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Nar Shaddaa - Rebel Alliance Headquarters


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Kyrie’s black and forest green TIE-Ugly, that disorganized amalgamation of Y-wing and TIE-Interceptor broke from the bonds of hyperspace to soar above the criminal world. The Imperial Knight’s breathing was ragged, each rasping gasp tinged with pain. The wounds of the battle with the Sithling were a heavy cost to bear for the victory of Corellia, but the weight of the soul she had consumed was heavier still. Her song was weak.

 

Gwn Marwolaeth. A wicked name.

 

The residue of what she had burned away from the Sith made her feel wretchedly disgusting. There was an almost inhuman soul that was burning within her still, like a great unidentified beast, unconquerable with even her fiery heart.

There was another name that was filtering through her song.  

 

What are you, unholy darkness?

 

A voice, reptillian and cold

 

…Ysgithyrwyn Mwynfawr… Draig yr anialwch… Ar ôl difa, nawr am ddim…

 

The Exorcist breathed in another ragged breath, letting the autopilot take her TIE-Ugly towards one of the hidden landing pads of the Rebel Alliance. The ship pitched towards the southern pole as Kyrie began to sweat profusely.

 

She felt cold. Feverish.

 

The fire was burning out.

 

Desperation came then, overwhelming her senses with her consumed sins.

 

Her fire was burning out.

 

Blood leaked from the partially cauterized wounds that adorned her flesh, black and smoking. She tried desperately to summon her flame, to cast it even at her own flesh, but none came. Her song of summer was gone, and with it went the flames. Her mind turned internally as the ship began to shake upon atmospheric entry.

 

Ysgithyrwyn Mwynfawr.

 

Kyrie could feel it now, a dragon within, writhing amongst the shadows of her mind. The soul of the desert. A Krayt.

 

What did that creature do to me?

 

The TIE-Ugly touched down, and Kyrie dragged herself from the yawning hatchway, half collapsing upon the decking. She cast about in her desperation, but no flame came to her now. It was gone from her, that song that had carried her from Ord Mantell. That song of summer was no more.

 

Steaming tears ran in rivulets down her face, flicking from her probiscis to evaporate on the decking. She was an Exorcist without purifying flame, cursed with the soul of a dragon.

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Leena lay there on her gurney, the medics having cone and left, her body purged of any residual poisons from the radiation of Scarif that had not been dealt with prior. Now, she lay, her mind adrift in the expanse of light that enveloped the rebel base. In it she could feel the signatures of other Jedi, rebels, and others. In the myriad of emotions, desires and goals, some purer than others, she felt hope. True, it mingled with darker desires and emotions; even amongst the rebels there were those of darker inclinations. Still, they had a unification of purpose in their differences. Freedom, revenge, hatred, love, and more mingled together in that all encompassing desire: hope.

 

Leena could not discern every individual that was unknowingly cocooned and bolstered in the expanding aura of warm light side energies, but . . . She sat up, her eyes fluttering open . . . there was one that stood out. She had felt it come in from afar and it was different from the others. It felt pained, like the gurgling of a volcanic geyser that could erupt at an unknown time; all it needed was the right push. Dark energies seemed to rage within it, trapped and seething for escape. Yet, they were contained as if their existence fueled an immense beast of prey.

 

To say such a thing surprised Leena was an understatement. In all the dark passions that many rebels brought to the war, she had not felt this. This was evil. Evil that was caged but desired release. Darkness that could extinguish the glimmer of light that glowed in the chests of so many here.

 

Pushing herself from the gurnet, Leena grabbed for a fresh set of pristine white healer’s robes. Shimmying out of her flimsy hospital gown, the Mon Cal slid easily into the robes. They did not differ from the ones she used to wear, except they were clean. Nothing noted her ascension from Apprentice to Knight and Leena did not care. Affixing her silvery hilt to the white corded belt at her waist, Leena padded off out of the hospital wing, her bare feet finding assurance against the cool stone floors. 
 

The girl held the light in her heart, keeping the expanse of warming energies about her, connecting her to all around, bolstering them. Her focus was not on that however; instead she now hones her mind’s eye on the imprisoned font of darkness that roiled in it’s prison. The Jedi Healer did not know what to expect. She could feel the pain, that was enough. Someone or something here was pained in a way that none other were. It was her duty and deepest desire to not only salve such a wound, but to purge and heal it as well.

 

Seemingly wandering aimlessly up and down hallways and stairs, paths and lifts, Leena followed the maze of the rebel base seeking to draw herself closer.

 

Then she found it, rounding a corner into a landing bay, the Mon Cal Healer saw a cobbled together Ugly vessel, but that is not what caught her attention. There flopped on the deck plating was a woman. A Jedi? She had a lightsaber looking weapon didn’t she? Leena shook her head. This woman, if she was a Jedi, was in dire need. Leena had not ever sensed such a darkness from one of her own; nor had she ever sensed that she was approaching a wounded predator so closely.

 

Almost silently, Leena padded closer and closer to the downed woman, the warm light of the force emanating from her very core. With one hand on the butt ofnher saber hilt, Leena reached forward with her other to place it on the woman’s shoulder, the warmth of the force flowing in healing waves of calm from her fingertips. “Hello friend. I sense,” she paused, pondering how to put what she felt into words, “that I may be of some help to you. My name is Leena.” The words were simple. The usually talkative girl holding her tongue. Sometimes a calming presence was all that was needed. The words of a Healer’s lesson she learned long ago springing to mind ‘Proclaim the goodness of the force always; when necessary, use words.’ 

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 Pim raced through the hallways- she learned just a moment ago at the mess hall that her master had changed his aura. He was distracted, and in need. If she was reading that right, she was worried. If she was reading it wrong, well she should know in a moment. In her mad dash, she cut a corner too sharply- her senses were distracted so she didn't feel the two beings until it was too late. Leaping, and twisting in the air- she planted a foot on the wall and fell into a tumbling summersault then back onto her feet. A trando and human? It didnt matter, she spun to run backwards while facing the pair "Sorry! My fault!!!" 

 

A look of shock came across her face- the spheres! The small spheres she was supposed to always levitate with her- one had gotten stuck in the trandosians' robe and with a flick of her wrist, the small glass sphere removed itself, gently, from his robes and rejoined the other three small spheres gliding through the air- and she shouted her apologies again. She was going to look like a fool if there wasn't the need for the rush. She probably already looked like a fool... "C'Mon Tasha!" Pim hissed, barely audible from the distance she had managed to get to. The young Zabrak female looked incredibly embarrassed. The small glass sphere that was small than a fist zoomed after the young girl who was heading towards one of the observable training rooms. 

 

"Sorry, again!!" Pim shouted and bolted down the hallway. 

 

On the floor, there were two spheres that had fallen out of her pocket the obvious Jedi hadn't noticed falling out of her pocket. One was pure black stone, polished to remarkable shine. The other was a rose quartz sphere, also reflecting the light but also smooth to the touch. 

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Sandy pulled the collar of the green jumpsuit up around her thin neck, pulling the strap around into its catchings and buckling it at the base of her neck. She pulled her hair back and wound it into a thin bun that she lanced through with two thin needles of grey durasteel. Next came the cuirass of dull grey duraplast strapped securely against the jumpsuit in its sections, the the shoulders and upper arm protection. While not a full set, even when she strapped on the sections that covered her thighs, it provided adequate protection from spalling of more distant explosives. She looked at the high polished furrows on one of the sections, reflecting on the duel in which she had killed her old friend, the jedi master and dark acolyte Fynn. 

 

She spun on her heel and walked silently towards the medical ward. The fingers of her right hand drumming against the well worn lightsabre handle that hund down beside her thigh. It was a long walk, but it gave her time to steady her mind. But before she could get herself centered, the great metal archway of the medical quarter loomed up ahead of her. And that terrible fate that lay within. 

 

She saluted the imperial knight at the entryway, who smartly returned her salute, before turning and opening the door for her. She gave him a soft smile which he returned and then she was among the hustle of a busy corridor. A right then a left, then she was at a beside of a woman that she loved like a mother. 

 

Sandy reached out a hand and placed it on the woman’s still and unmoving hand. Giving it a gentle squeeze before she leaned in and placed a gentle kiss upon her forehead. 

 

“May the Force carry you to kinder times.” Her voice was the harsh whisper of pent up grief, and as soon as the words were said, the tears came. They fell like little rivers down her pale cheeks, dripping off her nose to fall in dark splotches on the hospital bedding. 

 

She had not known it would affect her so, she had loved her master dearly, and hated her as much. It had been through that raven haired woman that Sandy had experienced some of the worst trauma of her life. That small and lifeless form had represented every mountain peak and every valley Sandy had traveled. From violence, rape, and torture to the joys of knighthood and service. Those eyes had always watched her. Quick to criticise, rarely to complement. And now those stern eyes were now closed against the harsh lights of the medical ward. 

 

But the tears brought the still solace of a finished grief. And as the last of them dried upon the soft sheets that covered the Grandmaster's body, Sandy walked away. 

 

There was no need to wonder at what Sith Soldier had struck the blow, or what fateful mission had brought the Jedi order so very low. The past could not be changed, and there was no call for vengeance. Death was a part of life, and death was the force itself. Joy would follow, in the endless cycle, just as a human would breath in and out. So the force moved. Life and death. All a breath away. 

 

But somewhere in the back of her mind she wished the joy could have stayed. That the good times of a few years before could not been her last. But she knew that the dice could only be cast once. And she would happily take the bad with the good. For there was always the next horizon. For now she had lost her mentor and closest friend, and with Aidan gone into his studies she would not conscience dragging him into this. He had been there, and if he felt any guilt it would only be amplified by her own grief.

 

So instead she let her presence touch his for a moment, giving him the reassurance that she was beginning to feel. A smile flickering on her lips before she rounded a corner to see Leena and another familiar presence. 

 

“Kyrie?”

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Jedi Master

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Nightmares plagued my mind as I laid in the hospital wing on Nar Shadaa, days having passed since Corellia with whispers of the win. Nightmares and pain were all I knew to be true as I awaited my Master's return. But no news came as I laid in the bed with my wounds dressed with patches of bacta, staring blankly at the tiles as i fought against sleep to avoid the memories.

 

Sleep had became an enemy, each time I closed my eyes i would toss and turn against my foe's blows, my heart racing as rushing nurses and practitioners woke me. And each time I gave in in an attempt to solace my mind from the truths of reality, he would be there with temptation, dispelling my tranquility and peace. It was no way for a Padawan of any age to live, the truth of war plaguing my heart as much as my mind and soul. Only the darkness thrived in its bounds, and it was bountiful.

 

Yet it was more than a night terror for me having lived it, my entire time training under Master Armiena soaked in it. Felucia, Coruscant, Borleias, Corellia. I knew its truth better than most, and I was covered in its stench. And he was the culmination of it all, the head of the disease that was it. I was smothered that day on the Goliath by the Darkness, and he was the one who nearly ended me in it, false hope hidden by perverse and twisted logic. Even in my dreams, he haunted me. Only my waking moments offered solitude from his face.

 

I was constantly drained, the wear of the battle and consistent lack of sleep from the nightmares weighing heavily upon my form to the point of both my mind and body ached to break against my will to continue. Even with my knowledge of healing, I could not grasp at the Force for its aid out of fear of exhausting myself farther. And food held no substance, bitter and bland overtly, my ability to taste lost upon dry mouth. Within a week, I was beginning to wither despite bacta and introvanial fluids.

 

And yet, each night I sat awake, staring out the viewport in silent hopes of good news, of my Master's return. And each night, none was recieved. I felt as if the Force had forsaken me, my failure to remove the cancer or even the attempt to causing me to question my purpose in the grander scheme. Was the Darkness truly a cancer to be removed? Or was I not meant to be a defender? Doubts riddled me. That day I had made a choice, even in my uncomfortable state. Was it the right one? Or did I stray from the path I chose to walk? These were but a portion that i could perceive, begging the Force for but a subtle truth in where I failed.

 

Laying down, I closed my eye in hope of seeing beyond the nightmare toward the Force's true will, only the wonderment of what I would see keeping me moving forward into the hell he had placed me in.

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Three hours later, Johanna Bryce had exchanged the sweat-soaked zero-grav suit for fatigues that smelled faintly of her recent physical exertion. Peeling the form-fitting bodyglove of the suit’s underlayer from her skin with a pensive expression, she learned of her next assignment--a joint operation with the Jedi Order, something that was practically unheard of… at least since the previous civil war--in which the Rebel Alliance was practically run by the Jedi Order. And they were fighting against the Sith Empire.

 

“Huh. I guess some things never really change.”

 

“On that note… must you do that in the middle of briefing?”

 

“I was told it was urgent,” the Bespinian responded as though changing into a fresh pair of trousers in an unoccupied briefing room was a perfectly natural contingency. “What’s the satchel?”

 

“As part of your gear, you’ve been issued with one Yirt-Zero-One, mark two. An ysalamir,” The Mon Calamari’s eyes blinked slowly, a vague approximation of a human smile. “You’ve never used one, have you? Try to be gentle with your motions--she--”

 

“How can you tell?”

 

“Doesn’t take nicely to sudden movements and drops. The poor dear will anxiety herself to death if you drop her---”

 

“Is there a way of checking?”

 

“So don’t drop her. Also, the Jedi consider it a massive faux pas to be ambushed with an ysalamir. This one has a radius of just a little less than nine meters, give or take thirty centimeters, so take care in headquarters.”

 

Naturally, as Johanna left the briefing room and marched for Wrecking Machine’s primary portside hangar, taking unnatural care to mitigate the natural swing of her shoulders, the entire landing bay burst out into cheers and caused the Bespinian to jump in startlement. Only two seconds after rumor had inspired a spontaneous celebration amongst the fighter pilots and deck crew of Wrecking Machine, the public address system put fact behind the exuberance and turned the cheering into a riot of backslaps, hugs, and more personal displays of enthusiasm.

 

Now here this: Corellia stands. The Sith fleet has retreated under fire.

 

A walk to her shuttle that should have taken thirty seconds occupied nearly five minutes. Johanna was ambushed by four of her Talons, who abandoned their work on their damaged LAAT/i to envelop their commander into a massive, jumping group hug. A Zeltron began crying into her shoulder at one point. Bryce was fairly certain that someone kissed her on the cheek--the marine never got a good look at the owner of the lips, she was pressed in so closely by the crowds. The smirk that persisted on her face eventually blossomed into a genuine grin--after years of disaster, barely surviving, and qualified victories, for once the Rebel Alliance had met the Sith in open combat and come out on top. It had been a long time since Johanna had tasted victory, even by public address.

 

_____

 

The cheering was continuing even when Johanna’s shuttle settled on the landing pads surrounding The Red and Black. This time, fortunately, the throngs had subsided somewhat and Bryce’s progress wasn’t hindered by a crowd of victory-starved dockworkers. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm was contagious and the tall Bespinian marched through the vaulted halls of the headquarters with her customary swagger and humming a traditional space shanty, heedless of the weight on her shoulders. The Talon arrived at the pre-assigned briefing room, only to find it utterly abandoned.

 

The lack of punctuality was pleasantly surprising. Perhaps they had also been swept up into the victory celebration.

 

Or… the exact opposite, as a query to the base’s yeomans confirmed that the Jedi that Bryce was to collaborate with were both in the medical wing. Not quite certain what to do, the Talon simply stared at one of the room’s walls with her comlink in her palm. Bursting into their privacy--while hauling an ysalamir, no less--felt like an intrusion. Not quite certain of what to do, Johanna gathered the abominable little reptile and made her way to the base’s armory. In her experience, few problems could not be solved with enough preparation and ample application of firepower.

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The tears continued, burning trails of pain dropping to the decking. All she could feel was the monster within her, consuming her fire, deafening her song.

 

It burned. Horrendously.

 

Why does it burn?

 

The Exorcist coughed, tasting the bitterness of ash and soot.

 

...Do you think you can purify… Me?

 

The basest touch of sin, the impurity of the dark side rose from her heart to her throat with a surge of bile. She shuddered against the unforgiving decking.

 

…I am a Sin Eater; it is my duty to consume in order to purify…

 

She breathed in a ragged breath, sobbing into the deck as she burned internally.

 

…Redemption is yours if you allow it. Or you have death. 

 

Smoke curled from her lips.

 

There was a warmth. A kindness. A hand was upon her skin, flooding her with life. With the Force.

 

Kyrie channeled the healing warmth inside of her, like a breath upon the coals of a forge. She breathed in a steady breath and it was like a bellows upon that forge, that fire of the Exorcists, driving her eyes open.

 

In that moment she overcame the immensity of the Sin within, and the Krayt’s immeasurable evil burned like straw. It had chosen redemption instead of death. She drew in the living force around her, turning it into silvered fire that wreathed about her, driving through her flesh to burn the Sin into ash.

 

There was her song, changed. More predatory.

 

The Exorcist’s probiscis flicked at the air as she turned towards the Mon Cal that knelt over her, taking in the smile and the kindness of the healer. She raised a trembling hand and touched the skin of the healer, took reassurance from the purity she found. She had been living in the grey for too long, swallowed up by the ashes of what she consumed.

 

Kyrie flashed Leena a shy smile, burning away any impurity of sin around them with the purifying power of the Light Side.

 

There was another presence, one all familiar to the Imperial Knight, that of Sandy Sarna. She was shining in the Force, stronger than the Exorcist had remembered.

 

The Grandmaster of the Exorcists pulled herself shakily to her feet, the cauterized wounds sending waves of pain through her nerves. Her armor was a mess, burned and shattered from the battle for Corellia.

 

…Our triumph.

 

She held her head higher, her probiscis tasting the air in time to her predatory song. Her words were slow, basic never having been a fluid tongue. When she smiled, it was the smile of a tamed Krayt, a reflection of what she had taken into herself and sacrificed for the will of the Force. Before she had formed the Exorcists, she had been leader of the Jedi Guardians, and it was their training of body that she used now to even keep standing.

 

“I apologize for… my appearance.”

 

The briarwood handle of her saber-spear felt heavier in her palm as she hefted it, spinning it like a baton several times until it rested upon her armored shoulder.

 

“Do I… Have time to… Change… before our next… fight?”

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Mythos stood upon the precipice of his freedom, the Shistavanen looking over his shoulder toward the mental ward he had spent the several last months confined within after his break at Chandrila. The Imperial Knight that had guided him out of the darkness stood beside him, a smile gracing his face as he turned to look up upon the scarred face he aided. And all Mythos could do was stare down upon the ground.

 

"Is everything alright, Mythos?" He questioned sincerely, placing a friendly hand upon the Shistavanen's armored shoulder, the metallic limb flexing out of reflex against the subtle touch. Mythos' ears recoiled. "You've come a long way my friend. The nightmares and visions are long gone."

 

"I know..." Mythos replied, his ears perking up as he adorned his durasteel visage again, his bipedal legs shifting across the threshold and into the light of Nar Shadaa's looming sun across Nal Hutta's atmosphere. "But it still broke me. I still fell to the power of that Sith. I'm not even sure if my men can respect me after such an event, let alone trust me to lead them again after being away so long."

 

"Trust in yourself and in your men." The Knight spoke softly with understanding, his gaze shifted forward with full knowledge of Mythos' psyche and recovery as the two stared at a potential new horizon for Mythos. Time heals all wounds, but the ones that cut the deepest are never the visible ones. "The rest will follow in time."

 

Mythos remained silent for a moment, then treaded away in thought. So much had happened, and even now, it was hard for the Shistavanen to wrap his mind around. The Sith he encountered and dueled so long ago had poisoned his mind with false memories, impregnating his psyche with inevitable collapse due to the collision of the two adjacent dominions. And when it happened, it left Mythos a empty shell, void of consciousness and spirit. And yet thanks to the aid of the mystical Jedi and Imperial Knights, he was able to retain himself and the Magics rejected. Still, because of it, he felt fragile and incompetent. Only time would tell whether this was true or not.

 

Beginning his long walk to the Rebel Alliance Headquarters, Mythos shot a simple comm ahead of him, inciting his return.

 

@Sgt. Slaughter

 

After extensive therapy at the hands of the Jedi Healers and Imperial Exorcists, I have been cleared for active duty. Please excuse the occurence of Chandrila. 

 

~Mythos Von Howlster

 

 

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A young woman was all he heard, then saw, Vox felt the bump of something as she raced past his vision. Several orbs were dropped from her grasp, then Vox had seen one of the three that somehow managed to land in his grasp launch from him. She apologized as she foolishly hurried down the hall with three of the spheres hovering around her, oblivious to the fact she dropped two and left them. Vox stood there, unsure of how to handle the situation before shaking his head. It didn't occured to him that the spheres were floating until it clicked in his head seconds later. 

 

"Are... Do... Can others around here levitate objects like that? What was that witchcraft?" The Chieftain asked the fellow Jedi, confused and curious about such an ability. These people were strange, far more mysterious than that, he thought. 

 

Vox's attention was dragged downward where he saw two of the spheres left behind; the first was of finely polished black, and the other was a beautiful rose quartz. To him they looked like glass but was amazed these orbs didn't crack at all. Perhaps they were made of strong crystal? He shook the question away as the next thought, more a feeling, came to him. You should return the items, Vox felt. And mindlessly he did, he picked the orbs up and held both in each armored hand with the goal of returning them... Though the Trandoshan didn't know where the woman went. 

 

Vox looked to the female Jedi beside and said, "I... Think I should return these." 

 

The Chieftain didn't know why, the push to return the items clung to him worse than a leech. Normally he didn't care for such things and he was not that considerate to doing such things toward stranger. But he felt the urge to help instead of minding his business. Perhaps he was growing soft these days? Being around these people, the tiredness he felt and the constant reminder that he's one of the last of his kind amongst a great deal of other things. It wore him down, and the entire time Vox had been pushing his emotions away from it all, keeping one goal in mind.

 

"Find a new planet from this accursed conflict, and save your people." That mission was now a stain in his mind. The only real reason he joined these strangers was for them to help him, and vice versa. Though selfish, Vox couldn't let go of his own past nor embrace it at the same time, he simply dealt with it and would decide later to fight his own demons. If he wasn't already. What would his father, Paradox XII think of him now? What if he was too late in saving his tribe and Atrinox, Vox's twin, escaped his fate? Time could only tell that truth. 

 

In an instant, Vox began to walk in the direction of where the woman took off in. Not sure why, he only felt the need to return the items. Something guided him, urging him forward every step of the way, unknowingly his own ficus blocking most the hearing from outside. All he heard was the blood rushing in his head, a pulsating of constant flow that seemed to fill his vacant mind. Vox was conscious, however seemed to be in a world of his own as he gripped the orbs with iron hands. Minutes passed, though it seemed like seconds to him, until approaching upon a door, and there he felt it. He felt if he went through that door more burdens would build upon his shoulders, in there, his fate would seal... Yet in there, he would be free. 

 

There was no generality to what, "Free," meant, only he'd be free. It could have been now, soon, later or even when he fell to an enemies edge of a blade. And there he saw it. 

 

Vox entered through the tent flaps of the Chieftains abode, an organization of scrolls and different trophies of hunts and fallen victims and opponents. Every achievement the Nudono Tribe's Chieftain had ever gained would be here, yet most of it were burnt away by the sick, old, and prideful Paradox XII. His father, his mentor, his friend, something his brother Atrinox never understood. That night he entered the tent alone, Vox closed the flaps and walked over to his father's form, the same one that had grown thinner and weaker each passing day, the same one that had defended and lead the Nudono tribe for so long. 

 

Vox knelt down on both knees, looking down at the hard and slow breathing Paradox. He had been summoned, for what purpose, he didn't know why, but perhaps his father needed to speak about the recent surge in Slavers, his recent defiance to Atrinox's command who happened to be the left hand at the time, taking control while his own father was passing. Both brothers knew Paradox wouldn't live for very long, and Atrinox couldn't bear to look at his dying father, Vox however would come to comfort him, talking and doing as he asked. Paradox XII was decaying, and Vox felt it.

 

"My son..." The ill Chieftain began, his grey eyes slowly shifting to his son, the leader of the War Pack, "You look weary... And you sad... Why?"

 

Vox swallowed hard, fighting back the emotions he'd long harbored since his father had fallen. He steadied himself and focused, he was speaking with the Chieftain, "Our efforts are being doubled. Atrinox calms and lead our people while I route our enemy and lead our forces. It has been a long eight moons, we've had little rest but successfully driven back the outsiders." 

 

Paradox fell silent looking up and down Vox's form slowly, almost as if thinking before changing the subject, his eyes settling on his son's, "You know... I have never given too much thought of... Of how-" Paradox coughed violently before settling again, "How much your mother would have loved you. And your brother. I know I was not the best of parents, I threw you to the War Pack and... Groomed your brother for my position. Oh, how your mother would have been proud of you..." 

 

Paradox fell silent again, but before Vox could utter another word, the chieftain spoke, "Vox... I've committed atrocities... Miracles... All in the name of protecting our people. I love my people, from the men to the women and children, I love my land and our gods... And I love my son's, and how you have grown into fine warriors. There is... A reason I've asked you to come here, just you..." 

 

By this point, Vox was about to loose the threatening tears. He couldn't hold in his grief any longer than he could look at his father. He unintentionally looked away, shamed he wasn't strong enough to hold back his tears, ashamed he was losing composure. Vox shook his head, squeezing his eyes closed until he felt a familiar yet lost hand touching his cheek. His eyes opened, tears streaming down yet Paradox's hands were to his side. The touch was... the thought filled his head immediately, the touch he was familiar with but he couldn't place who's it was.

 

"My son... Since you were a child I've watched you carefully. I have tried to bond with Atrinox but he... He has gone down a path you cannot follow... A path that leads to only an abyss... I've felt it through the divine. Vox, my only reason for you being here is to listen to my final and only wish... I want you... You to... Set our people free of the bonds of this tribe..." 

 

"Set us free... Of the bonds that binds this land... That strickens our people... That blinds your brother... Set us free..."

 

Vox blinked, and there he was, clad in the Pact Armor, holding the two orbs in his gloved and armored palms. He realized a tear was rolling down his left cheek, the same one that familiar touch lingered even after the various weeks he spent away. Even since that day, that touch his vacant yet still there. And Vox was reminded of why he was here, for his people, and to free them of the shackles that bound them to their world. That bound them to the fate set upon them by Atrinox and Paradox. Steadying himself, Vox wiped away the tear, and taking a deep breath he could feel the exhaustion as it caught up to his mind. 

 

Vox would enter through those doors, and begin the chain of events that would free him. Events that would lead him to free his people and his brother. 

Edited by Vox
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Sandy bowed low, the green fabric of her jumpsuit rustling against her armour. While she inclined her body, she did not break eye contact with the master Exorcist and Lord of the Imperial Knights. The other woman appeared different, wounded and placed into the container of a different body. Would it be better to contact the medicals and get a clone made? Sandy did not know, but what did know was that the woman was suffering greatly. 

 

The Song had taken her far afield, and left her in bitter valleys. 

 

“Master Eleison-” She spoke, ending her bow and putting forward a hand to keep the woman from rising. “You are still suffering from your wounds, please let us attend to you before we make our journey...” 

 

She looked back to the room from where she had just come. A symbol of what could come from good intentions and ill preparation. 

 

“Losing you would be a serious wound to our morale, so let us do our best.” She glanced sideways to Leena and placed a hand upon the Exorcist’s burned flesh, inhaling deeply as she did so, a breath that filled her lungs and her mind with the force. She brought her presence alongside Leena’s and concentrated upon the wicked burns. There would be pain in the healing, but she was sure that Kyrie would not mind. Under her fingers the melted and besotten flesh peeled away as if stripped by maggots. She was no master in healing like the Mon Calamari, but it was an art that she had long practiced under her old master. 

 

In the place of the burned and destroyed flesh knit anew the infantile pink flesh of new life. With each pass of her hands over the woman's wounds Sandy could feel more clearly a lurking darkness of rot and decay, it was subtle, it was small. And Sandy furrowed her brow, searching deep within the woman’s mind and heart. It was no rot like the core of Nal Hutta, or the deep darking decay of Ar-Pharazon. It was the plague of good intentions turned awry. The roots of good long stretched and changed by years of battle and harsh decisions. A poison clung to the very depths of Kyrie, and though the purifying force of the Exorcists had burned it almost bare, by their own very nature it crept back in. 

 

Sandy could only admire the dedication of the woman, facing the cold and dark within herself all alone. The Exorcist and the Sin Eater was a lonely journey, and one that left the user without a connection in the  galaxy. It was a life of despair and sacrifice. Sandy knew that she could not draw that poison out, that she could not confront the seed of darkness for the woman. It was attached to her and was fed by the darkness she willingly devoured. But she could help.

 

Sandy’s hands stopped over the wound, and she flung her arms around the woman, pulling her into a hug that was no where near a professional expression of support that the Imperial was likely used to. But there was love there. It was not the love that she had for Aidan, it was the love of a friend and she bathed the woman in it. For love, Sandy knew, was a counter to great evil.

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Jedi Master

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Pim jumped at the sound of the door opening to the observation wing- it was dark and no one knew she was here. The figure looked familiar; and she tried to place him in her mind. However, it was just a silhouette of the figure. “Who?! Get in here, close the door! Shh!”

 

She was clearly trying to cover her presence here. Innocently, of course. Pim gestured to the figure, pulling him with the force and slamming the door. The dark room was situated above the training yard- one where the acrobatics course was set up, a lounging pit to rest and relax between bouts and where they could watch their compatriots, there were stock droids one could fight against, targeting range, a melee course to focus on hand to hand combat, and armed combat. And there were other bays to behold as well, but it was in a section Pim was looking at.. This room was meant for observation from a higher vantage point. From here she saw that her Master was below, in a room on the side that housed the segregated training rooms for more private appointments. 

 

Sneaking over to a spot, she looked down at the scene inside the private training room. There was a man; his long woven hair sitting atop his head, a cloth wrap around his eyes, standard Jedi Master robes, his skin had a pattern that wasn’t clear from this far away what it was exactly, his left arm was in a sling and he rested heavily on the cane in his right hand- in a stance that suggested he was leaning on it to support an injured leg. 

 

Motioning to the dark figure that had walked in on her, she waved him over- there was just enough light to make out motion in the darkened room. “You’re new here, come watch this… this is going to be awesome.” She whispered and pointed towards the figure below. In the dark however, the four spheres floated in a slow rotation around her forearm as if it were a planet and the spheres were moons in perfect orbit. 

 

The figure moved forward and followed her direction to look at the man- now surrounded by training droids. The room was 30 feet by 30 feet- plenty of room for gymnastics and the like- but also close enough to where melee combat was feasible. 

 

 

As soon as the door closed to the room and the last droid took up positioning, nearly a dozen accounted for- the figure below nodded and took one step forward, relying on the cane to hold him up. 

 

If it had been any lighter, they would have seen him smirk. But all the rogue pair saw was an absolute stillness that could be mistaken as a still frame image or a painting. 

 

Then the man nodded and the scene broke. 

 

Blaster bolts erupted from the droids- all aimed at the man in the middle. In a single flash, the bolts collided at the center- and even though they were stun bolts, five was a lot. The energy Dissipated at once- against each other! The combatant had crouched and on his one good leg, he balanced his left arm was tucked into his body in the sling and his right was straight out, the staff laid back across his arm to his left side, a sphere attached at the end of the cane for its base. 

 

The droids took aim and did not hesitate, blaster bolts rang out, the man kept dodging on one leg- bouncing around the arena, flipping and spinning. The man moves faster and faster, until he was at the arm of a blaster droid. As he kept and sprung at the automaton and with a forceful undercut blow that bent the metal and plastoid; so the man spun away and fell upon the next obstacle- it was Rendered inert in moments.

 

Never once did he get shot or struck, but moved fluidly about the room. The other droids were trying to chase him down, the ones with practice sabers. It was a terrific display of acrobatics and subtle control of the Force, Pim knew. She caught herself staring slack jawed at her master and how, while two limbs were injured, he was crushing the droids one after another. 

 

The man finally took a blow and his staff was knocked out of his hand and it clattered across the room. Apparently the figure went with the blow and rolled across the ground and came up with a right handed punch from a crouch and the droid which was advancing on the combatant- rocked back on its heels, arms pinwheeling to catch its balance. The man opened up his fist to a palm and the droid fell over with a loud clang. 

 

The exercise was over, no more movement from the droids but the man’s shoulders heaved in the darkness for a few more moments. Slowly, he rose to his feet using his one good hand, and then tilted his head to exactly where Pim and the other person was standing. As the cane flew back into his right hand- he leapt up to the observation deck and landed in front of Pim. 

 

A sly smile appeared on his face as the lights came back up with another wave of his hand. “Why do you hide, Pim? And who is your new friend?” 

 

As he spoke, Tobias turned his head and covered eyes to the other being in the room. A trandosian. 

 

Here, Tobias froze- a Trandosian. Flashbacks ran through his mind's eye from his time as a slave, the campaign on Kashyyyk, and a dozen other fights and such. Calming himself, he smiled at the Trando and looked at him through the Force. 

 

Male, honorable, worried about his people. A curious thing, his people. Was he a leader? Why was he here on Nar Shaddaa? Why was he in the observation room with Pim? He was Force Sensitive, but had never had proper training- that much Tobias could tell from the colors and swirls the Force left around the being. This was an interesting character to be sure. Why was he here though? 

 

“Welcome to Nar Shaddaa, my new Trandosian Friend, I am Jedi Master Tobias Vos. This is my apprentice, Pim.” His voice was warm and inviting, that of a friend. Inside, Pim knew he was broken. 

 

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Leena smiled warmly back to Kyrie, stepping back as Master Sandy Sarna entered. The flame-like apparitions of the Anzat’s cleansing fire playing harmlessly across her fingers as she held her hand up to regard the non-injurious flickers of light before they dissipated into the warm air. It was clear that the two knew one another. Was there anyone Sandy did not know? Leena was much more confined in who she knew; a casualty of a life spent in the healing halls across the galaxy. Even as the young Mon Cal faded into the background, the healing aura that flowed from her heart, mind, and body washed across the room like a soft tidal surge touching everyone, washing away the rough edges of pain and darkness grain by grain with each heartbeat-powered surge.

 

Leena nodded in agreement with Sandy’s assessment. The Sin Eater was like a wild animal, even though she was calm now, the darkness that gave such a dragon power would inevitably resurge. Even without the darkness, Kyrie was a pained beast.

 

The shock that flickered across Leena’s face was genuine as she struggled to maintain her composure. Sandy had pulled the Exorcist into a tight embrace and she could feel the emotion that radiated from it: love. With a raised eyebrow, Leena considered the situation before nodding with approval. Such a display seemed more relegated to Padawans and younglings; but what did Leena know of the world? Love was a strong positive force. Did she not love those she cared for on some level? A Jedi had to be wary of love though. With such a powerful emotion, there were always fringes of darkness that could more easily pierce the veil. Still, Sandy was a master and this woman, Kyrie, was . . . what was she really?

 

“Maybe we can get changed and go for a healing meditation before moving back out into the galaxy. Once we are centered, we can better take a stand against the darkness that creeps at the fringes.” Leena glanced at Sandy, with an urge of her eyebrows hoping to convey that she was trying to help the Exorcist before them. “There is an old Hutt garden near here. The darkness of this world is weakest there. If you get changed, we can meet there in a half hour and allow our souls to be cleansed, find peace, and center ourselves on what is truly important.” Leena offered a warm smile to the two, placing a reassuring hand on each of their shoulders and squeezing briefly in reassurance.

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The doors opened and closed behind the Trandoshan, the room itself barely dim and all he could see were a silhouette of the same female. At least, as he perceived it, she quickly spoke in a quieted tone for him to join her. In the area was various other rooms; the pair were in an observation deck of sorts clearly for viewing, separate from the training rooms ahead. He did as suggested, or rather told, and quietly made his way to the female. Unlike her, Vox still held the orbs in either hand and did not do anything to conceal himself. Originally he was wanting to return the items and leave, go to his temporary home and discard the saber-damaged armor so it can be repaired, and so he can rest. 

 

Vox's attention was on another individual in the center of one of the rooms, he could hardly see the person in its center, but clearly he held a weapon of sorts. A stick? No, a staff of some kind. A resting stick, as his tribes Elders called it, clearly used for older aged folk or those with bad or injured legs. His arm seemed to be restrained as well, possibly broken or simply damaged enough he couldn't use it properly. There was a feeling of respect toward the man, those mechanical contraptions surrounding him, training clearly and that's what Vox liked. No rest for the wicked, he thought. 

 

Then the chaos ensued when from his simple nod, automotons began to attack him. Vox was ready to see a man struggle, instead was taken aback by the sheer skill and acrobats the person presented. For someone crippled they actually managed to amaze the Chieftain, he'd seen his father, when he was but a boy Paradox would frequent in training sessions to both improve the honor guards he faced and himself. But even then, Paradox would most likely have nothing compared to the feats this man displayed. To witness such a thing must have been no coincidence, between the girl bumping into to him and the journey he's undergone. 

 

The training session ended when the individual struck the final droid, a matter of moments. Vox was impressed, not even the finest of warriors in the War Pack were that talented, and they were trained in various weapons and hand arts! The cane flew to the man's hand and he leapt up, catching the Trandoshan by surprise. These were odd people indeed, what abilities they had, he'd never seen anything like it. Jedi. A word and name he still needed to learn about, and not some short description. 

 

The man spoke and Vox merely nodded, curious as to how he could see through the blindfold on his face. Oh well, it hasn't been exactly a normal set of weeks. Vox didn't regard the woman though, clearly his attention on the man in front, he spoke in Common Trandoshan, "It is an honor, then, to meet a talented warrior as yourself, and your apprentice, Master Jedi Vos." 

 

Vox replied in pleasantries, and though he could understand the Common tongue, he couldn't speak it. Nudono and Trandoshan were the only two languages he spoke, and not simply because of ignorance but rather the lack of time and teachers to teach him. Vox went silent for seconds before remembering the point of his coming, "I believe your apprentice dropped these," He presented the black and rose quartz orbs, "I would think they are of value."

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The cloning bays were a lonely sector of any Jedi facility. Aside from the fact that they tended to be several degrees colder than the rest of the structure, everything was made of sterile metal and plastoid and glass, and the staff consisted almost entirely of steely-eyed medicine men who spoke exclusively in many-syllabic terms and… many other aspects, the mere existence of the cloning vats raised uncomfortable questions about uncomfortable subjects like the disconnect between the hypothetical soul and the body, memory and existence, to say nothing of the handy workaround concerning death and its significant mention in the Jedi Code. That, and after perishing under violent circumstances, some Jedi awoke in their new bodies in a state of extreme disorientation--sometimes in a violent state of mind.

 

Don’t flinch. Don’t flinch. Don’t beg. Don’t look away. Don’t ignite. This is that his choice. You’ll be back. You’ll be back. Don’t….

 

The last few seconds of that disastrous boarding action were something of a haze of red pain and black unconsciousness. If asked later, she would recall something about forcibly clenching every muscle in her body in an effort to not allow Ryu to distance himself from the fact that he was killing someone who had deliberately placed themselves at his mercy. But at the moment, that recollection was as dim as the lights aboard Goliath. What she knew now was cold air, flurry sheets, flimsy overalls on her body, and concerned murmuring about her.

 

“Careful, Antilles, the notes say to keep your distance while--”

 

“Shavit! Draygo! Draygo! You’re… hurting me!”

 

For at that moment, Armiena had sprung from the cot in an avalanche of bedsheets, knocking over a tray of medical probes. The reborn Jedi clasped onto the medtech, squeezing onto his shoulder and arm with all the strength that her newly-formed hands could muster. It took a few seconds for the glare of dim lights to fade against her unused eyes, for the sensation of horrific agony to give way to the mild annoyance of a room that was three degrees colder than her preference, and for her hands--both flesh--to register that she was clasping onto skinny arms and bone, rather than the freakish strength of a berserking Sith Lord’s muscles.

 

“Draygo?”

 

The pale green eyes looked from side to side. “Where am I?” She sensed her Padawan nearby. Her son was nearby.

 

“Nar Shaddaa, We’ve been--hurk!”

 

At that moment, Draygo had drawn the thoroughly frightened medtech in for a painfully-tight hug. “Thank you.”

 

____________________

 

Several minutes and a few routine scans later, Armiena was allowed to change into her robes in the company of the other med tech, a female Mon Cal.

 

“No, it’s alright. I need to know. What happened at Corellia?”

 

“Not really my field of expertise, but… scuttlebutt is that the planet stands. The entire base was cheering only the other day--”

 

“--oh, hey, you kept the scars!” Armiena glanced at her partially-naked torso, eyes tracing the fractal-like pattern of scars that followed a network of surface capillaries on her torso, neck, and right arm. That was a souvenir of absorbing a lightning strike on Coruscant just after its moon had grazed the planet. And then there were a number of less spectacular but more easily-displayed souvenirs from less memorable occasions--minor blaster grazes, a miniature notch on the left side of her jaw--the only remaining mark from her first appointment with Master Organa...

 

“We debated that--but you always expressed pride in the scars you kept--but it’s simple enough to erase them if you prefer.”

 

“No, I’ll keep them. I want people to know what I’m capable of. Anyway, back to…”

 

“Right. Corellia. Sith fleet withdrew, apparently heavy casualties on both sides but much worse on their side--”

 

“--The robes are tighter than I remember.”
 

“They’re the same size, actually. We added about ten kilos of muscle. I hope you don’t mind our license, we were operating partly on scans from six years ago and right after Coruscant--”

 

“I was training back up. Hmm. There’s probably going to be a quiet, lonely night where I’m going to be asking myself some uncomfortable questions, but….  Armiena watched the muscles in her shoulder and arm ripple as she flexed and smiled. “This will work. Good. We’ve earned ourselves some time. We need to move quickly, gotta get to the Grandmaster. We have a chance to finally turn this around, scatter the Sith fleet…” At this point the sudden silence of the Mirialan had become poignant enough that even Draygo, despite her preoccupation with her vat-fresh body, had taken notice. “What’s happened?”

 

“Grandmaster Alluyen hasn’t yet, that is, we haven’t yet received instructions to begin… Would you like to view the body?”

 

“Oh.” Draygo sat heavily on the cot. She felt the warm leather of a set of boots on her bare feet. Reinforced shafts, slightly tight around the ankles--just as she preferred. A belt with a standard-issue comlink and a datapad awaited her use. “No. Not necessary. I need a walk.”

 

________

 

Several minutes later, Draygo was pacing the ring of one of the military base’s briefing rooms. An enormous holoprojector occupied the majority of the room, the emptied seats taken up only by a tidy pile of small arms and what appeared to be a high-yield ion pulse bomb. What to do? Her Padawan was clearly distraught--her son was closed off--and the Jedi Grandmaster was dead. Only the fact that the Sith Empire wasn’t hanging over their heads like a broadsword from an ancient adage made this situation less dire than the month at Borleias. The advice she had been given was simple: Work the problem. Solve one problem at a time until you run out of problems…. or you run out of time.

 

Armiena leaned on the holoprojector pit and stared into the glittering array of projectors and lights. For a moment, she thought she had felt the presence of one of her old friends, as reassuring as a hand on her shoulder. It was almost as though Darex was encouraging her to fight past the pain--that the sensation was only temporary, but purpose lasted forever and she would soon be past it. Were there even any Jedi still alive from that class of Hopefuls still alive? Or had they all spent their lives fighting the war? Why had The Force discriminated against her own existence, allowed her to claw her way back into the war to be ground up and spat out once again?

 

Her right hand drifted to a plastoid mug of synth-caf. Pain jolted from contact the steaming beverage.

 

Whatever the cause was, Armiena knew that she owed it to her friends to not wallow in loneliness. Her hand drifted to the datapad and comlink at her belt--worthy weapons even for a Jedi Master--and went to work. Four messages would suffice at the moment.

 

The first message she sent went to her Padawan. “Genesis, it’s me. I’m sorry. Things didn’t go as I’d hoped. I need to know that you’re ok.”

 

The second message that she sent went to her son. “Aidan, I’m sorry. Boarding action at Corellia went badly, I hope that you’re alright. I could do with a hug if you want to see me. I love you.”

 

The third message went out as a general signal to any nearby Jedi. “This is Draygo. If you’re here on Nar Shaddaa, then you’ll know about the Grandmaster. We need to see to succession quickly and counterattack while the Sith are still recovering from Corellia. Briefing room…. one of the ones right off of the rotunda.”

 

The last went to an encrypted channel to a disused base in the Mid Rim. “I need a favor. Aryian is dead. I need some serious firepower. Can I ask for your help in--Force!” At that moment, a deafening metallic roar emanated from the comlink and caused her to jerk the device away from her ear. It was always difficult to understand her Wolf Spiders when they were enthusiastic about a summons--but she had come to appreciate that a deafening roar was typically an answer in the affirmative. She continued sending messages and tapping away at the datapad, dispatching messenger droids when Holonet channels couldn’t be trusted. Draygo would continue working until someone finally snapped her out of the reverie.

 

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Kirlocca did his best to stay out of the way, mainly because he wasn't sure what else he was supposed to do. He hadn't been resurrected for very long, and while the Force was beginning to aid him, the last thing he wanted to do was to rely upon it so heavily that he couldn't do anything else without it. He watched for a moment during entry the cityscape of Nar Shaddaa come into view. Even without leaning into the Force, he was able to feel the life currents flowing so heavily upon the surface. There was also a strange somber feeling echoing off the entire planet. As he looked down, not wanting to reach out too heavily, he began to fully understand why Raven did what she did. Knowing that his life, second life that is, was about to get very crazy, he took a final swig of his caf and began to prepare himself for what he had to do.

 

As the ship landed and the personnel began to disembark, the Wookiee held back for a moment, not wanting to be apart of the official Imperial standard group that normally came with high officials or the Empress herself. But Raven made it very clear to him that such a modest hanging back was not an option for him during this time. So he now walked slightly behind her, as he knew the traditions of the Empire were something that would take years to break, so he didn't want to insult anyone by standing as a complete equal to the Empress. As he came down the ramp with Raven, he was a bit surprised to not see any Jedi, outside of the Imperial Knights. It was then that he fully allowed for himself to reach out into the Force to feel those present. Almost immediately he could feel some presences that he knew from long ago. Armiena Draygo, Tobias Vos, Aiden Darkfire, Kyrie Eleison and Sandy Sarna. There were others, but none that had memories flood him like those. 

 

<< I'm almost afraid to ask, but this facility doesn't feel like... You're holding back your own Force connection. Why? >>

 

The question wasn't really directed as an insult, but more of curiosity. Raven was keeping herself in check, but Kirlocca could not fully understand. Even now, he could feel the Force slowly moving through her, but she was only observing it. He doubted he would get a direct answer from her, at least not today. For now, he believed that both knew Kirlocca would be sought out by other Jedi who could use some morale boost. So for the moment, the Wookiee let his question sink in with Raven. Kirlocca knew that she would make a far better Jedi then an Empress. 

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More days had passed as I laid about in my hospital room, the bacta and introvanial fluids finally beginning to take as I felt my strength slowly returning despite my mental state far from it. It wasn't long before my wounds began to heal through application of my own healing skills and the skills of the other healers and I was able to get up and move about, an aid always in tow. I still held trouble sleeping, pills given to aid me in my endeavor to rest, but it only subsided it momentarily for a few hours here and there. So I often took long strolls through the corridors just to clear my mind.

 

So many were there with me during my stay, some from Corellia, others from other numerous battles, and it only hindered my hope inevitably. Still, it did help that I often stopped in certain rooms if only to chat and check up on those who did not need constant or critical care just as I'm sure my stopping by aided them as well, if only to distract one another. We all needed the simple things in life, and I was open to give it often.

 

The rest of the time, I spent searching for ward of my Master, whom seemed all but lost, listed as MIA for most of my days here over the past week or so, with no word in sight. At least, until yesterday when one of the nurses mentioned her name coming across the wires. But other than that, she knew little to nothing. Hope seemed nearly bleak and for the rest of the day, i spent much of it looking out the viewport overlooking Nar Shadaa in depression. War had taken so much of my spirit, but at that moment, I felt broken. And then came her comm.

 

When I received it, I thought little about it at first. It took my awhile before I even reached over to look at it. But when I saw that it was Master Armiena, something came over me. I felt almost energetic. Before I even knew what I was doing, I had gotten up and dressed, pulling out my IV and was leaving the ward. Even despite the nurses and Doctors advising against it, I cared little for it. I just wanted to see her, even in the state i was in. Reaching out with the Force, i found her through the bond we shared and blindly headed her way.

 

When i arrived, i knocked at (@ObliviousKnight) her door politely before opening it and walking in, ignoring the fact that I looked like hell walked over. My eyes had severe bags under them from my lack of sleep and the nightmares of Corellia I dealt with, my skin was pale and looked anemic, and I had lost considerable weight and muscle tone due to my inability to eat and living the past week on introvanial fluids to keep my strength up. But the most important distraught look I held was the look in my hazel eye, the look of depression and hopelessness, as if I blamed myself for my failure. And yet, despite all that, my smile was genuine as i perked up. "Master."

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A message chime buzzed from Vos's chest pocket where the datapad was kept. He waited to check it though as the Trandosian spoke in his native tongue- and he produced two orbs. Pim let loose a silent gasp as she realized what had brought the Trando here. She reached out her hand to call them back to her. "Thank you for returning these, I'm sorry about before- you see why I was in a hurry, but that's no excuse. These are my training spheres..." As her hand extended forward, the spheres glided through the air the others she had, of various colors and textures, spun around her forearm slowly and under control. There were six there at the moment, and she added the two others. 

 

She tilted her head to Vos, he knew she was embarrassed to lose some spheres. 

 

Then, as the awkward moment set in the door opened with the usual swishing noise. A blue skinned, red eyed humanoid stepped in, surveying the scene before him in a calm and collect manner. The man, a Jedi Master, surveyed the Trandosian carefully and then the Zabrak female before turning his attention to Vos- "You got the message too, I assume, but you can't read it. Let's go. Masters meeting now, no padawans." 

 

Vos was looking at the Jedi Master, well, he was facing him. There was a ripple of unease within Vos, and he nodded then let his head hang down for a moment, concentrating. 

 

"Alright. Pim, help our new visitor around the temple, should he need it. Spend some time in here sparring if you wish- I will find you in a bit." Vos turned to face the Trandosian, probing the aliens mind for name to come to the surface of his thoughts. Another warm chuckle and the blind man addressed the alien by name, and in his own tongue. "Vox, is it? I'm afraid I have to cut this short- but if you need anything, Pim here will give you my comm codes. I would like to speak with you later if that is acceptable. I'm sorry for this interruption."

 

With that, Vos hobbled his way across the room to the blue skinned Jedi Master, and the pair left. 

 

Pim watched them go, then slowly and awkwardly turned to face the Trandosian. "So..." was all the further she got with her sentence...  "That was pretty cool, right?! I can't wait until I am skilled as my master. Anyways, you're new here- are you trying to become a Jedi too?" She asked the only other being in the room. "Want to spar?"

 

~~~

 

"You picked up a new apprentice, and maybe a second?" Tomin’titu’quis, the Chiss Jedi Master asked of Tobias as they walked down the hallway.

 

Tobias responded in cheun, and the two conversed until they reached the rotunda- then he reached out to Kirlocca, questioning if he had gotten the message as well and hoping to see him at this meeting. Tense conversation continued in the Chiss language, touching on what happened on Corellia, what had been happening since the Black Sun Station and Tobias's exile, supply chains, Corusant, and general filling in of gaps. Then Tom asked about the scars and subsequent blindness- Tobias waved him off as they got to the briefing room. Tobias was glad to see that the Nautolan Jedi Master Tut Maris was here as well, injured but well enough. The two exchanged a greeting, and they sat down, There were a few other Masters here, and a few Knights. Knowing he was going to see Sandy in a moment too brought a smile to his face, but only for a second. 

 

 

 

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Vox listened intently, clearly his full attention now on the pair and not just the Master Jedi. He noticed a very obvious thing upon the man, Vos, that his eyes were wrapped in cloth. If Vox didn't know any better he would assume that the man was blind, and yet he performed beyond what the Trandoshan had ever seen. No, he couldn't be blind lest that mans senses were heightened to some extremes... These people were strange indeed. 

 

The Trandoshan nodded as the orbs left his palms, his hands now falling to his sides. He accepted the thanks, no words needed for it however an odd silence befell upon the trio until moments later the doors opened with a hiss. A blue skinned man walked in, surveying the area then to the three, his red eyes falling on Vos, the Master Jedi. He spoke for some meeting with other masters as well, no patakhans or whatever those were. And then Vox realized the man must have meant trainees, recruits, or apprentices. That also meant strangers like himself. 

 

As the older pair left, Vox watched as the doors closed again then turned to the young woman's words. Vox simply hummed in agreement, not much else to say, and clearly her excitement was what he could best remember the girl as. Excited and young. The armored Trandoshan then raised a scaly brow and replied, "What kind of spar? There are not a lot of light weapons I can use without breaking them."

 

Vox's warning was of his strength. He'd practice with wooden sticks when he was a child, and always going hard, he was notorious for snapping them in half. That was when his mentors gave him metal of some sorts, weak but strong enough to handle such abuse. 

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Sandy let out a laugh as she let the embrace of the Exorcist fall away. Perhaps it was a laugh at the shocked expression on the Anzat’s face, or the roiling shock she could feel from Leena. She moved her hands so that gripped the slender yet muscular shoulders of the Master Exorcist before she stepped back. The woman was strong and full of life, and it would seem the Force had much more to teach them all. For she could sense a distant presence, one of the old grandmaster. Returned to life. 

 

She glanced to Leena and smiled, the creases of her upturned lips cutting across a slew of freckles. “You should not be shocked about seeing love and joy in the Jedi Order. The Force does not call us all to be passionless mystics, and Love and Joy have their bedrock in the lightside. While we should not over indulge or make idol any of these emotions, it does not hamper us on the path to express the goodness of your heart.” She glanced down to her armour and ran a hand along her belt, ensuring all was in place. 

 

“Though that is my belief, other masters might be more keen to voiding all that makes them alive.” She broke into a grin before she extended a datapad to the Exorcist and proffering the other to the Healer. 

 

“There is of course another reason I am here. We strike to find the heart of the dark order and need strong recruits for this scouting mission. The rebel Alliance are sending their best, and we Jedi should also.”

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Jedi Master

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Only seconds after that statement, the pall of an ysalamir fell over Master Sarna and there was a knock on the door. It slid open to the medical ward, revealing an astoundingly tall woman carrying an ysalamir on a backpack harness. Her musculature and camouflage uniform suggested that she was among the Rebel Alliance’s marines, while the vibromachete worn on her back confirmed to those with an eye for details she was among the Galactic Republic’s Talon shock troopers. However, upon realizing how very small this medical ward was and that she had just walked in on three Jedi bearing an ysalamir, her brown eyes flitted to view the reaction to her arrival and lines of mortification spread across her expression. “I am so sorry.”

 

The color having fled from her face, she backpedaled. Sche could be heard speaking to a medical droid just outside the ward, muffled by the walls. “Medic--keep an eye on this for me?” There was a dull thud as she released her ward into the custody of the medical staff, where it would hopefully be taken well out of range of the Jedi. No longer bearing an ysalamir, the marine rectified her aborted attempt at introductions, striding back into the room and offering a quick, perfunctory salute. She did not expect that it would be returned.

 

“Masters, Master Sarna,” She did not know the Jedi Master personally, but she at least recognized the Jedi Master from her briefing. “Captain Johanna Bryce, Thirty-First Republic Talons. A pleasure. I understand that we are to be working together, capitalize on this sudden change in our fortunes.”

 

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Draygo glanced up from the datapad. A quick glance at the screen showed that she had left fairly sensitive information open to view from anyone who stopped by--for example, the Rebel who had abandoned a high-yield bomb in the briefing room--but she suddenly had much more important priorities than infosec and rose from her seat. The wear on her Padawan was obvious--heavy bags under the eyes, signs of dehydration and a strip of adhesive residue on the boy’s wrist. Either Genesis had been significantly injured at Corellia or he was having difficulty dealing with the aftermath of combat.

 

“You look terrible,” Armiena said, offering a sad smile just as she drew him into a hug. She felt bones on his back.

 

“You’re not weak for this. Weakness has nothing to do with it. It’s decency.” The veteran Jedi said in some attempt to reassure him as she allowed the half-Miraluka to draw away. “I killed for the first time when I was about your age. I felt sick for days. It wasn’t the smell. It was the thinking. He was a stormtrooper, masked--obviously--nothing to identify him except a yellow pauldron and the fact he was a few centimeters shorter than the rest of his column. I didn’t know him from Tarkin. He never saw it coming. I couldn’t stop thinking… what did that say about me?”


Draygo didn’t know what had happened to her Padawan aboard Goliath. However, he was alive, and presumably whoever he had faced could not say the same.

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Tut and Tom chatted together, relaying the events of the past month. The pair even chuckled for a brief moment. Tobias smiled to himself, he was seated behind them and resting his right hand on his staff. The Kiffar wondered about what the circumstances were that was bringing them all together- and just the galaxy in general. Why was it always in turmoil and why were the supposed good guys always back peddling and stalling like a malfunctioning actuator? What could he do to- The thought paused before it finished. He had tried- and he had been shunned by the leadership twice. Deep down he knew he should feel frustration both at himself and the leadership, but the Jedi Order kept changing leaders left and right, and now with Adenna in the state she was currently in- that was what this meeting was going to be about. Sighing, he adjusted the cloth wrapping around his eyes. There was nothing more he wanted than to be back on the front lines and even the little sparring match he had just went through proved he could fight, even while maintaining the ruses. 

 

His right hand moved to scratch the stubble growing on his chin, and then he rested his head in his hand. From there, his mind wandered and questions came in and out of his mind in such a rapid pace he was caught up in the mental hurricane, he almost didn't feel when Tut tapped his knee. If half his face wasn't covered up, his eyes would have blinked rapidly and it would appear as if he dozed off , right here in the briefing room. But since he was blind at the moment, he was spared all that. Stretching his back, he leaned forward to whisper with Tut and Tom- and about old plots and schemes. It seems they were feeling rambunctious as well- and with Tut still injured...

 

~~~

 

Pim winced with the Trandosian words. She realized that her master was helping her pull the essence of the words from Vox's mind, despite being in another language. She played over what he said in his mind and the attitude behind the words. Face value, she understood. He was an experienced warrior it seemed and would probably obliterate her in any sparing match. 

 

"Perhaps not physical combat... you would out class me in a heartbeat." She explained, hesitantly. Then her eyes brightened as sudden realization came over her. Then with an excited tone- "Do you want to learn how to do this?" Her Zabrak smile spread across her face as she held up her hand and the spheres swirled around her hand. With her other hand, she held out a black rubber sphere. "If you want..." she added, as her confidence faltered for a moment. 

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There wasn't much for Raven to respond to, as the two clearly needed to part ways, at least for the time being. Without much of a bow, Kirlocca began to walk towards the familiar presence of Tobias, and only slightly gave an acknowledgement to him within the Force. He did his best as he moved to keep out of main sight, not wanting to draw too much attention to himself, but as a Wookiee, there was only so much he could do to avoid being seen by others. And as it was, not many Wookiee's became Jedi, so many were quick to know of him upon their eyes seeing him. Regardless of such looks, he still managed to remain rather hidden.

 

He arrived within the briefing room and casually placed a paw upon Tobias' shoulder. Even as he did so, he could feel the emotions within the Force of the man, many of wonder, hesitation and perhaps a small bit of regret of some sort. Without much of anything, Kirlocca allowed for his own presence to fill the room, but made sure to provide a soothing feeling. 

 

<< It does not do well to linger upon the past Tobias. Every action taken, every appointment made by the Force has lead us to this moment, and it will continue to lead us to the next moment. Trust in the Force, and everything else will lead us to where we need to go. >> 

 

The Wookiee offered up a half smile to the man. He knew that his own words would only provide little, yet he wanted to provide them anyways. It was the least he could do to bring a balanced mind to him.

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The conversation took a turn as a furry Jedi Master entered the room. Kirlocca made his way across the room and to Tobias. Only as the @Wookiee Jedi closed in did Tobias turn to face the Former Grandmaster. It wouldn't take any sort of Force aptitude to see that he was beyond delighted to be in the presence of the wookiee once again. The man had taken great pains to figure out what had happened since they last saw each other, on Carida, just before he was murdered. Then their conversation on Rhen Var,,, Tobias cataloged how much had happened since those events... He had figured out who had dealt the death blow against the furry alien, found his holocron, led Adenna to purge the last of the darkness inside her then becoming Grandmaster, the Kashyyyk Battle, Dark Sun Station Battle, his temporary exile from the Jedi after that, the exorcism Tobias inflicted upon himself and the subsequent healing of the Force Scar on Gala... and now here they were. The Kiffar felt... tired. That and a bit of the pain from the Force scars that were branded into his skin.

 

Holding his staff in place with his left hand, he reached to his friend and gripped his shoulder with a firm but gentle grip. "It is great to have you back with us, my friend." Tobias released his grip on the shoulder and retrieved his cane. "Indeed- but this is a new direction the Force has been bent to take. This new path is troubling. There is something out there maliciously bending the Force to this new path. Adennas... state is most troubling. It's as if a bratty child was allowed into a forge and ruins a blade simply because of its ignorance of the proper process of creating something useful." Vos chuckled and shrugged, "Metaphorically speaking. At any rate, we are here now and must figure out what to do... again. It seems every few months we have to find a new Grandmaster to lead us. I'd roll my eyes, but the effect is lost with this bandage..." Vos chuckled once again, at his own expense. 

 

"How are you feeling? Healthy, tangible, corporeal, connected, sane?" A sly smile indicated he was trying to joke around about a serious topic, in typical Tobias fashion 

 

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To see her was a true sight for a sore eye as I entered and she stood upright with a new strength in her stature. It was almost overwhelming when she brought me into her embrace, but nevertheless, I returned it with what little strength I possessed. To be honest, I did not want to let go, but when I felt her pull away, I released, her words of encouragement falling upon a beaten heart.

 

"Thank you for the kind words Master." I spoke genuinely with a disheartened tone, the echoes of my defeat playing freshly upon my mind as if they happened a mere few days ago rather than the week and a half that had passed. "But to be honest, I'm lucky to be here before you right now. I feel like crap knowing I left you and Ryu behind like that."

 

My mind played back to my thoughts as I departed the Goliath that day, unable to get to her and Ryu and forced to flee against saturated numbers of Forces. If I had stayed, I would surely have perished and the thought still haunted me even as I gazed upon her and nearly brought me to tears. But that wasn't the most devastating and lingering ghost from that day and my gaze upon her echoed within my iris. 

 

"But between my escape from the Sith Lord and his Apprentice, my injuries, and incoming Forces, I was forced to flee the Goliath entirely." As I spoke, my voice cracked a few times, holding back the choking of my despair as I debriefed her. And yet, as I spoke of the Sith Lord I faced that day, a hint of anger flared in my mind unknowingly. "I was unable to defeat the darkness I faced. He was too strong. I failed Master. I failed the Force. And it forsook me."

 

In my moment of debriefing, I had failed to grasp her own circumstances that day, and as I glanced around the room, I did not see the one she swore to protect. Stopping my own debriefing as I gazed around, I questioned her. "Where's Ryu?"

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