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Tarrian Skywalker

Artus Prime

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He started in shock as he heard noise behind him, turning to face it.

 

"Who are you?" he asked suspiciously, slowly moving away from the men coming into the room. He was desperately trying to remember who these people were, and all he could get from the recesses of his brain was a vague sense of recognition of the man who spoke. He continued to slowly back away behind the comm, trying to feel for something to pick up and use to defend himself if things turned ugly.


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He stood, still, waiting for a reaction, any sort of reaction, but there was nothing. It was like....he stopped, and scratched his head with a confused look on his face. He didn't know what it was like, but he knew that it was something abnormal, as they stood there, frozen, and lifeless.

 

Walking cautiously to the nearest person, he touched his face with a finger, and it felt cold, and hard. There was no reaction from the one whom he had touched, none whatsoever.

 

Well. This is a bit odd. What the hell do I do now? He seems to know me, or is at least pretending he knows me. Maybe I should take them back to their ship and see if I can figure out how to get out of here.

 

With this decision made, the ragged and worn looking man slowly backed away from the frozen people and out of the room, following the trail, backwards, that they had left when they arrived, back to their ship. Moving through the last doorway, he stopped in awe, his mouth open in amazement, as he beheld what seemed to him an amazing thing. But then, suddenly, he felt a sharp stabbing pain in his head.

 

Dropping to the ground, writhing and crying out in agony, he felt the pain of someone stabbing and slicing his head for what felt like eons, and then just as suddenly as it started, it had stopped, leaving him lying on the dirty floor, panting and with sweat dripping off his brow. But something felt different. He looked up again, and took in the Medical Shuttle.

 

Wait a second....I remember what that is. I've seen it before.I know The Black Sun logo, and I know that's a medical shuttle and I know how to pilot it.

 

"But what is Black Sun?" he muttered to himself.

 

Rationalising that they wouldn't have come if they weren't good people, he turned and made his way back to where the men who had startled him were standing, still frozen somehow. After some false starts, and plenty of breaks to catch his breath, he had managed to drag the three of them inside the medical shuttle and lay them on the bunks.

 

As he moved cautiously through the shuttle, he found himself muttering names of pieces of equipment as his eyes alighted on them, names and uses flying to the forefront of his memory, until he moved into the cockpit, where his eyes fell upon the control panel, and he knew within himself that he could get the ship in the air and back to it's point of origin.

 

I need some food first though he thought as his belly rumbled ponderously.

 

Scavenging through the ship, he found some dry rations, and ate them hastily, reveling in the feeling of having food in his mouth again, laughing at the feeling of water dripping down his chin as he tried to drink more than his mouth could hold.

 

Eventually though, it was time to move on. Making sure that his new-found companions were strapped in securely so they wouldn't slide around the shuttle, he made his way to the cockpit, sat down and allowed muscle memory to fill in the blanks of his newly recovered memories of spaceflight. Igniting the engines, the deep background rumble brought a grin to his face, as he maneuvered the shuttle off the landing platform, into the air and then out into orbit. Bringing up the navicomputer, he punched in his destination without thinking about it, knowing it felt like the right place to go.

 

Thyferra.

 

When the navicomputer beeped its readiness, he slid the lever forward and delighted himself with the flicker of pseudo-motion as the shuttle flickered into hyperspace.


Member of Jnet Addict Club 12/05

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Posted (edited)

Raka Nwul

 

Somewhere along the vastness of Artus Prime, within the domed and grounded capital ship of Raka Nwul, a young Ithorian ran. Down the streets past other Ithorians quietly going on to their business, the young Ithorian ran. Some beings would turn and watch the child, chuckling about the errands of the youth, before going back to their workplaces.

Occasionally the youngling bumped into another of his species, who in turn would uttur  something harsh and how the youngling needed to slow down. Still, the child ignored them. Both of his mouths on his long neck opened and closed rapidly, drawing in as much oxygen as possible to keep his lungs working. 

 

In his right hand was a basket, tightly clutched between five soft fingers and his handmade clothes. Woven from the vines grown in the jungle ecologies by his own mother, the youngling knew how important it was to get this to its destination. His mom never hand-made anything unless it had a specific purpose, and this was made last night. He didn’t know what was inside it though. It felt heavy, and there were definitely several objects jumbling around inside. He had a few guesses what they may be but he couldn’t stop to check. 

 

The Ithorian child had to stop and rub his bare feet. His mother was right. He should have worn something to help his toes. These hard surfaces of the City were so different from the dirt floors back in the Overgrown. There the plants grew almost wild, with a careful eye by the residents. He could run wherever he wanted and as long as he wanted. Here it was hard and rough. He wasn’t used to the flat durasteel floor. Why other people preferred this was beyond him. But most of the outsiders who came to Raka Nwul seemed to prefer a cleaner (or as his dad would say, ‘professional’) floor, so that's how it was. 

 

After taking a moment to rub his aching feet, the youngling continued on his way. He was almost there now. He was in what the adults called the ‘outsider quarters’ or the ‘housing district’. In the distance above the houses was the jungle line. Thick, tall trees rose up, dangling their beautiful and lush green leaves. The youngling wondered if those trees grew fruit at all. He knew that inside that jungle line were many little critters that enjoyed the peaceful existence, so they had to feed on something. And further in was Bastion. 

 

The youngling stopped. This was the house. It didn’t look like much. Four discolored walls and a roof, with a window that was shut and a large . Someone had placed a garden pot next to the door, but nothing had blossomed yet out of it, though a small yellow feathered bird had begun making its nest in the pot, arranging various twigs and leaves to be some kind of nest.

 

The youngling shooed the Manollium away, and took a moment to break the nest apart. While the bird cawed angrily at this destroyer, it left the child alone. If the bird continued what it was doing, the plants inside would never grow. With some care, some water and some nutrients, the plants inside would show progress in a day, and bear fruit within a week even. Course, they would only grow if the resident inside took care of the plant.  

The youngling breathed in, composed himself, and knocked on the door. He hoped the newcomer wouldn’t be too angry. 

 

________

 

Bones jumped up, startled at the noise at his door. After pausing a moment to stop his breathing, he realized his right hand had instinctively grabbed the closest thing to a weapon: a simple carving knife. Setting it down on the table before him and next to the datapad he had been reading a few moments ago, and looked around him.

 

The house, if he could call it that, was very bland, almost prisonlike. The bare walls barely showed their painted brown color in the dim blue light of the lamp on the table. The floor was dusty, with only a bright blue rug at the doorway to rub any dirt on. There were some stairs in one corner of the room that led to some basic toiletries, which included only a sink, a urinal, and a mirror.  On the opposing side of the room was a cot, holding a blanket, and a small bag of clothes: Bones’ personal items.  All of his other gear, like his rifle and his vibroknife, had been taken away from him, held somewhere else on the ship. All he had was his clothes, and his scarf around his neck. 

 

Bones sighed as he tugged at the scarf in force of habit, loosening it slightly. This place wasn’t prison, he reminded himself. He had been told multiple times he could leave the house anytime and explore the ship, with the exception of the hangar bays. He just didn’t feel like it was proper of him yet. 

 

Another knocking at the door, this time more frantic. Bones got up from his seat and strided over. As the door whizzed open, the Tognath thought that someone was playing a prank on him. There was no one there. 

 

A noise got his attention. Bones looked down and realized it wasn’t a prank. It was a youngling. Not even a mature one. 

 

“You’re not Moza…” Bones commented.

 

The youngling shook its hammer-like head and rapidly made a bunch of chirps and clacks with its two mouths. 

 

“Whoah whoah, what? Um, don’t you speak common?”

 

Another shake of the head. Bones sighed. He didn’t know how to speak the Ithorians native language, and this youngling appeared to either not understand basic or just hadn’t mastered speaking it. To be fair, they did have two mouths and four throats. Learning a new language had to be an experience for them. 

 

“Well, whatever, makes no difference I guess. That for me?” Bones asked as he pointed to the basket that the child carried. The child nodded and held it out.  Taking it, Bones opened it up and studied it. He felt the youngling’s eyes on him. He knew how he probably looked. With no facial expressions due to his exoskeleton, Bones probably acted like a robot more than anything the child had seen. He couldn’t scowl, or grin, or anything like that. And with the language barrier...

 

He reached in and pulled out what looked like an oblong grey rock and held it out.

 

“What’s this? I don’t think I can eat this…” 

 

The child shook its head and held out its hands for the object. Taking it, he shook it once and knocked on it, showing how to identify something about it. Bones watched curiously and said nothing. Eventually the child then took the object and smashed it on the ground once. Bones nearly yelled, but the sound of the object cracking in half. Out from the object dribbled a colorful mixture of purple and grey juices, as well as a multitude of tiny white seeds. 

 

“Fruit! Thats fruit!” Bones exclaimed, to the child’s nodding. He held out one of the halves to Bones and proceeded to pretend to drink out of the other, though Bones knew these Ithorians ate mostly flies. 

 

Bones did the same, unhooking his rebreather for a moment to take a gulp. He nearly gagged on the juice. It was incredibly sour but thin. It washed around his mouth like water, but tasted like it should’ve been thick. The seeds also gave it a texture that was unpleasant. Bones attempted to swallow the stuff, only for the seeds to get caught at the back of his throat. He coughed a few times, breathing in some of the toxic oxygen, making the entire ordeal worse. Clumsily, he quickly re-equipped his rebreather.

 

“That..” Bones began to cough out between breaths. “...was, ahem, different.  You like this stuff?” 

 

The child shrugged and held out his own half, still containing the juice inside. 

 

“No, no thanks… What is this?” Bones asked. He pointed to the fruit and asked again, hoping to get his point across.  The child gave an answer. 

 

“It’s...Lu...Lumas fruit? More like sour fruit. Blech…” Without a second thought, Bones tipped the rest of the sour juices into the potted plant next to him. Maybe the plants would like the stuff more then he. 

 

The child chipped and buzzed something and began pointing at the Tognath’s neck. 

 

“Huh?” Bones asked. The child pointed again. Bones grabbed his scarf. “This?” The child nodded. 

 

Bones gently untied it and bent down. This child brought him some fruit, he might as well satisfy its curiosity. Without letting the child touch it, Bones held the scarf gently, showing off the lovely blue silk and fine golden embroidery. Golden stars were stitched in all long the scarf’s length, and at the center, the golden outline of a flying, two handed creature. 

 

The child reached out to touch the scarf. At first Bones flinched away, but after a longing look from the child, he sighed and held it out again. The child’s fingers ran across the smooth silk, gently wrinkling it. He began to trace the animal and said something in Ithorese. 

 

“Ya...ya a mynock” Bones said, pretending to understand the child. 

 

At that moment, the small yellow-feathered Manollium swooped between the two, and grabbed the scarf with its claws. Before the two could react, the bird took off, carrying its newfound treasure away. 

 

“Hey!” Bones shouted. He was suddenly up and chasing after the bird, with a startled but excited youngling dashing after him. “Give that back!” 

 

The bird flew on, towards the jungle line. Bones knew that getting the bird was a fool’s choice, but he had to. That scarf was too important to him. He had to get it back. Without a moment of hesitation, he charged into the brush of the jungle line. 

Edited by Sreth Bones

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At the edge of the brush, the lean muscled tower of The Sun-Dragon grunted as Bones crashed into him. Grabbing the newcomer about the shoulders, he glowered down at the wayward wanderer; “Surely you have better things to do than galavant about with younglings do you not? We would rather not unteach the truths young minds are not prepared for.” Before Bones could object he cut him off, the tall Corellian shot a caring look at the young Ithorian kindly sending the boy back to his mother before continuing; “I understand that you hold these things dear young one. To become a Jensaarai, one must hold their experiences in their hearts; but trinkets, bobbles, and toys only serve to tie us back to the lives we have forsaken. Let this be a lesson young one.”

 

Standing tall, the fierce Jensaarai warrior stared down at Bones as if daring him to object and silently urging him to return to his studies. 

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As Bones crashed into the man, he almost didn’t stop in a near unconscious attempt to trample him over. Part of this was his desperation to get the scarf back, but part of this was also the fact that he was Tognath. Having a primitive development of nerve tissue made one have a tendency to ignore most problems. Whether this was in a healthy way or not depended on the situation.

 

This was not a healthy situation. 

 

“Surely you have better things to do than galavant about with younglings do you not? We would rather not unteach the truths young minds are not prepared for.” 

 

Bones opened his mouth to complain how this was not his fault, but didn’t get a chance. The Sun-Dragon, the only name Bones knew him as, was a powerful presence and a glare from him was enough to send the child running away. After a moment, the tall, imposing warrior turned back to the ex-criminal.

 

“I understand that you hold these things dear young one...”

 

“You got that right…” Bones muttered under his breath. He didn’t fully hear the rest of what the man was saying. His eyes were darting behind the human. Specifically, up a rather large and twisting tree where the yellow-feathered bird was beginning to make a nest with his scarf. 

 

“Look, you already took my gun and my knife. Isn’t that enough? That scarf is important to me, it belonged…”

 

Bones stopped himself. Belonged to my sister was what he was going to say. But years working as a thug taught him that showing such emotion was a way to get viewed as a wimp. And then he would be fighting all the time to try to establish himself as something besides that.

 

Bones saw that the bird was starting to make a move to head further into the jungle line, towards the center of the ship. If he didn't hurry, he might lose the bird for a long time.

 

“Here, how about I say sorry I distracted a kid from his chores, but I didn’t invite him. Frag, I can’t even speak his language. So let me just get my scarf and I’ll go back to the house and not bother him again.”

 

As he said his, Bones made a step to get around the imposing man. Any fully grown adult would know what he was doing was foolish. But Bones was still young and growing. He saw nothing wrong with what he did. 
 

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The Sun-Dragon easily matched Bones move, stepping to the side so as to continue to stand afront the wayward youngling. With his hands on his hips, he stared down at the Tograth. “And like a child, you must prove you are responsible enough for such weapons.” His response was simple, yet direct; the undertones leaving little room to interpret the challenge in his voice. “No man ought carry the power to take a life, that does not exhibit the will to protect the weakest among them. You do not know what traverses these jungles, yet you would lead a child to them over what? Some bauble? Remember son, you are the one who chose to walk this road. If we were but an escape from your prison walls . . .” he let the thought hang in the air for the other to interpret at his own will. 
 

Following Bones’ eyes, the Jensaarai warrior could make out the devious bird and it’s newfound prize. “Do not let the desire consume you. It will lead to darkness. Know that by coming to the Jensaarai, you will be asked to make sacrifices. Each one different than the other; yet each one, to serve those who need your help. The child, the bird, the people, a wayward mercenary, all deserve our help. Think of that price paid for your freedom. Your life was bought with a price paid for by others. Surely your cloth to shelter and nurture another, to protect and save unborn generations, is a worthy sacrifice?”

 

Each time Bones tried to move, the daunting man would simply step to block his path, prohibiting any further delving into the undergrowth. Firmly and gently placing his hands on the shorter being’s shoulders he pushed to turn the being around. “Come. Let us get some tea. Then you can tell me of the troubles you are facing.”  

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Bones gripped his hands into a fist at the mention of proving he was responsible enough to carry a weapon. Of course he wasn’t responsible enough to carry a gun. Not anymore. One bad accident taught him that. That’s why he wasn’t asking for his weapons back. All he wanted was the scarf. It wasn’t for the birds. It was his. 

 

“It’s an unneeded sacrifice...” Bones grudgingly replied, softly through his rebreather. If he was a human, his face would have been in a glare. The Sun-Dragon probably heard him, but the tone said that he didn’t want a reply. 

 

It was clear he wasn’t going to get the cloth back right now. The bird, happy about its find, took off again, carrying the cloth further into the trees, out of sight. Bones breathed in a small breath of sulfate through his respirator and tried to calm down, but his mind was stuck on the cloth. The last piece of his sister was gone. He couldn’t get past Sun-Dragon, at least not yet. Maybe he could convince someone else. Or go hunting for it at night. For now he had to wait.

 

“I don’t like tea…” Bones grumbled as he walked back towards his home, not knowing what tea even was. He hated how Sun-Dragon pushed him. He was like some scalding parent. One who wasn’t used to working with a Tognath, but a parent nonetheless. Something Bones didn’t like.

 

 The Tognath looked mostly at the ground as he walked. The  durasteel, carved to appear like some kind of street, was cold and lifeless to him, despite being stained from dirt and dust from over the years of use. To be fair, the look was very well done. From what Bones had seen, which wasn’t much, the ship was well crafted. The Jensaarai, or whoever was in charge of how the ship looked, went to great lengths to make things look civil. It reminded him of Coruscant. Or at least that city planet before it’s moon had crashed into it. 

 

The two had walked into the city, back to where Bones home was. On the way, Bones looked up at the sound of beings speaking with each other and the announcing of prices. It was a marketplace, where Ithorians were selling fresh food and hand-made items. Numerous fruits, both sweet and sour, were stacked up in boxes for all to peruse. Large and small vegetables, expertly cared for, sat in separate stalls. It seemed that each seller focused on only one good, instead of growing a variety. Even the gourds were separated by color and the seeds only sold by the Ithorian selling the fully grown goods. Colored cloths, with various shades of green or  yellow, extended from walls of buildings, not necessarily to provide any shade from the sun but only to identify that the stall beneath had goods for sale. The city’s visitors, especially those who worked the mines oneworld, were taking advantage of the fresh produce. 

 

Bones had to stop, seeing one stall selling a bunch of oblong grey rocks. The sour juice of the Lumas fruit still tainted his tongue, and the memory of those seeds disgusted him.  

 

“Where in the frak do they grow those things?” Bones asked, pointing to the stall. “I haven’t seen any gardens since I got here, and no one was rushing into that jungle back there.”  


The stall person, who noticed the two, waved them over. He seemed to recognise the Sun-dragon and offered two of the fruits out, inviting them to take a sample on the house. 

 

“And who in their right mind would eat those things?” Bones commented, not moving to nor from the stall.  

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The Sun-Dragon chose to ignore the young apprentice’s comments for the moment. Slowly walking amongst the stalls, the warrior watched the newly arrived Jensaarai-in-training until they reached a stall selling the coconut-esque lumas fruit.

 

Moving towards the stall, the Sun-Dragon spoke softly, “There are a great many things you have yet to learn; even hust aboard our home. We are Jensaarai. We seek the truth, constantly. These truths you must seek out.”

 

Gracious accepting the offered fruit with a smile and a nod to the elder Ithorian stallkeep, the armored warrior dug his fingers into the hard shell, pressing his palms towards one another until the fruit cracked loudly and purple juices began to leak out. 

 

The Sun-Dragon turned to offer a piece of the fruit to Bones just as the man spoke, “And who in their right mind would eat those things?” Turning, the Sun-Dragon offered a weak smile to the shop keep, setting the cracked fruit down on the stall, “Thank you friend. Please excuse this youngling’s rudeness.” 
 

Whirling, the Sun-Dragon grabbed at the shorter Tognath’s shoulder and forcibly drug him off; his wide strides and imposing presence parting a way through the crowds.

 

Making their way to an open circular pit ringed by small hovels, the Sun-Dragon hurled Bones into the dirt in a plume of dust. Looking down at the man, his eyes slitted in disapproval.  “You accept the help of our people when you are powerless. Now that you feel your hide is safe you disrespect the ways not only of those who you wished to join, but of the people who live in harmony with us in symbiosis! I have had enough of you and your pride. Let go of what you cling to. It died with you in the pit I pulled you from. If you cannot, well...” he gestured with both hands to the open dirt around them, inviting a challenge, “back your words with actions. When you dishonor they that give us refuge, you spit on all that is dear in this life. It makes you no better than a sniveling dark sider.”

 

”Stand, be a man. Challenge me.”

 

”Or accept that you have wronged those who you owe no wrong to and go seek repentance. All here contribute to the good. Perhaps it is time you do as well. Go  put in a day’s work harvesting the fruit of the lumas. We will begin anew tomorrow.”

 

Standing there, the Sun-Dragon stood, his knees bent awaiting an attack should his urging fall upon deaf ears.

 

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“Whoah, hey!” Bones exclaimed as the Sun-Dragon pulled him along. Bones had never seen the Jensaarai Defender get angry before, but he had a feeling he was about to, just for the comment about the fruit.

 

Being thrown down into the dirt, Bones’ shook himself and growled something in his native tongue. He quickly got up and raised his fists to defend himself. He was about to ask what was the matter with Sun-Dragon, when the Defender began to scold him. 

 

 “I haven’t held on to anything except my breath now. You guys have taken everything else already” Bones whined back as he prepared for a blow from the man. He was mad. And he was going to have his say. 

 

“I came here to redeem myself, not to pick sour fruit. You promised me redemption. I figured I’d be fighting bad guys and saving lives, not cooped up in just another prison.”

 

With that, Bones moved forward and threw a wild right punch. He knew he left himself open, but he was fine with that. He had been in fights before, especially when he worked for that crime syndicate on Ord Mantell. He had found that being able to throw a punch with a skeletal fist and having little nerve tissue made him quite the boxer. He took on several opponents twice his size. But those were against random thugs. He had no idea about Sun-Dragon.

 

And he was mad. Any professional could see that. He wasn’t thinking with his brain, he was thinking with his emotions. 

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The display of anger was enough to warn of the incoming assault. The punch connected solidly with the warrior’s armor. And in that moment, the Sun-Dragon reacted. With a push of his hand towards the younger being, he shoved mightily in the force, his hand millimeters from the other’s body hurling him backwards through the air to where he crashed into the solid ground with a smack.

 

Almost instantly, the Sub-Dragon’s sunset orange furnace of a lightsaber hissed to life, the Jensaarai flipping through the air to land a mete moment after his apprentice. He held the tip of the blade to Bones’s neck and the breathing apparatus  that sustained him. The force swirled invisibly about the two; should Bones try to raise a limb, strike back, or get up, he would find him pinned to the dust as if by invisible durasteel tendrils of the force that leeched forth from the ground itself. The Sun-Dragon stood there saber held unflinchingly close and prepared to strike, regarding the man as he tried to struggle. He heard the man’s grumblings and did not respond. Wheb Bones finally gave up the struggle, he spoke “You have not held your breath. With each exhalation comes another dilemma of your own mind. You wish for redemption? So once did I. You wish to save lives; but all you desire is to take the lives of others. Saving is not in killing or fighting. Saving is in serving, learning, and yes sometimes even pruning; as you will be doing for the next daycycles until the Lumas crop is brought to harvest. Silence your breath and perhaps you will see in the simplicity, a glimmer of what is the Jensaarai way.”

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Bones struggled against whatever was holding him down, blinded by action, not realizing the blade held against him. However, as much as he tried to move, something held him back. It wasn’t psychological. With every ounce, Bones was trying to fight whatever was holding him. His own grunts and growls proved that. But he was being restrained by something physical and he didn’t know what. 

 

Then he realized the blade. 

 

Bones finally froze and gazed up at Sun-Dragon. The armor Bones had struck protected him well. Bones only felt the thud of his exoskeleton crashing against the man’s armor and none of the pain, but he suspected that Sun-Dragon felt the same. 

 

As he listened to the Sun-Dragon’s words, Bones looked away, but listened. At last when the human was done, their was a brief pause of silence. 

 

“Fine” Bones said flatly. He would help with the cultivation of the Lumas trees and their sour fruit. 
 

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The blade deactivated with a hiss and the Sun-Dragon’s application of the force against Bones’ body ceased. He offered a hand to help the young Jensaarai backnto his feet.

 

Once they were both standing, the elder Jensaarai spoke again. “Return to the Ithorians and tell them of your quest. Harvest the Lumas, as per their custom and guidance. Become a part of the team. Contribute to the wellbeing of our community. It is one of the first steps to becoming a Jensaarai. In this simple act you will gain understanding and respect if you open your mind and close your mouth. Saving lives is more than cutting down evil-doers. When you are done, come and find me in the jungles about the Bastion. Open your mind to the force, keep your emotions in check and allow the force to guide you. I will be waiting in 5 days time when the harvest should be drawing to an end.”

 

With that, the Jensaarai turned and strode  purposely away leaving Bones alone in the clearing. First thing first, he would tell the Ithorians of the plan. They, in their methodical peaceful way, would help teach the newest Jensaarai apprentice the benefits of a peace filled days hard labor and the joys of contributing to the welfare of the greater good. After that, he had some security measures to attend to. 

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As Sun-Dragon left, Bones could clench his hands into fists for a few moments. His anger, while seething, was dying quickly. There was nothing more he could do except do as ordered. Still, he didn’t like this. It was like some kind of prison cell. Just better accommodations. 


    Bones sighed and took a step in one direction, and then promptly realized he had no idea where to go. Where did the Lumas trees get harvested? Where did any of the plants get harvested? Was the ship self-sustainable or did the plants grow somewhere on the planet they resided on? Bones didn’t know which to believe. He never heard of a self-sustaining ship, but Artus Prime wasn’t exactly a nature preserve either. 


    It took some time and a lot of asking strangers, but eventually Bones had an idea. Slowly he made his way to the edges of the ship. Originally he asked where the food was grown, and he was told that the botanical domes did most of that, except for what was grown on their original planet of Ithor. Some more questioning led Bones to believe that Lumas trees were native to Ithor and so instead he had to travel to the jungle ecologies on the edges of the ship. 


    A short speeder trip by a local Ithorian dropped Bones off at an entrance to the Atrium. Even before entering, Bones was shocked at what he saw. Large doorway before him showed signs of wear and tear. The durasteel was stained and tarnished, and was now impossible to close as vines and weeds had grown to the point that the heavy doors could no longer move. And the floor was lightly covered with dirt, which only became more thick the further into the Atrium.


    Bones took a breath of his sulfate before stepping in. Once entered, the other side at first was a narrow hallway. Bright white lights above lit the overgrown path like the sun lighting a forest. Vines with bright green leaves in full bloom stretched across the walls from one doorway to another, as if seeking to find more places to enter. The dirt pathway had small mounds of grass growing in spots where people tended not to walk. 


    Further in surprised Bones more. What was once a conglomerate of hallways meeting together in a large open space with a glass ceiling had become, to put it lightly, a village. Natural light streamed down through the glass onto green and brown vines, lush thick grass, small saplings barely sprouting leaves, and small pots of flowers. Amongst these plants was the dirt pathways, trampled by Ithorians who traveled between here and the rest of the ship. And each of these dirt paths led to houses. 


    Metal walls stained brown stood in these halls. They didn’t connect with the ceiling, but instead had large vines bound together and layered across, with then another dirt layer over it. From this dirt, flowers of every color grew. Bones could only see the vines and how they were bound because they were wrapped around the corners of the houses and pulled downward, like some kind of tent flap. 


    Amongst these paths, patches of grass, and houses, were some Ithroians. A few of the spouses or younglings of those who were working, they were busying themselves with all matter of tasks at hand. Some were tending to the houses, making sure the roofs and the flowers were properly cared for. Others were sitting around small pots with heaters underneath them to cure some kind of medicine or cook up a food. In the distance, Bones could see a small group of Ithorian younglings walking behind an Ithorian adult, reading from a datapad. A teacher and his class no doubt. 


    “Not what you were expecting, no?” 


    Bones jumped at the deep gurgle that came from beside him. He turned and faced a hammerhead slightly smaller then he. His clothes were simple brown robes bound tight against his skin and rounded belly, giving him a wide range of movement while dressed lightly. His smooth and pale green skin had small white lines painted in a criss-crossing style all over his head, with a small patch of black hair growing from where his head met his neck.  On his head he wore a wide brim hat, made to block out any light from above. He was the embodiment of some kind of farmer. 


    The Ithorian laughed at Bones' startlement. “Oooh, sorry, very sorry. Our dragon warned us you were coming, and I figured you may get lost so I wanted to escort you personally.”


    “Um...thanks, I think” Bones held out his hand and shook the Ithorians. It was rough and hardened from years of work. “I’m sorry, but isn’t this the Atrium? I figured it would be more of a...um, atrium I guess. Not...this”


    The Ithorian nodded understandingly at the Tognath’s confusion. “It wasn’t always like this. Come, our Dragon said you are to help us.”


    The Ithorian, who introduced himself as Jho, led Bones through the many halls, showing how there were many many more houses everywhere. He explained how the ship originally was a ship designed for transporting plants across the galaxy. However, due to a major incident in the ship’s history (Bones didn’t catch exactly what it was), the Great Atrium became a dwelling place for the Ithorians on board, instead of the upper levels of the ship. The Ithorians onboard preferred a lifestyle living next to the plants they cared for, and because the Jungle ecologies overgrew their enclosures into the Atrium, it became a natural choice for the Ithorians. Thus it was renamed the Overgrown, and became the housing district for the Ithorians. 


    Bones listened closely to it all, while marveling at how such a place could exist on the ship. He felt like he was actually on a planet. If he had woken up here, he would have never believed he was on a star ship that could travel the galaxy. 


    Jho eventually led Bones to the Jungle Ecologies. Where the Atrium was more like a lush grassland with houses, this was truly a jungle. Trees were packed densely into the area, blocking most of the light above. The shade however was not cool at all. Bones instantly noticed the temperature difference, and knew that most humans would begin sweating immediately in the humid air. 


    Bones also immediately was able to identify which trees were Lumas trees. Their rough brown bark twisted around the trunks, with some of the bark growing over itself in places. The limbs stretched outwards, with smaller and smaller branches spreading out like a kind of spider web. These limbs had green lichen-like vines climbing all over them, working their way into the bark and occasionally wrapping themselves along the trunk. On the tips of some of the branches, the vines curled and wrapped up into a ball, and protruding from these balls…


“Lumas fruit” Bones recognising the sour filled objects. The trees matched the ugliness of the seed.  “So I assume I’ll need to pick those?”


Jho nodded, but added “not yet. That comes tonight.”


“Tonight? Why not now?”


“You will see.”


Bones sighed. 


Eventually the two came into a clearing, where eight Ithorians, both old and young, were working, as well as a pile of mechanical parts, four two legged vehicles, and several large metal containers that made a buzzing sound with the occasional ping of something hitting the inside. Jho introduced them as Bone’s coworkers. Since none of them spoke basic, Jho introduced Bones to the group in his native tongue. Jho then gave Bones his assignment. 


“It will be night in a few hours, and we need these loaders ready by then. You any good with tools? Then help them with the repairs and tuning. I’ll be back later.”


With that, Jho left Bones, now alone in a group of strangers he couldn’t understand. However, Bones was able to make quick work with the loaders. He almost felt like he was back home on Coruscant. His experience with speeder bikes and fixing machines at his repair shop made him a natural at these loaders. While the others, despite not having a common language, had to point out a few things to Bones, he quickly caught on.  Within 2 hours, all the machines were fixed and prepared. It seemed that they were ahead of schedule, since Jho hadn’t come back yet and the rest of the Ithorians had sat down talking to each other. 


Bones paced quietly, anxious to get started. Why were they waiting until tonight to pick the Lumas fruit? It was obvious that the machines would be used to reach the out of reach objects, but why wait until night, when it would be impossible to see the sour-filled objects? These Ithorians were stupid. This entire thing was stupid. Bones fumed slightly as he paced. An Ithorian chuckled at Bones and made a joke, to which the others laughed. Bones noticed and looked down, realizing he had tore up a bunch of grass with his pacing. No doubt the Ithorians were making a joke out of this. 


“That does it” Bones stomped the ground once. “I’m just going to get those fruits now myself!”


With that, Bones went towards the nearest Lumas tree. Using the jagged, rough bark as handholds and footholds, Bones began to climb. The Ithorians stopped talking and watched, curious at what the Tognath was doing. The climb was a solid 28 feet up and the branches, while solid, were narrow. Still, Bones climbed. 


    At the first branch, Bones hoisted and balanced himself. The Ithorians watched intently. With a breath, Bones took a step forward.


    As he fell downwards, the Tognath remembered his time riding speeder bikes in Coruscant. His sister had beaten into his head about the way to fall during an upcoming crash and forced him to practice it over and over again. Loosen body. Relax. Catch something if you can. 


    Bones did just that. He smacked the ground like a stone and remained still for a bit. The Ithorians gathered around, concerned for the stranger, but quickly began to laugh when Bones picked himself back up. Bones was certainly an entertainment. 


    Bones thanked his two skeletal systems and shoved an Ithorian out of the way. He knew what he did wrong. He slipped. He went too quickly. He would do better. 


    Another climb. And again, another fall. The Ithorians laughed and cheered on Bones as he attempted again. This was funny for them. A skeletal man who didn’t know when to quit, and since he wasn’t feeling as much pain as anyone else, and the falls weren’t damaging, he would keep trying. 


    With each attempt, Bones got better. He was learning how the branches were. And he was learning how to balance better and better. All while the Ithorians watched and cheered and laughed.


    “What is going on?!?” Jho shouted, running into the area. The others stopped and pointed up. Realizing what was about to be done, Jho facepalmed and observed with the others. 


    Bones, now at a prime spot, reached out and grabbed as many branches as possible and began to shake. With three might shakes, the vines that held the seeds began to snap and fall. Like the rocks they looked like, Lumas fruit fell down onto the ground. 


    Pride made Bones’ chest swell. He had accomplished what he attempted, and now could show everyone his cleverness. With a fall down and a soft landing and rolling into a fall,  Bones picked himself up expecting cheering and clapping. Instead, the Ithorians were walking away back to the machines. Jho was shaking his head, his large hat swaying left and right. He wasn’t showing anger, or sadness. Just a smidge of annoyance with his movements, and a hint of amusement at his lips.


    “Our dragon did say you were rash. Couldn’t wait, eh?”


“I just proved you don’t have to wait until nightfall to pick your fruits.” Bones clenched his fits. “And all without your machi-”


“Indeed, without the lifters.” Jho sarcastically nodded. “You did that, while risking your body. Its certainly true we couldn’t have used machines during the day. Oh yes, very...eager of you. ”


    Bones said nothing. He was being talked down to and it was annoying him.


    “Can you do me a favor? You know how these fruit work, correct?”


    “Ya..” Bones shrugged, looking at the rock-like fruit around him. “You break them open and the sour stuff comes out."


    “Do that”


    Bones looked at Jho, wondering if he was serious. When Jho didn’t answer, Bones had no choice. Grabbing the nearest fruit, he bent down and smashed the fruit on the ground. With a loud crack, the fruit split and spilled its purple and white contents onto the ground. Bones held it out as if to prove a point.


    Jho shook his head.  "Again. Another one."


    Bones grunted and rolled his eyes. He grabbed the next fruit. Over his head and downwards, Bones smashed the fruit into the ground.


    It didn’t split. Bones stared at it and swung it down again. A loud thud but no crack. Angrily, Bones brought it down again and again. Slowly the fruit began to crack, and eventually snapped, revealing not a hallowed out center, but a solid, purplish substance. 


    “Whah?” Bones poked the substance, finding it spongy but firm. 


    “See, you went for every fruit you could see, not knowing which ones are ready and which ones aren't. Lumas trees produce fruit all year round. We have a method for figuring out which ones are ripe.”


    “But...but…”


    “Ah to be young like you.” Jho chuckled “Come, I have a perfect spot for you.”


    The large round Ithorian led Bones back to the clearing, where the others were. Jho sat down and invited Tognath to join him. Bones did, and listened to the Ithorian. He talked slowly about random things. He asked Bones questions about his life and where he came from. Despite Bone trying to be closed off, the brief answers given allowed Jho to launch into obscure topics. Facts about where the ship came from. Ideas for robot models to help gather the fruit. The verpine ‘infestation’ of the ship. 


    Soon, night began to fall. The ship had programmed its day/night cycle to match Ithor’s night cycle, but also adjusted it so that way its night cycle overlapped Artus Prime’s night cycle. As the simulated sunset occurred, and the shadows grew everywhere, Bones had his breath taken away.


    The lichen vines that grew from the Lumas trees began to emit shades of soft blue and purple light. As the vines wrapped around the trees, the color changed from a blue to a green. When the darkness grew more and more, the light became stronger and stronger. Even in the pitch blackness of night, each branch and path was well illuminated by the tree's glow. 


    As Bones sat and admiring the sudden beauty, Jho stood up and shouted.  “Release the bugs!”


    Five Ithorians went to the large buzzing containers and unscrewed their tops. Numerous small insects flew out, a swarm of beetle-like beings. Even as they flew out, Bones saw they also glowed. Small dots of yellow swarmed the air and slowly went upwards into the trees.


    “Suckler Beetles” Jho commented to the Bone’s wonderment. “Nocturnal bugs from Ithor. Powerful scent glands in them. They can smell nutritious material a mile away though a foot of solid durasteel. We collect them at the end of the night once they fall asleep. The don't bite much, but I don't think that'll bother you” 


    Bones looked at Jho, unable to tell if he was exaggerating. But he could see what they were doing. The Sucklers flew amongst the trees and began to swarm and crawl over the lichen balls and the seeds they held. Large glowing yellow orbs amongst the blue and purple glowing vines. 


    “Amazing. It’s like...like… well I don’t know but...wow!” Bones exclaimed. 


    Jho chuckled and tapped Bone’s shoulder.

 
    “It is. Most newcomers never stay around long enough to see this. You have to be patient to see this. But our defenders...well, sometimes one or two come here to meditate.”


    “Now…” Jho pointed to one of the lifters and handed Bones a large basket as well as a metal rod. Bones felt the engraving of ‘Jho Jho’ on it. “Get to collecting. Stick is good for knocking the fruit loose. I want that back. I’ll be back soon.” 


    With that, Jho turned and left to do whatever he needed to do. Bones nodded and got to work. This time not out of anger or wanting to prove something. This time, Bones was basking in the beauty of the glowing Lumas trees and their seeds. 

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