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Tarrian Skywalker

Artus Prime

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Bones nodded and left at Sun-Dragon’s command. It seemed simple enough. Seeking out the verpine couldn’t be too difficult, especially since he had seen one earlier watching the training session. All he had to do was find that bug. 


However, it quickly became harder then he expected. Either he was really bad at searching or the verpine was just really quick, but Bones began to doubt his own skills at finding a single bug. Eventually, he had to start asking around. Anyone he came across Bones would ask if anyone had seen the verpine. He would get a few shaking of heads, a few negative responses, but nothing more. What’s more, the Ithorians seemed a little offended at the question even, for reasons that were at the moment unknown.


Tired after an hour of searching, Bones sat down against a wall to rest on the warm durasteel floor. The sky was still quite bright, making the Tognath feel quite at ease at the moment. He had never been to his species homeworld, but he had heard that it was intense and full of fire and brimstone. A hot, deadly place full of trouble, which made an endurance to heat necessary for survival . His parents had left that place to live on Coruscant, where they could raise children in a place that would be more wholesome and opportunistic for the two. 


Bones sighed a deep sigh. His thoughts had been sucked into the past, where memories of his home before reigned. In all the time lately, Bones had very little time to think about his past. The home that he missed so much. The home where he would steal his parent’s speeder bikes with his sister, and go drag racing through the busy night life of the city-planet.. The home where the two trouble-makers would sneak into before their father and mother woke up to leave for their cleaning jobs. The home where the smell of boiling egg-rakata his mom had set to cook overnight would be waiting for them. 


Bones chuckled. The one time his sister knocked over a lightstand, and immediately tried to pretend how she had, in fact, been coming down from the bedroom to catch Bones in his escapades. She was never very good at lying and the tognath’s parents saw through the ruse immediately.

 
“Oh, Muv…” Bones began to sob invisible tears. Their species retained as much water as possible and never wasted it on expressions. “Muv, Muv...Would you be proud? I...I don’t know…


“Don’t know what?”


Bones jerked up, caught off guard by the sudden feminine voice. Before him had walked up a lithe, chitonous body of an insectoid. 


“You! Your the person I’m looking for!”


The verpine looked at the Tognath curiously, but chirped a few noises of embarrassment. With a metal prosthetic hand, she reached up and stroked her antenna, much like how a female human would brush her hair back. 


“Um, I didn’t realize I was so badly wanted. I saw your little, um...was that a duel? “


“What? Oh no no, it was just some training with Sun-Dragon.” Bones quickly stood up and shook the Verpine’s metal hand. “ My name is Bones, and I was told to talk to you.”


“Me? Oh my...thank you, um, Mr Bones,” The female verpine looked almost shocked at hearing this as she clutched Bones exoskeleton hand, “but I fail to see why Sun-Dragon would suggest me to speak to…”


Bones shrugged.  “All he said was speak to the verpine and to do what they…”


“Wait wait wait” the verpine interrupted, waving her hand over Bones’ rebreathing to stop his speaking. “He didn’t mention me by name? He said ‘the verpine’?”


When Bones nodded, her attanna drooped down slowly. 


“Um...but I’m sure he meant you, since you had watched us train…” Bones stammered out, realizing how disappointed he made the verpine. “Um...miss…?”


“Hmmm? Oh ya, I’m sure he did. Hmm...oh sorry, name is Aoi. Hanaha Aoi. I’m the...um...the representative of the Hive.” 


Bones turned his head in puzzlement. The lack of facial muscles and tear ducts meant that the species that to develop other ways to show emotion. 


“You...oh that makes so much sense now! Hehe! Yes, there is a hive. A while ago, the verpine, um, we sort of snuck aboard Raka Nwul.  We made ourselves indispensable to the ship by becoming its engineers, and so the hive now lives in the Pipes. Inside the ship. We are everywhere down there. I think there’s about 680 of us down there...”


Bones was genuinely surprised. In all of his time here, he hadn’t seen anything that would indicate an entire colony of insectoids on board. To be able to live on the ship without being seen was impressive to say the least.


“So you all are engineers onboard?”


Aoi shook her head, then nodded slightly in correction. “No no...well, Most of us are, yes. I do some work as an engineer, but I’m actually the designated representative of the Hive. If anyone has questions or problems, they usually find me.”


“That must be interesting. Being the diplomat between two groups.”


“Eh, not really. It’s mostly dealing with complaints about missing parts and blocked water valves. I unfortunately don’t get to see too many happy Ithorians.” 


Bones suddenly understood. He remembered hearing rumors of thieving individuals taking random items and returning them very altered. To the Ithorians, they liked hand making their tools. So when a technical minded verpine takes a tool and upgrades it without permission, that could be very annoying. 


“Anyways, enough about us. You said you needed to speak to us?” 


“Oh! Ya, sorry…” It was clear that Bones had almost forgotten his task. “I’m supposed to acquire parts for a lightsaber…”


Aoi’s antenna perked up again. “That’s a new one. And it just so happens I know a bit about lightsabers. Not much mind you, our Hive mother doesn’t want me to go too much into investigating Jensaarai technology, but we have studied some of your laser swords. Even presented a few ideas to the Defenders…here, come with me…”


Aoi led Bones down the street a ways, where, once at the center of a cross-section, tapped the floor with her metal foot a few times. To Bones’ surprise, the floor hissed and opened up a circular hole. Aoi fell down a little ways into a narrow, cramped, crawlspace. She indicated for Bones to follow, who did so. 


After a few moments of crawling at a downwards angle, Bones found himself in a chamber of crisscrossing pipes, circuitry, and hallways. Bones gazed in awe at what he was seeing. The entire mechanical parts of the ship were open to access from the area, he was sure of it. If he knew the layout of the ship better, he could find where all the ship’s power cores, water distillations, and much more. Bones instantly understood why the verpine called the interior of Raka Nwul ‘The Pipes’


There were also many more verpine down here. Bones lost count after 20, but could easily see how an entire Hive could exist inside the ship. Each Verpine that Bones witnessed was busy at work, whether it was by cutting and rewelding pipes with plasma torches, labeling areas and wires, or providing food to a coworker. 


Aoi led Bones around, showing him some of the Pipes while explaining what she was trying to find. She explained some of the concepts of the lightsaber, how it was simple in design yet also complex in style. She appeared genuinely surprised when Bones began to fill in some of her trains of thought when she explained certain parts. Bones’ work on Coruscant as a repair shop owner had given him many insights into how some pieces of technology worked. It was easy to tell that a bond of friendship was developing between the two. 


Finally, after acquiring enough parts, which was almost nothing more then two handfuls of metal junk, Aoi explained the concept of the crystal. 


“As far as I can tell, the Jensaarai, use crystals as well as the emitter matrix to force the focused plasma from the lenses into a blade of pure energy. The crystal, as i understand it, is the heart of the lightsaber.”


“And where am I supposed to get those? Not exactly a mine around here. ”


Aoi looked at Bones and buzzed a little in thought. Bones couldn’t help but notice her mandibles clicking in excitement. Eventually she reached into one of her many pockets and held out something clenched.


“I’ll give you this on two conditions. One: you promise to make a delivery for me to the leader of the Jensaarai. The Saarai-Kaar. Two: You give me a radio-frequency for those…” 


Aoi gently tapped at the communication implants on Bones’ head. The Tognath was surprised. People usually didn’t ask for such a thing, at least not in Bones’ experiences. 


“Its so that way I can contact you again. You know, for professional reasons.”


Bones had the distinct feeling that there was more going on, but he agreed. Having that, Aoi dropped two small red crystals into the Tognath’s open hand.  They were just slightly smaller then Bones’ smallest finger.


“These are gifts from the Hive-Mother. Apparently someone here knows how to make synthetic crystals, and the Hive-Mother only gives those to people she respects. So don’t go showing it to other Verpine, k? I don’t want her to think I’m disrespecting her.” 
Bones agreed and thanked Aoi for her generous gift. Along with that, she handed Bones a datapad, containing a map of Raka Nwul’s interior design, or at least its current one. Apparently it changed quite often.

___

Later, Bones nearly collapsed on his bed when there was a knock at the door. Opening it, Bones found Sun-Dragon, who relayed his next task to the Tognath. Go to Dome #8 and await instructions there. 


    Bones bowed and agreed. With grabbing his items, including the lightsaber parts in a carrying case, the crystals in his pocket, and his metal rods on his back, he rushed off to the Botanical Domes.


    After some investigating, Bones found himself in front of two locked doors. The glass doors had been painted over to hide whatever was inside, and a large warning label pasted on the paint told how the Dome was off limits for everyone but trained personnel. 
This instantly made the Tognath curious. As far as he knew, there were not many places off limits. What could be inside here?
Bones pressed his communication implant against the glass, trying to hear what was inside. It was quiet. Bones scratched a bit at the paint and peeled off a small chunk. From inside a slight purple glow was emitting. But beyond that, Bones couldn’t tell anything.
Except something was alive inside. Bones could feel it. Maybe it was the Force, or something else, but Bones could tell there was something inside. 
Still, there wasn’t much to do but wait. So Bones sat down on the ground, cross-legged, and waited. Surely someone would be here. With any luck, Bones could deliver the map to the Saarai-Kaar even.  


After getting bored for a few minutes, Bones opened up his own datapad, and returned to the section on the elements of the Force. After a bit, Bones closed his eyes and repeated the elements over and over. It was something to do. And strangely, it felt right to do so. To just wait and focus on the elements of the Force. 
 

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A dull klaxon, worn and aged, beeped a low foghorn-like warning as dim red lights flashed around the doors in lopsided circles. With a slow grating squeak and the hiss of negative pressure into Dome #8, the elder Saarai-kaar stepped out of the prohibited zone. The force swirled in shadowy wraithe-y waves of light and dark, gnawing at any would be hangers on of the poisonous purple growth; ensuring it did not escape the massive metal tomb that contained it aboard Rakaw Nwul.

 

Even in full armor, the man that led the Jensaarai did not look all that intimidating. Unassuming and lethal, the Saarai-Kaar carried himsef in an aura of force-bound mystery.

 

Seeing Bones chanting softly, the Saarai-Kaar let his presence in the force branch out and fill the room searching for the apprentice’s aura. Upon finding it, he urged it upwards and outwards, guiding it deeper into the ethereal tendrils that were the force. Without a word, he hoped to help the young Tognath expand his horizons. As their auras swirled together, a great darkness loomed ever closer. Together, they swirled along the edge of dawn and sunset, darkness to their left and seering brightness to their right. They swirled forward perched on the molecular razor’s edge that sepersted the two. Shadow” the voice echoed softly through the force.

 

In the force, time had no meaning. It stood still and reached for eons into the future and the past. Gently, the two came back to the room outside of Dome #8 and deposited their consciousnesses back from where they had never left.

 

With a gentle hiss, the Saarai-Kaar removed his helmet, revealing an aged and worn face with deep set eyes that seemed to speak of having seen things that no being ought to have witnessed.  His eight braids that sprouted from atop his head tumbled back over his shoulders as he offered a hand to Bones to help him to his feet. “Greetings young apprentice. The Jensaarai have need of your skills and abilities abroad. Are you ready to strike for your community, to protect those who have embraced you?”

 

”Have you completed your lightsaber yet?”

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Bones continued to whisper the elements to himself over and over. Plant, Fire, Ground, Water, and Metal. Each word he tried to taste it as if left his tongue. Each element he tried to focus on how it connected between him and the rest of the universe. 


Then he felt the other presence. 


For a brief moment, a powerful presence was there, like a fog of magic. Bones’ bones tingled slightly at it. It was so powerful, and huge, compared the small thing like he. 


Bones didn’t have time to fully comprehend the presence, as his own senses seemed to leave him. He felt his body leaving him. Or perhaps he was leaving his body? Either one, something was happening. His eyes no longer were in his head. His ears weren’t connected to his communication implants. He was no longer sitting on Raka Nwul. He was floating. That was the closest word Bones could use to describe it. Floating in a sea of mists. Before him, nothing. Behind nothing. But there was something.


Light. And Darkness. Bones had no arms, but he reached forward. He tried to grasp what was there. As he did, the mists around him swirled violently. Places and times flowed past the Tognath. Bones tried to take it all in, but it was like grabbing an ocean. Finally he rested on just one vision:
It was just a flash. A scene of metal and rock and fire. Of forges busy at work. Of molten metal pouring down heating furnaces into molds. Of people made of metal, overseeing the production. It was so formulaic. So strict and rigid. Everything moved with a singular purpose. Molten metal was rapidly cooled by being doused with hyper-chilled sodium-potassium. The metal was taken apart and put together with others. Screws were wound together. Gears were fitted and moved. Photoreceptors were being installed and turned on. Weapons were being forged. Bodies were made. 


“War Droids” Bones muttered. Then he was back on Raka Nwul. 


Bones shook awake at the sound of another being. He looked up and instantly recognised this person as the leader of the Jensaarai. He didn’t know if it was the style of the armor, the way he carried himself, or the presence Bones had felt earlier, but this...this was…


“Master Saarai-Kaar” Bones greeted as he was helped up. He instantly bowed slightly once fully stood. He had little experience with figures of authority, but he knew he owed respect to the person who was practically giving him shelter. 


At the sound of being useful to the community, Bones nodded eagerly. 


“Yes sir. I have been wanting to get some action, though Sun-Dragon told me there was more than that to helping the galaxy. “


Bones then held out the datapad that Aoi had requested Bones to give in her place. 


“No sir, I have not built my um...laser sword” Bones chuckled at the common name he had learned. The Jensaarai were the first people he heard call the weapons lightsabers. “Sun-Dragon said he was going to show me, but first he wanted me to come here.” 
 

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The Saarai-kaar places his hand on Bones’ shoulder, gently and quietly urging him back to a standing position. ‘The Jensaarai kneel in submission to none.’ He urged silently in the force.


Pulling his own duel-bladed lightsaber hilt from his belt, the Saarai-Kaar offered it to Bones. “Take this. Reach out in the force. Study it’s makeup. Then begin to craft your own. You have your pieces? Sit here by the dome. Build your weapon. Then return to me in my quarters.” The instructions were simple enough. The Saarai-Kaar knew that the twisted life of the growth within the done would present a dark edge to hedge the young Tognath’s own ambitions. The test went without speaking; either the apprentice would instinctively recoil from the light or he would pursue the darkness and be destroyed by it, drawing the purple fungus unto himself.

 

“You will need this weapon where you will be going. Your brethren will need your skills. This blade will mark you as one of our own. Unique as all Jensaarai are. Seek the truth within the force. Follow the paths upon which we trod. Seek the truth within the weapon. Look beyond the surface. Seek the truth within yourself. Weed out the deceptions you have planted there. There, will you find the design of your weapon.”


 

With that the Jensaarai leader offered Bones a warm smile. He knew his instructions were cryptic in some ways. Still, he had every faith the Tognath could search within the force and discern truth from falsehood. The time it would take him to build his weapon would allow for the other pieces of the holoboard to move into place. Then they would strike at the heart of darkness.

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As the Tognath held the weapon in his arms, a chill went throughout his body. He could feel the power waiting to be used in his hands. A kind of aura of authority. Or maybe it was just energy. Fire, and Metal perhaps? It was certainly big. Bones felt like he could wrap his hands around it four times. Perhaps it was a little large for his tastes


“Will my weapon feel like this?” Bones wondered aloud.  


Bones nodded at the Saarai-Kaar’s command. Build his weapon. Prepare himself. 
Shouldn’t be too hard. 


Bones sat himself down on the ground after the, what he assumed was a Weequay, gave him a smile. That sort of encouragement was unique to Bones. This entire situation was just unique. 


Slowly, Bones spread the parts in front of him, as well as the two synthetic crystals. Bones breathed a whiff of sulfur and focused. The pieces were in front of him. The tools were ready to be used. All he had to do was to work with them. 


All he had to do was work with them.


Bones reached and gripped his head in frustration. What was he supposed to do?


“Alright, alright, calm down. Think this through. Use the Force, right? Right.”


Bones breathed again. The elements. Plant. Fire. Ground. Water. Metal. The elements of the Force. 


“Gaaah! That’s not helping!” Bones groaned. He stood and walked a few circles around the parts. Think. Think. Focus. Let the Force flow, correct?

 

Bones breathed again as he walked. Let the Force flow. 


Bones stopped and faced the dome. He could feel the life flowing from inside. It was breathing. It was pulsing. It was curious and knowledgeable. Bones took a few steps and felt the doorway. The purple glow from inside was something different. Something unique.


It felt insidious. And hungry. 


"No no no...I'm not messing with that... I got a job to do" Bones stepped away suddenly and turned away.  Bones needed something else. 


Knowledge. 


Bones smiled on the inside and reached up to his comm implants. 


“Hey... Aoi? Aoi can you hear me?”


“Bones!” The tognath flinched a little bit, realizing he needed to adjust his comm system. “I didn’t expect to hear from you so soon. What, you tried to find me again and got lost?”


Bones chuckled and explained his situation. He knew he needed to build a lightsaber, but he was unsure how. He needed a little help, though he didn’t state that outright. He figured that Aoi was the best option, sense he wasn’t sure if the Jensaarai would approve of him asking for help. Something about them felt so independent and self-reliant. 


Rather then being frustrated or annoyed, Aoi was excited to help.  She calmly explained her ideas how the lightsaber worked again, and gave descriptions on how to fit the parts together. As she did, Bones sat down on the ground and began to work. He would occasionally ask questions, but otherwise he would only confirm what she was saying. It almost felt like he was back on Coruscant in his repair shop, working on his next credit check.


The talk also helped distract the Tognath as well. The presence he felt in the dome behind him became less noticeable. To Bones, there were the parts in front of him, the task, and his friend.


However, there was one hiccup.


“Aoi...one of the gems is cracked. Is that bad?”


There was a pause of silence. Then…


“How did you crack my gem so fast?" Aoi began to yell, forcing Bones to flinch. "Thats….I’ve had those for two years now!”


Bones held up his hands in surrender, though the verpine couldn’t see it. “Hey, who said I cracked it?”


“Well it certainly wasn’t cracked when I gave them to you. Seriously, how did you manage to do that? I mean, those are special!”


Bones immediately felt bad. While he was confident he did not crack the gems, he did feel like he let down a friend. And in just the first day of meeting her. 


“Look..I’m…” Bones sighed. Sorry was what he wanted to say, but couldn't bring himself to say it. “Do you think the crack affect the blade? I feel like it might shoot off the energy in another direction.”


Aoi sighed and buzzed in thought. “Ya, you are probably right. I suppose you could try to use that to your advantage, but I don’t see how...I would restart with the design, and focus on using just the one good gem. “


Bones looked at the half-complete weapon in his hands. He had gotten so much done it seemed. 


“Listen, Bones, the Hive Mother is wishing to speak with me. You think you have this?”


Bones nodded. “Ya. I do. Thanks so much.”


With that, Bones was alone again with his thoughts and the parts. A project he had to restart on. If there was one thing Bones hated, it was restarting on his own work. 


“Maybe...I don’t have to…” Bones muttered. An idea was forming. He could use the energy to his advantage. If he was right, a slight offshoot of energy could be useful, and unique! 


Bones got to work. He had to re-work some of the parts again, but not the entire blade. The power cell would still shoot energy into the primary focusing crystal, the first and uncracked crystal, and would move into the second. However, if Bones could angle the crystal correctly, some of the energy would come out of the crack at a slight angle as well as the usual straight line outwards. Then, with two separate series of blade channels....
Bones breath a whiff of Sulfur again as he tightened the last screw. It was done. A lightsaber, if it worked. Made up of scrap parts from around Raka Nwul, it looked like a piece of trash at first. However, the extra little jut that poked at about a 45 degree angle from the top did make it look different. 
Bones took a breath. He gripped the weapon in his hands, and turned it on. 


The weapon hissed to life. From its top a jet of flaming energy shot out.  56.5 centimeters exactly, as Bones predicted. A second later, a much shorter blade almost crawled out from the extra jut. A odd style crossguard Bones mused.  Bones could feel the power coming from it. Energy from a old but polished power cell from a scrapped speeder. It was guided by energisers. And it was tamed by crystals. Gifts from the Hive. 


“That is what this is…” Bones said as he held the weapon, fascinated by it’s power. His very own lightsaber. “A Gift from the Hive.” 


Bones deactivated the lightsaber. He had to show Aoi his handiwork. But first, the community was depending on him for some sort of task. An important one, if the Saarai-Kaar believed Bones needed a weapon for it. Possibly something to do with those droids he had a vision of. 
Bones breathed heavier as he ran. Excitement was running through him faster then he could ever run. 

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Bones had to stop to catch his breath. He was now in the central part of the ship, where all the houses and factories were. Bones even figured that his own dwelling place was a few blocks away. Was this intentional? Perhaps the Tognath was placed where he was so that way if he did something stupid or reckless, the Saarai-Kaar himself could race over and knock some sense into the young being. 


It didn't matter at the moment though. Bones straightened up and looked at the dwelling before him. It was different, but only in the most subtle ways. The texture of the walls was rougher then the other homes. The color was a slightly browner tint. Someone had taken great care to have a few desert-like plants grow around the front doorway, as well as on the roof. 


However, Bones could hear something from inside. It was muffled, but Bones could definitely hear something. It wasn’t chanting nor singing, but it was very rhythmic, and solid. The language was unfamiliar to Bones. It wasn’t like the smooth four-throated words of the Ithorians. It was more guttural, with a mixture of humming. It reminded Bones of the ship’s name: Raka Nwul. Perhaps the language coming from inside was the same as the Ship’s.  Or perhaps it was the original language of the Saarai-Kaar. 


Bones took a deep breath and pressed at the door to open. It was locked. Bones cursed himself silently, realizing he had not gotten permission to enter. 


“It’s ok Bones. He is expecting you. The leader of the Jensaarai is expecting you.”

 

Bones took another breath, trying to calm his own nerves. 


Bones looked at his newly crafted weapon. The lightsaber felt right in his hand. Inwardly Bones smiled. He wasn’t nervous. He was excited. He had made his own weapon, his Gift of the Hive, and was now going to present it to someone. 


Bones took another breath and, using the weapon, knocked three times at the metal door. The music inside went on for another minute, then stopped. Bones took a step back and, with his lightsaber between both his hands in front of him, waited.  

 

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The door slid open with a grumbling rattle as the rough knobby hand the Order’s figurehead pushed it into a recess in the wall. With an emotionless look, the Saarai-Kaar, clad in a simple brown tinicnand breeches looked Bones up and down and then waves him to come in; stepping back out of the doorway to one side. Inside, it was spartan. The most outstanding thing about the one room hovel was the Saarai-Kaar’s armor displayed on a samurai-like display rack. In the shadows, if one was not fully aware, the armor could easily be mistaken for another being. Thebrest of the room had a table and chair, bunk, a chest and a few other small items. Practically bare and clean. The dirt-packed floor was as solid as the durasteel beneath it; having been trod until it now longer responded to being walked upon.

 

Holding out a hand towards Bones, the Saarai-Kaar asked a simple question “My saber?” He saw the young Jensaarai’s hilt gleefully clutched between his hands, but did not acknowledge it yet, waiting until his own weapon was returned before responding further.

 

Once Bones returned the Saarai-Kaar’s weapon, the Weequay turned and carefully set the weapon with his displayed armor before turning back to Bones. Glancing at the saber hilt Bones held, he continued, “I assume that your weapon is functional. There is no time for me to instruct you in the use of this weapon. You must prepare yourself.”

 

Turning, the Saarai-Kaar stared out the singular window of his hut. It overlooked a slight hill down to where several children were running about and playing some makeshift game with a roughhewn leather ball. Even from here their giggles and occasional angry call of foul play could be heard. It added a sense of life to the serene surroundings. Without looking back at his guest, the leader spoke once again, “If you desire to become a Jensaarai you must become one with us. All of us. The Sun-Dragon is an able teacher. He is often relegated the more . . . difficult . . . initiates that come to us. Like you, he had to overcome a dark past. Darker than even yours I would say. In doing so, he was cleansed through both holy and unholy fire; having to forsake all that he knew and called his own. The time has come though for you to show your dedication.”

 

Turning to face Bones again, the Saarai-Kaar’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Have you studied the histories? What do you know of the Jedi and the Sith?”

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Bones looked around at the near barren quarters as he entered. He did not know what he expected, but this sparse, simple look was not what he was expecting. Of course his eyes were instantly drawn to the armor, the most fantastical thing in the quarters, but still, Bones was surprised. Wouldn’t a leader have something more? Tactical tables and maps, or gifted treasures and tokens? 


 “My saber?”


Bones jumped from his studying of the armor and handed the Saarai-Kaar’s own blade. As he did, he also revealed his own, hoping to get a word of praise from the Saarai-Kaar. However, when he received none, he quietly put it down and listened, a little disappointed but still focused on what was being said. 


“If you desire to become a Jensaarai you must become one with us. All of us. The Sun-Dragon is an able teacher. He is often relegated the more . . . difficult . . . initiates that come to us. Like you, he had to overcome a dark past.”


Does that mean I am a difficult initiate? Bones thought to himself, and easily recognised the silent, guilty answer as a resounding yes. How could an ex-criminal and murderer be easy to train? 


When the Jensaarai turned and asked about this histories of the Jedi and the Sith, Bones looked away in an answer of no. Truth be told, he had glanced at them, and then prompt skipped them over to learning more interesting, and more importantly, useful things. Who needed history when you had a sword? Who needed past relations when you had current affairs to review? Even then, who needed current affairs when you were supposed to be detached from the galaxy? 

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The Saarai-Kaar nodded, without giving way his disappointment that the young apprentice before him had not studied their own history.“The Jedi and Sith descend from same line and tradition. The same that we ourselves come from. The differences, however, have morphed over time. I fear that as each grows further from it’s roots the deeper engrained it becomes in the siren’s call from the darkness,” he explained as he turned to reach towards Bones’ saber. He continued to speak, “The Jensaarai do not often concern themselves with the ways of the galaxy at large. It is not our place to do so. We are entrusted with one another, to hold each other accountable and to defend the truth. The dark calls and we hold fast together against it.” Once Bones handed his hilt to the Jensaarai leader, he turned it over in his hands, allowing the hilt to roll from hand to hand as he tested the weight. “Even so, the Jedi and the Sith are our brothers. Some are more misguided than others. The darkness that calls them threatens the entire universe. The siren’s call is tempting to all. Even me. To protect our community, we must not just learn, but we must stand against the darkness when it threatens our own.” 
 

Hefting the saber, the Saarai-Kaar twirled the hilt one handed, his eyes never leaving it. The force whirled about them as he prodded it mentally, scanning it inside and out. “Many Jensaarai are born into our tradition, raised in it. Your experiences with the darkness has prepared you in unique ways. You have tasted it and not succumb.” He stopped spinning the weapon and offered it hilt end back to Bones, nodding, “But you are still young. Prepare to meet with Defender Sarlacc and his elder apprentice, Svata. They should be arriving within the day.” 

 

”Your saber appears to be functional and aptly built. I would venture you had help from our community. That is good. Each Jensaarai must find his or her place here. Hold onto that when you go forth. Let it be your emotional tether to hold you fast.” 
 

Placing a warm hand on Bones’ shoulder, the Saarai-Kaar guided him towards the door. “The Sarlacc will continue your training for now. Together the three of you must go and help our wayward brethren stand against the darkness.” Pausing at the door, the Saarai-Kaar stared deep into Bones’ eyes, the force thick and swirling between them illuminating things beyond the surface. “Though we broke from the Jedi, they are our brothers. Save them whilst the sun still shines.”

Edited by Leena Kil

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((CONTINUED FROM SPACE))

 

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

 

“Our time for dueling has come to an end. you have improved greatly. I feel that with such natural skill you will be able to hold your own when we take a stand together. Remember though, there are other weapons that a Jensaarai uses to carry the day. The Saarai-Kaar has requested that we pick up another apprentice. After our interactions with the Grandmaster, the Jedi have raised concern for the safety of the galaxy. Refresh yourself, then when we make landfall at Raka Nwul find your fellow apprentice and gather supplies. I will meet with the Saarai-Kaar and understand what it is exactly we are doing.”

 

Returning to his room, The Sarlacc took a refreshing shower and donned his armor and tool kit.

 

With a rumble the ship came in to land near Raka Nwul, the stealth vessel instantly becoming nearly invisible against the backdrop of the planet.

 

As soon as he was prepared, ThebSarlacc hurried from the ship, not stopping to speak to anyone. He needed to see the Saarai-Kaar immediately. 

 

 


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As the Saarai-Kaar talked about the history of the Jedi and the Sith and how they were related, Bones nodded in acknowledgement and handing over his newly made weapon when gestured to do so. As the talking continued, Bones focused his eyes on the saber in the hands of the Saarai-Kaar, thinking about how he was one of the few people in the galaxy with such a weapon. That made him excited.


Bones snapped back to reality when the aged Weequay turned his words to Bones own experience. To which darkness was he referring to? The presence that Bones felt while crafting his blade? Or was he referring to that horrid moment on Coruscant when his sister died? Or worse, was he referring to the family he had killed? Bones wanted to ask, but he feared the answer would be the latter, and Bones did not feel like that was him resisting the darkness, even when he turned himself in. 


“Um, Thank you sir.  Saarai-Kaar sir.” Bones stammered as the Saarai-Kaar finally handed back the blade and applauded the Tognath for his use of asking Aoi for help. Bones felt a smidge of pride rise in him at the words. 


But training with a new master? The Sarlaac? What a poor choice for a name. At least Sun-Dragon was named after something fearsome. Who would want to be named after a worm in the ground? Still, it sounded like the Sarlaac would be taking Bones out from Raka Nwul and into the galaxy. As much as he had grown accustomed to Sun-Dragon’s harsh training, he yearned for excitement beyond picking Lumas Fruits.


As the Saarai-Kaar escorted Bones to the door, he spoke about standing against the darkness. He spoke about entrusting a task to Bones. As he did, Bones felt the pride in him rise further. It had been so long since someone entrusted something important to him. He had almost forgotten this feeling. If he had skin, Bones would’ve been smiling comm implant to comm implant. 


“Yes Saarai-Kaar. You can count on me, erm, us!” Bones gripped his lightsaber tightly as he vowed this to the being before him. We won’t fail!” 
And with that, Bones turned and dashed off. His home was nearby, so the run was quick. Breaking into his room, he found that all of his gear since he got here was waiting for him on his bed. On top was his worn-down Slugthrower rifle, polished pistol, and vibroknife. 


Bones paused at the sight of the rifle, and then picked it up. Its familiar weight and texture felt both correct in his hands as well as well as wrong. He looked down its sights, opened its chamber and inspected it for wear, tear, and rust, and then put it down again, studying it. 


Bones wasn’t sure what to do. Should he bring the rifle with him or not? He knew he was good with it. He was a good marksman. Slugthrower rifles were harder to handle then blasters, due to how the bullets were affected by outside forces such as gravity and wind. There was a particular kind of art with them, albeit a primitive one. However, Bones wasn’t sure if he was ready to pick up this damnable weapon again. It was the same rifle he had when he turned himself in. But it was also the same rifle he had when his sister died. There was history to this weapon.


In the end, Bones slung it over his shoulder and equipped the knife and pistol at his sides as well as an ammo belt going from right shoulder to left hip. He had no idea what was going to be needed for whatever task he was to accomplish with the Sarlaac. He did make sure though that his lightsaber was at his left side. His instincts would draw that weapon first in an emergency. He would use Jho’s rods as a walking staff for now. 
Bones took one last glance around the quite empty room. He left nothing behind. He carried the data pad in his pocket, he had all of his weapons and gifts he had received so far. He was ready. 


As he opened the door and exited, he glanced over and to his surprise, found an interesting item on the plant pot. Sitting on top of the little sapling in the dirt was a muddied blue scarf, with gold embroidery. Bones snatched it up and looked around, trying to figure out where it came from. No one else was around. Did the bird that stole the scarf return it? Bones doubted that. Perhaps someone found it and recognized it as the Tognaths? But only two people here knew about the scarf, and only an Ithorian child had actually seen and studied it. 


Bones shook his head. He knew he didn’t need to keep this, according to Sun-Dragon. He shouldn't keep it. It was just a reminder of the past. But he couldn’t just leave it to the birds again.  Bones quickly bent down and dug a bit into the dirt, balled up the scarf, stuffed it inside and then, covered it up. It would be here for him when he eventually returned. 


Bones left the area, and found himself at the place where Sun-Dragon had begun to teach the art of  Arosymladd. No one else was around. Bones wasn’t sure where to go. The Saarai-Kaar had simply told him to be ready. With all of Bones’ personal possessions on his back, he was. 


A figure walked by. Bones thought it may have been Sun-Dragon, but quickly let that thought disappear. The armor the figure wore was much different. More metallic then Sun-Dragon’s, but just as fearsome. He was easily identifiable as a Jensaarai. 


“Hey! Excuse me!” Bones called out, beginning to chase after the person. It seemed he was in a rush. “I’m waiting for someone named….”


Bones didn’t get to finish. In an instant, the person was far down the street, moving at a pace Bones would not be able to keep up with for long. Whatever the person’s mission was, it was more important then listening to a young Tognath. 


Bones, alone again, looked around, unsure what to do. He remembered how the Sun-Dragon had begun to train him here. Perhaps Bones could do a little more?


Bones placed most of his equipment on the ground as well as some of his upper clothes, revealing his bare, rough, porous exoskeleton. Grabbing a nearby log, Bones planted it into the dirt firmly, making a makeshift dummy. Then, facing it, Bones grabbed his staff and got into a fighting position. 
One, two, one, two, Bones practiced striking the log again and again. Bark and wood chips flew off as Bones utilized his muscle to make strong, fast strikes. Bones chuckled to himself, feeling a little alive. He was getting a feeling for the staff. Bones tried a few tricks here and there. Spinning the staff once and bringing it in suddenly for a strike, sliding his hands down the metal frame so he could swing the whole thing like a club, and some piercing moves as well. 


A few times, Bones stopped and tried to focus on the Elements. He would recite the words over and over, though it was clear that he wasn’t feeling it quite the same as before. Practice was needed. Still, Bones did feel he was getting better with the staff. One, two, one, Bones struck, and then taking a step back and spinning around, Bones lunged forward. With all of his might, he plunged the staff into the log. 
Bones let go of the weapon. The staff wobbled a bit but remained embedded into the piece of wood. 


“Heh, pity Sun-Dragon didn’t see that” Bones said out loud, studying his work.  
 

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On 9/8/2020 at 9:36 PM, The Sarlacc said:

"Refresh yourself, then when we make landfall at Raka Nwul find your fellow apprentice and gather supplies. I will meet with the Saarai-Kaar and understand what it is exactly we are doing.”


Svata stepped out onto the Raka Nwul and breathed in. After a lifetime of breathing the recycled air of old cargo freighters and junk ships, it always hit him how good it was to breathe fresh air on a spacecraft. Ithorians were something else.

"Alright," he muttered to himself. "Pick up a new apprentice. Sreth...Bones? Yeah, that was it, the Tognath." Svata hadn't met too many Tognath in his time, but the ones he had run into had all made an impression. Tognath were tough buggers, and not someone you wanted to get into a fight with unless you were a hundred meters away with a rifle. An endoskeleton and exoskeleton, combined with an immunity to pain, made them pretty memorable when things got hairy. Svata recalled one Tognath he'd seen in a bar fight. An Abyssin had sucker slammed the smaller guy with a cargo chain and snapped his leg. The look on the creature's one eye was one Svata would never forget when the Tognath not only didn't go down but hobbled right at the thug looking more pissed than anything else. It was about that point that the Abyssin discovered Tognaths grow up under significantly higher gravity than most other species, and are a lot stronger than they look. The next two things the Abyssin discovered was what the wiring above the ceiling tiles looked like and that synthetic glass shards in your face hurt no matter how quick you regenerate. 

"Well this should be fun."

Svata wandered across the ship, without much of a plan in mind. Truth be told he just liked walking, and would take any excuse to do it. Wandering, meandering, ambling, it was all the same to him. Just so long as he got to keep moving he was a happy man. He chuckled as he remembered Parami shouting at him in a rare moment of pure irritation that she was going to nail his tail to his left foot if he didn't stop pacing around their little ship.

His winding path took around the outer edges of the ship, and he nodded and waved at the other Jensaarai and residents of the big ship. Eventually, he heard someone pounding away at something, with the quiet but intense grunts that only came from training and training hard. He rounded the corner, and there was the Tognath, finishing a routine with...honestly some damned impressive power and control. That man would be a force to be reckoned with in a fight.
 

On 9/9/2020 at 12:06 PM, Sreth Bones said:

“Heh, pity Sun-Dragon didn’t see that” Bones said out loud, studying his work.

 

"Yeowch! You got Sun-Dragon? I've heard horror stories about that guy. Word has it he skinned his last apprentice who gave him lip. Problem was it was a Givin." Svata grinned, mustache poofed up in a silly parody of the refined, mature elder. "Doubt a word of it's true, but the fact that the story is going around at all..." Shaking his head, Svata extended his hand. "Sorry, manners. Svata, apprentice of the Sarlacc. If you're Sreth, then I imagine I'm here to pick you up."

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Bones jumped a little, not aware that he was being watched. He found that his audience consisted of a singular being. Judging by the grey hair, the wrinkled skin, and the look of knowledge in his eyes, the being was quite old. 


“I don’t know about that…” Bones replied to the rumored story. “He’s one tough Tuskan-Eater, but last time he made me pick all the Lumas fruit. Course, it was a six day task done in five if that says anything”.  


With a few tugs, Bones un lodged the staff from the log and approached the being.  “My name is Sreth, but I prefer Bones.”  

 

The tognath extended a hand to shake the smaller Svata. The yellow eyes, the rough palms and the shorter stature made Bones wonder. If Bones could smell, he probably would’ve had an answer.


 “What exactly are you? Some kind of uncloaked Jawa?” 


Bones stepped towards his gear and clothes and began to get dressed and put his gear back on. As he did, he began to ask every question that came to his head.


“So what kind of person is Sarlaac? Can’t be any more harsh the Sun-Dragon. He’s not a slow, old teacher is he? I mean, he is named Sarlaac, but I don’t want to assume. But I don’t want to be as old as you before I advance either. Any idea what it is we are being sent to do?”


Bones was redressed and reequipped with all of his belongings either on his back, on his belt, or in his pockets.  Confidently, Bones stood in front of Svata and waited for him to lead the way. 


“Maybe some point we can have a friendly duel, just to see how much more I’ve got to learn?”
 

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On 9/11/2020 at 11:51 AM, Sreth Bones said:

 “What exactly are you? Some kind of uncloaked Jawa?” 

 

Svata laughed. "That's a new one! I'm not that short am I? Heheh. No, I'm a Ryn. Handy tip, if there nose looks like a flute, then they're probably a Ryn." He grinned.

On 9/11/2020 at 11:51 AM, Sreth Bones said:

“So what kind of person is Sarlaac? Can’t be any more harsh the Sun-Dragon. He’s not a slow, old teacher is he? I mean, he is named Sarlaac, but I don’t want to assume. But I don’t want to be as old as you before I advance either. Any idea what it is we are being sent to do?”

 

 

Blowing out his lips, Svata dug his hands into his pockets as he sauntered along. "Well...Sarlaac is what you might call a true Jensaarai. A true believer in the ideals. And if call him slow and old, please do it when I'm in the other room. He might be the kind of guy to take that as an invitation for an "object lesson", and while you don't feel pain I can assure it ain't fun for the rest of us. As for what we're being sent to do...something regarding the Jedi I think. I'll let our master explain it."

 

On 9/11/2020 at 11:51 AM, Sreth Bones said:

“Maybe some point we can have a friendly duel, just to see how much more I’ve got to learn?”


"Hey, if you don't mind fighting an old spacer like me, I'm good to scrap. Just don't break my nose and don't pull my tail. Seriously, a broken nose for a Ryn is a real hassle."

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Bones chuckled at the Ryn’s acceptance to fight some time. “Whatever you say ol’ Jawa.” Truthfully, Bones only took his words about breaking noses and pulling tales half-seriously. In a real fight, there weren’t rules like that. You used whatever you could use. A club, a handful of dirt, a wounded shoulder, all were fair game in a fight. Still, Bones would try to keep in mind. 


As the two walked through the ship towards where Svata had first came through, Bones took one last glancing around the ship. The dirt trodden floors, the potted plants, the simulated sunlight and the heat of a hot world were going to be missed. The sounds of small avian birds flying above and landing on the ground to snatch pieces of fallen food, as well as the mumbles and talkings of nearby individual’s filled the air. 


Bones studied every person he went by, from the Ithorians passing by, the marketplace visitors from the planet, and even a few Verpine peeking out from certain spots now that Bones was aware of them. A gardener, going from house to house tending to each plant he was assigned. An elderly merchant selling his children’s home-made pieces of furniture. A female human mechanic working on a malfunctioning door. 


This place. This ship. It was alive in its own way. Just as alive as any planet could be. In his short time here, Bones felt like he was making a home here. 


But at the same time…


“Well, whatever we are doing, I can’t wait. I’m molting for some excitement.” Bones proclaimed as the two began to exit Raka Nwul, onto the surface of Artus Prime towards where the Sarlaac’s ship was hidden. Soon the two would be on board. And soon Bones would meet the Sarlaac. 
 

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On 9/16/2020 at 11:53 AM, Sreth Bones said:

“Well, whatever we are doing, I can’t wait. I’m molting for some excitement.”  

 

"I really...really hope you don't mean that literally," Svata chuckled. "Well, you shouldn't have to wait long. Sarlaac isn't the kind of Jensaarai to let a student sit on their hands. I reckon you'll get put through your paces. He'll..."

Svata paused, stopping in his tracks as something occurred to him. His tail swished once, twice, then he started walking again, a pondering expression on his face.

 

"Hey...hope you don't mind me asking, but does it ever get annoying to you when people complain about pain and such? I mean, I imagine it's something like a blind man listening to everyone constantly gripe about the bright light, or a droid listening to his master constantly bellyache about how hungry he is. Something between background noise and consistently insensitive. Ah, here it is." He strode up the ship's' ramp and punched a few keys. The door whooshed open, and the faint smell of recycled air puffed out into Svata's face. "Anyway, take a minute to shake the dust off your boots. Defender Sarlaac should be back by now, or at least will be soon."

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Bones shrugged at the question. “Eh, I don’t really notice I guess. Don’t care really..” Bones had grown up on Coruscant, interacting with many being’s who felt ‘pain’ on a level that the Tognath never fully understood. What Bones considered a smack on the shoulder could be an arrestable offense on some planets. To Bones, so many other people were so delicate. He and his sister were told to act as if they lived in a world of glass when interacting with people. 


And those very subtle and gentle acts, such as displays of affection among humans, were just completely unknowable to Bones. Why kiss when you can hug with the vice grip of passion? Why not smack a person’s chest instead of a firm handshake? Maybe that’s why Bones liked Sun-Dragon. He wasn’t a ‘gentle’ person. 


When on the ship, Bones glanced around at the ship’s interior. It was to be expected for a scout ship as Bones theorized. Simple metal walls and floors. Bones sighed, already he was missing Raka Nwul. 


“Well, better then back home I guess…” Bones mutterred, thinking briefly about Coruscant. That place was inhospitable to say the least


After a few minutes of searching, Bones found what he believed would be his room. A small empty chamber, no more then two yards wide. The only items inside included a platform for a bed, a folded blanket and pillow, a smaller platform as a table, a surprisingly wooden tote box for items and a sink with a mirror. The roof above the bed slanted upwards, and judging by the heat in the room, Bones figured he was near an engine. A boon to be certain, as hotter temperatures were more comfortable to the Tognath.


Bones placed his staff and rifle next to the door, and stored whatever clothes he had with him in the tote. Not five minutes in, and Bones already had made himself as home as he could. To most people, this would’ve been quite sad. 


Not sure what to do, Bones sat on the bed and simply waited. Taking a moment, Bones pulled out his datapad and began to read.


“The two easiest elements to understand are Plant and Metal. Plant is the element of life incarnate. All that grows, matures, and develops over time has Plant in it. From the smallest of reproductive germs to the largest of space dwelling monsters, you can find Plant. It is also the element of thought as well as freedom. It creates and digests information. All that thinks and has an active mind have connections to his element, and Plant allows people to connect with each other in various ways. 


“Metal on the other hand, is raw strength. It is the element that resists change by standing strong against all forces. It is what allows things to be done. It chooses destinies and alters the world in ways. Metal is the element of determination and willpower. Focus on a singular task, and being able to ignore distractions is a base trait of Metal. It is rigid and unforgiving, and allows one to make their own path. 


These two elements are the first ones a force user will discover because they are the easiest to connect with. Plant and Metal are everywhere, and are especially vital to a being’s body. A person who both thinks and moves with determination is able to feel and notice these elements easily, and those who are force-sensitive can use these elements to greater uses. 


A student once asked his master, ‘how can both Plant and Metal be in the same body? Do they not fight each other?’ To which the master replied ‘You read the texts, yes? And understood them? Then you have Plant in you. You held the book, yes? And walked up here without being blown away by the wind? Then you have Metal in you.’ The two elements may oppose each other, but they are both vital to the being. Without Plant, you become a slave to orders. Without Metal, you are blown away from task to task, unable to change the world.”


Bones looked up. He heard a noise. Someone was outside his door. After pocketing his datapad, Bones stood up and punched a button, causing the door to swish open and reveal who was there. 

Edited by Sreth Bones

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“Go and see to it that the Jedi do not sully the force, again, Defender Sarlacc. Tarry not, for the Jensaarai are needed elsewhere. Divert the droid army to the cause of light and then go search the shadows for friend and foe. Seek the truth.” The Saarai-Kaar spoke, his words slow and deliberate.

 

Rising from a kneeling position, The Sarlacc locked eyes with the leader of his order. Determination shone in his pupil-less eyes.  “That we may find it where it might be found Saarai-Kaar.” The Sarlacc clapped his fist to his armored chest with a thump in salute before turning and exiting the chamber deep within The Bastion.

 

Gliding silently through the aged and darkened halls, the Jensaarai Defender made his way back out of the core of the Jensaarai’s base and wound his way through the ship until he was outside. From there he made a cautious arc through the landscape of Artus Prime to where the Asha’ajak was nestled amongst the outcroppings of rock and scraggly brush.

 

Boarding the ship, the armored monk made his way down the hall until he saw Svata. Pausing he offered wrinkled forehead in warm delight at seeing the aged apprentice. “Brother Svata. We have much to accomplish and even more to uncover along the way. Join me and we will find our new brother. Then we will be off.”

 

Leading the Ryn down the hall to Bones’ door, The Sarlacc stopped and rapped his knuckles against the door to Bones’ quarters once. The metal rang with the fierceness of the touch. When the door slid open, The Sarlacc looked the Tognath up and down, taking in the grizzled experience of the young being in a glance. “Greetings Brother. Time is short. We have little time for drawn out discussion. Defender Sun Dragon has told me much of your training. You will find that he and I differ in many of our ways; but we are both Jensaarai. We all,” he reached a hand towards Bones and placed the other on Svata’s shoulder, “are Jensaarai. Come, walk with us.”

 

Leading their trio down the halls towards the bridge in silence, save for the muted hubbub of a ship as it prepped to launch, they made their way to the bridge. Even on a ship of such size, the crew acted in relative silence, trained and honed to carry out their duties quietly so as to mask their signatures to any would be scanners. 
 

On the bridge, the lanky Duros turned to the captain and spoke a single word, “Mechis.” With a nod, the captain’s fingers flew across his control panels sending flurries of crewmen moving like the well-oiled machine that they were. They were more than that. They were brothers. They were Jensaarai. Their survival depended on it.
 

Turning to Bones and Svata, The Sarlacc raised an inquisitive eyebrow ridge. “The Jedi, a mythical order; but one you know to be real. Just as the Jensaarai are real. Still, we, compared to the Jedi are, are wraiths of shadowy myth compared to them. History would tell you the Jedi are legendary heroes of peace and justice. The powers that seek to control the galaxy paint them as rebellious warmongers, agents of chaos, and zealots that would murder for their cause. What is truth? What truths have you learned of the Jedi? and the Jensaarai?”

Edited by Leena Kil

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