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Her rebuttal was a quick one, but solid. Mjan contemplated his words as much as hers. It was a very difficult question to answer, and being new to the Order, he felt he may not have the answer. His brow furrowed and his red hand reached up to his tentacled chin and his stroked them in deep thought. How could one stop ripples in a pond without draining the water, especially in the metaphoric aspect of life. There would always be as much darkness as there would be light, as much evil as good, and only the individual heart would decide one's alignment. This much he knew from observations within his own ilk.

Shifting his eyes in sorrow as he gazed upon those walking about, he felt deep sincerity for them, wishing he could help them all. But he was only one being, and them many. But he began to notice the others that were about helping, ranging from medical techs, to Jedi healers, and even to fellow sentiments, all in attempt to recover, and it struck him. It was so simple, yet as complex as understanding the bond of the Force and of nature. Yet, it was symbolic even in such a simple thing as a singular pond. His gaze shifted back to Aira.

"We must be blades of grass..." He finally spoke, the realization of it echoing in his voice. "A pond without grass ripples about until it calms, but plant a thousand blades of grass into the soil of the pond, and ripples become less effective and almost non-existant as each blade deflects and lessens the ripples' affect upon the pond's surface."

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"Ah... the age old battle between wisdom of the experienced versus the brashness of the inexperienced. I supposed it's only natural to be this way as wisdom in the inexperienced would gather nothing out of life's many lessons." - Genesis Stormhelm

My gaze shifted back toward my Master's as she spoke, seeing the understanding in her own eyes. Yet the shame of it all still lingered not only in my eye, but in my soul as well, resonating with my own persona and being. It was my choice, and what led up to it, that made me into the young man that stood before her today. Despite my fall at such a young age, and the consequences that still linger upon my heart because of it, I had made the decision to help others. Even before I came to the Jedi. The crystal that we each held in our pockets would have fed many had i not been caught. But fate held it's own ideals.

"Then you understand?" I questioned, the fear of taking another life ever present within the depths on my sole eye's iris even as i gazed into her own. "As i forced that life to end, i reveled in the fact that it ended, despite my wish to have joined it. That is the stain upon my soul that I have attempted to wash away since."

My gaze shifted toward my own clothes, still dirty and ragged after Coruscant, reminiscent of what I viewed as my soul.

"But now that I am following the path of a Jedi, I remember the words that my Mother once spoke of the Force and of the Jedi. Those words were that the Force were the greatest ally one could have at their disposal, especially for a Jedi, whose sole purpose is to stand against the darkness wherever it blooms, even in one's own self. I sometimes wonder if she could see things that I could not, even now that I walk this path beside you under your guidence given the secret I've carried for all these years"

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Mjan's answer wasn't what I expected, but then, the Sith continually surprised me. He continued my metaphor, expanding it in a way I had never considered. "An excellent way to put it, padawan," I praised. 

We continued walking. I sensed we hadn't yet reached our destination. "It's not easy to be a blade of grass," I stated, almost abruptly after a long silence. "The life of a Jedi is about forgetting oneself, always putting oneself last. The needs of those around us trump our own needs or desires. Even to the point of self-sacrifice. We always have to be willing to do whatever it takes to save, protect, or help. Well," I hesitated, "not 'whatever it takes'. There are lines we cannot cross. Anger, aggression...the lure of the dark side will always be there. But we have to be willing to sacrifice everything in ourselves to achieve peace."

I didn't think I was explaining myself very well. "Anyway, that's why a Jedi should always be slow to attack. There's almost always a way where the price is shifted to us and not others. It just requires some creative thinking sometimes."

I still wasn't quite satisfied with the way I had put it, but I hoped Mjan would understand. Suddenly, the sensation I had been getting in the Force clarified. I grabbed Mjan by the coat sleeve and pulled him to the side. "See that family over there?" I gestured with my chin. "I think you can help them. And I think you're supposed to help them. Go. Let's see where following the leading of the Force takes you."

((OOC: The details are up to you, but I'd like it to take a few posts, and I want it to require procuring something hard-to-get, requiring you to go outside the camp.))

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Mjan smiled and nodded as she praised his answer, his bright white teeth bright amidst the crimson toned hue of his skin's color as they continued their walk, his hands finding themselves at ease behind his back. Mjan took in her words much like a plant soaking up nutrients, needing her teachings and learning from her words. In truth, plants were one of the few things that Mjan knew very well, his time amongst his fellow members of Tund often spent studying them and using their medicinal uses to aid those who sought them out. This is why he was able to grasp the concepts she was throwing his way so easily now. That, and he had grown quite a lot under her tutelage, so much so that even he was beginning to see it.

"I believe I'm understanding what you're getting at Master Aira," Mjan spoke briefly as they came to a stop. "Using the metaphoric pond, to stem off the ripples of the Darkside, requires a balance of defenders. But with any plant, some will begin to pull too much nutrients from the soil in which they're planted, causing great harm to the others own intake. Naturally, a couple of die off and allow the balance of nutrients to return, sometimes the one who began to pull too much. Like the blades of grass, we have to watch our intake of nutrients to ensure the survival of all, or give ourselves to the others to ensure the pond remains, lest we all perish and the pond becomes barren once again."

Mjan wondered if his explanation made as much sense to her as she hoped that hers did to him. But in truth, both held a mutual understanding of what the other had meant to say. And the message was simple. Be ever vigilant of darkness, both around you and within you, a lesson Mjan remembered from Felucia when it came so easily to him. It was a lesson well learnt and would never be forgotten. And just as Mjan motioned to continue walking, he felt himself grabbed by Aira, her words and movements catching him off guard. Recovering, his own gaze followed hers toward a humble family just a few yards away. Blinking as he focused upon them, he noticed an Elderly woman, a Couple, and a child. The elderly woman appeared to be the grandmother of the child, consoling the young one in a warm embrace despite her own frailty while the couple, the mother likely being the elder's own daughter, joined in. Slowly Mjan began his approach, taking course over Aira's words to help them.

Mjan placed a soft hand upon the Elder woman's back and one upon the man's as he made his interruption, a slight sense of fear arising in them at his appearence, yet he paid little heed to it. Aira said to help them and that was what he planned to do. Introducing himself as Padawan Sadow, Mjan knelt down between them as he outstretched his crimson hand toward the child and questioned as to why she was crying. The Elder woman proceeded to tell him of their arrival here to the camp and of their things being lost during their transit from the ship above to where they now stood, most notably a doll that once belonged to her own grandmother and had been recently passed down to her own granddaughter. Mjan now understood why Aira had sent him to them, his own family history not resembling their's in the slightest. Yet, Mjan had already put it in his head that he would venture out to find this child's doll. Rising, Mjan patted the child's head with a smile and turned toward the family which seemed to grow ecstatic as he spoke with them and before he departed back toward Aira, the elderly woman grasped Mjan tightly in a hug that even he was surprised by, his grip tighter than he had suspected in which he nearly toppled over into.

"You right Master. I can help them." Mjan spoke to Aira after returning, slight moisture in his eyes as he blinked to clear them. "They lost a few items during entry over the jungles to the northwest and despite being offered reimbursement, have lost a invaluable family heirloom and no one will set out to find it. I told them that I was planning to head out that way anyways and I would see if I couldn't locate the item for them while I concluded my business in the Jungles." Mjan's gaze shifted toward Aira as a smile crept upon his face. "Feel like taking a hike Master? The Jungles could provide excellent training grounds."

Mjan chuckled...

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"Indeed, I'm sure they shall," I replied. But even as I said the words, I shook my head. "This task, however, is yours to complete. Be on your guard, let the Force guide you, and use what you have learned, and you will not go astray." I reached into my satchel and pulled out a training lightsaber. It wouldn't put Mjan at risk of losing his limbs if it was miswielded, but it would still offer him some protection in case he needed it. I handed it to him. "I'll be a comm call away if you need me. May the Force be with you."

I crossed my arms then and saw him off. I had no doubt that he would succeed, and more than that, that he would learn something new. 

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Mjan's face fell flat and emotionless upon hearing Aira's words of her not joining him, and in truth, a sense of fear slowly slipped into his subconscious as he pondered wondering about upon this unknown planet alone and without her guidance. But he pushed aside those linger fears and saw the truth behind them. If he was truly to become a Jedi and grow as one, he needed to venture out as one and learn to stretch his own roots, not leech off another and become dependent. He needed to grow into his own and he could see this in Aira's eyes as he took hold of the cylindrical object she handed him.

"A lightsaber?" He questioned, his eyes shifting over the object as he spun and twisted it between his fingers, looking over its practical yet elegant design until he found the activation switch and igniting it, a likely common occurrence for all Padawans whom are first handed such a weapon. As the training saber hummed within his left hand, he could feel the heated hue coursing across his skin with a humble warmth even as the feeling of onlookers met his mind, some looking on in fear as others looked on in as much awe as he shared. Feeling it best, he deactivated it and clipped it to his hip, nodding in accordance with his Master's wishes. "As you wish Master. I will return once the task is completed." 

And with that Mjan set off on his adventure....

Upon his way out of the camp, Mjan stopped at a small tent placed near the camp's outskirts set up for the many refugees to gather medicine, rations, and other necessary supplies to refill his own. He didn't know how far he would have to walk or how long he would be gone, so he felt it was best he gathered at least enough for a few weeks. Most of it was basic supplies, such as a field kit, rations, water, a lamp, and a couple of power cells. Satisfied he had enough for the journey, he gazed back once more toward the encampment before shifting the weight of his satchel and disappearing into the misty fog that lingered outside the jungles, his only guidence being what he took with him: The Force.

((Post 1 of 4))

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((Legal Double Post))

And so Mjan's journey had began. Hours would become days, days would become weeks, and weeks would eventually turn into a full lunar cycle as he traversed the wilderness of Borleias. The first few days felt like a leisurely stroll, his enjoyment evident as he carried out his task with a joyful grin, taking a moment here and there to take in the sights and sounds that surrounded him in all directions. And in truth, he found himself awestruck. His life before as a Sorcerer of Tund never beheld such sights or tasks, the simple life as it were. But here, even on a planet such as Borleias, life was fully bloomed and circulated about like a raging river. Even as he delved into the Force to gather simple direction, he felt as if it would almost carry him away in current.

But after a few weeks of trekking through the vast jungles, using the skills within the Force that Aira had instructed him, Mjan began to grow discouraged. Opening up his mind and body to the Force that flowed around him, Mjan called upon its momentum and as he bent his legs, and shoved off the ground high into the air. Reaching his hand outward, he grasped at a vine and swung himself higher into the canopy until he could look toward the looming mountains and across the valley that laid between them. He felt he was getting close. But the filth that covered his form and the aches that penetrated his bones only deterred his will to continue. For all he knew, Aira would likely assume him lost or dead by now, his comm unit lost to the murky depths of a bog he crossed a few days back.

"No, Mjan." He spoke harshly to himself as he wiped the sweat that headed down the spurs that grew from his brows. "Just because something feels impossible doesn't make it so. Look at yourself. You're a Jedi Padawan of the Tsis species. You are the walking proof that anything is possible. And you gave your word."

Mjan thanked the Force that no one was around to here him speak to himself, especially given his appearence. But he could not quit. He knew he was close. He just had to push forward a little bit longer, even if it felt impossible to find such a needle in a haystack. Calming his mind, Mjan stepped forward off the limb upon which he stood and gathered the Force around his form as he slowed his descent to the floor below. Aira had taught him well, the many applications he was learning to grasp having came from her telling him to test himself. But even skill could never truly replace good old experience.

Just a few steps away that Mjan walked toward laid a washout that had long been covered, a cavern below it that gaped open beneath it, and a dark hidden lake of water that ran beneath the mountains ahead for miles. And in his tired state, Mjan took a drastic step that plummeted him directly into this place. With no communications or a means to get out the way he came in, Mjan held little chance of escape save for going forward. Only problem here was that only his rations now remained along with the training saber that Aira had granted him.

((Post 2 of 4))

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With trembling hands dark with the engine grime that came with servicing stealth XJs, Jedi Ace Brittany Vor’tok came rushing onto the bridge of the Adi-Wan where the Grand Master was meeting with the imperial delegation holding a disposable datapad in front of her.

Jedi knight Sandy Sarna intercepted her as she rushed towards the discussing grandmaster and held up her hand.

“What’s going on Brittany? She’s meeting with the last of the imperial remnant, I can take a message-”

The response was abrupt and scared.

“Chandrila. They are coming for the planet. The crusaders.”

Sandy’s blood turned icy cold in her veins as she  looked a the blue backlit display held in the other woman’s hand. Her decision had just been made for her. The Empress could wait. She spun on her heel and together with the Jedi ace walked to the Grandmaster. She interrupted the discussion and presented the datapad to her old master, bowing slightly to the Imperial Grand Admiral.

“Adenna.” She used the familiar term as opposed to her title, “Chandrila is mere hours away from outright invasion, with your permission I will take a small section of the fleet to help in the evacuations. I advise…” Her crystal clear green eyes glanced to the Imperial. “That we prepare for the evacuation of the Jedi forces, the government, and the younglings from Borleias to a more defensible position outside the invasion corridor, possibly to the Imperial stronghold of Nar Shaddaa.”

She made a military salute to both the Imperial and Jedi grandmaster. “It is long time past the time for us to unite and begin a galactic resistance. The force willing I will see you both on the other side.” She set her face bravely as opposed to the nervousness that was coursing through her. Upon getting approval from her master, she spun on her heel and walked towards the flightline.


Corvettes Courante, Ashla's Nocturne, Vivace, Soresu, and the Corona Ara-Lai begin fueling for departure.

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“Padawan, I’ve lost count of the number of lives I’ve had to take, but the most dangerous thing that I’ve ever done was to convince ordinary people that they were capable of accomplishing extraordinary things.” The whine of a poorly-tuned set of sublight engines shrieked overhead. Draygo winced and glanced towards the sealed flap of the habitat. “The most important thing that we can accomplish right now is to convince these people that they have not lost--and that the Jedi’ll be there to help them. Come with me.”

Armiena led Genesis out of the tent and into the steamy streets of the refugee camp. A brief shower having drizzled over the camp only an hour ago, she was shortly soaked in sweat and was forced to draw back the hood of her robe just to breathe. Even after years of relative peace, hers was still a face that was recognized and drew stares. Draygo ignored the following eyes, however, and pointed out the destination of most of the camp’s aerospace traffic: a block of prefabricated plasteel buildings at the edge of the camp that housed the medical facilities. Unadorned save for a crimson sigil on their sides, the spartan constructions--more like shipping containers that had been assembled to form a single structure--might have been airdropped by the Survivor’s Foundation. Immediately after entering the prefabs and attempting to make their way into the hospital, they were accosted by a harried-looking Bothan in a teal robe who physically blocked their further egress.

"Not like that! Not like that! Look, we’re happy for the help, but..." The Bothan's voice lowered and she physically shoved Draygo from passing through the decontamination field. "We are overwhelmed. We have too many patients from Coruscant and so many of them are immunocompromised. Our overcrowding is growing in severity and if anyone enters without decontamination protocols….”

"I understand." Armiena whispered somewhat breathlessly. This close to an overexhausted Bothan, the smell of wet fur was almost overwhelming. “It’s her world, Genesis.”

The two Jedi were drawn to a side room to change out of their ash-stained, sweat-soaked robes. Armiena had been forced to don a pale teal gown of paper-thin, sterilized cloth, and most of her face was concealed by a breath mask over her mouth and nose. She had even been forced to wear gloves over both her organic and metal prosthetic hands, but she had at least managed to convince the Foundation's techs to sterilize her lightsabers and allow her to carry them beyond the decontamination field. Even if her face was obscured, at least it would have been impossible for anyone to identify her as anything other than a Jedi.

Upon passing through the decontamination field and entering the hospital, Draygo saw that the overcrowding was worse than she could have imagined. This close to Coruscant, Borleias had taken many of the city-planet’s refugees, including a disproportionate share of those wounded in the Mandalorian raids. The wards were housed to overflowing with patients and many were forced to convalesce in the hallways of the prefabricated building. She reached for the Force and nearly flinched; the medical staff radiated with exhaustion, and the days of nonstop labor were edged on their bodies in shadowed eyes, weary faces, and shaking hands.

“Behold the glory of war.” She spat out as she followed the symbols lining the low ceiling towards the burn ward. This sector of the hospital was unnervingly silent--many of the patients had drawers pulled around their beds to hide the disfigurements of their wounds. Draygo silently passed through the rooms, glancing that medical charts and checking triage statuses. Many of these sapients were anesthetized and encased within portable bacta units--essentially glassine, coffin-like boxes through which minute amounts of bacta were pumped through. Occasionally, however, she read a chart that indicated that the patient was not expected to survive without drastic intervention--more than the Survivor’s Foundation could expend while overwhelmed with patients.

It was there that the Jedi should begin their work.

Eventually, she passed a patient whose chart suggested that the Twi’lek was not expected to survive under any circumstances. Draygo’s lips thinned and she began to move away, but found her legs unable to move, as though they were encased in duracrete. Her pale green eyes glanced towards the patient and then towards the fourth wall. An eyebrow arched, questioning the wisdom of the force that placed her here.

She approached the curtain and drew it away. The being that rested there was barely recognizable as a Twi’lek: both lekku had nearly been burned away and ended in shrivelled vestiges. Portions of his ash-dark skin were blackened; most of the rest was red and inflamed. His left arm ended in a stump at the wrist. Draygo recited the medical chart with a dull tone in her voice.  “Burns to seventy percent of body. Vacuum exposure. Laceration from shrapnel half a centimeter from nicking the femoral arteries. Patient is… expectant? Palliative care only. All nonsense, of course.” She carelessly tossed away the datapad.

“Jedi Healing is… draining, but it’s as effective as a bacta tank in some circumstances. I really wish Skye was here.” She added under her breath. “Reach out to the Force and take some time to explore his… uh… Ousrem’s injuries. Vitals first--lungs, heart, kidneys and liver.”

For the moment, Armiena’s Force-presence drew away from the Twi’lek and towards the staff of the hospital. Exhaustion dulled their presences and their minds like the overuse of a knife; mistakes were being made, reactions were slowing and tempers were beginning to rise. She took a deep breath and began to relax her own mental defenses; her presence began to draw near to a weary Mon Calamari who had spent her last thirty-six in the burn ward. Draygo’s Force-presence sidled along with a coy, almost teasing invitation...

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As he felt the cold rush of the water envelope his form, he struggled to reach its surface against the current that dragged at him. As his gaze and face shifted upward out of the water, he gasped for air as the raging current sent him deep into the caverns beneath the mountains, and covering what felt like miles in mere minutes. It took all that Mjan had to keep his head above water as he was washed away and to keep from bashing his skull and breaking bones along the way as he was swept into the large lake beneath the mountains. With one more sudden drop, Mjan felt the calmness of his destination in the darkness just as panic and fear took hold of him.

Darkness, it was a fickle thing, a place of fear and panic for the light hearted, and an embracing hug for the corrupt. It could bring out the worst in one's heart, or calm one who understood it. But for Mjan, it was both. As his head emerged from the depths of the lake, gasping and choking upon water and air, there was nothingness. His heart beat echoed within the cavern's chamber as he stared into the darkness, weary and unknowing of what laid before him or beneath him. And yet, at the same time, he found himself cool, the mineral water tasting great as it slide down his throat in between coughs and gasps of air. Trying to remain calm, Mjan began to swim forward as he searched for the shallower end.

What felt like an eternity only lasted for minutes as he swam forward, his clawed hand finally grasping at rock and his ability to pull himself from the water. Feeling a bit safer, Mjan grabbed for the training saber that Aira had granted him and ignited it as he inspected his surroundings. He was indeed upon the lake's shore, and his satchel empty save for the few remaining portions of rations he had left.... about a week at best. But the darkened cavern seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, and his only sight being illuminated by the saber he held. "At least I have this..." He thought in silence to himself as he struggled to his feet against the slippery rocks and aching limbs. Mjan knew he was lost, but sitting around and dwelling upon it wouldn't get him anywhere, and so he set off following the cavern's wall.

After a few hours of more trekking, Mjan found a small crevasse within that seemed to lead upward, so Mjan took a moment to rest and gather his strength. Setting the training saber down upon the sandy floor between two rocks, he took out one of the vacuumed sealed rations and began to eat, his gaze shifting about. So far there seemed to be no life down here, or at least predatorial wise. He had been careful to open himself up to the Force and search around him for any sense of hostility. But as he gazed upon the rocky walls around him, he began to notice drawings upon them, ancient and primitive, likely of those who once inhabited Borleias in eras long past. This gave him a sense of hope that he was on the right track at least, as this proposed that there was access to the surface nearby and possibly a way out. Finishing his meal, Mjan grabbed the saber and headed upward through the crevasse, its path steep and winding as he trekked. But hope and determination had returned to him, and he would push himself as far as he could.

And indeed, after a few hours, Mjan would feel fresh salty air upon his skin as mist whipped through the cave's mouth, and in moments after, the entrance would be seen leading out onto a sandy beach that gazed upward into the starry night filled sky. Dropping to his knees, he welcomed the sight with all his heart and mind. He had finally reached the surface. But where was he? Would he even know how to find his way back to camp? He was too tired, too exhausted to even think about his promise at that moment or anything else for that matter. Without a second thought, Mjan laid down upon the dry sand and closed his eyes, letting his entire form slip away into rest as the realm of dreams took him.

((Post 3 of 4))

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"While it is true that Jedi are blades against the darkness, it is also true that they are healers of the broken. Bodies can be healed easily despite the exhaustion left. But the truest gift of a healer comes when the soul, rather the body, is what's truly broken." - Genesis Stormhelm

As Armiena spoke, I could sense the disdain of what she had done in her voice, see her distaste in her facial expressions. Like myself, she seemed to find disgust in herself for all that she had done. But her experience in life had taught her that it was necessary, that it was unavoidable. But, for me, that life had yet to come as I had just begun to walk the path. Still, I understood. I had seen the same look and heard the same tone from former soldiers and mercenaries passing through the spaceport back home. Life had a way of changing one's views as a means of coping or adapting. And at my age, life had barely begun.

Exiting the tent behind her, I stayed close upon her heels as we made our trek through the camp. I waved bye to the kids i had been playing with earlier, returning their smiles with one of my own before shifting my gaze to the front and a serious look returning to my visage as i wondered what her life had truly been like. She spoke very little of her past, so much so, that this had been the truly first time she had opened up to me in such a way. She had a warrior's stature as she strode onward, the first time I had noticed, but her words spoke more in volume than her appearence. She had seen things i had only heard about, and did things that made my own seem minute in comparison. Yet, i could not shake how i felt about my own.

Passing the tents and seeing the refugees only painted part of the picture, the distress, the displacement, the pain of no longer having a life. I could feel it smothering me. But i could not yet grasp it's full meaning. For all i felt at that moment was sorrow and pity upon the poor souls with very little understanding outside my own. At least, until we neared a construct that laid outside the encampment, its white enclosure looming brightly against the lingering fog of humidity and fresh rain. It felt as if my eyes gazed upon another world entirely, an eerie feeling creeping up my spine and raising the hairs upon my neck. And then we entered.

As soon as we entered, it set in where we had landed. From the sterile smell of the decontamination chamber to the familiar Bothan face that met us with accostation, I knew we had walked into a makeshift hospital not unlike the one I had visited a few times back home. Only this one presented the lingering feeling of dread and aftermath. This was where the events of Coruscant began to truly set within me and the realization of the truth became apparent. As Armiena handled our entrance, I followed her lead, finding myself in similar attire to her own save for the lack of the patch that covered my lidless socket and revealed my Miraluka lineage. In truth, I felt exposed without it, but i trusted Armiena's reasoning, and followed her inward.

Even as she spoke, the Force its self accosted me with the emotions that ran rampant within the hospital. At first, it was breathtaking, almost too much to bear as the accumulation of pain, sorrow, anger, weariness, and exhaustion slammed into my psyche like a brick wall had fallen upon me. But after a few deep breaths and settling myself despite my urge to panic, i began to see what war, what Coruscant truly saw with my very own eyes. And it broke my heart into pieces. With each patient we passed, with each chart she read and i glanced at, i gazed upon them no longer with sorrow and pity, but with hopelessness and wishful thinking. I began to feel my stomach knot up at knowing that for most of them, there seemed to be nothing that could be done except ease them and find them a semblance of comfort. And that made me sick to my stomach as I fought to hold my lunch down.

Armiena's next actions surprised me as she stopped suddenly, her gaze shifting back toward a patient whose chart she had just read as she turned and shuttered aside the curtain that hid the Twilek's grotesque form. As for me, I could barely stand the sight as my gazed shifted about his form and my own cringed at the thought of the pain he must have been in. Hearing her words, something she spoke peaked my interest even as I fought my own body against what I saw and smelt. Yet, as I reached out into the Force as she commanded, I think I finally began to understand.

I felt his heart rate echoing in my own, its rhythm slow and irregular. I felt his breathing even as my own tried to mimic his and slowly began to feel my head began to grow light until i caught myself and settled my own. I could not be any help if I was to allow myself to try and breath for him. But what was this Jedi Healing she had spoken of? My mind pondered on this as I finished checking him over and turned to Armiena, my stomach churning and my face likely a bit pale and possibly green as I fought to retain my lunch. 

"Is there a way to help him?" I poised in a silent tone, slight burpings slipping from my throat as the gas within my stomach mixed with my overcompensating slavia in my attempt not to throw up on the spot, not from the visual aspect, but from the flooding emotional and psyche aspects that surrounded us. "Could a Jedi truly heal him?" 

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His eyes would flutter beneath the closed lids as he dreamt the night away, echoes of the past portraying themselves within his psyche as he laid upon the snow white sands. It was mostly visions of his own past his time as a Sorcerer of Tund, of his father, Krayiss II. But he also dreamt of what could be his future, his life as a Tsis Jedi. Images of war against his own kin plagued him, of the ever looming darkness not only amidst the Galaxy, but within himself as he fought his very nature. And before him stood his brother, or rather the Tsis' visage of what Mjan's envisionment of him was, and the ache he felt in his heart startling him awake in a drenched sweat despite the cool breeze sweeping across the salty sea he had fallen asleep next to. With a stern look upon his face, he propped his arm upon his knee and gazed out to the rising sun, his chest still aching. He wondered, lost in thought, about his brother and the life he lived among the Massassi. He would likely follow the alternate path, the path that all of their kin seem to follow. And he knew the lure that he himself faced, self evident by the ease in which he commanded the Force upon Felucia. A part of him understood why his species became so corrupted, and it was disheartening. With a sigh he stood, dusting the sand off his garments. He needed to finish his task and return to the encampment.

Mjan drew upon the Force, remembering what the family felt like, how the Force flowed through them, and sought out their signature within it. He would stretch outward across the coastline and into the mountains behind him, searching to gain not only his bearings, but with a little hope, that which he sought. He remembered reading that when a person has such an attachment with an item, no matter the insignificants to others, it left an imprint of themselves upon it. And with a little hope, the item would be such a fine. And sure enough, he felt it strongly, only a few clicks away. Despite getting lost and swept away by the underground lake, he stilled ended up in the general direction he had set out in and that meant he would be able to find his way back. Within a few hours, he had found the small doll, a figurine of their native species made from simple yarn and straw, decorated in simple clothing and locks of hair made from what appeared to be animal hair. Not far from that, Mjan also managed to stumble across a few items and clothing that belong to the family and was able to salvage some of their previous life. But now stood the true testiment of his journey, back to the encampment with only a few days ration.

Trying as he might, Mjan did indeed run out of food as he made the trek back toward camp. Days once again turned into weeks, and weeks turned into yet another lunar cycle, two as of now since he had left to be exact. But now Mjan was tired, weak, and hunger grew nearly too much to bare. Even with the aid of the Force, Mjan was only able to stave it off for minute moments at a time as he struggled to keep pushing himself forward. Thoughts of dying began to enter his mind, and regret and despair ached to set in. But Mjan fought it off, gazing occasionally at the doll and other belongings to regain his strength and push forward a little more. But even those glimmers of hope eventually began to fade and Mjan began to realize the possibility of his fate and slowly slide into the realm of acceptance. He began to know he would die before he returned with his promise. Silently he chuckled to himself, thoughts of dying a Jedi rather than the alternative bringing some closer to his end for him. And the saber clipped to his hip, did little of promise for slaying the local fauna for any nourishment, even if he sought to entertain the idea of taking a life to sustain his own. It felt wrong to even think of it, but he also knew that it was the cycle of nature, and even his carcass would soon become a part of it. 

Just as Mjan began to give up and the thought of perishing became a accepted reality, his form slumping against a tree as he gazed upon the doll in which he held in one hand and the training saber in the other as he remembered the fond time with Master Aira, a familiar hum began to approach and he thought himself delirious and crazed for a moment, he saw the approach of a patrol speeder. Igniting the blade, he used what little strength he had left to wave it in the air in hopes that he would be seen. And as they turned in his direction, the hunger and dehydration became too much for him to bare and he fell into unconsciousness and the blade falling upon the ground beside him.

Two months had passed since he departed, and when he returned, his frail form was malnutritioused and thin. But he had learnt so much about himself and his life as a Jedi, too much for it to have been written. But the journey he had taken had changed Mjan forever. He only hoped that it was for the better as he laid unconscious within the medical tent with intravenous fluids being pumped into him, his hand still grasping tightly upon the doll he had sought.

((Post 4 of 4))

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When I wished my padawan luck and sent him off, I had no idea just how long he'd be gone. 

As the days passed, I fell into a routine. There had been no news of Knight Alluyen's plan to rescue the Empress, so I didn't push it. Either they had gone without me, or the Force was leading them in a different direction. And while I hoped the best for my friend, I was growing in quiet confidence in the Force's guidance. 

Day by day, I mediated, seeking direction, and every day, I knew my role was to stay. So I threw myself into helping the refugees on Borleias however I could. Some days it was as simple as setting up new prefab shelters, while other days I spent hours in a form of the battle meditation my old master had taught me, linking all the other Jedi at work here and bolstering the spirits of the refugees. Occasionally, I'd return to the fleet to take care of business, but those days were few and far between.

I grew stronger and calmer as the days turned into weeks. The burden of despair that had come over me after Coruscant's destruction slowly dissipated. I sweated and ached and wept alongside the refugees, but I also encouraged them and built hope back into their lives. The Force flowed more strongly in me each day, and I became possessed of a quiet contentment. For however long this lasted, my soul felt at peace.

At the end of the second month, however, I had to admit I was starting to wonder if Mjan would ever return. I knew that he was still alive--I felt confident that I'd sense it if he died--but I had no idea what he was learning, or even where he was. I searched the Force with more urgency each morning, and found only the reassurance that he was on the right path. It would be my choice if that was enough for me.

A few days later, however, I sensed a change. Danger was lurking. I could tell that it wasn't directed at the camp itself, but that was all. Uneasily, I ordered a patrol of the surrounding jungle, then forced myself to do something else to get my mind off it. Two hours later, however, the patrol returned--and they weren't alone. I saw them pull up to the hospital shelter and I quickened my stride, knowing I was supposed to be there. 

As I approached, I knew why. Mjan lay on a stretcher, unconscious and emaciated. The medical staff hooked him up to an IV and after some efficient checks, left him to tend to patients in more dire straights. "He simply needs time to recover," one told me on her way out. "It's just starvation and dehydration."

I nodded, then when we were alone, pulled up a chair to his bedside. This was my place until he awoke. I felt a little bit guilty--he could have died--but the feeling quickly faded into the Force. Things had turned out exactly the way it had desired, and I knew Mjan's experiences would be crucial in shaping him into the Jedi he was destined to become. For now, then, I'd make sure that mine was the first face he saw when he awoke.

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Mjan's eyes began to flutter beneath their closed lids as the sounds of machines began to fade in, causing the young Tsis to open his eyes and gasp slowly at the shock of his surroundings. But his movement was hindered by a sharp piercing pain as he tried to sit up, and he fell back upon his pillow as he realized where he was. Looking over his gaze met Aira, and he smiled. Truly, the Force had it's own mysterious ways. Unknowingly, Mjan didn't realize that he had been out for almost fourty-eight hours since he was brought in, as to him, it felt like only a few minute hours of sleep. Groggy, Mjan shifted his form and began to to sit up, his hand still gripping the doll he had ventured out and sought.

"Master Aira..." Mjan spoke, his voice dry and scratchy as he opened his hand to show her the doll. "Would you make sure the girl gets the doll?" Reaching over, a slight flinch in pain as he did so, Mjan grabbed his bag as well to retrieve a few articles of clothing, a couple of holoframes, and a few assorted items he had found. "And make sure the family gets these as well. I found them near the doll."

Mjan smiled again, not revealing something that he had noticed since his waking up. He could no longer see out of his right eye.

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Just another hour. Another hour. Just keep moving.

She blinked hard and shook off the eerie sense of having donned her own body upon withdrawing from one of the passing medtechs.

Draygo couldn’t blame the Senth-Forn for consigning the Twi’lek to palliative care and simply affording him a comfortable death. The Foundation was contending with one of the largest mass-casualty events in galactic history, and even with the shoulders of the entire galaxy to bear the weight of billions of refugees, many of the wounded of Coruscant were going to need to be triaged and allowed to die without intervention. It was the cold calculations of medical care, and none of the variables were working in their favor--too many patients, too few bacta tanks, not enough time.

“I’ve clinically dead when I was brought to a Jedi Healer, and they brought me back. Twice.” Draygo stretched out fingers and resisted the urge to tear off the gloves when they snagged on her prosthetic. “This may take some time, but we’ll have to suffice.” Armiena reached out and placed her metal hand on the dying Twi’lek’s breastbone. A pair of pale green eyes flickered upwards at her apprentice. “It’s not necessary, but the physicality of touch helps.”

Armiena took a deep breath, then slowly five more and closed her eyes. This was the kind of work that the veteran Jedi had never taken to; she could ward off blaster fire, make a lightsaber dance, even calm the eye of a tempest, but the self-abnegation that Jedi Healing required never came naturally to her. “Deep breaths, focus on his vitals. Lungs and cardiac first. Compare the damaged tissue to the healthy.” The right lung was burned through, roasted in a flash by an inopportune gasp of superheated air. The odd patch of healthy tissue was barely sustaining the Twi’lek, but the few intact branches of alveoli were insufficient to fuel his heart for much longer. There were millions of these branches to repair.

“It’s a very… small task, isn’t it? And yet enormous. Remember the delicate pattern of the tissue and piece it together. Reach out and let the Force flow through his flesh. Remember the delicate pattern of the tissue and we will begin piecing it together.”

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"Lie still, Mjan," I said as my apprentice began to pull things from his rucksack and hand them to me. But it was mostly out of reflex; it wasn't as if he was seriously injured. And I trusted that he knew his boundaries. When he pressed the items into my hands, vocalizing a desire for me to give them to their owners, I bit my lip. The awkward thing was, I didn't remember who he had chosen to help all those months ago. A small smile touched my lips. "I can if you'd like, but wouldn't you prefer to give them to them yourself? Besides, I honestly don't know if I could pinpoint which specific family you're talking about."

Silence fell again between us. I wanted to know everything--where had he gone, what had he done, and more importantly, what had he learned? But I knew from my own experiences that it might take time for him to find words to process everything he had gone through. And he'd only reach that point with some serious thinking and reflecting. 

I rose to go, and brushed his mind affectionately with the Force. "I'm glad you're back. I never doubted you." Calm flooded me. "And when you're ready to talk, I'll be here."

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"To hold one's life in your hands is sometimes said to know the know the Force's will over that life. But to me, I say it's a dangerous saying. To me, to hold any life in my hands is by the Force's will, so that I may understand that life, and in return, understand the guidance of my own." - Genesis Stormhelm

As Armiena began, I followed in suite. I gazed down upon the Twilek, compassion and pity within my singular eye as my heart broke for him, the urge to stroke his face nearly impossible to fight as I wished to bring whatever comfort I could. Instead, I did as my Master, placing my hand upon her own as I opened myself up to not only the flow of the Force, but to her desires as well, allowing me to trace her will as I guided my own. Yet, as my skin touched hers, I recoiled momentarily as the residual emotions within his mind caused me to reel in his pain as if it was my own.

It was powerful. I could almost feel the intense heat resonate in my own form as if I was aflame, the sudden sensation nearly taking my own breath away. But I struggled against it, the rythmatic deep breaths I took in and exhaled taking all I could to bolster my resistance as I focused harder. I followed her thoughts across his form, taking note of every stem, every vessel, every cell that tinged with life, and followed her deeper. I saw the damage beneath the skin even without the use of my right eye, I felt the cells slowly dying and decaying beneath what had been scorched. And as I followed even more, I let the Force flow through me, letting it's own will guide my thoughts and prayers for the poor soul as I let it's current take ahold of me.

It wasn't an easy task. This much I knew the moment I delved in behind my Master. And if I hadn't followed her will or guidence, I never would have succeeded. But as the Force began to flow forth from me along the current I swam upon, slowly and steadily, the damage began to be repaired. Cells began to pulsate with new life, almost replicating at an abnormal rate. Dead tissue began to close fissures and scar over as if months of growth were taking place in a matter of moments. And as I opened my eye, i noticed his breathing to begin to take a turn for the better despite the pain he still reeled in.

I could feel the exhaustion begin to take hold within me, fighting against it as i fought to remain upon the path before me. This had to be the most consuming endeavor I had ever undertaken since that day on Felucia, including our moment on Coruscant when Armiena laid helpless from the storm. But thankfully she stood here to help me, to guide me, as we attempted to stabilize the man before us. And as we continued on, slowly his vitals began to regain their composure. His burnt lungs began to return to their normal pink color as the burnt tissue found its self scarred and replaced anew, as did the branches of his heart as his blood began to flow at regular rates. I could help but feel a synch of excitement as I watched the events unfold before me and through me. Not just for myself, but in knowing that where I had once taken a life in selfishness, I stood here now saving one at my own expense. And in that moment, I knew what I was capable of. 

I began to push myself harder, taking note of every cell, flowing my own health into it as the exhaustion grew worse. But I did not care. If I could save this man's life, I wanted to pour all of myself into it. Only such brashness was not without consequences, and I began to feel fatigued, causing my head to spin slightly as I let go and pulled myself away to catch myself. My gaze catching Armiena's, I nodded, letting her know that I was okay.

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Mjan nodded his head with a smile as Aira stood to depart, touching his mind with comforting words as she did, leaving him to his own thoughts. Laying there for a few moments, he stared upward at the tent's canvas, recalling his adventure. From the excitement of the beginning, to the underwater lake, to the beach, and then finally, the fear and acceptance of possible death. He had experienced so much, learnt well his bounds and how far to push himself past them, and finally began to grasp of what he had signed on for. And at that, he held not a single regret. But for now, he felt the need to rest and recuperate, his form still drained and weak. And so he did.

A few more days passed before Mjan stood at the foot of the cot, gathering his things and those of which he had sought out. He looked at his uniform, torn and tattered, still smiling. To some, he may have looked as if he had gone mad. But to Mjan, it was a symbol of growth, of change, and of what he stood for. And he found a sense of tranquility in the whole ordeal. Placing the ragged robes into his satchel, he exited the tent and went to find the family he ventured out for, and finding them not too far from where he first met them.

Tears filled their eyes when he came into view holding the doll, and when the little girl laid eyes upon it, she rushed into his embrace, the family not far behind her. Mjan knelt to return her embrace as he apologized for his tardiness to her parents and grandmother, revealing the other items he had managed to recover, including what was found out to be the grandmother's wedding dress as well as a picture of the grandfather whom once served the Alliance under Aira's own Master, Onderin Starlisk. When offered a reward, Mjan wouldn't hear of it, explaining that he had learnt much of himself during his voyage and that in its self was reward enough.

But the family wouldn't take no for an answer and they soon settled on sharing a meal together in celebration, likely the only sounds of joy that echoed through the encampment that evening. As the sun began to set though, Mjan politely excused himself and saying his goodbyes so that he could return to his Master and soon set off to find her. Opening himself up to the Force, he searched for her presence and found her not far herself. As he approached the tent she was near, he spoke as his gaze fell upon her visage.

"Master Aira...." His voice was joyous and humbled, a nearby fire illuminating his face and revealing the patch that covered his blind right eye. "Can we talk?"

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Even as a small flotilla of ships left the assembled Jedi fleet to rush to the aid of Chandrilla, a large, new ship joined the fleet. The Justice's Mandate, a Nebula-class Star Destroyer was outfitted with modern, state of the art weapons of war for a new era in the Jedi chapter. Though not technically a ship of the Jedi Order, her commanding officer, Commodore Neldis was here to follow the Grandmaster in the fight against the Sith and now Mandalorians. Though he respected the Jedi, he wasn't one. He had been in the New Republic and later the GA for a short time before retiring. The recent war brought him back out of retirement and put in command of a Jedi affiliated capital ship constructed on Felucia with funds and resources from several pro-Jedi planets. Most of his crew were either local planetary defense officers or former New Republic veterans.

On the Adi-Wan, Adenna was still working towards organizing the Jedi and getting used to her new role. It was difficult as there was so much more going on than she was used to dealing with, but she was getting the hang of it. She had been slightly waiting on the arrival of the Justice's Mandate as Admiral Antilles had made it clear how valuable having a second ship of the line would be in splitting the Jedi fleet into two useful components. Several potential options had presented themselves to her and she was still trying to decide the best possible route to take.

The military commanders were fairly adamant about waging a traditional war along the traditional rules and standards. While Adenna definitely sympathized with them, she knew that she also had to represent more than just the status quo and that the Jedi weren't just another military force. The Jedi had to fight to certain standards and that sometimes limited themselves from being able to do what other military forces could. With things rapidly escalating in the Galaxy, it was clear to her that she needed to decide just how involved the Force using Jedi would be in the prosecution of this war. Could she justify reigning in the military commanders to fighting a restrained war even if it meant opportunities, battles, and planets were lost that could have otherwise been won? Or, would it be just as bad to unleash them and partake in the violence and carnage of war hoping that the ends justified the blood filled means? Could she stand back and allow the military commanders to wage their war without directly involving the Jedi, or did that still make the Jedi just as culpable even if it was blasters instead of lightsabers doing the killing?

Despite it all, there was one area in which she felt completely comfortable and confident in pursuing: rescuing Empress Zinthos. The surviving members of the Remnant had been regrouping here for some time, but now were getting restless. They needed to take action, and with their ships and some of her own, she was confident that they could carry off a rescue. If they couldn't bring the Empress out of captivity into safety, they could at least give her an honorable end to her suffering and deny the enemy a trophy.

Adenna sent a series of messages out to the gathered fleets. To the Jedi fleets, she divided them into Fleet Group One with the Adi-Wan at the center and Fleet Group Two with the Justice's Mandate at the helm. Both would have different tasks in front of them. To those ships gathered here but not under her command, she made it known that she intended on going after the Empress within the day and that any ships that wished to join the mission should form up with Fleet Group One. She figured the Imperials would join, but wasn't sure how many of the GA's fleet would join up. Some of them may still wish to remain on Borleias as the rest of the refugees disbursed.

Either way, she aimed to head out and take the fight to the enemy and hopefully throw them off balance long enough to slow their advance.

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The next few days continued in the same pattern as the last ones had, but they felt different somehow. More meaningful, in a way I didn't understand. Perhaps I was simply putting myself in Mjan's shoes, but I sensed a change in the atmosphere.

Towards the end of the third day after his return, I had just gone to my tent to settle in for the night, bone-weary from the day's labors, but content, when I sensed Mjan approaching. I turned as he pushed open the tent flap, and didn't hesitate when he asked to talk. Instead, I motioned for him to follow me, and we moved out of the tent circle to an abandoned fire ring. Maintaining my silence, I quickly built a small fire. 

Once the wood was crackling away, and the sun had begun to set in earnest, I took a seat on the ground. "Tell me," I invited.

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"First off, I must apologize..." Mjan stated as he took a seat across from her upon the most soil and crossed his legs, swatting his hands across each other as he shook loose the dirt that had clung to them. "If I made you worry, I did not meant to, and for that, I am sorry." Mjan stared at Aira attentively for a moment and chuckled, allowing the air around them to lighten up slightly. "The Force obviously held other plans for me."

Mjan thought back to the beginning of his journey, the leisure hike through the kilometers of Jungle as he wandered for days in bliss, the sights, the sounds, the creatures he saw, and the way the Force swirled about effortlessly and connected with every single thing. It was an enlightening experience, and as he thought upon it, a moment a silence falling between them, a smile crept upon his face. "The first few weeks out there were amazing. I found myself truly connected to everything that I saw. The Force is truly fascinating, even when its left alone in nature, its will one of the most beautiful acts I've ever witnessed."

But now...." Mjan's tone grew slightly serious as he remembered back to his thoughts of his ilk and those that took up their heritage and namesake. "Now I understand the reasoning behind the Jedi and their stance against the darkness." Mjan sighed briefly, his next words a difficult thing to admit. "And why those of my kin seek to control it. The Force is powerful, connected with the very nature of life its self. And if one of the darkness can control it properly, it upsets the balance between the two, and destruction and chaos follows in its wake."

Mjan sat quietly again for a moment, the admission of his understanding a difficult pill to swallow, especially with his own hopes of one day freeing his people from their millennia of sins against the balance between the Force and Nature. "The Force is nature, and nature is the Force. They are intertwined like vines encompassing a tree, and holding a symbiotic relationship where both benefit from one another, just as the same could be said of the Jedi Order and its connection to the lightside of the Force. Both seek to preserve the Balance between Nature and the Force."

"When I lost my sight in my right eye out there, fear began to set in. I began to panic, to worry that I would die alone and never be found. And to be honest, I felt that my hopes and dreams would die along with me. And that scared me even worse." Mjan spoke, a jovial tone returning as he thought back to the underground lake and the darkness that engulfed his form as well as his heart. "But while I was lost, I stumbled upon ancient drawings and I found a semblance of comfort in them. That even if I did die, life would continue on without me and that eventually others like myself would come forward and that even on my death, my dreams would continue on without me."

Tears began to stroll down his crimson face, those of his right eye soaked up by the leathered patch that covered his blind eye as he made this admission, and his soul emanated a sense of peace with the thought of his death and what would follow. "And when I thought that I would die for sure, I remembered our previous conversation about the Jedi and how like blades of grass within a pond, how some withered away so others could live, I made my peace with that simple thought. That by my simple existence, I have paved ways that others, including my own species, could one day follow. Just as any Jedi does."

A moment of pause came for the final time as Mjan realized his words as he spoke them, the young Tsis wiping the tears from his face and his bright smile shining through. "I am a Jedi and we are the Keepers of Balance. We stand as warriors so that others can follow their own hopes and dreams, and maybe our own intertwine with theirs. But at the same time, we stand apart, sacrificing our own so that the Force's true will continues upon it's own path without corruption or control. That is what it means to be a Jedi, and I am ready to give myself to it completely."

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I listened quietly. Some of what he had said, I had gathered from his Force-aura. But he also didn't say some of the other things I was sensing. It didn't matter; the fact was I was proud of the Jedi he was becoming. 

"There is no death, there is the Force," I said softly. "Now you understand." 

Silence fell so that all that could be heard was the crackling of the fire, the call of the night birds, and the murmur of conversation rising from the camp behind us. I searched the Force for confirmation of my own thoughts, and found a steady comfort and peace. "You have passed the first test, Mjan: the trial of flesh. Remember the lessons it taught you." My voice turned a little wistful. "You'll be a full Jedi soon."

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