The Zabrak female was quite a sight in her tight black clothing and red hair tied back in a sharp pony tail behind her frontal spikes. Her form was slim and attractive and even Tull’s reptilian blood couldn’t help but heat from the woman’s appearance. When she ignited her red saber and came at Tull he knew she was a blade master of no small note. Tull launched at her with his shorter but quicker saber claws. The woman kept swinging her blade in a wide arc keeping Tull at bay enough where he couldn’t get near her body. She was skilled indeed.
The woman pressed her attack constantly, but Tull was able to turn aside every blow that came at him, catching her red blade on his yellow claw blades. The woman was a better sword than Tull, more honed and trained, but the woman was small and Tull had nearly three hundred pounds on her tiny frame. Every attack from him pushed her further and further back. This would end with one of them making a mistake, and then one of them would die. This Zabrak was a Sith, filled with anger, rage, and the dark side, but Tull couldn’t help but admire her blade work. Few people in the galaxy could stand before Tull Raine and live, that this woman was giving him so much trouble filled Tull with a deep respect for the woman.
Over their comm beads Tull heard the call from one of their allies on the Resurgence, they were flying a star ship through the remaining interior of the Resurgence itself. Just as the comm went off Tull could hear metal tearing on metal and he knew the ship would be upon them soon. Tull took a quick look at the Sith and at Padawan Khalic, realizing a stray bit of shrapnel would tear them apart. Tull lunged in close and grabbed the woman’s sword arm as he deactivated his blades, causing her arm to twist and deactivate her own. Tull whipped her own arm around her and pulled her body close to his while simultaneously pulling Padawan Khalic near him and pushing both Zabraks down to the ground, shielding them with his own body.
As the ship came hurtling through the interior to end on their floor red hot metal sheared off through the hallways all around Tull and the two Zabraks. Tull could feel burning metal dig into his back and all up and down his legs. Tull’s armored skin was hard enough that the metal just lodged in his outer layer of skin. Painful, but not deadly. Had he not covered the two Zabraks the metal would have likely sheared them into pieces.
Standing up Tull left Padawan Khalic on the ground as he spun the red haired woman around in his huge hands. She gave him a look of utter confusion as she rested in his massive grip. He could have snapped her spine with a squeeze if he so chose. Instead, as Tull felt the Resurgence going into its death throws, Tull tossed the woman into the turbolift she had recently exited and slammed the express button to the nearest hanger bay. As the door slid closed the woman sat on the turbolift’s floor with her mouth agape.
Good luck Sith Beauty, Tull hopes to see you again and show you a better life like Tull has found.
Tull knew he had done what a Jedi should.
- – -
As Tull and Wizard finished their lightsaber training both of them were breathing heavily. Tull had managed to get many more hits on Wizard than Wizard had gotten on him and while in a true battle the Force would lead Wizard to a victory over Tull it was clear to both of them that Tull had surpassed Wizard as a duelist. This meant that Tull was quickly climbing the ranks as one of the more skilled lightsaber duelists left in the Galaxy. It was, after all, a dying art.
As Wizard called Tull over he sat down on the ground in a meditative pose. Tull sat next to him as his friend smiled. “Tull my friend, I know that while you are one of the truest Jedi I have ever met, you hold some resentment that you have no connection to the Force.”
Tull looked into his lap for a second before looking back at his friend’s fur lined eyes, “Tull wishes often he could do the things you, Padawan Khalic, and Knight Moppo can do, but Tull does not let these feelings go beyond day dreams. Wishing for things that can never be makes us angry when we don’t get them, and Tull knows the dark path we can fall down Wizard. Tull may not be a Wizard, but he is a Jedi none the less. Tull knows that in his heart, so that is all Tull needs.”
Wizard got the small smile on his face he so often got when they talked of the Jedi or the Galaxy or life. Tull had quickly learned it meant that Tull had said the right thing. Tull was glad to see his friend smile again. Their talk of the deaths on Bespin had been hard on them, especially Wizard who relived things by simply remembering them. Tull had wanted to be angry at Wizard all the time after discovering the truth, but in his friend’s presence the anger melted into compassion and understanding. Tull was not innocent of evil himself, yet he found redemption. So too had Wizard, and to Tull nothing was more powerful than redemption.
The Sith Beauty flashed through his mind before he pushed her deep back inside himself and started counting his training regimen. Tull had found that simply counting the regimen could keep simple mental probes out of a person’s mind. Even though Wizard had not tried such since his first weeks with Tull the Barabel still wished the Sith Beauty to remain secret. She was his duty as a Jedi to worry about, and Wizard did not need more stress on his mind.
“Well Tull, just the same, let me show you something. Meditate with me.” Tull closed his eyes and began the meditations he did in the morning when he awoke and at night before he slept. For a force user these meditations would calm the mind and prepare it for the trials of duty. They did the same for Tull, though in a more philosophical way than those who could manipulate the force. After a time Tull started to feel something touching at him, or perhaps him touching at something. Something new and different.
“Open your eyes Tull,” came Wizard’s voice from what seemed far away.
As Tull opened his eyes it was like seeing a whole new world, as if he had gone his whole life without seeing color and suddenly awoke to find he now knew the colors of the rainbow splintered into their million different shades. The world seemed both brighter and sharper, as if everything had been in a haze before and it had suddenly cleared. Tull could feel pulses around him, like a fan’s wind blowing on his face, but emanating from the people around him. It all felt like the time Wizard had guided his mind among the floating Taun Taun dolls, but multiplied by a thousand. Tull could feel the strength in Padawan Khalic through the ship, the sharp energy coming from Carson Mann, and Wizard himself was like the flaring of a sun.
Tull’s breath started to come more rapidly and he felt as if he was going to faint from the overload of it all. If Wizard lived every day like this Tull could not imagine the pain and chaos he must feel in combat.
Wizard reached his hands out and grasped Tull’s shoulders, “Easy my friend, I am here and you are safe. Let me show you the Force.”
Over the next several hours the two spent much time touching the force and changing it in small ways. Wizard explained that this awakening would be by no mean permanent, but that if anyone deserved the joys of touching the living force it was Tull. Near the end of the training Wizard helped Tull to direct his mind to lift a small wooden cube. Wizard helped greatly and before long Tull found himself actually moving the little cube with his mind. All of a sudden Wizard removed his help and Tull was lifting the small cube alone. Tull put every inch of his being into the small cube and found he could keep it afloat and even turn it slightly. Tull had often lifted a dead weight of near a thousand pounds in the Dool Arena training rings. This small wooden cube felt three times as heavy as anything he encountered in his training.
After a time the cube floated to the ground under Tull’s control and the Barabel let out a huge sigh of relief and exertion. “Wizard, does it. . .does it always hurt that bad?” Tull asked thinking of the times Tull had seen Wizard lift thousands of pounds with the force alone.
“Every time Tull. Every time,” Wizard said with a wistful look. “Now Tull, we focus our selves and end with meditation.” As the two focused their minds Tull found his slipping away from him and he was suddenly in a different time and place.
Tull saw his Egg Father Shell screaming on the floor of a prison cell, getting prodded by Daze as her cruel master laughed behind them. Tull felt as if he could reach out and touch them. He smelled the burning flesh.
Suddenly Tull was pulled away to a ring he knew well, Dool Arena. In it was Tull himself fighting for his life against a monster of a warrior. Khule Zin was a freak of nature by any standards standing at three meters tall and six hundred pounds, dwarfing even the huge Tull. Khule was a Cathar, but many believed he had mutated in the womb and ended up the freakish beast he was compared to his normally sleek and lithe species. Khule’s fur was a dark black and his claws near on six inches. As Tull slammed everything he had into the cat beast he was picked up by the mighty Khule and smashed into the ground. Tull remembered that hit shattering nearly ever bone in his legs. The great cat beast leered his searing gold eyes at Tull as he clamped down on the lizard’s shoulder with his massive jaws and flung him around like a play thing. Tull had nearly died in the fight and spent the best part of the next month being bathed in bacta when his owners could find it. It was the worst fight he had ever had, and the last one he ever lost. Tull had never again fought Khule Zin in the ring.
Again Tull was pulled away and found himself in a small alcove in what must have been a huge library. Around him people in Jedi robes walked here and there as a female Barabel Jedi was having a quiet but heated argument with a young human male, also in Jedi clothing. He wore a small braid on a close cut head of hair.
The female Barabel keeping telling the young man the same thing, “You aren’t ready. The Order is being too reckless with young Jedi, trying to make Knights out of children. They will get you killed if they send you to the front.”
The man scoffed at the Barabel, “You are a fool. All you do is walk around here with your visions. They’re the only reason any one bothered to train a primitive like you as a Jedi in the first place. I’m a better Knight now than you could ever hope to be.” The young man said as he stormed off.
The Barabel Jedi got a sad look on her face and whispered, “Good luck my Padawan. This One had to leave another so he can someday find his place in the galaxy, so perhaps now This One must do the same for you. Trust in the friends you’ll make, and maybe you can start the path he will someday help finish.”
Just as Tull reached out to touch the woman he was whisked away to see Kelyn Captain pull a young girl out of a trough of water. She was dead.
Finally Tull returned to the here and now and found himself once again out of breath. “Tull had a vision Wizard! Many!”
Wizard nodded and said, “That is good Tull. The force moves on its own, it wished to show you something today. Keep what you wish to yourself if you so choose. They were meant for you.”
Tull nodded back and got a large toothy smile on his face, “Thank you Wizard. Tull is truly a Jedi Wizard now, no one can deny that. Thank you, this is the greatest day of Tull’s life.”
And so it was, for a time.