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The Jensaarai

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  1. The Saarai-Kaar nodded, without giving way his disappointment that the young apprentice before him had not studied their own history.“The Jedi and Sith descend from same line and tradition. The same that we ourselves come from. The differences, however, have morphed over time. I fear that as each grows further from it’s roots the deeper engrained it becomes in the siren’s call from the darkness,” he explained as he turned to reach towards Bones’ saber. He continued to speak, “The Jensaarai do not often concern themselves with the ways of the galaxy at large. It is not our place to do so. We are entrusted with one another, to hold each other accountable and to defend the truth. The dark calls and we hold fast together against it.” Once Bones handed his hilt to the Jensaarai leader, he turned it over in his hands, allowing the hilt to roll from hand to hand as he tested the weight. “Even so, the Jedi and the Sith are our brothers. Some are more misguided than others. The darkness that calls them threatens the entire universe. The siren’s call is tempting to all. Even me. To protect our community, we must not just learn, but we must stand against the darkness when it threatens our own.” Hefting the saber, the Saarai-Kaar twirled the hilt one handed, his eyes never leaving it. The force whirled about them as he prodded it mentally, scanning it inside and out. “Many Jensaarai are born into our tradition, raised in it. Your experiences with the darkness has prepared you in unique ways. You have tasted it and not succumb.” He stopped spinning the weapon and offered it hilt end back to Bones, nodding, “But you are still young. Prepare to meet with Defender Sarlacc and his elder apprentice, Svata. They should be arriving within the day.” ”Your saber appears to be functional and aptly built. I would venture you had help from our community. That is good. Each Jensaarai must find his or her place here. Hold onto that when you go forth. Let it be your emotional tether to hold you fast.” Placing a warm hand on Bones’ shoulder, the Saarai-Kaar guided him towards the door. “The Sarlacc will continue your training for now. Together the three of you must go and help our wayward brethren stand against the darkness.” Pausing at the door, the Saarai-Kaar stared deep into Bones’ eyes, the force thick and swirling between them illuminating things beyond the surface. “Though we broke from the Jedi, they are our brothers. Save them whilst the sun still shines.”
  2. The door slid open with a grumbling rattle as the rough knobby hand the Order’s figurehead pushed it into a recess in the wall. With an emotionless look, the Saarai-Kaar, clad in a simple brown tinicnand breeches looked Bones up and down and then waves him to come in; stepping back out of the doorway to one side. Inside, it was spartan. The most outstanding thing about the one room hovel was the Saarai-Kaar’s armor displayed on a samurai-like display rack. In the shadows, if one was not fully aware, the armor could easily be mistaken for another being. Thebrest of the room had a table and chair, bunk, a chest and a few other small items. Practically bare and clean. The dirt-packed floor was as solid as the durasteel beneath it; having been trod until it now longer responded to being walked upon. Holding out a hand towards Bones, the Saarai-Kaar asked a simple question “My saber?” He saw the young Jensaarai’s hilt gleefully clutched between his hands, but did not acknowledge it yet, waiting until his own weapon was returned before responding further. Once Bones returned the Saarai-Kaar’s weapon, the Weequay turned and carefully set the weapon with his displayed armor before turning back to Bones. Glancing at the saber hilt Bones held, he continued, “I assume that your weapon is functional. There is no time for me to instruct you in the use of this weapon. You must prepare yourself.” Turning, the Saarai-Kaar stared out the singular window of his hut. It overlooked a slight hill down to where several children were running about and playing some makeshift game with a roughhewn leather ball. Even from here their giggles and occasional angry call of foul play could be heard. It added a sense of life to the serene surroundings. Without looking back at his guest, the leader spoke once again, “If you desire to become a Jensaarai you must become one with us. All of us. The Sun-Dragon is an able teacher. He is often relegated the more . . . difficult . . . initiates that come to us. Like you, he had to overcome a dark past. Darker than even yours I would say. In doing so, he was cleansed through both holy and unholy fire; having to forsake all that he knew and called his own. The time has come though for you to show your dedication.” Turning to face Bones again, the Saarai-Kaar’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Have you studied the histories? What do you know of the Jedi and the Sith?”
  3. The Saarai-kaar places his hand on Bones’ shoulder, gently and quietly urging him back to a standing position. ‘The Jensaarai kneel in submission to none.’ He urged silently in the force. Pulling his own duel-bladed lightsaber hilt from his belt, the Saarai-Kaar offered it to Bones. “Take this. Reach out in the force. Study it’s makeup. Then begin to craft your own. You have your pieces? Sit here by the dome. Build your weapon. Then return to me in my quarters.” The instructions were simple enough. The Saarai-Kaar knew that the twisted life of the growth within the done would present a dark edge to hedge the young Tognath’s own ambitions. The test went without speaking; either the apprentice would instinctively recoil from the light or he would pursue the darkness and be destroyed by it, drawing the purple fungus unto himself. “You will need this weapon where you will be going. Your brethren will need your skills. This blade will mark you as one of our own. Unique as all Jensaarai are. Seek the truth within the force. Follow the paths upon which we trod. Seek the truth within the weapon. Look beyond the surface. Seek the truth within yourself. Weed out the deceptions you have planted there. There, will you find the design of your weapon.” With that the Jensaarai leader offered Bones a warm smile. He knew his instructions were cryptic in some ways. Still, he had every faith the Tognath could search within the force and discern truth from falsehood. The time it would take him to build his weapon would allow for the other pieces of the holoboard to move into place. Then they would strike at the heart of darkness.
  4. A dull klaxon, worn and aged, beeped a low foghorn-like warning as dim red lights flashed around the doors in lopsided circles. With a slow grating squeak and the hiss of negative pressure into Dome #8, the elder Saarai-kaar stepped out of the prohibited zone. The force swirled in shadowy wraithe-y waves of light and dark, gnawing at any would be hangers on of the poisonous purple growth; ensuring it did not escape the massive metal tomb that contained it aboard Rakaw Nwul. Even in full armor, the man that led the Jensaarai did not look all that intimidating. Unassuming and lethal, the Saarai-Kaar carried himsef in an aura of force-bound mystery. Seeing Bones chanting softly, the Saarai-Kaar let his presence in the force branch out and fill the room searching for the apprentice’s aura. Upon finding it, he urged it upwards and outwards, guiding it deeper into the ethereal tendrils that were the force. Without a word, he hoped to help the young Tognath expand his horizons. As their auras swirled together, a great darkness loomed ever closer. Together, they swirled along the edge of dawn and sunset, darkness to their left and seering brightness to their right. They swirled forward perched on the molecular razor’s edge that sepersted the two. “Shadow” the voice echoed softly through the force. In the force, time had no meaning. It stood still and reached for eons into the future and the past. Gently, the two came back to the room outside of Dome #8 and deposited their consciousnesses back from where they had never left. With a gentle hiss, the Saarai-Kaar removed his helmet, revealing an aged and worn face with deep set eyes that seemed to speak of having seen things that no being ought to have witnessed. His eight braids that sprouted from atop his head tumbled back over his shoulders as he offered a hand to Bones to help him to his feet. “Greetings young apprentice. The Jensaarai have need of your skills and abilities abroad. Are you ready to strike for your community, to protect those who have embraced you?” ”Have you completed your lightsaber yet?”
  5. “Think, feel, be, allow the force to touch your innermost being and reflect it out through the prism that is you. This is why every Jensaarai undergoes such rigors. To mold and form them. You have great potential young Bones. You must embrace this new life and learn it until you become one with it.” An armor-clad Defender materialized silently behind Bones at the side of the bare earth. With a nod to the warrior, The Sun-Dragon cut himself short. “Excuse me little brother. It would appear I am being called elsewhere. Return to your quarters, commune with the community, seek out the verpine and do what they request to obtain parts with which to begin constructing your lightsaber. When I return, I will instruct you in how to begin construction.” Brushing past Bones, the scantily-clad Defender walked to meet his fellow. After conversing in low tones for several minutes, Sun-Dragon turned and returned to Bones. “To be a Jensaarai means to seek knowledge. Those who seek acknowledge they do not know all that there is to know or worth knowing. The force can be unfathomable. Ashla and Bogan are but one way that people cast that which they carry within onto something they cannot understand. They label it to understand it. The force cannot be known. Light and dark can be found within. Thus we reflect what is in our own hearts. Purge the darkness from your soul brother. Contemplate on these mysteries and when we meet again, we can speak further. For now, the Saarai-Kaar has requested that you go to the sealed doors of Dome #8. Await instructions there. Go with the knowledge that whatever task you are given, you carry the community on your shoulders” With that, the Sun-Dragon turned and made his way down the road, disappearing around the corner.
  6. The Sun-Dragon laughed aloud, a loud belly laugh of pleasure as he felt the force behind the tognath’s blows. Setting one foot behind him at an angle, he swung his own staff to brace against the blows. “Good! Let the force flow through you. It is a river and you, but a branch in the current. Let the river guide you.” Twirling his own staff to parry the incoming flurry blows, loud cracks filled the makeshift arena as the dance continued, the Sun-Dragon circling back slowly as he deflected the onslaught of strikes and blows directed at him. “Flow with the river, but remember, you are not a leaf to be pushed without influence. Do not block the river and seek to divert it. Roll yourself in the river, allowing the uniqueness that is you to be buffeted by the force and pushed in ways that are unique to you. Every branch is different, but they spring from the same tree. Do not resist; do not hold fast; but like a rudder, let who you are speak in the force. Together, a path will become apparent.” And with a final block of an incoming blow, the Sun-Dragon pushed back against Bones’ weapons arcing his own staff in the air in an attempt to smash the wooden rod across the tognath’s head. “The force, your past, your future; you, the Jensaarai.” Should the Defender knock his apprentice into the dust, he would stop to help him up, the lesson concluded. Should young Bones continue the fight, the lesson would continue.
  7. Accepting her drink with a warm smile, The Malia took a deep swig. Smiling as she lowered the mug, “I think it is the other way around. How can I help you? You see, Serenity Vowler, there is more to you than appears. Just like,” the woman rolled her lightsaber hilt onto the aged wooden table with clatter, “there is more to me too.” Glancing out the window, the mysterious warrioress smiled. The smile dis not reach the woman’s eyes Which were etched with sadness. “Corellia is besieged by the forces of evil. The light falters across the galaxy. It always needs more to reflect the light from their hearts it into the crevices of darkness. Lets go for a walk. The shadows grow long.” Standing, The Malia left her half-finished drink on the table and scooped her weapon up back into the folds of her cloak in one smooth motion. Pulling her fur robe more tightly about her she gestured to the door. Outside, the warrioress fell into step with Serenity as they strode seemingly aimlessly through the city towards the dark side of the planet. “It is honorable to earn a pure living; but something tells me that you were made for more than serving drinks and jaunting back and forth from Ryloth to Corellia until darkness falls across the expanse. What stirs deep in your soul little sister? What is it you desire? I have watched you from afar; but tell me who you truly are.” The shadows continued to grow longer as the sun set in the distance and the temperatures began to rapidly descend and still, they walked.
  8. Twirling to his left, The Sun-Dragon whirled backwards away from the driving blow. His own staff spinning around in his hands as he, in one continuous sweep, brought his own wooded weapon towards Bones’ exposed back. In the same sweeping forward motion, he planted his foot atop Bones’ weapon as it struck empty earth. Using his momentum, the Sun-Dragon did not stop moving, whirling to a clear distance behind his apprentice. Staff in hand, he continued to spin it, the momentum of the aros ready to be directed into its next strike. Looking down at his apprentice he spoke. “Focus not on your weapon. Focus on yourself. A Jensaarai is always seeking truth and is always ready to act. Your mind, body, and soul bonded together as one. The weapon should become nothing but an extension of your will and of your person. When you are centered, unhampered by the distractions about you, you will become one with your weapon.” The Jensaarai master slowly circles keeping his eyes on Bones. The force continued to swirl around him and on it, he reached out. He felt the traces of pride that had distracted his apprentice. The blurred staff hazing before his eyes, he continued, his intense gaze never leaving the young Bones who now held a position within reaching distance of his discarded weapons. “The skills of combat can be learned. To be a Jensaarai you must become master of the most difficult aspects of the galaxy, yourself. A Jensaarai feels emotions. He uses them. He controls them and makes them work for him. Otherwise they are as dangerous a distraction as an undefended plasma shot, a distracting onlooker, or the soft dark side whisper that promises the ease of victory but does not tell you the price.” ”Again! Let the force flow through you and bind to you as one.”
  9. With a careful side step, The Sun-Dragon brought his staff up to meet Bones’ blow, in an attempt to allow the weapon to slide down the angular shaft of his own weapon away from him carried by it’s own force. “The Aros is a vital weapon of the Jensaarai. Even when others cannot find a weapon in their vicinity, a Jensaarai can. Learn the way of the Aros. It’s use is vital to the Jensaarai way of life. Even when we are in the fields, we must be prepared to stand side by side protecting our community at a moment’s notice.” The force swirled about the warrior, creating almost a haze around him as he moved. Having diverted the blow, the Sun-Dragon returned to spinning the staff in his hands. “Feel the world around you. Let it speak to you and guide you. Let it guide the stick in your hands. Allow it to become a part of you as you become a part of the world around you. Reach out. Feel it. Let it wash over you. Listen to its whispers and let it guide your movements.” The Jensaarai continued to swirl his staff about in front of him, effortlessly twisting it about his waist before lunging forward in a low sweep parallel to the ground swinging the staff at the apprentice’s legs; his body tensed in a low squat.
  10. Sunset, along the winding streets of Lessu, the shadows grew long; amongst them darted a solitary figure. Form shadow to shadow, recessed alcove to balcony overhang the wraithe-like being moved. She was intent on not being seen or tracked by anyone or anyrhing. Only a block further now and her quarry would be within her grasp. There were a few early patrons already stumbling around outside. It was not hard to flip up and over them in the dark alley-like winding street between tall imposing spires. Slipping through the door, the armored spy was inside with her quarry in sight. Her gray cloak fluttered behind her as she disappeared into the dimly lit cantina. Scanning the facility, the woman overlooked the common rabble until her eyes settled on the teenager behind the bar. “Bingo,” she hissed cheerfully as she lightly stepped and twirled through the crowd. Several twi’leki and humans were already gyrating on the worn stained and all too tiny dance floor. With a cat-like elegance, she slid between them and slid onto a stool at thar bar. With her brown hair tucked behind her ears and her blue warrior’s tattoos on her face, The Malia was the visage of a huntress of old; her sleek light Sith inspired armor rimmed with furs beneath her cloak completing the ensemble. Waving her hand to get the bartenders attention, the warrioress offered a genuinely warm smile. There she was, Serenity Vowler, seventeen year old native of Ryloth who frequently made runs to Corellia. The Malia had been watching her from afar for weeks trying to determine is she was a suitable mark. Finally, she had decided to approach her and make the girl an offer, an offer to change her the course of life, change her story, make a difference in the galaxy and not become a casualty of the looming chaos of Corellia. It all started here, now, with a smile a wave and a drink order. “Heya stranger, when you get a break I’d love a Corellian tapcafe if you’ve got some. Maybe two. One for you, one for me? I’ll be over there when you find the time.” She had all night. She would sit there all night if she had to, to show Serenity how serious she was. Slipping from her stool, The Malia moved with grace and poise through the cantina to a middle booth along the back wall. Here she could keep an eye on the bar and on the door. Safety first.
  11. “Perhaps you learned something after all then,” the voice spoke echoing seemingly from everywhere before the monster of a man, stepped silently out of the brush behind Bones and spoke himself. “Such as why most creatures are formed with more ways to take in information than to offer up their own. Such is the way of the Jensaarai to be still like the waters at river’s edge and to accept the current as one’s destiny when it comes to call.” The Defender’s presence was palpable within the force, but it did not coalesce where the man visibly stood; instead it was if he was all around. “I understand you had some time to study as well. This is very good. It is a sign of the assuredness that you are a Jensaarai. We thirst for knowledge. That which we do not know, trivial or great, we seek out and find. Now, might I suggest you go and rest, bathe yourself, study the Mireinio ysbrydol and then in the afternoon meet me back where you first sought to challenge me. There is more to being a Jensaarai than picking melons afterall.” He chuckled softly at his own attempt at humor as he turned to go back through the undergrowth. Turning over his shoulder he added, “Bring Brother Jho’s gift with you. Arosymladd is best practiced without empty hands.”And with that the man vanished into the trees as if he had never been. The initiate was expected to use the force to find his way home. Meanwhile, the Sun-Dragon had some errands to run. ________________________ Later that afternoon, the Sun-Dragon stood back at the edge of earth-packed circle ringed by huts, a wooden quarterstaff held in his hands. His worn and damaged armor was nowhere to be seen. Instead the man wore a simple rough-spun sleeveless tunic and breeches that left his heavily scarred arms and legs exposed. The man’s face was crisscrossed with scars as well and his left upper arm was covered in jagged twisted tattoos that had once been of elegant Sith design before his skin had been subjected to whatever tortures had left him burned and filleted. At the feet of the warrior lay the gear Bones had come to the Jensaarai in, his weapons, armor, and clothing. As the Tognath came into view, the Jensaarai Defender spoke loudly, “I have heard that you have fancied yourself a hunter and a warrior. It is time to refine those skills into something befitting the Jensaarai Order. You may take what you wish, but remember the way of the Jensaarai. Keep your mind open, remain in the moment, seek knowledge always, control your emotions lest they control you, remember what you have learned and what you have read.” Slowly spinning the staff in his hands, the Sun-Dragon kicked Bones’ gear to the center of the dirt. “Begin and,” he smiled, “try to not kill an old man who once served the Sith before finding truth in the fiery shadows.”
  12. “Come deeper.” The voice echoed in Bones’ mind, leaving the air calm, heavy and still at the edge of the jungles. The calling urged him deep into the undergrowth where no trails ran and the plants grew freely and unfettered. Thorns that dripped poison, choking vines that twitched awaiting disturbance to envelop their prey, and dark foreboding trunks and canopy that blocked out the light that streamed from above. “Deeper. Deeper.” The voice urged him onwards. “Seek out your calling. Feel within. Let your soul open to the world around you and find your place.” “Find your place . . .” For anyone searching on the waves of the force, the faintest presence of The Sun-Dragon could be felt. He was in the soil, the plants, the very air; the Sun-Dragon was nowhere to be found, but everywhere at the same time. When the apprentice was good and lost, the voice called out again, this time audibly through the still humid air, “What have you learned?”
  13. The blade deactivated with a hiss and the Sun-Dragon’s application of the force against Bones’ body ceased. He offered a hand to help the young Jensaarai backnto his feet. Once they were both standing, the elder Jensaarai spoke again. “Return to the Ithorians and tell them of your quest. Harvest the Lumas, as per their custom and guidance. Become a part of the team. Contribute to the wellbeing of our community. It is one of the first steps to becoming a Jensaarai. In this simple act you will gain understanding and respect if you open your mind and close your mouth. Saving lives is more than cutting down evil-doers. When you are done, come and find me in the jungles about the Bastion. Open your mind to the force, keep your emotions in check and allow the force to guide you. I will be waiting in 5 days time when the harvest should be drawing to an end.” With that, the Jensaarai turned and strode purposely away leaving Bones alone in the clearing. First thing first, he would tell the Ithorians of the plan. They, in their methodical peaceful way, would help teach the newest Jensaarai apprentice the benefits of a peace filled days hard labor and the joys of contributing to the welfare of the greater good. After that, he had some security measures to attend to.
  14. The display of anger was enough to warn of the incoming assault. The punch connected solidly with the warrior’s armor. And in that moment, the Sun-Dragon reacted. With a push of his hand towards the younger being, he shoved mightily in the force, his hand millimeters from the other’s body hurling him backwards through the air to where he crashed into the solid ground with a smack. Almost instantly, the Sub-Dragon’s sunset orange furnace of a lightsaber hissed to life, the Jensaarai flipping through the air to land a mete moment after his apprentice. He held the tip of the blade to Bones’s neck and the breathing apparatus that sustained him. The force swirled invisibly about the two; should Bones try to raise a limb, strike back, or get up, he would find him pinned to the dust as if by invisible durasteel tendrils of the force that leeched forth from the ground itself. The Sun-Dragon stood there saber held unflinchingly close and prepared to strike, regarding the man as he tried to struggle. He heard the man’s grumblings and did not respond. Wheb Bones finally gave up the struggle, he spoke “You have not held your breath. With each exhalation comes another dilemma of your own mind. You wish for redemption? So once did I. You wish to save lives; but all you desire is to take the lives of others. Saving is not in killing or fighting. Saving is in serving, learning, and yes sometimes even pruning; as you will be doing for the next daycycles until the Lumas crop is brought to harvest. Silence your breath and perhaps you will see in the simplicity, a glimmer of what is the Jensaarai way.”
  15. The Sun-Dragon chose to ignore the young apprentice’s comments for the moment. Slowly walking amongst the stalls, the warrior watched the newly arrived Jensaarai-in-training until they reached a stall selling the coconut-esque lumas fruit. Moving towards the stall, the Sun-Dragon spoke softly, “There are a great many things you have yet to learn; even hust aboard our home. We are Jensaarai. We seek the truth, constantly. These truths you must seek out.” Gracious accepting the offered fruit with a smile and a nod to the elder Ithorian stallkeep, the armored warrior dug his fingers into the hard shell, pressing his palms towards one another until the fruit cracked loudly and purple juices began to leak out. The Sun-Dragon turned to offer a piece of the fruit to Bones just as the man spoke, “And who in their right mind would eat those things?” Turning, the Sun-Dragon offered a weak smile to the shop keep, setting the cracked fruit down on the stall, “Thank you friend. Please excuse this youngling’s rudeness.” Whirling, the Sun-Dragon grabbed at the shorter Tognath’s shoulder and forcibly drug him off; his wide strides and imposing presence parting a way through the crowds. Making their way to an open circular pit ringed by small hovels, the Sun-Dragon hurled Bones into the dirt in a plume of dust. Looking down at the man, his eyes slitted in disapproval. “You accept the help of our people when you are powerless. Now that you feel your hide is safe you disrespect the ways not only of those who you wished to join, but of the people who live in harmony with us in symbiosis! I have had enough of you and your pride. Let go of what you cling to. It died with you in the pit I pulled you from. If you cannot, well...” he gestured with both hands to the open dirt around them, inviting a challenge, “back your words with actions. When you dishonor they that give us refuge, you spit on all that is dear in this life. It makes you no better than a sniveling dark sider.” ”Stand, be a man. Challenge me.” ”Or accept that you have wronged those who you owe no wrong to and go seek repentance. All here contribute to the good. Perhaps it is time you do as well. Go put in a day’s work harvesting the fruit of the lumas. We will begin anew tomorrow.” Standing there, the Sun-Dragon stood, his knees bent awaiting an attack should his urging fall upon deaf ears.
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