Dawn of Defiance: Buffalo NY

Platts Doodles

My aunt Sirona taught me you can only be proud in life of the things you acquire on your own. I felt happy enough with mommy and daddy giving me everything I asked for. While on Tatooine with Uncle Bariss, I realized I could feel proud of all the things given to me… as long as I worked to get others to buy me cool stuff. Like the droid he bought me at the Toyadarian’s shop. I never thought he’d actually buy it! When I blew the droid up in front of the docking bay… I felt twice the thrill… one times the thrill I normally get when something goes boom… another times the thrill for knowing I made an effort to con my Duros surrogate uncle into buying it for me… to blow up later. Also while in Mos Eisley, I made a Jawa give me information. Those freaks soiled their robes when I whipped out my disruptor pistol… and least it smelled like they made doodies. So… what I’m trying to say is I felt grown up… responsible… when I felt confident in my abilities to bend others to my wants. Isn’t that what the diva actresses in the holovids do? Isn’t that the crux of the Zeltros economy? It’s the one thing Hutts have right.

Okay, pirates got a hold of my aunt. The right thing is to take her back by force. And then I can be proud every time I see her that I won her back in a battle of will, blasters… and maybe even starship fire…


The doctor decided to ask nicely for explosives to blow up the ship. He shouldn’t be proud of that. But I can’t help but think if I’d been back home, I may have asked my folks for some explosives to blow up the condo. They’re so stiff and lame they may have actually sent the help out to pick me up “a toy” and wondered afterwards why the condo was a smoldering pile of rubble… and why I had a poodoo-eating smirk on my face. So, the droid the Bothan and I were working on went gundark on my ass. I had the sense to get out of the way, but the Bothan made it his mission to dismantle what we had hoped to be our tool. Bothans. Jeez. So, every sweaty pirate in the sector swarmed after loud mouth Doc and yours truly. I learned something there. The sweatier an opponent is, the deadlier he probably is…

…A dickweed in a cheesy hat had my aunt and Uncle B’s fam trapped in electro-cages. Apparently the others wanted to let Sirona suffer while they played dejarik and strategized. I taught them the importance of acting on instinct. Uncle B blasted the controls off Cheese Hat’s arm, but he still hurt my aunt by blasting the cages. I was filled with a need to take back what was rightfully mine. No matter how bad-ass Cheese Hat thought he was, I had my fists and my determination… and with those tools, I was gonna get Sirona out of there. Bariss eventually helped out. But it was by my quick fingers that Sirona and Bariss’s fam got out of those cages before being cooked like nerf steaks…

Of course, once I got behind the controls of the Headhunter, I was in my element. All the Doc had to do was fly straight, until he could make the jump to lightspeed. Uncle B and I kept the pirates busy. Over the course of the day, I’d learned something about pirates. They aren’t very hygienic… and they’re proud folk. They go after the tough target… the one that will prove to be a good story when back in Point Nadir buying drinks for the mates… and hopefully having drinks and cookies bought for him. So, I helped Uncle B out on a Sweaty Pirate causing him some trouble. He thought he was so full of himself and tried to engage my Pretty Bantha of Doom in a dog fight. He may as well have pulled his ship over and painted a bullseye on it. I let a missile fly and turn him into stardust. Then I freaked out the other Better Than Average… Though Still Pretty Sweaty I Bet… Pirate dealing with the freighter Sirona and Bariss’s family was on. I stuck a missile inside him and broke off a part of his ship. I would’ve liked to stay longer, but the Doctor seemed needing a tutorial about flying away from an exploding ship with haste. In the end, we outran the supernova-ing big ass pirate ship and escaped into hyperspace.

It was a victory… and a spaceship… I had well-earned.

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A Tale Called Tull Part 8
Swordsmanship

Tull held the two Squib children close to himself as his friends threatened to kill each other.

After the death of the Rancor and the Sith Wizard the party quickly saw to the wounds of the children. Wizard and Kelyn Captain did in thirty minutes what Carson Man could have done in two. But Carson Man was far far away and no help to those in this dark place. Whether the children would live to adulthood no one could say. Tull did not think they would be long for this world without real help, but they would not die today, and that was more than most could ask for in the Galaxy.

It did not take long after the children were stabilized for Wizard to turn his attention on Red Rama. Questions and answers were blasted back and forth like blaster fire and even Kelyn Captain involved himself in the verbal battle.

Are you a Sith? What is all this? Why are there images of you killing Jedi Wizards?

Tull learned that not only were there Sith Wizards, but there were Sith people that were all extinct (except maybe Red Rama. Maybe). Tull learned there were Sith planets too. Tull learned the Dark Side was as much a part of the Galaxy as the Jedi Wizards.

When the tomb was opened and Red Rama had tried to take things from it Wizard and Kelyn Captain had had enough. Magic was used. Then threats of death. And nothing Tull or Machine Man Khalik said could cool their anger.

As his friend fought Tull could almost see their shadows battling on the tomb wall behind them. Red Rama a great dragon spewing flame. Kelyn Captain a great beast tearing into his friend’s chest. Wizard a monstrous owl tearing throats.

They can not feel it. This place is full of darkness and it has started to take them. Even Wizard is being pulled under by it. There is so much of it everywhere it is easy to forget, like being cold in a downpour. There is so much that one’s mind shuts it out.

Tull knew it was there. Wizard and Machine Man Khalik could feel it with their magic, but Tull could smell it. Tull had smelled many terrible things in his life: shit, vomit, urine, blood, rot, death. He had lived among much of it, but this dark place was beyond it all. The worst thing he ever smelled does not describe it with justice. Like all those terrible smells mixed and amplified. If hate and fear had an odor it would smell like this tomb. It was a scent Tull would never forget, and it would help him in the future. A man might lie, but Tull would always smell the darkness in him.

Before the friends tore themselves apart Kelyn Captain ended the confrontation by lighting the tomb on fire. Which spread and spread. By the time the friends reached the portal back to Almass the Tomb was engulfed in flames.

Let it burn. Tull thought.


“Tull, you were very impressive back there with the Rancor.”

“Well, Tull has been watching you fight Wizard. Tull can not do magic, but he can use a lightsword. So, Tull just tried to copy what you do in battle.”

“You did well for someone just copying what they see. Here, let me show you some proper stances.”

For several hours Tull and Wizard practiced their swordsmanship. Wizard would show Tull a stance and explain the importance of it and what it’s desired outcome was.

“By holding it at this angle. . .no like this. . .good, you can maximize offense while never leaving an opening. Niman is the most well rounded lightsaber style available Tull. Other styles are much better at attacking or causing damage, but you will never leave an opening in Niman. You will never be unprotected. With your fists you are almost wild in battle Tull. Niman will help you achieve focus and calm yourself the more you train in it.” Wizard explained.

Tull was often slow in learning things, he always had been, but he picked up Niman very quickly. Tull was good at fighting, he always had been. It would be a long time before he would fight at even Wizard’s level of swordsmanship, but he had taken a very big step.

“Being a Jedi is all about discipline Tull. It is hard work, both physically and mentally. Anger and fear are as much a danger as sloth or poor swordsmanship. You may not be as connected to the force as most Jedi, but the Dark Side is a temptation to every man and woman in the Galaxy. Only through discipline can we defend against it.” Wizard counseled his Barabel Padawan.

Tull thought long on these words as he trained. Fear would never trouble Tull again, at least not like it would some, but anger was often at the forefront of his life. Tull could not count the times where it was anger that saved his life. While in the arena anger would give you the strength to stand back up just to spit in an opponent’s face. Anger would keep you moving toward a seemingly unattainable goal. Anger would save your life. But if anger was a path to darkness, then perhaps it would be better to die than go down that path.

Tull still remembered that smell of darkness. If he held any fears it was that he would become one with it some day. Then and there Tull vowed to die before he ever let himself become one with something so corrupt.

Discipline though. Tull understood discipline. For a decade Tull’s life was the same thing day in and day out at Dool Arena. The only reprieve being Fight Nights. At dawn Tull would be prodded by lightning in his small box. Then he would be made to run. No destination, no purpose, just running. If he slowed he was beaten. If he stopped he was shocked. Had he ever fallen he would not be here today. Only when the sun was at its zenith would he be allowed to stop. A cup of water and a handful of raw meat would be given to sustain him for his next portion of training.

From sun zenith until he completed the task Tull would move rocks. Boulders really. Too big for a man, just small enough for Tull. Three hundred and twelve boulders. Tull counted them everyday. Moved from one side of the quarter mile arena to the other. After the first year Tull would move them two at a time to speed up the process. Many days it would be the boulders that almost killed him.

Once the boulders were moved the true training would begin. Shock Gloves were all Tull had when he fought his training partners. Sometimes they were men. Sometimes aliens bigger than him. Sometimes droid bots. Sometimes beasts. Sometimes Tull would have to kill them. Sometimes Tull would nearly die. When the training was done (which never had a scheduled time and would even end with scant hours before dawn on some nights) Tull would be given another cup of water and handful of raw meat. Then he would be allowed sleep in his box until the morrow’s dawn.

Tull knew of discipline.

As Tull’s past ran through his mind Red Rama came to Wizard, interrupting him from his meditation.

“I want a lightsaber Tor.” was all he said.

Wizard took a very long look at the potential Sith, and then looked through his belongings for a certain saber.

“Here, a training saber.”

Red Rama took it quickly a left to a different corner of the yard.

Tull deactivated his lightsword to take a break and watched as Red Rama went through a very artful saber technique. It was a different form than Niman, Tull knew that for sure. More aggressive, more focused on the attack. In truth, Red Rama showed skill much above Tull. He may have even been a better swordsman than Wizard. However, before long he started to make mistakes in his forms. He would have to start the training over at certain points. Before long Red Rama turned the weapon off, took a long look at it and cast it against the wall. He left with a look of disgust and no words.

As Wizard walked over and retrieved the fallen lightsword Tull switched his back on and continued his practice. Each technique he did he repeated three hundred and twelve times. He counted each one.

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Bariss Thoughts Everything Else

The turbolift opened to a bridge over a lake of lava that led to a raised dais that could be seen as a throne. The “throne” was enveloped with a shield and inside the shield was a lone figure, as we left the turbolift I recognized the individual. Patches the Black Sun enforcer from Bespin, and he definitely looked like his name that day. His face was all scarred in a way that had him look like a series of patches that created a permanent smile which was glossed over with far too much red war paint. I looked over to Carson, “Patches dies this time.”

Then the three AT-RT’s piloted by three Duros came into the cavernous room, I recognized them immediately. Forim DeBrek, Lod Losh, and Tren Woluk the only three non-clones of Razor Squadron, the most elite squadron of the Clone Wars. These three were heroes, were heroes, right then they were Black Sun pilots. No, not pilots, more like lackeys doing what their masters wanted them to do. If they were pilots that they once were they wouldn’t be piloting AT-RT’s that were configured with chainsaws instead of mortars….But they were heroes once, and they deserved something, “I regret your deaths, you were amazing pilots.”

“You are the ones who will die.”

“Perhaps,” I didn’t believe it, but then again neither did they.

I felt sorrow as I killed Forim DeBrek with a few placed blaster bolts to his shoulder and finally his skull, the brilliant light that emanated from Tor that killed Lod Losh was blinding, and Tren Woluk was cut into shreds by N3MO’s chainsaw after he failed to impale N3MO with the AT-RT’s own chainsaw. I knew that that modification would be the end of at least one of them.

All that remained on this level was Patches, and he had just been knocked down by Tull who had hit him hard enough so as to not only knock Patches down but also push him back a solid meter. Normally I wouldn’t interfere with a lovely couple but Patches had recently tried to kill me with a fierfek missile so I jogged up onto the alter to sacrifice Patches and shot him while he was down. That got him back up, he raised and twirling with an assassin’s speed brought his vibroblade to bear piercing my left lung smiling all the while as if he had won some victory. All Patches’ attack had done was allow to properly show him my feelings as I summoned the blood from my lung into my mouth and I spat it all into his face, blinding him to N3MO’s chainsaw and Rama’s blaster cannon. Patches was dead, there was no coming back for him as there was no coming back Forim, Lod, and Tren.
I was coughing up blood as quickly as I could breath for a few seconds and it looked like I was about to die when Carson helped me stabilized, though that was all he could do with a surgery kit. To keep myself useful I hijacked the only working AT-RT from the Fenn-Kel duo. While I was doing that the rest of the group moved on except Carson who kept an eye on my health. By the time we arrived in the final level where Bu’Cho lived we had already missed the finale, that didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was the Platt was safe, watching holovids with another kill to her tally.

As I kept Platt company while watching her favorite Indie holo the rest of the party looted Bu’Cho’s treasure with Kel being a smartass and me putting him in his place. He really should have just left Platt and me alone after he videotaped Bu’Cho’s corpse, I was in no mood for his shit.


On our way out of Bu’Cho’s volcanic lair the others piled their loot into the transport we flew in on, my loot was Bu’Cho’s, my, new bomber. She’s beautiful, the others had left by the time I went through her programs to make sure there was no kill switch or something as well as checked around her hull and inside her for any booby-traps. Flying her to Exovar’s Emporium I took my time and enjoyed her youth, my hatred waned without Platt being in danger, without anyone trying to kill me, just flying for no other reason than to fly.

That didn’t last as I saw the sun set, the thoughts of space entered my mind, I recalled Happiness burnt up in Hosk’s atmosphere. My pace quickened as I landed in the emporium and ran to where Exovar said he had some new and empty droids. After a few minutes I found an R2 unit that was similar to Happiness’ make, the paint was too new, old scars were gone, and the warmth wasn’t there but then again this wasn’t Happiness…not yet. As I brought the droid to the Defiant I found N3MO following Khalik, “Hey Khalik can I talk to you for a moment?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

I nervously clawed my fingers in mid-air for a second, “You remember getting me to backup Happiness’ memories a week ago?”

“Yeah, it’s a good thing too otherwise you’d need to start over.”

“Yeeeah,” I quickly glanced at N3MO for an instant, “Could I get a week of knowledge from N3MO?” I turned to N3MO, “If that works for you.”

“Khalik is the only one allowed to touch me.”

A smile crossed my face, Happiness never liked others getting too close aside from me.

“It’s okay with me,” Khalik finalized the deal and the three of and Happiness to be went into
the Defiant.

Before Khalik started on the process I got him alone long enough to whisper, “Can you separate N3MO’s memories from his persona? I want Happiness to be Happiness, not N3MO.”

Khalik looked over to his death wielding, covered in blood, two and a half meter tall, one and a half meter wide, at least a ton without the mini-proton torpedo launcher and the flame flower, droid, “I can see your point.”

After an hour of downloads and configurations Happiness was rebooting and Khalik and N3MO left
for their own business in Exovar’s place.

…100%.

Kneeling so as to be on eye level I looked into the optical lense, “Happiness?”

The head swiveled, the limbs moved and after a few seconds of looking around the room the eye came to me, “Happiness was destroyed by Dunelizard 389 in orbit over Hosk.”

I slumped down, eyeing the floor. I couldn’t even look the Happiness’ shadow in the eye. In a way I knew this would happen, yes I could back up a droid’s memories but that didn’t mean that I could save Happiness in a file drive. Things weren’t that easy, the truth was the same as it had been over Hosk. Happiness was dead, and I had nothing left of him. Tears we welling up in my eyes when I felt my top hat be stiffly taken off my head by the droid’s retractable claw.

“Gotcha Bariss.”

“YOU, you…Ah I love ya Happiness,” I lunged over the distance grappled a hug out of Happiness.”

“I am not Happiness,” I let go and looked into his eye, “I am Happiness 2.0, and next time I’m
ejecting.”


As I was buying a new, far receiving, multi encrypted, light weight, comlink the Imperial Officer…I just can’t remember her name for the life of me, huh, anyway she appeared.

“Think about what you wanted to make us even?”

“Actually, yes. I want a list of all the known pilots of skill, Imperial and otherwise, in the
Core.”

“That’s…a lot to ask for.”

“I don’t want their home address, family’s whereabouts, or social security number. I want their name, where they are and normally where they are, as well as what they are capable of. I want to know if I’m dealing with an ace or an idiot who’s not worth my time.”

“Ah, that’s less of an issue. I’ll have a list for you by the end of the day.”

“Appreciated.”

Once she left I bought another datapad to hand type her list into, no way in the hells would I accept a datapad with who knows what on it from an Imperial, even one that is helping.


The new orders had the party split up, I didn’t say much to anyone but I did send out two
messages one to Rama and the other to Kelyn before they left Hosk’s atmosphere.

Rama:

Rama, you know I’m not all that good with words unless their gibberish or codes so I wrote this down in the hope that you’d better understand me. You are my brother, as Kelyn is like my father, and Tor my uncle. I didn’t continuously push you away from Fullua, Mezerel, Tris, and recently Izrin because I didn’t trust that you could care for them. If I believed that I would have gone against you being with Wurl instead of fighting for you. I fought to keep you away from those fine women because while you are a trained pilot, you are not a starfighter pilot and that has showed. You nearly died recently while trying to go against Ace Pilots … you don’t belong in the sky, you belong on the ground … or at least on one of the Defiant’s turrets. I don’t want to put your remains to the earth, in fact I’ll be damned before that happens.
I appreciate your parting gifts, and from them I know that you at least feel somewhat the way I feel. If you come back from Almaas and I’m not around or dead, remember this:

If I die in the combat zone
Box me up and take me home
Place my belongings upon my chest
Tell my family I did my best.

If you can’t find me, write the first two lines using this code (Morse code) to this comlink frequency (Bariss’ personal frequency) and if I’m alive I’ll get back to you the last two lines. If I don’t, find what’s left of me and take me home.
Now make sure the lines are exactly what I have here, this is slightly different version of a military code. If the Imperials got your part they’d send you a slightly different worded version of my part. If it’s different, then you’re not talking to me.

I hope to see you later, Brother.

Kelyn:
Kelyn, while we haven’t had much time to socialize I see you more and more as a Captain, my captain. You may not know it but I’ve learned a lot from you while I don’t agree with all that you do I agree with you. You’re like a second father to me Kelyn and I respect you as a son. Don’t die in that force forsaken hell hole, and don’t let Tor die there either I have a feeling that he’s more important that I give him credit for, aside from the over powered being part. Though the one I really worry about is Rama. I’ve sent him a code for if when you guys return and I’m not around, and just in case I’m sending it to you too:

If I die in the combat zone
Box me up and take me home
Place my belongings upon my chest
Tell my family I did my best.

If you can’t find me, write the first two lines using this code (Morse code) to this comlink frequency (Bariss’ personal frequency) and if I’m alive I’ll get back to you the last two lines. If I don’t, find what’s left of me and take me home.
Now make sure the lines are exactly what I have here, this is slightly different version of a military code. If the Imperials got your part they’d send you a slightly different worded version of my part. If it’s different, then you’re not talking to me.

Come back and be my captain again.

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Malpractice Made Right

After Carson’s blunder in the engine room, Carson was beginning to wonder if they were going to make it out of this place alive. Cad Baine stood to greet them as they entered the brig. Carson looked around at his companions. Platt didn’t seem to know exactly how to handle the situation, but she was taking it all in stride. Bariss was engulfed in his usual ball of fire, and it seemed even stronger than usual. Carson noticed quickly that Serona, as well as Bariss family were trapped in cages at the front of the room, Cad Baine grinned as he touched the control panel strapped to his wrist, eliciting screams of agony from his victims. Bariss let loose a string of expletives, ready to eviscerate the bounty hunter with his bare hands if need be. Carson couldn’t blame him. Hell, Bariss was one of the few people left with a family to fight for in the group. The doors behind Carson slid open, and Carson turned to lock eyes with Aurra Sing. He should have expected a trap such as this and was sure Bariss would let Carson know he shouldn’t have been left alive. “What’s the point of avoiding bloodshed if it just brings further harm?”, Carson thought. Aurra Sing opened fire with her blaster as Cad Baine opened fire on Bariss, taunting him with the pain of his family. Carson managed to dodge the barrage and trained his darter on Aurra. “I’m going to give you one chance to stand down. Put your weapon down” Carson thought of all the jedi and rebellion supporters who had fallen to her hands. Carson had loaded his darts with Trihexalon during some of the downtime, expecting to use it as a last resort. He knew full well the effects of the poison.

His finger feathered the trigger.

Click.

A jet of air propelled the dart to its target and Carson’s aim was true. The dart hit her right in the neck, quickly entering her bloodstream. Her body was nearly instantly wracked with the poisons deadly, necrotic effects. Amazingly, she stood and attempted to make a few more shots at Carson before falling before him.

“Dammit, I can’t do this to someone, what the hell was I thinking?” Carson asked himself as he ran over to her. The poison had already begun running its course, and Aurra’s body was already succumbing. Once normal looking skin now appeared blackened and decrepit and her face contorted, awash with the pain of having your entire body being eaten alive from the inside. Instinctively, Carson put all of his emotions on hold as he tended to his patient. Tunnel vision set in, and he deftly began treating her wounds as best as he could. Amazingly, while she didn’t look better, she wasn’t rapidly dying. She’d need better care in mere minutes or she would perish.

Fenn and Bariss’ voices broke into Carson’s head. Bariss had taken quite a few hits and was in dire need of medical attention. Carson was now torn between assisting his allies and a tortured enemy. “Fenn, how’s Bariss?” Carson snapped. The Bothan quickly replied “Not good.” Carson swore under his breath. “Patch him up for me.I’ve got something to take care of over here.”

He continued to work on Aurra’s broken body, hoping this wasn’t all in vain. Carson vowed to destroy the Trihexalon after this. There was no need for anyone to have to experience such suffering, Carson was sure. He wondered how Kelyn, Tor and the others fared on Almaas. He quickly shook it off. “There’s work to be done. These people need your skills or they will not survive.” he recited mentally to himself as he set in to work on Aurra once more, glad to see she hadn’t fallen any farther away from life.

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Reflections from Tor part 38

Tor emerged from the portal to Korriban and was immediately staggered by toil of dark side energy. He heard Khalic next to him give a soft groan, the young zabrak clearly feeling the intensity of the dark side as well.

Tor looked around at the cavern they were in and immediately knew the group was deep in one of Korriban’s many sith tombs. A soft growling preceded the appearance of evil looking felines, baring long sharp teeth and advancing in at the group.

Kelyn drew his shining blade and made towards one while Rama gazed strangely at another, reaching out absentmindedly as if to stroke it, the feline reacting warmly to his advances. Tor mouth hung open as Rama’s hand touched the dark creature momentarily before he shook his head and retracted it.

The creatures quickly fell before the group, although Tor struggled to put up his usual resistance, the pall of the dark side crushing in on him in this place. He felt a sickening pull down a nearby hallway and started to make his way down it, pushing open a creaking door at the end.

Chanting met his ears as his fur prickled up. In the middle of the room a Believer stood, hands raised and ancient sith words flowing from his mouth towards a body lying nearby. The eyes of Darth Maul opened, dead and hollow, his once red skin now pale white and decayed as his mechanical lower half raised him up. A double bladed lightsaber ignited, an evil light in the dark and the reanimated Maul charged towards Tor.

The caamasi felt a twinge in the Force from the lightsaber once belonging to Qui-Gon hanging at his side, almost as if the hilt felt the presence of the being who had slain its last owner. Tor raised his own blue blade and clashed with Maul, lightsabers flashing as the Believer advanced, hands outstretched with electricity crackling between them.

Tor felt overwhelmed, even as N3M0 rushed forward to help with the assault. Tor’s enemies were in their element here, and no matter how hard he tried, Tor could not penetrate the shroud of darkness that lay over him like a soaking blanket, weighing him down and suffocating his senses. Even with all his knowledge of the Force, he was barely able to keep up with the dark enemies and he dared not fight to access the Force, feeling only the dark side around him as his foes launched Force powers and lightsaber blows at him. They finally fell under the sustained attack from Tor and his allies.

Tor’s entire body ached, down to every bone and sinew as the group moved on.

They’re counting on me, Tor thought, his feet feeling as if they were attached to boulders but he pushed it aside and put on a strong face, knowing the others would be watching him. They’re all counting on me. The galaxy is counting on me. His shoulders felt heavier at the thought.

They emerged into a large chamber. Across the room stood an altar and what Tor saw on it made his heart drop into his stomach. Another Believer stood atop the altar, this one clearly a leader, adorned with lush robes and symbols. A knife was raised in his hand and beneath him two children were laid out on a stone platform. The squib children bore signs of torture, bare patches of skin visible against their pale blue fur. Two other Believers stood at the foot of the altar, praising their leader.

Kelyn ran forward and Tor could see the glint of a thermal detonator in his hand. No, Tor thought. He wouldn’t.

Kelyn reached his arm back, preparing to hurl the detonator. His head turned back to Tor and he heard Kelyn’s voice whisper: “I’m sorry.” The scoundrel’s arm flew forward and the detonator left his hand.

Time seemed to stop. A million tortured thoughts ran through Tor’s head. How could he? After all that’s happened, all that we’ve been through! When his own children might still be alive out there and he still does this! The thoughts raced through Tor’s head but only a single word escaped his lips.

“Noo!”

Tor dove forward, reaching to the Force, exerting a massive amount of energy to push through the dark veil. He stretched out a hand and halted the detonator in mid air, hurling it away from the altar and the children.

The high priest moved towards them, reaching out his hands. Tor watched as Khalic froze and he could feel a deep fear resonating from the zabrak. Lightning shot from the priest’s hands followed by other Force powers, each dark and ravaging. Tor extended his own hands, trying to resist the onslaught but he was battered by the attack. Still he fought, each attempt seeming to do nothing but drain him further of power and ideas. The priest cackled and Tor could feel an invisible fist around his throat, choking the life from him. An ear shattering roar revealed the reanimated hulk of a rancor coming up behind Tor.

Blackness began to close in on the edges of Tor’s vision. He could hear the priest shouting words to Rama, encouraging him to embrace his sith nature, smell the necrotic skin of the rancor behind him, N3M0 and Tull rushing forward at it. Tor felt hopeless, the dark side threatening to overtake him.

He fought back. Tor was tired, his body beaten and his connection to the Force nearly exhausted, but once the fist released his throat, he pushed forward up the altar towards the priest, his attention on Kelyn.

Tor could see the scoundrel, locked in a vicious stranglehold like Tor had been. A desperate smile crept over Kelyn’s face and Tor saw his fingers inch to the pin on a grenade at his belt. They grasped and pulled.

This time there were no words, just a mangled cry that wrenched its way from Tor’s throat as he watched the explosion engulf the scoundrel, but when the smoke cleared Kelyn stood tall, looking almost better than he had before.

Before he could react, Tor saw a yellow blade snap into existence behind him. He saw Tull, his newly found lightsaber in hand, rushing at the rancor. The reptile leaped onto the rancor and slashed with the saber in perfect form, removing the beast’s head from its body. Despite everything, Tor couldn’t help but feel a small twinge of pride watching the barabel in action.

His attention was called back to the priest who again began to batter Tor with the Force, but he soon succumbed to the persistent attacks of Tor and his allies.

It took all Tor had to not fall over on the spot.

They need me. The children need me. My friends need me to be strong.

Tull stood next to Tor, his protective nature keeping him close. Tor put a hand on the barabel’s shoulder, praising the reptile for his performance. He put much of his weight on Tull, knowing the strong lizard would barely notice but it kept Tor upright long enough to catch some of his breath.

I can’t stay in this place much longer, Tor thought. It’s too powerful. If I don’t get us all out of here, it’ll take us all down sooner or later. Tor moved towards the children, head held high and shoulders squared, knowing he had to stay strong for all their sakes.

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A Tale Called Tull Part 7
Jedi Wizard

Tull’s body ached.

Tull thought he was ready to face a Sith Wizard in combat. A blast of lightning had proven him very wrong. Tull could do little more than remain standing as his friends tore through the Sith Wizards with a flurry or blows and blaster fire. Before long the Lightning Summoner and the Unnatural One were dead and Tull had seen all he ever wanted to of the “Dark Side”.

“A Jedi fights darkness wherever it is to be found in the Galaxy.” the Jedi Wizard book had said.

If Tull is to be a Jedi Wizard Tull with have to face this darkness again and again until it kills Tull. Tull thinks he knows why Wizard wears a frown more than a smile. Has Tull made a mistake?

Tull’s thoughts weighed heavily on him as the group of friends arrived at a grand alter, and a scene of butchery. A man pulling out the insides of children. Wizard looked as if it were him on the alter.

Wizard can see a thousand men die and find a place in his mind to hide their suffering away, but one child’s death is enough to rend Wizard’s spirit in two. His love will kill him one day.

Tull felt for his friend, but his heart was with the children. Tull knew the pain of the knife as well. He hoped their suffering was short. Tull knew that no magic, not even Wizard’s, could make them whole again. Torture made you into a different person, and the man or woman or child you were before would be lost forever.

Tull is different now. The pirates broke Tull. Tull will never wear chains again. Tull will die before that. Tull will never feel the thrill of a kill like he once did. That fire was cut out. The old Tull was cut apart by that blade and all that it left is a broken man.

A horrible roar erupted from the side of the chamber and a foul beast that was once a Rancor appeared. The creature was living corruption. Darkness is all that kept it alive Tull was sure. Tull looked to where his friends were fighting the Sith Wizards and knew his place was battling this beast. Magic was above Tull, but monsters he could handle. He had been one once.

Tull and Droid Bot Nemo hammered attack after attack on the monster, but its power was not so easily halted. Even Tull’s fiercest blows barely slowed the beast down.

In the course of the battle Tull found a moment to catch his breath and look around the battlefield. Red Rama rained blaster fire upon the Torturer as Kelyn Captain and Wizard pressed attacks of their own. Droid Bot Nemo slammed his chainsaw into the great rancor over and over. Machine Man Khalick used his magic to help his Droid Bot friend as sweat beaded on his brow.

Were they once broken too? Did something shatter their lives into pieces? Has Red Rama known loss? Does Kelyn Captain yearn for those long gone? Tull knows Wizard carries the weight of a Galaxy on his shoulders. Who is Tull to remain broken when his friends have been remade strong?

With another bellow the rancor beast shoved Droid Bot Nemo out of the way and headed for Wizard. Wizard who looked more exhausted than Tull had ever seen him. Wizard who was giving all his strength to save those children and stop the mad Torturer. Wizard who was a friend to Tull when others would have turned him away.

Tull looked to the weapon on his belt. “Do not use it until I have given you training Tull,” Wizard had said. Tull took the weapon in his hand.

Tull has gained much learning from you since you met him Wizard. Tull was broken on that ship, but now is Tull’s chance to be remade. A hard life followed by a death at the hands of monsters is all Tull has before him as a Jedi Wizard.

Tull ignited his lightsaber. The yellow blade shone bright on Tull’s face.

But a Jedi Wizard must fight against this death with every part of his being. Everyday he must tell himself tomorrow is the day he will die.

Tull charged for the Rancor with his lightsaber held at an angle at his side, like Wizard would hold it.

A Jedi Wizard does this because no one else will stand against the dark things of the galaxy but him. It is a hard path. A path of strength. It is the only path Tull has before him. Any other is weakness. And Tull is NOT WEAK.

Tull slid under the Rancor’s claws, dodging its slow swipes. Tull took a wide stance and held his lightsaber straight up with both hands on its hilt the same as Wizard does before a strike. It allows defense before a blow Tull thinks.

Tull will learn true strength from you Wizard. Tull will fight the evils of the galaxy. Tull will bring hope to the hopeless. Tull will be remade strong so that no one else ever need be broken like he was. Tull will be a Jedi Wizard.

As the Rancor came in for a killing bite Tull slashed with his lightsaber across its eyes blinding it. The attack was a perfect strike of the Nimen style that Wizard so often used. A style often practiced by Jedi Wizards who focus more on the force and academic pursuits. Ironically, the style is also known as the Way of the Rancor. Tull knew only that it was a clean hit.

As the Rancor reeled from the swift strike Tull climbed upon its lowered head. With all of his strength Tull slashed in a wide downward arc and severed the monster’s head from its body.

As the creature fell to the ground with Tull atop it Tull lowered his lightaber and took a glance at Wizard. Wizard let a small smile creep onto his face. The weight of the Galaxy on Wizard’s shoulders was one worry lighter.

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Reflections from Tor part 37

Tor stood behind Kelyn in the cockpit of the Defiant, one hand resting protectively on the back of the pilot’s chair as the scoundrel guided the ship into the atmosphere of Almas. Tor was glad that Kelyn had decided to go after Draco. He had held his breath when waiting for Kelyn to decide, and was pleased that no one had seen his sigh of relief when the human chose the path of the Inquisitor. Now he watched silently as Kelyn’s practiced hands slid fluidly over the controls, the simplicity of the task seeming to bring a momentary calm over the man.

Tor’s gaze slid to the viewport and the dark city that was growing larger before them. His grip tightened on the chair and his legs weakened as a wave of darkness rolled through the Force. He groaned at its severity and from the corner of his eye saw Khalic make a run for the refresher, one hand on his stomach, the other clutching his head, a pained and wretched look on his face.

He can feel it too, Tor thought, concerned about how the darkness would affect the fledgling Force abilities in the young zabrak. Looking around the cabin, Tor could tell that even the others felt it in some way, their expressions pulling into frowns or scowls.

The ship finally set down in the midst of the abandoned city and Tor stepped off the ramp, the bleak, cracked and crumbled walls of nearby buildings casting deep shadows that hid only emptiness in their depths. Ahead of them stood the ruins of the former Jedi temple. Its spires were nothing more than amputated stumps reaching futilely towards the greatness they once reached. Walkways and buildings were pitted with holes and the wreckage of ships, signs of repeated salvaging scarring what was left.

Tor couldn’t help but be reminded of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. His memnii showed him the glistening spires amidst the orange glow of the Courscani sunset. Tor wondered what, if anything now remained, and what horrors and atrocities the Emperor had erected in its place. His memnii blurred with the ruins in front of him and the force of Tor’s mortality crashed in on him.

This quest to take back the galaxy will kill me, Tor thought somberly. I’ll be nothing more than another bit of Jedi ruins for the Empire to discard.

His thoughts turned to Moppo, how his stunted training had been conducted in the corridors of starships and the back alleys of dark worlds instead of the serene and contemplative halls of the Jedi Temple. I must be survived by others who can carry the light of the Jedi forward, who can hold up the beliefs and honor that once kept peace throughout the galaxy.

Tor stumbled as another wave of the Dark Side rolled over him, bringing with it a vision of the temple ahead and the battle that brought it to its knees. He straightened quickly as the group approached three figures at the base of the temple.

A short time later, the group met back in front of the temple, some having gone off with the local scavengers while Tor attempted to siphon information out of the stump of a droid he had purchased. Khalic put his skills to work assisting as the others gathered.

Tull seemed particularly pleased with himself, his large hands paging through a children’s book about the Jedi.

“Wizard!” the reptile said as he approached Tor. He held out his hand. “Tull found this and thought it might be what Wizard wanted. Kelyn Captain made sure Tull got a good deal!”

Tor shot a sidelong glace at Kelyn who quickly looked the other way as Tull dropped something into Tor’s hand. “It is a Holy Holocron!” Tull exclaimed.

Tor turned over the simple datacard in his hand. He knew it to be far from an actual holocron, but yet again he was touched by the barabel’s loyalty and eagerness to help Tor with anything regarding the Jedi. “Thank you, Tull, this is a great gift,” the camaasi said, plugging the datacard into his datapad. It pulled up detailed blueprints of the academy. Tor smiled, pleased with his new “holocron.”

Tor also saw a lightsaber hanging from the lizard’s belt and asked about it. “Tull would like Wizard to show him how to use light swords, but this one is broken.”

Kelyn scoffed. “You? A Jedi? Are you kidding?”

Tor frowned at Kelyn as the barabel stammered.

“Tell you what, Tull,” Tor said, pulling out one of the spare lightsabers he had. “Why don’t you give me that broken lightsaber and you can have this one. It is no toy, and I don’t want you using it without my training, but I want you to keep it with you for now. I will show you the ways of the Jedi.”

“What?” Kelyn exclaimed. “Why does he get a lightsaber? You have a bunch and you won’t give us any but you’ll give him one, no question?!”

“Maybe I would give you one if I could first give you a conscience,” Tor said. He presented the working saber to Tull and watched as the barabel took it with a definite reverence. Kelyn’s face turned into a sour look of disgust and anger.

This is why I don’t give you one, Tor thought. I won’t have the tools of the Jedi brandished with such anger. He looked at Tull, putting his new lightsaber delicately onto his belt. In the short time he’s been with us, Tull has already shown more honor and heart than most of the others. He deserves to wield the weapon of the Jedi.

The group walked through the desolate temple, the sound of N3M0’s gears and heavy footfalls the only noise echoing from the dark walls. They slid open an old door and light shone through, revealing a large room and several dark figures inside. Rama rushed through the opening without warning, not pausing for any explanation and struck down one of the robed beings.

Tor tried to calm the situation but it was no use as blasters fired and swords sang through the air and soon the battle was over. Tor moved into the next chamber and was stunned by what he saw. There were two portals hovering in the room, each outlined in a strange blue glow. He could see a strange landscape through each of the portals, a sort of reddish desert with sands blowing harshly across the view. Tor wasn’t exactly sure what he was looking at but he knew that it was steeped heavily in the dark side. A sick feeling filled his stomach as he realized that the children they were looking for lay beyond the portal.

Tor faced the portal, preparing himself to face the dark landscape of the sith world of Korriban, hoping he would return from the planet without becoming scarred by the Dark Side.

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Super Bazaar
Wherein we come closer to Draco and somehow get further away.

The ship glided uneventfully through the atmosphere of Almas, toward the primary port of Forard. Kaluthin grass undulated around it. The planet’s surface was mostly green from that miracle vegetation spirited up by the Sith long ago to turn this dead orb into a verdant semi-paradise.

Uneventful. Shocking, even though we did have the unconditional clearances granted by our grateful Imperial contact from Exovar’s organization.

As we exited the ramp, a motley crue of creatures greeted us, comprised primarily of a few Ugor and Squibs. High squeaks, slobbered offers, free pawing of our equipment. Scavengers, certainly. Amidst them was the torso of a protocol droid, its eyes alight and uncharacteristically silent for a third-degree.

Through back-and-forth and adept negotiation, we discovered the droid may be able to provide the direction we needed to find Draco. Credits were a start, but what these little fellows really wanted was a game — the back-and-forth ritual of haggling for which a scavenger lives.

The droid was hooked into an underground circuit. Removing it wasn’t an option. Khalik got to work on it. I and some of the other interested members of the party were guests on a trip to the market, as part of our deal with the scavengers. We left the rest of the team to deal with the extrication of the vital bits of the protocol droid and followed our new friends.

§§§

It was glorious.

Scavengers, scoundrels, smugglers, fringers — we love this stuff. Aisles partitioned by shelves and makeshift display cases full of, well, things. For someone like me, like all of us here in the small group, this was heaven. Ones eyes darted about, spying something, quickly evaluating it, then either grabbing or dismissing as something else sparkled in a pile of rough metal.

As interested as I was, I was fully aware this was a mere protocol, a distraction on our way to Draco. Still, I picked up a handful of glow-rods and a “Bustero Mucho Macho and the Vermilion Shadow”. Can’t resist a bargain on useful pop-culture artifacts.

Tull picked up a broken lightsaber and a “holocron.” I suspected they were simply child’s toys, but he was impressed, and happy, and, well, he’s just so cute when he’s like that.

§§§

When we returned, sure the haggling was over and we could get on with our mission, one of the Squibs spoke up.

“The Ugor are stealing our children!”

I shook my head wearily and asked, “What?”

“The Ugor! They take our sons and daughters in the night!”

I leaned on the wall of the ruins outside the starport, slapping my palm to my cheek and running my hands through my hair.

“OK, then. Who do you want me to kill?”

I unsheathed my katana. Its blade sang a clear, high note in the wind. Tor glared at me. I gave him a quick raise of my shoulders and a “huh” expression with my face and open palms. He may have grinned, but I kinda doubt it.

The Ugor retorted, “No! It is the red-eyed dark ones who do it!”

“OK. Now we’re getting somewhere.”

§§§

We managed to ease the short-flared enmity between our newfound uni- and multi-cellular friends, and made our way to what we’d discovered through droid and discourse: an old temple at the top of a nearby hill. A Y-wing prototype blocked the entrance, precariously balanced atop massive boulders and skittering piles of gravel.

Through acrobatics, jet-packs, and a little help from the Force, we managed to make our way through and into the temple.

I am not a religious type. Not a superstitious person. Even with all Tor has thrown at those who’ve came against us, and the tricks he’s played to keep me from my toes and wave me from needlessly eviscerating my foes — I can’t even say I “believe” in the Force. Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

Still, it felt … wrong. It was like the air before a terrible storm — thick and oppressive. The feeling extended to every sense. The scant light in the empty corridors was subdued. There was no smell but for the metallic tinge of neglected machinery. Shallow whispers flowed through the empty spaces. Nothing, but something.

Something horrible.

We proceeded through the hallways, deeper into the heart of the mountain temple. I parceled out my glow-sticks to better lead us through the darkness, stuffing one in my bandolier. A good purchase, after all. Finally, we reached something. Out of the nothingness, robed antagonists appeared, spouting the usual phrases of villainy. “You must die!” “You’ve seen too much!”

I tried to tell them my vision’s actually pretty bad and I didn’t see anything, so I’ll just be going — but then the inevitable melee ensued.

I started toward one with my sword drawn, slicing into his torso. Another soon appeared. Tor had recognized them as “Believers” by the distinctive inking on their bodies: the spire of the Sith fortress with a broken lightsaber at its base. This one was wielding some sort of snake/weapon, lashing at me.

I thought to myself, “Finally, a real fight — a challenge level worthy of my heroic might!”

Then Rama blew past and sliced him in half.

It was still all too easy. And it was still … dark.

Once all were dispatched, I surveyed the former battleground. Two glowing portals. Tables full of infant arms and legs. Some fresh and wet, some grey and rancid. Some mere bones.

I picked up a forearm and tossed it through one of the portals, expecting it to come out the other. Tor glared at me again.

I widened my eyes and shrugged again. “What?”

He turned back to inspecting the area.

I wasn’t sure where we’d go next. I don’t think he was either. Not sure. But he felt the pull of the Dark and the push of the Light, and he knew the direction.

We would find Draco.

We could find out what our dreams had meant.

Maybe I’d find my daughters.

Maybe I didn’t want to find them.

In any case, my discounting of our mission’s threat thus far felt wrong, like the soul of this ancient, accursed temple. Things are rarely what they appear, and I felt that when the thing we were after did appear, we would be in for one hell of a fight.

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Out of Time
I'm not here. This isn't happening.

We’d blown away the magic statues, pulled Tull and N3M0 from a pit within a pit, blasted squads of Stormtroopers peeking from behind curtained balconies, and were starting up the stairs toward the heart of Chez Bu’Cho. Everything had been so easy. Well, easy relative to the small army our party had become over the past months.

Months. It seemed like forever. Years. As if these were the only people I’d ever known.

As I took the first step, everything seemed wrong. I was in the same place, the same time, but somehow not in either. My comrades forged ahead toward the turbolifts, and I followed, but they didn’t seem to pay any heed to me. I felt alone in the midst of this tight formation of soldiers. Not afraid, or ignored, but alone. As if my self was projected onto the scene.

Another open area. Bridges stretched their plasteel arms over streams of lava ejaculating molten rock across the space between us and Bu’Cho. Several AT-RT stomped across. Tor charged forward, eager to defuse the lit bomb that was Bariss. If anything had happened to Platt, there’d be carnage of a crimson darker than any he’d seen thus far from me.

I engaged in the battle, firing from range with my blaster, but my bolts seemed to either miss or pass through the foes. Nobody was offering tactical advice to me. They were all pushing forward, dispatching our new foes with ease. AT-RT tumbled into the glowing flow, sinking slowly, unconscious pilots spasming briefly awake before their screams were consumed by fire.

Upstairs, I arrived last. Platt’s pose was straight from a pulp — leaning back in theatre seats, blowing imagined smoke from the barrel of her blaster. Bu’Cho lay nearby, a blackened cavity in his chest.

“Well, I guess we can close the file on this one.”

Nobody acknowledged me. Not that such was odd, as I tend to make inappropriate light during dark times. Khalik made short work of the vault. Tor had found his holocron. Or, at least, a holocron. The others looted what they could and divvied up cash. They seemed to be holding aside a portion for me. But I was right there! Why didn’t they say anything?

§§§

Back down and out, and back to Exovar’s Landing. A communication from the Resurgence informed us of a twofold mission. Denia expressed an urgency for us to proceed to Almas and deal with Draco. Admiral Varth mentioned something about a group going coreward, but I wasn’t listening.

Draco.

I had to know if my visions about Adria and Bella were real, or imagined, or some Force trick or lucid dream.

Tor looked at me with grim, shared determination.

“Yes, I’m here!”

He mustered a surprised grin.

“Of course you are.”

My face tightened, lips curled in something of a snarl.

“And we’re going after Draco.”

“Of course. We are.”

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A Tale Called Tull Part 6
The Reason for Strength

The little Scrib things talked too fast for Tull, and their squeaky voices gave Tull a headache. Tull wanted anything but to follow the little things to their house, but they dragged on his arms and Kelyn Captain kept a slight pressure on his back so that before long Tull and a few other of his friends were looking at a treasure trove of salvage.

The little things bounced in and around the group showing off junk and trinkets salvaged from the nearby academy and city ruins. Tull was fairly uninterested until one of the Scribs pulled him over to a table with a big sign reading “Jedi Artifacts.” Tull’s eyes were the size of exhaust ports. Tattered robes, broken training weights, nonworking remote droids, a truly wondrous collection of treasures. However, a few things stood out more than the others.

A Light Sword, a book of Jedi Wizard legends, and a small cube labeled the “Holy Holocron” were the most prominent items on the table. Tull knew he had to buy these things no matter the price. Tull had never had money before making his new friends. A Barabel warrior and slave have little use for credits. With his new abundance of funds Tull thought that he would not only get himself some new possessions, but would also get the Wizard a gift. Tull knew many cultures solidified friendship with gifts, so Tull hoped the same was true of Wizards and Caamasi. In fact, the Holy Holocron might be exactly what the group was there for in the first place. Wizard had talked about getting a Holocron for his female wizard friend.

At first the Scrib things had wanted to charge Tull 5,000 credits for the three items, but Kelyn Captain was able to talk them into charging Tull 10,000. Tull knew that more credits was always better than less and thanked Kelyn Captain for helping him get such a good deal before retrieving his new items.

It seemed that the Light Sword did not work, but Tull knew that the Light Sword was more a symbol of the Jedi Wizards than anything and strapped it onto his belt. Perhaps when Wizard sees that Tull is trying to follow his ways Wizard will teach Tull how to be strong like a Jedi Wizard thought the Barabel.

The book of Wizard legends was much more useful and Tull let out a low hiss of pleasure while thumbing through its pages:

“The Jedi are the protectors of the Galaxy. They are police and diplomats. They are warriors and monks. They believe in self sacrifice and peace, though they will bring violence to those that use it on the weak and helpless. No matter who or what you are you can always turn to the Jedi for help.”

Tull knew that he was right about wanting to learn from Wizard. Tull was the strongest warrior he knew except for Wizard. Though Tull was not a peaceful man he didn’t go looking for violence like say Red Rama, but at the same time would never turn away the challenge of a strong opponent. As far as protecting the weak, Tull had just assumed that was what the strong did, or at the very least the strong didn’t try and hurt the weak. Hurting a weak person did not make you strong, how could strength be shown by beating weakness. No, strength was tested by strength. Those who hurt the weak were fools pretending at strength, and Tull would always be insulted by a weak man who thought he was strong.

Before he knew it Tull was standing back outside and Wizard was looking in a sour mood. Tull decided it would be best to raise his spirits. Upon revealing the Holy Holocron Wizard’s mood did indeed brighten considerably.

“Thank you Tull, this is a great gift.” the Wizard said with a smile. Suddenly with a sidelong glance to Tull’s belt Wizard added, “Is that a lightsaber Tull?”

“Yes Wizard, Tull was hoping you could show him how to use a Light Sword, though this one is broken. Tull knows they are just as strong as Tull’s fists.”

“I’m sorry, did I miss something? You want to be a Jedi now? Are you kidding me?” said Kelyn Captain with great disbelief and disdain.

“Well, Tull figures he is strong, and Jedi Wizards are strong, so it makes sense Tull should try and be a Jedi Wizard. Though Tull can’t use magic, Tull thinks he would be a good Jedi Wizard.”

“You’re a Shockboxer Tull. What reason could you have to want to be a Jedi? It’s ridiculous.” Kelyn Captain scoffed.

Tull could only stammer at the question.

How could Tull answer the question of what reason he had to become a Jedi Wizard when the whole point to becoming one was to find the reason?

That as a Barabel Warrior Tull’s reason to be strong was to protect his tribe.

That as a slave Tull’s reason to be strong was to stay alive for one more day.

That as a Shockboxer Tull’s reason to be strong was to live through the next fight.

But that as a free man Tull had no reason for strength and yet strong he remained.

Tull needed the Jedi Wizards because he knew if anyone in the Galaxy could give a man the reason to be strong it would be them. That they could make Tull feel that good feeling he’d felt when saving those people at Bu’cho’s again. That some day maybe Tull could find a world tearing itself apart, and save it from itself like his people had been saved so long ago.

Tull could only stammer.

“Tull. Give me that broken lightsaber, and you can have this one,” said Wizard while holding out a new looking Light Sword, “it is no toy, and I don’t want you using it without my training, but I want you to keep it with you for now. I will show you the ways of the Jedi.”

Now Tull was truly speechless. It was as if Wizard knew exactly how Tull felt, knew exactly what he wanted to say without Tull saying a word. Tull really could be a Jedi Wizard. He really could be something more than a pair of fists.

“We’ve been with you a long time and you have never given any of us a lightsaber. No one else in this group has earned that ‘honor’, and you give one to him without a second thought? What is wrong with you Tor? Why aren’t I good enough?” Kelyn Captain spoke, words dripping with disgust.

“Maybe I would give you a lightsaber if I could first give you a conscience.” Wizard retorted, ending the conversation.

Behind them not listening Tull carefully ignited the Light Sword. A pale Yellow beam shown back at him. Tull knew most Light Swords were Blue or Green, or Red if one was a Sith Wizard. Yellow was more rare among the Wizards.

Yellow was the color of fear among the Barabel. Warriors would cover themselves in yellow paint before a hunt to instill fear in their prey. Fear was an emotion that was long ago beaten out of Tull. Conquering fear was what had kept him alive this long. It was fitting then that Tull should now conquer a new challenge, with Fear at his side.

In the inside cover of the Jedi Wizard Book there were several Wizard sayings. The one at the top read:

“There are no coincidences. There is only the Force.”

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