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"Calmness, composure, quick thinking under pressure.... for some select few, it comes naturally... for others, it comes with time and with experience. For those who it comes to in time and in experience, you've got to fight back the confusion, the brash thinking, and the whirlwind of fear. If not, well then, you'll find yourself in quite a predicament." - Genesis Stormhelm

Fear and confusion swept at my mind when Armiena spoke up and the man before us began to flatline. Out of natural instinct, I stepped forward to follow her lead, wiping away my fatigue as my adrenal glands began pumping in full force and delved back in as quickly as possible. I was frantic, my hands trembling with the constant sound of the flatline coming across the machine beside us, as my mind flew through the Force and following every cell and atom it came across, searching for what we had missed.

I could feel Master Armiena's presence, her touch keeping his heart pumping even as the muscle and tissue around it began to slowly lose function and ached to die off. Yet, I continued onward. I was literally pouring myself into his body, unconcerned with my own well being as I followed each and every path I found myself presented with. Each aorta, each vena cava, through the numerous atrias and ventricles and beyond, searching for the slightest of tears or blockages, following the paths from heart to lungs and back again. It was a maze, so deep and confusing that it left my head spinning most of the time.

And yet, there it was. A slither of a tear in the Interventricular Spetum that was flooding the heart from every direction and cutting off it's natural flow. Closing my mind off from everything around me so I could solely concentrate, I focused the Force into its tissue, begging for it to will it to heal. And as I did, I could feel the tissue begin to repair its self, and as such, a sense of relief fell upon me. But so did another sense as I feel a feeling of unconsciousness begin to take me. The last thing I remember was the tear finishing its healing before I fell backwards into oblivion.

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Mjan sat quietly as he listened to her take, stoking the fire occasionally as the coals would grow dark, sending sparks into the air. Her apprenticeship was that of an understanding nature, one of both Soldier and Jedi, similar to his own, both centered around protection and policing. But after his adventure into the Jungles, Mjan had gained a new perspective upon what his role in the coming war would be, and it was a scary one especially for him.

"I thank you for your wisdom, Master Aira." Mjan said with a half hearted grin, signs of a troubled mind written across his face as he kept staring into the fire before him, his gaze as if he was searching for something. "It has helped me answer some of my own questions on what my future holds."

Mjan was Tsis, this much was as evident as those whom they would face in this upcoming war. But he was also Jedi, which meant he would face many of his own kind and those that bore the name of his Species'. And it was a disheartening realization, especially when it came to his own hopes and dreams for his people to one day shed their darkened ways. He was already considered a traitor among his former Order for searching out the Jedi and likely as much from his own family. 

But as a Jedi, he had taken an oath to defend against the darkness and those who would use it against the natural order of life. He knew what would come should he be captured or the Jedi lose this war. Not only would he be a traitor to his own species, as well as a war criminal should the Sith Empire come to control the galaxy. But his dream of liberating the Tsis from the darkness' grasp could likely die as well. Master Aira had taught him well, and his maturity was beginning to show as he processed all he thought, her wisdom rubbing off on the once brash Tsis Jedi.

But as a Tsis Jedi, born of the Sadow and Adas bloodlines, he would stand as more of a figured head than most, especially among the enemy. He would be both a beacon of hope for some and a vile traitor for most. And that, it seems, would be his destiny in the war to come. It just depended on the Force which history would eventually be written for him. But now he knew which path he would walk and his nerves settled as he accepted his part. 

With a deep sigh, Mjan turned his gaze toward Aira. "If you feel that I am ready Master, I wish to take the second trial."

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I nodded. "Then our time on Borleias has come to a close." Rising, I brushed dirt off my pants. "If you're sufficiently recovered, we'll leave in the morning." I gave him a little wave. "Goodnight then."

Turning, I headed back to my tent. I was pleased with how our time had been spent here: Mjan had learned much, and we'd been able to help a good many refugees. There was always more work to be done, but I knew that the best way I could help the people of the galaxy now was to give them another well-trained Jedi Knight. And the path to that was laid out clearly before us.

I slept well that night, and rose with the dawn. I had kept a shuttle from the fleet, and after pinging Mjan with it's location, headed there to get the engines warmed up. Preflight checks were in full swing when I heard the sound of his boots on the ramp. I was in the lounge slicing up some local fruit for our breakfast. "Wanna get us out of here?" I called out to him. "Take us up, and set course for Ilum."

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The Foundation medtech had served with their mercy fleets for nearly a decade, and at this point, he had learned to recognize the signs that a surgeon had overexerted themselves and were about to collapse. The moment that the shivers came and the color faded from Genesis’ face, the teal-clad figure redeployed from its vigil at the Twi’lek’s face and stood patiently behind the half-Miraluka, waiting for the moment that his knees gave out…

And the teenager fell into the hands of their more experienced assistant. It was a familiar routine at this point; the medtech caught him under the armpits and wordlessly dragged the Jedi Padawan away from the gurney, to be unceremoniously and delicately laid to rest in the middle of the burn ward. Draygo was so focused on their patient that she didn’t even look up until the medtech started slamming cabinets in search of stims--or smelling salts--or even a bottle of peppermint extract--anything that might be useful to rouse him. Having just added six hours to a day that had already lasted twenty-seven, the medtech’s frustration began to boil over and the search grew louder with a metallic clatter and mumbled curses.

Draygo finally glanced up from the Twi’lek’s chest and blinked rapidly to clear the dryness from her eyes. “Hm? Oh, nuts.”

A final cursory glance at their patient’s sensor readouts confirmed that he wasn’t actively attempting to die--but more importantly, Draygo’s feet didn’t seem to be rooted to a square meter of sterilized linoleum. She knelt beside her Padawan and cradled his head in her left hand. There was a trick that she had learned long ago: in most humanoid species there was a minute region of the brain, if gently stimulated with the Force, would abruptly jolt the subject to wakefulness. Draygo carefully probed about her Padawan’s brain and and gave a tiny portion of grey matter a metaphorical prod through the Force…

Even if the nervous prodding roused its subject to full wakefulness, it was not exactly a wholesome method to maintain consciousness. It would never provide the refreshment and mental clarity of rest or even meditation. But it would awaken Genesis.

“Try to lock your knees next time.” Armiena began when his eyelids began to flicker. “I think he’ll live. The Force isn’t poking me in the eye whenever I look away from him.

“I’ll be going to Emergency next, see where I can lend a hand… if you can move?”

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Mjan smirked graciously at his Master's words as she rose, dusted the earth from her robes, and bid him a goodnight. Without looking upward from the warm fire before him, Mjan spoke. "Goodnight Master." As she departed, Mjan stayed sitting there. He had spent the last few days laying about, and he found a sense of comfort in his sitting here nestled by the fire. And so he would take the moment to enjoy himself. Before he knew it, he had dozed off.

As he dozed, his mind slipped back toward his previous trial, most importantly, back to the dreams that had plagued him. He stood upon a precipice of an untold future, his brother before him as the heir of Adas and wielding a crimson blade. He knew his brother had followed down the darker path, but he never thought he would ever cross his path. Fear and panic took him as the thought of facing his brother began to grasp at reality and Mjan's heart wished it not. Before he could react, Karys was upon him, his blade crossing Mjan's face just as he shook awake. His eye throbbing, Mjan cusped it with his hand, noticing the dawn had began to break.

Shaking the dream from his mind, Mjan stood and went about gathering what things of his remained and made his way toward Aira's own when he received a ping upon his comm unit. He chuckled, seeing his Master was already a few steps ahead of him and took a brief moment to revisit the family before he departed Borleias. With a gracious hug received, and goodbyes spoken, Mjan made his way toward Aira's location. Just as he topped the boarding ramp, he took a final look upon the planet that had forged him so well before turning to Aira as she spoke.

Moments later, they made their departure for Ilum.

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"Exhaustion is never an ally, always an enemy. Stimulants can only persuade the inevitable." - Genesis Stormhelm

Darkness began to fade into light as I saw Armiena's gaze falling upon me, my mind taking a a lingering but short moment to realize that i had again gave way to unconsciousness. I strained as I sat up, my mind groggy as I realized that I had pushed myself well beyond my limits. Normally, it was a good thing, especially for a Jedi like myself, as the know one's limit was to press past it. But I had been doing that quite alot the past few days, and it was beginning to affect me in a not so good way.

"Don't let me hold you back." I spoke in jest as I opened my hand to collect the incoming glass of water the MedTech had brought in offering, taking a sip to quench my dry mouth. "I think I may have pushed myself a bit too much with that last maneuver."

And in truth, I had. The past few days had began to take its toll not only on my form, but my psyche as well. The exhaustion was beginning to take its toll. But I wasn't about to give into it so easily either. I needed to rejuvenate myself. My crimson hair shifted as my gaze turned from the cup toward Armiena, the exhaustion self evident in the bags under my eyes and the bloodshot eye that fell upon her. Sitting the rest of the way up, I felt the sway of my unbalanced center, and i knew i was no good at the moment.

"Go ahead. I'll catch up in a few." I spoke, finishing off the small amount of water i had been given. "I just need a few moments to refocus myself."

As I waited for Armiena to take her leave, I crossed my legs to recenter myself and stop the swaying. I knew the consequences of my actions held alot ot weight, but I didn't expect such a toll. Still, I needed to catch myself and quickly. I was nowhere near my Master's stamina. An hour or so would pass as I sunk myself into meditation, allowing the Force to flow through me and revitalize what I had lost. And when I felt strong enough to stand, I asked the Medtech for the nearest vending machine. It wouldn't take long for me to gobble down a few protein bars and grab a cup of instacaff.

"Sorry about that..." I spoke as I found Armiena about, the bags still beneath my eyes, but a refound source of energy about me. "I really need to learn to pace myself."

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When everything was ready, the engines on half of the Jedi fleet began to glow brighter as the ships edged forward. Millions of tons of durasteel accelerated away from the planet and cluster of civilian ships that might get in their way. As soon as they were out of the planet's gravity well, the ships aligned themselves on a new course, one that would allow them to make the first jump into hyperspace to their new goal.

Adenna stood on the bridge of the Adi-Wan in her favored blue robes, patiently watching the hushed commotion of the crew preparing for their jump. It would take a day and a half in hyperspace to reach Dark Sun Station, and when they did, there would be a reckoning. Though some of the Jedi she was now in charge of leading were less than pleased with the path they were now taking, she believed it was necessary. There were times when less than gentle methods were needed to rectify injustices and diminish evil. She knew that such actions left a dark mark, but that was a burden she would have to shoulder. She did it in Thalassia, she would do it again on a larger scale. Those few Jedi who were willing to shoulder that burden with her were all aware of what they were doing and choose to accept that responsibility so that the innocent wouldn't have to.

Admiral Antilles sat beside her in his chair with steepled hands, for all outward appearances the picture of calm and control. Only that she had access to the Force was Adenna able to sense his nervousness. He was a man who signed up under the old Jedi ways because he was tired of fighting the traditional way. Though he understood the necessity of what they were doing, he was still reluctant to enter another war like times of old. He much preferred to be the peacemaker and travel the path of non-violence where possible, but such times were long over. War was here and it was time to fight.

Once every ship in Jedi Fleet Group One confirmed final readiness, the order was issued to make the jump to hyperspace. Stars streaked like falling rain for a split second, then the hazy swirl of hyperspace enveloped the fleet as they finally set out to business.

___________

((Jedi Fleet Group One consisting of the Adi-Wan, Solari, Jar-Kai, Shii-Cho, Crystal Heart, and Ataru leave for Dark Sun Station to rescue Empress Zinthos. Any Imperial Remnant or GA allies wishing to join should post as such.))

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Only minutes after the Jedi fleet signalled their intention to launch, a responding transmission was forwarded from one of the Alliance outposts on the planet surface.

“Your briefing received and relayed. Diverting assets to assist.”

Appended to the communication was a tactical package that included simulation data regarding the ships used by the Mandalorians in their conquest of Coruscant.

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Weariness, physical exertion, mental exhaustion. Draygo took a deep breath and talked herself through one of the rejuvenation forms that she had been taught as a Padawan. The exercise was to little benefit, however; she was having difficulty focusing on the routine. There was simply too much to accomplish. Draygo brushed away weariness from her eyes and turned away, pausing only to glance at the Twi’lek’s medical charts.

The identity code on the Twi’lek's chart suggested a past in the military, and while his middling age hinted towards at least several years in experience, his medical history was unusual only in its ordinariness: vaccinations, a few prophylactics that the Rebellion sometimes administered as insurance against biological attacks, but there was nothing left other than minor injuries that had probably been patched up by a platoon medic. He was, for all intents and purposes, a nobody.  The veteran Jedi glanced at the sedate figure in the gurney and shrugged. She had already consigned this patient’s name to unimportant miscellany and would completely forget it by the end of this day.

Whatever the Force needed from her, however, its demands had been met and she was free to pursue her own objectives. Unrecognizable save for the lightsabers at her waist, Draygo silently wove through the low-hanging corridors of the prefabricated structure, hands clasped and eyes focused on a point only a few centimeters before her nose.

As a healer, her technique was crude--best described as “meatball medicine”--and she could only save one person at a time. As a Jedi, however, her talents laid elsewhere. Her consciousness expanded outwards, and she hunted down a cluster of sapients so dulled with exhaustion that they verged on unconsciousness…

An hour later, a team of surgeons and an ancient 2-1B medical droid were closing up a patient after laboriously removing several pieces of shrapnel that had penetrated dangerously close to a major artery. It had been a delicate, dangerous operation, the sort of work that a surgical droid was better suited for than the fatigue-prone limbs of a sapient made of flesh. A millimeter of false movement could have sliced an artery or nerve bundle or muscle, necessitating a prolonged dunk in a bacta tank in order to save the Devaronian’s life; however, even after having labored for twenty-nine hours without more than a brief nap, the team of surgeons had performed flawlessly, having caught something of a second wind the moment that the first incision had been made into the patient’s leg. Chirrut Yen hummed an obnoxiously cheerful pop tune from his home planet as the final adhesions were applied, turning the gory mess of a leg into a neatly-sealed limb that only needed a few bacta bandages for a speedy recovery.

Yen turned away from the operating table, pulled away his heads-up display and started upon seeing a figure with two lightsabers just within the sterilization field, casually leaning against a set of durasteel cabinets. Master Draygo had wandered into the operating suite without a sound and quietly stood by while the operation continued.

“Who let you in here?” He attempted to demand, though the surgeon couldn’t quite muster the energy or outrage at the trespass.

Her voice answered with a queer inflection, as though she was focusing on a rather enthralling daydream. “I… Hm. Good question. Well done, I’ll be going elsewhere if you don’t need me.”

And then she was gone.

Lacking an immediate objective, Draygo wandered throughout the emergency ward of the hospital, wordlessly passing from room to room and finding clusters of exhausted medicians to assist. Most of them were so focused on their tasks that it was simple for her Force-presence to sidle up to their honed consciousnesses--and so she offered a modicum of her power to them, giving herself to others who were far better qualified for this crisis.  She never spoke a word unless required to justify her presence--and she wouldn’t quite meet the eyes of any medtech who demanded her to explain her intrusion into a private medical suite. However, few among the staff challenged her presence; even though the Jedi Master simply found a convenient corner and blankly at a wall, the rumple of teal scrubs was somehow a vaguely reassuring presence--even a slightly motivating one. So passed the next hour.

Genesis would eventually find his teacher staring through the window of one of the operating rooms, frowning in exasperation at having to guide an exhausted surgeon through a routine operation. “No, you silly fool; she has a bacta allergy--check your charts… oh? Next thing I can teach you before I--don’t make me go over there. Sorry. It’s a little easy to… lose yourself in the battle-meld. Yes, there you have it. You have this now, yes?” Her mind withdrew from the alien’s presence and she finally devoted her full attention to her student.

“I think we should start with something that doesn’t involve willfully inflicting Mern-Peth-Dorn on yourself.” She glanced back towards the operating suite, for the moment quite concerned. “I have no idea how mother does it… Anyway, Jedi Persuasion. Slew of techniques, all quite useful, whether you need to convince an obstinate individual to do something for their own good, or just prevent someone from recognizing you. Very versatile.

“Easiest to…” She blinked slowly. “Easiest to read your target’s surface impressions, just quietly sidle along and figure out their motivations, then align your own presence alongside theirs. Contrary to what some very stupid and pessimistic and… um… dour philosophers have claimed, most people don’t want to be malicious or harmful--at worst, most people are just scared or greedy. it’s actually best to just impress upon them that what you’re suggesting is the most reasonable and beneficial course of action.”

“There is a medtech unconscious in a storage room; I think Aurek Eleven-Two Besh. Would you please convince the poor guy to clock out and get some real sleep in an actual bed? At least three people have asked him to give it up--he’s done everything he can.”

((Mern-Peth-Dorn: MPD, or Multiple Personality Disorder.))

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"Does the Master ever truly become the student?" - Genesis Stormhelm

Armiena was a bit of weird one for sure, her always having these moments as if she was talking to someone beyond the veil, but I always admitted that they came across strange. Similar to the first time we had met, when I approached and spoke, her attention seemed elsewhere, so I stood in silence, my gaze shifted to where she was looking. A surgeon, tired by the way his presence felt, just as much as hers, still tirelessly doing his duty, as was she. A smile kinda perked up on my face momentarily as I found solace in their efforts. But that disappeared when I remembered why so many had worked themselves into oblivion.

As she turned and began talking about persuading others using the Force, I had to admit I felt uncomfortable about it at first. But as she explained the application, it lessened up on feeling like manipulation and felt more like suggesting. So I figured that I would try my hand at it, especially if it benefited those around us more than it hindered. As she spoke though, I could see her own tiredness, and secretly I opened myself up to her, touching at her presence and feeling the exhaustion that was beginning to set in her own form. Opening myself up more, I could feel my own tired presence begin to intertwine and run across her own as I simply nodded in agreement, using my facial expressions and my own drained form to grow suggestive as she was instructing.

"Your right Master." I spoke as I let the Force that had built up and intermingled with her own presence release upon her. "You have done all you can. Maybe you should go rest for a bit."

Hopefully she hadn't noticed.

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As focused as she was on the half-awake, half-competent medtech, Draygo never took register of the sly tip of the scalpel that slipped into her mind. She just quietly yawned and fought the temptation to count the hours. However, the veteran Jedi knew that she would be more useful after a few hours of sleep--actual shut-eye, rather than a Jedi rejuvenation trance that would restore the body without providing respite to the soul. And her healers had warned her of something--osteocalcititis or something like that--a potentially chronic condition that could result from her stint on Coruscant.

She would be more useful after a few hours of sleep. In her present condition, she was likely to bumble into a medtech’s private neuroses and trigger a panic attack during a surgical operation.

“Point. Been… eighteen? Nineteen hours since coming out of that bacta tank? Oh, finally she gets it.” Draygo pushed herself away from the window separating her from the surgical suite and grasped her Padawan by the shoulder. “I’ll leave this situation in… your…” She blinked slowly. “Hands. Make sure that you’re always on the move. And… you’re likely to lose someone at some point. Try not to blame yourself. I know that you will, but try not to and learn as much as you can.”

And then she was gone.


___

Ten minutes later, Draygo reemerged from the Foundation’s hospital, having abandoned her scrubs for a freshly laundered set of robes. Feeling something wet splash against her face, she glanced upwards--again, Borleias’ tropics were gracing the refugee camp with one of the planet’s ten-minute showers.

It only just occurred to Armiena that she had yet to secure berthing in the camp. No matter. Spying an unoccupied landspeeder that was unloading near the prefab buildings that comprised the Foundation’s hospital, she drew her cloak over her face and clambered into the vehicle’s cockpit. Glancing over her shoulder to find that none of the teamsters at the flatbed had taken notice of her trespass, Draygo then rummaged through the internal compartment for a piece of stikflimsi to scrawl a note to place on her forehead. It was only fair, that when one of the teamsters inevitably climbed aboard to find the snoring form of a woman with two lightsabers curled up in the copilot’s seat, that they were at least briefed:

Yes its me. Wake if you need me. Loud noises--NO POKING.

Edited by ObliviousKnight

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"In time, comes understanding, experience, and knowledge. Without time, nothing is ever learnt or experienced." - Genesis Stormhelm

As Armiena left upon my suggestion, I turned toward the fold before me. My gaze turned serious, remembering my Master's words as we went about saving the Twilek from earlier as well as the consequences of pushing myself too far. There were so many injured and very few hands to aid, even as more poured in every day. I wanted to help all that I could, but I knew I needed to pace myself. So I went about, offering aid in triage at first before I would attempt a more complex aiding.

Minutes would turn into days, and days into weeks as I went about, offering my aid where it was needed. I started in triage, helping with minor injuries and gathering local and exotic herbs and medicines from the surrounding forests as well as medical freighters that poured in with supplies, taking in what i learnt and recording it to memory. Salvants, suppressants, antidotes for local poisons, all retained within my mind as many cases crossed my path in the weeks that followed. And from triage, i ventured into more complex injuries, helping to reset bones and makeshift splints as well as heal cuts and gashes, both with aid of the Force and with my own hands.

And those weeks would become a month, taking my time to learn what I could without pushing myself. But as I trained and learnt, I also began to notice a stamina beginning to grow within me, noticing that it took longer and longer before I felt myself faint or weak. But still, as those moments would come, I would leave and find a place to rest, even if only for a few hours. In my moments of rest, I would take time to meditate on the day, letting myself wander about within the Force and let it flow through me, feeling its rejuvenation return to me. And then I would close my eyes in peace and serenity, letting exhaustion wane away into oblivion until it came time for me to wake.

Except this day, when I awoke, a new challenge had presented its self. I awoke to screams and yells, causing me to jump from my cot. Barely awake, I hurried from the tent that many of us here at the medical units had came to call home to see a group of rescuers flowing into the critical ward of the hospice, a total of ten patients badly injured and in need of treatment. I didnt ask any questions and followed in quickly behind them, adorning a fresh batch of scrubs after sanitizing myself as I went.

I didnt know it yet, but these were some of the numerous scouting parties sent out daily for local supplies, only this group found out the hard why the need for equipment checks were mandatory. It seems the speeders they took malfunctioned, and the patient that now laid before me was likely, multiple contusions and lacerations, as well as internal bleeding and a punctured lung. I stood there for a moment, locked in by fear, as I gazed upon the human female with horror. She was almost unrecognizable.

((Post 1 of 2))

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((Neural handshake much?))

Another day. Draygo would be roused from her nap four hours later, jolted to wakefulness by a heavy hand that slammed on the door of the landspeeder. She groggily stumbled out of the vehicle and blearily blinked that the waxing hints of sunlight that heralded the beginning of a new day. She staggered towards the perimeter of the camp, ignoring the shouts of the loaders who had awoken her.

Draygo hated her emaciated body, hated the way that her robes seemed to hang from her frame and the tendency of her gunbelt to exhaust her over hours. She had been in peak physical condition during the war, but the indignities that she had suffered at the hands of CreoVive had caused all of that muscle mass to waste away. That needed to change. Physical training began anew. The refugee camp on the peninsula grew accustomed to witnessing her runs along the perimeter of the prefabricated city at daybreak, beginning with a brisk jog under the sweltering forest canopy. As her strength returned over the weeks, she would escalate to merciless sprints in plastoid armor, burdened by a soldier’s rucksack. If, over the course of the weeks, the veteran Jedi had managed to rally a number of sapients who emulated her habit of beginning their days with a punishing sprint, she gave no indication that she had noticed her followers.

 

 

Another day. The days  Still having not secured a berth, the Survivor’s Foundation had become accustomed to the sight of a dozing Jedi Master curled up in the copilot’s seat of their landspeeders, the cloak-enshrouded pile of robes snoring enthusiastically as supplies were delivered throughout the camp. Again, she was roused by a powerful fist hammering beside her head, but as Draygo pulled back the hood of her robe and blinked away the few precious hours of sleep, the wrinkled face of a similarly-dressed Gotal came into focus. The grayed sapient passed a sheet of flimsy into her hands.

“Master Draygo,” Her healer nodded. “You haven’t been answering comms. Orders from Alluyen.”Not awaiting a response or her protestations, the Master Healer turned and left her to read the sheet of flimsi.

You are required to depart and deploy with Nebula-class Star Destroyer Justice’s Mandate. Detailed briefing will be delivered by Commodore Lendran Neldis.

Draygo crumbled up the piece of flimsi and ate it.

 

 

Another day. Draygo had finally managed to secure permanent lodgings in the camp, a tiny-pressured sealed hut situated far from its landing strips and the constant stream of sublight traffic. Her face ruddy from physical-exertion and blood rushing to her head, she balanced upside-down on her hands and methodically repeated sets of push-ups. Her arms shook with every repetition and a puddle of sweat had pooled below her head, but she endured the burning of her limbs with a wolfish grin—this kind of pain was an old friend to the veteran Jedi. Her lips silently counting off the repetitions, Armiena glanced upwards as a familiar presence approached.

Master Gloth opened the seal of her tent and the Gotal Healer stared disapprovingly at her.

Armiena spat out a strand of hair from the beginnings of a short ponytail. “What… is… it?”

“You had orders.”

"I made a commitment to these people. I was going to help them, be whatever they needed me to be. Even if I would have preferred to be out on the front lines."

"How much has this camp grown since you've took residence here? The influx of refugees hasn't abated--even if Borleias' government has refused to allow additional settlement, it hasn't been able to prevent it. Master Darkfire--hush a moment--these people need you a great deal more than they require a single mediocre Healer and her Padawan. They need the fighter.”

Fighting to keep her voice steady despite the trembling of her arms, the veteran Jedi glared at the Gotal Healer. "My name is Draygo."

"Tell that to your son."

Her arms collapsed under her body. Somehow turning the motion into a languid forward roll, the veteran Jedi rose to her feet, grabbed the grim-faced Gotal by a fistful of robes and pressed the greypelt against the wall of the hut. Threats, justifications, and curses all competed for her exhausted breath, which was only capable of managing a strangled gasp that sounded vaguely like "you… you…"

Then the screaming started. Suddenly aware of an explosion of pain that burst from the perimeter of the camp, Armiena set down the Healer and left the older Jedi behind. Not bothering to don her robes, she ran through the camp towards the hospital. Now a familiar figure to the staff, she was immediately led towards the surgical wards “Bring the worst to a private room.” She muttered towards the shift supervisor, negotiating her prosthetic hand into the gloves. “I need to be alone for this.” Completing the sterilization protocols, Draygo made her way into a private room with a gurney, blood dripping from the side.

What she saw in this sapient was little more than a breathing corpse: a three-limbed body of blisters, burns, and abrasions, only recognizable as a Zabrak from the forehead horns. Perhaps the crash victim had a face, but it was obscured by swollen welts and bruises and implanted pieces of vegetation. Having been impaled through the cheek and shoulder with long shards of green plasteel, he was already fading. Draygo approached and laid a hand on the Zabrak’s chest just in time to feel his chest fall for the last time. She sighed.

The veteran Jedi left the suite and made for her apprentice. Seeing him hesitating before a similarly wounded woman, Armiena approached and tapped him on the shoulder. “Bacta tanks are occupied. She won’t make it long enough without… assistance. Sync?” She asked, extending her Force presence in a teasing, hesitating manner. Remembering her mother’s rituals on Coruscant, Draygo shut her eyes and allowed her mental defenses to slip, permitting Genesis to potentially invade the most privately-held recesses of her mind. It was an amateurish emulation of her mother’s Force-meld, but it would between two closely-linked individuals.

She spoke, but words were not quite necessary through the meld. “Morichro is a dangerous technique and has the potential to be abused, but it may save this woman. We’ll put her into a hibernation and slow her bodily functions to the point of near-death. Foundation is going to think that we’ve killed her, but we’ll implant a code-phrase so they can wake her the moment she comes out of treatment.”

Draygo moved slowly, not quite trusting her abilities with this dangerous technique. Her senses permeating the crash victim’s flesh, she began the work of shutting down the woman’s body and deliberately killing her… so that she could live again.

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Above Borleias, the rest of the ships that composed of Jedi Fleet Group Two began to power up their engines and do last minute checks on all systems. They had received orders to join the rest of the Jedi fleet outside Black Sun Station. A message was sent out to select Jedi still on Borleias who would be best suited for combat and the recovery of the hostage Empress. All Jedi were given one hour to join the fleet or be left behind. Among those Jedi who were sent a message were Masters Draygo and Gloth.

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"And its through that understanding, experience, and knowledge... that we know the need for time and the lesson taught by it." - Genesis Stormhelm

A million and one possibilities were racing through my mind in that moment, and I weighed every outcome as if it was as viable as the last with hope that this one or the next would be the best solution when I felt Armiena's familiar touch fall upon my tensed form, her presence bringing me out of the state of shock I had begun to fall into. She always seemed to have a way to ground my mind and heart whenever she was near and as she voiced her suggestion, I was secretly glad she had done so. As I gazed at her, I smiled briefly and nodded, her suggestion reminding me of the time we stood upon the precipice of Coruscant's destruction, and in that moment, our thoughts had became one. At least this time, I actually held power to truly aid.

Feeling her conciousness open and her defenses fall, I followed in suit, tip toeing into the abyss that was her mind as I allowed her to meld with my own. Typically, I was never one to freely open myself so, but Armiena was the only person to have known all of my secrets and still remain unjudgemental. I trusted her above all else, not just as a teacher, but as a mother like figure as well, our time together binding is in such a way. At least, for me, it had became such.

As had become accustomed, I followed her instructions, paying close heed to her words as we progressed and noticing her movements, following every detail in close unison. And as our senses joined with the woman's, I simply rode the waves of Armiena's divination. Slowly the woman's body began to shut down, organ by organ as we guided her body into it's hybernative state, keeping her heart and mind active the longest so that we could preserve her as best we could. In truth, it was a terrifying ordeal to witness and be a part of, but I understood its necessity even as her breathing shallowed and her heartbeat faded. And when it came time to lay the passphrase upon her still lingering psyche, my gaze shifted toward Armiena.

This power, even as a passenger upon its pathway, had taken much of my strength. But it was the only viable option of saving her life, even if it required her feigned death. Hopefully the outcome was one we were hoping for.

((Post 2 of 2))

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A small Starfang fighter exited hyperspace after having left Felucia and instantly hailed the Jedi fleet stationed above Borelias, notably @Adenna Alluyen.

"This is Lt. Mjan Sadow, former padawan to Aira Caden, requesting permission to land."

Already the realization of his new status was beginning to truly set in and he felt the loss of Aira deeply. But she had chosen to raise him to Knighthood for a reason and now he pushed himself forward to honor her hope in him. As a newly appointed Jedi Knight, as well as a Lieutenant in its naval fleet, Mjan needed to report in.

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The deck officer on the Justice's Mandate received many messages from various ships trying to gain access to the Nebula class-Star Destroyer. Most were simply supply shuttles or ships ferrying up crew from shore leave. On occasion, there was something a tad bit more interesting that came his way. There were a few members of the Jedi Order on board, mostly Padawans and a Knight or two. This was one he hadn't heard of before, so he did a quick check of their records. There wasn't anything about a Knight by that name, but there was something about a naval commission assigned from Felucia attached to this name and ship. Those codes were checking out, but just in case, he sent a quick message to one of the Jedi on board that one of their Order was landing.

Permission was given to Mjan to land, and a male Duros Jedi Knight named Gupta Fazon was there to meet him.

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This was agonizing work. If Genesis and Draygo slowed the heart too quickly, the periphery would die. Vice versa, she would either bleed out or the bloodstream would become so toxified with carbon dioxide and metabolic waste that she would drift into a hepatic coma that even bacta might not recover their patients from. And even if the trance was successful, her life was now in the hands of a surgical team that might have never operated on a cadaver since university.

 

But the trance took, and the ooze of blood slowed to the barely-perceptible trickle of capillary action from their patient’s wounds.. Armiena reflexively took a step back as she withdrew from the Force presence of her apprentice. "Sorry, didn't give you much of a chance to refuse. I thought that under the circumstances…" She sighed. The veteran Jedi preferred to believe that she possessed sufficient control to not wander about in Genesis' mind like a psychic wrecking ball, but whether her fellow half-Miraluka had developed such discipline… Armiena was too busy attempting to not murder a patient to notice any such intrusions. She tapped in a brief note on the patient’s chart and summoned the medtechs.

 

"I think she'll live. At least long enough to be stabilized, but… no telling after that.” Draygo led her Padawan out of the hospital and towards the refugee camp’s landing pads. “I’d prefer to look after her, but I’ve been sitting on orders from the Grandmaster to join the fleet. Something is brewing, and judging from the handwritten notes it’s going to get ugly.”


A munitions freighter had been diverted from the Jedi Dojo on its way to Justice’s Mandate, and the two Jedi hitched a ride on it towards the orbiting Star Destroyer. From the wholly unfamiliar hangar of the Nebula-class Star Destroyer, Armiena found a yeoman to guide them towards the bridge and their briefing.

Edited by ObliviousKnight

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As the Starfang landed gently within the flightdeck of the Justice's Mandate, Mjan let out a sigh of relief. Space was still a thing for one of his kind to get used to, himself having rarely stepped foot off Krayiss II but on two occasions during his lifetime, and the last lead him here to the Jedi Order. Grabbing the metal stave that hid his saberpike, he disembarked his ship and met with the elder Duros Knight with glee, the Tsis's golden eyes soft and kind, only amplified by the hue of his crimson skin.

 

"Lt. Mjan Sadow reporting in". He spoke with enthusiasm as he stood firm and saluted the Jedi that stood before him with his left hand perching the spurred brow of his only seeing eye. "Forgive my tardiness. I only recieved the comm to report here when Master... I mean Aira Caden... dropped me off at Felucia to retrieve my ship after Ilum."

 

As Mjan gazed toward the elder Knight before him, he could sense a bit of confusion upon the air, even for the Jedi before him, causing the young Tsis to wonder momentarily if Aira had reported his Knighting on Ilum to the Order. Returning his own confused look, he questioned. "My Knighting at Ilum was sanctioned, correct?"

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"The life of a Jedi is neither dull nor ending, for as one crisis is adverted, another follows quickly behind. Coruscant, Borleias, war... no rest for the wicked which meant to rest for the we who stood against the Darkness that threatened." - Genesis Stormhelm

 

"There was no need Master." I spoke in return to Armiena that day as she sighed. Even if she had asked, I still would have helped. I was just grateful that we had managed to stabilize her a bit so the others could take over and prolong her death, even if only for a bit. It may have been all we could do, but we did it. "I'm glad I was able to help this time."

 

As the others began to take over, I followed Armiena as we began our trek outside, tossing aside the contamination scrubs for my own clothes and placing the patch back over my Miralukian heritage. I could see that something did not bold well and that something laid upon her mind, but I had never been one to push any issue, even now that I held a slight sway to do so. And like clockwork, she opened up to me as we neared the landing pads.

 

"I see." I spoke, a hint of uneasiness flowing over my own form as I remembered back to Coruscant, how it seemed forever ago, yet wasn't as long as it felt. Climbing about the freighter, I turned to her. "If it's anything like Coruscant, we both have a right to be worried."

 

And with that, we made our way toward the Justice's Mandate and onward to the plans of war. But despite the uneasiness I felt, all I had to do was look her way, and somehow, I knew that everything would work out for the better. Now if only Armiena could have such faith in herself.

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Knight Gupta Fazon was a calm and calculating man, not one to overreact or let emotions sway him. Still, he was slightly surprised to find that the new Knight he was meeting was of a species he had only read about. There had long been records that there was an ethnic Sith among the Sith Order, but he had only recently heard rumors that one had joined the Jedi. Apparently those rumors were true, because there was no sense of darkness coming from this young man, and his authorization code as well as that of his ship checked out. It was theoretically possible that he was a Sith infiltrator, but the Jedi didn't operate on racial suspicion alone. There were plenty of Duros among the Sith Empire, he wouldn't want himself always questioned.

 

"Lieutenant Sadow," Fazon said clinically, "It is not for one such as myself to question your status or place in the Order. Whether you are a Knight or not is more up to yourself than any other. If you feel yourself worthy of such a title and honor, then you likely are. If not, then that is something that you must determine on your own.

 

"Until then, I can only validate your military title and confirm that you are indeed a naval lieutenant. You clearly can fly a fighter so you may elect to attach yourself to a squadron and fly in battle. As a Jedi, you could also join with whatever assault force that will be attacking the station to rescue the Empress. Commodore Neldis is a wise man: did not give me a preference of where you are to be assigned because he knows Jedi go where they are best rather than into a mold."

* * * * * * *

 

With the last stragglers boarding their assigned ships, the ships comprising of Jedi Fleet Group Two formed up and made the jump into hyperspace.

 

((anyone who wishes to be part of the fleet has until battle commences at Black Sun Station to show up there and will be assumed as part of this jump))

Edited by Adenna Alluyen

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As Fazon spoke, Mjan took his words to heart and listened with attentiveness, letting the wiser Jedi's words linger in the air. The Duro was quite different from Aira, more militant and blunt than his Master had been. Not to say Aira didnt have her moments where the warrior within had shown through, but that she had a softer and gentler side, albeit a bit coddling if one such as Mjan had been outside looking in. 

 

Not to say she pacified the young Tsis, but as a Teacher, she was extra encouraging and softer upon his mistakes during training. And truth be told, outside his Jedi training, his scope was limited. So as he sat there and listened to the Duro speak, he realized his own weakness. He had been trained to be a Jedi, but not to be a warrior within the Fleet. And as Fazon spoke of his feeling worthy of such a title and the honor that came with it, Mjan questioned himself just for a moment.

 

"I dunno if I would say worthy..." Mjan out loud in retort, mostly to himself that Fazon. "But Master Aira felt that I was."

 

Only time would tell if Aira was right in her convictions about Mjan. But the young Tsis trusted her judgement and the sheathed pike he held in hand as a walking staff spoke of his own in volumes. An Apprentice may have been able to forge such a weapon, but only Mjan could attune it so precisely. It's aura matched his own with such strength that there could be no denying it. It was a weapon truly forged for a Jedi Sentinal.

 

But what path would the battle ahead bring for Mjan? When presented the options, Mjan grew confused. It wasn't that he was perplexed by the Duros or his choice of words, but what path would be the Force's will. He had yet to even think upon his next choice of actions, only being led here for this moment. But now that he was given the choice, it was unclear. Even as he opened his mind up to the Force, it remained undecided.

 

"Understood sir." Mjan finally spoke to Fazon, a deep sigh following his words as his gaze shifted aside as he heard the Justice's Mandate frame wail and shift as it entered hyperspace. "May the Force guide me well in the coming battle."

 

He only hoped it would provide a clearer path as they grew closer to the moment when the Jedi brought the war to the enemy.

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A half million kilometers from Borleias, a Sith fleet emerged from hyperspace and took up a defensive position, but advanced no further. The largest ship with an IFF indicating it was called the Herløv had shields raised, but its weapons were not powered or trained. Only one squadron of TIE Defenders had been deployed as a screen, though the rest of its compliment was on standby just in case the Rebels decided to attack. Qaela wasn't interested in a fight, but she also wasn't going to put her mission, herself, or the beings under her command in a vulnerable position.

 

Qaela couldn't help but smile at the though of the panic that the arrival of the small fleet likely caused among the remnant of Coruscanti refugees and the defending forces that protected the planet. The weak needed to be culled so that the strong could improve the Galaxy. Balance needed to be restored from the vapid and feeble. Those here who cowered and fled rather than stood and fought against the invaders of their home were destined only to serve those who were strong to help build that new society.

 

She had never lusted for war and conquest, but among the Sith, that was often the best way to be recognized and gain power. Power was the best way to protect yourself, even if it was a tenuous thing. Draw too much power and you drew too many wanting to take it for themselves. Remain with too little power and you would be used by those with more. The trick was a balance, and so far, she had managed to obtain just enough power to maintain it. Her mission today was not to conquer, but perhaps if she accomplished it, more recognition and power would come directly from the source of all power in the Sith Empire.

 

"Send a comm to the planet on a broadband, unsecured transmission," she ordered. When the comms offer indicated that such a connection was made, she spoke calmly and confidently. "I am Qaela Darksong, emissary of the great Sith Empire. We are not here to conquer or kill, but to talk. For reasons known only to himself, the Great Emperor wishes to speak with the leaders of your Rebellion. As a token of his goodwill and sincerity, I have with me one thousand political prisoners from Kuat who were scheduled for a lifetime of harsh slave labor. In exchange for dialogue with Rebel leadership, I shall release them to you unharmed and with no further stipulations. Unless you act aggressively towards my forces, I shall wait here for three days after which the offer is expired and I shall return to the Omnipotent Spider to report that it was the Rebels who refused diplomacy."

 

She terminated the connection and then gave a new directive. "Let Lord Mordecai know he is welcome upon the Herløv for the duration of our time here." Though he was subordinate to her, technically he had command of the smaller ships in the fleet. She would rather know his mind and intentions a little better and maintain at least a working relationship in case this turned into a fight.

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Not even ten minutes had passed before the Dathomiri SIth got her response. In a communication broken by lines of static from multiple encryptions and decryptions, the small form of the Empress Raven gave her response. 

 

Yes

 

_______

 

A day passed in silence as the citizens of the neutral world took in and housed the captives. Giving them medical aid until on the edges of the system a black painted Star Destroyer named Misericordia slipped from the grip of hyperspace. A shuttle dropped from her bay and microjumped so that it reached the edges of the Sith Fleet. 

 

Raven and two Imperial Knights were the only passengers, armed only with their lightsabers and the force. It had been against the will of the rest of the Rebel leadership, but Raven was here. And she would dialogue with the Sith, though she knew it would already be fruitless. 

 

The Shuttle set down in the landing bay of the Herløv and Raven and her two guards descended the ramp. Raven dressed purely in black, with the long bands of service ribbons across her left breast. The small circlet of silver resting gently upon her head the only adornment save her lightsaber. 

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Mordecai arrived on the Herløv shortly before the rebels did. He knew he was going to meet the Lady Darksong later than expected, but he had a fleet to run. Defensive strategies to discuss with his officers  as well as proving to the troopers that he was worthy to command them. While the latter may have been less important, since no officer would ever disobey a Sith, he'd seenjust how effective troops could function if they trusted their commander.

 

His venture had been semi-successful. Most of the officers trusted him with command of their ships now, though a few of the higher ranked crew still had concerns. He'd missed the chance to prove himself over Coruscant, and it was showing. Still, he couldn't put off meeting the Sith that commanded him any longer. The rest of his duties would have to wait. When helanded, he was escorted to the bridge of the Star Destroyer, where he would finaly meet the Nightsister.

 

"Lady Darksong, it is an honor to finally meet you. I am Mordecai, apprentice to Lord Valinor. Have we heard from the Rebels yet?"

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