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  1. The sun rose and cast the grassland ocean in golden light. The dew evaporated with the sunrise, and meager moisture along with the lingering pools from the recent storm gave rise to an intensely warm and humid morning. Somewhere in the galaxy, there was an obscure sect of Force Users known as the Matukai. During the days of the ancient Republic, they coexisted peacefully with the Jedi Order, though the nomadic Matukai never developed the hierarchical structure and organized headquarters that the Jedi did. Unusually for a Force sect, the Matukai developed a philosophy that encouraged meditative martial arts and physical training to develop a weak connection to the Force into something stronger. Draygo had never trained under one of their masters; she had never even come closer than one light-year to meeting any of their followers, but she found their teachings and their techniques intriguing nonetheless. What this meant for Genesis, at this moment, was that the half-Miraluka boy was going to get his ass kicked. And then Armiena would help build his body back up, only to break it back down. Repeat as necessary. Over the next two hours, Draygo led him away from the shelter of McShipface. She scarcely gave him more than a few seconds to breathe at a time--any moment not spent running from the ship was used pushing Dantooine and other calisthenics. In between her panting as they traversed another kilometer, she breathed out her instructions. “You’ve seen what the Force can do for someone barely alive. You have rebuilt them. Now, see what it can do for something healthy. The Force can make you better than you are. Better… stronger… faster.” With that, Draygo drew the Force into her muscles. The effect was that she appeared to blast off across the plains, leaving a trail of pulverized grass and scattered wildflowers in her wake. The Jedi Master had just spanned the distance of more than a kilometer in seconds. Armiena would not rest while waiting for her Padawan to join her. When he finally joined her, he would find his master had discarded her cloak and was shadowboxing under the sun. With a shit-eating grin on her face, she bobbed and danced around an imaginary opponent while breaking their ribs and reducing their kidneys to mash.
  2. “Not a bad idea. Most people have the sense to leave it be, but occasionally…” Draygo clambered to her feet and brushed dust from her hands as she stepped away from her Padawan. Almost as an afterthought, she yanked her own lightsaber from its clip and ignited the blade. With a snap-hiss fit to end all conversation, a turquoise beam erupted from the machined cylinder and incinerated a stalk of wildflowers. Then she ignited the other end. Pale-green eyes studied the hilt for a few seconds--the balance of the cylinder lay just a tiny bit forward from center, and the required to depress the ignition was just a little more than she preferred. That stemmed from scavenged parts that she had cobbled it together from. There was one last feature to test. She extinguished the blade and depressed a button near the center of the hilt. With a blast of compressed gas and a sharp recoil, the forward half of the hilt rocketed forward, connected to its twin by only a thin thread of liquid cable. She released the button once it reached ten meters. A second press retracted the liquid cable, causing the twin hilts to join back together with a sharp metallic clack. She couldn’t help but grin. Armiena had created what was possibly the first set of lightchucks in the history of the Jedi Order. “Padawan, we’re nearing the end of your training. There’s still so much left to teach you, but… a war will be waiting for us once we leave this planet. We need to be ready.” She glanced towards the rising sun. Dew began to glisten on the grass. It would be a warm day, and a humid one at that. The recent thunderstorm was to thank for that. She calculated… it would be a few hours before they had to pause, even just for water. “The more you sweat, the less you’ll bleed. Follow.” Draygo set off at a brisk walk across the plains. A few minutes later, she began to jog. As the gentle curve of the plains rolled up and down under their boots, it would become clear that Armiena had no location in mind. Their only destination was pain.
  3. Draygo turned the weapon over in her hands, feeling the center of gravity and admiring the craftsmanship. Her hand instinctively rested near the pommel cap and she forced her hand to shift--much of the offensive value of the curved hilt was a natural grip angled the blade more aggressively to an opponent, allowing for a dextrous swordsman to skewer or slash with the tip of the blade alone. “I think that it was time well spent. It’s a very nice piece of craftsmanship.” As Armiena’s grip shifted, she felt the entire hilt warming evenly in her palm. “Ultrachrome! That is a rancor of a material to work with! I hope you don’t mind, I’ve always wanted to…” What exactly the veteran Jedi had always wanted to experience would remain a mystery, as she attempted to ignite the blade. The only sound was a click. Armiena found herself reacting without thought. In some calculating corner of her mind, she knew that if the weapon was about to tear itself to pieces, then bits of shrapnel were likely to ricochet from the bottom of her ship’s hull and rain on top of them. Worse, the ship was likely to channel the kinetic blast of the compromised energy cells directly towards them, rather than a significant portion of the explosion harmlessly releasing itself into the night sky. While her ego was quietly forming a plan, however, her instincts as a soldier were shouting into her ear to GET GENESIS DOWN NOW. She tossed away the weapon with the grace of someone dropping an excessively hot mug of caf. Before the hilt even hit the dewy grass, Armiena threw her own body on top of her apprentice’s and wrestled him to the ground, shielding him with her own. All that was left to do was to brace herself for the explosion of the failing weapon, and try to absorb as much of the bouncing steel and the wave of superheated plasma. A handfuls of heartbeats passed without significant incident. Or without a whisper of warning from the Force. The tension of her muscles relaxed as the perceived threat of imminent peril faded. Draygo sighed, even as she was still staring warily in the direction of the discarded weapon. “...you installed an internal deadman switch, didn’t you?”
  4. “And it continues,” his Master responded. It was a cloudless night and Dantooine’s twin moons were both full, but under the shelter of McShipface, Armiena was only visible by the flickering illumination of the freighter’s running lights. But that would soon change, and the black sky was beginning to turn grey at the horizon and the stars were beginning to turn in. “This day will be longer.” The red running lights blinked at that moment, catching a glimpse of a grin that would have caused a Sith to reconsider their poor life choices. She took another slurping sip of caf and tossed the remainder on the grass beside the boarding ramp, mug and all. She approached and held out a hand, indicating Genesis’ lightsaber. “May I?”
  5. Immersed in her trance, Armiena’s workshop was a paradox in motion. The butchered carcass of a super battle droid was left hanging on chains, dripping lubrication on the floor in a resemblance of a side of nerf on a meat hook. Parts of McShipface were strewn about the deckplates, yet the veteran Jedi occasionally reached out a hand and the relevant coil of fiber or focusing lens or microchip came shooting into her palm without so much as a glance at the relevant component. Draygo’s hands were perpetually in motion, soldering superconducting fiber to capacitors and magnetic stabilizing loops and the ring tuning flange--but many of the manipulations were so subtle that her motions were invisible to the unaided eye. Occasionally, she paused to sip from a mug of caf that somehow managed to remain steaming despite having dutifully sustained her for the last twelve hours. Eventually, Draygo was left with two completely lightsaber hilts--complete for everything save the focusing crystals. Their finish was certainly the most utilitarian that she had ever designed--they were nothing more than exquisitely balanced cylinders of armor-grade durasteel, albeit fashioned with a powerful magnetic cap at the base. This secured them to a liquid cable launcher that Draygo had salvaged from McShipface’s toolbox and then modified far beyond safety recommendations by overcharging its compressed gas container. Finally came the focusing crystals. The shards of the Pontite were so delicate and so sharp that Armiena dared not handle them with her organic hand. This she left to the Force. Draygo had managed to slice away six serviceable crystals from the remains of the Pontite before the Force had warned her to stop cutting away at the rare gemstone. That was more than sufficient for her requirements--two would have been sufficient for each lightsaber. She surveyed the glassy fragments quizzically. The Force had guided her to cut away parts of the crystal that were of decidedly lesser quality, at least from a jeweler’s perspective. They were just slightly marred with microscopic inclusions of minerals. It was nothing that would have altered the behavior of the magnetically-charged beam--at least, she hoped--but likely would change the color of the emitted blade. Very slowly, she lifted the razor-sharp shards of crystal with the Force and delicately positioned them to what her instincts guided her to what was the optimal angle within the microscopic prongs in their containment chamber. A microscopic adjustment tightened the crystals to a secure fit. Armiena took a deep breath and another sip of coffee. By this point, it had gone cold. The horrid aftertaste went unnoticed. The last step was a microfusing of all the components with the Force. Any handyman could create a facsimile of a lightsaber, but their weapon would be a flawed, imperfect imitation, prone to failure--perhaps kinetically so. At the very least, its energy usage would be so inefficient that it would drain within minutes of ignition. This final ritual would bind the components of the weapon to a degree that no common craftsman could replicate--they would be bound together on more than a mechanical level, a molecular joining that would transform the lightsaber from a mere assemblage of common electronic components to something that was truly more than the sum of its parts. But the binding would leave more than a physical imprint on the weapon, the change would be greater than the miraculous efficiency of the power circuits or the freakish survivability of the hilt. It would leave a trace on the lightsaber that could be tracked as closely as its wielder. But that would mean declaring a commitment to this boy that Armiena had sworn to herself that she would never make again. Armiena knew that she was not ready to complete his training. At best, his ascension to the rank of Jedi Knight would break her heart. At worst, it would cause nearly as much pain as the death of her last Padawan. She was not ready to endure that kind of pain again. And yet, she had decided to face it again. For just a moment, her Force-presence blazed so brightly that it seemed she was screaming a battle cry. She poured all of that will, all of that determination and thrill and pain and hope and fear and all of her into those weapons, until all that was left to give were a few stray tears that fell on the hilts despite the fugue state of her trance. And then it was done. ____ Armiena had decided to allow Genesis to sleep, at least for a few minutes. The Alderaanian tiredly stepped down from the boarding ramp of the Barloz-class freighter, still clutching her mug of coffee. Her newly-fashioned lightsaber swung idly from a magnetic clamp on her thigh. It was an awkward length, significantly longer than a traditional lightsaber but also slightly shorter than what was typical for a double blade. She took a few steps out from under the angular bulk of the freighter and watched the twinkling of the stars for a few minutes. It was a quiet night, accompanied only by the endless chirping of insects and the queer warbling of a unfamiliar species of bird that sang only at smallest hours of the morning. She took another sip of coffee and stared aghast at the murky brown liquid. It had gone cold hours ago. But it was caffeinated. The horror could be endured, she decided. She waited a few minutes, enjoying the occasional streak of a distant meteor against the star-studded sky, shivering occasionally as she forced down another gulp of bitter caffeine. It was time to complete Genesis’ training. He was as skilled as any Jedi Knight she had known in the more esoteric uses of the Force--but his skill at defending himself was, as of yet, crude. A smile teased on her lips as she imagined the physical hell that the boy was about to endure. But she had endured this training before and would happily complete it again. Armiena started by reaching out to his Force-presence on the ship and gave it a firm mental prodding. It had all the subtlety of slamming a stack of technical manuals onto the floor, and could not possibly be ignored.
  6. After being alone for the last few days with no company save the stars at night and insects by day, Armiena had begun to talk to herself to break the silence. And Draygo answered. At that very moment, the veteran Jedi was pacing from one side of the freighter’s cargo hold to the other, occasionally rapping her metal hand against the walls out of frustration. “Figures. Should have guessed it, of course Stormhelm went off on his own. What were you thinking, Draygo? Bringing him to his home planet, setting down within a day’s walk of the old homestead, as though he wasn’t going to take the opportunity to say good-bye? You wanted this to happen. But… this isn’t Alderaan or Corellia or Gala. We’re Mid Rim. The nearest person may be a day away. Want to make the bet that the kath hounds are that distant? The kid’s tougher than he looks. He’s a teenager. So were you. He’s in training. Half-trained. Better than most with a blaster, and with a lightsaber--haven’t even gone through a Shii-Cho drill with him, for Force’s Sake!” Draygo picked up her face-shield, sprayed a mist of cleaning solvent, and began the task of cleaning the remains of dozens of surprised insects from the plastoid surface. Anything to keep her hands occupied. “This is his future. He needs to face it, on his own. The boy is going to take his trials soon, if Alluyen will allow it--something is happening. Dammit…” Draygo stared through the bulkheads. Sensation was always vague when shared over the tenuous link of a Force bond, but there was no mistaking the rush of adrenaline that surged through the nerves and caused the loose hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. There was danger somewhere on the grassy sea--though she couldn’t determine whether the source was a sapient or a wild animal. Fear. Violence. Pain. Then finally resolution, and the wonderful mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion that left the body drained and the mind racing in the wake of a difficult fight. Something had happened, and all she knew was that Genesis was still alive and not mortally wounded. Draygo hefted the hollow hilt of her lightsaber and glared at the carcass of the Super Battle Droid that she had discarded in the middle of the deck. She pried into the armor of its torso with the Force and yanked back savagely; the carapace split apart like the shell of a boiled crustacean with a gout of congealed oil. The veteran Jedi stepped over the rusted carcass and glared into the mess of electronics; between the wiring, insulation, capacitors, and circuitry, there were components sufficient for at least a dozen lightsabers. The forearm blaster cannons could be salvaged for the magnetic stabilizing loops and focusing emitter matrix--and the contents of the coolant tanks could be scavenged for the compressed gas that the liquid cable launcher in the middle of the hilt would require. Two hours later, the cargo hold of McShipface resembled a scene from a slasher holoflick, when the movie started getting good--at least, one marketed towards droids. The guts of the battle droid were splayed all over the deck plating and oil had oozed around its corpse in a shallow pool. And like the first victim of any decent slasher flick, it lay abandoned in the dimly lit cargo hold, its faceplate horrifically mangled and torso split open for an unfortunate onlooker to stumble upon. Draygo had taken its organs up to the workshops for assembly into something more useful. Hunched over one of the workshop’s benches, the veteran Jedi turned over the remaining chunk of Genesis’ Pontite crystal in her metal fingers. It seemed a shame to destroy the rare gemstone for her focusing crystals when something as pedestrian as a diamond would have sufficed, and yet… Armiena could not quite seem to tear her eyes from the stone. It was not merely the way the vivaciously clear stone gathered the light--Armiena found herself quite unable to allow the stone to fall from her grasp. She sighed. Whatever the Force intended, Draygo would have prefered it to make its will more crystal clear. She placed the Pontite into a vice and thumbed on her cutting beam. Taking in a deep breath, Armiena inhaled the comforting smells of grease and rusted metal and dust, and lost herself in the electric soul of her workshop as she began…
  7. Starships, especially ones as pedestrian as a Barloz-class Freighter, are not silent when in operation. There was the ever present hum of sublight engines, the keening whine of repulsorlifts, and a hundred mysterious and unnerving moans and creaks and rattles to frighten inexperienced spacers or to alert their crews that the capabilities of their vessel and home were being stretched to their limits. At the very least, there would be the ever-present hiss of air venting through its compartments to reassure its denizens that they weren’t in danger of suffocation or hypothermia. Save for the occasional whisper-clunk of its life support systems turning over to keep the interior at a reasonably comfortable temperature, McShipface was utterly silent. There was no answer. Genesis’ master was many kilometers away. Where, she had not left details on--though the absence of a speeder bike and several days of rations from the ship’s galleys hinted that she had intended to be absent for some time.. With any luck, the half-Miraluka would forestall panic long enough to find a note left in the cockpit, scrawled with a rough hand that had punctured the flimsi while writing on the ship’s control boards. Need to go. Don’t know where. Just a feeling. Think I’ll be back soon. _____ At that moment, Draygo was more than four thousand kilometers away. Peering through the visor of a plastoid face-shield, her eyes were fixed on a point somewhere beyond the horizon. The veteran Jedi still had not determined what destination the Force had chosen for her, but it was not the abandoned Enclave on Khoonda. Nor was it, mercifully enough, Arlan’s home village--Draygo had never visited it, but she had never been much for tearful, dramatic conversations at memorials. Or memorials in general. The engine continued to roar. The sea of grasses continued on, interrupted only by the crest of the occasional hill or the impacts of thoroughly surprised pollinators on her face-shield. Hours later, it began to rain. Armiena considered pausing to wait out what was promising to be a torrential downpour, but instinct insisted that she continue--that it was absolutely critical that she not pause at this moment. At the apex of yet another hill, Draygo found her landspeeder plummeting as it fell over the precipice of a ridgeline. She spat out a curse and shifted her weight back to lift the control vanes, allowing the speeder bike to coast to a jarring but controlled landing above a layer of mud. Armiena caught a glimpse of her destination while descending. It was the rotted husk of an abandoned war machine. It was many stories tall, but it the rusted chassis had been picked over by scavengers so thoroughly that she was unable to recognize the model. At the speed of hundreds of klicks per hour, Draygo spanned the remaining distance in mere minutes. During those minutes, Armiena only sighted the barest scraps of grass on the muddy prairie--no trees or any vegetation more complex than a shrub, and no fauna save for insects and a few foraging birds that could weather the rain. More eerie than the emptiness was the flatness of the muddy grassland--it was as flat as a megablock of Coruscant, as though the entire plain had been constructed by a mediocre architect or-- Draygo hit the airbrakes and pulled the speeder bike aside to a rough halt. Dismounting from the bike, she sank up to her ankles in the mud. She began a slow scan of the horizon, seeing nothing but mud and a few patches of stubborn vegetation on the perfectly flat prairie. It hadn’t been constructed. It had been demolished--pounded flat. The rusted skeleton of a war machine was that of a Confederacy seismic tank. Armiena had forgotten her history. During the Clone War, there had been a battle fought on Dantooine. The books were a bit hazy on the justification for the Republic and CIS committing so many forces to the Outer Rim planet, not even notable for its agricultural output during those years--it was likely that the justification had simply been to squander as many resources as possible, and so much the better if that meant the deaths of a few Jedi. But what could the Force had hoped to show her on this long-abandoned battlefield? Mud sucking her boots deep into the ground with every step, the veteran Jedi began to cross the final fifty meters to the shelter of the wreck of the seismic tank. All the meanwhile, the rain began to come down harder and harder, and the mud grew deeper around her ankles. The Battle of Dantooine was perfectly emblematic of the Clone War. It was a pointless conflict fought on a Rim world, distant enough from the Core that it did not pose an immediately threaten the everyday lives of the Republic’s citizenry--but also close enough to Galactic shipping lanes that it posed a minor crisis. Invaded by a seemingly limitless army of battle droids, the Republic’s slave army of clones had nearly been overwhelmed and likely would have lost control of the insignificant world had it not been for the leadership and deadly skill of Master Windu and a few other Jedi. And emblematic of the Clone War, their victory served no strategic purpose. Those destroyed battle droids would have been replaced only weeks later. Her boots squelching into the sodden ground, Draygo was seized by a sudden impulse that she must not take one more step forward. There was… something below her, some kind of mechanical awareness. Armiena reached out with the Force and hauled it upwards through the mud. Flat, expressionless, and heavily armored--Armiena recognized the silhouette instantly--it was the armored faceplate of a B2 battle droid. Even cleaved in two at the waist, the droid had remained functional and retained enough of its malicious intent to level its forearm blaster at Draygo’s neck. Self-preservation took over. The veteran Jedi stepped forward and placed her hand directly over the barrel of the blaster cannon. Heat washed over her as the droid fired repeatedly, but she absorbed the energy of the blasts and drew her own sidearm. She punched the blaster pistol into the hanging mess of the droid’s mechanical entrails and pulled the trigger until its dim lindicator lights died out and its cannon arm dropped lifelessly. Armiena let the droid fall to the mud, splashing filth over her chest, face and her mouth. She had been smiling during this unexpected confrontation. She stared into its dead faceplate for a long time. The apex of the storm came and went, the dark clouds gradually making away for a humid and overcast noon. Was this what the Force had intended to show her? That despite decades of war, Armiena loved conflict--that she loved battle and victory? That she was a creature completely unsuited for peacetime? She received no answer from the Force. She did, however, receive an interesting question. And at the very least, Draygo had found a minor treasure trove of lightsaber parts. ____ It would be two more days until the roar of her speeder bike approached McShipface. Her robes crusted with dried mud, her eyes bloodshot and crazed from staring into the horizon for two days with only her thoughts for company, and with the mechanical corpse of an obsolete battle droid lashed to her mount, Armiena was a forboding sight. She was exhausted--but she was alive.
  8. Like a pilgrim before an altar, Armiena sat within the massive suite of tools that comprised the machinist's workshop aboard the McShipface. Most holy altars did not include a plasma torch, industrial-grade lathe, tri-D molecular printer, and enough computing power to rival the cumulative efforts of the engineering department of a mid-tier university, but Armiena's were strange gods, as were their rituals. Her oversized robe had been cast onto the computer terminals in favor of a synthleather apron; a pair of dark-tinted goggles were drawn over her eyes; the lower half of her face was obscured by the bulk of a filtered respirator. Foul vapors and flakes of durasteel were being scattered upwards as she placed her hands directly into the path of the industrial lathe to spot-weld attachments to a cylinder that was rapidly being cut into the shape of a lightsaber hilt.The design of the weapon was simple, even crude. It was little more than a burnished piece of steel with inserts for switches and grips, of an awkward length that was unconventionally long for a standard lightsaber, but short for a double-blade. As the hilt began to take form, Draygo was… singing. Her voice was better suited for making her orders and taunts heard over the din of battle, over the whine of blaster fire and deafness inflicted by the concussion of a nearby explosion. Volume was something she had mastered after decades of war. Tempo and tone were secondary priorities. Tertiary was perhaps a better estimation. The veteran Jedi gave no indication that she was aware of the approach of her apprentice. Her senses were focused on the electric soul of her workshop, and Genesis’ footfalls were inaudible over the metallic grinding and shrieking noises from the lathe. There was also the matter of her terrible singing. It wasn’t until Draygo lifted her face from the ribbons of durasteel that were being sliced away from the lightsaber hilt and noticed the reflection in the polished metal that she became aware of his presence. She ticked down four minutes on her hand. Finally, she snatched the hilt from the lathe, her metal hand wholly unaware of the fact that it was gripping a piece of friction-heated steel. “Not my most ornate work, but definitely the most complicated.” She gave an wolfish grin. “Wiring this is going to be fun.” She glanced at the components that her apprentice had mustered. The calculations that her mind was racing through were almost visible through her eyes. “Curved? That’s… unfamiliar. Probably best to tackle it in multiple sections and weld. The Force guides.”
  9. Armiena responded by pulling a knife from her belt. It wasn’t an exquisitely balanced, painstakingly honed vibroblade designed for killing one’s fellow man, but rather a five-centimeter folding knife better suited for snipping away stray pieces of fabric from one’s clothing. She plunged it into the cityscape of computer chips and teased away a length of superconducting wire. Still looking away from her student, she began to coil the length of wire around her flesh-and-blood hand. There were several kilometers of wire within this panel of the sensor array. It was a few minutes and at least two lightsabers’ worth of wiring before the veteran Jedi spoke again. “My last Padawan was from Dantooine. He would have been a little bit older than you by now. I’ve been a bit distracted.” But Arlan’s death was an old pain--it may have been a massive, sucking chest wound, but it had since healed after leaving a scar that could ignored. “So be it, Jedi,” Armiena said with a nod. “Almost everything you will need for your lightsaber can be found on this ship. That Adegan might be suitable for your crystals--I’ve probably got a sensor somewhere on this ship and some cutting tools. Those texts you grabbed from Mandate should have detailed information on the specifications of the parts, mineral content and clarity of the crystal, but... the Force has a tendency to guide you in the right direction in these matters. While you’re tearing this ship apart, I’ll be acquainting myself with the lathe.”
  10. ((FYI, I refer to theStar Wars Deckplans Alliance for deckmaps for this ship.)) Muscles clenched in Armiena’s jaw and her eyes flitted from her student, apparently finding something of critical importance on the ship’s navigational charts. The Force roiled with emotion about her Force-presence… then the currents stilled with all the subtlety of a door slamming shut as her defenses raised against any potential mental intrusion. When she spoke, her voice lacked any semblance of emotion. “I think that you and I are very different people.” Her shoulders rose and fell with a heavy breath. “I stopped being a Jedi a long time ago. I just used the Order and let the Order use me.” In a blur of oversized robes, she stood and strode powerfully away from the cockpit, her eyes focused on a point only a few meters before her. Her footsteps could be heard racing through the ship, and clanking heavily against the metal grating as the veteran Jedi retreated to the common areas on the third deck. Metallic impacts issued from above as Draygo threw her weight against one of the sealed doors, then there was a flash of frustration and the unmistakable snap-hiss of a lightsaber’s ignition as she took her weapon to the seized portal and slashed it open. In the pale crimson glow of emergency lighting, she began to ransack the room. The room that she had chosen hosted McShipface’s delicate astrometrics surveying sensors, all installed directly into the wall of the tiny compartment. It was hideously expensive equipment that cost more than the entirety of the antiquated freighter, but Armiena had thrown off the shielding panels that protected the fragile electronics, exposing kilometers of tangled nanofiber cables and a miniature city of circuit boards and computer chips. It was into this organized madness that Draygo thrust in her right hand and tore out its plasma containment chamber. The next to be torn from her housings were the crucibles that stabilized the lenses of the sensors. It was too large for a lightsaber, obviously, but it could probably be adapted or filed down to fit the crystals. She carelessly tossed it behind her shoulder and onto the growing pile of scrap.
  11. Disbelief, then outrage made itself apparent on her student’s expression. Understandable, as Armiena had just made an incredibly insulting statement to a young man who had been through hell and guided a few hundred other sapients back out. That was more than the veteran Jedi could say for herself at that age. “I don’t doubt that you will perform your duties,” Armiena stated flatly, without a sign that she had taken offense at his reaction. “But… will you be a Jedi because you will perform your duties, and you’ll perform your duties because you’re a Jedi? That’s the kind of reasoning that tyrants have abused for all of history. That I don't believe. And I don’t believe that you are here simply because it is your duty. You wouldn’t have chosen this life without a reason.” She sighed and turned in the pilot’s seat to face her student. She needed to hear the full truth from Genesis. He needed to hear himself speak it.
  12. Mavanger (Mordecai) vs. ISB Officers (Imperial Knights Ismael and Cassandra) While Qaela Darksong and her entourage engage Raven Zinthos and several of her bodyguards, Mordecai prevents Ismael and Cassandra from joining the fight and engages them with the assistance of a number of unnamed NPC Sith Lords and apprentices. This was an exceptionally concise duel, with both combatants making limited use of Force powers. While both parties maneuvered skillfully, Mordecai held the advantage throughout most of this fight due to the fact that he was able to keep the Imperial Knights separated as well as making use of simultaneous attacks from multiple angles to strain the defenses of his opponents. For their part, the Imperial Knights did well in neutralizing the attempt in pinning Ismael up against a wall. Where this changed is in the last post. Mordecai seemed to slip into something of a reckless rage in his final post. This is not a disadvantage, as Sith are known to draw upon their passions in melee combat to fuel their power--where this strikes me as a bit jarring is that this was only implemented in the final post without prior set-up. Having Mordecai slip into a berserker-like state over the course of steadily giving into his passions or even just enjoyment of the fight would make this more potent, even for a Sith apprentice. Ismael, during his maneuvers to avoid getting pinned against a wall, lured Mordecai into an exorcism circle. This had been set up over the course of the entire duel, with all three posts used in the initial set up and completion of the ritual. This could have potentially been countered by slashing through the circle or a telekinetic push to throw all those fine particles into Ismael’s face (or even just explicitly maneuvering out of it). The setup and completion of this ritual with the lack of interruption from Mordecai is an insurmountable advantage, and is sure to inflict substantial injury on him. Although wounded, the Imperial Knights Cassandra and Ismael (ISB Officers) are the winner of this duel and get the next post.
  13. Armiena remained silent. The veteran Jedi closed her eyes and just listened to her student. The boy was an idealist, that much was certain--but not unlike how she had been at that age, he wasn’t quite able to match beliefs to words, let alone actions. Perhaps the difference was in the age; perhaps it was political awareness. Perhaps it was the fact that her family had been hounded by the Empire for decades. But those vague ideas of duty and responsibility needed to be burned and hardened into something more useful. How could she replicate that in days? “I don’t believe you.” There was no edge in Armiena’s voice, no accusation. The statement was as flat and unsubtle as a beskar warhammer. “I’m going to speak bluntly. Being a Jedi is often a miserable life. It will often feel as though half the galaxy will want you dead. The other half will fight and die in your name. And the rest… will just wish you would disappear and leave the galaxy alone. The only way I was able to survive being Grandmaster was to stop seeing myself as a Jedi and just focus on my goals. So, I need you to know this, for when you’re sitting in a trench and it hasn’t stopped raining for a month, or when you’re taking care of patient number one thousand in a mass casualty event of billions. Why are you doing this?”
  14. “Sublights, repulsors.” Metal scraped on metal as Armiena walked through the freighter’s landing checklist. The humming of the ship’s systems died off, leaving only the gasp of the life support and the occasional metallic rattle as the warm gusts swept over the rolling plains. This was a part of Genesis’ training that she hadn’t been looking forward to. It wasn’t sufficient to simply teach the teenager in how to wield the Force, if he was determined to become a Jedi; the training required instilling a form of mental discipline that typically only came from surviving hardship. The mind needed to be as sharp as a lightsaber. The veteran Jedi had known others who lacked this discipline--Dhan-Jaroe, Achzet, Relmis, too many to think of--and they all invariably fell to darkness or worse. Draygo stared out across the rolling plains. Many kilometers to the northwest, the atmosphere of Dantooine was displaying a spectacular light show and the growing winds were beginning to roil the grasses of the savanna like a turbulent sea. Closer was what the veteran Jedi presumed to be the former Stormhelm homestead. The veteran Jedi tore her mind away from a self-indulgent thought of home, or what had been home on Alderaan--hoary mountains, a devastating winter, and a late spring in which nature itself waged war on the sinuses. How different it was from this sea of grain. “I’m here to build a lightsaber. I’ve been using these on long for too long. And… it just doesn’t feel right for me to use the Adegan.” Something out on the plains was calling to Armiena. It was impossible to tell, but there was something that she was meant to find before she completed the weapon. “Why are you doing this?” The inflection in Armiena’s voice made it an open-ended question, one with many possible answers.
  15. It had been many years since Armiena had last visited Dantooine. If the veteran Jedi seemed slightly tense, or if her jaw clenched upon seeing the starlines of hyperspace disappear into the greens and blues and brains of the semi-arid world, she could be forgiven for being somewhat distracted. Her last Padawan had also hailed from Dantooine. He hadn’t survived his training. “Not much for us to avoid on Dantooine. Go ahead and take her down and I'll walk you through landing. Very dry, hot conditions. Storm approaching Khoonda from the northwest, should blow itself out before it becomes a problem for us.” Armiena intoned as she glanced over the meteorlogical reports from the planet’s aerospace control. “Take your time once we hit atmo; the only thing that’s trying to kill us here is gravity.” Draygo said little once the silence of space was replaced by the creaks and rattling of atmospheric turbulence, the tempo of her breath deviating not one iota as she recited landing procedures to her apprentice. No; the veteran Jedi was not nervous at all as she watched her apprentice, an untested pilot, guided her ship in for a landing. At worst, the plains of Khoonda were largely prairie and the occasional grain or barley farm; very few noteworthy hills that even an inexperienced pilot would have difficulty avoiding. Nor was the concerned by the growing wind and the flashes of lightning approaching from some ominous clouds from the northwest; those were hours away. Crashing--or even a rough landing--was an exceedingly unlikely possibility. The repulsorlift array must have gone through a complete overhaul with the rest of the ship’s systems. So she was determined to believe.
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