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Kashyyyk


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Kadi frowned at Telperien.  Claiming another's body as her own... While what she did was for her own survival, it made Kadi shudder. Were these people willing? Or were their bodies and mind stolen from them? And the poor animals... Did they know that the one who previously inhabited the body was gone? That their friend had disappeared? She was conflicted- on one hand, the she was glad that Telperien had lived. Her life had been an injustice, one she hadn't deserved. On the other... Her survival had cost someone their existence. She didn't stand as she pondered these things, glancing up to Telperien as she spoke.
 

"It's... good to see you too. What are their names?"

 

She crossed her legs, sitting on the damaged landing pad with her staff across her lap. She reached out to the cats with the Force, offering them peace and friendship. It wasn't a controlling move- they were free to decline. But she wanted them to feel at ease, to understand that she wasn't a threat. Her gaze drifted to Telperien once more, and she spoke quietly.

 

"What brings you to Kaskyyyk?"

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Telperien likewise sat, pulling her knees up to her chest and resting her chin on top of them. She lifted a hand and pointed to the creatures in turn. Her thin finger pointed to one of the saber cats, who bore a thin white stripe from the muzzle to the tip of its long tail. Then to the one with a matching black stripe. 

 

“This is Hono, and Kai.” 

 

She waved the finger again and released the two cats from the subtle control she kept on them. They reacted instantly to the Jedi’s use of the force. Bounding up to the woman to give her gentle but persistent head butts until she petted them. They were animals originally bred for war in the ancient pre human era of Naboo. But they also deeply desired the loving contact of others. They were a little too human in that way. 

 

“I followed the force, hoping that it would lead me back to you.” 

 

The Jedi woman was an enigma, it was undoubted that Telperien was attracted to her, but she also found herself just desiring someone like Kadi to talk to. To ponder the meaning of this brutal and short life. 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Kadi's frown dissipated as the cats bounded up to her, and she returned their affection with her own, rubbing them softly as she and Telperien spoke. It was nice to let her guard down- It had felt like the last few months had been spent going from one gruelling battle of attrition to another, with her only respite being the time it took to get from place to place, and the time it took for her to heal between each fight. She glanced up- the canopy was nearly bare, the burned branches holding few leaves now. One day, the trees would recover. This village would either be repopulated, or be reclaimed by the surrounding nature. Still, there was nothing wrong with mourning for what had been.

 

She scratched behind one of the cats' ears, looking back at Telperien.

 

"I'm glad you found me. It'll be nice to talk outside of an active warzone..."

How did one apologize for killing someone? Hey, sorry I murdered you, it was for the greater good? No, maybe it was best left unsaid. But how their last meeting had ended certainly didn't help with the awkwardness of meeting someone who normally, she'd be dutybound to fight. It concerned her- was this awkwardness just a matter of past hostilities, or because she had unintentionally separated herself from the act of killing someone? She didn't know, but it wasn't an introspective moment she wanted to have right now.

 

"Sorry, I don't really know what to talk about. The weather?"

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Telperien lay back and likewise let her eyes follow the twisting and burnt branches, tracing them in their vain attempt to reach the most sunlight possible. Unconscious to the fact that their greed could smother the undergrowth a hundred meters below them. Was it natural that the young grass that tickled the back of her neck could only survive when the wroshyr trees above them were burned and carbonized by turbolaser fire? Was it natural when the Katarn hunters killed and ate a Kinrath? Were the short and brutal lives of predator and prey something that a Jedi Naturalist considered a good thing? A source for their power? 

 

So many questions, but the young grass felt good against the nape of her neck, and she let her mind wander. 

 

“We do not need to talk at all. I am no philosopher and no great debater.”

 

The ears of the two sabercats perked up, and a low growl whispered deep in their throats. 

 

“Ah but it looks like we may have a hunt on our hands, Jedi. Will you come with us?” 

 

Telperien scrambled to her feet and held out a hand to the Jedi knight as the two cats looked at their master. Longing. She nodded and the two cats exploded into action. Bounding in great leaps after whatever prey they had caught the scent of. A very scared Minstyngar who was runnign as fast as its paws could carry it. The Hunt was on. 

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Kadi smiled as the cats took off into the jungle, leaping through the trees as they chased down the frightened beast. There was a simplicity to the natural world. In the natural world, death was almost always a necessary occurrence. When a cat hunted its prey, it did so for nourishment. What it didn't finish became food for worms and fungus and carrion birds, feeding the next generation of plant life. The next animal of prey would consume that plant life, and the cycle would continue. An ancient and unending cycle of food and nourishment. It never bothered her when Juro would hunt, or when an animal was slain by another. There was always a simple purpose behind it. Nothing like the warmongering of empires and armies, who killed millions simply for power and territory.

 

She followed the hunt, springing to her feet as the cats sprinted after there food, smirking at Telperien as she did.

 

"Think you can keep up?"

 

And then she was off, jumping through the trees with the aid of the Force. These kinds of acrobatics were no stranger to her- she regularly made incredibly difficult jumps both in combat and in her times in the wilderness with Juro. She glanced behind her as they leapt through the trees, but that didn't mean much. With how thick the vegetation was, for all she knew the Nightsister had already passed her in the trees.

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  • 1 month later...

With a wave of her hand the Nightsister pulled the naturally made shadows around her, deadening her form as she deadened the sound of her footfalls. Her bare feet making no noise as she sprinted after the Jedi Knight. She did not draw on the force to speed herself however, that would cheapen the hunt, the thrill that came from the long run and a sharp point of a spear. 

 

She could feel the thrill of it pulsing with her heartbeat. It was adrenaline in its purest form. A nightsister becoming the predator she had always believed herself to be. She ranged behind the Minstyngar as her sabrecats kept at its heels. Snapping with each attempt to bring the beast down. But the cats had long avoided their predatory nature, living in the slums of Naboo, eating what their master fed them. So, a push was needed. 

 

Her mind connected with them, and she urged them onwards, stirring their beastial emotions. Their desire to maim and kill. To eat and devour. And the sabercats obeyed, a froth forming at their lips as they prepared for the fatal strike…

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  • 3 months later...

Kadi felt Telperien reach out as they darted through the treetops, felt her spurn the cats' violent nature. It made her uncomfortable. They were loyal animals, but how much of that was mutual aid and how much of it was the pure dominance that the Sith were so fond of? She darted through the trees, the Force guiding her, painting a tapestry of the living forest, an elegant web of life and beauty. And Telperien's presence was a fly, caught in the web, struggling against it, trying to mold it to her will rather than leaping gracefully from strand to strand. It was no wonder that she felt trapped by the dark side.

 

Kadi leapt across a gap, grabbing a branch above her, using her momentum to swing up several feet as she looked down- She's lost the cats too by now, but she could feel all three of her companions in the Force, as well as the prey. It comforted her that the girl had come not to fight, but to meet peacefully. Kadi was still on guard, of course- she hadn't forgotten what had happened last time they met, nor had she forgotten who had spawned the young girl. But she would do her best to act upon this opening- to save Telperien from her fate.

 

She spotted what the cats hunted, whistling loudly to call attention.

 

"Telperien, it's up here!"

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  • 3 weeks later...

The nightsister ran easily through the underbrush, her bare feet making little sound as she sprinted after the two sabercats and the Zabrak Jedi Knight. The flow of the force was so easy to tap into on the wookiee homeworld. The dark overhanging trees reminded her of Dathomir before it had been laid to ruin. And though it was slightly different, the undercurrent in the force of primal predators searching for their prey was delicious to tap into. No wonder the great furry humanoids loved their homeworld so, she could get lost in the darkness here. Revel in it, bathe and drink of it until it covered her from head to toe in its shadows. 

 

The swift and generous power offered by the nature of Kashyyyk enthralled her. So much so she nearly missed the directions Kadi yelled at her, so Telperien was forced to jump after her. Running up the side of a burned out wyshor tree, landing at the heels of the Zabrak jedi, and letting that energy flow through her and into her two sabercats. 

 

Driving their hunting instincts and hers into a frenzy. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Kadi could feel it- The source that Telperien tapped into. It saddened her. A world corrupted at it's heart, its people fleeing to the treetops to escape it. The frenzy of the hunt that she felt in her companions. The hunt was a beautiful thing- Life and death in one complete cycle, one life gone to nurture another. When she died she would do the same. But what Telperien thought was the hunt was a twisted manifestation of the natural order. Where the cats hunted for sustenance, Telperien had twisted it into one of bloodlust and frenzy through their shared bond.

 

"Control yourself, Telperien. A hunt without purpose is no hunt at all." she said quietly, before taking off again. This wan't the time for spiritual debate, but she wanted the young girl to think. They could discuss it after the hunt, while the cats fed. She was moving faster now, the Force guiding her from branch to branch, from tree to tree. She could see it now, their prey, leaping through the trees. It was getting closer to the ground, likely looking for a burrow or a hollow trunk to hide in. Unfortunately, the chance of it escaping the cats that were right on its heels was miniscule.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The nightsister’s gaze searched the heavy brush as she ran, her eyes seaking the fleeting form of the Jedi Knight. Telperien’s mind was racing as she sprinted through the close clinging mires, letting the force guide every step. Her speed fueled by a mix of sudden rage and delight. But why the sudden peak of imperius rage? Was it the burned remains of a civilization that they ran through? Was it the realization that everything her mother and father had striven for now lay in ruins? 

 

Was it rage at the Jedi knight for trying to teach her a lesson that she herself knew nothing about? Yes, that was the source of the sudden fire that pushed her steps. How did the jedi expect someone like her to control herself? How could she control herself if she had never once been told or shown how? What a privileged life Kadi must have lived. Did she not know that the only joy that had ever stirred the soul of the nightsister had been in the thrill of a hunt? 

 

There was a purpose. The hunt itself, the pleasure from it, the fellign of an innocent prey, the feral desire of the blood spilling upon the ground. Telperien could almost taste the fear in the air and it made her mouth water spectacularly. Oh to taste that blood! 

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  • 3 months later...

It disheartened Kadi to see her friend fall deeper into her emotions. She was admittedly at a loss for how to help- Maybe indulging her in this hunt had been too naive. She slowed, letting the cats take the lead as they closed on their target. As they made the lunge, she steadied herself against trunk of the tree whose branches she perched in. It had been a nice distraction, but she had much work to do here, something that the still burnt forests around them never ceased to remind her of. Her words were quiet- spoken not as a decree, but a plea for understanding.


"The hunt is not something to be shunned, as long as you understand its purpose in nature. Even the fiercest of predators don't kill for fun or for pleasure- they kill for sustenance, or to protect their homes and their young. To kill for pleasure, or for entertainment, is what separates the dark from the light in nature."

 

Kadi was quiet for a moment before continuing.

 

"I need to return to my duties, Telperien. Much of this forest still needs help healing, and the people who live here are still recovering from war. You're welcome to join me, if you'd like, but it's your choice."

 

With that, she turned, jumping back up through the canopy. She had no doubt that should the Nightsister wish to follow her, she'd be able to without difficulty. She didn't know what to think of the girl- She was hurt deeply by the people she loved, and it was clear she had little faith in others. And yet, she had opened up to Kadi. Why? Shared trauma at the hand of Quela? Their bonds with nature? It was an enigma to her- People had never been her strongest suit.

 

She contemplated all of this as she climbed higher into the canopy, her movements as fluid as ever as she jumped from tree to ruined platform. The Wookies had a much more extensive civilization on Kashyyyk than most people gave them credit for. Or at least, before the Empire had arrived. Now all she had found since leaving the spaceport she had arrived at were ruined villages and forgotten memories. She finally broke through the canopy, cresting the top of the treeline as she gazed out to an ocean of green. The world was healing already. The thought brought a smile to her face as she took the opportunity to catch her breath. Such a sight reminded her of why she fought, what she worked so hard to preserve. Peace and tranquility.

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From Kadi's position atop the great tree, the verdant landscape of Kashyyyk shone in all it's glory. The recovering world was indeed a spectacle, its wounds almost imperceptible from such a height. Much, after all, had been done to restore the world following the great series of tragedies which had befell the planet in recent history, and there still remained much to do, even upon that which was seemingly healthy. The great Wroshyr trees alone would not be the only flora needed to re-establish the lush ecosystem of the temperate world, for Kashyyyk's balance of life came not only from the great megaflora, but all its subservient, symbiotic species as well. Restoring the planet was not simply a matter of setting the stage, but a matter of constant maintenance and care down to the smallest scale, a role duly filled by a figure just within Kadi's senses, easily detectable, for he did not hide.

 

Kerriwarr had nestled himself upon a thick branch adjacent the Zabrak, adorned in his simple robes and holding a simple leather-bound tome, reading through its contents as he shared his space with the Jedi. He spoke as he poured over the tome, the gruff voice of the Wookiee ringing through the tranquil canopy, a stark contrast to the serene environment which surrounded them.

"Shyyra mrrrshaaak, kyyyshi? Myyyshkaa rorrshk, gyyykshaa."
[Pleasant view, no? Good day, stranger.]

 

The Wookiee closed the tome, standing from his branch and placing the book back into the satchel which hung at his hip. Looking upward, he leapt, jumping from his branch and swinging from another, his grace unbefitting one of his hulking stature, but such was the nature of the People of the Trees. He landed aside the Jedi softly, raising to his full height and towering over the woman. Speaking again with a bow of his head, his chestnut braids spilling over his shoulders and drooping low towards the ground, one who knew the intricacies of Shyriiwook's harsh tones and inflections would deduce that his tone was one of goodwill and greeting,

"Myrshi wrorr Kerriwarr ryksha Wroshyr mashyra. Shykkrii wrorr wyrshi?"
[I am Kerriwarr of the Tree Carers. Who are you?]

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Kadi was startled as the Wookie spoke, looking for the source of the voice. She spotted him quickly, and felt her face flush. She'd been so taken aback by Kashyyyk's beauty that she hadn't even noticed the large Wookie sitting feet away. She relaxed, shocked to find her hand drift away from the lightspear on her back. Was that her first instinct now? To fight? She nodded her head apologetically at the stranger, shocked to see him approach so acrobatically. He towered over her, in both size and demeanor. She could feel his presence in the Force, as well. Was he another Jedi, returning home upon peace time to heal his world? Was he a shaman of his people? Or was he ignorant of his gifts? She didn't know.

 

"I've been many places, seen many sights. This is one of the most beautiful. Your world holds boundless wonders, Tree Carer. I'm Kadi Silan, of the Jedi Order."

He Shryyywook wasn't outstanding, and she hesitated to call him by name, if it even was his name. Was it his rank in the Tree Carers? A title? She didn't know. Still, she knew his order. She could count on one hand the number she had met, but she knew of them. They shared the same goal- to rebuild the forests of Kashyyyk. She had much to learn from them- It had shocked her to see how little her knowledge of Felucian flora and fauna had carried over, though upon further reflection she had realized how obvious it had been.

 

"I've come to help rebuild, but short of cleansing places where the taint of the Dark Side still lingers and inhibits growth, I'm afraid I'm at a loss. This world is so... different, from what I'm used to. I have much to learn before I can truly make a difference."

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The Wookiee stood pleased, heartened to hear that his goals were in alignment with this stranger who had traipsed upon his place of relaxation. Upon her final statement, he let out a series of gruff chuffing noises - what could only be described as a warbling, grating laughter. Kerriwarr knew well the staggering array of flora and fauna the great world bore host to. He could not imagine attempting to learn another world's life and ecosystems in the way he had his own. Such would be an absolutely daunting task, and he was impressed by the Kadi's willingness to attempt to help. He spoke in reply, his voice like two grating stones as he acknowledged her introduction,

 

"It is my aim to preserve this world's beauty and spectacle. Such pleasures are all too uncommon in our great galaxy of late, with such wanton death and violence being so readily accepted and endorsed by a great many of the galaxy's inhabitants. It is a delight to meet another who shares such visions of peace and prosperity, and a pleasure to meet you, Jedi. I hope you come across that which you seek, and know that your assistance is most welcomed and needed, irrespective of its scope and scale."

 

Kerriwarr spoke with a very deliberate, courteous tone. He spoke no lies, and the kindness he expressed was shared by his disposition in the Force: one of peace and goodwill, though he was completely unaware of this deeper connection. He bowed his head slightly again - an act of kindness, and deference towards a member of such a prestigious, righteous order. He had always admired the Jedi's tenacity for serenity and peace, especially when their enemies - and indeed, some of their allies - seemed so incredibly wrought upon destruction and violence. After a short pause he spoke again, simply,

 

"Should you require any assistance concerning matters of this world and its efforts to rebuild, you need look no further, Master Jedi."

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Kadi sat on the branch, crossing her legs as she faced the Wookie. He had offered to teach her about his world, the very thing she'd come for. Who better to learn from than a native dedicated to caring for the forests? The Force would only take her so far in her endeavors.

 

"Please, teach me about your world. I have little to offer you in return, but perhaps I can help you with your own abilities in the Force."

 

She had always been an eager student- It had helped her master the dangers of the Felucian wilds at a young age. it had helped her train and bond with Juro. It had helped her hone her martial prowess, but it couldn't do all the work. Without a teacher, a source of knowledge, all her aptitude for such things would have gone to waste. She wasn't too full of herself to reject such a genuine offer from such a person as the Wookie before her.

 

"We can start wherever you want- History, flora, fauna, it's all important to heal a world from the atrocities that the Dark Side may visit upon them."

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Red eyes narrowed as blood dripped from churning jaws. The two great cats noisily fed on their prey as their mistress wiped the blood from her narrow set chin. It was strange to be alone again, even as such a friendship had blossomed it was already gone. Or at the very least put away in the cupboard, something to be looked at, to be admired, but not used. Standing in stasis as the galaxy spun itself into darkness. 

 

She reached into the carcass and placed a blood stained hand onto the no longer beating heart. She squeezed, letting her fingernails rip into aortic tissue and bright red blood spill forth. She pulled the quivering heart from the beast and looked into the cavities her fingers had left. Reading the twitching tissue like a R2 unit would read a starmap. But this was no good omen. And it read of despair and loathing, a churning galaxy and the death of heroes and villains. Of Friends and Enemies. 

 

She grimaced at the sign and let the heart fall away.

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Kerriwarr followed suit, lowering his massive frame to an equal stance to Kadi, albeit still towering over him simply by the nature of his stature. He nodded his head kindly at the acceptance of his offer. There would be much to teach, and Kerriwarr steeped into his memory, attempting to ascertain where to begin. He had taught a great many young Wookiees in the way of Kashyyyk, bringing them into his Order as Tree Carers, but he had never attempted to teach someone of foreign origin the ways of the People of the Trees, let alone the knowledge reserved for the Tree Carers. He spoke again, his harsh voice clashing with the serene silence of the high canopy,

 

"First, I must ask: What is it that you know of our world, and our people? To learn the ways of the Tree Carers is to epitomize the way of our kind. We are, quintessentially, those among the People of the Trees who preserve our way of life. To learn our ways is not simply to learn our world and it's ecosystems, but to embrace our culture, harmonizing with it and seeing it as your own. I will not just teach you what it is to become a Tree Carer, but a member of our people. Perhaps, in due time, it may be the case that you shall teach me as well."

 

He reached into his bag, pulling forth a large, draw-string leather pouch and holding it in his lap as he continued,

"At it's heart, this is what the Tree Carers preserve." he said, opening the pouch and reaching inside, pulling out a large cone the size of his fist, "This is the seed cone of the Wroshyr tree. As Tree Carers, we collect these cones, preserving them, and planting them where it may be appropriate."

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Kadi listened intently as the Wookie spoke, and it was as he explained what the Tree Carers really were that it dawned on her what he was truly offering to teach her. He wasn't teaching her of just how to care for the forests, but how to preserve their very culture. A part of her didn't want that responsibility- She had so many already. She'd only come here to help heal the wounds of the Sith Empire. Another part of her realized that to do that, she needed to know what Kerriwar would teach her. Without knowing how the Wookies' culture intertwined with their world, she could never truly repair the damage done.

 

"In truth, I know little. I came unprepared for the responsibility, a reaction to atrocities committed around me. I'd hoped to find my own path, to help those close to me..." her mind drifted to Telperien, who'd lived her whole life in darkness. She never knew another way. "... But to do that, I need more wisdom than I have, and knowledge that can't be found in books and temples. I need to know people as well as I know plants and animals, to bond with them and to understand them as I do the life around me. It would be the highest honor for you to teach me about your people, what drives them, their fears, their loves, their hopes."

 

She looked on as he withdrew a large cone- She did recognize that much. She'd been acquainted with the seeds upon arrival by the liasion who had greeted her, but she was told they'd be rare, and to not interfere with them. She leaned forward to get a closer look- it was smaller than she'd expected. That such a small seed could grow such gargantuan trees was truly a marvel of life, and of the Force.

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Kerriwarr studied the Zabrak as he had spoke, and continued to as he listened to her response. The forthright expression of realization was satisying for the Wookiee; he was pleased to know that the gravitas of what she had decided to undertake was evident to her. She was perceptive and understanding, and of keen mind. He would take well to her statements, and bowed his head as she concluded, reciprocating the respect that she had shown him. He replied, his words plain,

 

"It is an honor to be among one who deems it so prudent to help those in need. My people have suffered greatly, and it is with gratitude that I take you on as a student. Your efforts to learn our ways are seldom shared by other foreigners. The greater people of this galaxy, eternally locked in their own tribulations and strife, seldom make the time to give attention to anyone outside of their immediate proximity."

The Wookiee replaced the cone within its pouch, returning the pouch back within his satchel and looking up, his forest-green eyes meeting hers as he continued,

"The depth of this world and all its wonders cannot be stressed enough. To teach it, we shall begin as we are, at the very peak of it's surface. As we continue, we shall descend into its depths. When shall we begin?"

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Kadi shrugged humbly at his words. He was right- other people were busy trying to survive their own horrors, too busy to help those around her. But she had the opportunity and the ability to help, and it was only natural that she wanted to learn about the people she was seeking to aid. It would guide her in the coming peace time, to find her own peace. She'd had a moment of clarity in her fight with Telperien, as she'd relived the horrors she'd found on Felucia, but holding onto that clarity had been difficult. She knew what she was fighting for, but it was hard not to feel like her contribution had been insignificant. Felucia had still been raided, they'd still lost Lehon, Nar Shaddaa still burned, and countless other worlds that she hadn't been present at had been ravaged by war and terror.

 

"We can begin whenever you're ready, Kerriwar."

 

Her words were short, but she'd already made it clear that she was willing to learn- to delay any further would potentially insult the Wookie, or otherwise impose on his time and his own goals. Even if she couldn't make a meaningful change on her own, it wouldn't stop her from trying, and she refused to become a burden.

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With a nod of his head, the gargantuan Wookiee rose to his feet once more, looking down to the woman as he held out a fur-covered hand. With a nod of his head, the beads in his fur clacking together like the cacophony of a spilled bag of marbles on a tile floor, he replied in brief as she had, a contented tone about his voice - he knew what was to come,

 

"Excellent. Let us begin, then. Follow me, if you'd be so kind."

 

With a hearty, rasping chuffing noise one could only assume was the Wookiee equivalent of a laugh, he leapt into the air, swinging upon the branch from whence he came, and springing away into the upper foliage. He was off at a quick pace, and she would have to keep up.

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Kadi stood as her did, taking his hand and he offered to help her up. It seemed now would be when he was ready. She wasn't disappointed, but she hesitated for a moment as he took off through the trees, looking down towards the canopy below. She was disappointed that Telperien hadn't joined them, but the girl was free to make her own choices. In time, she was sure they'd meet again. She looked back up as the Wookie began to disappear in the distance. He moved fast for a creature of his size, but she could keep up easily, especially now that she had caught her breath from the frenzied hunt below.

 

She took off through the trees after him, tracking his movements with the force as he fell out of sight. She didn't understand Kashyyyk's flora physically, but all life was similar in the force. It was almost second nature to track with it to her. She sprung from branch to branch, following the Wookie through the foliage. It wasn't long before she caught up- If not for her enhanced agility, she might not have been able to.

 

This time, she had the time to take in the world around her as they climbed. How the higher they got, the more the trees thinned and other life dropped of. The solitude of the great trees in their age and size was well deserved, considering the importance they seemed to have on the rest of the ecosystem. The birds and arboreal creatures were all that remained this high, drinking from pools of water that collected on the massive branches, consuming the bark and leaves of the trees that gave them protection and housing. This was what she lived for- The solitude and majesty that nature provided her.

 

"The trees are much taller in person than they seem from a shuttle." she admitted between breaths as she tried to keep up. She had the Force, but he had natural strength and agility, as well as experience in these trees.

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Soaring from tree to tree with a practiced grace, Kerriwarr took a quick glance behind him, ensuring the woman was, in fact keeping pace. Letting out a whooping call of excitement and joy, the Wookiee continued, swinging his way higher and higher, to the tallest of branches. Soon, they were truly at the tree's tallest point, and it was there the Tree Carer stopped, landing softly on the balls of his feet as he proceeded to the end of the branch, making room for the Jedi to land behind him,

"I can only imagine. Look out now, Jedi. Gaze upon the world's splendor another moment" he said reverently, "Look to the skies, and perhaps we may see her today."

Whatever the Wookiee referred to, he did not elaborate as some time went by, the afternoon sun shining above them, casting its radiant beams through the dappled shade of the thin layer of branches which grew above them. The view before them was, indeed, splendid. Kashyyyks glorious mountains lay before them across the great River of Origin, covered in smaller trees, with their valleys blanketed by a great canopy of Wroshyr which grew right up to the lapping banks.

They waited a long moment, studying the scenery as Kerriwarr's keen forest-green eyes scanned the skies overtop the great river, yearning for the first of many things he longed to teach the young Jedi who stood aside him. As time grew on, Kerriwarr stood in silence, breathing deeply and rhythmically as his being seemed to pulsate in the Force, casting forth waves of peace and contentedness. At long last, Kerriwarr raised a massive, fur-covered arm, pointing to a spot in the sky above the river,

"Do you see her fly? She may come to us yet. We are where she likes to perch." he said, a sense of solemn reverence in his voice, "She was nearly killed some time ago, it was thanks to myself and my people that she survived her injuries.  She has kept us safe ever since."

 

The enormous Wookiee pointed to a large, white, bird-like creature. A most holy of beings and a protector of the Wroshyr trees and Wookiee people. A Shyyyo Bird. It soared above the river, flapping its huge wings seldomly and gliding across the landscape, casting its eyes back and forth as it searched for prey. She was beautiful, and Kerriwarr relished the view.

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She was deep in the forest now, letting the hunting instinct guide her as it had guided her people for generations. Slowly, the scent had begun to develop. Starting first as a brush of the force against her own presence. What strange and haunting specters played across her mind. A glimpse of strange innocence, a clearing and a campfire, fresh rations being added to boiling water. Laughing and joy. A ship being unloaded with camping and survival supplies. A final joy after being so long on the move. A delicious chance at an innocent prey. And a prey with certain material possessions that would work in Telperiën’s advantage. 

 

For a brief moment she thought of her Iridonian friend, and what she might have thought at such a pursuit. But the very thought made a prickle of anger crawl up her spine. A wave of spite and anger that gave her limbs a sudden lightness and doubled her speed as she followed the scent. Outpacing her two feline companions as she slipped the leather satchel off of her shoulder. 

 

The muddy ground made little sound as she ran through the deep woods, pausing to crouch at the edge of the natural clearing made by a decade old turbolaser blast. She took another breath, letting the scent filter across her tongue. Foreign smells. A faint perfume lingering with boiled noodles. Colonists perhaps? A look around the base of a giant wroshyr tree showed their sleek Nubian designed shuttle which reflected the shallow greens of the recovering forest from its mirror-like hull. 

 

Six human adults. Refugees from their various states of dress. Two teenagers and one child. They sat around their duraplast camp table, feasting on meager rations with not a care for the world around them. Whatever world or collections of worlds they had come from had not prepared them for what could be lurking in the growing shadows. There was a feast here for the taking, an easy meal for creatures so inclined. She let the idea in the force linger in the air as she sought an easy outlet for her anger and rage. Her two sabrecats beckoned to her call, their mouths growing frothy with anticipation. But something else on the edge of the forest also answered. Something ancient and whose soul had long ago been fully consumed by the needs of bloody predation. 

 

From her satchel she withdrew the long wooden staff of a longbow, placing one horn plated end against the bulk of a tree root and using the leverage to bend it far enough to string. Slipping the hempen cord over the rancor bone notch, before stooping to pull a wicked black feathered arrow from the bag. A broadhead of darksteel. Forged from the wreckage of the Galactic Alliance cruiser Tiberious, which had fallen to earth during the battle of Onderon. Tempered by Krath metallurgists into weapons for the servants of the Dark Lord himself. Imbued with the same hatred and malice that had forged the Sith Empire not a half a decade past.

 

All in ruins now. And the very thought of such a failure made bile churn in her stomach. She took a calming breath and notched the wicked arrow, thinking for a moment of all those friends and masters that had died on their crusade for power. Those great Sith had failed, had died and were banished into eternal darkness, while these weak beings had survived to find a new life. What better prey to hunt than those that deserved it? 

 

The black feathered arrow flew free, embedding itself in the skull of one of the men in the clearing, right as he reached to take from the communal dish. Spilling bright red blood in a gush that covered half the table. How freeing the sight was as she surrendered herself to the bitter hunt. Her two sabercats rushing forth from their hiding places. Their cackling screams joining Telperiën’s own. But above it all, even the din of sudden battle and pumping blood, came the dark roar of an ancient malice

 

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Kadi closed her eyes- The view was beautiful, but the feeling of the Force around her right now was even better. She could almost always feel it, the connections between living things, but in places like this, serenity mixed with vibrant life, it became ever present. She could feel the Wookie, the tree they stood on. If she pushed further, she could feel it's neighbors, small flora and fauna that grew within them. Even further out, directed now, she could feel the Shyyyo bird. It was certainly beautiful, both in the flesh and in the Force. She reached out tentatively, steadying herself, slowing her breathing, speaking softly.

 

"See if you can feel this. If you can mimic it." she whispered, smiling softly.

 

She connected with the bird, careful not to startle it.

 

"Be gentle. We aren't trying to dominate her, only tell her that we're here and mean her no harm."

 

She could feel the Shyyyo bird. It was happy, but it still had scars in its psyche from whatever had happened to it. Kadi understood the feeling all to well. It's what had driven her here, to heal a world she knew nothing about. She shared her empathy through their connection, her understanding. She meant no harm, and did her best to convey that she was here to help. Whether it would work remained to be seen- She didn't know this creature or its species. It was different, getting a wronged creature to trust a new presence than getting a young beast to trust food.

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She studied the Jedi as she stood unmoving, curious to witness what it was she was asking him to attempt. As the bird shifted course and approached, soaring through the canopy towards them at a steady pace, Kerriwarr felt - though perhaps did not consciously recognize - the link that the Jedi established with the bird. The majestic creature, astounding in its stature, landed on a branch below them, its large body allowing the Shyyyo bird to be at eye level with the two of them. Kadi would take note that Kerriwarr seemingly without effort managed a connection with the creature, as if by instinct, as he reached out with a fur-covered hand, stroking its massive beak and chortling at the bird. Whether it be familiarity with the bird, a prodigal skill of the Wookiee, or just plain luck, he had managed a faint, yet extant connection with the mighty creature.

 

"What is it you ask of me?" he said, curiously, obviously completely unaware of the effortlessness of his actions.

 

He continued to stroke the bird's beak, calling to it with a series of rumbling calls emanating from his throat to which the bird responded in kind. It was as if the two of them were close friends meeting up again after some time apart. His presence in the Force, like a great sprawling tree, had cast its branches out to that of the bird's, wherein they had formed a connection, linking their souls in the ethereal plane, gaining new insight into one another's presence that the Tree Carer seemingly was not cognizant of.

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Kadi grinned as the bird came over- He was a natural, even if he didn't know what he was doing. It seemed that he was unaware of the power that was within him. She reached out, gently caressing the bird. She couldn't speak to the creature like Kerriwarr could, but that was something she shared with Juro. She knew it well. This planet was his as much as Felucia was hers, and even without training he had learned the first step to learning what she knew.

 

"You're already doing it. Close your eyes. Feel it inside you- the Force is there. It surrounds us, a massive tapestry connecting all life, a story for us to tell. One of peace. Of protecting life, and stopping those that would harm it. Your connection to your world is what she comes here for. When life has nothing to fear, it flourishes. Listen, and she'll tell you how she's feeling, even without saying it. It's through this connection in the Force that Jedi draw their power. It's also what gives us our duty- Many who feel this connection are compelled to portect it, myself included. That's why I came here."

 

She took her weapon, laying it on the branch before her.

 

"I am a Jedi naturalist. Through the Force, I seek to heal wounded worlds, and through the Force, I seek to protect those that the forces of evil set their sights upon. We are champions of the people, guardians of life, and servants of the Force."

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It was as if she said the words that he had been meaning to say all his life. The countless times he'd been asked about his prodigal skill in interfacing with the life on the world, the endless amounts of confusion and disbelief in his own abilities, and nigh infinite awe from his peers at his aptitude for accomplishing feats that seemed impossible. This was the explanation he desired to explain his capabilities. It was what he'd always known, yet never even fathomed how to articulate. The Force. Of course he'd heard of it, and had heard many tales of its use by the Jedi, the Sith, and others, and yet he'd never even begun to consider that that was what played such an instrumental role in his success.

"You claim that I have such a connection, like you?" he asks, an air of wanderlust about him like the wisping seed pods of the Shi-Shok tree. He was aghast at the prospect. Could he be a Jedi? What she said - in its totality - was precisely what he'd upheld all of his life. All of the world was sacred to Kerriwarr, and he'd upheld that belief as his most steadfast conviction throughout the hundred and sixty odd years of his life. It motivated him to become a Tree Carer in the first place. Was there something more? Kerriwarr spoke again, continuing to stroke the bird, moving back from its head to its neck and beginning to softly prune its feathers - they were the hardest for her to reach on her own, and the great Wookiee always made a point to help her with them when he could,

"What does this mean, Master Jedi? Am I to become one of you?"

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Kadi chuckled at his amazement.

 

"Not the same as me- every person's connection to the Force is different. But we're very similar, yes, through our connections to nature. As for becoming a Jedi- That's up to you. The old Jedi Order from what I understand used to search the galaxy for Force Sensitive children and induct them into the Order. Luckily, we're well beyond that. What you do with your power is up to you. It's more than a gift though, regardless of what you do with it. You have the power to call on the Force to aid you in your endeavors. It can be a helping hand, guiding you through the trees and the Galaxy to the next person in need..." She gestured forlornly at the large swathes of damaged forests that dotted the vistas before them.

 

"...or you can use it a weapon, to subjugate and destroy, perverting the very nature of the Force to destroy life, and itself. Such power is corruptive by its very nature. When you tear apart the web of life with malice and hate, it infects your very soul, and you become a slave to emotion and petty violence. That's what the Sith are, and that's what they breed. Whether you take up the mantra of the Jedi, or pursue your studies alone here on Kashyyyk, it's your choice. But if you want to join us, I can do that for you, and I can train you in the ways of the Force, or find someone more suitable to your beliefs and ideals."

 

In truth, she hoped that he would join them. It was a slightly selfish hope- The Jedi were full of warriors and healers and politicians, but there were few who took up the mantle of healing the worlds as much as the people that the Sith and their terror wrought. Kerriwar was a Wookie, a Tree Carer with a unique connection to his planet. A kindred spirit in the Force. But his gift was his to do with what he wished. It wasn't her job to make him a naturalist, only to enable his decision.

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The large muscle groups on her back bunched painfully as she drew the longbow again, pulling the heavy black ash shaft up alongside her cheek and feeling the whisper of the feathers beside her ear. Aiming was more in the instinct built by long practice since childhood. And when she loosed the hemp cord, the ash shaft slapped into the throat of another refugee, carrying the two razor sharp blades of the broadhead up and through his neck and burying itself in the sidewall of the Nubian starship behind him. He pitched lazily forwards, his spinal column severed and bright red blood gushing into the fertile ground. 

 

She could almost taste the copper bite of the blood as it fountained into the grass. Telperien savored the hopeless fear in the blood as the ground of Kashyyyk greedily drank from her victim. Alas for that, but there would be more, and not all would be wasted upon the soil. 

 

The cord beneath her fingers sang again and another arrow cut the life from a refugee as the twin sabercats tore his wife in half mere feet from him. Perhaps their eyes met and whispered a message of love. But likely not, as their screams of agony gave little love at all beyond sobs of mercy. 

 

The remaining refugees tried to flee of course, but the mighty beast made himself known with a roar that shook the clearing and with a swipe of a claw crushed the last adult of the group into the loamy soil of kashyyyk. Now there were only the younger humans to hunt. And their fear tasted delicious on the wind.


 

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