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Author Topic: A Tarnished Knight  (Read 15814 times)
Taegin Roan
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 2043
Posts: 6179


Lord of the Force


« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2017, 11:23:21 AM »

Like Karmack, I am loving your story. Everything you do just seems to fit together to make the story great. I am thinking I may have an idea of how the story is going to go to take him to the trail, but after reading Karmack's stories, I doubt myself as to if I really do or not. Great job.

Oh yeah, the "monologuing villain" was great. Grin
Logged

"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
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2017, 12:37:15 AM »


“And what of our people?  You said that there were no bodies in the temple grounds,” the Kage’s voice, though quiet, echoed throughout the dome.

“We found only one in an adjacent grotto to the main cave that the Inquisitors had been using for a jail of sorts.  While the cave-in that the Inquisitors had caused had not damaged the computer bank along the wall, the other tunnels had not been so lucky.  In fact, the other two passageways were completely impassible.  It was only because Astar spoke out that we knew that there were any survivors….”

“Maenowan Astar Myrishi?  Only he?  No sign of Jedi Master Gaetana Ravine?”

I paused, both racked with pain and sorrow.  “Only Astar, I’m afraid.  And he soon succumbed to his injuries….”

“…From the collapse or from Inquisitorius torture?”  Again, the Kage’s orange eyes bored into mine.

I steeled myself.  “Kage, Maenowan Astar told me—before he died—that he’d been tortured for nine days.  That means that immediately following the communications disruption that Maenowan D’Aylanna had encountered, the Inquisitors were already there at the temple.  This wasn’t just happenstance that Vader had chanced upon the temple; the Dark-Siders knew precisely what to expect.  They first destroyed the Guardian and by the only means that the safety protocols could not counter.”  My frustration began to turn to anger.  “The Temple’s protection had been utterly compromised.  The Inquisitors also KNEW about the jamming field defending against electronic and positronic explosives.  They KNEW about the enzyme detonators and, furthermore, used them to neutralize the Temple’s protection against Force intrusions.  THEY KNEW THE GRAY JEDI WERE ON KEWDA.”

My voice boomed throughout the dome.  The Council of Balance looked amongst each other while the gathered crowd began to talk in hushed tones, creating an almost muted cacophony.  And, all the while, the Kage remained staid.  After a moment, she raised her hand and the hall fell back into silence.

“Koawan Zearic, you say that only Maenowan Astar was found.  What of the other Gray Jedi?”
               ______________________________

“Many were killed in the initial assault,” Astar’s voice was weak as he paused to cough, blood staining his lips.  “Others were enslaved to work alongside of the Wookies.”

“Wookies?” Jaim quietly interjected.  “The Empire is using Wookies as slave labor?”

After another coughing fit, this time longer than the first, the injured maenowan answered.  “Yes, poor creatures.  The Imperials worked them hard, some to death.  Along with many of our brothers and sisters.”  Astar’s last statement came out as a whisper.

“Maenowan, what of the rest of the Jedi?” G’av asked as he continued using his abilities as a healer.  But I could tell that despite G’av’s skill and best efforts, Astar did not have long to live.  The only consolation was that G’av could help to make the mortally wounded maenowan as comfortable as possible.

Wheezing now, Astar’s answer took longer.  “When Vader arrived, they took only the strong to a detention shuttle.  When he was done here, he left and the shuttle with him.”

“Maenowan.  Astar.  ASTAR!” I had to yell in the hopes of refocusing him.  “Where is Master Gaetana?”

Astar’s eyes fluttered, but he whispered, “Gaetana…don’t know…killed…she went…the Guardian…explosion…no alarm….” the venerable maenowan’s voice was barely audible.  His face had grown ashen and drawn.  I looked at G’av but the small koawan was focused completely on the maenowan and the Force.  Jaim, too, had silently opened himself to the healing properties of the Force, though in all honesty his healing abilities were even less effective than my own.

“Gaetana…” Astar’s sudden whisper started me.  “…she…told…me…you…Zearic….”

Both Jaim and G’av looked right at me.  My own shock must have shown on my face.  “What?  Astar?  ASTAR!”  But even as I spoke his name, I knew that the maenowan was gone.

“The Maker keep you, Maenowan Astar Myrishi,” G’av’s solemn voice gave benediction in homage and remembrance.  Jaim and I did likewise; meanwhile my mind raced at what Astar’s last words could mean.  I knew that I had to contact D’Aylanna and the Council of Balance.  But first, I wanted to deal with another issue.

“Jaim, bring me one of the Inquisitors.”  Both Jaim’s and G’av’s opponents were alive, if unconscious.  We’d restrained them with some of the binders that littered the room among the crushed storm troopers.  While Jaim went to retrieve one of the Inquisitors, G’av began preparing Maenowan Astar’s body for transport.

“G’av, stop.”  My anger was rising.  While I recognized the fine line between passion and hate, I did not stop myself from feeling the rage that I was controlling.  Our friends…the Temple…Master Gaetana.  I made my breathing relax as I tried to regain composure.  By the time Jaim returned with one of the prisoners, I had the outward appearance of calm.  But in all honesty, I was anything but.

Silently, I went over to the Inquisitor, grabbed her bound arms and turned her facing Jaim.  “Jaim.  Do it.”  Mentally opening himself to the Force, Jaim’s eyes lidded in concentration.

The Inquisitor’s face at first went blank, her eyes glazed over as Jaim’s mental probing began.  I’d seen him do this dozens of times, each time successful.  Jaim would find our missing friends and find out what Vader wanted.  Or so I thought.

“…Zearic, I…can’t…something…wrong…evil…” Jaim’s eyes abruptly shot open and his breath caught in this throat.  I was about to tell G’av to help him when the Inquisitor collapsed in my arms.  Convulsing violently, she began to froth at mouth while blood began to pour out of her eyes, nose, and ears.  A final bloody cough and her motionless body fell contorted in ways that were unnatural, her face twisted in agony.

“Jaim, are you ok?  What happened?” my concern for my friend outweighed my confusion, but once again my anger began to rise.

Jaim took a moment to collect himself, nodding to G’av and staring disbelievingly at the dead Inquisitor.  “I had no sooner melded with her mind when I encountered a…blackness.  No, that’s not right; a…an evil.  I…believe that this woman has—had—been…conditioned.”  Jaim looked poleaxed.  I know how he felt.

“Conditioned?  Like…a Force trance?” G’av looked incredulously at Jaim.

The taller man shook his head.  “No; I mean she had…a failsafe.”  Jaim’s brows furrowed in frustration.  “No a…trigger.  Her mind was…protected?  No, not protected.  Enmeshed.  Yes.  Completely.  Against mental probing.”  Jaim’s voice betrayed his shock and disgust.  He looked at me.  “Zearic, I’ve read about this.  In the Book of Balance.  Entry by Jonin, er I mean Maenowan Kuar Lithal.  A Sith master would use it on their padawan as a means to ensure that they could not betray them.”

I stood there, angry with myself.  I should’ve known.  Vader would never have been so trusting.  Or unwary.  I opened myself to the Force, seeking serenity while the fury threatened to overwhelm it.  After a moment, I looked from G’av to Jaim.  “Jaim, bring the other one.”

Jaim hesitated a moment before he went to awaken the last prisoner.  G’av came up beside me, his hand rested on my shoulder.  “Brother, you must calm yourself.  You are dangerously close to giving into hate.”  The words should have given me comfort, should’ve reassured me.  But Astar’s words reverberated in my mind.  Shrugging off G’av’s hand, I went over to Jaim and his now-conscious prisoner.  My purpose, my conviction of thought, lay open in front of me.  I grasped the hilt of my saber and nodded to the tall koawan.

Jaim forced the Inquisitor on his knees.  His look of utter contempt and pure hatred was not only expected but welcome, his yellow eyes alert.  I slowly walked over and kneeled in front of him, remaining silent.  My hazel eyes met his, the calm that I did not feel vacillated between control and surrender of my rage.  Outwardly, I showed none of the conflict.  Seconds passed and the silence stretched until, finally, the Dark-sider spoke.

“Lord Vader has your friends.”  The Inquisitor’s voice was full of bravado.  “They will all die.  As will you.”  His smile broadened until it resembled a rictus grin.  Still, I remained silent.  Pitiless.  Implacable.

Inhaling, my voice finely, quietly broke the silence.  “Lothal.”  The Inquisitor’s bluster disappeared, replaced by puzzlement.  Again I spoke.  “Cymoon 1.”  And again the Inquisitor looked perplexed.  I hid expectation as I spoke a third time.  “Kuat Drive Yards.”  Confusion was briefly replaced by recognition, virtually imperceptible.  But it was enough for me, if just.  I stood, ignoring the Dark-sider as I addressed both Jaim and G’av.  “They’re at Kuat Drive Yards.”

The Inquisitor began to laugh.  “You fool!  Lord Vader is expecting you! He is…urrgkk!”  The Dark-sider’s throat constricted, his face grimacing in pain as blood began to flow from his eyes, nose, and ears.  Unflinchingly, I watched as the Inquisitor fell, his body racked with spasms.  Finally the Inquisitor’s body lay at my feet, motionless.  Still, we got what we’d come for, between the data node and the dead Inquisitors.  “Let’s go.”  I didn’t talk with my friends as we returned to our ship.  Once inside, G’av spoke.

“Brother I understand why you mentioned the locations that you did but how did you guess the right one?”

Stowing away my equipment, I distractedly spoke, “D’Alyanna’s training.  My anger helped to heighten my senses.  At least enough that my perception was up to the task.”  I went to turn but G’av stood in front of me, immovable.

“D’Aylanna’s training.  Using…rage?  Brother, that does NOT sound like her instruction.”  I was twice G’av’s weight and taller by 15 centimeters.  Yet G’av stood resolute and unyielding in front of me.  “Brother, I am worried about you.”

I paused a moment, opening myself to the Force while inhaling, letting cooler heads prevail.  “You’re right G’av.  She taught me to harness passion and use it to focus my senses.”  I sighed.  “I know you’re concerned G’av.  I’m ok now, really.”  I smiled to emphasize my words.

G’av’s look of scrutiny remained.  “Did you know that would happen to the Inquisitor?”

I faced him unflinchingly.  “Know?  No, I didn’t know that he would do that, much less, say it.”  However, I didn’t verbalize that I also had no regrets.  My inner voice—sounding remarkably like D’Aylanna—warned of giving into dark thoughts but I had justified the means with the ends.  And I still had to tell my wife that her friends were missing or dead.

Brusquely, I pushed past G’av.  “I’ve got to contact D’Aylanna, tell her what has happened here.” 

G’av’s hand grabbed my arm.  “Brother.  We’re all upset and hurting.  Please do not hold onto this fury.”  His face softened as he spoke, his tone turning conciliatory.  “Please my friend.”

I relaxed, releasing my pent up anger.  “Thank you G’av.  I am better.  But I’ve got to tell D’Aylanna.  She has to know.”

A look of concern on his face, G’av smiled, nodded and went to stow his own equipment.  As I passed Jaim in the corridor, I patted his arm as I headed to the holographic comm unit.  Opening a channel, I waited while a connection was established.  A moment later, my wife’s visage hovered just before me, the hologram slightly distorted given the distance between my transmission and her reception.

“Husband,” her genuine happiness at seeing me was evident even in the poor holograph.  I couldn’t help but feel the love, both for her and being reciprocated.  Unfortunately, it was quickly replaced with grave apprehension as I gave her a full report on what we’d found.

“Astar and Gaetana dead?  Wookie slaves?  The Inquisitorious and Vader?”  Her tranquil nature was only belied by an undercurrent of disquiet.  I must needs tell the Council.  And the Kage, of course.”

“I understand.  We’ve ascertained that Vader is headed to the Kuat Drive Yards.  Once we resupply and given that we need to adjust for the new hyperspace lane we should reach Kuat in-”

“You are not going.”  D’Aylanna’s voice matched her face: stanch and adamant.  “Zearic-you, Jaim, and G’av are to return to Zenoma Sekot.  The Council of Balance is convening and I need you here.”  Her voice was absolutely resolute.  I knew that I could not tell her anything to dissuade her.

“I understand.  I will load the jump coordinates for hyperspace.  Be safe and I love you.”  She had no sooner returned the sentiment when I terminated the connection.  Breathing deeply, I joined Jaim and G’av on the bridge.  Before I could speak, Jaim’s deliberate voice sounded from the pilot’s seat.

“Lothal.  Cymoon 1.  Kuat Drive Yards.  All shipyards for star destroyer manufacture and assembly.  You think that Vader is at Kuat with the doonium and our friends?”

I paused for a moment.  “I know they are there.”  Staring straight through the viewport, I mentally considered my choices.  Or rather, the fact that I had no choice at all.

“D’Aylanna tell you if we should set course to Kuat or are we heading back to Sekot?” G’av asked.

Silently, I weighed the information we’d learned along with the destruction of the temple and the loss of our friends.  Like I said: no choice at all.

“We’re going to Kuat.  And we’re going to get our friends back.”
Logged

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

Karmack
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
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Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1147
Posts: 5594


Light side points please.


« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2017, 10:20:50 AM »

"Silently, I weighed the information we’d learned along with the destruction of the temple and the loss of our friends.  Like I said: no choice at all.

“We’re going to Kuat.  And we’re going to get our friends back.”


*****

And now we know a little more of what is happening.  :-)  Well written, Dutchman!  I am completely engaged in your story.  The dance of using passion to enhance abilities without giving in to rage or hatred is familiar but your treatment of it is compelling and very different.  I like it a lot.  :-)  If anything you're clearer on this point than I have been, and I appreciate that a lot.  One thing I think we would both agree on is that the motivation brought to the event is more important than what is done when it is judged as "light" or "dark".  It rather reminds me of Jesus telling us to "be angry and sin not."  Evil should make us angry, but we are not to give in to hate or rage.  Dividing the two is the key - and the rub.  :-)  ESPECIALLY for a force user!

I am greatly enjoying this adventure!  Keep it coming!  :-) 
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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

Taegin Roan
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 2043
Posts: 6179


Lord of the Force


« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2017, 11:06:21 AM »

Karm is right. Wonderfully written. It now has a sense of darkness that you would get from the Gray, Inquisitors, and Vader. Yet you still keep the fact that they are Jedi of a sort. They don't give in to their emotions, but rather embrace them and accept that they are a natural part of life. I think that is the true reason why the Jedi order fell. They had a wrong perception of emotion. I also noticed this time that the Council of Balance is on Zenoma Sekot. I could easily Wookieepedia this, but isn't Sekot the planet that moves around, and is no longer stationary. The "Rogue Planet"? If so, how did the council end up there? Amazing writing, and honestly I was trying to find a way to incorporate Sekot into my story, but it just wouldn't fit. Great job.

Until next installment friends. Smiley
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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
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2017, 11:41:04 AM »

"Silently, I weighed the information we’d learned along with the destruction of the temple and the loss of our friends.  Like I said: no choice at all.

“We’re going to Kuat.  And we’re going to get our friends back.”


*****

And now we know a little more of what is happening.  :-)  Well written, Dutchman!  I am completely engaged in your story.  The dance of using passion to enhance abilities without giving in to rage or hatred is familiar but your treatment of it is compelling and very different.  I like it a lot.  :-)  If anything you're clearer on this point than I have been, and I appreciate that a lot.  One thing I think we would both agree on is that the motivation brought to the event is more important than what is done when it is judged as "light" or "dark".  It rather reminds me of Jesus telling us to "be angry and sin not."  Evil should make us angry, but we are not to give in to hate or rage.  Dividing the two is the key - and the rub.  :-)  ESPECIALLY for a force user!

I am greatly enjoying this adventure!  Keep it coming!  :-) 
Thanks Karm  Smiley. I am glad that I was able to convey...how did you put it?  "...the motivation brought to the event is more important than what is done when it is judged as 'light' or 'dark'." I believe that it is this tenet that allow the Gray to evolve and thrive.  Like...

Karm is right. Wonderfully written. It now has a sense of darkness that you would get from the Gray, Inquisitors, and Vader. Yet you still keep the fact that they are Jedi of a sort. They don't give in to their emotions, but rather embrace them and accept that they are a natural part of life. I think that is the true reason why the Jedi order fell. They had a wrong perception of emotion. I also noticed this time that the Council of Balance is on Zenoma Sekot. I could easily Wookieepedia this, but isn't Sekot the planet that moves around, and is no longer stationary. The "Rogue Planet"? If so, how did the council end up there? Amazing writing, and honestly I was trying to find a way to incorporate Sekot into my story, but it just wouldn't fit. Great job.

Until next installment friends. Smiley
...what TR said: " They don't give in to their emotions, but rather embrace them and accept that they are a natural part of life." Exactly my friend! 
Good eye TR^^  Zenoma Sekot is indeed the "rogue planet". Admittedly having the council there is my own development Wink

Thank you both so much; as I said: I couldn't have done this without you all  Grin
Logged

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

Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 307
Posts: 1660



« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2017, 03:15:26 PM »

“The Inquisitor began to laugh.  “You fool!  Lord Vader is expecting you! He is…urrgkk!”  The Dark-sider’s throat constricted, his face grimacing in pain as blood began to flow from his eyes, nose, and ears.  Unflinchingly, I watched as the Inquisitor fell, his body racked with spasms.  Finally the Inquisitor’s body lay at my feet, motionless. 


Call me paranoid but I'm wondering if that Inquisitor had a little help choking up like that......
Some interesting stuff going on here, some stuff that really doesn't add up, I have hard time believing the Empire would go to Kewda for doonium, there would be better worlds to mine than that....killing the Gray Jedi would be a plus but still doesn't seem like enough...their force seems too small...and why would Vader/Inquisitors leave Astar behind rather than taken to a proper Imperial detention./interrogation facility???

I have no idea, but I look forward to finding out!
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Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2017, 06:14:39 PM »

Call me paranoid but I'm wondering if that Inquisitor had a little help choking up like that......
Some interesting stuff going on here, some stuff that really doesn't add up, I have hard time believing the Empire would go to Kewda for doonium, there would be better worlds to mine than that....killing the Gray Jedi would be a plus but still doesn't seem like enough...their force seems too small...and why would Vader/Inquisitors leave Astar behind rather than taken to a proper Imperial detention./interrogation facility???

I have no idea, but I look forward to finding out!
If you'll indulge me LSG, I promise that all of your concerns will be addressed  Wink.

Soon. Smiley

Eventually. Grin
Logged

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

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1026
Posts: 3842


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2017, 10:29:00 PM »

“So.  You disobeyed a direct order.  Not only from your maenowan but from the Council itself.”  The Kage’s voice was unwavering.

“I did.”  I stood as straight as my injuries would allow me.  “Jaim and G’av had no idea; the fault was mine alone.  But the Imperials had our people and I couldn’t let them suffer if I could do anything about it.  Especially after what I’d seen them do to Ast…Maenowan Astar.”

The mention of Astar’s death triggered a change in the Kage’s orange eyes.  If they were hard before, they were quadranium now.  “Koawan Zearic.  Did you not consider that Maenowan Astar had been left as a means of inducement for you?”

The Kage’s question cut through me like a lightsaber.  Indeed, I had come to ask myself that many times while I was incapacitated in the bacta tanks.  After a moment, I let out a breath that I had not known that I’d held.  “Not at that time, no.”

The my words hung in the air.  Momentarily, I stole a look at D’Aylanna.  The concern and love on her dark face shown through the anger that I knew that she held for me.  Which stood to remind me of the fact that the fault was entirely mine.  “Take what you want and pay for it” was an old Hapan saying, or as near as could be translated into Basic.  The cost I would gladly pay…except that my friends had incurred it as well.

“Koawan Zearic.  So you unilaterally decided to journey to Kuat.  I can presume that this was no small undertaking.”

I sighed.  “No.  But I thought that I would be able to sneak us in.  After boarding our freighter, I had Jaim and G’av scan for the Inquisitor’s ship on Kewda.  It took us longer than I wanted but we found it: a Sith Infiltrator.  I had G’av slice into the computer, which helped me locate the transponder.  After removing it, I transferred it to our ship, installing it to broadcast on the outboard computer.  I knew that it would allow us almost unparalleled access to the shipyards.”

The Kage’s blue face remained impassive.  “Koawan Zearic.  That was foolish.”

            _____________________________

“Zearic, this is foolish.”

Jaim’s voice was uncharacteristically tight, his usual casual inflection gone.  Piloting the freighter, the shipyards soon came into view.  Kuat, a small world, had a fairly non-descript green atmosphere.  But that was not what I was focused on.  Instead, my eyes beheld the immense metal construct that encircled the entire planet in orbit around the equator.  Kuat Drive Yards.  The Orbital Array included supply, residential, and the military zones.  One of the main sources of Imperial might, the Kuat Drive Yards produced the majority of vessels—both capital ships and fighters—that powered the Empire’s war machine.

“By the Maker…” G’av’s voice echoed what I was already thinking.  The superstructure was the largest artificial construct I’d ever seen.  Consisting of 15 modules, the shipyard proper was a hive of activity, ships of varying completion in virtually all of the drydocks.  Adjacent to them, warehouses and factories continued to produce an assembly line of vessels.  However, I was looking for one yard in particular: the star destroyers.

“Jaim, take us to the star-destroyer dock’s supply station.  G’av, I hope that our time in hyperspace gave you enough time to write the code to slice into the databanks.”  The doonium from Kewda would’ve made its way here.  If nothing else, Imperial bureaucracy ensured that there would be a data trail that G’av could find.  Once he did that, we could use our Imperial transponder to access the residential modules of the Array.  Chances were: our people would be confined in one of the Imperial detention centers there.  With a bit of subterfuge and luck, we could get them all without raising any alarms.

“Zearic, I’m in,” G’av’s voice held controlled excitement.  “Incredible; it looks like the Imperials imprisoned our friends together.  And according to this, they’re still all in a detainment cell located off of the docks.”  G’av grinned.  “Apparently, Imperial red tape has them backlogged.”

“Serendipity, indeed.”  I smiled inwardly.  Despite what the Empire did militarily, it was still beholden to one enormous, lumbering administration.  “Thank the Maker that the moffs’ collective predisposition is to govern via committee.”  Almost under my breath I mentioned, “I bet the doonium is obstructing everything.”

“Actually…I don’t see any backlog concerning the doonium.”  G’av’s brow furrowed.  “In fact, there are separate firewalls concerning doonium shipments.”  G’av looked up from the monitor.  “Zearic.  A lot.  I’ve never seen this level of convolution.  I don’t think that my worm can slice this, as-is.  I need to write more code.  I mean, A LOT more.”  

I paused in thought.  We were here for our friends…but the mined doonium from Kewda and now this?  Something was wrong.  Breathing in, I made my decision.  “G’av, get to work.  I want to know what the Imperials are hiding.  Jaim and I will get our people.”  I grabbed the web belt with both of my lightsabers, but put an overjacket on top.  We’d raided the Inquisitor’s Sith Infiltrator of some of the wardrobe.  Both Jaim and I would easily blend in.  I’d found a worn set of factory utilities that were big enough for me.  Unfortunately, the only clothes that were long enough for Jaim were that of the Kuati Security Forces.  Comically, with the wide-topped hat, Jaim towered almost two and a half meters tall.  Despite the gravity of the situation, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Well now we know how Kuati security keeps this place safe: anyone who sees those ridiculous uniforms would be too busy laughing to get any fighting done.” G’av’s wry voice came from behind his datapad.  “And anything to take away the attention to your head, Jaim!” said G’av, pointing at the matching white hat of Jaim’s uniform.

“Don’t you have code to write, little brother?” Jaim’s grin belied his serious tone.

Shaking my head, I mentally readied myself as we docked.  Before disembarking, G’av handed us two datacards.  “These should give you access to all areas within the module.  I’ve sliced into facial rec systems; the databanks will identify you as resident/employees.  Zearic: you’re a “drunk and disorderly” who never misses a meal and Jaim is your clueless jailer.”  G’av’s jocular nature was appreciated given what we faced.  “I’ve also secured a corvette; it’s docked in Berth 9.  No weapons systems, but it does have a working Class3 Hyperdrive and enough room for everyone.  Deployment orders have already been logged in the mainframe so that should take care of any industrious Imperial paper-pusher.”  Absorbing everything that G’av told us, I kept worrying that there were too many moving parts.  As a result, my somber mood broke through and infected my friends.

“G’av, download the worm as soon as you slice through those firewalls.  Jaim and I will get our people out.  If something happens-”

“You’re going to be fine, brother.”  It never ceased to amaze me that G’av’s optimism was truly eternal.

I reached out to both of my friends, grabbing their shoulders.  “Zero presence.  I don’t want anyone knowing anything that we’re doing.  May the Force be with us.”  I tried not to think about the finality of that litany.  G’av hunched over his datapad while Jaim and I exited the bridge and entered into the station’s dock.

As Jaim and I walked through the halls, we adopted our cover before coming to the first Imperial gatekeeper.  The datatech looked bored as he briefly noticed us, turning his eyes back to the display monitor.  Clearing his throat, Jaim spoke.

“C’nst’ble Nuuti M’gn’s.  I h’ve ‘un f’r th’ stir; needs dryin’ out.”  Jaim’s use of Kuati idioms came across as casual as his diction was authentic.

“’Noth’r fac’ty alky?  N’t s’rpris’d, ‘specially w’th th’ w’rkload s’of late.  B’t you can’t dr’p ‘im here.  L’rd Vad’r h’s squ’ster’d th’ ‘ntire ‘tention block.”  The datatech didn’t even look away from the monitor.

Unperturbed, Jaim opened himself to the Force, gently enveloping the datatech’s mind.  “You will open the doors.”

“’ll op’n th’ doors.”  The datatech’s expression didn’t change.

“You will not remember us.”  Jaim’s voice was calm, without urgency.

“’ll n’t ‘member.”  The datatech’s eyes had lost focus, glazing over as he listened to Jaim’s “suggestions.”

Stepping through the doors and into the adjacent tunnel, Jaim gave me one of his rare full-faced smiles.  I couldn’t help but return the sentiment.  I coughed quietly before turning solemn.  “Jaim how many guards before the holding cell?”

His face intent, Jaim replied, “Only three.  But there more people in the cells.”

Not bad, considering.  Still, if our encounter at the Kewda Temple had taught me anything, I loosened my main lightsaber from the web-belt.  “Jaim.  Put them to sleep.”

Nodding, Jaim’s eyes lidded in concentration.  As with before, one lone word escaped his lips as a focal point. “Sleep.” he breathed.

Hurriedly, we both entered, just in time to see the three guards collapse to the deck.  “Good job, Jaim.”  As I rounded the station, I simultaneously produced the datacard that G’av had given me as well as opening myself to the Force.  Sliding the card into the port, G’av’s program overrode the security protocols, opening the cell doors.  Both rooms had no light emanating from them.  I pushed awareness towards the rooms as Jaim headed towards the nearest open cell.  It was with that alertness that I first felt it, almost muted but nevertheless THERE, the same…darkness that I’d felt back at the temple.  
Logged

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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

TheDutchman
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« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2017, 10:29:46 PM »


Just before Jaim could enter into the cell I grabbed his tunic, pulling him back.  A split-second later, a crimson blade arced through the air where Jaim’s head had been.  With my other hand, I ignited my lightsaber, the snap-hiss of the blue blade intercepting another red Inquisitor lightsaber as he jumped into the room.  In quick succession, four, five, SIX Inquisitors rushed into the room, attempting to surround Jaim and I.  I knew that I had to act—and quickly—if we were to survive this ambush. 

Drawing in on the Force, I opened myself to my anger, fueling my saber strikes.  My assault must have caught them unprepared as the ferocity of my attacks had already cut down two of the Inquisitors in as many seconds.  Simultaneously, I reached out with the Force to crush the throat of another opponent as she readied a cut towards Jaim’s exposed flank.  She dropped to the ground, her lightsaber deactivating as she clawed her ruined larynx with both of her hands.  Shifting my attention from her, I then used the Force to pull multiple missiles from along the open shelves, targetting the remaining three Inquisitors.  Distracted, an Inquisitor fell under Jaim’s yellow blade as he beheaded his opponent.  Using the initiative that I’d created, I fell into a Djem So power attack, battering down one of the Inquisitor’s blade while I quickly kicked opposite at my second opponent.  The heel of my boot connected solidly just beneath the Inquisitor’s solar plexus, her breath expelling at the unexpected blow.  Knowing that she was out of the fight—at least momentarily—I turned my full attention to the final Inquisitor. 

Holding his lightsaber in the high guard, his muscles stretched his tunic taut as he adopted an advanced Djem So form.  He must have weighed 135 kilograms, so while he and I were the same weight he was also almost as tall as Jaim.  I knew that I could not overpower him like I had done many of my opponents; Djem So would be ineffective against him.  Subtly, I shifted into Juyo, D’Aylanna’s preferred style.  While I did not have her mastery, I was more than proficient in its use.  Furthermore, D’Aylanna had sparred with me exclusively using Djem So (her reasoning was to dissuade me from relying overtly upon Form V).  At the time, I had thought it superfluous; now, I was grateful that for her insistence in doing so.

And none too soon; the Inquisitor’s attacks were—as predicted—formidable, crushing in their strength.  However, not only was I prepared but he was attempting to use against me that which I was most familiar and proficient with.  It should have been a swift victory for the Inquisitor; instead, I was able to subsume his kinetic attack and add it to my own.  Finally, as we locked blades, the Inquisitor’s face betrayed his confusion.  Taking advantage of his momentary lapse, I used my opponent’s ferocity to shift balance.  Having overcommitted, his center of gravity had left him exposed whereas I had anticipated and adjusted accordingly.  Swiftly shifting and using the momentum I’d acquired, I swept my lightsaber over and down, the blue blade locking the Inquisitor’s red blade towards the floor.  Reaching out with the Force, I called upon my shoto, activating the smaller saber immediately as it reached my left hand.  The silver blade sprang to life, the point stabbing through the back of the Inquisitor’s throat.  He was dead before his corpse hit the floor.

Deactivating both of my lightsabers, I turned to Jaim.  He’d taken care of the Inquisitor that I’d kicked, binders securing her arms behind her and her feet below.  From somewhere, Jaim had found a deprivation hood and had placed it over her head.  I relaxed a bit, confident that the Inquisitor was no longer a threat although her presence was definitely a concern.  Once might have been coincidence, but twice?  I looked at Jaim who, despite a growing bruise around his eye, told me he was all right.

With the Force within me, I began to weave a healing flow towards Jaim.  While I was nowhere near as skilled as G’av, the bruise became less severe, his eyes more focused.  “Thank you, brother,” Jaim’s quiet gratitude seemed incongruous with the look on his face as he directed his eyes towards the other cell.  Following his gaze, I turned and entered the first room.  Within, it was obvious that the Inquisitors had been lying in wait.  A cursory search of the room yielded little more: beyond a datapad that had a short list of Gray Jedi, the cell had been stripped of everything in order to make room for the Inquisitors.  “Zearic, in here.”  Jaim’s voice came from the other cell.

As I entered, my eyes had to adjust to the darkness.  However, I immediately noticed the bodies.  Kneeling for closer inspection, I knew that they’d been killed only a short time ago, most by lightsaber.  The faces of the dead belonged to that of my friends.  But as I continued to search, not one of them was Master Gaetana.  I didn’t know if that filled me more with consternation or relief.

“Brother.”  Jaim cradled an orange woman in his arms, looking for all like a child next to the tall koawan.  As I approached, I saw that it was a young Togruta, Jorya Fah.  She was one of the teidowans who I had mentored in order to try out my hand at training.  Her obvious pain made me curse my decision to leave G’av on our ship.  Kneeling down, I did what I could to ease her injuries.  Her watery eyes focused then, first on Jaim and finally on me.

“Koawan Zearic?”  Her voice was weak, wet with blood.  “Thank the Maker…but…how?”  She tried to look around but Jaim gently restrained her.  After a moment, she relaxed.  When she finally turned her head, I saw that she was missing one of her lekku.  My rage ignited anew as I saw the full extent of her injuries.  Clearly, she’d undergone a full Imperial interrogation and, indicative of the violence, it had probably been carried out by COMPNOR.  Coinciding with the rise of Emperor Palpatine, the Commision for the Preservation of the New Order, had grown out of Imperial Intelligence.  What was seen as failure to pacify the Rebellion, COMPNOR decided that the relatively bloodless Imperial Intelligence was ineffective.  Members of COMPNOR were as inventive as they were violent, often specializing as interrogators for persons who were remarkably…resistant to examination.  As consummate professionals, COMPNOR interrogators were able to keep subjects in indescribable agony without killing them.  Until their usefulness came to an end.

“Jorya…can you tell me what happened?  We found the temple razed, everyone dead.”  I didn’t mention Astar; the Togruta teidowan had suffered enough to have to relive Astar’s painful death.

She looked at me, appreciation mixed with pain.  “I…was outside the temple grounds when the explosion destroyed the Guardian.  I was...almost insensate from the blast.  One of my…montrals was injured.”  I could see that her left horn ended abruptly in a jagged break.  “I…couldn’t move.  But I could…see them.  Storm troopers.  Inquisitors.”  She paused, her voice a whisper.  “Vader.”  Her eyes teared, spilling over her cheeks, lines staining her white and orange face.  “I…I…thought I was dying.  But…then…I…I saw Master Gaetana.”

“Master Gaetana was alive?  After the Guardian fell?” I looked up to Jaim as he continued to stroke Jorya’s head.  Her voice was getting stronger, my healing working, if imperfectly.

“I…yes…yes, she came…upon me.  Her…face, it was…twisted.  Anger.  No, fury.  She said…something to me; I couldn’t…quite make it out.  Take care?  I…I just…can’t…” she closed her eyes and continued to cry.  Looking down at her face, I couldn’t help but feel amazed.  Jorya had suffered pain beyond comprehension, yet she continued to fight.

“It’s all right, young one.  Peace.  Rest.”  As I went to rise, Jorya’s hand clamped around my wrist, her eyes open.  Lucid.  Angry.

“Koawan Zearic.  They…kept asking me…what I knew…about Master Gaetana.  About Maenowan D’Aylanna.  And about you.”  I felt ice down my spine.  First Astar and now Jorya.  This was no accident; it was deliberate.  When the young Togruta spoke again, her voice shook, as if in telling me, her horrors had returned.  “I…I…was in and out of…consciousness.  But they…kept asking.  And something…an…abyss?  I…I…just…I…I’m sorry koawan.”  If she was crying before, she now sobbed.

Again I reassured her.  “It’s over now, Jorya.  We’re here.  Don’t worry.  We’ll get you to safety.”  I looked up to Jaim and mouthed the word “abyss” to him.  The look of consternation on his face was interrupted by his confusion and compassion.  As to my unspoken question, he briefly shook his head.  Holding her close, Jaim lifted Jorya.  Looking around, taking in the faces of our dead friends, I mentally tallied the casualty list.  Even with all of the dead, we were still missing about 4-5 Gray Jedi. 

Leaving the cell my eyes fell on the lone Inquisitor on the floor.  Again, my rage flared.  Before doing something I knew I’d regret, I picked up her up, and locked her into the first cell.  Breathing steadily, I joined Jaim who stood protectively with Jorya in his arms.

“Jaim, can you mentally cover our presence?  I don’t want to have to explain to an Imperial agent why we’re carrying an injured ‘enemy of the Empire.’”

Jaim handed Jorya over to me; she seemingly weighed next to nothing in my arms.  She briefly stirred but then fully lapsed into unconsciousness.  I looked at Jaim and nodded.

“I’m ready.”  The tall koawan’s face drew up in concentration.  I trusted Jaim with my life.  Still, I felt as if the Dark Side was working actively against us.  I keyed my commlink with my chin.  “G’av.  Jaim and I need a quick egress.  As few people as possible.”

G’av’s voice sounded odd over the commlink.  “…Sure Zearic.  Sooner you get here, the better.  I’ll give you directions so keep your ‘link open.”

As with before, Jaim “convinced” the datatech gatekeeper that we were never there.  As G’av gave us our route back to the freighter, Jaim and I only came across two individuals.  Both times, they left the corridor remembering having only walked through an empty hall.  But it wasn’t until the doors closed behind us on our ship that I finally relaxed.  Heading to the infirmary, I set Jorya up in the mini-bacta table.  By the time I was done and had joined my two friends on the bridge, I could feel the subtle difference in gravity: the onboard inertial dampeners had been engaged.  I was unsurprised to see a hyperspace tunnel through the transparisteel cockpit.  As far as I was concerned, Kuat could not get far enough away.

“G’av, than-” Before I could even finish my sentence, the small koawan interjected.

“Zearic.  I broke through the firewalls.  Vader didn’t stop at the shipyards.  And neither did the doonium.”

“Wai…what?  How do you know?  Actually, first I need to tell you…” I told G’av about the awaiting Inquisitors and our dead friends.

“The Maker keep you…” G’av whispered, bowing his head.  When he looked back into my eyes, I could see my own anger reflected in my friend’s eyes. 

Holding up my hand to forestall him, I continued.  “G’av.  There was a survivor.  Do you remember the teidowan I was instructing back in the Sekot Temple last season?”

“The young, pretty Togruta?”

“Jorya, yes.”  Leading him to the infirmary, I told G’av everything, from the teidowan’s experiences following the explosion to the COMPNOR interrogation.  “G’av, I need your help.  Jorya needs your help.  I did what I could but my skills aren’t up to the task.” 

Laying his hands on either side of the young Togruta’s head, G’av closed his eyes.  However, when he spoke, his clear voice was cogent and focused.  “Zearic, the doonium is not here.  The shipyards didn’t even inventory it.  In fact, there has been a veritable cornucopia of doonium come through the ‘yards.  But here’s the strange part: almost NONE of it stayed here.  And get this: the amounts I’m talking about is enough for a FLEET of star-destroyers.”

“You’re kriffing kidding me…” I cursed.  “Then what is Vader doing with all of that metal?”  The question was rhetorical, so when G’av answered me, I was caught off-guard.

“Apparently, he’s having the doonium shipped to one of the Deep Core planets, called Byss.”  If G’av’s eyes had been open, he would have seen me start at the name of the planet.  Still, even preoccupied with healing Jorya, he noticed the change in my manner.  Opening his left eye, G’av questioned, “Brother?  What is it?”

In my haste, I’d neglected to relate EVERY word and detail that the teidowan had told me.  “Jorya said that she thought that the Imperials had mentioned a word; she thought it was ‘abyss.’  She must have meant ‘Byss.’”  I looked straight at G’av.  “Have you ever heard of it?”

He closed his eye again, shaking his head.  “No.  I don’t even know if there is a hyperspace lane to it.  Whatever it is, it must be a location special to Vader.  Or the Emperor.”  He fell silent, intent on healing.  After a short while, he released Jorya’s head from his grasp, letting out a breath.  “I’ve…done what I can, brother.  But…she’s strong.”  The last word came out almost as a question.  “Once we’ve got her on Sekot, the Healers can-”

“We’re not heading to Sekot; not now.”  My voice was steel, my convictions resolute.  “We’ll find a healer locally.  There is more to this than I’d even begun to realize.”

G’av stared at me, incredulous.  “Zearic, are you insane?!  Jorya could still DIE!  We have to g-”

I cut G’av off, scowling.  “There isn’t TIME.  Did you not hear me?!  The Inquisitors were EXPECTING us.  No; not us, ME.  This was deliberate.  We’ve been a step behind Vader this entire time.”  I stared into G’av’s eyes until he looked away.  Deep in my mind, I kept thinking that I wasn’t being fair to my friend; that he didn’t deserve the anger that I now directed at him.  Ruthlessly, I crushed that voice.  “This is more important than a single Gray Jedi; more important than ALL of our lives.  I intend to find out the truth about what happened to Master Gaetana and just what the Empire needs all of this doonium for.”  I made myself breath slower, calming a bit in the process.  “We’ll get Jorya to a healer, G’av.  I promise.  But we HAVE to find out just what Vader is hiding and the significance of Byss.”

Without saying a word, G’av left the infirmary.  Lost in thought as I was, I barely noticed.  But while my face was composed, beneath I seethed with anger.  And, using that anger, I honed the edge of my intuition to a fine point.  In Sabacc, there was a winning hand called an “Idiot’s Array.”  It was the ONLY hand that could beat a “Pure Sabacc.”
…Unless one used a skifter card; that is, a card that could change face values as needed by the player.  Well, Vader had laid down a Pure Sabacc and I was going to have to bluff using my own skifter card.  Easy enough…unless the skifter is detected for what it is.  Even in Republic worlds, someone who used a skifter was in for punishment.  In the Outer Rim?  You were lucky if you just lost a hand; and in this case, literally.  There was a reason that it was called an “Idiot’s Array….”

As I walked into the bridge, Jaim and G’av stopped talking and stared at me.  I didn’t care; we didn’t have the luxury of time.  “Jaim, scan our starmaps; when you find a suitable Gray Healer safehouse, we’ll dock there for Jorya and resupply. G’av: I need you to extrapolate the datadump you sliced.  I need that hyperspace route to Byss.”  Any argument that Jaim or G’av might have had disappeared.  “Vader has us playing his game.  No longer; we’re taking the initiative AND the fight to him.”  My voice lowered as I grabbed both of my friends by their shoulders.  “No more Gray Jedi die from Vader’s hand.”

Brave words.

And somewhere, the Idiot was laughing.
Logged

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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
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Light side points please.


« Reply #24 on: October 13, 2017, 06:30:24 AM »

And somewhere, the Idiot was laughing.

Awesome ending to this section!  Nicely written.  The action was tight and I can just feel the tension building between these three as they continue.  And the mystery of Master Gaetana....  And why Zearic and D'Aylanna were singled out... 

And Byss...  And all of that metal...  (Though I suspect that might end up being a Death Star...  LOL)

Byss..   Hmmm....  Time for a dive into Wookipedia, I think. 

Dutchman, this one was TIGHT!  Nicely written and again, I love the format, the flash-back feel of the story.  Thank you and keep it rolling my friend!
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Taegin Roan
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« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2017, 12:56:52 PM »

Karm said it all. Great job, very interesting to see the character and plot development as the story goes on. You throw in enough twists to keep us unsure of what is going to happen next, but still retain the feeling of reality. Besides that, it was a nice long post. Grin Can't wait for more.
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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 #26 on: October 14, 2017, 05:33:02 AM »

And somewhere, the Idiot was laughing.

Awesome ending to this section!  Nicely written.  The action was tight and I can just feel the tension building between these three as they continue.  And the mystery of Master Gaetana....  And why Zearic and D'Aylanna were singled out... 

And Byss...  And all of that metal...  (Though I suspect that might end up being a Death Star...  LOL)

Byss..   Hmmm....  Time for a dive into Wookipedia, I think. 

Dutchman, this one was TIGHT!  Nicely written and again, I love the format, the flash-back feel of the story.  Thank you and keep it rolling my friend!
Karm said it all. Great job, very interesting to see the character and plot development as the story goes on. You throw in enough twists to keep us unsure of what is going to happen next, but still retain the feeling of reality. Besides that, it was a nice long post. Grin Can't wait for more.
Thanks guys^^  I actually didn't realize that this installment was so long until I went to post it and couldn't (over the 20k character limit).  That's why I ended up breaking it where I did but it's supposed to be one continuous read  Cheesy   Tongue

Thanks for the encouragement; I haven't written like this in YEARS and I now find myself excited doing so again.  I already have a (vague) map of the next story after this with (hopefully) a few easter eggs thrown in  Wink. Honestly, the more I read from Karm, LSG, and TR, the more inspired I feel^^  So, lastly, thank you all  Grin
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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

Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2017, 02:57:16 PM »

Awesome Dutchman, keep it up.  Love the inclusion of little bits from the EU like Sabbacc hands, Byss, Kuati speech.
And best of all how the story keeps you guessing...the inquisitors know they are coming but seem unable to kill Zearic...yet then he gets just enough clues and then rushes off in pursuit...almost as If someone is leaving bread crumbs for him to follow...and enemies to test him against.....
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Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

TheDutchman
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« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2017, 12:58:04 PM »

“Koawan Zearic, a moment.”

I stopped talking, waiting for the Kage to ask for clarity on some point.  What she asked next was not only natural but expected.  Luckily, I knew a few things about Ferroans.

“You have relations with Master Gaetana as well as Maenowan D’Aylanna?”

“Yes, but allow me to explain: Maenowan D’Aylanna is my Life-Mate.  Master Gaetana is…near-sister to D’Aylanna and akin to…an aunt to me.”  That last almost made me laugh; Gaetana was only a year older than I but the idiosyncrasies of Ferroan domestic life was remarkably different than most humanoid relationships.  While not originally indigenous to Zenoma Sekot, Ferroans had colonized the planet millennia before, making it their second home.  The civilization that emerged was incredibly reclusive; a household often consisted of a solitary occupant.  Whenever two Ferroans met—platonic or otherwise—they were said to have “relations” to one another.  Unfortunately, this led to quite a bit of confusion when the Ferroans first encountered humans.  “Master Gaetana and I never were…in cohabitation together.”

“I see.  So Master Gaetana’s disappearance was worrisome for you?”  Again: the question was not unexpected.

“Yes.  But not in the way you think.  Pardon me, please; I mean no offense.  You see: Maenowan D’Aylanna was closer to Master Gaetana than I ever was.  I know that she would deny it to protect me but D’Aylanna never asked me to pursue Vader in search of Gaetana.  But I also knew that D’Aylanna was worried about her near-sister.  And I would do anything for D’Aylanna.”

The Kage sat back, the orange eyes that were so rare among her species looked thoughtful.  “Koawan Zearic.  You were successful in saving Teidowan Jorya Fah.  Was she not of a relation with you and D’Aylanna as well?”

I smiled, despite the pain.  One of the few things that went right: Jorya HAD survived.  We’d found a Gray Healer thanks to Jaim.  While we couldn’t stay long, we all shared respite from the ordeals at Kuat.  The young Togruta was extraordinary: from the time G’av had laid hands on her to our arrival at the Healer’s manse, Jorya’s mood brightened considerably.  I was worried that the mental horrors would run deep but I was thankfully wrong.  The teidowan’s resilience was nothing short of remarkable.  And as far as her physical injuries, the physicians could mend her broken montral and cybernetically replace her lekku.  Before boarding our freighter, the Togruta stopped me, hesitant at first.  Then, as if worried anyone would see, she quickly threw her arms up around my neck and buried her face in my chest.  “Thankyou, thankyou, thankyoumaster.” she started crying again but I knew that these were tears of joy.  Admittedly, I had one or two myself.  Remembering Jorya’s eyes as she smiled, waving to us as we took off, I savored the memory fondly.  “Yes.  Teidowan Jorya was one of my padawans.  D’Aylanna also took her under her wing, instructing her from the Book of Balance.  And Master Gaetana had taken her on as teidowan…”

“Once Teidowan Jorya was secured in hospice, what occurred next?”

I took a breath to collect myself.  “Thanks to G’av, we had a lead…although we didn’t know it at the time.  The datadump that he’d sliced was enormous.  Even with multiple filters on and processors working, there was a veritable mountain of digital switchbacks and securities that we had to navigate.  While Jaim and I were competent enough in datatech, unsurprisingly it was G’av who finally found the clue we needed.”  I was about to continue when a wave of excruciating pain racked my body.

“Koawan Zearic.  Do you require a Healer?  Or perhaps a GraySinger?”

I was momentarily speechless as I fought off the pain.  I needed something more than the bacta treatments, or even a Healer.  “A GraySinger, please.” 

“Send word to Master Chillum; ask him if he could please spare a GraySinger.”  I closed my eyes, grateful.  Of the Gray Jedi, it was the Mak’Tor Order that had produced the most GraySingers, almost to exclusivity.  With their ability to “sing” the Song, the GraySingers had access to Force powers that even Gray Jedi Masters were amazed of.  Which, thank the Maker, included an especially potent Healing. 

It only took a moment yet it seemed an eternity.  Garbed in silver robes, a youthful teidowan approached.  Piercing blue eyes framed by a cherubic face, the Graysinger approached me and, reaching up to my face, cupped my head with both of his hands.  Gently touching my face, he spoke, his voice a serene and melodic.  “Koawan Zearic, Master Chillum has sent me to aid you.  Please, open yourself to the Force and relax.  Surrender yourself to the Song.”

Even as he spoke, my pain began to recede.  Opening myself to the Force, I wondered why the GraySinger had requested such.  But before I could think of anything else, he opened his mouth and began to sing.  I’d never heard such a pure sound.  Heat on my face, but not at all uncomfortable.  It was like feeling the welcome light of the morning sun warm your skin after a cold night or a pleasant fire that took the chill from your body.  I lost track of time but for his singing.

“Thank you Koawan Zearic.”  I had not even realized that he’d stopped.  Looking down at his face, the GraySinger smiled.

“Me?  It is I that need thank YOU.”  For the first time in seemingly months, I could stand straight without crippling pain hunching me over.  Oh, there was still pain, but I no longer felt the sickening dread deep in my stomach that I would NEVER recover.  Now I knew that with time and treatment, I would be whole again.  Well, not ENTIRELY whole…  Shaking my head, I asked, “What do you mean?”

Hands still on my face, the GraySinger smiled.  “The Song is more effective if both parties are opened to the Force.  Much of the healing that’s done is from the recipient as well as a Singer.”  Releasing my head, the youth nodded to me, the Council, and, finally the Kage before he exited the Dome.  Turning my eyes from the GraySinger, I looked from the Arbiter of the Council and up to the Kage.

“Koawan Zearic.  Are you able to continue?”  The Kage’s face remained inexpressive but I thought I detected a hint of concern within them.

I collected myself.  “Yes, thank you.  As I said, it was G’av that found a vital clue…”

            ______________________________

“What if we’re looking for the doonium in the wrong place?” G’av’s voice was introspective.

“What do you mean?”  We’d been searching the datadump for hours without gleaning anything of worth.  To say that I was exasperated was an understatement.

G’av looked from first me and then to Jaim.  “We’ve been pouring over the Imperial Navy inventories.  Purchase orders.  Shipping clearances.  Hyperspace vectors.  But what if we’re feeding the wrong rancor?  Look: here there are contradictory registers for the SAME doonium shipments.”  He keyed another dropdown menu.  “Same thing here.  And here.  But what do they all have in common?”  I shrugged.  Admittedly, my annoyance superseded my intuition.  I was about to balk when Jaim broke in.

“The Mining Guild.”  Jaim’s eyes perused the monitor, skipping down menu after menu.  “The Guild has signed off on all of this.”

“Exactly!” G’av looked incredibly satisfied.  And he had a right to be.  “The Guild has had to inspect the PURITY of ALL of the doonium.  With that in mind, we just need to cross-reference which Quality Control jurisdiction these are being sent to.”

“And from there we can ascertain the destination coordinates.  Then all we’ll need is the hyperspace route.”  I could almost kick myself for not seeing it sooner.  “All right, let’s expand search parameters, this time cross-referencing Mining Guild Quality Control for these doonium shipments.”

This time, the datapad only took a few minutes.  “And so I give you…Prakith!” G’av triumphantly sounded self-satisfied.  I clapped him on the back, feeling renewed.

“Prakith?  Are you sure?” Jaim’s voice surprised me.  Turning around, I saw that he had a look of trepidation upon his brow.  I looked back to G’av, who nodded.

“According to these search considerations, yes.  Prakith.  Why?” G’av voiced the question that I was thinking myself.

Instead of answering Jaim asked, “Do you know anything about Prakith?”

G’av shook his head but I replied, “A little.  Volcanic world, heavy Mining Guild presence.”  I stroked my beard in thought.  “Makes sense, really.”  Even as I was talking, Jaim started shaking his head.  “Sorry Jaim; what am I missing?”

The tall koawan let out a frustrated breath.  “While you are not wrong, that’s not the aspect of Prakith that I am referring to.  Do you know its galactic position?”  Admittedly, I didn’t and, after looking at G’av—who also shook his head—said as much while I turned my head back to Jaim.

“It’s a Core planet.  Deep Core.” Jaim’s emphasis on the last two words cleared my confusion.

“…So, what?” G’av looked from Jaim, to me, and back again as he asked his question.  Jaim patiently sighed, and looking at me, expected me to answer.  I held out my hands to Jaim, offering him the chance to explain.

“G’av, Deep Core worlds are notoriously dangerous and rife with gravitational influences.”

G’av stared at Jaim.  “Oh sure.  Of course.  I know all about how dangerous gravitational influences are.  Especially with Deep Core worlds.”  Exasperated, G’av looked at me.  “OK; now Zearic, for those of us who don’t fill their heads with useless stellar cartography…what the kriff is he talking about?!”

Trying to hide my grin (and failing), I patted G’av on his arm.  “With Prakith located in the Deep Core, it means that we can’t just deduce which hyperspace lane leads to Byss.  We’ll have to actually go to Prakith.  Worse, we need more than the beginning and ending coordinates; we’ll have to download the actual hyperspace route, probably from the Mining Guild itself.” 

Looking at Jaim, he nodded, “My thoughts, exact.  What do you suggest?”

I crossed my arms.  “Using the Imperial transponder, we go in as Imperial agents.  We’ll take G’av’s slicercards, gain access to the mainframe and download the correct hyperspace lane to Byss.”  I paused, thinking about the two Inquisitor ambushes.  “Actually, that AND anything related to the Inquisitorius.  I’m tired of being surprised by them at every turn we take.  I’ll bet that the Mining Guild front for the Empire will actually run an Imperial datanode.  We should be able to find an Inquisitorius itinerary among the databases.”

And, with luck, we could get ahead of Vader and his Inquisitors.  “Jaim, set coordinates for Prakith.”
Logged

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

Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 307
Posts: 1660



« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2017, 02:41:59 PM »

Deep core is a dangerous place to be...interesting that more is happening in the trial with each chapter...
Logged

Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

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