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A New Player in the Force (SW/Gamer)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by USSExplorer, Apr 24, 2020.

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  1. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Hmmm...

    On one hand, going with Dooku will greatly increase his ability to affect the man.
    On the other hand, meta knowledge says that going with Fay will (likely) give him a degree of freedom to act that is unmatched by any other possible Master
     
  2. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    Generally, the quests/missions in this are generated by Cam thinking about something, then a quest being generated.
    Though there are a few given/suggested by TPTB.

    And with any quest, Cam has the right to not accept (though he'd not really thought that way just yet ;))
     
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  3. Threadmarks: Crystal Stars 1
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    The sun was just creeping into the room as I growled as I looked at my private datapad. It was the one that contained the flight logs of the ship that brought me to Coruscant and the worlds of the Sith Empire – and was stored in my Inventory – but that was not what I was not what was making my anger grow.

    What was grating on my nerves was the fact that every idea I had about how to delay, weaken and counter Sidious' plans seemed to boil down to the same underlying issue: Money. Whatever I could think of – beyond just assassinating the current Senator, which the PtB had suggested with the 'Sever the Head' quest would actually make things worse in the long term– were long, drawn-out plans that would take time, effort and money. Lots and lots of money.

    "I really need to figure out how I'm going to go against what is probably a massive, secret war-chest that the Sith have built up over a millennium, if not longer," I muttered as I looked at the list.
    • Develop my own army. Not clones, but loyal.
    • Create/take control of a mega-corp.
    • Found my own Force Order.
    • Accelerate the development of certain tech. (X-Wings, personal shielding, etc.)
    • Discover and colonise a safe harbour for Jedi/Force users.
    • Eliminate key people.
    It was a short list on the surface, but each choice led to a separate document that held further ideas. Yet none could truly advance until I had access to millions, if not billions, of credits.

    "I wonder if I can get Dooku to become Count without leaving the Jedi?" I mused, figuring that the title must've made him rich. That was based on what was seen of his private estate in the Clone Wars cartoons, but there was always a chance the title was more political than financial; like many minor members of the royal family in Britain in my past life. Sure, they all lived very comfortably, but I think only Queen Elizabeth had much in the way of financial holdings; and even then, she wasn't close to being the richest person in Britain.

    "Right so how do I make money?" I muttered as I tapped my finger on the table beside the pad as I sat quietly in my quarters. "I could invest in companies that create the battle-droids used by the Trade Federation, but even then, I need cash to do so," I growled once more. "Maybe I should just rob someone," I muttered with a small chuckle which petered out as I started to consider the random idea.

    "Maybe I could rob someone. It's not like everyone in the galaxy are nice and deserve what they have. And I could use Compulsion to…" My self-discussion trailed off a small hatch in the wall near the door opened and a scuttle-droid rolled in. The things wandered around the temple constantly cleaning the floors while other droids cleaned the walls or carried supplies back and forth. "Buggers are everywhere," I mumbled as the droid sped around the room.

    As I watched it speed around, my mind wandered as to how much access this droid – and its siblings – had to the Temple. They had to have access to every room in the place, sleeping quarters, training rooms, the hanger bay and council chambers. Heck probably even had access to the Holocron V…

    'OK. Now that could be useful.' I thought as I focused on the small tan-brown droid. 'If droids have a way into the vault, then it is possible I could use it to gain access to the Holocrons.' I needed to get my computing skills to higher levels and I remembered I had a quest to do just that.

    I called up the quest lists and expanded 'Just Don't Get Caught'.

    'OK, the rewards don't kick in until I'm 16 it seems, but nothing is stopping me from getting to the base levels earlier. And the three short term quests I have don't overlap so I don't have to worry about taking time for them from working on my other skills.'

    Those three quests were Competent Duellist and Trainee Space Ranger/Ace. The first was just a push/reward to get Makashi to Professional 1 before the year was out while the two Trainee quests were to get the piloting skills for space and atmosphere to Adept 1 in the same timeframe. They had come to me once I had started flight training after the Initiate Trials had ended; about three weeks ago. It was interesting that Dragon Clan was being taught by Knight Lhan, one of the four Jedi the Council of First Knowledge had recommended for me to take as my trainer.

    I was not going to refer to whomever it was – if it was anyone as I was still considering just going solo, though I was less keen to do so now that I realised Sidious knew about me – as Master as the term held issues with granting someone power/ownership over me. How the Jedi didn't see that Anakin must've felt the same I didn't understand but put it down to institutionalized blindness.

    I was drawn out of my thoughts when the cleaning droid smacked into my foot.

    "Damm it you little… Go away!" I growled. The droid ignored me but a small purple notice in my log drew my attention.

    Force Power Usage: Compulsion
    Power Failed!
    Half XP granted for the attempt.

    NOTE:
    Droids are immune to Compulsion/Mind Probe/Memory Rub

    "Huh?" I mumbled out as I read the notice. I could get XP for Compulsion by using it on droids; though it wouldn't work successfully. That was broken as hell, but I was so going to exploit it over the coming years.

    Assuming Mind Probe and Memory Rub were what I suspected they were – reading and manipulating minds – and that they were advanced forms of Compulsion like how Lightsaber TK was to TK, then if I could get all three to high enough levels, I could simply take control of certain individuals.

    Though it would take a long, long time to get the powers levelled up as Compulsion was 250FP a pop and I had to assume the others would be even more expensive/taxing to use.


    "Something to work towards, without making it a quest," I added to prevent my interface from offering another quest. This was going to be a slow, background plan that I didn't want interfering with my current, and future, short-term quests.

    Was I abusing the powers I had? Probably, but why shouldn't I use and abuse them to give myself the best chance to succeed and survive in this galaxy.

    I went back to watching as the droid as it continued to move around the room and hit it with Compulsions until I ran out of FP, then became bored as it kept cleaning then I began to think about where the main control system was for the cleaning and maintenance droids in the temple, and how easy/difficult it would be to access that room.

    'I imagine it is behind multiple locked doors with cameras and other security measures in place to avoid tampering. Hmm, entering the room would be difficult, however, if I was to install a worm into a cleaning droid, it might upload that to the central computer. If programmed correctly, I could have the computer transfer everything that happened in the Temple to an outside server, provided it had network access, which I could then pursue at my leisure. Damm, that seems like…' "Fuck!" I spat out as my train of thought led me to realise that I may have just found a huge flaw in the Temple's security.

    I lifted my datapad and quickly opened another file. This file covered the ways that the Sith could monitor/spy on the Jedi. I suspected they must have access to Senate records – especially since Palpatine was a Senator – but I hadn't considered they could actively spy on the Jedi themselves.

    "Great, so I just found a potentially major security flaw. I would assume the Jedi have closed that flaw, but if they haven't…" My voice trailed off as I stared at the droid as it left my room. "Well fuck."

    I dropped the datapad back in my Inventory and exited the room, planning to find someone to tell. But who to talk to?

    Dooku and Sifo-Dyas were out. While both were respected and Sifo-Dyas sat on the High Council, both talked regularly with Palpatine so he could ask them subtlety who had closed the flaw; which would draw his attention to me even more.

    Fay, while someone held in high regard by other Jedi, was not a regular to the Temple, so I doubted she had much understanding of the daily activities that went on here. Lhan was a new Knight, so lacked authority.

    "Guess I need to find Yoda or Windu then." I murmured to myself as I walked the quiet corridors. Now just to find them. The most likely places at this time in the morning were either the mess halls or a meditation room. But which way to go?

    "Ug."

    "Damm." I spat as I crashed to the floor having bounced off someone and fallen backwards.

    "Cameron? Are you alright?" A male voice asked, and I looked up to see Master Giiett looking down at me with a slightly creased brow.

    "Yes sir. Just was lost in thought." I replied as he helped me stand before I gently patted my robe. "Sorry for not looking where I was going."

    "I believe we were both guilty of that Cameron." He countered as he reached down and picked up a datapad. "What has you moving so fast this early in the morning?"

    I opened my mouth to mutter out a half-hearted excuse when it occurred to me that Master Giiett might just be the Jedi I needed to talk to. He was a High Council member and a Sentinel; a Jedi charged with hunting down Dark Side users and their influence across the galaxy. Sure, he and the rest were missing the Sith Lord in the Senate, but otherwise, I felt he was competent at his job.

    "I, I think I've found a security breach," I said slowly. "I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that I'm not."

    Giiett's brow creased as he looked down at me. "And what is this breach you believe you have found?"

    I mentally thanked him for not just ignoring my concern as I think some of the other High Council members might.

    "I…" I paused as another cleaning droid – though it could've been the same one as from my room – shot across the floor behind him. "I would rather discuss that in private. Away from anything that could monitor us." I said slowly, tilting my head to the droid.

    Giiett's eyes caught my movement before drifting skywards for a moment. "Hmm. Perhaps that would be for the best. Come." He turned and walked back the way he had come from and I quickly fell into step beside him.

    "I saw the recordings of your performance in the Initiate Trials," he began as we entered an elevator, "and read the reports from the Council of First Knowledge. I had expected you to do well in the Trials, but phasing, teleporting and showing an interest in Makashi?" He chuckled and shook his head. "There is doing well, and then there's rubbing everyone else's faces in the dirt."

    "I… that was not my intention." I countered slowly as we exited the elevator and I noted we were now on levels that Initiates were restricted from going to unaccompanied. "I simply knew I had to think outside the box if I wanted to do well."

    Giiett laughed and shook his head. "You did more than 'well', Cameron. You shattered the course record for the obstacle course. And I mean the temple record, not the Initiate one. And you made Master Dooku smile."

    "What?" I couldn't help but stumble and blurt out at that comment. While I respected Dooku's ability with Makashi, and actually enjoyed the gruff no-nonsense manner he had – probably as it reminded me of my old life – I had never seen the slightest hint the man could smile.

    Giiett laughed once more as he glanced at me. "He smiled. Sure, he tried hard to hide it, but I have known him since I was an Initiate." We entered a small room that was obviously an office of some sort as Giiett slipped around the desk and sat while indicating for me to do the same.

    "Now, what is this concern you have?" He asked and I explained what I had considered about the droids and how someone could use them to monitor them every day, and restricted if the droids had access to the Council chambers, workings of the Jedi.

    Through my short explanation – which avoided getting into why I was thinking about the droids and their programming – he sat there quietly and when I finished, he leaned back in his chair and tapped his forefingers on his chin while his hands were overwise interlocked.

    "Hmm. I admit your concerns are valid. The droids, cameras and external data requests are all recorded by a central computer core. And while that is regularly checked to ensure it is free of external programs, it does link to a secure mainframe within the Senate." He tapped his forefingers a few more times against his chin. "I believe that this mainframe is also secure, but we are talking about politicians here…"

    Normally that little comment would earn a small smile from me, but not today. "Who would have access to the mainframe?" I asked. Hopefully, I didn't come off as too curious/aware, but I had to get him thinking about the potential dangers that existed.

    "To my knowledge that core is for the Chancellor, their staff, and select Senators. If any of them wished to know about what went on within the Temple, they are free to do so. However, if one or more of them were, persuaded, to provide copies of those activities, then we could be looking at a serious problem." It looked like he agreed with me, but the way his brow seemed to both lower and rise made me think he'd thought of something else that was a bigger threat than just knowing what Jedi did every day within the Temple.

    We sat in silence as I pondered just what else beyond droid recordings could be on this Senate computer and Master Giiett's brow furrowed as he considered whatever was going through his head.

    "Thank you for bringing this to me Cameron." He said as he suddenly leaned forward and placed his hands on the table. "I will discuss this with the High Council, and we will take appropriate actions to ensure this potential security breach is removed." His words were calm and relaxed, but the furrows in his brow didn't vanish.

    "Yes sir." I hoped he could convince them to do something about it, but until I knew for certain, I was going to have to be very careful of what I did and said around the droids, or in any room with recording devices.

    His nodded and leaned back as a small smile came to his face. "Now, what drove you to focus on Makashi when almost no-one, Knights and Masters included, do so?"

    I shrugged. "The main part of the combat trail was one-on-one combat. Of the three Forms I had been shown, the only one that was designed for that was Makashi."

    Giiett nodded as his smile grew a touch. "Yes, that is true. Most Jedi choose Soresu or Ataru, though I prefer Shien. And that is because I find myself dealing with an inordinately large number of blaster-wielding foes on my missions." He chuckled at what I had to assume was a private joke. "Are you staying with Makashi?"

    Again, I shrugged. "For now, yeah. Though from my reading of history I do know there are far less Sith around than when I was born." That drew another chuckle. "Perhaps later I will study another Form, but not until I feel I have mastered my current one." And unlike the others, I had a built-in system that told me when I had done that. Once Form II was at Master, I planned to try to train up Shii-Cho and Soresu. Hopefully, by the time of Episode One, I would have at least mastered those three Forms.

    "Hmm, so you will be taking Dooku as you master?" Giiett asked as he leant forward.

    "I have not decided on whom I wish to learn from, though all of the options given to me by the Council have their strengths."

    Giiett shook his head, though he continued to smile. "Spoken like a diplomat. Your grandfather's teachings I assume."

    "Yes sir." No that wasn't why I was being careful, but it was the best reason that anyone had come up with so far as to why I hadn't instantly picked a trainer. The others were pushing me to take various Jedi, though none suggested Dooku, and that was only after they got over their annoyance that I was being 'fast-tracked'. Actually, now that I thought about it for a second, Serra had never been annoyed. She had simply given me a massive smile and a nod before asking who was to be my 'Master'. Damm, I hated that term so I could only imagine how Anakin would feel about it.

    "Very wise. Very wise. Now, is there anything else you wish to discuss? It is time for the morning meal and, while I do not know about you, I am famished." She asked as he stood.

    "No sir," I replied as I stood even as I wished I could tell him about Palpatine and everything else, but the instructions for my power had said I couldn't just tell someone about what was to happen. And I had tested that last week when talking with Sifo-Dyas. Instead of saying Palpatine was a Sith Lord, I'd called him a smelly lady! It seemed I was going to have to hunt for the proof I needed after all.

    He nodded and we walked out of the office to begin the day.

    ...


    ...

    "May I join you?" I lifted my head at the request and saw Master Fay standing on the opposite side of the table that I was using in the Archives, a slight smile on her face as our eyes met.

    I nodded and the elegant Jedi slid onto the bench beside me.

    "If I may ask, what are you reading?" She asked calmly.

    I shifted the datapad to her as I answered. "I'm learning about my family," I replied. The datapad was currently showing an overview of Satele Shan's time with the Order.

    After getting the clearance from the Council of First Knowledge, I'd spent an hour a day in the following week researching and reading about whatever I could find about Revan, Bastila and now Satele. The information contained in the Archives, or at least the freely available information, was nothing useful/impressive and did nothing to improve on what I knew of Raven and Bastila from the KOTOR video games.

    Satele however, while mainly just a long, long list of bullet points about her career, was more helpful. I had never played TOR so apart from the name, I knew nothing about her.

    "Ah, Satele Shan. I remember reading about her when I was a Padawan." She slid the datapad back to me and her smile had curved upwards. "It is a shame the public records are so, dry."

    I felt my brow lift at her comment. For a normal child, it would've seemed innocent, but I caught the less than subtle markers suggesting she knew more than she was telling.

    "Did Satele, or my great-grandparents, leave a recording or diary? Maybe even a holocron?" I asked, figuring I'd play her game to see if it led somewhere. Plus, the more time I got to spend around the lady the better. She easily put any woman I had ever met to shame with her beauty and the way she carried herself.

    "Hmm, I believe that Grandmaster Satele did create a holocron after the war with the Sith, but I never checked if there was one from Revan or Bastila. Though I highly doubt it has survived to the present day. Ignoring their non-accepted views of marriage and family, the Sith attacked and held Coruscant during the war when Satele was Grandmaster of the Order." She paused and tapped her fingers on the table. "Still, if they had created a holocron, then I imagine Satele may have tried to save and protect it from the Sith. Revan was, a curiosity, too many, including myself."

    "Truly?" I blurted out, and Fay's smile turned into a small grin.

    "Yes. When I was but a Padawan, I admit to finding the story of the Prodigal Knight most… enjoyable." Her eyes wandered off to a spot before returning her gaze to me, her eyes seeming to bore right into my soul. If I was a normal child, I would've squirmed under the intensity of her gaze, but I did not.

    "You have something of him in you. Oh, your face is different, as are your colourings, but I can see that same, certain something to you. The same energy that he seemed to radiate is within you. Many cultures have their own words or phrases to describe it, but I like jate'kara."

    "Jate'kora?"

    "Jate'kara." She corrected quietly. "It translates into basic as 'a course to steer by'. It implies that someone has been touched by the Force, fate, or some other power, to be or do, something important. Though I imagine the galaxy at large tries its best to keep such people limited." She laughed a soft, musical laugh, and brushed a loose strand of hair out of her eyes.

    "What do the tattoos mean?" I blurted out, as I had missed them when we had first met as I was distracted by her, but now I was curious about them, and I felt a heat build in my cheeks.

    I almost engaged Player's Mind, but I didn't want to rely on that power too much or risk her wondering why I had suddenly become so in control of my emotions. Oh sure, The Jedi might preach about letting go of your emotions, but I was less than a year into their 'training' and I knew that other Jedi showed emotion; case-in-point, the lady sitting with me, whose emotions were clear to see at my abrupt – ok rude – question.

    She continued to smile even as her fingers traced the twin lines on her left cheek. "You are the first Jedi I have met in a very long time who has asked me about them." She sighed and looked away from me, towards one of the windows in the upper walls. "They are a reminder of something that happened a long time ago."

    I felt my brow rise in surprise at her seeming admission of having cared deeply, if not loved, someone long ago and I kept my mouth shut as she continued to look out of the window; her brow having drooped, as had her smile. Figuring she needed time, I returned to reading about my great-great-whatever niece.

    "How does your training go?" I lifted my head to see she was now looking at me once more, her face calm again.

    I shrugged. "It's fine. The flight lessons with Knight Lhan are helping to pass the time and I am learning more every day."

    "And?" She probed, her lips twitching upwards at my neutral answer.

    I sighed and looked around to make sure we were alone. "I'm bored! I mean, the others have spent their entire lives growing up here. It's home. But for me…" I stopped there, unsure of how to exactly phrase my mounting frustration.

    "It is just a place. Nothing more. Indeed, it probably feels like a prison." She finished for me and laughed at my surprise/shock at her so easily hitting the nail on the head. "I am much like you in that regard. Oh, I was raised here from before I can remember, but I always felt a… pull to leave. To explore the galaxy. Many Jedi are the same but most still regard the Temple as home, but to me, it is nothing but a place now." She paused and now it was her turn to glance around before leaning closer.

    "I should not probably say this, but I do not like this planet. It feels like a world basking is decay and deceit. That feeling has only grown stronger over my time away from here and even now, in this great Temple, that feeling of decline is clear to me."

    "Have, have you spoken to others about this?" I asked, genuinely curious as to if she could feel the corruption of the Sith and the plans that were coming to fruition, and if she'd informed anyone of her sensations.

    "No. I have not mentioned it to anyone here. Indeed, I am unsure as to why I even mentioned it to you." She paused and stared into my eyes, tilting her head in the process. "You are far older than you appear and something about you guided the Force to return me here."

    "Well, I am technically three-and-a-half thousand years old," I replied, hoping to deflect her attention as a tingle went up my spine.

    She smiled at the bad humour. "Yes, while your legal age is far older than anyone else, that is not what I meant." She leaned forward and her hands lifted my head gently. "Your body is young, yet your inner energy, the part of you that is both part of the Force, and yet not, is older." Her hands left my cheeks, yet I could still feel their touch, and she sat back.

    "Jate'kara." She said that word once more and smiled at me as her head tilted to the side. "The Force has marked you, of that I am certain. And I believe you already know this."

    I opened my mouth to deny her statement but paused. She was right in that I was here with a purpose, but just not one of the Force's making. No, just my own choice and the power of someone/thing far beyond the Force. So I decided to play on it to probe in my own way.

    "I have heard others hint at something similar. A prophesy about a 'Chosen One'." I didn't hide my annoyance at them thinking I could be their saviour as I left that prophesy dangling.

    Fay laughed even as her brow rose. "Yes, I imagine many would think that way. The child of the Prodigal Knight, sent across time and space, having killed a pair of Sith without any formal training. How could the masses not believe you were a gift from the Force?"

    "I only killed one Sith, and that was blind luck." I felt the need to correct that point.

    "And yet that is what no less than five Masters told me you had done; including one rather frustrated member of the Council." She chuckled softly and shook her head. "People always look for a cause, an ideal, a champion. They are willing to follow without truly understanding and that often leads to more problems than it solves."

    Before I could ask what just she was on about, she stood.

    "Forgive me, but I have taken up too much of my time and have an appointment with Master Yoda."

    "Any time spent with one so wise and beautiful is well spent," I replied, though I instantly wondered why I had just attempted to flirt with her.

    Her musical laughter filled the air. "Such a charmer. Already I fear for my fellow females when you reach your majority."

    She continued to laugh as she turned and walked away, and while I shouldn't have, I watched her go.

    She stopped just as she was about to disappear from my view and my gaze moved upwards to meet hers. While I couldn't hear her, I could see her laugh a little as our eyes met and I felt the heat return to my cheek. 'Dammit! I'm meant to only be 8! I need to act like it or others might suspect something is off about me.'

    Fay shook her head even as she smiled and resumed walking, leaving my field of vision.

    The moment she did, I remembered about the Cleansing the Temple quest and felt an urge to smash my head against the table. I should've said something to her about it, maybe hinted that I felt something off below the main Temple and see if I could persuade her to take me on a trip downwards.

    "I will have to remember to mention it to her the next time we talk," I muttered though I didn't know when that would be. Today was the first time since meeting Fay that I had spoken to her, and one of the four months for me to select my trainer had already past.

    Fay was the only one of the four Jedi Masters who I hadn't talked with until today, though my only words with Dooku were regarding my lightsaber training. Sifo-Dyas and Lhan both actively sought me out for conversation.

    Truthfully, Lhan's continual need to ask me a question first during flight classes/training was annoying everyone in Dragon Clan and had quickly soured me on choosing the only Jedi confirmed to be leaving the Temple that might become my trainer.





    The original idea for the Competent/Trainee quests came from Blaze1992 on FFN.

    And at this point, I generated the first of two polls to help decide the colour for Cam's first lightsaber.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
  4. Miestwin

    Miestwin Monster on the outside, bishoujo on the inside

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    Could you post a tiering list for the skills and mark it as informational/extras?
    I'm always forgetting what's the order of Novice, Adept, Professional, Master, Savant, Prodigy, when I'm reading, and it's annoying as hell to search for it in the first chapter.
     
    Balra likes this.
  5. Extras: Notes and Details
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    Skills and Force Powers

    Most Skills and Force Powers have six strata.
    Novice
    Adept
    Professional
    Master
    Savant
    Prodigy


    Each stratum increases in difficulty for levelling up.


    Training Quests are designed to reward Cam increasing a given skill.
    The strata aimed for and the time taken affect the amount of EXP on offer.
    The go in rank,

    Quest nameTraineeCompetentExpertGenerationalLegendary
    Strata aimed forAdeptProfessionalMasterSavant Prodigy






    Force Points versus Midi-chlorians

    Yeah, this is a weird one.
    As best as I could come up with, Force Points are a measure of how easily Cam can access and use the Force with the number of points per level determined by his Perk linked to the Force.
    At creation, he had three perk options for accessing the Force:
    Force Sensitive Force Adept Force Prodigy



    These place him at a level where the Jedi, Sith and others would be interested in him for his Force sensitivity.

    Using the table below, the three perks link to Intermediate, High and Very High Force Potential.
    Force PotentialNegligibleMinimalLowIntermediateHighVery HighExtreme
    Midi-chlorian Count<10001000-2500 5000-7000 7000-10000 10000-15000 15000-20000 20000+
    Most Jedi are between Intermediate and Very High, though Anakin and other rare cases (i.e the Hero of Tython) would be in the Extreme range

    This should help to explain Cam's midi-chlorian count and also Force Potential (once it appears in the story)




    Levels for Jedi

    While this is just a guide, it should help for determining where Cam stands in relation to others in the Jedi Order (and without as well)

    Initiate <= 11 Padawan: 11 – 22 Knight: 19 – 28 Master: 30+
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2020
  6. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    Created the note page that should help for remembering.
    If there's anything else that you'd like added, let me know.
    Though I do reserve the right to withhold certain notes until the story has reached a relevant point. ;)
     
    Miestwin likes this.
  7. shakeval

    shakeval Not too sore, are you?

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    Its kind of sad that unless the MC does something serious and doesn't fucked it up he may end up coming back from a long distance mission with his new teacher and find dooku missing and one or two others dead, although I'm sure new knights have some sort of mortality rate.
    But seriously, he needs to munchkin the hell out of his training, with 550% he needs to figure out if he can do moving meditation, stack that with form 1 practice, maybe he can get a couple of those floating training droids so he's in combat and actively use all those combat techniques.

    Question, can he learn to fly, in the animated clone wars movies, the scene with doors and ventress showed dooku either floating or flying. . . . .
     
  8. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    Levitation is a Force Power that will be discovered as time goes by, but like many advanced powers, it has requisites before it can be learnt.
     
  9. shakeval

    shakeval Not too sore, are you?

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    Requisite. . . . .falling from a great height
     
  10. Threadmarks: Crystal Stars 2
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    "Watch your footwork, Funt," I stated as I watched the Sullustan duel Aayla. He didn't reply but slid his rear foot back a touch. "Good. Now relax and just guide Aayla's attacks away from you."

    I observed as Aayla came at Funt using her preferred Ataru, while Funt tried to use the basics of Makashi. He, like a few others in Dragon Clan, had come to me about a week after the Initiate Trials had ended and asked for help learning the basics of the Form.

    I had suggested they go to Dooku for instruction, but strangely none of them found my idea appealing.

    So here I was, two months after the trials, guiding the members of Dragon Clan through the basics of the duelling form.

    "You're really good at teaching," said Serra from my right side.

    "Yeah, much nicer than Master Dooku," agreed Lon Boglid, a younger Duros member of the clan who was standing on my left. "I actually enjoy these sessions."


    "That's good, but remember not to state such a thing within range of Dooku," I replied to Lon, my eyes still watching the duel. It was a very slow affair as I had made sure that whomever the aggressor was – usually Sia-Lan, Serra or Aayla – they would not directly use the Force while attacking and slow their movements down. Everyone was a little confused as to why I had them do so since they hadn't done slow katas or spars since they were younglings. I had reminded them that Makashi was a form that none of the clan, save myself, had spent any real-time learning, so if a spar was conducted at regular speeds, they would instinctively fall back to their preferred form.

    "Pause," I said loud enough for Funt and Aayla to hear me. Both stopped their motions as I stepped towards them. "Funt, slowly go back to where you blocked her last strike."

    The pair revered their actions until Aayla's blade was halfway-down an aggressive arc.

    "Stop there. Funt, when Aayla's blade came down, you raised yours fully to block it. Why?"

    Funt blinked once, then shrugged. "Why shouldn't I? I stopped her attack." His tone was calm, though there was a hint of annoyance which I suspected was because, of all the members of the clan, he was struggling the most with Makashi.

    I reached forward and placed my hands on his. "You did yes, but if you had done this…" I looked at Aayla and she resumed her attack, though even slower than when they were sparring.

    As she did so, I tilted Funt's blade so that Aayla's attack would be guided away and to one side of Funt's body while exposing Aayla's midsection.

    "… then you would've been able to strike at her and gain the advantage." I finished as I released my grip. "Remember, Makashi isn't about simply defending yourself, but about fluid motion, balance and precise strikes. Guide your opponent where you want them to go. Make them overcommit to their actions while you stay balanced."

    Funt nodded, and I stepped back from them.

    "Resume."

    I watched as they continued from the new position even as I noted a skill level-up in my notice box. With a subtle flick of my wrist, I opened it.

    Skill Levelled-Up!
    Teaching
    Novice 9
    ...

    I had gotten this skill when I started these sessions. Each level granted a small boost in the ease with which my 'students' learnt from me.

    "Well done. I didn't think anyone could get through his dewflaps and teach him so easily," said Darihd quietly enough that the combatants didn't hear with his amusement clear to hear. "You're going to make an excellent instructor one day."

    "He may one day be, but he is not one yet."

    I spun around at the familiar adult voice, my hand instantly reaching for where my lightsaber would be – if I was carrying one – and saw Masters Dooku and Drallig standing behind us.

    Drallig was relaxed, his eyes on Funt and Aayla, but Dooku's were locked onto mine the moment they met.

    "What is going on here?" He asked sharply and I caught sight of Darihd and the others quickly and quietly moving away from me to avoid being in Dooku's glares. 'Traitors.'

    "Sir, after the Trials, a few members approached me for pointers on Makashi. Soon others did as well, and so I arranged an introductory session to the basics, in which I feel I have sufficient proficiency that I could pass them on." I replied calmly.

    Dooku's eyes narrowed and he glanced at the rest of the clan before returning his gaze to me. "And why did you not ask Master Drallig or I to conduct these sessions?"

    I glanced at the rest of the clan and noticed a few pleading looks to not throw them under a bus. "I felt I could handle the very basics of the form and did not wish to bother you or Master Drallig with something that may not have resulted in any of my clanmates choosing to take further studies in Makashi. If that occurred, it would have resulted in a waste of your time."

    I spotted Drallig nod once at my reason, but my focus was on Dooku. If I handled this well, it might help ingrain me with him more. More learners of the form he considered the True Form might help persuade him that some Jedi were worth saving.

    "Your reasons are valid," he said slowly, and I felt the corners of my lips twitch in triumph. "However, neither Master Drallig nor I have stated you are proficient enough to teach even the most basic katas of Makashi." And the twitch ended.

    "Perhaps you should test him then," Drallig said, a smirk on his face as he looked at me. "From what I saw in the trials, and in the regular sessions, he is competent enough to be tested on the form."

    "He is too young."

    "Nonsense. Unlike a few of the other forms, Makashi does not count strength as a major factor. You know this better than most," Drallig countered Dooku's argument. "Besides, I am sure we both agree that more students of Makashi would be a good thing."

    Dooku's eyes narrowed further as he turned back to me. "Perhaps you are correct. Come Initiate." He pivoted, his robes billowing out and forcing me to take a step back to avoid being struck by them, before marching away.

    "You should do as he says," Drallig said with a rueful shake of his head. "Actually, I think you should all come. It will allow you to view a pure Makashi duel, which will help you determine if you wish to commit to the form or not."
    "Yes Master," said Darihd.


    We all followed the Jedi Battlemaster to the main sparring hall. Dooku was waiting in the middle of the smaller sparring circles and tossed me a training lightsaber as we approached.

    "During this exercise, you may only use Makashi. The usage of katas from another Form will result in your failure. If you can survive five minutes without sustaining three glancing strikes or one killing blow you, it will be accepted that you understand the basics of Makashi well enough to carry out simple training katas for your clanmates.

    "However, if you fail, not only will I forbid you from holding your training sessions, but you will be forced to spend an hour each day under my tutelage until such time as I am satisfied with your proficiency with Makashi. Do you accept these terms?" Dooku asked as he ignited his lightsaber – seeing it blue instead of red was still a little strange for me – and swished it a few times in the gap between us.

    Quest Alert!
    Duel of Contention (Challenge Quest)
    Prove your (basic) competence with Form II
    Rating: C
    Objective:
    Survive 5 minutes in a duel with a Makashi master without suffering 3 tags.
    Bonus: ?
    Rewards:
    Increased reputation with all Jedi.
    Heavily increased reputation with Master Dooku.
    Permission to hold elementary training sessions in Makashi for other Initiates.
    500EXP
    Failure:
    0-300EXP (based on how long you survive)
    1-hour daily tutoring with Master Dooku for 2 months.
    Loss of reputation with all Jedi.
    Accept?
    Yes/No

    NOTE:
    Challenge quests are quests directed at you by another to prove yourself.
    This can be for a specific skill, a title, a competition or for other reasons.
    These quests carry lower EXP rewards than regular quests, though they often grant reputation boosts with large groups or offer different rewards for competitions.
    Challenge quests cannot be denied without incurring an automatic failure.

    'Son of a… I either accept it and probably get an arse-kicking, or reject it and fail. That's just… Actually, it makes sense, I guess. Especially, as this whole power is unbalanced in my favour, to begin with.'

    "Yes, sir. I understand and accept." I said out loud as I ignited my blade and stepped into the circle. I knew from training that I could only keep on Precognition and Bullet Time together for around four minutes, and as soon as they auto-engaged, I planned to turn off Precognition. While both would be useful, a faster reaction time would grant me the best benefit during this spar, and I could always turn Precog back on if I started to struggle; provided I had the time/FP to do so.

    Dooku gave me a fractional nod of his head. "Master Drallig, on your word." We both raised our blades in salute before swinging them downwards.

    "Begin."

    Dooku stepped forward and probed my defences with a flurry of short, sharp slashes. None of them were difficult to avoid or parry and after the initial attack, Dooku stepped back and gave me a very fractional nod. Hopefully, it meant he was satisfied with my defence. Before I could consider it though, he came at me again, far faster than before.

    Thanks to Bullet Time, I was able to keep up with his thrusts, slashes and probes, though I quickly could tell that he was still taking it easy on me, even as I began to struggle with the constant storm of movement.
    Eventually, his constant attacks exposed my blade arm and he clipped it, earning a point in the duel and costing me a few dozen HPs.


    "Your defence is sound, though you lack the strength and reach that will come with age." He said as he stepped backwards, not taking further advantage of the hole he had created in my defence. "Now then, let us see how well you can attack."

    I nodded in acceptance of the command and stepped forward to probe his defences, even if I knew the odds on me breaking through and scoring a hit were minimal at best.

    I was proven right as nothing I did seemed to expose an opening in his stance for me to exploit even as I activated Force Speed in the hope that a faster attack would help.

    I wasn't sure how long I attacked for since I was only concentrating on him and not the small countdown in the upper left of my vision, but suddenly I spotted a gap that seemed to expose his left thigh.

    I moved my blade to exploit the gap, only to stop as and ignore it. The moment I did so, Dooku parried my latest jab and tapped his blade against my forearm before stepping backwards.

    "Why did you not take the opening?" He asked as we reset out stances.

    "The chances of me succeeding in breaking through your defences are slim, and while the gap was only there for a moment, it was too obvious and large to be anything but a trap."

    His lips twitched even as we saluted each other once more. "Good." He said nothing else before he came at me far faster than before and I was instantly on the defensive; taking one step back. That step was followed by others and I knew that if I did not do something soon, I would be forced from the ring and lose the spar.

    In desperation I ignored an attack that was heading for my left side and pivoted away, dropping my lightsaber from my right hand to my left, and frantically jabbed the blade out in blind hope that it would block an attack I knew was coming.

    As I ended my pivot, my eyes bugged out a touch as the tip of his blade was now right between my eyes with my own weapon in no position to help.


    "I yield," I said calmly, knowing the fight was over and Dooku pulled his lightsaber backwards and extinguished it even as he clipped it to his belt.

    "Your attacks are slow and predictable yet controlled. Perhaps you do understand more than just the basics of Makashi." He said spoke slowly with no audio or visual clue if he was impressed or disappointed in how I had done even as he turned and looked away from me. "Time?"

    "Seven minutes, eighteen seconds." Master Drallig stated and my head whipped around to see the Battlemaster was standing there with a large smile on his face; and that there were more than just the members of Dragon Clan watching us. "I know you stated he only needed to survive five minutes, but I felt the other Initiates would benefit from seeing Makashi in action from one of their own."

    "Indeed." Dooku turned back to me. "Your execution is commendable for one so young. You may continue instructing your clanmates in the basics of Makashi, but I reserve the right to test them at a time and place of my choosing."

    "Yes, sir," I answered as I tried – and failed – to stop a grin from creeping onto my face.

    Dooku gave me a short nod before walking away, which allowed the rest of Dragon Clan to rush into the ring.

    "That was awesome!" Shouted Jyl as she bounced over with the others. "You made Dooku smile!"

    "And you landed a strike on him," Sia-Lan added giving me an unexpected smile with a sideways tilt of her head.

    "What? When?" I asked since I had no memory of doing so.

    "When you pivoted out of position," Darihd explained. "You managed to tag his forearm without looking. Sure, you lost, but we all knew that was coming."

    "Not all of us," Aayla stated with a smirk as she glanced at Serra, who avoided my gaze when I turned to her.

    "That was pure luck. I only extended my lightsaber in a vain hope to stop him attacking while I lost sight of him." I explained to the Clan as I looked at each of them in turn. "Master Dooku is many levels beyond where I am and has decades of experience of using Makashi; probably in real combat."

    "Yeah, but that was still awesome! The way the two of you seemed to flow without really moving was incredible. I want to learn Makashi." Jyl stated with firmness in her voice. Up until now, Jyl hadn't shown any interest in Makashi, though she came to the sessions, preferring Soresu.

    I smiled at the younger girl. "That's fine but remember that every Form has its own advantages and drawbacks."

    "I know, I know. But Makashi looks graceful, fluid." Jyl smiled as she looked skyward. "It feels right."

    I had nothing to add to that and so just nodded at her.

    "Well, you'll have to try Makashi next session. We have flight training with Knight Lhan in ten minutes, and I doubt Cameron being tested by Master Dooku as a valid excuse as to why we are all late." Darihd stated after a glance at his datapad.

    As we moved off to our class, I slid to the back of the group and accessed my interface.

    Quest Completed!
    Duel of Contention (Challenge Quest)
    Objectives:
    Survive 5 minutes in a duel with a Makashi master without suffering 3 tags. [Yes]
    [?] Score a hit on the Jedi Master [Yes]
    Rewards:
    Increased reputation with all Jedi.
    Heavily increased reputation with Master Dooku.
    Permission to hold elementary training sessions in Makashi for other Initiates.
    500EXP
    300EXP

    'Nice, though I wish I actually knew what my reputation was with everyone.' Currently, all that was displayed on my Reputation page were two lists – Jedi and Others – with some details about the various beings I had met. There was no indication of what my reputation with anyone actually was, and I wouldn't find out that until I turned eleven, and the system 'upgraded'. Whatever that meant.

    'Still, this should boost my standing in the Order and hopefully increase my chances of preventing Dooku's fall.'

    I waved away the message and caught up with the rest of the Clan to continue the day.

    ...


    ...

    Quest Failed!
    Miner's Run [Challenge Quest]
    Objectives:
    Complete the challenge in the quickest time. (Casualties will result in time penalties.) [3rd]
    [?] Destroy a target (5EXP/target) [20]
    Rewards:
    100EXP
    100EXP

    'At least I got EXP for my 'kills' and not coming last.' I thought as I waved the quest failure notice.

    It referred to an instant quest created during what was hopefully my last flight training class when Knight Lhan randomly split Dragon Clan into four teams and gave us a challenge. If my team had won I'd have earned a chance to fly a real ship, but given that my teammates were the two youngest members of the Clan to be allowed to take flight training, and that I'd already flown on a starship, I wasn't too concerned about failing my first quest. I was just glad we hadn't finished last, as that would've resulted in a loss of Reputation with Dragon Clan.

    The only quests that I was worried about failing were the Changing Fates quests, as if I failed them they would make things worse for both me and the Jedi – though I was more concerned with my own fate that the Order's – and the two quests that would lock my skills at a certain level for years.

    "Congratulations to Blue Team," Lhan said with a smile that exposed fearsome-looking fangs as Aayla, Serra and Jyl bounced around in enjoyment at winning. "Also well done to Cameron, who scored the highest number of kills during the competition."

    I acknowledged him with a slight nod but had no other reaction to his statement. Since my teammates had been the youngest, and least experienced, on the simulators, during our attempt at the mission, I'd acted as bait for the 'defenders' and drawn a majority away from the target. That I'd managed to kill so many was due as much to the program's low level as it was to my own skills at flying and combat.

    "Knight Lhan, may I enter?" We all turned to see Master Ima-Gun Di standing in the doorway.

    "Of course, Master Di." Lhan replied with a partial bow. "We have just finished class for the day."

    "Yes, I was watching on the monitor outside," Di stated as he took a few steps into the room. "Blue team worked extremely well as a unit." I glanced to my left and noted the three girls all sit up straighter at the praise. "However, that is not why I am here. Initiates Bykys and Shan, the Council of First Knowledge wishes to speak with you both. Come with me."

    Darihd and I stood and followed the Nikto Jedi Master through the halls of the Temple. Since tomorrow was the first day of New Year's Week, I knew that it was time for me to make my choice regarding which Jedi would be my 'Master', and I was hoping I could convince the Council of my choice. I could only hope that Darihd had also been chosen as a Padawan if he was also being summoned by the Council. I didn't think he was being reassigned to one of the corps, but either way, I planned to try to keep in contact with him as loyal allies were going to be needed in the coming decades.

    The walk was done in silence, save for Master Di greeting other Jedi as we passed them. Many of those Jedi stared intently at me as we passed. I was not enjoying the fact many saw me as their Chosen One but figured I could put up with it since I was soon to leave the Temple and it would hopefully mean some of them would not try to fill Anakin's head with the bull when he joined.

    However, I had no intention of staying in the Temple to be trained as I needed out to begin prepping for the war to come. I had had a revelation about how to begin to earn credits, but that needed outside access, like almost every other thing I needed to do before the war came.

    "Initiate Shan, please wait here. Initiate Bykys, enter with me." Di stated as we arrived in the antechamber for the Council of First Knowledge.

    I gave Darihd a smile and a nod in support before he followed the Jedi Master into the chambers. As the doors closed, I sat down on an empty bench and considered how I was going to get what I wanted, though how to go about it was still uncertain as I worried the Force would be a factor in this argument, yet I still didn't know how it 'saw' me.

    The one thing I had taken from that brief explanation about the Force was that it saw both the Jedi and Sith as unbalanced, which suggested to me that if I could find a new, better, way, the Force may just decide to help me. Then again, it could just as easily decide my new way was worse, and subtly act against me and those who stood with me.

    Perplexing did not even begin to describe the Force. And the less said about TPTB, the better.

    Good, you're learning.
    We are so far beyond you, that you cannot understand our ways.
    But know that whatever you choose to do with this new life, we accept.
    Live your life, or don't.
    Be a Jedi, a Sith or something else.
    Engage in what you call Virtues or Vices.
    All of this is your choice.

    'Sometimes I don't know if the PtB are simply uncaring, or do things like give me these powers to amuse themselves. It's like they act like both the Prophets and the Q at the same time.' I thought, using the two Star Trek omnipotent races as examples. Examples that should not be compatible, yet both worked to, at least partially, explain to me what I felt TPTB were.

    "Eh, best not to dwell on things I cannot control or understand for too long," I muttered as the message from the PtB vanished. "List Quests."

    QUESTS
    These are the story chains that will help push and shape your new life.
    Quests come in various forms, from repeatable simple ones to long, multi-part campaigns.
    Most of your activities will be set up as quests, however, you are free to decline most quests.
    You can also create your own quests if you are willing to push yourself beyond what would be considered easy/safe.
    All quests are rated from F to S*** for difficulty, with anything rated B or overrunning the risk of bodily harm, if not death.
    Current quests, with rankings, are:
    Tremors of the Ancient Sith Empire (S***)
    Forge your own Path (N/A)
    Cleanse the Temple (B)
    Changing Fate [Dooku] (A)
    You Can't Hurt Me [User Defined] (B)
    Stones of Muntuur (S*)
    Wipe That Grin off her Face [User Defined] (D)
    Changing Fate [Anakin] (S**)
    Just Don't Get Caught [User Defined] (C)
    Changing Fate [Qui-Gon] (B)
    Changing Fate [Sifo-Dyas] (B)
    Trainee Space Ranger [User Defined] (C)
    Trainee Ace [User Defined] (C)
    Competent Duellist [User Defined] (C)
    Competent Swordsman [User Defined] (C)
    Trainee Defender [User Defined] (C)
    Two are Better Than One (B)

    For more details, on a quest, tap it or say 'List Quest' followed by the quest required.

    Competent Swordsman and Trainee Defender referred to quests for Shii-Cho and Soresu that I had taken when I'd examined my skills after being challenged to prove my competency with Makashi and found I had past Professional 1. I had decided to try to improve those two Forms during my nightly training cycles. Only needing to sleep once every thirty days thanks to the Force Power Serenity was just ridiculous, but I had to learn to exploit these seeming flaws in my special powers. If I had truly understood how RPGs worked before I had created my new life, I would've done things differently during the creation of my new life; like taking Eidetic Memory instead of Photographic Memory. Though I would correct that mistake the first chance I got.

    Still, there was no point on dwelling on things I couldn't change. "List Quest, Two are Better Than One."

    Two are Better Than One [User Defined]
    Gain 2 Jedi Masters as your formal trainers.
    Rating: B
    Objective:
    Convince the Council of 1st Knowledge that both Fay and Dooku should become your Masters.
    Rewards:
    2000EXP
    +25 ranks in skill [Persuasion]
    Failure:
    Loss of reputation with whoever doesn't become your trainer and lack of access to them for 5 years.

    The quest had been generated once I'd made up my mind last week to try to gain both Dooku and Fay as my trainers. The risk of failure was big, especially if I lost access to Dooku as that would probably remove the reputation gain I'd made during the Duel of Contention quest and would greatly increase the chances of me failing the Changing Fate [Dooku] quest.

    Still, I was going to try anyway to get both as trainers, and even before the quest had been generated, I'd expected to lose access to whoever wasn't assigned as my 'Master' if I failed to convince the Council of my wish, so all in all, the risks were acceptable.

    "Initiate Shan, the Council is ready to speak with you." I stood at Master Di's statement and spared a glance for Darihd. He was smiling happily, so I hoped that meant he had been assigned a Master that he was happy with. As Master Di turned back towards the chamber, I quickly activated Player's Mind and the Force Powers of Enhance Stat and Enhance Skill. The boosts weren't much, one stat point to CHA and a handful of skill levels for Persuasion, but any help was welcomed for what I was about to attempt.

    Entering the chambers, I saw all five members of the First Knowledge Council were present. The seer, Nilas, gave me a small smile as she turned to face me.

    "Greetings once more, young one. Please step forward." Astaal Vilbum said with a smile on his heavily wrinkled face. "Do you understand why we have called you here today?" He asked as I stepped into the centre of the chamber.

    "Yes, sir. And I have reached a decision, but I wish to explain it to you," I replied as I took a breath.

    "I already suspect your choice young one, and my vote you have, if that is indeed the case," Nilas said, the smile growing a touch.

    I nodded at her, even if deep down I was worried that the Force was letting seers know what I planned before I did anything. I am the master of my own fate, not the Force.

    "Thank you. When I was last called to face this Council, I was given four choices for whom to take as my Jedi trainer. Knight Lhan is engaging, friendly and eager. Master Sifo-Dyas is a diplomat of renown, and who also appears patient and willing to listen to the concerns of younglings. Master Dooku is the Jedi Order's true master of Makashi, and a firm but fair trainer who has little to no patience for excuses. Master Fay is… a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. She is a very powerful Force wielder, yet she reminds of my first schoolteacher in how aloof she is."

    "That is a fair assessment of the four Jedi who we feel would be best to become your Master," Adi Gallia said with a slight upturn of her lips. "And I am impressed you have gotten such accurate impressions of them at your tender age. But what exactly does this have to do with your choice?"

    "I feel that I need to explain my choice, and before I do that, I wish to make it clear that I hold no ill-will towards those I have not chosen." That earned me nods or smiles from the entire Council. "Truthfully, my choice is.. unusual I suspect, but it is what I feel the Force is guiding me to." OK, not totally true, but I knew I had to play every card I could to make this work.

    "And what is your choice?" Master Piell asked, his ears twitching as he leaned forward.

    "With this council's permission, I would accept either Master Dooku or Master Fay as my Jedi Master, however, I wish to learn equally from both."

    The Masters looked at each other, their smiles faltering – save Nilas, whose own smile grew as she gave me a nod, meaning this was the choice she had seen in a vision. I again ignored, for now, the fact the Force was able to predict my actions. That was an issue to think on for a later date.

    "That is...an unusual request," Astaal said slowly after a moment of silence that I suspected the Council had used to talk with each other telepathically. "Do you have reasons for making this request?"

    I smiled a touch at not having my request rejected out of hand. Now to explain my reasons and see where things went.

    "Master Dooku is the undisputed master of Makashi, the form I find myself drawn to, and while he can appear to be uninterested in training, I find his strict and concise lessons rewarding." OK, I planned to learn all seven Forms to at least Master levels, but there was no need to state that here and now.

    "Master Fay is, something undefinable. At least to me. There is an energy, a pull, that I cannot deny the feeling. I would not assume to suggest it was the will of the Force, yet I cannot deny that the few times I have spent with her have been more enlightening than anything else I have learnt with these walls." I knew that if I had said some of that after I had hit puberty, it could've had a hidden context, but since I was not yet affected by those physical and psychological changes, I hoped the Council would not worry about that issue. That Fay was essentially a Space Elf had nothing to do with my opinion, though it did make me curious about her species.

    "Your reasons are sound, yet no Padawan is assigned two Masters. Why should we make an exception for you? Do you feel you are special?" Master Di asked with a frown that pulled the horns on his head closer, giving him a slightly demonic look.

    "I am no more or less special than anyone," I replied slowly, having expected this line of questioning. "My, admittedly limited understanding of the Jedi Code states that we are to forgo attachments, yet it is common practice to assign an Initiate to a Knight or Master, thus creating a bond of attachment from a child that has never known a true parental figure. From my thinking, I am led to believe that this is allowed as it maintains loyalty to the Order above all else." I noticed that Gallia was nodding while both Nilas and Astaal were smiling as I spoke.

    "I, on the other hand, have already had a parental figure. I have suffered loss, and know that death is not the end, but merely a natural part of the circle of life. As my grandfather used to say; 'We are born of the stars and return to the stars upon our deaths.' Thus, I am far less likely to accept any single Jedi as a parental figure going forward."

    "Well spoken, yet I have yet to hear a reason for granting you the right to have two Masters," Piell stated, a crease in his brow making his ears droop in a way that would've have made me chuckle at the silliness/cuteness of it if not for Player's Mind being engaged.

    "I already formed bonds to others before the Order, and while yes, those people are gone, the bonds to them, and what they taught me still exist in here." I tapped my head. "I respect what the Order is, I wish to learn more and help protect those that cannot protect themselves, yet that loyalty to the Order that all others my age have, I do not. And I do not think time spent with a single Master to guide me is enough to help me fully integrate with this ideal, or the Force."

    Some of that was true, some wasn't, but it was all something that I hoped the Council wanted or needed to hear.

    "Your reasons are valid, and you have shown why we generally avoid taking in older younglings, yet all you have done nothing to truly convince us of your wish," Di stated, earning him nods of agreement from Gallia and Piell.

    I shrugged. "If that is so, then you can assign me to one of the Masters I prefer; or one of the others I do not. That is your choice. But all our actions now create ripples in life, within the Force itself, and actions that are taken without understanding are often the wrong actions to take." I paused and took a breath. "Four months ago, you gave me a choice, today I have given you my preference. Now all I can do is wait for your decision."

    Astaal smiled that wrinkly smile of his and chuckled. "Very true. You are wiser than most your age and speak with an intelligence far beyond your years." He looked at the other members of the Council. "We will consider your request for a few days but before we allow you to leave this chamber…" He trailed off and I watched as Master Di left the chamber, only to return with Darihd a moment later, the smile from before still present, though more under control.

    "Initiates Bykys and Shan, you have been chosen and accepted as Padawans of the Jedi Order. Now it is time for you to construct your own lightsaber. Report to the hanger in this spire no later than nineteen hundred for The Gathering."

    "Yes Master," Darihd said with a bow that I copied, and we left the chamber, even if no formal dismissal was given, it was clear that were to leave.

    "Ya-hoo!" Darihd shouted as soon as we entered the elevator. "Who were you assigned as your Master?" He asked with a grin.

    "The Council has given me a choice and they are debating whom would be the best for my further training," I replied. I wasn't intentionally being vague, but I didn't want to deal with others thinking I might have two Jedi Masters before the Council made their final decision. "What about you?"

    "Master Sifo-Dyas." He replied and I felt my brow rise. It was a good thing I had decided a while ago against taking him as a trainer or things would be very awkward. I could only assume that Sifo-Dyas had realised I was not interested in becoming his Padawan and turned his attention to others in Dragon Clan.

    "Congratulations are in order then. This is my stop. I will see you in the hanger," I said as we reached the hall leading to my quarters.

    "You don't want to talk with the others?" He asked as his smile faltered a touch.

    "No. I am concerned that some of them may resent me being taken before them, so I would ask that you not mention anything about why I was called to the Council to them."

    Darihd nodded before he replied. "Right, I hadn't considered that. Well, see you later Padawan." The doors closed on his smiling face, which exposed his sharp-looking teeth.

    I walked quietly to my quarters and began to pack the few things that I would need for this Gathering even as I did mental somersaults at finally getting to make my own lightsaber.
     
  11. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    LOL

    More like TK has to be at high enough level.

    Until then, ff Cam fell from a great height, he'd have to discover another way to arrest is fall without levitation.:p
     
  12. Threadmarks: Crystal Stars 3
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    I ignored the regular morning notice that my HP, FP and Stamina had all been fully restored after having eight hours or more of sleep and rolled out of the bed in the cabin I was sharing with Darihd.

    We were currently aboard the Crucible, a Jedi training ship on our way to Ilum.

    Since I had to share a compartment, I decided it was safer to simply sleep normally for the few days this trip would take. As I stood and stretched, I saw a series of flashing notices in my log.

    Checking that Darihd was still sleeping, I sat back down and opened them.
    Quest Completed!
    Trainee Space Ranger

    Objectives:
    Get Piloting [Space] to Adept 1 by the new year. [Yes]

    ? Get it to Adept 25 [No]
    ? Get it to Adept 50 [No]
    Rewards:
    600XP

    ...
    Quest Completed!
    Trainee Ace
    Objectives:

    Get Piloting [Atmosphere] to Adept 1 by the new year. [Yes]

    ? Get it to Adept 25 [No]
    ? Get it to Adept 50 [No]
    Rewards:
    600XP

    ...
    Quest Completed!
    Competent Duellist

    Objectives:
    Get Makashi to Professional 1 by the new year. [Yes]

    ? Get it to Professional 25 [Yes]
    ? Get it to Professional 50 [Yes]
    Rewards:
    800XP

    300XP
    500XP
    ...
    Quest Completed!
    Competent Swordsman

    Objectives:
    Get Shii-Cho to Professional 1 by the new year. [Yes]

    ? Get it to Professional 25 [Yes]
    ? Get it to Professional 50 [Yes]
    Rewards:
    900XP

    400XP
    600XP
    ...
    Quest Completed!
    Trainee Defender

    Objectives:
    Get Soresu to Adept 1 by the new year. [Yes]

    ? Get it to Adept 25 [No]
    ? Get it to Adept 50 [No]
    Rewards:
    650XP

    ...
    LEVEL UP!
    Level: 9 - 10
    FP: +500
    PP: +2
    STAM: +14
    SP: +5
    SKP: +32
    PPP: +1


    Nice. Another level up, mainly by exploiting these powers better with small, narrow-focused quests. The two extra lightsaber form quests granted a greater boost in EXP as the timeframe was smaller. I was now sure I could set quests for shorter timeframes and generate more XP quicker for completing them. Though the knowledge that the bonuses for all these skill-focused quests were level 25 or 50 of the initial target, meant I could adapt my training to aim for them as well.

    I swiped away the notices and quietly spoke. "List Player Powers."

    PLAYER POWERS
    These are powers and skills that are unique to The Player.
    However, some of them are very close to what many consider to be 'Dark-Side Force powers' so be careful when using them around 'Light-Side Force users'

    You gain 1 Player Power Point every 5 levels to spend on new powers.
    Currently, you have the following Player Powers:
    Player's Mind [ON/OFF]
    Player's Body
    Inventory

    NOTE:

    Currently, you have 2 PPP.
    Do you wish to view available Player Powers?
    Yes/No
    ...
    "Yes," I whispered, glad that I'd turned off the info-dump on the pages like this so that it just listed what I had or could take. If I wanted further details on a Force Power or Perk, I just needed to ask the interface to list it.

    Available Player Powers:
    Silent Interface
    Enhanced Inventory
    Examine
    Enlarge/Shrink
    Colour Shift
    Glamours


    You may view details about new powers by tapping on them and reading the descriptions.

    To purchase a power, state 'purchase power:' followed by the power you wish to take.

    I tapped each in turn and read the descriptions.

    Silent Interface enabled me to give commands to my power without having to vocalise them. That was going to be huge as currently, I had to whisper commands like I was doing now if I wasn't alone.

    Enhanced Inventory increased the volume of each slot in my inventory to a meter-squared while doubling the number of an object that could be stored in each slot. That would be useful if I had much in there, but all I had were two lightsabers, a Sith holocron, a stim-pack, an ancient blaster rifle, a four-thousand-year-old vibroblade and a spare power cell for the rifle. The only reason I was still holding onto the rifle and vibroblade is they might still be useful in the current galaxy. And if not, I could sell them off as relics. Maybe.

    Examine instantly sounded overpowered. By simply touching an object or person, I could, as the power evolve, gain information about it/them such as what it was and did, how much damage it could take, its value and what it was made of. Truthfully, I got some of that from examining an item in my inventory, but the extra details would clearly expand on that.

    Enlarge/Shrink allowed me to in/decrease the size of any non-organic object by 1% per day. This power had the potential to applied to organic matter like food and living beings as it levelled up and increase how often I could apply it each day. That could, in theory, allow me to take a kilo of precious metal and, over time, end up with several kilos. Talk about an economically unbalanced power!

    Colour Shift allowed me to change the colour of any inorganic object with the size I could change dependent on the power's level. It sounded semi-useful, but not very powerful.

    Glamours allowed me to change various parts of my facial appearance (Hair, eyes, skin in colour and/or shape) for short times and at the highest levels could even allow me to change my appearance to another humanoid race. This had the potential for creating multiple personas for hiding from people who were after me. Yet, I wondered if such a thing wasn't possible with the Force; though whether that would work on droids was something I was unsure of.

    Of the five, Silent Interface was a certainty to take while Examine and Enlarge/Shrink had the next highest possible usage, with Glamours and Enhanced Inventory also being useful. Colour Shift sounded a little pointless, but I wasn't stupid enough to just dismiss it out of hand.

    "Morning Cam."

    I turned from the choices, waving them away with a casual swish, and looked over a Darihd with a small frown at both him preventing me from choosing new powers and using the nickname that Serra had come up with for me.

    "You know I hate that."

    "Yeah, but it's so much easier than saying your full name," he replied with a smile as he stood and stretched. "Have you cleaned yet?"

    "Nah, you go ahead."

    "OK, but I'll be quick. It's going to be so cool learning about how to build and maintain a lightsaber."

    "You and I have very different ideas about what is 'cool'," I muttered as he walked to the smaller refresher in our quarters.

    The trip to Ilum was projected to take two days. During that time, Padawan Bultar Swan, who was escorting us and the six others who were taken as padawans to Ilum, would be teaching us all about lightsabers including their history and meaning. It sounded less than enjoyable, but like basic training for the army, it was something that had to be done, so I would get through it. No matter how boring I thought it was going to be.

    ...


    ...

    Four days, and hours upon hours of tedious lessons on lightsaber usage and safety instructions – seriously, who would use it for 'recreational activities'? – later, we arrived at Ilum. Soon enough, I found myself standing just inside the entrance of the ice chamber of Ilum that I remembered from the Clone Wars cartoon.

    While the time had been boring, I had gained and levelled up fifty-two times a skill called Mechanics [Lightsaber].

    This was a skill that covered the building, maintaining and enhancing a lightsaber. I assumed this meant that I needed to level it up if I wished to add extra crystals to a lightsaber like what could be done in KOTOR, but I wasn't certain as nothing in the lectures had covered the adding of extra crystals to a lightsaber. I suspected that, like a few other things I remembered from KOTOR, it had been 'discontinued' or 'outlawed' by the current Jedi Order.

    Since we'd spent the whole four days learning about lightsaber usage and safety, I'd just ran Force Cloak – which I could now run continuously without my FP ever draining – constantly; day and night. This had taken it past Savant 50, which granted me a new Force Power; Force Camouflage.

    While Force Cloak was more meant to add to my natural skill at stealth, Force Camouflage actively hid me from sight with the Force, though currently, it didn't hide me from droids or detection via IR, UV or similar methods.
    Even if the last few days had seemed wasted, new powers and skills were always welcome, so I considered it something of a fair trade.

    As I began to walk with the small group of other potential Padawans, I silently wondered what challenge I would have to face in this cave.


    "He approaches."

    The voice came suddenly and unexpectedly, carried by the swirling snow. I glanced around, half-expecting a few more Jedi to appear to monitor our progress. There was nothing.

    "What do we do now?" Darihd asked to the older Initiates. I glanced at them, they seemed not to have heard anything at all.

    "Summon the Council." There it was again. The same voice, though I thought the undertones might be slightly different.

    "Trust in the Force," replied the eldest, sadly for me Jon Savos from Katarn Clan, confidently. "Though for now, let's stick together for safety."

    I fought off an urge to roll my eyes at him saying to 'trust the Force' and followed the group further into the cave.

    "Come to us, Master. We are waiting for you"

    "How long do you think we have before the door freezes over?" Asakan, a white-haired and eyed older Human asked.

    "The Council is in session Master."

    "I'd say a few hours at least, replied Gastee, a red-skinned Zabrak who had 2 forward-facing horns that gave her a demonic look.

    "What is your desire, my Master?"

    "We await your command, Grandmaster." The voices were slowing becoming louder as we walked deeper into the caves until I had to stop and stare at the passage from which the voices were coming.

    "Cam? What is it?" Darihd asked and the group stopped and looked at me.

    "I can hear something," I muttered as I stared down the tunnel

    "Oh, the Great One hears something! Praise to the Force!" Jon exclaimed, his hands coming to his cheeks. "We should all bow to the Cho… argkh." He stopped as I used the TK to clamp his mouth shut.

    "I suggest you hold your tongue, lest I do something more than just clamp your mouth shut," I warned. After 2 days of his condescending and belittling comments, I was fed up. Sure, I shouldn't just casually use the Force to shut him up, but I'd reached the end of my tether. He could go and bitch to the Council once we returned if he wanted, but that would just prove he was nothing more than a sycophant. No worth my…

    I shook my head to clear it. 'Where did that come from?' I wondered as I released the grip I had on his jaw. "There is something this way. I'm going."

    I didn't catch what anyone said as I walked away from the group and down the side-tunnel.

    The walls began to close in, and the light began to dim, so I activated Force Sight.

    "Fuck!" I called out as my vision was flooded, my hands went to my knees and I turned off the power. I forgot the whole place was soaked in the Force and I stayed bent over blinking until my vision settled. "That was stupid."

    "Yes, it was."

    My head snapped up at hearing a voice that sounds both familiar yet different, and I found myself staring at someone that reminded me of Vaner Shan. Yet as I examined the figure a few things stood out.

    First, and the biggest, was that the person wasn't a person; more of a semi-solid ghost. Not unlike a Force ghost, but this one was lacking the blue edge lighting and it was difficult to see through them. Though that might just be because I was standing in a darkened cave.

    The shape of their face wasn't Vaner's, though it was similar and as I focused on the face, I noticed the eyes held a slight hint of green and the hair had flecks of light brown whereas Vaner's hair and eyes had been dark brown. The jaw was squarer than Vaner's had been as well and this figure was maybe a head taller than my grandfather.

    "Who are you?" I asked as I turned to lower my profile to the ghost.

    "Who do you think I am?" The ghost asked calmly.

    I frowned and examined the face even closer before it clicked. "Me. Somehow, you are a much older version of me."

    "Indeed. I am Master Cameron Shan Grandmaster of the Jedi Order." Ghost-me stated evenly as the area behind him came into focus and I saw other sitting around behind him. Obi-Wan, Aayla, an older woman who I suspected was Serra, Fay and others who I did not recognise but that felt familiar.

    The room was meant to be the High Council Chambers, but everything in the room was white. Whether that was because of the vision, or something else, I did not know.

    "Then why are you here?" I asked cautiously.

    "I am what you can become if you chose to be," the Jedi version of me stated in a tone that seemed devoid of emotion.

    "Are you something sent by the Force to test me?" I slowly asked as I examined this Jedi's face. There was no indication of how he was feeling or thinking; indeed, the face seemed almost robotic in his mannerisms.

    "We both are." I spun to face behind me and saw myself again.

    Yet this version was different from the first. This me was sitting on a… it could only be called a throne. The back reached high above him as he watched me condescendingly, his hand gripping a lightsaber hilt.
    "Oh great, it the angel-devil routine," I muttered with a shake of my head.


    Bultar had told us that we'd face a challenge which we'd have to overcome, but that mine would be the whole Jedi/Sith dichotomy was disappointing, if not unexpected. The PtB had stated the Force wasn't sure how I fitted into its ideals of balance, so this kind of test was logical. "Please tell me you aren't going to perch on my shoulder."

    "Do not mock what you don't understand boy," Sith-me snarled as figures emerged from behind him.

    My jaw fell open as the same females that were with Jedi-me sauntered around the throne. Aayla, Serra, Fay, a red-skinned Togruta, a green-skinned Mirialan, and even Padme, moved around the throne, stroking the arms, legs and chest of Sith-me as they did.

    Though what had me from making a retort was the fact that all were dressed in what could only be described as cosplay outfits. Adult cosplay outfits that in some cases wouldn't look out of place in a bad adult movie. The only part of the cosplay that looked strange was the collar around each of their necks, though it did take me a few moments to even spot those.

    "Power grants you many things boy. You will learn to enjoy them as you claim your power," Sith-me stated as one of his hands moved down Fay's back before drifting out of my sight as he reached her arse.

    She gasped and Sith-me smirked as he continued. "With our power, we can mould the galaxy to our will, take and control what we want. Palpatine is powerful, but in the end, he can do nothing to stop us. He cannot stop you." I saw the muscles in the arm behind Fey clench, and Fey gasped loudly as they did.

    "The Force is not something to be controlled." Jedi-me countered evenly, drawing my attention slowly back to him. "It is something to let guide us, to take our emotions. Our power lets us achieve this better than any other. We serve it better than any other can. Only we can guide the Jedi to achieve a true merging with the Force. Only we can submit to the Force as it guides the galaxy around us."

    "He lies. Like all Jedi, he wants your servitude. Follow me. Embrace your power and take what you want."

    "Sith only care for power. That power is all that drives them until they are nothing without it."

    "This is all well and good, but do either of you have any cookies?" I asked with a small smirk just to break up the back-and-forth the two elder versions of me had going and it was too easy of an opportunity to make that joke.

    "The Jedi are nothing more than Bantha being led to the slaughter. Claim your power, break your chains and be free. Or die like the rest." Sith-me stood and ignited two red lightsabers.

    "We must serve the Force. If you will not serve, you must be removed." Jedi-me stated neutrally as he ignited a double-bladed lightsaber, one blade blue, the other green.

    "Ok then," I muttered as I stepped backwards and sent a concentrated blast of Force energy at both. They simmered as the blasts struck and went through them but what really worried me was the rumble I felt from the cave as the blasts hit the walls. "Well, that didn't work."

    "Unchallenged aggression. The sign of a Sith." Stated Jedi-me with a calm, clear voice.

    "Narrowminded dogma. The sign of the Jedi." Sith-me snarled as his face twisted in anger.

    "But which are you?" They asked together as they moved closer and raised their blades.

    "Neither. I hope," I replied as I scooted backwards and mentally opened my inventory just in case. Boy was I glad I took that Player Power. "After all, I am only eight. Ok, I'll be nine soon, I think. But honestly, to me, both of you are wrong."

    "No, we must dominate the Force."

    "No, we must submit to the Force."

    The two ghosts said at the same time as the continued to approach.

    "If you are not with us, you are against us." These words they spoke in perfect tandem.

    "Wonderful," I muttered as they came closer; the light from their lightsabers beginning to merge. I reached into my inventory, pulled out Haqu's lightsaber and ignited the blade. I brought it up, barely managing to block Jedi-me's attack before one of Sith-me's lightsabers struck my hilt; shattering it and making me stumble away.

    I reached back into my inventory and pulled out the other lightsaber.

    I pivoted and parried Sith-me's attacks a few times before the hilt was struck by Jedi-me stabbing it with his blade.

    "For fuck's sake!" I grumbled as I dove over the double-bladed lightsaber and rolled down the passage.

    I turned as I came to a stop and saw the two were now walking towards side-by-side.

    "Can't we just talk about this?" I asked as I mentally tried to come up with a way to escape this without losing any part of my body. I had thought they were just ghosts or figments of my imagination, but the two destroyed lightsaber hilts proved that theory wrong and I was unwilling to risk any of their blades hitting me.

    "If you will not accept the way of the Jedi, you must be removed." "If you will not accept the way of the Sith, you must die." They spoke simultaneously.

    As Sith-me raised his blades to attack, an insane idea came to me and I use the Force to push his blades towards Jedi-me.

    Jedi-me instinctively defended himself and turned to face Sith-me.

    I watched as the two future-mes – future-I's? – began to fight against each other. Sith-me lost a hand and blade even as he struck one half of Jedi-me's hilt. They spun away from each other and raised their remaining blades to attack.

    The battle was quick as Jedi-me parried an attack and sliced Sith-me in the chest, though Sith-me had reacted to the parry to stab his blade through Jedi-me's heart.

    As both fell to their knees, they turned to me.

    "A path must be chosen," they said with 1 voice. "Which will you take?"

    "That was… something," I muttered as the two figures fade away, yet my eyes narrowed as where each had been, a saw a light coming from the floor.

    Kneeling cautiously where Jedi-me had been, I found a small crystal, though it seemed almost too small to be used in a lightsaber. Like it was incomplete. Curious, I used one of my new Player Powers, Examine, on it.

    Ilum Adegan Crystal (miniature)
    A kyber crystal from the caves on the planet Ilum.
    This crystal, while capable of being used as a focus for the Force, is too small to be used in a lightsaber.


    That wasn't much information, which I had expected as Examine currently didn't tell me much about an object or person, but it did confirm that the crystal was too small for what I needed.

    I turned as I saw another light from where Sith me had fallen and discovered another smaller than expected crystal. After using Examine on that one, and discovering that it too was too small to be used, I placed the two crystals in a single hand and rolled them around until the two came to rest together; seemingly forming a new, larger crystal and a gentle chime sounded from them.

    "Unexpected," I muttered to myself as I pocketed the two half-crystals and moved to the remains of the two lightsabers I had used.

    Both were destroyed, though as I examined the combined remains of them, I felt I could salvage enough from their parts to create a single hilt, and critically, the two lightsaber crystals where intact.
    Each of these crystals, while still small, were larger than either of the two I had just pocketed.


    I pulled the mini-crystals from my pocket and compared them in one hand with what I felt were normal-sized crystals in the other. Combined the 2 mini crystals where a touch bigger than the normal crystals, so I suspected I could use them together in a lightsaber. Though I was curious if using two crystals would influence the lightsaber blade generated.

    Realising that I would need to talk with Bultar Swan or another Jedi about using the two mini crystals in a lightsaber, I placed them back in my pocket and slipped the remains of the two lightsabers into my Inventory. I had every intention of creating another blade, not just to practice Jar'Kai once I could but so that I had another blade available if I needed one and didn't want to use the hilt the Jedi knew about.

    I stood and turned to begin walking back towards the entrance of the cave.

    "Fucking hell!"

    I stumbled back and fell to a knee as I came eye-to-eye with another ghost, though this one was tinted blue as I'd expect for a Force ghost.

    This ghost again reminded me of Vaner Shan, yet the eyes were purple and his hair a darker brown. The facial structure was similar to Vaner's, yet the cheeks were more withdrawn, and this ghost had an air about him that spoke of power.

    "Did I startle you?" The ghost asked with a small smirk.

    "What do you think? And who the fuck are you?" I blurted out in reply, my anger building slightly at potentially having to deal with another Force-induced episode.

    The ghost chuckled and raised his hands, palms out. "Relax, I am not here to attack you. Merely to talk. Before I joined with the Force, I was known as Revan."

    I felt my jaw fall a touch at that revelation. This Revan looked nothing like the one I had played as, yet the similarity between him and Vaner – and even myself a little – meant I knew he was telling the truth.

    "Why are you here?" I probed as Revan smirked at my reaction to his reveal.

    "To talk, nothing more," said Revan in reply as he leaned back against the tunnel's wall. "Though I am unsure of how to address you."

    "Why?"

    Revan's smirk fell. "You are my descendant, yet you are not. Being one with the Force has let me see possible, probable futures. For the longest time, your destiny was to die when the Sith attacked, yet barely a week before you were meant to die, something happened."

    I frowned as he stated that without my intervention this 'Cameron' would've died. "So what changed?" I asked, trying to play ignorant.

    Revan tilted his head and gave me a small smile.

    "You know well what happened. You who are my great-grandson yet you are also not. Something… beyond the Force changed your fate and gave you unique powers that, while I have observed you using, I fail to comprehend." He glanced at my hands. "Those two lightsabers that you can hide beyond sight of the Force is the clearest sign of your different status."

    "Do you hate me for changing his fate?" I asked slowly, hoping he would not as I had no clue how to deal with an angry Force Ghost, nor any idea of how to handle upsetting the Force itself. That was if the ghost and the Force were one and the same.

    "I admit that a small part of me does. Yet the larger part knows that if you had not…" He paused and shook his head. "I am unsure of what word to use here. Replaced? Merged? It doesn't really matter." He stated with a wave of his hand.

    "The larger part of me is grateful that my bloodline continues, even if this time grows darker and darker as the Sith grow stronger. Yet I sense you not only know about this threat but willingly chose to be here and now."

    "I did," I replied with a small nod. "I don't know if I can stop Sidious and those he's working with, but I mean to try."

    Revan smirked. "To quote an old Master of the High Council, 'do or do not, there is no try.'"

    I couldn't help myself and I laughed loudly. "The current Grandmaster has used that one." I managed to get out once I stopped laughing.

    Revan chuckled gently and shook his head. "While the phrase remains popular, it holds true. Do not try my boy. Do what needs to be done. Balance the Force."

    "Is that what the Force desires?" I queried as I moved around to find a more comfortable way to sit as I felt this conversation was going to continue for some time.

    Revan smiled in that almost condescending way that adults did with children. "The Force is… complicated. Even after millennia within it, I cannot say I understand it fully, yet if I had to say, that if it desired anything – not that I believe it is sentient in a way either of us could understand – it would desire balance."

    I frowned as a question that never truly left my mind bounced to the forefront. "What does that mean though? I mean, I know the Sith do not bring balance, not once they fall so far as to need the Force almost like a glutton hungers for food, yet is never full. Yet, I don't think the Jedi are much better."

    Revan chuckled once. "Yes, your little dilemma just now proved that." He paused and stroked his chin. "Balance is such a vague term when referring to something like the Force. I cannot speak for the Force, yet I agree with you that both Jedi and Sith, in my time as well as now, are not balanced."

    "Then what is?"

    "Have you covered the ancient history of the Order?" He asked as he tapped his chin, and I nodded in affirmative. "Good. Then you know of the Je'daii, the forerunners of the Jedi Order."

    Again, I nodded.

    "From my studies while living, and while using the Force to explore the past, I have come to realise that while still flawed, they were still closer to what I think balance within the Force is meant to be.
    "Everyone has good and bad, light and dark, within them. Even the greatest Jedi can fall into the dark, or the Darkest Sith bathe in the light. Yet finding a way to accept both sides, to give and take, help and hinder, love and hate, without allowing the extremes to control you is difficult."


    "That is true for everyone," I stated. What he was saying made sense to me and seemed to agree with my own opinions on what 'balance in the Force' meant, but it was still just an idea that was floating around in my head. Not a philosophy that I was willing to push others.

    "Yes, it is. However, those with a deeper connection to the Force have access to abilities and powers beyond the normal. We can give and take from what many believe to be the very energy of the universe itself.
    "The Force exists in almost every living thing, yet most fail to even realise that they exist in symbiosis with it. That without out it, we are less than we should be."


    I grimaced at another vague explanation. After a year in the Temple, I was sick to death of them. "Is balance possible?"

    Revan smiled and held his arms wide. "If it was not, I would not be here." He chortles as I felt my face contort into a frown. "Have the Order told you about Force Ghosts?"

    "In passing, but they speak of them as nothing more than visions given to others by the Force."

    Revan sighed and shook his head. "How narrow-minded." He locked his eyes on mine as he continued. "I am me, I retain my memories of my life, good and bad, joy and pain. Yet I am a part of the Force.
    "A Force ghost is one who has not only recognised the good and bad within themselves but has accepted that both parts make them more than either does alone. I was Jedi and Sith, saviour and conqueror. While I regret many of my actions as both Jedi and Sith, I accept that they were mine and mine alone.
    "This is, to me, why I became one with the Force, and why no Force user from either of the main orders has achieved this state in nearly a thousand years."


    I nodded as he spoke, finding wisdom in his words. Even if the more metaphysical aspects of it went right over my head.

    "So the Chosen One prophesy?"

    "Is wrong. At least as how the Jedi and Sith view it. Yes, the Sith have their own version of this, the Sith'ari. The perfect being, free of limits, who will destroy them but remake them stronger than ever before."

    "That… sounds just as nuts as the Jedi's view on the Chosen One." I muttered as I processed what Revan had said. "And could fit any number of Sith, past and present."

    "The same as the Chosen One could fit Jedi, past and present." Revan continued with a wide smile. "It has been so long since I have spoken to another that understood the inherent failings of both Sith and Jedi. It is liberating." He stated with a grin.

    "So what should I do?" I probed, wondering if this Force ghost, my great-grandfather and a former Jedi and Sith, would have if not answers, then suggestions.

    "Be true to yourself." He replied as he squatted down so we were almost eye-to-eye. "I am not yet willing to help you: you are after all not truly my progeny, yet you are."

    He gave me a lopsided grin as he continued. "Since I became one with Force, you are the first whom I have witnessed that has the potential to make the changes I feel are needed. The first to possibly understand things as I do."

    He stood and stepped backwards, into the wall. "Walk your path, know yourself and do what you need to do."

    "Wait!" I called out as he began to fade. "There's so much more I want to ask you. Things you could teach me."

    "There is," he agreed with a small chuckle, "but I am not sure if you are worthy of my time. Maybe I shall teach you if you prove to be so one day. We shall see."

    I watched open-mouthed as he faded away to nothing.

    "Son of a bitch!" I muttered once I was alone again. "I met Revan!"

    I smile crept onto my face. Even if nothing he had said helped me or explained things beyond my thoughts about the Force, I had just spoken directly to Revan; The Prodigal Knight and Sith Lord.

    "Now, how do I go about getting him to come back?"

    Quest Alert!
    The Promise of the Prodigal [ꝏ]

    Prove yourself to the one who was known as Revan.
    Rating: B

    Objectives:
    ?

    Rewards:
    ?

    Failure:
    ?

    Accept?
    Yes/No


    That was unexpected.
    The Force, or at least the Force Ghost of your ancestor, has found a way to grant you quests. Though as you can see, the details are hidden.
    An outside power creating quests without our consent has only happened a handful of times across the entire Multiverse.
    Now, we could show you what is hidden, but truthfully, we are curious about where this will go.
    Thus, we will not.
    Good luck.

    I felt my mouth fall open at both the quest and the comment for the PtB. Revan had found a way – probably with help from the Force – to generate a quest for me, but I had no clear path as to how to complete it or the timeframe involved.

    Still, this had potential. Perhaps Revan knew something that could help me with what was to come, perhaps lost techniques or technologies, or something else that I could use to help me in the future. Though first, I had to get back to the entrance.

    After quickly checking that there was nothing on the ground I had missed, I set off at a brisk walk back towards the cave entrance.

    "Ah," I muttered as I came upon the entrance, and saw it had frozen over. That might be an issue to others, but to me, it wasn't so I used Teleport to appear on the other side.

    "Kriff! Are you trying to give us heart attacks bantha-brain!" Gastee spat out, her hand coming to her chest.

    "Sorry, but would've you preferred I blasted the ice apart, and thus risk injuring you?" I replied with a smirk aimed at Jon. While such an event wouldn't have harmed him as he was a good thirty metres away, I couldn't resist the dig/threat.

    "We are just glad you are safe Initiate Shan," Bultar Swan stated as she stepped forward. "Did you retrieve a crystal?"

    I gave her a small nod as I pulled the two min-crystals from my pocket and showed them to her. "Two actually."

    "That is… unusual," she said slowly as she looked down at the two. "They look viable however we will consult with Professor Huyang once back aboard the Crucible."

    I slipped the crystals back into my pocket as she walked towards the temple entrance and to where the starship was parked and ignored the glare Jon was sending my way.

    "You just have to be different, don't you?" Darihd asked as we followed the Padawan.

    "I don't plan these things, Darihd. They just happen."

    Darihd chortles and shook his head. "Yes, they do. To you." He placed a hand on my shoulder to get me to stop and open up a little distance between us and the rest of the Initiates. "Cam, you need to be careful. Jon told Padawan Swan about your actions towards him. I tried to defend you, but she will report this to the council."

    I sighed and turned my head to meet his eyes. "I know, but he had it coming. And I was right about the voices."

    "Really? What did you find?" His lekku shifted and brightened in colour as his eyes widened at my answer.

    I sighed. "It's personal. And I'm not sure how to describe it until I speak to someone with a better understanding of Force-induced imagery."

    The lekku dulled. "Ah, right."

    "So did you find a crystal?" I asked changing the topic and listening while he talked about how he found his crystal as we walked across the surface of Ilum and onto the Crucible.



    For anyone unclear, Examine and Silent Interface have been taken as the two perks.
    Yes, Cam did have one Perk Point, but him forgetting to spend it is another example of him still learning to take advantage of his unique powers.
    (Or that's the in-verse reason for my mistake :p)


    P.S. I am enjoying the options for formatting on QQ. Being able to differentiate between which Force apparition is speaking makes that whole scene easier to follow. And the option to hid long info dumps from the interface is another bonus.
     
  13. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Which within the order gives you the option of Fay, Fay or Fay?...
     
  14. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    At the moment, yeah.
    Though other good choices, if he knew them better, would be Sifo-Dyas and Nilas
     
  15. Threadmarks: Crystal Stars 4
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    A chime rang out through the meditation chamber I was in and I opened my eyes.

    It had been five days since Ilum, four spent on the Crucible travelling back to the Temple and another in private meditation, where I was meant to 'commune with the Force' regarding my Jedi Master. However, even though I was sent for private meditation, the council of First Knowledge had not told me their decision about my master/masters before instructing me to meditate.

    Not that I had meditated and after a day in here, I called up the various notices in my log from the last twenty-four hours.
    Force Power Levelled-up!
    Force Attune x14
    ...
    Force Power Discovered!
    Negate Hunger
    Allows a Force-sensitive to use the Force itself to negate their need to eat and drink.

    Force Power Levelled-up!
    Restore Stamina

    Force Power Discovered!
    Levitation
    The ability to lift and potentially move yourself using just the Force.

    Force Attune was nothing more than the ability to attune an object with a connection to the Force to myself, though unlike every other Force Power I had discovered so far, it did not seem to gradually increase in power/potential as it levelled. Instead, it stayed at the flat rate of two per cent per hour towards attuning an object. I really hoped it increased the rate once I got to Adept, otherwise attuning anything was going to take about two days per object.

    Negate Hunger lowered more than negated my hunger, but it was, potentially, one of the most powerful Force abilities I could think of. Currently, it would only stop me having to eat for a day, but I imagined that would increase as the power levelled up, to potentially reach a point where I could go without eating for years, if not forever.

    Restore Stamina was like Negate Hunger and one I had discovered in the months after the Initiate Trials. It was already into Adept range and simply worked to restore my stamina. Perhaps this power and Negate Hunger, at much, much higher levels, would lead to another Force Power that could slow, if not stop, ageing. Though I was not dwelling on the implications of that, as the idea of being functionally immortal was exciting and terrifying in equal measure.

    I suspected that some combination of these powers, and whatever might come from them later, explained why Fay looked not a day over twenty-one, yet was a few centuries old, at least.

    Levitation seemed a pointless power at first, as it only allowed me to rise myself half-a-metre of the ground and I couldn't do anything more than that. But, based on its short description, I hoped that at higher levels it would allow me something akin to self-flight. The issue with discovering that was it was my joint most expensive power outright along with Teleport. Though imagining how insanely dangerous/powerful/useful those two powers were, it did make sense that they were harder to learn/use than anything else I currently knew.

    I'd only considered the power in the last hour after the second crystal was attuned, but this was going to be handy power to train during those hour-plus sessions where I had to 'meditate on the Force'.

    Slowly I stood and stretched. A full day in one place should've left me with a few cramps, but I didn't feel any. I suspected that this was because of Player's Body, but I still stretched to make it look like I was just as normal as everyone around me.

    Sure, the room was meant to be empty, but I suspected that there was a camera somewhere to keep an eye out in case anyone inside somehow hurt themselves. Or record any conversations that took place in the rooms.

    The doors opened and a short blue-skinned Duros stepped inside, his black, almost soulless looking eyes, fixed on me. "Initiate Shan, I am Padawan Nidu Zham. I have been instructed to escort you to the Council of First Knowledge." The tone of her voice was the only way I could tell she was female, and I nodded in acquiescence.

    The walk through the halls was done in silence, and we soon exited the elevator to the atrium outside the council chamber, where I activated both Enhance Stat for Charisma and Enhance Skill for Persuasion.

    "Ah Initiate Shan, welcome," Master Vilbum stated with a small smile that was in danger of being buried under the wrinkles that covered his skin. The other members looked around at me as I entered. "Please, take a seat."

    I sat on the small stool that was in the centre of the room and waited. I knew I was here to hear if I would gain Dooku, Fay or both as my Jedi Master/trainer and figured it was better to wait and appear humble than blurt out a question and seem arrogant.
    "Ah, patience in a youngling. So refreshing," commented Master Gallia with a small smile.


    "Yes, though I suspect he is just doing this to not seem curious about our decision." Master Di countered with a chuckle as I shrugged. "At least he is smart enough to know when to speak and when to listen."

    "He is smarter than many give him credit for," Master Nilas said as she stared at me. Or at least that is how it felt as where her eyes were covered with the same light blue cloth she always seemed to wear. "The Force has a plan for him."

    I managed to school my features even as I frowned internally. I was still unsure what the Force felt about me, though the hints of what Revan had said made me think that it was willing to allow me to explore my own path.

    "Yes, you have been quite clear on that point, which is why we have agreed with you." Master Piell growled out without any real anger.

    "If I may," Vilbum waited for the rest of the council to look to him before he continued. "Initiate Shan, before we get to the primary reason that we have summoned you, there is an issue we need to address.

    "We have received a report from Padawan Shan; upon entering the Crystal Cave on Ilum, you attacked a fellow member of this Order. Now, we have spoken to all other Initiates that were present, but before we pass judgement, we wish to hear your side of the story."

    "Yes, Masters. For the entire trip to Ilum, Initiate Savos felt a need to mock and belittle me. Whenever I made a suggestion or questioned something we were told, he was condescending and scornful to anything I said or did." I paused and took a breath, letting go of the anger I had intentionally allowed to build within me as I spoke about Jon's actions.

    "After four days I had reached my end and decided to deal with his verbal bullying, though the method I used was perhaps, a little too aggressive."

    Di coughed quietly at that.

    "You used the Force to clamp his mouth shut and then threatened to do worse. That is acceptable behaviour for a Jedi," snarled Piell as his ears pulled back in a way that reminded me of an angry dog.

    "No, but it was how I was taught to deal with a bully. Once you push back, they generally stop." I countered, and it was true in Jon's case as after that incident, he never bad-mouthed me again; though he did still roll his eyes and whisper with a Clan-mate of his.

    "While your decision to confront Padawan Savos about his behaviour was correct, your methodology was flawed," Gallia spoke slowly, calmly. Yet the side-eye she gave Piell suggested the two did not agree on something. "Threats and violence are not the Jedi way. In future, you should try to resolve such matters in a calm and friendly manner."

    I had to fight off an eye roll at the apparent naivety of the Jedi Master. That approach rarely, if ever, worked with bullies.

    "Yes ma'am."

    "We have made a note in your file regarding this incident, as well as for Padawan Savos." Stated Di as he took over. "For now, we are willing to forgive your actions, but further instances of being unable to conform to the Jedi Code will result in censorship or even possible expulsion from the Order."

    "Yes sir." I wasn't going to call them out on the fact that a few months ago they had seemingly bent over backwards to keep me in the Order. "I will try to be more considerate of the behaviour of others before acting." Maybe.

    "Good, good. Then, for now, this matter is settled." Vilbum said. "Now, when we last spoke, you stated your belief that being trained by two Jedi Masters was the best path for you in your continuing education as a Jedi. Do you still believe that to be the case?"

    "Yes, sir. While I am well aware of how rare, if not almost unheard of, it is for a Padawan to have two Masters teaching them, my reasoning has not changed. Yet in the end, the final decision is yours."

    Vilbum nodded and smiled a fraction. "Yes, it is. However, we prefer to guide the Initiates and Masters to each other. Generally, that happens naturally, but if the Force grants a seer a vision of a path, or is felt to be accepting of a choice, we generally do not interfere." He paused and glanced over at Nilas, as did Master Di and Gallia.

    "When we first told you of the four possibilities for your Master, we mentioned that all four appeared in conflicting visions regarding you. However, what we avoided mentioning to prevent it from influencing your choice, is that of the four Masters to appear with you in these visions, Masters Dooku and Fay both appeared more than once."

    My brow rose at that, even if I wondered again if the Force itself was trying to push me towards a path.

    "Is that unusual?" I asked carefully, as the idea of visions and glimpsing possible futures was not something that I was comfortable with.

    "It is," answered Master Nilas, drawing my attention. "Rarely do the same Masters appear in such differing visions, or appear to be vastly different from themselves in some. Yet, it is not unheard of."

    I nodded slowly at the brief explanation. 'Force visions sound both useful and exceedingly confusing.'

    "The one common thread in these visions was you, young one. A source of light, yet touched by darkness, shining brightly over those around you."

    'Great, more prophecy crap. This is getting ridiculous, but it does help explain why Anakin seemed so arrogant at times in the movies. Having people always say or imply you were special and destined for greatness would make almost everyone arrogant and prideful.'

    "Has this influenced the Council decision?" I asked, trying to steer the conversation away from talk of prophecies and vision.

    "It has," Vilbum replied even as Piell glared at Nilas, who looked far too happy with herself. "We have decided to provisionally grant your request for formal training with both Master Dooku and Master Fay. We will review this decision in two years, but until then, as Caretaker of the council of Frist Knowledge, it is my honour and privilege to raise you to the rank of Padawan learner within our order. Congratulations."

    "Thank you, sir," I said, trying my best to not jump for joy even as a new Quest Completion notice appeared in my log.

    Vilbum's smile grew. "Both Master Dooku and Master Fay have been informed of our decision and await your confirmation of them in the Temple spire."

    "Then with your permission, I will go to them," I said as I stood.

    "Yes, yes go young Padawan."

    I turned and walked to the door, only to stop and turn back. I bowed a touch as I spoke. "May the Force be with you."

    "And with you, child of time," Nilas replied.

    I slipped through the doors and entered the elevator, and as it began to move, I pulled up the most recent notices in my log.

    Quest Completed!
    Two are Better Than one [User Generated]
    Objective:
    Convince the Council of 1st Knowledge that both Fay and Dooku should become your Masters.
    Rewards:
    2000EXP
    +25 ranks in skill [Persuasion]

    NOTE:
    This completion is subject to reversal.
    If the Council of 1st knowledge removes one or both Jedi Masters from your training, then you will lose the rewards and suffer the penalties.

    Rank Gained!
    Jedi [Rank 2: Padawan]
    Grants access to the Great Holocron under the watchful gaze of your Jedi Master(s)
    Grants level 4 access to Temple Archives.

    I frown a touch at the note that the quest could still be failed if the Council of Frist Knowledge reversed their decision, but it did make sense.

    The benefits in promotion in rank as a Jedi were nice. Especially increased access to the Jedi Archives as much of the details regarding Revan, Bastila and Satele were denied to me before; save the bland/boring description of their lives.
    Hopefully, more details about them and other things would be open to me now. Though I was noted that the increased rank said nothing about access to the Holocron vaults.


    'Eh, I suppose I can always steal some later on, not that I will care about it for now.' I added mentally to prevent a quest from being generated. 'Or I could just wait until I become a Knight… eh.'

    I decided to put how to access out of my mind for the moment and pulled the two mini crystals from my pockets, using Examine on both.

    Ilum Adegan Crystal (miniature)
    [Attuned: Cameron Shan]
    A kyber crystal from the caves on the planet Ilum.
    This crystal, while capable of being used as a focus for the Force, is too small to be used in a lightsaber.
    It has been attuned to work better with Cameron Shan.
    HP: 5
    Value: 3000 Credits

    Power Levelled-up!
    Examine [5/10]
    Examine now also displays;
    Energy Value of an object.
    Force Potential of a sentient.

    Ilum Adegan Crystal (miniature)
    [Attuned: Cameron Shan]
    A kyber crystal from the caves on the planet Ilum.
    This crystal, while capable of being used as a focus for the Force, is too small to be used in a lightsaber.
    It has been attuned to work better with Cameron Shan.
    HP: 5
    Value: 3000 Credits
    Energy Value: 100

    The level-up to Examine was nice, not least as it was the only Player Power I could level up, even if it had only gone up five levels in five days. Currently, the power told me the Value, Hit Points and Energy Value for an object and the Name, Race, Level, Health and Force Potential along with a short description for organics and droids, though I had yet to use the power on anything living for fear a Jedi would detect it.

    The cost also varied depending on the target, from 5 to 10 PP. With my PP only being 20, that limited my ability to level it up rapidly by abusing it as honestly, my mind had been on getting the two lightsaber crystals attuned so I could build my own lightsaber.

    I frowned as I tried to work out what Energy Value was, even as I slid the two crystals back into my pocket. Force Potential was obvious, though I was curious about how it rated things and used Examine on myself.

    Cameron Shan (*The Player*)
    Race: Human
    Level: 10
    Health: 100%
    Force Potential: Very High

    Note:
    (*) implies that the target has another name/designation.
    At your current level of Examine, this only is visible if you know someone has another identity.
    Note:
    No description is given for The Player, as that would be redundant.

    'Huh? Once I level out this power, I'll be able to tell when people have a hidden identity? Wicked! That, combined with Force Potential, should give me a chance to discover who Palpatine's master is. Provided the person in question is still alive.'

    That was going to be handy and learning my Force Potential was Very High was a little bit of an ego boost, but it made sense since I'd taken Force Prodigy when I'd created this new life.

    I allowed a small smile to creep onto my face as the elevator stopped and I began to walk over to the Temple Spire; the central and largest of the five spires on the Jedi Temple.

    I'd been surprised that the High Council didn't sit atop of that tower, but in retrospect it made sense. The Jedi were not meant to be prideful, so having the grandest tower for meditation, special occasions and to mark the history of the Order.

    The peak of the mountain the temple was built upon was also contained within this spire, yet I knew the corruption of the temple couldn't be here as Jedi passed by this point every day. If it was corrupted, someone would've noticed long before I arrived.
    After asking one of the temple guards for their exact location, I found Dooku and Fay sitting in one of the smaller chambers in the veranda. Since the door was open, I entered quietly and began to speak, only to hear another voice.


    "The attack on Coruscant caught the Order off-guard and many of my fellow Jedi fell that day, including Master Ven Zallow, who died defending the Temple from Darth Malgus. His actions allowed many of the younglings to escape into the lower levels of the Temple and hide in the depths of Coruscant."

    Fay and Dooku were both sitting as a woman projected from a holocron spoke. The holocron was different from others I had seen in the temple when a Master had brought one out for teaching. Those had all been blue cubes in shape but this one was bronze and gold in colour and appeared to be two diamonds joined together in shape.

    The woman speaking was old, easily in her seventy's based on the silver hair that ended in two short ponytails that rested on her shoulders, and lines around her eyes, yet she stood tall and confident.

    Her voice sounded familiar, and as I examined her face and stance, and spotted what appeared to be saberstaff on her waist, Fay noticed me.

    "Ah, our new Padawan, welcome." She said with a smile as Dooku turned to face me, though not before touching the surface of the holocron to stop the recording.

    "Sorry for interrupting but the door was open, and the Council of First Knowledge told me to report to you," I explained as my eyes struggled to not look at the woman in the hologram.

    "We have been expecting you," Dooku stated calmly. "The Council informed you of their decision and you accept I presume?"

    "Yes, sir. I am grateful for their, and your, agreement with my choices." I bowed a touch and Fay laughed softly.

    "There is no need to bow child. The Force willed it that we are brought together." She paused and gave Dooku a sad smile. "Neither Master Dooku nor I had planned to take another Padawan learner, yet here we both are."

    "Indeed. After what happened with my last Padawan, I had no interest in taking another, yet The Force has reacted unexpectedly in this instance. Yet I cannot bring my self to disagree with its intent." Dooku added in agreement.

    "Still, thank you both."

    "The only one to thank is the Force." Stated Fay as she waved my thanks and turned to look at the hologram. "Hmm, you seem curious about the woman. Why is that?" She asked with a smirk that hinted she knew who the person was.

    "She seems, familiar. Yet I don't think I have ever seen her before." I replied as my brow creased as I raked my memories, yet not even Photographic Memory could tell me anything about her, save I had seen her face in my old life. Obviously, that meant I probably hadn't seen her face anytime in the last five years as it was only after that that the perk could fail.

    Or it could be that someone/thing was intentionally blocking the information to get a reaction.

    Maybe
    "Then allow me to introduce you to Grandmaster Satele Shan. Your great, great, and so on, niece." Fay said with a gentle laugh as she waved her hand over the holocron and my brow rose into my hair.

    "Greetings fellow Jedi, may I ask you name?" Satele Shan, or the recording of her anyway, asked with a small smile.

    "Um, Cameron Shan," I said slowly, wishing I'd turned on Player's Mind, but since the incident in the crystal caves, I had become reluctant to use the power.

    After thinking over the strange behaviour of Jedi-me, I had realised that he meant that because of Player's Mind, I could become the perfect 'emotionless' being that the current Jedi strove to be.

    Satele frowned and leaned closer. "And who was your mother?"

    I frowned in return as this holocron recording was acting differently to the two I had taken when I'd left home. Though those were used as a diary/training tool. This one was clearly a recording for future generations, yet the fact both Fay and Dooku leaned closer at the question told me something was up.

    "Jedi Knight Ressa Shan."

    Satele's head tiled to her left. "And what is your rank?"

    "Padawan."

    "Rank insufficient. Access Denied. Facial features and voice pattern recorded for future reference." Satele stated as her image flicked.

    "What the…" the muttered as the image returned to the one that had first asked me for my name. I turned and looked at the two Jedi Masters.

    "Was that meant to happen?"

    "No, that was, unexpected," Dooku replied slowly as Fay waved her hand over the holocron, turning it off.

    "More like unheard of," Fay countered as she picked up the device and stared at it carefully. "Grandmaster Shan's holocron has always asked for a user's name, but I have never heard of it asking those other questions. Perhaps Master Yoda or an archivist would know if such a thing has happened before."

    "So what was meant to happen?" My curiosity was pipped. Was there something on that holocron that was meant for my eyes only?

    "Generally, a personal holocron, like that of Grandmaster Shan, will serve as a record of what has been and grant a Jedi insight into how our Order behaved during that Jedi's lifetime. Occasionally, they also providing training of rarer Force abilities." Explained Dooku as he stroked his beard slowly.

    "That was why I had brought it here today," added Fay as she slid the holocron into her pocket. "I had hoped that she could provide you with pointers on Battle Meditation."

    "What?" I asked, trying to play dumb, even as I tried not to jump for joy internally at learning the Force ability that Bastila used in KOTOR.

    "Nice try, but we can sense you know something of the power," Fay said with a smile, having obviously sensed my internal reaction. I really needed to learn to block my emotions/mind from reading without always resorting to Player's Mind.
    "I learnt stories about my great-grandmother and what she could do before I became a Jedi," I said slowly, trying to fudge the truth enough that the two Jedi Masters wouldn't think I was lying.


    "And what stories were those?"

    I turned to Dooku to answer him. "That she could influence the outcome of a battle with just the Force. Instil hope in one side and despair to the other before a battle even started."

    "That is the basis of the ability, though a Jedi should not use fear," Fay replied with the faintest of smiles. "Your family was famous for its ability to use Battle Meditation; though that drove the Sith to actively seek out and kill your family line."
    "Like the attack on my home," I blurted out as why the Sith had attacked finally made sense. Well, beyond a power greater than the Force wishing it.


    "When my grandfather contacted the Jedi about my Force potential, the Sith somehow became aware and moved to take me."

    "Indeed. Though if they could not take you, I suspect they would've killed you to prevent the Jedi of the time taking you in." Dooku said calmly, though the tone sent a shiver up my spine and how calmly he spoke of my death to my face.
    "So you think that I can learn Battle Meditation?" I asked, moving the conversation away from discussions about my possible death.


    "That is my hope, yet neither I nor Master Dooku have any training with the ability," Fay stated. "I had planned to introduce the idea into your head before we spoke to Master Rancisis, the Order's current master of the ability. Since you already know of what it is, perhaps we should now speak to him."

    I bowed in acceptance of her suggestion and moved to walk behind the two senior Jedi.

    "You are our Padawan, not an Initiate. Walk at our side." Dooku commanded gently and I moved quickly to his right side.

    "How do you expect to learn from us if you only observe our backs?" Fay asked with a chuckle as I felt my cheeks heat up at her knowing my eyes had wandered lower than they should have.

    "If I may, how exactly is my training to be handled?" I asked after regaining the control of my blush.

    "Master Fay and I have discussed this greatly over the last week," Dooku began as I turned my head just enough to be able to see his face without losing sight of where we were going. "Currently, I am assigned as a lightsaber instructor while Master Fay is, disinterested, in spending a large amount of time on Coruscant.

    "As such, we believe that rotating your training with us, say half a year each, is the best approach for now."

    "I hope to convince Master Dooku to leave the planet, but for now, he is committed to training others Makashi. Your basic instruction in the Form to your former clanmates has given him a base to work from which he remiss in not using." Fay added with a wink and I internally groaned. By teaching the others in Dragon Clan, I had made Dooku less interested in joining Fay and me in exploring the galaxy. Thus, leaving him within easy reach of Palpatine.

    "Who will I train with first?"

    "Master Fay will handle your training initially."

    "Though I think we will stay in the temple until your birthday. This should provide you with adequate time to say your goodbyes to your clanmates."

    "I have no issues with that," I replied as my birthday was less than two weeks away. Then I'd finally get out of the dammed Temple and get to explore the galaxy.

    "Excellent. Ah, we're here." Fay waved her hand over a panel on the door and it opened a moment later.

    As we entered, I saw the long snake-like body of Master Rancisis sitting peacefully on a large chair.

    "Greetings my fellow Jedi. Please come in," He said with a wave of his hand and I had to fight off a shudder at the length of the nails on his fingers. I was sure those were more than just a cultural choice and could do serious damage if needed.

    "Before we begin, I wish to make one thing clear Padawan," the High Council member said as he locked his eyes on me. "I am unsure about teaching the art of Battle Meditation to one so young, and new to our Order. Yet Master Fay was able to convince enough of the High Council that at least seeing if you could learn based on your family line that I have consented to teach you the basics."

    "Thank you, sir," I said with a small bow even as mentally thanked Fay and wondered if more of the High Council were against me learning advanced powers. Perhaps they felt I was learning too much too quickly or that I might somehow threaten their beliefs.

    "Now, before we begin, you have spoken with Grandmaster Shan's recording regarding what Battle Mediation is."

    "He has not," Dooku stated, cutting me off from replying. "It appears that the young Padawan already knew about the ability from stories told to him about Bastila Shan. What he knows is truthful, if coloured by non-Jedi thinking."

    "Hmm, well perhaps I should explain fully what Battle Meditation is and allows," Rancisis said as his long, bony fingers stroked his beard.

    "Battle Meditation is the ability to influence a conflict to achieve the result desired by the user by manipulating the emotions and abilities of those fighting; either by boosting their resolve and capacities while doing the opposite to their opponents.
    "While it is an ability that has rarely been needed over my lifetime, it is one that can alter the flow of entire wars if the user is mentally strong enough to wield it.


    "The only true drawback is that to fully use this ability, you must submerge yourself in a deep trance within the Force. This means that you will feel everyone you touch; their fear, pain even their deaths. It can be, discomforting, and result in you losing control."

    I nodded along as Rancisis spoke, and ignored the new power notice in my log until I thought popped into my head. "Sir is there a form of this ability that would allow a user to use it while active. From the stories I was told, Bastila had to meditate away from a battle, thus she would've been unable to defend herself"

    'Or take an active role in the conflict.' I added in my head.

    I wasn't going to say it out loud on the chance the Jedi thought I wished to seek battle. Truthfully, I was more concerned about the fact that using this power would leave me vulnerable to assassins.

    "There are records, from before even your time, of a handful of Jedi Masters who were able to use Battle Meditation while actively engaged in conflict. However, they note that the effects and range of their power were far less than when used in a meditative trance."

    "Understood," I said as I noted a second new power alert in my log.

    "If you have no more questions," I shook my head. "Good. Begin to meditate and listen to my voice, follow my instructions and we will see if you are ready to learn."

    I folded my legs under me in the typical way one does to mediate as Rancisis pulled his coiled body close and sank into the coils and Fay and Dooku sat down either side of me.

    "Reach out with your mind, try to sense the minds of myself and Masters Fay and Dooku."

    It was weird to reach out through the Force, like pushing through both fog and water at once, yet I could easily sense the presence of the three Jedi Masters within the water-like fog. Each of them had a different… aura, to them. Two were old, though one was more… vibrant, colourful, while the other was… duller. OK, not dull, just less… lively. The young aura was much like the duller aura, yet it wasn't as… bland.

    "Good. Now, brush against our minds. Be gentle though, as the stronger one is with their connection to the Force, the easier it will be for them to prevent you from touching even the edge their mind."

    I let my senses touch the most colourful of the auras and heard Fay gasp quietly. It made sense that Fay's aura was the most colourful as she seemed the most outgoing/emotional of the three Jedi.

    Now knowing which of the auras was Fay's, and having an idea of which of the other two was which, I touched the aura of the youngest and heard Dooku inhale sharply.

    When I tried to touch Rancisis' aura, I failed. It felt like something was stopping me from making the connection.

    "I, I can't touch your mind Master Rancisis. It's too hard." I said after failing a few more times to make a connection and realising that the power was obviously not strong enough yet to allow me to touch more than two minds.

    "That is alright young one. I can sense you have managed to brush against the minds of my fellow Masters. Now, to them I want you to project hope, confidence, belief."

    I nodded even though I was sure his eyes were closed like mine and did as he ordered. Both Fay and Dooku seemed to resist for a moment, I suspected due to their own minds rebelling at the intrusion before they let me in. I tried to make them feel better, more certain about themselves.

    "It is weak, but I can feel his touch boosting my judgement," Fay whispered before gasping quietly and I thought I heard her move around a little. "This is… different from what I expected."

    "Yes. This sense of certainty in myself. It is empowering." Dooku added with a hitch in his voice.

    "Good, very good Cameron. Now hold the connections for as long as you can. Keep giving them hope and belief in themselves."

    I did as Rancisis said, but soon enough I felt the link fail.

    I gasped as I opened my eyes. "I'm sorry. That was all I could manage." I muttered as I regained my bearings. Having the link fail suddenly was jarring and a glance to either side showed me that the effect was felt by both Fay and Dooku.

    "That is quite alright Cameron. This is a powerful but exhausting ability." Stated Rancisis with a soothing tone that was at ends with him looking like a giant snake. "That you were able to use it at all at your young age is most impressive." His head tilted to the left as his claws quietly made ripples in his beard.

    "It will get easier with practice, so perhaps attempting to use this while you meditate will help. Though be careful with whose minds you attempt to link with. Many within the Order enjoy their privacy."

    "Yes, sir." That now meant I had two power I could use while meditating which made me smile a touch. Having something I could actually train during that time for something was a relief as it was three hours each day that had been wasted until now.
    Rancisis uncoiled his body and stretched upwards, which was taken as a sign to stand and glanced past me.


    "Excellent. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a meeting to attend to." He said before slithering past and I noted the clock above the door.

    "I must also take my leave," Dooku stated with a small bow to Fay after seeing the time. "I have a class to instruct."

    "Should I attend?" I asked as I had nothing else to do.

    "No my young Padawan. This is for the younglings. It would be a waste of your time to attempt to learn from such a class. I will be free at four o'clock. If you are available, I would be willing to instruct you in more advanced techniques for Makashi."

    "I will try to be free then sir." No way was I going to pass up one-on-one training with Dooku until I had maxed out Makashi. Heck, I might still take the sessions to learn more about him and try to prevent his joining the Sith.

    As he left, I turned to Fay and glanced at the flashing new power alerts I remembered the first quest I had received when I entered the temple.

    Before I even spoke, she cocked her head to the side and smiled. "You have something you wish to ask?"

    I nodded once and managed to prevent a frown at how easily she could sense my intentions. There must be a Force power to block that, but I didn't think any of the ones I currently had would do that.

    "Um, yes. When we spoke before, in the Archives, you mentioned how the temple felt decaying." I paused and closed my eyes, hoping she didn't suspect I was lying as I spoke again. "Well, after that, I, I felt something under me. Under the Temple. Something wrong."

    "That may well be the planet itself that you sense. I feel it occasionally. This whole world is dying. It is slow, but because I stay away from it and have lived a long time, I can sense it."

    I frowned at her seeming to dismiss my 'concern' while I ignored the urge to ask her how old she was. Not making that mistake with a lady again.

    "That might be it, however," I paused and looked at the floor. "What I sense seems to come from directly below the Temple. From the mountain itself."

    She gently tapped a single finger against her chin. "Hmm. I had not considered that the problem with the temple was the nexus itself."

    "Nexus?" That word was mentioned in the quest regarding Dormund Kaas but not the Jedi Temple, but I hadn't given it any thought beyond the general meaning of the word.

    "A Force nexus is exactly what it sounds like. A place, be it a room, mountain or even a planet, that is strong with the Force. They draw Force-sensitives to them. The mountain on which this great temple is built is one, or at least part of it is."
    "And you think that what I sensed was a problem with this nexus?" I asked her even if internally I was all but certain that there was.


    "It is, possible. But I do not know much about the older levels." She turned to look me in the eye. "I know there is something you are not telling me, yet the Force seems to be guiding me to accept what you say. Most interesting."

    "I try to be," I smirk as I speak, and Fay chuckled quietly.

    "Yes, that you do." She ruffled my hair as she smiled before she began to walk away and I forced myself to keep my eyes on the back of her head.

    She paused in the doorframe and turned back. "Come along Padawan. The temple records will not read themselves and I had no interest in doing so alone."

    "Yes, Master." I move quickly to her side and we walk towards the elevator in silence.

    Once inside, I subtly open the new notices.

    Force Power Discovered!
    Battle Meditation (Passive)
    The ability to alter the course of a battle by instilling hope and belief or sowing fear in those around you while in a meditative trance.

    Force Power Discovered!
    Battle Meditation (Active)
    The ability to alter the course of a battle by instilling hope and belief or sowing fear in those around you while actively engaged in the battle.

    WARNING!
    Battle Meditation (Active) is locked until Battle Meditation (Passive) reaches Savant:1.
    'Nice. Two new powers, though I'll have to wait a while to even begin to train the second one.'

    I casually waved away the notices and silently prayed that looking through the records wouldn't take too long so that I could build my lightsaber.




     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
  16. Threadmarks: Crystal Stars 5
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    "You are late," Dooku stated simply as I ran into the training room.

    "Sorry, sir. I got caught up in a project. With Master Fay. Then I had to. Complete the construction. Of my lightsaber." I replied between breaths.

    That was an understatement as after learning the basics of Battle Meditation from Master Rancisis, I'd spent six hours in the Archives with Fay learning what we could about the Temple's history. It had been a long, boring read, but we had managed to rule out the upper five hundred levels of the complex, as those levels had all been used during the last major war with the Sith, nearly a thousand years ago. So Master Fay was planning to have us explore the levels lower than that. I honestly didn't expect to find anything above level one thousand – finding out that Coruscant had over five thousand levels was a shock – and so I was wondering how I could fill the time.

    "Very well. May I?" He asked with a hand outstretched and I unclipped my lightsaber – and I couldn't help but feel proud at being able to say that – and handed it to him.

    He turned it over slowly. While only about two-thirds the length of his, it had the same curved hilt as his own. I had done that purposefully as I was publicly committed to Makashi and he had explained that the curved hilt granted advantages when using Makashi and both styles of Form V, which I would ask him to start teaching me once Makashi was at Savant 1 or better.

    The hilt was black, with the actual grip being grey and made of a hard substance that reminded me of the grip of a combat knife in my old life. A small activation button was situated just above where my forefinger would rest and Dooku touched that, making the blade ignite.

    That made me grunt quietly. 'I just had to get something different, didn't I?' I pondered as Dooku did a fair impression of a Vulcan brow raise as he examined the blade.

    The core of the blade was black, seeming to draw the light into it, yet the corona shone with a brilliant white light. After I had gotten over my initial anger at the colouring, I had noted that neither colour dominated the other. That reminded me of how Master Nilas had described me when I'd first appeared in front of her.

    "Darkness touches your soul, yet it does not taint your essence. It makes your shine brighter, clearer than any I have seen before."

    Those had been her words and I just knew that she had seen this happening. I was still trying to wrap my head around the Force knowing how certain things were going to go for me, but for now, I would accept it. The Force wasn't actively working against me, so no need to risk angering it; if I even could anger something that couldn't be fully described.

    "A unique blade Padawan. One well suited to its owner." Dooku said as he handed the now unpowered hilt back to me. "Now we will work on teaching you to accept the blade as a part of you."

    I moved to the far side of the sparring circle we stood in, ignoring the glances and whispers from onlookers around the room as I re-ignited my lightsaber.

    NOTICE:
    You are receiving one-on-one training with a true Makashi Master.
    25% increase in Makashi XP gains while training with the master.
    ...

    I subtly waved away the notice, even as a small grin appeared on my face. These training sessions would make getting to Master 1 – and completing the new quest Expert Duellist, that I'd generated during lunch – by my birthday much easier. It was still going to be a challenge, but 3000XP just for Master 1 made it worth the effort.

    "Begin."

    ...


    ...

    Eight days we'd been at this.

    Eight afternoons where we'd travelled downwards from the Jedi Temple into the bowels of Coruscant looking for the corruption that I knew – but Fay only suspected and Dooku didn't believe existed – was below the temple. After spending another day researching in the Archives, we had managed to determine that there couldn't be any corruption in the first two thousand or so levels below the main Temple, as these were all mapped out.

    We'd left via speeder after lunch each day and only returned to the temple seven or eight hours later.

    We had passed the three-thousandth level below the surface two days ago and I was getting concerned if we'd even find the source of the corruption before my birthday and me leaving the Temple with Fay.

    Oh, don't get me wrong, leaving the temple – and Coruscant in general – was something I was looking forward to, but I wanted this quest cleared before then. That was also why during the last eight days I'd changed my studies to focus on just my computing skills, instead of a broad range I had been forced to learn when I was an Initiate so that I could level those skills quicker and not have to worry about the related quest - Just Don't Get Caught - as time went on. That I could maybe gain access to the Holocron Vault with high-level computing skills long before I became a Knight was a nice bonus.

    Plus, the eight days hadn't been a complete waste. We'd discovered about four dozen lightsabers – of which I had managed to stash a pair in my inventory – and a handful of holocrons on and around the skeletal remains of Jedi and I'd also come across few thousand credits.

    I had expected the credits to be useless at first, after all, what currency is still the same and valid a thousand years later, but my powers had just added them to my total. Now I just needed to try to buy something with those stored credits to see if they were useable.

    On Dooku's instruction, I had logged where all the bodies of fallen Jedi were so that they could be gathered and cremated later. While their names had been long forgotten to the ages, both Jedi Masters felt they deserved to be treated with honour and respect. Though I was certain that a few at least were Sith, I had to agree with the decision.

    "Which level have we cleared now?" Dooku asked with a hint of annoyance as his eyes narrowed and his hand torch illuminated the corridor in front of us.

    "I believe this is level three thousand, one hundred and twenty-nine," Fay replied in her usual calm, serene manner. "I understand you place little faith in these explorations, but both our Padawan and I feel there is something down here that poses a danger to the Temple."

    "I am well aware of your reasons for these daily examinations of the levels under the Temple, yet I again believe that you are both sensing the general decadence of the planet." Dooku countered as I struggled to not smile at the interplay.

    Dooku was the epitome of nobility in the way he behaved; always placing stock in rules and what he knew to be true. He dealt in certainties and formal approaches to most matters. The Force was there to aide us with suggestions.

    On the other hand, Fay was very much a feeling, caring, individual who subscribed to the belief that life was to be lived by following the Force, to let it guide you where it needed you to be.

    "Our opinions amuse you, Padawan?" Dooku asked with a single eyebrow raised, noticing my smile.

    "No, sir. Well, yes, but probably not for the reason you think."

    "Then what is it about us you find so funny?" Fay queried with a small smile of her own; that one that she seemed to have when she knew an answer but didn't want to tell you what it was.

    "Forgive me if I overstep, but from my time within the Temple, you are both rebels." Fay chuckled gently while Dooku's eyebrow rose higher. "I mean that while both of you are Jedi, neither of you are, well, willing or concerned to follow the general notion of what a Jedi should be.

    "Master Dooku, you are always in control. You are calm and controlled while willing to do what must be done to achieve your goals, and yet you seem driven to know more than others.

    "Master Fay, you are, forgive me for saying it like this, someone without obvious direction. You seem to want to just float around and let what comes come.

    "You both prefer to deal with what is happening around you in your own ways and not always in strict accordance of the Order's rules.

    "This is why I feel you are both outliers within the Jedi. You do not follow the common approach I was taught over the last year regarding who and what a Jedi is. In fact, your approaches are similar to what my grandfather explained to me about the ways of the Ancient Jedi before I came here."

    Both Masters looked at each other when I finished and seemed to communicate with each other without talking. I was guessing a bit about both of them, but since I had a former life, and people I knew for that, to compare them too, I felt my guesses were reasonably accurate.

    "Your observation is accurate, if unrefined," Dooku stated once they had both looked at me again. "While Master Fay and I see the role of a Jedi, and what it should mean to be one, in different ways, we do both agree that the standard methods used by the High Council are… lacking."

    Fay shook her head even as her smile returned. "You can take the boy out of Serenno…" She chuckled a little before she continued. "Your assessment of us is correct, young one. We are both non-conformists to what the Jedi Council wishes all Jedi to be; as are many others. And yet, so are you.

    "You challenge authority at times yet are content to obey it at others. One moment you seem driven by some force, pun intended, while others you are happy to simply be." She shook her head even if her face should clear signs of amusement. "You are in many ways, an interesting blend of Master Dooku and myself."

    "Indeed. I have noticed that you go out of your way to help your clanmates, as a good Jedi should, yet you don't waste time sprouting platitudes or false praise. Even those I feel are not worthy of being a Jedi you still help. Why is this?"

    I thought for a moment on how to phrase the answer without revealing my suspicions or plans.

    "Even if there are some within the clans who aren't taken as Padawans, that does not mean they are no longer Jedi. Nor that the Council should just shunt them into what are essentially dead-end jobs without at least speaking to them.

    "Dropping these so-called 'failed Jedi' off on farm worlds is sure to breed resentment among them and since, to me, the Jedi see emotions as something to avoid at all costs, this makes it likely that at least some of those designated for assignment will grow angry and frustrated. This leads to the Dark Side, or so my teachers claimed."

    "And you feel there is a better way?" Dooku questioned in a softer tone than normal.

    "Possibly. I know the Jedi Order is set up as a non-profit, but couldn't those reassigned be placed in some form of secondary training, or leased out to help with major problems? For example, I read that Mandalore is now a largely barren world. Couldn't the Council and the corps they oversee do something to help restore the planet?"

    "Mandalore is an interesting example," Fay began, glancing at Dooku as she spoke. "But your idea has merit. I will speak with Master Rancisis who serves as the leader for the Council of Reassignment."

    I gave Fay a nod even as I glanced at Dooku. I was aware of his recent history regarding Mandalore – I'd read about it early on after arriving in the temple since I was curious as to how the Mandalorians from KOTOR had become those from The Clone Wars – and learnt of Dooku's last Council-assigned mission there.

    It had explained to me how Dooku had first met Jango Fett and I assumed that this failed mission was used as a reason to recruit to the Mandalorian to become the template of the clones of the GAR. I was still in two minds about stopping Jango being the template as even if I removed him, I was sure Sidious would find another template and I had no idea if the new choice would be better or worse in the long run.

    "Master Dooku, is everything alright?" I asked slowly as I mentally turned on Player's Mind to block him sensing that I knew more than I should.

    "Yes, yes. As Master Fay said, your idea has merit," he replied quietly and without all his usual certainty. "I just have strong, opinions, regarding Mandalorians. Or a certain group of them at least." He finished as his eyes narrowed at what I assumed was the memory of the Battle of Galidraan.

    I knew I'd have to ask him about that battle if I travelled to Mandalore, or when I knew him better, but for now, I let the matter drop and sent out a pulse with Detection, and again cursed that the power still couldn't pierce through levels or more than five metres of cumulative duracrete. I hoped that changed once it reached Adept 1.

    I'd done this about five times every hour each day we'd been down here, along with TK. The TK was just for the XP, but Detection was also to keep an 'eye out' for possible threats. Eight days, and over a dozen levels to the power, nothing had been sensed.

    Until now.

    "Um, I don't think we're alone," I muttered as I glanced down the corridor where Detection had sensed six presences a few hundred metres ahead. The same corridor that we needed to head down to find the stairs to the next level.

    Sadly, while the power let me know if something was there, it didn't seem to be able to tell who or what was there, which did limit its potential, but even knowing where possible enemies were was something that I wasn't going to ignore.

    "I believe you are right, young one," Fay said as her eyes narrowed a little and her tone lost some of its light and casual energy. "Not sentient, but not simple either. And anger, aggression, that we are in their territory."

    "Perhaps sub-dwellers?" Dooku suggested as I noticed he was now palming his lightsaber. "Or another of the creatures known to live in the depths."

    "Probable, and a problem." Fay glanced down at a datapad she had that contained the limited maps we'd been able to find of the lower levels. "If the map is correct, then they are blocking our route down."

    "Can we go around them?"

    Fay shook her head at her fellow Jedi's question. "From the old schematics that we found on level twenty-sixty-seven, no. All the other egresses are blocked or destroyed from the scans we've taken."

    "Hmm. Then we will simply have to convince these creatures to let us past." Dooku stated as he slid his lightsaber into his hand.

    "Stay behind us, Cameron. It is not that we doubt your ability, more that we do not wish to be placed in danger." Fay explained as she gently pushed me back a few steps.

    "I have killed before." I countered bluntly, glad that Player's Mind was already running. I could wait for combat to begin, but that split-second where it isn't on, then is, could cost me.

    "Yes, I am aware of the events leading to your being at the Temple," The Jedi Master said with a small smile that failed to reach her eyes. "But that was a situation where you were fighting for your very life. This may not be such a setting." She paused and glanced down at me, her eyes locking on to my own. "Remain behind us while we attempt to calm these creatures."

    "Yes ma'am," I replied with a small sigh. While avoiding conflict was safer, I knew I could gain XP from combat since I'd earned about 800XP from killing the Sith apprentice and two of the pirates while escaping from my home. It wasn't much, but I wasn't going to pass up the chance to earn more if I had to fight, though I knew that if I started killing for XP, I risked heading down a dark road that I wanted to avoid; Force powers or no.

    I unhooked my lightsaber, but I followed Dooku's behaviour and didn't ignite it as moved down the corridor, and as we rounded a corner we came upon an animal of some form.

    They looked like dogs, yet they weren't. They were all about a metre long and had pale, white skin, large ears and some very sharp teeth. But what drew my attention was the lack of eyes.

    "Why don't they have eyes?" I asked quietly as I watched the creatures amble around. They either hadn't detected us or didn't consider us a threat.

    "Large areas of the lower levels of Coruscant have limited or no light. These creatures have clearly evolved to no longer rely on their sight." Dooku explained in a breath barely above a whisper.

    "I have encountered similar creatures before. Judging by the ears, I believe that they rely on echolocation to detect their prey; which we would be doubtless if given the chance." Added Fay in a gentle voice as I tightened the grip on my lightsaber.

    Slowly, cautiously we approached.

    Even with trying to minimize any sound we made, the beasts seemed to sense us and turned our way; teeth exposed and a deep, guttural growl-like sound coming from them.

    I felt the hairs on the back of my neck begin to stand as the largest of the pack stalked towards us.

    And then they suddenly stooped.

    I looked from the beasts to see both Jedi Masters were standing calmly with their hands raised towards the beasts.

    I mentally sighed in annoyance at missing out on the XP as one by one, the beasts fell into a slumber.

    "What was that?" I asked once all the beasts were asleep.

    "The Force grants us the ability to calm the hearts and minds of beasts, and even control them to a degree," Fay explained. "The ease to do so depends on the animal in question and the strength of will of the Jedi but it is generally possible to avoid needlessly killing creatures that are only a concern due to their territorial nature."

    I nodded along even as I spotted Dooku moving slowly though the pack of creatures. The man still held his lightsaber in his hand as he moved through them, clearly cautious that they may wake.

    "The path is clear; however, I advise caution. Just because they are now sleeping does not make them any less of a potential threat," he remarked quietly.

    I gave a quick nod in understanding and moved quickly but cautiously to join him, Fay right behind me. Once we were clear and heading down the stairs to the next level, I pulled up a notice.

    Force Power Discovered!
    Beast Control
    Grants the ability to calm, control or even dominate a beast/creature.
    ...

    I waved away the notice even as I placed seeing that used a few times in the movies or Clone Wars. I didn't think I would need it much, but a new power was always welcome. Though I was still annoyed about missing out on the XP I'd expected to get for defeating the beasts.

    As we reached the next floor, Fay turned to face me.

    "Has anyone counselled you about having to kill to escape the Sith?" After getting over the shock of the out-of-the-blue question, I shook my head in the negative.

    She sighed loudly and looked upwards. "Disappointing, but not unexpected." She looked back at me and continued; "When we return tonight, both Master Dooku and I will speak with you about those events. Being in such circumstances, and being forced to take a life, can have a grave effect on your mental wellbeing and we would be remiss in our roles as your Masters to not ensure you are healthy in body and mind."

    "Yes, ma'am." She smiled and stepped beside Dooku while I realised that she was the first to ask about how I was after killing and knowing my grandfather was killed, and she had only done it after we had avoided our first potential combat situation.

    It was a worrying reminder to me of one way in which the Jedi seemingly failed the children in their care. Though perhaps because I was a unique case, it had not occurred to any of them to ask; not that that was much of an excuse for ignoring a child with a potential combat-related mental disorder.

    Shaking my head at finding another failing of the Jedi Order, I cast Detection once more and frowned.

    "I think this level is inhabited," I said slowly as the power identified nearly two dozen beings within its range, most congregated in a large group directly down the corridor in front of us.

    "Yes, there appear to be lifeforms up ahead," Agreed Dooku as he again took the lead. "These, however, are not simple beasts." He added as we reached a doorframe and spotted creatures within.

    These had the same pale, white skin, and sharp teeth as the canines above, yet these walked on two legs and their skin was hanging loosely from their frames. Their ears were seemingly merged with their eyes and I thought I saw something move behind the skin where an eyeball would be for most beings.

    I counted over two dozen of the creatures ambling around the hall, but another blast of Detection told me there were another ten that I couldn't see.

    "Troglodytes, wonderful." Dooku murmured as we stepped back from the doorframe. "I suggest we find another route."

    "Yes, that would be for the best," agreed Fay. "While not sentient, these beings are intelligent and far more difficult to persuade with the Force." She added to my unasked question.

    We returned to the stairs and tried two more routes, but both were blocked with fallen debris, and I was beginning to suspect that we'd have to fight our way through the Troglodytes when we reached the last possible way around the room.

    "This is our only option," Dooku stated from his advanced position. "Padawan, stay to the rear and make sure that none of those beasts attempts to encircle us."

    I nodded my consent and slipped behind the two adults, though I unhooked my lightsaber just in case it was needed.

    We moved slowly down the corridor, taking each corner cautiously as we stepped and I used Detection before each turn as an extra precaution.

    "It appears we will need to force our way through," Dooku stated in a voice barely above a whisper as we rounded yet another corner and saw that the about two-hundred metres ahead, a doorway opened onto the corridor and a group of about eight Troglodytes were ambling around.

    A glance at my mini-map told me that the doorway probably opened up onto the hall that we were trying to avoid.

    "I think that door leads to the area where we first encountered these creatures," Fay added, not realising she was agreeing with my mini-map.

    "Then if we wish to continue to the next level down we will have to find a way past them," Stated Dooku with a tone that hinted at annoyance. "We could calm them easily, but that runs the chance of others through the doorway still sensing them."

    "Why not calm them, then lead them towards us to stun?" I suggested. "That should help clear out this group without alerting the others."

    Both Jedi looked and me for a moment, before sharing a glance.

    "An interesting solution," Dooku said with the barest hint of a twitch to his lips. "And one that avoids bloodshed. Unexpected."

    I felt a little affronted that he expected me to suggest just attacking them. Which admittedly I had considered for the XP alone, but the sheer number of the creatures within my detection range – about fifty all over the level – made me cautious about doing that.

    "Still, it is a good plan," Fay added with a smile as she turned and extended her hands towards the creatures. Slowly, each of them stood and shuffled towards us.

    Once they were close enough that he was certain they were out of range of the door, Dooku extended his hand and began to stun them.

    Not wanting to miss out on any XP from that, and seeing an excuse to use level up a Force Power, I joined him and quickly we had eight soundly sleeping creatures at our feet.

    "A successful plan. Well done Padawan," Dooku commented as he stepped over the stunned Troglodytes to take the lead.

    "It is refreshing to see one so young realise that not all problems are solved with the use of force." Added Fay as she fell into step behind him.

    I followed their path through the sleeping beasts, only to become curious and reached down to gently touch one.

    ID: Cthon [Creature]
    Status: Stunned
    Party XP Gain: 37
    Do you wish to loot the body?
    Yes/No?

    'Yes.'

    3 credits added!

    Looting these bodies were going to be a waste, but at least I now had a name for the creatures. Though I did wonder what it meant exactly by Party XP Gain and how that was applied. Did Fay and Dooku also have levels of their own, or was it just a way to limit me gaining too much XP from allowing others to fight beside me?

    A glance at my status showed I had gained just under 200XP since the start of the day. Without knowing the exact breakdown of how Party XP was calculated, I couldn't be sure, but it looked like I gained about 10XP for each Cthon that had been stunned.

    'Perhaps I get a bigger part of that if I am the one who stunned them? Would that also apply if I killed them, and would the XP gain be greater?' I pondered as I stepped through the sleeping Cthon.

    "We must move quickly and quietly past the door," Dooku said as I finished stepping past the sleeping creatures. "I will go first, followed by you Padawan."

    "Yes, sir."

    Suddenly Dooku was harder to spot, and I had to focus carefully to see him as I realised that he had summoned the Force to hide him, and I realised that this was what Force Camouflage looked like to others.
    With silent steps, he moved quickly past the door and once he reached the other side turned back to face us.


    A quick series of hand gestures told me that there were three Cthon near the door, but none were actively looking out into the corridor.

    Figuring it was better to use the same power as Dooku, I activated Camouflage and walked quickly to where Dooku was waiting.

    His brow rose a touch as I moved, I assumed because he didn't realise that I could also use Force Camouflage, though he said nothing as Fay crossed and we had moved a few metres past the doorway.
    We moved quietly but quickly away from the occupied hall and soon found the way down to the next level.


    "This could be a problem," Dooku muttered as we reached the next level, and found ourselves in a giant hall full of dozens of Cthon.

    The nearest Cthon spotted us before we could do anything and screamed; drawing the attention of every one of the other Cthon in the hall.

    Every Cthon turned and to face us and screamed as well before charging as one.

    Dooku and I ignited our lightsabers and stepped forward as Fay lifted her hands.

    A Cthon leapt at me from my left, and I instantly raised my lightsaber to slice it clean in half.

    Three more charged from my right and I pushed them back roughly with the Force even as I sliced two more Cthon apart.

    I couldn't risk a glance at either Jedi Master as another seven Cthon advanced on me and I was forced to twist and turn to avoid their claws even as I struck at them with my blade.

    A female scream made me spin and I saw that Fay was covered in a net, which was pulsing with electricity.

    A growl came from where Dooku was.

    I grunted as my vision was blocked by bursts of blue and my hands spasmed.

    Realising I was caught in a net the same as Fay, I tried to use my lightsaber to slice the net, only to grunt as my empty hand touched the net and collapsed to my knees.

    I needed a way out of the net and without my lightsaber, that was not…

    I used Teleport to move backwards about five meters and sighed in relief at losing the feeling of constant electricity surging over my skin.

    A guttural scream drew me back to my surroundings, and I saw over a dozen Cthon closing on me, the nearest already raising their fists or primitive weapons to attack.

    Reaching out with the Force, I grabbed any piece of rubble around me.

    I accelerated them around my body before pushing out the rubble, sending it roaring at anything around my body, mentally hoping the Force and the weak sense of where they were, to prevent me from hitting Fay or Dooku.

    Grunts, gargles and other guttural sounds were heard for a less than a minute.

    I opened my eyes, not even realising that I had closed them, and almost gagged on what I saw.

    The floor around me, and at other spots around the hall, was covered in a disturbing mix of white loose skin and red blood with bones and other solid parts of what I assumed were Cthon internal parts, jagging out of the blood and skin.

    "Padawan," I turned at the soft voice and saw Fay, who was now free of the net and kneeling next to me. There was no smile gracing her face, and a hand came to rest on my shoulder. "Are, are you well?"

    "I... I think so," I mumbled out. Player's Mind was engaged and had helped me think and act during the battle, but it had disengaged the moment the battle was over, and now I had to deal with having slaughtered so many creatures.

    Yes, it had been done to save my own life – and that of Fay's and Dooku's – but seeing the… carnage I had wrought with unleashing such a common/basic Force Power was disturbing.

    "I, I didn't mean to do this," I said slowly. While the aftereffects of the battle were easy to handle, due to my past life, knowing that I had done this, and how easy it had been to do, were going to take some time to accept.

    "No, you did not. However, if you had not, we may all have died." Dooku stated solemnly as he surveyed the room. "While, excessive, your efforts were successful in saving us."

    Fay's head snapped around and she glared at her fellow Jedi Master, but she didn't say anything to him. That was the first time I saw her face marred by anything approaching anger, and I knew I never wanted to see such venom turned my way, nor see her features damaged by such a reaction.

    "We should return to the Temple," she said slowly as she turned back to look at me. "This has been a... taxing moment."

    "No!" I replied more forcefully than I intended. "No. I'm ok to keep going. We can talk about this later, but I feel we are close."

    I used Detection and gasped at sensing something unexpected at the far side of the level. Something painful, angry, tormented was where my mini-map suggested the stairs down to the next level should be.

    "There's something close, something off," I muttered as I closed my eyes and reached out with Detection again, only to recoil at what I sensed.

    Darkness, pain, fury, desire.

    "Yes, I too sense something. It resonates with the Dark Side, but I am not sure if it is this taint you both claim to believe is down here." Dooku added, agreeing with me.

    "That we would find anything tainted with the Dark Side shows that our theory has merit," said Fay, countering Dooku's scepticism. "However, I am wary of placing our Padawan into another potential situation so soon after this."

    "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," I muttered. "Something my grandfather used to say," I added quickly as an explanation for using an Earth-based expression that I wasn't sure existed in this galaxy.

    "Not an entirely Jedi outlook, but true none the less," Dooku stated, giving me a fractional nod of approval.

    "Very well, but Cameron, you are to remain behind us at all times from now on. I will not risk losing my first Padawan in centuries on our first mission. Neither the Force nor I would not forgive myself." Fay said with a sigh, once more reminding me of just how old she truly was.

    She may look to only be a decade or so physically older than me, but she was not. The records in the Archives stated she joined the Order as one of the first Initiates on the cruiser Chu'unthor, which was launched approximately five-hundred years ago. That was the best I could do for discovering her age, as the records generally never stated how old a Jedi was when they were discovered and brought into the Order and Examine did not yet list the age of a being.

    We moved slowly at first, Fay not wanting me to go too fast, through the hall and surrounding corridors – which were devoid of life without any sign of bloodshed – before picking up our speed once she was sure I was ok.

    I would've liked to have stopped as my FP was barely above 500 after the battle, but I knew if we did stop, Fay would force us to return to the Temple. I stopped running Cloak and avoided using Detection and by the time we neared where I sensed the darkness, my FP had returned to just over 1500.

    As the entrance to the next level down came into view, I spotted three new creatures.

    These looked to be twice the height of the Cthon, and they had red, leathery skin, though it was uneven as were their heads, and none of the three looked the same.

    "Wonderful," Dooku commented as the three beasts spotted us.

    The creatures resisted Fay's attempt to calm them, and Dooku was forced to kill two before the third showed a hint of intelligence and ran away, heading down the stone tunnel.

    It seemed that this level was the last of any initial temple as the tunnel headed inwards to the mountain instead of twisting around it as the last one-thousand plus levels had done.

    "Hopefully he doesn't have any friends," I said, which earned me glares from the Jedi Masters.

    "Perhaps you would be wise to not suggest such things," Dooku stated with a grunt.

    Fay smiled, but it was more of a grim smile than one of genuine happiness. I silently wondered if the Force took the place of Murphy in this universe.

    The tunnel was longer and darker than anything we'd come across previously, with Dooku and I using our lightsabers as torches. From the time given by my interface, it seemed to take us about five times as long as descending between levels before the tunnel widened out into a cavern and as my eyes adjusted to the limited natural light, I groaned.

    The beast that had run had gathered nearly a dozen of his friends, all of whom were waiting in the cavern, and growling at us.

    "My fault," I muttered just as the beasts charged.

    Dooku stepped forward, and almost lazily, avoided a clawed hand before slicing off the arm it was attached to, then pivoted and slashed another beast across the chest.

    As that happened, Fay flicked her wrist, and sent two of the beasts flying into their brethren, knocking out five of them as the combined mass of limbs struck the wall; which was accompanied by the cracking of more than a few bones.

    I had barely even managed to step forward to help when the last two beasts ran into the cavern.

    "Sorry," I mumbled out as Dooku turned to glare at me.

    "Perhaps next time you will be more careful with your words," he stated as he clipped his lightsaber to his belt.

    "Yes sir," I replied, even while cursing that Murphy was a thing here.

    "This cave is within the mountain itself. There was nothing in the Archives that even hinted that such a thing existed." Fay said as she stepped past us and examined the walls of the cavern, only to pull her hand back sharply. "This place is tainted."

    I used Detection and instantly regretted it as my mind was overloaded with whispers. Whispers of anger, of power, of rage, of taking what I wanted. An image from the crystal cave on Ilum flashed through my head and a glance at Fay had me glad I hadn't yet started puberty.

    It was a little overwhelming and I slammed on Player's Mind and instantly the whispers ceased. This ability was so over-powered as to be ridiculous, but right now, I wasn't complaining.

    "Cameron?" I turned and saw Fay looking at me.

    "I am fine ma'am. Just a little unprepared to feel such… chaos."

    "That is one word to describe what runs through this place," Dooku added without really opening his mouth. "Be wary, I sense that the taint is nearby and guarded."

    "You now believe we are right about the taint?" Fay asked with a smile that failed to reach her eyes.

    "To deny what I can see and feel would be a lie." He replied as he took point and lead us into the cavern.

    For a few minutes, we walked with no light save that from our lightsabers, until the cavern began to narrow, and a small, narrow archway appeared. One that seemed to be marked with marking akin to hieroglyphs.

    "These are ancient Sith markings," Fay commented as she floated her hand centimetres above the markings, seemingly being careful to not touch them. "I recognize a few from memory. They speak of, a well, used by warriors before battle. These say this temple was created to corrupt or dominate the nexus that is the mountain."

    "A Sith Temple here? One that predates the Jedi Temple. How is this not known to the Order?" Dooku asked, probably more to himself than us as he stroked his beard. "How could the High Council not be aware of this?"

    "Perhaps we can ask them after we've dealt with this place," I suggested, though I doubted they knew anything about this.

    "Yes. Now let us see what awaits us within."

    "Cameron, perhaps you should wait here," Fay suggested, placing a hand on my shoulder and giving me a motherly smile. "Whatever is inside will be dangerous and exposing you to such darkness is not something I am comfortable with."

    "No. I helped you find this place; I should see things through." I countered. I was worried that if I did not help to clear the dark-side nexus then I'd fail the quest. And I was all but certain that with Player's Mind active that I was safe from any possible corruption.

    Nothing so far, beyond being a new experience, was tempting me to go crazy and kill everyone. Though perhaps that is how falling to the dark side begins?

    I remembered my talk with Revan and the discussion we had on trying to achieve balance with the Force. Could I use this as the first way to prove that I was serious about finding another way and impress Revan?

    My body being rocked gently drew me from my thoughts.

    "Cameron? Are you well?" Fay asked, her brow creased with concern.

    "Yes, Master. I was just considering if there was a way to balance the taint here." I replied, making both Jedi look at me as though I had grown another head.

    "Balance the taint? Not remove it?" Dooku asked slowly.

    "Yes. Everything must exist in balance, right? I mean, if the ecosystem of a planet is unbalanced then eventually the animals and sentients living there will die out unless the balance is restored. Why should it not be the same for the Force?"

    "So you wish to bring balance to the Force?" Fay asked, her brow creasing so much that I worried about her eyebrows going into her eyes.

    "Yes. And no." I replied and sighed. "I am aware of a… prophecy that some have applied to me but that is not what I am thinking about. The Sith and the Jedi are two sides of the same coin. Two extremes of a pole. Too much one way, and nature, the Force, reacts and seeks balance. But often this tilt the other way takes things to that extreme."

    "You seek to remove enough of the taint of the dark side within this place to bring it into balance. Neither light nor dark, just strong in the Force?" Dooku asked as he again stroked his beard.

    "Yes."

    "Interesting. But perhaps we should wait to see if such a thing is possible until after we secure the source of the taint." He stated and pivoted sharply to face the archway. "I sense danger inside, but not something we cannot handle if we work together."

    "Agreed. But as I said, Cameron stays behind us." Fay added and I realised that the reason Fay had given me a shake was that I had spaced out while thinking about what to do with the dark side nexus.

    As we stepped through the archway, a deep, animalistic growl echoed around the next cavern. Once that seemed to vibrate up my spine.

    "Oh fuck me sideways," I muttered as, from the light that somehow was seeping into the far side of this new cavern, stood a giant beast that I remembered from the movies.

    "How did a Rancor end up here?" Fay asked with a small shake of what I hoped was not fear. I did not need the two Jedi Masters to be scared of what we faced.

    "The better question would be what has this taint done to it and the other beasts," Commented Dooku as he pulled a second lightsaber from his belt – one we had collected of a dead Jedi a dozen or so levels above – and ignited it.

    I looked carefully at the Rancor and noted that it was different from the one in the movies. This one's skin was darkened, almost black in places, and extra spikes seemed to sprout from the skin where it was darkest.

    The beasts that had been in the last cavern where here too, and a half-dozen or so of them also had darker skin and spikes.

    "This is going to be fun," I drawled without any feeling.

    The Rancor roared once more and then charged.
     
  17. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Could be worse.

    At least it's not a Terentatek.
     
  18. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    I considered that, but my lore guys explained that the chances of a Sith beast living under the Jedi temple and not being sensed by the Jedi was stretching things.

    Plus, such a beast would be beyond Cam currently (even with Dooku and Fay for help)
     
  19. Threadmarks: Crystal Stars 6
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    I groaned as I began to wake and moved to sit up, only to feel a hand on my shoulder holding me down.

    "Easy there Padawan," a female voice said, and I slowly opened my eyes, blinking at the soft lighting in the room. As I grew accustomed to the light, a notice floated before my face.

    You have slept for over 8 hours.
    HP, FP, PP and Stam 100% restored.
    All negative statuses and ailments have been removed.

    I waved the notice away, still wondering how to at least move that reminder to a more convenient location and focused on the other person in the room.

    She was of the same species as Master Fisto – who I had only met in passing around the temple – but her skin was darker, almost grey in colour. A Nau-something-or-other. The name of the species escaping me at the moment.

    "You are in the temple's healing complex," She said, having guessed my first question. "Your masters brought you here after you fainted. From our examinations, it appears that you overexerted yourself with the Force and passed out."

    "Ah," I managed to get out, my voice coming as more of a croak. I licked my lips and felt how dry they are.

    "Here," the healer passed me a glass of water.

    I sipped at it, careful to not drink it too fast, before handing it back to her.

    "Thanks. How am I? Anything wrong?"

    "You are fine, young one," She replied with a smile that combined with the tentacles on her head and her jet-black eyes, was a little disconcerting. I knew it was wrong, but a small part of me was still uncomfortable around the more stereo-typically alien-looking aliens of this galaxy.

    "If I may, I will go and inform your masters that you are awake now."

    "Ok," I replied and watched her leave the small private room I was in.

    The moment the doors closed, I pulled up the two blinking notices.

    Quest Completed
    Cleanse the Temple
    Objective:
    Find the dark side taint and cleanse it [Yes]
    Rewards:
    3000XP
    ...
    LEVEL UP!
    Level: 10 – 11
    FP: +500
    PP: +2
    STAM: +15
    SP: +5
    SKP: +32
    ...
    NOTE
    While you did not directly finish the Quest Cleanse the Temple, your actions ensured that it could be completed.
    This is enough to regard the quest as completed.
    Please note that only a handful of quests can be completed in this manner.
    ...

    'Huh, well that was unexpected. But useful.' If certain quests like Cleansing the Temple could be completed by others in a group with me, then it would make the more long-winded quests I was sure to develop easier to handle. Perhaps it had something to do with the same issue as earning Party XP from combat.

    I was pulled from my thoughts as I heard the doors opened, which I turned to face as I subtly waved away the notices.

    "Good morning Cameron. How are you feeling?" Fay asked as she walked into the room with Dooku, the Jedi healer a step behind them.

    "I'm fine, Master Fay. How long was I out?" I replied, curious as there was no mention of the Expert Duellist quest, which would expire on my birthday.

    "You have been here since yesterday Padawan," the healer replied as she stepped beside the other Jedi, before turning to them. "Padawan Shan shows no signs of any ailment, so he is free to leave with you."

    "Thank you, Master Zod. Come Padawan."

    Say what you will for Dooku's abilities, it was still hard to not roll my eyes at being ordered about like an army recruit again.

    Fay stayed beside the bed as I stood, and we both followed him out of the room.

    "What happened to me?"

    "You over-exerted yourself with the Force and pushed too far with Battle Meditation," Fay explained as we walked through the infirmary. I noted a few of the younger Jedi glance at me but I ignored them. I'd been getting such glances since I'd arrived, with them becoming far more prevalent after my performance in the Initiate Trials and discovering that others thought I was the 'Chosen One'.

    "Ahh, that's right," I murmured as the memory came back to me. In the closing moments of the fight, I had attempted Battle Meditation in the heat of the moment to help Fay And Dooku.

    "Yes, your Battle Meditation," Dooku drawled, glancing at me. "While we thank you for the help, we would prefer if you were more careful in future. Having you collapse like that could place all of our lives in danger, as we needed to both protect you and ourselves."

    "That is not to say that we are unappreciative," Fay added, after glancing at Dooku. "And it was effective in helping us more effectively eliminating the Rancor, but Battle Meditation is best used if everyone is expecting it. To be thrust into it suddenly was momentarily disorienting, and that is potentially dangerous, not to mention taxing on yourself without the right preparation, as you learned firsthand."

    "Understood ma'am," I said as a new notice appeared in my log. Clearly, there was more to what had happened.

    "What about the temple in the mountain?" I asked. I already knew it had been dealt with because of the quest completion notice, but I had to ask to avoid suspicion. Plus, I was curious if they had taken my suggestion to heart and merely balanced the taint, and not removed it altogether.

    "The High Council directed a team of Jedi to cleanse the place when we returned with you last night," Dooku explained with a subtle twitch of his mouth. "From the reports I have been shown, they were very, thorough, in removing all traces of the dark side form the place."

    "Ah," I replied, trying to keep any annoyance out of my tone.

    "This is the standard practice of the High Council when dealing with discovered minor dark side nexuses. Major nexuses are classified and placed on a list that only the High Council or other senior Jedi Masters can access." Fay explained calmly. "I meditated on your suggestion of balancing a nexus last night. I feel that you may have discovered a better approach to handling nexuses, and I suggested it to the High Council this morning. Perhaps they will consider it in future."

    I nodded at her words, but I didn't hold out much hope that the High Council would listen to her. From what I remembered from before, and had seen while here, the Council was set in its way.

    We walked in silence after that, and I used the time to pull up the new notice.

    Force Power Discovered!
    Oneness
    SrvseYsbsdYysdgdvsddgsvsd
    Asfasftsas
    ...
    Well, that was unexpected!
    We hadn't expected you to gain that Force Power until you were much older.
    You are not ready for the ramifications of using that power.
    Thus, it is now locked.
    This means the power is there, however you cannot train it up in the manner you have other powers.
    As for when and how we will unlock it…
    That is for us to know and you to find out.

    I frowned as I read the note from the powers that be, but since I had no real idea of how exactly I had accessed this Oneness, I wasn't too concerned at having a locked power. Nor was I stupid enough to argue with beings capable of pulling me across time and dimensions.
    Clever Boy!
    Soon we reached one of the mess halls and I spotted Serra and Aayla waving to me from where Dragon Clan was sitting.

    "Go, spend time with your friends. We will be leaving tomorrow and when we return, they may have been selected as Padawans themselves," Fay said, and I turned to see her smiling at me. "Say your goodbyes."

    "Thank you, master," I replied with a slight bow before turning to Dooku. "Master Dooku, since I will be leaving tomorrow with Master Fay, I was hoping we could spend more time today training in Makashi. Will this be possible?"

    Dooku rubbed his beard. "Hmm. Yes, I believe this may be possible. I have no scheduled classes from fourteen hundred, so I will meet you in the sparring arena then. Good day." He nodded to both of us then walked off towards a pair of Jedi, one of whom I spotted to be Sifo-Dyas.

    I turned back to Fay but saw she had already stepped away and was speaking with Master Yaddle, so after grabbing some food, I headed over to where Dragon Clan was sitting.

    "Hey Cameron, so you remembered we exist, did you?" Aayla teased as I sat next to her, and she bumped me with her shoulder.

    "How could I ever forget your lovely lekku?" I teased back, ignoring the slight twinging of dark blue that came to her cheeks as I turned to look at the others. "How have you all been?"

    "Bored," Serra replied with a sigh. "With you and Darihd now Padawans, the clan minder put Sia-Wan in charge. She's no fun."

    "Just because you suck at the running is not my fault Serra," Sia-Wan countered, sending me a small smile as she spoke. "So, rumour has it you fought a Terrantatek under the temple." She added.

    "No idea what that is, but we did run into a Rancor," I replied, noting the way a few of the clan leaned forward.

    "Wicked!" Stated Lon with a massive smile. "That sounds awesome!"

    "No, it's really not," I replied with a sigh.

    "What exactly did happen?" Asked Aayla. "We've asked around, but the High Council has deemed it classified, and only other Masters know about it."

    I frowned. There was no reason for the High Council to do this. The nexus was cleansed, the quest completion confirmed this, so there was no longer any risk to any of the Jedi. Even if the younger Jedi learned what happened, it would change nothing.

    I huffed internally. The High Council seemed to have a blanket policy of either hoarding knowledge of the Force they deemed too strong or purging all traces of knowledge about the Force except for the what they deemed as 'The Light Side'. This was... an extremely narrow-minded and self-destructive practice for them. One I was steadily learning was all too common around here and helped me see how the Sith had so easily manoeuvred the Jedi. Heck, it was giving me ideas on how to shift some Jedi around to see things from my perspective.

    I considered how I wanted to play this as I took a bite of my roll then leaned forward.

    "I'll tell you what happened, but I need you all to see that this isn't a joke. Even on Coruscant, even on this mountain, there are dangers that are out to hurt or kill us." I said in a voice barely above a whisper. This would be a good chance to hopefully make one or two of them more cautious. Of everyone here, I only knew that Aayla made it to the Clone Wars. If I could, I wanted to make sure all of them did, and making them more willing to listen to me over others might just be useful to me later in life; though how I wasn't yet sure of.

    So, I started on the story, explaining how Fay, Dooku and I had been taking expeditions to the lower levels of the temple for over a week. While they already knew this, I wanted to cover everything to help build up the story.
    As was expected when entertaining children with an exciting story, I had a very good, and attentive audience.


    Gasps and exclamations in all the right places, until I finally told them about meeting the Rancor in the heart of the nexus.

    "Now, mind you, I was unconscious for part of it, but I can remember most of it," I said, as I thought back to those last moments...




    I had thought, after the life that I had lived before this one and the incidents that had occurred during this one, that there wasn't much that could scare me.

    I had been shot at, shot in, thrown across a street as my friend was blown up with an RPG, assaulted by a man wielding a flamethrower, attacked by a Sith Warrior who had helped kill my grandfather, and even attacked by subterranean monsters less than an hour earlier.

    I figured I really should be numb to fear.

    Yet hearing a rancor roar then charge you, that was terrifying in a whole new, and more primaeval way. The kind of fear that is the more, tiger vs bunny rabbit instinctive way.

    Something that was nearly ten meters tall and weighing what I suspected was more than a few tons, charged at us with more speed than a beast its size logically should.

    Thankfully though, all the fear faded as Player's Mind auto engaged and I was able to think calmly again.

    "Scatter!" Dooku shouted as he Force Leapt to my left and sliced two of the smaller beasts – I was going to call them grunts – in half as he landed.

    I moved to my right and ducked under the wild swing of one of the grunts. My lightsaber cut it at the knee as I passed, and I pivoted around and took its head.

    A giant boulder went flying past me and smashed into the on-rushing Rancor and I glanced to where it had come from to see Fay; three more large boulders lifting off the floor beside her.

    "Stay back Cameron. These beasts are tainted by the dark side," She said as she calmly sent a boulder into three of the altered grunts; squishing them into a paste. "They are far more dangerous than what we've faced before."
    "I'll try," I replied as I side-stepped one of the regular grunts before slashing its chest as it passed me.


    I glanced up to see Dooku rolling out of the reach of one of the rancor's massive paws, bringing his lightsaber down on the arm as he did so. However, his sure expression shifted slightly as the blade just bounced off harmlessly.

    "How," I heard Fay mutter as she sent a blast of pure Force energy at one of the mutated grunts, only for the grunt to shrug off the attack as it hit a patch of darkened skin.

    My blade bounced off the skin of a mutated grunt, only to then skin it where the skin was the same colour as the non-mutated grunts.

    "Their skin is only protected where it's dark!" I shouted out as I drove my blade through the mouth of the grunt then push the body back into the last grunt; with both them being squashed under a stalactite that came loose from the ceiling.

    Neither Jedi Master said anything, though I watched as Fay now sent a long, narrow rock hurling at the rancor, piercing its skin where it wasn't darkened. Dooku then used the beast's roar of pain to step in and slice off one of its giant clawed fingers.

    The beast roared again, and I felt a surge of fear shoot through me as it charged at Dooku. The old man leapt aside to avoid a massive clawed paw, only to be knocked away by a swing of the other arm.

    As Dooku came to a sliding stop near the far wall of the cavern, I realized that I couldn't help him fight it directly, nor would throwing projectiles like Fay be much help. I wasn't skilled enough to use TK like this in battle. However, there was something I COULD do.

    Seeing that the grunts were all down, I moved to a corner of the room and knelt. Taking a deep breath, I activated Battle Meditation.

    I reached out with the Force tried to mentally touch both Jedi. After a few seconds, I was able to get a very weak link. I used the link to try and instil confidence in them that they could take the beast down and to link their minds to each other.

    I knew I couldn't hold the connection for long but giving them even a minute might be enough.

    I felt my FP begin to run out but pushed deeper into the Force, asking it to help. I still wasn't sure whether the Force was truly alive or not, but at this point, I wasn't above imploring possible deities. Straining my mind, I kept pushing further until...

    I gasped out loud as I felt SOMETHING respond and wash over my mind and body. Power flooded into me and the connections between me and the two Jedi Masters instantly strengthened. I imagined that I could see what each was doing, as if I was perceiving through their senses, and not just my own.

    Fay started striking the beast at the non-darkened spots and Dooku seemed to instantly know where and when to strike to compliment Fay's strikes to do the most damage.

    With only a handful of further swipes of his lightsabers, Dooku had the beast on its chest and drove the twin blades through the back of the rancor's head. It was over.

    Suddenly, just as quickly as it had come, the power faded, and the connection was severed. I suddenly felt weak, and my eyes snapped open to see both Jedi Masters looking at me in concern.

    "…" I saw Fay's lips move but I heard nothing as my vision failed me and I was surrounded in darkness.



    "Wow, that sounds so exciting!" Lon exclaimed.

    "Yeah, I was so excited that when it roared and charged, I almost crapped myself," I responded dryly. That drew a few laughs. "If not for Masters Fay and Dooku, I would've died."

    That destroyed the mood of the table as I kept going.

    "I thought I could handle anything, but I was wrong. I was arrogant and because of that I almost got into real trouble." I stated. While not totally true, I figured that teaching these kids to be more careful than most Jedi will help them live longer.

    "But you didn't," countered Trudie, her curly blonde hair bouncing as she leaned across the table.

    "Only because of my Masters. We all think we're ready, but we're not. Watching Master Dooku showed me just how far I still have to go, and how far we all still have to go if we want to be useful."

    The others all were looking at me carefully. They clearly wanted to hear more of what had happened in greater detail, since I had left certain parts out and had been vague about what had happened while in the Battle Meditation. However, my warning was making each of them a little worried that what had happened to me could eventually happen to them, and I suspected that they were scared that they wouldn't be so lucky.

    I resolved to myself then and there to try and prepare them much as possible so that they would never have to be as lucky as I was.

    ...


    ...

    As I stepped out the sonic shower, I smiled.

    Today was the day I finally got out of the Temple and could begin to see the galaxy and hopefully find a real water shower to use. Sure, a sonic shower might be better at cleaning you, but it wasn't the most relaxing as there was something missing from the experience.

    I was drawn out of my musing as I saw the notice for quest completion, though I frowned as under that was a blinking white notification.

    I'd never seen a white notification before; quests usually came in light and dark blue – for alerts and completions – or red when I failed while general interface messages such as level-ups or the annoying sleep statements, were in grey.

    I tapped both and as I read the white one, felt my brow rise.

    Quest Completed!
    Expert Duellist
    Objectives:
    Get Makashi to Master 1 by your ninth (9th) birthday. [Yes]
    ? Get it to Master 25 [Yes]
    ? Get it to Master 50 [No]
    Rewards:
    3000XP
    1400XP
    ...
    It's Your Birthday!
    To help with your growth, each birthday you gain 1/3 of your current level's needed XP.
    This will last until you reach 11 cycles, and the system will upgrade.
    Knowledge Skills suffer 10*strata levels of degradation.
    NOTE:
    Degradation decreased by 75% due to perk Photographic Memory.
    Degradation suffered is now 2.5*strata
    ...

    I had only past Expert Duellist by using Skill points, and then, on a hunch, had spent more to get to Master 25. I was pleased to see that the pattern on that being the first bonus objective held true and even after spending so many skill points, I had thirty still to use.

    The birthday notice was unexpected, but that meant I just been granted about 3500XP for free. No way was I going to complain about that.

    I honestly had forgotten about the degradation of knowledge-based skills as these weren't the skills counted towards levels but instead referred to my general knowledge about science, people, governments and so forth.
    Though I was certain to take the perk Eidetic Memory at my next level up.


    According to its description, it removed all knowledge loss and gave me perfect recall of everything I had ever known/seen/felt. While sounding a little overwhelming, having perfect recall of The Clone Wars cartoon and the movies was going to be a godsend.

    I quickly called up my status.

    Cameron Shan
    Species: Human
    Title: The Player
    Level 11
    HP: 160/160
    FP: 5500/5500
    PP: 22/22
    XP [8578/11000]
    STAM [181/181]
    Hunger [0/100]
    STR: 11 +
    VIT: 11 +
    AGI: 11 +
    INT: 16 +
    WIS: 12 +
    CH: 11 +
    Luck: 0 + [+10]
    SP: 6
    SKP: 32
    Perk P: 0
    PPP: 0
    Credits: 4251
    "Nice," I muttered. Thanks to using the skill points and my birthday surprise, I was only 2500XP from another level up.

    I had used Examine yesterday while having a meal with Dragon Clan to learn the levels of those around my age. Serra and Sia-Wan were the highest at 9, while Aayla had been at 8 and the others were all lower.

    From that, I was working on the assumption that most levels correlated to growth since the interface's help stated that most Human adults were between levels 20 and 25, and the human body generally stopped true physical development and brain maturation around that period.

    An interesting thing was that none of the Initiates had detected my usage of Examine, so I planned to use it later with Fay just before we left the Temple. Hopefully, she wouldn't sense it, but if she did, it could just be waved off as a passing feeling.

    The strangest thing though was learning that using Examine on a sentient improved the Force Power Empathy, with my perk Empathy granting a bonus to experience gained for the power. I had no idea how to even use the power, but at least this meant that the perk wasn't a total waste.

    Putting that to the back of my mind, I focused on what I had been planning in the sonic shower and considered my next batch of learning quests. Soon enough I had five of them.

    Generational Duellist was to raise Makashi to Savant 1 within half a year and granted 3000XP.

    Competent Defender was to get Soresu to Professional 1 in the same time frame and granted 1000XP.

    Both of those carried two hidden objectives, though from experience I knew they were for levels 25 and 50 of the relevant strata.

    Cash in Hand was a straightforward quest; have one million credits to my name by the time I was eighteen. There were four hidden objectives, and I believed those referred to completing the task early and/or having more money by the deadline.

    Fluffing any of those quests would just result in a loss of XP – and a block on storing money in my inventory for a few years for Cash in Hand – so there was no real danger to them unlike some of my earlier quests which carried the threat of locked skills if failed.

    Force to the Max was a quest to max out as many Force powers as possible. Each maxing granted me 1000XP, and I instantly gained that amount as Force Power: Serenity was already maxed out.

    Skilled to the Max was similar Force to the Max, though it applied to skills, with each maxed skill granting me 500XP; and there I gained 1000XP for Meditation and Concentration.

    That combined instant XP left me less than 500 from levelling up, which was a nice surprise, and I realized that these two quests were going to be constant, abusable means of gaining XP, as they had no time limit.

    My list covering what I needed to do to prepare for the coming war was still growing, and I suspected I could adapt most of it into quests, but much of it was dependent on how much say I had in where I went with Fay, and what we would be doing over the coming months.

    ...


    ...

    "Is this all you wish to take?" Fay asked me as I met her near the temple's public hangar bay.

    I had only my lightsaber and a standard Jedi utility belt on me. However, I had two small bags in my Inventory; one contained a spare set of robes and the other was full of food. A careful examination of the interface help led me to learn that anything placed in my inventory was in stasis, and thus would remain in the condition it entered regardless of when I removed it.

    The bags were going to be my proof of this, but if it worked, I felt I'd discovered another loophole in the strange powers I now had.

    In addition to the bags, my inventory also held the remains from the two lightsabers that had been destroyed on Ilum. I estimated them to be enough to make a single new weapon. I had the crystals from those lightsabers stored separately.

    I also had the three functioning lightsabers found while we were exploring the lower levels of the temple, an ancient vibroblade and blaster, along with a spare energy pack and the Sith Holocron from the ship that had brought me to Coruscant.

    There were also two datapads; one with my ideas/plans/notes and the other with the data for how to return to Dromund Kaas and the flight plan of the ship the Sith had used.

    "Yes, ma'am. I was not told to bring anything else." I stated as I reached her.

    She placed her hand on my shoulder and seeing my chance, I placed my hand on her arm as she spoke.

    "I do not know where we will go Cameron, but the Force will guide us to where we are needed. Once we reach the spaceport, we will meditate and see what path the Force has ready for us." She said with a soft smile and as she began to remove her hand, I took my shot and activated Examine.

    "Master, is everything alright?" I asked as Fay stumbled backwards

    "Yes, Yes. I just felt… something unusual," She said as she stared at me. "Most unusual, yet I don't think it was anything to worry about. Now come along, we have a path to find."

    As she turned and began to walk, I pulled up the notice of what Examine had discovered.

    Fay
    Race: Sephi-Human Hybrid
    Level: 50
    Health: 100%
    Force Potential: High
    Emotional State: Relaxed/Excited
    Fay is one of the oldest living members of the Jedi Order.
    She feels you have a part to play in countering the darkness that has fallen across the galaxy.
    Though she is uncertain of what this will mean for her and the other Jedi.
    ...

    'Holy fuck! Level fifty!' I almost stumbled myself when I read that. That was more than double the average adult according to the help, and combined with her high Force Potential, meant she was an incredibly powerful Jedi.
    Learning that she felt I was important but was unsure about how, was not unexpected, but the confirmation was nice. And I was glad to see she didn't feel drawn to me like, according to Examine, a few members of Dragon Clan were.


    Another notice stated that I had levelled up Empathy, which was interesting, as Fay was only the ninth person I'd used Examine on. If that held true, levelling up that power was going to be easy.

    As we walked to the nearest landing pad, and the waiting speeder that would take us to the spaceport, I wondered just what level Dooku and the High Council members were. I suspected that only a few would be at or higher than Fay's level.

    When we returned in half a year, I would have to see where Dooku stood and compare myself to the members of Dragon Clan to see how my growth hopefully surpassed their own.

    On the flight to the spaceport, I wondered just what the next few months hold, and what I could learn. I silently hoped that at least some of it would be relevant to my plans and preparations for the future.
    ...


    The fight scene was done it a flashback style at the suggestion of my beta. It was a different way to handle a combat scene, but not something I plan to do often.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
  20. prussian-granadier

    prussian-granadier Not too sore, are you?

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    maybe using a different color, or italics that color is kinda hard to read in night mode
     
  21. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

    Joined:
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    I tried a few colours, and bar ones I've now set aside for Jedi/Sith/Revan, none seem to work well in both light and dark modes.
    So I've just returned the text to the original colour but right-aligned it. That should make it clear there is something different about that scene and allow people on any mode to be able to read it clearly.

    I hope.
     
    prussian-granadier likes this.
  22. Threadmarks: Children In Shadow 1
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    I felt the galactic liner we were travelling on come out of hyperspace with a gentle shudder and looked out the window at the stream of ships moving passed us as they headed to and from the Republic capital.

    I was meant to have returned with Master Fay during the sixth month, but a crisis on the planet Omman Minor had taken longer than expected and we were returning to the Temple – so I could spend training time with Master Dooku – two months later than planned.

    "Cameron," I turned as Fay entered our shared quarters and spoke. "We are needed in the hanger. A Republic cruiser in inbound to meet us."

    "Has something happened?" I asked as I stood, made sure all my obvious things were in up my backpack and slung it over my shoulder.

    The backpack contained a change of clothes for both of us and a few fruits from the ships' cafeteria. Another bag in my inventory held some of the food I had taken from the temple before we had left, which was still fresh. This exposed a major flaw in the Inventory system, but one I was not going to ignore as I had two more bags that were just able to fill a single slot full of more food.

    I doubted I would ever need all that food, but with currently having twenty-six slots in my inventory – and more to come as I grew stronger – devoting some of the slots to emergency supplies was only prudent. A fourth slot contained another bag full of common electronic components and two spare communicators.

    "Not that I am aware of, but I believe we will be leaving on the cruiser," Fay said we left the quarters.

    As we walked through the corridors of the ship towards the hanger, I considered how the last few months had gone.

    Our first stop after Coruscant had been Dantooine; I'd seen a ship heading there when we had arrived at the capital's spaceport and wanted to see if the old Jedi Temple where Revan had re-studied was still there.

    It hadn't been, but the interface gave me a quest to re-discover the crystal cave before we left the planet, which I had done. Inside I'd discovered a half-dozen lightsaber crystals and a dozen Kinrath; just like in KOTOR.

    Completing that quest and killing the Kinrath without using my lightsaber – Fay's idea of Force training – had helped me get to level 12.

    A few more trips around the galaxy, one to Ryloth to deal with slavers – which had meant another quest and more combat XP, and maxing out the Force Power Cloak – took place before we ended up on Omman Minor.

    About a week after arriving, I'd finished both lightsaber related quests, and the first bonus for each, which took me to level 13.

    I now had three lightsaber quests; Expert Swordsman, Expert Defender and Legendary Duellist. The two expert quests were until my tenth birthday and offered 1500XP each as a base. That was half of what Expert Duellist had offered, but I had several months to complete them compared to just the one I'd had for Expert Duellist. An exploit I planned to use the once those quests were finished.

    Legendary Duellist was to get Makashi to Prodigy 1 by my eleventh birthday for 3000XP and had four bonuses attached to it. Given the difficulty and time needed to get to Savant 1, I suspected that getting it to Prodigy 1 in six months would've been extremely difficult so, having until my eleventh birthday was safer. Also, based on past quests, and after re-reading the help about skill strata, I was working on the assumption that the extra bonuses were to cover the skill up to where I maxed it out.

    I'd taken the perk Eidetic Memory at level 12, but it had been more intensive than I had expected. I'd been unconscious for three days as my mind dealt with me recalling everything I had ever seen or learnt in my previous life and minor details in my new one.

    Fay had been extremely worried about me collapsing and being unconscious for so long, but I had managed to reassure her that I'd been meditating on the Force before receiving glimpses of the future. To help with that, I had given her a few hints of what I had seen in my 'visions'.

    I vaguely described events from the cartoon and prequel movies, and I'd been surprised when she said she'd also seen similar hints of an oncoming storm. She had also told me that just before I arrived in this time, the Force had screamed in pain and darkness had fallen over the Force. A vision she had not long after that happened was what had drawn her back to the Temple, and me.

    Eidetic Memory was… strange. Having a now perfect recall of what I knew from my old life took some getting used to. The moment I thought about certain people, either real or fictional, I could instantly remember everything I'd seen, read or heard about them. I could also vividly remember every moment I had spent with them, which was unsettling at first, but I had learnt how to control the perk activating to avoid sensory overloads.

    Thanks to the perk, I now saw a possible way to make money. If I could find a place to publish stories or sell movie scripts, I should be able to earn a decent amount of money to help fund future start-ups. And there was no issue with copyright as those stories/movies/songs didn't exist here.

    Though I wished I couldn't remember every word of certain songs like 'Barbie Girl' or anything by the Spice Girls.

    The most useful part of Eidetic Memory was that I could now remember everyone and everything that I had learnt about Star Wars. This had expanded my list of people that needed to be handled, but I had only taken one quest so far relating to those people.

    Sister of the Night was an A-rated quest to stop Asajj Ventress from joining the Separatists. However, what had stopped me from quickly adding similar quests for other people were the options given for dealing with Ventress.

    I could just kill her, which offered the lowest amount of XP reward, even when factoring the XP from combat, or I could convince her to remain with the Jedi until the beginning of the Clone Wars. But what had caught my eye, and was not something I had considered before, was the option to convince her to join me in a new faction.

    Sure, I had contemplated the idea a little when drawing up my lists for the future, but I hadn't given it much thought until that option was stated in the quest. Seeing it listed as an option alongside the other objectives had somehow legitimized the idea in my head from a vague notion, into the beginnings of an actual plan.

    Now, I was giving serious consideration to creating a third faction; but where to start and who to recruit?

    "Lost in thought again?" Fay asked, drawing me out of my reminiscing and I looked up to see her smiling down at me.

    "Sorry. Just thinking about some new songs," I replied with a half-truth.

    She laughed softly, drawing the attention of most people in the corridor, and ruffled my hair.

    "Then I look forward to hearing them." She stated, making me smile.

    One of the more unexpected things I had discovered was that I could level up singing by doing so while showering, which I had only started doing on Dantooine when our quarters had a water shower. It made sense when I thought about it, but it was unexpected.

    Fay had enjoyed hearing me 'create' new songs every few weeks; though I avoided singing any love song as I was far too young – physically – to be thinking about such things.

    I'd also started cooking and cleaning every day to level up those skills.

    I doubted they would be useful in my future, but every skill level helped as I gained an extra stat point with two thousand overall levels, and I currently had over eight thousand.

    As we entered the hanger, I saw a shuttle painted in the red of the Republic come to a stop and the ramp lower as we approached.

    "Master Dooku, to what do we owe your visit?" Fay asked as her fellow Jedi Master stepped out of the shuttle.

    "The High Council have an assignment, for Cameron only." He said with a creased brow as he looked down at me.

    "He is being assigned alone?" Fay queried as I wondered just what the council wished for me to do; and why Dooku was so unhappy about it.

    "I have been assigned as his watcher, but this is an assignment where Cameron's young age is beneficial."

    Fay sighed before turning to face me. "Come Cameron. Let us see what the Council wish for you to do. Though do remember that you do not have to take the mission if you do not wish to."

    Dooku's brow smoothed a touch and his lip twitched at her words and I wondered if both Jedi Masters were less than happy about taking missions from the High Council as we boarded the shuttle, which then began to lift off.

    As we exited the hanger, I glanced out of the window – and while a window in a starship was awesome, it also seemed like an obvious target – and noted the Republic cruiser we were heading for was aimed away from the planet.

    It was the same type of ship as would be used by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan during the Naboo crisis and was decked out in the Republic red like the shuttle. My Eidetic Memory kicked in and informed me that this was, in fact, a Consular-class cruiser, of the kind typically used by Republic diplomats.

    "May I ask as to what the delay was on Omman Minor?"

    Fay sighed and shook her head. "The Trade Federation felt it was acceptable to change its negotiators every few weeks. While the traders and miners on the planet were clear in how far they were willing to go, and the local government was set it what it needed, the Federation seemed intent on dragging out the talks for as long as possible."

    "It is a common tactic of corporations. They hope by drawing out a negotiation where they stand to lose, hoping to find a way to alter the outcome in their favour. Was that the case this time?"

    Here Fay smiled and glanced my way. "No. Cameron here was able to, ah, borrow, a datapad and used it to access their computer systems. The files he found forced the Federation to acquiesce to the demands of the traders and miners."

    I shrugged as Dooku fixed me with a gaze. "It's not my fault they left the pad lying around, nor that they didn't bother to install basic security on it to prevent anyone accessing their systems," I said with a smirk.

    That wasn't the full story, as I had hacked through the pad's security in a few minutes. A browse of the more recent files accessed on it showed me that someone in the Trade Federation had attempted to kidnap the Prime Minister's children.

    Having that come up in the talks had destroyed their position and earned Fay and I the gratitude of the other parties.

    "Hmm. While it is not the way many Jedi would attempt to help proceedings, it was effective." He said to me slowly in his formal, clipped tone. "I would suggest that you avoid mentioning the exact details of how you found the information if asked by anyone else."

    I nodded in acceptance. Clearly, he suspected that I had done more than said, but wasn't going to call me out on it.

    The rest of the trip to the cruiser passed quickly as Fay and Dooku talked about what had happened with our exploring and his time at the Temple. I did note that he had a few more Initiates and Padawans training in the basics of Makashi, however, he did not sound impressed with most of them.

    The shuttle docked with the cruiser and we walked quickly to the bridge where a holo-table was active.

    "Ah. Good to see you once more it is, Master Fay, Padawan Shan," Yoda said from the hologram. Beside him stood Master Giiett.

    "Likewise, Master Yoda, Master Giiett," Fay replied with a small bow which I copied. "What is this assignment you have for our Padawan?"

    "Over the last year, a little shy of three dozen children of high-ranking members of the Republic have been kidnapped," Giiett explained slowly. "Some have been returned, ransomed or rescued, others have not, and the ones that were saved were, affected by their ordeal.

    "Senate security and Coruscant police are doing what they can, but they are failing to find any leads and the Chancellor has asked if we could insert Padawans at schools that seem to be at the epicentre of this problem," Giiett explained, his brow having lowered when he spoke of those that returned from their kidnapping.

    "Am I to assume that the children taken are around Cameron's age?"

    Yoda's brow rose. I assumed it was at hearing Fay refer to me by my given name and not title within the Order. She had dropped my title the moment we had left Coruscant saying that as we would be spending so much time together, it was better to keep things informal unless needed.

    "Yes. No older than thirteen cycles, has a child taken been. The youngest Padawan in the Order, Padawan Shan is. However, assigned to the mission alone he is not."

    "We've already inserted four Padawans with another three, plus Padawan Shan, due to be inserted in the next week," Giiett added, trying to allay the concern that was creeping onto Fay's face. "However, all of them are at the upper range of the age group that has been kidnapped. Cameron here is the only one who is the same age as most kidnapped children."

    "How would I be inserted into a school?" I asked, figuring that there was a high chance I will take the mission. It would give me time away from Jedi scrutiny that I could use to being planning which events and people I needed to target to alter events to my benefit.
    "Just having a bunch of new kids appear in a school would alert the kidnappers; as would any of us turning up in Jedi robes," I added, explaining my reasoning.


    Giiett gave a wide smile. "I was certain you would be a good choice for this assignment." He said before glancing at Yoda. "Each Padawan is being assigned as a child, or relative, of certain individuals in power. These people are friends of the Jedi and trustworthy, and each has contacts with members of our Order. Master Dooku here is friends with the Senator we wish to place you with."

    Dooku gave the slightest of nods at this, and since he was staying quiet, I suspected he had already been given the details of the operation. Though the crease in his brow that had been there aboard the liner was still present, suggesting a dislike for something about the mission.

    "How long would the assignment last and what will happen with regards to his Jedi training?" Fey queried.

    "We expect the assignment will take no longer than a year but hope it to be concluded within half that time. Arrangements have also been made for the Padawans to train in the evening at their temporary residences."

    "An opinion on this assignment, you have, Padawan?" Yoda asked, having been watching me carefully as Fay had spoken with Giiett.

    "Yes, sir. I think I am ok with doing this. However, I want to see all the files related to it. I'd like extensive files about the former victims and anything those saved or rescued have given to the police. And I'd also like to know what my cover will be."

    Saying all that likely risked revealing I was far, far smarter than any of them – save Fay who I had spent the last eight months with – expected. However, there was no way I was going to walk into something like this missing information. Doing that had been drilled into me in my past life as how to get yourself killed.

    Giiett's smile grew. "Master Dooku had already requested everything the Senate and Police have on the matter, but it is encouraging to hear one so young realise that what you don't know can get you into trouble."

    I glanced at Dooku, whose brow had eased a little, and he gave me a small nod and the slightest of smiles, before turning back to the two council members.

    "Very well, then. Provided that both my masters are ok with this, I accept." I said, spotting that a new quest alert notice had appeared in my log. It was nice to see that if the High Council gave me a mission, it would generate a related quest if I accepted the mission. Otherwise, I felt I would be missing out on XP.

    Fay and Dooku shared a glance. One that again suggested to me that Jedi had a way to communicate telepathically.

    "Very well," Fay stated with a sigh and a frown of her own. "However, I request that Cameron is given an emergency beacon. There is no way for us to be certain how this will go, and I will not risk my Padawan without giving him the best chance to survive."

    Giiett nodded and looked directly at Fay. "I understand your concerns, Master Fay. I have already made certain all Padawans assigned are given such beacons. Also, my Padawan is the eldest assigned to the mission and will be in the same school as Cameron."

    "Thank you Master Giiett. Is anything else?" Fay asked, her face now relaxed back to its usual setting of serene calmness.

    "Discussed here, nothing else needs to be," Yoda replied. "Hope you will stay in the Temple, for now, I do."

    "Yes, Master."

    Fay closed the channel and then to Dooku.

    "Which Senator?"

    "Senator Palpatine of Naboo," Dooku replied and I felt my heart sink. I activated Player's Mind with a thought to avoid either Jedi Master picking up on my distress as I realised that I was going to have to potentially spend a year in the presence of the future Emperor.

    I could have used Empathic Shield, which was a power taught to me by Fay on Omman Minor that let me block my emotions from beings that could sense them. However, the power was only at Adept 75 and would only block my emotions from beings with Wisdom of less than fifteen. Given that mine was at thirteen, it was safe to assume that the Jedi Masters were all much wiser than that. Though I did wonder if there was a way for me to see stats for other beings. Perhaps a future perk would enhance Examine to allow this.

    As my two masters moved away from me to talk, I wondered if this whole situation was drawn up by Sidious and his master to get close to me, to examine if I was the Chosen One. I had no idea who was Sidious' master. I knew it was someone called Darth Plagueis, as that had been confirmed in the series finale of The Clone Wars cartoon, but the problem was that Plagueis was the title given to him by his master. There was no way of telling what his real identity was at this point.

    "Cameron?" I turned at hearing my name and saw the two Jedi Masters looking at me. "Is something the matter?"

    "I was thinking about why someone would kidnap children," I replied, covering my reason for being lost in my thoughts with a half-truth.

    "Sadly, there are many in the galaxy that would exploit any weakness for power," Fay replied with a sigh.

    "That is true. However, this case is most peculiar," Dooku countered. "The children taken are all Human or near-Human, and most have been between one-thirty and one-fifty centimetres in height. They also have had brown or black hair. While some girls have been taken, most of the kidnapped have been male with short hair."

    I frowned as that fit a very vague description of me. I was currently one-forty-five in height and had short, brown hair; though mine had a gentle wave to it that Fay enjoyed ruffling.

    "Cameron certainly fits that criteria," Fay said, mirroring my thoughts. "What else have you discovered from the files?"

    Dooku bowed a touch while extending his arm towards a nearby table. "There are a few things that I think are interesting. Perhaps we should all peruse them together?"

    We settled down around the table as Dooku worked the console for the holographic display and began to discuss the mission.

    ...


    ...

    I watched as the cruiser that had collected me when I had last been in-system began its descent into the clouds of Coruscant and wondered for the umpteenth time if I was walking into a trap.

    I had travelled with Fay and Dooku to Naboo on the cruiser and stayed there for a few days as guests of King Veruna; the current ruler of Naboo. The king was aware of my mission and arranged for me to be 'discovered' in the village near another city where my 'parents' had died in a farming accident.

    A routine blood check for relatives had shown a link to House Palpatine and I was brought to the palace to meet the King and Dooku; who would escort me to Coruscant to meet my long-lost uncle.

    The time on Naboo had been boring but getting in several hours of training with Dooku each day for the trip was useful as it lifted my Makashi skill to Savant 49. I planned to spend my time at Palpatine's just levelling up Shii-Cho and Soresu so long as Dooku wasn't present as it was a perfect time to train those up without worrying about being seen by Jedi masters.

    Additionally, Soresu was more defensive and I suspected that Palpatine would look down on it, which I could use to remove some of his interest in me or exploit to increase it. I still wasn't certain about how to play this, but I knew that both he and his master were watching me. I just needed them to not be too interested as I had no desire to join them or have Maul come after me before I was ready.

    I was thinking about taking out the Zabrak Sith before the Invasion of Naboo, but nothing concrete or in the form of a quest yet.

    "Padawan, are you prepared?" Dooku asked as he stepped beside me.

    "Yes, sir," I replied as I unclipped my lightsaber and handed it to him. I couldn't take it with me, but Dooku would return it to me in a few days when he came to check on how I was settling in with my 'uncle'.

    Dooku slid my lightsaber into his robes, making sure it wasn't as visible as his own, before turning to watch our descent.

    "This mission is dangerous Padawan, but it does have a few benefits. You will be able to observe how the Galactic Senate works. Also, you have the chance to learn from one of the few Senators I feel has the interests of the people at heart and not their own personal greed."

    "I am not sure Master Fay would be so keen on me learning about the Senate," I replied. This earned me a single chuckle from Dooku.

    "Yes. Master Fay has an even lower opinion of the Senate, and most of the planet, than I do. Still, even she agreed that being able to watch how the Senate works would help you see some of the issues facing the Republic."

    I nodded and silently wondered where Fay was. She had left the cruiser discreetly once we had landed on Naboo and would go back to following the will of the Force until the mission was completed and Dooku contacted her.

    I had gotten very used to be around the elf-like alien and not seeing her smile, or hearing her gentle laughter was strange.

    "You remember your role?" he asked, and I nodded.

    "Cameron Shan. Born one, fifteen, nine-five-one ARR in a village on the outskirts of Keren. When my parents died, a blood test showed I was related to House Palpatine, so I'm being brought to Coruscant to meet my uncle." I replied without any real care as this was the three-hundredth and eighty-seventh time Dooku had probed me on the basic details. Eidetic Memory had its drawbacks.

    "Try to be more convincing when asked about your past by your new teachers and fellow students," Dooku warned, though he failed to comment on how uninterested I was in repeating the details to him.

    "Master Dooku, we will be arriving at the landing pad in a few minutes." A crewmember stated as he appeared behind us in the doorway. "The Captain says to use the hatch three to exit."

    "Thank you."

    We moved quickly to the hatch and felt the ship come to a stop with a gentle thud as it touched down.

    "Stay behind me and remember to look in awe. This is your first time on Coruscant."

    "Yes sir," I replied as the hatch opened quickly with a hiss.

    I followed Dooku out, taking an apparent tentative step out, only to stop and gaze up at the buildings that surrounded the landing site.

    Honestly, I had expected us to land on a platform like the one seen at the beginning of Episode II, but we had, in fact, landed somewhere near the Senate, as the large, mushroom-like building dominated my sight. It wasn't hard to appear in awe as the building was impressive, even if I had no desire to set foot inside the building.

    "Mister Shan!" I spun at Dooku's sharp tone and saw he was standing a few meters away with Palpatine and, in an unexpected twist, the newly elected Chancellor Valorum.

    That meant the trio were surrounded by a group of Senate guards while I could see a throng of media further back; camera droids floating around.

    I scampered over to where they were, trying my best to ignore the flashing lights from the media while activating Player's Mind.

    "Senator, may I present Cameron Shan," Dooku stated a little louder than normal, as he placed his hand on my shoulder.

    "Ah, my long-lost nephew. It's a pleasure to finally have a family again." Palpatine said with a smile that matched the one he used around Anakin. "I had honestly given up hope of ever having anyone to continue my family's name and legacy after I was gone."

    I ignored the retort bouncing around my head about him wanting to become an Emperor, and probably find a way to rule forever, and shook his hand slowly. "Hello, Senator."

    His smile slipped a touch and he placed his other hand on the shoulder that Dooku had just touched. "There is no need for that Cameron. To you, and only you, I am Uncle Sheev."

    I nodded and gave him a small smile. "Ok, Uncle." Man, this was going to be a weird mission.

    Palpatine's smile grew into a grin and he pulled me gently into a hug. I returned it slowly, both playing the role of a confused child and trying to ignore the insanity of hugging a Sith Lord while ignoring the massive increase in flashing from the media.

    Give the man his credit, he knew how to use the media to his advantage.

    "Ah, where are my manners. Cameron, may I introduce Chancellor Finis Valorum." Palpatine said as he broke the hug, having milked the moment enough for his liking.

    "Um, I… Do I bow or something?" I asked slowly to Palpatine and Dooku after seeming to stammer over what to do.

    This earned laughter from all three men and Valorum shook his head.

    "No, no. There is no need for that. Your uncle is a friend, and when I heard about him discovering a lost relative, I wanted to meet you." Valorum stated, again loudly enough for the nearby media to hear.

    "Perhaps we might move to a more reserved area," Dooku said slowly, glancing over at the media and I wondered if he was thinking like me in sending them all away with a blast of TK like I wanted to do.

    "Yes, yes. You are quite right Master Dooku," Palpatine agreed giving the Jedi a wide smile. "I was hoping we might also talk in private. I wish to hear how you are doing as well as get to know my nephew here."

    He turned to Valorum and lowered his head a touch. "Thank you, Chancellor, for coming with me to meet young Cameron. It was an unexpected delight to be able to introduce my nephew to the most powerful man in the Republic."

    I had to resist rolling my eyes at Palpatine's words. However, they seemed to work as Valorum stood a little straighter and smiled.

    "It was my pleasure Senator. Perhaps, once your nephew has settled in, you might bring him to the Senate. I'm sure the boy would love to see where you work."

    "An excellent idea Chancellor. Would you like that Cameron?"

    "I wouldn't want to be a problem," I replied, dearly hoping to avoid spending any time surrounded by a bunch of self-serving politicians. Honestly, spending time alone with a Sith Lord sounded more appealing.

    "Nonsense. We regularly have children in the building, whether on school tours or training with the Republic Legislative Branch." Valorum said, killing my hopes to avoid the place. "I am sure your uncle cannot wait to show you around where he works."

    "Then I am honoured to accept Chancellor," I stated, giving him a very slight bow. This made the man preen a bit more and earned me a smirk from my new uncle. I did though wonder if Palpatine wasn't planning to use having a nephew for some political gain. If he did, I would have to try my best to fuck things up.

    "Excellent. Sheev, when you do bring him in, inform my office and we will see about getting him arranging a special tour."

    "Of course, Chancellor. Thank you."

    We took our leave of the Chancellor and all three of us boarded a shuttle that quickly banked away from the landing pad and the Senate.

    "I must say, I am impressed with how you handled your role young Padawan," Palpatine said as the shuttle slipped into the commuter traffic and we were away from everyone else. "I was unaware that Jedi children were trained in the art of deception."

    "They are not. Padawan Shan, however, has very quickly shown himself to be a cut above your average Jedi child." Dooku explained slowly and I worried about how much about me he would reveal to the Senator. "He is far more intelligent than others his age and has shown an aptitude for knowing how to adapt to a situation, even if his methods are still rudimentary."

    "Indeed. Then I look forward to helping him grow over the next few months." Palpatine turned his attention to me. "I am curious as to what you think of the Chancellor?"

    "I wouldn't wish to talk about someone I've only met twice," I replied attempting to avoid the question.

    Palpatine chuckled softly. "Yes, I see what you mean Master Dooku. A very wise answer young one. It is never smart to make full judgements regarding someone without first observing them carefully through both their words and deeds."

    I nodded once, accepting the praise. Though mentally I was now certain that, even if the disappearing children was not the result of his actions, getting me to be assigned to him was.

    The rest of the trip was short, Palpatine and Dooku conversing about seemingly random things though I did wonder if Palpatine asking about these topics in a way to influence Dooku. He would have needed at least a decade to convince Dooku to turn to the Sith – and get Sifo-Dyas to order the clone army – and each step would have needed to be small, almost inconsequential in nature to avoid arousing Dooku's suspicion.

    The pair didn't speak to me again, which left me free to watch a master orator work. Just twenty minutes resulted in a level up to Persuasion and had me in something of a bind.

    Speaking with and watching Palpatine would be a certain way to improve my charisma-based skills. But doing so risked increasing his interest in me and inadvertently helping him turn Dooku to his side. I was going to have to be very careful about how I behaved the next few months and find a balance between learning from the Senator without being drawn into his web with Dooku.

    I was drawn from my thoughts as the shuttle touched down.

    "It seems we have arrived. Perhaps, we could continue this in my apartment?" Palpatine asked Dooku.

    "Sadly, I must return to the Temple. Several of Padawan Shan's old clanmates have shown an interest in Makashi. Even if they are not remotely near his level, I would be remiss in not ensuring their training is handled competently." Dooku replied, which had me both happy and worried.

    Dooku would now get away from Palpatine, but that left me all alone with a Sith Lord. What fun.

    "Ah, well then I shall not keep you. The training of the future of your Order is of the utmost importance."

    The fact he could say that and appear so genuine was impressive.

    "Indeed." Dooku turned to me and placed a hand on my shoulder. "Cameron, the Senator has converted one of the rooms in his suite into a private area for you. You are free to train there but do not disturb him unless you must. I will communicate with you this evening to ensure you have settled in."

    "Yes, sir."

    Dooku said his goodbye to Palpatine and stayed on the shuttle as we stepped off.

    Once inside the impressive building, and after having had me logged in as a resident, we stepped into a very luxurious elevator which had its outer wall replaced by plexiglass to allow anyone inside a view of the surrounding buildings.

    "I noticed you did not refer to your master by his rank. I was under the impression that all Jedi were required to do so."

    Not wanting to look at him, I kept my eyes focused on the cityscape outside the elevator as I answered.

    "We are required to show respect to those above us, but to me, I find the usage of the term master could easily suggest submission and servitude to others. Thankfully, my Masters Dooku and Fay are willing to allow me this leeway."

    "Hmm, I had not considered that before." A glance via his reflection in the plexiglass showed me that he was rubbing his chin in apparent thought. "Yes, I can see how calling someone 'master' could be misconstrued. With slavery still rampant in areas of the galaxy, using such a term could indeed suggest ownership of one being over another. I must say, I am surprised that one so young would see such an issue where even the Jedi High Council seem blind."

    "Less blind than more stuck in their ways," I found myself responding. "The Order has stood for a thousand years without threat. It, they, have possibly become somewhat complacent, which can be seen as the shadow of arrogance."

    I managed to avoid frowning at how open I was suddenly being as I noted that Player's Mind had stopped as my PP had run out. I engaged Empathic Shield, which now stood at Professional 15, and knew it would be about an hour without meditation until my PP was fully restored. I was beginning to dislike using Player's Mind so much, but around someone as manipulative as Palpatine, I knew I was going to need it. A lot.

    "You feel the Jedi have lost their way?"

    "Yes and no." I paused to consider how to answer this. My feelings on the Jedi and their methods are coloured by my opinions about why they fell and then having to spend a year plus dealing with their indoctrination. "I think the Jedi have become…complacent, and in ways, stagnant. They believe the Sith are gone, that nothing stands against them."

    "And you feel otherwise?" he probed gently as the air seemingly got colder.

    "Maybe. I… I don't know. But there cannot be light without darkness, nor darkness without the light. The two define each other. Perhaps the Sith are long gone, but that does not mean the dark side is gone. It is still a part of the Force and that, from what I have been told and learnt myself, is always there."

    That was a mix of my own opinion on the Force from my previous life, what the Jedi had taught, and what I had taken from my talk with Revan on Ilum. Whether it was accurate or not, I knew that revealing it to the High Council would result in me being labelled as 'Grey'. And that was a term I felt was impossible with the way the Jedi, and possibly the Sith, saw the Force.

    "Hmm. A most intriguing theory Cameron. I can see why Master Dooku speaks so highly of you."

    Any further discussion was thankfully cut off as the doors opened and Palpatine stepped forward to access a console next to a door.

    As it slid open, he turned back to me and smiled. "Later I will have one of my assistants assign an entry code for you."

    I nodded and followed him inside, seeing an older man of average height with thinning black hair waiting.

    "Ah Sate, this is Cameron. He will be staying with me for the next few months. Cameron, this is my most trusted adjunct, Sate Pestage. If you need anything, either to help with your Jedi studies or to maintain your cover, do not hesitate to ask Sate."

    "Greetings Padawan," Sate said with a slight narrowing of his eyes. "Please come this way so I may show you to your room."

    "Go with him, Cameron. I have work to attend too but we can speak more over dinner."

    "Yes, sir."

    "This is your assigned area. Be sure to stay here outside of mealtimes. The Senator is a very busy man and will not be able to hold your hand as your Jedi Master would." Sate said in a voice that was barely better than a sneer.
    "So I should bother you instead?" I asked, taking the chance to needle the man who I was already starting to dislike.


    His face twisted in annoyance. "If you must. But I will often be occupied with work for the Senator."

    "Ah, then thank you in advance," I said, extending my hand.

    Sate was slow to shake my hand, but the moment he did, I used Examine.

    Sate Pestage
    Race: Human
    Level: 26
    Health: 100%
    Age: 52
    Force Potential: Intermediate
    Threat Potential: Medium
    Emotional State: Calm/Agitated
    Sate has served Senator Palpatine for nearly a decade.
    He is concerned you may learn the truth about his master.
    And feels you being here is nothing but a threat.
    However, he will obey his master's wishes to observe and mould you.
    But will not hesitate to remove you if you become a threat.

    I waited until the man left the room to consider what the power had revealed.

    I now knew that Palpatine was using the kidnappings to observe me and with Sate seemingly knowing that Palpatine was Sidious, it earned him a spot on my kill list alongside people like Pre Vizsla and Mas Amedda.

    Around Sate I was going to be even more careful than with Palpatine as I did not want to tip my hand before I was old/strong enough to stand on my own before dealing with Palpatine's helpers.

    "Well this is going to be an interesting few months," I muttered as I opened the wardrobe and saw an array of clothing for me to wear. All of it looked to be expensive and in my size.

    I understood the need for the clothes as I was now family of a very powerful man, and I was looking forward to not having to wear Jedi robes for the first time in nearly two years. Brown and beige just weren't my colours.

    As I examined the clothes, I cast Detection but narrowed it to only cover the room. I didn't want the power to ping Palpatine was Force-sensitive and hoped it would detect any surveillance equipment in the room.

    Sadly, it did not. Whether that was because the power was only at Adept 15 or because it just wasn't designed to do so, I didn't know.

    Now I was going to have to search the room for hidden recording devices without letting on that I was doing so. Whether they were present or not was going to affect my nightly training sessions, and possibly how openly I spoke with Dooku when he visited.

    "This one," I muttered as I pulled out an olive-green shirt. One of my exes had said the colour went well with my old emerald green eyes, so I curious if that was still true for my new amber-green ones.

    However, this mission played out, I was certainly going to 'borrow' some of the clothing. If I didn't keep them, they could be sold for some cash and would help me find colours and styles to wear once I could stop wearing standard Jedi robes.


     
    Last edited: May 4, 2020
  23. Threadmarks: Children in Shadow 2
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    "What are you doing in here?!"

    I spun at the question/accusation and saw Sate standing the doorframe of Palpatine's private office. The same one I had been clearly told to stay out of less than a week ago and was currently standing in.

    "I wished to report to my master about my first week," I replied calmly. "As far as I know, this room has the only outside commlink."

    That was all true, but I had mainly wanted to sneak into Palpatine's private office and snoop around a little. Sure, it was unlikely I would find anything, but it couldn't hurt to look.

    However, now I had his assistant – a man that the interface rated as an average threat, although why he was rated so high was still unknown to me – glaring at me as he stalked over to the desk I was standing behind.

    "This commlink is for the Senator's private business. Get out." Sate snarled as he towered over me. I was sure he expected me to cower, if only a touch, but I didn't. I might be currently lacking in the size and strength departments, but by coming so close, he had removed his greatest advantages if we fought.

    "Then how am I to communicate with Master Dooku?" I asked evenly.

    My lack of reaction to his tone and closeness seemed to irk the man. "I don't care. You need to leave. Now!"

    He moved to grab my shoulder only to stop at a gentle cough from behind him.

    He turned, and I stepped to the side, to see Palpatine standing where Sate had been a minute before.

    "Now, now Sate. Cameron only wished to speak with his master. There is no need to threaten a child." He said with a soft smile, though his eyes were hard.

    "Yes sir," Sate replied, his head dropping even as Palpatine stepped closer and placed a hand on my shoulder.

    "However, I do believe that I asked you to stay out of this room Cameron." He waved off my attempt to reply before continuing. "I will arrange for a secure communications-unit to be placed within your room to allow you to communicate freely with Master Dooku."

    "Thank you, sir. And sorry." I said, playing up my apparent innocence. "I didn't plan to come in, but I wished to speak with Master Dooku about a combat manoeuvre but was lacking a way to do so. Then I remembered you mentioning you had a commlink in here."

    "Ah. Well, even if you had opened the channel, you would have been unable to use it. For security reasons it has a biometric lock," Palpatine explained as he guided me past Sate, who scowled at me once out of Palpatine's vision, and out of the office. "You understand of course?"

    "Of course, sir. I imagine much of your work is important and needs to be protected from people wishing to do you harm." I replied which earned me a larger smile.

    He chuckled a few times before he spoke again. "Yes, indeed. I must say, you are far more understanding of how the real world works than Jedi three times your age." He said as we walked to my room.

    "Probably because I grew up outside the Temple and had a real childhood."

    He laughed openly at that comment. "Yes, that may well be it." He paused and looked around for a moment before leaning down to me. "Do not mention this to others, but I feel that many of the Jedi are, shall we say, unaware of anything outside the Temple and the Order."

    "I think I may have said something like that a few times during my time there," I replied, a small smile growing on my face.

    He laughed again and stepped back. "Then I hope they listen to you more than they do to me." He stated as his smile returned. It appeared genuine and friendly. "Now, I hope this is the last time we must talk about you entering places you shouldn't be."

    "Yes, sir."

    "Excellent. If you will excuse me, I have a holo-meeting with a banker."

    I bowed in the Jedi fashion and he left the room.

    As I sat on my bed, I replayed the last few minutes over in my head. From the moment I entered the office until Sate had turned up, only five minutes had passed. That meant that some form of alarm, either on the door or just inside, had detected my presence and alerted Palpatine and his aide.

    That would make searching the room very difficult since I wished to avoid using active Force powers around Palpatine; the less he knew about what I could do the better. Under these circumstances, I doubted I would be able to access his computer systems.

    How the incident had been handled by the two men was also interesting. Sate had played bad cop to the Senator's good cop. It was a simple technique, but one that would work on most children.

    Good thing I wasn't really a child.

    ...


    ...

    Two weeks after being placed undercover, I found myself sitting outside the office of the headmaster of the middle school that I had to attend. This had to be a new record for me if I compared this to my old life.
    The schooling system on Coruscant was split into three levels, primary, middle and high, totalling thirteen years in total length and I was assigned to Year 6, making me one of the youngest students in the middle school as I was still a few months shy of my tenth birthday.


    The school was an impressive place, full of what I was told were state-of-the-art educational systems, with the best organic teachers that money could hire. And I had to admit that all the teachers were quite good. They engaged with the children, explained things in clear and concise ways and never seemed to be offended by a question.

    However, it seemed that even in a galaxy far, far away, cliques existed as I had been singled out by a group of boys in Year 9. These boys either didn't like me, my uncle or possibly both, and had taken upon themselves to teach me how things worked. I was mildly impressed that such things still existed in a middle school if you ignored that this was a very expensive and exclusive private school.

    Since every one of the legitimate students here were from rich, powerful Core-world families, they had grown up thinking themselves better than others. And here was me, a son of farmers from a backwater Outer Rim planet now part of their ranks. Even if Palpatine was wealthy in his own right, to them he was still from the rim of the galaxy.

    Sadly, this was just proof that certain behaviour was common no matter the technological level of a planet or the species in play; certain people were just born arseholes.

    "Cameron, what has happened?" Palpatine asked as he entered the small waiting area outside the Headmaster's office. He was doing a good job of acting concerned, though Sate, who had stopped at the doorway, was clearly unimpressed as he glared at me.

    Not that I cared about him much. He couldn't do anything to me while the assignment was active, nor possibly afterwards if Sidious decided I was worth watching/attempting to corrupt.

    Plus, I planned to kill the shite at some point before Palpatine started the Clone Wars, though only once I had found a way to do so without linking it back to me and making sure I gained experience from it via a quest.

    "Senator Palpatine, welcome." The Secretarial droid said in a feminine tone. "There has been an incident involving your nephew that has required Headmaster Cromth to become involved."

    "What sort of incident?" Palpatine asked me, ignoring the droid.

    I shrugged. "Nothing big. Just some older students not liking me as I'm a country boy from the Outer Rim." I replied simply. I had taken to dumbing down how I spoke a touch while in school as I was meant to be from the 'working class' of society. It was sad that such behaviour existed in this galaxy, but there wasn't much I could do about it now, if ever.

    "And how long has this been going on?" Palpatine inquired as his brow began to crease, acting the part of concerned parental figure/fellow Outer Rim citizen.

    "Since I started here. The other boys are…"

    "Senator Palpatine, greetings. I'm Headmaster Cromth. I wish we were meeting under better circumstances." Stated the headmaster as he stepped out the door to his office into the waiting area; his hand already extended.

    "Indeed Headmaster. What exactly has happened with my nephew?" Palatine replied as they shook hands.

    At a gesture from Cromth, the three of us stepped into his office.

    Cromth moved slowly - whether because of age or his large girth, it was hard to tell - around the table and sat in his high-backed chair while my uncle and I sat in comfortable but simple chairs on the other side of the large, highly polished wooden desk.

    After the standard pleasantries were over, including both men agreeing to drop their titles, Cromth began to explain what had happened.

    "Just after lunch today, your nephew began to verbally assault four of the older students; making disparaging remarks about their ancestors and other family members, their appearance and even their bodies."

    I bristled as Cromth spoke. The bastard was leaving out the fact those four boys, and the other half dozen or so in their group had been making snide remarks and attempting to prank me since I had arrived. And the only reason I called their actions as pranks was because none of them had succeeded, otherwise I would have called them attacks.

    "While Cameron has only been living with me for a few weeks, I find it hard to believe that he would just decide to randomly torment four boys from an upper-year. Perhaps there is something you and your staff may have missed?" Palpatine said slowly, clearly not buying the story given by Cromth. Which made sense as I was a Jedi, and it was unbecoming of a Jedi to resort to name-calling.

    Then again, I was hardly a normal member of the Order and I had said everything Cromth said I had, though I may have been more colourful in my vocabulary than the headmaster had indicated.

    "No. I have spoken to all the males involved, and others who were nearby, and the story is the same. Young Cameron simply stepped toward the older males and began calling them names, before moving onto insults regarding their families and bodily functions."

    "Hmm." Palpatine gently tapped his chin, looking from Cromth to me and then back again. "What is the school going to do about this incident?"

    "Since this is Cameron's first offence, and he is a new student, I have decided that he will be given a detention for a month and a formal notice will be placed in is records. Don't worry, the notice will be expunged if there are no other incidents before he graduates." Cromth added at the end to cut off an incoming comment from Palpatine.

    "Very well," Palpatine replied with a small sigh after considering what Cromth had said. "However, I will be asking my nephew for his side of the story once we return home. If there is more to these events than you have mentioned, I may have to speak with Commissioner D'rath." He placed his hands on the armrest and began to rise slowly.

    Cromth's expression, which until this point had been a little smug, fell at the mention of D'rath, so I could only assume he was someone with a lot of power within the school system.

    "Th-there's no need to involve the Commissioner in this," Cromth blurted out as he leaned forward, which was enough to stop my 'uncle' from standing further. "Perhaps, perhaps we could forget about the formal notice, and maybe limit the detention to a few weeks."

    "Perhaps we could," Palpatine replied as the corners of his lips twitched upwards. "Though I still do not believe that young Cameron here would simply decide to make a scene. And certainly not against four older, stronger boys."

    "It was not in keeping with the reports I have gotten from his teachers," Cromth agreed quickly. "Cameron has already placed at the top of his class in most subjects."

    "Indeed, well that is most welcoming to hear." Palpatine gave me a small smile. I didn't respond as I was more interested in watching how the Senator was twisting the whole conversation around to his advantage. "I admit to having been concerned that he would struggle to keep up with his classmates."

    "Oh, there is no risk of that. Cameron is grading well above the year. Truthfully, if he keeps it up it may be possible to push him up a year for the new term."

    Now Palpatine preened like a proud relative even as I shrugged. Say what you will for the more advanced subject matter here than in my old life, it was still aimed at ten-year-olds. And with my knowledge from my last life, as well as what I had been taught in the Jedi Temple, it was still generally a waste of time. Even if anything new was mentioned, I remembered perfectly with Eidetic Memory.

    "That is wonderful to hear. But wouldn't a formal notice cause…"

    "As I said, we can forget about that since it is the first offence." Cromth interrupted and for a mere instant there was a twitch of a sneer on Palpatine's face at the interruption, but it was quickly smoothed over.

    "Ah, well then I look forward to hearing all about Cameron's successes. Is there anything more to discuss?"

    "No, no. Thank you for coming in to see me, Senator." The usage of Palpatine's title signalling the end to the informal meeting.

    "It was my pleasure Headmaster," Palpatine replied as the pair again shook hands.

    I followed my uncle out of the school, Sate falling into step just behind us. We walked in silence until we had all boarded a Senatorial shuttle, at which point, Palpatine turned to me.

    "How much of what Headmaster Cromth said is true?"

    "All of it, though he did leave out why I reacted," I replied. "The older boys, and it is a group of about sixteen or so, have been making comments about my parentage, coming from the Outer Rim and attempting to hurt me with pathetic tricks since I arrived at school. I simply had reached the limit of my patience with their behaviour and decided to respond."

    Palatine nodded and gave me a gentle smile at my answer. "Ah, yes. You are different and an outsider. The weak-minded see that as easy prey, but you are far from that."

    "True, but if I did not retaliate, then things would continue and likely become worse. There is also the fact that not behaving like a normal boy might tip off the kidnappers that there is more to me than meets the eye."

    "Yes, indeed." Palpatine shared a glance with Sate. "I must say, I did not expect a Jedi Padawan to be able to adapt so easily to the situation, and in way that diverted attention from you even while standing out."

    "I'm not a normal Jedi," I stated honestly knowing it was both true and why I suspected Palatine had arranged for me to be assigned to him.

    "Yes, yes. Master Dooku is unusually proud of you and I am beginning to see why. Did you grandfather perhaps teach you about social structures before he died?"

    "Not directly, but he often made comments about what was reported in the news or the way people reacted. I guess I picked up more than I thought from that." I replied with a shrug.

    "It seems you did indeed. It is a pity you are in the Jedi Order as with the right training I could see you being a powerful voice for good in the Senate."

    I cringed. "I'd rather fight a pack of rancors than be a Senator. No offence."

    Palpatine laughed, and while he honestly sounded genuine, I couldn't be sure if it was. "Oh, none taken. I understand perfectly how you feel and often wish for the comforts of any other place than being on the Senate floor. Far too often those in power have no interest in anything but themselves.

    "However, here is where I feel I can do the most good for the galaxy. Where I can help the largest number of people."

    I smiled at him, even if I knew that what he had just said was not entirely true. Oh, I did not doubt that he felt he was doing the right thing, but it wasn't for the masses; just for himself and the Sith.

    "Perhaps I will find such a place for myself," I said slowly, watching the buildings, speeders and starships shoot past as our shuttle moved towards 500 Republica. The building was massive and very exclusive and Palpatine was proud to have a large apartment on one of the upper floors.

    The place did not fit perfectly with Palpatine's public persona, but I suspected that being so close to the rich and powerful on the capital of the Republic suited his darker side.

    The fact the building had a dedicated private security force that I was sure he at least partially controlled was just another reason I felt the place served as a base of sort for his work as Darth Sidious. Though how that business was conducted, I didn't know, as nothing had happened in the few weeks to even hint at Palpatine having a hidden life.

    "You do not feel content within the Jedi?" He asked his tone now quieter and more probing.

    "Yes and no. While I am grateful for all they have done, and will no doubt do for me in future, there is much about the Temple I do not like." I replied honestly. "But perhaps things will change as I grow older," I added, cutting off him from probing more.

    It was a risky game I was playing as outright lying that I was happy or comfortable in the Temple would probably be seen though and raise his suspicions. However, if I revealed too much, I may find myself visited by assassins or a certain Zabrak before I was able to defend myself.

    "While I am sure you will eventually find your role in life, if at any time in the future you need an outside voice please don't hesitate to contact me."

    "Thank you, uncle," I replied with a small smirk, intentionally using the false relationship to amuse him. That earned a small chuckle from the Senator.

    "Senator remember that you have a holo-meeting with the banker," Sate stated and when I glanced his way, I saw he was glaring at me.

    I ignored the glare as Sate had yet to act on his clear dislike for me. Heck, even me stealing all his caffa – via dumping it in my Inventory to then sell it to a street merchant – hadn't annoyed him enough to try anything.

    I doubted anything short of me doing something to endanger his life would have Sate react as Palpatine was very keen to stay in my good graces. Sate might be a decent threat according to Examine, but he was clearly being kept on a leash by Palpatine, and thus was a non-threat. For now.

    "Ah yes. Cameron, I will try to see you before bed, but I cannot guarantee it."

    "I understand uncle. Hope your work goes well."

    We hugged briefly as we were in a public area of the building to keep up appearances before I took a private elevator that took me up to the apartment.

    Sadly, I was unable to use the time to search the apartment as another of Palpatine's assistants, a man named Kinman guided me to my room.

    Kinman was one of three close advisors of Palatine – the others being Sate and another man named Janus – and the easiest, and lowest threat, to deal with. Sate was clearly more than he let on – a threat rating of Medium was proof of that – while Janus was highly prejudiced speciest against any non-humans. A stereotypical Xenophobe.

    Kinman was not a fan of Jedi but seemed willing to put up with me as 'I hadn't had the arrogance drilled into me yet'.

    Once I was alone in my room, I called up a new quest notice.

    Quest Alert!
    Better Than Your Peers

    Prove yourself in the end of year tests.
    [2 months until the tests]

    Rating: C

    Objectives:
    Pass each base subject test with a score greater than 95% [0/6]

    Pass any support subject with a score of greater than 90% [0/4]
    Bonus: ?
    Bonus: ?
    Rewards:
    300XP per base subject test [0/6]

    200XP per support subject [0/4]
    Promotion to Year 7.
    Penalties:
    -100XP per base subject test [0/6]

    Note:
    This quest cannot be denied.

    It was auto accepted by the Player not denying it at the time of creation.
    ...
    I was a little annoyed at having the quest be accepted without my consent – how was I meant to reject it while in the meeting without raising questions? – but it should be easy enough.

    My skills in the base subjects – Maths, Basic, computing and the three core sciences – were more than high enough, and I knew everything from the teaching materials thanks to Eidetic Memory.

    The four support subjects – music, physical education, politics and a second language – were where I might struggle, but I should be able to pass two of them at the required level.

    I had already gotten a similar quest for monthly tests - with the option to reject it if I wanted - though that was for only a third of the XP of Better Than Your Peers, and I had passed all ten subjects and gained a few bonuses.

    If my performance in those tests held – they were why I had the chance to move up, so it was likely – the quest would be easy enough to complete, and I wasn't going to complain about easy to earn experience.

    ...


    ...

    Just over two months after being placed undercover in the school, and a month or so after being hauled into the headmaster's office because of the older boys, I was walking down one of the halls in the school.

    I was now in Year 7, the Headmaster having kept his word and moved me up a year after I had easily passed the end of year test for Year 6. He had been reluctant to keep his word, but a visit from Palpatine had persuaded him.

    I'd passed all the base subjects, even managing to get four of the bonuses for acing the tests, and three of the support subjects.

    Year 7 was still easy; my skills and perks were a godsend in making sure of that. Sure, it made school work boring, but that allowed me to spend my time working on my Force powers that were more passive – read not flashy – in nature.

    I rounded the corner, smiled at a few of my classmates, who shied away from me. I frowned, wondering h…

    A hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled me into a classroom.

    I mentally activated Enhance Stat for agility.

    My hand went into my Inventory for a small knife I now stored there.

    I prepared to pounce at my attacker.

    "Shan! Calm yourself!" A female voice hissed as the lights came on.

    I spun, keeping my hand in my Inventory by hiding it behind my back, and came face-to-face with a familiar, and friendly face.

    "Dammit, girl! I almost attacked you!" I spat out at Bultar Swan; the other Jedi assigned to this school and Master Giiett's Padawan.

    She chuckled once. "I knew it was coming, and I don't think you can call me a girl when I'm older than you." A single eyebrow rose in amusement as I slid my hand out of my Inventory and disabled Enhance Stat even as those powers that automatically engaged for combat did likewise.

    "Whatever," I muttered, ignoring that I had reacted instinctively and made a reference to her young age even when I was physically a child. "I thought we were meant to avoid meetings."

    "Yes, but we were also to avoid standing out," she replied with a very slight smirk. "Like beating up a group of boys three years older than yourself. What was that about?"

    I sighed, and after using TK to lock the door to avoid anyone walking in on us, began to explain.

    "I've been having, issues, with a group from your year since I arrived."

    "Yes, I remember the verbal beating you gave them a month ago," she interrupted as the smirk grew. "Thanks for the new curses by the way."

    "You're welcome. Anyway, they didn't stop, and neither did their pranks. I use that word very, very loosely." I could feel my anger rising as I remembered the incident that led up to be attacking the boys.

    "Be mindful of your anger Cameron," Bultar said, having sensed how I was feeling. "What pranks?"

    "They started small. Gum in my desk, changing the password to my terminal, that sort of crap. But after I spoke up, things got worse." I paused and took a breath. This was where Eidetic Memory was a problem as I remembered every little thing that had been said or done over the last month-plus; and every consequence of their actions.

    "They programmed the sprinklers to spray water when I walked into the classroom, seemingly harmless explosives in my locker and what not until yesterday, where they rigged a durasteel plate to be thrown at me as I entered a room."

    Her smirk fell and she gave me a quick once-over. "They what? Are you well?"

    "I'm fine. Their pranks have never hurt me, but the brick struck one of my classmates in the chest." I felt my anger rise again as I perfectly recalled the pained scream Recel had given as she fell, and the sounds of laughter coming from just down the corridor.

    "I figured that was going too far and decided to, discuss, things with those boys." Now I couldn't help but smirk as the aftermath replayed in my mind.

    "Discuss? Cameron, you send eleven boys to the infirmary with seven having to be transferred to the hospital." Bultar stated, though there was far less disapproval in her tone than I would've expected for me beating up eleven boys.

    I shrugged. "I didn't use the Force," 'visibly' "or kill anyone." I countered. "Not my fault they didn't back off after my warning in the canteen."

    Bultar sighed loudly and turned away, flipping her hands into the air. "Didn't kill anyone he says," I heard her mutter as she stepped away from me and shook her head.

    "What? Would you have preferred I let them keep trying to prank me until someone else was maimed or killed because of their actions?" I snapped. "If the fucking administration around here did their damm jobs and stopped that shit from happening, Recel wouldn't have suffered two crack and one broken rib!"

    Bultar turned back to me and sighed again, even as she moved to sit on one of the empty desks. "I…" She began only to stop, shake her head and mutter something I didn't catch.

    "Cameron, we are Jedi. We cannot go around assaulting people to fix problems."

    "But…" She raised her hand to cut off my retort.

    "But, they had gone too far and needed to be stopped. While I do feel you may have also gone too far in dealing with the boys," her face grimaced and I realised there was a chance she shared classes with a few of them as they were all in Year 9, "I accept you did what needed to be done. My report to my master will say as much."

    I looked at her in confusion for a moment, having expected to be given some drivel about going too far in my actions, before I smiled. "Thanks."

    "You're welcome," she replied, returning the smile, which grew as she continued. "However, I am unsure how Master Dooku will feel about this or Senator Palpatine."

    I groaned and sunk into a chair. "Fuck me."

    Bultar chuckled softly as she walked to the door. As she opened the door she paused and glanced back at me. "You did what you felt was right, which is sometimes all we can ever do. Just try to be more, restrained, in doing so."

    With that she left the room, pulling the door closed behind her.

    I chuckled once, in disbelief that a Jedi had accepted why I had basically assaulted eleven older boys, placing all out of them in the infirmary or hospital. I had been and still was, expecting a stern lecture from Dooku about my actions, but it was nice to see that not all Jedi were closed-minded to the idea that to make an omelette you must break a few eggs.

    ...


    ...

    "Well that was unexpected," I muttered as I exited the Headmaster's Office with Palpatine for the fourth time in three months.

    "Indeed, indeed." Palpatine agreed as we walked through the empty corridors of the school, the ever-present Sate falling into step behind the Senator. "I will admit that I feared another incident like last time."

    I chuckled and looked up at my uncle. "If they hadn't learnt from their lesson, I think a meeting with the headmaster might have also involved the local police."

    Palpatine glared down at me. "That is not something to joke about Cameron." He sighed and looked down at the datapad Cromth had given him. "Still, this is, as I said most impressive. How did such an idea come to you?"

    "I remember my grandfather reading me stories about low-tech worlds, I think," I replied, mixing in truths from my old life to explain things. "When we were told to create our own stories, I remembered those stories and wrote that."

    I pointed at the datapad, which held the first chapter of The Lord of the Rings. Sure, I could've written something original, but why waste the time when with Eidetic Memory I could remember everything I had ever read or written. That included the works of authors such as JRR Tolkien, CS Louis, Dickens and Shakespeare. While most were too Earth-based to be of use, The Lord of the Rings was fantasy, and thus usable.

    I just never expected it to result in me being called into the Headmaster's Office once more.

    "Hmm." Palpatine was silent until we entered the senatorial shuttle.

    "It is a shame you are a Jedi," he started as the shuttle began to rise into the constant traffic of the planet. "Otherwise I believe you could make a living from writing."

    I was silent as I considered his words.

    I doubted stories would earn me much – people preferred to watch holo-movies and such on the HoloNet – but if I could find a place to publish the stories from Earth, and earn money for people reading them, I could at least start to generate a cash flow.

    Heck, many of those novels had been adapted into movies on Earth, so maybe the same thing could happen here. Or I could adapt Earth movies, like Alien and Predator, for local consumption.

    "There is nothing wrong with at least seeing if such a thing is possible," I stated, figuring I could at least humour the man, and use him to discover if there was a place to publish for money. "After all, there is no certainty I will become a full Jedi or stay with the Order for all my life."

    "You still feel the Jedi are not for you?" He asked gently, as a notice appeared in my interface. Palpatine had again tried to use a force technique that Master Fay had called Force Persuasion. It was a more benign version of compulsion and operated as a general field that made anyone effected by it more likely to listen to what the user was saying and be open to their suggestions.

    Palpatine had used the power on me a few times, but thankfully most times he had, Player's Mind had been active. While I doubted that he would use it around adult Jedi, I suspected he used it with others to ensure they began to see things his way. Combined with his clear natural charisma, it would help to ensure he got what he wanted in the long run.

    Player's Mind was able to protect my mind from outside influence. However, to not raise his suspicion, I pretended at times to open up to him a little, like now.

    "I am, uncertain," I replied. "But there is no harm in seeing what my options would be if I did leave."

    "No, no there is not." He said and he placed a hand on my shoulder. "Again, you impress with your wisdom. I shall ask Sate to search for locations on the HoloNet where you could publish your story for money." He paused and glanced away. "Even if you stay with the Jedi, you could use the credits to support charities or indeed, the Order itself."

    "That is a good idea. Thank you." I replied with a small smile.

    While he would think I was smiling at his helping, I was really smiling at the idea that he was going to help me find ways for earn money, which I would use to hopefully counter his ascent to Emperor.

    Sometimes it was the little things in life that made it worth living.

    ...


    ...

    I grumbled to myself as I walked from the school shuttle stop towards 500 Republica.

    It had now been just under five months that I had been on assignment and save for my last visit to the Headmaster's Office regarding my writing assignment, nothing had happened.

    Well, that wasn't totally true.

    I had passed the Better Than Your Peers quest easily, acing four of the core subjects while passing the other two and achieving the bonus on two support subjects. Since I also succeeded in the two lightsaber quests, and the first bonus for each, it meant I levelled up before the birthday bonus of XP.

    I had also maxed out my base skill for using a standard two-handed lightsaber as my only weapon which granted me 500XP from maxing it out. This did not affect how quickly I learnt the various lightsaber forms, but just meant I was as comfortable as the interface allowed with using a standard lightsaber in combat.

    These combined with the monthly tests at the school, meant that I was well over halfway to reaching level 15.

    I had taken a further quest to raise Shii-Cho to Savant 1 in half a year with a reward of 3000XP. I could've taken a similar quest for Soresu, but after deciding to concentrate on maxing Makashi, I decided against doing so for now.

    My time at Palatine's had been pointless. I had limited myself to the more passive Force powers, such as Detection, to avoid allowing the Sith Lord to learn what I was capable of. I had also explored as much as I could of 500 Republica in the hopes I could find a hidden lair or passageway, but nothing in the areas I could access without arousing the suspicion of Palpatine, his helpers or the building's formidable security force had stood out.

    Perhaps there was something in the basement – that did seem the most likely area – but access to the building's sublevels was restricted.

    One small plus was that Sate had discovered a site on the local HoloNet, with connections to other Core worlds, where I could place my stories, but I had declined to post. What I had done was finish 'writing' the entire The Lord of the Rings trilogy on one of my Inventory-stored datapads.

    Given I was underage, I'd need Palpatine to sign off on allowing me to publish if I tried to open an account with the site. And any credits earned would be placed into an account under his control. That was not going to happen, so I figured that once the assignment was over, I would try to persuade Fay to allow me to publish the trilogy on the site.

    I planned to use the songs I had sung for her, and which I had managed to fill a memory module for a datapad with, to help convince her.

    Like with the stories and movies I remembered, many of the songs would not work here as they referred to Earth-specific details, but a lot would. And everyone deserved to hear classics like Living on a Prayer, Welcome to the Jungle and Freebird.

    Still, that was another a later date. For now, I was actively looking to get kidnapped and learning what the kidnappers were up to. To increase the odds of that happening, I had taken to walking home from school.

    Oh, I still took the assigned shuttle to the area around where I was living, but I got off early and walked. The district was generally well-lit and maintained but even here, with the senatorial district, there were areas where most people avoided.

    Several such areas were on my route home, and after a month of taking the safer and longer route home, I had started using these avoided areas to shorten the route.

    I had made sure to not keep to a set path, making it seem I was experimenting/exploring the area around 500 Republica, but I still made sure to head through a few secluded areas regularly.

    Both Palpatine and Dooku had been unsure of this plan, but I was able to convince them that me just taking the shuttle to and from school defeated the purpose of my assignment. Especially since almost all the abductions that had occurred before I went undercover, and the four since including a Padawan from another school, had happened when the student had been walking the short distance from the shuttle to their home building.

    Dooku had stated the other Padawan had been missing for a few days when we had last spoken - which was at the end of last week - and while there was some concern about a Padawan being taken, the Council was not recalling the other Padawans just yet. Though Dooku had insisted I make sure to be carrying my emergency beacon at all times as they had discovered the Padawan's beacon where he had been staying, meaning the boy had not had it on him when he was abducted.

    As I ducked down an alley in one of these secluded areas, I spared a glance my mini-map and noted four beings were seemingly following my route. I had Detection running constantly from the moment I stepped off the shuttle, and constant glances at the mini-map confirmed that four were tracking.

    Whoever and whatever they were, they were being careful. No one being stayed on my tail for more than a few hundred metres, yet I was never out of sight of any of them for more than a couple of seconds.

    The only mistake in their tracking, beyond probably assuming I was just a normal ten-year-old, was that the first tracker always started following me from a diner next to where the shuttle dropped me off.

    Having spotted that for the first time a few weeks ago, I now tagged everyone who exited the diner after I started walking. Regular but seemingly random stops at certain shops helped me notice others also following me.

    Thanks to the combination of Detection and the mini-map, I didn't have to look up and scan the area, and thus let on I suspected I was being followed.

    As I reached the end of the alley, I noted that two of the four were now in front of me, and at the end of a narrow section of the next street that I normally took. A street in which the lights had been broken for the last week.

    Since it appeared that they were planning to spring their trap, I had to consider how to resist.

    I could simply not resist at all, but that felt wrong.

    If they had done their research on me, they would've known about my fight at school a few months ago, and thus not engaging would run the risk of alerting them that I was more than I appeared.

    However, if I fought back too much, I risked them giving up. The abduction took too long, they'd more than likely break off to avoid the police who patrolled around the area semi-regularly.

    Then again, they could easily have bribed one of the police officers or hacked the security system to deal with droids and cameras.

    As I rounded the turn to the street where the two were waiting, I spared one last glance at my mini-map and spotted that the two behind were closing fast. Their plan looked to be to block me in then somehow whisk me away; probably with a speeder that was waiting nearby.

    "Hey, boy. What you doing here?" One of the two men – both of the figures in front of me were Human – asked in a deep, gruff voice.

    I ignored them and kept walking, only for them to both push off the walls and block my path.
    "Hey, he asked you a question." The other grunted out.


    "Sorry, my uncle told me not to talk with strangers," I replied quietly as I analysed their faces.

    Both had worn, well-weathered skin and rough, but trimmed beards. The first man was holding a death-stick one of his hands, the other behind his back. A posture matched by his companion.

    "And who's your uncle sonny?" the second man asked as both tensed, the first glancing past me, telling me their friends had arrived.

    "None of your business," I replied with a scowl which just made the two men chuckle a bit more. "Let me pass."

    "Now why would we do that, when you be the nephew of a Senator." the first man stated, flicking his death stick at me.

    I tensed, knowing a fight was to come. Even if I had to lose, I was going to get my –

    My vision went blue and the interface became jumbled before everything went dark.






    Why Cam was able to be taken down so easily will be covered in the next chapter.
     
  24. hpackrat

    hpackrat Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Holdout blaster on stun based on the blue vision.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2020
  25. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    That would be the likely source, yeah.
    But I was meaning about how Cam could have been taken out without him knowing.
     
  26. hpackrat

    hpackrat Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Probably someone with an artifact that generates Force Cloak.
     
  27. Threadmarks: Children In Shadow 3
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

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    NOTICE
    This chapter touches on a dark situation in the second half.
    I doubt this scene is enough to result in the story being moved to NSFW, as things are implied, but I felt a warning was needed.





    With a groan, I opened my eyes and blinked a few times to adjust to the darkness in my new location.

    I was inside a small room, with only a single door providing any light via a small match in the middle. There was no other way out of the room, and I was chained to one of the walls via my right wrist. It wasn't enough to stop me from moving around the room, but it looked like it would prevent me from reaching the door.

    A quick check of my interface showed that my FP was full, though I was down 27HP. Thankfully, Heal was at a high enough level now that I could manage that in a single go, though it did drain most of my FP.

    After meditating to restore one hundred per cent of FP, I opened a blinking notice in my interface.

    You were stunned!
    Sadly, you are not skilled/trained/old enough to resist a stun blast.

    I grunted at the text. I had already figured out what had happened. Though the hint that if I was strong/skilled enough, I could resist being stunned was intriguing.

    I was pissed at going down without a fight, but I figured the two who were behind me in the street had approached while I was distracted with the men in front and stunned me; the small amount of damage I had suffered was probably a side effect of them using a cheap stun prod.

    I was also annoyed that Danger Sense hadn't given me any hint until I remembered that it only warned that there was a threat within a certain distance around me and if bloodlust was detected. It had warned me about the four men, as the skill was meant to, but details of any actual attack happening was beyond what the skill could do currently; or it was something that was meant to be covered by Precognition.

    Provided I managed to escape from wherever I was now, I would learn from the mistake and make sure to activate Precognition before any situation that I knowingly walked into or whenever Danger Sense gave me a warning. As it was doing now in listing a dozen or so threats within its current range.

    A quick search of my pockets found them empty, and the emergency beacon in my boot was also gone. I opened my Inventory, but before I could reach in for a weapon – be it one of the lightsabers or a kitchen knife I had stashed away for just this occurrence – the sound of an old-fashioned metal lock scrapping open was heard.

    The door opened, and the room was bathed in a bright light that had me raising a hand to shield my eyes as into the room stepped a large green-skinned Duros stepped into the room.

    "Ah, welcome young one," the Duros drawled out as he knelt in front of me. "My name is Zir."

    "Why am I here?" I demanded, acting out the part of a scared but trying to act tough child. I needed to know about my location before I escaped.

    Zir chuckled softly. "You are here, little one, as we need to convince your uncle on a certain matter." He stood and moved towards the door. "Sadly, we were forced to have you stay with us as he failed to see reason. Perhaps with your cooperation, he will do so."

    "Go fuck a Hutt," I replied, which drew a chuckle from Zir.

    "Such colourful vocabulary for one so young. But then again, you are from the Rim; not like the others." He shook his head and tutted a few times. "My other guests have grown predictable and stale."

    "What about the Jedi brats?" a voice from outside the room asked. All I could tell was it was a male, speaking Basic without the slight accent of Zir. Any other details were hidden by the fact the door was now partially closed.

    "Yes, the Jedi children have made things more interesting," Zir replied to the voice. "I wonder how long the female will take to break. The male broke far too easily for my liking."

    The voice laughed as Zir turned back to face me, a smile that held nothing but trouble for me on his face. "Perhaps you will last longer than that one. Though I would prefer to return you to your uncle intact and unharmed, how your stay goes is entirely up to the Senator."

    I said nothing, seeing no need for further talking.

    "No comeback this time? Hmm. Smart. I think I may need to keep an eye on you." He said, fixing me with a stare before leaving; the door closing and locking not long after.

    Once I was sure I was alone, I pulled up a quest notice

    Quest Updated!
    Children in Shadow [ƍ]
    Rating: B
    Objectives:
    Hold your cover until the end of the assignment or until you locate the kidnappers. [Yes]
    Find a way to escape from the kidnappers or alert the authorities.
    Bonus: ?
    Bonus: ?
    Bonus: ?
    Rewards:
    1000XP
    1500XP
    Failure:
    -800XP
    Possible permanent injury or dismemberment.

    I examined the quest carefully. This was the first time I had had one of my quests evolve. However, I had been warned about that when the mission had been given to me by the High Council and the interface generated the quest.

    The main objective had changed – I had passed the first objective in locating the kidnappers – as had the rating, and now I had to find a way to escape or call in the cavalry; which I had been planning to do before the Duros came into my cell. It had also gained two new bonus objectives, so there were somethings I had to do before I escaped or call for help.

    Curious about the new bonuses, I cast Detection. While I couldn't be sure where on the planet I was, I now knew there were about four dozen beings within a few hundred metres of me.

    Two shone brighter and were blinking; indications of them being strong with the Force and trained. The others were spread out in pairs or trios with the largest gathering being fifteen. Without a map of where I was, I could only guess that this group was either in their barracks, a common area or some combination of both.

    Ten of the beings had much weaker dots which meant that they were droids as that was how they appeared when detected.

    What had me frowning, however, was the fact that nothing else was being detected, and Detection currently had a range of just over 5 kilometres. That meant that we were either in a deserted part of Coruscant – which seemed unlikely on a planet with a population numbering in the hundreds of billions – or I was no longer on the planet.

    I put concerns about where exactly I was out of my head as I examined the readings from Detection.

    Nine of the lifeforms were near my cell, with seven of those in two parallel lines; and I was in one of those lines.

    The last two were stationary near on end of the lines, suggesting they were guards.

    The two Padawans were being held near each other, maybe a hundred metres from my location, and where close to a half dozen sentients and two droids.

    The other droids were seemingly wandering the location, some with a pair of sentients and others by themselves.

    My mind began to wonder how the kidnappers had managed to subdue two Padawans. Even without their lightsabers, they should have been able to escape from any attackers and alert the Temple. Then again, I had had been captured and the kidnappers didn't even realise I was a Jedi so perhaps the Padawans had been taken before it was realised that they were Jedi.

    I also found myself wondering just when the other Padawans had been taken, as Zir had suggested that they'd had a male for long enough for him to break. Since a few of the rescued children from before I went undercover had been traumatized, I hadn't considered that these people would be willing to torture a child, but it appeared I had been wrong. A growl escaped my throat and I decided that before I tried to escape this place I was going to free the other Padawans; the other children too if it would help.

    That probably met two of the bonus conditions to the updated quest, but that was secondary to my thinking.

    Activating Force Sight, I looked around the room carefully. While it couldn't let me see through walls, the power, now that it was in the Adept range, allowed me to see power currents within objects. Which was a great way to discover hidden cameras or other devices, as I had discovered in my room at Palpatine's.

    The room I was in was empty, heck there were no power conduits of any kind within the walls, which meant I was not being monitored.

    Their mistake.

    A quick use of Phase had me free of the chain, a short, five-minute meditation had my FP fully restored and figuring that I might need the boost, I quickly raised my Strength, Agility and Vitality to 16, which left me with two spare stat points for later use. This boosted my HP, STAM and damage done from unarmed combat.

    Activating Detection again, I re-scanned the area near my cell. The guards did not move for a minute, so seeing my chance, I Phased through the door. A quick blast with Force Sight confirmed the area held no cameras or microphones.

    Now certain the area wasn't being monitored, I grabbed both guards with TK and pulled them down the corridor, slamming them hard into the wall at the end of the corridor.

    The impacted with a loud crash, and a crack/crunch that told me at least one of them was now dead.

    Quickly moving them towards me with more TK, I use the auto-loot function to unarm them, gaining two blasters, a knife, a few hundred credits, a pair of commlinks and critically, a keycard.

    While none of the other sentients or the droids reacted to the noise, the children in the other cells staying quiet, I used the keycard to unlock my cell, lifted the two men inside and then locked the door quickly and quietly before pulling the knife and one of the blasters out of my inventory.

    I did consider using one of my spare lightsabers, but I realised that doing so would lead to questions from the Jedi as to how I managed to hide such a weapon to prevent the kidnappers finding it. Still, if things got difficult, it was enough to grab one to use.

    A glance at my interface showed I had just over 4300FP. That was a decent amount, but if I was engaged in combat, I might have an issue if it ran out.

    After making sure that no guard was coming my way, I slipped back into my cell, ignored the smell from the bodies as one of them had expelled their bowels when they had hit the wall, and meditated for a few minutes to restore my FP.

    Once done, I reactivated Detection and stepped back out of the cell.

    A few of the sentients and droids had moved, but most were in the same general locations as before.

    Moving slowly, I reached the end of the cell corridor and certain that the adjoining corridor was clear, I poked my head out a fraction and used Force Sight to make sure this corridor was free of cameras and listening devices; which it was.

    Either the kidnappers did not take the threat of a child escaping seriously, or they were not concerned if one did get free of their cell. That lent credence to the idea I was on a starship, but there was no hum of the engines that I had felt on other ships. Perhaps the ship was stationary, but until I found a viewport or located a computer terminal, I had no way to be sure.

    Turning in the direction of the other Jedi, I moved quietly down the corridor until I came to a cross-junction.

    The Jedi were to my left, about ten metres away, but appeared to be in separate rooms on opposite sides of the corridor.

    The one closest to me was alone but the other had two sentients in with them. Two guards were stationary at what I had to assume was the far end of that corridor while another two were close enough to me that I surprised that I couldn't hear the muffled sounds of their voices while a pair of droids were patrolling up and down the corridor.

    The other side of my corridor led to the common area were more than a dozen living beings were gathered while the corridor heading away from the Jedi corridor lead to an area with three sentients and two droids.

    One of the lone droids was just outside of that area, the other was at the far side of the Jedi corridor near were two sentients, and a single droid were stationary.

    I frowned as I realised that those two beings had not moved at all. All the others had shifted around a little, sometimes no more than half a metre, but those two were stationary.

    Knowing exactly where everyone was, I could make a rough plan on how to take out my kidnappers, but without a detailed layout of my location, I ran the chance of getting cornered or ambushed.

    With the help of the two other Padawans, I stood a better chance. Taking out six guards and a pair of droids without alerting everyone else in the place to what was happening was difficult, but not impossible.

    With a small smile, I phased my head through the wall I was against and glanced around the room with Force Sight.

    The small cupboard-like room I was now in again had no cameras, but I frowned as I slipped through the wall.

    According to Detection, I should be no more than a metre from the unguarded Jedi, yet there was no-one in the room with me.

    Then it dawned on me and as I moved my minimap to show the vertical, I saw that Detection placed everything detected on my level. Since there was no Jedi in the room with me, this meant that the Force Power did not take relative elevations into account. I hoped that would change in future otherwise the combat usefulness of Detection would be limited.

    "I really need to find a computer terminal," I muttered as I looked around the small storage room.

    While there was no terminal, there were three small boxes. Using Examine, I quickly discovered that they held various things.

    One was full of bacta patches, another held precious gems like rubies and emeralds while the last was full of credits.

    A broad grin spread across my face as I realised that I had located some of the kidnapper's riches. I was sure that they would have more stored in other places – the ransoms they had earned from the kidnappings before I went undercover totalled over three million credits – but I wasn't going to ignore my good fortune.

    I tried to move the three boxes into my Inventory, only to discover that they were all too large.

    Thankfully, I could just add the credits to my interface account, which I did. My grin grew as I saw I now had over fifty thousand credits.

    I emptied one of the bags of food into the now empty money crate and filled it with the gemstones. I couldn't get all of them inside the bag, but I got most of them.

    I considered doing the same with another bag of food but decided against it for now as I suspected I might need the food for the other children once they were free.

    However, I wasn't going to turn down the bacta patches, and as I pulled one from a box, I Examined it.

    Bacta Patch (minor)
    Heals 25 HP
    [Applied at a rate of 5HP/minute]
    A bandage soaked with the substance known as bacta.
    It is used in the healing of wounds.

    NOTE
    Bacta patches can only be used to heal 50% of your HP, or 150HP, over a period of 24-hours.

    That was useful, and I slipped a pair into my inventory, only to see them be stacked.

    Another exploit, and one I took immediate advantage off as I filled a slot with twenty-five bacta patches before any were placed into a new slot. Given the rules governing them, I could only use four patches a day currently, but I was certain I'd need them before the day was over.

    Leaving the rest of the gems and bacta patches, I glanced at my Detection marked minimap, wondering how many levels there were to this place as I considered my next move.

    I could keep moving to the two stationary kidnappers and droid, but they might not be on my level.

    Alternatively, I could stick my head through the floor and see if the Jedi was below me, but there was no way of knowing exactly how far above or below they were.

    "Fuck," I mumbled as I noted my FP was again around 4000. I was starting to regret not taking Enhanced Regeneration instead of Eidetic Memory as my last perk, E-R would've increased my base FP, STAM and PP regeneration speeds by five per cent.

    I would have to give it real consideration when I next had a Perk Point to spend.

    I took a few minutes to regenerate my FP before phasing through the next wall.

    This time the room was empty of boxes, but I smiled as I saw a terminal. My smile turned into a giant grin as I discovered the terminal was powered and not password protected.

    Quickly I pulled up schematics of my location, which was overlaid on my minimap.

    I was on a small freighter which had two levels. Given to the layout I was seeing, the two Jedi were being held below in the main cargo hold while I had started in the port crew quarters; though both locations had been converted into cells by the kidnappers.

    I moved onto determining where the ship was and my smile slipped as I discovered we were in no longer on, or near Coruscant. Currently, we were in the Duneeden system, a few hundred lightyears from the galactic capital.

    That complicated matters, as the emergency beacon I had been given, but which I no longer had, only had a range of a few lightyears.

    I activated Enhance Skill, applied it to Computing [Slicing] and attempted to access the external communications array. Sadly, I soon found that my current level of slicing, even with the Force boost, was insufficient to gain access to the comm system from this terminal.

    Closing the terminal, and deactivating Enhance Skill, I slipped back through the wall to the other room. There was a chance that someone detected my attempted hack, so leaving the room was the safest course of action.

    I stayed still, only using Detection to monitor the movements of the kidnappers. But after a few minutes, none were moving from their current locations, so my actions had not raised an alarm.

    A quick meditation later, and after re-activating Detection, I began to move again.

    I phased out into the corridor that led to my cell, I moved slowly until I was above a small storage space attached to the engine room.

    There were three kidnappers and a pair of droids in the engine room, but none in the storage space.

    Phasing through the floor to the room below was a new experience, but it was no different from phasing through a wall, save that I landed inside a shelf.

    I quickly moved and unphased, using Examine on the boxes in the room. Sadly, they were either empty or contained spare parts for the engine. I had hoped that this room doubled as either the armoury or another safe, but my luck didn't hold.

    After once more restoring my FP via meditation – and really, really wishing I had taken the regeneration perk – I eased the door of the storage room open and peeked out.

    The three kidnappers were huddled off at the far side of the room, while the two droids – one a small wheeled droid like on the Death Star, another, three-armed droid – were both stationary in alcoves, seemingly recharging.

    I watched as the trio sat around a small table or crate, but I was unable to make out what they were saying only for a new Force notice to appear.

    Force Power Discovered!
    Enhance Senses
    By using the Force, you can improve your senses beyond mortal levels.

    'That… makes perfect sense and is really something I should've thought about trying to do before now.' I thought with a mental grunt.

    I had spent so much time training the powers I had, I had not spent any time over the last year developing new powers on my own.

    Sure, Fay had taught me Empathic Shield, Beast Control and Force Persuasion, but I had made no effort to develop my own, whether from what I remembered from the movies, cartoons and games, or from my imagination.

    Adding a mental note to start doing so once I was alone and somewhere quiet, I activated the new power and listened in on what was being said. Or tried to, as it seemed the power was so weak that I couldn't make out what they were discussing.

    I pulled the second blaster from my Inventory, set them both to stun, opened the door a little further, and took aim.

    The three beings – two Humans, one Sullustan – were a greater threat than the idle droids, so with three rapid shots, all fell from their stools as I turned and aimed at the droids, flicking the blasters to lethal force.

    As they began to move, I opened fire, striking both droids cleanly before they could leave their alcoves.

    I glanced at the minimap and saw that on-one had reacted to the shots; the noise of the engine having covered my attack.

    I stepped out of the storage room, slid the blasters into my belt as I lifted the three stunned kidnappers and two destroyed droids with the Force and moved them into the room.

    I could have taken them all out using the Force, but it would probably have been nosier, as I would've needed to slam them into a wall, and the longer that no-one knew I was a Jedi, the longer I could keep my powers as a trump card.

    Looting the bodies gained me two more blaster pistols, a blaster rifle, another knife and a few hundred credits.

    I sat down to meditate once more only to notice that the group in the starboard crew quarters were on the move.

    As they reached the central crossing, a pair broke off and moved towards the cockpit and another pair moved to the cells, while the others moved to the stairs leading to the lower level of the ship; including the engine room.

    "Shit!" I spat out as I realised, I'd made my escape just before a shift change.

    Examining the minimap, I saw that the three coming to the engine room would reach me just after the guards reached my cell block.

    Provided they did not check my cell – or that the possibly still-living guard didn't make noise to attract them – I might, might just be able to take out the replacement engineering crew before the alarm was raised.

    But it would be tight.

    Slipping the pistols back into my Inventory, I pulled out the rifle and aimed for the entry to engineering while applying three bacta patches to myself.

    While the pistols would've allowed me a greater rate of fire, I was more comfortable with a rifle, and it had a higher damage potential per shot.

    I waited patiently as I watched the minimap.

    The replacement guards reached the cells.

    They stopped, then moved slowly, seemingly checking each cell.

    The door to the engine room hissed open.

    One, then two Humans stepped into the room just as their comms crackled to life.

    "One of the kids is loose," came a voice from their wrists. "Dakko and Rax are dead."

    The trio stopped, now all just into the room.

    They glanced around the room, their hands inching to their waists.

    "Travi…" the first spoke, only to be knocked off his feet as I struck him centre mass.

    The other two lifted their weapons as my rifle shot out again.

    The rear man fell, falling backwards into the open doorway.

    "Kriff!" the last man shouted out even as he got off a snap-shot that flew over my head. "He…"

    My rifle spoke again and the last of the trio fell, landing on top of his fellow kidnapper.

    A quick mental calculation told me I had just shy of eight minutes before I was out of FP as Precog and Bullet-Time had auto-engaged and were now running concurrently with Detection.

    The beings and droids near the Jedi all started to move in my direction and I watched and waited, rifle aimed at the doorway, as the two droids moved to the front.

    I struck the first between its optical sensors, making it fall like a puppet with the strings cut, even as the second droid fired.

    I grimaced as the blast caught my shoulder, and while it did affect my aim, I was able to catch it in its chest.

    As it stumbled, a second blast took it out.

    A glance at my HP told me the hit had done 100HP of damage. If I had been a normal human, that would've meant I couldn't have shot back. But with my unique powers, I was still able to fight properly.

    Another exploit, and one I was going to use right now.

    I screamed, pretending to be in serious pain and watched as four of the kidnappers approached engineering.

    I dropped the rifle, and pulled out two pistols, even as I moved out of the room and over to a console in the corner.

    From here, I still had a clear line of sight on the doorway – though no longer into the hall just outside.

    With the rifle lying in the doorway to the storage room, I hoped the next group would keep their eyes on that room and not on my new location.

    "Brat's dropped his gun," one of them said but I stayed hidden as all four moved into the room, slowly moving to encircle the storage room door.

    "Come on out runt!" another shouted. "If you don't, we'll start killing the others." He added, clearly hoping to make me surrender.

    Popping up, I opened fire and struck two in the face before they could react.

    Another fell as I hit him centre mass, but the last one got off a shot that made the console I was hiding behind spark.

    Thanks to Player's Mind being active, and the use of Detection and Bullet-Time combined with the minimap, the distraction had no effect and I struck the last one twice; one in each shoulder.

    He tumbled backwards even as I shot him twice more.

    A glance at my details told me I'd taken 10HP damage from the console exploding, but most worryingly, I only had four minutes of FP left. I turned off Precog, as with Detection running and a clear map of the ship, I felt it was superfluous.

    The minimap showed that the rest of the crew – sans those piloting the ship – were heading for the stairs, even as the remaining four outside stayed still.

    This was not good, as if they all rushed me, I was dead.

    Good thing I had another way out.

    Saying a silent prayer to the Force and TPTB, I activated Teleport and blinked as the engine room disappeared; being replaced by a dull, blue light.

    Turning to the light, I saw someone, a girl since I could see her bra, held down over a table.

    Her clothes had been cut, lying either side of her upper body and there were red marks over her back; including one that had cut a shoulder strap of her bra.

    "Who, who's there?" the girl whispered, as I recognized the voice.

    Quickly, I moved around the table until I could her face as I slipped the blasters into my belt.

    "Bultar?" I asked as I locked eyes with her.

    "Cameron! What? How?" She spluttered out as I used TK to break the bindings holding her down to the table.

    As she stood, I spotted a large set of glowing cuffs on her wrists and a small device attached to her temple.

    "How did you get here? Did they capture you too?" Bultar asked quickly, a slight tremble in her voice.

    "What are they?" I asked, pointing at the cuffs while ignoring her questions.

    "Force suppression cuffs. The generate a neural field that makes using the Force very difficult," she replied as I pulled out a knife – reaching around my back to hide using Inventory from her – and moved to break them off.


    "Don't! They'll shock me is tampered with. The Duros, Zir, has the key."

    "Crap," I muttered as I placed the knife on the table and turned away to examine the minimap.

    Six of the kidnappers were in the engine room now, with the three I had stunned now waking up. The rest of the crew was moving out, slow searching the ship.

    Two of them were in the other Jedi's cell and were coming this way.

    "Get back down!" I hissed as I moved to the side of the table hidden from the door. "They're coming back."

    Bultar slowly lowered herself back onto the table; her face twisting in pain as her exposed stomach touched the metal.

    The door opened with a hiss.

    "No-one here," the voice said, and I noted it was the one who had spoken from outside my cell earlier. "Tell the boss."

    "You sure she's secure?" the other man said and Bultar's eyes widened rapidly. "I think I should check on her."

    I tightened the grip on the knife, preparing to launch it at the second male even as I palmed a pistol with the other hand.

    "Leave her Sev. The boss wants the Senator's kid caught. After that, you can… enjoy yourself." The other one replied with clear distaste as he finished.

    "Eh, fine." Sev huffed. "Don't worry girl, I'll be back for you later."

    The moment the door hissed closed, Bultar slipped from the table and hugged herself.

    "Hey, hey," I said slowly, stepping towards her.

    She flinched as I placed my hand on her shoulder, and her muscles tensed only to relax a split second later.

    "Bultar, look at me," I said slowly, glad Player's Mind was active, or I knew my face would have sacred her. "We're going to get out of here. I promise."

    "How?" She whispered. "Where are we?"

    "On a ship a few jumps from Coruscant," I replied honestly. "I got out as they didn't realise that I was a Jedi. I guess picking a fight at school was a good idea."

    She chuckled weakly at the joke before looking me in the eye. "What about Jon? Have you found him?"

    "No, but he is across the hall from you. Zir mentioned they had already broken one of the Jedi when we spoke, so I figured the one they were spending time with was a better option to free first."

    "They, they… When I woke up here, I heard him screaming. The Duros told me they knew we were both Jedi. They had been watching us in the schools and we stood out too easily. They knew about all the Jedi.

    "They, they tortured him to show me what was coming. That man… the one at the door, he would come in and… touch me. Caress my skin, saying he'd never been with a Jedi before."

    She sobbed and I pulled her into my arms, holding her there even as my FP ran out.

    "He won't hurt you again. I promise." I stated firmly as she sobbed quietly into my arms. "But we need to get out of here. Can you fight?"

    She leaned back and raised her cuffed wrists. "While stopping me from using the Force, but I can still fight."

    "Good," I stated as I handed her a blaster. "I, I need to meditate. I overexerted myself during my escape and need to restore my reserves. Can you watch the door while I meditate, then I will do the same for you?"

    She nodded and we moved to the far side of the table, using it as cover.

    I opened my eyes a short while later to find her lying on the table again, though she still held the blaster in her hands.

    "I figured it was safer if I still looked like I was restrained," She explained. "I was right as they checked on me again a few minutes ago."

    "Ah. Do you need to meditate?"

    "No. I, I have prepared myself for what is to come."

    I gave her a brief nod as I re-engaged Detection.

    Four kidnappers were guarding the corridor outside, a further three – plus a pair of droids – in the engine room and one in a small area that wasn't listed on the ship's plans near the front of the level, almost directly under the cockpit.

    The rest of the crew, based on where I detected them and the ship's schematics, were on the upper level. The cockpit crew was still there, though the door was guarded, two were stationary near the cells while the rest were moving around the ship in pairs.

    The droids were scattered around the ship, but what type of droid they were was unknown. I hoped that they were all maintenance droids, but knowing my luck, they were all combat models instead.

    "Four outside, another four more nearby along with two droids." I relayed to Bultar before reaching out with TK and slamming the four in the hallway together as hard and fast as I could.

    The dull sound of their collision came through the door and I stepped forward, only to frown when the door failed to open automatically.

    "They locked it from the outside, I think it needs a keycard."

    I turned and gave Bultar a small frown. "That would've been nice to know before I took out the guards. Give me a minute." I stated with a sigh before phasing through the door.

    The four bodies were a very mangled mess of limbs and I cringed at seeing just how deadly telekinesis was if used aggressively.

    The lock did need a keycard, and as I turned to the pile of bodies to search for it, I heard a hissing from the far end of the hall and turned to see Zir step out of a small room.

    "Whaf…" his words were cut off as I used the Force to choke him – ignoring an alert notice in the interface – and smirked.

    "Well, hello there," I said with a small smile at using that line. "How nice to see you again."

    He reached for his blaster, but a yank with TK took that and his commlink from him as I stepped closer.

    "Hmm, now that room isn't on the schematics," I said as I looked past him into a small, barely lit storage space. "What could you possibly be hiding in there I wonder?"

    His face started to turn grey before he slumped down.

    Dropping him to the ground, I stepped past his body and into the alcove. As I examined the crates, a smile spread across my face that threatened to split it in two.

    This was the kidnapper's main treasure hold. Or possible Zir's private stash. Spice, death sticks, gems, weapons and credits. It was all here.

    I added the credits to my inventory, trying not to look smug at having over a quarter of a million credits added to my private account, before stepping out of the alcove.

    After dragging Zir's body out of the way and watched as the door closed, followed by the wall sliding across to hide the door. Once in place, there was no hint the room was there, which meant I was free to return once the ship was secure.

    One auto-loot later, and I had a master keycard – which I placed in my pocket – that overrode all security on the ship and a few hundred more credits. While Zir must have a way to open the hidden cubicle, I wasn't concerned about learning it, as I could simply phase through the wall once the ship was secure and take my time redistributing his assets.

    Repeating the process on the jumbled, slightly smelling mass of bodies gained me a handful of credits, though I dropped all the weapons and the keycard on the floor. No need to overfill my Inventory with blasters when I might need the space later.

    "What too… Damm! What happened?" Bultar asked as she stepped out of the cell and saw the mangled, bloody, stinking pile of bodies.

    "I might have been a little too strong with my telekinesis," I replied as I placed the master keycard against her cuffs, hearing them click then fall to the ground. "I also got the boss," I added, jerking my head towards the unconscious Zir.

    "Huh. That was lucky. We should secure him in the cell then free Jon," Bultar said, taking charge even as she rubbed her wrists. "After that, we need to find a way to get past the rest of his men and contact the Temple."

    I managed to avoid rolling my eyes at her stating a version of the plan I had been following since I escaped my confinement, and instead just moved over to the other locked cell.

    "By the Force…" Bultar whispered as we stepped inside and our nostrils were assaulted by a litany of smells that should never be smelt around anyone, let alone a child.

    Jon cowered in the corner, his clothes even more damaged than Bultar's – who was still just walking around in her underwear – with his arms wrapped tightly around his legs while his head stayed down, keeping his face hidden.

    "Please, please, no more," he whimpered and as I touched his shoulder I used Examine.
    Jon Savos
    Race: Human
    Level: 13
    Health: 70% [Malnourished/Abused]
    Age: 12
    Force Potential: High
    Threat Potential: Very Low
    Emotional State: Terrified
    Jon has been with the Order since he was 3.
    He does not like you, as he feels you are being given special treatment by the High Council.
    And believes he is better than you.
    However, those issues are unimportant now.
    He is scared that you are one of the guards coming to have 'fun' with him again.

    "Jon, Jon, it's Bultar," she said quietly as she moved beside me and placed her hand on his shoulder. "We're here to free you."

    I stood and stepped back, processing what had happened to Jon, and what could've happened to Bultar.

    I felt my fingernails dig into my plans hard enough that I was sure I would draw blood as my anger began to rise. I could hear/feel a whisper in the back of my mind, telling me to use this anger, let it empower me, and I found the thought appealing for dealing with the others on this ship.

    "Cameron?" I turned at Bultar's voice and saw she was watching me through narrowed eyes. "Are you well?"

    "I… no, I'm not," I replied, deciding to not hide why I was angry. "Those… beings out there, they did to him what that one suggested doing to you." She involuntarily shivered at the reminder, even as I continued.

    "They abused him, used him, in ways no-one, not even your worst enemy, should be. They…" my voice trailed off as I took deep, hopefully calming breaths. The whisper was fading, but I could still hear/feel it. Offering to help me.

    But I knew that right now, that help would only make things worse. Giving in to my anger, letting it boil and mix with the Force, was a dangerous road.

    Since talking with Revan, and the explanation from TPTB, I had come to view the Force as neither light nor dark, more that it just couldn't understand emotions, and so it reacted to them.

    While most wouldn't realise this when feeling strong, 'light-side' emotions, it did offer help the same as when someone was feeling 'dark-side' emotions.

    "I, I understand," She replied in a voice barely above a whisper, drawing me out of my thoughts on the Force. "I…" She paused and licked her lips. "I thought I could face him, them, but after seeing Jon… I, I'm not…" Her eyes falling to the floor as she failed to finish her sentence.

    I moved closer to her and Jon and knelt. "Then stay here. I'll handle them."

    "You shouldn't face them alone," she countered, but there was little conviction behind her words.

    I lifted her chin so we could see eye to eye and gave her a small smile. "I'd rather face them alone than put someone else in danger." She gave me a smile in return as I stood.

    "Besides," I continued, "I've done ok so far."

    "Don't be overconfident," she stated. "And if you find him, them…" Her voice trailed off and it was easy to see the uncertainty on her face as to what she wanted me to do about them.

    "I will try not to enjoy taking them down," I said as I turned and stepped to the door.

    "Wait," Jon called out weakly, making me turn back to him. "Thank you."

    I gave him a small nod and then stepped out of the cell.

    A quick check confirmed that there were still only the three in the engine room on my level and I moved quickly but quietly towards the room.

    The three in the room turned as the door hissed, but I gave them no chance to attack as I used TK and slammed them hard into the far wall. The droids following soon after into the console I had hidden behind earlier.

    Stepping over to them, I knelt next to the only one seemingly still conscious – he was groaning quietly – and yanked his collar.

    "I want the names of the people who abused the Jedi," I growled. Though it came out as a squeak since I hadn't hit puberty yet.

    "Huh, wha?" the kidnapper, a blonde-haired Human mumbled. "Jedi?"

    "Yes! The two you captured before me. Who abused them? I want names!"

    The man blinked a few times before he focused on me. "You're the missing kid!"

    "No, I'm your worst nightmare," I replied as I used TK to lift him off the ground. "Now give me the names!"

    "You're a Jedi!" He spat, though given I was rotating him around, his spit ended up missing me. "Go space yourself!"

    "Names!" I growled/mewed once more as I slammed him into the deck and stared into his eyes.

    "Kriff you!"

    My anger began to boil as he continued to deny me the information I wanted before I felt something happen, and I found the names and faces of the crew appear in my head.

    I stumbled backwards, trying to process what had happened, and saw two new Force Power notices. That made three since I had freed myself.

    I needed to know what had happened, so I opened all of them.

    The first was for Force Crush, which was the power Vader liked to use to choke his underlings but could supposedly be used to target internal organs if learnt to it to a high enough level. That was scary.

    The second power, however, was just terrifying.

    Force Power Discovered!
    Mind Probe
    This power allows a Force-sensitive to probe the mind of another, with or without their consent.
    Though can be resisted with training and some species are inherently immune to such probes.

    Warning!
    Without telepathic training, if used on a conscious target, it will result in irrevocable brain damage.

    Warning!
    Force Telepathy not learnt!
    Chance of permanent damage to the target increased by 250%
    ...

    I glanced at the man, and saw he was lying motionless on the floor, his eyes having rolled back into their sockets are drool began to form on the deck.

    Mind Probe was… scary. With it, I could search the mind of another for information, though it was something the Jedi would class as dark as I could do that without permission.

    Another glance at the blonde-haired man showed the effects if used without training or permission, and realising I had turned him into a vegetable, I shot him in the heart; ending his suffering.

    The third power I had gained was, ironically enough, Force Telepathy, which allowed me to communicate mentally with others. However, it was locked as Force Empathy was not at Master 1.

    I chuckled at the way I learnt a power only because it was suggested for another.

    Still, I had the information I needed. Five of the crew had 'enjoyed' themselves with Jon; three of which I had already killed, and another was the main pilot. That just left…
    "Argh," another of the kidnappers groaned and as I looked at him, I saw he was the fifth.


    Slowly I raised my blaster to shoot him, only to lower it. I wasn't going to kill in cold blood, at least not unless it was to alleviate someone's suffering, but he needed to pay for what he had down.

    "What happened?" The man mumbled as I again raised my blaster.

    "Retribution," I replied as I pulled the trigger.

    His mouth opened in a silent scream and he shivered into a ball from the pain, but before he could do anything else, I hit him with a Stun.

    "That is the least you deserve," I commented as I turned, not wanting to look at the man.

    I began to move for the stairs when a thought came to me.

    I knew where everyone on the ship was. I knew which were kidnappers, which were droids, and which were prisoners. And I was more than capable of using TK on multiple targets and at a distance, especially when Detection told me where they were, and the schematics of the ship told me which direction to move them in.

    "Son of a…" I grunted out before facepalming. Hard.

    Laughing at my apparent stupidity, I reached out with TK, took hold of every kidnapper still a threat and slammed them upwards into the roof, then down into the floor.
    I repeated the process with the droids.


    It may have injured or killed more of the kidnappers than ideally wanted, but it was quick, easy and efficient.

    And had no penalties to my XP gain as I levelled-up from the XP and gained I had a point to spend on a new player power.

    I had worked out stunning someone netted me about a quarter of their XP compared to killing them, and, given to the large amount of XP I had gained, it seemed that I had killed most of the crew with my actions.

    When I returned to the temple, I would likely have to explain my actions, but for now, I wasn't sweating it.

    With a shake of my head at missing the combat potential of the Force, I headed back to the cells.

    I would need Bultar's help to use the communication systems, free the children and pilot the ship back to Coruscant.
    ...


    Obviously, the selection for Player Power has happened but for reference, the choices were;
    Enhanced Inventory - mentioned before
    Enlarge/Shrink - mentioned before
    Colour Shift - mentioned before
    Glamours - mentioned before
    Observe - adds distance to Examine
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2020
  28. Threadmarks: Children In Shadow 4
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

    Joined:
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    A word of warning, this is a very long chapter. ~14000 words.



    A loud clank signified the ship had secured into the docking berth and was quickly followed by the sound of something hitting the hull, then a hissing sound.

    "Seal secure Captain," stated a crew-member of the republic cruiser from beside Bultar. "Permission to open?"

    "Granted," replied the ship's Captain from the bridge.

    The crew-member opened the airlock and I spared a glance at Bultar.

    She seemed calm but using Empathy, it was clear she was both nervous and excited to be back.

    Both emotions made sense, as the Temple – and by extension, Coruscant – were her home. Yet, after the mission we had just completed, she was worried about how it would look to the High Council that she had failed and been captured and needed saving by a Padawan nearly four years her junior.

    She turned to me and gave me a small smile. "Come on."

    We walked through the airlock, and the docking hatch, heading onto the station orbiting the Republic capital.

    The station was one of the hundreds of security and defence stations that orbited the world, and this was where our courier ship – a cruiser from the Vakkar system – had been ordered to dock.
    It had been two days since I had taken down the kidnappers and secured their ship.


    The delay in getting back was due to initially discovering that the navigation and communication systems were password encrypted – which Zir wouldn't tell me – and then having to plot a jump to the nearest Republic world.

    I had made a mental note to not destroy all the droids on the next ship I captured until I was sure that one of them wasn't responsible for plotting hyperspace jumps. Spending two hours plotting the jump myself was not a fun experience.

    "Now there is a sight for sore eyes."

    My head turned in the direction of the voice, and I saw Fay, Dooku and Giiett standing to the side of the airlock on the station.

    "Master, I…" Whatever Bultar was going to say was cut off as Giiett stepped forward and placed his hands on her arms.

    "You carried out your assignment as you were meant to Bultar. Sometimes, even when we do everything correctly, bad things still happen." He said with a small smile, his head tilted slightly to the left.

    "Yes Master," Bultar replied with a sigh as Fay and Dooku approached me.

    "You are well?" Dooku asked, his face showing no sign of how he was feeling.

    "I am sir. It was, more difficult of an assignment than I expected." I replied honestly, smirking a bit as I answered.

    "Yes, I think we can all agree on that," agreed Fay as she placed a hand on my shoulder. "We are glad you are well."

    "As am I," Giiett added, drawing my attention to him and Bultar. "You also have my thanks for protecting Bultar."

    I nodded to accept the thanks. "Honestly, I didn't even know she was there until I was in her… room." I replied calmly, avoiding saying cell since we were in public. Well, a Republic security station corridor. "I was only looking to find the two Jedi I could sense."

    "Yes, I have read your report," Giiett said with a sigh. "While I am, sympathetic as to your actions, there are members of the council who are not."

    Dooku grunted. "They were not there, nor are they ones to see the actions of those… beings." He said, his lips curling in disgust. "Such beings deserve the worst punishment allowed."

    Giiett sighed and pinched his nose. "On that, I agree. But Cameron's actions… Well, he will need to defend them when called in a few days." He forced a smile back onto his face. "Until then, we should get the Padawans back to the Temple. I wish for a Jedi healer to examine them both."

    "I am fine Master. The medics in the Vakkar system already examined me," Bultar protested in the same way any child would to avoid a trip to the doctor. "There is nothing wrong with me."

    "Please, Bultar. Let one of our healers examine you. If only to ease the burden on my old heart," Giiett begged, placing a hand to his chest.

    Bultar sighed, "Yes, Master."

    I couldn't help but smirk at the behaviour of the Jedi High Council member. It was so not what I expected from seeing the council in the movies and Clone Wars, but then I remembered that Giiett wasn't a member then. Why was that?

    "Master Giiett, I was curious about something," I began, continuing when he turned my way. "I understand that some members of the High Council serve for life, while others serve for a shorter time. I am curious as to which are which."

    Giiett's brow rose a touch as he looked at me for a while before answering. "Currently Masters Yoda, Yaddle, Rancisis, Tiin, and Windu are lifetime members; actually, the first three have been on the Council since I was a Youngling." He added with a smirk.

    "I along with Master Poof, Koon and Piell are there for the long-term while Masters Sifo-Dyas, Belfarr and Gallia are short term members."

    "I see," I paused before asking the question that had made me ask the initial question. "Can I ask, when will you be stepping down?"

    Giiett chuckled. "Already looking for a seat on the Council?" He waved away any reply before I made it. "I am due to stand down in just over nine years. And before you ask, the three short-term members are due to all stand down within that time-frame."

    "Thank you. I was just curious about that," I said with a smile in thanks even as I mentally worked out the dates.

    "It is fine to ask, but I must tell you that I am saving my seat for Bultar here," Giiett said, pulling the girl to his side as her face began to redden.

    "Master, please," Bultar whimpered as she lowered her head.

    "There is nothing to be embarrassed about Padawan Swan," Fay said with one of her serene smiles. "Every Knight and Master hopes that one day their Padawan will surpass them. Your own Master, while teasing, shares this hope."

    "Thank you, Master Fay," Bultar replied.

    "We should return to the Temple," Dooku stated, changing the topic abruptly before he began to walk away.

    Fay sighed and placed a hand on my shoulder once more. "You must forgive Master Dooku. While you were missing, we received some information about one of his former Padawans. He is happy to see you have returned, however, he is concerned for her, even if she is no longer a member of our Order."

    "Yes, ma'am." I felt my brow crease as I considered Fay's words.

    Thanks to Eidetic Memory, I knew Dooku had had four Padawans; Rael Aveross, Qui-Gon Jinn, Keelyvine Reus and Komari Vosa, though Reus had only been his Padawan for a few years after her original master died.

    While the first three were still with the Order, Komari was not. That meant that something had to her. Perhaps I could use this to further improve my standing with Dooku and help guide him away from joining the Sith. However, I would need to learn what exactly had happened to her.

    As for why Giiett wasn't a member of the Council during the invasion of Naboo, I was less certain. He could have been removed for the Council for some reason or was simply busy with another matter during the movie, yet somehow felt that the reason he was not there was that he had died sometime between now and then.

    Since he was the member of the Council I spoke to the most, and one of the few Jedi whose company and sense of humour I enjoyed, I wanted to ensure he survived at least until the invasion of Naboo.
    Spotting a new quest notice, I opened it.


    Quest Alert!
    Changing Fate [Giiett]
    Ensure that Master Giiett lives long enough to be useful to you.
    Rating: B
    Objective:
    Keep Master Giiett alive and on the Council until the invasion of Naboo.
    Bonus: ?
    Bonus: ?
    Reward:
    2000XP
    Failure:
    -1000XP
    Loss of an ally on the High Council and the Jedi Order.
    Accept?
    Yes/No

    That was an easy quest to accept. Failing it wasn't a massive loss, but if I could pull it off, it would be a big help once I began moving to counter Sidious. The only downside was that it was another long-term quest for me to take on. However, the benefits of having an ally on the council were better than not accepting and just letting things follow canon; whatever that was in Giiett's case.

    After securing the kidnapper's ship and realizing how close I had come to dying, or worse, I had spent the three days before arriving back on Coruscant working out how I was going to counter him. I went back to my rough plans from before I constructed my lightsaber and expanded on how to create my own Force Order and raise an army of my own.

    For an army, I was looking at the Mandalorians. Death Watch was something to be removed, as they were fare to cruel and bloodthirsty. But the True Mandalorians were a different story. They were the group that Jango Fett had served with. They, although still preferring a war-like culture, had supposedly retained the Code of Honour of their forefathers from the days of the Old Republic. I planned to learn more about them as soon as I could, possibly even meeting Fett, and venture to the world to see about finding a small group – probably no more than a dozen initially – that were willing to work with me to start fixing the problems in the galaxy.

    I was also considering creating my own droid army. Though one more akin to HK-47 than the Trade Federation's battle droids. Finding HK-47 was highly improbable – without any outside Force-guided help – but making droids like him was doable, I hoped.

    As for creating a counter to the Jedi/Sith, that was going to take longer. I needed to continue to make friends and influence people within the Order. And thanks to spending five months learning from a master manipulator – and the fifty per cent bonus to Persuasion, Deception, Lie Detection and Intimidation that I got whenever I talked to Palpatine or watched him work – I felt I stood a fair chance of convincing at least my fellow ex-members of Dragon Clan to see things from my side.

    Dooku, I suspected, was already jaded towards the Order and the Republic – whether from his own feelings, Palpatine's manipulation, or both – and Fay held clear disdain for the High Council. So, once I was sure that they would agree with me – I really wanted to be able to see reputations – then I intended to bring them in on my plans.

    "Cameron, is something the matter?"

    I turned to Bultar, noticing that our Jedi Masters were a few steps ahead of us, and smiled. "No, just thinking about the future and what it holds," I replied honestly.

    "OK," She said, clearly confused as to why I was thinking about the future. "I just wanted to…"

    "We've been over this," I cut in, stopping her thanking me again. While it had been nice the first few times, after one hundred and twenty-seven times – a downside of Eidetic Memory – I was growing very, very tired of being thanked. "We're free now, and you've already thanked me. So let's just move on."

    She chuckled. "OK, but I was just going to ask if you wished to spar sometime. I am curious about how it will be to face someone trained in Makashi."

    "Ah." Now I felt a little stupid for snapping at her. "Sure. Um, what form do you prefer?"

    She chuckled softly. "That's for me to know and you to find out."

    I laughed at that as we entered the shuttle that would take us to the surface.

    ...


    ...

    "After securing the ship with Vakkar security, Padawan Swan and myself boarded the cruiser Serenity and returned to Coruscant," I stated, finishing my verbal report to the High Council the day after arriving back at the Temple.

    Sure, I had skipped over the issues with Vakkar security not believing that Bultar and I were Padawans of the Jedi Order, as honestly, I wished I could forget about Captain Lebpor; the Vakkar security officer placed in charge of the captured kidnappers and their ship.

    As to why I was giving this report verbally, when I had submitted a full, and exceedingly detailed, written report while we waited for the Serenity on Vakkar, was beyond me. Perhaps everyone on the council was illiterate?

    "This is all?" Windu asked as he leaned forward, looking at me intently.

    Fay and Dooku were standing at the entrance to the Council Chamber, as was Bultar. She had given her report before I was called in and had been asked to stay by Yoda before I started mine.

    "Yes, sir," I replied calmly as Player's Mind was active along with Enhance Skill and Enhance Stat for Persuasion and Charisma respectfully. Enhancing my Persuasion and Charisma might help when a judgment was rendered on my actions, so I had activated them during a brief pause near the end of my report.

    The council members looked among themselves, clearly talking telepathically to each other while I stood in the centre of the room.

    It felt like a psychological trick; one designed to unnerve someone called into the chamber. I was sure it worked on other Padawans and the younger knights, but thanks to my previous life, and new powers, it was wasted on me.

    "While we are pleased with your ability to escape your capture, rescue your fellow Padawans, and the other hostages, and capture the ringleader of the kidnappers, we are… concerned by the report provided to us from Vakkar," stated Master Poof, he red eyes staring down from far above his body as he spoke.

    "Their reports state one of the kidnappers died from being shot in his reproductive organs," Piell grunted out. "A wound he took while lying down."

    "Comment on this, would you?" Yoda asked with his wrinkled brow looking more creased than usual.

    Before I answered, I glanced at Bultar, wondering how much of this she needed to hear. "I discovered that he was one of five who had… abused several of the children, including Padawan Savos." My voice was only staying calm because of PM as my mind flashed back to that moment. "I recognized his voice from when I was in Padawan Swan's cell, and I confirmed from him that he wanted to 'play' with her, as he had done with others."

    "And you decided to take justice into your own hands and remove his ability to reproduce?" Windu asked as his face twisted. "That it was your right to make such a call?"

    "Actually, I had wanted to kill him outright," I countered bluntly, beginning my defence with honesty.

    After talking with Fay and Dooku over the past day and explaining my emotional state while on the kidnapper's ship, they had suggested taking this path as a way to mitigate any disapproval from the High Council. Both stated that they expected me to be reprimanded for what I did, but they felt that further punishment would be avoided by getting ahead of the issue; though that was my wording for it, not theirs.

    "I stood with my blaster aimed at his head for a minute, trying to control my anger, deciding how to handle dealing with that… creature." I noticed Master Koon bob his head a touch as I spoke and hoped that meant he understood my feelings on the situation.

    "And you chose to neuter the man instead of killing him?" Giiett asked through a partially closed mouth as I turned to face him. "You did it to prevent him from committing such an act again?" I saw Bultar was tightly gripping her lightsaber hilt, and that others saw her do so.

    "Yes, though I do not deny I took a small measure of enjoyment from doing so, even if I shouldn't have," I replied, taking the out I felt Giiett had provided for me. Whether he truly believed that was why I had done what I did or was just trying to help me manage the Council's anger, I wasn't sure.

    "Understandable, your actions are. Acceptable, they are not," Yoda stated after a brief silence.

    "A Jedi does not unilaterally decide the punishment for a crime, no matter the situation," Windu agreed, his eyes narrowed as he leaned forward to focus on me. "We work with the Republic judicial forces to arrest criminals. Their fate is for the courts to decide, not you."

    "Understood."

    While the rest of the Council seemed to relax, Windu's eyes narrowed further and I swore I saw a vein in his head twitch.

    "You are to attend Initiate sessions on the Jedi Code for a period of not less than four months, while…" Windu began, only to be cut off as Dooku stepped forward.

    "Do you think so poorly of Master Fay and myself, Master Windu," the Makashi master began softly as he placed a hand on my shoulder, "that you feel able to determine the best way to instruct our Padawan?"

    Even from my short time being his Padawan, I knew that his softening voice was never a good thing. Clearly, so did the Council members, as several shifted in their seats.

    "That is not what is being suggested Master Dooku, however you must see that Padawan Shan's actions are not in keeping with our ways," countered Piell as the diminutive Jedi leaned forward in his chair. "Such actions must be corrected."

    "The teaching of a Padawan is at the discretion of their Master," Fay said gently, her voice flowing through the chamber, as she moved to my other side. "Or has the Order changed that ruling without my knowledge?"

    "It has not, but the final decision on the fate of any Jedi rests with the Council," Belfarr countered bluntly as he focused on me. "Especially those who come to us at a later age and are thus at greater risk of falling into the darkness."

    I was glad PM was running or I knew I'd have made a snide remark towards Belfarr. The man still had it out for me, though at least now I knew some of why that was.

    The way Dooku's grip on my shoulder tightened, I suspected that he too was not a fan of Belfarr. Nor was Fay if the sharp intake of breath was any indication.

    "Please," Master Gallia began, raising her hands to take control as I noted that Yoda was sitting back in his chair, his eyes never leaving me as the council went back and forth with Fay and Dooku, "let us not become clouded by our emotions. Nor bogged down in arguing over the exact rights and powers members of our esteemed order and this council have. Let us try to find common ground and work from there."

    "Yes, yes. Correct you are, Master Gallia," Yoda added, taking back control of the room as things quietened down, punctuated only by Sifo-Dyas groaning quietly and touching his head. "Padawan Shan, while understandable, your actions are, unbecoming of a Jedi, they are. One month you will spend, teaching Initiates on the code. Review your actions during this time, you should."

    "Yes, sir." While the punishment wasn't something I wanted to do, it was light compared to being in those classes as a student for four months and whatever else Windu had wanted me to do. And Windu was still not happy, as he gave the Grandmaster a sideways glance.

    Fay and Dooku both stepped back, but I stayed.

    "You have something else to discuss?" Rancisis asked as his body coiled tighter around his chair, raising his body upwards.

    "Yes, sir. There are a few things I wish to know, if I am allowed," I began. There were a few issues I wanted to clear up, and since I was already here, and had been punished for my actions, it was hopefully the best time to voice them.

    "Ask away, though do not expect us to answer," Koon replied as the skin around his mask shifted. Whether that meant he was smiling or grimacing, I had no idea. Though the smirk that crept onto Giiett's face for an instant suggested the former.

    "First, I am wondering why more details on Padawan Savos' disappearance wasn't passed on to the other Padawans, and then why I, and the others, weren't informed of Padawan Swan's disappearance."

    Giiett switched his look to Windu and the barest of twitches of his brow told me who the order to withhold information had come from. Indeed, it was Windu who answered.

    "At the time of Padawan Savos' capture, we were unaware as to the exact cause of his disappearance and felt he would contact his Master as soon as he was able to." Windu paused and met Giiett's gaze for a moment before continuing. "Padawan Swan failed to report in the day before you were captured, and we had not yet informed the relevant Jedi to pass along a further warning to their Padawans."

    I wanted to turn to see Dooku's expression at that piece of news but was unable to do so as Poof spoke.

    "The decision to withhold information regarding Padawan Savos' disappearance was a contentious issue, especially as this was the first lead either we or the Republic Judicial forces had gained in almost a year." He gave me a small smile as he continued. "Your Masters and others pressed for us to reveal more to you and the other Padawans, but we chose to stay the course."

    "Understood, sir." In hindsight, it was not the correct decision, but thanks to my previous life, and serving in the military, I could understand their thinking.

    "More to ask, you have," Yaddle prodded and I nodded, still getting used to the idea of a female Yoda. Fay spoke well of her, and the stories she had told me during our travels suggested a long and deep friendship existed between the two.

    "Yes, ma'am. I am...concerned, for Padawans Savos and Swan, Jon especially. What they suffered while captured was, intense. I am hopeful, that they will receive counselling of some form to help deal with their ordeals."

    This was an issue where I wanted to attack the council. I suspected they were just going to treat the two children as they had treated me when I arrived; and how they would have treated Ahsoka.

    "Your concern for your fellow Padawans is admirable," Rancisis began. "They have faced a great event in lives, one that many will not. The Force has placed this trial within their path, one they must find the strength to overcome."

    I waited for the snake-like council member to continue, only he didn't. I was sure that without PM I would've snapped at the complete lack of care being displayed by the High Council; well most of them. Even as I looked at Rancisis, I could see out of the corner of my eye that Gallia was frowning and looking down while Yaddle seemed to slump in on herself. I imagined that Giiett was also against this, given it involved his padawan, but I couldn't see him, having turned to Rancisis when he spoke.

    As I pondered how to respond, Fay spoke.

    "While your words are to be expected Master Rancisis, I believe my Padawan would prefer to hear of the physical help that will be offered to Padawan Swan, and particularly Padawan Savos. Or is it the decision of this council that no direct help is to be provided, just as none was provided to Cameron when he arrived here; lost across the millennia after a harrowing fight with a Sith Acolyte with his only family having died a day before he arrived at the temple?" Her voice may have been calm and collected, but the way her grey eyes – normally so vibrant and inviting – bore into Rancisis like cold iron indicated that she was far from impressed with his words, and the council's apparent decision.

    "Yet to be made, is a final decision, old friend," Yaddle spoke, her voice soft yet controlling. "Help will be provided, from the Order and outside. My vow on this, you have."

    That seemed to calm Fay, as she nodded and gave Yaddle a small smile.

    "Is that all?" Tiin asked me.

    "About this mission, yes sir." I had a few questions regarding the fact that save my meeting with former Chancellor Kalpana, no-one, either within the Order or without, had asked me about my life before arriving on Coruscant in the present day. But those questions could wait for when I wasn't being punished by the council or questioning in their handling of children.

    "Masters Fay, Dooku, is there anything you wish to add?"

    Both my Jedi Masters shook their heads and, along with Bultar, we were dismissed.

    Once in the small antechamber outside the council chambers, Dooku stepped over to one side, away from the elevator as Bultar entered.

    "I wish to speak with Master Sifo-Dyas for a moment." He said as the elevator descended, leaving us alone in the antechamber.

    "Is this related to what you mentioned to me before?" Fay asked, drawing a nod from Dooku. "I thought so."

    "Have you given any further thought to what he asked?" Dooku inquired.

    "I have. Provided he is well, I think we need to resume our discussion," she paused and glanced at me. "After Cameron has served his punishment, I will be leaving the Temple while he is yours to train. I find this planet, restricting."

    Dooku rubbed his beard as I wondered just what the two were really talking about.

    "I am beginning to understand why that is. The Council… is not what I once believed it to be." He sighed and looked back at the door. "Perhaps I can persuade Master Sifo-Dyas to join you, join us, in leaving for a while." My brow rose at hearing that, as it meant I had a good chance to get Dooku away from the temple, and by extension Palpatine, while also spending time with Sifo-Dyas. Potentially, I could handle both their quests at the same time.

    Fay nodded and gave him a small smile. "That may be exactly what is needed; for all of us."

    Clearly, Fay, Dooku and Sifo-Dyas had been talking while I was on assignment, and now seemed to be planning to head away from the Temple together. I was pleased about that as it pulled the Changing Fate quests for Dooku and Sifo-Dyas together and would allow me more time with Darihd. I hadn't spoken to him much since we were taken as Padawans and he was one I hoped to pull into my faction when the time was right.

    Dooku moved over to one of the benches outside the council chambers for people to wait as Fay and I boarded the now-returned elevator. As the doors closed, and we began our descent, she turned to me.

    "I am sure you are curious about what Master Dooku and I were speaking of, but I need you to trust me and not ask about us. I promise we will reveal what we are doing before we leave the Temple once more, but until we do, you must remain silent."

    "Yes, Master," I replied with a smile to let her know I was ok with waiting.

    As we continued to descend, I spotted a quest notice and opened it.

    Quest Completed!
    Children in Shadow [ƍ]
    Objectives:
    Hold your cover until the end of the assignment or until you locate the kidnappers. [Yes]
    Find a way to escape from the kidnappers or alert the authorities. [Yes]
    ? Earn the patronage of Senator Palpatine (for now) [Yes]
    ? Capture the leader of the kidnapper's [Yes]
    ? Free your fellow Jedi before calling for help/escaping [2/2]
    Rewards:
    1000XP
    1500XP
    +3 CHA
    750XP
    1500XP

    I blinked at seeing I had earned Palpatine's patronage – whatever that amounted to – for the time being. I knew he was interested in me, and I hadn't exactly shut down his questioning of me and my thoughts on certain issues, but I hadn't expected it to be enough to earn his favour

    The XP took me to about just over six thousand XP and if I could complete Stones of Muntuur and Wipe That Grin off her Face, I would be much close to levelling up once again.

    I chuckled mentally at once again thinking about my life in game terms, but it was what it was.

    ...

    A few hours later, and after meditating for most of that time with Fay, we were walking towards one of the mess halls when we rounded a corner and saw Master Giiett and Bultar standing near the hall.
    "Ah, Master Fay, just the Jedi I wished to speak with," Giiett said as he saw us approach, smiling broadly at Fay.


    "How may I be of service?" Fay asked as the council member and his Padawan approached.

    "I merely wished to thank you for your words regarding how the Council should help Bultar and Padawan Savos," Giiett began as we stepped to the side of the corridor. "With Master Yaddle giving her word, the Council has approached a child trauma ward for help with the Padawans."

    "I am pleased to hear that. Would you like me to pass on the message to Master Dooku?"

    Giiett shook his hand. "No. I spoke to him after the council broke this morning. I just wanted to thank you personally and ask if Cameron would be interested in talking with someone outside the Temple about his, experiences."

    Fay turned to me, allowing me to reply personally. "Thank you for the offer, but I've had a few years now to deal with what happened, and Master Fay arranged for me to speak with a mind healer just after I became her Padawan," I replied. I also wanted to avoid talking to someone outside the Temple about my experiences. There was a chance that a psychologist – or whatever they were called here – would find a hole in my story about my life four-thousand years ago, and that Palpatine would gain access to those sessions.

    However, I didn't want to offend Giiett, as he was my only possible ally on the High Council.

    Thankfully, Giiett seemed to accept my rejection well, as he smiled at me. "No problem. I suspected that your Masters had already arranged some form of counselling for you. However, I do wish to convey my sincerest apologies about the Council failing to consider that you might need support beyond being housed in the Temple when you came to us."

    A part of me was glad that someone on the council had noted their lack of care when I arrived, but I wasn't going to say that to a potential ally. "It's ok. I lost my mother when I was about five, so I've been dealing with such things even before I arrived here," I replied, mixing in a small lie that I kept telling whenever my parentage came up.

    "Ah, I'm sorry to hear that," Giiett paused, and glanced at Fay before continuing. "Actually, I don't think I've ever heard you speak about your father."

    I shrugged. "Never met him, and my grandfather never talked about him." That was true, though mainly because I had never asked him.

    Fay had asked me a bit about my family history when we had been travelling and had hinted that a certain prophecy suggested that a child would be born without a father.

    From the way Giiett's brow, and Bultar's sharp intake of breath, I could tell both were aware of the possible implications of me lacking a father. Man, was this place going to go crazy once Anakin came onto the scene, provided I didn't remove him from Tatooine before the Naboo crisis.

    "Really? I did not know that." Giiett glanced at Fay, who nodded. "Hmm, perhaps we might speak on other matters later Master Fay. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on a few of the more ancient beliefs of our Order."

    "Certainly." At that Bultar's stomach grumbled, and both Jedi Masters chuckled. "I think we should arrange that meeting after lunch."

    "Yes, that may be for the best." Bultar's cheeks reddened at her master's amusement as we walked into the hall together.

    ...

    That evening, once most of the Jedi had gone to bed, I snuck out of my room and moved quietly through the halls of the Temple. Thanks to Detection, I was able to move without being detected by anyone until I reached the Kunddaka chamber, and my targets; the Muntuur stones.

    I had reviewed the power in my room before coming. With TK now at Savant 95 and based off of the details given on how much weight I could potentially lift, I knew the stones should not be a challenge.

    Since no-one in the Order, bar one ancient Jedi, had ever lifted seven, I wanted to make sure no-one was around when I attempted this. They had enough to believe I was their Chosen One without me doing something supposedly impossible.

    Closing the door behind me, I reached out and took hold of all seven stones, before carefully lifting them in case their weight overloaded my ability with TK and forced me to drop them.

    I held them just long enough for a quest notice to appear, followed by a level-up notice before I lowered the stones and opened the notices.

    Quest Completed!
    Stones of Muntuur
    Objectives:
    Lift all 7 Muntuur Stones simultaneously before the Star of the Clone Wars
    ? Lift them all before the Naboo Crisis
    Rewards:
    6000XP
    3000XP

    LEVEL UP!
    Level: 15 - 16
    FP: +500
    PP: +2
    STAM: +24
    SP: +5
    SKP: +32
    PerkP: +1

    "Nice," I muttered at levelling up.

    "Indeed," I spun at the voice and saw Yaddle standing in the doorway, watching me carefully. "Five hundred years, I have lived. Yet never such a feat, have I seen." She said as she began to walk closer.
    "Master Yaddle, I…" I began only to stop as she raised a hand.


    "Privacy for the attempt, you wished for. Understandable that this, given to whispers around you." She said as she moved next to me. "To see you succeed, impressive. And worrying."

    "How so?"

    Yaddle moved over to one of the stones, before using the Force to lift herself onto it. I chose to lean against another as I waited for her to reply.

    "Whispers around you, you have heard, yes?" I nodded. "Understand why this is, do you?"

    "At first, I'd say because of my family line, both before and after me," I began. Yaddle was a friend of Fay's, so perhaps she was another potential ally. "However, after the Initiate Trials, I asked some of Dragon Clan. They mentioned a prophecy. I think that is the main reason for the whispers now."

    "Yes, destiny swirls around you. Scares some, entices others. Felt this, you may already have." I nodded again as it was certainly true that just as many avoided or confronted me as sought me out. "A dangerous thing, prophecies are. Some more than others. Around you, one congregates. Chosen One."

    "Chosen One?" I asked, playing dumb in the hopes of getting her to explain the full prophecy.

    She smirked and swatted the air between us. "Limited, you are not. Pretending to know less, suits you not."

    "Yes, ma'am."

    "Prophesied, the Chosen One is. Balance to the Force, they will bring," Yaddle said, telling me no more than Darihd and the others in Dragon Clan had years ago. "Much discussion there is, about you and this prophecy."

    "As I have said before, I dislike being in visions and prophecies."

    She chuckled. "Yes, allude to this, Master Fay has," she slid down from the stone. "Mention your feat, I will not. However, more of the prophecy, you should learn. Talk to your Master, I will."

    I watched as the council member walked out of the chamber, leaving alone with the stones.

    I was still no closer to knowing much Yaddle, but hopefully, this would help me gain access to the full prophecy; not just the vague references in the archives. Even Revan hadn't told me what the prophecy stated, only that both the Jedi and Sith were interpreting it wrong.

    I followed Yaddle out of the chamber and made my way quietly back to my quarters without running into anyone else.

    Once there, I opened my Perks menu.

    PERKS
    These are earned by spending perk points [which you earn at a rate of 1PP per 4 levels].
    Perks have requirements in PP, stat and level values that must be met before they become available for selection.
    Currently, you have the following perks:
    Force Prodigy
    Eidetic Memory
    Empathy
    Ambidextrous

    NOTE:
    Currently, you have 1 PerkP.
    Do you wish to view available Perks?
    Yes/No

    A mental command later had the possible perks on display.
    Available Perks:
    Luck of the Force
    Physical Regeneration
    Bookworm
    One with Nature
    One with Beasts
    Dominant
    Style
    Enhanced Regeneration
    Boosted Growth

    Like with Player Powers, where a new power – Observe, which I had taken and had replaced Examine so that I could now gain details about objects and sentients without touching them – had appeared, the perk list had a single addition since the last time; Boosted Growth.

    Luck of the Force granted an instant increase in my Luck of 5.

    Physical Regeneration gave me the ability to regenerate my HP at a rate of 5% per hour.

    Bookworm was a 50% increase in skill growth when reading about a skill. I suspected that this would mainly apply to Intelligence governed skills, but it was a very tempting perk to take as those skills were the largest group of skills I had and could be easily added to by learning more languages or how to design equipment from simple circuitry right up to starships.

    One with Nature and One with Beasts granted 100% bonuses to skills and Force powers covering plants and animals, respectively. Sadly, this seemed to mainly cover knowledge skills for now; which didn't count towards my overall skill total and were thus, seemingly less important.

    Dominant granted 20% bonuses to skills when leading a group, but 10% reductions when not leading. At the current point in time, that was not a good choice as the only time I technically led was when I was alone.

    Style gave a 15% bonus to Charisma-based skills, while also boosting Reputation gains by 10%, and lowering the losses by an equal amount. When I started to move for myself, and create my own team, that could be helpful; but like Dominant, it was virtually useless at the current time.

    Enhanced Regeneration was a perk I was taking at some point. It would double my regeneration for FP, PP and Stam while halving the rate at which my Hunger dropped.

    Boosted Growth granted a 10% increase to all XP gained; whether that was for skills, powers or levels. Very useful, and one to consider.

    I ignored all but Enhanced Regeneration and Boosted Growth as those two were the ones with the most benefit if taken early. But by that very logic, Boosted Growth was the best choice. While a ten per cent increase in XP didn't sound like much, doing the quick math on levelling from 12 to 16 meant I'd have earned an extra 5400XP; about a third of the XP need for my current level.

    After making my choice, I sat down on the bed and began my nightly training, while once more saying a silent thank you to Serenity granting the need to only to sleep once every twenty days provided that I meditated at least once a day.

    ...


    ...

    I ducked as the lightsaber whizzed through where my head had been a mere moment before and then spun away from the blade.

    "Slow and predictable," I said calmly as I watched the Rodian – the same one I had beaten in the Initiate trials – glare at me. "Honestly, when I agreed to this, I had expected some improvement from our last duel, but it seems I was mistaken."

    His snout twitched and he swung his lightsaber in a low, horizontal swipe. A basic manoeuvre of Shii-Cho, and one I avoided by jumping upwards and then kicking him across the shoulder before I pushed myself backwards with the Force.

    "Two zero," called out another member of Katarn Clan as the Rodian shake his head and snarl at me.

    "Come on Tsis! You can take him!" Another of the Clan called out to their friend.

    "That would be a first," I countered with a smirk. "While my skills have grown, it appears that Tsis' have sadly degraded."

    Tsis, either enraged by my constant belittling or goaded on by his clan-mates, roared and charged, lightsaber held high above his head. While he moved faster this time than before – possibly due to giving in to his anger – I stayed still until he leapt; at which point I caught him in mid-air with TK and began walking across the sparring circle with him held helplessly in front of me until he crossed the edge of the circle.

    "I believe that is the match," I casually stated as I stepped out of the circle and released Tsis.

    I turned to the rest of his clan. "Now, I hope this will ensure that our class is less disruptive tomorrow. Dismissed."

    The Initiates, who were all bar Tsis, younger than me, bowed and left, a few guiding Tsis away before he did anything rash.

    "Oh, and Tsis," I called out, not totally sure why I did it, but it was at least partially to get in one last knife-twist. "Mind that you don't let your emotions control you so much."

    Tsis growled at me but was unable to respond as his friends continued to frogmarch him out of the room.

    I shook my head once they had left. "Morons."

    "What was that about?"

    Turning, I saw Serra and Darihd on the far side of the room; Serra leaning casually against the wall while Darihd held a datapad in his hand.

    "Just a few teething problems with my class," I replied with a smile. "Congratulations by the way."

    Serra beamed and twiddled with her Padawan braid – as I mentally fought the urge to yank off my restored braid; the thing was annoying as hell.

    "Thanks. Master Drallig is a great teacher, I'm learning so much from him." She replied with a massive smile.

    "Care to put that to the test?" I asked, seeing this as an opportunity to clear the duelling quest linked to her.

    "Sure, beating you never gets old." She replied as she pushed herself off the wall.

    As we moved into the circle, Darihd sighing as he was forced to stop looking at his datapad, I glanced at my status.

    The 'duel' with Tsis had only taken a few minutes, and I had only activated Bullet-Time as I wanted to beat him without embarrassing him. Well, not too much.

    As such, I had still had over 7000FP. Using Bullet-Time and Precognition would give me nine minutes before my FP ran out. If I also activated Force Speed, that would fall to six, so I was going to hold that in reserve.

    "Only lightsabers. I don't want you cheating and throwing me from the circle to win," She said as she ignited her twin green blades. Both had shorter grips than my blade, probably to help her use them as two full-sized grips would be too much for a ten-year-old to handle properly.

    "OK," I replied, igniting my blade, and lowering the power to training levels, before issuing the challenge with the Makashi opening salute.

    "On my signal, begin!"

    Instantly, Serra leapt upwards, bringing both blades down hard as she fell onto me.

    I calmly raised my blade, angling it to guide her blades to one side while stepping to face her landing spot.

    She coughed as she landed, swinging out with the blade nearest to me.

    I blocked it easily, then stabbed forward towards her exposed leg.

    She blocked with her second lightsaber, then brought the first round, attempting to strike my arm.

    A simple tilting on my blade pushed the attack away and I lifted my foot to avoid another sweep.

    A feint forced her to step back and she used to the distance to smirk as she twirled her blades.

    "You've gotten better," She said as she prepared to attack.

    "As have you," I replied as I shifted into the Soresu opening stance.

    That had her pause, clearly having expected me to only use Makashi, but she held for only a moment before charging in once more.

    Her blades moved rapidly, one attacking while the other readied, probing my defence, high and low, left and right, inside and out, but I was able to block and deflect every attack with ease using Soresu.

    As she brought both blades down for a double overhead strike, I shifted my stance, raised my blade upwards even while ducking.

    From here, I guided her blades over my back while stepping inside her personal space and tapping her on the head with my hilt.

    "One, zero. He got you, Serra," Darihd commented with a chuckle.

    Before she could counter or comment, I dropped to my knees, letting my blade scrape across her shoulder.

    I rolled away, feeling the heat of at least one of her blades uncomfortably close to my legs, but receiving no message saying I'd lost HP, I knew she'd missed the desperate attack.

    "Two, zero."

    "I didn't know you had learned Soresu," She said after leaping back to restore distance between us.

    "While Makashi is great in places, I'd be a fool to not learn other forms," I replied as I adopted a Shii-Cho opening stance. "Each has its strengths and weaknesses."

    Serra's smile, which she had kept throughout the duel, grew. "Good."

    She came at me faster this time. Her blades carrying out short, rapid strikes that forced me to shift back to Soresu even as I stepped backwards.

    None of the attacks broke through my defence – thanks to Precognition telling me where they were coming from – but they were coming fast enough, that I was denied any opportunity to counterattack.

    Eventually, she changed approach and launched a series of arcing swipes that were far easier to defend against but struck my blade with far more force.

    Seeing a gap in these attacks, and noting the slowing of them, I shifted to Makashi and used the weaker, but shorted and more precise attacks of the Form to force her into defending.

    My attacks, while not as fast as hers had been, were just as consistent as I had activated Force Speed to make my movements faster.

    As she moved late to block one such attack, I slid one foot to the other side and shifted my weight.

    Taking advantage of my free hand – as Makashi favoured single grip movements – I grabbed her wrist and twisted.

    "Argh." She groaned as I turned her wrist away from her body, taking the blade in hand out of the battle even as my blade moved towards her neck and stepped closer.

    "I yield," She whispered as her face was bathed in the black and white light of my blade, the shifting light drawing my attention to just how close we were as I felt her breath on my lips.

    "Right," I muttered as I stepped back, deactivated my lightsaber and began to step out of her personal space while noticing a quest completion notice.

    "Most impressive," came a voice from my right and we spun as one, banging shoulders and then falling to the ground.

    "Well, that wasn't," added Master Drallig with a smirk as Darihd covered his mouth with the datapad. "Why am I not surprised that I find you in the sparing circle my young Padawan."

    "Master, I…" Serra's words die in her mouth as Drallig raises a hand.

    "You are in your free time, Serra. What you do with it is your choice."

    "Yes, Master."

    Drallig turned to me as I stood, offering a hand to Serra in the process. "Padawan Shan, I have just spoken to a member of Katarn Clan who says you have been bullying them in the circle."

    I ignored the redness of Serra's cheeks as she took my hand as I answered. "Certain members of the clan were, unhappy, with me being assigned to teach them. As the class went on, and as specific members chose to ignore my teaching and disrupt the class, I offered them a choice. Shut up and listen or do something to remove me."

    "And you felt a duel in which you berated your opponent was an acceptable method of handling it?" Drallig asked, crossing his arms as he spoke.

    "It was Initiate Fobe who suggested the duel, sir. I believe he was still unhappy about losing to me during the Initiate trials a few years ago." I shrugged. "Not my fault I could beat him without drawing my lightsaber."

    Drallig rubbed his chin. "Hmm, it seems that the Initiate failed to explain clearly the reasons behind why you duelled.

    "Regardless, that is not why I am here. If you would come with me, Padawan Shan. You have a visitor."

    I frowned, wondering who would come to the Temple only to see Drallig glance upwards to the overhead gallery.

    Following his glance, I saw Dooku and Sifo-Dyas stand there. With Senator Palpatine.

    "Ah." I turned to Serra and Darihd. "Sorry. I was hoping to catch up with both of you."

    "How about at lunch?" Serra offered quickly.

    Darihd shook his head. "I can't. My Master wishes for us to spend the evening on one of the lower levels of the planet."

    "So just the two us then?" I asked Serra, making her smile and nod. "It's a date then."

    I walked away before she could reply, though I did hear Darihd cough/chuckle and exited the room with Drallig.

    "Do you do it on purpose?" He said once we were out of earshot of the sparring room.

    "Do what sir?"

    He chuckled as we walked up the stairs. "The teasing. Serra enjoys your company, but I advise you to be careful of your words. Like most young Jedi, Serra has only known the Temple and is not well trained yet in handling her emotions."

    "Ah. Well, I will try to limit it. But she does make it easy," I replied, drawing another short laugh from the Battlemaster.

    "Yes, she does." We reached the next floor and saw the trio waiting for me.

    "Ah, young Cameron," Palpatine began, breaking away from the two Jedi Masters to come me and rest his hands on my shoulders. "It warms this old heart to see you alive and well. When you were taken, I was greatly concerned for your well-being."

    "Thank you, Senator. Thankfully the kidnappers failed to realize I was a Jedi and thus didn't imprison me as they had the other Padawans."

    His happiness at seeing me fell. "Ah, yes. How are your fellow Jedi doing?"

    "The High Council has arranged for them to receive help from inside and out of the Order," answered Sifo-Dyas.

    "That is good to hear," Palpatine replied with a smile that appeared genuine if you didn't know he was a Sith lord. "If it is not an imposition Master Dooku, I was hoping I could speak to young Cameron privately."

    "Of course, Master Sifo-Dyas and I have a meeting with other members of the Order," Dooku answered before turning to me. "I will meet you back here after lunch to resume our training."

    "Yes, sir."

    "Is there perhaps a private room where we may speak?" Palpatine asked me as the two Jedi Masters walked away.

    "There should be somewhere," I replied, and we walked to where there were a few smaller meditation chambers. Hopefully one of them would be empty.

    "I read your report on the mission," Palpatine began as we walked. "I was most impressed that you managed to take down an entire ship full of brigands single handily."

    "I wasn't alone on the mission Senator."

    Palpatine waved his hand, dismissing my point. "The other Padawans were unable to help. You completed a mission that older, and longer trained Jedi failed. You should be proud of that."

    I nodded, accepting the praise, even if I knew it was just designed to instil a belief that I was better than others, better than the Jedi. As he felt Sith should be.

    Once we were in an empty room, we sat on the meditation seats, though Palpatine took a while to settle.

    "How do you Jedi ever manage to rest on these things?" He asked in annoyance as he squirmed in the seat.

    "It takes time and patience, an issue for some," I replied with a smirk at seeing the Sith Lord struggle with a simple meditation seat.

    "I wanted to make sure you were well. I admit that I rather enjoyed your time posing as my nephew, and reading your report, especially about facing the rapist, I was concerned for your mental well-being." He said once he had settled.

    I sighed and looked away, engaging Empathic Shield. I avoided Player's Mind as that would nullify my emotions, which might arouse his suspicions if I was too calm about what had happened. If he tried to use the Force against me, the interface would alert me - whether it succeeded or failed - and I could slam on PM.

    "It was a difficult moment. As I told the High Council, I wanted to kill him, but I didn't. It was tempting, but in the end, I couldn't bring myself to murder him in cold blood."

    "Yes, I imagine it would have been a difficult decision, one that if your place, I would have been tormented over the choices," He paused for a moment. "Why didn't you? Your Jedi training?"

    "More something I learned when younger," I explained, though I was talking about my old life and not my time before the Jedi as he probably suspected. "While powerful, I am but one man. I am not judge, jury and executioner. As much as I wanted him dead and would have gladly testified at his trial if he had survived his injuries, I will not murder in cold blood." That he died of the injury I caused him while suffering excruciating pain was admittedly not much better, but it did give him a chance to survive; however small.

    Palpatine nodded as I spoke, and then replied. "A wise choice. One many would not be able to make. However, if the man had lived, I assure you he would have faced a lifetime in prison for his actions. I would have helped to ensure that."

    I smiled in what I hoped he would take as thanks as I considered mentioning the Mind Probe to him. It was what would be classed as a dark side power, so he might be able to subtly give me hints on how to train it.

    Yet I decided not to. Doing so would bring even more of his attention down on me, and if I wanted to save Sifo-Dyas and prevent Dooku from becoming a Sith, the less extra attention I drew from the Sith the better as I worked to remove them from Coruscant, and Sidious' reach.

    "I have heard that the Jedi are going to assist the Judiciary forces in locating the beings the kidnappers were working with," Palpatine began, changing the subject. "How goes the investigation?"

    "I don't know. The council didn't mention anything about that when I reported to with them yesterday," I answered honestly letting my surprise show. "I am currently serving a punishment for my actions while on-mission."

    "That is most unfortunate. I would have felt that having someone already versed in the details, and who had provided the only break of any kind in the case, would be beneficial to the investigators."

    I shrugged. "The council makes its own decisions, Senator. They won't change their mind for a mere Padawan."

    He rubbed his chin. "Yes, that is true. Though perhaps a few friendly words from myself and the Chancellor could get you reassigned to the investigation."

    "While I would be grateful, there is no need to do so. I am sure the Jedi assigned are skilled in helping the police and will certainly know more about the criminal underworld of Coruscant." Though if he did still get me assigned, it gave would give me a chance to rob some more criminals and potentially find a fleece to sell the gemstones to.

    However, after everything that had happened, I expected the investigation to go cold as I was all but certain that Palpatine was involved in it somehow. Sure, a fall-guy might be found, but they would die before being able to testify that there were other players involved.

    "Still, I will try." Palpatine was cut off from saying anything else when his commlink beeped. "Ah, my apologies, but I must take this."

    I stood and bowed to Palpatine. "Of course. The wheels of government are always turning."

    He chuckled gently as he palmed the commlink. "Yes, indeed they are. Before we separate, I'd like you to know that if you ever need someone outside the Jedi Order to speak with, my door will be open to you."
    "Thank you, uncle. I will remember that." I replied with a grin at using the fake family link between us. Palpatine let out a chuckle that I was quite sure was genuine, though whether it was due to my wit, or the fact that he assumed I was warming to him and now viewed him more as family, I wasn't sure.


    As we both stepped out of the chamber and headed in different directions, I was tempted to use Observe, but I restrained myself as I was the only other person around and didn't want to risk him figuring out I had done something.

    Once I was a good ten metres or so away from the chamber, I stopped and took a deep breath. I had the confirmation to the quest bonus that I had Palpatine's favour, though I would have to be very careful about how, if at all, that I used it. The use of 'uncle' had been a gambled charm offensive that would most likely be a double-edged sword. Palpatine would both relax more around me, while also continue his efforts with renewed vigour. I just hoped the trade-off was worth it.

    While having a friend in the Senate should be a useful thing, it being Sidious made it far more likely that any help I asked for would be spun to benefit himself and the Sith plan.

    Once my punishment was over, I had to get off this planet. That meant convincing Dooku to leave, which seemed likely given to the brief conversation he had had with Fay after my report to the High Council.

    I pulled the quest notice and smirked.

    Quest Completed!
    Wipe That Grin off her Face [User Defined]
    Objectives:
    Defeat Serra Keto in a spar before either of you becomes a Jedi Knight. [Yes]
    ? Do so without letting her score a hit [Yes]
    Rewards:
    600XP (+60XP)
    200XP (+20XP)
    Reputation boost with Serra Keto

    Boosted Growth was already showing its usefulness, and while 80XP was less half a per-cent of the needed amount to level up, seeing it working was nice. It would also kick in on two small quests I created to improve my language skill for Huttese and Binary, where I had to get the relevant skill to Professional 1 by the time my punishment was over and I left the Temple. Each carried a 1000XP rewards if I could pull it off.

    As for the reputation boost from Wipe That Grin off her Face, well once I turned eleven, that should be viewable, so I'd just have to wait until then to see where I stood with Serra. And everyone else.

    ...


    ...

    I smiled as Clawmouse Clan left the room. They were one of five clans that I taught each morning on a rotating basis as part of my punishment.

    Despite my initial reluctance, I was enjoying the classes as they allowed me a chance to get to know a large number of potential Jedi who I might be able to persuade to join me when I formed my own Force group and those who would be reassigned to the corps and would be even easier recruits if handled correctly.

    Yet I was beginning to wonder when exactly the classes would end as it had now been just shy of seven weeks - a little less than a month and a half - since I had been assigned to teach these classes.

    "How were today's Initiates?" Master Fay asked with a twinkle in her eye as she walked into the now empty classroom.

    "Fine. I haven't had any problems with a clan since my first day," I replied which made her smile.

    "That is good to hear, though I imagine you are looking forward to ending your time teaching?"

    "Please tell me the council has decided to end this," I pretended to beg by dropping to my knees, making her chuckle softly.

    "Your punishment ended last week, however, I felt it would do you good to continue for a short while longer." Her smile fell and she looked down at me, her hands up the sleeves of her robes. "When you returned to the Temple, I asked you to be patient with regards to something Master Dooku and I were speaking of."

    "I remember." Kind of hard to forget with Eidetic Memory.

    "Ah, good," she paused and looked away for a moment before continuing. "The time has come to explain what is going on."

    She turned and began to leave the room. I moved quickly to catch up with her and we began to walk through the corridors.

    "How does your training with Master Dooku go?" She asked as we entered one of the many elevators in the temple that led to the central spire; which housed many of the private meditation and discussion chambers.

    "Well. He has begun to teach me the basics of Ataru and feels that all that is holding me back with Makashi is my size," I replied honestly. I had also learned Force Inertia from him, which was the power to run on walls, water and eventually ceilings. My skill with Makashi was coming along well, now resting at Savant 88 and both he and Battlemaster Drallig had said I was versed enough in the Form to be allowed to teach it to classes of Initiates; which I did once each day.

    I had gained a few new powers after reviewing what I knew of the KOTOR games. Ionize was the power to disable or destroy droids without using Force Lightning and while I had not seen it used by anyone in the movies or cartoons, or demonstrated by anyone in the Temple, the records showed it was not listed as a dark-side power. Thus, it was safe to train it with the Temple.

    As was Force Slow – the new name I gave to Force Weaken – which confused an opponent of low enough Wisdom and Intelligence that they would appear to be moving slower than those around them.

    The same, however, could not be said of Force Scream, Force Fear or Force Drain.

    Force Scream inflicted sonic damage on a target, could disorientate them, and even disrupt their connection to the Force if unprepared or unused to emotional-based Force attacks.

    Force Fear invoked terror in a target with the potential to have them unable to fight and could potentially affect more than one person at a time. But even this paled in comparison to Force Drain.

    Force Drain was the ability to drain the Force and even life-force from a target. From a gaming perspective, this translated into HP. This was an incredibly dangerous power as this was the one that drove Darth Nihilus to become the monster that he was in KOTOR2. At its maximum potential, it could cause entire planets to die. Not a power I hoped to ever need to use, but one I now had.

    All three were dark side powers and as such, I was not able to practice them while in the Temple. Or even on the planet, I suspected, as with the number of Jedi present, and a Sith Lord as well, any obvious usage of dark side powers would bring trouble crashing down on my head.

    I had also gained Alter Mind, Force Wave, Force Repulse, but all three were locked by other powers being at too low a level.

    Regarding my powers, I had discovered that certain powers, such as Inertia, Barrier and Phase levelled up quicker if just used for an instant instead of being run until I ran out of FP. I was curious if this applied to skills as well, but so far, no skill that I had tried to use in such a way had shown an improvement in the speed of growth.

    The only other thing that had happened of any note was that I discovered that the Temple had a music room. I had played a Synthtar – the local form of a guitar – to keep levelling that skill up after discovering the instrument while undercover so being able to continue levelling that skill while serving my punishment has been a nice surprise.

    "That is good to hear," Fay replied, but it was clear to see she was distracted but something; probably what she and Dooku wished to discuss with me.

    Once the elevator stopped, I followed Fay to a private chamber only to stop as I stepped inside and saw Dooku sitting with Sifo-Dyas.

    While Dooku looked his usual regal self, Sifo-Dyas seemed distracted. His hair was dishevelled, and he had dark bags under his eyes suggesting he was having trouble sleeping.

    "Sit Cameron," Dooku stated and I did so as Fay closed the door when then hissed as it locked and the windows sealed. Fay moved around and sat to Sifo-Dyas' left, Dooku was to his right and all three stared at me.

    "You wished to speak with me," I said as the three Jedi Masters sat in silence. I didn't think I was in trouble, but even if I was, it was better to face the issue head-on. To be on the safe side, I activated Empathic Shield. While I doubted it would help hide all my emotions from the three Jedi Master, it was a better option than PM which I was now trying to avoid unless in real combat.

    "Yes, we did," Dooku began with a slight twinge to his tone that I couldn't place. "There are, issues, that we feel you need to be made aware of."

    "I am in trouble?"

    "No, of course not," Fay answered instantly, and I felt that I could trust her. "But these issues, visions, do centre around you." I felt my brow rise at hearing her talk of visions and I turned my attention to Sifo-Dyas. I had reviewed all the mentions and appearances I had of him in my memory, but nothing told me as to why he had ordered the clone army.

    If he had had a vision of the war to come, it created the start point. From there I could quickly conceive a chain of events where he was convinced by Sidious or his master to place the order for the clones, only to be killed by Dooku.

    "You understand, don't you?" Sifo-Dyas said in a voice barely about a whisper. "What the future holds."

    All three Jedi were staring at me intently as I nodded.

    "War. Galaxy wide, destroying whole planets and bringing an end to the Jedi." I gulped before continuing. "I, I know what will happen."

    "What might happen. The future is always in motion, never forget that." Sifo-Dyas countered instantly. "Visions can change as time moves. While this can be for the better, often, it seems, it is not." He slumped down and his head touched the table.

    Dooku placed a hand on the other man's shoulder.

    "Sifo-Dyas has the ability to see potential events with an incredible degree of clarity," he began, explaining for his friend. "When we were very young, not much older than you in truth, he saw a planet in flames. We tried to convince the Council of this vision, but they ignored us and the planet that we believed was in the vision was destroyed in a solar flare." Dooku finished through gritted teeth.

    "I saw other visions, many of which have come true," Sifo-Dyas said, taking up the conversation once more. "All of them leading to a darker and darker future. One in which I saw the Republic in flames."

    "And the Sith triumphant," I added before sighing at the looks the three gave me. Sifo-Dyas looked relieved to meet someone else who saw what was to come, Dooku was puzzled while Fay was either surprised or upset. "I am sorry for hiding much of this, Master, but I was unsure of what it all meant," I said to her.

    She gave me a sweet smile. "I understand, but even what you did tell me I believed. I too saw glimpses. Not to the degree that it appears to you and Master Sifo-Dyas do, but enough to know that the darkness was coming."

    "Visions are not needed to see the coming darkness," Dooku commented with a small sneer that resulted in flashbacks to what he became in canon. "The Outer Rim is falling into anarchy while the Republic and the Jedi do nothing about it."

    "If I may return to my story," Sifo-Dyas asked with a twitch of his lips at Dooku's outburst. A nod from Dooku later he did. "Not long after that planet burned, I learned to control these visions, well enough that none outside this room, bar two, are aware of my ability to glimpse the future." He paused and sighed. "A future that shows the Republic rotting and decaying from the core as the shadow of the dark side falls over the galaxy.

    "That changed on a day two years ago when, for the first time in decades, the darkness of the future was pierced. A light has shown through. Since that day I have seen visions of possible new futures; a few were worse than what I saw previously, but most were brighter. Yet all these visions are linked to that day. To you."

    I looked at Jedi carefully as I considered how to answer this. I needed allies to take on Sidious but, even if I had quests dealing with two of them, telling them everything now was risky. I only really knew Fay, but without having access to my reputation with them, I was working in the dark.

    "I… I am unsure of how to respond to that," I replied honestly as I continued to consider how much to reveal here and now.

    "That is good to hear," said Fay with a smile that grew at my confusion. "If you acted proud or scared of hearing such a thing, we would know you were not ready, and we had made a mistake asking you here. That you are neither speaks well of you."

    "Indeed. Pride and cowardice are unbecoming in any sentient, especially those capable of using the Force," Dooku added before turning to Fay and giving her a small nod; one she returned as they seemed to talk telepathically with each other.

    I was starting to hate when adult Jedi did that around me.

    "Is this linked to a prophecy of the Chosen One?" I asked, drawing out the conversation to give me more time to prepare my answers and what I would/could reveal without putting them at risk from the Sith.

    "It is possible," Sifo-Dyas began as Fay and Dooku shared another look, this one far more concerned that the before. "I do not place a large degree of stock in that particular prophecy – its history and roots have long since been forgotten by our Order – however, others do."

    "The Chosen One is a prophecy that dates back to time immemorial," Fay continued. "It tells of a time when a powerful Force-Sensitive will be born, one without a father, who will restore balance to the Force." She paused and gave me a small smile. "I am surprised it took you so long to ask about that. Master Yaddle suggested you'd come looking for answers over a month ago."

    "I suspected you would mention it to me at some point," I replied, returning the smile with a smirk. "Though if you hadn't mentioned it before we left, I was planning on asking once we were off-world."

    "Patient and clever. Impressive." Commented Dooku before Sifo-Dyas spoke again.

    "Whether you are the true Chosen One, or just the latest being to potentially fit the prophecy, is irrelevant. What matters is what we can do to change the future to prevent the rising darkness from engulfing the galaxy."

    "Do we want to? I mean, the Republic, at least from what I have seen, if flawed. The Core worlds only care about themselves, or at least the people in power, while the Rim is ignored and exploited by groups like the Trade Federation; a non-political entity that, like a few others, has a seat in the Senate." I explained quickly, not letting the Jedi get a word in before I could explain myself fully. "Groups that only care about money and power hold more voice there than people who wish to help the galaxy."

    Dooku smiled. Well, smirked knowingly. "I see your time with Senator Palpatine was not idly spent."

    "No, but I do not agree with much of what the Senator thinks. Anyone in power is scared to lose it. Be they politicians, business leaders or even, I suspect, Jedi."

    Fay looked like she wanted to argue against that, but Sifo-Dyas cut her off with a stilted laugh.

    "Yes, that is true of many, though not all. Though some of us do believe that the Sith are the cause of much of these problems and that you were sent here by the Force to help."

    "How?" Honestly, from my own, admittedly limited, learning about the Republic over the last thousand years, I felt it was the Republic that was the source of many of the problems I heard about on the Holonet.

    Though if I was in the Sith's shoes, I would make the problems worse. A destabilized Republic was weak, and with the Jedi linked to it, they too would be weakened. This plan of theirs had been in operation for centuries, slowly fanning the flames across the galaxy where possible, provided that previous generations of Sith were prepared for others to reap the benefits of their actions.

    "By restoring balance, prophesied child or not," Sifo-Dyas stated with conviction. "The Sith and their ways are an abomination. They bring chaos and disorder to the galaxy through their need for power and conflict."
    I nodded a few times, appearing to wholeheartedly agree, even as I considered my next words carefully.


    "Forgive me if I am just uninformed, but how is only using one side balance?"

    The three Jedi Masters all looked at each other and while they did, I continued.

    "I mean, as my grandfather used to say, every one of us has light and dark, good and bad inside us. It is how we handle those two parts that determine our own, personal beliefs and philosophies. But denying that we feel anger or hatred only allows them to fester and corrupt us from within."

    "I am curious as to what you have been teaching the Initiates about the Code," Fay began as the smile returned to her lips slowly. "Regardless, what you suggest, while true of most beings, is not the accepted thinking of the Jedi. Or the Sith."

    I wanted to point out the stupidity of the two codes, as I had wanted to do in my classes, but I refrained here as I did then. Oh sure, I questioned the Jedi Code repeatedly with the Initiates I had taught, hopefully letting them see that no-one was truly all good or evil, but that was as far as I took things. Mainly in fear that I'd be given a new, worse punishment if I pushed too far.

    Here, however, I felt that I would just come off as arrogant and proud, and be ignored to some degree, due to my age.

    "Perhaps," Dooku began slowly, drawing everyone's attention, "perhaps, the Padawan is on to something."

    "You are suggesting that the Jedi Code is wrong?" Sifo-Dyas asked him sharply.

    "No, my friend. Merely that we have become too rigid, too set in our ways to see that denying what we are, weakens us. Not only with the Force, but within ourselves." Dooku explained as I got a small insight into seeing his reasons for having left the Jedi in another timeline. "To deny that we are not composed of light and dark, is cut ourselves off from a part of who we are."

    "While I do not agree fully with what you are suggesting, I do concede that the Order is far too narrow-minded," Fay added in agreement. "It is why I prefer to travel the galaxy; allowing the Force to chose where I need to be, and who I need to meet." She finished as she stared at me.

    Sifo-Dyas sighed and shook his head. "To think, that I would be the one to defend the Order and the Code after having spent years arguing that we need to change." He chuckled once then lifted his head, looking me straight in the eye. "So how do we proceed?"

    I blinked. "You are asking me?"

    "Yes. Chosen One or not, the Force brought you here for a reason; one that I have come to believe is for the betterment of the Force." He replied with conviction. "We have all been here too long, spent too long thinking as we have, to be able to see an obvious path out of the darkness that is coming."

    "At least we see what is coming," Dooku muttered even as Sifo-Dyas continued.

    "Perhaps we need the sight of one who has seen the galaxy before entering these halls. Perhaps, just perhaps, you are here to show us that path to a better, brighter future."

    "What if I fail?" I asked, letting my greatest fear for the future be vocalized. "Or lead us down a darker path?"

    "That is why we are here to help you, just as you are here to help us," Fay answered with a tender smile. "The wisdom of age, coupled with the drive of youth."

    "As I said, my visions show a generally better future because of you. If I do not act on those visions, do not at least try to bring about that future, I have failed as a person, never mind as a Jedi," said Sifo-Dyas confidently.

    Dooku chuckled, shook his head and looked at his fellow Jedi Masters. "While I lack the wisdom of Master Fay or the gifts of Master Sifo-Dyas, I see what is happening around us; on Coruscant and other places. A reckoning is coming. Perhaps not for a long time, but it is coming, and I have lost faith in the Council and the Senate to show us a path forward.

    "We must prepare for that reckoning, and your being here, in this time, is the will of the Force. While I am a prideful man," Sifo-Dyas coughed once, which drew a short glare from Dooku, "I am not so confident in myself to ignore what I see before me."

    I sat there quietly as they spoke, not quite believing that I'd had such an effect on the three, and even after hearing them speak in support, I could still scarcely believe it. Though I suspected that wherever he was, Revan was amused by this.

    "I… I… wow," was all I could get out as the wind ruffled my hair. "I don't think I am the Chosen One, but I want to try to change things."

    "Don't try, do," Fay chuckled. "We are not asking you to lead, you are far, far too young for making those types of decisions. We do, however, feel that the Force is using you in some way, a way we all believe that will lead out of the oncoming darkness."

    "If you have any suggestions, any visions bring them to us. At once. Do not hide them for fear of how we might react, or what we might say. Act on the information given to you by the Force. Use it." Dooku added bluntly.
    "Yes, Masters," I said with a bow; which was far harder to do when sitting than I liked.


    "Ah, so that is what it takes to get you to call someone 'master'?" Sifo-Dyas joked, earning a few chuckles from around the table. "To agree to listen to you."

    "No, it means we have his respect," Fay explained as she tilted her head to one side as she looked at me. "And already I sense you have something to reveal."

    I couldn't help but smile as I began to speak. "Yes. When I was on Naboo, I heard… whispers, of a name as I saw images of a child queen. Padme."

    "So that is why you were looking through birth records. Master Nu was wondering why you had accessed that information," Fay stated with a gentle laugh. "It had been confusing me for weeks."

    "You think the girl is important?"

    "Yes. And I found her. Padme Naberrie. She's six, almost seven, now, but she will be a Queen one day. And soon. In the images I saw, she looked to be in her late teens or early twenties." I was being vague about her age to avoid questions about how accurate my 'visions' were. Though discovering Padme was six, meant I had at most, eight years to get ready for the invasion of Naboo as I knew she had been fourteen when that happened.

    "Hmm. Perhaps a deeper search is required," Dooku spoke slowly, rubbing his beard in thought. "From what I know of Naboo, King Veruna is an elected monarch, but he has a strong grip on the throne. That he would be replaced by such a young woman would be unexpected and require something to change drastically."

    "Perhaps Senator Palpatine could be of assistance?" offered Sifo-Dyas.

    "No!" I blurted out before Dooku could answer the suggestion. "I mean, if the Sith have been influencing the galaxy, they must have operatives in the Senate. Involving anyone from there might alert the Sith to what we are doing."

    "You believe the Sith are watching us?"

    "I'd be surprised if they weren't watching Cameron," Fay said in answer to Dooku's question.

    "Yes, on that I suspect you are correct. Very well, we will keep the search quiet and involve no-one outside the Temple." Dooku concurred.

    I smiled. "Thank you. For trusting me."

    "We said we would help you if it led to a better future. Did you not believe us?"

    "I did, but having proof is nice," I replied. "Trust but verify."

    That made Dooku chuckle. "A wise approach." He stood. "Now come. If we spend too long here others will notice. The less attention we bring to ourselves, the more time we can avoid drawing the attention of the Sith and their allies."

    We all stood and moved for the door.

    "You believe the Sith have supporters within the Order?" Fay asked with a frown.

    "Unlikely," Dooku stated as he unlocked the doors and I heard the windows slide open once more. "However, until we are sure, it is better to be cautious."

    Fay gave him a tilted nod as we stepped out the room, though I paused and looked back as I replayed the meeting in my head.

    "Cameron, is something the matter?"

    I started walking. "No, Master. I was simply thinking about who we could trust."

    While that was a valid reason to stop, it wasn't the truth. As we walked through the halls to the elevator one question kept going around in my mind.

    How did wind ruffle my hair if the windows were closed?

     
  29. Index: Stats at the end of the Children in Shadow Arc
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Getting sticky.

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Likes Received:
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    STATS

    Cameron Shan
    Species: Human
    Title: The Player
    Level 16
    HP: 220/220
    FP: 8000/8000
    PP: 32/32
    XP [1022/16000]
    STAM [408/408]
    Hunger [45/100]
    STR: 17 + VIT: 17 + AGI: 17 +
    INT: 17 + WIS: 17 + CHA: 19 +
    Luck: 0 + [+10]
    SP: 3
    SKP: 188
    PerkP: 0
    PPP: 0
    Credits: 264813


    SKILLS
    Lightsaber [Standard]]
    MAXED
    Form 1 Shii-Cho
    Master 67
    Form 2 Makashi
    Savant 88
    Form 3 Soresu
    Master 25
    Form 4 Ataru
    Novice 3
    Hand to Hand [General]
    Professional 39
    Melee Weapons [2-handed]
    Adept 1
    Melee Weapons [1-handed]
    Professional 3
    Melee Weapons [Thrown]
    Adept 15
    Marksmanship
    Adept 97
    Ranged Weapons [1-handed]
    Professional 5
    Ranged Weapons [2-handed]
    Professional 40
    Ranged Weapons [Heavy]
    Adept 2
    Piloting [Atmospheric]
    Adept 9
    Piloting [Space]
    Adept 25
    Riding [4-legged]
    Novice 73
    Stealth
    Professional 2
    Sleight of Hand
    Novice 45
    Lockpicking
    Novice 15
    Cleaning
    Adept 42
    Cooking
    Adept 1
    Musical Instrument [Synthtar]
    Adept 13
    Damage Resistance [Physical]
    Adept 1
    Damage Resistance [Energy]
    Adept 45
    Athletics
    Professional 10
    Swimming
    Adept 72
    Astrogation
    Adept 25
    Computer [Slicing]
    Adept 86
    Computer [Programming]
    Adept 73
    Computer [Electronics]
    Adept 73
    Language [Basic]
    Savant 17
    Language [Huttese]
    Professional 1
    Language [Binary]
    Professional 1
    Language [Ryl]
    Novice 5
    Language [Sullustese]
    Novice 25
    Language [German]
    Adept 12
    Economics
    Adept 25
    Mechanics [Engines]
    Adept 4
    Mechanics [Speeders]
    Adept 25
    Mechanics [Fighters]
    Adept 25
    Mechanics [Starships]
    Professional 1
    Medicine [First Aid]
    Professional 1
    Medicine [Hospital]
    Adept 8
    Anatomy [Human]
    Adept 60
    Anatomy [Twi'lek]
    Novice 26
    Anatomy [Zabrak]
    Novice 30
    Anatomy [Duros]
    Novice 9
    Anatomy [Ithorian]
    Novice 9
    Anatomy [Sullustan]
    Novice 4
    Forensics
    Adept 1
    Warfare [Ground]
    Professional 46
    Warfare [Space]
    Novice 55
    Teaching
    Adept 45
    Concentration
    MAXED
    Composure
    49/100
    Danger Sense
    35/100
    Meditation
    MAXED
    Deception
    Adept 90
    Lie Detection
    Adept 75
    Perception
    Professional 5
    Survival
    Adept 79
    Persuasion
    Professional 21
    Intimidation/Taunting
    Adept 49
    Singing
    Adept 7
    Negotiation
    Novice 75


    Force Powers
    Telekinesis
    Savant 95
    Serenity [Meditation]
    Prodigy 100
    Heal
    Adept 1
    Restore
    Novice 1
    Breath Control
    Adept 11
    Vision
    Novice 2
    Detection
    Adept 70
    Cloak
    Prodigy 100
    Comprehend Speech
    Professional 52
    Empathy
    Professional 45
    Sense Force
    Novice 45
    Precognition
    Master 78
    Sight
    Adept 1
    Suppression
    Novice 87
    Speed
    Professional 24
    Bullet Time [Reflex]
    Professional 66
    Stun
    Adept 85
    Blast
    Adept 56
    Wave/Whirlwind
    Novice 1 LOCKED
    Repulse/Shockwave
    Novice 1 LOCKED
    Enhance Stats
    Adept 35
    Enhance Skill
    Adept 35
    Jump
    Professional 81
    Cryokinesis
    Adept 15
    Pyrokinesis
    Adept 15
    Force Slow [Force Weaken]
    Novice 1
    Phase
    Adept 69
    Teleport
    Novice 73
    Barrier
    Adept 21
    Compulsion
    Adept 65
    Lightning
    Novice 21
    Force Attune
    Novice 56
    Force Crush
    Novice 37
    Levitation
    Novice 70
    Camouflage
    Novice 5
    Empathic Shield
    Professional 79
    Telepathy
    Novice 1 LOCKED
    Enhance Senses
    Novice 1
    Restore Stamina
    Adept 76
    Negate Hunger
    Professional 81
    Force Persuasion
    Adept 11
    Mind Probe
    Novice 1
    Hypnotic Rub [Alter Mind]
    Novice 1 LOCKED
    Control Beast
    Novice 99
    Battle Meditation: Passive
    Adept 94
    Battle Meditation: Active
    Novice 1 LOCKED
    Force Drain
    Novice 1
    Force Scream
    Novice 1
    Ionize
    Novice 5
    Deflection
    Novice 75
    Inertia
    Novice 57
    Plant Control
    Novice 5


    PERKS
    Force Prodigy
    Eidetic Memory
    Empathy
    Ambidextrous
    Boosted Growth


    PLAYER POWERS

    Player's Mind
    Player's Body
    Inventory
    Silent Interface
    Observe 33/100


    TITLES
    The Player
    Leader [4/10]
    Jedi [2/5]
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2020
  30. hpackrat

    hpackrat Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    17
    Ah, so we have an eavesdropper. Probably a droid sent by Sidious or Plaguis.
     
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