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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. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Doing what's necessary, even if it causes chaos

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    Star Forge crest: (AKA Clan Shan sigil)
    [​IMG]

    Jedi crest Cam wore:
    [​IMG]

    Colour meanings can be found at https://the-mandalorian-guild.fandom.com/wiki/Mandalorian_Armor_Meaning
     
  2. Miestwin

    Miestwin Monster on the outside, bishoujo on the inside

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    Nice, but would look better if the head filled the space lower there, in between wings.

    Edit: More like this:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
    shinighoul6 and The Dude like this.
  3. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Doing what's necessary, even if it causes chaos

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    It was sth quick I drew up, though yours is better with the location of the 'face', so I'll alter the OG post to that (with a small note saying you altered it) if you're fine with me doing so
     
  4. Miestwin

    Miestwin Monster on the outside, bishoujo on the inside

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    Sure, go ahead.
     
  5. Indigo_fox

    Indigo_fox

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    Can he use force slow?
     
  6. Eljin

    Eljin Know what you're doing yet?

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    i have a funny feeling that Korriban and Dromund Kaas' location and or existence have been renamed/intentionally forgotten about/deleted from the archives. so its unlikely that cam will get to go there, but there are plenty of other places that the sith have been to that could host a nasty dark side beast. just with dagobah and yavin 4, the jedi dont give me the impression of being thorough in cleaning up after the sith.
     
  7. MichaelSuave

    MichaelSuave Getting sticky.

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    Their locations were deleted back during the old republic era if I remeber correctly. Part of the revan knights of the old republic gameplay was trying to find star charts, and I think I remember a part where the archives had deleted reference to korriban. I believe canon is that dooku had to dig up the info to find koriban, and that is where he fell to the dark side. That said, I am not sure if the main would want to go to korriban due to the risk to his master, though there is a lot of loot there, especially for somebody who is an SI who knows the story/game about revan.
     
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  8. TheLostArchivist

    TheLostArchivist Identifies as a Greater Dragon.

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    He barely used the Force in that fight? I reiterate that I really hope that the ambush during his own test does not go at all the way the bigot (I forget his name) expects. Probably won't be perfect since he's still relatively young and untrained, and of course war is basically a giant barrel of bad luck, but the other guy is REALLY underestimating!

    Some edits:

    past four
    bring up the topic
    managed
    blob-like
    Why is electricity in bold?
    was a cave
    That probably shouldn't be a semicolon there.
     
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  9. USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Doing what's necessary, even if it causes chaos

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    It all depends on when and how Pre's ambush takes place. And if Pre is even the one who directly ambushes Cam.
    But yeah, battles often have elements of chance and luck in them, though being Force Sensitive, Cam should have better odds ;)

    Thanks. I rushed out the chapter for May 4th, so more mistakes were likely.

    That was simply an edit made by my beta that I forgot to de-highlight [he marks his changes in bold]
     
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  10. Pef

    Pef Versed in the lewd.

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    While there is no doubt the MC will survive whatever ambush Vizla will organize, that's mostly due to Vizla's defective type of thinking. There are plenty of 'accidents' that could insure the death of the best Force users out there, especially if the trigger is tied to a randomized agent like isotope decay or anything random enough.
    A team of assassins has a miniscule chance compared to a ship reactor's detonating at a random moment during a hyperspace jump.
    PS: my own choices were 1. a volcano eruption. 2. atomic bomb under ysalamiri cover.
     
  11. Threadmarks: Teh Adiik At Mando’ade 8.5
    USSExplorer

    USSExplorer Doing what's necessary, even if it causes chaos

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    Thanks to blaze1992 for some quest concepts and spit-balling ideas.
    To the backroom group for their help with SW related issues, arc ideas and betaing the chapter.
    To WarriorsCre3d for creating a custom image for the story.



    A/N: So, I had planned to get this out with the May 4th chapter, but it just was too much to do in the time, so I've held it back and lengthened it out to fill in more of the gaps.
    We are finally drawing to a close with this arc, though there's still time to go in the Mandalorian sector.



    As before, if you wish to talk with me and the backroom team, you can find us on the server for this story in particular, and Star Wars in general: discord .gg /UM89QfyQk3
    Or in Shiro's Gaming Omniverse: discord .gg /wd3tUYWVCd
    Also, after over a year of on and off being asked about and considering the idea, I've taken the plunge and made a Patreon page: /ussexplorer



    Current date: 5 years until the Invasion of Naboo


    Mandalorian Words/Phrases:
    Adiik – Child
    Akaan'lor – Fighting Champion
    Beskar – Mandalorian Iron
    Cin Vhetin – White Fields
    Diryc – Lower (class)
    Dral'Han – The Mandalorian Excision
    Ge'hutuun – Someone less than even a coward
    Haran – Hell/Damn
    Ijaat'akaanir – Honour-Duel
    Jetii – Jedi
    Kri'gee – Mandalorian ale
    Laamyc – Upper (class)
    Me'bana – What happened? What's happening?
    Mir'Sheb – Smartass
    Nasst be Me'suums – Destroyer of Worlds (aka Revan)
    ne'tra gal – Mandalorian black ale (nicer, more expensive ale than Kri-gee)
    Ni cetar'narir gar'shebs – I'm going shove my boot up his/hers/our ass(es)
    Olarom – Welcome/Greetings
    Osik - Shit
    Shab – Fuck
    Shab'an – Fuck all
    Shebs – Arse/ass
    Sheb'urcyin – Ass-kisser
    Verd'goten – The traditional rite of passage of Mandalorian culture.




    ……

    As I walked through the main gate of the Institute, ready to begin a second session, I wondered how things were going to go now that Serra was gone since it created several problems for me.

    Specifically, given to my location, I was concerned how my team, Brown-Nine, would function with a member short. While there were likely to be contingencies that the Institute had for such occurrences, no one had spoken with me about them during since I’d arrived back on Mandalore with my masters, Serra and her Master, and Duke Adonai.

    In had been three weeks that had passed since then – and just over two weeks since Serra had returned to Coruscant with Master Drallig – and I was still in the dark about how things were going to be handled. I wondered if perhaps this was standard operating procedure for the Institute; using it as a method to test a team leader. Or perhaps they had already arranged things with the Duke and not informed me. Either way, not knowing was annoying.

    The other side of Serra not being here was the absence I felt. I could still vaguely sense her across the thousands of light-years between us – which even with it being stated by the Interface, was still a startling thing to be able to do –but not having my friend at my side had been something I’d had to adjust to. Six months with a friend, one I shared a mental connection with, resulted in some idiosyncrasies forming between us. Things that now, just didn’t happen.

    Though thinking of Serra had me recollecting on the time that had passed since we’d returned to Mandalore after she’d completed her verd’goten.

    She’d woken later on the day we’d arrived back, and while I’d still been tired from Dooku’s ‘‘discussion’’ – which had been as tiring, painful and embarrassing as I’d expected as he critiqued every single move that I’d made during my fight with Gar Saxon, and the less said about his opinion on me using a blaster the better – regarding my performance against Gar, I’d headed to see her as soon as I could.

    I’d tried to apologize for not getting to her quicker, but she’d smiled and stated I didn’t need to apologise. The decision to do the verd’goten was hers, and hers alone. I'd smiled as she added that she knew I’d be the one to find her.

    I'd then used the few days that Serra was kept under observation in Sundari’s main medical centre to consider my actions again on the Cin Vhetin. Specifically, my choice to not engage Player’s Mind.

    While I’d decided to not use it in combat situations – the cons of it denying me access to my emotions, and the chemical reactions those produced, out-weighed the pros of it allowing me to remain emotionally stable – I hadn’t planned to just ignore the ability. I thought that I’d be able to retain control of my emotions in non-combat situations, though I failed to take into account the effect a strong Force bond would have on me, and my growing and developing new body.

    Honestly, having to go through puberty again, and the often unbalanced and irrational emotional reactions that brought was a pain, but I’d take that over not being able to feel if I just kept Player’s Mind active all the time, which was possible now. Yes, there would be moments where I acted like a freaking child – such as what had happened over Kiffu – but I felt that it was better in the long run for me to allow my body to develop naturally to handle emotions than become reliant on the crutch of a power that was not entirely under my control – which I suspected was why I’d acted so immaturely over Kiffu – or to place blind faith in the Force to guide me.

    After the doctors had given her the all-clear, and Master Drallig was assured by Duke Adonai that while Serra was now Mando’ade, she wouldn’t be called upon to choose between her new people and the Jedi, a feast had been arranged in Serra’s honour.

    The feast had been a real eye-opener for both Serra and me. Serra was clearly shocked to see so many people willing to celebrate her becoming one of them, even after I explained the significance of her being the first Mandalorian Jedi in millennia. I had expected the feast since Bo and Naz had mentioned that it was a custom to have one with family and friends, but what caught me off guard was how rowdy and loud the feast was. Though calling it a feast was an understatement as the thing was more like a block party mixed with an excuse to get drunk. Not that it seemed Mandalorians needed an excuse.

    Adonai had started things off officially – it was clear from the overwhelming smell of alcohol that many had started early – by giving a speech stating that a new clan had joined the ranks of the Mando’ade, Clan Keto.

    After everyone had cheered Serra – who was embarrassed to be the centre of attention – he’d told those gathered a little about her. He’d spoken about her arriving from Coruscant and how, even though she was raised a Jedi, she embraced the ways of the Mando’ade and after completing her verd’goten now stood as one of them.

    After that, a large tray was brought, and revealed to have the preserved head of the spark-dragon on it; the knife I’d loaned her still buried to the hilt in its head. Adonai called out that this beast was the symbol of Serra and the new Clan Keto and a banner unfurled behind the guest of honour. The central mark was that of a snake’s head with a single fin rising high above the head – mirroring where Serra’s knife had embedded itself – and it was encircled by the wings of the Jedi sigil.

    While Serra blushed up a storm in embarrassment at this, I liked it as it merged both parts of who she was now, Jedi and Mandalorian. I even saw Drallig smile at the banner, then chuckle at his Padawans’ discomfort.

    From there the celebration began. The rest of the dragon had been cooked and was wheeled in, with Serra taking the ceremonial first bite of her kill. I found it tasted soft, with a sweet aroma and my brow rose when I discovered that it restored all my stamina – and granted me a temporary boost to my Stamina regen for the next few hours. The spider and static tree were also cooked, though I didn’t like the taste of either. The spider tasted acidic, even under the spices the cooks had drowned it in, while the tree reminded me of kelp.

    Soon after that, Bo, Naz and our teammates had come over, carrying jugs of what I learnt later were kri'gee, ne'tra gal and wine. Serra was given the choice of which to drink and chose the wine, though when she took a sip, she still spluttered and coughed which made everyone laugh before Naz offered me a drink.

    I’d mentioned that even by Mandalorian standards I was underage, but Bo waved that off by explaining that since I was Akaan’lor of the Institute, I was expected to lead the drinkers.

    The excuse sounded flimsy, but the chance to finally drink again after four long years wasn’t something I wanted to turn down. Thus, I’d grabbed a mug and filled it with ne’tra gal. The ale had a sweet taste and seemed to stick to my throat as it went down, but all in all, it was a good drink.

    Everyone had been surprised when I hadn’t reacted to downing the mug, and I had to explain it away by saying my grandfather had allowed me to drink wine since I turned seven. The real reason I’d not reacted was that some of the adverse effects of the drink were countered by Player’s Body. A quick Interface pop-up notified me that this applied to alcohol in general as well.

    I still got intoxicated – 12% according to the notice that appeared after I downed the mug – and suffered a corresponding delay in my reactions and coordination. But that was it. The Interface explained that I’d not suffer from hangovers, nor risk permanent damage to my body by over-drinking; save that when I reached one hundred per cent intoxication I’d pass out.

    I also discovered a new skill, Damage Resistance: Bio-Chemical, which, if I was reading the description correctly, could be levelled up easily by drinking and offered some protection from poisons and other biochemical substances.

    To prove that I wasn’t bullshitting or using some Force power, Bo had raced to get the bracers and I’d drunk mugs of the kri'gee, which tasted bitter and had a higher alcohol percentage than the ale. After that, I tried the wine, which bordered on vodka for its alcohol content and was slightly less bitter than the kri’gee. Though my intoxication percentage skyrocketed to around 70%, I had gotten the first few levels of Damage Resistance: Bio-Chemical cleared, so I felt it was a fair trade.

    After this, Huzu had asked Serra to describe her hunt. She’d explained that normally, though not always, there’d be an aerial recording of the hunt for the crowd to watch while the new Mando’ade described the event.

    Serra had become even more embarrassed about retelling her story, but after everyone bar myself begged her, she relented. Her story-telling needed work, but she’d been able to describe how she’d hunted the spider and stumbled onto the dragon and what she’d done to take it down.

    I’d been immensely proud of her for breaking from Jedi thinking to hunt the spider as trying to take it head-on would’ve been extremely dangerous for her, though Serra had almost seemed ashamed of the fact she’d almost died on her hunt. However, Andeeld had soothed her worries but saying that he’d been badly hurt on his verd’goten – a male kath hound during mating season – and others had added in that it was fairly common for people to be injured during the trial.

    There was a moment where I thought Serra was conflicted about not having been able to keep a scar from her hunt, but I didn’t push her about it and only Rook Kast, who had drifted over while Bo had run to get the bracers, had offered a comment about her new, shorter hairstyle. Though that comment had been about maybe dying the hair while it was short, which Rook had clearly done as now hers was dark blue.

    With the celebration in full swing, and most people beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol, a few fights had broken out at some of the tables. Adonai had stopped Drallig and Dooku from intervening by saying it as normal and considered the sign of a good party on Mandalore, and I’d caught Fay smile and look away at that, likely because she was remembering something that had happened years before.

    Thankfully, or not depending on your opinion, Rook decided that fighting wasn’t the way to go and decided that we’d all be better off going to a singing room. A cold shiver went down my spine at hearing that, as it sounded a lot like something from my old life. And that fear was confirmed when, after leaving the party and walking through Keldabe for about ten minutes, we entered the Mandalorian equivalent of a KTV.

    The urge to burn the place to the ground was strong, but I resisted as Serra looked intrigued. Though the look she gave me as we entered promised that she’d find a way to get me to sing for her.

    While Mandalorian songs were… different. They weren’t the worst thing I’d ever heard and everyone else had fun taking turns singing; or butchering a song as Raun did, as he had the singing voice of a wounded bantha. That was until Serra persuaded me – read begged until I relented – to sing for her.

    I was relieved to discover that Mandalorian singing houses had instruments for if someone wanted to play along with a song, as I had little interest in singing one of their songs. Everything seemed to revolve around fighting, drinking or… other things. Which, I accepted made sense, but I’d have appreciated a greater variety.

    While my more normal song choices like ‘Lean on Me’ weren’t popular – even if Naz seemed to take the song to do exactly that – ‘Living on a Prayer’, ‘My Life’ and ‘Here I go Again’ were. Though the song that the group soon adopted as their own was ‘We Will Rock You’, which in retrospect wasn’t a surprise.

    When we’d finally returned to the party, everyone in various states of inebriation, our masters and Duke Adonai had taken Bo, Serra, Naz and me back to Sundari to sleep off the festivities.

    The following day, once everyone else had recovered from their hangovers – Player’s Body for the win - Adonai had given Serra two gifts.

    The first was a cloak made from the skin of the spark-dragon. According to Adonai, and confirmed by a quick use of Observe, it was partially resistant to electricity and while it would be a little big for her now, once she was fully grown, it would likely serve as a replacement for Serra’s Jedi robes.

    The second gift, and one that surprised me due to the value involved, were a pair of boots made from the skin. Though what drove up my estimation of them was the shin-guards – well more like shin and knee guards for Serra currently – that were attached to the boots and were made of a beskar alloy. While not pure beskar, they would be more than able to withstand most blasts against them and could even resist lightsabers for a significant amount of time; something we had tested later that day.

    The shin-guards were transferable so that when Serra grew out of the boots, she could attach them to another pair. Adonai said it was to help remind her that no matter where she went in life, or what happened to her, she’d always have a home with her fellow Mando’ade.

    Serra had teared up at that and hugged the man. While a likely a breach of protocol, no one said anything as it was a heartfelt gesture from the Duke that had caused her to do so.

    While Serra and her master had stayed for a few more days, they’d had to return to the Jedi Temple as Master Drallig had duties to attend to. I also suspected that he wanted to get her away from the Mandalorians before they did anything else that convinced her to leave the Jedi for them.

    Before they had gone, Drallig had given me some basic instruction in Jar’Kai, and while I hadn’t had enough time to get the skill to Novice:25 – the point from where I could self-train it up myself, which was different from the first five forms of lightsaber combat; likely because it needed more training before I could self-study – it was a start. Plus, he’d promised to show me more once I returned to the Temple, though I was averse to doing so anytime in the next year or so as I’d rather let cooler heads prevail before the High Council spoke with me about my actions on Mandalore.

    Dooku hadn’t been impressed when he’d discovered I’d taken lessons from Drallig on Jar’Kai, but I’d explained that I was only doing so to allow me to better understand the style. I’d reasoned that the best way to counter a style or form of combat was to study it myself and he’d accepted that reasoning. This was because, while he was the Order’s foremost expert in Makashi – though he expected me to take that title once I was knighted – he had mastered the basics of the other six forms.

    I’d dropped a very subtle hint in my reasoning about the darkness that was coming, and the barest of inflections as he spoke about the most aggressive form, Juyo, had me believing he had heard my hint and agreed with me. Though the only reason we’d had to speak like that was because the whole conversation had taken place in front of Drallig and Serra, and while I trusted Serra wouldn’t have said anything if I’d mentioned my ‘’visions of the future’’, the same couldn’t be said of Master Drallig.

    Thinking on that talk, and the sessions I’d had with Dooku before he too had left the planet to return to his hunt for his former Padawan Komari Vosa, had my hand drifting instinctively slid to the hilt of my lightsaber. There was something reassuring about it being there, as though a very part of me existed within the blade. Which was possibly true as the crystals within were bonded to me.

    The soft, familiar contour of the hilt removed my unease at Serra not being here and brought me back firmly to the present.

    A few birds sung in the trees as I enjoyed the rest of the walk from the gate to the main campus of the Institute.

    Akaan’lor Shan, welcome.” I turned my head to see Rangemaster Marod leaning against a building. His stance was relaxed, but I watched as his eyes drifted from me to our surroundings. The man may have been old, but the mantra of constant vigilance was one the Rangemaster clearly believed in.

    “Rangemaster.” I replied as I stopped and pulled my hand from my hilt. Nothing in his stance was threatening, nor was Precognition reacting so standing there with my hand on my lightsaber would likely not be an ideal stance.

    The movement drew a small smile from the old man. “I see you understand the need to be continuously prepared. Even in a secure location such as this, danger is never too far away.”

    “I believe I learnt that lesson last session.” I said as I felt a smirk creep onto my face.

    Marod laughed once, though it sounded more akin to a rumble than a laugh, before he pushed himself off the wall and walked towards me. “True. Now come, the Commandant wishes to speak with you.”

    Years of training came to the fore as I easily fell into step behind the Rangemaster. He led me down a small path next to the building he’d been leaning against to the central area where the Institute’s flag flew outside the command complex, and where the Commandant and Wrajud were waiting.

    If I was right, the initiation for the new group of trainees would begin in around thirty minutes. Though that meant Bo and Naz were late as they’d not taken the same shuttle as me from Sundari to Keldabe, choosing to… enjoy themselves in a room they thought was far enough away from the main passages of the Duke’s palace that no one would hear them.

    The Commandant had her back to me and from the looks of things was speaking calmly with Wrajud. Probably about a few last-minute details they had to sort out for this session, but that was just a guess on my part. As we approached, Wrajud caught sight of us and must’ve said something to the Commandant as she turned to face us.

    “Aye, trainee Shan. Excellent.” The commandant began as she took a step towards me. “It’s good to see you’ve returned. Most Akaan’lore are in their senior session so it isn’t often we have a returning champion.”

    I shrugged. “I’m still not old enough to attempt my verd’goten, so returning for a second session seemed logical.”

    “True. Still, it will do the other trainees good to have a clear target to aim for. Though I doubt you will face a serious challenge before the end-of-session tournament.” The Commandant observed with a smile. “However, that is not why I wished to speak with you. There are two issues that need to be addressed before the session begins.”

    “First, as you are the new Akaan’lor, you and your team are allowed to stay in building fifteen. Even though you won the solo tournament, we do not think that separating a fighting champion from their team is the correct approach. Therefore, the members of the Akaan’lor join them in the champion’s barracks.”

    “Nice.” Was my reply at hearing that as the idea that I’d have to stay in a separate location from my teammates was something I’d been concerned about.

    “Indeed.” The Commandant agreed as Marod chuckled. “Secondly, as you are no doubt aware, the withdraw of our newest Mando’ade, Serra Keto, from the Institute has left your team a member short while also resulting in a slot for a new trainee.”

    “Would it be safe to assume that there are contingencies for such things happening?” I asked, making the Commandant’s smile grow as she nodded.

    “Indeed. When such things happen, a tournament is made available for the top five students from each satellite training centre on the planet, and across the sector. While not all chose to take part, some prefer to be closer to their clans or are settled in their current centre, most do.”

    “It’s been a little over a decade since the last make-up tournament.” Marod offered. “However, that was for a slot in Laamyc group.”

    “Yes.” The Commandant rolled her eyes at Marod’s extra information, though the Rangemaster couldn’t see the gesture and I didn’t react to let him know.

    “This year, the winner of trainee Keto’s vacated slot has caused… concern.” She tapped at her gauntlet and a small hologram of a male appeared. Nothing about him jumped out, save that there was a passing resemblance to Gar. “Tiber Saxon was the winner of the slot.” I felt my brow rise at hearing his name and wondered what I’d done to keep drawing that clan’s attention.

    Wrajud snorted quietly at my reaction, likely meaning he found the idea of my having to deal with another of Girk Saxon’s kids amusing. I didn’t as I had a feeling that Tiber lacked the… maturity of Gar to understand why their father had died at my hands.

    “Yes, to confirm your suspicions, Tiber is the youngest son of Girk Saxon and Instructor Vizsla.” Kraviss continued. “Normally assigning a replacement trainee is a simple matter. However, given to your history with the former clan chief, and the fact Tiber has been more… vocal in displeasure about Jedi studying here, I felt you deserved the right to deny his entry to the Institute.” She paused and crossed her arms as she looked down at me. “Do understand that, if you do not wish him to join your team, there will be no second choice. Your team will compete this session a warrior down.”

    “Ah.” My short response drew a chuckle from Marod. “While I wonder why this wasn’t mentioned to me earlier, as I doubt the tournament finished today, I suspect there’s a reason for that. Perhaps a test?”

    “Not a test. More a way for us to judge your… suitability to lead.” The Commandant replied, her smile widening. “Most squad leaders lack the wherewithal to be anything more than unit commanders. Rarely do we meet one who is a candidate for command training.”

    “However, that class is only available to trainees in the Laamyc group.” Wrajud said with a smile on his face. Though, unlike the Commandant, Wrajud’s smile wasn’t overly friendly, being more of a sneer as he leaned towards me and his tone made him sound amused that the class was denied to me.

    “Sadly true. I take it this will be your last session with us?” The commandant asked, ignoring her Chief Instructor’s apparent glee.

    “Yes.” I replied simply. While I was enjoying my time here, I knew I had other things to do. Other plans to begin to enact and skills to learn. “Might I have a moment to consider my choice regarding Tiber Saxon?”

    “Certainly. However, I must say that if you don’t prevent him from joining your team in the next ten minutes, I’ll have no choice but to confirm his admittance.”

    I nodded at her in response as I considered the choices. Not taking Tiber would leave my team down a body; making reaching the end-of-session tournament difficult and all but guaranteeing we wouldn’t win. The four teams in the semi-finals of the last tournament had graduated, which meant my team had a fair shot at bettering our performance, if not out-right winning the whole thing so hampering that chance before we even started seemed stupid.

    Yet, taking a new person into a team that I’d spent months training and moulding into a solid unit risked damaging cohesion and setting us back. I also had to consider the fact that Tiber was the brother of Gar and the Commandant’s brief description of him. Reading between the lines, it sounded as though Tiber was very much anti-Jedi – or at the very least, anti-me – and there was a decent chance he would be cancer for the unit.

    But, if I didn’t take him, it could damage the growing respect Gar held for me, and that of his friends and former teammates. Not to mention it could influence how their mother treated me. Nia was friendly around me – almost to the point she seemed to treat me as another son – and losing, if not an ally, then at least a supportive voice, among the staff here could be problematic. Additionally, not taking Tiber onto my team would certainly drive his apparent dislike for me to new levels, thus giving Pre an all but certain recruit for Death Watch.

    I sighed as I realised that despite my concerns, I was left with no choice.

    “Fine. I’ll accept him into my team.” I said, earning nods from the three adults. “After all, how bad can it get?”

    ……



    ……

    Note to self, don’t ever tempt Murphy, or the Force, again. I really should’ve known better.

    That thought passed through my mind as I stalked into the changing rooms after another failed team exercise. Eight events, eight failures. While we hadn’t finished last in Diryc group for seven of those, our scores were constantly in the bottom ten per cent of all teams in the group.

    I slumped onto the bench outside my locker and watched as all of Brown-nine bar Huzu trudged past me towards their lockers. With Huzu and me being the leader and SIC of the team, we had lockers in a separate row, to allow us time to discuss things quietly apart from the team either just before or just after an exercise.

    As the beginning of their grumbles began to filter around the empty locker room, I thought back to the previous session. Initially, there’d been growing pains as the team came to term with having two Jedi on the team, and myself as the leader. We hadn’t done badly, ranking around mid-table in Diryc, but for the first month, we never came close to the top ten teams. Though a lot of that was me abusing my carried over combat skills to at least make our performance respectful.

    Over time, as the team bonded, and they accepted me and Serra, we rose through the ranks and qualified for the end-of-session tournament. Yet this session, with Tiber Saxon replacing Serra, and everyone gunning for us due to me being Akaan’lor, there was virtually no signs of us being a cohesive unit.

    Plus, there was a fair chance that the other teams spent some of the time between sessions training and bonding; something we hadn’t done due to Serra’s verd’goten and spending time with our masters. Though I had to take some of the blame for that as I hadn't considered it of any importance in the month before Serra returned to the Jedi Temple.

    “That could’ve gone better.” Huzu Cadora muttered as she all but threw her chest-armour into her locker next to mine. “Shab! Saxon almost shot Ginia in the back!”

    “I know.” I growled out as I ran my hand down my face in annoyance. While it wasn’t fair to blame one person for all our failings, Tiber was the root cause of most, maybe even ninety per cent, of them.

    “So how are you going to fix this?” she asked as she began to unclasp her thigh guards. “And don’t say you’ll talk with him. That hasn’t done shab’an so far.”

    “What would you suggest?” I answered her question with one of my own as I disabled the Force-suppression bracers. Because outside of some corrective training – read me beating the ever-loving shit out of him – I was drawing a blank on how to deal with Tiber.

    The boy – and that’s what he was even if he was older than me by six months – acted like he knew better than everyone on our team. Regularly he would suggest his own plans for team events or ways to improve a team member’s performance in another exercise. Yet almost none of his ideas worked, nor was he willing to take on any suggestion I gave him.

    If not for the resemblance between them, I’d never believe that Gar and Tiber were siblings. The pair were nothing alike.

    “Aggressive persuasion.” She suggested and I chuckled as I dropped the bracers on the small bench for changing. “And by that, I mean knocking him on his shebs.”

    “While th…”

    --BANG--

    What I was going to say was cut off by something banging loudly against the lockers from where the rest of our team was gathered. Both Huzu and I moved, wanting to get around the intervening lockers to see what was going on with the team. Though in my mind, I was all but certain who the source of the disturbance was.

    “RAUN!” Bhae all but shouted; her voice echoing around the rest of the empty changing area.

    --BANG--

    Even as Huzu and I reached the turn from where our lockers were to where the rest of the team was gathered, another bang echoed around the room. This time, however, the sound came not from the lockers between us and our team but the lockers on the other side of the area where the team stored their gear.

    As we rounded the corner to those lockers, we saw Raun and Tiber grappling on the ground. Tiber managed to catch Raun with a knee to the gut, but it was weak and didn’t seem to bother Raun in the slightest. The bench that should’ve stood between the two rows of lockers was smashed into the far-lockers – explaining the second bang – with the rest of the team was either trying to pull the two brawling boys apart or cheering Raun on.

    “Enough!” I hollered, but the pair continued to grapple with Raun landing a weak fist against Tiber’s back. “I said ENOUGH!” To make sure they listened, I used the Force to pull the pair apart, and slammed them into the roof of the locker room.

    Me’bana?” Huzu all but hissed at the remaining members of our team as I glared at the two boys. Odds were this was Tiber’s fault, but I wasn’t going to jump to conclusions.

    “Tiber mouthed off again, then Raun reacted.” Bhae explained, sending a short glare at the two boys as they flailed helplessly against the ceiling.

    “He blamed Bhae for us losing when it was his fault!” Raun snarled, his eyes barely any bigger than pinpricks as he glowered at Tiber. “Then called me a jetii sheb’urcyin.”

    “Your nose is so far up his shebs, I’m surprised you can’t taste what he eats!” Tiber taunted back.

    I pinched my nose and sighed loudly. This was getting ridiculous. I ignored Raun as he retorted, though I noted down the rather colourful expressions the pair began to throw at each other in Mando’a. An urge to throttle Tiber bubbled up inside, but I pushed it back down. While the idea had an appeal, there were too many issues with removing Tiber from things permanently. Not least that the urge to do so made the niggling feeling that I suspected were whispers from the darkest parts of my psyche mixed with the Force grow louder.

    There had to be a way to shut them up with the Force.

    Force Power Discovered!
    Silence
    Allows the Player to block all incoming and outgoing sound in an area.
    Seeing the new power made me both hopeful and excited. After all, this was the first new power since I’d discovered Force Enlightenment, Sever Force, Force Fury, and Force Fear near the end of the last session after carefully going over every conceivable power from KOTOR 1 and 2. True, Fay had spent time teaching me how to alter a Force Barrier into a bubble that covered every direction – though it was considerably weaker in overall strength – but still, every potential new skill gave me a bit of a thrill, and I valued the notifications when they came now, as I wasn't sure how many more new ones I'd manage to find. However, a more thorough read of the description removed any of the hope for the current situation.

    Force Silence only worked to negate the travelling of sound in a ten-centimetre bubble around myself. I expected that, like all my powers, the range would increase with practice and hopefully I’d be able to re-centre that bubble. Though that was of little use to me now.

    “SHUT UP!” I shouted as I brought them down quickly, mimicking them freefalling, only to stop their motion mere centimetres above the floor. “This ends now. Am I clear?”

    Even though I’d just shown that I could take them both out with a thought, neither acknowledged me. Instead, they preferred to glare at each other. To ensure their attention I used the Force to slowly choke them.

    Both boy’s eyes enlarged as they realised they couldn’t breathe properly, and their attention finally turned to me. I glared at both even as I saw the rest of my team look rapidly from the two boys to me. Both Bhae and Mirali reacted with raised brows but the rest seemed less shocked by my actions.

    “I said, am I clear?” I growled out even as I firmly clamped down on my emotions and ignored the mild rush from the feeling of sudden power and domination I was getting.

    “Y-yes.” Raun managed to get out, his voice weak as he struggled to breathe.

    Accepting Raun’s acceptance, I turned my attention to Tiber, who chose to scowl at me. Likely he was trying to stay strong, to prove that he was better than me, but we both knew that wasn’t the case. I released Raun, letting him drop the few centimetres to the floor from where I’d been casually holding him, and turned my full attention to the youngest child of Girk Saxon.

    I took a step towards him, leaving him unable to look up at me, and increased the pressure of the Force Crush I was applying to his throat.

    I knelt, bringing me back into eyesight for him. His eyes narrowed as he grunted out what could’ve been an ‘ok’. Still, I wasn’t ready to release him.

    “Listen carefully Saxon, because I’m only going to say this once. I know you blame me for your father’s death and for the apparent fractures in your family since both your elder brother and mother are supportive of my actions. I don’t really know if you hate me, or are always this much of an arsehole, but honestly, I. Just. Don’t. Care.” I growled out each word slowly as I gradually increased the pressure on his throat.

    “However, what I do care about is the fact that you’re a cancer on this unit. If you can not, or will not, learn to control yourself and behave like a civilized being and work with your teammates… Well, then the next time we speak I’ll be far less forgiving.” As I all but whispered my warning to him, I used the Force to chill the room, meaning he could see and feel my breath. “Understood?”

    Tiber glared or tried to as it was hard to be threatening when your cheeks were slowly changing colour from a lack of oxygen. Eventually, after holding my gaze, he lowered his eyes and I saw his body relax against the invisible pressure the Force was applying on it.

    “Good. Now get up.” I said as I stood and stopped using the Force. As he crashed the short distance to the floor, I looked at the rest of my team. All of them were looking at me as if they were seeing someone new, which made sense as this was one of the rare moments when I stopped playing nice. Raun was tenderly stroking his throat, though he would be fine as I hadn’t applied enough pressure to inflict any damage.

    “That’s eight events we’ve sucked at, and I for one am sick to kriffing death of having my ass handed to me by the other teams. As of this moment, we’re going to start training harder and winning or Force help me, ni cetar’narir gar’shebs!”

    I didn’t bother giving any of them time to reply, choosing instead to turn and stormed back to my locker.

    Once there, I collapsed onto the bench and took slow, deep breaths. Even though I hadn’t meant for it to happen, the rush of enjoyment for the power and control had grown stronger and started to leak into my words, posture and actions. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry, or at least not as quickly, but the feelings themselves had a basis of justification. Tiber was being an arsehole and needed to be taught a lesson.

    I kept taking slow, deep breaths and the turbulence and yearning receded, finally reaching a point where, unless I concentrated on it, I no longer felt it. More than likely this was how the Dark Side tempted people, at least initially. Though even if that was the case, mentally I should know better than to get so angry about something so trivial in the grand scheme of things. Yet I had gotten angry, once again showing that even though I was mentally a lot older than I looked, my new body and mind were still young and maturing.

    Putting the issues related to my rebirth in this universe out of my mind, I made a mental note to speak with Fay via holocall about this tomorrow. Hopefully, she’d have some insight or meditation exercise that could help temper the yearning, or at least ensure that I remained in control when it surfaced.

    Even if I didn’t want to consider it was a reason, I couldn’t escape the fact that the three quests linked to this session were another reason as to why I’d been so quick to anger. Of the three, Force Recon Mark 2 had suffered the smallest drop in potential XP, with just a ten per cent XP on offer compared to the initial quest. Alpha Dog Mark 2 had suffered a massive thirty per cent drop in XP while Sniper Elite Mark 2 dropped fifteen per cent.

    While the drops made sense – I’d won the Akaan’lor tournament last session and was the clear favourite to repeat this session while I was already top of both blaster marksmanship tables – it was annoying to have to deal with the fact that the quests were offering less XP.

    I hadn’t taken any training quests at the start of this session, as none of the skills that were taught were ones that I felt I could reach the next milestone for in time without dumping an obscene number of skill points for, at best, middling XP rewards. Well, there was Marksmanship, but I felt it better to not spend most of my free evenings at the range and with it aiming for Prodigy:1, it was a high bar to reach.

    Most of my free time was taken up by training others. Initially, it had just been Ebbe Ordo, my team, and Bo and Naz’s teams, but soon others started to come to the training sessions and while that had given me regular boosts to my Teaching skill, I hadn't taken a quest for it as I was more focused on training and getting to know people that I felt could be useful for future operations than a short-term XP gain from a quest.

    Though from the little free time I truly had, I'd decided to get Ataru, Shien, Djem So and Niman as close to Professional:50 as I could so all were ready for future training quests and the rest of my time was spent exercising or swimming. Though this was excluding the hour every two nights I had to spend with Fay as she'd decided to stay on-planet in case, as she put it, the Force decided to arrange another test for me.

    Still, I’d get an XP boost on my thirteenth birthday, which should take me to Level 25, and a new Player Power.

    However, with my birthday being just over a month away, it wasn’t something to dwell on. More worthy of my attention, were ways I could improve my team’s performance. While Battle Meditation: Active seemed the obvious answer, it wasn’t really an option. That power would likely be sensed by my teammates if I used it, and even without the bracers, I could only run it for about three minutes. And that required me to not use any other Force Power.

    Finally, having managed to reach a point where I felt calm and in total control again, I began to remove my armour. There were a few ideas I had, though most were linked to things my old unit had done on Earth to improve cooperation, trust and coordination within the squads.

    All those ideas would need Tiber to take my warning to heart and not need me to take things further. However, I couldn’t deny that the idea of some cognitive realignment – meaning beating the shite out of him – wasn’t appealing.

    ……



    ……

    I woke the morning of my thirteen birthday and smirked at seeing the two notifications I’d expected.

    It's Your Birthday!
    To help with your growth, each birthday you gain 1/6 of your current level's needed XP.
    (+10% due to Boosted Growth)
    This will last until you reach 18 cycles, and the system will upgrade.
    Knowledge Skills suffer 10*strata levels of degradation.
    NOTE:
    Degradation removed due to Eidetic Memory.
    ……

    Level Up!
    24 -> 25
    FP: +650
    PP: +2
    STAM: +41
    SP: +3
    SKP: +22
    PPP: +1
    With the smile still on my face, I waved away the birthday and level-up notifications and pulled up the list of available Player Powers.
    PLAYER POWERS
    These are powers and skills that are unique to The Player and earned by spending Player Power Points [PPP].
    Currently, you have 1 PPP.
    Many Player Powers have requirements that depend on the Player’s level, or stat values and will remain hidden until their requirements are met.
    Player Powers may grant abilities that mirror, or even surpass, what many consider to be ‘Dark-Side Force powers’ so be careful when using them around ‘Light-Side Force users’.
    Currently, you have the following Player Powers:
    Heart of the Force [2/2]
    Inventory
    Player’s Mind
    Player’s Body
    Observe
    Silent Interface

    Available Powers:
    Colour Shift
    Enhanced Inventory
    Enlarge/Shrink
    Glamours
    Greater Minimap Mark 1
    Superior Inventory
    Upgraded Minimap Mark 1
    I hadn’t expected any new choices for Player Powers as I hadn’t gotten any new options for Perks at level 24. Still, it would’ve been nice.

    I already had considered which option to take and while improvements to my Inventory would be useful, and Glamours and Enlarge/Shrink were interesting, the simple fact was that my minimap was far and away the most useful part of the Interface. Therefore, upgrading it was the priority, and being able to see hidden locations within range was currently the better choice.

    I selected Upgraded Minimap Mark 1 and instantly it showed a maze of tunnels beneath the Institute. I smirked at that as it proved the power was working, plus I’d expected that there were hidden tunnels beneath the place. The Instructors seemed able to get from one place to another faster than I could and appeared in places that weren’t on my minimap.

    Also, I hadn’t seen any droids wandering around the grounds, or detected any within range of the minimap. Now, that might just be because the Mandalorians preferred to do things manually, which was probable as I hadn’t seen many droids in Sundari. Yet, even if they hired people to handle the jobs that people in this galaxy usually assigned to droids, that part of the staff was rarely ever seen when they should be drifting around the campus. At least now, I had the layout of the actual access tunnels and passageways that weren’t available to the trainees available to me. Not that I expected to need it, but the confirmation that the Player Power worked as advertised was nice.

    “Hey birthday boy, you coming?” Andeeld called and I turned my head to see him standing at the door to our dorm room.

    “Yeah. Just thinking.” I replied as I stood and mentally dismissed the interface notifications. “And drop the birthday osik.”

    Andeeld chuckled as he turned and walked out of the room “Nope.” He called once he was out of sight, being smart enough to know I’d launch something at him. Though if I wanted to be petty, I could still hit him thanks to the Force.

    Instead of doing that, and ignoring the laughter that I could hear from him, I grunted then stood.

    Soon enough I was outside the champion’s barracks to see my team waiting.

    “Any ideas of where you’d like to hunt for your verd’goten?” Huzu asked as we all began the walk to the canteen.

    “Trainee Shan.” I turned at hearing my rank and name. That cut me off from replying to Huzu, and I saw that it was Nia who had called out to me. “Follow me.”

    I dropped into step just behind the Instructor – and Gar and Tiber’s mother – as she led me away from the canteen.

    “The Commandant wishes to speak with you, for reasons I think you already know.” Nia began once we were out of earshot. “Though while we walk perhaps you could explain your choice of team bonding with regards to my son.”

    “Ah.” I began as I got my thoughts together. “Short answer, he was a problem and talks and warnings didn’t work.”

    “So you felt that forcing him to fight you in a spar was the way to go?” She asked without turning to face me as we slid between two smaller storage buildings.

    “It was either that or name him ge’hutuun if he refused.” I replied. Nia abruptly stopped at my reply and snapped around to look at me.

    Tiber had taken my warning in the locker room to heart, for all of two weeks. So, just over a month ago, I’d confronted him about his causing problems and given him an ultimatum.

    Either he challenged me to a spar to settle this or I would take him to an empty training room with the rest of our team then dismantle him without holding back on the Force. And while he was recovering in the medical centre from the beatdown I’d lay upon him, I’d publicly denounce him as ge’hutuun.

    That was one of the worst things you could call a Mandalorian as it meant that the person was less than a coward.

    With those being his only options, and given that I’d stated them clearly in front of our team, Tiber was forced to put up as he hadn’t shut up and he challenged me during the next evening sparring session. To say it didn’t go well for him would be like saying a Wookie was hairy.

    From the moment the spar had begun, I’d systematically started targeting the flaws in his form while loudly explaining those flaws for all to hear as I countered them, and all without ever having to use the Force. This had only served to anger him, but that was what I’d planned on and as I’d expected, he’d grown angrier and sloppier in his attacks.

    After nearly ten minutes of me picking him apart, and explaining how I was doing so, Instructor Wrajud had stepped in and ended the spar. By that point, Tiber had suffered a broken forearm, a dislocated shoulder and a fractured ankle.

    As Tiber was placed on a repulsor-gurney, Wrajud had glared at me before speaking quietly to Tiber. Thanks to Enhance Senses I’d heard everything the man had whispered and listened to him give Tiber what was a recruitment pitch for Death Watch in all but name.

    While that was a problem, I honestly hadn’t expected Tiber to be willing to fight beside me; not without truly seeing what I could do in real combat. All I could hope was that Tiber showing a clear interest in what Wrajud was selling didn’t result in Gar being drawn to Death Watch as well.

    The few weeks since then had been strange as while Wrajud had been harsh towards me – Observe informed me that he was doing it to further cement Tiber’s interest in Death Watch – Nia hadn’t shown any obvious reaction to me brutalising her son.

    Hell, Fay had given me more of a dressing down than Nia. Though even that wasn’t that bad as Fay understood that soldiers had to follow orders, even when they didn’t agree with them. Though she was disappointed that I’d resorted to such a brutal method to get the point across to my team member. She’d also taken me aside every other evening since then for time for me to ‘focus on my actions in the Force’. Meaning I’d had lost half of my limited free time at the Institute to meditation, though it wasn’t a bad thing as meditating with Fay present granted a good bonus - 15% - to my Force Power experience growth.

    Nia’s behaviour, or lack thereof, had confused me, as I was all but certain that Tiber went to his mother to complain. Yet, until this talk, she hadn’t brought up the subject with me at all. Which was true of the other instructors. Perhaps issues between team members were more common than I realised, or I was getting special treatment due to being a Jedi, or Akaan’lor; or possibly both. Regardless, the lack of comment from the Instructors, and Nia in particular, had confused me.

    Or it had until I’d used Observe on Nia and learnt that she was disappointed in both of us, though more so in Tiber. And that she was worried that the differing opinions held by her children over me would lead to a family feud, though she wasn’t going to interfere as both Tiber and Gar were considered adults by Mandalorian standards.

    While to many, the fact Nia hadn’t gone after me for my actions, either officially or unofficially, might seem strange – if not an example of bad parenting - to a warrior society like those of the real Mandalorians, it made sense. In a strange sort of way. And critically, it had worked as Tiber had fallen into line and the team had shown a marked improvement since then, climbing to sixteenth – previously, we had been thirty-second out of forty – in the team rankings.

    “That—” She paused and cleared her throat. “Things had gotten that bad?” She asked slowly.

    “Sadly, yes. He was regularly disobeying instructions, costing us battles, not following orders, and antagonizing the other members of my team.” I explained. “The only other choice would’ve been to ask the Commandant to remove him, but that would’ve resulted in a stain on your family’s honour as well as his own, and I’d rather not have Gar go back to hating me.”

    “That’s unlikely to happen.” Nia replied slowly. “The last few years… Simply put they’ve begun to develop different interests and beliefs. Anyway, have there been any issues since your spar with Tiber?” She asked, changing the subject from her family issues – somehow I suspected I was the root cause of a lot of those issues – and back to a more relevant topic.

    “So far, no. For all our… disagreements, Tiber’s a decent soldier. Not on the level of Gar maybe, but solid.” I responded honestly. “I know he wants to say something, or act against my orders but so far, he’s toeing the line.”

    Tiber still glared at me whenever he thought I wasn’t looking, but with my dismantling of him still fresh in his mind, he was staying quiet. I also hoped that the quiet talk I’d had with him in the medical the day after our spar was having an effect. There, I’d explained simply that if he chose to step out of line one more time, I’d ensure that our next spar would be far, far more brutal.

    “Hmm. Well, if there are any more issues with Tiber, perhaps you could inform me before choosing to handle the issue in a public setting?” She asked and I nodded.

    “Of course.”

    Nia, apart from being an instructor at the Institute, was someone that had the potential to be a useful ally in the future. Plus, so long as she stayed friendly with me, I felt I had a fair shot at gaining Gar as a loyal soldier. I doubted we’d ever become friends but having someone willing to trust your command without any personal attachment and having the fortitude to question if an order felt wrong was not something to dismiss. Thus, allowing my issues with Tiber to cost me two potential allies was foolish at best. And if the pair moved towards working with me and supporting my actions created a problem for Pre as losing his sister and nephew – and the leader of Clan Saxon – would undermine the strength of Death Watch.

    Nia gave me a nod before she turned and resumed walking. I followed along, once more a little put off at how relaxed and unconcerned Nia was about her son’s injuries at my hands. Was this because she felt Tiber needed the attitude correction, or was it a strange result of how my interface and its powers affected the world around me?

    I’d always wondered if my reputation with someone would have them react differently than how I’d expect them to, and this might be the first oblivious case of that. My Reputation with her was Liked, which was higher than I expected, but was it enough for her to brush off her concerns with me demolishing her son or was her parenting approach so markedly different from what I expected that it just felt off?

    While I tried to determine an answer as I followed along behind her, I soon ran out of time as we reached the Commandant’s office, whereupon Nia pressed a small button beside the door.

    “Instructor Vizsla and trainee Shan.” She said into what I realised was an intercom.

    “Enter.” Replied the Commandant from the intercom and the door clicked, likely unlocking the door so we could enter.

    Nia entered first, and I followed, and upon stepping into the office, I saw the Commandant standing with Fay and Dooku.

    “Ah, trainee Shan. Good.” The Commandant said as saw me enter. “I suspect you understand why you’ve been summoned.”

    “It’s my birthday, and strangely, the thirteenth birthday is a day of some importance to both Jedi and Mando’ade.” I replied, which made the Commandant chuckle and Fay smile. Dooku’s reaction was typically understated, with him only raising a single eyebrow in a way that reminded me of someone in another famous science-fiction property as a stray thought wondering if that universe was real like this one had turned out to be flashed through my mind.

    “Yes. Because of this, I’ve granted you dispensation to leave the Institute today, and ensured that your team is moved in the rotation so that they don’t have to take part in a team event while their leader is otherwise occupied.”

    “Thank you, ma’am.”

    The commandant accepted my thanks with a nod before turning to Fay and Dooku. “We return the child to your care. While we understand that the universe often tries to disrupt our plans, I’d be grateful if you could ensure he returns to the Institute no later than twenty-one hundred.”

    Fay tilted her head forward. “Of course, Commandant. And thank you for allowing this.” She turned to me, the smile still on her face, and spoke. “Come along Cameron.”

    I followed my Jedi masters out of the office in silence. Indeed, neither one spoke until we had exited the administrative building that housed the Commandant’s office.

    “I had not considered the fact both our Order and the locals placed importance on a child’s thirteenth nameday.” Dooku commented as my skin was warmed by the sun. “Unexpected.”

    “Those who follow the code of the Resol’nare place importance on it due to it being the age at which a child can become an adult. Though many in the sector no longer do so and prefer to observe the Republic mandate of sixteen cycles as the point upon which a child is legally regarded as an adult.” Fay explained to him before turning to me. “For the Jedi, it marks the official age at which an Initiate is taken a Padawan or assigned to a different direction within the Order.”

    “Wait, does that mean I wasn’t officially Padawan before today?” I asked, which made her laugh softly and had me once more missing the fact I couldn’t hear that sound on a weekly, if not daily, basis while training in the Institute.

    “You were our Padawan from the day you accepted us as your masters.” Dooku answered in his usual stoic tone. “Today is simply… a day of tradition to the Order which marks the moment you are old enough to be classified as a Padawan.”

    “The tradition was in effect even when I was a Padawan, though I do know that it hasn’t always been followed by the Order.” Fay added. “In more… turbulent times, the tradition was often ignored as Padawans could be much older when taken by a Jedi for training. Such as when your great-grandfather was retrained as a Jedi.”

    “Ah.” I said. While I was glad to get the explanation, it wasn’t the most comprehensive.

    “It is a day when master and Padawan meditate and reflect upon their time together and contemplate upon all the good and bad that has happened in their lives up until that point.” Fay expanded, possibly from sensing my lack of understanding from her earlier explanation.

    “You learn as much from the bad as you do the good sort of thing?” I asked.

    “Not how many would describe it, but accurate nonetheless.” Dooku confirmed while Fay agreed with a nod.

    I nodded myself in understanding and filed that all away for when I was old enough to have my own Padawan. While I felt that there many things about the Jedi Order that were flawed, respecting tradition – where it didn’t result in doing stupid things – was something that should be done.

    “Today, we are all going to head to a spot on the planet that I long ago used for meditation.” Fay said as we walked down one of the main paths, moving the conversation onto more present matters.

    I caught sight of a few people glancing our way, but no one said anything. This was surprising as Dooku wasn’t a popular figure on the planet, and both he and Fay were wearing Jedi robes, though neither wore the bog-standard brown ones. I suspected that my standing as Akaan’lor, and the ijaat’akaanir were enough for most to not risk annoying me with a snide comment.

    “You are sure this place was not…” Dooku trailed off, likely not wanting to speak openly about the Jedi-led attack on the planet – and sector – that turned much of the planet, and others, into a wasteland.

    “It is. I travelled there last week to confirm that it had been spared from the destruction other places suffered.” Fay replied as we left behind the buildings and head towards the entrance where me and Serra had to enter from for our initiation.

    Though instead of heading towards the gate, we turned towards the cliff. There, on an artificial overhang, were several small landing pads. While they were probably used for supply runs and from the few times that I’d headed out here to clear my mind had been empty, today a single shuttle, similar to the one that took us from the dock to the Duke’s palace in Sundari, was waiting patiently.

    Dooku chose not to verbally respond to Fay’s reply, choosing instead to nod in agreement with his fellow master.

    “How is your training going?” he asked, changing the topic.

    “Good. There’s not been any issues like the last session. I guess being declared their fighting champion is more important than me being a Jedi to most.”

    “It is, but what also matters is that both Serra and you have respected their traditions.” Fay explained. “While neither Master Dooku nor I are overly happy about you needing to do so, nor the… aggressive methods you used to handle that situation, we understand that your hands were effectively tied by events.”

    “Indeed. Though I would caution you that many other Jedi are not so… understanding.” Dooku added and even not being able to see his face, I could tell he was frowning. “When Master Yaddle returned to the Temple, I learnt that there were calls for you to be expelled for your actions during the trial by combat. Thankfully, those voices are in the minority and their displeasure with you was mitigated by more rational thinkers.”

    I chose to not vocalise my opinion on that, though I suspected I could guess a few of the group who’d spoken out against me. And possibly those who had likely spoken out in support. The idea that I could cause such debate – and I expected that was the nicest way to describe it – was both amusing and worrying.

    Amusing in that it showed that I could affect people and ideals just by being different and worrying as a divided Jedi would have serious repercussions for the galaxy during the war to come.

    We walked the rest of the short distance to the landing area in silence and boarded the waiting shuttle. Thus, in quick order, we were airborne and heading southward, away from the Institute, Keldabe and the forest that surrounded them.

    Quickly and quietly the craft took off, though we headed south-east, away from Keldabe and in almost the opposite direction of Sundari. Mere minutes after we lifted off, we flew over what looked like a giant dinosaur skeleton, surrounded by a few smaller ones. Based on the way they were laid out, and the insane size of the largest one, I suspected they weren’t real, but what purpose they served was something I couldn’t comprehend.

    Soon we left the forest around Keldabe behind, flying over another section of the planet that like the area around Sundari and the other domed cities was covered in nothing but white dunes. The odd almost skeletal remains of a building poking out every so often to remind me that the area hadn’t always been like that.

    I was thankful that the shuttle had a map displayed on a screen in the seating area as otherwise, it would be impossible to tell where we were as one white dune merged with the next.

    As we reached the equator, the dunes gave way to what at first glance I took to be another forest. As we raced over it however, I realised it was more than likely a jungle as the canopy was much thicker than the forest around Keldabe. In addition, there were many large pockets of mist blanketing most of the area.

    As refreshing of a scene change as it was, I barely had time to recognize and appreciate what I was seeing before we passed over it entirely, and the view returned to the barren dunes.

    I still didn’t fully understand why the Jedi and Republic had felt the need to burn the planet centuries ago. The potential threat that the Mandalorians were growing strong relative to the Republic – something that, arguably, was no direct fault of the Mandalorians as the Republic had just finished shooting themselves in the balls by demilitarising – wasn't, in my mind, sufficient justification to attempt to glass a planet. I supposed they must not have learned from the first time they tried to obliterate a culture. Nonetheless, I couldn’t deny they’d been largely successful in ruining the world.

    Yet, even with the vast majority of Mandalore, and several other planets in the sector, turned into wastelands, history had once again repeated itself. Despite the Republic's seemingly best efforts, the culture and spirit of the warrior people hadn’t been crushed. Even with the New Mandalorians ruling the sector nominally from Sundari, it was clear that the proud warrior culture that had so often and prolifically come into conflict with the Old Republic and Jedi was alive and well, though now it lived in the shadows; just far enough from sight that the Republic Senate and the New Mandalorian government could claim it no longer existed to the galaxy at large.

    For the next hour or so, we travelled over desolate dunes, and apart from the odd short conversation with my masters about my studies, very little of note happened. I did enquire as to what they'd been up to, but got mostly simple answers in return, though Dooku was strangely vague about his activities.

    Then, just after an hour and a half since leaving Keldabe, the shuttle banked to port and the horizon in the window tilted, indicating we were beginning our descent.

    Fay glanced out the window and, as a smile that didn’t reach her eyes crept onto her face, her fingers moved to touch her tattoo.

    “We’re almost there.” She whispered in a voice that barely carried to me over the gentle hum of the repulsor engines.

    I sensed a hint of regret from her through the Force and suspected that this place she’d chosen was more than a mere meditation spot to her. Possibly, it held importance to the one she’d spoken about during our first dinner on-planet with Duke Adonai, Pre Vizsla, and their families.

    While Fay had never confirmed how close she’d gotten with that Mandalorian, the way she spoke about them, and the feelings that I could sense when her thoughts dwelled upon them, made it clear the pair had been far more than just friends. Yet if that was the case, why would she choose to bring me to this place for my birthday?

    After the shuttle had landed and powered down its engines, Fay led us down the short ramp to the ground. We were standing on the edge of a long-ruined city that had been overgrown by nature, and the area was covered in soft, wild grass.

    Trees, some larger than multi-story buildings, sprung up from where streets had once been, their branches looking silver under the sunlight, and provided shade from the sun as it blazed overhead. Around the base of the massive trees, smaller bushes and plants grew, the most common of these being bright yellow ferns.

    I inhaled deeply, enjoying the smell of a different kind of forest, and turned my head as a very pleasant scent drifted in the air. Under the remains of a long-fallen wall were several clusters of flowers. They had a bell-like shape and the myriad of colours made it appear for an instant that the wall had been splashed with several shades of paint.

    “Vormur flowers.” Fay said, and I glanced her way to see she’d spotted me turning my head. “They grow around forests of the planet. Locals often pick them for their smell.” She smiled as she walked over and picked one that was light lilac. “I hear that many females enjoy receiving such gifts.” She added as her eyes met mine.

    “Master.” I groaned out and was just about able to keep the heat from my cheeks as she slipped the flower into her hair. Her face lit up as she did so, and her smile reached her eyes. While it was embarrassing to have to deal with the teasing, it was also nice to see her smile in real happiness.

    “Who goes… Ah, Master Fay. Olarom.” We both turned at the voice to see someone come out from behind the closest tree; one that blocked the entrance to the ruined and overgrown town. The woman, while not fully armed – wearing only the vambraces, shin-guards and pauldrons of her armour – carried herself as if expecting an attack. Even with her recognizing Fay, her stance didn’t relax.

    “Gatekeeper Tairn.” Fay replied with a bow. “This is Master Dooku and our Padawan Cameron Shan. As I mentioned during my last visit, today is young Cameron’s birthday and we wish to use the location I mentioned to meditate.”

    Tairn’s eyes travelled over us both as if trying to judge if we were worthy to enter the city. Eventually, she nodded and whistled.

    Thanks to Detection, I already knew there were four people in the buildings to either side of her and six more dotted around the landing area. While I didn’t doubt that between Fay, Dooku, and myself taking the group out wouldn’t be a problem, I’d rather avoid unnecessary violence when I could. Particularly on my birthday and in this place as it held importance to Fay.

    “The elders have granted you permission, Master Fay. Though I’m not sure how comfortable they will be to learn one of your party is the Butcher of Galidraan.” Tairn replied as she focused on Dooku and narrowed his eyes.

    “That battle was a mistake, on both my part and that of the Order as a whole. While I cannot speak for the Jedi establishment, I have recently begun to come to terms with my actions that day.” Dooku replied, sounding less upset than the last time someone had mentioned that battle. “That, in no small part, is due to the words of my fellow Jedi Master and our Padawan.”

    It took a lot of control to not let my brow rise at his words. Setting aside the quest objective to have him come to terms with the battle, to hear him praise me to a stranger was… unexpected.

    “Hmm. This is him? The one you spoke of to the clan elders?” Tairn asked, her attention turning to me as I wondered just what Fay had revealed about me to this group of Mandalorians.

    “He is. The heir to Clan Shan and direct descendent of Nasst be Me’suums.” Fay replied and I had to bite my tongue to not groan. I knew choosing Shan as my family would have an effect on people, but this was getting ridiculous. How could these people hold someone that died nearly four-thousand years ago, and was responsible for breaking their great crusade, in such esteem?

    Though hearing Fay refer to a Clan Shan made me curious. Did this mean there was more about my family name that I didn’t know?

    “Hmm. Then on behalf of the elders, I welcome you all. Come.”

    Tairn turned and walked behind the large tree. Fay moved quickly to follow while Dooku was more cautious, his hand resting near the hilt of his lightsaber as he gestured for me to follow Fay. I did so and Dooku took up the rear, and while I couldn’t see him, I was all but certain he was hanging back in case this was all some sort of elaborate trap.

    As I rounded the large tree blocking the main road, I saw that the buildings further within the city limits didn’t appear to be as badly damaged or overgrown as the ones we saw where we landed. Oh, they were still covered in vegetation, but that was on the higher levels. It almost seemed like these people – I was detecting around two thousand lifesigns within range – were using the overgrowth to hide. Though why anyone would need to, especially Mandalorians on their capital world, was confusing.

    I turned to Tairn, planning to use Observe, only to be distracted by a sense of regret, and if I wasn’t mistaken, longing coming from Fay. Concerned that this place was bringing up long-buried memories and feelings, I moved closer in support.

    While I wouldn’t deny that I was curious about what this place meant to her, I wouldn’t pry. If she ever decided to tell me, it would be her choice and not because I asked about it.

    Though she said nothing she did turn and smile at me, seemingly happy for my presence, as we followed Tairn deeper into the hidden settlement.

    ……

    Slowly I opened my eyes and looked around.

    The sun had shifted in the sky, though it was hard to see through the canopy of the three trees that had grown to partially cover the rooftop I was meditating on.

    I’d come up here with Fay and Dooku after the pair had spoken to the clan elders of the settlement while I contemplated the fact that Tairn and the one elder I’d met were of Clan Vizla. From what I’d learnt that clan had fallen around the time of the Dral’Han, being replaced in importance by their former cadet clan, Clan Vizsla.

    Why Clan Vizla would be hiding wasn’t something I understood, and while I was curious about it, I realised that if I started looking for records about the clan after I returned to the Institute, it would draw attention to them. Thus, when Fay and Dooku had come out of from speaking with the elders and explained who this clan were, that they were in seclusion and it would be advisable to not look up records on them, I’d readily accepted Fay’s request. That had pleased her greatly – I’d sensed her relief through our bond – and earned me a small nod of thanks from Tairn.

    From there, Fay had led us to the rooftop for a meditation session that I’d just come out of.

    Slowly, I stood. While my body didn’t suffer cramp or get tired like a regular human body would I’d been meditating for, if I read my chronometer correctly, over ten hours. Plus, the stretching was almost second nature now after five years as a Jedi and it had become part of the routine after long meditation sessions.

    The view from the top of the building, while partially blocked by the trees, was still beautiful and the place was enveloped in the smell of nature, dominated by the enjoyable fragrance from the vormur flowers, though the ones up here were generally dark blue.

    “I will admit that this place is far more… calming than I had expected.” I heard Dooku say. I turned to see he was standing near the eastern edge of the building with Fay, having broken their meditation before I did. Both were gazing out, taking in the view.

    “Yes. While this town has suffered greatly in the years between my visits and is far more… natural than it once was, that's not necessarily a bad thing. There is still a strong connection to the Force in the area, and it's refreshing to stand on one of the few remaining pieces of Mandalore that has remained in its natural state.” Fay replied before she turned to face me, seemingly aware that I had ended my meditation. “Is this place as relaxing for you as for Master Dooku?”

    “Yes, Master. Though I don’t think I’m as… in-touch with nature as you are.” I replied. “Though I wouldn’t mind heading down for something to eat.” I added while rubbing my stomach. While I no longer got stomach rumbles, the Hunger bar in the interface, and the corresponding penalties, let me know when I needed to eat.

    Fay laughed softly at that while Dooku grunted in agreement.

    “Indeed. However, before we do so, there is one other matter that we need to take care of.” He said as he reached into his robes.

    “For a while Master Dooku and I have been debating how to handle your Padawan gift.” Fay said as she took over. “Getting you two gifts may well have upset your friends and fellow Padawans, while also placing the pair of us in a situation where one gift was decidedly more… impressive or useful than the other. Luckily, we were able to come up with a compromise and developed a combined gift.” She finished as Dooku pulled a small rope-sealed bag from an inner pocket and handed it to me.

    The bag was soft to the touch, almost like velvet, and felt light. Concerned that whatever inside was delicate, I slowly loosened the string holding the bag closed, then carefully tipped the bag until the contents fell out into my free hand, where a thin, dark silver-grey necklace now rested.

    My eyes were quickly drawn to the gem that was attached to the chain. It wasn’t particularly large, being barely longer than my thumb, and while dark blue in colour, wasn’t outwardly impressive. What did draw my eyes was that there appeared to be a flame trapped inside while the edges of the gem were encircled by two white, curved objects that reminded me of elephant tusks, though far, far smaller in size.

    “The teeth are the fangs of a Terentatek that I once killed beside my own master, Yoda, many years ago in the shadowlands of Kashyyyk.” Dooku explained. As I ran my fingers over the combined centrepiece, I felt a momentary shiver pass through me, as though there was a hint of the Force within the gem and fangs.

    “The gem is called the Heart of Fire and was something I discovered on Kiffu just before Serra began her verd’goten.” Fay continued. “According to local legends the stones carry a fragment of the souls of the giver and receiver as a way to ensure that no matter the distance between them, they will always be connected.”

    My fingers continued to gently trace the fine lines and edges of the combined amulet the gem and fangs formed. The hint of the Force continued to spark as my fingers moved over it, which made me think that this was what the Kiffu locals meant by it containing a part of the souls of the giver and receiver.

    “The chain is made of phrik taken from the ShaDo system. Since you have a… knack for bringing people together and inspiring them to be better, it seemed fitting to use some of the metal from that system to form the links.” Dooku finished.

    “I…” I gulped and then closed my hand tightly around the necklace. “Thank you.” I managed to get out as I felt my eyes begin to water.

    No one, not in this life or my old one, had ever given me a gift with this much thought and meaning before. The only things that came close were the old hand-made gifts my sister had made for me before her death but even those paled in comparison when the Force seemed to connect me to my masters through the necklace.

    “Thank you.” I repeated as I wiped my eyes with my sleeve.

    “Cameron.” I blinked away some of the water in my eyes and looked at Fay. “It is we who should be thanking you. Never, in all our combined years of teaching, have we had a student such as you.”

    “Indeed. Teaching you the ways of the Force, and guiding you to Knighthood has been, and will be, one the greatest accomplishments of my life.” Dooku added as an exceedingly rare smile came to his lips. “And on that day, I hope that we will no longer be just your former masters, but your friends.”

    “You already are.” I replied quickly and honestly which made both of their smiles grow. Everything, my quests, my worries about the future, the rare questions about the people I’d left behind, faded away. In this moment, as I stood here with these two, none of it mattered.

    This was a moment, and a gift, that I would treasure until the end of my days.

    “If you’ll let me?” Fay asked as she took a step forward and held out her hand.

    Slowly I reached out to give her the necklace. Part of me didn’t want to let go, to lose a physical connection to it, if only for a moment. However, I knew that I could trust Fay and understood what she wanted to do.

    She smiled as I cautiously lowered the chain into her hand. Likely both she and Dooku could sense how important it was to me already. She then stepped behind me then softly lifted the hair from my neck. That had me glad that I didn’t need to worry about the Padawan braid while on Mandalore and wondered if I could just go without it as the braid that hung to my shoulder was a fucking nuisance. As the necklace touched my skin, I felt a… breeze flow through me. It was as if the Force itself was telling me that this was exactly where the necklace and combined gem were supposed to be.

    “There.” Fay stepped back around so I could see her again and my hand instinctively went to the gem, enjoying the feel of it against my skin.

    “Thank you.” I whispered. While there was more that I wanted to say, the words just wouldn’t come, nor did I think I could properly express my gratitude for the gift.

    “You have already said that. Three times. However, you are welcome.” Dooku replied, the smile still present, which was an odd sight to see. “Still, we cannot dally up here all evening. We all need to eat, and I imagine the Commandant would be less than impressed if you broke her curfew.”

    “Right.”

    With the moment over, we walked towards the stairs leading down, though my hand never left the pendant that now hung from my neck.

    From what had been said earlier a meal was being prepared for us by our hosts – who seemed to hold Fay in high regard – and after that we’d return to Keldabe so I could continue my studies.

    While I expected a few comments about my new jewellery, I hoped it didn’t become a discussion topic. Though if anyone was stupid enough to try and take it… well, I did need a good workout.

    ……




    ……

    “Alright Cam, you got us here. Now what?” Bo asked as she and Naz followed me into one of the larger training rooms in the palace in Sundari. This one could also double as a simple range, though there were just two simple metal squares with rings on them at the other end of the room to act as targets.

    It was the mid-session break and, with time to kill, and Fay having headed off-world with the Duke to handle a dispute between an outlying system and the Commerce Guild before heading to Coruscant to submit the final part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the publisher’s Holonet site, I figured I’d use it to train a Force power that was hard to train with Fay or Dooku around.

    I’d planned to train the power last session, but then the attack on me and Serra and the trial by combat had happened. Which resulted in Yaddle arriving on-planet to check up on us. Now with Fay away, I could do so. And it would distract me from the fact that I was sitting on a nest egg of just over seventy million credits, even after having diverted nearly fifteen million credits to the Shadda-Bi-Borans and the Lokella since ‘The Two Towers’ was released.

    The fact I now had enough credits to buy a small taskforce worth of CR-90 corvettes, or even a large cruiser, was a little scary. Though, I had managed to convince Dooku to purchase two such vessels, as well as a DP20 Frigate – all used, of course – for the Lokella, as they had the numbers to crew them and a need for better starships to defend their growing colony. He had carried out my request, mainly because he fully agreed with my logic that the group and the mine needed to be protected.

    Fay had also suggested purchasing a few vessels for the Refugee Relief Movement, and arranged the purchase, refit, and delivery of another CR-90, as well as a small fleet of transports, including three VCX-150s, five older-model Barloz-class freighters, and six YT-1300s to the group. Looking over the payment receipt I had received had shown how imaginative people could be with their ship names. There was even one freighter called the Wayward Son, which I had a good chuckle about as I remembered the song from back home.

    All totalled, I had spent a little under ten million on the purchase and retrofitting of the two fleets, but I considered it money well spent. The long term political and quest-based returns it could give me were sizable, and even if it didn't work out entirely as planned, I'd be able to make that back in well under a year from book sales. Padme had called me personally to thank me on behalf of her father, check up on how I was doing, and pester me about when I would be releasing the next book in the 'Lord of the Rings' saga.

    “I need your help with something.” I replied to Bo, cutting off my thoughts before I fixated on what I could collect in a fleet with the remainder of my funds. There would be time enough for those speculations later.

    I walked over to one wall and pulled two blaster pistols from a rack. I then made sure both were set to their lowest setting above stun – since stun bolts couldn’t be deflected, only dissipated. At that setting, the bolts would only scar my flesh if this failed instead of burning the skin or killing me. They’d still hurt, but it would be manageable and easily healable.

    “I don’t think we can help you with those.” Naz began as I turned and showed them the pistols. “You’re a better shot than either of us already.”

    I smirked at that. Currently, I was ranked in the top five shooters in the entire Institute for the session, and I knew the names of those above me. Bo and Naz weren’t on that list, which annoyed Bo as she was currently sixth on the pistol list, though the gap between us was significant enough that even if I was only an Institute-average shot for the rest of the session, she wouldn’t be able to catch me.

    “No. What I want is for you two to shoot me.” I explained as Bo took one of the pistols.

    “What?!” Bo squawked, almost losing her grip on the weapon. She was able to stop it from falling to the floor, but her attention, and that of Naz’s, was firmly on me. “Why?”

    “The Force allows one to do many things.” I began as Naz took the other blaster. “It can make one stronger, quicker and allow us to move things with but a thought. It allows one trained in its usage to sense an attack before it arrives and do things no normal person could.”

    I kept my explanation going as I walked to the far end of the room. “However, there are some abilities that are… difficult to train, and as a Padawan it's preferred that I don’t learn them.”

    I turned back to face them, a smirk creeping onto my face. “Of course, what the High Council don’t know won’t hurt them.”

    “Stop being a mir’sheb and tell us what we’re doing.” Bo groaned out, her brow creasing to show her annoyance at my vagueness.

    “Fine, ruin the suspense.” I replied, rolling my eyes. “You take all the fun out of things.” I’d enjoyed playing the vague and mysterious Jedi and could see why many of them liked to talk as they did. Confusing others or simply generating mystique was fun, though if used too often – a mistake I think many Jedi committed – it could alienate those you were talking to.

    “Being an idiot isn’t fun.” Bo retorted.

    Naz chuckled at the interplay. “You two sound like a married couple.”

    “What?!” Bo screeched as her eyes enlarged almost comically.

    “Anyway…” I began, trying to get things back on topic. While Bo was certainly cute, I’d made up my mind on not getting involved with anyone before I was older, like at least seventeen, and Bo hadn’t shown any interest in me. She clearly preferred females, which was fine. Plus, if I tried to be involved with anyone before I’d had a long, long talk with an adult Serra… well, anger and jealousy were pathways to the Dark Side after all. “There’s a Force ability that allows one to deflect an attack with but a thought. I know the basics, but I need someone to actually shoot at me to train myself with the ability.”

    Both girls stared at me with wide eyes as they processed what I’d just said.

    “Wait? Jedi can really do that?” Naz asked slowly. “I thought my dad was just trying to scare me as a kid when he told me Jedi did osik like that.”

    I snorted in amusement. Why Pre would think telling Naz that would scare her I didn’t know, but the idea that Mandalorian children were told about the Jedi as a sort of bogeyman was amusing as fuck. Though I suspected that as they got older, that idea of Jedi being scary evolved into them being a worthy opponent to defeat, but it was still a funny thing to learn. Plus, it also likely reinforced the distrust Mandalorians held for the Jedi for what they’d orchestrated with the Dral’Han.

    “Yes, we can. Though, from what I’ve learnt the ability isn’t one that all Jedi are good at, or even use.” I explained. Why such a skill wasn’t taught to all Jedi I didn’t know. It was such a useful and practical skill that even if one had to normally wait until you were a Jedi Knight to learn, not learning even the basics of it was bloody stupid.

    “So why not ask Master Fay to teach you?” Bo asked, her lips twitching upwards. “Is this something she and Master Dooku don’t want you to learn?”

    I smirked at her. “More like something they don’t want me to learn right now.”

    “Heh. Nice to see a Jedi who’s willing to break a rule here or there.” Naz commented as she shifted her stance, bracing the pistol with both hands, though it wasn’t aimed at me yet. “So where do you want us to aim for?”

    “My hands.” I said as I lifted both hands and watched as Bo quickly shifted her stance to match Naz’s. “Though just a single shot each please. I need to know if it’ll work.” Well, I knew it would as the power was already at Adept:1, but I felt it better to ignore that while explaining that I was ‘learning’ a new power.

    The pair did as I’d asked and fired off a single shot each. Both bolts deflected away from my hand, one striking the roof while the other whizzed back between them, missing Bo by less than a hand’s width.

    Combined, the two bolts had cost me about 700FP without me losing any HP or getting an injury notification. The one downside of using this power was that if used, I couldn’t use Damage Resistance: Energy. Some strange mingling of the Interface and the Force prevented me from doing so, or just the TPTB being pricks and not wanting me to further abuse my abilities.

    Shab! That’s all kinds of awesome.” Naz commented as Bo’s eyes tracked to where the bolt that had deflected between them had struck the wall, leaving a faint scorch mark behind.

    “Can’t you control where the bolts go?” Bo asked as she turned back to face me, showing the slightest wrinkling of her brow.

    “In time, yes. Though I still need to work on that.” While I couldn’t currently, everything I’d learnt about the ability said that it was possible to do so, so I expected I’d be able to control the direction of the deflections once it reached a higher stratum.

    One of Bo’s eyes twitched. “Right, in that case, lift those benches over here.” She demanded, pointing at two empty workbenches that sat to one side of the room. “Then lie them down on their sides.”

    I nodded, understanding what she wanted, and a few seconds later there were two improvised barricades that the pair could use a cover from a stray deflected bolt.

    The girls shared a conspiratorial look before they moved to take cover behind the tables.

    “Ready Cam?” Bo asked. The pair had matching smirks and were settling their pistols on the top of their respective table to help them aim. At me.

    “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” I muttered as I quickly readied myself for what was to come.

    ……

    About an hour later, the three of us left the room. I’d been able to take about twenty shots from each girl before I needed to stop and restore my FP with meditation. While explaining that to them had required another bit of vague finesse, they hadn’t had any issues with me doing so. And since my boosted FP regen now meant I only needed about four minutes to fully restore my FP via meditation, I’d been able to repeat the process ten times, which lead to me improving the power by twelve levels. Not bad for an hour’s work-slash-training, and I was sure the girls would be happy to train again tomorrow. Shame I couldn’t get a training quest for Force Powers or I’d abuse that to gain some quick and easy XP.

    “Hey Cam,” Naz began as the doors to the training room hissed closed behind us. “Why did you demolish Tiber Saxon?”

    “Let’s just say he was having issues with my leadership and that I was forced to handle it that way.” I replied as I felt a smirk creep onto my face.

    “Most people wouldn’t have aired team issues so publicly.” Bo commented as we walked down the corridor. Hopefully, we were heading for the cafeteria as I was getting hungry. “However, based on the improvement in your team’s ranking, I’d say it worked.”

    “Yeah, though I might have enjoyed it too much.” I replied with a smirk. “Tiber had that beatdown coming.”

    Now I could only hope that the lesson had permanently sunk in, as there wasn’t much more that I could do to him if it hadn’t.

    “Hey, when’d you get that?” Naz asked, pointing at me. I followed her gaze and saw I had subconsciously pulled my pendant out and was rubbing it between my fingers. I found the action relaxing, but the fact I’d done it without thinking was unexpected.

    “It was my birthday gift from Master Fay and Master Dooku. The Jedi place importance on a Padawan’s thirteenth birthday just like Mandalorians do. Though the reasons are different.” I explained as I removed my fingers from the pendant.

    Naz and Bo both stopped to look at it.

    “Why does it look like there’s a flame inside?” Bo asked as they both leaned closer to see it, invading my personal space in the process.

    “It’s a heart of fire crystal. Master Fay found it on Kiffu while the edging is made from the fangs of a Terentatek that Master Dooku killed years ago.”

    Neither girl said anything, instead, they kept their focus on the pendant. Eventually, they pulled back and we resumed walking.

    “I wonder if you’ll take down another for your verd’goten.” Bo wondered as we turned right at the first intersection and the smell of food reached my nostrils.

    “I hope not. From what I’ve read, they’re kriffing hard to kill, even with the Force and a lightsaber.” I replied.

    Hunting a beast that was a known Jedi-killer with nothing but a knife was not something I wanted to attempt. While I couldn’t deny I was growing anxious to see what I would hunt and kill, something like a Terentatek was far, far beyond what I’d consider smart to hunt.

    ……




    ……

    Some days I enjoyed being in this new universe.

    Though as I squinted out from behind the cloth that I’d wrapped around my head to protect my face from the growing heat of the twin suns of this bloody planet and took in the sight of the seemingly endless waves of dunes, I knew that today was not going to be one of those days.

    I grunted as I felt the sand that never seemed to leave my boot shift and rub against my foot. After three days of walking through this desert, I was beginning to agree with Anakin about sand. It got everywhere and I was developing a severe dislike of it, especially on Tatooine.

    Once this sand-cursed hunt was over the first thing I was going to do, before even talking with Fay and Adonai, was take shower. Probably three or four just to make sure all the sand was gone.

    Now, I knew that the Force had places it felt I should go, and TPTB had things they’d like me to do –I suspected the golden halo I’d seen around certain ships and was the Interfaces’ way of indicating this – and I knew that I planned to come here at some point before the invasion of Naboo. But what exactly had I done that the Force or TPTB – or both – felt that sending me here to Tatooine for my verd’goten was a good idea?

    I mean, what was I meant to hunt and kill? A sarlacc? A krayt dragon?

    I scoffed at the insanity of such a thing. With the Force suppression bracers active and limiting me to nothing more than Precognition while I wandered, and my only weapon being a beskar knife, I’d put my odds against either of those beasts at slim to none, with the slim option looking for a way of this sand-covered backwater.

    Thankfully, on the way here, I’d read about other predators that could be found across the planet. While beasts such as massifs, purple mantis’ and rontos were several steps – at least – below the threat level of a krayt dragon or a sarlacc, they would still be acceptable for the verd’goten.

    Though a smaller beast would likely result in smaller XP rewards for the quest linked to this hunt.

    Hunt of Adulthood [֍] [ƍ]
    Rating: A->S*** [Rating varies depending on the beast killed to complete the trial.]
    Objective:
    Defeat and kill a beast that could conceivably kill you using only a knife.
    Rewards:
    Variable XP [Depends on the size, ferocity and danger rating of the beast killed.]
    Variable increases in Reputation with any Mandalorian who follows the old ways.
    Variable decreases in Reputation in members of the New Mandalorian faction.
    Variable increases and decreases in Reputation with elements of the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic.
    Failure:
    -1000XP
    A large loss of Reputation with Mandalorians who follow the old ways.
    Possible death
    This was the first quest I’d gotten that didn’t have a defined rating or rewards, which did make sense as the more dangerous the beast I killed, the greater the rating and rewards should be. It was also the first quest to have two markers; in this case, being both an incident quest – as it was something linked to how I handled the hunt – and a mission quest – because Duke Adonai had formally stated the trial I was undertaking.

    Thankfully, I didn’t need to worry about the quest XP rewards for levelling up, as even with the lowered rewards for the three training quests from the last session at the Institute, I’d managed to earn more than enough XP to reach level 26. Though some of that was due to the fact I'd also maxed out Empathy, Tapas, Speed, Bullet-Time, Sight, and Battle Meditation: Passive. This was largely thanks to the Enhance Regeneration perk, which had massively increased my ability to level up my powers while I meditated, or at least the powers that I could level up while meditating. But I wasn't complaining.

    I’d also tried to level up Force Heal rapidly, but the way it was set up, and my current living conditions, made that difficult. Ignoring the slightly worrying need of having to either shoot or stab myself to lower my HP, with Force Heal being in the Professional stratum, I was able to restore about 100HP in five minutes. That meant I had to repeat that cycle around twenty times to level up the power once, which was hard to do as I was sharing a room and finding time alone was hard when so many people had come to me for training and teaching. Still, I’d managed to raise the power to Professional:25 while the term was in session and should be able to take it further once I had finished my verd’goten and left Mandalore.

    Once again, I’d been declared Akaan’lor of the Institute, and this time I’d finished top with a rifle and third with a pistol. The only downside had been the fact my team had been eliminated in the quarterfinals of the end-of-session tournament. While I wanted to blame Tiber Saxon for that, I couldn’t as he had kept his head down since I’d publicly re-educated him.

    Still, with my time at the Institute now over – bar a celebration with my teammates when I completed my verd’goten – I knew I had to shift my focus from the beginnings of a combat force that I’d hopefully laid the groundwork with on Mandalore to other matters.

    Like the fact the Force had guided me to Tatooine for my verd’goten, meaning it probably wanted me to grab Anakin before the invasion of Naboo kicked off. However, that would have to be something I did after the hunt was over.

    Mos Espa was the name of the settlement where Anakin and his mother lived, which I’d discovered by learning that was the location of the Boonta Eve Classic podrace. Now, there was a chance the race took place in a different settlement from where the Skywalkers lived, but I felt it was minimal. Several racers, most prominently the Dug Sebulba, were seen in the same location as Anakin, Qui-Gon and Padme before the race, so it was highly unlikely that they were in a different settlement.

    The real issue regarding getting Anakin, at least based on my current situation, was the fact that the Cin Vhetin had landed in the nominal capital of the world, Bestine, which was far to the south-east of Mos Espa. I had considered heading in the direction of Mos Espa for my hunt but knowing what I’d learnt on my way here about the local creatures and taking into account the distance between the two settlements, I’d headed south-west. Towards the Jundland Wastes. Supposedly the area was home to a few packs of massifs and a rumoured nest of mantises.

    “Well, hello there.”

    I spun at the voice that had come from behind me even while I mentally cursed about the fact that I couldn’t run Detection along with Precognition while the bracers were active.

    Hell, I couldn’t even keep Telepathic or Empathic shields active as combined with the bracers, those three powers were just too much for my FP regen to handle, though I could manage to keep one of those shields active, I decided against it. The chance that I’d need the extra FP when the hunt began was great enough that I preferred to not risk having them active, and I was far enough away from Fay – who was in orbit watching my process with Adonai from the Cin Vhetin – that I was safe from her picking up anything bar a stray thought or two form me.

    Thus, I only kept Precognition active as it was more useful in an emergency, though I used Detection at regular intervals as a quasi-radar to gain an inkling of what was around me. Which was why I was caught by surprise at the voice as there had been nothing on the minimap at my last ping just over thirty minutes ago – nor anything in nearly a day and a half.

    “I wasn’t expecting to meet someone way out here. Certainly not a child on foot.” He said as I gripped the hilt of my beskar knife tightly and shifted into a combat stance. His eyes narrowed for a moment as he glanced at my knife’s blade but said nothing else.

    Standing on top of a small rock formation, it looked as though he was surveying his surroundings. With the rifle strapped over his back, a belt of what looked like thermal detonators slung from one shoulder to the opposite hip and a long, curved blade attached at the other hip he reminded me of a wilderness explorer or big game hunter.

    “Well it wasn’t my choice.” I replied as I used Observe to determine who he was and why he was here.

    Drayy’ven Jral
    Level: 30
    Race: Human
    Health: 100%
    Age: 33
    Force Potential: Low
    Threat Potential: Intermediate
    Reputation: Neutral
    Affiliation Loyalty: Clan Jral (71%), Bounty Hunter’s Guild: Ragnar Syndicate (57%)
    Emotional State: Surprised/Curious
    Drayy is surprised to see a child, particularly an apparently Mandalorian one, in the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine.
    And he wonders if you’re here for your verd’goten, or another reason.
    Drayy’ven chuckled. “Aye, I imagine it wasn’t.” He leapt from the top of the rock outcropping and landed a few metres in front of me of someone trained in combat.

    “What brings you all the way out here?” he asked as he took a small step towards me, his hands clear of his body to show he wasn’t trying to threaten me.

    “My verd’goten.” I answered honestly. While I wasn’t certain that he was Mandalorian himself, the information from Observe hinted that he suspected I was one. Likely from the knife.

    “Hah. I kinda suspected that.” He pointed at my knife. “Clan Saxon?”

    “No. Clan Shan. I was given this after defeating Girk Saxon in single combat.” After saying that, I frowned. There was no reason for me to be so open with this person, yet here I was offering longer explanations than necessary. Something told me the man wasn’t a threat, and that he might even be an ally in the future.

    Sometimes figuring out what the Force was suggesting or hinting at was a pain in the arse, even if it was amazing to experience all the same.

    “Ahh. So you’re the adiik that they’re all talking about?” Drayy’ven said with a grin as his entire posture shifted. Gone was the open, non-threatening stance, replaced by one of easy acceptance. “Oh, I’m Drayy’ven, though everyone in the Guilds calls me Drayy.” He added as he took a step closer and extended his arm.

    “Cameron.” I replied as I relaxed my stance and clasped his forearm. “What are you doing out here?” I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.

    “I’m something of a big game hunter,” Drayy’ven replied as we broke the clasp. “Heard that there’s been sightings of a greater krayt dragon somewhere in the Western Dune Sea. Hunted a fair few beasts in my time, but that would be a new high mark.”

    That comment confirmed one of my initial suspicions about the man as a big game hunter. Though hunting something as big as a greater krayt dragon – they were meant to grow up to a hundred meters in length – was far beyond what I would’ve called game hunting in my old life. Not that I agreed with the idea in either.

    “And, uh, which way from here is that? Just so, you know, I head in the opposite direction.” Because there was no kriffing way I’d go looking for something that dangerous. I wouldn’t deny that I did, sometimes, enjoy fighting, or watching others fight. However, trying to take on something that big, especially with nothing more than a knife – no matter how impressive the metal it was made of was – was, in my mind, a good definition of insanity.

    Drayy’ven threw his head back and laughed loudly at that. “Aye, that would be a smart thing to do. Even with all my toys,” he gestured to the shoulder belt full of detonators, “I’m not sure I’ve got the tools to take one down. But haran, it’s going to be fun to find out.”

    The man’s eyes got a faraway look in them and I realised he might be a little crazy: well, a lot crazy as anyone who walked around with that many thermal detonators attached to their body had to be missing a few screws.

    “So, which way?” I asked after waiting for the man to answer my initial question until it became clear he wasn’t going to.

    He blinked and refocused his attention on me. “Hmm, oh. So long as you don’t pass through the Wastes, you’ll be fine. Greater dragons rarely leave the dune seas. They only leave the comfort of the sand when they are hunting a particularly tasty meal or fighting another dragon.”

    “Thanks.” I said before turning and walking away as quickly as I could without it seeming like I wanted to get away. I wanted to be nowhere near a man who went looking for something like a greater krayt dragon while wearing a dozen or so thermal detonators. I was rather enjoying this new life of mine thank you very much.

    “Good hunting.” Drayy’ven called out without any hint that he was angered by my leaving without waiting for him to say anything.

    “You too.” I called back over my shoulder, though I didn’t stop walking. It was still early morning, but I wanted to get further into the Wastes so that the mountainous region could provide some shade once the twin suns were overhead. And get as far as I could from the insane hunter behind me.

    ……




    ……

    I take it back; I don’t dislike sand. I kriffing hate it!

    Six days had now passed for me trekking through the dunes and wastes of Tatooine, and no matter where I went, be it in the dunes or the rocky canyons of the Jundland Wastes, sand was always there. And even with my robes pulled so tightly against me that they felt like a second skin, the haran stuff was still got everywhere. Even into my water bottles.

    I kriffing hated this place and could understand why Anakin hated sand.

    Though I had to wonder how he’d reacted when he’d first seen Naboo from orbit and the lush greens and blues that marked the planet out as a temperate, garden world had filled his sight. While I didn’t plan to take the boy there after I collected him and his mother, I did plan to take them to a world like Alderaan or Dantooine to see what a normal planet – meaning one with no sand except on the beaches – looked like.

    Though when that would happen, I didn’t know. I’d been at this for six Hutt-cursed days and apart from killing a few smaller rodents and lizards for food, I hadn’t come across anything that would suffice for this hunt. Although I did still have two bags of food in my Inventory, the fact that I was being monitored from orbit, along with a sense of fair play, prevented me from using them. In fact, I hadn't met any other living being larger than the afore-mentioned food sources since meeting the possibly (likely) insane Mandalorian hunter three days prior.

    Though even those critters that I’d killed for food had disappeared over the last day or so and my limited rations had run out last night meaning I hadn’t eaten in nearly half a day. Thankfully, even with the bracers active, I could still use Negate Hunger to counter the issues that was causing, though it took far, far longer to do so.

    Thankfully, I still had half a day’s worth of water left, but if I couldn’t find a new supply by this evening, I’d have to pull some from my Inventory while in my tent. I’d also do the same for food. Hopefully, there wouldn’t be questions asked about how I managed to survive without eating or drinking if that pattern had to continue for a few more days. Though if the hunt lasted that long, I’d likely be through the Wastes and into the Western Dune Sea.

    The fact that I’d not come across anything worthy of taking down for my trial was a little surprising. Either the files I’d read about what beasts inhabited the Wastes were wrong, or something had driven them from their stomping grounds. And while I hoped it was the former, a nagging feeling had me suspecting it was the latter.

    I wanted this hunt to be over, but going into the Western Dune Sea, an area that supposedly held a greater krayt dragon would only result in my quick and painful death. And frankly, I was rather enjoying this new life and the adventure it was generating. Even if I planned to take a dozen showers once I was finally of this sand-covered hellhole.

    An almost sadistic roar echoed through the canyon I was walking in, and I froze.

    The sound continued for nearly twenty seconds and in that time Eidetic Memory helped me place the sound. It was the call of a krayt dragon like the one Obi-Wan had imitated in Episode IV.

    The sound bounced and ricocheted around so much that I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Concerned that I’d accidentally stumbled near a dragon’s lair, I activated Detection as a pulse.

    Even as the results appeared on the minimap Precognition flared, a warning appearing in the Interface and my body seemed to move of its own accord to my right. The spot I had been standing in not half a second earlier was suddenly occupied by a massive, thick tentacle that smashed into the ground, sending sand and dust flying upwards.

    I scampered further away even as I traced the tentacle back to a cave that I’d missed spotting as it was just around the turn of the canyon that I was in. Though as I realised where the threat had come from, three more lengthy tentacles emerged, followed by a giant beak.

    As the beak snapped open, exposing rows of teeth and a tongue that looked thicker than my head, I realised that this was a farking sarlacc; and I’d stupidly wandered into its range while mentally complaining about the planet.

    Though at least now I knew why there’d been no creatures around over the last day. They knew to stay as far as possible from the lair of a sarlacc.

    “Kriff me.” I muttered as I continued to move backwards until I felt my back press against the canyon wall opposite the sarlacc’s cave.

    While I was now safe from the tendrils of the sarlacc – which continued to smash against the ground as they aggressively sought me out – I realised I was all but trapped. The canyon wall curved around in such a way that if I moved more than a few metres to either side I’d be in range of the tendrils again.

    The sarlacc seemed to know this – likely why it had chosen that particular cave to inhabit – as two tendrils wriggled against the ground to either side of me, all but caressing the wall of the canyon I was pressed firmly against.

    The other tendrils – four of them – beat at the ground between me and the beak. Dust and sand continued to be flung up into the air as the monster cried out.

    “Kriff me.” I repeated as I considered my options, none of which were good.

    I could stay here and try not to move until the sarlacc gave up, but given this was its nest and as such, the I’d likely be stuck here so long I’d die of boredom – not hunger as the Force would sustain me – before Adonai and Fay came down to rescue me.

    Or I could take my chances with the tendril on either side, try and hurt them enough that they moved back, or slip past one and escape, but I had to suspect that the sarlacc had a way to deal with prey that did such things.

    Another option was to turn and try to climb the canyon wall, but it was around fifteen meters high and from what Eidetic Memory helped me remember, lacked any obvious ledge or handholds to aid such a climb. While I could use the Force to jump clear, that would confirm to Adonai and Fay that I could use the Force with the bracers active, and would likely result in a big loss of reputation with Adonai and others; thus, undoing a lot of my work on the planet over the last year.

    That left me only one real choice. Call Adonai and Fay for help, then once I was extracted, resume the hunt. Not ideal as I’d likely be moved to another location on the planet to start again, but it was the option that would get me out of here without majorly damaging my standing with the Mandalorians. Oh, I was sure some would call my names for not going after the sarlacc, but they should be in the minority.

    Even though it had been a long slog over the last year, with a fair few ups and downs, I felt I had the base for a solid combat company – at least – that I could call on for the invasion of Naboo and what came after.

    With my mind made up, I reached for the pouch on my belt that held my communicator. My hand brushed against the empty spot where my lightsaber would normally rest and again I felt as though a part of me was missing. Being without it now felt… wrong, as if I was only truly complete when it was with me.

    -- RROOOOAAARRRRRR--

    Just as I pulled the communicator from its pouch, a thunderous roar, louder than anything I’d ever heard before, echoed through the canyon. I lifted my hands to cover my ears, the communicator slipping from my grasp, in a feeble attempt to muffle the deafening sound.

    Even as I recognised what the roar was, and that acknowledge a notice that had appeared in the Interface, a massive mouth – one lined with teeth that looked longer than my legs and sharp as my knife – came down and clamped shut just behind the beak to the sarlacc.

    I had only just begun to process the sheer size of the mouth – it looked bigger than a kriffing speeder – when it pulled back, ripping the beak, and what looked like a ten-metre chuck of the throat that stretched into the cave, skyward.

    An almost demonic shriek filled my ears as the sarlacc recoiled at losing its beak. The tendrils failed around wildly as blood sprayed from the fresh wound like a fire hose. Where that blood landed, the ground seemed to boil and a tangy, almost sweet smell assault my nostrils.

    I stumbled as the sarlacc’s tendrils smashed against the ground and canyon walls, trying fruitlessly to reach up and grab the monstrous beast that had dared to attack it.

    My eyes darted upwards, diverted from the wounded sarlacc and hissing ground between it and me, as the massive maw of the beast that stood on the top-edge of the canyon almost lazily threw that ten-metre chuck of sarlacc into the air.

    “Oh, kriff me.” I mumbled out as I realised the mouth belonged to the only creature on Tatooine that could and would eat a sarlacc; a greater krayt dragon.

    As the dragon crunched down on the beak, and acidic blood squirted everywhere, I cursed my luck that the dragon had come into the Wastes from the Dune Sea. Likely it had caught the scent of the sarlacc, which according to the files I’d read was something that people suspected the dragons considered a delicacy.

    I jumped to my left, glad the sarlacc was distracted by the dragon, to avoid being splashed and burnt by the sarlacc’s blood as it began to rain down on the canyon floor. Given to the way the dragon was attacking the sarlacc’s beak, it was relishing the taste, and at that moment, I felt remarkably small and insignificant.


    Oh, if I had full access to the Force I felt I could easily take out either beast, but right now, all I could do was watch as the deadly sarlacc retreated back into its cave, intimidated by the monstrous dragon that chewed triumphantly on its beak.

    With the sarlacc retreated, with only about a metre of each tendril still exposed to the light, I saw my chance to escape. Slowly, cautiously, I began to side-step to my left. My eyes darted between the wounded but still dangerous sarlacc as it tended its wound in its cave and the ravenous dragon that was perched on the wall above it.

    Chucks of the sarlacc’s beak and throat fell from the dragon’s mouth as it tossed the length around in its mouth, some landing on the canyon floor and forcing me to alter my route even as I slid, stepped, and hopped to avoid the pools of hissing, boiling blood that littered the ground.

    I watched in morbid fascination as the dragon lifted its massive maw high and swallowed the chunks that were only a little smaller than me with ease.

    While the sarlacc was gravely wounded, I doubted it would not react if the dragon tried to claim more of its flesh and I knew that in a battle between these titanic beasts I, with nothing more than limited access to the Force and a beskar knife, would be nothing more than an appetiser for either behemoth.

    The only thing I could do was keep distancing myself from the two predatory colossuses until I…

    “Ca—oon—e—ng—elp.”

    I froze mid-step as my communicator – the one that in my desire to be anywhere but near these two monsters I’d forgotten to pick up – sparked to life and Master Fay’s voice flickered out intermittently.

    The dragon’s head snapped down, and the sarlacc’s tendrils emerged slightly at the sound that came from the device.

    “C—er—on.”

    I lowered my foot, my mind going a mile a minute as I tried to process how unbelievably frakled I was as the dragon’s gaze shifted from the sparking communicator to me.

    Its eyes narrowed and it blew air loudly from its nostrils as our eyes met and I felt my entire body shiver in pure, unmitigated fear.

    The dragon leaned forward and roared. The sound was so loud that I had to slide one foot back to keep my balance even as every muscle in my body tense and another notice appeared in my interface.

    “Oh, kriff me sideways.” I muttered as I realised that I now had the alpha predator of the planet with its sights set on me.

    The dragon’s legs tensed, and it pulled its head back as my fight or flight instinct kicked in and I did the only logical thing I could.

    I ran.

    ……




    And with that, we're now 4 years from Naboo.
    See you next chapter, and...


    May the Force be with you. Always.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
  12. RedKing96

    RedKing96 Avast ye lewds

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    no nonono that...that's not fair, THAT'S NOT FAIR you cannot leave us on such a massive cliff hanging by out bloody finger nails.
    That aside nice to see this back.
     
  13. Khettien

    Khettien Perpetually confused

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    So, did Cameron piss the Force off somehow? Cuz a Sarlacc AND a Greater Krayt is a bit much.
     
  14. Metabolicjosh

    Metabolicjosh Versed in the lewd.

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    Is he allowed to kill beasts with environmental effects, such as making boulders land on something?
     
  15. Zendrelax

    Zendrelax "All yours. I think it always was. Welcome home."

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    As soon as the Twin Suns were mentioned, and I realized Cam was on his Verd'goten, my first two thoughts were "Krayt, Sralacc, or Rancor," and "it's gonna be a fucking cliffhanger." And fuck me sideways, here we are.

    Seeing him come out the other side of this without most of his Force abilities is going to be one hell of a ride, once the chapter is ready.
     
  16. jokarun

    jokarun Making the rounds.

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    The force really is just a really sadistic GM, It will constantly lead force sensitives into situations that are at or just above their power level so they actually have to give their all to succeed. This just happens to be in his power level.
     
  17. Creed

    Creed I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    If I didn't know better I'd say the force wants him to die. I mean first a Sarlacc, then he drops his Com unit and now a Krayt dragon?
    Has the force decided it doesn't like the fact Cam is throwing the future into flux or something?
     
    ClassyCobra and Spireo like this.
  18. MichaelSuave

    MichaelSuave Getting sticky.

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    It was at that moment, he realized... He'd fucked up.
     
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  19. Commedia

    Commedia Getting sticky.

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    don't tempt murphy. that's how you get into these situations in the first place!
     
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  20. KaiserMoon

    KaiserMoon The Dragon on the Moon

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    I feel like nobody is paying much attention to this line, but to me it seems like "Cameron I need help" or "Cameron need help" or something, so while he's running away, shits going down elsewhere.
     
  21. Metabolicjosh

    Metabolicjosh Versed in the lewd.

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    Ca—oon—e—ng—elp.
    Cameron. We are coming to help.

    This is my guess.
     
  22. KaiserMoon

    KaiserMoon The Dragon on the Moon

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    But how would they know he is in trouble, and its his ver'whatever so that can't help/shouldn't help.
     
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  23. auraofcalm

    auraofcalm Versed in the lewd.

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    The Force. Duh.

    Serra was being carefully monitored via various methods the entire time.

    Also, while they expect the would-be Mandalorian to succeed on their own it's a rite of passage. They don't want to kill off their children for no reason. If a situation develops that is hilariously unreasonable to expect the candidate to manage they'll just retrieve them and have them try again somewhere else.

    The whole point of having a Mandalorian big game hunter show up armed to the teeth with explosives and say "yeah screw that" at the idea of taking a krayt down with just a knife was to hammer home that this is such a situation. Nobody has to worry about a loss of honor here.

    I just hope I don't see "I'm literally about to die but I refuse to turn on my superpowers without authorization." That's Metroid Other M levels of stupid. XD

    EDIT: I kinda wonder if the hunter he ran into deliberately gave him bad info to use him as bait or something.

    EDIT 2: I totally expect Cam to land the kill somehow. That way both major characters got a draconic creature for their clan sigil.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2021
  24. TheLostArchivist

    TheLostArchivist Identifies as a Greater Dragon.

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    Well, apparently the author is a Sith apprentice. Nothing else could be that evil.

    I'm debating whether he should use the Force to get out of this. His life is more important than anything else, but if he can get out of this without using it then he should try. It's just that I'm not sure it is possible, and he also has to make it out of this in good enough condition to grab Anakin.

    Serra's
    fault
    sloppier
    gem
     
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  25. TheQwertyOne

    TheQwertyOne ЙЦУКЕН

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    This makes 0 sense. No predator will abandon its big, delicious, almost ready to eat meal for a smaller, less desirable one. Krayt Dragons don't consider humans "delicacy" so it should've not even reacted apart from glancing at the boy to gauge the threat.
     
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  26. Sandsforever

    Sandsforever Know what you're doing yet?

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    You dirty dirty tease you
     
  27. KaiserMoon

    KaiserMoon The Dragon on the Moon

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    Yeah, the force would work I guess. I wasn't really thinking about it that way, and yeah that Mando hunter was skeevy in my opinion, though Cam has protagonist luck so he'll overcome this somehow
     
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  28. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    When I read that Cam was on Tatooine, I expected him to end up fighting a Sand Demon, otherwise known as the reason Krayt dragons aren't the top of the food chain.

    A Greater Krayt Dragon is better than that, but not by much.

    I guess at least he'll have a heck of a story after, and maybe Krayt dragon pearl grips for his lightsabers. If he manages to take it down rather than running.
     
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  29. Goudeauboywade

    Goudeauboywade Getting sticky.

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    Is that a secondary Fic I see? Also, *clears throat* GODDAMN CLIFF HANGER
     
  30. Amrynel

    Amrynel Wat.

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    They're predators, but they're also smart enough to realise that humanoids can sometimes be a threat. So this dragon was probably eyeing Cam for that reason. The roar, if it's like why Earth animals do that, was presumably an intimidation "my meal/territory now, back off" signal.

    Cam maybe shouldn't have suddenly bolted like that though, that tends to immediately get you classified as "prey" (which is another possible reason for roaring, to trigger a flight response) and if krayt dragons have a chase instinct and if it's stronger than the 'already got a meal' instinct... guess we'll find out.
     
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