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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?”
  4. “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.
  5. 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.
  6. “Actually…” Draygo counted down on her fingers as she recalled the essential parts for a lightsaber. “I think that we have everything we’ll need right here. “Mother spent tens of thousands on a state-of-the-art plasma lathe and enough computational power to give Usk-Core a… uhm... but she couldn’t be bothered to restore life support to half the Shipface.” Armiena chuckled. “She knows my priorities. No, I think that what one Jedi could pull off while undercover with a pirate gang, we can easily manage with our own ship. Circuitry, vortex ring… flux aperture… we should be able to scavenge those from the unused rooms of the ship. Only problem is finding the battery--as I recall the specs recommend something a bit archaic.” Armiena snapped her fingers, but the hand being metal, it only produced a spine-shivering scraping noise. “The surveying equipment on board might work. Those electronics do not take kindly to sudden power loss. We can scavenge the batteries from those. The crystal, however, is all you. There are some suitable caverns out on the Khoonda Plains--actually, rather lovely, though kinraths sometimes take shelter there during the hot months. Speaking of which…” Draygo led her Padawan up the boarding ramp and to the cockpit on the second deck of the obsolete freighter. True to her warning, both the passenger’s compartments were sealed permanently and taped off, indicating that the rooms had suffered minor breaches are were no longer vacuum-proof. The cockpit, however, was entirely modern--nearly factory-new--and boasted sensors that military reconnaissance operations would have envied. As to what season it was currently on Dantooine, Armiena glanced through the galactic atlas and summarized her conclusion with two words: “Well, shavit. And apparently it’s unusually hot this season.” A short sigh. “We’ll make do. Let’s go through pre-flight…..” The veteran Jedi led her student through the pre-flight checklist for the obsolete vessel. Once a corridor had been cleared, Armiena handed the controls over to Genesis and allowed him to guide Shipface out of the hangar. Her voice was preternaturally calm as she guided her fellow half-Miraluka through the basic maneuvers, not at all concerned over the fact that she had just handed the controls of her ship to an inexperienced pilot… She would, however, slump just a few millimeters once the Barloz-class Freighter launched into hyperspace. ((Usk-Core: University of Coruscant. Obviously no longer exists.))
  7. A moment later, Armiena departed to the primary hangar. Presumably, she would be able to cajole a deck officer into loaning her a shuttle or a two-man starfighter trainer, or even a garbage scow. Upon arriving at the hangar, however, she immediately caught sight of a familiar, boxy hull that had been stowed away in an inconvenient corner of the deck. “Oh, no.” Armiena instantly recognized that boxy, inelegant hull. The exposed ducts and hydraulics were reminiscent of Corellian Engineering Corporation design, but the sheer mass of the design was straight out of the glory days of the Old Republic. The paint job of the Barloz-class freighter was unmistakeable: Star Destroyer White and blue accents. It was a civilian ship--the minimal armaments were testament to the fact that it was never intended to blast apart anything more threatening than an asteroid--but it was the oversized sensor arrays that protruded from every available square meter of hull that distinguished the ship. A shout from across the hangar jarred the veteran Jedi from her reverie. “Holy spast, Darkfire! McShipface is yours?”. “...unfortunately.” Armiena sighed and approached the boarding ramp, rapping her metal hand against its keel every few steps. The ship had gone missing after the fall of Coruscant, cause of her disappearance unknown. There were a number of freak accidents that could befall a ship of this age in hyperspace, most of which would crack the hull or scour the interior with ignited hypermatter. All were likely to leave the crew and passengers dead and the ship adrift in deep space, without any plausible means of reaching a habitable star or sending a distress signal. And yet no sign of damage was visible as the veteran Jedi climbed up the boarding ramp--the hangar had even been outfitted with an unfamiliar starfighter and the engineering spaces equipped with an array of tools that a podracing pit crew would have envied. But half of the crew compartments were delineated with omni-reflective tape to indicate that the spaces had lost atmospheric integrity, and there was still no sign of her mother’s movements. When her apprentice finally returned from the ship’s archives, she could be found sitting on the ship’s boarding ramp. “I suspected they weren’t exactly jewelry.” Draygo stared at her feet for a second, her eyes distant. “Some ability to store and transfer energy through the Force--almost like a battery. Generally suitable for lightsabers, although… really, any stone of the right composition and quality would be sufficient. Rare. Very rare. Most of our crystals have come from Ilum--or sometimes Dantooine.” Her expression brightened and she smiled at Genesis. “Like most of mine. Yes, I think it’s time that I built my own. The next few days will be… intense. Anyone handy with tools could make an attempt at a lightsaber, but without the proper meditations and guided cutting of the crystals, the results are likely to be… incendiary. That I can help with. How does Dantooine sound?”
  8. “I exaggerate. A little. I once read the memoirs of a Jedi Knight who had to assemble a lightsaber while undercover with a pirate gang. He managed to collect the parts from scrap--just spare parts from starfighters and wreckage. Even the focusing crystals were just ordinary gemstones that were liberated from plunder. Amazing story--and incredibly readable, he just had a way with words.” Armiena glanced towards the side and waited for her narrator to stop abusing the fourth wall. A half-sloshed nerd from a star named Sol shrugged and silently mouthed It’s a great book. “No, we will make time. There won’t be opportunities in the future. Get to the ship’s library and download as many technical documents as you can on lightsaber design.” Draygo handed her apprentice the dataslate. Truth be told, the veteran Jedi had no idea what form this ship's archives might take or where they were located--the deck layout of Justice's Mandate was so martial that it was virtually alien to her previous experiences with Jedi vessels. “I’ll find ourselves a ship. We meet back here in fifteen?”
  9. “Genesis, I can tell you, I do not care one whit about the traditions of the Jedi Order. I carry these,” her palm rested on the lightning-charred ruin of one of the hilts she had been loaned on Coruscant. “Because they mean something to other people. Nothing is a conversation piece like a lightsaber.” The trace of a reminiscent smile teased at the edge of Armiena’s lips, but the comment was not exactly germane to a decision of this gravity and her expression became stony. “The engineering mechanics of constructing a lightsaber are remarkably flexible--as are the mechanics of defending yourself from one. Magnetic containment--electrical shorting--even a bit of superconducting metal works for a while. The parts that you would need for anything you would want to build are not exactly extraordinary. I could probably take you to a junkyard planetside--moonside--for a few hours and we would find most of the parts necessary.” Armiena pulled up a patch of deck plating and took a seat beside her apprentice. “This is a highly personal decision. Anything that you build will be part of you. I can help with designing the prints if you have any ideas, but the assembly… that’s you.”
  10. Armiena glanced down at her hand and stretched her fingers. Clicks issued from the exposed mechanism and she watched the delicate motors actuate. It was a standard military-grade model, completely ordinary save for its armored circuitry. The neural interface firmware was supposed to be based on a compressionless algorithm, but given its recent performance... Draygo drew her blaster pistol and sighted in on the hangar’s magcon field indicator, approximately fifty meters away. And again. And again, she repeated the motion, feeling the grip of the pistol settle into her palm slightly differently with each quickdraw. Then she swapped to a one-handed grip and found that her wrist was drifting to the side. It was the hand. ____ Minutes later, Armiena emerged from the hangar to find her apprentice. “Thank you.” She gave him a smile, one of the few genuine smiles that she had managed since their flight from Coruscant. “I needed that. You and I need to complete your training. At this point, a Padawan traditionally begins construction on their lightsaber, but I can’t ask you to violate your principles on a blade. Have you had any thoughts on this subject?”
  11. “Coruscant.” Draygo withdrew her gaze from the optics of the blaster rifle, vented the chamber and removed the magazine. “Things got a bit difficult. One of the landing strips was disabled by a storm. It was rather strange--I knew exactly what I needed to do, even if I wasn’t exactly conscious of it. Next time I felt… present, I was waking up in a bacta tank.” Armiena continued to fuss with the rifle, not taking her eyes from the weapon. Pieces of the intricate wrist joint could be seen moving through gaps in the chassis. Even as her thoughts began to turn inward, reflecting on the trials of that busy hour when she had first realized that Aryian had died, she forced herself to tear her gaze from the action of the rifle and smiled at Sarna. “It’s a hand. I can manage without that more easily than other parts of the anatomy.”
  12. Wiping away the wetness from her eyes, Armiena turned to find that her apprentice had just left the hangar. “I have some time… where did Genesis go--this might have been useful for him. May I?” With some hesitation, Armiena shrugged out of the sling that was holding her left arm captive. The shoulder nagged with pain and her jaw clenched for a moment, but she revealed no further sign of the complaining injury as she stretched it out in a slow rotation. Instead, the veteran Jedi placed her hands on the blaster carbine and turned it over with drilled efficiency, checking the power cell and the chamber for a live charge. It was, in fact, loaded, but the safety was engaged and the weapon pointed down-range. “BlasTech E-11.” She let out a little sigh. “Cold-weather pattern. Duranium reinforcement on the magazine feed and barrel, less prone to expansion in extreme temperatures. Versatile weapon, even if I prefer something a little heavier. Not much that I can tell you that someone who went through Imperial training wouldn’t already know, but for practical advice…” The veteran Jedi tucked the carbine under her arm and approached the makeshift rifle range. With practiced ease, her metal hand swung the folding stock back and squared it against her shoulder; she took a half-step backwards and lowered her center of gravity a handful of centimeters. “Stance and breath control are critical.” Armiena’s breath had slowed to a robotic rhythm and she peered down sights with eyes that blinked with unnerving slowness. “Square your shoulders and wrists to absorb the recoil, especially if you’re going full-auto for suppressing fire. Make your first shot on the exhale; but in a firefight where you’re moving around and yelling, don’t forget to breath, no matter what.” Armiena deliberately withheld her next breath and rushed through her speech to demonstrate; her hands began to tremble from the prolonged effort of holding the weapon. “Speaking of suppressing fire: the stun setting can be quite useful. Even a gaze with a stun blast canbedebilitating and speaking as a Jeditheyaredamneddifficulttodeflect.” A long inhalation followed. Draygo waited for her arms to stop wavering, then deliberately sent a round streaking downrange. She missed completely. So did her second and third attempts, the crimson bolts passing cleanly underneath the circumference of the remote and diffusing harmlessly into a pink glow against the magcon field. The inaccuracy, at least, was consistent. “A moment. Actually, you might find this useful.” Armiena frowned and began to field-strip the weapon and led Sarna through the process of inspecting its major components. Every part of the weapon, however, was pristinely maintained as though the weapon had arrived directly from the armorer’s workshop; the plasma injectors were completely clear of obstructions; the delicate cartridges that housed the focusing crystals were perfectly aligned and betrayed no cracks or even smudges; even the magazine leads had been cleaned and shone with a faint polish. The rifle was perfectly maintained. The same, Armiena realized, could not be said for her own body. As she walked Sarna through the process of assembling the rifle, the veteran Jedi realized that her right hand and wrist were both exposed metal, lacking about five millimeters of synthflesh that normally masked the skeletal chassis of a prosthetic. “The problem seems to be the operator.” Draygo held up her hand. “The metal slipped on that composite grip… maybe a millimeter--not much, but enough to push the barrel down a little and make my shots go low. I’ll need to practice and get used to that.” The veteran Jedi gave a fourth attempt, this time without any of the self-assured polish that she earlier displayed and taking conscious, deliberate effort with her trigger pull. This time, she was rewarded with a grazing strike against the targeting remote; sparks erupted from its side and the globe scattered to the left by a meter before returning to its earlier position.
  13. Draygo had been withdrawing into herself after the loss of Coruscant. And then, with experiencing the aftershock of the deaths of billions, the fragmentation of the Galactic Alliance, and the loss of so many of her friends, Armiena had been shunning contact with others. That emotional armor allowed her to attack the seemingly insurmountable crises with increasing ruthlessness, but the gradual chipping away at her defenses with time had nearly resulted in an explosive release of frustration at Dark Sun. And with the mental touch of her son, those defenses finally gave way and the storm that was her spirit finally flooded over. There was sincerity in his touch: not just love for his family, but also pain at the fact that he had never quite been able to bond properly with his father. She hadn’t expected the glowing regard that her son held for her, even after the many mistakes that she had made over the years. She held on tight, and her shoulders shook with silent tears. When Armiena could finally bring herself to extract herself from the hug, tears were flowing freely from her pale-green eyes. “He… was a good man.” Draygo looked off to the side and her eyes focused on something a kilometer away. It may have merely been the dull ache in her shoulder from the healing dislocation, but it physically hurt to force herself to speak of Aryian in the past tense. “Sometimes difficult to understand, bit too comfortable with his own mortality for my liking,” her lips twitched in a weak attempt at a smile. “But… he was better than I sometimes gave him credit for. I wish I could see him again. “He loved us, even if it was sometimes difficult for him to express it.”
  14. Nar Shaddaa (Rebel Alliance Headquarters): Astrographical Information Region: Mid Rim Sector: Hutt Space System: Y'Toub System Orbital Position: moon of the 3rd planet (Nal Hutta) Moons: one of 5 Grid Coordinates: S-8 Physical Information Class: Terrestrial Atmosphere: Type 1 Breathable Primary Terrain: polluted cityscape Points of Interest: Rimmer's Rest, Promenade, The Slag Pit Major Cities: New Vertica Ko Hentota Duros Sector Corellian Sector Refugee Sector Red Sector Undercity Industrial Sector Societal Information Indigenous Species: Ganks Immigrated Species: Hutts t'landa Til Humans Colicoids Vippits Evocii Trandoshans Twi'leks Many others Primary Language(s): Huttese, Galactic Basic Population: 72-95 billion (human minority) Faction Affiliation: Imperial Remnant, Rebel Alliance Defense Rating: Level 4 “The Red and Black” is the headquarters of the Rebel Alliance on Nar Shaddaa. It is situated in a rough, crime-stricken part of Nar Shaddaa--rough even for the Smuggler’s Moon. The blocks surrounding the main structure consist largely of formerly dilapidated warehouses that had been converted to barracks, hangar space, and training arenas. The largest of the hangars has been reinforced to support landing by atmosphere-worthy corvettes. The training arenas can be rebuilt on short notice to simulate the interiors of large capital ships--even a sizeable fraction of an Imperial II-class Star Destroyer. Within the center of the region lies the headquarters proper--a former casino that saw its glory days decades before the rise of the Empire. The structure was stripped of its former lavishness by years of scavenging and the final death knell to its opulent past was dealt by the Rebel engineers who have removed any trace of its civilian origin in the project to renovate it for military use. However, even the reinforcing struts and armored cladding cannot detract from the opulent use of space and arching ceilings, reminiscent of the luxurious use of space in Coruscanti Republican architecture; nor can the military holoprojectors disguise the fact that its briefing rooms were once theatres and the staff offices were once hotel rooms. Centuries in the past, The Red and Black was an opulent casino from the height of the Hutt Cartels in the waning years of the Old Republic. Decorated lavishly with white and black marble and crimson trim, its nearly-unpronounceable Huttese name quickly fell into disuse and the casino was referred to almost exclusively by its nickname. With the rise of the Empire and its advance into the Outer Rim, however, the criminal empire of the Hutt Cartels began to consolidate around smuggling and the drug trade and their more legitimate enterprises began to crumble. Neglected by the Hutts, The Red and Black decayed into a shell of its former self until it was abandoned, and then picked apart by scavengers for valuable scrap and metals. The casino was slated to be demolished as a victim of the Imperial Remnant’s rebuilding projects, but the unusual Republican architecture of the casino and its name were viewed as an auspicious token for the formation of the Rebel Alliance. The structure and its surroundings were seized as facilities for its headquarters on Coruscant. ((First post goes to Bruce Slaughter.))
  15. Unharmed, but resentful of having been restrained from the front lines. Armiena could understand the motivations of the Imperials in distancing her son from the heat of the battle--Darkfire was still a powerful name, even years after his parents’ leadership of the Jedi Order--but that would have rankled any member of his family. Aidan was perhaps more like his father than he would have liked to admit. “She’s alive. I don’t know any more than that. She has at least one of her cell on this ship, but for all I know they’re moonside now. I don’t know when we might see her again, but I imagine it will be unexpected and she’ll be needing a favor.” Armiena tried to smile, but her uncertainty strangled her expression and the best she managed was something between between a grimace and a squint. The blaster fire had died off and the veteran Jedi had just become aware that her apprentice had arrived more quickly to the hangar than she had anticipated. With Sarna no longer practicing her marksmanship and providing a backdrop of blaster bolts whining through the air to drown out their conversation, there was nothing preventing the younger Jedi from listening in on what Armiena had hoped to be a more private conversation, in a less martial setting, and during a time when time was less precious. However, none of Draygo’s preferences had come to pass and she had resolved to not allow this moment to be wasted. “Aidan, I need to ask…” Armiena’s eyes searched her son’s expression. “Are we… alright? I mean, I’ve been absent for far too long and I know I’ll never be able to fix that, and our lives aren’t likely to leave much time for ourselves, but,” she was conscious of the fact that she was babbling. “I’d like to be part of your life.”
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