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Ylesia


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((For @Trill Scout Squadron))

 

If any of the scout troopers had been on safari or had any experience hunting big game, they would have recognized the expression on Doctor Moriarty’s face as it snapped towards the four soldiers. Her face drained of color and her right hand froze in the middle of guiding a hovering loading droid towards one of the boxy habitation units that was affixed on the keel of her freighter. Her jaw had dropped open and her eyes snapped open and darted between all of the blaster barrels that were pointing in her direction. The number of weapons trained on her was wholly discouraging and far greater than her usual experience–to be more precise, exactly zero.

 

The expression was that of a Naboo ikopi staring into the headlights of a low-flying airspeeder, trying to determine whether the approaching vehicle was a predator and which way to run. Coincidentally, the sound that escaped from her lips–a pathetic sort of strangled whimper–was almost exactly the kind of cry that an ikopi made when it finally decided to flee, only much more quiet.

 

“Eh? Ehhhh?” Her hands instinctively went clear of her hips, never mind the fact that she had left her blaster on board Machine. The most lethal item on her person was her datapad, and that was clearly visible on a wrist mount. She swallowed heavily.


“I… I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Acutely aware of the firepower trained on her person, Sophia quickly followed up with more self-preserving babbling. “I mean, this, uh, this task you’re alluding to. I’m just trying to get back to Nar Shaddaa to try and… help.”

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Suffice to say, the trio of troopers on the ground were not impressed by the act. Even if her hands were in the air. One too many barmaids had pulled a gun on a extra friendly scout to leave them comfortable; and this tome they were sober.

 

”Thats the idea,” Christoph said from atop his bike. “Seems you already have an idea what we have in mind.”

 

”Too bad you’ll have to offload all those goodies for what we have in mind.” Rags chimed in, swinging a foot out to kick the nearest crate of ill-gotten gain.

 

”And send it back where you got it.” Steve growled.

 

”Undoubtedly, our authorized codes will see to that.” Rags finished. He jerked his head at the nearest droid pulling an authorization coded ID card out. With a shrill whistle that seemed more like a complaining protest at their wasted time, the droid beeped and chortled at his fellows before about facing with his load. 
 

As tense as the situation was, the trio remained put watching as the stolen gear and equipment was offloaded. They watched the Captain, daring her to do something dumb. 
 

As soon as the work began, Benjamin had rolled over to the far edge. Climbing down he scurried to enter the hangar, walking up beside Steve with his carbine still trained on the woman. “It seems we left some friends back on Nar Shaddaa. Seeing as you are going that way, we’ll tag along. Make sure we get them all out in one piece Captain.” With the butt of his rifle balanced against his belt and plastoid armor he reached forward extending a armored hand in greeting. “Gunnery Sergeant Gunnery Benjamin Wood, Captain. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” 
 

Steve did not move, all he did was cant his head regarding the woman with suspicion. The other two idled their bikes forward as soon as the boxes of equipment were off loaded. 
 

“Theres room for our rides now.” Christoph observed sarcastically. “Might need them back in that hellscape we left behind.”

 

”And if we gotta leave ‘em,” Rags chimed in. He clanged his hand against the covered engine beneath him with a clang. “Least they’re government issue.”

 

”We’ll leave as soon as we’re loaded.” Christoph continued, turning to look at @DoctorOblivious. “You’re already fueled and stocked. Don’t worry. We checked.”

Trill_Scout_Squadron.jpg

Benjamin Wood

Ragnar Kran
Christoph Sokol

Krilst’eve’nuruodo

 

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The heated water ran across her body, washing a mix of blood, grime, and duracrete dust into the drain at her feet. It would undoubtedly be collected and recycled, and with the distinct lack of Jedi population in the surviving quarters, she let herself spend a few extra minutes under the warm water. She let her mind wander, enjoying the emptiness, and feeling wave after wave of exhaustion wash away from her. She breathed slowly as the water cascaded over her face, letting it wash every bit of grime and sweat away, mixing it with the cares and fears that she had carried throughout the battle, letting them drain away until her mind was solid again. 

 

Aidan had survived. The Council had survived, the Imperial Knights had survived. Her friends had survived. The Alliance would continue, and they might even turn the tide…

 

Her eyes caught the corner of her datapad, and she saw the headlines. Nar Shadda lay in ruins, and the empress’s ship destroyed. The Fleets scattered to the winds. She gulped back another surge of emotion, then stepped out of the steaming refresher unit. It was time to face the day, and time to face the future. She could not stay in the safety of a shower forever, just like she could not stay meditating forever. There was a future to find, and a new life to build. 

 

She dried quickly, slipped into a pale blue tunic that was slightly too large, which she tied down with the belt around her thin waist, before walking across the hallway to where she could feel Aidan. She tapped on his door and waited to see if he would answer. 

 

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Calix Meus Inebrians

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It was all a bit overwhelming. Whenever Moriarty was sufficiently provoked to voice a protest to one of the soldiers, another was there to provide back-up in the form of yet another accusation. By the point that the soldiers were beginning to walk their speeder bikes, she was about to demand to know exactly how stupid they believed her to be. Did they really believe her to be so staggeringly brainless that she would have raided the stocks of the Rebel Alliance and filled her hold with pilfered medical supplies? Well…. She had. A little. Most the medicines and rations were legally obtained–even the ryll and bacta were legally traded–but the anti-radiation chelators were… less-than-legally obtained. 

 

But those were relatively inexpensive. They were just very difficult to locate on civilian markets.

 

Before she voice that protestation, another of the soldiers had approached her from behind, tapped her on the shoulder, and shook her hand as gently as the plastoid gauntlets would allow. “Charmed, under these circumstances,” she hurriedly replied as she glanced towards the heavy clang of a speeder bike settling into Machine’s cargo hold. “And it’s Doctor Moriarty, please.”

 

Being reminded of the military hardware reminded Sophia of yet another potential complication that had arisen–and it wasn’t the ambiguous nature of Machine’s registration. Expecting but never quite getting around to cleaning off the dust and buffing the scuff marks from Coruscant, she had left out a counterfeit Mandalorian armor in the hangar. By counterfeit, it was ordinary plastoid that had been molded in a decent facsimile of the infamous warriors’ armor. It couldn’t possibly be missed. It was bright orange, marked with black runes, and it looked like a suit of Mandalorian armor.

 

It was almost certainly too late to do anything about that now. Her thin face tightened in a cringe at the sight of the loading droids departing her ship with mostly-legally-obtained cargo. Those, she imagined, were almost certainly going to be seized by the Rebel Alliance on forfeiture charges.

 

“You know what? Fine, finish unloading–do your kriffing jobs. Bet you’ll all have a kriffing restraint bolt on you by the end of the week.” Sophia snarled as she boarded the ship and shoved past a hulking humanoid loading droid. It just glanced downwards towards the gangly biological and issued an electronic moan best described as disappointed.

 

Once Sophia reached the cockpit and sat down heavily in her seat, she ran her hands over her face and through her dark hair in dismay. When her vision refocused from her palm and onto the control surfaces, she found the helmet of that armor resting on a stack of papers, staring her directly in the eye. By its side were her blaster, her stun baton, and most dangerous of all, a pen. She sighed and keyed the internal comms system.

 

“I’m ready when you guys are. Whoever you guys are.” Her weary voice paused for a second. “And… uh, when one of you guys get to the cockpit, you’re going to find my blaster. Right side of the control boards, the co-pilot’s station. Please don’t panic when you see it.”

 

((Go ahead and post our departure, @Trill Scout Squadron))

 

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En route to Ylesia, aboard the Gallofree-class medium transport Pacifier
Cha Raaba system, Hutt Space
Down the Triellus Trade Route

 

"*ding* *ding* *ding* *ding* *static* *ding**ding**ding**ding* A'right, how'se this go 'gain? Er... Attention, this is yer captain speaking. Can't believe I'm sayin' this cuz honestly I was the last one expectin' to come outta this one alive, folks, but we're almost planetside!"

 

The announcement had done little to soothe anyone's nerves on board, least of all Mekuma's. The young Nautolan stood, hands clasped behind his back, staring at the blue clouds of hyperspace through a viewport in the cargo hold of the transport. To say it had been a long and tiresome journey would be a huge understatement. Meku didn't even know how long it had been since he had left the Felucia Temple, but with so much of the known Galaxy under the hegemony of the Sith Empire, it had become increasingly difficult to find safe passage through the more popular trade routes. It had been difficult enough getting aboard a relief convoy from Rebel-controlled worlds to Ylesia. The Sith were giving bad press to lightsaber-wielders everywhere, and it had been a pain trying to assure the ship's captain and security personnel that he, the young teenager that he was, was indeed with the Jedi from the Felucia Temple on a sojourn to Ylesia and not a disguised Sith Acolyte intending to murder them all in their sleep.

 

Still, it had been an illuminating journey. For someone like Meku, who had never stepped foot outside the Temple except when it had been attacked all those months before, traveling down half the entire Eastern rim of the Galaxy on his own had been one heck of an adventure. Tiring, but still fun. Ultimately, the idea of finally meeting his Master came to his mind and the Nautolan perked up, suddenly feeling enthusiastic about it all.

 

"Hyperspace reversion in Trill-minus five, four, three, two..."

 

Closing his beady black eyes as he placed a blue-skinned hand on the viewport, he watched as, with a jerk, the blue clouds of hyperspace fell as shimmering stars onto the black backdrop of the Galaxy. In front of him, the wild, tropical world of Ylesia, so similar to Felucia in many ways. Meku was filled with a sense of wonder and anticipation as the planet grew nearer. He could not wait to meet his Master, and at the same time, he was dreading that meeting more than anything. This was arguably scarier than that time the Sith had attacked the Felucia Temple.

 

How would his Master react to his presence? Had she even been informed that she had been assigned another Padawan? He did have the official holorecording bearing the seal of the Jedi Grand Master with him, stating that Mekuma Simka had been assigned as an apprentice to Master Sandy Sarna, who was to supervise his Jedi training. Just to make sure she wouldn't think she was some kind of imposter or miscreant pulling her leg. Would she accept him as an apprentice, or cast him aside so that he would end up having made this entire perilous journey in vain? Would he be a burden on her, an intrusion distracting her from her more important duties as a front-line peace-keeper in this war-torn era? He knew it was a difficult time for everyone, especially the highest-ranking members in the Jedi Order and he definitely didn't want to be a burden or a distraction from their more important duties, yet, at the same time, he was eager to learn. Especially from someone like Master Sarna. He had never met the woman, never even seen her, but she was no doubt one of the most famous Jedi in the entire Order. She was one of the big names. Every youngling dreamed of being apprenticed either to her, or to Master Kil, or, of course, Grand Master Draygo.

He looked at his hand, on the viewport, Yselia growing ever larger as their transport made planetfall. It was quivering. With excitement or anxiety, he couldn't tell. Likely both.

 

Emotion, yet peace, he mentally chided himself, closing his eyes and meditating to soothe his nerves, like he had been taught in the Crèche. It did little to quell his curiosity-slash-dread, though.

Eventually, the ship docked, and soon enough, Meku was tottering down the boarding ramp in a sea of other relief workers, a huge survival backpack strapped to his back and his grey cowl drawn over his eyes to conceal his features. Looking up at the midday sun of Ylesia, the Hopeful reached out with the Force in the general direction of the refugee base. He was a far cry from a master at Force-sensing, but he did have a very basic idea of the skill. Not that he expected it to work, but if Master Sarna was there somewhere, maybe she would detect his probing and... maybe be impressed and accept him as a Padawan?

Edited by Meku Simka

Mekuma Simka

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She let the kiss linger for longer than it probably should have. Enjoying the warmth of his embrace and the firm pressure of his arms around her waist. In those strong arms she felt the peace that she had always longed for, and if her Comm had not so irritatingly chirped, she may have been able to have stayed longer. But her life was not her own, and the few pleasures that she was afforded would need to be postponed. In peacetime there would be time to rest, to let the dark circles under her eyes finally go away. But there was more to do. 

 

She gave him a sad smile and walked away. Striding the long twisting halls of the prefab barracks as she flipped open the holographic display on her comm unit. It was a message from the makeshift port authority telling her of another delivery of medical supplies from Corellia that was destined for the medical tents. Mundane as it might be, in a refugee camp, there was always the threat of such supplies going missing, or being acquisitioned by the wrong authorities. 

 

She shrugged her light pack over her shoulders and had begun to push her way through the long lines of refugees when she felt a prickling at the back of her neck. It was not danger, but it was certainly the touch of an unfamiliar mind on hers. She stopped and let the force flow freely into her, washing away the tiredness and clearing her vision completely. She could feel fear and anxiety in the force, and she would track that mind down. 

 

A young mind, alien to her own human one. An Apprentice? She reached out in turn. Pinpointing the small presence in the force and she pushed her way through the crowd until she saw a very lost looking blue Nautolan, Not too many years younger than herself. Wearing the robes of a jedi apprentice. 

 

“Are you lost Apprentice? Where is your master?”

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Calix Meus Inebrians

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The battered Nubian freighter dropped from hyperspace to a hubbub of activity. The very skylanes of the usually out of the way world teamed with Remnant and Alliance craft alike, many in various states of disrepair. It was chaotic, even as order was gradually carved from it. Such a scene immediately drew the attention of their pilot as he began relaying authorization codes and flight plans even as a combined escort of  X Wings and Tie Interceptors moved to guide them planetward. Sometimes there was an advantage to having a Jedi Council member aboard. It cut through the red tape.

 

That was not what drew Leena’s attention however. What did was the amount of pain, suffering, and injury that seemed to radiate from the ships, the very world itself. This was the remains of a ferocious and bloody battle, even if it was fought far from here. Reaching out on the force, Leena searched for her comrades, the Jedi she knew, her Squibian friends. She felt few of them.

 

And so as they touched down, Leena knew that there was work aplenty to be done. “Ruin,” @TerrorBot she directed the behemoth battle bot, “ensure that our new friend @Keenava Ootunavi is brought to Master Sarna @Sandy Sarna , she will know how to proceed. Fera, if you will come with me, there is much work to be done here. Repairs to be made and lives to save.” Leena turned to Keeneva and offered a tired smile. “Good luck and may the force be with you on your journey.”She knew the droid would keep any friendly forces from arresting or gunning down their once-Sith associate if or when someone recognized her. Tensions were high and with that came quickdraw blasters.

 

Without much more ado, Leena scurried from the open bat door of the ship, slipping easily through the throngs of soldiers and personnel. Her white healer’s robes a stark contrast to the blues, blacks, and greens of military uniform. She was intent on her purpose, in the distance, a mangled monstrosity of a Rebel craft had ground to a crashing landing on a distant pad and rescue personnel were scrambling to free the victims, contain the radiation leaks, and evacuate the wounded.

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Well, he hadn't really expected that to work. Not to this level of accuracy, anyways. Lo and behold, there she stood. The woman in the holocrons he had been inquiring into for the past several weeks, since he had been informed of his apprenticeship to her. She looked younger than he had thought her to be from her hololikeness, yet still quite a bit older than him. Her presence was like the sun; blazing in the Force, both illuminating and blinding at the same time.

 

"M-Master Sarna," He gave a short, courteous bow.

 

So, she had not been informed regarding him. Or, more likely, the relief efforts and the general disarray of the Galaxy's present state had kept her too busy to keep up with a relatively mundane matter such as this.

 

"I-I... you are," He blurted out, before no doubt realizing he was being a blabbering, confusing mess. Shaking his head, he stood at attention, breathing slowly and recentering himself in the Light as he pulled back the hood of his robe, revealing his tentacled head, staring up at Sandy with bright black orbs. "I mean... my name is Mekuma Simka, I'm a Hopeful from the Felucia Temple. I have been assigned to Jedi Master Sandy Sarna, as a Padawan learner..."

Edited by Meku Simka
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Mekuma Simka

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She could feel her own eyebrows raise for a moment at the young man’s revelation, it was certainly coming as a surprise, and since she was often one of the Jedi who were deployed to active war and conflict zones, she had her doubt that such a nervous young boy would be of any advantage to her. It was a great way to get an apprentice killed, and the weight of that revelation caused a frown to cross her freckled face. 

 

“Well met Mekuma Simka.” She extended her hand in the classic human gesture of greeting. “Tell me about yourself and all that you have learned at the temple as we walk together.” 

 

She set off towards the large medical ward that dominated the plateau the temporary spaceport was nestled into. If there was any way to harden a new apprentice, or get them to ask for a transfer it was to take them straight into the heart of darkness. To see and experience the horrors of war first hand. To witness death and decay, heartbreak and injury that he would experience every day of his life if the war dragged on longer.

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Calix Meus Inebrians

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Out of all the beings on the planet, Ruin did appear to be the one most out of place. It wasn’t every day a clone wars era droid was seen walking around, much less, a model of a droid that was in limited production that looked more like a hulking Abyssian bodybuilder more than a geonosian skeleton. It wasn’t every day a being was seen carrying a power hammer, much less one crafted with Sith technology. 

 

Still, Ruin led the way through the crowd, being an easy marker for the female to follow. The Jedi Leena had given a direct order, and Ruin, a droid to the end in many ways, was following that order: Deliver Keeneva to Jedi Sandy Sarna. 

 

“Followings and findings” Ruin ordered to the female, indicating to her to stay close. “Searchings and seekings.” 

 

It took some time, but eventually the Jedi Sandy did stand out. A blonde female jedi interacting with a blue Nautolan ( @Sandy Sarna and @Meku Simka ).  

 

Subtlety was never one of Ruin’s strengths. Instead of waiting patiently, Ruin moved forward, indicating to Keeneva to step forward as well. 

 

“Hunting with Jedi Leena…” Ruin declared as he got close, tapping the hammer’s head on his own chest. Then a point of a large metal digit towards Keeneva.

“Regretting and repenting. Re-teachings and re-learnings. Ex-enemy.” 

 

Ruin looked down at the Nautolan, and titled his head slightly, as if trying to study the young life form briefly, then pointed at himself again. 

 

“Ruin. Hunt and kill Sith” 

 

At this last part, Ruin nodded back towards to Keeneva, allowing the Jedi around to draw their own conclusions at what was just communicated. The Terror droid then looked back at Sarna, waiting for a response. 

_________

Meanwhile, Fera, who had abandoned Ruin’s shoulder, had gotten to work, following closely to Leena. She made numerous bleepings and buzzings along the way, but without anyone to translate her binary talk, it was impossible to understand what she was saying. Still, she was sticking abnormally close to the Jedi, as many wandering eyes began to notice the small sabetauge weapon from the clone wars.  
 

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A sharp pain woke Aidan from his rest as he stirred, but muscle memory had by now been drilled into his weary mind that it wasn't some attack, but rather just the wound. It was about the sixth or so time he'd woken himself this way, and he knew he would run out of rest hours soon. He loosed a soft groan as he cracked an eyelid to check his chrono, confirming it was indeed time to get up and face the next standard galactic day. Part of him wanted to stay sleeping on the cot, to forget his responsibilities for a bit. Hadn't he earned it by now? 

 

But those kinds of thoughts were foolish and led to darkness. He had more than earned it, but he was needed. It felt like such a long time ago now that he'd hated his birthright, felt like the Force was a curse. But Aidan had been given a chance to do some pretty incredible things and save a lot of lives, and he knew if he had to look back on the choices he'd made, he would repeat them all without an ounce of hesitation. Such noble justification for rising out of bed in the morning and greeting one's responsibilities.

 

Sitting up was not fun, but he managed. Thankfully the Jedi provisions included robes, which were much easier for him to don than his armor's bodyglove. Now properly dressed, Aidan checked his lightsaber before moving out, ensuring to stay quiet so as to not disturb the sleep of other refugees. He needed to find Anne. It was time for the most important part of Aidan's career as a teacher of the ways of the Light Side:

 

His first lecture.

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In a whirlwind of activity, Keenava was swept to a completely different planet; one that kind of reminded her of Ryloth. But this planet was a blur. Brown robes, white robes, uniforms, triage units, screaming, pain, fear, and death. Were Keenava tapped into the vitriol of her emotions as she’d been so many times before, she’d have doubled over in a fit as soon as they touched down. As it was, Keenava’s full purple eyes welled quietly. Silent tears kissed her cheeks as emotion built to a crescendo around her. Without sharing their stories, or looking into that mysterious well of cosmic energy that touched all living things, she could feel the ebb and flow of everything crash together like a hellish white water rapid, careening through the valley.

 

This is what the Sith conveniently ignored. They claimed to understand pain, and how to harness misery, but all they did was spread both. Pain begets pain, misery begets misery, and cruelty begets more cruelty. That’s how they build their numbers. They ruin people until there is nothing left but to fight.

 

Even that first night, the night when it all began, his words were nothing but pandering. His wolfish golden eyes feigned illusions of strength, and led her from one pair of shackles to the next.

 

Only now – ironically – standing parsecs away from anyone who knew her as a slave or as a monster, away from anyone that preached personal independence and liberation, did she feel any type of freedom.

 

Leena did mean well, but would I be welcome here in this place? Would people so easily accept me even changed as I am?

 

Before she could get an answer to that or other questions however, Ruin galumphed in a direction, drawing attention as he went through the throngs of battle fatigued masses. Keenava was half tempted to flee the other direction - the base of her hand firmly planted in the center of her bare forehead - lest her cover be blown so completely. But if she were to show trust in the process - foolish though it may be with this loud display - she needed to go all in. The Twi'lekk sighed audibly and tripped a little, keeping pace with the bot as it wove through the crowd. She had to fight to keep the poncho and her other makeshift garments from showing too much to anyone that passed by. But the accelerated pace and the unceremonious sentiment created several moments where her makeshift outfit did not conceal everything. 

 

And then, as quickly as he took off, the droid stopped in front of two individuals. One was a very young-looking... Nautolan? that stood a little shorter than Keenava did. And the other one, was a sandy blonde young woman who was even shorter. It was clear that the young woman was a little more experienced, due to the way she stood and her body language, not to mention the wide-eyed wonder in the Nautolan's eyes. It would be kind of cute if he wasn't in the middle of a river of chaos. 

 

Before Keenava could introduce herself, Ruin not only blurted out the word Sith, but also implied that she was a former enemy. Yes, because it was really smart to just announce that to a bunch of battle weary people while Keenava was barely clothed and posed absolutely no threat. 

 

This was probably the first time that Keenava had felt embarrassed. And it had nothing to do with the garments that were too lose to be worn properly. Her obsidian face reddened a little and paled a shade or two as her expression shifted into a very awkward smile and was accompanied by a matching awkward wave. "H-hhey... How are you?"

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Meku nodded, taking Sandy's proffered hand and shaking it once in greeting. Ever-observant, he noticed the small frown that graced her features when he introduced himself, and couldn't help but sag his shoulders in defeat.


She doesn't think much of me, he sighed, perturbed, wondering what he should do now. Nonetheless, he followed her into the medical bay, not knowing what else to do or how to impress her. The pain and suffering was palpable, even without the Force. His heart fell as he saw the suffering of the refugees. Through the Force, he could sense their pain. Physical pain was mostly dealt with using analgesics and, for those versed in the art, Force healing. What truly crushed him was the emotional pain, that undulated in the Force - the pain of loss and separation felt by those who had lost their loved ones, their homes, and their lives. He was instantly reminded of the night that the Sith had attacked the Felucia Temple; the fear and sorrow that he and all the other younglings had experienced. He recalled how the senior Padawans and Knights who had evacuated them had given them hope, teaching them to focus through the Killing Intent and Dark Side that permeated the air that night and connect with the Light at the end of the tunnel.

 

The Nautolan immediately sought for that cure. Spreading out his senses, he reached deeper into the hearts of each patient and found within many of them the radix that still kept them going: the gem of hope. The hope for a better future, hope in the Jedi and the brave soldiers of the Alliance. Connecting with that deep, constructive feeling, he felt himself relax.

 

His black eyes narrowed, resolve hardening to steel. One day, he would become a powerful Jedi; powerful enough to prevent casualties like this from ever happening.

 

"I learned the basics of the Force skills: sensing, altering and control," he spoke up, voice steady, although he still had to focus in order to mask his anxiety and discomfort. "I-I am also... I'm also well-versed in the basics of lightsaber combat forms, and my preferred forms are Soresu and Ataru. I like to use them... in combination," he continued, eyes staring at a refugee being treated using a bacta patch, focusing on the relief he felt immediately after compared to the pain he was in before. "I have also observed Healers at work, though I would hardly know much about that..."

 

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge, peculiar droid showed up, startling Meku, whose hand went to his lightsaber clipped to his belt out of reflex when Ruin showed up. His make and model were wholly unfamiliar to the Nautolan, and there were probably quite a few wires loose in its vocabulator with the way it was speaking. Then it identified a nearby Twi'lek female using the word 'Sith', and the inexperienced Nautolan, startled, froze.

 

"T-That... that's a vocabulator glitch, right? You're no Sith," he spoke to the Twi'lek, nonetheless unclipping his lightsaber from his belt and holding it in his hand. He spared a glance at Master Sarna. "T-There's no way a Sith could..." he trailed off, sparing a glance at Master Sarna again. 'Get this close to a Jedi Master', were the words he left unsaid, yet his grip nevertheless tightened around his lightsaber, thumb resting upon the blade emitting button.

Edited by Meku Simka
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Mekuma Simka

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“Do not let small defeats and dismays bring your spirit low.” She laid her hand lightly on the apprentice’s back as they stepped into the Refugee Triage unit. “You must take each encounter in stride. Do not rely on pride to bolster yourself, and do not embrace dismay. Encounter everything with a desire to learn. I am not disappointed in you, nor do I reject your appeal to become my apprentice. So chin up, and you may want to hold your breath when we enter the ward.” 

 

For someone who had trained under the great healers on the old Gala Temple, Sandy still was affected every time she walked into a triage. Pain echoed through the force, mixed with the copper smell of blood, and the stench of vomit, it would bring many able beings to turn and walk away. But it did not deter the young Jedi Apprentice and nor did it deter Sandy. Except the slight tingle of danger that ran up her spine at the arrival of the Twi’lek and her droid. 

 

She gave the black skinned twi’lek a look of appraisal, before putting her hand on her apprentice’s arm. Indicating him to put away his training blade, for there was no threat in Keenava’s eyes or aura. She inclined her head to the older woman in greeting then looked back to Ruin. 

 

“Thank you for bringing her to me, please give my dearest affections to your master. And best of luck to you in your hunts.” 

 

She waved for the Twi’lek to come closer and for her to walk beside young Meku as they began to enter the medical ward. Most of the screaming was dulled by the soundproofed curtains that were strung between each long line of beds, but it was still very audible, causing Sandy to have to raise her voice. 

 

“We are here to heal and serve, you are most welcome to join us if you are up for the task. Keep an eye for the black tags. They are the ones that only the force can save.” 

 

She would get to know the Twi’lek as they worked, just as she would get to know Meku. There was nothing to be ashamed or nervous about. She was glad the ebony twi’lek had left the shadows of the darkside behind her. And only time would tell if she would be bale to stay away from its temptations. 

 

 She pulled aside a curtain on a black tagged triage unit and saw a long line of victims, some dozen or so laid out as neatly as possible, hooked up to little more than pain medications to keep them from screaming their way into the grave. She knelt beside the bedside of a silent and horribly burned young woman. Human. Late teens. A survivor of one of the many evacuation shuttles that had been shelled by the sith on their way out of the gravity well projectors. A single glance at the holographic chart explained it, the burns were radiological and had come from one of the decimator torpedoes that the Sith had been using. 

 

“Now both of you sit beside me.” She waited until they had knelt beside her then she placed both of her hands onto the huge and seeping wounds. “Watch, learn, and consider.” 

 

Her eyelids fluttered closed and she let the force flow through her. Gathering in its tides and waves as she began to reach out to the young woman at her fingertips. Pain, suffering, despair, guilt. It all roiled out of the young woman, like the waves of radiation that had melted and burned her flesh. 

 

“Many wounds, both physical and mental, have their source in the mind.” Her voice was so soft. Barely above a whisper as she concentrated. “The body will obey the mind always, even to the point of destroying itself and giving up a struggle it can win.”

 

The force echoed in the young woman’s pain. Flashing horrible memories with each unsteady heartbeat. A life long in its suffering. Slavery, freedom, family, death, despair, agony. Each thought and idea flashed before her eyes like she had been seeing them herself. But deep below the pain, in the farthest crevasse of the memory she could feel the hope. The joy of family, even the sad and resolute joy of a family now gone. A love that could never be taken away. A love that would endure through a long recovery. 

 

“In life, even in the pain, there is love and there is joy to find solace in. From the smallest memory or love, or desire, they are enough to carry this woman through what is to come. And when she has recovered enough, she can choose for herself how to go forward.” 

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Calix Meus Inebrians

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Well the robes were definitely ruined. She shuffled through her duffel sack to find another outfit and saw another bloodstained set of light linen. The same she had been wearing when she had met the Mandalore. The memory causes a shiver to run up her spine. But regrettably the gown was ruined, and she tossed the bundle into the trash receptacle. She did not throw away the dark brown fatigues of the Naboo Royal Starfighters however, and packed them with care into where the collection of dresses once had been in the duffle bag, before donning the light grey tunic that she had been provisioned. 

 

She pulled her soft leather boots on, wrapped her torso with the flightbelt she had been wearing for the last week and a half, and placed the gold circlet on her brow. Within a few minutes she was in the designated place her new master had required her to be. She took a seat on the bench and waited.

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"T-That... that's a vocabulator glitch, right? You're no Sith,"

 

Keenava made no move to stop the young Nautolan from unclipping his lightsaber and standing nervously. 

"That's a very complicated question." she stammered, too ashamed to make direct eye contact with the young man.

 

On the surface it was hard to tell. She was wearing a beaten sand-covered poncho and some blankets that Leena tried to fashion into something resembling clothing. The whole ensemble made her look like some kind of beggar, which might not have been too far from the truth.

 

But underneath her clothes, was likely one of the only black-skinned Twi'lek that any of these people had ever seen. They were exceedingly rare and in high demand around the Outer Rim for all the wrong reasons. And, to others, they were an omen of death. At a young age people would often comment about her skin as if it were some curse; like her presence was going to bring a plague or famine.

 

Looking deeper still, you would find the cold detached memories of a former Sith Assassin, lingering in the void as if someone had cut them from the root to let them float away. Her corruption was gone; the cracks around her eyes, the fire burning inside her, and the broken identities that vied for power in her mind were all gone.

 

So yeah, it's complicated.

 

But looking into the blonde-haired human's green eyes, she could feel no threat or malice. It wasn't a warm welcome, but at least she didn't need to worry about taking a sudden saber to the back. And, after the constant fear of betrayal and death at the hands of any random Sith who was trying to prove themselves, it was kind of refreshing. Though it was still awkward.

"T-thank you... Sandy was it?" Keenava murmured softly.

 

Keenava followed instructions wordlessly and sat beside the two of them, the twi'lek's knees resting a few inches from the young Jedi Master as she took her first patient. The patient looked as if she'd been through hell. Keenava couldn't begin to assess what had happened to her body. But as Keenava watched Sandy, the twi'lek's pupils dilated and her heartbeat picked up. Curiosity drove her to examine every movement and every bit of the Jedi's technique, but she couldn't really see it. She could feel the pain of the woman and she could feel through the force that something was happening like a distant echo. But ever since she awoke in that slaver compound, her connection to the force felt like a flickering bulb. If she tried to increase the brightness of the bulb, her head would erupt in pain, pounding spikes right behind her eyes. She didn't want to use her emotions anymore - partly because she didn't feel as strongly as she did, and partly because it was through emotion that the Sith wielded the force - but she didn't know an alternative.

 

Still, the mosaic of the woman's life - Slavery, freedom, family, death, despair, agony - felt very familiar. The ache of history throbbed dully inside her, and she could almost feel the sigh of relief in the woman as the young master pulled her hope to the surface. 

 

“In life, even in the pain, there is love and there is joy to find solace in. From the smallest memory or love, or desire, they are enough to carry this woman through what is to come. And when she has recovered enough, she can choose for herself how to go forward.” 

 

Keenava didn't notice the quiet tears streaming down her face. She remembered her mother, and Seela. They were her hope. They were her joy. They carried her, and would likely continue to carry her through whatever life hit her with.

 

"I know this may seem like an odd question, given the circumstances. But do you have any clothes? These... aren't really comfortable." Keenava said, holding the poncho to her body, trying to avoid unintentionally flashing anybody. 

Edited by Keenava Dira
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Ruin nodded at the Jedi’s words and left, like a giant trying to navigate a herd of sheep. Stoic, but clumsy. It was clear the droid did not suit this place whatsoever. 

 

“Hunting and finding…” Ruin muttered as he glanced around. “Seeking and searching. Wondering and pondering…”

 

Ruin reached up and acted as if he was scratching some imaginary chin like so many of the organics did around him. One organic was taking notice and began to stare. Ruin, ever observant, noticed and pointed the bothan out. 

 

“Doggie!” Ruin shouted almost uncharacteristically and ran towards the bothan. “Seeking jedi. Seeking and finding healer. Fish healer.”

 

The flabbergasted and very unnerved bothan struggled for words for a bit then pointed in several directions. Thankfully one of them did help the droid identify where Leena had gone towards. 

 

Without a word of thanks, Ruin continued on his way. 

 

“Delivered and informed. Now hunting and seeking. Kill sith. Flying and finding”  Ruin stated simply at finding the Jedi Leena. Fera seemed to give an exhausted sigh of relief as she crawled back onto her perch on Ruin’s shoulder. A few beepings and buzzings from her, and Ruin looked down at his holster. 

 

“Breaking and hiding” Ruin stated, grabbing the small, barely hidden disruptor pistol at his side. Quickly he snapped it into two and separated the parts. Hopefully no one had noticed the illicit weaponry. 

 

“We go?” 

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Agent Qessax stretched his clawed toes on the relatively warm ground of Ylesia. It was good to feel solid ground under his actual toes. Too often when he was on solid ground he had to wear uniform consenting footwear, which meant toe covered boots. But with the partial destruction of his agent uniform, there was no reason not to go barefoot now. 

 

Brother, there’s nothing holding you here now…” Qessax started, grabbing himself a seat. “I recommend you take the rabid muumuu back home and give father the bad news”

 

His brother shrugged. “Our chief will understand they died well and have joined their ancestors.”

 

“I wish that was the news i meant” Qessax sighed. It was hard to get past the fact that out of all the ships the Kaleesh had sent, only one ship would be returning. The kaleesh forces would be vulnerable for some time. As an imperial agent, he didn’t necessarily need to care that much, but as the son of the chief hoping to unite Kalee, it carried more weight.

 

“Just make sure you get the support of the alliance for us”

 

Qessax nodded and held up the scroll that Kolchak had handed over. The official orders that had made Kolchak Grand Moff. Qessax knew this little item would be helpful. With it, he had proof that he had heard the last words of Kolchak, including his oath to back his father. 

 

“Don’t worry, i’ll get it one way or another”

 

The two brothers embraced each other and gave their goodbyes. Even as Qessax watched the shuttle carrying his brother away, he felt a pang of sorrow, wondering how long it would be till they would meet again. 

 

Finally Qessax got to work. After finding the make-shift headquarters, Agent Qessax removed his mask and took charge. Requests for information about the fleet status didn’t go too far. As far as he could tell, he had the most up-to-date information, which should’ve been a given for an intelligence officer. But the news that worried Qessax was that there was no word on Slaughter. 

 

“Get me any form of communication back to the fleet on Nar Shaddaa. I want to know the instant we find that man again.” 

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Tags: @Sandy Sarna, @Keenava Dira

 

Meku blinked slowly. A bit calmer now, he clipped his lightsaber back to his belt. At the stage Meku was in, the concept of redemption was still foreign to him. His naive mind could not fathom that someone as far gone as a Sith Lord could ever repent and return to the Light Side. So the thought never occurred to him that Keenava would be a redeemed Sith Lady. He was, therefore, genuinely perturbed by the vague response the dark-skinned Twi'lek gave in response to the question of her loyalty. Still, even without the Force, through casual observation and passively through his head-tresses, he could sense the shame and embarrassment emanating from her. His beady black eyes scanned across her frame, a light purplish blush rising to his cheeks as he took note of her wardrobe (or lack thereof), and he glanced away out of modesty, scanning the Triage Unit for something he could offer the woman.

 

His eyes caught sight of the door to a scrubbing area in the far corner. "Excuse me a moment," he offered Sandy and the Twi'lek, before quickly pacing towards the scrubbing area. Sandy and Keenava would take this opportunity to talk between themselves before Meku returned with a spare set of white medic scrubs. He quickly held the medical scrubs up for Keenava to take.

 

"Best that could be managed considering we're a bit wanting when it comes to shopping centers at present," he said to Keenava, eyes firmly trained towards the ground to avoid an accidental glance. He was still a teenager, after all, and unwarranted sexual thoughts were a distraction from the Force.

 

Meku perked up the moment Sandy gave him the small pep talk, absorbing the waves of encouragement and wisdom radiating off of the elder Jedi. He smiled at her back as she showed him, practically, how to reach out towards the gem of hope that he had been focusing on, and how to bring it up to the surface. Closing his eyes,, Meku extended his right palm towards the woman, wincing as the onslaught of memories and emotions that Sandy was feeling from the woman impacted him. It was horrific and sobering, though he was not as deeply impacted as Keenava was, considering he hadn't lived through a similar life. The onslaught of emotional pain and turmoil disoriented him, but once he realized it was the woman's emotions he was feeling, Meku followed Sandy's spiritual guidance to once again reach for the gem of hope buried within, observing through the Force as Sandy brought it up to the surface. A small smile returned to his features as he felt the love the woman had for her now gone family empower her, and himself as well.

 

In the back of his mind, Mekuma wondered if he, too, would ever experience that kind of familial love for someone. He supposed he did, for his parents and some of his crèchemates. His parents had left him at the Temple long before could form a strong bond with them, though, and he only saw them once a year before his father died. He had been unable to even visit his mother back on Glee Anselm since then due to the state of the Galaxy. He found himself yearning for that feeling: love, compassion and affection. It was rejuvenating, and he couldn't help but feel mildly jealous of this patient of theirs, despite her state, for having had the opportunity to cherish something so profound a feeling in her heart and mind.

 

"... Amazing, Master. Thank you," Meku answered, after a moment of silent contemplation and reflection at his Master's concluding remarks, thoroughly grateful for that lesson.

He glanced around the triage unit, looking to find another patient he could attempt to help in the same way his Master had helped this woman.

Edited by Meku Simka
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Mekuma Simka

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The smoking wreckage of the freighter belched a gout of fire and smoke from  one of it’s jagged wounds. The entire thing seemed to shudder. From the smoke and fire emerged a solitary figure cloaked in white, like an angelic guardian materializing from the night.  On her right shoulder, the fishy Jedi supported a coughing Imperial officers. In her left arm, Leena more drug than pulled a limping Chadra Fan technician behind her. The large bump on the short one’s head had him seeing stars and chittering angrily between fits of coughing as he clawed at Leena’s helping hand.

 

Seeing @TerrorBot, the weary soot-covered face of the Mon Cal burst into a smile. “Quickly my friend,” she jerked the volatile whiskered rebel forward and towards the hulking droid, “he got into something rather radioactive and needs decontaminating immediately. It seems to be addling his brain and he is less than cordial.” She held up her shredded healer’s sleeve that seemed to contain a mix of her own as well as his blood.

 

Quickly a pair of medics approached and gingerly escorted the injured officer towards a nearby triage tent. Once he was off, Leena turned to Ruin seeing him quickly stash away his incredibly illegal bit of weaponry. She offered a knowing smile without saying a word. He had earned that much loyalty of her, even if she knew he would be dismantled on site if he was found with such a thing. “There is a hold that is blocked. Blast doors are closed and jammed. Sounds like people are trapped inside. Could use your help.” She offered, assuming he could easy wrangle the unruly Chadra Fan where he’d need to go in minutes.

 

Turning, Leena dashed back towards the belching maw of the ship, slipping one of their purified sabers from her belt, a pale green erupted, illuminating the smoke as she  charged back into the  carnage.

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Keenava caught the small Nautolan’s blush and giggled a little under her breath. His quick head movements suggested no small amount of embarrassment. From where he was looking, she presumed that he projected some need for modesty and dignity on to her, as most people in ‘civilized’ space would. When, in reality, the only reason she wanted better clothes was because these clothes were covered in sand and were damned uncomfortable. She’d become desensitized to how people viewed her physical form. If she had her way, she’d walk around naked. But many in the known universe viewed that as gauche. And she was pretty sure, if she were so daring, this little boy would’ve passed out from her brazen display, which was not something she needed or wanted.  

 

He departed briefly and returned with something that looked like a doctor’s outfit. Heh. What irony. Keenava reached out with one of her lekku and pat the Nautolan softly on the head.

       “Thank you… what did you say your name was?” Keenava replied, trying to avoid sounding patronizing. “You’re cute, and I appreciate the gesture, but I’d rather not masquerade as a doctor. I don’t think that sends the right message.”

 

        “Give the boy a break, Keenava. He means well, don’t he?” grumbled a gritty male-sounding voice from nearby. “Plus, it’s not like you’ll find much in the way of clothes out here.”

 

Keenava cocked an eyebrow, scanning around for the voice, and lit up when she noticed the old smuggler sitting on a stool nearby. 

       “Well, if it isn’t Malin Wrynn! To what do I owe this pleasant surprise?” Keenava chimed, politely dismissing herself from Sandy and the Nautolan, moving to stand beside an older man with clothes the color of dirt. He looked back at the Twi with eyes of piercing blue. His hair was the color of a jet-black stone mixed with the grey-white of salt crystals, and he sat cross-legged with a wide-brimmed hat resting nearby.

 

         “Well, right now, I’m here tending to my cousin. She was part of the allied forces and she took a serious blow. I know they’ve plenty of doctors here, but she’s the only blood I got left.” Wrynn gazed somberly at a woman nearby who looked almost like he would if he were a woman and just a few years younger. “She’s been resting for a bit, but I think she’ll pull through.”

 

        “I *was* resting…” the female coughed as she shuffled in her cot to face Malin, a mixed look of vague irritation and familial exasperation creasing her features. She rolled her eyes playfully and winced, but tried to play it off with a smile; “Look, its my own little poltergeist.”

 

Malin scoffed, scratching his beard and attempting to adjust the position of a cigar that wasn’t there.

        “Heh, you’re lucky I ain’t no polter-whatsit. I’d be flinging hospital doodads all over the place.”

 

The woman laughed jovially though it looked like it hurt her with each quake of her chest. She adjusted her view to Keenava and her eyes grew to the size of dinner plates when she caught a full-on view of the Twi’lek’s body from the open bottom of her poncho.

        "Good lord! You could put an eye out if you keep doin’ that. Go ahead and take my civvies, they’re over there on that chair. You’re welcome.”

 

Keenava looked over at the indicated chair where a neat stack of clothes lay slightly lopsided on the seat. “Okay.”

 

Without skipping a beat, Keenava’s hands were moving to remove her poncho, standing clear as day in the middle of the triage area like she wasn’t about to give a show to everyone. Malin gasped and moved to her side with the reflexes of a sharpshooter.

        “Heeeeeey, why don’t we do that over here in this here uhhh.... changing room.”

 

Malin grabbed his cousin’s clothes and followed behind Keenava as he corralled her into a private area away from prying eyes.

 

When she emerged, Keenava was wearing a loose-fitting, long sleeve, dark-gray, open-buttoned blouse with a small black shirt underneath. She had a beaten but sturdy black cloth belt around her waist that held up a baggy pair of darkened city-camo fatigue bottoms. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but they would do for now. She handed the coat and boots back to Malin and made her way back to the woman on the ground.

 

        “Thank you for the clothes. The boots were a little too big and the coat seemed… sentimental. It didn’t feel right wearing it.” Keenava said, nodding politely. “By the way, I don’t think I caught your name?”

 

        “Heh, you already got me outta my pants and now you wanna know my name?” The woman said, laughing heartily at her own joke before erupting in a fit of coughs. “It’s Helena, Helena Ortwind, and you’re welcome for the clothes.”

 

Keenava walked barefoot back to the Nautolan and Jedi Master wherever they ended up, and Malin settled back onto his stool at his cousin’s side.

 

Just when the circus seemed to mellow out, a 4-foot tall purple Togruta girl with a pilot hat on came sprinting to Malin’s side, goggles hanging forgotten around her neck, and an off-gold protocol droid trotted after her as quickly as her legs would go.

 

        “Captain! She won’t let me practice!” The purple Togruta announced, coming to a stop beside Malin.

 

    “I believe the ‘Captain’ clearly stated that we weren’t to ‘practice’ with the turrets or live ammunition while we’re landed, and in Alliance territory. Have you no consideration!?” The Protocol droid chirped with distinct irritation as she joined the group.

 

         “First of all, Shhh… people are trying to sleep. Second of all, Is that right Amy? Were you trying to do target practice while we’re parked?” Malin stated, a parental tone lacing the words

 

       “… … … no?” Amy remarked, doing everything she could to hide the smirk that clung to the edges of her face.

 

    “Yes, Captain Wrynn. Had I not caught her, she was ready to blow a hole in a waste disposal bin. Refuse and rubbish would’ve flown everywhere.” The droid’s vocabulator was in overdrive. It was clear that this wasn’t the first time she’d scolded the Togruta.

 

        “Relax. You think I would’ve had the weapon systems operable while she was alone on the ship? I’m not that irresponsible.” Malin chortled, a lopsided smile playing at the edges of his face.

 

Helena, Amy, and the protocol droid chuckled at him in unison.

 

Malin’s expression turned playfully flustered.

        “Hey, I’m not! That’s it, none of y'all get first choice of rations for a week!”

 

Amy proceeds to groan while Helena continues chuckling.

 

Keenava smiled warmly and turned back to the young Nautolan and Jedi Master.

        “Thank you for your kindness. I appreciate the gesture.” Keenava politely intoned as she handed the bundle of white hospital scrubs back to the boy.

 

Edited by Keenava Dira

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Sandy let a smile flash across her face for a moment as she watched Keenava and then young Meku understand the first of her teachings. There was much to say about the lesson, much to caution about love and how its pursuit could become perverted and dark, how one could become completely lost in its shadow and never emerge again. But those lessons could only be taught when she knew Keenava and Meku. With their acquaintance only just beginning, anything like a lecture on love would only feel misplaced and even harmful. 

 

It was good to see Meku caring for the ex-sith, even offering a set of medical scrubs to replace the scraps that she had been wearing. It was a good sign of the heart of the young apprentice. When the twi’lek had returned in a different set of clothes Sandy stood and looked each in the eye before she spoke. 

 

“Now we have many more patients to work with before the day is spent, and you will see death close at hand. Are you ready for that task?”

 

The way of the Jedi was a harsh one, one fraught with death and loss. And there was no better way to show them the way of the Jedi than to see it close at hand. She gestured down the ward to where an imperial marine was laying, his body covered in the burns that could only come from lightning summoned by the force. 

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The large starfighter-hunting corvette arrived in orbit of Ylesia without incident. As Vangar Longfang stood staring out a portside window the Imperial Moff of the Anoat Sector drew a sharp breath. There were so few ships in orbit. Even as a mixed band of fighters moved to intercept them, Vangar shook his head. It was the best the best the Alliance had to offer st the moment. The battle had taken an even larger toll than the armored reptilian had estimated.

 

The commander of the Dawnstar quickly cleared the line of security questions with years of experienced and knowledgable answers. It was that same  fearless upfront attitude that had seen the Dawnstar’s survival in not just her long length of service, but also rack up an impressive kill count over Nar Shaddaa.
 

Soon enough the corvette was settling onto landing struts within the designated landing areas of established camp. For a rendezvous point, the place was decidedly well equipped and prepared with prefab and solid structures standing side by side beneath the backdrop of a towering stone temple-esque structure.

 

Before he had even disembarked, Vagnar had obtained a list of known surviving Imperial and Rebel personnel. He was relieved to see that both Slaughter and Beck’s names were on the list. The Empress and Kolchak’s names were expected among the missing. What was of concern was that the Jedi Grandmaster had not yet been accounted for; nor had a plethora of Imperial Sector Governors and Moffs. Where he had once been one of many appointed regional governors overseeing a large swath of space, worlds and people, he was now one of few. New leaders would beed to be appointed, drawn from the best and brightest of the people, those with dedication to the advancement of peace and prosperity not just for themselves, but for all.

 

Running his finger down the list, the Barabel’s eyes moved back and forth scanning the people moving about all around them and the list as he and the small cabal of officers made their way through Rebel and Imperial alike. All of them stood side by side working together. As they gained the makeshift base of operations that made up what remained of joint Imperial and Rebel Intelligence Command in the surface, the Baron Administrator’s eye focused on the single Kaleesh male who seemed to have taken charge. Vangar tapped a clawed finger on the name on the dstapad. “I thought so,” he whispered to himself nodding. Qessax Jal Todda, the son of a Kaleesh warlord and a Intelligence Operative that Vangar recognized. Of course the wrinkled red-skinned reptile looked like he had aged a lifetime in the few years since, but even with their limited interactions while Vangar was just the Baron Administrator of Cloud City and not responsible for the whole of Bespin itself, he recognized the man. Standing outside a long table that seemed to separate the work area from the outside attired as he was in a mix of the regalia of the stations he now commanded, his cape and belt buckle to mark his authority over Cloud City, a fine gold chain his rank as guildmaster over Bespin’s powerful trade guilds, rank insignia to denite his position as a Sector Governor and Moff, Vangar rapped his armored gray knuckles on the table to catch the attention of the Kaleesh. Locking eyes, Vangar offered a wicked smile, his needled teeth on full display of threatening menace. It was not within the animalistic nature of his people to smile toothily like the humans. The intimidating glare, almost a challenge, to the Captain running the station reflected all the seriousness of their situation. It was not one to be taken lightly. The next steps would reverberate through the future. The totality of the free galaxy hung in the balance. So yes, Vangar dared the intelligence officer to challenge him. He did not have time for pleasantries.

 

”Captain,” he hissed. “There is much to discuss. Too much for right here. Too many Sith escaped our clutches on Nar Shaddaa. The damage they dealt was catastrophic. We do not know what they plan next. We must be prepared. This world will not be safe forever. What does your father need to establish Kalee as a safe world for the forces of light?” Leaning forward, Vangar gripped Qessax by the shoulder and lowered his voice to where it could be barely heard over the hustle and bustle. “I will be at a table outside the Rebel Officer’s mess tonight, twenty-two hundred hours.”

 

_____________________________
 

That night, reclining in a collapsible chair beside a small round table a short distance from the rest of the tables outside the almost deserted Rebel Officer’s mess hall, Vangar sat. Thick smoke wafted in the still humid air about the Barabel’s head as he took another long drag on his tabac stick. Sitting on the table was a single bottle of Corellian Malt Whiskey and two glasses already poured.

 

”Glad you could make it captain. I trust you have had time to acquire an answer?” He whispered as the Kalee arrived letting his words hang in the air until the intelligence officer could draw near. “The Sith have fled. The Grandmaster is missing. The Empress is missing. We cannot presume she is dead without proof. Our fleets and ranks are decimated. The galaxy needs a leader. They need hope Qessax. Kolchak knew this. He fought the darkness from the shadows and carried hope where there was none.”

 

 @Qessax Jal Todda

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Ruin gave something the equivalent of a sigh and grabbed the Chandra fan, lifting it into the air by its scruff. Despite its slight screech and clawing, the droid simply looked the thing over. 

 

"Not sith" Ruin commented and flicked it's head behind the ear. Instantly the rodent like thing went limp. A cluster of nerve cells that rendered the uncooperative alien unconscious. Unceremoniously, Ruin tossed the thing back away from the wreckage to let someone else handle the rodent. 

 

With that, the two droids began to move through the wreckage. At one point, much of a hallway had completely collapsed in on itself, with two mechanics busy at work trying to cut through. Not the waiting type, Ruin simply began to grab scrap and tossed it aside. Ahead, like the jedi said, two blast doors blocked the passageway. 

 

>allow me to help with this < Fera commented at Leena's next command. With it, she jumped from ruins shoulder to the wall, crawled up it to a control panel, and began to slice into the wiring inside. Within moments, the blast door slowly, but surely began to open up. Inside people began to rise in excitement.

 

The doors moved too slowly it seemed, as Ruin stepped up, and grabbed both doors and pushed them apart. The doors groaned at first at the terror droids effort, and then suddenly slid apart, as if taken off of their hinges. The voices turned to momentary fright, followed by thanks as several crew mates began to drag out wounded.

 

"No sith" Ruin commented again. Slowly, he clenched one of his hands into a fist and banged a wall once. Then he turned and exited the wreckage and, not 20 feet from the wreckage, sat down and watched. 

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Qessax smelled Vangar before he saw him. Many people complained that Kaleesh had strong odors, but that in turn was cause their olfactory senses helped sort through the strong pheromones. 

And while Barabel weren't known for bad sense of smell, to the Kaleesh their odor wasn't too far off from many mad Kaleesh warriors. 

 

"Moff" Qessax greeted Vangar.  From what he knew about Barabel, the Kaleesh and Barabel species had more similarities then differences. Reptilian, aggressive and territorial, community oriented  and behind in the technology arms race the galaxy was in.  These similarities were what allowed Qessax to growl a challenging response to the the barabel. Warrior races respected strength above all, and challenges were opportunities for strength to show itself. 

 

"As far as I'm aware, a great deal of things.  I'll make sure to get you details when I'm not busy" Qessax responded to the first request. Part dismissive, part challenging, Qessax was equally busy and hadn't had a moment to go through what his planet needed. 

 

To Vangar's final request, Qessax simply nodded. When he broke back into a distance that others could overhear, he simply pretended that nothing of note occurred. 

 

"We just received word that slaughter is alive, if barely. Please make sure to pass the word along to the others." 

___________________

 

The Kaleesh intelligent agent approached the table, notably much better dressed then before. Now wearing actual fitting pants, Qessax had placed his brother's cape over his shoulder as a makeshift sash. Still, he remained barefoot. Finding footage for a Kaleesh was harder then finding pants. 

 

"Indeed I have commander" Qessax sat down, grabbed the glass of poured whiskey, and downed it in one gulp. 

 

"Sheelal I needed that" Qessax wiped some spilled liquid from his mouth before pressing a datapad over to Vangar. 

 

"As far as your request goes, it's all on there. Kalee lost too many ships, and needs to rebuild. So obviously they need some ships for now. But more importantly, kalee needs factories. Factories that your connections could encourage…guild master"

 

The emphasis on 'guild master' made Qessax’s point clear. 

 

"I agree that the galaxy needs a leader. But with Slaughter out of commission for the unseeable future, I doubt a leader is going to present itself. And because of that, too many will present themselves…"

 

Qessax had read his history books. The empire was in a prime spot for a succession crisis. Any high ranking general, politician, faction leader, or quote unquote 'hero',  could try to drum up support for a bid of power, which could turn into a galactic civil war. The only thing that could keep a war from fully breaking out was for one to rise above the rest of candidates: legitimacy

 

Qessax's free hand went to his side, where the scroll Kolchak had given him rested. As the chaotic events of the galaxy had played out, legitimacy was one genuine thing Qessax could grant to whoever he chose. 

 

"Tell me, who do you think can give the galaxy an ounce of hope these days?' Qessax asked while pouring himself another drink. 

Edited by Qessax Jal Todda
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Vangar pulled the tabac stick from his mouth, gray sweet smoke curling upwards from the tip as he regarded the Kaleesh and pondered his words. Spinning the vice between his fingers, he watched as ash crumbled to the table and the embers extinguished themselves before he spoke. “The fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. Kalee is not the only world in need today.”

 

Vangar took another long drag of tabac. “But the Outer Rim is a vast place, full of mysterious peoples and great untapped resources and uncharted spaces. To rebuild our Empire, an Alliance that spanned the whole of the galaxy, not just select worlds, would help to prevent catastrophes like Nar Shaddaa from happening again.” The Barabel’s cold eyes levelled against @Qessax Jal Todda’s as he continued. “Bespin has need of factories, storage facilities that can be reinforced and protected. Tibanna gas is an even more valued commodity now as we seek to rebuild. The people of Kalee have shown a remarkable tenacity and will not back down in the face of the enemy.” Vangar sat back in his chair, picking up his own glass of liquor and holding it to the dim light of a distant streetlight. It shone through the amber liquid and refracted against the reptile’s gray skin. “If your tribe will take responsibility for these facilities, I believe that Bespin will provide adequate defensive equipment to ensure your cities are protected. As you know, ships are at a premium these days. We will need to find more for the defenses of all who will call our Alliance home. What we can offer are several wings of Storm Four Cloud Cars, an air force against any invader. That is, if you will accept this agreement with the Council of Bespin Trade Guilds?”

 

”Grand Moff, Supreme Commander Kolchak is gone. You were one of his top agents. Can you rally your men? We do not know if the Empress is alive or dead. I can hardly take the word of a deranged Sith warlord. We need evidence. Find her or find proof of her eternal demise. To have hope, we must have a leader. Someone to stare into the danger of the unknown, place themselves between these peoples and the unseen monsters that lurk in the dark. The Empress did that. It is my prayer she can do so again. Until then, we will rally the people. They need hope, an Alliance built on the hope of a better tomorrow.”

Edited by Vangar

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Leena pale green blade illuminated the whispy plumes of smoke that rose throughout the ship. Moving through the wreckage, Leena wove amongst the debris until the group made their way to the sealed blast doors. It was there that a slight smile played across her face. Ruin and Fera set to work on the doors, but even as the doors began to grind and grumble against the bent framework of the ship, it was not fast enough. Ruin began to tear the doors apart, breaching the sealed room beyond. It was not fighting the Sith, but it was doing the right thing.

 

The bouncing beams of flashlights illuminated the area as rescue personnel moved to get anyone who could walk out of the radiation leaking ship. Dousing her blade, Leena moved to help carry the unconscious from the craft.

 

Once she was outside, Leena was able to deposit the badly injured crewman to a waiting stretcher. Seeing Ruin, she hurried over to him and placed her hand on his massive shoulder. “The Sith will need to be hunted; but for now they are running. Come my friend, help these. If there is nobody left to protect, hunting the enemy is a fool’s errand.” With that, Leena lifted her hand and turned to go back to aiding the injured moving them towards the medical wards.

 

@TerrorBot

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"Mekuma Simka," he introduced himself to the dark-skinned Twi'lek in response, as he took back the scrubs she had returned. Not knowing what to do with them, he placed them on top of a nearby medical trolley. Meku found himself a bit disheartened - his head-tresses drooping ever so-slightly -  when Keenava instead went and accepted something else to wear from a bunch of strange sentients she seemed to know. He actually even felt a little embarrassed that he had gone through all that clothes-searching for nothing. So what if they were scrubs; they were in a triage unit. She wouldn't have looked anything out of the ordinary, even if she had worn them...  

 

Shaking his head, he turned his attention back to his Master.

 

Meku blinked, processing what Sandy had just said, as he looked around, his sharp eyesight picking up the casualties of war being treated in the triage unit. He recoiled internally at the thought of having to go through all that suffering again; empathy with the oppressed was one of the most difficult things to bear. It had been painful enough the first time, but the thought of having to go through all of that again...

 

Meku breathed in and out deeply, once, opening himself up to the Force. He let the Light flow in, soothing his nerves. He was a Jedi; or at least, trying to be one. This was something he would have to learn to live with. One couldn't clean the gutters without getting one's hands dirty, after all.
 

"Alright," he said, feeling far less anxious and more determined than before. "I'm ready, my Master."

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Qessax smiled a toothy grin at the Barabel’s offer. “As son and representative of the Great Chief of Kalee, i can assure you that the offer will be accepted. I’ll transmit a message to him as soon as I can wrestle an open frequency from our forces.”

 

Truthfully, Qessax couldn’t help but wonder how his people would react to the news. His father would accept, there would be no doubt about that. He was the kind of being who wanted the Kaleesh to leave behind some of their more ‘primitive’ ways, but many of the other tribes, even some of the ones who have thrown in their support, would be dragging their feet. It would be a cultural shift to be sure. But if the Kaleesh were to take their place in the galactic spotlight, they would follow the Great Chief. 

 

“As for your question…” Qessax paused a moment in thought. “They respect me and my rank enough to follow my lead. With Kolchak gone, they will be scattered, but I’m confident that if the Sith are as damaged as we are, we can make contact very, very soon. 

 

“Hmmm…” Qessax took another sip in thought. “I’ll have to review the reports again, but last i heard, Sith forces were utilizing Mechis III, Falleen and Geonosis as war factories. If the Sith are as badly wounded as we are, those places will be amongst the first places to go into overdrive. You want hope for the alliance, take those places back. But for the empress…”

 

Qessax looked directly into the barabel’s eyes, his own yellow eyes turned into a serious glare. “There is only one place the Sith would take her, and that is Korriban.  And if she is there, she will not be living very long. I will utilize every single asset and resource I have there. Every smuggler who owes me a favor, every operative undercover, hell, I’ll use every hacked janitorial astromech to discover if she is there and get her out if she still lives. I will have to burn more than a few agents, but for the Empress, it would be worth it. 

 

But if she isn’t there…” Qessax continued, leaning both elbows on the table, folding his hands together.  “Then we will have to face a very grim reality. A reality that needs a strong leader. One who, despite losses in battle, refuses to stop fighting, and to stop rebuilding. One who can win support both from the military and the local politicians. One who can get a frightened Kaleesh to stop fleeing from a chaotic battle, and one who refuses to stop thinking that their rightful ruler might still be alive. ”

 

At this Qessax removed the scroll that he carried and placed it on the table. Qessax had made his decision in his mind.  “A being like that is needed in this, potentially grim, reality.” 

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“Keenava Dira,” the Twi’lek responded.

 

It was in Keenava’s nature to keep an eye on her surroundings; an assassin needed to know every point of entry and exit; an assassin needed to know which details were necessary and which weren’t. Therefore she could feel the deflation of the young Nautolan and see as his head tentacles wilted ever so slightly. She took note of this display, ashamed not of what she did, but of how it made Mekuma feel. It was clear that he had wanted to help, and Keenava felt that that motivation was worth rewarding. Even if she had no idea how she was going to encourage the boy after rejecting his assistance.

 

Instead of dwelling, she opted to put a pin in that feeling, and turned her attention to the young Jedi Master as she continued further into the triage area toward more black tagged patients.

 

“Now we have many more patients to work with before the day is spent, and you will see death close at hand. Are you ready for that task?”

 

Was it respect, indifference, condescension, or just ignorance that led the young Jedi Master to think that Keenava hadn’t seen death? Maybe she was just being polite and not probing into her memories?

 

People that didn’t try to pry into your mind to figure out your darkest secrets at the earliest convenience, what’s that like?

 

Jokes aside, death wasn’t a groundbreaking concept for the former Sith.

 

Memories echoed in the cold clarity of her mind’s eye; pieces of stained glass that lingered in the mosaic of her recollection. They were distant fragile things that lacked the vibrance that formed them years ago. The deep, chilling blue of watching her mother’s weakened frame crumple in her adolescent hands, had diluted to the pale blue hue of glacial ice. The deep crimson that used to burn bright with each strike as Keenava committed patricide, wasn’t there. It was replaced with the faded maroon of dried blood; the red dust of decayed metal; a scar that refused to heal. But despite its persistence, the scar’s significance had faded to near nothing. Numb detachment clouded each recollection. All she felt now was regret. She felt regret for wasting her life following a path defined by others.

 

The only thing she didn’t regret, was something she chose to do herself. Killing him was a calculated act. And even with her newfound clarity, she couldn’t find the energy to be mad at herself for it. She could see the futility of it, the moral complications of it, but she could not bring herself to hate what she’d done. Because of him, she could never scour the tortured screams of her mother and sister from her mind; screams that, years ago, mirrored Keenava’s when her father sold her into slavery. She no longer held anger in her heart for him, but she did not miss or mourn him either. In fact, taking her mother’s surname was her last goodbye. It was a small rebellion, but it felt good to move on from that chapter of her life.

 

Keenava nodded, content to remain quiet for the time being. If Sandy didn’t see fit to bear the Twi’lek’s history publicly, Keenava would wait for a better time to share. She followed the pair of Jedi further into the triage area, feeling a little more than just out of place, and they stopped at a roughed-up marine with some serious wounds. The fetid aroma of charred flesh crashed into Keenava’s nostrils, followed closely by the smell of ozone. It was curious and familiar, but Keenava couldn’t put her finger on it. Instead, she tried to carefully reach out to the force--to do as Sandy had done before. But her head surged with pain as her brain smashed against her skull in revolt.

 

She tried to brush it off, but her right hand went to her head as a mostly covered wince tensed the features of her face.

Edited by Keenava Dira

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