Dawn of Defiance: Buffalo NY

Reflections from Tor part 23

He’s babbling again.

Tor watched as Kelyn walked away from the prison with Bart, the two prisoners, Sartok and Raltobuck following and with two Imperial troopers in tow. He could see Kelyn’s mouth moving rapidly as he walked away from the prison looking confident. Tor’s comlink beeped and he answered, hearing Kelyn’s voice. The scoundrel asked Tor where the speeder was and where to take the prisoners, using a suave accent and making up a story for the benefit of the troopers nearby. Tor smirked as he bantered with Kelyn, knowing his followers couldn’t hear. Deciding to meet around a corner to take out the troopers, Tor clicked off the comlink.

He looked at Kelyn and saw him talking rapidly again before suddenly stopping. He did a good job of masking it but Tor saw a quick look of panic flash across the scoundrel’s face before the mask replaced it again. Tor tensed as Kelyn approached the front gate again and a lieutenant appeared there. After a moment, Kelyn pulled the pin out of a grenade and stuck it in the lieutenant’s face.

Oh, here we go, Tor thought as he stood, watching the lieutenant produce his own grenade. Seconds later, all hell broke loose as Kelyn threw his grenade into the camp and took off, yelling “Run!” Sartok and Raltobuck followed him, running in their bindercuffs.

The others all blasted away, with Rama using his jetpack to fly up to the towers. Tor watched as Moppo came forward and used the Force to pick up one of the guards from the tower and throw him down into the camp. Tor was proud of his apprentice. He’s grown a lot in such a short time. Soon he’ll be ready to face some things on his own.

Tor turned his attention back to the battle which was nearly over, with everyone running to escape except for Rama who was decapitating the lieutenant and loading himself up with as much gear as he could carry. Tor’s face turned to one of disgust as he saw the act, glad that Moppo was too far away to watch.

The group took off, trying to escape, but the speeder they tried to hotwire quickly shut down and they heard more troopers approaching. Tor freed Sartok and Raltobuck from their binders but was quickly faced with opposition from Kelyn and Rama about giving them weapons.

The three got into an argument until finally Rama and Kelyn relented and gave the former prisoners weapons. As they fought, Moppo and Tor went in different directions around a building. Tor heard blasters and felt a shock through the Force. “Moppo!” he yelled. He blasted the two Arc troopers in front of him before dashing around the building and using the Force to pick up one of the troopers standing over Moppo’s limp body. He slammed the trooper down into the other and ran to Moppo. He pulled out a medpac and patched up Moppo and the Gungan’s eyes opened. The rest of the group made short work of the rest of the enemies and they quickly ran off to a safehouse that Sartok knew about.

After the group patched their wounds, they sat around a large table and planned their next move.

Remembering a past conversation with Kelyn, Tor mentioned the symbol he had seen on the slavers the day before. Kelyn inquired about the slavers and Tor explained as best as he could, with help from Sartok and Raltobuck. The scoundrel got a faraway look in his eyes as he mulled over the information.

Kelyn began to talk about his father’s ship and how he had been searching for it for some time. He went on to say that his father had committed suicide in front of him and that Kelyn had come home to find his wife and children dead.

Tor was amazed at the way Kelyn had opened up and revealed so much about himself, something unusual for him.

“You mentioned your father to me before,” Tor said. “But I didn’t know that you had children.”

“It’s nothing,” Kelyn replied dismissively. “I-I don’t want to talk about it, it’s not important right now.” He paused. “You guys are my family now.”

Again Tor was surprised at Kelyn’s revelation. He had known that Kelyn saw them all as friends but to say that he felt like they were all family spoke volumes and as he looked around the table at his compatriots, Tor wondered if Kelyn was right. That they were a family.

I’ve lost everything too, Tor thought. Why can’t these people be a new family?

Tor looked at Kelyn. “I’ll help you find the answers you’re looking for,” Tor said. The scoundrel nodded at the caamasi, thanking him.

The group turned back to their preparations and soon they left, off to find the Imperial stronghold…and some answers.

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Bariss Thoughts Kelyn

While waiting in the sparsely populated caf stand next to half of a remaining park and nearly point blank to the heavily fortified and well protected prison for troublemakers I listened to Kelyn make himself out to be the captain that the Imperial uniform said he was. Thus far he was able to bluff his way into the prison under the pretense of a health inspection.
“Health inspection of an Imperial prison,” I thought, “I can’t believe Kelyn can get away with something like that.”
But it seemed like things were going well. I continued to sip my caf while keeping an eye on Rama whose gaze was obviously more on the two ARC guards closest to him in their tower twenty meters away than the empty berry pit in front of him.
“It’s a good thing both those guards are keeping their attention to the prisoners and not outside the prison too.”
“You gonna buy something or not!”
I glanced the other direction from Rama to Tor and Moppo, it was obvious that they had outstayed their welcome at the food stand. Makes sense since they’d been there for several minutes without looking all that convincing about any of the food. … I hear over the open comm that Kelyn’s found Sartoc the Sarlack. If everything works in Kelyn’s favor we’ll actually not have to kill everyone…again to make this work. Tor’s eyes move from me to Rama as Tor begins his way towards me, “seems like it’s about that time,” I mutter to myself. By the time Tor and Moppo are where I was, I am where Rama was, and Rama is about halfway to a closed store that’s the closest cover to the entrance to the prison Kelyn has both Roltoback and Sartock with only two guards to keep them company. I join up with Rama at the closed store, the two guards ask Kelyn about not having a speeder with Kelyn asking them to provide one. Tor and Moppo get behind the store, the lead guard, Lt. Antilles, gets suspicious of a captain with no speeder and investigates Kelyn. Half a dozen seconds later and Kelyn is about to be found out, so instead of making a plausible series of excuses or risking using one of the encoded cylinders and hoping for the best, the Kelyn I knew well showed up with a frag grenade. However, the Lt. pulled out a frag grenade of his own.
After four guards were dead, but before all of them were killed, and in the middle of our get-away our group revealed itself to be what it was, a rabble. Tor nagged Kelyn about messing up what would have been the first time of any of us not killing to get a mission done, Kelyn replied furiously that he at least wanted the foot of the Lt. since it was chopped off by the prison gate while he flung his hand to Rama, who had looted two of the guard’s corpses, under blaster fire, and Roltoback wasn’t helping any since only Bart and Tor could understand him. Even when I noticed that we had been found out and the ARC trooper guards were after us there still was no consensus. Tor wanted Sartock armed, Kelyn didn’t want him armed or him even un-cuffed, Rama gave Sartock a vibro-knife and Roltoback a blaster-pistol and they looked at each other and then switched for their own preferred weapons, at which point Sartock went into a broken down house to nap, Kelyn was still arguing to Tor about Tor taking the thumb of Carson’s brother that was rightfully Kelyn’s, and the group was about to be under attack.
“Are you two done with your lover’s spat, geeze it’s like you’re married,” I said, trying to get everyone out of their asses and into the about to be fight.
The only reason that any of the arguing stopped was when Tor replied, “I don’t know, I think I want a divorce,” and Kelyn brought out his one line that he keeps to, “This is my family now, you guys are my family.”
Which I personally never understood. A band of brothers made by the bonds of war I could understand. But a family? No. Even though we were about to be massacred, more like because we were about to caught in the open and unorganized and I may never get another chance I just had to say it, “If we’re your family you have low expectations.”
Kelyn locked me with a stare that went into and then threw me, “Well none of you have blown your brains out in front of me, and when I come back home you haven’t killed yourselves and the kids.”

Silence, and it stayed for a clear moment. Even the Imperials were silent, as if they too were waiting for an explanation. Tor got a little bit more out of Kelyn before the Imperials got bored and attacked. Oddly enough, though I guess I should expect by now, we survived with only Moppo nearly dying and Tor freaking out using the Force to decimate the remaining ARC’s. Part of laughing off the close call of death and trying to figure out what was next was engulfed in who of the group would be the father, mother, uncles, and kids. As far as I remember it was Kelyn as the father, Tor or Roltoback as the mother, Bart as the uncle that no one knows, Rama as the older brother whose entirely into sports, me as the traveler, and Moppo as the mama’s boy. It was then that I realized that low expectations are what keep the galaxy turning.

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Bariss Thoughts Rama

Following the space incursion we decided to find a good spot for our vessels to be hidden while we went into town to find answers. As Khalic and I worked on barricading the entrance to the cave with a man-made rock formation Rama walked through the group handing out assorted canteens, waterskins, and flasks to everyone, “A day’s travel through the desert. Drink lots of water and use those breath masks to counter the sandstorms.” Rama finished by giving Khalic and I three water containers each as we stood up to appreciate our handiwork.
“It’s a good thing we have a survivalist with us,” I thought as we started into the desert.

Several hours on the speeders brought us to an old, weather beaten, ruin. While I talked to Mappo more about his future as a pilot, Khalic searched for ancient treasure and Rama growled something about desert supplies. Soon after Rama went to the furthest part of the ruin, two huge scorpion like creatures appeared from the other side of the ruin. Aside from my trusted DT-12 all I could bring to bare when I saw these things was the thought of Rama cooking the scorpions telling us that they’ll taste just like bantha. During the fighting Kelyn and I competed with the speed and accuracy of our blaster bolts while Nemo used a grenade launcher against Rama’s vibro-ax. In the end I was finally able to beat Kelyn’s speed and Nemo killed the scorpion he and Rama were battling, leaving Kelyn with his jokes and jibes about Rama soaked in two of the scorpions’ blood. Rama was furious once the battle was over, apparently just like Nemo, Rama needed a death toll that at least rivaled his peers, if not eclipsed theirs.

A few hours after we moved on and eventually into a swamp, Rama scouted not too far ahead of the group when Khalic, of all people, heard a cry for help. Rama instantly and silently ran farther into the swamp as the rest of the group followed behind, taking our time through the difficult terrain.
“Fools always rush into the unknown,” as the saying goes and I’d for once wanted to be at least slightly informed, Rama was kind enough to inform us all.
“Three spiders, eating human. battle roar ting!whoopsh! Attacking me!”
I looked over to see Kelyn bolt forward and I followed suit.
“The only problem with Rama as a scout is that he tends to take it upon himself to attack first and wait for everyone else later,” I thought to myself as Kelyn and I tried to get to Rama in time. The eighteen seconds it took for us to get in sight of Rama felt a lot longer due to hearing Rama’s being beaten over the open comm. By the time I did see Rama, there was more of his own blood showing than the blood of the dead scorpions. Soon after Kelyn and I fired our shots at the spider attacking Rama, Rama tried to act as if his wounds had killed him in an attempt to have the spider not tear the rest of him to pieces. Rama fell into the swamp, half of him submerged in the water, and spider seemed to believe Rama’s ruse until it moved closer to him. I don’t know why I suddenly jumped up and down yelling at the damn thing, it was just something instant and I apparently thought it would work to save Rama. I’m still surprised it did work, though I wasn’t surprised that once the spider switched to attacking me that Rama got back into the fray using his jet-pack to get a better angle of attack.

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Training in Practice

Khalic’s voice came over the comm into Fullua’s cockpit as the datapack was being transfered. “Okay Bariss here are the coordinates we’re going to use. We’re avoiding the Imperial Base, got it?”
“Understood. … But you know that we don’t need to be covert, Master Denia said so.”
“Right, and Nemo is all the bang we need.”
I turned off the commlink with a sigh. Fullua was all dressed up, I had new maneuvers, and it was doubtful that we’d be killing Imperials today, well killing them in space anyway.
Hyperspace travel is easygoing and boring with the nav computer, but it does keep everyone safe and it did have both ships exit hyperspace together with a Victory II Class Star Destroyer about seven sectors of space away. You see, that’s the problem with Imperials there’s no way to avoid them. Khalic’s voice instantly came on the comm, “That Star Destroyer can’t go beyond those asteroids, or it’ll be too close to Nizon and Nizon’s gravity will take it over.” As a retort to Khalic’s statement the Star Destroyer let out eight V-wings from its hangar.
“A game of chase then, okay Fullua, let’s see how good these Imperial pilots are.”
I accelerated to well beyond the Defiant, to where I was on the side of the Star Destroyer and its retinue; a good distance away from them of course. Three of the eight V-wings flew out to challenge me, two of them successfully laid down canon fire to try to box me into the third’s shot and I was awaiting to do a quick maneuver and dodge the incoming bolts. Sadly the third pilot missed without my aiding him. My hopes of practicing my main maneuvers died with the laser light’s disappearance into the void of space, until I saw that the three V-wings were bunched closely together.
“That’s the perfect setup for a Darklighter Spin! … But V-wings have good armor and shields and the Defiant was being ganged up on. I’ve got to kill these three quick.”
Then I recalled that while training at the Resurgence Khalic had seen me use the Darklighter Spin and gave me the idea that I could link two proton torpedoes together and use them in the spin. Of course doing that during training would have been too expensive, but right now it would be the fastest way to dust these three then aid the Defiant. I began the spin by firing the first torpedo at the leader V-wing, the one that missed. The torpedo hit its mark, blowing the V-wing back towards the two behind it with debris and part of the first torpedo’s blast hitting the back V-wings. Then I quickly accelerated into the loop, preparing the second torpedo automatically and instantly fired it as the loop was completed. The second torpedo hit in between the two back V-wings, where the leader V-wing was blown into. The second torpedo totally destroyed the leader V-wing and finished the other two in one giant explosion.
I was showered in praise by the others as I flew towards the Defiant and relieve it of its remaining attacking V-wings, and before I began blasting I patched into Khalic’s comm and thanked for the esalacha (excellent) idea.
By the time Fullua and I got to the Defiant, the Defiant had destroyed one V-wing and damaged the rest. As I arrived off to the side of a squadron of three V-wings the Defiant made its break to the asteroid belt surrounding Nizon, with the Defiant’s gunners blowing up one of the three V-wings I’d flown close to. As the Defiant left, the one V-wing behind it gave chase. All this time the Star Destroyer was still trying to hit the Defiant, good thing the Defiant was a relatively small target in comparison to the Star Destroyer. With the Defiant blasting away, the then two V-wings point blank to me tried to do a flanking maneuver, as I accelerated into a dive to avoid the canon fire I realized that I missed a chance to do the Vander [Ackbar] Slash. Deciding not to waist the rest of my maneuvers I used the distance from the dive as a feint, slowed to a crawl so as to turn quickly and then punched the engines to end the Segnor’s Loop with an explosion and a quick observation of the Star Destroyer’s new target: me. Once I escaped into the asteroid field and the last remaining V-wing on my tail crashed into one of the flying rocks my piloting exercises were over.
“Four more kills to add to my Fullua’s hull, not bad, not bad at all.”

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Bariss Down Time

“You and I have shared good and bad and I believe that it is time for you to be named.”
I was looking at the Z-95 Headhunter that Khalic had heavily modified with better shields, armor, lasers, and proton torpedoes instead of concussion missiles. Of course modifications aren’t everything since the worst combat piloting I’ve done with this ship was after it was modified. Then again these modifications are definitely bonuses for if…when this group and I get stuck in space combat with more than just one squadron of five Imperial spacecraft.
“Hmm, what name would suit you? … Mezerel (eclipse)? No. Fullua (beloved)? Yes, Fullua my beloved.”
Soon after I had named my beloved and stood admiring her a human walked up datapad in hand. “Gigrig?”
“That’s me.”
“Good, now I don’t have to track you down. The name’s Jon Vander those who know me call me Dutch, and I’ll be training you to fly…” I eyeballed Vander with an intensity that only Duros’ can achieve. “…better than you already do.”
“I know how to pilot and I’m proficient with skimming the surface underneath a frigate’s shields for strafing and bombing runs, as well as the Darklighter Spin maneuver.”
From the start to finish Vander obviously didn’t believe me, “Proficient eh? Well, I’d like to see the level of proficiency that you’re capable of.”
A grin grew on my face as far as it could go, “Whatever whenever to fly again.”
As I climbed into Fullua and began the systems Vander climbed up on the railing and did a quick inspection. Once Fullua’s engines were online Vander looked satisfied. He leaped off Fullua, sprinted to a nearby Y-wing, and a quick comm later we left the Resurgence’s hangar.

The void of space, an immensely large vacuum filled specks of light that seem so close and yet are so far away. Puts everything in perspective if a star system is just a speck. The few moments of elation of flying in space again wore off when I realized Vander’s Y-wing was directly behind me, the comm channel flashed, “Before you start your stunts, I want to see if you can get out of a dogfight.”

“Start when you’re ready then,” I said all the while I knew that it was easy to avoid a Y-wing with a Headhunter. The difference in speed will allow me to outrun the Y-wing, but if we were simulating one that got the upper hand and caught me in a dogfight then I’d have to wait for Vander to engage me and then outmaneuver him. When Vander did engage in an attack I would curve away from the attack, cutting my engines and reducing speed to better turn, with that Vander in his already slower Y-wing would get even closer for a killing strafe run. At that point I’d kill almost all of the engines and turn tightly to the other direction, moving Fullua out of Vander’s path and then fully accelerate to about one sector of space away then while decelerating do a sharp 180 to face Vander’s surprised Y-wing and prepare a torpedo lock. By the time Vander would react and bring his Y-wing about to face me I’d have a lock.
Easy enough Vander acted as I predicted and looked foolish when I blew my engines past him going the other way.

“If you want to keep me in a dogfight you’ll need an equally capable starfighter, or be used to my flying,” the torpedo lock was confirmed, “which none live long enough to learn.” I turned the locking system off.

“You sound real cocky kid.”
“I have limits, but implying that I can’t pilot my Fullua out of a dogfight with a Y-wing is insulting, and that goes for my maneuvers as well. I don’t lie about what I do best.”
“…Okay, let me see your Darklighter Spin then.”
I looked at my sensors and saw Vander’s shields weren’t up yet, “Roger, power up your shields to full.”
“On the asteroids over there Gigrig.”
“I ’m not going to get better without live practice.”
“Later.”

Three days later and I had become proficient with two of Vander’s maneuvers, the Segnor’s Loop and the Vander [Ackbar] Slash. I also added the kills that I had accumulated while flying for the Alderaanian Resistance (seven so far) onto Fullua’s hull. As the days continued and my duties became fewer, even when I was promoted to sergeant and started to train several pilots, my mind began wandering. With so much time and idle hands my thoughts came to my family; my younger sister Anra (Laughter), older brother Levat (Restless, Eager), older sister Rana (Dark Cloud), father Winrel (Trustworthy), mother Ena (Regal), and my extended family that I used to keep in touch while flying with the Banshee. As long as the comm silence was maintained I longed more and more for any knowledge of my family. A week passed when the Resurgence came out of hyperspace near the world O’reen.
“O’reen, a militarized world with a zero-tolerance for outsiders. While the O’reenians won’t take kindly to me asking to use their comms, I doubt they’ll allow the Empire in.”
As I walked towards the hangar to take use a day’s worth of leave I saw Kelyn also leaving.
“Hey Kelyn. What’s up? Wanna hang around on O’reen?”
“Nah, it’s too…limiting for me, I’m off for a nice relaxing day of camping. See ya later Bariss.”

The trip to O’reen was suspiciously without incident; The two vessels on patrol simply made sure I flew into the designated landing pad and I was allowed to land, in a heavily fortified land pad with lasers on both the outside and the inside. As told I left my weapons in Fullua and went towards the only exit where what looked like a customs agent stood with five armed and readied guards behind him.
“What brings you to O’reen?
“Well, I was flying in the Unknown regions and came upon this planet and was hoping that I could use your long-distance comms to comm home, Fullua’s comm’s aren’t capable for anything but short distances.”
“So, you were just flying out here, in the Unknown Regions.”
“Yep.”
The man, obviously untrusting of me, let me pass with an air of reluctance, “Okay, take your first left and follow the road till you run into a T intersection. You’ll be looking straight at a large building, that’s the one you want. DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THAT PATH.”
“Thank you,” I said as I walked towards my destination. Sure enough after walking for several minutes with only the stares of everyone I passed, and a few soldiers who followed me, for company I came to the large building at the T intersection. Granted that there wasn’t any writing or signs that said what the building was for, it was obviously meant as the Central Intelligence of the planet.
“Well,” I thought, “lets hope this ends peacefully.”
As I entered the building a wiry man in his prime with sharp predator eyes greeted me, “Here to comm home, hmm?”
“Yep,” I replied with an earnest smile. “Haven’t talked to the folks in months.”
“Okay, and where will you be sending out your message and to who exactly?”
“Duro, and Winrel Gigrig.”
Hesitation showed on the man’s face, but only for an instant.
“Duro? Well, our communications don’t go that far. Only as far as the Mid-Rim.”
“Poodoo,” I thought, “I don’t know anyone near the rim who can trusted. … Unless Cpt. O’Keefe is vacationing out of the Core Worlds. Hmm, might as well give it a shot.”
“Well, I know someone who might be nearer. Maybe.”
“Perfect! Now you understand the necessity for me to be present during your conversation and the fee for using our communications on our time.”
“Of course.”

The communication signal went through and no surprise that the holoimage part of the comm was cancelled on Cpt. O’Keefe’s end, “YOUR LATE! I ordered the stew special and Bantha delivery an hour ago!”
“Oh poodoo, no codes, no codes!” I kept my worrying to myself, hoping that the intelligence officer was taken aback and surprised, not taking notes. It seemed like he was surprised since I wasn’t breathing through a new hole in my chest.
“No Keefe, it’s me Bariss.”
“Oh, Bariss. Are you bringing me my stew special?”
“No Keefe, I haven’t been able to bring you your favorites for three months now.”
“Honey, when will you go get my food?”
“Oh, you know me. Won’t be around for twelve years.”
“Well at least you’ll get here faster than that darn delivery man. Don’t trust the fast food joints on Ultaari Hun, they suck.”
“I’ll remember that. But seriously, can you comm my folks and see if their alright? I’d really like to know if everything is good at home, you know?”
“Of course sweety, Ah! You hear that? Food’s finally here, talk to you later.”
“Talk to you next week.”
The intelligence officer gave me one of those quizzical looks as I paid him the communication fee, “Same time next week?”
“If that sounds good to you.”
“It does,” he said and started to make notes as I walked out of his view.
“Whatever he thinks he has is wrong,” I thought, “that was Cpt. O’Keefe’s private comm channel, her location was fake and the channel itself varied from time to time but was never the same, and he wouldn’t know what we were really talking about either. Three months of time difference to denote my new line of work and the twelve year reminder that I was set under her wing when I was twelve years old. O’Keefe knows that I’m stuck doing what I’m doing, well she probably knew that a long time ago but now she knows that I understand. I’m learning.”
Same time a week later and Cpt. O’Keefe sent me a datadisk worth of photos and home videos of everyone, even my cousins, nephews, and niece Gless (filled with joy) were saying to hi to their uncle Bariss.

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Reflections from Tor part 22

What have I done?

The body of the Imperial officer fell from the girder away from Tor as if in slow motion, his mouth open in a surprised but noiseless scream.

Tor’s own face opened in horror over what he had just done. His arm was still outstretched in the position it had been in to hold the Imperial over the ledge.

Tor grimaced as the body hit the ground with a sick thump that echoed back up to him.

He turned his head to look down the girder to the control room at the end. He could see Bariss shielding Moppo around the corner, the Duros looking nervously back at Tor. Looking over his shoulder, Tor saw Rama still sifting through the Imperial’s things, undisturbed.

Tor slowly pulled his arm back, still glancing at Bariss. How did this happen? Tor thought.

His thoughts raced over the events of the last few hours. He remembered arriving at the city and being held up by the Imperials. He looked past Rama at the young child sitting on the girder. That’s when the boy showed up. Tor recalled the boy, a child with nothing, picking the officer’s pocket and the Imperials giving chase, with the officer calling out to kill the boy.

He remembered chasing them. His memnii showed him the chase through the streets, the entry into the foundry, the bounty hunter battling away at them, Rama’s scream of pain as the red molten fire covered him. Tor remembered the bounty hunter falling, and remembered hearing the officer on the girder and leaping from the flying speeder up to the top. Tor’s memnii intensified.

He saw the officer pointing a blaster at the boy. Tor confronted the Imperial as Bariss threw a grenade and eliminated his reinforcements. The officer grabbed the child, using him as a shield. Tor’s eyes flared in anger.

“A child!” he roared. “You use a child to hide behind, you spineless trash?!” In anger he reached out to the Force and shortly the officer was down.

Rama quickly stripped the Imperial of his gear as Bariss and Moppo also gathered around as they began to question him. The officer laughed at their questions, referring to the non Imperials and aliens of the planet as creatures and inferior.

“You can’t be mad at me for using a useless creature as a shield,” he cackled. “It’s nothing but a useless animal, just like you.”

Tor grabbed the officer and hauled him to his feet. He gave Bariss a strong look. “Don’t let Moppo watch.”

The Duros’ eyes widened and he quickly ushered the young Gungan to the control room out of sight.

Tor held the officer over the edge of the girder. “They’re people just like you. And the child is just a boy and you were going to kill him!”

The officer’s lip curled back in a snarl. “Animals, the lot of you.”

Tor shook with anger. “Tell me what else you know,” he growled.

“I don’t have anything else to say to you,” the Imperial sneered.

“Then you’ve outlived your usefulness.” Tor opened his fist.

What have I done?

He began to walk towards Bariss and Moppo. The Duros looked somewhat shocked.

Sometimes I forget how young Bariss is as well.

Tor looked at the child he had just rescued. He felt the dark side through the Force from the act he had just committed, but he also felt the presence of the light that he knew came from liberating the child.

I’m treading a dangerous line, Tor thought. I have to set a good example for Moppo, and I need to uphold the values of the Jedi. I must gain a better control over my emotions towards the Imperials.

Tor looked back to the spot where he had dropped the officer.

What have I done?

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Reflections from Tor part 21
or: "The Force is Wrong with This One."

Something’s wrong.

Tor reached out through the Force to the wall that was next to the giant scorpion. He pushed through the Force, attempting to detonate the structure. Chunks of rocks flew out from the wall hitting the scorpion, but with nowhere near the amount of force that Tor had anticipated.

Tor shrugged if off and tried again as his allies blasted, sawed, and struck at the other beasts. He reached out to the Force but his connection felt muddled somehow. Muted in someway. The wall exploded ineffectually again. Tor absentmindedly touched the medallion around his neck as his friends destroyed the remaining scorpions and Rama shook gallons of blue goo from himself.

Odd, Tor thought as the group set off on their journey again. I guess I wasn’t concentrating enough. He looked at Moppo as the young gungan walked along with the others, asking questions and talking with Bariss about flying. I guess everyone still has things to learn.

The group soon came upon a swamp with a small hut in the middle of a swamp. Tor and his friends heard screaming and as they watched, large tentacles whipped around the building in a frenzy, eliciting more screams. Tor watched as Moppo darted forward, using the Force to scan the area. He felt proud that his padawan was beginning to take his own initiative and make his own decisions. He’s already began to come a long way in such a short time, Tor thought.

As he prepared to move, he saw a massive swarm of insects surround Khallic. The cloud of bugs was soon replaced by a cloud of smoke and flame and as it cleared, N3M0 emerged, sheltering his owner.

Only N3M0 could elevate swatting a fly to such explosive levels, Tor thought. Now to try this again.

He opened himself to the Force and let it flow into him. Tor ran toward the edge of the swamp, the Force accelerating his movements. As he reached the waters edge, he leaped, sailing through the air. Tor smiled while he was in the air, glad that the Force was open to him again. Tor landed on a huge rock, a giant spider in front of him. He stretched out to the Force, confident that he would be able to tear the spider away from its prey. Tor attempted to get a grip on the spider through the Force but the Force pushed back at him, his power rebounding and threatening to topple him from the rock. Tor caught himself but looked at his own hands in shock.

Not again! He yelled in his own head.

As the battle raged and Tor’s allies blasted and jetpacked around, attempting to take down the massive spiders, Tor continued to stretch out to the Force, trying to gain a foothold. He tried numerous powers but each time the Force slipped away from him or betrayed him entirely.

There is something wrong here, Tor thought as yet another of his powers proved ineffectual. Is it this planet? Something here that is dampening my access to the Force? He thought back to when the group got their mission and how it seemed unusual that Master Denia had been the one to send them on their way. Questions raced through his mind. Did she send me here on purpose? Did she know that this planet would affect me? Is this some sort of test where I’m supposed to prove my worth?

Tor jumped down from the rock as the last spider finally fell, the thoughts of what everything meant and how it tied together running through his head. Moppo looked up from the dying human next to the hut, looking at Tor for guidance and direction. Tor looked around at his friends and his padawan.

If this is a test, I hope I’m ready for it. He turned his gaze to the sky, where he knew the Star Destroyer was, probably calling for reinforcements like the Inquisitor.

For all our sakes.

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Reflections from Tor part 20

Tor sat on the Resurgence in a circle with Khalic, Master Denia, and Moppo. The four of them focused on the Force, guided by Denia’s wisdom and knowledge. They fed her power and together the group followed the twisting pathways of the Force that were the trail of Khalic’s recent dreams about a female zabrak jedi.

“Concentrate, children,” Denia coached as the others fed her energy. They focused and a moment later Denia exclaimed: “There!”

A vision rushed into the groups’ heads. They saw the image of a zabrak jedi, though only briefly. The face faded and sank into the ground. The vision pulled back slightly and revealed many large plants and fungi that stood out in fluorescent and neon colors.

Both Tor and Khalic gasped, their eyes flying open. They turned to face each other and cried out:

“Felucia!”

A couple days later, Tor and his friends had been given a new assignment and were preparing to leave. Tor approached Kelyn, concern running through him after the briefing revealed that their target was Nizon. Remembering the escape from Bespin and Kelyn’s reaction to the slave ship, Tor was worried about what this would do to the scoundrel.

Tor broached the topic with Kelyn, who assured him that he was fine. I hope so, Tor thought, looking at the scoundrel. Kelyn looks a little worse for wear. I wonder what trouble he got up to while I was gone. I’ll have to ask him sometime. But we have more pressing concerns now.

Tor stood in the cockpit of the Defiance, watching the blue tunnel of hyperspace as the ship flew towards Nizon. He watched as Kelyn pushed off the hyperspace lever and the blue tunnel turned back into pinpoints of stars. Tor’s eyes widened as he saw the dagger shaped hull of a Star Destroyer straight ahead of the ship.

Alarms blared in the ship as Kelyn grabbed the helm and Khalic jumped into the copilot seat. Tor turned, but not before catching sight of several fighters being deployed from the Star Destroyers hangar. He raced through the ship.

“Moppo, get to one of the guns!” Tor called as he passed through the common area. He followed his own advice and was soon in a gun turret. The massive size of the Star Destroyer was ominous as Tor began to blast at the fighters. The massive ship was almost on top of the Defiance and almost filled Tor’s viewscreen.

As the battle progressed, Tor was again proud of his young padawan, showing his aptitude for vehicle combat once more as he scored several hits. A massive explosion flared in the distance and Tor was floored at the maneuver that Bariss has pulled off. While Tor managed to get in a couple of hits, he was quite distracted between Bariss’ ace piloting and Kelyn and Rama’s jabs at each other over the comm.

Once most of the fighters were gone and the Star Destroyer left at the barrier of asteroids, Tor relaxed in his seat, leaving it to Kelyn to get the ship through the asteroids in one piece. He was startled as asteroids exploded. Chunks of the rocks floated and were dragged down into the planet for which they were headed. Tor tensed as he waited, fearing for those on the planet as the rocks flew at them. He relaxed as the sensors showed that they missed the major city, but Tor was still shocked that his team had put those people in such jeopardy.

He scowled at N3M0 and Rama as the two emerged from the gun turrets as the ship set down on the planet. He gazed up at the sky, knowing that the Star Destroyer was still up there waiting. He turned his gaze back to the horizon and gathered Moppo to him, wondering what other surprises lie in wait for them up ahead.

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Be Mindful of the Force Edit
Here is a little errata to be included in my big post due to Khalic tagging along with Tor

Tor ran with the children, following their cues and laughed instructions. He struggled to keep up, but the younglings’ enthusiasm kept him motivated. He felt a slight disturbance in the Force as the day progressed. Not threatening, but something that was different or out of place nearby. He put it at the back of his mind and continued playing with the children.

A short time later, the children stopped suddenly, whipping their heads around and pointing to one side of the clearing. Khalic stood a short way from the edge of the clearing next to one of the huts. Tor’s jaw dropped.

“Khalic!” he called, jogging over to the young zabrak. “How did you get here? Is everything ok?”

The mechanic nodded, clearly relieved that he had found the caamasi in the remote reaches of the Unknown Regions.

Tor led Khalic to a small array of tree stumps and sat down. Khalic began to talk, reiterating some of the things he had told Tor during their time spent building the Defiance, with the mechanic explaining that he had been having strange dreams revolving around a female zabrak Jedi. Tor searched his memory again but his mind revealed nothing some rumors and a few tickles of memory.

Tor frowned and thought for a moment. He looked at Khalic sitting across from him. “I know that you haven’t been trained in the Force, Khalic, but I’d to attempt something and I’d like you to help me. Since the Force is giving you these dreams, you need to be involved.”

The young mechanic nodded nervously. “Stretch out with your feelings,” Tor coached. “Focus. Find my presence in the Force and follow me closely.” Khalic closed his eyes and his brow furrowed. Tor smiled as he felt the raw Force flow in erratic waves from the zabrak. With time and some control, he should be able to make quite a bit of use out of his abilities, Tor thought. Even if it’s limited to his building starships. His touches of insight could help in the fight against the Empire and restoring some of the Force in the galaxy.

Tor settled himself in and closed his eyes, reaching out the Force and the planet retreated from him. His mind soared into the galaxy. He felt Khalic’s presence and grasped at it with his mind. The mechanic reached back and clung to Tor in the Force. Tor led them through the swirling clouds of the Force, searching. He looked at the Force through Khalic. He saw the tints of the dreams, the wispy trails that they left behind. The two followed them, their minds racing through the galaxy. Tor frowned as he concentrated. The trails were broken and fragmented and soon dead ended. Tor felt a sense of familiarity, but it was vague and quickly vanished.

Reality quickly came rushing back as Tor opened his eyes. Khalic’s eyes fluttered open as well, the expression on his face clearly disappointed.

“I’m sorry, Khalic,” Tor said. “I can’t get a clear focus on it right now. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. It’s just too faint now. I urge patience. Perhaps once we return to the Resurgence, Master Denia will be able to assist us.”

“You should stay here though,” Tor continued. “There is much to learn here, and it can definitely help you in this search.”

The young zabrak nodded and turned to watch the children playing around the clearing. Tor watched him for a moment before standing. “Come on,” he said, encouraging the zabrak to stand up. “You’d be surprised how relaxing playing with them is.”

He smiled as the mechanic rose and the two trotted off towards where the rest of the group was, soon running with them throughout the clearing, enjoying themselves despite their setback.

Over the rest of Tor’s training, Khalic split his time between shadowing Tor and Chukal and spending time at the main group, learning some essentials from the people there.

Tor was pleased at the progress Khalic was making, although most of his own time was taken up by his own training from Chukal.

Chukal invited Khalic to follow him and Tor on the last day of Tor’s training. The mechanic agreed and the trio ventured into the jungle. Khalic sat with Chukal on a nearby tree as Tor struggled to lift the debris off of the shuttle that he had brought. Minutes later, Tor strained and managed to cast off the piles of rocks and trees.

Chukal congratulated Tor, presenting him with the necklace that symbolized the completion of his training. Chukal then turned to Khalic. “My people tell me that you have the power in you as well, youngster. And that you have potential.” He looked hard at the young zabrak. “You will find the answers you seek. But keep the power close and at hand.” He looked at Tor. “You have a good guide to lead you there.”

Khalic followed Tor into the shuttle and the two flew off. Tor dropped Khalic at the Defiance and the young zabrak started it up. The two ships took off towards space and a short time later they were both docked in the Resurgence, the zabrak and the caamasi emerging ready to proceed and continue in their ventures.

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Be Mindful of the Force
This post is set during the down time between and is meant to show the furthering of Tor’s education in the Force. Mechanically, this is to allow me to use talents from the Mystic Talent Tree to qualify for the Force Disciple prestige class

The Resurgence drifted silently through space, traversing the Unknown Regions, occasionally making short jumps through hyperspace to throw off any forces that might be following them.

Tor sat cross-legged on the floor of a small room across from Master Denia. The two Jedi had spent several weeks in this way, or slowly wandering the ship, discussing the Force, how to use it, its philosophy, and what it represented. Moppo occasionally joined them but Tor had given him several other tasks as part of his training, knowing that he needed to focus with Master Denia and explore some of his troubling thoughts.

Tor had been glad to reunite with Master Denia after the troubles he had seen while in the company of his new friends. He sought to learn more from her, to gain an understanding of the events that had transpired.

As they had meditated on one of the first days they had been reunited, Master Denia’s brow furrowed slightly as she concentrated. “I sense the dark side within you, child,” she commented softly.

Tor cast his gaze at the bulkhead below. “I know, Master. I was unable to resist its pull. My-my people…they were murdered by the Empire. The entire planet turned to a smoking ruin of glass and death. When I felt the tremor in the Force and realized what had happened, I-I could not control my anger. Not after the purge of the Jedi as well. And when I found the one responsible…I killed him, Master. Fueled entirely by rage and anger. I fell to its tempting call.”

Master Denia paused for a long while, deep in thought. Finally, she brought her eyes to Tor’s. “I felt the disturbance in the Force as well. It was like nothing I had ever known before. And something that I too wish that I could not have to remember.”

Tor looked into the distance scornfully. “I shall never be able to forget, Master. My species’ memories are long lived. And we remember each thing as if we were still in the moment, able to feel the pain and senses of those who were actually there.” Tor closed his eyes tightly. “And I will forever remember what I did while under the control of my anger.”

“Your species’ ability is sometimes a grave one, child. But it may also be a gift as well.” Tor looked into Master Denia’s eyes. “The dark side will always be with you now, Tor. Once it has claimed a hold, it will always be present, whispering its evil intent to you, trying to bend you to its will. Your memories will never let you forget that. Hold on to them. Use them to bolster your resolve. They will remind you of what the dark side can influence you to do. Do not dwell on them, but be mindful of their presence. They will guide you. The light side will not abandon you if you do not let it.”

Tor returned to his meditation, and along with Master Denia, they lost themselves to the Force.

“Tell me, Master,” Tor said as he and Denia walked through the ship days later. “The Force flows through each of us in a different way. I can feel its pulse, but there sometimes seems to be an undercurrent that I can’t reach. Some further depth to be explored. What does this mean?”

The two stopped at a viewport and looked out at the billions of stars that populated the galaxy. Moppo, sensing that this conversation was not meant for him, moved some distance away, respectfully gazing out of a different viewport.

Master Denia seemed to be thinking deeply about her answer. Still looking out at the stars, she spoke. “The Force is like a river, Tor. It flows swift and powerful. Each of us is like a rock within the river, all connected by its current. Those who do not feel the Force are like pebbles in the river, not immune to it, but not able to perceive the wider world they live in.” She turned away from the viewport to look at Tor. “Those, like the Jedi, who can feel the Force are like larger rocks. We are large enough to alter the flow of the river, channeling it into different paths. Each of us is different, the various lines and shapes of our rocks changing how we interact with the Force. Your own rock may be larger than my own, or shaped in a way that is far different than mine.” A troubled look seemed to cross Denia’s face. “Your question is a valid one. But it is one that I don’t think I can answer.”

Tor’s fur rippled as he thought deeply about the implications of what Master Denia had said.

“I must warn you though, child,” Denia said softly, breaking Tor from his reverie. “The dark side is like a stain that runs through the river. If the rock is large enough, or shaped in a certain way, you will find that you may find yourself encountering it more often than you’d like.”

Denia turned back to the viewport as Tor stared at the floor, his face a mask of concentration and thought. After a minute, Denia turned and placed her hand on Tor’s shoulder. She too, had a troubled look. “Nothing more will we cover today,” she said in a near whisper. “Now is a time for contemplation.” She patted his shoulder once and turned, heading back through the ship. She passed Moppo and guided the youth away with her.

Tor paused before looking through the viewport. The stars still shone brightly, but the blackness of space seemed deeper than before, and Tor felt a certain unease, the view no longer providing a sense of peace and comfort like it had before.

On the fifth week of their journey, Tor again sat with Master Denia, both stretched out to the Force. Tor could feel the soft vibrations of the ship as it moved swiftly through hyperspace.

“Stretch out with your feelings,” Master Denia coached. Tor increased his concentration. A moment later he felt a change in the vibrations of the ship as it came out of hyperspace in a new sector of the Unknown Regions.

As he focused his thoughts, his mind suddenly encountered a puzzling presence. He sharpened his thoughts and turned them to a nearby bright spot that had appeared quickly into his mind. An image resolved in Tor’s mind of a small planet. On the planet he could see a bright glow that emanated from a small spot on one of the continents. “Master?” Tor asked, seeking confirmation from Denia.

“I sense it also,” she replied softly. “Be mindful. Concentrate.”

Tor obliged, winding his way towards the bright spot in the Force. As he concentrated, he felt a strange sense of depth. Its touch was comforting but elusive. Familiar but dangerous. It beckoned to him in a quiet way, urging him to explore but in a hushed warning tone.

After several long minutes, Tor slowly retreated his mind from the planet and back to the Resurgence. He opened his eyes to find Master Denia looking over his face.

“Master,” Tor said in a puzzled voice. “There is something nearby. A presence in the Force.”

“I too saw the glow in the Force.”

“It called to me,” Tor whispered.

Denia nodded almost imperceptibly. “This place spoke to you, Tor. I did not hear the voice the way that you did. There is something there that you must find.”

“I felt odd when exploring it through the Force, almost as if the Force could not tell me if it was light or dark.”

“You must be ready to accept what may be waiting for you, child. Until you are, the Force will be unable to guide you to the knowledge you seek.”

Tor rose swiftly. “I must explore this,” he said as Denia also stood.

“I know,” she said, a look of understanding in her eyes. “I will go arrange for the Captain to bring the ship close to the planet.”

Tor nodded. “Thank you, Master. I will prepare our things for the trip.” He moved to begin organizing the few supplies that were in the room, picking up two small packs.

“Oh no, child,” Master Denia said in a quiet voice. “I cannot go with you.” Tor stopped and turned to look back at the Jedi Master. She gazed back at him. “This place has called to you and you alone. The Force has led you to this place. There is nothing for me to gain there. But you have questions, questions that I am not able to answer. This place may hold the answers you seek, but beware. You may not like what you find.”

Tor looked at Master Denia for a long time before slowly nodding his head. “I-I understand, Master.” He began packing again as Denia walked from the room, an uneasy presence seeming to fill the room after she left.

Tor stood in the hangar of the Resurgence at the foot of a ramp leading to a small shuttle. Master Denia approached from a nearby lift tube, Moppo close behind. “Are you ready, child,” she asked as she approached.

Tor met her eyes and nodded. “Yes, Master.”

“Good,” she replied, looking over the shuttle. “I will look after Moppo and continue his training here on the ship. You will most likely not be able to communicate with us once you are on the planet. The Resurgence cannot stay here and wait, they must continue to jump throughout the Unknown Regions so they cannot be tracked. I’ve arranged for the ship to be back in this system in four months.” She met Tor’s eyes with a hard stare. “Until then, you will be alone. Do you understand?”

Tor nodded again. “Yes, Master,” he repeated, although quieter this time.

Denia inclined her head, deep in thought. After a moment she turned back to Tor.

“You must be mindful of the Force, Tor. Trust your instincts. Concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think.” She nodded in a definitive way and Tor picked up his pack. “The Force will guide you, child.”

Tor started up the ramp. As he reached the top he turned to look back down at Denia and Moppo. “Be mindful of Master Denia’s teachings, Moppo. She is wise and powerful and can teach you much.” Tor’s gaze met both of theirs in turn. “May the Force be with you, Master,” he said and turned quietly into the ship.

The ramp began to rise with a hiss, steam coming from the underside of the shuttle. Just as the ramp was nearly closed, a soft whisper broke through the noise.

“May the Force be with you, child.”

Tor sat in pilot seat of the cramped shuttle. He began the take off procedure, hitting several buttons and easing on the repulsors. He was no pilot but he knew enough to get him to the surface of the planet. Plus, he had picked up a bit of know-how from being near Kelyn and Bariss for so long.

As he thought of his friends, Tor hoped that they were safe and having less trouble than he was.

After a moment, Tor turned his attention back to the task at hand. He eased the shuttle across the hangar and out through the magnetic field. He drifted away from the ship for a moment before cutting in the sublight engines. Halfway towards the planet, Tor turned the shuttle around, bringing the Resurgence back into view. He watched the ship drift slowly through space. Suddenly, it sped up, seeming to elongate before disappearing into hyperspace. Tor felt Master Denia’s presence in the Force speed away with the ship, quickly vanishing into space, leaving nothing but the emptiness of space behind.

Sighing and knowing there was now no other choice, Tor turned the shuttle towards the planet and approached it, aiming for the continent that he had seen through the Force. As the shuttle broke through the atmosphere, Tor immediately was assaulted by a storm that the sensors hadn’t registered.

The shuttle was thrown around violently as huge gusts of wind blasted into it. Lightning flashed outside the viewport as Tor struggled to control the shuttles rapid descent. Warning alarms blared as the ship told him he was dropping perilously close to the surface of the planet. He remembered a trick that Bariss and Kelyn had talked about on a few occasions. He quickly cut in the repulsors at full power and killed the engines. The shuttle bounced on the repulsors but was still thrown around by the wind. Tor was unable to see anything through the viewport except swirling gray mist. He stretched out with his feelings, sensing how far below him the ground was. Still buffeted by the wind, he slowly began lowering the power on the repulsors, bringing him lower and lower. He extended the landing gear and lowered the repulsors to nearly zero.

Tor gritted his teeth as the shuttle connected with something solid, sending a hard impact through the cabin. The shuttle bounced, slid, and tumbled across the landscape. Tor could hear snapping and crumbling as he collided with trees and rocks. Finally, the shuttle came to an unsteady stop with a loud bang. Tor checked the instruments and miraculously he saw that nothing was terribly wrong. He shut down the engine and looked again out the viewport. The storm seemed to be lessening quickly, as if its sole purpose was to make his landing difficult.

He gathered his pack and lowered the ramp. He stepped out and was met with the sight of dense jungle. The storm was nearly completely passed, the clouds passing from the sun. Light streamed through the foliage, creating a bright mist with the moisture left from the storm. As the mist settled, Tor was immediately reminded of Felucia. While not as brightly colored, the jungle was dense and wild just like Felucia’s was. Tor sealed the ship and began to move through the jungle, letting his feelings guide his steps.

Tor trudged through the jungle for hours. The environment fought against him, and several times it nearly stopped his progress altogether. Eventually, Tor reached a small clearing and sat back against the trunk of a large tree. As he did, he stretched out with his feelings, trying to sense the presence he had discovered in space.

He felt the strange presence in the Force, but it was fluctuating and elusive. Tor could not determine which direction the presence was coming from. He couldn’t discern whether he was outside of it or in the midst of it. Tor’s brow furrowed in frustration as he concentrated.

It was at that moment that the jungle crashed in upon him.

Tor’s eyes flashed open as he saw branches, vines, and various plants fall violently towards him. He stood quickly and braced himself, reaching out to the Force and holding out his hands. The branches and vines whipped around him, slashing through his clothes and scratching deep lines through his fur and skin. The wind roared in his ears and the branches and vines creaked and snapped loudly, yet underneath it, Tor thought he could hear a sort of low laughing or cheering.

He struggled, trying to use the Force to push back against the onslaught. The cheering intensified and Tor heard a massive rumble followed by an intense cracking and snapping. He looked up and saw a massive tree the size of a space freighter come falling towards him faster and faster. Tor raised his arms and pushed back against the tree, the Force fueling his actions. The tree slowed, but it was barely noticeable. Tor marveled at the power that was being wielded against him. The scope of it was incredible, seemingly exponential.

Tor concentrated as much as he could, drawing as much of the Force to him as he knew how. He strained against the tree, pushing back with all the effort he could. Tor gritted his teeth and slowly, the tree came to a stop about ten feet from Tor’s head. The smaller branches and plants fell to the ground and the laughter and cheering immediately stopped, and was replaced by a growing chattering.

Tor struggled under the massive tree. He shifted his hands and the tree moved to the side at a slow pace. Once it was far enough away, Tor let go and the tree crashed to the ground, sending a small rumble through the earth. Sweat ran through Tor’s fur, and he breathed heavily from the effort of moving the tree. The chattering had died away, and Tor knew that whoever had been making the noise had moved away.

He looked around and suddenly saw a being materialize from the foliage. Tor tensed, preparing himself for a fight, but he sensed no malice from the being.

As it approached, it revealed itself to be a humanoid. It had a deep aqua colored skin covering an athletic body. The six fingers on its hands were long and dexterous. It had stiff hair that almost appeared to be long spikes in colors that ranged from red to blue. As it closed to within a few feet of Tor, he saw that is also had large eyes with deep purple irises.

“You have much power in you,” the being said. “But you have no sense of control.”

Tor was astonished that the being was speaking Basic here in the Unknown Regions. “You have knowledge of the Force?”

The being levitated a rock from the ground into his hand. He looked at Tor. “I have knowledge of what you call the ‘Force’. What you have is no knowledge of a greater realm of possibility. That is what I truly know.” He turned and began to move away into the jungle at a slow pace.

Tor followed a few feet behind. “The Force is a powerful ally,” Tor said, defensive about his abilities. “What is the knowledge you have?”

The being stopped at the edge of the clearing, next to where the jungle became congested again. The trees and plants suddenly split fiercely down the middle, creating a wide path into the jungle that went on for some distance. He looked back over his shoulder at Tor, a deep look in his eyes that spoke of tremendous wisdom. “My name is Chukal. I can tell that you have been gifted with knowledge, despite it being incomplete. But more importantly, I can see that you have potential, which is why you will follow me and why I will teach you what I know.”

Tor inclined his head at Chukal, knowing that he had found the presence he had sensed with Master Denia. He looked at Chukal, knowing that the road ahead was going to test him beyond anything he had known before, but knowing that he would push through it, that he had no other choice.

Tor stood upon a rocky outcropping, halfway up the side of a small mountain. Chukal stood several feet away, watching him work. Tor looked at a large group of rocks that rested on the rocky hillside. He stretched out his arms and called to the Force, struggling to hurl the boulders across the landscape like Chukal had been demonstrating for a week. He strained, closing his eyes in concentration, and felt himself get a hold on the rocks. Tor thrust his hands to side, trying to launch them as hard as he could. He opened his eyes, expecting to see the rocks flying into the ground as great speed. What he saw was the rocks tumbling slowly for several yards before coming to a rest again.

He sighed, disbelieving his lack of progress. He turned to Chukal whose face was downcast.

“I can’t do it, Master,” Tor said breathlessly. “I can move things with the Force, but to constantly generate that kind of power…it’s too much. I don’t have that much capacity for the Force in me.” He leaned against a nearby boulder, breathing heavily.

Chukal shook his head slowly, disappointment etched on his face. “It’s not about generating power. You have the potential for that power within you already!” He paced around the outcropping with an air of impatience. He grabbed Tor’s shoulder with one hand and with his other, pointed one of his long fingers into Tor’s chest. “You are not one vessel for the power, but many! You must think of it like a water cup.”

He moved to the edge of the outcropping, gesturing with his hands as he looked out over the landscape. “You fill up the cup with the power, yes. This much is true.” He turned back to face Tor again. “But what you fail to realize is that there is more than one cup! The more you know about the power, the more cups you are able to fill! Each technique and ability adds another cup, and each one can be filled. What you must learn is how to see these different cups in your mind. To realize that they exist and that they are in your possession! Once you can do this, you will see that you will be able to transfer water from one cup to another as needed, fueling what you are trying to do.” Chukal sighed and moved towards Tor, his skin almost seeming to glow in the fading light. “The more you learn about the power, the more it can give back to you. That, is what you must learn.” Chukal sighed and turned away, slowly walking down the side of the hill back towards the jungle trees.

Tor stared after him, trying to make sense of what his new Master had told him. After several minutes he turned back to the boulders and stretched out with the Force, sweat rolling through his fur and a groan of exertion coming from his gritted teeth.

Halfway down the hillside, Chukal stopped and smiled as the sound of a large boulder hitting the ground harder than it had all day reached his ears.

Over the next two months, Chukal showed Tor numerous things, trying to expand his views, trying to make him connect with the Force in new ways that Tor had not previously thought of. He showed Tor how to move through the jungle swiftly and fluidly, without disturbing the jungle itself. He showed Tor how to survive in the harsh mountains and how to survive the huge storms that arose almost instantly and were devastating in their ferocity.

Tor was making progress, but he still felt like he was missing something, some further possibility that he was barely able to graze with his fingertips.

He followed after Chukal, who was leading him somewhere they had not been yet.

“What will we be learning today, Master?” Tor asked as they moved through the trees.

“Today I will show you that you don’t need to think so much in order to achieve what you want. You need to push past the last blocks that you have.” He looked over at Tor. “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Tor slowed slightly as Chukal’s words reminded him of Master Yoda, now presumably dead somewhere with the thousands of other Jedi who had been lost in the purge, all centuries of knowledge lost along with him. Tor felt a remembered sadness over the loss of the Jedi, realizing that his newest course of education was not an assignment that could be chosen, but a choice born of necessity. There were no other teachers for him, no other paths that could answer the questions he had. There was a time when he would have gone to the Jedi archives to search for other Jedi who had felt this same way. Then perhaps he would have talked it over with one of the Masters, maybe Master Mundi or Master Plo. But these options were no longer available. Tor looked ahead to Chukal. Chukal was his archives now, his source of knowledge. His understanding of the Force was far different than anything Tor thought he would have found at the Jedi Temple. He wondered how these new teachings would alter his development in the Force. He vowed to be sure to chronicle all of it when he completed his holocron someday, preserving everything that he had seen and learned for future Force users to access. He sighed as he realized that his holocron would be the only document to educate people in the Force since the Temple had been destroyed.

Lost in his thoughts, he barely noticed Chukal slowing down. Tor could see an opening in through the trees. “Are you prepared?” Chukal asked him as he stopped walking.

“Yes, Master,” Tor said, preparing himself for whatever brutal test Chukal had prepared for him.

Chukal nodded and stepped through the last of the trees, Tor following close behind.

The glare from the sun blinded Tor momentarily and once his eyes adjusted, Tor was shocked by what he saw before him.

Several small to large huts lined the clearing, made from simple materials. Around the entire space, small children of Chukal’s species ran and played, laughing joyfully. Tor took a step farther into the clearing and looked closer at the children. As they moved about, they would extend their hands, lifting and tossing small items with the Force, throwing them to each other, or tagging each other with clods of dirt. Some were using the Force to augment their physical abilities, leaping into the trees and racing around the clearing. They never stopped to rest, just continued on using the Force and playing.

Tor turned to Chukal, awestruck. Chukal was beaming, his purple eyes twinkling in a knowing way. “Come, come. Let’s go speak with them,” Chukal said, urging Tor forward.

As they came to the center of the clearing, the children all gathered around Tor and Chukal, excited to have others to play with. They pulled on Tor’s sleeves wanting him to join their games. He looked to Chukal who nodded. Tor let the children pull him off into a game of dirt throwing. He stretched out to his feelings and let the Force flow through him, lifting up small patches of dirt and tossing them around. He smiled, letting go of all the things clouding his mind, and allowed himself to become a vessel for the Force, the light he had felt from space filling him.

Hours later, Tor sat in the middle of the clearing, breathing hard after running with the children all day. The children and Chukal sat nearby, some still playing around the area. They were talking with Tor, going through some of the highlights of the day.

“How do you go so quickly from one thing to another,” Tor asked. “No rest in between. Straight from throwing around chunks of dirt to racing through the trees.”

The children laughed. One spoke up. “Silly! Each one let’s us do the other! The power never stops running if you don’t let it!” The child laughed as if he had told a very funny joke.

Another slightly older one piped up. “The more we know, the more it fuels each other thing. We weren’t playing, we were learning.”

Chukal let out a deep chuckle. “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”

Tor opened himself up to the Force, searching his feelings, and as he thought about what he had seen and done that day, and what the children had told him, he knew that they were right. He closed his eyes and as he did so, he could picture the many cups that Chukal had spoken of in his mind. He saw the bright glow of the Force filling each one, and as he focused, the glow began to travel freely between them.

Tor opened his eyes and found Chukal looking back at him with a small smile. Tor stood and looked around at the children. “Thank you,” he said to the children with a smile. “I had a lot of fun today.” The children seemed very pleased by this. They all got up and began to run around again, laughing and cheering louder than they had all day. Tor brought his gaze back to Chukal.

“Master,” he said, a determined look in his eyes. “I’m ready.”

Tor and Chukal spent the following weeks throughout the jungle and mountains, Tor advancing by leaps and bounds each day. Now that he could see the many vessels through the Force, Chukal was able to show him how to effectively and efficiently transfer the Force between them.

Soon, Tor was able to nearly seamlessly transition between powers, fueling them to be even stronger by funneling the Force from one vessel to another. Chukal would often look over his work with a look of satisfaction and pride.

Sometime later, Chukal again led Tor through the jungle. After several hours, they came to an area where there was a large mound of debris, large tree trunks and boulders, along with various other items piled high. The two stopped and surveyed the area.

“This is your last test,” Chukal said somberly. “Your ship is here. The storms have buried it.”

Tor looked at the large mound and could now see a hint of the small shuttle underneath it. He looked over the massive amount of debris covering it. It was a lot, even with the progress he had made in the last few months.

“I can’t help you,” Chukal said, taking a few steps back. “If you are ready, if you have learned what you came here to learn, then you will move it all. Focus. Visualize the flow of the power. You will succeed.” With that he backed away a little further, sitting patiently on a fallen tree.

Tor looked again at the mass of debris. He closed his eyes and stretched out to the Force. He felt his way through the Force, tracing the outline of the shuttle buried deep beneath the debris. He extended his senses outward, slowly encompassing the trees and rocks covering the shuttle. He focused, accessing the vessel in his mind that would allow him to move the objects. Tor brought the other vessels he contained within him into view, each full to the brim with the glow of the Force. He began to channel the Force from each vessel to him, preparing to fuel his efforts. Soon, the cup he was using was as full as it could be. Tor began to secure his grip on the mass of objects, feeling for the grip he would need to shift the mass. As he did, he realized that he didn’t have enough capacity within his cup to power his attempt.

Tor gritted his teeth, not giving up. He focused, and did something that Chukal had not taught him. He increased the size of the vessel he was using, increasing its capacity. He began to pour every ounce of the Force from each other cup into it, draining them and filling the one he was using ever higher. His grip tightened on the mound and it began to shake, ripping new roots from the ground and snapping bark off of the tree trunks.

Tor strained. He pulled every bit of power from himself as he could, just like Chukal had shown him. He then accessed his Jedi teachings, stretching out to the living Force and pulling in the Force from around him. He combined his two teachings, using them both to become a conduit for the Force.

Tor’s eyes snapped open as he felt his grip clamp down on the mound. He raised his hands and the debris followed, shaking and rumbling its way from the shuttle, branches and rocks snapping and crumbling. Tor raised the tons of debris until the shuttle was totally exposed. He moved his arms and the mass flew through the air until it fell to the ground a distance away with a crash that made the ground tremble and sent flocks of birds flying away from the area.

Tor let out a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He turned and saw Chukal standing next to the fallen tree, his mouth open in an awestruck smile. He approached Tor, beaming widely.

“You are ready, Tor,” he said proudly, his purple eyes sparkling. He put his hand on Tor’s shoulder. “You exceeded any of my expectations. Perhaps I should not have been so judgmental of these ‘Jedi’ teachings you spoke of.” He chuckled softly. “Our time has come to an end. You have learned all you can from me, and now it is time for you to return to your own place in the galaxy.”

Tor nodded and looked at the shuttle. He looked back at Chukal. “Before you go,” Chukal trailed off as he reached behind his neck and untied the necklace that he wore there. He held it out to Tor. It was made of a tough looking sort of twine, and was populated by several long claws and brightly colored beads, the largest of which sat in the middle, an entrancing blend of blue and green, a small burst of orange at its center.

“This is the mark of completion for your training,” Chukal said as Tor gingerly took the necklace from him. “It is the highest honor that I can give you. It has been passed from mentor to student since long before any time in memory. I want you to have it.”

Tor gently tied it around his own neck. As soon as he had, it immediately felt like it had always belonged there and he felt a warmth from the Force as it settled into place.

“Take it and carry it with you in your travels,” Chukal said, smiling warmly. “Remember what you have learned here, it will serve you well.” Tor put his hands on Chukal’s shoulders and Chukal did the same to Tor.

“I won’t forget what you’ve taught me, Master. I’ll try to come back someday and tell you how it helped me.” They released their grip and Tor walked towards the shuttle. He keyed the ramp to open and as it hissed open he faced Chukal again. “The power will fuel you, Master,” Tor said, using the traditional phrase that Chukal had told him. “And thank you.”

Chukal smiled back. “May the Force be with you, Tor,” he said, smiling broadly. Tor grinned back as he walked up the ramp and it began closing behind him.

Tor began the preflight check and started the engines. He eased on the repulsors and the shuttle rose off the ground, shaking loose the dust and dirt that had covered it since his arrival. As the shuttle rose higher, Tor saw Chukal sitting on the same fallen tree, looking serenely after him. As he brought the engines online, he waggled the shuttles wings as he sped off.

As he moved across the landscape, he passed near the clearing where he had met the children. They were still there, playing again. As he flew over, Tor took the shuttle in a loop and he saw the children raise their arms, cheering. He chuckled and took off again, and as he did, the children leaped into the trees, following him as far as they could. Tor turned the ship towards the sky and burst through the atmosphere into space, the planet shrinking into a twinkling green orb behind him.

He moved away into the middle of the system, settling back into the chair. Mere moments later, an alarm beeped on the console. Tor sat up and suddenly the Resurgence popped into space a short distance away. Tor smiled. “Master Denia sure has impeccable timing,” he said, keying in the codes to land the shuttle.

As Tor stepped down the ramp into the Resurgence’s hangar, Master Denia and Moppo were waiting for him, a smile on their faces. Tor and Denia bowed to each other and Denia put a welcoming hand on Tor’s shoulder.

“Welcome back, child,” she said warmly. “It’s good to have you back.”

“It’s good to be back, Master,” Tor said, returning her smile. “I’ve learned so much.” He looked down at Moppo. “And I hope you have as well, padawan.” Moppo smiled widely, his eye stalks stretching upwards, clearly glad to have his Master back.

Denia’s fingers brushed the necklace around Tor’s neck, inspecting it. “Yes…I can tell that you have gained new knowledge. I could sense it as soon as you landed.” Her face wrinkled as she focused for a moment. “You have a new presence about you. A depth in the Force.” She smiled widely again. “I’m glad that you found what you were looking for.”

The three moved off into the ship, Tor beginning the long story of the training he had received from Chukal. After some time, they found themselves in front of the same large viewport where Tor had discussed feeling that there was something more for him to learn. As he looked out again with Master Denia, telling his story, Tor felt none of the uneasiness that he had felt the last time he had stood here. He felt confident and eager to reunite with the rest of his friends and to continue their mission against the Empire. Tor also thought of the holocron and his goal to complete it. He had much knowledge to impart upon it and he now felt confident that he would be able to succeed.

At that moment, the floor hummed and vibrated, and as Tor, Denia, and Moppo looked out the viewport, the stars elongated and the Resurgence shot into hyperspace, carrying Tor forward towards his next adventure.

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