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Author Topic: Hide and Seek  (Read 22949 times)
Karmack
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Light side points please.


« on: September 14, 2017, 11:55:46 PM »

This place always gives me the willies...

Arnor and Illian had disappeared into the establishment seeking cover among the crowd, though how anyone could "blend in" with such a dubious crowd was anyone's guess.  Still the utter diversity of the patrons was its own form of cover.  If anything, three humans together might stand out simply from being so uniform in species selection.

I looked up again at the distant strip of blue.  Nowhere else did canyons of such depth exist.  The sky was a distant, pale memory from here on the very floor of them.  There was no horizon: only towering walls of glass and steel.  "I have a bad feeling about this, Two."

R3-T2, or "Two" to his friends, rocked slightly and whistled his agreement.  The astromech droid, similar to the more popular R2 units, was primarily yellow and white and had a few ... special modifications.  I have  always loved electronics and I absolutely loved to tinker.  Two was only the most recent beneficiary of my hobby.  In the six months since we left Jedda the freighter, now called "Wayfarer", had also benefitted from several modifications.  Meanwhile our research into the origins of the "smart" kyber crystals had led us here, to this ... unnatural place.

I laid my hand affectionately on Two's dome.  "I will.  You watch your back out here.  Just watch and record, do NOT engage!  I don't want a repeat of that run-in with the bounty hunter last month!"

The droid made a rude sound and moved smoothly away and into the shadows.   For a moment I allowed myself to be in wonder at the sheer personality of the droid, as well as his resourcefulness.  He'd proven himself to be an invaluable companion in the last several months as well as a good friend.  And his services in this place would be uniquely valuable.

I looked around the street one last time, my senses tingling again.  There was a ... tremor in the Song, one that I couldn't pin down.  It wasn't the normal chaos of evil, just something ... different.  Something working at cross-purposes to our melody and causing discord in the Song.  Like everything else about this place it made me uneasy.

I entered the establishment, assaulted by the lights and sounds and smells.  Not that they were all bad.  My stomach growled of its own accord before I could suppress it, reminding me that it had been many hours since my last meal.  The smells promised something that would taste good indeed, but I had no time for that. Arnor was already at the back of the room, Illian in tow, and from the sudden spike in the flow of the song, the upbeat in rhythm I suspected that something more vigorous than a meal was about to come out of the kitchen they were headed towards.  I jostled my way through a crowd of inebriated beings, muttering my apologies to them as I tried to reach my wife and her padawan before they entered the portal.

I failed.  Arnor walked through the doors, her hand already reaching for her saber.  Illian followed her closely, and his saber was already out and ready.

All hell broke lose.

I sensed the danger to my left and my own saber ignited and swept through a tight arc.  Two blaster bolts deflected, one into the ceiling, the other back into the chest of the hired gun who fired it.  Two more hired guns appeared and my saber blade became a shimmering shield, deflecting bolts as I closed on them and then slicing through their weapons.  One of them chose discretion over valor and turned away.  The second, either braver than his comrade or just stupid, drew a force blade and swung it at me.  I parried, stepped back, and brought my blade around in a tight orbit, neatly severing the weapon-hand just at the wrist.  My opponent, now disabled, sank to the floor moaning in pain.

Screams erupted around me and there was a general dash for the exits.  I made a quick scan to insure that there were no others ready to fire on us in the room, then charged into the kitchen where the sounds of combat were coming to a crescendo.  I arrived in time to see Arnor disable a last defender in full armor while Illian moved to prevent their quary from escaping.

The man was small and had the aspect of a weasel.  Our information listed his name as Lym Plancal, but facial recognition had brougth them a half-dozen aliases in addition to the name "Loki", the trickster.  Illian gripped his arm and turned him toward me.

I could feel him, and his song ... oozed.  I couldn't describe it any other way.  It was just sickly and revolting, a parody of melody and harmony that was both pitiful and disgusting.  Yet somehow this man, this trickster, had been involved in the shipment and more importantly to me the acquisition of literally tons of kyber, including the "smart" crystals we had found and mostly destroyed on Naboo. 

I looked into his eyes and I sang to him, merging his song with my own.  "Tell me, Lym.  Tell me where the crystals came from."

There was resistance, then I felt his song yield to mine.  His eyes softened.  "All I did was arrange the transfer.  Never even hit the planet.  We used a different factor for each shipment.  Most went to Endor, some of the special consignments went to Naboo..."

I felt my pulse quicken a bit at this.  "The special consignments.  Where did they come from?  Who brought them here?"

Lym looked at me, and something deep in his mind reeled.  There was great fear here, fear of someone ... or something.   I exerted more effort. "It's ok, Lym.  You can tell me."

"They'll do horrible things to me..."  he said, and whimpered.  I steeled my nerves, and concentrated harder.  "They...  They...."

"Who are they, Lym? Who?"

He didn't say another word, but I had burrowed deep into his thoughts and I suddenly had an image.  Men, in black robes.  Like the five we'd fought on M'Tzigon...

I broke the connection and Lym collapsed, whimpering in fear, no longer coherent.  Arnor looked at me, the question in her eyes.

"Sith."



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signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
SaberForum.Com Moderator
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 1147
Posts: 5594


Light side points please.


« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2017, 12:03:00 AM »

Here's a picture of R3-T2, in case you were wondering.  He's an R3 unit, with the transparent dome and... well, you'll find out.  ;-)

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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Taegin Roan
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 11:18:08 AM »

Hehe, it's back. Grin Grin I can't wait to read more. Your really gonna make me work hard with mine though. Your already on your second story, and I haven't even finished the first chapter of mine.  Cheesy Anyways, great job.
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"I am the Outcast's Shadow" - Taegin Roan
"Confronting fear is the Destiny of a Jedi" - Luke Skywalker
"So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala

TheDutchman
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2017, 01:50:39 PM »

HELL yeah!  First off, glad to see Karm&Co. back in action  Wink

Glad that you continued the world building, Karm.  Feels like the "next season" of the SW Song and the Gray; I have to say that I'm absolutely hooked^^  Your writing is both relatable as well as engrossing; I really like the transition from "easy going" introduction that both begins this chapter as well as continuing the previous story  Smiley  Maybe it's my interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I have to say that I'm enjoying the continuity within your narrative, Karm  Cheesy

I like the introduction of your astromech; I'm already wondering what part he'll play in this plot^^

Hehe, it's back. Grin Grin I can't wait to read more. Your really gonna make me work hard with mine though. Your already on your second story, and I haven't even finished the first chapter of mine.  Cheesy Anyways, great job.
TR, post your next chapter at your leisure my friend; true writing isn't something to be rushed   Smiley
...besides, you're still one up on me  Wink

Until next installment, friends  Smiley
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Cataphract Triarch of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Apprentice v4 w/Obsidian, AS; Graflex SE w/Obsidian, GB; Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, CG; Dark Sentinel v4 w/Obsidian, BR; Sentinel LE v4 w/Obsidian, GB; Initiate v5 w/Obsidian, AS; Sentinel LE v4 stunt, EG; Aeon LE v4 stunt, FO; Dominix v4 stunt, BR; Aeon v3 stunt, SY

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
SaberForum.Com Moderator
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 1147
Posts: 5594


Light side points please.


« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 01:25:54 PM »

"If I live a hundred years and never see another underground corridor it will not be long enough..."

I smiled as I heard Illian's comment, uttered sotto-voce to Arnor behind me.  Son, you don't know the half of it...  But then I grew up on M'Tzigon, where half of the population lived in subterranean chambers and caverns and the typical adult might spend a few weeks a year out on the surface.  Still, after years of wandering the galaxy I'd also developed a taste for open skies and fresh air.

I sniffed.  No fresh air in this place...  We were lucky the air was breathable and free of harmful toxins.  Which unfortunately didn't do anything for the smell....

"Concentrate, Illian.  Focus on the task."  Arnor's admonition was rote, without the bite it might have had normally.  She, too, was fed up with dark, dank, smelly places under-ground.

As was I for that matter.  But in order to discover who these neo-Sith were and where they might be operating from, we had to access some very specific databases.  Databases which most assumed had ceased to exist many years ago.   Databases that, if they did still exist, would no doubt be well guarded.

From above.

Hence our approach.  I had come here once, many years ago, with Master Chillum.  Nothing of that visit remained, but the site still glowed, a ringing harmony in the song hovering like a pedal-point, an anchor for the ongoing fugue of this place.

"We're close.  Stay sharp."  There was no indication of any presence, no heat signatures, no lasers.  Nothing to betray any kind of security devices.  Nor were there any ripples in the force's melody, nothing to betray active patrols. 

I rounded a corner and came face-to-face with a thick wall.  This was the place.  I stopped for a moment and rested my bare left hand on the cool metal, reaching out, listening.  The song of this place threatened to overwhelm me, a whirlwind of joy and sadness, fear and courage, anger and peace.  I let my heart sing with it, joining my voice briefly to the song and feeling it flow through me....

...blaster bolts sang through the air ... troopers in strange armor, shooting, dying, always more coming forward ... a thrill of hope as they pull back, a thrill which dies in bitter dispair as the red bolts are replaced by a flashing blue blade...

I snapped myself back from the song and out of the force vision.  For a moment the room spun as I struggled to re-orientate.  I staggered slightly, but managed not to fall.

"Karm, you ok?" Arnor laid her hand on my shoulder.  I covered it with my own.

"Yes.  The echoes are strong here.   This is definitely the place."  I stepped back slightly, recovered now.  "This will only take a moment."

I ignited my saber and plunged it into the steel before me, quickly cutting a rough man-sized portal.  I motioned for my companions to step aside and used the force to move the plug back and to the side of the room, the edges still glowing but rapidly cooling in the chamber. 

Beyond the portal empty eye sockets stared out.   The powder-dry smell of old bones invaded the chamber, overriding the damp unpleasantness with the smell of old death.

Maybe the smell down here wasn't so bad after all...

I kept my saber ignited as I stepped carefully into the chamber beyond.  There were dozens of bodies strewn across the room.  Left and right were bodies in armor which appeared to be from the Clone War era.  Troopers marked in red and yellow striping.  Between the two arcs were three bodies in traditional Jedi garb.  Two were small, younglings, and appeared to have died from stabbing wounds.  The adult lay between the two, his torso propped upright, a lightsaber hilt still gripped in his right hand.  His pelvis and legs were several feet away, leaving no doubt as to the cause of death.

"They didn't even remove their own dead..." Arnor said, her voice sick. 

"Not from here.  Probably because of that."  I pointed to the far side of the room, where heavy security doors had fallen, sealing the room from the rest of the place.  "The Temple was filled with redundant data nodes and back-up systems.  This was one of several, the deepest, and nearest the center of the Temple geographically.  When the doors slammed down, the order was given to seal these rooms off and keep everyone out.  No exceptions.  Those orders still stand."

"Then how did we get in so easily?  Where are the guards"  Illian asked, his own voice quavering slightly as he looked down at the younglings.  "Did they just abandon their posts?"

No.  This part of the city was rebuilt a few years ago, a massive attempt to remove any trace of the Jedi influence.  But this node was deeper than the rest, below even the lowest sub-chambers of the Temple's foundations.  When they razed this quarter and built it over, they left this one deep void in place.   Master Chillum came here when I was a padawan and confirmed that it was still here, but he was unable to penetrate the maze of tunnels at that time.  Since then much of the Imperial presence has left this area, which is why we were able to sneak through."

"Should we ... do something for them?" Illian asked. 

"No.  I would love to remove the bodies and bury them, but in the end the body is just a shell.  The people are long gone."  I felt a quickening in the song beginning.  "Come, time is short.  Find a live data port."

"Here." Arnor called.  "Standard port."

"Excellent."  I plugged in my mini-comp and queried the port.  "Yes!  Access granted.  Copying files."

I felt my pulse quickening in time to the urgency I felt in the song around me, but the transfer was fast through the high-speed port.  "Clear!  Lets get out of here."

We stepped back out through the portal and I carefully moved the plug back into place, then used my saber to re-melt the metal and weld it back, resealing the tomb behind me.

We hurried away, listening to the song in silence as we alternately hid from and ran from the patrols in the area until we finally emerged into the streets above.  R3-T2 squealed a query as we emerged and trailed along behind us, curious as to what we had found below, but none of us were in a mood to talk.  Finally with a disgusted snort he gave up.

I dropped back to walk with him, laying my hand on his dome in companionship but still no words came.  It would have to wait.  Eventually, I would tell my new friend about the experience.  But for now....

...we walked in silence, and sang...

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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

TheDutchman
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 02:29:26 PM »

Excellent my friend. Your writing continues to be compelling^^  I particularly like the background home world and the subterranean nuances  Smiley

On that note: is there canonically a planet M'Tzingon?  Regardless: outstanding exposition delivered in an organic fashion  Cheesy

One complaint: I keep reading too fast and I am at the end too soon (sorry, that's my problem, not yours  Wink).

Until next installment friends  Smiley
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Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Apprentice v4 w/Obsidian, AS; Graflex SE w/Obsidian, GB; Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, CG; Dark Sentinel v4 w/Obsidian, BR; Sentinel LE v4 w/Obsidian, GB; Initiate v5 w/Obsidian, AS; Sentinel LE v4 stunt, EG; Aeon LE v4 stunt, FO; Dominix v4 stunt, BR; Aeon v3 stunt, SY

Taegin Roan
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Force Alignment: 2043
Posts: 6179


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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 02:39:49 PM »

Yes. Great job. I have the same problem as TD. It ends too fast. Maybe you should write longer posts. Cheesy Wink

But seriously, great job.
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"I am the Outcast's Shadow" - Taegin Roan
"Confronting fear is the Destiny of a Jedi" - Luke Skywalker
"So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
SaberForum.Com Moderator
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 1147
Posts: 5594


Light side points please.


« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2017, 11:16:59 AM »

Excellent my friend. Your writing continues to be compelling^^  I particularly like the background home world and the subterranean nuances  Smiley

On that note: is there canonically a planet M'Tzingon?  Regardless: outstanding exposition delivered in an organic fashion  Cheesy

One complaint: I keep reading too fast and I am at the end too soon (sorry, that's my problem, not yours  Wink).

Until next installment friends  Smiley

OK, I have to come clean.

M'Tzigon comes from "Michigan"  Though the planet doesn't resemble Michigan in any way.
M'Skigon Province comes from "Muskegon".  My home town.
I grew up in Muskegon, Michigan.
Karmack is from M'Skigon, M'Tzigon.

So, there you go.   Definitely NOT canon!  LOL

Taegin, I'll see what I can do about longer posts.  But I usually only have a fixed time to write (lunch breaks, for example) so that can be a problem. 
Besides, you don't want to get to the end TOO quickly, right?  ;-)
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signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2017, 11:30:47 AM »

That. Is. Awesome!

Simple, yet simply awesome  Cheesy
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Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Apprentice v4 w/Obsidian, AS; Graflex SE w/Obsidian, GB; Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, CG; Dark Sentinel v4 w/Obsidian, BR; Sentinel LE v4 w/Obsidian, GB; Initiate v5 w/Obsidian, AS; Sentinel LE v4 stunt, EG; Aeon LE v4 stunt, FO; Dominix v4 stunt, BR; Aeon v3 stunt, SY

Taegin Roan
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 2043
Posts: 6179


Lord of the Force


« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2017, 05:49:56 PM »

OK, I have to come clean.

M'Tzigon comes from "Michigan"  Though the planet doesn't resemble Michigan in any way.
M'Skigon Province comes from "Muskegon".  My home town.
I grew up in Muskegon, Michigan.
Karmack is from M'Skigon, M'Tzigon.

So, there you go.   Definitely NOT canon!  LOL

Taegin, I'll see what I can do about longer posts.  But I usually only have a fixed time to write (lunch breaks, for example) so that can be a problem. 
Besides, you don't want to get to the end TOO quickly, right?  ;-)

I don't want it to end sooner, but do what you can. It fun to read, but definitely not necessary.
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"I am the Outcast's Shadow" - Taegin Roan
"Confronting fear is the Destiny of a Jedi" - Luke Skywalker
"So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
SaberForum.Com Moderator
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 1147
Posts: 5594


Light side points please.


« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2017, 01:48:04 PM »

LOL   I'll do my best!

I decided to create my own home town into the character mostly for memory.  And I love the fact that you can replace a vowel in a word with an apostraphe and somehow it becomes ... alien.  LOL
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signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Taegin Roan
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 2043
Posts: 6179


Lord of the Force


« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2017, 01:59:24 PM »

And I love the fact that you can replace a vowel in a word with an apostraphe and somehow it becomes ... alien.  LOL

Right. I do it all the time. Cheesy
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"I am the Outcast's Shadow" - Taegin Roan
"Confronting fear is the Destiny of a Jedi" - Luke Skywalker
"So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
SaberForum.Com Moderator
Knight Commander
************

Force Alignment: 1147
Posts: 5594


Light side points please.


« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2017, 10:02:21 AM »

Two was still chewing through data ... and we were getting restless.  Which did NOT make me happy about this little fishing expedition.  Sometimes Arnor had a mind of her own, and she had an ... unfair advantage when it came to persuading me to go along with her occasional schemes.

Still, song was not disturbed and continued on as a placid, background hum for now.  I suspected that would not change until the archive data could be interpreted and accessed, but even with the proper codes and keys Two was going to be working on that for many additional days.  And so, I found myself standing on a street corner holding a cup of ... something hot and sweet.  Reminded me of the coffee we brewed back home, but with a sweet cream in it and a fiery cinnamon flavor.  Quite good actually...

There.  I saw Arnor enter the area across from me, and my jaw tightened a bit in reaction.  It was her idea, and I knew that, and we'd done under-cover work before....  I took a deep breath and used it to blow steam from the coffee.  It was chilly, especially in the gathering darkness.  The sun had slipped below the horizon long ago, and even here, fairly "high" in the multi-tiered structure of the surface of Coruscant, the artificial lights of store fronts and bars were replacing the natural light of the sun.  I glanced across the crowd and saw Illian also at his post, and thankfully also able to look casual and not stare.

Though staring wouldn't have been unexpected from the young man.  There were plenty of others staring at the gaggle of women Arnor had just joined.

I looked back at the group and this time the wrench in my gut was one of pure rage.  Arnor was nearing 30 years old, but she was slim and very fit, giving her the appearance of a younger woman.  However, a few casual inquiries had determined that the average age of the small gaggle of human females preparing for their night's work to be 19, and that because they almost univerally claimed to be either 18 or 19.  There were a couple that appeared to be older, but most looked younger rather than older.  Only the eyes looked older, out of place in the youthful faces.

There was a slight stir as Arnor joined the group.  There was some real danger here.  Arnor had already contacted some of these girls to acquire what she needed to blend in, but if their controller showed up to soon...  We could have a problem.  The plan was to get them away from here.  However, these were not simple street walkers.  They were all here to meet someone at pre-arranged times and places.  We had a short window to make contact and get them out, and even to do that without revealing to much of who we were required this stealthy approach. 

Yes.  Arnor was rounding them up and leading them toward Illian.  I scanned the square quickly.  It was not crowded but there were hundreds of people milling about, heading for restaurants or places of entertainment.  None of them paid the slightest bit of attention to the girls, despite their extremely revealing attire.  And that also made me angry.

There.  Movement caught my eye.  "Illian, heads up.  I have a pair of security guards heading your way, from the left.  They will intercept just as the flock is entering the transit tube."

"Understood." Illian replied.  Our scrambled comms were another risk, but a minor one.  Now, to slow them down a bit...

I reached out with the force and found a low bench across the way.  As the two thugs approached, I slid it out and pushed it forcefully into the leader's knees.  He went down with a curse, tangling himself and his companion with the bench.   I managed not to laugh as they tried to extricate themselves from the bench, which I judiciously adjusted once more to again put it under foot.  They went down again, now roaring obscenities and gathering a small crowd around themselves, which further hampered their progress and screened the girls nicely.

"You're evil, Karm.  Evil."  Arnor said quietly.  "Nice."

"Thank you...  And move your but once you get into the tube.  This guy isn't going to just let these girls go.  In fact...  " I started moving myself now, headed across the square to the same transit tube our rescued girls were entering.  "I have four more coming from East and West.  Go.  I'll delay them."

"Be careful!"

"I will."  I looked back and forth between the two groups.  "Just promise me one thing, my love."

"Anything."

"Don't take that dress off until I get back."  I grinned, waiting...

There.  Arnor tapped me lightly on the shoulder with the force, the "long range" version of the light punch she would normally hit me with when I made such comments.  "Letch."

"No!  Husband!" I said back.  "Now, run.  I'm right behind you."

I reached the transit portal just ahead of the double-squad of thugs.  As we expected, the "controller", who we had not been able to ID, had kept his girls under surveillance.  It was partially to protect them, as he claimed, since they did represent a significant "investment"on his part.  But they were also there to intimidate and coerce.  From the stories Illian and Arnor had been told, there were occasional incidents where a girl would decide to run.  They rarely got very far.  The last one who had tried had ended up dead, beaten to death by the guards that they were told were there to "protect" them as an example to the rest.

I could hear them now in the force.  Collectively they were a dark cloud of evil hammering, no rhyme or rhythm.  Just chaotic evil.  I touched that chaos briefly in the force, and felt the battle song swell in my chest.  In that moment I no longer regretted the decision to come here, to do this.  But I couldn't just ignite my blade and cut them down.

Not yet.

The transit tubes were busy, but not busy enough to hide Arnor and her charges.  They were at the far end of the platform and boarding when the first of the guards emerged from the entry portal.  It was the same one who had been in the lead in the square, and his face betrayed a full-blown rage. 

I decided this was going to be fun.

The guards started to run as they entered the portal.  None of them noticed as the man at the end of the line suddenly flew sideways across the platform, through the open doors of a transit car, and slammed into the far side of the car before crumpling to the ground.  He wasn't dead, but he didn't get up as the doors closed and the car headed off with one extra passenger.

The next three in line suffered similar fates as the guards ran past me.  I was dwindling their numbers but running out of space.  Arnor and the girls were all aboard their chosen car now.  Illian was not in view, which meant he was probably already on the car as well.  I was running now, chasing the thugs.  I reached out and tripped up the leader again.  He fell hard, slamming his face into the floor before having two of his fellows pile onto him.  In that commotion, Arnor's car's doors closed and the pod headed out.

The leader was cursing again.  He waved a badge - an override! - and gestured to the next car in line.  It was like the one Arnor had chartered - spacious, plenty of seating, paired seats on either side of a central aisle.  Automatic guidance and a selection of pre-programmed destinations.  Some of these cars ran on a pre-set schedule of stops, like ancient bus or train service.  Others, like these VIP models on the end, could be chartered and programmed for one-time use.  Ours had been arranged that afternoon.  I wasn't sure what our friends were going to do, but I followed.  I managed to discretely roll one last man off the platform as we neared the car, tripping him over the edge and down into a nasty looking set of bushes.  That left five, and they boarded the car together. 

I waited a moment, then slipped aboard just as the doors closed.

"What the...   I told you OUT!  What do you think you're doing?"  The leader was wiping blood from his nose.  He'd used the card in his hand to override the car's controls and set it to follow...something.  A homing device?  Multiple homing devices?  There were several pips on the nav screen, and it was definitely following them.

"So, that's how you track them down so quickly when they run."  I was amazed at the calm of my own voice.  "I would applaud your ingenuity, if I wasn't certain someone else had thought of it for you."

The men in front of me spread out, three of them withdrawing weapons.  "And jus' who are you?"

I smiled at them.  It was not a nice smile.  "I am death."

My saber was in my hand and ignited an instant later, and the first cut blocked the snap-shot one of the men took at me.  The second cut removed his lower arm as well as the hand holding the other blaster.  Four seconds later I was the only living person in the car.

Several minutes later the car landed, next to the car leased by Arnor and Illian.  When the doors opened I was confronted by the pair, holding their own sabers.   "Karm!"

I caught Arnor in my arms and returned her fierce hug.  "I'm fine." I lied.  I was shaking.  I rarely yielded to rage as I had in those moments, and the dark stain of it still surged within me.  Arnor hugged me again and I felt her encouragement in our song and it lifted my spirit.  "Illian, the girls have trackers on them.  Find them.  These are the frequencies."  I tossed him the minicomp I'd taken from the car's navigational interface.  Illian tore his eyes away from the carnage in the car behind me, nodded, and walked back over to the girls. 

I stood and held Arnor, letting the shaking subside, reminding myself of why we were doing this, and let my mind flash back through the last half-hour.  The rage...  I knew why this had enraged me, as did Arnor.  It was the same reason she'd taken the mission when Illian had approached her with his tale from the girl he'd met in the square several nights before.   What we'd done was right.  But the rage.

I knew I would need to spend some time purging that rage.  Time in the Song with the Maker.  I stroked Arnor's hair and kissed her forehead.  It would not be easy...but I would have help.

As I always had help.

Illian returned, holding a handful of necklaces.  "I have them, Master.  All frequencies accounted for.  They're all here."

"Good."  I took them and tossed them into the car with the bodies, then plugged a coordinate half-way around the planet from our location into the minicomp.  "This could keep them busy..."  I plugged the minicomp back into the nav system and stepped back out.  The car rose obediently and headed off.  It would take nearly 16 hours to reach its destination.  At the least it would give us a nice head start.

"Lets go.  We have a rendezvous to make."

******

OK, so its a little side-trip.    Or is it?  How does this tie into the search for the Sith?  Is Karmack falling to the dark side?  What's going on with Illian? 
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!  ;-)

(Sorry, couldn't help it!  It just felt so much like an old radio soap-opera end-of-episode segue!  LOL)
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Taegin Roan
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2017, 02:08:52 PM »

Great post. Fun to read, with just the right mix of action, humor and story. Can't wait to see if Karm is turning to the Dark Side, what's going on with Illian, or whether this has anything to do with their hunting of the Sith. I will stay tuned. Wink
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"I am the Outcast's Shadow" - Taegin Roan
"Confronting fear is the Destiny of a Jedi" - Luke Skywalker
"So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala

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« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2017, 03:10:42 PM »

LOL  Thanks Taegin.  :-)

This might be a spoiler but...  I'm not really sure where this little scene came from.  The underlying story arc reason I know, but I had several options and I went with this one partially because of some experiences we've had in RL helping some young women who were victimized by human trafficers.  In RL these .... slimeballs make my insides quiver in rage.  I had the distinct pleasure of staring one of them down (with several friends, I will not say I would have done this alone, I don't know if I can claim that level of intestinal fortitude...) at a rally.  We had a girl come and literally run behind us and ask us to hide her.  Then a guy comes over and tries to retrieve her.  We closed ranks and kept him away from the girl until a rep from a local shelter got her into a car and away from the scene. 

I don't know what happened to the girl, but I like to think that I at least helped someone that day.

And so I projected that into Karmack (since he is my alter-ego) and amplified it a little.  This kind of side-mission is just the kind of things the Grays of his order find themselves doing.  Just carefully...  Order 66 is still in effect after all...

;-)
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