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Karys observed, noting Nok's actions and how he chose to touch the Force. It appeared he was indeed taking the lesson to heart but was still struggling to adequately touch the force as expected, and then he felt it. The staff jerked slightly, moving in his fingers as if someone were trying to tug it away.

 

This elicited another smile as the Massassi spoke out.

 

“Good, good...you are learning. You are close now, ever so close to touching the force, indeed you have touched it. You can feel it even now can you not? Formless, shapeless and yet it exists. Latch onto those feelings you felt and continue to feel, those that allowed you to touch the force and move this staff ever so slightly. Hold onto that feeling and pull. Do not act on instinct or compulsion, think only of your need to have the staff, that want of it.

 

Wrap the invisible threads around it and enforce your will upon it. Focus your passion, your anger, your hate and suffering and rip the staff from me. Use not your eyes but expand your mind outward, out into the vastness of space and look beyond it. See the unseen, view that which is without form, that which is yours to control and take command of it. Strengthen that hold you felt and have, take the staff as if it were upon a line of cable or rope and you were pulling it towards you. Take control of your fate, your destiny and become who you were born to be. Let no-one and nothing bar you from it.”

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...See the unseen, view that which is without form, that which is yours to control and take command of it...

 

Nok lowered his hands and lifted his head upward. The ceiling of the gym blurred as he let his eyes lose focus. He had dribbled his passion into the Force a moment ago, afraid of losing the connection. Not this time.

 

Nok reached out with all his mind, extending his awareness to that expanse that was the Force. He did not brush against it as he had before. No gentle push or controlled pull. He clutched at it, wrenching it with his will. For the briefest of moments, Nok had the impression of unraveling, as the Force flowed out of him just as it flowed through him, unspooling him into the churning void. The moment passed like a dizzy spell, and the Force all around him twisted. He shook the web, he was the web. Distantly, he heard the sounds of exercise equipment rattling across the floor, weights falling off shelves, the ripping noise of mats tearing. That didn't matter. This, this feeling, this control...This mattered.

 

Standing at the eye of the swirling storm, Nok found the staff.

 

Dead in the cold and dark

 

Not afraid

 

Dead in the cold and dark

 

Not afraid!

 

Dead in the cold and dark

 

"NOT AFRAID!" Nok screamed.

 

A sharp, deep crack cut through the noise as the staff shattered in two and pieces flew past Nok to clatter against the opposite wall.

 

Nok stared down at the shattered remains of the staff, breathing hard, lips pressed into a thin, harsh line. He stretched out his hand, and one piece shot towards him. With a loud slap it struck his palm and he clutched it, pain tingling across the now bruised skin.

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Karys observed, silent at first and simply watching Nok for any sign of movement, feeling out in the force to see if he was indeed doing as instructed. At first there was nothing but a vague impression...but that soon became something more. The vague impression soon became a physical response as he felt the staff move.

 

This time truly move.

 

The force wrapped around the object and pulled it free from his hands, sending it crashing into two halves at the opposite end of the room. Much to the Massassi's amusement. It wasn't entirely what he had in mind or envisioned but it would suffice for now. With more training and time Nok would soon perfect the technique, of that he was certain.

 

He heard Nok shout something out, something that caught his attention. It appeared Nok Morliss had a hidden fear...something he was afraid of. This drew his curiosity, he would ask about it some time for now it presented an opportunity, another lesson from which Nok would learn.

 

“Ah but you are afraid. I can feel the fear drip from you like a tap leaking fluid...fear not of me however. But of something else, good. Use that fear you feel, make it your strength. You accomplished the first step now lets see if you can do as you have again, this time in combat as I said. Let us see if you can call upon the force to pull a staff without having to think on it. Let us see if you can use your emotions, your fear and your hate to call the force to you and bend it to your will on the fly.

 

For in combat one rarely has time to think, you must act on reflex. Instinct and muscle memory. You must act with the force without having to think. It should be as second nature to you. That said there is another technique closely related to this. Telekinesis. The ability to move or manipulate objects with your mind no matter the size. For in the force as with other such similar abilities, one when sufficiently skilled and trained, the size, weight, distance, and mass of a targeted object does not matter. One can lift something as small as a piece of fruit to a starfighter, given enough time and focus. Just as it can also be used to manipulate liquids or to dispel gaseous liquids, or manipulate or to dispel such substances as well. With telekinesis many things which before seemed impossible, become possible.

 

Attempt both in the flow of combat as appropriate. Remember trust in your instincts, in your feelings and emotions. Trust in the Dark, and let it empower you. Let your fear and hatred flow through you. Empower the Dark and let it empower you in turn, in symbiosis.”

 

With that Karys offered a brief demonstration, pulling another staff from the rack using telekinesis. Illustrating his point as he entered an offensive combat stance, approaching without the force he begun his attack. Twirling the staff and attempting to smash it against his head again or sweep his legs if it failed. Yet all the while he hoped his apprentice stalled his movements by stealing the weapon from him.

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Nok listened as his master spoke, his mind still reeling from what he had done. The weights, the mats...he had done that. Not intentionally, but he had done that. The Force had moved under his touch. Under his...fear.

 

With telekinesis many things which before seemed impossible, become possible. He repeated his master's words in his mind. Like grasping the universe, he added silently.

 

As Darth Akheron lunged forward, Nok raised his hand and again found the staff in the swirling energies as his emotions stirred the Force into motion. Again, Nok had the brief sensation of his essence bleeding out into the Force, becoming one with the storm. Again he accepted it, and-

 

Nok's senses brushed against something. A counter-current. No, not simply a current. A storm that dwarfed his own, a well of emotion and power so black and deep as to seem like a black hole.

 

His master.

 

With a surge of white panic, the unraveling of his mind into the Force turned twisted and gnarled like threads in the hands of a toddler. Nok withdrew into himself with a snap, instinct telling him to withdraw from this thing before him, this entity of destruction and power.

 

The next thing Nok knew, he was on the ground, head throbbing once again.

 

He slammed his fist into the mat. Weak. He'd broken his own rule. He'd withdrawn and chosen not to fight when he could. He'd let his fear rule him. Nok had no issue with a tactical withdrawal, with using trickery or underhanded methods to win. But this...he'd simply fled from his master's presence.

 

As Nok, stood up, the tinny voice of one of his droids broke over the intercom:

 

"We will be arriving at Kuat shortly. Please prepare for landing."

 

Nok shook his head. "Apologies master. I need to prepare our meetings and landing procedures. We will continue this...later. If you're amenable..."

 

[sTORYLINE CONTINUES ON KUAT]

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A few hours later, Skye woke up much refreshed to what she'd been when her head had hit the pillow. It wasn't nearly enough though it would do for now. She had a report to make to Darex and one to Andon. To that end, she began formulating her messages reporting on what had happened at Onderon. Once she had them recorded, she sent them off. She could only hope that they had heard something regarding Jaina by the time they got her report. She also mentioned to Darex that she was taking Jackson to Corellia to train him. The message to Andon was more somber, just mentioning that she had not heard what had happened to his wife, nor if she were still with them or if she'd become one with the Force.

 

Messages sent she headed down to the Galley to make dinner. She enjoyed cooking, especially when it was for someone other than just herself. It wasn't long before she had a hearty stew simmering away, as well as some fresh crusty buns cooking in the oven. The aroma of the meal wafted through the ship, the Jedi Master knowing that she wouldn't have to call her Padawan to come and eat - he'd be drawn to the galley by the mouth watering smell of the stew and bread. Once it was ready she began serving up, hoping that Jackson had a good appetite.

 

Comm. to Grandmaster Darex Trevelian from Master Skye Organa

 

 

Darex,

 

As you have most likely heard by now, the battle to free Onderon from the Sith went badly. I have attached a file with the report of what went on. I have troubling news as well. Jedi Master Jaina Skywalker is missing. I do not know what became of her, if she lives or if she has become one with the Force. Her unit was decimated by the Sith. Being surrounded by the wounded, I couldn't focus to find her. I do hope that by the time you receive this that there is some favorable news on what happened with her.

 

I am going to take my Padawan to Corellia to train. You know the location. Please let me know if you need me for anything.

 

Love Skye

[report attached]

 

 

Comm to Andon Colos from Skye Organa

 

 

Andon,

 

I hope that by the time you receive this there will be some new information come to light. As it is, Jaina went missing during the battle for Onderon. I am unsure of what happened to her. The Sith decimated the unit that Jaina was with. I was surrounded by wounded and couldn't sense her. I am sorry to give you this news Andon. I'm hoping that she is still with us and just not able to reach us through the Force.

 

You and Jaina are in my thoughts.

Skye

 

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The escape to the vast emptiness of Space left Jackson immeasurably relieved, though still highly grateful for the distraction of flight sims and instructions. Losing himself in one of his most enjoyed pasttimes was, as it turned out, a fantastic way to distract himself from crushing weight of savage nihilism. Even if he had to relearn a lot of aspects of flying, as ships tended to handle differently in space than they did while constrained to an atmosphere and gravity. He had also never flown anything larger than a small cargo speeder meant for delivering shipments of scrap to processing facilities back home, and it was taking some time getting used to the relative size of such a comparatively large craft.

 

By the time the Padawan was ready to give in and take a break he felt that he had made pretty good progress thus far, for having been training through a sim. General spatial awareness had gone up quite a bit and he had more or less gotten the hang of casual flight. He wouldn't be doing any obstacle races, and he was probably screwed if it came down to a dogfight, but that would come in time. Preferably after a few long sessions of actual flight. It just wasn't the same when he was doing it in a sim.

 

After taking a quick trip to the 'fresher to get cleaned up Jack decided to check up with his host. She was up and about now, if the smell wafting through the sterile coridors was any indication, and he wanted to be prepared for any changes or training regimens she decided to put him through. So, after making a quick stop to check on the repairs he made in the cargo bay oh so long ago, Jackson made his way towards the galley. The sight of food was a welcome one, given his strict diet of ration bars over the past few days, and he made quick work of his portion.

 

But not, of course, greeting Skye. "Did you have a good rest, master Skye?" He asked after sitting down. She felt like she was a little more energetic than she was when they had boarded, but operating on vague feelings about people was much less reliable than it was about machinery and electronics. With machines he could diagnose issues and fix things easily enough, even if he didn't have the right tools sometimes. But with people, it was different. He knew how he operated, how his heart pumped and how his lungs fed his blood, what his personal levels of energy and strain were and what things affected those. With other people though, he had no clue. Everyone he had seen and probed so far had been so vastly different from one another, that it was like taking a step down some stairs only to find that the platform you were looking for was much lower than expected. Plants, at least, were somewhat consistent with others of the same kind.

 

"How long will it take us to get to Corellia?" Jackson asked after shaking himself out of his thoughts. Dwelling on his failures with people would do him no good.

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Skye looked up as Jackson came into the galley, a smile upon her face as she placed bowls and utensils on the table, then the buns and stew pot, indicating for him to serve himself how much he'd like. "Enough for now," she answered his question regarding getting enough rest, as she served hers up. "Feel free to have seconds if you like. It's there to have." For a while the only sounds was that of the pair eating.

 

"It'll take 3 days to get to Corellia. One protocol I always use is to make several random hyperspace jumps so that it makes it more difficult to track where we've come from. It is a lesson I learned back when the Sith were actively hunting Jedi. You will notice a huge difference from Coruscant when we get to Corellia. The Forest Retreat is on the point of a teardrop shaped lake. All you will see above ground is a log cabin, everything else is underground, including the hanger. We took a lot of precautions and so far we've been lucky to keep it secluded and private." The Healer gathered up the empty plates and put them in the dishwasher. "So how are you going with the piloting? Once you're feeling confident with the sim's, we'll take Serenity for a spin so you can get some practice."

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Jackson nodded as he scarfed down his second helping, abeit somewhat slower than the vacuum treatment he gave to his first. He was quite familiar with doubling back and taking odd routes when traveling to different places, he had often needed to do the same when he was living in the undercity. Sometimes skirmishes would break out in particularly hot areas, or mechanical/electrical elements of the city would fail and cause a blockage somewhere along the way. Of course, the detours he made were always through maintenance tunnels and empty pipe systems.

 

"I'm getting better, I think." He answered, "it's not quite the same as flying a speeder but it's close enough that I can manage normal maneuvers and casual flying now. Most of my trouble is with the size difference and maneuverability, but I think once I'm behind the actual controls I'll start getting better faster. The sims are nice and all, but it's throwing me off a little not being able to really feel out the ship while I'm in there."

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Skye listened to Jackson as he mentioned not being able to feel the ship while in the sims. "Yes, it certainly sounds like you have an affinity for machines. I can surmise that you subconsciously tap into the force when you pilot a speeder or when you work on machines. When we get to Corellia we will test that theory out with the speeder first, then with Serenity later.”

 

The Healer finished her dinner and gathered up the empty plates, placing them in the dishwasher. She then placed what remained of the stew into the chiller. “If you’re hungry at any time feel free to grab something to eat.” One thing her Padawan would discover is that he’d never have to go hungry. There was always food in the pantry - and the hydroponics unit too. She would teach him how to prepare and cook the different foods.

 

“How are you going with your mental exercises and meditation?” Skye motioned for him to come with her as she led the way to the hold and took out the training saber, handing it too him. “Once you are proficient with Form 1 we will move onto another of the Forms. I use a combination of Forms III and IV. Before we begin though I want you to try something.” She indicated for him to sit on the floor facing her, as she gracefully sat down herself. She took out a credit chip and placed it on the floor between them. “This is an exercise that my Master got me to do back when I was first starting out. Once you are confident with this we shall move onto larger objects.” Skye pointed to the chip. “I want you to open your mind to mine and follow what I am about to do.” She waited for her Padawan to do so before she “showed” him how to lift the credit chip. It rose from the floor and floated between them for a moment before sinking back to the floor. “Now you try. Take your time.”

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Jackson followed along after the galley was cleared, and took the offered training saber in his hands. He lifted and tested the weight, comparing it to his stun baton while he spoke with Skye. "I think I'm doing okay with the exercises, visualizing everything is helping me understand a lot better than I used to. Even with the uh, the lightsaber stuff. I've mostly been using my baton to practice the forms though, so I'll probably be a little bit off because of the weight differences."

 

He took a seat near his master then, and sceptically looked at the chit for a few moments. Even after watching Skye lift it he had no real idea on how to do the same thing. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, then drifted into his mindscape. It was different now that he had more experience with entering and visualizing the metaphysical space. The big ball of wires still sat in the center of his outline, only now he could also see a vague outline where Skye was. Everything else was just an aftertaste of static, an essence of metalic chaff and flare. At least he knew roughly where the chit was, so he could try to feel it out manually.

 

Not long after he slipped out of his trance abruptly, recoiling as he felt a physical smack to his forehead. He fumbled as he opened his eyes and got his bearings, and rubbed the square mark on his head as he looked around. Skye was still in her spot, but the credit chit had disappeared. His head swiveled around for a moment before he found the thing in his lap, where it had fallen after apparently smacking him in the face. He grumbled as he picked the thing up and tossed it back to its original spot, before trying again. He knew where it was and had a vague sense of what vector and how much force to apply now, he could probably do it. Without hitting himself in the forehead. Probably.

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It was a challenge to keep a straight face though Skye kept a serene expression on her face when she was inwardly amused at where Jackson had sent the chip. Still she couldn't help but say, "Just as well we started with something small. I was tempted to get you to start with the lightsaber." She allowed a slight smile to grace her face before the expression smoothed out once more. It had been interesting back when she had been learning to use the Force so many years before. There had been so many amusing things she had done when learning from Master Tares Vortex. She would let Jackson practice a little more with this exercise before sparring with him.

 

While she observed her Padawan her mind wandered a little, wondering how Darla was getting on. Skye would also have to check in with Darex again and see what was happening. She had the impression that something big had happened since they had left Coruscant. She wondered if they had closed in on Faust yet or if he'd pulled another of his stunts. With that in mind she used her implant to contact i-Nine and Flitter, instructing them to check the news to do with Coruscant since that was where he had been when she'd left to go to Onderon. With the message sent to the droids she turned her attention back to Jackson...

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After a few dozen attempts the best that Jackson could really do was bounce the credit chit into the air a few times in a row, or weakly push it around on the floor. If he tried to be gentle with the thing it just shivered and moved a tiny bit, but the moment he tried to up the ante to any tangible degree the thing shot up into the air like he had smacked it from below. It was like he was using an analog switch that only had two settings, idle power and then full throttle. He would have to either learn how to use his two default settings as they were, or change them to better suit his needs in both the present and the future. He would have to work on that later, when he had some free time.

 

For now though, he had hit his head against the chit long enough. Trying to adjust a non-adjustable output was exacerbating his headache, and if he was going to hurt he'd rather be hurting from a good workout or sparring session than from attempting to sort out the nature of an intangible and scientifically only vaguely explainable phenomenon that might as well just be brushed off with a short 'It's space magic. Deal with it.'

 

So he opened his eyes and scratched at the back of his head, yawning quietly before getting to his feet. "I'll try to work on that later. Think I've gotta do some weird stuff with my head."

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Skye observed silently as Jackson practiced. She knew he’d get the hang of it in his own time. What she saw here showed his potential. When he said he’d work on it later, the Healer gave a nod of her head in assent. “You will get better with time and practice.” Giving her Padawan a smile she followed suit, standing and moving towards a cabinet to get two of the simulation headsets, before moving to the centre of the hold. She handed Jackson one of the headsets and placed hers on, the pads going just behind the ears. As if on queue, Flitter entered the hold and floated over to a panel, ready to activate the simulator when Skye indicated for it.

 

“For starters I’d like you to run through the basics, then I’ll add in elements to make our sparring session a little more interesting.” Her eyes sparkled with anticipation. She would be curious to see how he would handle some of the sim elements thrown in. She had used the holo-simulator numerous times for training, though the simulator she had on Corellia was more elaborate than the one in her ship. It did, after all, have more space to use.

 

Skye took her saber from her hip and dialed down the setting to match the training saber Jackson had. She ignited the amethyst blade with it’s customary *snap-hiss* and stood, holding it loosely waiting for her Padawan to ready himself. She would let him make the first move.

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Jackson eyed the helmet he was given for a few moments, before taking a breath and slipping it over the top of his head with one hand. Once it was on he tested the weight of his still-not-heavy-enough training saber, and flicked it on. He was getting more familiar with the basic form one stance and movements now, after having practiced them nearly religiously in the aftermath following Onderon. It felt less unnatural to him now, and just a hair less awkward than it was when he started out.

 

He still hadn't really put it into practice in a practical situation or sparring however, so this was a good opportunity to absolutely fail at it and muck everything up. The movements he had been instructed in and practiced were all wild and made to be unpredictable, one of the more notable aspects of Shii-Cho, which meshed well with how he handled his stun baton and also did not mesh well.

 

His first sweep, an undercut bearing down on the base of Skye's saber, was lacking in leverage and power compared to a shorter heavier instrument. The lack of any disabling measure on contact was also less than ideal, as typically on hit he could expect a brief moment to draw back and make a follow-up attack. It meant that he could use the recoil of his first attack to build momentum for the second, and then the third, and so on and so forth without needing to worry about retaliation. It was a nasty way to beat someone down, but when someone pulled you into an alley or behind some sort of visual cover and tried to stab you then being fair was the last thing on your mind.

 

Just using vertical and horizontal and vertical sweeps was strange, and going out of your way to disarm a dangerous opponent instead of outright disabling or ending them seemed like a recipe for disaster, using an ancient code as an excuse to keep your conscious clean at the cost of potentially lethal backlash. Still, that was what he was learning. When he was able to hold his own he could branch out and try other options, but for now this would have to do.

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Hyperspace whizzed and zipped by Kayle and Query as they hurtled along towards some unknown fixed point that Query had indicated was a flickering glimmer of hope for the preservation of their combined mass sums of knowledge. Having never even left Kuat since being activated, the usually talkative Kayle fell silent, entranced by the whirling streaks of celestial bodies as the tiny craft hurtled ever onward in silence.

 

Sometime later, Kayle was not sure how long; having entered some sort of trance until the ship automatically came streaking out of hyperspace. The celestial streaks silently screeched to a stop, forming up as pinpricks of starlight on the vast empty void of space.

 

Vast. Empty. The TIE Interceptor hummed quietly as the scanners picked up a distant item floating in the darkness; only visible by the shadow it cast over the starry sky behind it.

 

Turning her head to look at Query, she pointed, ”Look Query, it seems that . . .that thing there is where your beacon is coming from. I am an expert in all manner of Imperial creations. Scans do not seem to ID it as anything of Imperial or Kuati make. In fact, on board computers do not seem to register it as anything more than floating space debris of unidentified manufacture. Still,” she tapped the screen in front of her, ”I wonder how long it has been floating there. It certainly does not look like a recent parking job. But still, it just seems odd.” Turning back to look at Query she spoke, her sing-song voice dropping to a more monotone level, ”Why would there be a single life sign aboard?”

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Query fought the urge not to sigh. As pointless as that would be from a functional standpoint, he found imitating organic emotional gestures gave him enjoyment.

 

Of course the memory impaired librarian wouldn't be able to remember a simple ship model. Why should this be any different from...

 

What is that?

 

Kayle was correct. Not only did the ship not match any imperial vessel he could recall, it didn't match any ship design style at all. Nubian, Corellian, Kuati...the ship didn't even look derived from any of the popular styles. Or the esoteric styles. Or anything.

 

"What the...wait, life-sign? That's impossible, there can't be a life-sign on that ship, that vessel appears to have been floating out there for months. Maybe longer. Any life would have perished or gone into hibernation long before the signal became this weak.

 

Unless...a scavenger? No, the evidence doesn't bear that hypothesis out. Where's their ship?

 

Still...it's only one life-sign. And we have a ship. A heavily armed ship."

 

Query activated the broadcast system with a thought. He'd have to hook himself into war vessels more often, this was enjoyable.

 

"Attention unidentified vessel. Are you in need of assistance?"

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The quiet pinging of a proximity sensor, combined with a distinctly foreign signal blasting over the hull of the Ire, awoke Su Bae from his scheduled nap. It was one of his few remaining past times out in the dark of space, while waiting for a ship to arrive for retrieval. It allowed him to dream of better times, of what-ifs and could-have-beens, instead of dwelling on the fact that any ship liable to pick him up would likely be of Rakata origin. He wouldn't go down without a fight if it were them, though, it wouldn't be much of one.

 

He glanced down at the patched remains of his body, sustained only by the suit that wrapped around him like a pre-packaged snack. He still couldn't feel anything, but the suit was helping him move.

 

A muted flash on Su Bae's HUD brought up a summary of the frequency being shot at him, and he frowned in thought as he looked over the patterns. It didn't look like anything the Rakata had ever used, and in fact the message didn't sound like any recognizable language either. Not Rakata, Not Seoularian, Kwa, even Sharu Trammic. A slow flicking of a switch on the remains of his dashboard ignited the single remaining viewscreen in his crushed cockpit, and a few short commands put the interloper in question on screen.

 

A cursory examination found the craft to be vaguely Rakatan in shape, though the exact dimensions and technical specs were all wrong. It was too fragile looking, and just small in general. It was even alone, without any apparent room for cargo. It had to be some sort of short ranged scouting vessel then, only without any cloaking technology.

 

Su Bae hesitated as he thought over his options. They probably weren't Rakata, and he did need help, but they were a mystery bag full of unknown variables.

 

Slowly, he keyed his ship's emergency broadcast frequency to that of the unknown ship's. "Unknown spacecraft," he stated, "state your home port and allegiance."

With luck they would understand Seoularian, but he repeated the message in every language he knew just in case, with a burst of Trinary code afterwards to be safe.

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”Well that is quite fascinating is it not Query? It seems that whoever or whatever is aboard is responding. I will admit though that my knowledge of sub-species dialects is quite limited. I would expect a medicinally knowledgeable droid such as yourself might know about what sort of creature would still be living aboard such a derelict of a vessel. Clearly the design is subpar and does not meet Imperial protocols. Do you know what the thing is asking?”

 

Kayle stared out at the floating wreckage as their Interceptor slowly began to drift closer and closer, before shooting a blue-photoceptored glance of questioning back at Query. Carefully, she began to maneuver their ill-gotten Imperial craft closer and closer to the floating hulk, preparing to dock.

 

”Maybe you should check and see. After all, medical droids are supposed to preserve life are they not? I will wait in the ship for the time being just in case whatever is aboard is hostile. Hmmm. . . I bet you wish you still had that little added on weapon of yours. I wonder if you can find something on the ship to protect you. . .just in case.”

 

As the Interceptor gently clanged against what would have been a docking port of the aged vessel they had discovered, Kayle announced yet another discovery, ”I guess docking is not an option. Look at that hole in what I suspect to be the bridge. I bet that the entire ship has been exposed to the vacuum of space. We cannot achieve a vacuum lock of any sort. I suppose it is good that neither of us have to breathe. I have heard of some sort of demonic monster that can survive in space. Deep space Imperial pilots have told stories about it when checking in at the archives.”

 

You know you might be sending him in to die right?

 

. . .yes, but I am just sure he has some life-preserving programming like all the other medical providers I have encountered. Besides, better him than me. The knowledge I have is too important to risk going in there myself. We were lucky to escape from Kuat. . .

 

. . .and you do not know anything about the outside world. . .

 

. . .I suppose that is true, but look I can clearly take care of myself!

 

. . .right, by sacrificing your only friend. . .

 

. . .he should know what he got himself into. I told him that I had to preserve my knowledge for the Empire. There are lots of medical droids. My knowledge is unique. . .I think . . .

 

. . .I bet the demon, if that is what it is, will not like eating droids anyway. . .

 

. . .we are pretty unpalatable it seems. . .

 

. . .Maybe with all the blood in his joints the monster will gnaw him to death though . . .

 

. . .yeah, I do seem to like the one-armed being. He is a good listener. Does not talk too much. . .

 

”Hold on Query. I’ll come with you. That way we will at least have the thing out numbered. Maybe we can scare it away before it eats you.”

 

With an audible electronic sigh, Kayle began to unstrap her 5-point harness as the Interceptor clanged against the hull of the hulk again.

 

”Hmmm . . . I am not sure we want to leave our vessel adrift. I am not sure why you think this place is a good place to repair your arm. I will give you the fact that it is out of the way enough that I do not think the enemy will be looking for us here. We will need to find some sort of tether to tie our ship to this hulk, just in case.”

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Perhaps I have been too generous in my evaluation of imperial design. They create an incredibly fast fighter ship, customize it with the latest tech...

 

...And they forget docking clamps?

 

As Query climbed out of the interceptor and the little atmosphere in it rushed out, he keyed his sensors to detect heat.

 

Nothing. This ship isn't radiating even basic heat. Nothing on this ship should still be alive. It simply isn't possible.

 

...Also I am now realizing I was not designed with magnetic feet. And the forgetful librarian droid who might forget why she's even here is piloting the ship. This idea is quickly becoming less appealing.

 

Best to move quickly.

 

Query searched the side of the vessel, searching for anything he could use to secure the interceptor.

 

Nothing appears to be...ah, there.

 

Concealed just behind a torn plate, a single cable extended out into space, perfectly still, no doubt driven to motionlessness by years or even decades of minuscule internal friction. The benefit of course being that it made an easy target.

 

Query calculated his trajectory, delighted at how being in a frictionless vacuum simplified the number crunching, and launched. As he did, it crossed his mind that most humans suffered from a distinct fear of this very scenario. Their minds were simply unable to cope with the eternity of space in a manner normal to biological thought processes.

 

And yet to a droid, the universe is simply there. A fact to be known. I wonder if that says anything about us?

 

He snatched the cable out of the air and let his momentum swing him around. Unfortunately, it looked as though he'd undershot his trajectory thanks to a concealed point of entry for the cable into the ship. Instead of simply swinging around back to the ship, Query rotated around the cable's base for several long minutes before he finally managed to hook the interceptor with his foot.

 

He tapped the side of the interceptor in binary, hoping Kayle would pay attention to the vibrations in the hull.

 

I...HAVE...ONE...ARM. HELP...ME...TIE...THIS...OFF

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Sandy ran her tongue along the inside of her lower teeth nervously as she climbed onboard her old master’s ship. The news on the small holoscreen in the entryway was showing repeating images released by Imperial and Sith sources. From both sides the outlook for the remnant was deadly, reports showed star destroyers on fire and drifting while boarding ships landed unopposed on the shipyards themselves. Her nerves were jumpy and her heart ached for those brave and valiant imperials. She knew that the jedi were not there in force and nor were the galactic alliance. Cowards all. She thought, as she said a silent prayer for those imperials who had done the most to fight the Sith out of all the allies. And now they were paying the price. Aidan was paying that price. And she should have been there,, but she was not and he was likely suffering for it. She let a scowl cross her face as she dropped her grey green cloak on the grav couch and walked with her apprentices towards the central compartment.

 

She looked at Kel’s new crystal and Fronds as well congratulated them for their find.

 

Well done boys! Now we will need to build the lightsabers themselves, so if you get permission from Master Vos you may wish to salvage from the repair bay some large core batteries, conduits, and some focusing lenses which you can get from a blaster. Then we can sit down and begin to build.”

 

((Begin the finding process for the components, then we will begin the build, and finally we can do some dueling))

 

She walked to where Tobias and Adenna stood and embraced her old master with a fierce hug. She had missed Adenna and her advice, and she held the hug for a while, letting her aura touch and congeal with Adenna’s letting her feel her apprehensions about aidan and her friends in the Empire. Letting her see how she had grown and developed from her time on Scarif, Nal Hutta, and with her apprentices. She was tied and very worried about the young Imperial Knight and her heart ached for him. She bit her lip and stepped back from Adenna. She blinked back tears and wiped and her nose with the hem of her green sleeve. “I’ve missed you mast- Uh Adenna.” She broke into a peal of teary laughter and when she could finally breathe her face hardened into grim reality.

 

As my apprentices build their sabres in the cargo hold we should plan our next course of action, it is likely from the Holos that the Remnant has completely fallen. I have few friends in the GA so I advocate helping the Empire should we have a direction. Though I bow to your wishes masters, I believe the Jedi should prepare for war.

 

Though her demeanor told the tale that she would not abide inaction, as they had done quite enough of that over the last week while her friends died on distant planets.

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Adenna nodded slowly as she considered Sandy's words. It appeared the war had been going poorly, but that was to be expected considering the reluctance of Jedi leadership to actually fight it. She had felt the call to join with the Imperial Knights when they worked together on Kashyyyk, but now, she wondered how much of that was the dark insanity egging her on. With her mind clear of that, she was more reserved about working too closely with them or the Empire. "I agree, we need to prepare for war, as much as possible. I don't think the Empire should be our first go to, though. You may have worked with them, but I have fought them before. Yes, they are against the Sith, for now, but that doesn't mean they are completely on our side, either. I would much rather have stronger ties with the GA. We can keep the Empire as allies of necessity, but I am hesitant to actually get too close to them."

 

She sighed deeply, "Still, it isn't up to us. The Council and the Grandmaster lead the Jedi, so we must work with them as much as possible while doing what we can to oppose the evil of the Sith."

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<>

 

Aurora had come out into the main part of the ship and cautiously made her way towards the center of the ship where the rest of the Jedi were congregating. Tobias knew at once he should not have left her- discarding his beverage in the bin, he grabbed another and a protein bar from the fridge in the common room. The beverage for him, the food for their new friend. Tobias looked to see Kel and Kota making their way across the room- and Adenna was holding Sandy. The two started to converse plans and plot- Tobias excused himself, mentioning that he would take care of their recent addition.

 

Reflecting on what he was seeing within the room- the embrace between Adenna and Sandy. he was happy to have a partner such as Adenna. His wife was an incredible individual, and he was just simply awestruck whenever he reflected their relationship. At the threshold of the room he did linger- wanting to engrave this moment in his memory for years to come. Adenna was better- she was stronger, brighter. Not wishing to intrude on the moment he just looked over to her and Sandy. Tobias had never really known his family, he remembered being in a crib and laughing and playing- but those were memories eons ago. There was a sense of happiness from that, much like the one he was experiencing right now. His wife was beautiful, or so that was his thought before a metaphorical splash of cold water hit him in the face- they weren’t married. He made a mental note to fix that as soon as possible, then turned to the task at hand.

 

With a sly smile, he turned to Aurora who was getting to her feet. She hadn’t made it too far past the loading bay, and wasn’t really at the common room so Tobias stepped towards her. “Well, I think I need to ask you a question before I answer yours. What is the last thing you remember, before… you were… put into your prison?” The tone of Tobias’ voice was as if he were trying to pad the words with some comfort. Like asking a question you knew wasn’t going to be a good one.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

As he asked his question, Aurora's face turned pale white, the shade of her eyes and hair flowing from the light brown to a deep near black blue as pain flowed from her presence. Tears collected upon the kids of her eyes as she turned her face away from his, the ache in her heart almost crippling as she thought back, the events rolling backward in time from the most current to the one before and then the one before that and so on, telling a story that few knew truly. Her voice cracked beneath the weight of pain and holding back the sorrow as she went to speak, uttering a singular word of what she remembered. "War."

 

Her first thoughts began just before her imprisonment. She had just returned from a mission with the Kwa concerning an unknowing rivalry between her Masters and an Empire known as the Infinite Empire. She had been sent to recon a potential threat amassing in the outer regions, but after arriving, found a deserted planet, life snuffed from it in a singular instant. Primitive as it had been, what she found was signs of highly advanced technology on par with that of her Masters. That was the moment in which she was arrested.

 

The trial that followed before the Elder Council was quick and a mockery of the system they held in place, a farce meant to use her as a scapegoat. Yet, her faith in them and the system they had created remained unwavering, even when they Council issued the verdict of Guilt. Taken away, it would be the last memory she held before she awoke here on this ship, having been taking to the Crystalline Chamber and imprisoned for the Rakata Rebellion.

 

"A few months before my imprisonment, a highly technological advanced race had began terrorizing the citizens of The Master's alliances, enslaving, capturing, and even destroying whole planets under their protection..." Her gaze had shifted back toward Tobias', the tears that had gathered upon the lids of her eyes now flowing over and streaming down her lashes and cheeks as they dropped despite the apparent will in her to fight the aching that had shattered her heart. "Whole species completely wiped out in a matter of hours, planets left barren and scarred, the Mother's breath completely stolen.... including my own homeworld."

 

She wiped the tears from her eyes using her sleeve as her eyes averted toward the others, the memory of her seeing her homeworld a barren ball, burnt and void of any and all life where once stood a lush planet, filled with the most vibrant of structures as old as time itself, the triple moons that danced about its mothering planet seen nearly at all times, the realization that she was likely the last of her kind save for those who served the Master's having hit her hard that day she stood upon the dead planet.

 

"So I enlisted myself to investigate whom it was behind the chaos and destruction despite only being an Architect of the Masters, a person whose sole purpose is to advance allied species into the collective, and with the help of the Kwa, we were able to pinpoint a viable next target." She spoke, the tears having stopped their flowing and her cheeks beginning to swell and turn red from the irritation as she calmed herself. "Yet, when we arrived, we found the planet just as we found the others, the entire planet a ball of crystalized dust, the native species eradicated. It wasn't until I returned that I learnt the Infinite Empire that was behind it all, was none other than the Rakata I had inducted into the collective only a few short years before. And for that, I was imprisoned by the Masters whom believed I was at fault."

 

Aurora turned her memories toward the day she brought the Rakata into the collective's fold, sent by the Masters and a group of fellow Architects, many of whose own species would fall at their hands as well, to teach the intelligent race their technology and help them grow. Despite her own reluctance to their interest in weaponry over ecological advances, she followed the Master's wishes to grant their desires and aid them in their advancement. It was one of her first assignments as an Architect, and she wanted to prove herself worthy as one. She never counted on being the cause of their rebellion.

 

"Why do you ask?"

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

This wasn’t going to be easy. This poor being. Tobias’ heart ached for her- and he had such misgivings about the news he was about to share. “Aurora, please. Sit- eat.” He gave her the protein bar and made sure she ate at least a bite. His tone and body language were soft, but he knew she would be able to sense that it wasn’t good news that he would be sharing.

 

“Aurora… There is no easy way of breaking this to you. I hope you forgive me for the bluntness of this… but from what you are telling me- the Rakatan uprising happened… almost thirty-thousand years ago. The Rakatan Empire fell about twenty-six thousand years ago, with the Rakatan species becoming extinct about… fifteen hundred years ago. I do not know of any of whom you call ‘Masters.’...” Tobias sighed and looked over her with soft eyes- searching in vain for some good news to share with her. “... I’m sorry, but it's very likely everyone you knew has been dead for thousands of years.”

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Kayle struggled with her harness. Droids such as her were never really designed to fasten and unfasten military grade hardware, even if she did, in theory, know exactly how it works.

 

it seems something has gotten twisted up in the flight . . .

 

. . . Good job genius. . .

 

. . . I know I am, but even geniuses get caught up in twisted seatbelts sometimes Kayle. You should know that.

 

As she struggled with her harness, Query had already bolted up and out, opening the interior to the void of space. Not that it mattered really, but still, Kayle could not help feeling somewhat exposed as she paused to watch the distant floating stars out the hatch with nothing between she and they but her twisted harness.

 

Whoa….would you look at that. They look so much clearer from up here. . .

 

. . . No wonder ships are so well insulated. I bet those would hurt if you hit one . . . she mumbled to no one but herself; not that her voice could be heard in the void of space, but that really did not matter in that moment of awe inspired wonder in the droid’s central processor; her arms floating limply at her side as she stared unblinkingly upwards, lost in the whirring thought of a droid’s subconscious.

 

Lost that is until the reverberations alongside the hull of the ship continued on and she finally took notice.

 

How long has that been going on?

 

. . . How should I know you idiot, I’ve been watching the stars!

 

Me . . . . Tie. . . .This . . . Off. . .

 

What horrible grammar for a droid in the medical field. I mean seriously!

 

Banging her foot on the floor plant she tried to vocalize, Good. Tie it off. Someone has to stay with the ship!

 

Maybe this was not such a good idea. Alone with a strange droid . . .

 

. . .In the middle of nowhere. . .

 

You’re right! All alone in the middle of nowhere. Who knows what he might do. . .

 

. . .even if he is a good listener, what do we truly know about him. He could be a murderer masquerading as a medical droid. . .

 

. . .You are right. Didn’t he say something before about mind wipes or classified something or another. . .

 

I’ll wait here for you Query. Thank you very much. Find an arm and let’s get somewhere more civilized.

 

I wonder if this ship has an Imperial emergency beacon. . .

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Our journey to ilum had proved fruitful. As frond, Kota, and Kel had each found crystals bonded to us with which we would build our sabers. Not only that, but we had also picked up a few extra passengers in a mysterious rakata called Aurora, A Givin named Ficcabin who seemed to have an interest in studying the jedi, and Adenna, my master's master. One thing was certain, the life of a jedi was never boring.

 

Master Sandy had instructed us to salvage parts for our sabers in the ship's repair bay. With Tobias' permission of course. Having been eagerly awaiting this moment, Kel did not need to be told twice. When Kel arrived at the repair bay, he located a rifle. Using the force, Kel disassembled the fire arm piece by piece, carefully extracting the necessary components. Kel had initially planed on integrating the blaster he had looted on ilum into his saber to create a saber/pistol hybrid, But to do that he would need to build a double bar frame to contain the blaster components. and after looking over the repair bay, Kel doubted he would find enough materials to construct such a device. "Looks like saber 2.0 will have to wait until i can procure more parts. I'll have to make do with a standard saber for now." Kel said to himself.

 

In the common room, master Tobias had relayed some grim news. apparently Coruscant had suffered an impact from one of it's moons. Not only that, the imperial ship yards on kuat were under siege. there was no doubt in anyone's mind that war would soon be upon us. "We should organize a relief effort for the denizens of Coruscant. in dark times like this the Jedi need to inspire hope so that fear and chaos doesn't spread. the people need to be reminded that the Jedi are protectors. And the council is more likely to agree to a peaceful mission. The sooner we can get involved the better."

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Adenna shook her head at Kel's suggestion. "If we go to Coruscant, it would only add to the chaos, and this isn't a warship. Too many of you are inexperienced, and if you get yourself in trouble, it would only make things worse. No, it is better to regroup with the other Jedi and prepare our next steps. Hasty action leads to disaster more often than not."

 

She sighed in resignation. "Tobias, it seems we need to swallow our pride and go back to the Jedi Council and offer our services. They need us at this time."

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