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The smuggler grumbled a little under his breath, grabbing a new cigar from his jacket pocket and lighting it up. He took each of their hands in turn and matched their grips. He looked both of them in the eye and kept eye contact with each of them for a good ten seconds. It was how he knew whether they were full of druk or not. Unfortunately, it looked like both of them was telling the force's honest truth. Which meant that Malin’s second delivery would be of questionable origin. He’d barely made it out of the Coruscant port before his smuggling enterprise took a criminal turn. He long suspected it was a matter of time. But he figured it would take months, not days.

 

Some part of him wanted to ask. A niggling worrisome part in the back of his mind desperately wanted to know why the Black Sun was shipping out bad bacta and liquid explosives. But the part of him that hadn’t had a decent meal in a little over a week was louder. It’s okay Malin. As long as you don’t have to use the gorram stuff, you should be good.

 

Malin took a long hard look at his ship. He swallowed away what little professional pride clung to the back of his mouth and sighed almost imperceptibly.

 

“Yea, I’m interested. But first I’d like to lay down a couple conditions,” Malin replied. “First, I want a guarantee from you both that the Black Sun will not harm my crew or my ship even if they are not directly affiliated with the Black Sun. And, second, if jobs run low in the Outer Rim and you run out of smuggling requests, I want the freedom to run jobs with anyone that can pay. That is unless they put out jobs that directly oppose quests and jobs made by you and yours."

 

Malin cracked his knuckles together and took a long hard drag from the cigar still in his mouth. Then a mischievous grin broke the stolid lines of his face. “If all that’s okay. I’d say we’re in business. Just point me to the first shipment and I’ll be on my way.”

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Camik walked into the cantina. He kept the hood of his black cloak up and covering his armored body. He was unsure what he was walking into but this was Tatooine, and the one thing he could be sure of was he needed to be prepared for anything. This was not the civilized world of the core worlds but instead a havan for smugglers and criminals. The kind of place he used as a port of call before he traveled to Korriban.

 

The cantina he walked into was one he had visited regularly when he visited Tatooine, it was must have been the will of the Force that his Master would send him here. He looked around at the patroons. He did not recognize any of them at first glance. Not too surprising, this was not a place to socialize but a place to drink and conduct business.

 

He walked to the bar and ordered a drink. The bartender wordlessly poured his drink and passed it to him. As the glass reached his lips his cloak pulled back a bit revealing his face, enough that the bartender saw it and his eyes went wide.

 

”Camik? It’s been a while, long enough that I thought you were out of the game “

 

Camik took a full pull from the glass before answering.

 

”It’s me. I had to take a bit of time off from flying. But I am looking for someone named Canderous Bralor”

 

This was not the place to have lots small chat. He was there to get down to business. Now the question was how long and how hard would he have to hunt for the Mandalorian.

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The bartenders face went ghostly white as Camik poised his questions, his lower jaw beginning to shake in a slow drawn out stutter as he grasped for words to speak. Canderous Bralor, former Mandalore and Black Sun member. "H-h-how'd you hear that name? The barkeep finally managed to get out, his gaze shifting down in realization. That name hadn't been spoken here upon the Dunes in over a decade, the man now known solely as Atlas Dark, Bounty Hunter. Or was, as far as he knew.

 

But Canderous had shed that false identity here upon this very planet just a few weeks ago after setting out with the Mandalorian, Rose, and her compatriot, a member of the Sand People known solely as Rru. But that was weeks ago, and no one had seen him since. In fact, his old friend the barkeep, was beginning to worry a bit himself. But why had Camik came seeking him of all people, the Dar'Manda known as Canderous Bralor, last of Clan Bralor. This was indeed a strange turn of events.

 

"It doesnt matter. His corpse is likely buried beneath the Dunes far to the south near the old Armegedon Homestead. Some of the neighboring homesteaders came across the corpse of a Greater Krayt Dragon about a week back in that area." The barkeep spoke as he raised his eyes to meet the Cathar's, a hint of sadness within them as he poured his own glass and downed it quickly before slamming it down upon the bar upside down. "Werent no bodies found, but given the size of the dragon, it's unlikely even he survived. Looks like you came all this way for nothing."

 

Yet, why would Neo send Camik all this way for a man believed to be dead? Surely he wouldn't, as he would know. Perhaps Neo knew something that Anders did not. Camik would likely need to see this battleground himself, open himself up to the Force that flowed through the area, open his mind to the echoes that remained during its aftermath. Leaving Camik to himself and his thoughts, Anders walked away to fill another patron's mug.

 

Could Canderous have survived a tussle with a beast such as a Greater Krayt Dragon? Camik would need to find out for himself.

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Listening to the bartender, both with his ears and his feelings, Camik heard how the very name he had uttered struck fear into those that heard it. At least those that were locals feared the name. Camik had learned not to let a simple thing like fear rule his life. He ruled fear.

 

He heard the story of the body of the Greater Krayt Dragon. If Canderous Bralor had managed to kill one, it showed a level of skill that warranted caution. But Master would not have sent him to meet this Canderous Bralor if he did not have a skill that warranted his Camik’s attention.

 

”Something like death is no excuse and is not reason for me not to find Canderous Bralor, give me coordinates to the where this Krayt Dragon was found.” He could have tried tracking from the bar but it was always easier to have a closer starting point.

 

The bartender gave it to him, a bit wary and a bit relieved when Camik walked out of the bar.

 

Eventually Camik came across the remains of the Krayt Dragon. It was still in the process of decomposing, becoming food for the carrions of the land. He wasn’t sure if Canderous was the one that fought the beast but his feelings told him that it was.

 

Reaching out with the Force he could feel presences of the beings around him. One stood out greater than the rest. This was the presence he seeked. Without a word he began moving towards his target. He was unsure how far away it was but he was given a task and something like distance would not stop him.

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Long had the bodies that took up arms against the Greater Krayt Dragon been gone, possibly turned to dust or entombed by the Dune Sea of Tatooine. Yet there was a beacon of hope for young Camik, buried not too far from where he searched. Beneath the constantly drifting sands was buried a probe droid, its powercell destroyed when a blaster grazed its form and it eventually leaked out and deactivated it into a seemingly endless sleep.

 

This droid would lead to a ship belonging to Atlas Dark, also known as Canderous Bralor, and through the ships computers, Canderous Bralor could be located. It would only take a little ingenuity and patience to travel this path that Neo had set Camik upon, Canderous only one more world away.

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((Legal Double Post))

An highly encrypted comm originating from Mechis III would reach its destination after finally bouncing from one end of the Galaxy to the other numerous times. It simple read:

 

"49 20 68 61 76 65 20 61 20 6e 65 77 20 61 73 73 69 67 6e 6d 65 6e 74 20 66 6f 72 20 79 6f 75 2e 20 49 6e 66 69 6c 74 72 61 74 65 20 61 6e 64 20 61 73 73 69 73 74 20 74 68 65 20 4d 61 6e 64 61 6c 6f 72 69 61 6e 73 2e 20 59 6f 75 20 77 69 6c 6c 20 66 69 6e 64 20 74 68 65 6d 20 6f 6e 20 43 6f 72 75 73 63 61 6e 74 2e 20 49 6e 66 6c 75 65 6e 63 65 20 74 68 65 6d 20 74 6f 20 68 65 6c 70 20 72 65 65 73 74 61 62 6c 69 73 68 20 74 68 65 20 48 75 74 74 20 66 61 63 74 69 6f 6e 20 61 73 20 61 6c 6c 69 65 73 2e 20 41 77 61 69 74 20 66 75 72 74 68 65 72 20 69 6e 73 74 72 75 63 74 69 6f 6e 73 2e 20 52 49 48 4e 20 61 75 74 68 6f 72 69 7a 61 74 69 6f 6e 20 63 6f 64 65 3a 20 52 49 48 4e 2d 34 32"

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The message is received by a series of seemingly random droids that then proceed to redirect the message on an encrypted channel to an innocuous satellite that redirects the message back into space to its final destination...

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The cool desert night winds howled across the barren wastes of the Dune Sea. Little moved at night on Tatooine and nothing was moving here, on this cloudless night. Nothing out of the ordinary; at least for now.
 

A shimmer of light flickered in the air, a wisp bouncing along invisible streams of air. It finally alighted atop the tallest dune in the area; flecks of sand slowly building it higher and higher. In an instant, where once was nothingness, a hissing sound erupted and as painted stroke by stroke a black clad figure formed out of the air. The wisp vanishing as the finishing touches of the being’s body formalized into physicality.  Standing there in robes, black as the heart of The Maw itself, stood a man. His garb was Tusken in design. Hanging at his side, a shimmering blackened gaderffi. This weapon was not a rough hewn weapon made of scavenged bits of crashed starship. It was a weapon expertly forged of mysterious metal; a weapon made for a crusader.

Through the shimmering blackened goggles, Rruror’rur’rr stared out at the cloudless starry sky. He did not know how long it had been or even what had transpired in the moments since his death. The voices of his ancestors, ever present comrades, were silent. Inhaling deeply, Rruror’rur’rr took in a breath of refreshing air; air that was his. Mingling with his confusion, love, and loss, the solitary Tusken felt a strange set of peace.

 

’You are mine. Your body belongs to me. Until your death, again.’
 

Rruror’rur’rr’s body tensed. The voice from his death. It was back. As much as he wanted to die; it seemed as though all of the fates had conspired against him. He had walked through hell, defied his customs, dishonored his traditions, and defiled his people. Still, he was cursed to not die, but to live.

 

Your ancestors led you to me. Your life was a smattering of eking by, desiring but never grasping. Together, we will go into the stars. We will go further than any of our kind have. Together we will bring revenge on they that subjugated our peoples and destroy our world.I shall give to you all that you desire and more; all you must do is my bidding.’ the voice pounded in the Tusken’s head. Each word a drumbeat against his temples. Reaching up with his black cloth wrapped hands, Rruror’rur’rr grasped his head and fell to his knees, crumpling in pain. ’Good,’ the voice reverberated. ’Kneel in submission. I will guide you.’

 

Then, as suddenly as the painful voice was there, it was gone. 

 

The silence flooded Rruror’rur’rr’s mind as he slumped face first into the sand, his body drifting down the dune. The winds gently fluttering the loose edges of his blackened Tusken robes, slowly depositing sand against his body.

 

Alive. Alive, but not free.

 

The remainder of the night passed without incident. The following morning Rruror’rur’rr awoke as the twin suns cast their warm gaze upon him. Blackened robes were of little use in casting off the heat. Yet, this was the first that the Tusken warrior noticed them; as the suns beat down and warmed his back.

 

Pushing himself up, the night’s accumulation of sand running down his back, Rruror’rur’rr stared down at his outstretched hands in disbelief. ’Had it all been a dream?’ Flexing his hands, Rruror’rur’rr already knew the answer to that. It could not have been. How else had he come to this place, clad as such? The only question was *what next?’ Sitting in the sands, the Tusken pondered that thought as he played the events leading up to his death and his rebirth over in his head. Images of his demonic mount, the Mandalorians, his ancestors, his decent into hell, and the otherworldly voices played through his mind. Two things stuck out to him. 

 

The first was Rose, the blue haired warrior was he had become enamored with shortly before his death. What had become of her? She had died; hadn’t she? If he asked himself, Rruror’rur’rr was not entirely sure of that. He had died too had he not? Yet here he was. Perhaps whatever desert spirit that has seen for to curse him back to this life had done the same for her…

 

Secondly, the voice. It had spoken of revenge, of attaining the unattainable, of teaching out to the stars. Normally, Rruror’rur’rr would have discounted such notions as blasphemous adulterations of age of traditions; but given all that had happened, he couldn’t. Looking down again at his black garbed hands and arms he knew something had changed.

Not knowing what else to do, and with the suns beating down on him in an ever growing onslaught of heat, the Tusken picked himself up and began to walk. The first thing to do was to figure out where he even was. The deserts of Tatooine were unforgiving at best. 

 

————————————-

 

Forwards. Onwards and upwards. They were the only directions the desert warrior could go. As he created his fourth dune something stood out from the endless waves of shifting sand: moisture vaporators; rows upon rows of them. Spattered amongst them a crew of six maybe seven hodge-podged metallic droids clinked and clanked as they tended to the accursed machines. 

 

Dropping into a crouch, Rruror’rur’rr after on instinct. Even if he could not hear the voices of his ancestors, he still felt their guiding hands ((the force)). Slinging forward, like a sand panther on the prowl, the Tusken made it to the first towering vaporator with ease. From there it was easy enough to bash in the hands of the first two droids with ease. A third noticed the decimation and quickly sounded the alarm, sending the remaining droids scurrying back towards the farm in the distance.

 

Meeting little resistance, with gaderffi in hand, Rruror’rur’rr set off at a loping gait after the droids. Cutting down the slowest as he gained on them before a blaster shot rang out and the Tusken dove for cover behind another vaporator.

The farmer apparently took offense to the black clad raider. Clutching his gaderffi, Rruror’rur’rr careful righted himself.

 

Within minutes, he could hear the grumbling of the portly farmer as he strode forward, having contented himself on clearly scaring the Tusken away.

*”…better not have broken my newly installed Turbo 3000 or else I’m gonna…”*

That was all that Rruror’rur’rr heard before he brought the clubbed end of his shimmering black signature weapon down on the man’s head just as he came into sight. A sickly splatter sent bits of blood and brain into the air as the man’s body fell limp and porcine in the sand.  

 

Lowering his club, Rruror’rur’rr pondered. The voice had spoken of more; but what? 

Setting off towards the house, the warrior wondered what might await him inside. Answers, he hoped.

 

Inside, Rruror’rur’rr found relatively simple living. Aside from the fact that the man clearly was a slob and lived alone, the thing that caught his attention the most was the nearly full wall sized display broadcasting one of the most loathsome, albeit intriguing, displays he had ever seen; two completely unclothed tendril headed aliens partaking in what he could only classify as blasphemous bodily acts with one another.

 

A lesser Tusken would have immediately bashed the offending display to pieces. Rruror’rur’rr however hesitated. He had discovered that, while seemingly an abomination, even the darkly clad ancestor in his death has wielded some matter of technology to his benefit and still been welcomed home.

 

Jabbing his fingers at the buttons whilst trying, and failing to not watch the vile display splayed across the wall, Rruror’rur’rr somehow managed, through force or luck, to activate some matter of menu. As the screen turned black a voice echoed from around the room: “Greetings. How may I assist you today?”

 

’it spoke?’ Rruror’rur’rr took a step back in surprise. It was like he was in the belly one of those fo droids.

 

Pondering for a moment, the Tusken finally spoke, his voice a low mumbling growl. ”Where is Rose?”

 

Pardon me my liege, but there is no one by that name in the directory. Perhaps if you could provide me with some details I can scan publicly available census data and locate who it is you are looking for.”

 

Rruror’rur’rr stared dumbly at the blank screen. “Rose is . . . ahhhh . . . A warrior. She  . . . Blue hair. Offworlder. She died.”

 

That information is decidedly unhelpful.” the smooth metallic voice retorted. “Do you know how many warrior switch blue hair exist on Tatooine alone?” for a moment the computer whirred quietly with the Tusken staring stupidly at it pondering what to do next.

 

A few minutes of silent whirring later the computer spoke again, ”This warrior woman you refer to, she would not be an affiliate of the Black Sun crime syndicate that settled planetside some time ago would she?” Without pausing to await a response, an image of Rose Cariadus flashed up in the wall sized screen surrounded by flashing symbols of encryption that obscured most of the information associated with the file. ”Because if so I believe this might be who you are looking for. Not much besides a name and a comm code though, I regret to say. I cannot even tell you if the code is still good. The files on Tatooine have not been kept up to date for quite a while.”

 

Rruror’rur’rr grunted excitedly as a familiar image flashed on the screen. It was her! ”Is she, alive?” he asked hesitantly, not entirely sure he wanted the answer. What if it was no? What is she was gone, as well, forever?

 

Before he could retract his question the computer responded. ”It appears she was reanimated and left the planet. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. If you want, I could try the transmission code; although I assume it will only result in another Imperial cease and desist order. She does seem your type though.”

 

”Do it!” the Tusken snarled excitedly as he threw his hands up in the air.

 

Quickly and quietly a transmission was sent out into the cosmos. The encryption on it was more than simple; but it kept honest broadcasters honest and without having any idea where to start, the broadcast across all usual channels was a long shot at best. Still, it had worked in the past judging by the stack of no contact orders in the bedroom.

 

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An alert had long informed the Black Sun of information having been gone through concerning a former asset and an investigation team had been sent. When they arrived at the origins of the search, they were met with a massacre. Tu'can'ra, or Tusker, was the lead agent, the Tusken draped in a black and white variant of her Tribe's garb and carrying a stun baton rather than the ancient weapon of her ancestors. And hanging from her back was a modernized slug rifle. Even before she dismounted the speeder, she could tell that it mimicked the actions of her people, but something was quite different this particular attack as she scanned the movements and directions from which it originated. It was too quick, too focused.

 

Reaching down her hip as the others dismounted, Tusker swung open the stun baton, its clanking surely signaling the one inside as the electrical currents sparked and hummed with activation. Slowly moving toward the farmhouse' entrance, her gloved hand opened the door.

 

((@Wyvernfall))

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Standing there in silence for several minutes, Rruror’rur’rr watched the blank screen. He was not sure what he was expecting. Truthfully he did not even understand what had happened in its entirety. ‘Filthy technology!’

 

Tapping a gloved hand on the screen seemed to result in nothing. What had he expected, Rose to just materialize in the room? Technology did seem capable of magical things. Blaspheming as he was already, Rruror’rur’rr wondered what the point was anymore.

 

After several minutes of no response, the Tusken set his eyes on the rest of the room. It was filthy, something that would, and probably did, end up getting one killed in the harsh deserts of Tatooine. Shaking his head, Rruror’rur’rr made his way to what he could only assume was the kitchen; judging by the fly infested dishes in the sink. Opening cupboards he began to look for something to eat. Up until this point, he had not realized just how hungry he was. Coming back to life reanimated by a mysterious dark being really took it out of you. Finding several seemingly edible cakes of unknown origin, one appeared to be some sort of meat, and a unopened container of Jawa Juice in the cooler, Rruror’rur’rr made his way back to the large screen. Shoving aside a stack of documents and data pads with a flatter, the Tusken cleared a spot to sit. Not sure what else to do, he contended himself to sit and eat and wait. He wouldn’t want to miss Rose when she called back.

 

Finishing his meal, Rruror’rur’rr contended himself with the remoteness of his location and the fact that no one had yet come to check on the porcine offworlder. Soon enough he found himself fidgeting with whatever doodads and gizmos were within reach. He really had not ever bothered with the enemy’s trinkets; but if they could allow him to find Rose, maybe he could find a use for other bits and baubles in the house.

 

One thing led to another and Rruror’rur’rr lost track of time as the suns outside raced higher and higher in the sky. He was content to dig through the deceased’s belongings with impunity.

 

That was until a sound outside caught his attention. Jerking his head up with a growl of concern, he grabbed for the smooth black gaderrfi at his side. He knew that sound: electricity. It was the sound of an offworlder preparing to attack. He knew that from past experiences.

 

What he saw; however, gave the Tusken pause. There, a shadowy figure envelopes by the bright sunlight outside, stood another Tusken, with an . . . offworld  weapon? What was this trickery?

 

This was not what he expected. It was probably the furthest thing from. Even as he was shrouded in blackened robes of his people, this being was enveloped in fear of white and black; yet clothed as one of his own kind. Still, whoever this was, was not one of his tribe. They were dead. His heart pained at the thought and the dark voices in his head whispered wordless feelings of anger and revenge, urging Rruror’rur’rr to take it out on this trespasser. Gripping his gaderrfi tightly, Rruror’rur’rr raised it defensively, ready to strike. ‘What if this is Rose? Has she come for me?’

 

Tensing his body Rruror’rur’rr growled in his native Tusken, “Are you too a demon come to haunt my cursed steps? A wraith of the sands conjured to guide me? My Rose returned from beyond? Or have you come to claim my conquest as your own?” With that, he jabbed the sharp spear line end of his mysterious gaderffi towards the newcomer, tense and prepared to fight even as his mind pondered what could be happening. He did not know and that scared him.

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Tu'can'ra was found as a child by a mining family that happened upon her tribe's encampment, the sole survivor of a cleansing brought about by her own after their Storyteller passed with no heir apparent. Such was tradition among her people. Yet, she was spared because her mother could not do it, her father already lost to the sands a few years before.

 

The family that had found her raised her as one of their own, but the few years that she had lived among her tribe remained embedded within her, and she spent most of her time out amongst the dunes that was once her home, her face covered not only to hide her origins, but to protect her from the harsh sands of Tatooine. Because of this, she had always been able to walk amongst both worlds that had made her.

 

But as she gazed upon the Tusken below her, she felt a kindred spirit looking up at her. The sorrow in his movements, what words she could make out from memory speaking of dead wraiths and a loved one, and his being alone spoke volumes of her own experiences. As his attack came, she twirled around him and struck the Tusken across the shoulders just hard enough to wind him as the shock tore through his respiratory system briefly. 

 

Backing away, Tu'can'ra spoke what little of their language remained in her memory, only capable of expressing her will not to fight but to understand, and letting him know that if he pursued the path of the warrior, she would not hesitate to end his life here and now as her comrades leveled their laser sights upon his form. All she had to do was give the order. In silence, she awaited his reply.

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Rruror’rur’rr gasped as his back arched away from the charged blow across his shoulders. The electricity arced through the thick cloth to prickle his skin as he growled angrily, hefting his weapon for another blow. The only thing that gave the warrior pause was the sight of this person’s decidedly non-Tusken, techno-wielding goons leveling their weapons at him. Even as the would-be Tusken stepped back, speaking in a stunted Tusken dialect, Rruror’rur’rr knew he had little hope of coming out the victor in an all out confrontation. 
 

So menacingly staring at the group, he held his position, righting himself. He showed he was prepared to defend himself, even as he made no move to advance again. At least for the moment.

 

Growling a wordless Tusken battle cry, Rruror’rur’rr followed it with, “You came for me,” in his native tongue. He hoped it’s as simple enough in his meaning the words carrying an entirety of accusations and suggestions in their gravelly undertones.

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Tu'can'ra smiled beneath her garbed rags as the Blackened Raider stood down, the Tusken herself hitting the retract button that caused the baton to sheath its self before she placed it upon her hip and pulled forth a datapad, her men still aimed at his midsection should he make the dire mistake of attacking their commmander.

 

Holding up the datapad with the blue haired Mandalorian, Rose, strewn across its screen, Tusker spoke this time in basic. "You searched for her in our archives. Why?" She poised, searching to see if he could understand the language of the basics before she continued. "She is a former asset of my Employers, no longer amongst us. What are your ties to her?" Tu'can'ra placed the datapad in his hands, allowing him to see her picture, watching him react to both her and the technology. She was curious, wondering why he differed from the rest.

 

With that, she stepped back and watched, waiting to see how he truly responded. He was searching for her, defying his beliefs to do so, even if he, like herself, was the last of his tribe. The only thing that separated them being she was raised around technology where he wasn't. And yet he sought it out. This intrigued her more than words could even begin to express.

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What happened next was not what Rruror’rur’rr had expected. His would-be foe had deactivated her weapon and stepped back. That in and of itself was of little reassurance as the accompanying entourage of goons were still present and seemingly ready to riddle him with blaster fire at a moment’s notice. No, it was when he caught a glimpse of Rose on the data pad that Rruror’rur’rr’s heart jumped. ‘The screen must have accessed these so called archives.’  He realized. There was no other conceivable idea his brain could come up with that would have drawn them here with that information. The only question was now; we’re these friends of his Rose, or foes?

 

Eyeballing the gion squad behind the strangely clad Tusken, Rruror’rur’rr decided that discretion was probably a better choice in the moment. “She saved my life,” the Tusken growled in a gravelly basic as waves of images and memories too fresh rushed back through his mind. It was true, in a matter of speaking. Even though he had died; she had given him something to live for. 
 

Gaderffi still held defensively, the darkly clad Tusken refused the offer of the pad. It was enough that he could see the image displayed in it. He did not need anything occupying his hand should this be a sort of ruse. “Where is she?” He asked, each word carefully rolled over his tongue as he checked each for accuracy. Maybe they had her. Maybe they knew where she was. Maybe they had killed her. “You can, take me to her,”  his words were more a statement than question, even as he tore his eyes from the screen to look back at his fellow Tusken.

 

It was only then that it occurred to him to even ask, his voice a low grumble as he returned to his native tongue. “Who are you?”

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Tusker grew even more intrigued as he spoke of her saving his life, the Mandalorians a complex religious cult that even she had trouble understanding, the blood of warrior ancestors running through her Tusken veins. As he disregarded the offer of the datapad, she sat it aside and listened as he spoke, taking note of the way he phrased himself, the way he still clung to his ways despite wanting heartedly to find her. In a way, Tu'can'ra found it slightly sweet. 

 

"I cannot..." She responded in basic, leaning up against a nearby corner, her gazed fixed upon the Tusken before her. In truth, she was slightly excited to have met and conversed with one of her own like she had always dreamed of. But there was something in him that differed even for her, and she could not completely place it. Calmly she spoke, choosing words she felt he would understand. "She disappeared into the skies with her own kin.... no word of her since she answered her people's call.... no longer part of us."

 

She made sure her words rolled off her tongue truthfully, not wanting her men above, whom stood astonished at two Tuskens conversing in basic before them and surreal reality it was offering them, to mistake any actions as hostility toward her should he grow frustrated. But to be on the safe side, she held up her open hand and closed her fist that signalled them to relax and let the situation ease, their guns lowering but not off target.

 

"I am Tu'can'ra." She spoke as she turned her attention back to him. "Last of my tribe..... and you?"

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‘Into the skies’

 

That phrase itself cemented in Rruror’rur’rr’s mind what he already had been coming to accept. Whatever the reason, whatever the cost, he would find his Rose. Even if his ancestors feared what fell from the skies, he would not allow these beliefs to hold him back any more. He had travelled into Hell and returned, fought the demons that sought to subject his world, traversed time in some dark-side warped battle, found love, died.

 

Seeing the accompanying soldiers relax somewhat, Rruror’rur’rr took that as a signal that maybe he was not going to die, yet. 
 

“My name is Rruror’rur’rr. I too am the last of my tribe, forsaken by the spirits, ascended into hell, and he who was sacrificed by demons to be reborn anew.” It was a mouthful, but there was no other way Rruror’rur’rr felt he could explain what had happened to him without spending hours regaling the strange Tusken before him. Most assuredly they both had stories to tell. Neither had a story teller or tribe with which to share these tales though. Rruror’rur’rr felt a strange kinship towards the equally strangely garbed Tusken before him. 
 

Leaning close, Rruror’rur’rr whispered, knowing that what he was about to ask could get him killed for blasphemy. He hoped that her altered garb and use of offworlder technology spoke true though. “Can you help me find her? Can you help me,” he paused swallowing; his mouth suddenly dry and rough. Unable to finish, he cautiously pointed upwards towards the ceiling. He wanted to leave the planet, willingly. He knew if he was going to die, this might very well be the moment. 

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As he spoke, Tu'can'ra began to understand him more, understand his reasons and reactions, and listened to his tale. It was common knowledge and something that all Tusken knew, that stories could be told without a single word, movements of the body and expressions telling more than words ever could. And for Tusker, this had been a solemn truth for her as she grew. So as he spoke, she watched him and learned him, even as he leaned over and pleaded with her.

 

"Leave us." Tusker commanded, her men looking at her inquisitively as her gaze met theirs from beneath her robes. A moment of silence passed and they departed, leaving only she and him alone. Her gaze shifted back to him as her hands motioned toward the garb that draped over her hand, Tu'can'ra unraveling the veil that hid her true Tusken face for so many years now. As she allowed him to gaze upon her face, she smiled and spoke, a harsh truth coming from her lips. "We are only bound to this planet by fear and old wounds. But I sense you know this as much as I do."

 

Her eyes stared into his beneath his own faceless mask, almost as if piercing the veil he hid behind. He may not look like she, his own heritage different from her own. But his heart was Tusken and that was all that mattered to her. "I have walked among worlds that looked like the world of the Ancients, seen the lush flora, smelt the salty vast oceans, and have seen what the stars above look like as close as you and I are. You do not need me. But I would aid you if you truly wish."

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Rruror’rur’rr watched curiously as the Tusken woman sent her non-Tusken comrades away. He smiled as she spoke. “I have been to a world of the demons that suppressed our lands. There I killed and I lived.”
 

Rruror’rur’rr’s chest tensed as the woman began to unwrap her head covering. This was something that was forbidden in all but the most intimate of settings amongst their people. Still, they were just discussing heresy and both self-identified as outcasts. Even amongst the clans their were differences. In Rruror’rur’rr’s clan the women and men dressed identically. Their sex unknown to all but their closest kin. The same could be said of their species. For while Tusken appeared uniformly barbaric to any outsiders, inside their own world they took in helpless orphans and adhered to a rich tradition. A tradition Rruror’rur’rr had been discovering was quite similar to that of the Mandalorians. 
 

So he sat, still as a stone, every inclination in his body tell him to divert his eyes. Still, he forced himself to watch. The face that he saw was one that differed from his own; but that did not surprise him. 
 

“I need an iron demon to whisk me into the skies. To find my Rose.” He spoke matter of factly before pausing, a glint in his eye, unseeable beyond his reflective goggles. “Unless of course, you and your newfound clansmen were looking for another to join you on one last hunt before I take our cause, my crusade, to the stars?” After all he had been through, the idea of raiding with one of his own held a certain familiar appeal. They were both outcasts in some way. He didn’t even need to ask her story. The fact was as delegate as they were, their fates were bound along a similar path. He needed help getting off of his home world and looming for Rose. The desert culture had taught him that such a thing did not come without a price.

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She chuckled coyfully as he spoke, finding humor in his ways of speech and the riddled ways of her own past life and knowing what truly existed beyond the veil that their people blindly hid behind. Her green eyes gazed at him, the few features that differed between them being what separated them in looks. "The oppressors of our ancestors have long died out, our fear being the only thing that truly holds us back now."

 

She moved away, finding a box to sit down upon as she tried to find the words to speak to him that would help him understand what she meant, what he truly could not imagine and yet was the true reality that she had saw with her own eyes as a member of Black Sun. "Perhaps they feared others like them, maybe that is why we live so primitive. I cannot say with truth. But I have seen worlds that our ancestors would cherish. I have walked on worlds that we would fear without reason, where our ancestors would have thrived and not hide away."

 

"There is so much you do not know, so much that you cannot even imagine, above, Rruror’rur’rr. And I would gladly take you on my ship." Tu'can'ra spoke with sentiment, her happiness in meeting another like her being the only payment she would require. But she was curious of what laid beneath his own garbed mask. "All you have to do is show me the real you, beneath your mask. If you truly wish to embrace the skies, then forsake your past and become one with me and my clan. Though we do not show ourselves to them, we must know each other in the sense of our tribes, the past that separates us from them."

 

Her facial expressions grew serious for a moment, a request not taken lightly, a call for respect to their true ancestors. "Can you do this?"

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Rruror’rur’rr found himself carefully nodding as he listened to Tusker’s speech. He might not have agreed with her every sentiment, but he at least felt that he kind of understood where she was coming from. Maybe she was right. Maybe their own past was holding them back.

 

Then again, their past is what made them who they were. It was one thing to seek to expand one’s horizons. It was an entirely different thing to openly reject that which made one him or herself. The fierce suns and sands had taught him that.  Even Rose’s people held to their own traditions, didn’t they?
 

Cautiously he responded, “You may be right. Our ways have kept our people alive for generations though. What use have our people had for the sky when we have survived here, where those who make false claims to the land struggle to even walk the dunes.”

 

Running his hand along the wrappings that’s shrouded his face he paused before continuing. “Do you remember when you were but a child, before you undertook the rights of becoming an equal amongst your people? We can not forsake those lessons either. The sands can kill as easily the brothers giving chase across the sky. Our coverings protect us. They offer life. They brand us as to who we are.” Rruror’rur’rr’s memory flashed as he thought about the ancient spirit who had been taken away from his ancestors. He had forsaken all of the trappings of his people and returned a monster. His father had pled with him to return to the fold, but it had been too late. He had forsaken that which he was and into that void had filled the monsters who had destroyed their world. 
 

Lowering his hand and looking at the black shrouds that now covered it, he was reminded that some spirit from that encounter had deemed that it was not yet his time to pass into the great beyond. Rruror’rur’rr shook his head dejectedly. “I do not wish to forsake my past, for in doing so, I may lose who I am and become one with the devils who destroyed our world. I simply wish to  evolve our people. To learn the ways of the enemy and to smite them before they can take away anything else from us. The spirits of our ancestors saved from from certain death. I can not forsake that. I am sorry.” Slowly he lowered his head, convinced that he had just destroyed any chance he had to find his Rose. The price was simply too high.

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Tu'can'ra could only smile with understanding as he spoke, evidential tears flowing from her eyes when he questioned her childhood even though the smile remained. Unlike him, she did not get to grow up around her people, a mere child of barely three when her mother spared her the fate of their tribe. So in a way, he got to know the stories better than she could ever hope for.

 

"I can understand that." She spoke finally after a momentary pause upon his conclusion, her mind drifted upon what would have had been if she had lived the life that he had. Yet, the only life she knew was the one she had lived, and it made the stars, and even Tatooine, seem so small and insignificant compared to the Galaxy around them and that war that rage on even if Tatooine had always remained her heart. "Though Tatooine may be my home, my heart, it is but a grain of sand of the larger dune and the farmers and travelers who visit it no more than Bantas to the real enemies that infest it."

 

She began grabbing her gear, wrapping her face once again as she began to turn toward the stairs, offering for him to follow. But as she placed her boot upon the first step, she turned to him with a warning. "Here, on Tattoine, it is simple for us. Offworlders are the enemy and Tatooine is all we know. But out there, in the sky amongst the stars, Tatooine is but a dot on a dark blanket formed by the shadows of demons, and we are the offworlders."

 

Extending her gloved hand, she wanted to make sure he was ready for make his wish a reality, no matter how cursed it may be.

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The Tusken was a bit concerned when he saw the tear slide down Tu’can’ra’s face, but when she still offered to take him along he was relieved. For a moment he was sure she was going to leave him.

 

Reachcing out, Rruror’rur’rr took the woman’s hand and stood; his free hand ensuring his gaffi stick hung at its appointed position. “Then let us go forth and fight these demons. We will pluck my Rose from their clutches and show these demons the spirit of true Tusken furor.” Following Tu’can’ra outside to where her squad of soldiers stood, Rruror’rur’rr offered each a look from their feet to their heads, shaking his head in disgust at each of them. Even with all she had said, Rruror’rur’rr had a long way to go before he trusted unproven offworlders. 
 

Approaching the speeder, the Tusken warrior hesitated before taking a deep breath. If this was the way the spirits were leading him, so be it. He could feel their urging in his head, pressing him onwards even as fear gripped his chest. Seating himself next to Tu’can’ra, Rruror’rur’rr looked around. He had never really taken the time to inspect a speeder short of j owing what good parts to salvage from one for his tribe. “Perhaps, if you teach me the ways of these offworlders you have come to know, I can show you the other ways of our people and together we can advance our people more?”

 

 

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Tusker chuckled as he spoke, pulling him up on the first step with her hand before leading him out. When he gaze fell upon the sun lit sands, she smiled beneath her garments, realizing that for the first time since her orphanage, she was among at least one of her people, even if he was of another tribe. No matter though, for she would see him and her forge their own tribe of outcasts and heretics if he would choose to walk such a path with her.

 

Shifting her gaze, despite the reality of his own plight could have been and was at one time her own, chuckled at his hesitation. The transition for her had been an easier one, a Tusken child hidden among farmers and miners behind masks that were a commonality for Tatooine, few memories of her life before and vague. But for him, his own life having been a polar opposite,and now being thrust into a whole new truth. She chuckled not because she found it funny or ironic, but because of the road ahead for him likely laid with pain and sorrow, and it was moments like this were the subtle joy of humor would last through the darkened ones.

 

Climbing aboard the speeder, Tu'can'ra turned to him as he spoke, the others slightly fearful as they loaded their own with what valuables they could muster, the poor sods that fell victim to Rru no longer having need for them, including some of the droids he had taken out. That, and it would be a shame to let the Jawas have it all.

 

"You will find that we differ very little from one another, all of us simply trying to survive." She spoke with a hidden smile as she pulled back on the throttle fully, taking Rru on one hell of a ride, passing farms and mines that laid outside the small outpost they were heading to. "These were the ones who raised me, so I know them well. Hopefully you will come to know them as I have, if only you look past the differences of days past." With a chuckle, she shifted gears and hit near sonic speeds as her gaze fell upon him, hoping she wasn't scaring him half to death. After all, Technology did have its advantages, and sometimes, it was even fun.

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Rruror’rur’rr’s fingers grasped the dash ahead of him. His knuckles were white, not that anyone could tell. Behind his mask, the tusken’s jaw was set as he held his teeth together with grim determination. Truth be told, the near sonic speeds terrified him. That terror was  only held in check by a sense of purpose. He was going to find Rose and advance the cause of his people.
 

Perhaps this was why his people had never adopted such machinery, aside from their ability to break down at the most inopportune moments. No. Banthas were definitely a better and more desirable method of travel across the dunes. Rruror’rur’rr pondered silently weighing the case of Banthas as the ideal mode of transport. Anything to keep his mind off the fact that all it would take was a single rock hitting from the ground to turn them into a blazing fireball.
 

Staring straight ahead, Rruror’rur’rr remained silent until they finally arrived at their destination. There, he finally turned to Tu’can’ra and growled in a deep Tusken, “It is any wonder the off worlders don’t kill themselves with such things.” He then quickly dismounted from the craft as he looked around warily, his hand naturally falling to rest atop his slung gaderffi, a visage of desert terror to any who be held him.

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For the unsheathed, the winds and sands of Tatooine were a harsh welcome, especially on that of a speeder. But for those who had lived and adapted to such a place from birth, it was as simple as riding through the rain, exhilarant and thrilling, a welcomed enjoyment as the kicked up sand pelleted their forms softly through the fabric of their garments and the wind soared through the intertwined threads and cooled their heated skin. This was one of the reasons Tusker welcomed technology whole heartedly, embracing the bad as much as the good. When they pulled into town, their first and only stop was the Black Sun outpost, her men quickly in tow.

 

"You can't beat the thrill of it though." She replied in jest, reaching around to pat Rru upon the back as she walked around to him and led him toward the innards of the small duplexed outpost, her men returning as they walked inside. Above their heads upon the second floor was her Office, mainly filled with computers and holovid feeds meant to keep her in touch with the other outposts here and abroad, as well as the higher ups. Below them was the storage area, filled mostly with necessities, armaments, and 'acquired' goods like those they received from the farm where she found Rru. and here, upon the main level, was mostly rooms where shifts were taking for sleep, a co-ed refresher, and a small kitchen; basic amenities. "Welcome to my home, the gateway to the skies."

 

With that, she began to access the computer terminals, researching this Rose that Rru was so enthralled by.

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