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Star Wars: The New Sith Empire - Episode 1: Gathered Hope


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Briefly Dari weighed the options between showing him the video here, with all the other people milling around, or attempting to pull him away somewhere quietly. Ranner saw her eyes flick around to the surrounding crowd, then nodded slightly, turning and stepping over to a stack of crates that would obscure the vision of those around them.

"Very well, Ranner. Over here please, FX." The way she dropped the first two letters of the droid's designation gave it a more personal feel, almost like a name.. "Effex". It was a way to designate him, at least, from nearby R2 units, and it gave the impression that she was aware of his free-droid status and didn't dismiss it the way many nobles or other biologicals might have. Most of them just called him "that R2 unit", or "droid".

She waited for Akira and Layel to follow, indicating to them as best she could with a glance and a polite gesture that they should help block the view of the video's feedback from people passing by.

"If you could start the feedback please.. keep it small, and without sound."

But instead of watching the holographic video first, she focused exclusively on gauging Ranner's response to the playback, her eyes locked on his expression so that she didn't miss any flicker of response.

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Akira mentions aside to Layel and Dari as they move out of the way towards the crates, "Our little friend suggests that it might not be a good idea to show the recording where everyone walking nearby can see it. No need to turn this into a spectacle."

She is still wary of Ranner, but more puzzled by the conundrum and his attitude, than any belief he is a Sith assassin.

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It was only a few steps to 'someplace private', behind several duraplast crates. Ranner's droid, with instruction from him, continued loading the ship with what little supplies he needed. The fact that Ranner did not mention to the droid to 'get the ship warmed up' or 'prepare for departure' didn't go unnoticed by Dari or the astute Jedis.

As the holo began FX used the playback time to analyze and run the numbers in his various data management SPUs.

Ranner himself, watched suspiciously for the first few moments and then he knelt down, leaning into the holo to closely inspect the man who proceeded to murder the Jedi Master and countless medical staff and innocents. He rest his elbow on his knee and rubbed the stubble of his chin as he watched the rest, undaunted by the violence in the recorded. He simply nodded a few times at certain parts and looked on with with cold, experienced eyes.

He stood finally and looked around him at the assembled. He addressed Dari directly but his eyes addressed the group as a whole as he spoke. "Well," He started, seeming to have called slightly. "That certainly is me, Lady Telana, of that I'm positive and I can see why you are all here now. Let me start by saying, I didn't do it."

He shrugged casually and even grinned a bit. "I know, I know, for the good that excuse does, it's the truth. While that's my face, that's certainly not me. Droid, replay and hold at fifty three point six."

Begrudgingly the 'droid' did as it was asked, if only for the sake helping his new 'friends'. The holo replayed and froze at the point of impact when the saber pierced Master Sen Udo-Mal. "There, the saber throws off the visual, but look at the attackers other hand, the grip on the shoulder." Sure enough, on the shoulder, the attackers thumb was gripped tightly at the base of the throat, stifling a scream or a cry for help (or severing concentration of Force abilities). "That hold, it's K'tara, a martial art indicative of Special Forces training. I know my fighting styles, kids and while I never picked up K'tara, I've been on the wrong side of it a few times."

"Not a lot of people know K'tara, Lady Telana. Someone paid a great deal of credits to bring that assassin here."

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Akira stands casually and relaxed, and is almost convinced that Ranner must not be the Sith Assassin but feels it would be nice to remove all doubt.

"I don't suppose you have an alibi for that time? It would put the doubt to rest."

Her tone is much nicer and she is trying to sound friendly, "Yes, the Empire did spare no expense and apparently they wanted you to take the fall. Why do you suppose they picked you?"

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Joram had been subdued since viewing the video in the Jedi ship. It was one thing to dedicate his life to fighting the Sith because they were an evil menace... it was quite another to see what 'menace' really meant and have it hit so close to home. Since then he had followed along with the others prepared to cut down the Sith assassin if he so much as reached for a lightsaber.

That was what he had been focused on to such an extent that when Ranner cooly pointed out that it was a martial art that he knew well enough to recognize from a single frame of video, but didn't actually know it, Joram was opening his mouth to yell back that he was a liar when he realized what a state his emotions were in. Instead of bursting out with a heated comment, he instead closed his mouth slowly and removed his hand from his lightsaber. There is no emotion...

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly and tried to let his own anger flow out with the breath. This was not who he had been trained to be. A Jedi who fights in anger is only a step away from the Darkside. He hadn't realized just how effected he had been by the massacre. It had wounded him in spirit to see them all cut down just as if the lightsaber had singed his own flesh.

He still didn't know if this man was the assassin or not, but one thing was sure, Jedi don't allow anger to rule them. He would stand ready and act as needed, but he would not do it out of emotion. He waited to see what Ranner would reply.

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Hana tilted her head when the Jedi moved off by themselves. She glanced at Puck, who shrugged. Deciding that was as close as she was going to get to his opinion on the matter, she angled to the side and kept the group in sight. They seemed intent on a hologram so Hana didn't want to interrupt. She hung back enough to not interfere with what they were doing.

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Dari studied Ranner as he spoke, doing her best to keep her expression neutral. She wasn't assuming his guilt at this point, considering what he'd had to see, but neither was she prepared to assume his innocence.

"Jedi Akira raises legitimate points, Ranner. I'm prepared to consider your explanation, as well as your identification of the fighting style at this point in time. But it is just as likely that you're feeding me truth and lies all at the same time. How am I to know that this isn't a combination of the two? Perhaps Imperial Special Forces are as well-trained in deception as they are in K'tara."

Her tone softened slightly, though he could still see the touch of stress in the faint lines of her forehead.

"Perhaps the names or descriptions of a couple people who could verify you were fighting by their side in the temple?"

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Puck debated for a moment, but seriously: they had one guy in custody, and everyone else running around as they pleased. The real assassin was probably already in the middle of the jungle being eaten by mosquitoes and counting their pay. And the braincells of this little proto-rebellion.

He cleared his throat to get the group's attention, "Not to barge in, but if this guy might not be you killer, maybe you should keep everyone else from waltzing out into the jungle or heading off in their ships? At least until you know you've got the guy or that you need to look elsewhere."

He flashed a grin at Lady Telana and shrugged, "It's just a thought. I mean, anyone could get in or out of this place right now; with nobody the wiser as all of you are over here and no one is looking out anywhere else."

That's their one freebie, unless I see something much more interesting soon.

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R2-FX found an open connection to the holonet and 'logged on'. Ranner's story seemed to hinge on his info about the style 'K'tara'. So FX scanned his databanks for any info on that particular style.

Then, after that search was complete, he searched the width and breadth of the holonet for anything about K'tara, moves, teachers, history, videos, anything.

R2-FX was going to see if Ranner's story panned out.

Click to reveal..
(R2-FX): Knowledge check

(14:13:40) ChatBot: (R2-FX) rolls 1d20 and gets 9.

(14:15:25) (R2-FX): +4 Int = 13

(14:18:07) (R2-FX): Computer Use roll for Conduct Complex Search

(14:18:19) ChatBot: (R2-FX) rolls 1d20 and gets 18.

(14:19:21) (R2-FX): +16 = 34

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Akira turns to look at the newcomer with an eyebrow raised and her hands clasped behind her while she was waiting for Ranner to answer the questions. She takes in the young man and also notices another teen age girl that has taken a keen interest.

Their cuts, scrapes, and dirt are a little out of place from the fighting inside the temple, is that some foliage caught in their hair? They don't appear to have been in the fighting either, but this one is freely offering security advice. If these individuals knew who Dari was they do not appear to show any signs. Perhaps they weren't here earlier otherwise there would be more respect, I should think.

"I see. By 'anyone', do you mean yourself and the girl behind you?"

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Joram, calm once again, or as close as he could come, looked to the newcomers and wondered who they might be. They seemed young to be here, but then he was no older himself he supposed and they seemed confident for their age. He didn't remember them, but it had been a large crowd. The man was right however, they were focusing on Ranner to the exclusion of everything else, that was never smart in a battle, it was a good way to get dead fast.

"Good advice." He pointed to his chest, "I'm Joram. I don't remember meeting you earlier."

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"That's because we were on the ship that crashed in the jungle - the big, burning one," Hana said easily. She stepped forward, putting herself just in front of Puck. Her stance was casual, but she knew that things could get ugly fast.

"This is Puck and I'm Hana Rexius, Padawan to former Jedi Master Bant. I was captured by the Sith some time ago; fortunately, I was on the ship that crashed." Her cheeky grin said she was very aware of the irony of that statement. "Since I'd heard that they were here because of a new Rebel Alliance, I thought I'd find some Jedi here.

"Its nice to meet you, Joram and everyone else who hasn't said their names." Again her grin was tinted with a wry self-aware amusement. That attitude faded slightly and became more somber as she said, "I request an audience with both whomever is in charge on the civilian side and with the ranking Jedi Master in attendance, please."

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Dari's eyes locked with Puck's while he spoke, and she did her best to suppress her irritation had having been interrupted. An involuntary muscle twitch at his playful needling - not only could just anyone walk in or out, but they obviously had - was enough to tip off anyone observant that the noblewoman standing in front of them was having a very bad day, and that telling her how to run her rebellion probably wasn't the wisest idea at the moment. However, through gritted teeth and clenched jaw she managed a faint smile (or perhaps it was a grimace, it was hard to tell for sure), and pulled out her comlink.

"A wise suggestion indeed." She flicked the device on as the others spoke, turning a half-step away and murmuring quietly into it.

"Jaxon, please get ahold of someone in the clearance room. I know we can't technically stop anyone from leaving yet, it's not like we have shields or anything on this rock. But we need to delay a little longer if possible, and people are expecting us to coordinate take-offs. Keep them grounded as long as you can.. call it system problems, or scanning issues. Tell them we want to make sure there's no Imperial traffic up there waiting to pick us off. Whatever you can think of to keep people grounded.. okay? And if anyone does take off without waiting, I want the last known jump coordinates so we can try and figure out where someone was leaving to in a hurry."

She listened quietly to his response before turning back around to Hana, her other hand still gripping the electrostaff tightly from the tension she was feeling. Still in her fighting clothes, with sweeping violet-colored tattoos marking her face and what appeared to be dried blood and shrapnel wounds dotting her skin and clothes, this woman didn't look like someone in charge of a rebellion. At least, not until she leveled smooth yet perceptive gaze at Hana, tilting her chin slightly - then she managed to look every inch the noblewoman, the tattoos becoming an elegant accent to a regal-looking gown Hana could almost picture pouring over the other woman's body, graceful and refined.

"I am Dari Telana, of Chandrilia. And at the moment, I am in charge of this alliance. I mean no offense by this, Padawan Rexius, but is what you have to say to me of vital importance? Because if it can wait, I have a bit of a situation on my hands, as I'm sure you've observed."

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"It's alright Dari, I'll escort them to your father and the Masters." Joram didn't know if Hana had been a student of a Jedi master Bant or not. Maybe she was captured, but maybe she was Sith, or a Sith padawan, or even a spy. Heck, perhaps Bant had gone Darkside and taken her with him, he just didn't have any way to know. It didn't matter, the Master's would be able to sort it out.

Joram was finding that his focus was a bit off today. He would need to meditate and consult with the masters when there was time. For now he could be useful and he would treat the Padawan as a visiting Padawan deserved rather than an enemy, if she proved trecherous then that would be dealt with if it happened.

"Good to meet a fellow Padawan. And you as well Puck." He made a slight respectuful nod of the head. "If you would join me, I will take you to the Masters." Despite everything, or perhaps especially because of everything that had happened today, he was sure the Masters would feel him approach and be ready should these two prove deceptive.

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"I am Akira Anasazi, Padawan to Weapon Master Leavae Uthae."

Satisfied her fellow Padawan will deal with the prodigal Padawan's return, she returns to hear what Ranner has to say from the latest inquiries made by herself and Dari.

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Dari shook her head slightly at Joram, though not rudely.

"Thank you Padawan Joram, but my father is still recovering from his wounds, and I would prefer him not to be disturbed unless it is something vital."

She turned to the new Jedi and her - well, whoever he was - and inclined her head politely, if a bit briskly.

"Joram will take you both to the Jedi Masters for now. I will find you and speak with you as soon as I am able."

Hana murmured a polite thank you, inclining her head towards the noblewoman, and turned back to the fellow Jedi student who had offered to lead her to the masters. Dari, on the other hand, turned back to Ranner, waiting for his response to her questions.

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Quote:
"I don't suppose you have an alibi for that time? It would put the doubt to rest."


Quote:
"Jedi Akira raises legitimate points, Ranner. I'm prepared to consider your explanation, as well as your identification of the fighting style at this point in time. But it is just as likely that you're feeding me truth and lies all at the same time. How am I to know that this isn't a combination of the two? Perhaps Imperial Special Forces are as well-trained in deception as they are in K'tara."


"Well, if you must know I was on the western side of the temple with about a dozen of your people, defending this relic of a failed ideal!" Ranner was less than pleased at this point, but it was fairly justified. He was being accused of a crime and it was obvious he may have done it. No one had reason to believe him, and the evidence was certainly stacked against him. "You guys must have gotten the footage from somewhere, right? You check the other holo recorders, I'll be on those too, I betcha. I'll be all over this place if there's two of me runnin' around." He looked to Dari and thumbed to Akira standing over his shoulder. "While your at it, take Padawan Jugs here and give her some rawhide a corner to lay down in."

He shooed them all off, walking between them as he began walking to his cargo again. "Sorry bout pops, kid, really. But I didn't do it. I'm a Merc, and in my days I've done some pretty grimy things, I'll admit, but assassinating your pops or a Jedi Master ain't one of them." He sighed a bit and set a cargo crate down. "Look, if it'll make you feel any better, I'll hang around until you've gone through the security footage, okay? You just had yer pops shot, it's the least I can do..."

Click to reveal..

R2-FX: Knowledge Check [Failure]
R2-FX: Computer Use Check [success]
Ranner's story checks out, based on what you've been able to find on the holonet about it. It was banned by the Sith nearly 150 years ago and is now taught exclusively by their own schools. Only a rare Force Using tradition called the Nox Erat are permitted to practice this art within the Sith ranks.

Underground schools are possible, but the holonet doesn't go into detail.
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Judging by the logical arguments, Akria is satisfied that Ranner would not blatantly lie when his alibi could be easily proven. But the comment about 'jugs' has her puzzled.

With her petite frame and short stature, being well-endowed just was not in her genetics. She glances down to see if the fall of her clothes is making her small breasts appear larger than they really are, No, still no more than a mouthful as the saying goes. Or was that an attempt at flirting? Hmmm, not likely. Akira is not really we acquainted with such rituals, but remains curious about the social behavior.

Her eyes narrow as she looks back at the uncouth mercenary realizing he insulted her once and probably twice if she understood the 'rawhide' remark. However, she remains calm and silent, hands clasped behind her yet, non-threatening as they have been since she realized that the mercenary is most likely not the Sith assassin.

Akira is ready to follow at Dari's side, when the noblewoman determines to move along to the next segment of her investigation.

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Hana and Puck followed Joram as he led them away from the scene behind them. Though she burned with natural curiosity about the situation they'd left behind, she didn't ask about it. However, she wasn't able to curb that need to know about everything, or for long.

"So how long have you been a padawan, Joram?" she asked. Before he could answer, she continued, "I mean, if you're like me, all your life, so I guess that I'm asking how old you are, in a roundabout way. Though maybe you joined late, right?"

Puck's hand on her arm curbed her enthusiasm and she flushed cutely. "Sorry," she murmured, "I haven't met any other Jedi before and I guess I got a little excited."

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Dari's face eased, and she nodded slightly to Ranner at his offer.

"Thank you, Captain. I would appreciate that greatly. We will verify the security tapes immediately, and let you know when we have finished.. I don't imagine the task will take very long. Between that and our conversation, I believe the others will be convinced as well. Thank you for your information regarding the fighting style.. I am sure it will prove useful. Please excuse me now while I get the matter cleared up."

With that she turned, and started to head back to the Jedi's starship that they'd come from, and that Joram was headed towards with the two strangers from the crashed Sith ship.

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Joram couldn't help but smile. If this girl was sith she was a damned good actress, but he didn't think she was.

"Same as you, I've been a padawan most of my life, I pretty much grew up with the Jedi. And I'm 18 I think." He gave her a half smile, "I've been with the Jedi for 16 years, but my parents were killed when I was very young and the Masters think I was around two when they found me." There was no bitterness or sadness in his statement, he had come to grips with not having parents many years before. Besides most padawan's were raised by the Jedi from an early age anyway and they were all the family he needed.

"What about you and Puck? You guys seem pretty young as well?"

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"I'm fifteen," Hana said, then her smile faltered. "No, I turned sixteen while on the Sith ship." For a second, just a moment, Joram saw pain on her face; then it was gone. Then her cheerful smile returned. "Or the date we celebrate my birthday has passed anyway. Master Bant had been told that's when I was born. He raised me from a baby; he told me that my parents smuggled me off a Core World."

She looked around the room. "We're on Yavin IV, right? Are these Jedi temples or someone else's?"

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Puck gave a long suffering sigh. "I'm surrounded by children," he said with as much over-dramatic chagrin as he could. "I'm twenty two," he added with grin.

He draped an arm over Hana's shoulder's, giving the wisp of a girl a hug and a smile as her own faltered at the thought of her departed father. He glanced around at the stone architecture, "Jedi, I think. I never really payed all that much attention to my history lessons, though. They're impressive, either way. Joram, right? Do you know?"

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Akira accompanies Dari as they head back to the ship. She comments to Dari while looking at the resourceful droid, "Perhaps FX has already accessed the security feeds. He has been pretty proactive so far."

While they are walking she contemplates the situation, The Sith assassin was in disguise. Was it it a permanent transformation, or a something shed like changing clothes? If he were still around, the Jedi Masters should have been able to detect him as my own clumsy attempt was not so effective. After all, I did not know about the prodigal Padawan that was standing mere meters away.

Still walking silently in her own thoughts, the look on her face most likely reveals her concentration. The hunt for Sith in among the newly formed Alliance will most like disturb many of the vocal attendees like Ranner. Again, the handiwork of the assassin's machinations most likely. After all the time passed since the battle concluded, there must have been many opportunities for the villain to escape.

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After a few moments of silent walking, during which Dari appeared to be spending her time in much the same way Akira was - contemplation - she pulled out her comlink, and radioed Jaxon again.

"Jax, sorry I couldn't wait for a response earlier, I'm trying to deal with a few.. situations. Have we had anyone attempting to take off yet, or are people still getting ready for departure? Can you tell?"

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Joram grinned at the pair. "The masters say that they were Jedi after the Rebellion for a while, but that they belonged to someone else before that."

Joking with the pair he added, "Since I don't know my age you can think of me as a very mature 16 year old, or an immature 20 year old... your choice." He chuckled. In the force he could feel the flash of pain from Hana about her family, but hoped his joke was enough to make her think about something else.

He looked up at the ship as they arrived at the boarding ramp, but instead of proceeding, he comm'd the ship. "This is Joram, I have a pair of visitors. One is a padawan, and they wish to speak with Jedi." He gave them a reassuring look as they waited at the bottom of the ramp. "After what happened earlier, I don't want to just barge in like I usually would."

As he said the last he was sure that Hana would feel his own pain through the force if she was at all attuned.

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Puck nearly made noises about not wanting to intrude on the ship, but a glance down at Hana had him swallowing the impulse (and the sigh as he contemplated his most likely very short lifespan). He slipped her hand in his and gave it squeeze and smiled down at her. "You ready for this?"

His face was a perfect mask of care-free ease, but she'd grow to know him enough to read the double meaning in the question.

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R2-FX had a different process than following everyone back to the ship. There had been droids in the hanger when he took the ship, there were droids in the hanger now. People didn't notice or care about droids, most people anyways. They saw things and people that would make any biological think twice about doing anything ever again.

So, he trundled up to the droid that was helping Ranner load his ship. He helped a little, carrying or dragging what he could, then started asking simple questions, confident in the fact that most biologicals would only hear tweedles and beeps. So, where were you during the attack? Have you noticed anything unusual with the biologicals? Have you seen anyone with Ranner's face but without the wounds? Have you seen the ships that have left the hanger since the fighting stopped? He also asked some other questions, mainly focused on gathering whatever info he could that could possibly be useful.

Then, when he either had all the info he could or the droid became uncoperative, he trundled off to start asking questions of other droids. There had to be some droid around here somewhere that had seen something. It was just a matter of finding them.

Click to reveal..
Spending as much time as it takes to tweddle to every droid he can find (unless it would take more than a day, obviously).

(R2-FX): Gather Info check

(18:04:53) ChatBot: (R2-FX) rolls 1d20 and gets 12.

(18:05:02) (R2-FX): +5=17

(18:15:26) (R2-FX): unless it counts as taking 20, which would make it 25

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Hana gave Puck a nervous smile. That was the wrong question, and he knew it. Still, she answered the question with a nod.

Joram's statement had her curious, so she turned to him again. "Joram, what has happened here? I mean, I know you guys had a fight, but... there feels like something more, too." It wasn't her attempting to actively use the Force as everyone's reactions. The huddled meeting in the shuttle bay; Joram's self-disclosed changes in habits. It all signaled something big and something very bad.

On a personal note, that made her information just that much harder to sell to the Masters.

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Joram schooled his voice to not let any bitterness or anger enter it, "Master Sen Udo-Mal was killed by a Sith assassin. He... he was the real target here." Despite his efforts a certain amount of pain did come through. "The Order has been dealt a serious blow today."

He gestured back toward the bay, "That man we were questioning, the Sith used his appearance and it was caught on holo."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Sounds about right for the Sith." Hana's voice was calm, but anyone listening could tell she was displeased with the subject. Her blue eyes studied him for a moment before she softly asked, "Was Master Sen Udo-Mal your master?" There was sympathy in her gaze as she waited for his answer.

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"Yeah, and he was the leader of the Order. They hit us hard today." There was some definite emotion when he said the word 'they'. It was clear that Joram was not fond of the Sith. He was however working hard to remain balanced and not give in to the anger.

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Puck frowned and shook his head. "It's a stupid move. Good for shock value, maybe, but as a deterrent towards the Jedi, it's just stupid. Martyr's strengthen the resolve of the oppressed and give them a figure that can never be tarnished or broken to cling to."

He shrugged at Joram, "The Jedi lost someone important, but the assassin only accomplished anything of lasting impact if you let that break you. They'd've been better off picking off the nobles and pretty much anyone but the Jedi. That would have created suspicion towards the Jedi and demoralized the people of this rebellion that don't have as strong of a creed or unifying culture to hold onto in adversity."

"So, I guess it's up to you and the other Jedi on how well that assassin's master harmed this rebellion and the Jedi Order."

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Joram considered Puck's words, they revealed a shrewd mind for politics and strategy. "You have a point, but then the Sith are more arrogant than smart. I see the strike more as a message that if they can kill the head of our order they can wipe us out at any time. We are that unimportant to them." He looked like he wanted to spit, "At least that is the message they want us to believe. The truth is they should have done exactly what you said, or even sent in a few destroyers and leveled this place from orbit. They will scare a few of the nobles away, but the resolved of those who remain will be strengthened just as you say."

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