of the other.


    Several places down the table, Jorran could hardly eat for all the questions that were being thrown at him.

    "What was your spaceship like?"
    "How old are you?"
    "Where did you come from?"
    "You smell funny."
    "Can I have your shoes?"
    "What's your name?"
    "Your cloak is soft, can I have it?"
    Last edited by Angcuru; Tuesday, 26th April, 2005 at 12:35 AM.

  • #10

    6 - Neither Jedi Nor Sith, but Sethi

    Jorran did his best to answer the children’s’ questions one-by-one.
    "My ship was an ancient transport...a YT-12. No, not 1200; a 12. I'm 41. I came this way from the direction of Nar Shaddaa, but I grew up on Coruscant. Oh, yeah, I got drenched in hydraulic fluid when my ship got hit. Yeah, by the other ship that's coming tomorrow. No, you can't have my shoes; I need them. I'm Jorran Kaarai. You can borrow my cloak if you're cold, but I'll need it back eventually."

    After all the questions were over, and the meal had concluded as well, Jorran walked over to Miera and Arias.

    "So, what would you like to know first?"

    "Direct and to the point, aren't you?" Miera said as Jorran sat down..

    "There are many things we'd like to know, but you can fill us in on the minor details later on. Right now, we just need to know three things." Arias said. "What has happened to the Jedi order? How did the Empire come to power, and what is its state lately?"

    "The Jedi order was destroyed utterly in Palpatine's 'Jedi Purge', and for all I know, there may not be more than ten or twenty survivors in the galaxy, including myself. Not too long after the purge, Palpatine used his 'Emergency Powers' to seize all the power from the senate and become emperor. He finally dissolved the senate about eight years ago. Around that time, the rebel factions managed to unite, and the civil war began. It ended around three years ago at the Battle of Endor where Palpatine was killed.

    Jorran took a breath.

    "Now, the Rebel forces are trying to start a new republic, but there are still some fairly large remnants of the empire in their way, not to mention former governors who decided to become warlords in the systems they used to be overseeing for the empire."

    "In other words, the galaxy is in chaos now, correct?" Arias said.

    "I don't understand how the entire order could be destroyed. There were thousands of Jedi, how could Palpatine have eliminated them all?" Miera asked.

    Jorran nodded and lowered his head. "He started by raiding the great temple on Coruscant and killing every Master, Knight, Padawan, and Learner there. After that, the remaining Jedi were hunted down one-by-one. The only reason I survived was because I was so far out on the Rim when the purge began, and luck, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it. I was with another Padawan, my master, and another master. We hid on a small planet for years, but the emperor's agents caught up with us, and both of the masters were killed in the attack. After that, I fled from place to place until the empire fell. Since then, I've been looking for any other surviving force-users, Jedi or no. And it seems that's why the Force led me here."

    "So. The Jedi Order is no more and Palpatine's Empire is in decline. The galaxy must be a very dangerous place these days." Arias said. "You were never able to complete your training because of this, were you?"

    "Pretty much. I've tried to limit my use of the Force as much as possible because of that...you know, trying not to get in over my head, and all. I've found that blasters really aren't as clumsy as they're made out to be, though, in the process. Well, if you get a nice one, that is."

    Arias looked to Miera, and to Jorran it was as if they were holding a silent conversation. Miera nodded after about a minute of this, and Arias turned to face Jorran.

    "We could complete your training, if you desire. However, it would not be as a Jedi Knight."

    Jorran thought to himself for a moment, mulling things around his head. He stroked his beard, and seemed to come to a decision.

    "With the galaxy as it is, I don't think there's any way I could ever truly be a Jedi Knight, whether I wanted to or not. I would be honored to train with you...but I can't remember what I was working on last."

    He paused, trying to remember.

    "Ah, that was it; I had prepared to craft my own lightsaber before I got the last of my training. If this planet has the crystals, I could begin any day...well, I'd need an afternoon to practice what I've forgotten, but then I could begin...ah, but I've been living on my own for far too long; you are the masters, and it is your decision."

    "Do not worry about crafting a new blade. Tonight you must rest, and forget anything that your old masters taught you concerning the nature of the Force. In the morning, you will choose the focus crystal of your new lightsaber, and your training will begin." Miera said. With a nod to Jorran, and a wink to Arias, she got up and headed over to their hut.

    "You will find that we Sethi have practices far different from the Jedi you remember, Jorran." Arias said before following her.

    Jorran went to the sleeping quarters that had been found for him, and spent about an hour meditating on the day's events before he climbed into bed and dozed off.






    Sleep eluded Kal that night. His world was changing so fast! All the fantastic tales of a huge galaxy, with thousands of worlds and advanced technology his father told him when he was a kid were swirling through his mind.

    He meditated upon the rumors that the foreigner’s news had spread through the refugee village. The republic turned into an empire, the Jedi order in disarray and hunted!... and then the Rebels, brave fighters gaining back the freedom for a New Republic.
    Suddenly his small village seemed even smaller. Kal decided that he WOULD see this big galaxy, that many adventures awaited beyond his jungle world.

    And the Sethi teachings would spread, we will be as powerful as the old Jedi Order.. he had seen his master TRUE power for the first time. With patience, he would grow to be as powerful as him.

    One thing troubled Kal.. when he used the Force to help his master his first instinct had been to channel all the anger he felt and use it to strike fear into the monsters. But then he had tried to calm his mind and let his powers flow from the light side of the Force. Maybe he was inexperienced, but the Dark side offered him MORE power than the light. Was it so bad to call to the Dark side to save a life? What if an innocent had been killed, just because it was more difficult for Kal to channel the forces of light and goodnes than to channel the forces of hate and fear? He had been taught to balance the two, but there was still difficulty in shaking the natural aversion to what felt so evil.

    He would have to voice this doubts to his mentor in the morning...

    Slowly, his exhausted mind drifted into sleep...

    The next morning, Jorran was wakened by the sound of little feet next to his bed. It was more of a hurriedly set up cot, but a bed is a bed. As he opened his eyes, he saw the same group of children which had been pestering him the night before.

    "You awakes?" Asked the red twi'lek girl, who was apparently the leader of the group.


    On the other side of camp, Kal and Adrial woke in the larger hut which housed the Sethi apprentices and learners. Each of them had their own quarters partitioned off from the rest, with a small communal living area at the center. Early morning sunlight was just reaching over the edge of the wall, accompanied by soft, distant birdsong.
    Jorran yawned and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

    "I am now. So, I'm going to guess it's time for breakfast, or else I'm needed somewhere. Just let me get dressed."
    "Missus Miera wants you to come to the big hut when you ready. You get brekfist there." The children stared at him for a few moments before they ran off to find something more exciting.

    Jorran dressed in his clean change of clothes, leaving his coat and weapons-belt behind. He left the sleeping quarters and walked to what he could only assume was the 'big hut'.
    As Jorran enters the largest hut in the village, he is greeted by a young bothan who directs him to an area at the left end of the hut. Miera is sitting on a small mound of cushions, eating...something out of a wooden bowl while several large rocks float in midair to her right, continuously rearranging into difference geometric shapes.

    "Ah, good morning, Jorran." Miera indicates a cushion on the floor with a small, low table next to it. On the table is a bowl of something resembling a foodstuff that on some worlds was called 'oatmeal'. "Please, take a seat and have some food."

    After Jorran had been seated, Miera spoke again. "If you can, I'd like for you to recite the Jedi Code."

    Jorran began.

    "There is no emotion; there is peace. There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. There is no passion; there is serenity. There is no death; there is the Force."

    He sighed after that last part, remembering his master, and everyone he had known that had been killed in the Purge.

    "Good. Now recite the Sith Code." Miera said.

    "Peace is a lie, there is only Passion. Through passion, I gain Strength. Through strength, I gain Power. Through power, I gain Victory. Through victory, My chains are broken. The Force shall free me.

    He did not look pleased uttering the words; they obviously left a bad taste in his mouth. The look passed, though, and he resumed a more neutral expression.

    "Just words, like the Jedi code. What matter is what you make of them, or so I've come to understand."

    Miera smiled. "It is good that you understand this. While these two codes are simple words, they encompass the core values of each path. The Jedi emphasize the light, defensiveness, and peace. The Sith emphasize the dark, aggressiveness, and struggle. The two are polar opposites, but they have one important thing in common. That their very code was the key to their downfall.

    The Jedi would work together, becoming only as powerful as was necessary to maintain the peace of the Republic. This caused them not only to become weakened through lack of struggle, but complacent in their roles as guardians of peace.

    The Sith prefer to work alone and seek out struggle, thus the individual becomes more powerful. But because of this, they turn on one another in a survival of the fittest philosophy. They will work together to increase their collective power, but individual interests always dominate.

    Jedi and Sith are both formidable in battle against the mundane, but when facing each other, weaknesses become apparent. Because of the nature of their paths, a lone Jedi would always be an inferior to a lone Sith in battle. Simply put, the Jedi are many, but compared to Sith, are also weak. The Sith are few, but compared to Jedi, also powerful.

    After many successive conflicts, the Sith became very few, but also, very powerful. Is it not odd that the Jedi, a conclave of peacekeepers renowned throughout the galaxy, would fear the possibility that a mere two foes would appear to challenge them?

    You know as well as I do that in the rise and fall of Palpatine's Empire, both were utterly destroyed."

    Miera paused for a quick drink, clearing her throat before continuing.

    "As with anything, the Force cannot be anything to you that you will not allow it to be. To the Jedi, it was a divine power to be respected and used in moderation. A veritable gift to be shared amongst the many who are blessed to be able to feel its presence. To the Sith, the Force is no different than any other controllable thing in existence, no more sacred than physics or other laws of nature. To them, the Force was a tool, a gateway to power to be used at will.

    Because of these perceptions, the Jedi became collectively weak and complacent, while the Sith became individually corrupt and arrogant. Thus did they fall."

    Miera looked Jorran up and down for a moment. "My question to you is this. What do you see the Force to be?"

    Jorran thought for quite some time.

    "Hmmm...I think the Sith were on to something with their concept, but its goal is no less flawed than the Jedi concept..."

    He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts.

    "I say the Force is power, for lack of a better word. It's a just another way to influence your surroundings...the universe around you. And it carries the same potential for good or evil that a blaster or rulership over a planet does. With the Force, though, that potential is far greater than with blasters or money or anything else."

    Miera nodded at Jorran. "Thus do you see the truth behind it all. You and I both were taught that the Force is divided into the Light and Dark sides, but that is not the reality of it. There is no Light Side or Dark Side to the Force, it just is. Light and Dark, Good and Evil, they are just words. Ideas created in antiquity by frightened peoples to rationalize the unknown, to encompass it in what they were already familiar with: morality.

    But the Jedi caught on to one truth. The Force it not simply a power of nature, it is something much more. The Force really is, is the soul of the universe. Everything in existence is part of it. Life is able to exist because of the Force, and whenever life ends, the tiny portion of the Force that fueled that life returns to the Force.

    When a creature is born, a soul is created from the Force just as the body is created from the matter of the universe. Those we refer to as Force Sensitive are a different matter altogether. We are something more than simple life forms, in that our souls are incomplete. When we are born, we are left with a tangible connection to the Force which is unnatural and unintended. While most souls are limited to their bodies, we are directly connected to the entirety of the universe. Thus do we have the power that we do.

    Although we live and die just like any other life form, we are living wounds upon the Force. Wounds that the Force is continually trying to heal. The more we concentrate on our connection to the Force, the larger the wound becomes. As a Force Sensitive grows in power, so does the temptation of the so-called Dark Side. The Dark Side is nothing more than a manifestation of the Force's attempts to destroy the Force Sensitive. The stronger one becomes in the 'Dark Side', the more desiccated and corrupt they become, as the Force attempts to cause them decay and draw them into recklessness and hate that would end their lives and end the wound.

    The 'Light Side' is simply a conscious path to avoid the 'Dark Side', and has no extraordinary intrinsic value."

    ***
    At the Dawnsprinter however, the birds were quite a bit louder. Actually, as the sheer volume of it woke Kia, she groggily though that if the ship hadn't been designed with sound insulation in mind, the sound just might be deafening.

    "Someone is getting strangled," Kia mutters as she sits up, removing her covers and rubbing at her eyes. She had never heard such cacophony before, "Probably feeding on those dog things that attacked last night." she pondered aloud, rolling out of her berth. Her cabin was fairly neat, not what one would expect from a teenager who frequented bars and casinos, nor was the decorations. On the one wall, there was a full length mirror, and beside it a bunch of 2D still pictures of her Parents, and of her little brother Valin. On her shelves, there were a variety of exotic things picked up along the outer rim. In a special protective case, there were a pair of Quarren Crystal Goblets, and a bottle of Whyren's Reserve. Elsewhere on the shelves, there was an antique blaster pistol dating back 20 years to before the clone wars.

    Mussing her hair, Kia entered her private fresher, one of the major perks of being the captain of a space vessel. She took a quick sonic shower, removing the sweat and grime of the previous day, and also to wake herself up with the Sonics, water being scarce in space and all. She dumped her sheets in the cleaner as well to be cleaned over the course of the day. Humming a bit, she dresses in a sleeveless skin tight black body stocking, and a pair of boots, proud of her figure, and some small part of her wanting to look very good when she showed up as the rescuer of the crash survivors.

    Half an hour after rising, the girl finally emerged from her cabin and headed back to the galley, grabbing a pre-packaged ration bar, she heads down to the access tunnel she would need to use to get to the repulsor lifts, wanting to get that accomplished before anything else. The less time they spent around so many bodies the better, especially with the Masliths most likely scavenging, she wouldn't be able to move all the bodies.

    Upon reaching the area she had been working in the previous day, Kia sees that all she had left to do was splice a few wires together and do a diagnostic. Apparently, Aasan had hauled ass last night while she was sleeping. Kia couldn't help but be impressed with his handiwork. All the better, as that left less for her to do, and the very easy part, at that.

    Kia smiles, impressed at what the Kel-dor had pulled off over night. "I should really thank him, he had to have been almost as tired as I was, and he still pulled an all-nighter getting her this close to being done." the Corellian murmurs to herself as she gets into all the wiring, making all of the connections and splices. She hums an old Selonian song as she works.

    After she gets the wiring as done as she can, she moves on to the diagnostic, and while the computer is working on that, she does a bit of work, on the redundant systems, working on the lighting, and just cleaning up the ship. She does her best to avoid waking Aasan up, trying to let the older Kel-Dor sleep.

    After an hour or so of cleaning and polishing the insides of the ship, Kia hears a *ping* as she passes by the cockpit.

    DIAGNOSTIC COMPLETE. A mechanical voice sounded. As Kia looks over the readout screen for the results, she sees what she has been anticipating for nearly a day.
    *Diagnostic of Repulsorlift systems completed.*
    *Repairs successful.*
    *Systems fully operational.*
    *Awaiting command.*


    Kia lets out a whoop of delight that rivals the volume of the bird calls at the system operational report. The ship wasn't ground bound, not anymore, it might not be space worthy yet, but she could at least get the Dawnsprinter up, and that was a major victory all on its own. I should let Aasan sleep, at least for a while longer, I want to get there soon, but he deserves it after last night. Now that the lifts are working, I can call over, let them know we're coming, and then work on getting more power from the ion engines. We'll need it for space, but getting up in the air at all is good, the girl thought gratefully Maybe I can reward him somehow, for all the hard work, once we get off this rock. Anywhere he wants to go, he is there, no matter where. she resolves.

    She clicks on the commlink, "This is Kia over on the Dawnsprinter, we have our repulsor lifts fully operational, and our sub-lights have the power to get us to you, so light a fire and make a feast or something." she jokes, grinning to herself. "I don't know how fast we'll make it to you, but it should definitely be within 12 hours or so, just want to get some redundant systems working first, and let my Wiz Mechanic sleep in after his all-nighter."

    "We did have some company last night though, a whole pack of things bigger then the Masliths, at least 50 or more of them. We burnt with an E-web, and then electrified the hull. Do these things have a name, like the red ones do?" she asks.

    ***

    The comm buzzed just as Miera finished speaking. She frowned at the interruption, and quickly clicked the comm on. "Copy, Kia. Call me again when you're halfway here, but not before, please."

    ***

    Kia raises a puzzled eye brow at the instruction, feeling a ouch un appreciated, here she was going to bring a working space craft to the settlement and maybe a way off the planet for them, and they didn't sound enthusiastic or even grateful. "probably back to nature Ithorian wannabes" she murmurs vexedly. She runs a diagnostic over the entirety of the ship's systems, hyperdrive and sub-light engines included, figuring she might be able to get a bit of work in on them while she waits for Aasan to raise after the all-nighter.

    While the diagnostic is running, she runs the sensors as well to get an idea of what was going on around the planet, starting with what was outside, and on top of the ship.

    The sensors told Kia that the Dawnsprinter and the surrounding area was absolutely covered in small life forms no larger and 0.1 Cubic Meters each. Most likely the scavenger birds that had disturbed her earlier. A wide range scan of the planet she was on revealed more or less what she had expected. An extraordinary amount of life, with the only hint of anything even approaching modern technology being energy readings from approximately 100 kilometers to the southeast.

    Kia looks at the sensor read out curiously, but then shrugs, she hadn't expected for it to be any different. Keeping the earlier diagnostic in mind, she heads down to check out the Hyperdrive, wanting to look it over in person, and assess the earlier warning about it. She was still grumbling a bit about a lack of manners from the crash survivors when she had made her way down to the unit and opened it up.

    Upon opening up the hyperdrive casing, Kia discovered another reason why blind hyperspace jumps are not recommended. It looked as if someone had set off a thermal detonator right in the center of it and proceeded to beat on the remains with a sledgehammer. Kia had only heard of this happening once before, from a smuggler who had made a blind jump and skipped off the edge of a gravity well. Just a few degrees difference in the flight path, and she would have been vapor floating in deep space.

    After an extra hour from eating and venting the gas out of the sealed room, Aasan dons his breath mask and goggles and exits his small room to find Kia. Finding her back with the hyperdrive, he simply nods quietly while leaning over to look at the Hyperdrive.

    "I believe that a replacement would be more important that just repairing that," he says quietly, "It is lucky we are alive though. I'm surprised that didn't take the entire ship with it..."

    ***

    Jorran thought for a long time after what Miera said.

    "From the sounds of it, I don't think I'll have any trouble 'converting' and starting my training...I just hope I haven't gotten too old to learn everything all over again."

    "You are never too old to learn, Jorran. The Jedi myth that one should not be taught of the Force past a certain age is their excuse not to train those they cannot control. We can begin your continued training today. What path do you train in, Jorran? Do you focus on mastery in combat or control of the Force?"

    "I'd hardly call it 'mastery' as it is, but my focus is on combat, if only because I'm better with my saber than directly with the Force. I haven't had much opportunity for practice with either, though.”

    "In that case, you will be doing most of your training with Arias. As you no doubt observed last night, he is a very skilled fighter. Normally, I would send you to him to test your current skills, but he had a...tiring night." Miera brought forth a small wooden box and placed it in front of Jorran.

    "For now, we will see to the construction of a new blade. Like our ways, our blades are different from what you are accustomed to. As with the Jedi, we make a blade for our students to use until they are capable of constructing their own. However, we only construct the lightsaber itself, and the student chooses the focusing crystal. Inside this box is a lightsaber I have prepared for you, and several crystals which can be used as the focus of a lightsaber. Remember what you have been told, and choose."

    Miera lifts the lid off of the box, and inside is an incomplete lightsaber and three crystals. The lightsaber itself is strange in that there is no activation button that Jorran can see. Each crystal is of a different hue. There is one red, one blue, and one white.

    "No green? Well, then I'll have to choose white."

    "A good choice, and expected. Although the color of a blade may seem trivial, it should mark the path you follow. Just as our teachings encompass the entirety of the Force, the white light encompasses all other colors. It is only when one of these is broken that the others can be found."

    Miera took the white crystal and inserted it between the two halves of the incomplete lightsaber. She spoke as she completed the assembly

    "Notice that there is no ignition switch on the handle. This is for several reasons, but primarily to improve the quality of the blade. This lightsaber can only be activated by one who has sufficient control of the entire force, and even then it is not that simple. The crystal you selected is the only type which our order uses, and can only be used by those of our order. As it is formed from the whole force and not simply one extreme, it has capabilities exceeding those of normal blades, as you will find out as you wield it."

    Miera handed the blade to Jorran, and gestured for him to activate it. Being accustomed to an ignition button, he is at first puzzled. They can only be used by those who control the entire force. Jorran concentrated on the Force, trying to find the perfect point of balance. After a few moments of meditation, focusing on the light, then the dark, he found it. Strangely enough, he felt a sense of wholeness that he had never conceived of before.

    Jorran looked down at the lightsaber blade in his hand, and willed it to activate.

    SNAP-hisss...

    A blade of pure white light shone between Jorran and Miera.

    "Now you are on the path that is neither Jedi nor Sith, but Sethi."
    Last edited by Angcuru; Tuesday, 26th April, 2005 at 12:35 AM.

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