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About This Game

It is 36ABY and Emperor has been in power for 55 galactic standard years. Believed to be dead after the Battle of Endor, the Emperor fled to a secret Sith world after his broken body was recovered by his loyal Imperial Guardsman. There, on Exogol, using ancient Sith sorcery and alchemy the Dark Lord of the Sith slowly regenerated his shattered body by consuming the life force of millions of galactic citizens. The process took years, and in that time his proxies and Moffs and agents worked behind the scenes running the Empire while their master healed. During the Battle of Endor both Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader were lost. After Vader turned on his Master, he discovered it was too late for his son. The Dark Side energy tore through Luke and Vader both. The father and the son were lost on the second Death Star. In the years that followed, after Leia Organa-Solo established the Jedi Praxeum in secret to battle the emperor’s increasing might in the galaxy, invaders from beyond the known galaxy kept the Empire occupied as a new generation of Jedi were trained. It didn't last long. After the fall of her son, Ben Solo, Leia retreated from the academy and went into self-imposed exile, leaving the Jedi to fend for themselves. In search of training, a young Force-User discovered Leia and restored her hope in both the Force and the Jedi ways. With hope restored to the fading vestiges of the Resistance against the Sith Empire (who were now fully addressing themselves as such), Jedi Master Organa-Solo and her Padawan joined with the Resistance and the Jedi in hiding for one last assault on the Emperor's Sith world of Exegol. The Resistance was decimated. What they discovered there waiting for them was something they could have never prepared themselves for. The Sith armada that was blockading access to the planet made short work of the Resistance fleet. A small contingent of the Jedi that made it to the surface hoped to face off against The Emperor and destroy him once and for all. Sith Troopers led by Dark Side Adepts and Imperial Knights mowed down the Jedi and other Force Users leaving only small number to finally face the Dark Lord, Darth Sidious. Rejuvenated after having feasted on the life force of billions coupled with the despair of the losing battle taking place above him in the orbit of his world, the Dark Lord was nigh unstoppable. No one survived the encounter and the Sith fleet moved on to attack the galaxy at large. That was a year ago. In just the year that has passed since the Resistance was crushed, the Sith fleet has been punishing the galaxy for the actions of those who fought and died trying to win their freedom from The Emperor's oppression. Ambassadors and Senators from all over the galaxy are rallying to the Imperial Senate Chambers (as the Emperor healed the Imperial Senate was reconstituted to assist with control of the various regions) to beg and plead for the Emperor to halt his attacks and bombardments upon the various systems in the Galactic Core to the Mid-Rim worlds. In the Outter Rim, the Empire has cracked down so hard on bombarding space lanes with Interdictor-class Star Destroyers, that the various crime bosses and bounty hunters are finding it almost impossible to eke out a living. So much so that now those living on the fringe have grown to detest the Resistance as much as they do the Empire for stirring up a gundark nest of problems for everyone in the galaxy...

Game System

Star Wars

Status

Active
  1. What's new in this game
  2. Her target being grappled, even if he managed to avoid the attempt, was unexpected. Tisa had no idea who this slender person was, but the stun ring to their chest from the bounty hunter's blaster made it pretty clear that they were not on good terms. The lanky male was still standing though, and was at least forcing the bounty hunter to divide his attention, giving her the best opening for a shot that she was likely to get. 'Frak it. Enemy of my enemy...' Tisa thought to herself as she squeezed the trigger once more and sent another glowing stun ring down the hall, illuminating the walls for an instant as it passed.
  3. The bounty hunter reflexively shook off the attack, it wasn't until he saw had attempted to subdue him that fear washed over his features. This was wrong, this was all wrong. Had they been tipped off? Did the boss have a mole in his crew? How did could they have such a precise counterattack planned like this? Outlaw style the hunter panicked and fired off a shot from the hip. The blast caught Shiv square in the chest but the capacitors in his electromesh armor did their thing and dissipated the stun blast before it could overload his synapse and cause him to faint. The pale, long-eared warrior still took a couple steps back from the impact, leaving him looking grimmer, and now certainly more aggravated than he had been before being shot in the chest. The bounty hunter braced himself for a fight. The hall was blocked by the intimidating human further down, expectantly waiting for his opportunity to step in. The nagi must work for him, he thought, as Ian just stood near his doorway, non-chalauntly, and whomever had circled around behind them and blocked off the door… yeah, these guys were professionals. The boss wasn’t going to be happy one bit.
  4. Dar'Krin only hesitated a moment as the blue light from the stun blasts reflected off the ferrocrete walls. He wasn't sure who was in the right in this firefight - or even if there was a right side to start with - but the longer it went on the greater chance there was of a stray blaster bolt hitting a bystander, like the human male who stood gaping a few metres away. The best course of action was to stop the fight, then sort out who was who. That said, he wasn't about to glide up behind the nearest combatant and put his knife through their vitals. These weren't stormtroopers - it wasn't obvious who the aggressor was here. So he opted instead to draw his blade and moved up behind the roughly dressed man facing away from him. It should have gone off without a hitch. The bounty hunter was unaware of the danger at his back, and Dar'Krin was skilled at close-fighting. One arm snaked around the man's shoulders, designed to pull him off balance and backwards so that Dar could place the tip of his tehk'la to the thug's throat. Unfortunately, the burly human's reflexive jerk and twist as he realised his peril ruined the maneuver, and the man's eyes widened as he half-turned and realised he was face-to-face with one of his targets, the Nagai.
  5. Well, this wasn't exactly what Ianmar expected, when he got a view of the situation. There was the pointed-eared male humanoid (Ianmar didn't recognize the species) tensely facing outward towards the foyer, the hunter already there and taking cover, and finally, the pink Zeltron woman. Ianmar had seen her a couple times, coming in and out of a room at the end of the hallway. He hadn't been expecting... whatever this was...
  6. Tisa did not want to admit it, but this was the most alive she had felt in quite a while. The risk, the danger and the thrill of success was exhilarating, almost as good as sex. Well, maybe not almost as good, but it was still up there. She felt a little more of the cool blaster rifle casing against her cheek as she could not help but smile faintly from behind her scope. Her time on Nar Shadda has been boring and frustrating so this was an almost welcome break in the monotony. Her proactive assault had almost worked perfectly, removing two out of three from the fight. It wasn't bad work thus far, though the last one was now dug in like a Rylothian sand flea. She had to be patient and catch him the next time he peeked around his cover to take a shot or hit what little of him he left exposed. Though it might be possible to get him to leave cover willingly, she thought. "Tell you what, come out with your hands up and I promise you'll receive fair treatment." Tisa called down the hall in an almost melodic voice while looking down the scope of her weapon to zero in on the bounty hunter. "But if you shoot up Yim's place, and I have to come in there and get you..." she threatened in a firm, dark tone.
  7. The three hunters were in the foyer and on their way to the second floor when the ringed stun blasts came at them. Walking single file helped their situation some, but not much, well, it helped everyone except the last guy in line. The tail end, the weequay, noticed Tisa a split-second before she squeezed the trigger and sent a stun ring in his direction. The ring hit dead center and his body convulsed for a second before he fell to the floor, unconscious. The ragged cloaked figure didn’t fare any better, although he managed to turn just in time to see his attacker and almost dodged the stun bolt, but it caught him in the shoulder and he, too, fell to the ground. The hunter running point fared the best, as the second hunter was falling, he grabbed him and used him as a shield, letting his ally take a second bolt. He returned fire as he let his ally’s body fall to the ground, but Tisa was safely behind the cover of the doorway and the bolts dissipated against the duracrete wall. Blasters set to stun rang out in the hallways of Yim’s Hostel and Dar saw the hunter take cover at the top of the stairs and hunker down for protection against whomever on the first floor was attacking him. Ianmar withdrew his blaster from its holster at the first sign of trouble, entering the hallway as the stranger Nagai tensed in the hallways in preparation to defend himself, if necessary.
  8. Tisa paused as she took the briefest of moments to consider her situation. Three bounty hunters working together to collect the price on her head was serious. She could take Eion up on his avoid and just avoid the bounty hunters, giving them the slip for now, but that would likely just delay things. 'Be the hammer, not the anvil.' The words of her instructor at the Academy sang in Tisa's head. It taking the initiative now, when the bounty hunters were not expecting it and while she had the advantage would be better than waiting for them to find her later, on their terms. "Thanks for the offer, but I have something to take care of." Tisa said to her unsolicited escort as she slung the blaster rifle from her shoulder, unfolded the stock, set it to stun and charged the weapon. "Whoa! Hey. No problem as long as it's not me you are 'taking care of' with that thing." Eion offered, raising his hands slightly as he took a step back. The beautiful zeltron shot him a smirk and then jogged across to the opposite building, keeping her blaster rifle low. Once the man in the patchwork cloak disappeared into the doorway she brought the weapon up, bracing it to her shoulder and moved toward the doorway as she was taught. And as much as she did not particularly want to start a firefight in the hotel, Yim had been a decent hostess after all, catching them in the hall or stairwell with no cover would be ideal. Tisa stopped beside the doorway, her back resting against the wall for a moment as she took a breath, readied herself, and turned, leaning into the doorway enough to aim down the hall and squeeze the trigger of her blaster rifle, working her way down the hallway from the closest target to the furthest.
  9. It was a complete mystery, Ianmar thought, fascinated. Why did now, of all times, the kyber crystals happen to light up, much less in two different colors? "What would cause them to do this?" He asked out loud, both for thinking and to allow Deezle to follow along. "Something in the surrounding environment must have changed, maybe?" But it couldn't have been the urban environment, it wasn't that different from Corellia. "No idea what, Deezle. Like I said, they're just old rocks, even if they charge Imperial superweapons and-" His fingers clenched tightly around the crystals as his mind caught up to his words. "Lightsabers." The treasured weapons of Force-users, be they Jedi, Sith, or the other smaller sects still dotting the galaxy here and there. While the Rebel Alliance and Resistance made a habit of declaring 'May the Force be with us,' it wasn't something Ianmar knew much about. Sure, he'd been familiar with General Organa, knew the Force was real, that there was the Light side, the Dark side, which side the Jedi were on, which side Palpatine and the Sith were on, knew the feats they could perform... But no more than a layperson's understanding at best. Did the lights mean two Force-users were nearby, two of them? Deezle whistled, and Ianmar stood up, shoving away the crystals and making sure his blaster was on hand. A feeling in his gut said this could be very possible, as he exited the room, Deezle following him. If they were Sith, Ianmar needed to run fast. But if they were friendly, then perhaps the Force was indeed with him and Deezle.
  10. The bitter taste of dark emotions washed around and then away as Dar'Krin stood, taking three deep breaths to cleanse his own emotions of the outside influence. A Force user, tainted with malice and... pain, hopelessness. Could that be one of the Inquisition, the Empire's Jedi hunters? The Nagai frowned. No, it didn't feel like he would expect such a powerful, trained presence in the Force to feel. Stars, but if it had been a trained Jedi hunter he doubted he would even be able to 'hear' them coming. Not so this person, whoever they were. They were suffering, and that pain made them as noisy as a bantha tapdancing on drum sand, a pejorative his master used to employ when teaching the young Nagai how to still his mind. Whatever the Force user's purpose here, sitting still in his room was not likely to either get Dar'Krin answers or to keep him safer. Action breeds courage and confidence, he reminded himself, and so quickly slipped on his electromesh vest before strapping on his weapon belt. Pausing one last time to don the hooded dark cloak, the young Jensaarai padded silently from his room into the corridor beyond, senses alert for trouble even as he stuck to the shadows.
  11. Earlier that evening… Two thugs dragged an abused aqualish through the dimly lit common area that was, up until a few moments ago, alive with music and loud chatter. The mirth and merriment seemed on hold as the aqualish’s body was cast down onto the hard duracrete floor where upon the alien coughed up a thick globule of blood and mucus from his collapsed lung. “Ah,” a deep baritone echoed through the smoky chamber and through the light an enormous figure slithered like the main attraction of a show parting holo curtains. Pibsomo the Hutt stopped just short of the glob of blood and looked down at the broken ship captain. Like most hutts, Pibsomo was massive and wide. Unlike most hutts, it was all muscle and he cut an odd but imposing figure of powerful features combined with his slug-like biology. His body was riddled with scars, some slight cuts while others were appeared to have been gaping wounds more than a meter in length. Ancient huttese tribal art was tattooed into dense, dung brown flesh. “Captain Nibis. So glad you could join us this evening.” “S-Somo,” Nibis coughed, wheezing in pain as he tried to stand. A look from the hutt, accompanied by a nod, encouraged the two thugs who dragged him in to lift him back up off the floor so he could face the hutt eye-to-eye. “I-I was gonna tell you! I swear! I h-had to be sure, you know?” One of the thugs stepped forward and dropped three bounty pucks into the massive hutt’s palm. Easily the giant hand swallowed all three and with a twitch of his thumb one of the pucks lit to life, then a second, finally the third. The third one seemed to cause Pibsomo to raise a brow and glare intently at the aqualish. ‘Dar’Krin: 15,000 credits. Tisa Jedun: 10,000 credits. Ianmar Thul: 35,000’ “Nibis, Nibis,” Pibsomo clicked his tongue while shaking his head in disappointment. He mockingly sounded concerned. “You are no bounty hunter. My boys told me you know where these bounties are. Were you trying to cut me out of sixty thousand? My boys handle bounties. We have a system, you know this.” “No! Of course not!” Nibis tried to protest but only conjured a disdainful look from the giant slug. “I-I didn’t have all the intel, Somo, I swear! The woman, Tisa, she approached me for transport off planet and that was when I recognized her from the bounty kiosk so… I followed her. She went to Yim’s boarding house and lo and behold that human guy came walking in, so I kept to the alley and staked the place out and sure enough that nagai fella showed up a day or so after. Yim got all kinds of people there with bounties, Somo, mostly a few thousand a head, but those big ones I took the pucks for so I could bring them to you and the professionals. I swear it!” A long, tense silence took hold of the normally festively loud chamber. Somo glared at the aqualish captain, he stroked his chin and then finally raised his arm and waved his hand forward, summoning one of his retainers to bring something forward. A loud groan of anguish soon rose over the sound of a shock stick arcing its charge into the spine of the boy the hutt had summoned. “Boy,” the hutt demanded as the young man staggered forward, still trying to rub the small of his back from where the servant had prodded him forward. The crime boss gestured to Nibis. “Tell me: does he speak the truth?” “He is motivated by greed,” the young man stammered, shying away from the giant slug out of fear that his answer might earn him another shock. “But he’s being honest. He… he is just fearful… fearful you’ll take his ship… at the eastern spaceport… bay seventeen.” “Heheheh,” Pibsomo’s laughter filled the room, his gaze finally falling on the captain. “Nibis, Nibis… you have the fastest ship of all my smugglers. Thank the boy here that you will be keeping it.” The hutt turned to the boy and a couple of his men. “Go and collect the human, take the boy with you to tack him down if he runs.” “What about the other two?” A weequay henchman asked. “Worry about them later,” Pibsomo boomed as he slithered away towards his ‘throne’ at the far back of the room. “The woman can’t go anywhere.” “And the nagai?” “If you’re tired of living,” the hutt chuckled. “Sure. Just make sure that human gets to me first. Go.” Somo slithered off giving one last wave towards Nibis. “And someone clean him up.” Now… The Tidal locked moon left the Vertical City in perpetual night. As Tisa entered the club the rain began to fall, leaving the streets slick with the sheen of rainbow water saturated by oils and street filth. Dar’Krin silently listened to the rain as it tapped against the closed shutters of his room. He calmly meditated, reaching out with his senses to listen to the singular voice of the Force as it pertained to whole of life that was Nar Shaddaa. Ianmar rested comfortably on his bed. Yim’s wasn’t the poshest of places, but thankfully the sweet old rodian woman kept it as clean as she was able and welcoming. Curiously he played with the kyber crystals he’d been given on Corellia. He rolled all three of them through his fingers like a gambler might do with a pazaak card, in a display of honed desterity. “I don’t get it Deez,” he sighed. “Just old rocks, and they cause so much troub-“ Deezle ‘wooed’ softly as Ianmar stopped midsentence as one of the crystals began to shimmer until it glowed softly, bathing the rebel in a soft white light with a thin border of soft blue. “Woah.” A second crystal did the same, save that its glow was chaotic and pulsing, mingling between flickering blueish white and thick, inky red. “Now what do you suppose that is?” “No,” one of Somo’s thugs spoke into his commlink from the darkened shadows of the alleyway. “The woman left, but we’ve seen both the human and the nagai. We’re in position to collect him on your word, Somo.” “Go.” Came the words of Somo through the commlink. Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Dar’Krin heard the words of his master echo in his mind. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit idle, we learn by doing. The memory forced a slight smile to the somber nagai’s expression. He then winced as his thoughts became cloudy and murky, like white noise in his mind. Fear. Anxiety. Pain. Malice. The feelings pressed against the walls of his mind, making his eyes hurt and temples throb. His opened abruptly as a bead of sweat trickled down his forehead. A Force-user was close. “Are you sure you won’t reconsider?” Eion asked again as they stood on a corner not far from Yim’s. She didn’t ask for an escort, but he insisted. His smile was charming and his features handsome, but Tisa knew he probably worked for some shady underworld trader or vigo. His umbrella covered them both, the thin particle shields spread across the eight-wedge pattern above them sizzled the rain as it fell. “My pad is not far, but certainly in a better neighborhood. Over Eion’s shoulder, Tisa saw three men entering Yim’s, two humans and what she suspected was a third, but the dirty, patched cloak kept their features hidden. She wouldn’t have thought much of it until one of them paused briefly before entering and slid back the charging bolt on his blaster rifle.
  12. The accommodations were a fry cry from what Tisa was used to. She had grown up in comfort and wanted for very little, attended to by servants constantly. Though now, for the first time, she wondered if they were just slightly better treated slaves? Her shoulders slumped at the thought. So many beliefs she had held were no either shattered or, at best, called into question now that she had finally accepted the truth about the Empire. Her paradigm that she thought was so strong, that she believed with all her heart, was held together with idealism. When properly nurtured and reinforced, idealism could be stronger than beskar. But when constantly pushed, tested and bent to make exceptions and excuses, small fractures appear which only grow with time leading to its eventual failure, unless careful attention was taken to mend it, and the Empire was not renown as nurturing. The same was true about leading soldiers, she thought. She was the firm voice of authority for her men preferring to lead through inspiration rather than intimidation. She did not demand respect like so many of her peers did, but rather commanded it with her words and actions, leading from the front rather than commanding in the rear. She had continually earned the respect, trust and loyalty of those under her command, and she figured it was likely a good part of why she was not dead. Tisa shook her head, trying to shake loose the thoughts for now. It was painful to think about and her inner nature as a zeltron was predisposed to avoid such negative thoughts and emotions. She still had work to do though, and the Empire had taught her discipline, and even modesty, at least has much as a zeltron could. The black sheathed zeltron slumped down in the chair at the small table in room. Wear from years, if not decades, of use had turned the chairs proposed offer of comfort into such an illusion that it may as well have had holographic cushions. In a way it was wonderful symbolism for Nar Shadda; pretty displays and a thin veneer of hospitality smeared over the hard reality of the place. As it was, she could easily afford a better room, but a better room meant more attention wanted and un-wanted, and she was trying to lay low. Reaching over the table she picked up her holdout blaster. It was tiny, fitting into the palm of her hand, and looked more like a child's toy that a weapon, but she knew that despite its almost toy-like appearance that it could get the job done, especially at close range. Slowly she slipped a finger through the trigger guard and looked at the weapon tiny in her hand as she thought about her situation. Was this her life now? Constantly on the run from one grimy planet to the next, constantly looking over her shoulder, unable to ever go home again. Slamming the small blaster on the table, she pushed herself to her feet and mentally chastised herself. Now was not a time for self-pity, as if there ever were such a time she thought. She had to focus on her objective and find a way off this planet. Seeing the price on her head in the cantina just a short time ago only reaffirmed that. With a resigned sigh Tisa collected her things from the table, checking the small blaster out of habit, and slid each object back into their various pockets in and under her poncho. She walked to the small mirror in the room and checked her lines, making sure nobe of the concealed items were obvious before taking a moment to fix her hair. Looking good certainly did not hurt when trying to book passage, or negotiating price. She leaned closer to the mirror, meeting her own gaze, looking into her eyes for... something. She was not sure what it was exactly, but it wasn't there anymore, at least not that she could see. Her gaze drifted down and she took a deep breath, blinking away some tears she could feel trying to form. She exhaled and shook it off. Grabbing her rifle from the corner she slung it over a shoulder under her poncho and then stepped out of her room, securing the door behind her, for what it was worth. She made her way down the narrow hall and past a new arrival checking in and stepped outside. Tisa pulled her hood up, mostly in an attempt at anonymity, but also to protect from the faint drizzle that was falling, causing the streets to light up with blurry, multi-colored hues of the bright holo-signage flanking it for as far as the eye could see, each one offering different diversions and delights of mind, palate and flesh. It was all so over-the-top gaudy to her that she imagined the only one could live here for anything length would be to numb the senses from the various, unrelenting onslaughts. "If I am going to be here much longer, getting a little numb might do me some good." she thought aloud in a soft mutter. Giving her hood another tug, she walked down the street, going a different direction from where she had come before, her experience in law enforcement reminding her to not settle into a pattern and to take side streets and double back to look for anybody following her. +----------------+----------------+ "You got any pickled rankweed?" the pink-skinned beauty asked as she looked over the various jars, tubs and bins of the multitude of plants and herbs that hung off of and surrounded the small kiosk. "Dasso? So ta-nee waja wos-ka." the proprietor, some species that was un-familiar to Tisa who was sitting on a stool, responded in a language she did not know or even reconize. "Basic?" she asked with a semi-frustrated sigh. The shopkeep slapped a smallish, disk shaped droid with two small arms that hovered beside him, knocking it halfway to the ground before the replusors brought it back up to eye level. *Bzzzzt* "Really? I get f-fe-few inquiries about t-th-tha-that." the semi-functional droid, apparently cobbled together from spare parts, translated with a stutter. "If you do have some, then I'll take whatever you got. Whole leaves too, if you got'em." she told him, consciously trying to to speak less properly, dropping a very small stack of credits on the counter. The proprietor pointed to a synthleather pouch behind the counter at the other side of the kiosk, which the droid zippered over to fetch with its tiny, metallic arms. "Keep the change." Tisa said as she grabbed the pouch and slipped it under her poncho. "Saan pichalay." the alien responded. "Uh yeah. You too." she said over her shoulder as she stepped back out into the night. +----------------+----------------+ Tisa's shapely form, sheathed in black, slipped into the small, open booth. It was one of a handful that lined a side room, reducing the noise and smells from the rest of the cantina at least somewhat and meaning a few less people, while still giving a decent view into the cantina proper. She pulled out the pouch and opened it, inspecting the contents, and picked out a few errant bits from among the shredded plant and withdrew one of the handful of whole leaves and sprinkled some of the shreds only the leave before rolling it up. She brought the small bundle to her lips and gave the exposed edge of the leaf a lick as she heard a voice, causing her to look toward it. "I could watch you lick that all night." said the human male who was standing, with some effort, at her booth. "Are you a ship captain?" she asked. "Huh? No. Wh-" "Then shove off, laser brain." she groaned and slipped the small bundle between her lips without even looking at the human anymore. "Hey! I thought you zel-" was all the retort he managed before he was cut off by a slap on his shoulder. "Ya know Lok, that askavarian girl was eyeing you earlier. I think she is about to settle up, so you better go seal the deal before she's gone." said a rather lithe mirialan male. "Oh. Okay! Thanks." the human said and then walked off with a bit of s stumble. Tisa watched him for a moment and then glanced up to the mirialan. "Thanks." she said out of the corner of mouth as she began to check her pockets. Finally realizing the small, but vital item she had forgotten to purchase she closed her eyes and slammed the back of her head into the back of the booth. A flash of warth near her face caused her eyes to flash open, spotting the small, open flame emanating from the tiny metal cylinder in the mirialan's hand. "Thanks again." she said with a near sigh and leaned forward, igniting the end of her cigarette. She took a small drag and exhaled a small puff of fragrant, intoxicating blue smoke. "Forget about it." the mirialan said , flashing what was best described as a roguish smile. He extinguished the flame and sat the firestick down on the table, letting it stand on its end. "And don't mind Lok. He's just had a bit too much." he explained, looking in the direction the other man had walked away, which was met with a bit of a shrug from the pink skinned woman. "I'm Eion by the way." he added. "Tisa." she replied, slipping the smoldering cigarette from her mouth between to fingers and letting out a long, wisp of blue smoke.
  13. Yim had proven to be as good as Tala's word. She'd given him a room, and indeed, a fair discount on it as well. So Nar Shaddaa wasn't completely devoid of compassion and fairness, Ianmar reflected. That was heartening to know, disheartening as everything else he saw was. Traveling through the streets of Nar Shaddaa, you could see all the hedonism and grime on display. Grime, and not even the moral or figurative kind. Because even in the better-looking places Ianmar explored, you could see the patches. Discolored rust on a beaming gambling den's rear walls. The clothing of a pair of Togruta streetwalkers who tried to approach Ianmar. He turned them down politely, but got good looks on the women, and honestly, he was much noticing the breasts as the faintly threadbare nature of their low-cut tops - in a way that probably wasn't intentional. The clunky way in which a maintenance droid trundled down a walkway, indicating it itself was long in need of the same services (to Deezle's vocal displeasure). And that summed up Nar Shaddaa in a particular way: not just the crime, the unfettered vice, but the lack of care. Even the Empire didn't display this kind of selfish neglect, but that suited the Hutts perfectly. They swallowed money and lives in their maws and fat folds, and didn't bother to spend it on anything they didn't absolutely need to, and the attitude trickled downward across the planet. Ignoring everything else while the galaxy suffered and burned. Ianmar almost wanted to see the Smuggler's Moon burn under one of Palpatine's orbital tantrums. Unfortunately, Ianmar remembered well how the Rebel Alliance and the Resistance had made the occasional use of the underworld types here, when the situation called for it. It was, like it or not, even more so something Ianmar needed to have the preparation to handle with the Resistance torn up as it was. So that's what Deezle and he spent their day doing. Traveling. Watching. Listening. Putting down a few credits for food and drink at cantinas that didn't look like they'd give him food poisoning. Chatting with the staff. Finally, with the darkness spreading, he returned to Yim's hostel, through well-lit streets.
  14. Nar Shaddaa was... Well, frankly it was near-overwhelming. A far cry from the austere, monastic quiet and remoteness of the Spire. Before that, on his homeworld, the cities had been high-tech, certainly, but with an aesthetic utilitarianism to their construction, sweeping and graceful and yet understated. Nagai were not a materialistic, consumer-based culture - which is not to say they didn't have trade or money, simply that they lacked the raucous mercantile displays that greeted Dar'Krin's gaze everywhere he looked. It was... Tawdry, he thought to himself, the lurid pink light of a sign reflecting from the silver of his eyes as ten foot tall scantily dressed humanoid females shaking various parts of themselves to lure customers into a cantina gyrated in holographic display above the doorway. Despite his disdain, there was something eerily hypnotic about the way the dancers moved, and the young Nagai found himself staring for a few moments before pulling his eyes away, tugging the hood of his dark grey cloak down a little and continuing down the boulevard. He wasn't completely naive to the ways of the galaxy, however. Time spent on Hando's ship with the old pirate's thoroughly disreputable crew had taught him caution, and as he made his way through the noisy, crowded and somewhat fragrant streets he made sure to tuck his credit pouch inside his electromesh armor and keep his hands close to the hilts of his blades, his gaze always moving as he looked, not just for something that might be a hostel run by a Rodian, but scavengers of this urban jungle who might see him as a deceptively easy mark. A little conversation in a melodious Nagai voice had elicited directions from a grizzled old food stall vendor, helped along by Dar'Krin's purchase of some mysterious meat pastry for a couple of credits. The pastry was, if anything, overpriced, the young warrior decided as he headed towards Yim's hostel, tossing the thing away after only two bites, the second of which he'd spat out. A soft chime sounded as he stepped across the threshold of Yim's hostel, and a creak from behind the reception desk heralded the appearance of a purple-skinned Rodian face rising up over the counter. The multi-faceted eyes turned this way and that as the Rodian studied him for a second before speaking. "Alquono deg apprefaron-" it started, then paused at the blank look on Dar'Krin's face and, making a sound that might be a sigh, tapped a small metallic box that was suspended under it's jaw. "Thank you for gracing my humble establishment." a synthetic female voice said as the Rodian started again, spreading her sucker-tipped hands. "I am Yim." "I am called Shiv." Dar'Krin said after a moment's pause, giving the nickname that Hando and his band had hung on him in reference to the Nagai's knives - and his quickness with them. "I heard you have rooms for travellers?"
  15. Legacies: Episode 1 EVERYTHING BURNS “Rebellions are built on hope.” Darkness plagues the galaxy. After their defeat on Exegol the REBELLION lies scattered throughout the galaxy, demoralized and without leadership. IANMAR, the last rebel courier has discovered that the EMPIRE has plans for a new super weapon that will bring the entire galaxy in line. After learning that he needs to get in contact with a spy to learn more, his ship was damaged during his escape from Corellia sending his hyperspace jump off course. DAR’KRIN last of the JENSAARAI barely escaped the EMPIRE after they launched an attack upon the enclave spire, he called home. Now, lost and alone in the galaxy he seeks the SAARAI-KAAR for wisdom, guidance and to complete his training. Betrayed and hiding as much from her past as she is her own sins, TISA JEDUN hides in the shadows of Nar Shaddaa from the EMPIRE she once served. Forsaken and surrounded by enemies at every turn she knows she has to keep moving, to flee the Smuggler’s Moon before she is recognized… The brightest light casts the deepest shadows, as the old saying goes, and Nar Shaddaa with its brilliantly lit neon lights and holo-adverts kept every block lit up for miles in every direction. The Vertical City, as most called it, was nothing more than a planet-wide city, like Coruscant, save that all the scum and villainy was free to wander instead of being forced to remain in the undercity levels below the ‘civilized’ districts. Every vice from spice to dice was available on the Smuggler’s Moon and the Hutts did nothing but profit from it. If someone needed something illegal in every other system of the galaxy… Narsh was the place to find it and then disappear afterwards. [Ianmar] “It’s been a week!” Ianmar eyed the tall, and surprisingly fit, woman up and down as he demanded some explanation. Her coveralls were unzipped and tied around her waist. The tank top she wore was blotched with grease, as was her skin which seemed to cover in a camouflage pattern that would help her blend with the piles of junk and debris all around her. “When will it be ready?” “When it’s ready,” she replied with a shrug. “ARCs are not easy to get parts for, not all the way out here. I’m doing what I can and that’s all I can do.” The rebel facilitator sighed and composed himself. “Okay, yeah, fine. Sorry. So, what’re my options?” “Well, if you’re a hurry, I’d recommend chartering passage off world. If not, sit back, enjoy the sights and take in all Narsh has to offer. Gambling, entertainment, women,” she looked him up and down, then smirked sarcastically. “Men. Not judging.” She wiped her hands on a rag tucked in her belt. “Look, I like you. You seem decent, which is more than I can for most of my clientele, so I’ll tell you what… go a few blocks down to the hotel there and talk to Yim, rodian, can’t miss her. She’ll hook you up on a discount for a room while you wait. Least I can do, tell her Tala sent you.” [Dar’Krin] “Whelp… dis is as far as I go,” Hondo exclaimed as he smacked Dar’Krin on the back. They weren’t even out of the star port and the old weequay didn’t seem too eager to go any further, despite how jovial he might have seemed. “You… you, go and do whatever it is your types do, yeah? I will see what I learn about Merkis and his adopted daughter with an arg'garok to grind. Shame you can not stay! I could use a hard worker like you for my crew.” “I appreciate your offer,” Dar’Krin lowered his head humbly. “But I thank you for getting me this far.” “Yes, yes, I know.” Hondo waved off the pleasantries. “I may be a disreputable pirate, but Hando Ohnaka always honors his favors.” His tone got low as he took Dar’Krin hand and the familiar sound of credits ‘tinking’ together was heard. Once again Dar’Krin didn’t need the Force to see the compassion in the old weequay’s soul. “And uh, you take this, okay boy? It’s uh… it’s only a loan, yeah? I expect it all back, with interest.” He cleared his throat as his men watched the credits hit the nagai’s palm. “Now,” he continued on. “Go find Yim. Rodian. Can’t miss her. She runs a hostel not far from here, lay low there, try to find passage off-world. You’re smart, a hard worker, shouldn’t be a problem for you. Smart is the key though, boy. You do not survive Nar Shaddaa by being stupid, trust me. When I see you again, I will tell you stories of mine and Merkis’s adventures.” He shrugged and chuckled. “Some might even be true.” [Tisa] Another freighter captain had stood her up. As the drink burned her innards, the ex-Imperial officer surveyed the landscape of the cantina through the smoky air and tangy scent of spice and death sticks. She was eager to leave the Y’Toub system, she’d already been here too long. From her corner booth she saw a few more bounty hunters approaching the kiosk on the wall, they swiped their guild credentials and began sifting past various holos of those who had prices on their heads. ‘Tisa Jedun, 10,000cr’ displayed prominently in a flickering blue-glow and with a relieved sigh, the hunter swiped past her, uninterested and seemingly looking for larger bounties to hunt. This meet was a bust and she decided it was time to finish her drink as swiftly as possible and be on her way before she drew any unwanted attention. With a tug at her hood, she finished her drink and made her way for the door. The neon lights reflecting off the streets outside the cantina were enough to blind her as she squinted and stepped out into polluted evening air. As the door to her room slid shut later she leaned her blaster rifle against the wall near her bed and dropped her every day carry items on the small table in the middle of the cramped room she’d been tucked away in. She looked at the holo she had of Captain Nibis, the aqualish captain who was supposed to meet with her tonight to get her off world. Her face was aglow with the dim blueish light it cast upon her attractive features until she clicked it off and tossed it in the corner with equal parts disgust and frustration. She was never going to leave Nar Shaddaa. If there was one thing she learned during her time with the Empire it was that everything burns, especially hope. Below, in the shadows across the street, three men watched as the soft blue light in one of the rooms suddenly flickered out…
  16. Imperial Breakdown The Sith Empire: The most common term is the Galactic Empire. From the Emperor’s seat of power on Coruscant the daily politics of the galaxy are played out on a stage set in what was once the old Galactic Senate Chambers. From there, the various sector and regional governors plot against each other for funding, resources, and budget increases. You probably recognize this better as COMPNOR. Voting no longer occurs within the glossy black chambers. A sector or a region may petition for anything it requires and even be backed by other Imperial governors, but the final say always falls upon the Emperor’s appointed representatives. Around the Emperor is an appointed Committee that monitors and assesses the needs of the various regions of the galaxy, noting successes and failures to consider when allocating resources or managing personnel. Mostly there is only arguing and petty squabbles taking place within the chamber walls. COMPNOR operates from the Old Republic Senate Building. [This is not exactly how COMPNOR operated, but it was created before a lot of the newer material was written and thus far it hasn’t received an update through the years. This keeps the feel of the Imperial COMPNOR while also making use of the old Senate structure from Episodes I, II, III and what was seen in the Clone Wars episodes. Instead of being filled with senators and representatives from the various worlds throughout the galaxy, it is now utilized by power hungry, greedy imperial governors and Moffs as a tool to curry favor from the Emperor and more prestige and power and is the only way they can hope to compete with anyone who has graduated from the Sith Academy.] The Sith Order: Operating out of the former Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the Sith Order operates as dark reflection of everything the Jedi stood for through the millennia. Instead of peacekeepers, they are symbols of oppression whose presence invokes fear. After having stood for nearly five thousand years as a symbol of peace and hope within the galaxy, it is now known as The Sith Academy. Any Force Sensitive discovered within the empire is given the option to either join the Order or be put to death. Within the Sith Order is where one will find the largest concentration of alien species. Considering the rarity of the Force and how it makes a single individual equal to a small army with proper training, the xenophobia of imperial doctrine is somewhat lifted to accommodate. Even then, only near-human, civilized species are offered the opportunity to serve the Order. To be accepted into and complete one’s training at the Sith Academy is a guarantee of power and prestige within the Empire, possibly launching one’s station Force sensitive junker on a backwater world to nobility and power. Sequestered away in their temple, no one is quite sure how many Force-users the Empire has at its disposal, but intelligence suggests that not all of them wield iconic red lightsabers. Force sensitive spies, assassins and deep covert operatives are all sent to the Sith Temple for training and due its high attrition rate, only best emerge to ply their skills in service of the empire. The Sith Order answers to no one within the Imperial hierarchy but the Emperor himself. While on official Imperial business, a Lord or Lady (as the title of Sith carries with it instant nobility) is equal in command to the highest-ranking officer within the command, be it army or navy. However, they are to leave the day-to-day operations to the military officers while they tend to whatever affairs or orders that have been assigned to them. [The Sith Order is nothing more than a posh and decadent upper class of Force-Users whose petty squabbles keep them occupied enough that only the most talented and gifted of them rise to the top, which is how the Emperor wants it. While all are Force sensitive, only a small percentage of them have earned the right to wear a lightsaber and be considered ‘true Sith’ which is an accolade within their social strata that elevates to even greater station amongst their own numbers.] The Rule of Two and All Those Force Users: The Rule of Two is still in effect within Darth Sidious’ ongoing (some would argue: recently re-awakened) Empire. He maintains only a single apprentice, and whom that may be is currently unknown. The Sith from the academy are simply Force-wielding tools to carry out his orders if other Force traditions within the galaxy might try to oppose him again. In keeping with Sith tradition, it is a known belief that Darth Sidious is nigh immortal and has no intention of ever relinquishing his power to anyone. The Brotherhood of Darkness believes that, while keeping with the tenants of the Sith philosophy, Sidious’ existence also violates the Rule. Knowledge is supposed to be passed on, from Master to Apprentice until one day the Apprentice becomes the Master. Even if rightfully defeated by an apprentice Sidious’ cloning technology and knowledge of Dark Transfer he is making a mockery of the Sith teachings. Even among the blackest hearts of the Sith there are some who agree that precepts must be obeyed and while you can cheat the system, or the galaxy, cheating the will of the Force is blasphemy. The Inquisitorious: The Imperial Inquisitors, or Inquisitors, are a task force of dark side Force users whose sole purpose is to hunt and kill any rogue Force using tradition or individuals who refuse to join the Empire and learn the ways of the Dark Side of the Force. There are only a handful of Inquisitors when compared to the posh nobility that graduates the Sith Academy almost daily, leaving the Inquisitors to believe that they are superior in the ‘quality over quantity’ sense. Despite this, Sith and Inquisitors are equal in rank and power while serving orders and this often leads to a conflict of egos. Sidious intended it this way and allows the two factions to consistently fight amongst themselves. The only way to become an Inquisitor is to defeat an Inquisitor in single combat, relinquish their name and take their number as a fellow Brother or Sister. Only the Inquisistors have access to Purge Troopers and resources, a fact that infuriates the Sith to no end. Their headquarters was once on Coruscant but after disputes with the Sith Academy they relocated. Being a covert branch of the Imperial Military, their current head quarters is a closely guarded secret. Republic Breakdown The Galactic Republic: The Galactic Republic fell approximately 55 years ago when Darth Sidious, disguised as Senator Palpatine assumed executive control of all the Republics resources to battle the separatists for the Clone Wars and refused to relinquish that power after the republics victory. [We should all know the story.] The Rebellion: Scattered across the galaxy is the Rebellion, women and men who are dedicated to fighting the Empire’s tyranny and restoring order and peace to the galaxy. They maintain bases in several of the Outer Rim systems and cells of freedom fighter can be found almost everywhere, working on secret lest they be outed by those indoctrinated by Imperial propaganda. After their loss at Exegol, the rebellion stands on the brink of extinction with no formal leadership, just a handful of resistance cells doing their best to strike from the shadows, but it’s not enough. The Jedi Order: For nearly 34 years the Jedi Order was a thorn in the side of the Empire after the death of her brother, Luke Skywalker, caused Princess Leia Organa-Solo to take up the mantle of Jedi Master and train a new generation of Jedi in secret. Leia chose twelve students to start and at the time of the battle of Exegol, each of those students were full fledged Jedi Knights with Padawans of their own. Although they fought bravely at Exegol it is known that at least three of the Padawans fell to the Dark Side and turned on their masters, beyond that, it is believed that none of the Jedi survived. For the first time in twenty-five thousand years, there are no Jedi, or successors to the Jedi Order. Leia trained the Jedi in secret and no one but the Jedi knew where their training temple was located. Other Force Traditions: Through the galaxy there have been hundreds of Force Traditions, aside from the Jedi and Sith that have thrived for as long as recorded history. With the apparent fatal stroke against the Jedi at Exegol, the Empire has begun moving on the lesser-known traditions, exterminating or absorbing them into its great war machine. The Jenssarai, Zeison Sha and Matuaki, whose orders had already felt the wrath of the Empire, are now being hunted to extinction as the final fall of the Jedi has rejuvenated the motivation in the Inquisitors. As a result, nearly all Force traditions have gone into hiding.
  17. This is a resource topic for the game. Important information will be found here regarding the galaxy and the various factions within it. Since this an 'alternate timeline' game, a lot of the things we do and NPCs we'll be using will not be canon, so keep an open mind and have some fun by making the galaxy your own.
  18. The noise and merriment were the fisrt clue that Dar'Krinn was on the right track as he entered an enclosed ridge filled with all manner of scrap from ships and vehicles, most of it quite dated. At the back of the ridge, bolted to the side of the cliff face in massive aurebesh script was 'Hondo's Salvage'. It looked like what started as a salvage yard blossomed into a small settlement. The residents of this makeshift, ramshackle, shanty-town all offered him wary looks in greeting as he made his way past them in search of something he might be able to use to identify this 'Hondo' character. The lanes and alleyways gave way to what could only be a market place. Rusted metal sheets provided roofs for open air stalls of all manner of merchants plying their trade and Dar'Krinn quickly realized that none of the merchandise was legit. Blasters, armor, spices and all manner exotic ingredients and textiles were on display as alien merchants lured residents as best they could promises of low prices and no questions asked. It dawned on Dar'Krinn that he was not in a settlement, he was in a pirate's den, a way point for space pirates looking to lay low with their families and dodge Imperial or other legal entanglements. "There we were!" Dar'Krinn turned his head in the direction of a loud, boisterous voice. Sitting out in an open air cantina was a weequay, old by the looks of it, judging by his impressive horn growths along his jawline. He was standing up and holding the attention of several patrons and even random people who were passing by and stopped just to see where he was going with this story. He was expressive and animated as he continued "Surrounded! The Mandalorian woman was shooting, pew, pew, and stabbing and breaking the guard's bones in many and varied interesting ways. Imperial soldiers everywhere! We were trapped in the mines of Kessel and, obviously, I knew it was up to me to save us-" "Whu'd y'do boss?" Asked one of the weequays to the man's left. The man stopped, sighing. With hands on his hips he shook his head and looked to who had interrupted him. "I was sort of getting to that when you cut in with the opposite of shutting up! Now-" "Sorry, boss." The man replied. He sighed again, shaking his head. "Are you done?" The man nodded. "Yeah, boss." He gestured between the two of them, waving his hand between them. "I can continue?" "Well, of course boss." He looked to the story teller nodding with a confused expression on his face like he didn't understand where the disconnect was coming from. "You're sure?" The story teller asked with polite sarcasm lacing his tone. Dar'Krinn realized that the man telling the story was the man who matched the holo he'd been tracking. The story teller was Hondo Ohnaka. With interest, Dar'Krinn slowly began moving in that direction, having located his quarry. "Pos'tive." He nodded, eager to her the rest of the tale. Hondo took a deep breath and prepared to press on. "Now-" "Oi, boss!" the man interrupted him again, pointing as Dar'Krinn approached the cantina, looking out of place amongst the residents of the scrap yard. "Oh, for for the love of," Hondo raised his hands and stepped a few paces away in pure frustration. "You know, like my dear mother used to say, rest her soul: two things are infinite, the galaxy and stupidity. Right now, I'm not to sure about the galaxy..." He noticed the man pointing and with a raised eyebrow greeted the brave nagai warrior. "Welcome to Hondo's Salvage, you are here about the tanning pods, I assume? Please jo-" "Wh'is it boss?" The man asked, eyeing the suspicious looking nagai with a nervous hand close to his blaster. Hondo pursed his lips and his face made a variety of movements indicative to someone using every ounce of their willpower not to throttle someone. "Obviously some for of Imperial probe. Why don't you go get the ship warmed up in case we need to make a hasty retreat. Hmm? Go, hurry, I will distract it!" The man sped off, tripping once as he refused to take his eyes off of the nagai. Through the clamor and the comedy, Dar'Krinn managed a slight smirk at the fool's antics as he bolted down the path to the massive cave in the back of the canyon easily large enough to use a hangar for transports. Hondo cleared his throat. "Now, if one more person inturrupts me, I'm going to blast them. Hmm?" He looked around him, from left, to right, then shrugged and gestured with his hands. "Excellent, now, you." He motioned to Dar'Krinn. "If you were a bounty hunter, we'd already be shooting at each other and exchanging witty repartee, so, come. Sit down. We will talk about those tanning pods you're interested in." Dar'Krinn knew that look in the weequay's eyes. He had years of experience and a lifetime of narrow escapes and skin of teeth escapes that educated him to the point where he was in enough control of this situation to allow Dar'Krinn the opportunity to explain his business there before his men perforated the white warrior with blaster scorches. "Drink? You look... thirsty for something." The young Nagai cast a glance over the assembled thugs, eyes of featureless silver grey narrowing as he appraised them. They seemed undisciplined, unpolished - scavengers rather than predators - and he had few doubts that he could handle any three or four of them if it came to it... But there were many more of them than there was of him, and their blaster hilts were well-worn. So he kept his movements slow and friendly as he settled into the chair across from the elderly Weequay. "Water would be fine." Dar'Krinn answered in his melodious voice, studying Hando as Hando in turn studied him. The pirate snorted, waving his hands as some of his men laughed obligingly. "Water? You don't want to drink the water in this hole. Here." He poured a cup of brown, foaming liquid from a pitcher close at hand. "Best Lum." Dar'Krinn raised a brow as he brought the cup to his lips, sipping the oddly sweet brew politely, then taking a slightly deeper drink when he found it palatable. "My thanks." he said, lowering the cup. It was similar to the Nyissk of his homeworld, only lighter. Ohnaka nodded as though approving, then raised a brow as the slender Nagai leaned forwards him and said, simply. "Merkis is calling in that favor." "He is, hmm?" The pirate answered inscrutably. Dar nodded slowly, then glanced around meaningfully at the hangers-on. "He asks that you help me in getting somewhere. More than that, I will not say here." With that, the tired warrior leaned back in his chair and took another sip of the lum, watching the other for their reaction. "Does he now," the elder weeguay's tone lost it's mirth. There was a pregnant pause until the grin returned to his face and he stood up. "Come, walk with me. Bring your drink, if you like." The two men moved through the crowded avenues of the scrap yard and it didn't escape Dar'Krinn's notice the small pack of pirates that were following him and Hondo several paces behind. The place was built from the parts salvaged ships and old scrap from the various heaps from all over the large canyon. It looked as if this place had been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times over the years and the surplus of current and older Imperial as well as pre-Imperial Republic scrap told the young nagai that there were a lot of stories hidden within these canyon walls. Hollowed out on the far side of the 'town', under the old Hondo's Salvage sign the cliff face was hollowed out into a large, expansive cave that had been converted into a hangar for a variety of smaller transports, about four, maybe five, except the last one didn't look like it was operational. There were few people back here, save a few technicians making sparks fly up from the landing gear of a distant transport that appeared so weathered and beat up that functioning landing gear was the least of its worries. Hondo crossed his arms and leaned against the landing gear of the closest craft. "So, here we are boy. Away from the ears and eyes of all that you are suspicious of. I am assuming that all that commotion a few days ago was Merkis and the rest of you lot, eh? I swear, you Jeni's were always such good neighbors. Tell me, what manner of trouble did the old man find himself in this time that he would send you to run for his groceries?" It didn't escape Dar'Krinn's notice that he referred to Merkis and the others, as Jeni, pronouncing it like 'Jedi'. "The Spire has fallen." Dar'Krinn leaned against a power converter module propped against a sheet of hull plating that was half-buried in the sand. Despite his conditioning and stoicism, the last two days had been trying for the young apprentice and he felt weary beyond belief now that he was out of immediate danger - he hoped. He looked at the impassive, wrinkled face of Ohnaka, then down at his half-empty mug of Lum. "And Master Merkis and the others are likely dead." Saying it, speaking the words aloud and considering them for the first time since his flight had begun brought a fresh wave of weariness to the young warrior. Twice now he had been orphaned. His blood-kin, slaughtered in one of his homeworld's constant clan wars, and now Master Birma, Master Merkis, the apprentices... Everyone he knew was dead or worse, captured and facing slavery and torture. He felt a flood of grief and then a sudden rage fill him as he stared down at his drink, an urge to kill those responsible, to look into their eyes and see the light fade from them and for them to know he had avenged his surrogate family. But that was the Nagai upbringing speaking. The way of the blood feud, the endless eye for an eye that had orphaned him in the first place. Guard your emotions, lest they control you. He repeated the mantra over and over, fighting back the urge to shed blood that was his birthright.. ...and finding that he was now sitting, slumped against the power converter and still staring at the cup in his hand, the wake of his anger leaving behind only fatigued emptiness. He glanced up at the pirate, who was watching him with that same inscrutable expression. Or at least, it was to Dar'Krinn. He wasn't sure how to read the Weequay's face. "I have to go to Spira. It was Master Merkis' last order to me." he said simply. "Can you help? Will you help?" "Did you see their bodies?" The elder weequay asked. It was as much an inquiry as it was a statement, a veiled phrase that told the young man that it wasn't truth until it was true. He let that question rest in the air for a moment before he pressed on. "Spira?" He said softly, repeating the destination as he began to pace around. "Spira... Spira. He walked back and forth, tapping his finger to his chin. Finally he stopped and faced the young nagai warrior. Spira? No." "No?" Dar'Krinn asked, honestly not expecting that answer. "Yes. No." Hondo reiterated. "Fine, then I'll find-" "Tut, tut, tut, listen to me boy. Half of the troubles of life can be traced to saying 'yes' too quickly and not saying 'no' soon enough." Hondo waved a finger a the younger man. He grew expressive in his gestures to accentuate every point he was about tt make. "Spira is Imperial controlled, it's a resort planet where rich Imperial nobles go to gamble and sun bathe and f-," he gave Dar'Krinn an appraising look and calmed down considerably. "Well, other things, too." "Even if I got you there, we would never be given permission to land. Plus, you are not Imperial. A real problem when wandering about an Imperial resort planet. No," he paced some more tapping his chin again. "A straight line will serve you no good here. Fortunately, I know someone who might be able to help you. She's good at sneaking into Imperial places. I will take you to her on Nar Shaddaa, and while you handle your business there I will see what I can find out about this Spire business, hmm? For Merkis." His eyes traveled somewhere distant and he slowly nodded his head. He regained focus and smiled, hiding his more serious thoughts with a mask of jovial whimsy. "We will leave tomorrow. Until then you are welcome here, boy. You will be same here amongst my men," he head bobbed from side to side as he considered that thought. "Weeell, as safe as one can be among my men. Until tomorrow, rest. Get some food and recover your strength, yes? You're no good to anyone half exhausted." He'd sat and eaten in the makeshift mess hall at the back of the scrapper's work hall. The pirates, salvagers, fringers and rough-edged scum of Hando's crew had given him a wide berth, noting his pale skin and silver eyes as well as the Tehk'La blades sheathed cross-draw fashion across the back of his armor. The Nagai were rare, and tales about them were sporadic, yet a common thread was that they were known to be free with the use of those blades, and Hando had welcomed the stranger into their midst, so there was more prospective trouble to be found in trifling with the lean alien than even the most belligerent pirate felt like handling. The food had been rich and filling, a surprise for the young warrior until he mulled it over. Of course a pirate crew would not be willing to scrimp on rations, or drink, or other fleshly pleasures - at least whilst ground-side. A captain who tried to make his crew live like monks when not in space would likely face revolt. They were, after all, largely criminals, driven by gain and the desire for wealth and satisfaction of such vices as they possessed. That said, Merkis had been a friend of Hando... so perhaps there was more to the Weequay than that, Dar'Krin was willing to allow. After his meal, he'd retreated to the quiet berth Hando had provided on the vessel they would be taking on the morrow. He was tired still, the meal making him sleepier yet, but nevertheless there was a strong desire in him to honor what he had been taught, to honor those who might be dead. And so he had sat on the floor of the small cabin, facing the door, and taking six curious circular breaths in the way Birma had taught him slipped into a meditation, his first in days. He focused on the feelings and the tumult of the attack and his flight across the desert, extricating them from the stoic prison he'd kept them in and examining them each in turn, confronting those feelings of anger and, yes, hate towards those who had taken a family from him. And in so examining them, as Birma had taught, he robbed those sensations of their immediate power. Emotions were considered necessary and useful amongst the Jensaarai, but they were not to control and steer a Defender's actions. There would be a time for reckoning, and so he stored the focus and intensity that his feelings provided against such a day when, under the direction of his rational mind, they would drive his saber-arm. When he rose from the meditation he was still tired, but the tiredness was merely of the body, rather than the soul. Removing his armor, but leaving his weapons close at hand, Dar'Krin flopped onto the bunk and sank into dreamless sleep.
  19. Questions and protests rose in Dar'Krin's throat, but Merkis turned and stared hard at him, as if sensing his reluctance, and repeated one word in a tone of command. "Go." The young Nagai backed away, conflicted between the desire to stay and fight as a warrior should and the desire to honor the blademaster's last command. Honor won out, and the slender alien turned at the doorway and raced away, heading through the smoke-wreathed corridors to his Master's quarters. Distantly, he could hear the high pitched sound of blaster bolts and the thrum of lightsabers, but he had his orders. To find Hando Ohnaka - whoever that was - and then get to Spira and warn the leader of all Jensaarai. He skidded into Birma's quarters, hitting the door controls and sealing them from the inside as he entered. It would not slow enemies down for long, but would at least give him warning that they were there. Turning away from the controls, he scanned the room. A hidden turbolift... A hidden turbolift. How in the name of the ancestors was he supposed to easily find a- He paused, calming his racing thoughts and emotions. Harmony - the balance between the drive to do something and the focus required to accomplish it. It would not be impossible to find, merely difficult. And he was a Jensaarai - at least, that was what he had been trained as - for the Force, there was no such thing as impossible. He took three deep breaths as he had been instructed, shutting aside the distant sounds of violence, and focused his senses. Birma had shown him how he could examine a single grain of sand, or hear a whisper from rooms away, or track by scent if need be. The young Nagai felt the Force flow through him and moved along the walls, passing a hand over the carved stone... Here. Behind a section of the wall he could feel a faint vibration, as though of power conduits or a generator. He turned his eyes to the wall and scanned it minutely, swiftly finding a button cunningly worked into the sculpting. He pressed it and with a hiss the panel slid back, revealing a small, one-person turbolift. Casting one last glance over his shoulder, Dar'Krin stepped into the turbolift and thumbed the 'down' button. The ride was swift, and smooth, and once at the bottom Dar ignited the lightsaber that had been entrusted to him and cut a circular hole through the base of the lift and the lift shaft, the blue-white blade sizzling as it cut through plasteel and rock with equal ease. Shutting off his saber, he folded his arms over his chest and dropped lightly down into the hole, ignoring the stench of the waste as he landed in knee-high... well, best to think of it as 'water'. Orienting himself, the Nagai began to move with care up the tunnel. Pangs of guilt assailed him - he was running away from the fight, hiding in filth like a dishonorable scavenger. He stilled the qualms with the assertion that Defender Merkis had been correct: for the good of the order, the Saarai-Kaar must be warned. This was the honorable path, despite the appearance of it. Dar'Krin firmed his resolve and expelled his doubts, at least for now. He had a task to accomplish, and only death would keep him from it. ====== The door slid open with a hissing squeal as the dark armored woman, Varina, entered the room where Defender Merkis and the apprentices were hiding. The old defender stood tall, despite his injuries, and greeting his unwelcome guest. The apprentices all huddled up behind him along the back walls of the chamber, the youngest clinging to the eldest for support. Defender Merkis' helmet whirred and snapped closed, sealing with a click. He pressed a button on his belt. "Varina Sett. I have to admit, kid. You were not the one I expecting. Why?" "Why, Defender Merkis, long time," she cooed behind her mechanical breather. "Have I come at a bad time?" She slid the ancient blade from it's scabbard at her side. It was almost the perfect tool for hunting and killing her Jensaarai brothers and sisters. It was imbued with the Force and could not be cut by lightsabers, and it bypassed the natural construction of the Jensaarai armor that protected from lightsaber attacks. She could see behind his helmet but she noted the shift in Merkis' posture as he gazed upon the ancient blade with shimmering red runes glowing up the side of the blade. "Oh, child," he said with pity in his tone. "What have you done?" "What have I done?" He could almost see the contempt in her expression under her mask. "When I pleaded for my brothers and sisters, for just handful of us, to go to Iridonia and help my people you and the others voted to stay here. To stay hidden. To stay safe. I begged you for an answer. I begged you tell me why you would abandon my people and the people of the colonies. Our people. Living, breathing, conduits of the Force upon which we have sworn that we are Defenders of... and what was your answer? 'I did what I had to do to keep us safe, the galaxy is at war, and it's not our war.' So here I am Defender," she let the title seep through as a mocking sneer. "I did what I had to do. Tell me? Is it your war now?" "No, Apprentice Sett," it was his turn to let a few words pass his lips laced with ire and venom. "The war is still yours and yours alone. Only the people fighting on both sides are you... and you. This assault means little, your victory hollow. We have enclaves all over the galaxy." "Oh, I know. When I find your precious Saarai-Kaar, the whole of the Jensaarai will be mine. To lead as I see fit. Is that not our way? You were very wise to hide her from me, but all you've done is delay the inevitable." Her other hand slid from the folds of her cloak and her red shoto ignited with a screech. "You've bled your crystal?" Merkis ignited his own lightsaber and the room was suddenly aglow with an eerie blueish-white and reddish-white hue that reflected off their armors. "Foolish girl." She lashed at him and their blades locked with a crackling hiss as his blade scored the edge of her durasteel sword and didn't do so much as dull it's vibro-sharp edge. "This will be a good, proud death. It's the least I can offer you, 'father'." In the waste tunnels... The waste ran through the pipes, being filtered and procesed through massive machines at various way stations throughout the sub-level of the complex. Dar'Krinn had no idea the lower levels existed, let alone how vast and impossibly confusing the passages all were. The waste water pipes came to an end at a four way intersection where two of the pipes were waste and the other two were fresh water. In the center of the intersection was a pit the went on into blackness. All four pipes flowed like waterfalls down into the bottomless pit. Through the rushing of the water he barely heard the beeping at his side. The device Merkis had slipped into his palm, a holo projector. He raised it up and activated it. "Varina Sett. I have to admit, kid. You were not the one I expecting. Why?" The image of Varina Sett appeared on the holo device, showing her in her polished armor, like she'd gone through all of the Jensaarai without breaking a sweat. Her image wavered and distorted a few times as he watched the dialogue between the two. "This will be a good, proud death. It's the least I can offer you, 'father'." The holo zoomed in on her visor and mask. Merkis must have been broadcasting from his helmet, the sly old dog, but then that was it. The transmission ended... Dar'Krinn was left with sounds of rushing water and with a silent leap he spanned the gap to the cleaner, fresher water. Alone with his emotions, and his thoughts, he pressed on until he passed a section where water rushed in from the top of the pipe but still continued on both ahead of him and behind him. Soaked to the bone, after another three hundred meters the water flowed out of an exit, where he saw sunlight. Moments later he knelt at the mouth of the pipe and looked before he leapt. All of Florrum was spread before him in all it's rocky, bland, sulphorous glory. Below him were two speeder bikes, and their owners, white armored scout troopers. It was a ten meter jump from the end of the pipe to the ground below where the water flowered into a wild stream the forcefully pushed the paddles of a hydroelectric power station a few kilometers away. He could barely hear the battle still going on and he noticed green bolts rain down from the sky high over head. He must have been maybe a kilometer or two from The Spire by now. "Hey, you get a chance to fly one of those T-18s?" Dar'Krinn looked down as the two scout troopers paced about directly under him. Through the rushing of the water and higher ground, neither of the Scouts seemed to take notice of him, yet. The second shook his head. "Nah. You? I hear they're superior to the T-16s, but, I'm nostalgic. T-16s are classics." "Yeah, I agree. Stabilizers on the T-16s were way better, the new 18s are choppy at top speed." They both looked to the sky as another stream of green bolts barraged The Spire behind the cliff side Dar'Krinn was escaping through. "Why do they get to have all the fun? Commandos aren't really so special." "Yeah?" Asked his partner. "You pass your weapons qualification? What was your score?" The other scout shrugged. "I did okay. 97 our of 230. That's not bad, right?" "That's why they're having all the fun," his partner answered. "That's all I'm saying." Dar'Krin observed the pair of white-armored figures from his perch ten feet above them, his hands slowly and smoothly moving to the hilts of his Tehk'La knives and getting ready to draw them. Where once his blood would have sung at the prospect of action, only a trace thrill remained to quicken his heartbeat. Birma and the other Defenders had impressed on him that battle for the sake of battle was irresponsible and worse, a sure path to falling to the Dark Side. Where once the young Nagai had lived only to fight and find glory in the battle, the lessons of his teachers made him consider the why of the fight. Was it necessary to harm others, or take a life? Was it the best solution? These questions danced in his head along with the slow simmer of anger and grief he'd felt since Merkis' holo-transmission. He knew that the Defender had given him valuable information: now there was a name for the person who would hunt Jensaarai - a rogue called Varina Sett. To the last, Merkis had placed the good of the order in the forefront of his thoughts, even wounded and facing death. Dar'Krin pushed aside his drive to strike back somehow, to avenge in some small way the death and pain of his fellows, and considered his options. The scouts were obviously placed here to report on and possibly chase down anyone fleeing. Varina Sett perhaps suspected an escape tunnel, or perhaps it was just Imperial procedure - who could tell? Right now, they were unaware of him, but if he tried to slip by that would not last. And all it would take would be a single comm transmission to bring the rest of the hunters down on him. Slowly, he eased his breathing and relaxed his muscles. Guard your emotions, lest they control you. He acted out of necessity, not lust for battle, but when battle was necessary he should not shrink from it. The scout troopers were unaware of the figure lurking above them, and so were completely caught off guard when the Nagai warrior, as lean and dangerous as a katarrn, dropped to the ground behind the first of them. The soft subsonic humming of his Tehk'La became a faint buzzing whine as both serrated blades came around to bite point-first into the scout's plasteel armor: the first in through the junction of arm and breastplate under the armpit, the other point taking him in the small of his back, pinioning him between Dar and the other trooper. The other scout trooper was taken completely by surprise as his companion trooper was impaled by the nagai warrior. Needless to say, one didn't expect to die today, and neither were expecting to be attacked. The blackened mesh under the light plasteel scout plates began to run sticky with blood as the vibrations of the warrior's Tehk'la continued to ravage the corpse's insides. "Where'd you...!?" The living scout took a single step back as surprise and fear left him momentarily stunned. He reached to his side to grab his blaster. Dar'Krin didn't bother to speak, choosing instead to maintain his focus as he propelled himself and the dead man forward in a dive, pulling his blades from the inert form of the scout trooper as they both hit the floor and rolling smoothly over the corpse to his feet in front of the second enemy. The blood-stained durasteel blades, custom-made and balanced for him on his assumption of warrior status, swept through the air towards the Imperial as he reached for his blaster. One sliced at the mesh between the white plates covering the chest and abdomen while the other stabbed at the shoulder of the man's weapon arm. In the rush of combat, Dar'Krin was reverting to old training somewhat - Nagai struck most often to disable and defeat an enemy's ability to fight before moving for the kill. The second scout fell backwards, blaster falling from limp fingers as his other hand clutched at his stricken stomach. Dar'Krin followed him down, making sure the Imperial was dead with a precise final stab, the coup de grace stilling the man's thrashing as though turning off the power to a conduit. The young warrior took a deep breath. "N'Gi j'zakra." He whispered, the old words surfacing in the halls of his memory, a victory cry and a mantra taught to all younglings as they learned their first blade. It was an affirmation that a foe had been met and defeated this day. Loosely translated to Basic, it would mean I am Nagai, and I am alive. He did not linger, stripping one scout of his utility belt before pushing both limp bodies into the water, watching a moment as the white-garbed forms bobbed and submerged in the fast-flowing river. Briefly he considered the speeder bikes, but decided against it. He was a clumsy pilot at best and besides, a repulsorlift was noisy and Imperial vehicles may be traceable. The scout trooper's belt contained supplies, water, survival gear - everything he would need to get to Hondo Ohnaka's camp. He briefly consulted the holodevice, studying the map Merkis had given him before setting off into the desert. He pulled his hood up to shield his head from the sun and moved as swiftly as common sense allowed - he needed to get as far from the Spire as he could before Varina Sett and her troops finished their butchery and began to call in their scouts. Dar'Krin T'Vaan, Nagai warrior and apprentice to the Jensaarai, did not look back as he made his way across the sandy waste. His eyes instead were focused on his path, on the task ahead of him, and the salvation of his new family. A few hours later... Only twelve apprentices remained as smoke and fire consumed The Spire. They stood on the roof of the massive saucer of rock that, until just hours ago, served as their home. The black armored Storm Commandos hauled the bodies from the interior up to the roof and lined them up for a head count and to purge any possible survivors 'playing dead'. The twelve stood in two rows of six, their hands bound in front of them. The woman in black, Varina Sett, approached them as her mask unraveled itself and affixed itself to her armor's breast plate. She pulled back her hood revealing her crown of horns and set her gaze upon them with her yellow eyes that served as a sign of her corruption by the Dark Side of the Force. Silently she paced back and forth, appraising her newly captured apprentices. They ranged in ages from five to seventeen yet despite the discrepancy in age they all had one thing in common at the moment: fear. "The twelve of you were spared," she began, stopping amid the center of the first row with her hands clasped firmly behind her back like she was drill sergeant at an Imperial Academy. "You now have a choice. You may choose to learn from me, to bend knee to the Empire and serve loyally as the Jensaarai Vanguard of the Emperor. Or die." She paced back and forth a few times to allow them time to make their choice. When the small group remained silent, she looked upon them as she assessed them she continued to pace. "There is no shame in death. You are, although distant, still my family. My brothers and sisters, and will see to it there is no suffering. It is a great honor to sacrifice yourself instead of your principles, I will respect our ways and see to it you go quietly to the Force." A Commando approached in a hurried pace. "M'Lord," he said as he came to a halt and posted. "I am not a Lord," she sneered, visibly perturbed by the comparison of her, a 'Vanguard' of the Jensaarai to be nothing more than a power mad, psychotic, religious zealot that spent years taking over a galaxy so that they could blow up all the planets. "I am not Sith." "Uh," the Commando's posting faltered a bit as he came to realize he had no idea what she was and from a command perspective, he really didn't care. "My apologies, I uh... have no idea what the proper form of address is for a Jiseer-, Janisar... uh, whatever you guys call yourself, ma'am." Her thumb and middle finger massaged her temples. "Ma'am is fine, now, what is it?" "The count, it's off, minus the one we left where you struck him down. We believe one may have escaped." The commando said through his helmet's modulator. "We have a scout team that hasn't reported in. Their speeder bikes are accounted for however." She moved with the Commando, leaving her new apprentices to consider whether they felt their short lives had been well lived or they desired to live on still. The two approached the corpses lined up and she gazed upon her former family with seething disdain. Her eyes scrutinized the bodies, then they narrowed in recollection as something was missing. She turned to face the Commando. "Where is the Nagai?" "The what?" He replied, looking at the bodies. She sighed. "The Nagai. Pale, pasty, long ears?" The commando nodded, "The one dueling before the attack. We assumed the first barrage blew him apart. If he took out those scouts and left the speeder bikes, he on foot. We'll find him. He can't have gone far." "He's not far. Search west," She sneered. "Uh, west, ma'am?" The Commando asked, a bit confused at how she'd know. "Yes, west," she turned to face west and looked off into the horizon. "My fool of a father gave him a lightsaber recently. My lightsaber. Blast shields down is always the first lesson." Her words seemed nostalgic as she stared off over the Florrum's orange, setting sun. She shook away the distracting thoughts and focused on the moment, on her task and her devotion to seeing her goals be met. "Find him. Now." "Scouts are on their way," He lowered his hand from his transmitter button on his helmet. "We'll have him within the hour." "He is Nagai," she smirked. "I'd send the scout troopers you don't care for overmuch." Within the hour... The scout trooper fell quietly to the ground, he never saw or heard his comrades fall and it was only as the blade slid between his ribs and micro-vibrations ruptured his heart did he realize that his quarry was Nagai. Hondo's base was a ways away, he knew, three days on foot at least, but the speeder would make him too easy of a target. Darkness stretched across Florrum and the warrior continued his trek. He rationed his water. Though he had the combined survival rations of several scouts plus the initial two it would not do to be careless, not when he couldn't afford to waste time foraging or deviating from his course to find more. As the sun rose on the first day, Dar'Krin pulled the hood of his shabby dusty cloak over his head to ward off the worst of the sun's rays and moved on. He was still being hunted. Now and then he heard the distant whine of repulsors as scouts criss-crossed the rocky, sandy wastes in search of him. When they drew close he would find a rocky outcropping or tumble of stones and merge with it: crouching, drawing his cloak around himself and remaining motionless until the trailing whines sped away and receded to insignificance again. Then, and only then, would he break cover and move. During the hottest part of the day he bellied up in a shallow crevasse, taking a sip of water and a few bites of the foul-tasting nutritional paste before squatting in the shade and resting lightly. He wanted to meditate, to slip into the empty-soul state of deep Force meditation, cleansing and peaceful - but he did not dare. He was not yet practiced enough to readily awaken from such a deep state should danger threaten, so he catnapped instead, now and then opening an eye to scan the heat-shimmering wastes beyond his shelter, to cock an ear for the sound of repulsors or stealthy footfalls. As the afternoon wore on to dusk he emerged from the shelter and set off once more, taking a swallow of water and a salt tablet to restore the vital substance the heat had sweated from his body. He ate as the moons rose high without stopping his steady trek, squeezing the paste from the tube it came in, only washing it down with water when he had finished. Dar had plenty of time to think, to brood, as he travelled. Varina Sett. The renegade. She who had turned on her family, on her own blood. What would make a person do such a thing, save utter corruption? And now she had taken his family from him. Guard your emotions, lest they control you. The words of the Code were simple, easy to interpret. Unlike the Jedi Code his mentor had somewhat scornfully relayed in it's flawed nature. 'There is no emotion, there is peace'? No. Acknowledge the emotion, accept it, but do not let it dictate your action. He was angry at Sett, angry at the Empire. But he had a task to complete before he could begin to think about striking back at them for their offences, and when he did so strike, he would be mindful not to descend into monstrosity. A Jensaarai was a guardian, not a soldier. But did the galaxy not need guarding right now? Could the Jensaarai protect life by hiding in monasteries? These were troubling thoughts - easy to dismiss when the world was quiet and safe inside the Spire, not so much when death and fire were flung from above. Perhaps Master Birma had a point, too. He wondered if she had escaped, wondered if he would ever know what had befallen her. For two more days he trekked, through the night to mid-morning, then resting, then moving on when the sun started to fall. The second day he heard no whine of repulsors, detected no signs of pursuit. Had they, then, given up? Assumed the desert had swallowed him? Perhaps, he mulled with wry amusement, they did not consider him worth spending too long hunting down, especially as they had already lost several of their number in doing so. On the dawn of the third day he stood on a rocky ridge overlooking a small settlement: little more than a camp, really. The holomap indicated that this was the place, though it looked quite frankly as though a Th'saas using it as a privy would be an improvement. Readying himself for what came next, the young Nagai found a trail down from the ridge and started down into the camp of Hondo Ohnaka.
  20. The shock lasted for precious seconds as the thunderous after-clap of the orbital turbolaser bombardment rang in his ears. In a heartbeat, the situation had changed - the warm acclaim of his fellow apprentices, the quiet pride at his instructor's praise and the approval in the eyes of Master Birma swept away by emerald fire and explosions that shook the Spire, bringing in their wake screaming and fear and death. As Dar'Krin picked himself up from the floor, wiping blood so dark it was almost black from a cut to his brow caused by flying rock shrapnel, he was aware of the ringing in his ears and the haze of dust and smoke swirling about him. Dimly, as if through immersed in water, he heard Birma shouting to get below, but there at his feet was Defender Merkis, clutching at his shattered shoulder, moaning in pain through the modulator of his helm. Kneeling, the Nagai apprentice cast an inexpert eye over the visible injuries, but his rudimentary 'slap a bandage on it' training was no help here. What was certain was that he could not leave Merkis up here. Putting an arm under the Defender's uninjured shoulder, he struggled to get both of them to their feet. "Come on, master." he urged, the moaning armored figure leaning on him as the two of them staggered to the stairwell leading down, even as another blast rocked the Spire and nearly toppled the pair of them. Birma appeared from the swirl of dust. "Get him to the infirmary, and stay with him." she told her apprentice, a resolved light in her feline eyes. "We're under attack." "Master. I can fight." Dar'Krin protested as the three of them made it down below the roof. "Maybe not as a Jensaarai. But as a Nagai, I can fight." "I know you can. War is in your blood, and that is why I have a special task for you. There are injured younglings and Defenders in the infirmary already." Birma told him patiently. "I want you to defend them, not attack our enemy." Her voice was firm but gentle as she regarded him. "You were born with a knife in your hand, like all your proud people. But you have to learn a better way, to preserve life rather than deal death. Even at times like now. Especially at times like now." She stepped forward and lightly grasped his face in her hands, her eyes on his. "It is easy to speak of harmony and preserving life when the days are slow and peaceful, here in our remote Spire. Living it in the world outside, in times of war, when confronted with suffering... That is the true test. Do you understand?" Silently, somberly, Dar'Krin nodded. Birma smiled, patting him on the shoulder. "Good. Now get Merkis to the infirmary, and grab what you need from your quarters. You and some of the other older apprentices will be on guard - but you are the only one that has seen real battle before. Keep your head on straight until we come for you." With that, she turned and hurried down the corridors. Dar'Krin, his thoughts conflicted still despite his acquiescence to his Master, helped Merkis to the bustling infirmary, where those Jensaarai with healing skills were already tending the wounded. Dar helped the blade instructor to a bed and stood back as an old medical droid ran a scanning device over the armored figure, feeling momentarily helpless before remembering his Master's instructions. Leaving the infirmary, he ran, fleet-footed and swift, to his quarters and opened the simple chest in which were stored the relics of his old life. His Tehk'La, his blaster, his sword... and his armor. He paused for a moment. It was the armor of a Nagai, an electromesh suit, designed to maximise agility and using an intrinsic energy deflection field to allow a warrior to close with an enemy, to fight them toe-to-toe. He'd hoped one day to use it as the foundation principles for his Defender armor. Strange it was, to think that perhaps that day would not come now. Perhaps he would die, not on the soil of Nagi where his Master had rescued him, a casualty of a clan war for pride or territory, but here, defending strangers not of his blood and unable to defend themselves. A few years ago, he would have found the mere thought ironically amusing. A lot can change in a few years he mused as he swiftly dressed, pulling on his armor and fastening his weapons belt around his lean hips. As an afterthought, he hooked his lightsaber onto his belt as well. He might not be fully a Jensaarai, but they were his family now, and he would defend them. Turning, he raced from his room and headed back towards the infirmary. ====== The bombardment ceased as the STAPs flew in with a whir of repulsor engines and within moments onyx armored Storm Commandos were on the rooftop by the score. Their tactics were near flawless in their execution, teaming up the Defenders from all angles and sacrificing only a few to distract the Defender enough to riddle them them with blaster fire. Diffusion smoke limited the casualties among the Commandos but by being so outnumbered the lower impact of the Commandos' blaster rifles against the Defenders didn't mean much when it being piled on so extensively. Unlike Stormtroopers, Commandos were accurate all the time, not just when when shooting at stationary Jawa Land Crawlers. One by one the Jensarrai fell, their lightsabers extinguishing as they fell. Several fled to the lower levels leading and guiding as many of the younger apprentices as they could. Defender Hahuk, however, was having none of it. His armor was badly damaged, a few blaster marks already smouldered on its surface. Sweat already poured down his brow as he winced in pain, using very ounce of his energy to stay upon his feet. The commandos raised their blasters and one by one bolts of heated gasses were reflected back the commandos. In a vivid yellow arc three commandos fell dead, their blackened armor sizzling and glowing with embers of the lightsaber's passing. The blade swiftly moved about for another passing STAP of the woman in armor came in at a break neck speed. She launched herself from the STAP with the grace and power that only a Force-User would be capable of and landed on the rooftop with a roll. Gracefull she didn't slow her momentum at all, rolling to her feet she was in a full sprint and the excited hiss of her red shoto ignigted. She spun once, twice, three times and each surgical movement slaughtered a victim in her path. She threw her shoto and it 'vwooomed' through the air in a crimson circle, hitting Defender Hahuk's own blade aside before it could slice a commando in half. Before he could process what had happened she slammed into him, his eyes bulged in pain and surprise. Blood filled his lungs as the woman's mask disassembled itself, the triangle mouth piece lowered itself to rest upon her chest, smoothing out to appear as an amulet-like addition to her polished black armor. Haruk stared into the eyes of his murderer and fell to his knees as she slid the long, thick black out from the softer, carbon fiber mesh betwixt the plates of his armor. "V-Varina?" He gasped in shock as familiarity for his killer darkened his final moments. He rasped and choked on blood. "Why?" Haruk's blood seeped into the dark metal of her sword as Dark Side energies consumed the his ichor. Shimmering red symbols lit up the side of the blade decorating it in ancient Sith lore as the evil blade hummed like a vibroblade. "A question I have asked myself for so many years." She gripped the back his head almost compassionately and cradled him as he lay down upon the warm Florrum stone. "Why did we do nothing as my people burned? Why do we hide from the galaxy when it needs us most?" Her former master swallowed hard as he choked on the last breaths of his life. Varina took his light saber from his hand and rest his hands upon his chest, setting the hilt with them. "I no longer hide, my former Master. The galaxy needs me, and I will train a new Vanguard for the Empire." The triangular breather folded up from her armor and rest itself upon her face as the interlocking plates formed her mask. Her corrupted yellow eyes narrowed and her voice was now mechanical and cold. "As soon as I destroy your precious Saarai-Kar." Within the Spire... Defender Merkis collapsed up a table, lying on his back as he gripped his side. His crimson armor was scorched and blackened from where he took nearly the entire brunt of the laser blast. It was anarchy in the halls and through it all Dar'Krinn wasthe only one who seemed to be remaining calm, or at least faking it really good. Blaster fire filled the hallways as Commandos moved room to room exterminating everyone in their path. Defender Birma wasn't behind them, she'd been lost in the commotion and combat in the halls. Merkis gripped Dar'Krinn's sleeve and pulled him over and down where the boy could hear him. "Boy. Listen." He winced in agony as the visor of his helmet split apart and opened vertically, parting so his face was exposed and Dar could hear him clearly. "You... you must flee. Th-the Saarai-Kar... she must know what has happened here. S-Spira. She hides on Spira. She must know. She must be warned that the Empire attacks us... you're the only one I trust with this, boy..." His breathing was raspy and he was fading out. The pads within his armor were doing what they could, but at the moment he needed rest, something he couldn't afford. He placed a flat disk in Dar'Krinn's palm. "In Defender Birma's chambers is a hidden turbo lift, it will take you to the base of the Spire. C..." he coughed. "Cut a hole in the bottom and escape through the waste tunnels and water filtration. Find Hando Ohnaka. Tell him Merkis is calling in that favor." The old Defender rolled off the table to his feet, one arm hanging limp at his side. He plucked his saber hilt from his belt. "Go. I will buy you the time you need."
  21. Dar'Krin ascended the steps to the roof with an eagerness not even his carefully regulated pace could hide, pausing as he always did upon clearing the stairwell to look out over the canyon valley that led to the Spire, his home for the last few years. He often came up here when it was free, to practice with his blades and retain his skills, and every time he would stop and gaze down at the valley floor, following the dirt track away until it fell into the deep distance, then letting his silver eyes sweep up to the skies over Florrum, cyan by day and a curious deep dark violet at night. The view was part of his daily ritual, whether he came up before breakfast or later in the night, and as always filled him with a certain serenity. "A pleasant evening." Dar'Krin turned towards the training pad as the figure of Defender Merkis approached from the other side of the dome's roof, the instructor's modulated voice carrying in the twilight air. "Are you prepared, apprentice?" "As I can be, Defender." The young Nagai answered with his customary wary stoicism. Merkis inclined his head. "A good answer. We shall begin with the re-learning of the basics - however..." Merkis brought out a face-shield from under his cloak. "You will wear this." Dar'Krin took the item, turning it over in his hands as he examined it, then glanced at the Defender questioningly. "Without my eye to guide my blade, my strikes and parries will not be as sure." he said doubtfully - a quiet doubt, but noticeable. Merkis nodded once more. "You will have to feel the blade's arc - not with your admittedly excellent reflexes, but with the Force. When a Defender is in battle, they cannot always rely on their eye to be everywhere, but when you let the Force guide your senses it does not matter where your gaze is directed. A Defender surrenders to the Force - allows it to flow through them and, thus, become capable of precision and speed that no normal combatant can match. That is how we block blasters, or strike so carefully that we, not the lightsaber, determine whether an opponent lives or dies." Merkis motioned with a hand. "Put it on." Obeying the element of command in the instructor's voice, Dar'Krin nodded and fitted the face-shield to his slender features, feeling it adhere through some electrostatic charge. Following Merkis' instructions, he took his saber from his belt and, hesitantly, began the first steps of re-learning to fight. "Take a moment boy," Merkis said. "Remember yesterday, for just a moment. We are warriors, you and I. I'll never forget that feeling when I activated my lightsaber for the first time and felt it humming in my hands. You will never feel that sensation again, Dar'Krinn. It was on of those beautiful moments in our lives where, despite getting to experience it over and over, there never any feeling quite like that first time." Dar'Krinn listened to his instructors voice and Merkis, although Dar'Krinn could not see his face to tell was quite impressed that he held his saber hilt ready, but did not ignite it, just as he was instructed. "First kiss. First broken heart. None that ever come after ever seem to match up, but none are ever any less intoxicating. Unlike Jedi we do not forsake our emotions, nor, like the Sith, do we give into them. Excess in either direction leads to corruption, and denying ourselves the simple enjoyments of life is, by and large, just plain boring." He said with a tone that caused Dar'Krinn to grin under his mask. Merkis was a good teacher, he amused as much as he instructed. "But in seriousness denial of our emotions, forsaking love, attachment, togetherness, these lead to a corruption of a different sort. A numbness. A pride that fell over the Jedi as they believed themselves to be the penultimate force of good and authority on the Force in the galaxy. I ask you boy, where did it get them?" "Extinct, Defender." Dar'Krinn said calmly with tone of pride to his answer. "The Order, yes. Not the Jedi, however. They are still out there, I feel them." He could hear his instructor taking steps, pacing back and forth as he offered his sermon. "So, the Jedi and the Sith are wrong." Dar'Krinn posited. "No," Merkis laughed softly. "Nor are they right. No mroe than we are wrong or right. We are all Force Sensitive, Dar'Krinn, we just view it differently, and our petty squabbles over who is right and wrong, has been going on for millennia and only the people of the galaxy seem to suffer for it. You will protect others. We do not have Jensarrai marauders or juggernauts. We train Defenders. I train Defenders." He paused there and said nothing until finally Dar'Krinn caught on to the point of the lecture. "I understand, Defender Merkis." "Good. Now, guard your emotions." He said. "Lest they control you." Dar'Krinn replied. Merkis's modulated raised it's tempo, demanding more bass from his student. "Guard your kin!" "Through unity we are strong!" Dar'Krinn offered, pushing back with his own voice. "Guard our knowledge!" Merkis pumped his fist in preparation for what was about to happen. "Or the truth will be forgotten!" The apprentice tensed up, feeling a change in the air. "Guard your life." The GUI within Merkis's shut off, leaving him to gaze completely into the darkness of his helmet. "From it flows the Force." Dar'Krinn's last response was soft and calmer that his others as the ignition of his teacher's lightsaber screeched to life and hummed violently as it came bearing down upon him. The dazzling orange-white blade clashed with a crackling hiss as it met the blue-white hue of Dar'Krinn's own blade that had risen to protect its bearer. He tried not to allow himself to swell with pride in his accomplishment, for the battle was still unfolding around him. Elsewhere in the Spire... Nas, a young apprentice himself, ran hurriedly down the halls, the human boy spun around corners and slid between the closing doors of the turbo lift that would take him to the residential levels. Like zeypher he shot through the doors as they opened, nearly knocking over a Defender who cursed something in his native tongue as others around yelled at the boy to slow down. Around the bend and through the dorms he sped off down the hallway, sliding past the doorway that led into the mess hall, where supper was being had my the second tier apprentices. His hand reached out and grabbed the jamb of the door way, pulling himself back on track to enter the mess hall before he slid too far past. Crazed and out of breath he stood in the doorway while several of the apprentices closest to him just looked at him like he was mad. After a breath or two to get his lung straight he excitedly proclaimed, "Defender Merkis is dueling Dar'Krinn!" He added, as if it were almost unheard of in the history of ever: "With face shields!" An eerie silence fell over the apprentices and their meals. They paused long enough to share a glance at their peers before dropping their utensils and storming for the doorway like an unruly heard of nerfs. Within moments, only five Defenders remained, shaking their heads or burying their face in their palms. One of the defenders, a hulking devaronian man named Hahuk, grunted. "He's going to lose." Hahuk said flatly. Never one for nicities it was well known that he didn't care for Dar'Krinn one bit, believing his race to incapable of mastering the balance between the Light and Dark sides of the Force. "And he will do so spectacularly, I'm sure." He grunted out a laugh. "No," Defender Birma replied calmly as she made her way to the spectacle. "He will do so honorably. It is his way. Now, shall we go see how this plays out?" The two coruscating blades of light crossed, leaped apart, then came together again in a crackling clash of energy that caused the onlookers - at least those without helmet photo-dampening - to squint or shield their eyes. Both hands on the hilt of his saber, Dar'Krin pushed away Merkis' blade and brought his own around in a lightning fast left-to-right cut that would have opened a less adept opponent from shoulder to opposite hip. It never got close to Merkis though, despite the Defender seeming to only catch it mere inches from his shoulder. "Fast and sure. Good." The blademaster's modulated voice carried past the hiss of their weapons as he launched his own attack sequence, whipping his lightsaber through the air, noting with satisfaction how his young pupil intuitively turned the momentum of his own deflection into a riposte which Merkis in turn caught with an apparently random spin of the blade of his weapon before once more counter-attacking. The two stayed locked in that give and take for long seconds, Dar'Krin's warrior focus and youthful talent striving to overcome his master's superior experience and training as their blades flickered and filled the air between and around the pair with webs of light. It was entirely different to sparring with vibroblades or practice sabers - Defender Merkis had been right on that score. He could feel the vibrant life of the energy blades - his own and his master's - as well as the sense of Merkis' intended actions. Not that it did him much good - the Defender was so practiced that he barely needed thought or considered intent to control the dance and whirl of his saber. This deadlock would end only when Merkis decided that it should, and every heartbeat it went on the advantage shifted more to the Defender. Dar'Krin cut high, then dropped low and swept his foot at Merkis' ankles, causing the instructor to take a half step back, a pause in the flow of combat that Dar'Krin exploited to propel himself back in a tuck and roll followed by a hand-spring, landing agilely several meters away. Merkis nodded as though approving, his hand dipping below the cloak he wore and producing two small spherical remotes, tossing them into the air. Immediately they trained on Dar'Krin and swooped around him, firing sting-blasts. The apprentice let the Force flow through him, guiding his reflexes as he spun and stepped, weaving his lightsaber's blade around himself in tight arcs that caught the sting blasts out of the air, batting them harmlessly aside. Focusing tightly, he batted one, then another of the blasts at Merkis, who chuckled as he caught each with a casual motion of his own saber. Not that a sting blast would have much effect against Defender armor, but he approved of his student's mindset. With a wave of his hand, the remotes backed off and Merkis once more closed with Dar'Krin. Their blades hummed ferociously, sparks and flares of light illuminating both the combatants and the watchers as Merkis pressed the apprentice hard. For all of his reflexes and innate talent, Dar was unable to hold the Defender back, giving ground out of necessity rather than choice as the Defender ruthlessly closed off avenues of attack, herding Dar to the edge of the practice platform. The agile Nagai tried to break left, only to find Merkis had closed down that path. Then he tried to make distance, only for the Defender to unrelentingly follow up and allow him no space. Though he'd fought with all that he had, because to do otherwise would be an insult to himself and his teacher, the young warrior had stoically accepted that the conclusion to this practice bout was foregone, and as his heels touched the edge of the platform he sighed under the face-shield. "I am bested." he declared, thumbing the switch of his saber and extinguishing the blade, lowering the weapon as his other hand removed his face shield. His pale skin gleamed with sweat as he bowed to Merkis, only now noticing as he straightened that he and the Defender had an audience. ====== Miles away, atop a ridge watching the saber battle take place was an armor clad female with a score of black-armored storm troopers behind her. Glossy black plates were bonded to synthetic leather giving optimal protection with minimal loss of mobility. About her shoulders was draped a thick black cloak that came up over head, leaving a crown-like impression underneath, revealing her iridonian heritage. Her face was uncovered, showing attractive features across pale, ritually scarred and tattooed skin. One of the black armored commandos lowered his hand from his helmet where he'd been adjusting the macrobinoculars built in to his kit. He looked to the woman, then looked back to the Spire, then drew his attention back to her, knowing she could see them just as, if not more so, clearer than he could without any aid. She seethed. Her face was a scowl as she looked upon the Spire's roof where the Jensarrai's Weapon's Master was training a new apprentice. For what? So he could hide away from the galaxy and hone his skills to become a nothing more than a 'Defender' who trained other Defenders? All she saw was wasted potential and squandered youth. The Jensarrai needed a new direction, they needed to be the Vanguard of the galaxy, not hiding away in their Spire while worlds burned around them... worlds like Iridonia and it's numerous colonies. "Ma'am," the Storm Commando looked to the hateful woman, not realizing the the sheer power of Rage she was channeling to accomplish the task ahead. "On your order." Beneath her cloak her had rested on a hilt. She scowled. "Wipe this pathetic enclave from the face of the planet. Spare the younglings, I want them alive." She shrugged slightly. "Well, those that don't die resisting, that is." From the shadows of her hood the whirring of her armor could be heard as her armor automatically operated and a sealed mask constructed itself around her nose and mouth through a series of folding and sliding pieces, like a puzzle solving itself. It covered her eyes in a solid metallic visor with a triangular breath mask now filtering the dusty Florrum air. Her voice was now like her Commando's, modulated and sounding a bit ominous. "Begin the assault." The Spire... Merkis chuckled under his helmet which echoed in a mechanical tone. "You are educated," his saber slid away with a hiss and he patted the young man on the shoulder. "You will take this lesson onto the next, and so on, and so on, until you become the teacher and a student finds a way to expand your lessons. You did exceptionally well, you have more training with combat than any other apprentice here. A vibroblade has weight, a lightsaber is nothing but hilt. Once we acclimate you to the difference in weight and handling, I think you'll might even impress yourself. We'll go over the wrist work tomorrow, perhaps." He couldn't see the smile under Merkis's helmet, but he knew it was there. Nas ran up to Dar'Krinn as the young apprentice seemed to suddenly have quite the following. "Wiz! Dar, that the longest any apprentice has lasted against Defender Merkis! That was awesome!" Suddenly Dar'Krinn was surrounded and being mobbed by younglings. It was more attention than he was used to, that was certain. Dar didn't feel the shift in the Force, but Merkis and the other Defenders present did. Dar didn't need to, he watch them their movements, their shifts in expression and the way the joy and mirth of the moment was suddenly stripped away told him something wasn't right. They were too late, however. By the time Defender Hahuk yelled for everyone to take cover it was already raining green turbo laser blasts from the heavens. Orbital bombardment. A safe tactic soften up Force Users. Only a few actually struck the Spire's rooftop, but the two of the blasts exploded, sending Defenders and apprentices all over the place. Most didn't get up. Several more were blasted clear over the side of the safety rails, where they struggled for grip on the smooth red stone of the Spire's surface. Their screams as the plummeted thousands of feet to the planet's surface seemed louder than the rain of laser fire. The armored woman smirked under mask as she mounted her STAP. "They are scattered and confused. Move in before they regroup. Surround them, and remember your training. Remember, their armor is designed to resist lightsabers, not blasters." "Yes, Ma'am. Ground forces, hold at entrance, eliminate any attempting to escape. Raven Squadron, prepare for any shuttles attempting to flee." The commando squad mounted their STAPs and followed their Commander. Merkis rolled around in pain. A large chuck of rubble had slammed against him, had he not been in armor, he'd have been dead. Birma screamed for the younglings to get up and head below. Defenders were helping anyone they could to their feet with one hand while an ignited lightsaber was ready in their other. It was chaos. More green bolts rained from the sky, scattering even more of the defenseless Jensarrai as they struggled to seek cover and escape the bombardment... Dar'Krinn's day among the Jensarrai had crumbled into dust and ash and fire...
  22. From the dry earth the ancient spire rose from the sandy, rocky surface of Florrum's dry, dusty surface. Atop the spire rested a great dome and within were the hidden, the silent, the Jenssarai. Decades ago, they were one of many splinter groups of the relatively new, by Force traditions standards, that scattered themselves across the galaxy in the hopes of hiding from the evil Sith Emperor as hid forces decimated worlds and subjugated star systems. Months ago, The last Jedi, Leia Organa-Solo has approached the Jensaarai, pleading for them to assist her on one final onslaught that would spell the ruin of the Empire and free the people of the galaxy from Sith oppression. It was not their way. The Jensaarai were not galactic defenders. They were insular and protected their own and their own ways, and it was for the best that they didn't get involved as the results of that assault against the Empire were known readily throughout the known systems. It was a failure. The Empire irradiated the Resistance and were the Jensaarai involved they too, would have been destroyed. At least that was the talk that Dar'Krinn had been hearing in hushed whispers throughout the halls and chambers of Dar'min-Ja Spire. He was young, an apprentice, not even given the entry lessons of Force training or lightsaber combat, but he knew that in time he would have his opportunity. Older than most apprentices when he was discovered and brought before the Saraai-Kar, who, graciously allowed him to be trained. Slowly, over the years, Dar'Krinn had learned that, like the Jedi, the Jensaarai were also adherents of the Light Side of the Force, but instead of being 'keepers of the peace' in the galaxy, the Jensaarai were warriors and guardians of the planets upon which they established enclaves. Usually on small, uninhabited worlds, free of native species as to not get involved with planet-wide politics but by and large, the Jensaarai simply wished to left to their own, free of the troubles of the galaxy, and free to go on about their business. Needless to say this Imperial business of late was placing quite the damper on those ideals. Florrum was a dry dusty world with nothing but pirates, cartel cantinas and smugglers dens. The Jensaarai, and by proxy Dar'Krnn, blended in easily enough. This day, he blended with the shadows of the dimly lit passageways, passing up impressive Defenders in their traditional armor, even a few offered him a modulated "boy" or "apprentice" as he passed them. His footsteps slowed to a silent step as he heard voices from his Defender's chambers where he'd been summoned. "...do you honestly believe that?" asked a modulated voice that he was unfamiliar with. "Had we gotten involved we'd be extinct too." "Perhaps." Replied Dar'Krinn's Master, Birma. She was a wise and patient Farghul woman with as many years of knowledge as she has menial tasks to for her Apprentice to perform throughout the day. "Yet, I consider it nonetheless. Perhaps we were could have done more than nothing. We hide away on this planet of thieves and mercenaries training new Defenders, but for what, Merkis? To simply swell our numbers and train more, and still, do nothing?" "It is our way, Birma." Merkis replied. Dar'Krinn recognized him now, the man was a powerful and respected Defender, a warrior if ever there was one, but a strong adherent to the ways of the Jensaarai teachings. When it was time for him to learn the lightsaber forms, Merkis would be the man he would need to impress to receive permission to construct his own. "We do not involve ourselves in the troubles of the galaxy, lest they appear at our threshold." "Been outside recently, Merkis?" Brima said with musingly with that penchant for wit and sarcasm nearly all Farghul possessed. "The troubles of the galaxy are practically at our table supping with us. Which brings me to my current troubles." She paused for a moments then continued. "Which we may return to at a later time. It would appear my Apprentice has finally arrived. Come in, Dar. I know you're lurking." It had been a few years, and Dar'Krin still hadn't mastered the art of stilling his thoughts and presence in the Force, to appear as transparent as glass and avoid the keen senses of his Master - or indeed even other apprentices. It was a holdover from a youth spent training in a different way, the Nagai way: to imprint on the moment, a philosophy of dominating through force of personality and skill at arms which Master Brima had spent patient hours, months and years breaking down and helping him to unlearn. Reticence did not come easily to him even in his first days when, despite recovering from a near-fatal wound, Brima had to talk him down from taking up his Tehk'La and going forth to seek honorable bloodshed. Perhaps, the wise Farghul had suggested, the fact that the Force was so strong with him suggested that honor might be served in other ways, deeper ways. The ways of the Jensaarai. It wasn't easy, for Dar'Krin or for the enclave. Brima had come back from her wanderings with a fierce, half-tamed young bloodhawk in tow, and it was a blessing that his previous life had instilled the value of discipline as well as ferocity in him. It had been hard to be commanded to set aside his Tehk'La and armor, to don the soft cloth robes of an apprentice, and kneel in lessons with other apprentices - most of whom were Dar'Krin's junior in years yet his superior in the Force - yet he had persevered, stoically and with surprisingly few outbursts. He wasn't the finest of scholars, but he was diligent, and put himself to tasks set with little grumbling. Curious, Brima had once asked him if he ever wondered why she set him certain exercises, or seemingly random chores that were little better than make-work, and the slender Nagai had shrugged and replied "Of course I wonder. But if you wanted to tell me, you would." Whereupon Brima had realised, fighting the urge to clap her hand to her forehead, that there was more for him to unlearn than she had first imagined. For a Nagai warrior, to question the orders of a clan superior was not done unless you were prepared to challenge them, but to learn the ways of the Force required an open, questioning mind, for the student to seek aid from their mentor in comprehending the lessons where possible. Dar'Krin had been approaching his training with the stoic self-sufficiency of a blooded warrior of his culture, not as a child learning his first lessons. Since that hurdle had been addressed, he was starting to grow a little faster under her tutelage. He still felt naked without his knives: though he was allowed to practice with them there remained the restriction on his wearing them at all times. The reason for that being two-fold: firstly, and initially, to prevent 'accidents'. Nagai were proud, prickly, and quick to draw weapons. Secondly, even when a modicum of trust had been built between him and his master and the other Jensaarai, it had been to impress on him that he was no longer a warrior of the Nagai. He was an apprentice to the Jensaarai, and should not forget that fact. "Masters." he said quietly as he stepped in, showing little diffidence or any sign he was embarrassed at having been caught eavesdropping. "I did not wish to interrupt." There was a wry modulated snort from Defender Merkis, and Brima just raised a feathery brow in his direction. "My apologies for keeping you both waiting." Dar'Krin bowed respectfully. "Nonsense, Apprentice," Merkis extended a hand to ease the boy and usher him into the room. Dar'Krinn had seen Defender Merkis out of his armor and the man was nothing more than an unassuming human, middle-aged and honestly rather unimpressive. In his armor however, he was a juggernaut. While average in height he was broad shouldered and the pauldrons on his armor locked tightly to a billowing cloak made from the hide of some beast whose skin was a strange pattern of stripes not unlike a nexu. The deep crimson armor was accented with a sealed, carbon fiber mesh, of silvery gray keeping all of his vitals protected with hardened red, flexible plates. "No interruption, we have no secrets here. Only lessons learned in time." His modulated voice carried the tone of a teacher this day, not the harsh weapons master tone Dar'Krinn was used to. His crimson helmet was smooth and unadorned, there was no visor only a smooth, solid plate of red. Dar'Krinn knew the plate was set with thousands of micro imaging recorders and was displaying, on the inside of the helmet, perfect peripheral vision and a host of targeting data. "Please, join us." "Dark," as his master had grown to calling him. It wasn't the most flattering thing to call an Apprentice of Light Side Force users, but for whatever reason his whimsical Farghul master, enjoyed the irritation it gave her peers. "Defender Merkis and I were discussing your future." "I believe you are ready for the next step in your training." Merkis added. "However as you are not my apprentice." His helmet shifted to look at Master Birma. "I believe you are ready to begin your lightsaber training." "However," Defender Birma folded her arms like a mother, furious at her child for something he had nothing to do with. Her glare was stern at Defender Merkis and she let out a heavy breath to further punctuate her disapproval. Dar'Krinn was pretty sure there was something going on between them. "I am not." Defender Merkis produced from under his cloak a lightsaber, simple, elegant, and from the looks of it, used frequently by apprentices before him. "So, don't make me look like a fool, eh, boy?" Dar'Krin worked hard to keep his excitement and eagerness off his face, though part of him was reasonably certain that both Defenders could tell he'd been awaiting this chance for a long time. He'd used the mocked-up practice sabers - constructed with a dense fluid core inside the padded cylinder to represent (as close as was possible) the shifting balance of an actual lightsaber. They were tricky weapons, the young Nagai knew, their center of gravity constantly in motion as the weightless energy blade exerted strange gyroscopic effects on the heft. But that had been practice - harmless toys used as meditative aids. This was the real thing that Merkis had just placed into his hand, capable of slicing through durasteel. He nodded in response to Merkis's injunction, his silvery eyes intent on the weapon as he held it before his eyes, taking a moment to examine it before lowering it and stepping back from Merkis and Birma. Raising the silvery cylinder to a two-handed guard position, he took a deep breath to center himself and, with a flick of his thumb, switched it on. The snap-hiss of the weapon's activation sent a small thrill down his spine as the blue-white beam of harnessed energy sprang obediently to life. And life was an apt term - more than the ultrasonic vibrations of his Tehk'La, the lightsaber seemed alive in his hands, the way it softly pulsed and crackled as he swung it gently to the left, then the right. He felt the shift in the weapon's weight and instinctively altered his own grip fractionally to compensate. It wasn't exactly like the training weapons, unsurprisingly. Aware that the Defenders were watching him, he raised his eyes over the glowing blade to them. They remained still, no clue in their faces or postures to indicate what was expected of him now - but he got the sense that there was some manner of watchful expectation. He nodded once, respectfully, and began. He had not received training in the Forms yet, or indeed in anything beyond the most basic of stances, cuts and parries to be used with the practice sabers. But he was Nagai, born to combat, and in sparring with the other apprentices his quickness of hand and eye compensated well for his relative lack of experience. He'd also taken to the study of Rek'Dul, the martial art developed by the Defenders from ancient teachings to be used in conjunction with the lightsaber, exceptionally well. He started with the practice moves he'd been shown, essaying solid, two-handed slashes and blocks that were hesitant for the first few moments but swiftly transitioned to becoming more fluid, his own native grace more apparent now as he stepped, ducked, cut and turned, defending himself from two, then three imaginary opponents. His two-handed grip became one-handed, then two-handed again as he shifted and altered his stance with the flow of the illusory battle. The saber thrummed and coruscated, cutting lines of blue light in the air as he began to extemporise, blending some of the lightning-quick spinning, whirling attacks of his people with the principles he'd been shown here as his confidence handling the weapon grew. He dropped and spun, lashing out with a foot to sweep the ghostly opponent's legs, then threw himself bodily backwards, landing on the floor before arching his whole body in a sine-wave motion and flipping back onto his feet, switching from one-handed to two-handed grips and going on the defensive. For fifteen more heartbeats he filled the air around him with a web of light, a profound sense of centered joy and contentment in the exercise filling him before with a spin dispatching the last imaginary opponent and, turning to his masters, flourished them a salute before once more thumbing the switch. The quiet after the humming of the lightsaber was almost deafening, disturbed only by Dar'Krin's breathing as he held out his hand with the saber resting atop his palm, offering it to his masters to take back from him if they saw fit. "Well done," Merkis nodded in appraisal of the young, pale apprentice's form. "My argument with your Master does not seem unwarranted at this point. You are a warrior and you need to be schooled as one. Locking you in stuffy halls and studying all the hours of the day away do nothing but make you irritable, yes? Your blood needs to pump, your heart race." "So I have agreed to a compromise," Master Birma said to her apprentice. "You will still take your study hours, although lessened somewhat, and you will spend those cut hours with Defender Merkis, learning the various fighting styles and forms." She approached Dar'Krinn and pressed the lightsaber back towards him. "It belongs at your side and as an apprentice it is only to be ignited with the permission of myself, or another Defender of the Order. Understand the honor that we have given you this day, Dar'Krinn. Even amongst your peers who already have their training sabers, you are to be an example in both restraint and integrity. For those who who have not yet started their training you are a to be someone they can look up to, a leader. No more brooding in shadows. You will called upon to do much in the coming weeks, prepare yourself." Defender Merkis dropped a heavy hand on Dar'Krinn's shoulder. "With that at your side, boy, your actions speak for all of us, not just yourself. You're doing well, apprentice. Keep it up and you'll have your armor in no time. Tomorrow, after dinner, meet me on the training pad on the roof and we'll get started." Dar'Krinn could almost see the smile under Defender Merik's helmet. "Let you really cut loose. What'dya say? Eh?" Master Birma cut in and began pushing Defender Merkis out the door. "I say he's still my apprentice and you've corrupted him enough for one day, out with you. Go on." Her apprentice hid his expression of amusement as his Master kicked Merkis out of the room. She returned a moment later and gave her attention to her student. "Now, today's lesson..."
  23. Name: Tisa Jedun Type: Former Imperial Officer Species: Zeltron Gender: Female Age: 25 Height: 5'10" Weight: 150 lbs Physical Description: Tisa is, like most Zeltrons, rather attractive and fit with blue hair and striking pink skin (which shifts to red when she is angry). Though most Zeltrons favor revealing or minimal clothing, Tisa has taken on more subdued attire as of late due to her mood and desire for less attention, usually consisting of a skintight, neck to toe, black body glove (she is still Zeltron after all) with a medium length gray poncho over it. Personality: Tisa had an air of exuberance and confident authority about her as an idealistic imperial officer. That once bright, inner light has been dimmed, at least for the moment, replaced with a sullen aura around her as she struggles with the realities the Empire and what she did in the name of it. She has not smiled, at least not sincerely, for some time now, and avoids rather than welcomes attention, despite her inner nature as a Zeltron. History: Born to an affluent, noble family, Tisa grew up wanting for very little. From an early age she was exposed to Imperial propaganda about being a force for peace and order and bought into it with all her heart as passionate Zeltrons are wont to do. When she came of age she elected to attended the Imperial Academy, with her family ensuring she would be an officer. In the field though, she was exposed to the truth of the Empire, its callousness and brutality. She began to make excuses to justify what she saw and the orders that came down the chain of command. At first she used her own discretion on how to carry out certain orders in a way she felt was more fitting to the Empire she believed in, but her superiors quashed that pretty quick. Eventually she could not longer justify the brutality of the Empire and the ever-growing list of, at best, questionable orders she had been given and carried out. It was just too much of a and exercise in mental gymnastics and a stretch of ethics to keep trying to justify it anymore. Accepting the truth about the evil of the Empire meant accepting what she had done in the name of that evil, and so her life all came down like a house of cards. The final straw came during an op where she ignored orders so as to save civilians, only for another officer to acknowledge the orders without hesitation. No longer able to stand it, Tisa drew her weapon, wounding the other officer and several troopers that came to his defense. In the firefight she was badly wounded herself, and were it not for the interventions of some of the surviving locals she would have died from either her injuries or been executed by the Empire. Having seen her turn on her superiors, they hid her and tended to her wounds. Tisa knew she could not stay with them for long though, as her very presence would mean the execution of those shielded her were she to be discovered. So once she had recovered enough, Tisa thanked her saviors and fled to the relative safety of Hutt space, ending up on Nar Shadda. Once there, she relaxed somewhat, and with her eyes now free of the idealism she once had, was confronted with the guilt of the horrible things she had done in the name of the Empire. Quote: "The Empire broke my heart, but opened my eyes." Dexterity 3D Blaster 5D, Blaster Artillery, Dodge, Grenade 4D, Melee Combat 4D, Running, Vehicle Blasters Knowledge 3D Bureaucracy, Intimidation, Law Enforcement 4D, Streetwise, Survival, Tactics 5D, Value, Willpower 4D Mechanical 2D Beast Riding, Communications 3D, Repulsorlift Operation, Sensors Perception 5D Bargain, Command 6D, Con, Forgery, Hide, Intimidation, Investigation, Persuasion, Search 6D, Sneak Strength 3D Brawling 4D, Climbing/Jumping, Stamina 4D Technical 2D Blaster Repair, First Aid Advantages: Noble Birth (−1D) Disadvantages: Wanted for a Crime (+2D), Androssi Syndrome (Migraine Headaches) (+2D) Equipment: Hooded poncho, body glove (+1 vs energy, +1 to Survival and Stamina in harsh environments, blast vest (+1 vs energy, +1D vs physical), holdout blaster (3D), blaster rifle (5D), knife (Str +1D) macrobinoculars, comlink, backpack Special Abilities: Empathy: Zeltron feel other people’s emotions as if they were their own. Therefore, they receive a -1D penalty to ALL rolls when in the presence of anyone projecting strong negative emotions. Pheromones: Zeltron can project their emotions, and this gives them a +1D bonus to influencing others through the use of the bargain, command, con, or persuasion skills. Entertainers: Due to their talents as entertainers, Zeltron gain a +1D bonus to any skill rolls involving acting, playing musical instruments, singing, or other forms of entertainment. Initiative Bonus: Zeltron can react to people quickly due to their ability to sense emotion, and thus they gain a +1 pip bonus to initiative rolls. Move: 10 Force-Sensitive: No Force Points: 1 Dark Side Points: 0 Character Points: 5 Wound Status: Stun: ☐☐, Wounded: ☐☐, Incapacitated ☐, Mortally Wounded ☐
  24. Ianmar had a moment, after catching his breath, to grab his com and message Deezle. "Deezle, I'm getting chased by Imps. Fire up the ship and bring it to..." Ianmar paused again while quickly reviewing the situation. The Imperial Police were covering all the exits, which meant he had to pick a spot along the rim of the scrapyard where they wouldn't automatically expect him to look... Ianmar rattled off the coordinates of one that came to mind. "Counting on you, buddy." Then he took another breath and started moving, using every bit of cover he could find to hide his passage. Ianmar bolted out of cover and tore down the avenue as fast as he could. The chase persisted for several minutes as the more he hid and ran, the more officials arrived on the scene. He dashed to rendezvous point and fore he knew it Ian had a small contingent of Imperial Authorities on his tail, streaking blaster bolts past him as he ran to the southern edge of shipping yard's platform. Blinding white light overwhelmed his senses as a powerful gust from the exhausts of engines blew his jacket back as he covered his eyes. The Imperials did the same, shielding their eyes from the intense light as they ducked and pivoted their feet to get better footing intense gale of the sudden arrival. "Wwwweeeeeeooooooow!" Blared over the speakers as dazzling bolts of blue blaster fire hailed down upon the shipping yards. Ianmar slid on the wet, slick platform under hail as it rained down shock and awe. "Damn droid's crazier than I am," he took a moment to mumble before springing to his feet and leaping from the edge of the platform onto the nose of his ship. The ship angled away from the platform, him till hugging the nose as it took off for a higher altitude, away from the blaster fire. He slid up the cockpit glass, thanking his start that droid was helping him get in the seat faster instead of shaking him off and down into the streets below. The canopy slid closed as he strapped himself in and the ship broke atmo. "I didn't say shoot the place up." Several beeps and boops echoed into the canopy. "I'm not nagging! I appreciate the assist." A low hum came from the droid. "Yes. Really." The starfighter shook violently as a laser blast impacted the shields of the craft. "TIEs. Look like we have someone's attention, get us out of here while I shake these guys." The droid asked a series of questions in rapid fire in its binary speak. "I don't care, someplace we can get lost, and has a cantina!" A couple more blasts rocked the ship. "I'm not picky right now!" The ship soared into the stars and despite the current predicament he found himself in, his senses still took the microsecond to be lost in the beauty of infinite vastness and freedom of space. The two TIEs spiraled about behind him, angling their shots as he flew right for the massive Star Destroyer. Deezle protested, vehemently with a series of warbles and assorted noises. "They can't tractor us if their shields are up." Deezle argues some more. "Trust me." He held the triggers down and a volley of blue laser fire set the port hull alight with explosions and a single proton torpedo launched, sending it right into the particle shield generators along side one of the hangar bays, dropping the shield and sucking several Imperials, their gear, and a ship or two, out into space. Green lasers streaked past his modified ARC-170 starfighter and he spiraled past and through them like he was born to do it and thankfully the ship's maneuverability did most of the work for him. As predicted, the Star Destroyer activated it's shields in response to any further damage and continued to assault the starfighter as best it could. Deezle booped a few times to let Ianmar know they were ready for a the jump to hyperspace. A grin curled on his lips as he pushed the lever to send them on their way. "So long, suckers," the hyperdrive hummed to life and the the ship accelerated slowly to light speed. The ship rocked as a ill fated blast from a TIE impacted the hull a millisecond before they disappeared into the hyperspace lane. "I know! I know! I felt it!" Ian shouted at his droid who was spewing all sorts of gibberish. "How far off course?" Deezle replied in a sorrowful whir. "What do you mean you don't know? Fantastic. Could this possibly get any worse?" The ARC-170 dropped back into realspace a few hours later, its stern sparking and sizzling from the laser blast that shattered the small craft's shields. "No, no, just tell me where are," he said to Deezle as he ran a diagnostic on the ships systems. "Hutt Space? I was wrong, this day just got worse." Deezle conjured up some coordinates and displayed them. "Hyperdrive is shot. That blast hit the coolant reserve,we try and go anywhere else and we're space vapor." One of the planets pinged up and the display honed in on it's moon, highlighting it, zooming in, and giving a readout of its statistics fomr the ship's navigational database. "Nar Shaddaa? Oh, by the Force, we were almost better off with the tractor beam." He shook his head and looked up the nearest space port, and sure enough it was Nar Shaddaa. "Fine, get us there. We get repairs, we leave. No sight seeing." Deezle let out a disappointed sound that almost sounded like a sigh. The thrusters kicked on and the ARC-170 headed off to the Smuggler's Moon...
  25. The shock tangled up with Ianmar's reactions, as he suddenly found himself processing several imperatives at once: getting the holodisc, getting to cover, running, and figuring out how the Imperials had suddenly caught on. As a result, the Resistance leader made a very ungraceful trip and stumble to catch the holodisc, then scramble up and run. Ianmar didn't know where the sniper was, but he wasn't going to remain to find out. The one benefit of this dismal, dark environment meant that there would be plenty of cover and concealment, and if the converging body of Imperial Police couldn't see him, the odds of them tracking him through this maze would be very low. Especially as Ianmar wasn't taking the same route going out the way he came in. Ianmar was encased in the high definition optics of the sniper's scope. In the darkness and rain he looked upon the human Resistance operative scrambling for the dropped holodisk as if he were in clear daylight. When Ian stood and ran off the sniper squeezed off on more shot from his rifle and it recoiled as the bolt sped from the barrel. Ian heard the screech of the blaster shot and was suddenly thrown forward and to the ground as a sweltering sting rose up in his shoulder. He'd been hit! It burned, but he crawled up to his feet using the wall to support himself. "Squad two pursue the suspect." "He's over here!" "Stay with the body." "Roger that, keep us informed when you have eyes on him." He could hear their chatter and their boots on the slick, black pavement. He could hear the Imperial authorities closing in. The pain was intense, but he was running out of time. Ianmar bit down on his lip hard, knowing he was drawing blood, but it was necessary to stifle the dangerous gasps of pain that could give him away. This wasn't going to end here, any more than the Resistance ending after Exgol, or other bad scrapes Ianmar got caught in. Focusing himself, he pushed off the wall and started running. He started off in the direction ahead, before turning quickly around the corner of a junked speeder and then swiftly lowering his head and sprinting through the narrow tunnel created by the lengths of two outdated yachts leaning together. The pain blurred out with the pumping of his heart overlapping in his senses and Ianmar carefully held his arm while on the run. The Thuls were never easy targets, and even their last scion would remind flat-footed Imperial police of that. [Command=??]"Split up! He's trying to lose us in the maze of containers!" He could here whomever was leading the officers shouting either into a commlink or at the quad as a whole. His voice echoed and carried that snooty air of Imperial authority. "Call for assistance! I want this are a flooded with light! He will not get away! Go! Spread out! Find him!" [Running=12]The officers fanned out and began searching for Ianmar. He could hear their boots moving hurriedly across the black asphalt. They picked up their pace but it was obvious most of them weren't giving it their all. I wasn't the first time Ianmar had been shot. Didn't hurt any less than the first tome though. Thankfully, the wound was cauterized, a little bacta spray, and a few med packs later and he'd be okay... any blaster shot you can away from and all that... Still, the pain was slowing him down, but managed to find enough strength, or floating luck, to push on and find a temporary place to gather his thoughts and bearings. He knew he didn't have much time, but they were blocking all the exits, no doubt.
  26. The gentlemen went their separate ways after a couple of drinks and some idle talk to keep their cover intact. Some hours later, as the rain spattered against the small window of his room. The hotel was a pit probably rife with disease and all manner of filth. IF the smell wasn't enough to encourage him to find a reason to leave this place, then the idea of finding more members of the Resistance to join him to fight the good fight against the Empire was motivation enough. The hours that past from that evening to the next seemed to pass slowly and in the morass of his thoughts between staying in hiding or actively impeding the Empire's plans gave him constant reasons to pace his floor and toss about his bed. The storm hadn't let up the next day. Droids delivered take out food to his room a couple times as he found ways to convert the various things in his room into work out exercises to keep himself fit and ready as much to just keep his self occupied. He rented a speeder to take him to the shipping yards, a massive operation that took place across several miles of Corellia's outer city rim with numerous floating yards hovering in the skies all about it, all a few miles in size themselves. Loader droids, some massive in size, moved all the cargo too and from the great sky yards, mindlessly organizing and sorting the cargo coming into and out of Corellia. The place was, just as he remembered from the last time he was here, nothing but a mess of massive shipping containers the formed a maze of narrow paths and walkways. It reminded him of the hedge mazes on Alderaan II at the noble estates he grew up visiting except they were lush and green and beautiful and this place was rusted, dead, cold and wet. Ian remembered the old meeting spot well enough. He made his was there among the clamor and hiss of the giant machines and repulsor carriers that moved the various imports and exports around the yards. He kept to the darkness, moving between the containers and doing his best to remember his route. It wasn't overly confusing, but one thing about meeting here, was that it was never the same path twice. Lightning flashed and lit up the sky along with the immediate area, throwing his shadow on the wall and almost giving him a start as the thunderous boom that followed crept up behind him, shattering the sky. He sighed and pressed on, unsnapping the the holster on his blaster... just in case. "Ianmar," came a voice from the shadows. It wasn't T'Chelk's but as a blast of lightning lit the sky up again, he could make out a sullustan waving to him from the confines of a small pathway between the containers. "Here." He waved the human boy forward. He recognized the sullustan as Yoob, one of T'Chelk's trusted assistants. He was obviously paranoid and afraid, darting his head about looking for and jumping at every shadow and crash thunder. "Let's get this done with," he said more tersely than he intended. Yoob was out of his element and possibly only doing this as a favor for T'Chelk. "Were you followed?" "I made sure I wasn't." Ianmar said calmly, but not brusquely, given Yoob's fragile state. Nor did he add, and if I'm wrong, how would I know? But equally calmly he nodded, despite the booming thunder and rain spattering the metal landscape around them. "I assume you know what to do then." As Yoob wished, he'd complete the transfer and then make his departure. After that, once he was safe and dry, Ianmar could review the holodisc's contents and make plans to find and meet the facilitator. And get out of this nasty slum-hole, even if it made the perfect hiding place for so long. Yoob produced a holodisc from the pocket of his jacket. He looked around nervously. "You must be very careful with this. It is the only copy of the coordinates to the spy's location. We have very few contacts within the Empire, you know what is at stake here. Now," his fingers shook and the holodisk rattled in hand as he looked around once again. "When you arrive, simply ask to speak with-" the holodisc fell to the ground, bouncing on its edges as a red blaster bolt tore into Yoob's chest, scoring a molten hole in his flesh. The shot, Ianmar knew came from somewhere up high, a sniper! After the shot local authorities flooded the scene, Imperial Police, blasters in hand began moving in all around. He could hear them. Ianmar didn't have much time...
  27.  
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