Dawn of Defiance: Buffalo NY

Bariss Piloting and Thoughts Bloodbeard

Three Trandoshan slavers don’t sound important, do they? They didn’t sound important to me, but one of them ended up being important to me … chuckle and his name was Bloodbeard.

As Rama, Kelyn, and I were walking around the lovely cave full of fungus and scum three Trandoshans that looked to be slavers were in our selected path about three meters away. One, a Trandoshan lacking his legs at the calf down and had made up for it with two pegged legs, whose name was Peggy remarked to Rama about some vague knowledge about his dead Twi’lek master. Of course that began a merry chase with the three Trandoshan slavers rushing to their nearby Z-95’s and us three following them by borrowing a close set of three other Z-95’s; I’d say that they were owned by slavers since the ones we borrowed were with the ones that the three Trandoshans used. Rama, Kelyn, and myself caught up to the slavers easily enough and I even scored a quick hit on one of the Trandoshan’s Z-95, after that though things went sideways.

*

Forward and to my right I barely see Rama flying after Peggy, backward and to me left Kelyn is trying to dodge the suicidal slaver, and forward and flying damn near every direction is this guy … and he’s comming me, “Well, you be Bariss eh? You won’t be hitting me, Bloodbeard, anymore!”

“Yea-No. I’ll get you, and you don’t know me.”

“Of course I do!”

I haven’t used my name here. … Am I actually famous enough for this random slaver to know me? Huh.

*

An opening appeared as Bloodbeard changed directions but seemed to take a little too long to choose his way, he was perfectly straight for a half a second and I fired. Bloodbeard was waiting for me, he veered out of the way. He was goading me by making a clear shot appear and then dodging it, but made a mistake of not changing his speed. Since his distance had not changed all I had do would be a swift action within the next half a second to get him lined up again. … I wasn’t thinking this straight then, but I did figure how to get another shot.

*

Fucker let me into feint! A slaver! Where do you think you’re going? I see you! Not so quick with your shifting after that feint!

My mind’s quickening with adrenaline, you’re movements are too slow now. That feint slowed you down with confidence, and there I see it, “I Have You Now!” The shot glances off Bloodbeard’s Z-95

“Quite the Mighty Blow Bariss!”

RAH!” I yell as a swift jab turns off the comlink. Blood from my own rage comes to the foreground of my sight as I lean forward closer to Bloodbeard. He’s weaving dodging, ascending and descending, and accelerating forward and back. SIX SECONDS of this flying banter and FINALLY! I see an opening pew Bloodbeard broke at the last moment.

AGAIN!? How could I have fallen for that!? I’ll kill you, you lizard fuck!

I swiftly turned after Bloodbeard soon enough to attack once more before he was out of my reticle, “I. HAVE. YOU. N…” Bloodbeard barrel rolls out of my blast just after I fire, “NOOOO!!!” I accelerate to the point where I nearly ram him and from there I keep him tightly knit into one sector of space. He tries to escape several times and cut him off by getting close enough to punch him in the throat. By keeping him in the dogfight he has nowhere to run and I slowly shoot his Z-95 to pieces, I’m reveling in his destruction so much my head hurts and chest aches with all the pleasure. I do miss here and there, but to be so close as to see Him and his frantic attempts to escape, satisfying. It’s almost a shame when his starfighter dies and he crashes to the ground. But instead of me landing and finishing this … lizard I am rewarded with a show since he crashed into a Rycrit nest. They are shy in the beginning, but one grows courage enough to pound on the Z-95 and work their way to Bloodbeard himself. I open my comm long enough to say, “I’d love to see you feint your way out of this.” As I lower my Z-95 closer for a better view.

Just before the one courageous Rycrit gets to Bloodbeard’s cockpit Rama flies over and I open my private comlink to him, “What’s up?”

“Shoot him.”

“I was going to watch him being eaten. Wait a while, the view’s nice.”

“Shoot him.”

Deliberating within myself whether or not to shoot and therefore give Bloodbeard a quick and clean death brought Tor to mind. I hear his incessant words in surround my head and pressure themselves into my mind. Tor shows me Darga, and now I see what’s in front of me with a calmer point of view, my old point of view. Watching someone being eaten alive easily reminds me of Darga who ate live sentients and was going to eat Moppo.

I. AM. NOT. DARGA.

I. AM. NOT. A. HUTT.

I fired one more time before the Rycrit got to Bloodbeard. I didn’t miss this time and he died quickly with some semblance of honor. This whole thing just leaves the bile of a Hutt’s palace in my throat.


Once Rama got his information and we regrouped with the rest of the party we headed to a cave where the Jedi Master that we were after war originally holed up. When we got there Oola found a dozen or so Twi’lek younglings and other Jedi that were killed, and set into a communal grave with a thin layer of dirt blown over them. Tor said that the cave was cursed by the Dark Side and that only soul destroying despair remained. What I felt was a lively explosion and continual burn of hatred that could not be described with actual flame.
We burned the slain, cremation being the Jedi way. While watching the bonfire roasting in my hatred the flames reminded me of home. Father had a tradition, when he returned home from his work he would greet mother, Gol, Bechesmy, and I and then listen to Duros masterpieces while watching the flames of a natural fire. We were the only family with a fireplace, but that was the least of the oddities of the Gigrig family. Watching the Jedi burn I heard some of father’s music and I began to only see the flames flicking out from the center, dispersing into waves of heated air and then nothing. My hatred turned into the flames themselves as I watched and listened. Fire to flame to heat to nothing. Red to hatred to anger to calm. As I listened to Ena Inrull, one of the greatest Duros composers, I relived my previous piloting with Bloodbeard. Missing an attack as I did should be expected, he was flying defensively enough to not even attack or make a distance in his fleeing, I should have pulled him into the dogfight sooner. Bloodbeard, no matter what his trade was, had earned enough for me to have taken him seriously. After the missed attack my adrenaline mixed with the rising anger and caused me only to see red, a dangerous vision. I need to remain calm. After all, if I can’t reasonably take down a slaver with no training, how should I expect myself to take on a properly trained individual who pilots and dogfights for a living?
I remember dad giving me copies of his music before I left, I think it’s time Mezerel learned the classics. Ena Inrull, Cyran Foll, and Izzed Nootka should keep me calm, controlled, and focused while piloting. I’ll take my time, be patient, and see what is there tactically. Like I used to see things.

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Reflections from Tor part 30

Tor stepped off the Defiance and onto the scene of a battle that had already finished. Rama, Bariss, and Kelyn were standing outside, looking somewhat worse for wear. The three filled in Tor and the others in quickly on the battle that had occurred through the skies and onto the ground with the Trandoshan slavers.

Tor was a somewhat doubtful of some of the details, but let it slide since he had no other proof.

“We have to go check out a cave near here,” Rama said as the group milled about.

“Shouldn’t we be focusing on the Inquisitor and Sirona’s niece?” Tor asked, his thoughts centered on finding the dark sider.

“Maybe we can find some information on where they went at the cave,” Rama shot back.

Tor relented, realizing that they had little information already and that more wouldn’t be a bad thing.

The group flew over to the cave and got off the ship. As soon as his feet touched the ground, Tor felt himself shudder and a dark tremor clouded his mind. As the others began to move towards the cave entrance, Tor heard Oola exclaim. He moved behind a small wall to where she was standing and felt his breath catch in his chest.

Before them was a pile of bodies. Children, mostly twi’lek, were strewn about one on top of the other. Insects swarmed over the bodies and clustered around wounds that clearly originated from a lightsaber.

Tor reached out to the Force and a vision swam into his mind of the cave, children learning inside. Suddenly a dark figure burst into the cave, lightsaber ignited, and advanced towards the children. The vision blurred, jumping forward, slowing, pausing, flashing by, each image more terrible than the last. It finally ceased and Tor felt his legs weaken. He braced himself on the wall with a hand for support.

Tor’s mind reeled at what the vision had showed him. Oola began to move to bury the bodies and Tor was grateful to see it, but knew that he was needed at the cave before properly taking care of the bodies.

He moved to the entrance of the cave and began to lead the way inside when another shock through the Force greeted him. He saw Rama’s large form moving into the cave alone, none of the others around him.

Tor held out a hand to stop the others. He turned and looked up into Rama’s tentacled face. “This place is only for you, Rama. There is something in there for you to find, and you must go alone.”

The hulking red being looked hard at Tor, then grunted heavily and moved forward into the cave. As soon as he passed the first corner, his presence disappeared from Tor’s mind and a dark shroud descended on the cave, preventing Tor from sensing anything inside with the Force and blocking out all sounds.

The group waited what seemed like hours before Tor suddenly felt the shroud lift and heard Rama call out for them to enter the cave. Tor moved in and caught a glimpse of Rama moving down a flight of stairs in the far corner of the room. He moved after him and went down the stairs.

They emerged into a large room and Tor was nearly floored by the dark energy cascading from it. Statues and other artifacts around the room were shattered and broken, their shards littering the floor like the broken dreams of the dead children above.

Rama stood stone like at the base of the stairs, unmoving. Tor stood next to him, waiting for the large being next to him.

After several minutes Rama finally spoke. “We’ll use the grenades. We’ll bury it. This place is done.”

“Rama…” Tor began. “I think we should try to clear the darkness from this place. We shouldn’t leave it like this.” He gestured to the broken room. “We should try to bring some of the light back to this place.”

Rama looked vibrodaggers at Tor, his eyes burning with an internal fire.

“No,” he said, the softness in his voice betraying his true anger.

“You really want to leave it like this?” Tor asked quietly. “I know you can feel the darkness here too. Do you think your master would want it this way?”

Tor could see Rama’s hands ball into fists. “Fine,” he finally said, turning away. “Do whatever you want.”

Tor watched as Rama moved away. Tor sighed and moved farther into the room, the darkness closing in on him more and more with each step. He called upon the Force, using a technique he had not used in a very long time.

Tor drew the Force into his body, turning it into a beacon of the light side. Then he turned it outward, letting the light flow from him and force out the darkness.

Finished, Tor opened his eyes. He could still sense the dark side in the cave, but its presence was diminished and carried less strength behind it. Knowing it was all he could do, Tor left the cave and soon, Rama buried it with the explosives, the bodies now buried with it.

Tor boarded the Defiance with the rest of the group, more determined than ever to find the Inquisitor and stop him for good.

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BarissThoughts Okeefe

With Mezerel’s ignition key in one of my belt pockets on the bridge of the Spelljammer I’ve sat, while listening to Rama and Kelyn scheme over the three way commlink between us and, watching the two dolts playing games on their datapads through the security cameras.

It. Was. Boring.

Mezerel wouldn’t be threatened by these two unless she was a buffet. Kelyn’s schemeing wasn’t anything too dangerous and Rama was just being himself. Before two hours were up I ended up doing some small repairs here and there, quietly, and always with an eye on the two sons in the cargo area. When the comms shut out I was ready to kill, the two sons were still having trouble getting the blocks to fit in their game. I was continuously on edge until the comms came back on and heard that a heat storm was the problem. The sons left to dote on their father and I closed up the Spelljammer, her ignition key in another pocket and her defenses on alert, after hearing that Captain Okeefe was in town.

I practically ran to Cpt. Okeefe’s location a smile on my face, “Finally I get to be with my captain again,” I thought, I hoped. I entered into the restaurant/bar to the back and was filled with joy when I saw Cpt. Okeefe, “Captain! How are you?”

I only saw the Cpt. Okeefe, my Cpt. Okeefe, not the worried aunt Okeefe, “Shitty! Bariss.”

“What?! … Why? What’s wrong?”

I looked around to see Tor who was also worried, Carson who had seemingly just…appeared, as well as Khalic and N3MO, and then back to Cpt. Okeefe.

“You remember Platt? My niece.”

“Yeah, good pilot,” I usually recall the best of people first.

Sigh “You remember her gambling? How you lost your credits to her?”

“Yeah.” “Which is why I don’t gamble anymore,” I thought. “She lost something?”

“Well, Platt left her parents and went off playing cards and she’s always checked in with me regularly. Until now.”

It was then that Khalic piped in, “I think I know what’s happened to her.” He looked to Cpt. Okeefe’s white hair, “She’s young with white hair right?” A vague descriptor but on Ryloth there weren’t many young human women, and I doubt any with pure white hair.

“Yes,” replied Cpt. Okeefe

“I think she’s a slave…” Before Khalic could continue Cpt. Okeefe withdrew her blaster and was about to threaten Khalic with it, killing him wouldn’t have him talk after all, and was blocked by N3MO who placed himself in front of Khalic. After some time of calming and coaxing the story Khalic and Tor overhearing how a gambler by Platt’s description was beaten in a card game and lost her freedom to of all people Inquisitor Draco, was told to Cpt. Okeefe and myself. On the cue of Inquisitor the alarms warning of an incoming severe heat storm blared within the caves and everyone hustled to the lower caves for safety against being boiled within their skin. When we got down to one of the shelters I tried to keep Cpt. Okeefe company but she was in a drinking mood and was completely out if by the time a new alarm sounded.

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Reflections from Tor part 29

Tor watched as Kelyn and Rama left with the spaceport leader, off to go on a hunting trip. Tor shook his head slightly and moved off towards the public areas of the spaceport, pursuing the mission, and he was glad to see Khalic and N3M0 follow.

Tor breathed deep and stretched out to the Force, trying to gain a bearing on the Inquisitor’s presence. He caught flashes of the Inquisitor sitting around a table with several trandoshans, clearly pleased with something.

Tor told his companions and they headed towards a local group of slavers, eager for information. After supplying them with some drinks, the trandoshans quickly opened up, revealing that Draco had been there, and had won a good amount in a game of cards from them, including a young white haired woman who had wagered her freedom and lost it. Shortly after, Draco had left the planet, chasing Vin’thorla.

The group soon left to find others in the area that the trandoshans said might be able to help. First they met a veteran of the Clone Wars who sang tales of his experiences. Tor shared one of his own with the twi’lek, gaining his trust and garnering him to tell them more about Vin’thorla and how she had killed another Force user on the planet, his description firing off something in Tor’s memory, but that he couldn’t immediately place.

The group then began to wander the marketplace, seeking out a few tei’leks known as the Fungus Brothers. Tor breathed deeply as they walked. This is more like it, Tor thought. How things used to be. Investigating, following leads, solving problems. This is what the Jedi are supposed to be.

Deep in thought, the group found the Fungus Brothers and began to speak with the owners. Tor bought a bundle of glow fungus, stowing it in a pouch as the brothers talked with them about Vin’thorla and how she had traded crystals to them for a ship to get off planet. That piqued Tor’s interest and after some inquiry, the brothers revealed three lightsaber crystals. Tor’s eyes widened but he quickly composed himself. He offered to buy one, and quickly handed over the credits that the brothers wanted, carefully pocketing the crystal.

As they milled around the stand, Tor heard a familiar voice call out to the group by name. He turned and saw Carson standing a few feet away, looking a little rougher than the last time Tor had seen him but otherwise in good spirits.

“Carson!” Tor exclaimed, grasping the human in an embrace, a smile on the caamasi’s face. “What are you doing here? What happened on Castell?”

The noble quickly filled in Khalic, N3M0, and Tor on the highlights of his past few months and in return they explained their mission to Ryloth. Carson quickly joined the investigation, and Tor was glad to have him back amongst the group.

They stopped at two more shops, a lotion stand run by two old women, where Tor was surprised to see Carson pass up some exquisite healing lotions, and a leatherworking shop where Tor bought a lightsaber holster, modeled after one that the Inquisitor had commissioned. Perhaps this will help lead us to the Inquisitor a little bit quicker, Tor thought, as he slid his lightsaber into the leather belt. Or maybe throw him off a little when he sees it.

When they finally reached the cantina, the group was hurried into a back room, only to be greeted by a familiar looking droid and an irate freighter pilot. After some explanation, Switch and Sirona explained that the white haired woman who was taken by Draco was Sirona’s niece. Before they could determine what to do next, a blaring alarm went off and everyone in the shop began to run.

“Heat storm!” Switch called out, his servos whirring loudly as he scooped up Darth Rosie. The group quickly fled with the rest of the patrons down to the lower more protected levels, the temperature starting to rise around them.

Down in the lower levels, the crowds were thick as everyone waited for the storm to pass. Across the room, they spotted a massive red figure cutting a path through the crowds, and shortly, Rama and Kelyn stood before them, a female twi’lek following who was introduced as Oola, and a second twi’lek close by.

Tor was surprised that he recognized the second twi’lek as a treasure hunter from holovids. The groups began talking and when Tor related the killing of another Jedi by Vin’thorla, Rama’s eyes widened and he turned upon Oola, seemingly in a rage. “Your master killed mine!” he yelled, Oola quickly placating him and denying knowledge. Tor was surprised to see Rama back off and leave the woman alone given his usual penchant for anger and violence.

As the group exchanged information, the treasure hunter began talking with Rama and Kelyn, urging them that they should head out now.

“Where are you going?” Tor inquired.

“Just accompanying this twi’lek to go look into something,” Kelyn replied, turning to leave.

“Wait a minute,” Tor called. “I know that man. He’s a treasure hunter. He breaks into places and steals things from people.”

Rama and Kelyn both flashed guilty looks on their faces but quickly recovered, and began to shrug off what they were about to do.

Tor gritted his teeth and moved in front of them. “I’m not going to let you steal from people who haven’t even done anything to you! People who are scared and out of their homes right now,” Tor said his voice rising.

Rama moved closer to Tor, trying to threaten the caamasi, but Tor held his ground. “We’re supposed to be working to restore the Republic, a government that doesn’t stand for things like murder or thievery! How can we restore a government whose ideals are thrown aside at every turn?”

The hulking Rama continued to advance on Tor, hand inching towards his ax. Tor kept his gaze locked onto Rama, unwavering.

Kelyn finally stepped in, putting a hand on Rama, and when they finally looked, they saw that the treasure hunter had already left.

On a nearby viewscreen showing the upper level, the treasure hunter appeared and moved toward a large door. He opened it eagerly and was quickly vaporized, the door actually opening to the outside and the severity of the heat storm. A shocked look crossed Rama and Kelyn’s faces and Tor felt a small smug smile tug at the corner of his mouths.

Several large creatures lumbered through the open door and began tearing apart the upper level and any other looters who got in their way.

The crowd began to panic and an official loudly announced that he would hand out 20,000 credits to anyone who helped stop the creatures. Tor’s allies quickly jumped at the opportunity. Tor followed but declined payment.

The group was soon back on the top level and in front of the creatures. Several minutes later, the creatures had been felled and the door to the outside closed by Khalic.

Tor breathed a sigh of relief as he surveyed the destruction, wondering what the next clue in the trail of the Inquisitor had in store.

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Destiny
Past, present, future. It's all the same.
“If the wind no longer calls to you, it is time to see if you have forgotten your name.”
	    - Caamasi proverb

It was during that eternity after Amelia and the girls left me. An ageless house I inhabited in either fitful, dreamless sleep on the bridge of my ship or against the hull as loaders moved freight in and out. A small-timer takes every job he can get in this galaxy. He doesn’t have the luxury of choosing who loads his credstick. There was one dealer — I cringed every time his ugly alien name came up in amber sigils on my terminal. No soul, no spark within. One would think he remained animate only by sucking the joy of living from others.

He was a bastard, but he paid well. He was my customer.

And my first kill.

Fenn’s voice crackled from the comm: “I think your father’s ship is down here.”

We had just de-boarded the Defiant and were “debating” which way to hit the summit control center holding the meteor-slinging Jedi who controlled access to the planet. Enough walkers stomped the grounds inside the fences and barricades to preclude any notion of a full frontal assault. Moppo and his companions were ready to attack from another flank, but it just wasn’t enough.

Sartok recalled a generator further down the mountain which might control the base defenses, and went ahead with Bart to investigate. Quickly. The two picked up the power source within a forgotten cliff-side temple and a scan confirmed its tendrils wended through the rock core and supplied the structure we grimly surveyed. Apparently, their recon had found something else.

“What?” My incredulous response croaked loudly through our cover, and Tor pressed his hand on my shoulder to quiet me as he watched my expression. “What do you mean? How do you know?”

“Well, it looks like what you’ve described. I’ll transmit. Viddy and you tell me.”

Like a long-lost sister found slumped in an alleyway, body wrecked and life abused, there it was. The aft entrance swarmed with Trandoshan slavers, blasphemously misappropriating my father’s shipwright mark on the shoulders of their flight suits as they herded natives into their onboard cages. Zooming to a crudely modified archboard, beneath a rust-red scrawl of “The Bloody Credit”, the shadow of an elegant script formed the word: “Spelljammer.”

Tensed hands nearly crushed my datapad. Tor asked quietly, “Is that it?”

“That’s it,” I replied, voice cracking.

Then, solidly and firm: “Fenn, I’m coming down.” I holstered my datapad and rose up from the brush.

“I’ll be back. Sartok and three of his men should be sufficient.” I turned to Sartok. “If that’s good with you?” He nodded, then talked amongst his men.

Tor approached. “I told you I’d help you with this. I’m going with you.”

Gathering my pack, I shook my head, avoiding eye contact. “No. What you need to do here is more important. This is the mission. I’ve got plenty of backup without wasting your valuable talent.”

Grinning as I pulled on my pack, I clasped his furry shoulder. “Besides, I can take a handful of Trandoshans, no problem. And the temple? I’ve blown up churches before.”

Tor’s snout bore a weak smile, eyes betraying his concern. He knew why I didn’t want him to go, even before I did. Maybe it was his Jedi mojo, or maybe it was because he had become my, well, the best of my few friends. Once I slaughtered the slaver toads in legitimate combat and boarded that grail of a ship, I’d find its “captain”. He knew.

Tor clasped my hand on his shoulder, his three claws digging into my thin human flesh. Then he let go. He seemed placated, or maybe he was just projecting that aura for my benefit. In any case, he wasn’t going to argue anymore.

“From stranger to be trusted to friend from afar. You’re not getting rid of me.” He smiled more genuinely now.

“Alright, I’m going before we start rutting like a couple she-Hutts. Ready, Sartok?”

What I’d forgotten, what I’d constructed in my mind — it all reconciled with the solid freighter just meters before me. A chain of bound slaves shuffled from a cruiser near us up the loading ramp of my father’s ship. Billows of thick smoke belched from its neglected engines. Trandoshans shoved them onward, occasionally clocking one on the head if he slowed the others.

Bart nodded to me and started toward the temple and generator. I turned to where Fenn had stood to ask where he was going, but “going” he had already done, slinking through the cover of smoke toward the ship. Sartok’s men were going straight toward the slavers, one of them rallying when he saw his sister amongst the taken.

Sartok and I slunk into the cruiser and powered it on. Blaster bolts criss-crossed outside as we glided back, running down a few slavers in the process. While I wielded the ship from the helm, I suggested sidewise to Sartok, “Anything you want to say to those slaves, maybe get them to lend us a hand?” He flipped on the external speakers and launched into a fire-sermon, urging the captives to strangle their captors with the chains that bound them.

First outside the ship, then from within, mustering whatever strength and hope they had after being broken during their capture, they forged their greater numbers and nobler purpose into weapons, choking the life out of what slavers remained after the volleys from our trio of resistance fighters.

Sartok and I ran from the cruiser and up the ramp into the ship. My heart raced. As I crossed the threshold, my body flushed with purpose, determination. After all those years, I was here. Sartok ran ahead with his men. Fenn was in there somewhere. I stood motionless at the top of the ramp. There before me was a huge glowing orb.

My father was at his workbench, his back to me as I curled in a nest of greasy blankets. I stayed up with him nightly as he “tinkered” with gadgets and materials from the mundane to the arcane, playing matchmaker to them, coercing them into partnership. My heavy lids rose to a glowing ball pinched between two robotic fingers.

“What’s that, dad?”

He stopped his work, stretched, and yawned, swiveling his chair to look at me, his face wizened before its time, but ever-brightened with the sunset glow of his smile.

“It’s you. And me. And here. And it’s time for bed.”

He scooped me up, blanket dragging on the floor as he carried me to my room.

Rubbing my eyes, I asked again, “No, really, dad. It’s pretty.”

The overheads snapped to a crackling glow as he shrugged the blanket off my shoulders and gently placed me under a cover of clean bedclothes, tucking them around me as he sat on the edge.

“It’s the engine. It makes us run. Makes everything run. It drives Correlia and all its people. Maybe it drives everything.” He yawned again.

My eyes were strained wide to watch him explain, to watch his own eyes glitter with curiosity and mystery.

“I dunno, kid. I’m just a hacker.”

He winked, stroking a flop of hair back from my forehead. I smiled as the world faded into warmth and calm. It was the last night I remember sleeping so well. There were surely others after, but that was when he left me his legacy as a seed in my young mind. We barely spoke of the orb again, but he kept working at it, each night its glow brighter as his faded with frustration. He’d tease out its secrets eventually, but at such a cost.

I should have smashed it. Killed it. Saved him.

Such a cost.

“Who’s that tramping on my ship?”

That discordant barking broke my reverie, the blasphemy of its intent boiling a rage in my belly that rushed through my veins, shot through my brain — my eyes were afire, every muscle tense, fingers white against the grip of my blaster. Down the hall, a lumbering heavily-armored bastard was the source. Stepping left into line, I crushed the trigger and sent a blue bolt down through his midsection. He only shook his head as if casting off a dizzy spell, then looked down at me, reaching for his sidearm.

Another squeeze of my trigger — nothing. I slapped a loose panel on the grip and pulled again, sending a second shaft of light into him. That one sent him back a meter onto the floor, but again he rose. His body was veiled in armor, but I could feel him grinning behind his helmet as he staggered to his feet and came toward me. I approached likewise, both arms stiff with a determined aim, gaze straight down the barrel with his head in the sight, the space between us a reverse tug-of-war, an inevitable pull.

Before he could return fire, my finger started to pull, but a patch of oil on the panels under my feet twisted my body sideways. I kept him in my sights and wrapped my hand around the blaster. A rail of energy slammed into the charred surface of his chest armor and his body was thrown against the hull as my own dropped to the floor, arms still extended, my eye still fixed on the smoking hole centered in the ridged tip of my blaster.

He crumpled against the wall, motionless. No — still alive. A faint rising and falling, a labored breathing through his mask. Fenn appeared near the body.

I rose quickly and ran toward them.

“Don’t touch him!” The rage in my expression startling Fenn and his companions. I pulled back, wiping a thin veil of calm over my face and motioning starboard. “Down there, the last of the slavers.” Fenn seemed wary, cautious, then heard the sounds of a fight and followed my direction, waving his band behind him.

I was alone with him now. The crude insignia on his flight suit identified him as the pilot. I couldn’t say “captain”; there was only one captain of the Spelljammer. His leg was twisted backward: bloody, jagged bone jutting through the knee joint of his armor. I kicked the side of his head, sending his cracked helm clattering down the hall.

A Trandoshan. His reptilian muzzle gasped, gurgled. He was still alive. His eyes opened slowly, then closed again. He was groggy and confused and moments away from slipping naturally into death, but he could hear me. I knelt down close on the balls of my feet, my blaster hand on my knee, muzzle propped a finger length from his eye.

“Your ship? Funny. You don’t look like my father.”

The bastard was berating me for being late, accusing me of fiscal malfeasance, casting feigned doubt on what comprised the weight of the containers his droids dutifully unloaded. I lit a cigarette and took a hit from my flask, leaning back against the ship, staring into nothing a meter in front of my face. There was no joy to steal from me, and for a man so identified with the virile effectiveness of his bullying, his impotence with me made him dangerously angry.

When the last of his droids rolled the final crate away, he came over to pay me. I didn’t look at him, but continued staring, dragging in and dragoning out thick billows of smoke. His insults continued as he adjusted his credstick. I seem to recall him mentioning something about my wife. He touched me, shoved me. Something. The catalyst is cloudy, but the reaction is clear, burning through that fog.

I flipped my cigarette to the floor, turned it under my boot heel, then faced him and exhaled a dark cloud into his eyes. He coughed, squinting, fingers rubbing his sockets. I kicked him in the middle. He dropped to his knees, clutching his stomach. Up to the jaw. His head whipped back and he groaned, eyes opening with an instant of tightly-sprung vengeance, then wider with horror as the blackened muzzle of my blaster rose over the bridge of his nose.

The hard wrinkles of his hateful expression smoothed and lengthened into the visage of a child spying midnight Death in the bedroom closet. He started to say something, to beg or cry or — his jaw dropped, then his face was gone in a flash of brilliant blue light. He crumpled to my feet. I nudged his limp puppet of a corpse away from me.

Since that early morning I returned to Qaestar Town, when a warm embrace became a cold rebuke, a home became a mortuary, a full life became an empty shell — since then my mind had been a riotous cacophony of black noise. Now, just one voice in that hell-tuned chorus was muted, but my trigger-pull afforded me a moment’s respite of dead silence. There was no shame, no guilt, no surprise, and the normalcy of it makes me hesitant to label it my “first” killing.

Right then, I was at peace.

“Funny. You don’t look like my father.”

His eyes opened again. He still had that hatred innate to his species pulling his strings, keeping his tattered body as animate as physics allowed. He tried to bark something in response, black ichor squeezing and bubbling through his fangs. The sharp retort of my blaster drown out any last words he attempted to spill, leaving a neat hold through and through his head.

“Oh yeah. Now I see the resemblance.”

I stood up and pushed him over with my foot, walking over to his head, a masque of death forming over his face as his blood flowed around him, trickling down the floor grates.

“This is for my father.”

My boot rose above him and I paused for a second, as if waiting for him to acknowledge me, then brought it crashing down, feeling his skull give underneath.

“And Amelia.” Raise-stomp. “And Adria. And Bella.” Stomping, grinding, crushing, bits of bone and brain and lizard flesh splattering against my clothes, my face, the walls, obliterating him, trying to erase him and his abuse of the ship and its assumption of command and whatever and whyever he’d done what he’d done. I wanted to erase everything about him, to wipe clear the pages back to my childhood before it all went wrong, before the cursed destiny was invoked, before my father left me, my wife left me, my children left me.

I kicked what remained of his head from its stump, sending it rolling down the hallway, abruptly stopping with a loud squish against the base of the glowing orb.

“For taking my life away.”

The body had been propped in the desk chair of a cramped office noisome with stale smoke, cheap whiskey, salesman cologne — and the rich pungence of splashed petrol. Before returning to my idling ship, I lit the end of a cigar, puffed it into a slow burn, and wedged it between the two teeth left in the hole where a face was.

Powerful percussion rocked the stubby wings of my freighter as it glided out of the hangar bay, licked by the hungry tendrils of a fireball. I pulled up and shot clear of the atmosphere, my cargo hold packed with the same crates I’d carried upon arrival mere hours ago. As the unidimensional points of stars popped forward into twinkling bars around my ship, railing us into hyperspace, I leaned back in my chair, rested my feet on the console, and fished through a bag of scavenged belongings. Only one treasure: a little gold box. Inside, a glittering blue spice.

Rising, I flipped open the overhead, catching a bottle of Toush before it rolled out, then tuned up “Brief Reign” on the ship’s audio banks before settling back down, mixing a bit of the powder with the drink in a dirty shot glass. My eyelids heavied as the liquid slithered into my belly and through my veins. I slumped back, the sounds of Corellian opera echoing through the empty bowels of the ship and raveling around me.

I didn’t remember what destination I’d punched into the nav-comp. I didn’t remember the name of the planet I’d just left. The topography was meaningless. My destiny was on the horizon, my mind was at peace for the first time in what seemed like millenia, and I could dream again.

And, because doing so gave me all those things back, I would kill again.

Looking down the hall, then back to his body, breath slowing, rage subsiding, calmer now, evaluating the scene. Maybe I could have pried some info from him. Found out why. I dropped my back against the wall and raised my head, blaster muzzle pushed under my chin. I slid down to the floor, let the blaster go with my arms to rest on my knees, and stared absently forward.

I’d find out on my own. Do it without him. Do it alone. As always. I had no choice. I curled my knees to my chest, dropped my face on them, and laughed. Or cried. It didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. None of it does. Not anymore.

“Dobra do shag.”

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Bariss' Thoughts and Horror

The group stormed the Antis Base, the place was burning and apparently it wasn’t just the Imperials doing the damage.

“Ah Mappo, good kid and great potential to be an Ace,” I thought as we passed a few levels to find “He Who Moves The Sky” a long name but from what I hear it’s a very true descriptor. I was in the rear of the group when we came to a door that opened to reveal a team of all female Twi’lek mercenaries led a well-armed, also female, Twi’lek carrying an unconscious shamanistic looking Nazaren. Little time was had for reaction before Rama roared something in Ryl, which he later told us was “Bitches and Hoes!”, and dropped his loan cloth to reveal…ugh!

The only reason I saw it was because when Rama’s tentacle dick flopped out into view it created an air bubble that pushed away his cloak, and that caught me off-guard. I’d rather had been shot. Now, seeing his limb of a dick was bad enough, but the real horror that will stick with me forever and is still haunting me dreams was his ass, a thing which I will not describe for posterity.

I tried to hold myself together, and for a while I did but all the flames of the burning base just kept reminding me again and again. Soon enough I vomited and then got sicker, “*vomit* Ugh! Guys, I don’t feel so…*dry heave* I’ll be outside.”

I got Mappo a V-wing from the Nazaren before we left for the Resurgence. He’s become a good pilot and I see near infinite possibilities for him, I’m proud to have helped him along as much as I have, and he has honored me by naming his starfighter the “Top Hat”. I love Mappo, heterosexually of course. Which brings me to Fullua, my tried and true. I know why I’m now flying Mezerel (Eclipse) instead, because she’s got better shields, more capacity for proton torpedoes, a seat for a gunner, and Khalic can modify her while Fullua is at her max and can’t go any further. I just…it’s hard leaving her at the Resurgence….I’m a bit hazy as to the exact moment Khalic convinced me to switch over, but I understand the change. The only one I could trust to take care of her was Mappo since Rama has shown severe lapses of judgment….I miss her, dearly….I hope she’s alright.

“These hillbilly, hick, fucking Yee-haws are going to what!” I almost shouted as the two sons convinced their father, the spaceport master, to “guard” my Mezerel. The only reason I didn’t kill those two sand-eating shits was a mix of Rama being physically in the way and me still being queasy around him, Tor giving me his stern stare and I swear some force trick, and Kelyn going to bat for Mezerel giving me a reason to star onboard the Spelljammer and keep an eye on these fucktards. It’s bad enough I had to take her proton torpedoes out and hit them ALONG with Happiness, but they want to get a change Mezerel herself!? If they start ANYTHING and I mean anything, their father won’t be coming back from his hunting trip to find his sons. Shame when people go out to “check on something” for a bit and get “lost” somewhere. Because lets be honest, they probably just made up the excuse to have more time to check the Spelljammer for hidden holds. If they find Happiness, well I’ll be defending my happiness very avidly.
Good thing I have my comm open to Kelyn and Rama, they may need to know when I get rid of the trash that onboard. I think it’ll be the perfect time for them to end their hunt early with medium sized prey.

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Bariss' Thoughts: Tanks

When Sartock said he would get me a few pilots to help as air support for the Nazaren’s tetaking the planet, I wasn’t expecting two V-wings with capable enough pilots to properly land and take off in as small quarters as a two lane street. One pilot was hyper and childish which showed when he fully accelerated towards the enemy and properly missed his shot by a sector of space. The other was more coolheaded and scored a direct hit after his careful flying. We were close to the Antis Base but not close enough to be hit by the base’s cannons. There were only four V-wings this time and with the two Nazaren pilots, Bart in the Defiant, and myself we were going to have no problems in the sky. The actual plan was to keep the pilots busy until the group on the ground tagged the four heavy tanks that were recently blowing everything up, then I’d go and use my last proton torpedoes. Two of the V-wings were damaged and one destroyed by the time I got the signal from the trackers on the ground.

“Signals received. Everyone get out of the blast zone I’m coming down.”

I disengaged from the combat in the air and did a short burst acceleration to get in position and seeing that the heavy tanks were spread too far apart for a normal strafe run. So I pulled off the Darklighter Spin unloading my proton torpedoes evenly on the enemy and pulled up with a huge burst of flame behind me. I weaved through the tops of the close-to-the-ground buildings so as to reel back and see the comforting sight of the destruction I unleashed only to find the four tanks still operational. Hatred blinded me to the fact that they were mostly melted. The captain’s voice was brutally clear, “You’ll never get me! Hahahaha!”

“Fuck you CIVILIAN!”

Rama commed in, “Good job Bariss we can finish these off with a few grenades.”

“No!” I roared back. “It’s a matter of pride!”

My grip on the controls tightened, all I could hear was pounding mixed with a cackling laughter and all I could see was the late civilian captain’s V-wing dodging my laser-bolts.

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Reflections from Tor part 28.5
Since the last one was long, and this covers the new module, I continued it as a separate post

Tor and his fellows in arms set off from Nizon, sooner than any of them would have liked. As they packed off to leave, Tor watched as Victra Sinde and the female assassin leader were led by Rama into a storage room on Kelyn’s new ship, rechristened Spelljammer.

Tor felt uneasy about it but left to find his own quarters. Some time later he heard loud yelling throughout the ship. Tor rose to his feet and began to move through the ship, trying to find the source of the commotion. He quickly found his way to where the prisoners had been taken. Inside, Rama and Kelyn stood, mocking the women, threatening horrific actions, and mercilessly harassing them.

“What’s going on?” Tor asked, walking into the room. Kelyn and Rama quickly turned. The two of them began to defend their actions, continuing to threaten the prisoners.

“I’m not going to let you threaten these people,” Tor said. “They’ve surrendered. They’re prisoners of war and I will not let you do this to them.”

The scoundrel and the hulking being took offense, launching words at Tor, but the caamasi stood his ground, saying that he would stand before the prisoners if he needed to. After some time, the other two finally relented and left the room, but not before things became very tense.

Tor sat in front of the door to the storage room, cautiously eying Kelyn who stalked back to the cockpit and Rama, who continued lurking nearby.

Once back at the Resurgence, Tor slipped away from the group to report to Varth, Denia, and Verana about the prisoners, making sure they were taken aboard the Resurgence. Tor also spoke with them about Moppo.

“He is a full Jedi Knight now,” the caamasi explained. “He is strong in the Force and will ably perform any task you set before him.”

The leaders looked at Moppo with pride, glad to have another Jedi to count amongst their ranks.

Soon after, the group was given a new mission, being sent to Ryloth in order to find a strong Force sensitive being. Tor was tense about the new mission, not knowing what to expect. The group soon arrived at Ryloth, setting down in a spaceport and disembarking, Tor stepped out into the harsh landscape, anxious to discover what was yet to come.

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Reflections from Tor part 28
A lot of great roleplaying from this session. Great job everybody!

Tor stepped through the open front wall of the tram onto the landing pad, the vision of Kelyn still echoing in his head. He activated his comlink and Kelyn soon answered.

“Kelyn, what happened?”

The scoundrel seemed taken aback that Tor was calling him and questioned what Tor meant. The caamasi explained the vision he’d had.

“You executed that man,” Tor said into the comm.

“Executed?” Kelyn shot back. “What are you talking about?” Kelyn quickly deflected the issue. Tor tried several times to push the issue and figure out what happened, but each time the scoundrel put it off. “Look, Tor, we’ll talk about it later, we have other things going on right now.” The comm quickly clicked off.

Tor closed his eyes in frustration as he waited with Bariss, Rama, and N3M0. A moment later, a large freighter shot through the black smoke overhead, plummeting towards the ground. It rocketed past the landing pad before drifting up a moment later to settle gently onto the landing pad.

Tor stood with his arms crossed as the boarding ramp hissed open and Kelyn and Khallic came out.

The group quickly made their way into the base. As Tor moved up flights of stairs he saw fires as the structure crumbled, computer consoles and piles of datacards set ablaze. He sensed that his padawan had been here and as he looked closer, he could see the crumpled bodies of several stormtroopers amidst the rubble.

Suddenly, Tor felt a shock through the Force. He knew that the Force user in the base was close by. Tor darted up the rest of the stairs and came face to face with a room full of twi’leks, clearly assassins of some kind. Behind them, a female who was clearly the leader stood with a nazrin carried on her shoulder, clearly the Force user Tor was seeking.

The group surged into action around Tor, grenades and blasters flashing past him into the room. N3M0 pushed past Tor and suddenly the room was on fire. Tor raised his hands against the heat and when he looked back, most of the bodyguards were on the floor, trying to extinguish themselves, the leader running away down the hall.

Tor surged after her and used the Force to splinter her mind as the destruction continued in the other room. The leader dropped the nazrin and moved into the next room, Rama chasing after her and then exclaiming that she had a child strapped to a bomb.

I have to help if there’s a child in there! Tor thought. He leaped up from tending to the nazrin and raced into the next room. On one side Rama was cornering the assassin and in the other sat not a child, but a ticking bomb. Tor looked at Rama. “There’s no child here, you fool!” He quickly used the Force to fling the bomb into the far corner where it exploded, blasting a hole in the floor and bursting several water pipes.

The assassin jumped down the hole in the floor, Rama and then Tor following. Through the cascading water, Tor saw the assassin produce another explosive, despite a massive gash courtesy of Rama. The caamasi used the Force to pull the explosive from her hands, crushing it in the air. Kelyn dropped down the hole in the floor and blasted the woman in the leg as she fled, dropping her out of the fight.

Rama scooped up the fallen leader and N3M0 the nazrin Force user as the group fled from the burning building, dodging falling debris and coughing through smoke. They ran up the ramp of Kelyn’s rediscovered freighter and lifted off the landing pad just as it crumbled beneath them.

As the ship lifted up, the group could see the fortress crumble until thick black smoke engulfed the mountaintop.

Tor walked back to the cargo hold and knelt next to the nazrin who was just coming around. The two conversed softly, each in respect of the other. Tor encouraged the nazrin to pass on his knowledge to as many as he could, stressing that now it was more important than ever to keep the Force alive in the universe. The nazrin agreed and Tor rose as he felt the ship touch down.

He passed by the others who were waiting as the boarding ramp began to lower. Tor moved into the doorway of the cockpit as Kelyn stood from the pilot’s seat.

“We need to talk, Kelyn,” the caamasi spoke quietly.

Tor could feel Kelyn’s eyes slide past him to the dead armored body on the deck of the ship. “What’s the matter?”

“The body back there.”

Kelyn quickly tried to divert the conversation and brush it off again, but Tor held his ground. “You executed that man Kelyn.”

Kelyn went on the defensive, accusing Tor of his own problems.

“I don’t want to see this lead you down a dark path!” the caamasi urged.

“You know how close I’ve been to complete darkness before?!” the scoundrel shot back. “I’m here to do what I have to do! You don’t understand what I’ve lost.”

“What you’ve lost?” Tor asked incredulously. “I’ve lost everything! My planet, my species, my entire way of life was taken! My friends, my teachers, my mentors, my students!”

The two shouted, each passionately defending their positions.

“I’m not some maniac,” Kelyn finally said in a sigh. “I’m not like that guy on Bespin who was killing people in their sleep, or like on that other planet we were on.” He slowly trailed off. “I’m not that…”

“I just don’t want to see you become something you’ll hate and regret,” Tor responded softly.

“You don’t have to be here to help me,” Kelyn said. “You not being here was me protecting you! I don’t want you to have to see me do those things. I don’t want the rest of the group to have to see it. This ship is my destiny. I’m going to figure it out. And once I do that, well we’ll see.”

A range of emotions passed over Kelyn’s face. “Remember the Gungans back on the Hutt’s barge?”

Detailed flashes of caamasi memnii flashed through Tor’s head, each detail perfect and inescapable. He closed his eyes against the memnii.

“You tried to save them,” Kelyn continued. “You ended up crushing them in gears! Sure it was an accident. Say this was an accident. An accident of emotion. I couldn’t stop myself. He didn’t deserve to live.”

Tor lowered his head, knowing that he couldn’t get any further. He slowly turned and began to leave the cockpit. He stopped at the door and looked back over his shoulder at Kelyn.

In a soft voice, Tor spoke significantly. “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Tor paused for a second longer and left the cockpit, heading towards the boarding ramp.

Tor walked down the ramp, deep in thought about what had just happened. At the bottom of the ramp, he was met by a young Gungan in Jedi robes.

“Master!” Moppo exclaimed as he approached. Moppo slowed. “Is something wrong, Master?”

Tor shook himself from his thoughts and fully took in what he was seeing. His padawan stood before him, in full Jedi garb, a new lightsaber at his side. Behind him, Tor could see several other varied individuals including a trandoshan, a sullustan, and a human. More than anything though, Tor noticed a change in the Force from Moppo. His padawan held himself differently, and his presence through the Force was stronger and more defined.

Tor smiled. “I’m proud of you Moppo. You’ve become your own Jedi. You’ve accomplished so much and have come a long way. May I see your lightsaber?”

The Gungan handed his newly constructed lightsaber to Tor.

“Kneel,” Tor said, beaming. Moppo obeyed, and his lightsaber snapped to life in Tor’s hands. The caamasi slowly lowered the blade to Moppo’s shoulder in a measure of extreme trust between Master and padawan. He raised the blade and deactivated it.

“Now rise, Moppo,” Tor spoke. “Rise a Jedi Knight.” The Gungan did, and he seemed to stand taller, a wide grin on his face. Tor handed him back his lightsaber, and together, they joined the massive celebration as Nizon celebrated its first free and bright day of many to come.

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Reflections from Tor part 27

Tor looked up at the massive electrified fence that barred the way to the Antus base. In the distance, he could sense his padawan on the other side of the fortress, making his own attack.

Good, Tor thought. He’s acting on his own, taking his own initiative. I’m proud of him. Now if only we could find our own way through.

The group soon discovered, with some help from Sartok, that a generator on a lower level powered this section of fence. Fenn offered to go shut it down, and the group waited as he took off in the direction of the generator.

A few moments later, the comm crackled to life with Fenn’s voice. “Kelyn? Um, I think there’s something here you might want to see.”

Kelyn perked up, clearly confused, and asked the bothan to explain. Fenn described a large freighter that had the symbol of Kelyn’s father on it. The bothan went on to explain that slavers were leading a long line of slaves into the ship. Kelyn shot to his feet. “My father’s ship!” he exclaimed quietly. He turned and began to leave.

Tor put a hand on Kelyn’s shoulder, stopping him. “What’s wrong?”

“My father’s ship is down there,” the scoundrel replied. “I have to go check it out.”

Tor paused for a moment, looking up at the fortress and thinking of the Force user that the Imperials had there. He turned his head back to Kelyn and nodded. “Absolutely. I made a promise to you Kelyn. If you ever found out anything about your father’s ship, I would be there to help you out.”

“Well you can help me out best by staying here and completing the mission.”

Surprised at the scoundrel’s reaction, Tor’s fur rippled. He looked hard at Kelyn. “Are you sure?”

Kelyn nodded, not meeting Tor’s eyes completely.

“Ok, but I’ll be there if you need anything.”

The scoundrel murmured a thanks and then quickly sped off, clearly eager to find out what was going on, Sartok and Bart going along.

Tor waited with Bariss and Rama, waiting for the fence to be deactivated. Several minutes later, Tor heard an explosion from not too far away and felt a rumble in his feet. “The generator’s down,” Rama reported.

Tor looked quickly down towards where Kelyn had run off to. I’ll help you as best I can Kelyn, he thought.

Tor ignited his lightsaber and ran through the fence letting the brilliant blue blade lead the way towards the fortress, Bariss and Rama quickly following across the large yard leading up fortress which now had black smoke rising from it.

The three ran into a tram car and hit the activation switch to carry them up the last portion of the mountain to the base.

Tor looked out through the front window, wondering what was happening with the others when he spotted a missile launcher and two jumptroopers ahead of them. A missile flew towards the tram car but Tor extended a hand and deflected it to the ground below as Bariss shot at one of the jumptroopers from the window and Rama smashed through another to jetpack out and fight in the air. Tor used the Force to blast one of the jumptroopers as another missile flew and impacted the tram car, releasing three buzz droids that immediately began cutting through the front of the tram.

Tor reached out to the Force and stretched out his hands. The front wall of the tram car buckled and rippled in a blast from the Force, chunks flying off and hitting the droids who were shaken roughly. Bariss and Rama quickly finished off the jumptroopers. Tor focused, pulling the energy he needed to him once more. The front wall blew clear off the tram, blasting through the buzz droids and sending what little was left of them to the ground below with the scraps of durasteel from the wall.

Rama jetpacked back to tram and through the now wide open hole as the tram continued its slow trek up the mountain.

Just then, Tor’s eyes widened as he felt a spike of the Dark Side nearby through the Force. He closed his eyes and put a hand to his head and saw an image of Kelyn standing over an unconscious body, a blaster in his hand. He saw Kelyn’s mouth moving but heard no sound. The blaster flared and the last thing Tor saw was a dark look in Kelyn’s eyes.

Tor opened his eyes and sighed deeply, disappointed and upset that he couldn’t have been there to help guide Kelyn through the problem.

The wind whistled loudly past the new opening where the front of the tram used to be. Tor looked up towards the fortress ahead, the journey ahead seeming much longer than before.

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