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Leena toyed with her saber hilt, deftly spinning the silver cylinder from fingertip to fingertip; her mind lost as it wandered within itself. Her eyes darted upwards to Sandy as the master spoke. Sitting up from her slouch she offered a feeble smile. “Master Sarna, I was just,” she looked the master up and down before taking a deep breath and continuing. “How did you know you were meant to be a Jedi? I mean, when did you know that you were heeding the force’s call? I just cannot help but wonder if, well, maybe; maybe I was not meant to be a Jedi.”

 

”Look at this,” she held her lightsaber hilt up, pointing it towards the ceiling, “I know the basics, but thats it. I cannot even remember the last time I actually used it in a fight. I used to not even carry it. The last time I activated it I used it to threaten another Jedi; then we about got blown up. I’m not some leader of soldiers or protector of worlds like you or the Grandmaster or so many other of the greats.”

 

“Is the grandmaster sidelining me because I am not a fighter? Could you teach me how to be a great warrior like you. Maybe then I could prove that I am true Jedi.“ Leena’s ramble came to a halt as she looked expectantly, albeit hesitantly at Sandy. The truth was, she didn’t like fighting. She was a healer, a beacon of light in the ragged galaxy. If she was to be a Jedi though, she would do what she had to do; if that meant slicing and dicing her way through Sith troopers, well then, so be it.

 

______________
 

The Mantis hung back as Sandy approached Leena. It was not something he was needed for. What the Jedi Master had said about their destination coupled with her attire change into less-than-traditional Jedi garb had given him pause. Heading back to his spartan quarters, he would change. A Jensaarai was more than his armor after all. A light white robe over a pocketed tunic of gray would have to suffice. He could still carry enough supplies to fee confident should the worst arrive; but he wouldn’t be relying on his body glove to continually whisk away his heat and sweat. The Mantis really was not a fan of standing around and sweating without cause.

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Sandy watched with some concern as the Mon Calamari Apprentice spilled forth her concerns. She took a moment to scoot herself a bit closer so she could place her scarred hand on the girl's shoulder. It was a bit shocking to think that Apprentices might look up to her as some great warrior knight, like Locke Starspanker or even Kyrie Eleison. She wasn’t old enough and nor did she consider herself worthy of that respect. With a quick glance over Leena and the memory of a glance at her files, Sandy could tell that she wasn’t much older than the girl either. At least not a decade older. 

 

“I will address your points one by one if that is ok with you.” She let a casual smile cover her face, and at this close distance the girl could adequately see Sandy’s long healed scars from her captivity on Thalassia and Tatooine. The long , small lines that cut across her chin and up her cheeks that marked when the flesh had been peeled off layer by layer. Without the temple healers, Sandy doubted that she had been able to look anything like she did now. They were small and recessed scars that did not restrict or stiffen her face. 

 

“I never knew much about my own direction. I had to trust that voice inside myself, that voice of conscience, which amplified with our connection to the force can lead us on the righteous path. You must seek out what is right. And strive for that.” She arched an eyebrow. “Very few are called or have the discipline to be a Jedi Knight. Most will surrender to their emotions and forget their purpose.” She made sure the girl was looking at her. 

 

“Do you know our purpose?” 

 

She answered the rhetorical question just as quickly. 

 

“It is to protect the weak, safeguard the helpless, and to be without fear in the face of death.” 

 

She let her hand fall from the girl’s shoulder. 

 

“That is not our code however, that is the standard we must uphold. We hold all life to be precious, even that of our enemy.” She shook her blonde head. “Do not think that being a jedi makes you a commander of soldiers or some great fighter. That is folly. It is our great dignity to deny ourselves that passion. A Jedi is a healer, a lover, and an upright and righteous being. We are not and should never be soldiers. We may apply ourselves in the method of war but it must be only as the edge of the knife, we cannot let ourselves be swept up in command. That was the folly and downfall of the Jedi order in the past.”

 

“We became soldiers and lost ourselves in the process. How much suffering did great Starlisk or others cause while leading fleets and divisions of men?” She knew she was straying from the topic, but she figured it might be best for the man listening in to hear as well. “Any Jedi can justify the acts of war, but they loose themselves in it. And if we are lost, how can we safeguard the helpless when we sweep them aside in order to gain power or a system. That harkens of the darkside instead of the light.” 

 

She looked back into Leena’s eyes. 

 

“So strive not to be a great soldier, for that is not the destiny of the Jedi Knight. I and others can teach you the way of the sword, but the best lesson of the lightsabre is to know when not to use it. Yes, we are called to defeat the Sith Lords, and I have killed several and made a name for myself, but even that is a great tragedy. It is only with great reserve that I will go, and only with great reservation will I draw this sabre. But there comes also a point in which we must draw our sabre.” 

 

She tapped her hip, where the long battered hilt sat rested against her bare knee. 

 

“Does that answer your question or did I go blab my head off again?” 

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Jedi Master

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“We are an order at war though. What good am I if I cannot hold my own and serve the greater good? If I let hospitals and refugees get blown away? If I run when I ought to stand and fight? . . . even if I don’t know how to.” The girl paused, letting her own words soak in. “I guess I should have. Not sure what I could have done against such a force, but anything would have been better than nothing. I just would rather soothe suffering than be forced to create it. Isn’t that what we are doing charging out to fight the Sith warmachine?” The Mon Cal shoved her smooth hilt into her waistband. “I guess I am feeing ignorant. It feels like the whole order is gearing up towards war and the Grandmaster made it clear I wasn’t fit for the frontlines. That upsets me. I want to be a servant of the force, not a soldier, a good Jedi though too. I’ve seen what war does. I finally saw it in reality on Mon Cal. I’ve seen what war does, smelt it, tasted it, been in it up to my gills; but I was never in it in it. Then I was. I didn’t like it. I don’t want to make it. I want to heal it and keep it from happening to others, especially those who are innocent of its cause. It just doesn’t feel that is the Jedi that is needed or wanted. Maybe it isn’t the true Jedi Way.” Leena shrugged her shoulders as she looked at Sandy. “I just want to help.”

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On 7/24/2020 at 9:50 PM, The Sarlacc said:

Turning to Svata, The Sarlacc placed a reassuring hand on the elder’s shoulder. “Are you prepared to board the vessels of oppression and take from them to save lives? We kill only when we must. Let us hope that our show of force will be enough for the downtrodden trudging under the yoke of the Sith. We will offer them freedom. Perhaps that will be enough.”

 

Svata gave Sarlaac a lopsided grin, his whiskers bristling. In one hand he cradled his iron staff, hidden blades sheathed. In the other loosely dangled his heavy blaster pistol. The old ryn looked every bit the part of a rogue.

 

"It'll all depend on who's onboard and what they're transporting, but if this shipment is worth taking...well, it's probably worth protecting. We can hope, but I'd be ready for droids or troopers. We probably won't need to worry too much about reinforcements, but with the rebels stepping up their attacks I wouldn't put it past the Sith to start instigating piracy policies. Ships patrolling just off the hyperlanes, that sort of thing. Sith can get pretty ruthless when they get pushed. I heard a story about a freighter transporting explosives, only for them to go off once they were boarded by pirates. Turned out they'd been shipping those bombs back and forth for weeks waiting for a pirate to take the bait."

 

Svata shrugged.

 

"In the end we can't control what they'll do,  just do our best to do the right thing. At least, that's what's always helped me sleep at night."

 

He turned back, and a serious expression tightened his face. Old pain danced across his eyes for a moment, then it was gone.

 

"Just gotta do what we can."

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While the Jensaarai attack vessel lurked silently, camouflaged against the starry sky, the interdictor fleet easily kept the two Action VIs from escaping. Try as they might, the ships could not revert to hyperspace. Their sublight engines flared to life, slowly driving the ships in a wide arc away from the visible fleet. Comms crackled to life, “What in the world is going on?! Why did you pull us out of hyperspace? This is not a scheduled inspection. We have authorization codes and are transmitting them now. We are under the protection of the Sith Empire.”

 

The authorization codes entitled the vessels to unfettered movement from Kuat to Coruscant, delivering shipments of metals and computer and ship components for the Sith navy. 
 

“You have our documents. Release us immediately and we will forget this ever happened.”

 

The ships continued to turn in an attempt to shoot for what they perceived as open space, away from the interdictors and the hulking Lictor; which began to power up it’s own engines to give chase.  The trap was sprung and the Actions were driving straight toward the Jensaarai-filled stealth vessel. Meanwhile, the 8-being crews checked the blast doors and security hatches of their craft. Their weapons were limited at best, relying heavily on the protection offered by the fear and awe of the Sith Empire. That and their shipment was nothing spectacular, but the principle of the matter stood.

 

At the console of the Asha’ajak, the helmsman turned  to look at Svata. “Orders sir? Shall we cut them off or fire?”

 

Striving from the back, The Sarlacc spoke,  “Bring us between the ships. When close, fire directed blasts at each. Apprentice Svata will lead a team into the starboard vessel. I will take the port. We will radio once we have control.”

 

  “Aye sir. Consider it done.”

 

The spherical ship quietly maneuvered, it’s thrusters concealed beneath camouflaged panelling, until it was matching the speeds of the larger transports. “Best get into position. You’ll only have moments once the hull in breached before their systems engage to halt the vacuum.”
 

With trained precision, the ship’s cannons protruded from the hull, giving away their position to a fearful sensor sweep before igniting a blast of plasma that tore gaping holes into the ships’ hulls.

 

____________________
 

The Sarlacc and three hardsuit clad Jensaarai warriors launched themselves from the portside escape bay just as the plasma blasts ceased. Through the cold void of space, they hurtled for moments before crashing into the dark durasteel decking of the Action VI just as the shields activated, sealing the hold against the exterior void.

 

Standing, the black hold was illuminated by a purple glow as The Sarlacc’s lightsaber illuminated the packed hold. “Move.” He hissed urging the gun toting warriors forward towards the ship’s bridge.

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Svata and the three crewmen volunteers got to their feet in the darkened hold of the ship.

Jara, the human engineer, immediately walked to the wall and hooked up her datapad into the wall-jack. Kon and Veremo, the two fresh Pau'an apprentices and brothers, drew their gleaming blaster pistols and moved to cover Jara, somehow making crouching behind boxes look elegant and refined like every waking moment of a Pau'an's life.

Svata, for his part, drew his blocky heavy blaster pistol and made a slow circuit of the room.

 

"Do you think this will be worth taking?" Kon asked, never taking his eyes or blaster barrel off the cargo hold's single entrance.

 

"Not about profit, it's about the message. And don't talk unless you have to."

 

"I'm in," Jara called. Svata rolled his eyes and walked back to the grubby, scruffy middle-aged woman.

 

"What are we looking at for personnel?"

 

"Ship's records only call out two crewmen, the pilot and the engineer."

 

"Droid guards then."

 

"That'd be my guess. Can't access them through this connection. Maybe from the cockpit?"

 

"Don't bother. On a ship like this, the droids will be under independent orders and closed off from transmissions. Standard wartime security."

 

"So then we..."

 

Svata's lopsided grin gleamed inside his bulky helmet.

 

"We convince them to give us what we want the normal way."

 

Kon and Veremo shared a look out of the corner of Svata's eye, unreadable.

 

"Come on. Let's get to-"

 

The door whooshed open, and a fusillade of blaster fire cut through the air. There was a moment of silence, then a clank as the unfortunate droid who'd opened it fell to the floor, it's club tumbling from its hand.

 

Jara peeked out from behind one of the crates. Svata hadn't even seen her move.

 

"Is...is that a police droid?"

 

"Repurposed GU-model looks like. Betting there's tons of these things lying in the rubble of Coruscant. If this is all they got, we're in good hands. But keep on guard. They might have KXs or worse on here."

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

The creeping pace the quartet made through the hallways was only occasionally broken by blaster fire as another droid met its expiration date. So far they'd come across two more GUs, and gotten surprised by an OOM-model that had somehow managed to cram itself into a ventilation shaft before jumping out them with a pair of knives. The brothers had shown their training by elegantly dispatching it before it hit the ground.

 

Jara frowned as she opened another locked door.

 

"Kind of scrappy for a Sith security force, isn't it?"

 

Svata shrugged. "Cheap. Not much else to say. Doesn't matter what galaxy you come from, the government always has cutbacks."

 

Jara didn't look convinced, but pointed to the next door at the end of the hall. "There's the cockpit. We take that, we have control over this ship. We jettison the cargo to the interdictor's tractor beams, then bug out."

 

Svata nodded, and turned to the brothers. Even as serious as Pau'ans usually looked, their faces were grim and stony. They likely thought what Svata did. If you were going to defend one room on this ship, it would be this one.

 

The trio of Jensaarai apprentices approached the door, blasters ready, as Jara hooked her datapad up again and got to work.

 

"Remember boys. We leave the crew alive."

 

Two perfectly mirrored nods were his only acknowledgement.

 

The door slid open, Jara fell back against the wall and as much behind cover as she could, the three apprentices dove into the room, coming up blasters ready.

 

Cowering in front of them were two Bothans, one male adult and one younger girl with a belt of tools around her waist. Neither was armed, and both were terrified.

 

Svata lowered his weapon, though the brothers looked less sure.

 

"Put those down boys. These are independent contractors, not leatherjacks."

 

Hesitantly, the two Pau'ans let their grips slacken, though they didn't holster their weapons.

 

Svata turned back to the pair of Bothans, to find that the male pilot (a brother perhaps?) had moved to shield the younger engineer with his body.

 

"Knock it off with the drama boy, we're not going to hurt you. We're just going to relieve you of your cargo and be on our way." Svata motioned for Jara to come in. She entered but kept her eyes on the Bothan duo as he hooked herself into the ship's console.

 

"We..." the male started hesitantly, but his tone growing stronger with each word, "we need that cargo. If we don't deliver..."

 

"Whatever chubby clerk you're signing off with will realize you didn't rob the glorious Sith when he sees the damage on your ship.

 

Oh...sorry about that.

 

I understand this is going to be a loss for you, but I'm guessing you don't even own this ship. Am I right?"

 

The expression of a slashrat caught in a spotlight seemed stuck to the male's face, and in a confused tone he answered, "Right...right we run it for one of the imperial contractors."

 

"There you see? Your contractor will cover the loss, not you. Call them up before you get anywhere and mention that you'll tell the Sith about the security they gave you for the ship. I'm guessing they don't want their dark lords to know their contractor was using recycled droids to guard their precious cargo. They'll eat the cost to keep you quiet, and you'll be on your way.

 

Jara, you got it yet?"

 

"Just...got it. Cargo is away."

 

Svata turned back and gave a bow with a flourish of his tail.

 

"Pleasure meeting you both. Have a safe trip." He activated his comm-link as the group walked away from the confused but relieved Bothans. "Hey, open a door for us, we're coming back. It looks like we got lucky on this ship. Hopefully Sarlaac didn't get the worse pick."

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Three dim beams pierced the darkness as the trio of Jensaarai-aligned professional goons made their way forward stalking between the crates, barrels, and hulking pieces of cargo with ease. Extinguishing his blade, The Sarlacc dropped into a low crouch and with his years of training began to move as quickly and silently as a Devaronian Fur Spider.

 

It did not take but a minute for the team to reach the single hatch that connected the hold to the meager remains of the ship; cockpit, quarters, engine, and hold; the vessel was simple in design. The blast doors had been sealed. “Almost like they knew we were coming,” a gruff Ithorian chuckled softly tapping on the door with a light echo. Reaching into his shouldered pack the man removed a trio of thermite boring charges and nonchalantly tossed two to his comrades. Without a word they began affixing the charges not to the door, but at predetermined space about the blast doors frame. “Right. Let’s beat feet and crack this oyster” 
 

The entire group fell back, taking up defensive positions betwixt cargo containers. The Sarlacc crouched atop a vacuum packed piece of metal that could only have been a mechanized piece for a larger warship, tucked behind a jutting bolt twice as thick as the average Gammorean. With the push of a button the charges began to hiss and the metallic walls where they stood began to whine and glow. This was the longest part, surely whatever was waiting on the other side would be aware of their imminent arrival.

 

And with that, the entire blast door creaked and fell to the decking with a clanging thunder that made even the season Defender wince. Hopefully nobody had been behind it.

 

The stillness that followed was surprising, but no opportunity was left wasted as the raiding party moved forward, weapons held at the ready.

 

Down the first corridor they moved, their feet barely making a sound as they darted from one shadowy vantage point to another. Nothing. Not a soul. Not a droid. It was as if the ship was empty. 
 

“Valk. Can you give us a readout? We seem to be encountering less resistance than expected.” The Sarlacc requested of their escort. 
 

“Looks like you’ve got 6 or so on the bridge. 2 prepping the pods.” Came the response.

 

”Copy.”

 

With that knowledge and an abundance of caution the group pressed onwards, keenly aware of sensors that surely reported their movements to the bridge and of any would be pitfalls could awaited them.
 

Branching off, the Ithorian and another of the team, a human female, made their way towards the escape pods leaving The Sarlacc and the third, an Ithorian of all things, alone at the entrance to the bridge/cockpit. This time the door was not a blast door. Clesrly the lives of the crew were secondary in value to that of the cargo. The Sarlacc raised a browless brow, wrinkling his forehead in amusement. It was typical of a bloated war machine and only served to strengthen their cause.

 

Standing to one side, he surveilled the hallway. The ship was not a military vessel and it had not been designed with such things in mind. Nodding his head at an overhead vent he pointed to the door. “Give me two and then knock and ask for their surrender.” 
 

The Ithorian chuckled as he took up position alongside the locked doorway, heavy blaster held before him, barrel pointed at the ceiling.

 

Standing beneath the air circulation grate in the ceiling, The Sarlacc was appreciative of his own lithe frame. Reaching up he tugged on the industrial bolts that held the grate in place. The simple application of telekinetic power easily loosened the fasters and within seconds the grate began to fall, guided with a wave of the hand to the decking without a clang or rattle.

 

With a force power leap, The Sarlacc left the floor and came to rest in the chute, the retractable tentacled appendages within his armor that symbolized his namesake, catching him in the shaft, bracing against either side. It was cramped and filthy, but the greasy filth only helped the deft Duros slide more easily about the two 90 degree angles that led him to looking down on the control console and crew below. Two blasters and a hodgepodge of makeshift clubs and knives awaited on the other side of the door from his Ithorian counterpart. They looked frightened. The Sarlacc could taste their fear. He even heard one of the crew nervously squeak something about the Coruscant-Kuat run supposing to be a secure route. They were anxiously awaiting what they thought could be their own demise on the other side. Their fearful focus on the door like cornered womp rats.

 

Carefully and quietly, the Jensaarai warrior watched and waited, braced against the oily shaft until he heard a thudding knock on the door. The crew visibly recoiled in terror. “Would you like to surrender?” came the Ithorian’s voice, “Lay down your arms and not much harm will come to any of you.”
 

And in that moment, before a response could be given, The Sarlacc fell, a force fueled freefall, blasting through the grate as it slammed to the floor, the slime covered Sarlacc’s armor less than pristine landing softly atop it. Once it started, he did not stop moving. The Jensaarai was nothing but a blur as his collapsable staff extended with a deft flick of his wrists locking it into place. In a blur, he was already moving, the weapon seirling about his hands and body as he swung it up and down, left and right, knocking feet out from under their owners and weapons across the room. It took but a moment before the swirling dervish came to a halt, the butt of his staff held at length against the throat of the now one not concussed crew member left on the bridge. 
 

Immediately the human’s hands flew up in the universal sign of surrender, his eyes with with fear. “The door” The Sarlacc growled inclining his head to where his Ithorian counterpart stood waiting on the other side. 
 

Shakingly the man jammed his hand down on the control panel, opening the door with a hiss. Blaster held ready, the hammerhead stared around the doorway before holstering the weapon and sauntering inside. “Ah. Told you it was not much harm. Sounds like the other two didn’t want to go as quietly. One got himself ejected from the ship accidentally, the other is nursing a couple bolts to the leg and a nasty bump on the head. I’ve already called for link up. We’ll get them sorted, just as soon as we make sure this fine vessel is properly acquired.” 
 

It hardly took any persuasion at all to convince the last crewman to give access to the ship’s controls. Bringing it in line with the Valkyrie, the entire crew was transferred to the secure holds and sick bay for containment and treatment. It was there that the Sarlacc and Ithorian took their leave, leaving the two others to nurse the ship back along less known routes to rebel space. 
 

Not bad for a first haul.

 

Making his way to the armory of the Valkyrie, The Sarlacc intended to clean his armor. He had no doubt the elder Svata would be along shortly. It seemed they were already tractoring in jettisoned cargo from the Ryn’s target.

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Svata strolled in, and stopped as he saw his teacher's armor less than pristine. His eyes crinkled at the edges as he fought to keep from smiling.

 

"So...guess you don't mind fighting dirty."

Svata laughed, then awkwardly his voice petered out.

 

"Yeah...that one was pretty bad. Anyway, no casualties on ours. Independent contractors and some old droids." Svata didn't ask if Sarlaac had had any casualties. He knew how professional and dedicated the duros could be, and no one on his team would have gotten overzealous.

He frowned. "This isn't going to be easy. We hit a major hyperspace lane. We hit it a few more times and the Sith are going to respond how they usually respond to threats."

 

He sat down and leaned his head against the wall, his age suddenly draped over him like a shroud.

 

"Overwhelmingly."

 

His eyes closed, and he took one...two...three deep breaths. Then his eyes opened, alight with the fire and vigor that the Jensaarai had given back to the old man.

 

"So...where next?"

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Scrubbing at the grime on a forearm piece, The Sarlacc nodded. “Undoubtedly, we will eventually attract the attention of bigger fish. Fortunately, we Jensaarai can be like fish in the river, slick, wriggling, and nearly impossible to pinpoint or grab. As soon as we finish gathering your cargo, we will jump elsewhere along the route, wait several days and strike again anew.”

 

Prepare yourself my brother for our next venture. Then when we are ready, perhaps you would like to learn some other Jensaarai ways that may assist you in our upcoming battles? Meet me in the empty storage bay on the lowest levels. Bring whatever spare parts you can find in a bowl, cup, or container.”

 

 Once his armor was finished, the Jensaarai warrior made his way to the lowest levels. It was dark and dank in the mostly unused storage space. Aged Jedi-containment devices in various states of disrepair lines the walls. The faint glowlights recessed in the ceiling cast long shadows amongst the exposed beams of the ship.

 

Amongst those shadows, The Sarlacc made his way to meet with Svata. “What we have to discuss here, need not be observed by the crews. Did you bring the pieces? Scatter them about the floor here in the shadows.”

 

”You know that the shadows are where the Jensaarai are best. We do not fear the darkness. We respect it, the power it carries, and the dangers it presents. There is other power though. The power of the light unchained and unfettered, wielded to protect that which we hold dear. Look inside yourself brother. Find your heart. Find your family. Find your desires. Find that goodness which ignites your soul. Find the light that shines in the darkness and grasp it. Use it to illuminate your mind and sight, find the pieces that you scattered. Call them to you. Draw them from darkness into light. Like this,”

 

The Sarlacc reached out his hand, the force swirled in the shadows as it reached out in invisible searching tendrils from his fingertips until it found a single washer. With a pull, The Sarlacc tugged the circular metal ring and sent it airborne, wobbling and whistling through the air past his head, looping about in a wife arc before coming to land on the Duros outstretched hand.

 

“Now you try brother.”

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The washer zipped past Svata's head, but the old ryn's sight wasn't focused on the physical. Eyes half-lidded, he sunk into the Force, humming a tuneless melody. He called up memories of Uncle Meska, the hunched codger drilling the clan's history into a surly teenager. The man's voice, rough and clear, echoed in his mind, and Svata felt the legacy of the Dragoste's stretching out into time, as he had back then. Like standing on a mountain, he embraced the feeling, and embraced the Force. All things were connected. All things were everlasting, because all things existed within the Force.

 

"I am an echo in the Force," Svata said, voice so quiet he could barely hear himself. "I am a ripple, an offspring...I am a shadow." He stretched out his hand and felt the depth of the Force. It had no bottom. It was eternity. In the face of that, Svata had no power. How could he even think to control something like that. But he would not control it. He would do as he had done as the Keeper of the Dragoste's. He would channel that eternity.

In the bowl, a bolt shivered. Then, slowly, it turned, clinking as the hexagonal head rolled along the ceramic. Svata's humming sped up, the jumble of notes taking on a new cadence. The bolt, quivering violently and painfully sluggish, rose out of the bowl. Seconds passed, before Svata's song stopped, and the bolt dropped back into the bowl. Sweat beaded on his brow, but the fierce smile on his face was defiant.

 

"Got it."

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The duros nodded in approval as he not just listened to the ryn’s tuneless melody, but as he felt the current of the force as the elder dipped himself into it and made it manifest.

 

Seeing the bolt quiver and jostle and rise before clattering back down in the bowl, he congratulated the apprentice, “Well done!” He gestures at the remaining bits scattered across the floor. “One must crawl before they can walk and walk before they run. You are taking your first steps deeper into the ways of the Jensaarai. A Defender is at all times immersed in the force. It guides his steps and carries him to places no one could expect. Even in the midst of chaos; even when the Defender appears as a master of chaos, he is centered within the expanse of the force. Sit. Focus. Clear the floor of the pieces and listen. Allow the force to work as your mind comprehends my words.”

 

The duros carefully lowered himself to the floor in a cross-legged position. He kept his eyes focused on Svata, his presence in the force an anchor from which his brother could hold fast should the tidal fury of the force prove to much. Then he spoke. He told of the ways of the Jensaarai, of the razor’s edge a Defender walked, how the way of a Jensaarai was to seek truth and to protect his community, to safeguard life, to serve justice, and keep to the truth. His words were filled with passion and he continued to speak on the mysteries of the force until Svata completed or gave up on his task. He spoke of the Jedi, how they drifted atop the force but feared the darkness and in such refused to come close to it and by how doing so they had inadvertently trod upon a darkened path. He spoke of the sith who unnaturally tried to dam the force and bend it on a course to their own will, of the dangers of such an act, and consequences should it befall someone. Finally, he spoke of the Jensaarai, bound to the light, but embracing it fully, not denying themselves any of the goodness which the light had to offer; yet unafraid to trod close to the darkness, knowing where the edge lay and refusing to cross it.

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Svata listened, and as he did he remained one with the Force. Sarlaac's words, Svata's memories, the melody, it all blended together into something primal, indescribable, and beautiful.

 

In the bowl, the bolt moved, slowly and hesitantly at first, then quicker and with more precision. Soon, it elevated out into the air, and turned slow somersaults around Svata's head.

 

As the bolt spun, Svata grew more and more accustomed to the Force. He could almost see the purpose of it all, a maddening order just beyond his comprehension. Was this what all Force-users felt?

 

No, not Dark Siders. No one could feel this and act as they did. They sought to control the Force. They were delusional, like a man who believed that because he shielded the sky with his hand he had put out the stars.

 

Svata sunk deeper into the Force, and he glimpsed more with every layer. Finally, he saw the connection between himself and Sarlaac. It was a tiny thing, fragile and ephemeral, but it shone like silver in the darkness. The bolt orbited faster as Svata leaned down, eyes rolled back in his head but his sight never clearer. The thread was a thing of purity, light from nothing yet as tangible as durasteel. Where it joined with Svata's spirit, it frayed in a dozen directions, hopelessly tangled but slowly weaving itself back together. Where it joined with Sarlaac it was strong...but dim. Like a shadow was passing over it.

 

Coming out of the trance as if coming up for air, the bolt dropped to the floor, and Svata's eyes focused on the duros.

 

"Something..." He shook his head. "Is something wrong, Defender Sarlacc?"

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The senior Jensaarai sighed heavily, “It is obvious is is not, when one can touch the force and feel the world around them. There is Svata. There is a difference, perhaps many, between the Jedi and the Jensaarai. Though we sprung from them long ago, we differ in our ideologies. More so than I venture the Saarai-Kaar would have guessed. You see, the Jedi forbid emotion. They use the wall of emotionlessbess to buffer themselves far from the edges of the force. We do not. We embrace all that the light has to offer. As such, sometimes, when we relax, those emotions shine through.”

 

The truth-seeker, thoughtfully pulled his lightsaber hilt free and twirled it back and forth between his hands; his eyes lost in the myriad of twists and swirls.

 

“We were sent by the Saarai-Kaar to try and establish relations with the Jedi again. In the past they tried to massacre our order out of ignorance. Jensaarai always seek truth. Even as we sought to mend bridges, I was seeking to learn. So were you, just look at your saber. I fear I have learned a truth that the Jedi would not wish known. Darkness is playing at the fringes of the Jedi, shooting it’s tendrils deep into the order. Do you know what we were told by the Jedi GRANDMASTER to do to any ship that refused to allow us to board them?”

 

He paused to let Svata ponder before he continued with an answer “Destroy them. Kill them all. Submit or be destroyed.”

 

”That has not sat right with me. We took a prize, the Jensaarai way; but what of the next one? I am inclined to turn us around, return that which we have to the Jedi and report what we have learned to the Saarai-Kaar. But we are a team, what are your thoughts? Did you learn anything else when you were with the Jedi?”

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Svata frowned, bowing his head as the weight of what his teacher spoke of hit him.

"Destroy them...kill them all..." A sigh escaped him, and with it seemed to go a great deal of his strength. "That's...I'm not going to lie, that's more than I was expecting. War makes people hard and sharp, but for the Jedi to order the deaths of others..." Svata shook his head. "It goes against everything I know of their order."

Svata rested his head in his hand. The light that had held the galaxy together for 10,000 years was commanding people to submit? The keepers of peace preached violence? The Sith had brought darkness to the galaxy, but was this fire what was needed to push them back? A fire that burned anyone unlucky enough to be caught in its path?

"..............heh. Heheh. Hahahaha!" Svata's chuckle turned into a full-blown laugh. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I know that's inappropriate. It's just...something popped into my head and..." Svata's hand clamped over his mouth as he struggled to hold back his snickering.

 

"Heh..Sarlacc...heheh...Let me tell you a story, and you tell me what you think after. I'll respect your decision, whatever it is." Svata sat down on the floor, and for a moment he was back with his family. Looking up at the wise duros only made his smile warmer.

 

I guess I am back.

 

Svata cleared his throat, and his fingers brushed against his nose as he began to speak, his words in line with the low, quiet strains of a slow, old song. He talked as he played, and as Uncle Meska had taught him, the words and the music flowed together. The tempo swung up, almost feverishly fast and high.

"Svata was a screw up. He was a disgrace. He put his family in danger and brought them nothing but dishonor and pain. His anger at the world, at the harshness it gave him for nothing he'd ever done, justified his actions to him. If the universe would do nothing but take from him, then how could he live but to take back from it?"

 

The song changed, dropping to a lower, mournful minor key, slower and quieter until it was almost inaudible.

 

"But in his selfishness, anger, and fear, he did not see the harm he caused. He thought his family fools, or even cowards who clung to their name like a scared child hides under the covers. But it was him who was hiding."

The tune shifted again, this time slowly rising and intensifying into a major key, hope and rising goodness evident in every note.

"He was made to see though. They made him open his eyes. With hard grips and loving hearts, his family showed him what was in their name. They showed him his legacy...and what he was doing to it. The regret he felt then was overwhelming, and it choked his anger and hate from his soul. He turned around. He changed, and he brought honor and peace to his family. To his..." Svata stopped mid-note. After a few deep breaths, he quietly said, "...his legacy."

Svata chuckled again, and raised his head to match Sarlacc's gaze. "That's the abridged version, but the point is that the Jedi are in a bad place. You see that, I see that, and I believe it's our duty to make the Saarai-Kaar see that. But...but I have so many stories up here," he said, leaning forward excitedly and tapping his temple. "So many stories of the Jedi, Ten millennia of peace and hope brought by these heroes, by these selfless men and women who gave their entire lives to protect a galaxy they would never truly live in. And that is a legacy that doesn't go away, no matter how much the Sith try to suppress it or the current batch lose sight of it. Maybe the Jedi are lost, but I...I have hope. I believe the Jedi will come back, bright as ever before. Maybe the Jensaarai will need to show them, or maybe there's dozens of Jedi right now making their voices heard." Svata shrugged. "Or maybe I'm a sentimental coot who doesn't know what he's talking about." A grin split his face.

 

"Anyway, that's my take on this Defender. I agree that we should tell the Saarai-Kaar, but I also don't think we should give up on the Jedi yet.

 

But...what do you think?"

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“There is still good to be found within them, I am sure. So too was it when they sought to exterminate the Jensaarai Order. We have a duty to protect our community from the Sith and from the Jedi. We cannot lie dormant hoping the war leaves our world untouched. The darkness grows strong and yet hope rises in the fires of rebellion. Do we partake of the darkness to fight the darkness? We do not. We walk the razor edge, but we do not fall. When one falls, we seek to bring them back to the light or halt their fall.”

 

Standing, The Sarlacc gestures to the rest of the scattered parts on the floor. “But that is for those who we call family; for you, for me, for our brothers and sisters. You should focus on honing the telekinetic abilities you have seen. Once you have, there is more to be learned. More than meets the eye. A way for a Jensaarai to defend himself when no weapon appears readily available. We will return the ships of the Jedi and the goods we acquired on their behalf. Then we will return to Raka Nwul. Ours is to seek knowledge. The Saarai-Kaar is to keep it. We will report what we have discovered; but I foresee dark times Brother Svata. 

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 It had now been a month since she started learning under her master. And in that time she had only variations of one little lesson and that was to levitate a small steer above her hand at all times. Sometimes he would require her to make patterns in the air then even add other spheres and make the patterns more intricate. There are even patterns he instructed her to do that almost seems counterproductive as this year‘s are going towards one another but she had the explicit instruction not to let the spheres touch. All while going about her day in the usual manner. There Were several different variations of the lessons play all in all her day-to-day routines stayed the same. While they had spent a week in hyperspace and re-supplying, they had managed to make it to one of the outskirt planets that had a Jedi Temple on. At the moment she forgot what this planet was because she was shivering so violently because the ice had gone inside the door jam and she and her master were repairing the door frame. And yet he still made her levitate the sphere. 

 

It didn’t make much sense to her but this was the part where he was a master and she was a Padawan. She did as instructed. And she always could ask questions which she was very grateful for but this simple levitation training had gone on long enough, in her own private opinion. But she realized what the feeling was for what it really was; she was growing bored and wanted to learn something different. She had brought this up because her master did ask her from time to time progressions of what she was learning what she did wanna learn what her interests were and everything under the sun of whatever system that they were in. But it wasn’t up until yesterday that she divulged why he was making her levitate this sphere From when she walks in the morning too when she went to sleep at night. It was to train her stamina while using the force and also help her with multitasking. And despite how peeved she was she realized that he was correct in this training  and the lesson. But in other cases he was fun to talk to, for being old. 

 

Honesty was a big thing for Master Vos and he was upfront about his life as a slave then as a sith, then the whole being named a Jedi Master. He hadn’t gone in the many specifics but he gave her the general gist of that and so she started to trust him more and more. 

 

And so she did, entrusting him with several fears, goals, dreams, and everything in between- the pair had formed quite a bond over the time they had spent together. Which was why Pim was tad irritated that she still had to hold the sphere up while trying to help with the door frame. Her frustration must have shown because he had instructed her to hang on for a few more seconds while he threw up a barrier just outside the hatchway, long enough for her and the droids to fix the hatch. 

 

That was a day and a half ago- and much of that time was spent back in hyperspace. Her master just emerged from his cabin as she was doing some reading and spinning two spheres. 

 

She looked up to see him enter the common room and nodded, he limped across to the cafe nook and made a snack for himself. Pim has thought he was an impressive Jedi all the way up until now. Now he just looked crippled- and she felt a slight pang of regret for training under him. Only briefly- she knew that was silly. Regret for signing up with him, but regret for choice. The thought was a fraction of a nanosecond, but the ramifications…

 

Vos chuckled, she was letting her emotions get to her. Without malice or mockery, he instructed her to breathe- and she did so and almost immediately felt better. 

 

Some chatting went on as Vos ate, interrogating Pim about her studies. It was a biology lesson- pointing out how different animals and plants all made up a planet's “tree of life” or however the ecosystem of a world was nicknamed. The topic was mildly interesting, but she didn’t understand the point. How would this help her work with the Force easier?

 

“Trust me, my young padawan.” Vos winked. “We’re heading to Ossus next for some lightsaber training. You have your crystals, yes? Have you meditated with them as I instructed?” Vos cleaned up his dirty dishes and put them away to be cleaned. 

 

“Yes, Master” Pim responded, a bit embarrassed that she hadn’t gotten the reaction from the crystals as her master said he did when he found his crystal. Then she communicated to him the metaphorical wall that she had butted up against. 

 

Vos simply instructed her to have a little more patience before retiring to his cabin again.  What could she do but try to have more patience? She thought that would be the trick...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Like a hot blade through bantha butter, the solitary Jensaarai stealth vessel slid through the star streaks of hyperspace. In a way, it was similar to the Jensaarai themselves, they existed in the shadows, beyond the fringes of natural sight. There it was safe(r), yet the chance of catastrophic danger loomed but a hair’s breath away should one divert from the path.  These were the thoughts that swirled through the mind of the Duros Defender as he made his way from his spartan quarters to the relatively open storage area within the bowels of the vessel.

 

In his right hand, the Jensaarai loosely held his gunmetal gray lightsaber hilt. About his body, his loose tunic shifted silently as the fine cloth rustled silently against itself. Entering the bay, The Sarlacc smiled to the elder Ryn. “Good. Let us begin.”

 

Activating his blade, a dull purple glow radiated about the green-skinned alien.  “The lightsaber is an iconic weapon. Sometimes it behooves a Jensaarai to use it. Sometimes, it is better to leave it home. Unlike the Jedi, we do not rely just on our lightsabers or forego the use of blasters. But we are not here to discuss the philosophy of the weapon. We are here to learn how to wield such a tool.”

 

Swinging his saber about his waist several times in a whirling disc of blurred purple, the Duros looked warmly at Svata. “Turn your weapon on; careful to keep it away from any limb you want to keep. The weightlessness of the blade throws many who are not accustomed to it. It differs from the aros, where momentum of the weapon can be used to your advantage. The lack of weightiness here can let a skilled user whisk their blade about at what seems like unnatural angles and directional changes.”

 

Slowing his blade in nearly an instant, The Sarlacc brought his blade up to nearly head height in a two-handed hold, the blade pointing outward from his body, arms extended but not locked, presenting the weapon as the first point a for would run into if they charged forward. 

 

”The Jedi and the Sith have developed many fighting styles for the use of a lightsaber. Many of our Jensaarai brothers and sisters have studied and mastered these. The difference is that the Jensaarai, whilst a master in battle, does not relish inthe fight. We take to combat as willed by the force and we strike with keen unseen movements to end the battle as quickly as possible. One may flit about like a bird, but the goal is to survive the winner in the end so that lives may be saved. In combat, we allow our emotions to mingle with the force in a deadly crescendo. For now though, we will focus on the moves and keeping you alive through the battle. Feel the weightlessness of the blade, the heft of the hilt against your hand. When you are ready, swing it against my own.”

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Svata watched, dumbfounded, at the display his teacher put on. The whirling violet blades always seemed a hair's breadth from slicing the duros in half, but they never touched him.

The old ryn looked down at his own lightsaber. He breathed in, and out. He activated the dual blades.

Golden-yellow light glinted off of Svata's bits of jewelry. The two beams of light hummed and blurred as Svata slowly turned them. He grasped the handle first as he would a staff, and immediately saw the problem. The hilt was too short, and if he treated it like a staff he'd slice his own legs off. The weight, as Sarlacc has said, was off too. Every bit of muscle memory and experience Svata had conflicted with the weapon his eyes were seeing.

Very, very slowly, he brought it around in a careful twirl. He cried out then growled as he singed his hip in the process. His footwork was wrong, he needed to find the right stance if he was going to swing this around. He closed his eyes and called to mind the lessons the Jensaarai had taught him on lightsaber forms.

The best form for a dual bladed lightsaber...

His eyes opened and he smiled, letting his feet move his body into a relaxed position.

 

Form VI. He grinned. A relaxed form that combines bits from the previous forms to create a single, balanced style. Balance from the experience of masters past. He shook his head, chuckling. Perfect for me.

 

He swung forward again, more confident, and struck Sarlacc's lightsaber. The blow was clumsy and the blade slipped and sparked along his master's steady blade. Svata dropped back and tried again. And again. And again.

 

Hours passed. Svata went through the basic stances and attack routines of Form VI, repeating them over and over again. He found his tail lashing out to give him balance as he overstepped time and again. He learned to keep his eagerness in check. Form VI was a style that emphasized opportunities, not aggression. As Svata relaxed more, he found his bladework flowed in an easy rhythm. Time and again he saw chances for improvised attacks, tricks, and Force manipulation. His double-bladed lightsaber was ideal for the balanced style, the constant spinning and easy momentum of the form making Svata's attacks seem as much a performance as combat.

 

Yet Sarlacc easily deflected every blow Svata sent at him. The Defender's speed was unmatched compared to Svata's rhythmic attacks. Eventually, Svata tired. Breathing hard, he grinned at his master.

 

"How was that?"

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As their blades swirled and crashed, The Sarlacc let the force bind his mind and that of Svata’s, prodding him to learn the smallest of subtleties of their craft. “Your learning serves you well. You must practice the knowledge of the past until it has become second nature.”

 

Still, their blades clashed and swirled. As Svata relaxed, The Sarlacc went from a static form to one that saw him moving about and circling the apprentice. When Svata would swing, The Sarlacc’s blade would clash only briefly as he whirled about out of range to the left, right, or back. A couple times he dove forward, rolling past the Ryn only to come to his feet behind him. If he were to go full tilt, it was likely he would be but a blur. Other times, Svata’s blade only met with empty air, the Sarlacc’s purple blade vanishing with a hiss to only activate a moment later after Svata’s blade passed by. Stepping forward, The Sarlacc would clash his blade against Svata’s.

 

Once his apprentice had gotten the hang of keeping his focus on an opponent who was moving, The Sarlacc went on the offensive, ducking and dodging Svata’s blows only to whirl about, his blade passing within inches of Svata.

 

They continued for hours, sweat pouring off their bodies and the temperature in the hold increasing by the minute. Their speed that had started slowly increasing to an upbeat tempo of almost blinding speed. The sabers of the two crashing together as often as they met empty air. The Sarlacc flipped and flitted through the air before he finally landed across the hold from Svata.

 

Righting himself, The Sarlacc held up his blade by his face in a salute to Svata before deactivating the blade one final time. At the same time, the intercom dinged from somewhere in the recesses of the hold indicating imminent reversion to real space. 

 

Reaching up, the Duros tried in vain to wipe the swest from his crowned head. “Very well done Apprentice Svata. You are learning well.”

 

((POST CONTINUED IN ARTUS PRIME)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Bones looked the Sarlaac up and down, memorizing his look. He wasn’t sure why, but he was not expecting a Duros. In his opinion, most Duro were just spacefarers. People who had no place to go. Still, he was a Jensaarai, and now his newest teacher. Still, Bones felt like he would’ve preferred Sun-Dragon over this person. 

 

Once on the bridge with Sarlaac and Svata, Bones took a moment to look around the area. This was certainly the most technologically advanced place he had ever been in his life. Usually Bones was used to the dirt encased machinery of back alleys, or the greasy gears and halls in the Pipes. This room was bustling with activity, but incredibly quiet. The people were active, but focused. And most of all, the area was slick and clean. Bones felt a little out of place in the room. 


When the Sarlaac whispered the name of their target location, Bones smiled on the inside. He recalled that brief vision he had right before meeting with the Saarai-Kaar. The molding and production of war droids. And while Mechis was a place only occasionally mentioned on the streets, every talk about it always included droids. 

 

At Sarlaac’s question, Bones spoke up, recalling what he had been told and heard. 

 

“Well, the Jedi were peacekeepers, but now days they are just, I don’t know, wandering warriors? I mean, I know that the Jedi and the Sith are both born of the Force…” Bones quoted the Saarai-Kaar’s words, hoping to get a few points with his new teacher. “...and they are faced with the same temptations. So, they are people who are one step away from darkness? And that’s what we are acting on, right? Jedi messed up and we are cleaning up the mess before something bad happens? Heh, my dad would be proud, taking up his line of work.” 

 

Bones chuckled at his own joke, thinking how his dad would actually be shaking his head disapprovingly. His parents wanted so much more for their children. 

 

“So we are breaking some droids, right? Awesome, I can’t wait for a fight, and clankers should be fun to break apart.” 
 

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On 10/2/2020 at 10:09 AM, Sreth Bones said:

“So we are breaking some droids, right? Awesome, I can’t wait for a fight, and clankers should be fun to break apart.”


Svata laughed. He liked this one. With spacers like him, you always got one of three types. The naive starters who looked at the galaxy like a planet hoppin game, ready to catapult themselves by speeder bike into a gundark nest for credits and glory. The tough-as-boots veterans who'd seen some kriffing nonsense and wore it like a crusty beggar wearing an old coat. And then you had the salty star-runners who'd crossed from one end of the galaxy to the other and seen so much craziness that they looped right back around to laughing at the universe.

Svata liked the second kind least.

"Not so sure about breaking them. And if it comes to that, you better hope its not by hand."

His grin widened.

"But if it's a fight you're looking for, I'd be happy to kill some time."

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The Duros eyes gleamed as the two apprentices interacted. He then interjected himself before the two could set off to test their martial prowess. “The Jedi are mortal just as you and I. They fear the darkness and in their fear they sometimes unwittingly align themselves with it.” Offering a nod to Bones, he continued, “We are less cleaning up their mess and more redirecting a potential dilemma. Many years ago, the Jedi came for the Jensaarai and tried to slaughter us all. We were misguided then; but as you see, we were redeemed. Without the use of the force and our abilities to hide, our order would have been lost. Where would you be now in such a world?”

 

Reaching into a pouch at his waist, the Darlacc drew two datachips out and handed one to each apprentice. “There are times when a Jensaarai must fight. There are more times when it is prudent to simply be a ghost amongst the shadows.” Glancing about the hallway, The Sarlacc returned his look to his comrades, a twinkle sparking in his eye. “I do not know all of what you learned under the Sun-Dragon’s tutelage young Bones, but the Secret of Evaporation is a skill that has yet to be passed to from me to you, Svata.”

 

Turning to walk down the hallway with the elder and younger apprentices, the Duros continued to speak.  “The secret is not a skill that all Jensaarai can master. Some excel in other areas. This is the will of the force. It would be foolish to not have knowledge of it though. The shadows of the world offer more protection than you know. You must simply join them. I do not mean to sound cryptic. Reach out on the force, feel everything around you, the ship, the air, the food-based substitutes in the mess. Feel it. From this matter you also came. You are the same. Open up your mind and your body to this. Blur the lines that separate you from the world around you. When you are one with the world, you are the world, and no longer a single sentinel to be seen. When you mingle your essence and bond it to the durasteel deck, the particles of space, and all between, you will be practically invisible to that which seeks to divide us from the world around us.”

 

Stopping at the closed door to the bridge, The Sarlacc turned to his apprentices. “The Sarlacci soldiers who fly with us do not take well to intrusions. The bridge is monitored by cameras, guards, and security measures. The Secret of Evaporation cannot carry another. It is a bond between the worlds around you and the force. Still, together, the two of you must test yourselves. Ensure the programming on your datachips is complete.” He raised his eyebrows playfully at the duo. “Good luck.”

 

And with that, he left the two apprentices to their task. He had his own to undertake before they arrived on Mechis. Returning to his quarters, The Sarlacc, reached into his sack of belongings and gesr he had brought along and removed several fist-sized cubes of durasteel.  

 

Regaled in his armor, The Sarlacc settled onto the floor, crossinglegs crossed beneath him and raising his hands above his head he began to concentrate. Reaching out on the force, the Jensaarai Defender sought out the cubes with his mind. Individually, he telekinetically lifted each cube in the air and beheld it in both the force and with his eyes. They were polished, smooth, and flawless to the eye; a chunk of metal individually cast as one. Yet, when he began to prod them with the force, microscopic pits began to shine. Invisible fault lines began to radiate from each cube as he concentrated on it. Each was unique, some cubes had lines that zigged and zagged across them practically shrouding the cube itself in a cocoon of purplish glow; others had one or two lines that criss crossed their surface; still others had singular points that radiated when beheld.

 

After studying each cube for several moments, The Sarlacc returned one to his focus. With concentration, he poured his attention and the force through the object until he could see not just the faults on the surface; but how and where they ran through the cube. Some dead-ended, others connected in a sprawling maze of angled lines that jigged and jagged together.

 

After several minutes of concentration, the Sarlacc moves one hand. Reaching out with a finger, he tapped a nexus on glowing lines on the cube and it shattered, falling in a pile of dust to the floor.

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Svata grimaced, taking deep breaths to calm his rising irritation.

 

"Blur the lines that separate me, huh? Open up my mind and body to it." Svata's tail twitched. "I gotta mix. Like crowd walking. I gotta smell the room and wear it. So come on you old pudding brain, what's the first step of mixing anywhere?

 

You gotta wait. You gotta listen. You gotta watch. You gotta be...intensely."

 

Svata inhaled, struggling to both focus and let go. He needed to relax, let it come in its own time. He started by counting the smells. Oil...some sort of sweet sauce...meat...maybe someone's lunch...old, dirty leather...disinfectant...

 

His breathing came slow and even, dropping to almost imperceptibility. His mind stopped sorting stimuli. It flowed. He felt the warmth on his bare arms, then the weight of his scarf, then he heard the low hum of a crewmember. He simply flowed.

 

He couldn't say when he'd tapped into the Force. It was like...playing a part. Sinking into a role.

 

Eyes lidded, Svata stood. He saw, but he didn't. If he truly saw, wouldn't that mean he could be seen? If he thought, would they hear?

Svata walked in a daze through the bridge. No one glanced his way. A crewman walked right at him, then absentmindedly stepped aside. Svata thought, for just a second, there was a flicker of something in the man's' eyes. But then it was gone.

 

Svata inserted his datadrive, and waited. No, waiting was something, an action, a distinction. Svata wasn't anything like that. Svata simply was.

 

When Svata emerged from the bridge, data drive in hand, he took a deep breath, a real breath. Everything snapped for a split second, and Svata was back.

 

"Well...that was...wow."

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Waiting outside the bridge, The Sarlacc nodded slowly in approval. “The force flows naturally with you brother Svata. Even I cannot walk fully unseen betwixt those who would seek me. Bravo. Brother Bones has taken suddenly ill. Food poisoning or hyper-sickness, I would guess. This task will be up to you and I now. Might I suggest you return to your quarters and prepare. We cannot be discovered as Jensaarai.”

 

The Sarlacc placed a warm hand on the elder Ryn’s shoulder. “I am proud of you. You have done well with your training thus far. I know you will become a learned Defender.”
 

Then he turned to go to his own quarters, his intentions to remove his signature armor and don his more wellworn spacer attire.

 

((continued on Mechis III))

SARLACC.png.d67534d888be534b1f950759a08ce1fd.png

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