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A New Player in the Force (SW/Lite Gamer)

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

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  1. Taliesin

    Taliesin Know what you're doing yet?

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    Just read this all the way through, and deeply enjoyed it. The narrative maybe spends a wee bit too much time talking about mechanics at length here and there, but that's my only criticism. The characters and plot are really good. I'm looking forward to the next arc.
     
  2. Cu Chulainn

    Cu Chulainn Getting sticky.

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    This fic suffers from the common weakness of all gamer docs - too much pop-up info dumps. However, if one can get past that and n the early chapters it gets a lot better. It also avoids the common gamer fic weakness of relying on quests and players mind to drive the plot and deals with the psychological effects of players mind very well. 7/10.
     
    RaptorusMaximus likes this.
  3. RaptorusMaximus

    RaptorusMaximus Not too sore, are you?

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    I found this last week during those 4 or 5 days when SV and SB were down. Very glad I did. This is a wonderful story that I am glad/sad I'm caught up on.

    I'm a little disappointed that Cam got that perk that makes him equal too or better in terms of raw power to Anakin, cause I was looking forward to the earlier mentioned potential dynamic between them of Anakin being more powerful overall but Cam bridging the gap between them with skill and precision. Now...Anakin seems sorta irrelevant, both as an asset and a potential threat, unless that power also gave Anakin an equal boost when he took it. That might be interesting.

    Also...I don't know if this has been mentioned, but I feel like we are really, *really* close to the civil war where Adoni died right now in-story. We're only 5 years from the Battle of Naboo, and the Mando civil war that was kicked off by Adoni's murder and led to Satine's ascension definitely happened before that, since Qui-gon was still alive. I thought it happened a fair time before this, so maybe the timeline is a bit altered from standard? I mean obviously it is, but...whatever.

    Anyway, I feel like either Cam and Sierra will be caught up in the war, or they might be able to butterfly it away entirely by stopping Adoni's assassination. Who knows. I'm looking forward to it.
     
    Richael likes this.
  4. USSExplorer

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

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    Yeah, I don't deny the early chapters, up to the end of the prologue aren't great, but I won't go back and fix them bc I'd likely try to fix the entire story, and then spend years fixing it. Which I worry would take away my drive to keep going.

    Gamer's Mind is a crutch for many Gamers, so I weakened it here on purpose, then had Cam begin to see the flaws in the power. It still has uses, but he's beginning to learn that the flaws limit its usefulness outside of certain situations.

    Aye, getting a balance between story and quests is a challenge. Though I think I've found a comfortable medium for it [and thanks to spoilers on this site, I can hide Interface stuff from those who don't want to read it
     
    Taliesin likes this.
  5. USSExplorer

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

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    IF you actually read the screen in TPM, Anakin's reading was a m-c over 27k. Cam's is 25k. While that doesn't seem much, the way the m-c appear to work in an exponential curve.
    So Anakin will still have a power advantage ,but it won't be as big as it was before.

    There's no real date given for the Mandi Civil war, or the last one before Naboo anyway. And I suspect there's been a few over the last 1000 yrs, but yeah, the date of the canon death of Adonai/Satine joining+leading the N-M is close.
    Saying anything else would head into spoiler territory ;)

    Cam's whole existence creates ripples in the timeline, so we'll see if one or both are around for when all hell breaks loose on Mandalore.
     
    Richael likes this.
  6. USSExplorer

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

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    I'll try to get to that once I've got the next few chapters up. I want to push forward to Cam's verd'goten, so haven't got much downtime to gather and arrange everything just now.

    Yeah, I borrowed his early personality fro the wiki [and had it confirmed by my lore guys] for that scene. Didn't actually plan to use him until I discovered he was Yaddle's Padawan and I was struggling to get anywhere with a Yaddle-centred scene.

    Skills have no effect on his connection to the Force. Maxing a Force Power means he's taken it as far as any regular Jedi could, but it rarely done as it takes decades of training to reach those levels [ which is also true of Lightsaber forms and most other skills]

    That wasn't a steamship. It was from the Pius Dea era, which is part of the EU. The planet won't be forgotten, don't worry. I have ideas/plans for how to reuse it. Plus the place has a phrik mine, and that's a very useful metal in SW ;)
     
    alec_potter likes this.
  7. King Under The Mountain

    King Under The Mountain Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    I noticed that naz's force potential is intermediate
    and that most jadi fall between intermediate and very high. So I was wondering if naz will be trained in the force by cam, I think that would be cool.
    and I'm wondering if that was intentional?
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
  8. USSExplorer

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

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    This sums up my answer :D

    https://thumbs.gfycat.com/KeyEnchantingBuck-mobile.mp4

    Though to be slightly more helpful, it was intentional. But that's all I'll say about it ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
    almostinsane likes this.
  9. King Under The Mountain

    King Under The Mountain Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Oh, my bad. I'm new to this forum stuff and I'm still learning to use the spoiler tag
    i learned
    don't worry I fixed it so your secrets safe with me. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
  10. Devx13

    Devx13 Getting out there.

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    Any plans for the Ebon Hawk? I dug on the wiki and it said it was unclaimed after Surik.
     
    GrandmasterEli likes this.
  11. Threadmarks: Teh Adiik At Mando’ade 7
    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, this is chapter 40 on my 40th birthday. [insert SW meme :p ]
    Also, there's another fight in this, but nothing on the level of brutality of the Trial by Combat.
    Though the person in the POV likes to curse mentally.



    Current date: 5 years until the Invasion of Naboo



    Mandalorian Words: (Lots of curses!)
    Adiik – Child
    Akaan’lor – Fighting Champion
    Al'verde – Commander
    Beskad – sword (usually a saber) made of beskar
    Beskar – Mandalorian Iron
    Dala/Dalae – Pussy/Pussies
    Dar’manda – A state of not being Mandalorian, one who has lost his heritage, and so his identity and his soul. Regarded with absolute dread by most traditionally minded Mando'ade.
    Diryc – Lower (class)
    Di’kutla – Useless/Stupid/Worthless
    Di’kut/Di’kute – Idiot/Idiots
    Dral’Han – The Mandalorian Excision
    Gar taldin ni jaonyc; gar sa buir, ori'wadaas'la – Nobody cares who your father was, only the father you'll be
    Haran – Hell
    Hut’uune – Cowards (one of the worst possible insults for a real Mandalorian)
    Ijaat’akaanir – Honour-duel
    Ja'hailire – Observers/Witnesses
    Jetii – Jedi
    kar’ta gotal'ur be beskar – Hearts forged of Mandalorian Iron
    Laamyc – Upper (class)
    Mando'ade – Child/ren of Mandalore (a Mandalorian)
    Naast be Me'suum – Destroyer of Worlds (aka Revan)
    Osik – Shit
    Osi’kyr – Oh Shit!
    Osi’yame – Useless, despicable people
    Shab – Fuck
    Shabuir/ Shabuire – Motherfucker/s
    sheb’urcyin – Arse-kisser
    shebs’palon – Arsehole
    Skanahe – Very hated person/Motherfucker (again)
    Te Ani'la Mand'alor – Mandalore the Ultimate
    Traatik’lore – Team Champions
    Verd’goten – The traditional rite of passage in Mandalorian culture




    As I sat in the stands and watched six trainees spar against each other in pairs within the three sparring circles that covered the arena’s floor, I was barely able to suppress a sigh of annoyance at them getting to fight while I was stuck up here in the stands.

    It had been a month since we’d returned to the Institute, and in that time, none of the other trainees had been willing to challenge me to a ranked match, besides Bo and Thun-Dur. While I could understand why that was, the fact that my matches were practically reduced to merely training spars with my team cut my sparring time down to barely a third of what it was before. Plus, the fact that they were basically using me to improve themselves, meant that my role had become that of a tutor to them. This meant that my opportunities to attempt new ideas, or simply blow off steam were close to non-existent, and that was seriously starting to irritate me.

    Now, I was able to use my newfound time as an observer in the stands to read up on various topics – mainly things linked to my training quests – but that was a pale substitute for being able to actually do what I was meant to be doing during these evening sessions and fight.

    “This is getting annoying,” I said, finally giving words to my thoughts.

    “Cam, you destroyed six members of Laamyc in the ijaat’akaanir.” Andeeld replied. “Everyone knows you’re too good for any of us to take down.”

    “Aye, most of us are just using our sparring matches with you to improve, or to train for the Akaan’lor tournament like Bo and Thun.” added Raun and I could sense his amusement at that.

    Haran, I’ve even heard they’ve cut the odds on you to fourth favourite to win the whole thing,” Huzu offered with a chuckle.

    I turned to face her and noticed the others in my team, even Serra, nodding along. “They let trainees bet on the outcomes?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Well, it’s all under the table, so to speak, but the Instructors don’t crack down on it,” Mirali answered with a shrug. “I guess they get a cut from the bets or something.”

    “Isn’t that illegal?” Serra asked, a small frown appearing on her face while I wondered if I could drop a few hundred credits on myself to win. The way I saw it, there was nothing wrong with getting paid to do something I already planned to do. I also considered wagering on a few other things as well, like our team doing well in the Traatik’lore. Oh, I didn’t think we’d win it. We were outclassed by a few older teams in Diryc, never mind those in Laamyc, but I could see us doing fairly well.

    “Technically yes, but no one minds. Kriff, I’ve got a hundred on Cam to win it.” Andeeld responded before smirking. “The odds were too good to pass up.”

    I noticed that apart from Serra, the rest of my team was nodding along, and I shook my head and chuckled. It seemed the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. In my old life, my unit had placed bets on any off-mission activity when we could do so.

    The bets were never big, but they helped keep things amusing when we were off-mission and build, rather conversely, both intra-squad comradery and competitiveness.

    “What are my odds?” If they were decent, I’d get one of my team to place the bet for me as I doubted the Instructors wanted trainees betting directly on themselves. Too many problems could arise from that.

    Now, while I didn’t really need the money – I had a little over forty-five million credits from the sales of the first two Lord of the Rings books – it wouldn’t hurt to show I trusted in myself to my team and others. And it might even help them be more willing to trust me to lead them in real combat in the future if I showed the same faith that I had in backing myself here to support them in battle.

    “Currently five-to-one,” Andeeld responded quickly. “Before the trial, you were just over fifty-to-one to win it. Wish I’d placed some credits on that, or back when the books opened, and you were over a hundred-to-one.” He finished with a half-hearted sigh.

    A few others nodded in agreement, but I caught the smirk that appeared for but a moment on Huzu’s face and wondered if she had placed a bet on me back then. What had I done to make her willing to back me at those early odds?

    I turned my attention back to the ongoing spars as I heard Wrajud call out the winner in one of them. Neither of the two who had been fighting were near the ranked slots for the Akaan’lor tournament, though the winner, a girl with dirty blonde hair, was a member of Green-Four, the highest-ranked team in those ranking. She was a decent all-round trainee, but nothing special and the ranking of her team was heavily due to their leader, Balei Saryus.

    I turned back around as Serra’s datapad buzzed, indicating she was in the next spar. Judging by the way she tensed at the buzzer, it appeared this was a case of her being challenged. While that seemed to surprise her, it didn’t for me as she was now ranked eighteenth, and just outside the spots that would qualify for the Akaan’lor tournament. This jump in her ranking – she’d been in the high thirties before the break – was the result of her continued training, now boosted by weekly sessions with Rook Kast – who’d kept her promise to help Serra improve – and, I suspected, Serra pushing past the bracers just enough to give her at least some access to the Force.

    Honestly, I was surprised that Kast had been genuine about sparring with Serra in our free time, but those weekly sessions had clearly been helpful. While Bo was a good fighter, she didn’t push Serra too hard. Rook did, and Serra seemed to be responding well to the more difficult challenge.

    She stood, and before heading off, unclipped her lightsaber – well, one of them as Commandant Kraviss wasn’t keen on her carrying both her blades around – and passed it to me.

    “Good luck,” I offered to her as I took the weapon. She smiled at my words, and those of the rest of our team, before quickly heading down the stairs to the arena floor.

    “I thought Jedi didn’t believe in luck?” Bhae asked.

    I shrugged. “Not really. But saying ‘may the Force be with you’ every single time gets… boring as shab.”

    That drew chuckles from the rest of the team, and as I waited for Serra to reach the arena floor, I clipped her saber next to mine, letting my fingers trace the familiar ridges of my blade’s hilt.

    Unlike most Jedi, mine was entirely black around the grip and contoured for my fingers. While I’d had to remap those contours on my last visit to the Temple, and would have again as I grew, I felt that having it shaped for my hand helped me hold it. Plus, it reminded me of a knife I’d had in my former life.

    Even if I didn’t need it at the Institute, nor had any time to practice with it, it was still nice to have it back where it belonged. I had thanked both Master Yaddle and Duke Adonai several times for bringing it to Mandalore and allowing me to keep it respectfully.

    Yaddle and her Padawan had stayed for the entire two-week break, and while I had enjoyed having someone to spar with that was beyond my level and fought differently from Dooku – not that I was complaining about being taught by the man, mind you – I was glad they were no longer here.

    Yaddle, while being far more open and accepting about how and why I was here, and everything that entailed, was not someone I trusted. Nor, based on Observe, did she trust me. I’d risked using it just as she was leaving to get an idea of where I stood with her and get an idea where I stood relative to her in levels at least.

    The diminutive Jedi Master was level 41 – which was a few below Palpatine’s showing just how powerful the Sith currently was and would be in future – and while she liked me, she was concerned about leaving me on Mandalore. Still, according to Observe, she trusted Master Fay to know what she was doing which meant she placed great faith in her friendship with my elder master.

    Brand being gone was also a good thing, though for other reasons entirely. After I had beaten – read utterly trounced – him in the challenge spar, the man had spent the rest of his time talking down about everyone he could. Though only when out of earshot of Master Yaddle. I’d mentioned those comments to Yaddle, and she’d promised to speak with Brand, but it didn’t seem to temper his behaviour.

    I’d had to hold back Bo several times from attacking the man – no boy, because while he legally an adult he was clearly not mature enough to be treated as one – when he’d made comments regarding the Dral’Han and how perhaps the Jedi hadn’t been through enough in showing the Mandalorians their place in the galaxy.

    Though I had helped temper Bo’s anger by trouncing my fellow Padawan a few more times in spars before Serra had managed to defeat Brand the day before he and Master Yaddle left.

    Then, about a week later, Master Drallig had arrived on-planet and Serra had spent her thirteenth birthday with him. Something I hadn't been aware of was that the Jedi - much like Mandalorians - placed importance on a child's thirteenth birthday and a Jedi normally gave their Padawan a gift. Drallig had given Serra a new phrik casing for her lightsaber hilt. Ironically, the phrik had come from the mines on Lokella. When I found out, I grinned and said that the next time she wants anything from there, I could possibly get her a discount. Her returning smile was half-hearted at best, and it took me a few days to find out why.

    I had discovered shortly after Drallig's departure that he had argued for her to leave the Institute and return to the Temple on Coruscant. Apparently, he had grown concerned about where she was training, and what had happened to her, and wished to bring her back to the safety of the Temple. While he had relented, the fact he had wanted her to leave had angered Serra for a short while. Though not enough for her to reject his gift as she'd asked for my help with fitting the casing to her main hilt.

    Since then, things had been as quiet as could be hoped at the Institute. I brought myself back to the present as Serra stepped into the ring for her spar, I took note of the boy challenging her. He was from Brown-One and, while a decent fighter, wasn’t someone Serra should have problems handling. Still, I leaned forward and aimed my datapad at the ring.

    Rook Kast had asked me to record each of Serra’s spars – the older girl couldn’t do it herself as Laamyc did the team events while Diryc did sparring, and vice versa – so she could review them and fix my friend’s mistakes.

    I watched the fights for much the same reason, though as the buzzer sounded to start Serra’s spar, I wondered if that was all I was going to get to do until the end of the session.

    ……




    ……
    Pre Vizsla POV
    …...

    There were days when Pre hated having to pretend to be an ally of the New Mandalorians.

    If he wasn’t masquerading as the loyal lapdog of Adonai Kryze, he was forced to attend meetings as the mayor of Sundari and deal with osi’yame ‘‘New Mandalorian’’ officials. Then there were the various seminars that he had to organize or attend – sometimes both – about how to run the sector more effectively or convince other Mandalorians of the benefits of denying their culture and adopting the way of those Republic-controlled di’kute.

    Every such day was a lesson in anger management, one he hated with a fiery passion. He had to keep calm and resist the urge to draw his hidden blaster and remove the stains to his people that those skanahe represented.

    But he couldn’t. He had to stick to the grand plan he’d designed to help him restore, rebuild and reunify Death Watch in preparation for the moment when they’d return – with him in his rightful place as Mand’alor – and restore the planet and sector to their true place in the galaxy.

    Four years ago, with the death of his older brother Tor – whom he had named his son after – Pre has taken leadership of Clan Vizsla and set in motion his plan to restore the Clan and Death Watch to their rightful place. Though first he’d had to locate the symbol of leadership for both his clan and Death Watch, the Darksaber.

    It had taken him nearly two years of tracking leads, hunting down, and interrogating the few survivors of the attack that had claimed his brother’s life, and ensuring the right people looked the right way for him to locate the shabuir who had taken the Dark Saber.

    That man – whose name Pre had forgotten as he was less than a footnote in the history Pre was writing – had been under the delusion that he, not Pre, could rebuild and assume leadership of Death Watch. After defeating that man in single combat, Pre had reclaimed his family’s ancestral blade and then shown the man the folly of their misconception. Mainly by driving the Darksaber into the man’s gut and leaving him to freeze to death on the icy moon where they had fought.

    After returning to Mandalore, Pre had discovered that with the death of his wife and youngest child, Adonai Kryze had chosen to ally with the dar’manda. While Pre did not, and would never, agree with that decision, he saw an opportunity to use the Duke’s weakness to his advantage.

    Pre knew that with the death of his elder brother, Death Watch was splintered and would need time to rebuild. Thus, he made himself a valuable ally to the Duke and gained a position of power within the current administration of the sector. That gave him a way to both bide his time while he regained control of the splintered factions that remained of Death Watch and weaken the Republic lapdogs so that, when the time came, he could move against them and take his rightful place as Mand’alor. Though, spending every day around those false-Mandalorians and the weak-willed Duke was a constant test in patience and control.

    Thankfully, there were those rare days that made the constant trying nature of his cover worthwhile, and like today, many of those days were linked to the Institute for Combat Training and Protectorate Selection, though why those shabuire in Sundari just had to give such a ‘‘Republic-sounding’’ name was yet another – admittedly minor – gripe that Pre had with the capital.

    The day his son had claimed his right as Akaan’lor was one of the proudest in Pre’s life, though coming here twice-yearly was almost always a good day out. Plus, due to the reports sent to him by clan chief Wrajud in his role as chief Instructor that highlighted potential recruits for Death Watch, the place was a fertile recruiting ground.

    Today, he hoped to see one such possible recruit, his nephew Gar Saxon, prove his worth. And even better, he would have the chance to prove himself against a Jetii. Though the challenger was young, Pre consoled himself that this wasn’t just any Padawan, but a confirmed – by the Order at least, not by anyone else as far as he knew – descendent of the Naast be Me'suum.

    While Pre’s opinion on the current Jedi establishment was even lower than that of the Republic – the Order were nothing more than dogs for a corrupt and broken Republic that pointed the Jedi at problems it couldn’t fix or drown in red-tape – the ancient members of the order during its prime were worthy of respect. Names such as Ulic Qel-Droma and Revan held meaning in Mando’ade society for not just facing but defeating the Mand’alor of their day.

    Revan had broken the Mandalorians millennia before, even earning the right to claim the title of Mand’alor for himself when he defeated Te Ani'la Mand'alor. Revan had not taken the title, which was both a good and bad thing in Pre’s mind. He had, however, turned on the very senate and Jedi Order than had tried to deny him the glory of facing Mandalorians on the field of battle. Though Pre’s only regret was that Revan, like many of the so-called fallen or dark Jedi over the millennia, had failed to bring down the Republic.

    While Pre was repulsed to see a Jetii, and an adiik no-less, be allowed to learn the ways of the Mando’ade, the child had earned at least a measure of Pre’s respect.

    Instead of turning tail and running when his fellow Jetii was attacked – as Pre had expected to happen upon his learning about the incident – the boy had chosen an ijaat’akaanir to settle the matter. That alone was the act of a warrior, one that, in another time and place, Pre would’ve tried to recruit for Death Watch. Yet the boy had not just chosen ijaat’akaanir, but he had won it, and had done so ruthlessly. Pre could not help but respect the boy for how well he fought, even if he suspected the adiik had found a way to counter the bracers that nullified the unusual abilities of a Jedi. Though the less said about those disgraces to the Mando’ade the better. Their actions in attacking an adiik like hut’uune shamed their clans and people.

    That ijaat’akaanir was why Pre suspected that Gar had asked that this final duel to determine the Akaan’lor was being fought under full – for the Institute – combat rules. While Pre felt that Gar could take down the Jetii in close-quarters-combat – even with the Jetii likely having found a way to overcome the bracers – Pre saw no problem with Gar offering the Jetii the honour of a true fight between warriors. Though he wished the fight could be to the death instead of the mandated rules of fighting until one trainee submitted or was rendered unconscious.

    Something in his gut told Pre that this Jetii, Cameron Shan, was a threat to him, and all that he was building. Haran, the boy was even a threat to his family unity as Nia had turned from Death Watch and Naz was speaking out against the group.

    Shan had managed to turn the head of his daughter, getting her to openly question why certain actions taken by the Death Watch – and Mandalorians of old – were worthy of honour. Now, while Naz was young and at that age where young warriors began to question everything, it was a concern to have her use the Jetii as a source of why her opinions were what they were.

    Still, even if the boy was shifting Naz’s head away from the correct path, it would be something Pre could easily correct once Shan and his female companion were gone. He would not allow anyone, not even his daughter, to derail his plans to secure his place as leader of Death Watch; and then Mandalore itself.

    Naz would marry Kote Wrajud – Instructor Wrajud’s eldest son – to both reward Krarthog for his loyalty and secure the factories and resources controlled by clan Wrajud for Death Watch. Though, while Pre was set on this path for his daughter, he hoped that Naz would begin to show interest in the Wrajud heir. The fact that she’d broken the older boy’s nose for being forceful with her was – beyond being something he was proud of as a father – a concern that the union between the two would not be harmonious.

    Of greater concern though, but still centred around the one many trainees referred to as the ‘‘Revan’ade’’, was that Pre had caught Naz pushing those same concerns about Death Watch that she’d voiced to him, to her brother – and Pre’s son – Tor. And that was a major problem.

    Pre barely managed to keep the sneer from his face as he thought about the nickname the Jedi had. Even if it was earned, it invoked memories in the trainees – especially his daughter and Bo-Katan, who Krarthog felt was another possible recruit for Death Watch – of a time before his clan had risen to prominence. Back when they’d been nothing but a fledging cadet clan of Clan Vizla.

    “Father,” he turned at the sound of his son’s voice and drew himself out of his thoughts, “are you well?”

    “Yes, Tor. I was just going over a report in my head.” Pre replied with a smile before waving his hand in dismissal. “But that is unimportant. What is happening today is. Are you looking forward to this?” He asked, taking the time to enjoy seeing his son in full armour.

    The armour was the standard worn by any modern Mandalorian, though his son had chosen to decorate certain part of the armour in shades of blue or green showing what he felt were the most important factors to him. Pre smiled sadly as he took in the red edging of the pauldrons, vambraces and greave that were there to honour the boy’s mother, and Pre’s wife Jyso, who had died nearly a decade ago in a battle against Jaster Mereel’s True Mandalorians.

    The only downside of the armour was that it was not battle-scarred, though Pre did not doubt that issue would be fixed in time. He had offered to have his son Tor join a few operations with Protector teams that, while not directly affiliated with Death Watch, were led by those sympathetic to their cause. Sadly, Tor had refused, instead preferring to train and manage the clan’s holdings while Pre dealt with the tedious issues of his cover as mayor of Sundari.

    Tor returned Pre’s smile with one of his own. “Yes, father. Though I admit, I’m… conflicted about who to support. Gar is my cousin, yet the Jedi…”

    Pre nodded in understanding. “He is worthy of our respect Tor, so there is no shame in wishing him success. However, family always comes first.” Pre replied, though internally he seethed. His son, and heir, was willing to support the Jedi against his cousin. It seemed that either Naz’s words or the Jedi’s actions had altered his son’s thinking more than Pre had realised.

    Unacceptable. Utterly unacceptable and intolerable.

    There and then Pre made a vow to accelerate his planning for removing the Jedi from the board permanently. And to ensure that overwhelming strength was used to do so.

    “Of course, father. Though I think Naz might need reminding of that lesson.” Tor responded with a grin that Pre matched, though internally he snarled. Being further reminded of the effect the Jedi was having on his daughter was not helpful to his mood.

    “She is young and easily distracted by new things.” Pre offered calmly as an explanation that gave no hint of his internal fury.

    “The same could be said of my youngest.” Another voice added and Pre turned to see that Duke Adonai, adorned once more in his full armour, stepping through the door into the observation deck of the training arena at the Institute where Pre and Tor were standing.

    “My Duke.” Pre offered with a lowering of his head.

    Adonai harrumphed loudly and waved his hand aimlessly towards Pre. “None of that today Pre. We’re here to enjoy ourselves. And even if the fight was between two newborns – which I don’t expect will be the case – anything that gets me away from more osik-filled meetings is a good thing.”

    Pre chuckled honestly at that as he completely agreed. Anything was better than sitting to listening to those snivelling weaklings talk about further ways to destroy the will, culture, and history of the Mandalorian people.

    “Sadly, meetings are a part of any life.” Came a third voice from just outside the still-open doors to the deck.

    Pre shifted his gaze past Adonai and saw Master Fay, one of Shan’s Jedi Masters – that he had two did nothing to hide how special he was to the Jedi – step into the room. “Even a Jedi is not immune to them.”

    Adonai turned to face the near-human female. “Ah, but any meeting would be tolerable with someone as beautiful as yourself in it.”

    Even with him holding no love for the Jedi, Pre couldn’t deny that there was something… exceptional about Master Fay. She had an ageless feel and grace that could not be ignored. He even remembered Naz comparing the part-human Jedi to one of those… elfes… from a new series of holonovels she’d started reading over the break.

    “You are too kind Duke Adonai. However, I doubt I could help anyone survive budget meetings.” Fay responded calmly as she entered the room fully and allowed the doors to hiss close behind her. Either she was used to flattery, or she was well trained to ignore it. “Though I suspect that to most, today will be much more enjoyable.”

    “Indeed. Your Padawan has been… a revelation. He’s settled in so well I often forget he’s a Jedi.” Adonai agreed as the pair stepped closer to Pre even as Pre heard the doors hiss open again as they opened once more. “Haran, it’s been decades since any member of Diryc made the semi-finals of this tournament. Never mind the finals itself.”

    “Thirty-two years have passed since Tor Vizsla, not the one before us today but the one he is named for, made the semis as a member of Diryc. And it’s been one hundred and eighteen since Zar Skirata made the final. Though no Diryc trainee has ever won the title of Akaan’lor.”

    That answer had been offered by Commandant Kraviss as she, Rangemaster Marod and Nia Vizsla stepped into the room. “Though, perhaps today will be the first time.” She added as the doors closed behind the trio. “Rangemaster Marod informed me of those dates during our morning meeting.” She finished with a smirk as she jerked her thumb towards the elderly Rangemaster.

    Pre nodded respectfully at Kraviss and Marod – even if neither were sympathetic to Death Watch, they were worthy Mandalorians – before his attention turned to his sister as she approached.

    “How is Gar?”

    Nia shrugged. “Calm and focused.” She paused and glanced past Pre to look out the large viewport that gave those in the observation deck sight of the entire arena. “It’s times like this he reminds me of our father.” She said as she looked out the window, though Pre suspected she was thinking about a memory of their father and not what was about to happen on the floor below.

    “He often does.” Pre agreed as his mind drifted back to their father, Raz.

    The man had always seemed so calm and collected before any battle, and even during it, that it often surprised Pre that his brother Tor was related to their father. Or that any of them were. None of Raz’s children were able to stay so composed before or during a fight.

    Pre was the best at appearing so, but he knew that internally he struggled to maintain his control before a battle, and rarely did so during. Nia often bounced around, agitated and excited for what was to come while their brother Tor…

    While Pre loved his elder brother, he couldn’t deny that the man had never been one to control himself before a fight. Often Pre found his brother stalking around, like an animal waiting to be unleashed from a cage.

    Yet, as the years passed, and that shebs’palon Jango Fett had begun to hunt down Death Watch for revenge, Pre’s brother had begun to grow more and more unhinged and wild.

    There were moments where Pre was glad his brother had died – not least as it allowed Pre to claim leadership of clan Vizsla and Death Watch – but that did not mean he forgave Jango Fett for the death of his brother. Yet there was little Pre could do against his fellow Mandalorian.

    Fett was too well connected or feared – sometimes both – for any to be willing to allow Pre to place a bounty on the man’s head. Even petitioning the Hutt Grand Council for them to remove Fett from their patronage had failed. So, apart from sending the gutter-dwelling scum of the galaxy after Fett – and Pre gave that lot next to zero per cent chance of managing to kill Fett – there was nothing Pre could do about his brother’s killer. For now.

    Pre was drawn from his thoughts as the doors to the deck once more hissed open and Pre glanced that way to see the expected visitors arrive. While many more than usual wished to attend this Akaan’lor final – likely due to the presence of the Jedi – Adonai had limited those allowed into the observation deck to just two close allies and their wives. The rest would have to be content with the visitors stand at the far end of the arena.

    Count Aundars Wren, Clan Chief Kann Dur and their wives entered the room and while neither clan leader were members of Death Watch – from those elements loyal to him or the handful of false branches that still existed – they were good Mandalorians, not sycophants of the Republic-appointed dar’manda in Sundari.

    Though, if the rumblings he’d heard from his sources were anything to go by, both clan leaders, and large elements of their clans, were growing discontent with Adonai’s leadership of House Kryze. Particularly concerning the alliance between the House and the Republic-backed traitors in Sundari.

    Pre had plans to use this discontentment to gain their support when the moment came for him to step out from the shadows, publicly claim leadership of Death Watch replace Adonai as leader of the House, thus changing its name to House Vizsla.

    “Count Aundars, Chief Kann, ladies Vhe and Esla, welcome.” Adonai stated as he stepped forward with Kraviss to greet the newcomers.

    “Duke Adonai, a pleasure. And in your armour today? Unexpected.” Aundars responded as he clasped arms with the Duke and his wife gave a respectful nod.

    “I’m trainee Shan’s sponsor. To not wear my armour when he has reached the final round would insult him. And as this fight is to be conducted under combat rules, to not wear my armour would be an insult to both trainees, not to mention our people’s heritage.” Adonai responded bluntly, though without any hint of anger at the subtle challenge Aundars had made.

    While Pre had many issues with Adonai, starting with his decision to ally with the dalae in Sundari, he did respect the man. Pre was certain that, following the death of his wife and youngest son, Adonai had been overcome with grief and fear of losing his remaining children, which was why he had sought out those… shabuire in that moment of weakness. That Adonai hadn’t decoupled House Kryze from Sundari was not unexpected – even if Pre was conflicted about the alliance breaking as Pre knew how stubborn Adonai could be once he committed to a path.

    “And how do your… allies, feel about this?” Aundars asked and Pre had to fight to not smirk. It seemed his reports about the discontentment were accurate as both Aundars and Kann – who was staring intently at Adonai – were making little effort to hide their annoyance at the alliance between House Kryze and the Sundari government.

    Adonai shrugged. “They are...less than pleased. But they know that without my support their hold on power is tenuous at best.” The faintest wisp of a smile brushed across the Duke’s face and Pre had to bite back a chuckle at the honest nature of that reply.

    Pre knew the answer was about as vague and generalized an answer as Adonai could give as he’d had to listen as Prime Minster Worra, and others vehemently protested against Adonai and Pre for attending the ijaat’akaanir and today in full armour. It had taken all of Pre’s considerable acting skills to keep his face neutral as Worra and the other Republic-backed arse sheb’urcyin had mewed like children who’d had whined like a kath hound in heat over Adonai’s decision. Haran, he’d had to cough to hide his laughter when Adonai, in no uncertain terms, made it clear that Worra and his group needed House Kryze far more than Adonai needed them.

    And while Pre knew that spat was not enough to have Adonai change his mind, it was, without doubt, the best day he’d ever had while pretending to be an ally to Adonai and the dar’manda in Sundari.

    “Hmm. When I first heard from my son that you’d allowed Jedi to attend, I thought you had finally lost your mind.” Kann began, not caring if he openly insulted the nominal leader of their people. Since this was neutral ground, there was no fear of reprisal, nor could an insult issued here be used as grounds for a duel at a later date. “However, from what I’ve heard from my son and others, the two respect our ways, embrace them even. And an ijaat’akaanir?” He paused, shook his head and chuckled. “I thought I’d seen it all.”

    “Those hut’uune left my Padawan no choice.” Master Fay declared, having stepped to the side as Adonai had greeted the clan leaders, and Pre felt his brow rise. He saw that everyone else had reacted in surprise at the Jedi’s usage of such a word; well, everyone bar Marod, who simply smirked.

    “Uh, yes. Quite.” Kann mumbled out, clearly put off by a Jedi Master using a Mando’a curse – and one of the worst ones at that – to describe anyone. Though Pre couldn’t blame him for being unbalanced hearing the Jedi use that word. He was also still trying to process that she’d said it and wondered when and from whom she’d learnt it.

    “Master Jedi, an honour.” Aundars said as he turned to Fay and tilted his head forward. “My daughter and nephew both speak highly of the Jedi trainees. They say the two are different from what they expected of Jedi, especially the boy. Stars, I think my daughter might be smitten with him.”

    Fay laughed once at what Aundars said, and it was a sound that Pre couldn’t deny was enthralling. “I am Master Fay, Count Aundars. Though to hear that the pair are drawing attention by not behaving as one would expect of a Jedi is, unsurprising. Padawan Keto is more rambunctious than most her age while Padawan Shan is… something unusual for a Jedi.”

    Adonai chuckled deeply – a sound that Pre knew was honest laughter from the man. “He is a Revan’ade, Master Fay. He could never be just another Jedi.”

    Revan’ade?” Fay laughed once more and shook her head. “It seems he cannot help but earn titles.”

    “I sense a story to be told.” Aundars said as he crossed his arms while the others all leaned closer to the Jedi Master in anticipation.

    Pre would admit that he was curious as well. The more he knew about Shan, the easier it should be to plan the ideal way to permanently remove him from the board. While any plan he had was still in the design phase, forewarned about an enemy was forearmed to face them.

    Fay smiled but made no move to reply. Instead, she shifted her gaze to Nia. “While there are a few that I could tell, I believe Lady Nia could tell the story of Cameron’s most recently earned title. Mtael.”

    Nia coughed to hide her laughter while Pre rolled his eyes. He had heard that story several times from Nia – and a few others who had stayed loyal to Death Watch after the battle with the now-proclaimed Lokella – and had no interest in hearing it again.

    Kriff, if it wasn’t for the fact Nia was his sister and not a random soldier, he’d be concerned she was showing deviant tendencies and was as enamoured with the boy as Naz was.

    “This would be the battle where your husband lost his life?” Lady Esla asked, a single eyebrow rising as she spoke. It took Pre a moment to realise that she had likely heard the story in passing as Girk had been her cousin through their mothers.

    Nia’s humour vanished and her face seemed to drain of all emotion. Pre, being her brother, knew that wasn’t the case. She was simply locking down her outward emotions to prevent them from using what they saw against her. Unlike Pre, Nia was not comfortable with faking her emotions and opinions and so preferred this approach instead.

    “Indeed it was. Girk was… a fool. The Padawan fought with honour and won.” Nia replied in a voice that matched her face. “My husband did not take that well and paid for his rashness with his life.”

    The marriage had been one arranged by their father Raz to gain the alliance of Clan Saxon for Death Watch, and while Nia and Girk had been a good match, Pre knew there had never been love between them. Oh, the two had been comfortable around each other and enjoyed each other’s company – two children were proof of that – but Pre knew it had never evolved beyond that.

    The marriage had lasted though, and the alliance it created was still strong and had brought one of the larger and more powerful clans into the orbit of Death Watch.

    The only issue was that clan Saxon was still lacking a formal leader. Gar’s uncles handled the daily business of the clan, but Gar had not yet challenged for leadership of the clan. Gar had wanted to wait until he finished his time at the Institute before doing so, though Pre didn’t doubt that the boy would be successful in earning the title of Count of clan Saxon. However, until he did, the alliance between Saxon and Vizsla was weakened, even if none of the clan elders were supporters of the government in Sundari.

    Though from the reports Pre had received from Krarthog Wrajud, he suspected that a major reason that Gar had delayed claiming leadership of his clan was due to his relationship with one Rook Kast. Her clan was small, holding only a few minor settlements in the rimward section of the sector, but they were not supporters of Sundari either so Pre had no problems with the relationship, and he even hoped that clan Kast could be persuaded to ally with Death Watch when the time was right. Though he wished that Girk had been able to persuade Count Aundars to marry his daughter Ursa to Gar, as Clan Wren was a larger and more prestigious clan.

    Even as Pre considered all that, he noted that several of the newcomers were looking at Nia in disbelief.

    “An adiik killed Girk Saxon in combat?” Aundars managed to ask after getting his shock under control.

    “He bested Girk in a duel to determine the outcome of the battle. And without using any Jedi tricks. Girk… he did not like the outcome and tried to shoot the Padawan in the back.” Nia explained in a voice that lacked much emotion. “Not a wise choice of action against an armed Jedi.”

    “Ah. Yes. A Jedi with their lightsaber is a dangerous opponent.” Aundars said slowly.

    “A Jedi without a lightsaber is just as challenging,” Fay countered as she lifted her arms to reveal that there was no sign of the trademark Jedi weapon clipped to her belt. “For hundreds of years I have not wielded such a blade, yet no being has been able to best me in combat. Weapons and armour the Mandalorians possess aplenty, yet I do not believe you would have any more luck than those who have come before you.”

    While Pre already knew the Jedi was older than she looked, to hear that she was several centuries old when she barely looked a day over twenty, well, that was a shock to his system. And judging by how the others were reacting, they were as surprised as he was.

    “Um, n-no. No, I wouldn’t Master Jedi.” Aundars managed to mumble out. “I, uh, meant no disrespect.”

    “None is taken, Count. However, I would suggest that you remember that how someone looks or behaves is not an indicator of how great a threat they are. The Grandmaster of the Jedi is nearly nine hundred years old and would barely come up to your knee if you stood side-by-side. Yet, if you faced him in battle, you would be less successful than those who threatened the Padawans.”

    Pre felt himself gulp. He was an experienced warrior and had killed dozens, if not hundreds, in his life. Yet the calmly spoken words of this one Jedi – who looked younger than Nia but was older than anyone he had ever known – had him concerned as to how deadly a fully trained Jedi was. And just how much he may have underestimated trainee Shan.

    Adonai chuckled. “Wise words from such an ageless beauty. How…”

    Whatever Adonai was planning to say was cut off as the doors hissed. A moment of confusion passed over Pre as there were no other scheduled guests for the room, yet as the doors fully opened to reveal two more people, Pre felt his brow rise even as the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

    “Duke Torrhen, Lady Asta, this is… unexpected.” Adonai managed to get out through his shock as everyone turned to see the two newcomers.

    “Yes, I imagine it is.” Duke Torrhen Ordo stated as he stepped into the room with his wife Lady Asta. “However, when I heard that two Jedi were competing in the Akaan’lor tournament in Keldabe and learnt that one was the Jedi my nephew Thun spoke of, I felt it would be interesting to visit the city and see if we could meet this child.”

    Pre was able to get his shock under control as his mind spun at seeing Duke Torrhen of House Ordo – one of the three most powerful houses in the sector – step into the room with his wife, the Lady Asta, on his arm.

    “Imagine our surprise when we arrived in the city this morning and heard that the Jedi had not only reached the final of the Akaan’lor tournament but would be facing off against Gar Saxon. The son of the man the Jedi killed defending freed slaves from a Hutt-backed attack.” Torrhen shrugged even as a smile spread across his face. “Well, how could we not come and watch such an event.”

    “Ah.” Adonai replied though Pre was able to make out a few very subtle signs that Adonai was still confused and unsure about why the leaders of House Ordo were here. And to be honest, Pre was in the same situation.

    Pre knew that for the longest time Adonai and Torrhen had been friends and allies with the pair having met and become friends at this very institute nearly four decades ago. Their houses were so close that Adonai’s wife had been Torrhen’s sister. When they’d become the leaders of their clans and houses, the pair had allied and stayed back from the fighting between the True Mandalorians, Death Watch and the government of Sundari – though the last group only used mercenaries as they wouldn’t dirty their hands to fight their own battles.

    That alliance, while it lasted, had contained the majority of the people and around thirty per cent of the sector’s planets and stations. It had been a constant threat to everything that Pre and his family had been working on, and he remembered the long meetings he’d had with his father and brother developing ways to break the alliance.

    Not only had it been a threat due to its size, but the two Dukes had allowed many members of their Houses to join the True Mandalorian faction created by Jaster Mereel, which had worried Tor and Pre that the pair would unite behind Mereel if he had ever become strong enough to openly claim the title of Mand’alor. Such an act would’ve forced the smaller clans to choose between angering the most powerful group in the sector by siding with Death Watch or fall into line behind Mereel.

    Thankfully that threat had been weakened when Mereel had been killed on Korda Six, then removed completely with the annihilation of the True Mandalorians on Galidraan. Thus, to see Duke Torrhen and Lady Asta stroll into the observation deck as though nothing had changed when they hadn’t set foot on Mandalore for over five years was… concerning.

    “Where are my nephew and nieces?” Asta asked, changing the direction of the conversation. Though her tone made it seem less like she was asking Adonai a question, than challenging him as to why they were not present to greet their aunt and uncle.

    Pre had always been attracted to Asta as she was both beautiful and a fierce warrior, but she had never been anything but harsh and cold towards him. Though he did not mind that as the woman was harsh to anyone that she didn’t consider friend or family. And given the tone she had just used, and the way she glared at Adonai, it was possible that the Duke was no longer in that group.

    “Dorgo is taking care of clan business, while Satine is on Coruscant.” Asta scoffed loudly at hearing that. “And Bo is helping one of the finalists prepare.” Asta lifted a single blonde eyebrow. “She is friends with the two Jedi so is helping the boy with his armour.”

    “Hmm.” Asta turned to her husband. There was a moment where the two didn’t speak, but Pre was certain that they were communicating as he had done the same with his wife when she was still alive.

    “Regardless of the outcome, we wish to speak with the child of Revan.” Torrhen all but demanded of Adonai before he turned to Master Fay and bowed. “With your permission, of course, Master Jedi.”

    Fay’s lips moved as if she was going to talk, only for her to stop and close them. She fell into silence and, for a reason Pre could not comprehend, tilted her head slightly to one side. Though before anyone could comment on her actions, she righted her head and nodded at Torrhen.

    “Yes, I believe that would be acceptable.” Fay replied, not bothered by her strange behaviour, which left Pre wondering if she had spoken to the boy. He knew that such things were possible with the Jedi’s powers, but the records he had read about such things were vague. Almost as if the Jedi intentionally restricted access to the knowledge for those outside their order.

    “If I may,” Kraviss began, drawing everyone’s attention. “While I would be happy to stay here and speak with all of you about the trainees, both myself and Instructor Wrajud must head down to the arena.”

    While the exchange between the Kryze and Ordo leaders had taken place, she had moved to one side and was standing near her staff and Pre’s son. At seeing Tor’s face, Pre wondered what his son had been discussing with the group while Pre’s attention had been elsewhere. He would have to remember to speak with his son later about this.

    “Of course, Commandant. This is your command.” Adonai replied, and the others nodded.

    “If you need anything or have any questions about the trainees or the campus, Instructor Vizsla and Rangemaster Marod are at your disposal.” Kraviss offered before she and Wrajud left.

    Pre had hoped to speak with Wrajud before he left, but the early arrival of the expected clan leaders – and the unexpected appearance of one of the three most powerful men in the sector in Duke Torrhen – had denied him that chance. He would simply have to speak with Wrajud later tonight, preferably before the final banquet to end the session and celebrate the various victors and outstanding trainees.

    He quickly put those thoughts out of his mind. The unexpected appearance of Duke and Lady Ordo required his attention. If there was any hint of a possible restoration of their former alliance, then he would need to dust off old plans to ensure that alliance was not reborn.

    “You’re still the Rangemaster?” Kann asked Marod as Pre saw that most were still facing the man and his sister.

    “That I am. And I still remember the day you entered the Institute for the first time. All wide-eyed and expectant.” Marod replied with a chuckle. “Same for the rest of you who went here.”

    Most of the others laughed along at that including Pre. Marod was old, but Pre knew the man was skilled and, in his day, had been a fine warrior. That he had not died in battle was something Pre both feared and hoped for, as to Pre the idea of growing and dying in a bed, feeble and unimportant was one of the few things that scared him. However, Marod had found a new calling in teaching the next generations the proper usage, maintenance, and respect for their weapons, which was worthy of respect.

    “Ah, to be young again.” Aundars said before shaking his head. “The things I could do.” He added wistfully as he turned and stared out the room’s viewport.

    A hand shot out and clipped the back of the man’s head, though it didn’t seem to do any damage. “You’ll do nothing and like it.” Lady Vhe stated clearly with a glare at her husband. Aundars smiled sheepishly at her.

    “Yes dear.”

    Pre’s lips twitched in amusement as a few others stifled laughter at the interchange.

    “So, which students have stood out this year?” Kann asked, with a smile creeping onto his face as he moved the conversation back towards a topic more suited to today’s event.

    Marod barked out a chuckle. “What you mean is how did your boy do, hmm?” Kann’s smile grew as he nodded. “Trainee Dur came third in the Diryc group for sparring, forty-eighth overall for pistols, twenty-first in Diryc for rifles and his team made the quarter-finals of the team event. All in all, a good showing and he’s got the makings of a damn fine warrior. Though thankfully he’s not as hot-headed as his father.” Marod added on, which drew a loud laugh from Lady Esla.

    “We can only hope.” Esla offered in agreement.

    “You wound me, my dear. Right here.” Kann jokingly moaned as he held a hand to heart.

    “Trainee Wren finished thirty-fifth in Lammyc’s sparring rankings, sixty-seventh overall for pistols, twenty-ninth for rifles, and her and trainee Kryze’s team qualified for the Traatik’lore.” Marod offered to Aundars and Vhe before turning to Adonai and Pre. “I suspect you both already know how your daughters did.”

    “We do.” Adonai replied with a smile, while Pre nodded.

    Naz had done ok, and while she hadn’t qualified for the Akaan’lor tournament – she’d come placed thirty-first – and ninety-sixth overall for pistols her rifles standing was what Pre was proud of. Naz had finished ninth overall with a rifle and set the bullseye mark for the session at a touch over three kilometres without any type of scope.

    Bo-Katan Kryze, who along with Naz and Ursa Wren, Pre was looking at as a possible recruit to Death Watch – and not just because of the PR bonus it would be to recruit Duke Adonai’s daughter to Pre’s group – had reached the quarterfinals of the Akaan’lor tournament – highly impressive for anyone from Diryc – and been ranked top twenty for pistols.

    “Gar was top of Laamyc as a fighter, second overall with pistols and his team are the new Traatik’lore.” Nia offered as Pre mused on the younger trainees. Nia was clearly proud of her son and Pre had to agree. Gar was a fine warrior, though once this session was over Pre would have to ensure that Nia pushed Gar to take up leadership of clan Saxon.

    “Yes, trainee Saxon has shown a good improvement in his skills this year. I will miss seeing him on the range next session, but he will do his clan and people proud in the future.” Marod agreed.

    “And what of the Jedi?” Asta asked.

    Pre felt his brow twitch at the topic again turning back to those two adiiks. Though it was another nail to hang up the idea that Pre had about clan Ordo holding Revan in higher regard than other clans. Yet, even if that was the case, Mando’ade placed less care on who someone’s ancestors were than who they were in the here and now. ‘‘Gar taldin ni jaonyc; gar sa buir, ori'wadaas'la’’ as the saying went.

    Still, was there something Pre didn’t know? Some deep, dark secret that Clan Ordo was hiding from the rest of the clans? That would need investigating, but Pre didn’t have any members of the clan in the Death Watch factions under his control – at least not since Thur Ordo had left Death Watch after the death of Girk – nor any member of the clan who trusted him enough to reveal such a secret. Yet, this… fascination in the child of Revan that Clan Ordo held was a possible weakness Pre could exploit to destabilise House Ordo.

    “Trainee Keto is an excellent student. She made the Akaan’lor tournament, which was impressive for one so young, and was in the top one hundred in Diryc with both kinds of blasters. She’s shown an incredible rate of improvement and seems to enjoy combat more than I’d expect for a Jedi.” Marod replied to Asta’s query. While Pre could admit some grudging respect for the female Jedi improving herself, in the end, she was still nothing more than an attack dog for the weak-willed fools in the Senate.

    “Now the one the other trainees call the Revan’ade… That one is something special.” Marod continued as Pre bit back a comment about the male Jedi being nothing but an adiik. “He finished top ten overall with both pistol and rifle, led his team – a newly formed Diryc team at that – to the quarter-finals of the Traatik’lore Tournament and has earned the right to fight today for the title of Akaan’lor.” Marod offered and Pre felt his stomach turn at hearing the respect in the old Rangemaster’s voice for the Jedi. “And this is before he’s even old enough to attempt a verd’goten, though from what I’ve heard both Jedi will be taking the trial.”

    “Yes, Padawan Keto will be heading off with myself and Master Fay next week for her trial.” Adonai confirmed. Pre was conflicted heavily about the pair becoming Mando’ade. While they were Jedi, and thus their loyalty would be with those fools on Coruscant, that they were willing to honour Mandalorian traditions was… honourable. Though if one or both fell during their trial, then Pre would not shed a tear.

    “The child of Revan will become Mando’ade?” Torrhen asked as his brow rose and Pre had to fight not to scoff at the adoration he heard in the Duke’s voice. It seemed the Ordos did place too much respect in the bloodline of Revan. Di’kute, the lot of them.

    “While many in the Order are… uncertain about this, Cameron is adamant about taking the trial.” Master Fay explained as Pre saw her brow creasing slightly. “Padawan Keto has decided to follow his lead, though I suspect her decision was influenced by the actions of the hut’uune.”

    As she spoke Pre’s mind began to ponder the fact the boy was causing rifts within the Jedi. That was something he could use to his advantage as a distracted Jedi Order would allow him to accelerate his plans to reunify and reform Death Watch. Though to fully exploit this rift, Pre would have to allow the boy to succeed in his verd’goten, thus making him an even greater threat to Pre’s plans.

    This would require careful consideration with a few of his loyal lieutenants. Though not Nia. Even if she hadn’t stopped offering him advice for his plans, she had kept to her word and not re-joined Death Watch and thus he was forced to remove her from his inner circle.

    Still, his base plan to have the boy killed during, or even just after, his trial felt like the best path forward. Though planning around the fact Adonai and at least one of the boy’s Jedi Masters would be there was an… issue. Oh, he had several ideas about how to arrange an accident, one that was not linked back to him. However, the most efficient method would mean working – discreetly – with the same Hutt responsible for Girk’s death. That was not something Pre particularly wanted to do, but, if the boy died, then the end would justify the means. After all, he was doing this all for the greater good of his people and the boy was a threat to that.

    “I didn’t think I would ever see a Jedi choose to become Mando’ade.” Vhe said slowly. “It’s been… centuries since one chose our ways.”

    “From my research, it has not happened since the Dral’Han.” Master Fay offered, though Pre swore he saw her lips twitch as she referred to the Dral’Han. “Cameron’s path is not one many would, or could, walk. Yet, the Force is guiding him to attempt a verd’goten for a reason and I place my trust in both the Force and Cameron. To do otherwise feels… foolish.”

    “Well, if your Order ever chose to cast either of them out, they will have a home with Clan Ordo.” Torrhen offered quickly and Pre saw that Asta nodded in agreement.

    “Has Clan Ordo grown so weak that they’d take the casts off from the Jedi to boost their numbers?” Kann asked and while there was a smile on his face, there was no other obvious hint of teasing. Instead, Kann’s jaw tightened as his eyes narrowed.

    Pre suppressed a smirk at seeing the Ordo’s respect – haran, it almost seemed like love – for Revan and his descendant was causing problems with other clans. While it shouldn’t lead to anything today, it was an encouraging sign that what Pre felt was the easiest weakness of House Ordo was exploitable.

    “Unlike some other, smaller clans, House Ordo sees value in a diversity of voices and ideals. We also remember our people’s past and the links we have with clan Shan.” Asta retorted with a sneer while Pre saw Torrhen’s fists tighten as if preparing to strike.

    Even if the leaders of both clans grew angry enough to want to fight, Pre knew that no such thing could happen today. This was neutral ground, and nothing said here could be used to demand an ijaat’akaanir, though it could lead to tensions between the clans or even an isolated conflict. Or it would if Pre was able to prod the right people in the right moments.

    Now, Pre would prefer that no real Mandalorians died in a petty squabble, however, he was realistic enough to know that sometimes the few had to be sacrificed for the greater good of the people. Plus, such a conflict could generate opportunities to help his plans and provide cover for a few more overt actions he needed to take but had so far avoided because of the attention they would draw.

    However, any further escalation of tempers was interrupted as a loud gong sounded around the arena. That drew everyone’s attention to the viewport, while was focused on the centre of the sparring area.

    While the distance between the viewport and the arena floor was great, the viewport was doubled as a giant screen that zoomed in on the sparring rings. That meant those in the observation deck could make out everything that was going on without having to strain their eyes.

    Pre watched as Kraviss stepped into the centre of the screen with Wrajud a step behind on her right.

    “If I may have everyone’s attention.” Kraviss began as Pre noted everyone in the stands – trainees and visitors alike – were focusing on the Commandant. “Today we gather to determine a new Akaan’lor.”

    “We stand today as ja'hailire while the two warriors of our Institute who have fought their way to this moment. These two had proved they both have kar’ta gotal'ur be beskar, that they are Mando’ade. And while we honour both these warriors for earning the right to compete here today, in the end, only one can stand as Akaan’lor.”

    Pre was impressed with the way Kraviss spoke the words. They were spoken every session, but even from here, he could tell that she believed them. That she seemed to even believe that the Jedi was Mando’ade without completing a verd’goten was… troubling.

    Kraviss was often a good barometer of where the non-aligned Mandalorians and minor clans stood, so for her to state those words – even if they were nothing more than her repeating words that had been passed down by the generations since this centre was established – was a concern.

    “Our first warrior was ranked second in the Institute with a blaster pistol and ninth with a rifle this session. As al'verde he led his team, Orchid-Six, to the title of Traatik’lore. I give you Gar, of clan Saxon.”

    Pre watched as his nephew stepped into the lit arena. Gar walked confidently, paying the cheering crowd no attention, into the central ring with his helmet under his arm. While Pre would have liked for Gar to have had access to a jet pack, Gar did not have the training to use them. Plus, they were not permitted under the Institute’s combat rules.

    The cheering died off as the lights reflected off Gar’s armour and confirmed that it was not the standard durasteel training armour used by Laamyc. Pre allowed a smile to form on his face at seeing Gar proudly bearing the sigil of clan Saxon on his right shoulder and the mark of a Corellian sand panther as his personal sigil on the left pauldron.

    “He has beskar armour?” Kann asked.

    “Yes. It was re-forged from his father’s old armour.” Nia explained proudly. “Though untested in battle, I have sparred with him in full armour to ensure the reforging process was successful.” Pre had also sparred with Gar and taught him a few basic tricks that were designed to counter a Jedi’s abilities.

    While Pre himself had fought and killed the former Jedi assigned to the sector, that Jedi had not been particularly skilled. If he was honest, Pre suspected that even without using the basic tricks he had explained to Gar for today, Pre could’ve killed that Jedi years ago.

    Even if he hated to admit it, the boy fighting Gar today was a far more competent fighter and tactically aware than that Jedi had been. And he was, at best, a third of the Jedi’s age when Pre had killed that Jedi by driving the Dark Saber through the Jedi’s gut.

    Because of that, Pre had hoped to teach Gar a few more advanced techniques for fighting a Force-user, but his nephew wasn’t ready to begin training in those methods. And Pre himself had not tested them against a Jedi, though he did plan to find the Cathar Jedi assigned to the sector to discover which techniques worked best against Force users.

    “I think I’m going to enjoy this.” Torrhen muttered and Pre glanced right to see that the Ordos were standing next to Adonai. Pre managed to keep a frown from crossing his brow, but internally he was further concerned at the possibility of a renew of the alliance between Houses Ordo and Kryze. As such, he’d have to begin planning for that threat sooner than he wanted.

    “Is this fair to the Jedi?” Asta asked, though no answer came from inside the observation deck because, as the cheering for Gar died down, Kraviss spoke once more.

    “His opponent comes to us from outside our sector, yet this adi… this warrior has earned his place in today’s battle. He is ranked seventh in the Institute with a blaster rifle, ninth with a pistol. As al'verde he led his team, Brown-Nine, a newly formed Diryc team, to the semi-finals of the Traatik’lore tournament. I give you Cameron, of clan Shan.”

    Pre felt his annoyance grew as Kraviss gave the Jedi the same respect as she gave to Gar. He knew that the Commandant was just repeating the words set down for this battle, but to hear her openly state the boy was a warrior… That simply increased Pre’s desire to see the boy removed from the grid.

    “Clan Shan, eh?” Torrhen muttered with a chuckle and Pre swore he heard the Jedi Master mutter something under her breath. However, his focus was on the Jedi down below who was walking into the light. And the way the crowd reacted to the boy.

    Pre had hoped that they wouldn’t cheer, or at least not too loudly, but it seemed that hope was in vain. From the stands where Diryc were seated, a roar went up as the Jedi stepped into the light. The Laamyc stands also cheered – while the visitor stand clapped politely – though thankfully to Pre, their support was nowhere near as enthusiastic as Diryc’s.

    The boy walked out with his lightsaber hilt in one hand while wearing the standard, dull brown robes the Jedi were known for, which Pre had hoped would decrease the support for the boy, yet it did not. Pre also noted that neither of the boy’s Jedi Masters wore those brown robes with Master Fay preferring a lighter tanned colour while the Butcher of Galidraan wore clothing that looked far more refined – and thus expensive – than typical Jedi attire.

    As Shan stepped closer to Kraviss and Gar, he slipped out of his robes and – at least in Pre’s mind – posed. The cheering died off almost instantly and Pre’s brow risked reaching his receding hairline at what he saw.

    Osi-kyr,” Aundars muttered, and Pre was inclined to agree with him.

    Pre had expected the Jedi to be dressed in his trainee clothing or barring that, the training armour worn by Laamyc group – provided they were able to find any that could fit his smaller frame. Now, save a breastplate, back armour, helmet and vambraces, the boy was wearing some of the armour, and somehow, they had managed to also find a basic combat under-weave suit for the boy to wear. However, it was the sigils he bore on each shoulder that had caused Pre’s reaction, Aundar’s curse and the silence that had fallen over the arena.

    Over his left shoulder he wore the symbol of the Jedi, though instead of the standard red or black, Shan had coloured it dark green with faint black edging. While Pre couldn’t be certain, he suspected that someone – likely Bo-Katan – had helped the boy with the colouring, but he put it out of his mind as he focused on the right shoulder.

    There the boy displayed a red-coloured symbol that, at first glance, didn’t appear to mean anything. But the more Pre studied it, the more he felt like he knew it from somewhere. That symbol was significant, but the exact reason why escaped him at that moment.

    “Stars above!” Torrhen called out which made Pre turn to look at the man. Both he and his wife had paled, and after sharing a look, they turned as one to Fay. “Master Jedi is that…”

    “It is.” Fay said with a sigh. She shook her head as she continued. “He just had to pick that symbol as his family sigil.”

    “The Star Forge.” Adonai all but whispered, and Pre felt his eyes widen as the metaphorical light went off in his head and he snapped his attention back to the viewport. “I suppose it makes sense to think of that as a family sigil.”

    That symbol… shab. The boy was either a master at knowing how to play the game or he had hit upon something that would invoke memories of a bygone age among those who were here today – or reviewed the fight afterwards – by sheer, dumb luck.

    “It does.” Torrhen agreed, sounding pleased about this turn of events. “As does the Jedi symbol. Kriff, even the colouring… Your daughter’s handiwork?”

    “Possibly.” Adonai replied and Pre glanced to see the Duke scratching at his chin. “She understands the importance of those colours and I see no reason Shan would choose to recolour the Jedi symbol.”

    Any further discussion about the Jedi’s sigil choices and colourings – or his armament which consisted of a pistol, knife and, what to Pre, looked like a second lightsaber attached to the small of the Jedi’s back – was cut off as Kraviss spoke once more.

    “As everyone can see, both trainees are in combat armour. This is because, at the agreement of both trainees, combat rules are in full effect for this battle. This means that both fighters are allowed weapons of their choosing, though all weapons have been set to non-lethal settings and bladed weapons have been blunted.”

    “Additionally, while trainee Shan is not equipped with his Force Suppression bracers, he has agreed to not use any directed Force abilities against trainee Saxon. Both fighters understand that if trainee Shan does use the Force directly against Trainee Saxon, he will instantly forfeit the fight.”

    “Also, before the fight commences, energy shielding around the arena will be engaged. This is to prevent any errant bolts from reaching a watching trainee, staff member or visitor. If, at any time, you find the shielding is interfering with your line-of-sight viewing of the battle, direct your attention to the roof where viewing screens will be active.”

    Kraviss turned her attention for the stands and looked directly at the two trainees: first Gar then the Jedi. “Again, your weapons have all been checked and confirmed to be at low power settings. I remind you that altering those setting will result in an instant forfeit of this fight and possible charges for any injuries caused.”

    “Beyond that, I wish you both good fortune in the battle to come. Begin when the klaxon sounds.” With her piece said, the Commandant walked away from the pair, and out of the illuminated area that was the combat ground.

    Pre watched as Gar began to speak to the Jedi, though whatever the pair said to each other was not picked up by arena microphones, likely because they had been turned off after Kraviss had finished speaking.

    From the mutual nods of respect that the pair gave each other before they stepped back, Pre had to assume their words were friendly. As the pair walked to opposite sides of the arena, and Gar slipped his helmet on then checked his vambraces, Pre allowed a small smile to creep onto his face.

    While the vambraces were not loaded with lethal ordinance, Pre had suggested a few things that were legal that should help to distract, disorientate, and counter the more common Jedi abilities that Shan could potentially use.

    As they reached their respective starting positions, Gar unholstered his twin blaster pistols while the Jedi ignited his lightsaber.

    Harun! That blade…” Kann hissed out as a few gasps and murmurs drifted up to the observation deck from the stands.

    Pre’s smile turned into a scowl, though he quickly schooled his features to hide his feelings about the Jedi’s blade; and the colour it shone with. While not the Darksaber, the fact it was the only other lightsaber that Pre had heard of that glowed black was something that made Pre despise the boy. It was nothing more than a cheap, pathetic forgery of his family’s ancestral blade and Pre looked forward to the day that the boy was dead, and he could shatter that lightsaber into a million pieces.

    “That is not the Darksaber.” Pre said as calmly as he could. “While there are similarities, the Jedi’s hilt and blade style are the same as any other Jedi lightsaber.”

    “You’re certain of this?” Vhe asked, and Pre had to bite his tongue to prevent himself from snapping at the woman for the suggestion that he didn’t know what the Darksaber looked like.

    “I am acquainted with the Dark Saber, though I have not seen it since it was lost when my brother died for his foolish crusade.” Pre cursed internally at having to say those words, but he needed everyone to think that he didn’t have the Darksaber stored in a secure location. Yet, from the corner of his eye, he swore he saw Master Fay stare at him for a moment, though that may have just been a trick of the light.

    A hush fell over the arena, and the observation deck, as the Jedi held his lightsaber up in front of his face, then swished it down towards the floor. Pre recognized that as some form of salute and Gar did as well, as his nephew saluted with one hand, clanking the butt of a pistol against his helmet.

    --AWOOGA--

    At the sound of the klaxon, the crowd roared to life and Pre leaned forward in anticipation.

    Yet the roar from the crowd quickly died as everyone saw that neither fighter had moved from their opening positions nor fired at each other.

    Gar had lifted his pistols slightly, though neither were high enough for anyone to think they were aimed. Pre felt his brow raise as he realised that his nephew was waiting to see what the Jedi would do.

    Yet the Jedi hadn’t moved. Oh, he had shifted his stance by sliding back one foot to shrink his profile and lifted his lightsaber above and behind his head, angling it down slightly so the very tip was pointed at Gar. But that was it. No move to rush Gar, no fancy jump or acrobatic foolery that Pre had seen Jedi do in holorecordings. Yet, Pre knew from the way the boy stood, that he was unlikely to make the opening move.

    “Hmm. That is a different stance from the demonstration with Master Dooku.” Adonai commented as the silence and stillness from the arena floors continued for, by Pre’s mental clock, half a minute.

    “It is indeed. Cameron has started in the resilience form. It is designed as a defensive form and far better against blasters than the form both he and Master Dooku prefer.” Fay explained.

    Thanks to recordings Tarre Vizsla had made after he had become Mand’alor, Pre was aware of the seven forms the Jedi used, and was able to recognize certain positions as signs of those forms. After the ijaat’akaanir, Pre had gone over those recordings and was able to name the form the boy was using as Soresu. Yet, even if Pre knew the name of the form, and felt he could track a few of the more common manoeuvres of the form, it was up to Gar to see the signs and recognize the form the Jedi was using.

    Hopefully, the quickfire lesson on Jedi forms would help Gar today. Yet, Pre had concentrated on the duelling form as that was the only one that he knew the boy was fluent in, and Tarre’s recordings mentioned that most Jedi were reliant on a single form.

    The silence of the arena was broken as a blaster bolt shot across the arena, though Pre felt his brow rise as he realised the shot had come from the Jedi.

    While he knew the boy had a pistol on his belt, he had not expected the boy to utilize it, nor did Pre see the boy move to unholster the blaster. Perhaps he had used a simple Jedi trick to summon it to his hand? Devious, but within the rules of the fight.

    As Pre re-evaluated the Jedi, Gar had reacted to the Jedi aiming at him and moved just enough that the bolt missed. If the boy was willing to use blasters, then several of Tarre’s suggestions – and those known to most Mandalorians – would need reworking to account for this shift in approach. Hopefully, the boy was the rare example of a Jedi using a blaster.

    The Jedi shot again, and this time the bolt caught Gar, though it landed against his pauldron and deflected away. Pre frowned as he realised that not only had the Jedi take the initiative, but he had not shifted from his original stance.

    As the Jedi took a third shot, Gar blocked it with a gauntlet and used the raised arm to aim with the other, firing his first bolt of the battle.

    The Jedi swipe his lightsaber down, blocking the bolt with – at least in Pre’s mind – contemptuous ease. Gar fired three more bolts in quick succession.

    Like the first bolt, those three were aimed at the Jedi’s unarmoured chest, yet the Jedi did not seem bothered about that fact. The boy casually deflected two away – the second heading back at Gar and forcing him to move to avoid being hit by his own blaster bolt – then leaned back to avoid the third bolt. To Pre’s eye, it looked like the boy had moved just far enough that the bolt missed by a few centimetres. Either the Jedi was confident in his abilities or his reaction time was not as impressive as Pre had expected.

    While none of Gar’s bolts had struck, nor the next dozen or so that he fired, Pre was pleased to see that his nephew was applying one of the core ideals that Mandalorians learnt about Jedi. By keeping the shots aimed at the chest, it forced a Jedi to block from a central location and exposed the hilt to a stray hit if the Jedi wasn’t fast enough to handle the rate of incoming fire. Pre also knew that Gar had modified his pistols for an increased rate of fire, though this came at overheating the gas conversion enabler at a far faster rate than normal.

    Even as Gar used this increased rate of fire, and started to use the second blaster, the Jedi was able to keep up, though Pre was having trouble fully tracking the blade as it moved. At times it almost looked as though there was a black shield in front of the Jedi with how rapidly the blade was rotating.

    Yet, even as Gar continued to fire at as great a rate as the twin blasters would allow, the Jedi took a step forward. It was small, nothing more than a shuffle, but he did advance. Then, after a few more seconds, the Jedi took another shuffle-step forward, followed by a third and fourth and Pre was forced to admit that this Jedi, even though he was still a Padawan, was more adept at blocking blaster bolts than the Jedi Pre had killed several years ago.

    Gar seemingly noticed the Jedi’s slow advance, or perhaps simply sought a more advantageous angle, because Pre saw his nephew move to one side. That slowed the Jedi’s forward movement, though only for about half a minute.

    While the Jedi’s advancement was coming quicker than Pre had expected, he was not overly concerned. Gar still had many tricks up his vambraces that needed the distance to decrease. Getting the Jedi closer, would, in theory, limit the amount of time the Jedi would have to react to attacks, though Gar would have to ensure that he kept at least a few metres from the Jedi so long as the lightsaber was in play.

    “I’m still surprised Saxon did not insist that Shan wore the suppression bracers.” Esla commented. Clearly, with this stage of the fight settling into a pattern, there was time for some queries to be made.

    “Ignoring that under combat rules that they are not allowed, they would taint Saxon’s honour if he won.” Adonai began as Pre scowled at the man’s lack of faith in Gar. “Though I believe the Jedi may have found a way to… overcome the bracers. His movement and reaction time in the ijaat’akaanir was far too fast for most people to manage, so unless he’d had extensive training in a combat form like Teräs Käsi, it is likely his reactions were forced-assisted.”

    “With training, a Jedi can learn to overcome disruptions to our connection to the Force.” Master Fay offered to confirm the working theory Adonai and Pre held about Shan’s behaviour. While Pre was disappointed that the Jedi had won the ijaat’akaanir, he was fine with the boy having pushed past the suppression of the bracers. Haran, he was a little impressed that the boy had turned a handicap to his advantage.

    “Though how easily one can do so depends very much on the Jedi in question, the strength of the suppression field and how prepared one is for such an event to occur. The stronger the field, or less prepared one is, the more… painful the resulting disruption can be.”

    Pre thought he heard something in Master Fay’s tone to indicate that she’d experienced such an unexpected disruption, but without turning to look at her – and thus, take his eyes away from the fight – he couldn’t be sure.

    No one added anything else as everyone’s focus returned entirely to the fight as Shan cleared about a third of the distance between the two fighters.

    Gar was still firing at the Jedi, though as the Jedi reached the middle of the combat area, his fire shifted from focusing on Shan’s chest, Instead, Gar was firing both blasters at the same time while aiming for different parts of the Jedi’s body with every time. This forced the Jedi to pause his advance as he dealt with having to dodge and block two bolts that arrived simultaneously.

    Most of the time, the Jedi shifted his body around to avoid one bolt while deflecting the other away. A few bolts were fired back at Gar, though only one struck Pre’s nephew, and it grazed against his left greave.

    Though this changed when instead of continuing that pattern, Shan spun and ducked away from a pair of bolts so quickly that Gar was forced to hold his fire to aim at the Jedi’s new location. Yet, Gar wasn’t able to resume his rate of fire as, at some point during the spin, the Jedi had fired off two shots in quick succession.

    Both struck Gar centre mass in his breastplate, and while the beskar easily dealt with the energy and heat of the bolts, the kinetic force of the two bolts in quick succession at the same location made Gar take a single stumbling step backwards.

    As Gar stumbled, the Jedi leapt high, far higher than anyone could do without the Force, towards Gar. In mid-air, the Jedi slipped his blaster back in its holster and gripped his lightsaber with both hands. It was clear to Pre that the boy planned to land an overwhelming overhead strike on Gar to drive his nephew backwards.

    Thankfully, Gar realised this and raised his left arm to aim the vambrace at the airborne Jedi.

    A loud, deafening sound echoed through the arena as Gar activated a sonic cannon in his left gauntlet and the Jedi’s forward momentum was countered by the cannon, and he was sent flying backwards, his flight no longer under control.

    Even as the Jedi tumbled backwards in the air, Gar fired a sparking coil towards the Jedi. That coil was electrified and designed to stun a target and Pre felt the beginnings of a smile creep on to his face. There was no way the Jedi would have time to react before the co…

    Whatever had formed of that smile fell as, with skill Pre suspected not many Jedi could match, the boy twisted in mid-air and sliced the coil with his lightsaber. While that prevented the coil from stunning him, it resulted in the boy being unable to control his landing and he hit the ground hard, bouncing once before tumbling to a stop.

    Pre had hoped that landing had hurt the Jedi, but as Gar resumed firing the boy was able to bring his lightsaber around and block the incoming bolts that he could while scrambling around to avoid the few he couldn’t.

    “Young Saxon is certainly prepared for this.” Kann offered as the two combatants returned to the familiar situation of Gar firing and the Jedi blocking.

    “I would expect nothing less from one of my boys.” Nia replied, and even though he could not see her face, Pre was sure she was smiling proudly at how well her son was doing.

    “Both trainees are smart and adaptable.” Marod offered, speaking for the first time since Duke Torrhen and his wife had arrived in the room. “Though both are prone to the folly of youth, as seen by Shan’s ill-timed leap and Saxon not firing on Shan while he was falling.”

    Before anyone in the room could offer another comment, Pre felt his eyes widen as the Jedi seemed to move so quickly that, to Pre’s eyes, the boy appeared for a split second to be in two places at once.

    Yet as Gar’s bolts passed harmlessly through where the boy had just been, Pre realised that the Jedi had moved so quickly that the naked eye had struggled to keep up.

    Gar managed to do better, likely due to the HUD system in his helmet, and even as the afterimage of the Jedi faded, Gar was peppering his new location with dual-fired bolts. Seemingly, Gar had come to the realisation that continuously aiming single bolts at the Jedi’s chest was not going to work. However, Pre didn’t think that firing two bolts at the same for different locations would work either. If the Jedi could move fast enough that he left an afterimage to the unaided eye, then Pre had little doubt that the Jedi could handle dual-fired bolts.

    This was proven with how casually the boy blocked and evaded Gar’s bolts. The movements were as graceful as before, and Pre could see that the rate of fire was not bothering the Jedi in the slightest.

    “Impressive.” Adonai muttered and Pre, as much as he loathed to admit it, had to agree. The boy was highly skilled with the Jedi weapon and a step above – at least – what Pre had seen from the Jedi he’d dealt with. Once more, he realised that he’d have to revise his plans for dealing with the boy as anything less than a team of attackers would be foolish.

    Shan began to move, though this time it was not in shuffled steps every half-minute or so, but in full steps one after the other. Each step was taken slowly, almost as if the Jedi was drawing things out to unnerve Gar. Seeing this, Gar increased his rate of fire even further – which concerned Pre as it would drastically shorten the life of the blasters, though he didn’t think ranged combat was how Gar would win this fight – though the Jedi had no issues with the increased number of bolts, evident by the gradually shortening distance between the two.

    Haran, the Jedi even had time to pull out his pistol and return fire. As the first few bolts from the Jedi struck home, Gar was forced to move. That lowered his rate of fire, which resulted in the Jedi’s advance accelerating to a casual walk.

    Pre noted that this time the Jedi didn’t rush into the attack. Having seemingly learnt from his ill-conceived jump, the boy was now staying grounded and advancing meticulously towards Gar. Pre’s nephew was now having to move almost as much as he fired to avoid the incredibly accurate bolts from the Jedi.

    At that moment, Pre said a silent prayer that other Jedi did not start fighting like this as it would counter so many of the Mandalorians’ advantages when they fought the order of Force users.

    Even with Gar moving and shifting constantly, several bolts struck him. Though most struck the armour, two connected with the underlying combat suit. While Pre knew those would sting, and likely be numb for a short time due to the stun effects of the bolts, the strikes wouldn’t hurt much as Gar’s combat suit was made of a beskar-weave that, while not as effective as the armoured sections, was able to nullify most of the energy of a bolt. Though from the way Gar stumbled as one bolt caught him near his kidneys, Pre realised that the under-weave wasn’t as effective at nullifying the kinetic force of a bolt as he’d hoped.

    Since he was only able to use a single blaster while dodging, Gar holstered one pistol and activated a small energy shield on his right gauntlet. It wasn’t the biggest shield, barely covering his upper body, but Pre saw that it was effective in helping Gar counter the insanely accurate shots from the Jedi.

    As Gar used the shield to improve his defence, he aimed at the Jedi. The first few bolts were more spaced out than before and Pre realised that his nephew was shifting his approach. The rapid-fire with dual blasters clearly hadn’t worked so Gar was going to slower, but more powerful bolts. Pre gave a fractional nod at his nephew’s logical and rapid shift in tactics. Gar had the potential to be a deadly warrior.

    The Jedi seemed to sense these bolts were more problematic and chose to avoid most of them. Pre felt his smile begin to return as he saw that the first bolt that the Jedi deflected forced the blade and the boy’s arm backwards. The movement was fractional, but it was something and even as Pre considered if it was due to the Jedi still being a child, he saw the boy frown as another bolt was deflected and again the blade and arm were knocked back.

    The increased force of the more powerful bolts forced the Jedi to slow his advance, though not stop it. Even as Pre considered if heavy fire from multiple positions would be more effective against a Jedi than an insane number of rapid-fire bolts, his newly formed smile faded as he saw the Jedi choose to avoid rather than block any bolts. Plus, he continued to fire at Gar with his pistol.

    To counter the Jedi’s fire, find a better angle to shoot at the Jedi, and try to maintain the distance between them, Gar was almost constantly moving. However, Pre felt his brow begin to crease once more as the distance between the pair continued to shrink.

    A few minutes after Gar had shifted to heavier bolts, the Jedi had closed to within fifteen metres. Still, there was no sign of the boy changing his approach to rapidly close the distance, and while Pre hated to admit it, the boy had a decent tactical mind. Pre also cursed at the fact that without a jetpack, Gar had no way to reopen the distance between himself and the Jedi. Still, Gar had a few more tricks up his gauntlets that might help him defeat the Jedi.

    As if having heard Pre’s thoughts, as the Jedi stepped within about ten metres of him, Gar twisted his wrist – thus removing the shield from its defensive position – and opened fire with his vambrace-mounted blaster.

    Like the pistols, the wrist blaster was working at lower power settings to prevent fatalities, but it was designed with a greater kinetic force behind each bolt, which made it ideal for close-ranged combat. And, as the first bolt from the wrist blaster forced the Jedi to block with his lightsaber, Pre’s brow settled as the new bolt not only forced the Jedi’s blade and hand back but also stopped the boy’s advance.

    As a second wrist blaster bolt was blocked with the lightsaber, and this time the Jedi had to shuffle back to compensate from the force of the bolt, Pre’s lips twitched.

    That twitch shifted into a small smile as the Jedi dropped his pistol – a tactical mistake – shifted his stance and placed both hands on his lightsaber’s hilt.

    The shift in stance had lowered the Jedi’s present profile to Gar, something that Pre wished the Jedi hadn’t thought about. Gar countered this by returning to rapid shots with his pistol while the wrist blaster continued to fire slower and harder bolts.

    This combined pattern forced the Jedi to move his blade around quickly, and as much as he didn’t want to, Pre couldn’t help but be impressed with the speed, fluency and efficiency of the Jedi’s defence. Even if he despised the Jedi, he could respect their combat ability. When they chose to fight, that was.

    The Jedi was fully committed to his defence, and as Gar moved side to side to try and expose more of the Jedi’s body, the Jedi slid and shuffled to counter. Pre felt himself lean closer, finding himself enjoying the fight as both warriors were committing everything to the battle.

    Suddenly, just behind another blast from Gar’s wrist blaster, a small object shot out from the gauntlet. Pre only caught sight of it as it glinted under the arena’s lights. Pre realised this was one of the sedative darts that he had convinced Gar to install in the launcher on his left gauntlet. If it struck, it wouldn’t take a Jedi down, but it would slow their reaction enough that they would then be easier to kill. Well, defeat since this was a non-lethal fight.

    Unfortunately, the Jedi seemed to sense the threat of the dart, and at the last moment, he twisted his upper body and leaned back enough that the dart ricocheted off his pauldron. However, this lean had unbalanced him enough that one of Gars’ bolts was able to clip him on an un-armoured section of his lower left arm, which forced that hand from the hilt of his lightsaber.

    Pre saw the Jedi wince even as he continued to block Gar’s bolts, and Pre’s smile grew a fraction more as he saw the Jedi shake out the arm. The stun setting had numbed the arm enough for it to be an issue for the boy.

    Another dart glinted under the lights, but this time, even with one arm numb, the Jedi was ready. A casual-looking swish of his lightsaber destroyed the dart and deflected a bolt back at Gar. That deflected bolt struck Gar’s pistol, rendering it useless even as it flew out of Gar’s grip.

    Pre sensed the opening this created, and the Jedi did too as he advanced quickly. He dodged several bolts from Gar’s wrist blaster even as the older boy backpedalled.

    Even as the distance rapidly closed, Pre noticed that the Jedi was still flexing his left arm. Yet, as the boy reached striking distance, Pre’s attention was drawn to the opening slash the Jedi sent at Gar. In a demonstration of impressive reactions of his own, Gar was able to turn his wrist and activate his energy shield in time to block the blade.

    Gar then fired off a low shot from his wrist blaster, one that was aimed at the Jedi’s un-protected midsection from less than two metres away. Yet, in a display of incredible reaction time and flexibility, the Jedi was able to shift his body just enough that the point-blank bolt sailed past without even clipping his side.

    From that off-balance position, the Jedi thrust his lightsaber forward, slashing the blade against Gar’s right wrist. While the beskar armour easily held against the lightsaber, the controls on that wrist sparked and Pre realised that the right vambrace was now useless.

    Though since the Jedi’s attack had come from an unbalanced position, he had overexposed his weapon arm and Gar, thanks to his greater height and leverage, was able to strike the Jedi just above the wrist, forcing the Jedi to drop his lightsaber.

    As the weapon depowered and fell to the floor, Gar kicked it away with a sweep of his foot. As he did this, the Jedi leaned back and wrapped his left arm around Gar’s right. While the hold was weak – confirming to Pre that the boy hadn’t yet shaken off the numbing effects of the earlier hit – it was sufficient to allow the Jedi to pull Gar with him as he allowed himself to fall back.

    As Gar lost his balance and fell on top of the Jedi, the pair began to roll on the floor. Pre thought he saw both go for knee strikes, though he wasn’t sure if anyone landed a hit. The roll ended as the Jedi released his hold on Gar’s arm and created some separation with a weak kick to Gar’s gut.

    As both regained their footing, they both reached for their knives. The Jedi’s was held in a sheath on his belt while Gar’s was attached firmly against his chest.

    The pair began to circle each other, like two kath hounds about to fight for dominance of a pride. As they did, Pre noticed that the Jedi was holding his knife in his right hand, instead of the left where he’d initially held his lightsaber. That made sense as the boy was likely still feeling the effects of Gar’s bolt, but it was perhaps a weakness that Gar could exploit.

    As the circling continued, Pre considered the last few moments of the fight. While Gar had managed to disarm the Jedi – an important tactic when engaging one – he had lost one of his blasters and had his right vambrace rendered inoperable. A decent effort, but there was room for improvement.

    Pre also noted that instead of going for familiar weapons – the Jedi’s second lightsaber or Gar’s other pistol – both had gone for their knives. While logical, there was nothing that prevented both from arming their other hand. Whoever realised that first had a chance to win the fight as the knives were blunted durasteel. This meant that Gar would have to strike the same point of the Jedi’s armour to break through while the Jedi had no such recourse. Beskar did not yield to durasteel, no matter if it was in solid armour or used in a weave.

    Pre realised that no sounds were coming from the stands. For the earlier fights in this tournament and previous ones cheering from the stands had occurred, he was glad that this was not the case here. A fight such as this did not deserve the stain of distractions from outside sources.

    Seemingly having decided that they’d circled each other enough, both fighters stepped forward and Pre sensed in his bones that the end of the fight was drawing near.

    At this range, the Jedi was at a loss for reach and height, yet Pre knew that thanks to the Force, the boy didn’t have such issues with an apparent lack of strength or agility when compared to Gar.

    The Jedi had shown his strength and speed in the ijaat’akaanir – though Pre wished the boy had not discovered how to push past the bracer’s effects – and then shown his potential in this fight with his blade-work and ability to seemingly appear in two places at once.

    The boy proved once more that he was stronger than any child that age had a right to be as he blocked a probing strike from Gar’s knife with his own and pushed the older boy’s blade away from his body. That movement allowed the Jedi to step forward and drive an elbow into the gut, at a point where the combat suit was exposed.

    The strike forced Gar to stumble back, which was enough for the Jedi to bring his knife back and smash it into Gar’s left vambrace, sending a few sparks flying into the air.

    As the Jedi stepped back and avoided a hard elbow from Gar, Pre noticed the controls on the vambrace were cracked, and he cursed. Somehow the shabuir had managed to damage a beskar coated interface with a durasteel blade. That should not be possible. Well, unless one was a Wookie or another creature of comparable strength.

    “H-how did he do that?” Asta asked her shock clear to hear in her voice. Like Pre, she was surprised at the Jedi’s ability to damage something that shouldn’t be easy to break.

    “The Force allows one to enhance themselves past physical limits. Cameron is skilled with such abilities.” Master Fay answered – without any obvious hint of pride – and Pre ground his teeth at how proud and superior the woman sounded. “Along with many others.”

    Gar stabbed at the Jedi, who blocked with his knife. Pre smirked as he saw part of the Jedi’s blade break off. That meant that the blade had been damaged by the strike against Gar’s vambrace as was now next to useless to the Jedi.

    The Jedi realised this and as he leapt backwards to re-establish some distance between them, the Jedi threw the knife at Gar, where it bounced harmlessly off the older boy’s helmet. The attack did nothing, but it was enough to prevent Gar from exploiting the Jedi’s unarmed status long enough for the distance between them to grow enough to remove that advantage.

    As he landed, the Jedi pulled out and ignited his second lightsaber, which glowed with a golden-yellow light. Pre also noted that it was shorter, around half the size of the boy’s main blade. Pre wondered when and where the boy had gotten that blade from. He had assumed the second blade was from the girl, but from his reports, he knew that she used a pair of green-coloured lightsabers. That, combined with the fact the boy had only ever been seen with the black-bladed insult made Pre wonder if the boy had created that blade just for this fight.

    Though the less said about the colour the better. Just like a Jedi to pick something so gaudy and pretentious.

    “I am curious as to why he did not just go for the second lightsaber earlier. A new weapon perhaps?” Marod pondered.

    “A lightsaber is not a weapon. However, you are correct in saying that it is new. Cameron has only just begun learning how to use the shoto-saber.” Master Fay replied. Her tone was calm, but Pre swore he heard the annoyance in it at having someone refer to a lightsaber as a weapon. Stupid Jetii and their hang-ups.

    Another lull had settled over the fight as, even though it was shorter than a normal blade, the yellow-coloured lightsaber was long enough to counteract Gar’s reach advantage. Thus, the two returned to stalking each other and Pre noticed that the boy had shifted from the defensive form to the duelling form Pre had expected the from the boy at the beginning of the fight. The tip of the blade was always aimed towards Gar, ready to defend but also able to strike forward and attack.

    Again, Pre found himself respecting the boy. He was skilled and smart, more so than any other Jedi Pre had seen, or the one he’d fought before. Pre was in no doubt that, given time to learn, this boy would be a terror on the battlefield. Though Pre would have to enact several plans to ensure that did not happen.

    Gar leaned forward, extending his knife towards the Jedi. The Jedi reacted by flicking his blade upwards, yet this was clearly what Gar wanted as he pulled the attack the moment he saw the Jedi move to defend. Instead, Gar brought his free arm around and, surprising Pre, engaged his energy shield.

    This meant that the Jedi’s knife strike had not entirely disabled the vambrace and Pre was amused to see the way the Jedi’s eyes narrowed at realising the same thing.

    Gar pushed the shield forward, using it to cover his arm as he threw a punch at the Jedi’s unarmoured midsection.

    While Pre would have instead used the shield to attempt to trap the lightsaber against the Jedi’s body, Gar’s plan was solid. Sadly, thanks to the di’kutla Force, the Jedi was able to sense the attack coming and react quickly enough that the punch found nothing but air.

    Then, with the barest of shifts in his stance, the Jedi was able to slap away Gar’s shield-arm by driving his lightsaber against Gar’s gauntlet. The Jedi then stepped forward, sliding inside of Gar’s guard, and thus negating the older boy’s reach advantage, and drove the elbow of his saber-arm into Gar’s unarmoured armpit.

    The blow staggered Gar and Pre saw that he almost dropped his knife from the strength of the Jedi’s blow. Before Pre could realise that the Jedi had used the Force to boost his strength, or Gar could adapt, the Jedi slashed Gar’s breastplate four or five times with his lightsaber. The weapon moved so fast that if not for the colour of the blade, Pre would’ve not been able to track the various strikes. Even then, it took him a second to plot the course the weapon had taken and track it through the coloured arcs that viewed the small gap between the two fighters.

    Pre exhaled sharply in amusement as the Jedi realised that his attacks hadn't even marked Gar’s armour. Clearly, the boy hadn’t expected Gar to be wearing beskar armour. Yet the force behind the Jedi’s attacks forced Gar to take steps backwards.

    Whatever humour Pre found in the Jedi’s lack of success against beskar was short-lived as the Jedi launched into another series of blindingly fast strikes against Gar’s armour. From what little Pre could track this time, all of them were aimed against Gar’s armour, which was either a miscalculation from the Jedi, or he was testing to see if any of it was weaker than the rest.

    “Incredible.” One of the others in the room muttered, but Pre was far too engrossed in the fight to care who had spoken. “Such speed.”

    While he did not want to, Pre found himself agreeing with the comment. Tracking what he could, he counted over a dozen strikes landing against Gar’s armour in less than about two seconds, though he was sure that there were more blows that he had missed.

    Through the almost constant golden-yellow light that shone between the two fighters, Pre was just able to catch sight of more sparks coming from Gar’s left vambrace just before the shield cut out.

    With the shield now gone, the Jedi continued his attack. Haran, it felt to Pre he was getting faster as he struggled to track even a handful of the slashes that flew against Gar’s armour. Such was the speed he was attacking with, it seemed as if the boy was wielding two blades.

    Pre had fought and killed a Jedi before – that being the former one assigned to the Mandalore Sector when the di’kut had stumbled upon a meeting he had arranged with Warlord Anzur – and had seen footage of the Cathar Jedi that had replaced the previous one. However, this boy was putting those Jedi to shame.

    Pre felt a knot form in his stomach as he realised that Gar was outclassed. While his nephew was an excellent fighter for his age, he had no training for going against a Jedi who could move at such speed and was able to think tactically while in combat.

    If Gar had been allowed a beskad or had the Darksaber, Pre felt he would stand a chance, but as the light between the two seemed to grow brighter, Pre knew the fight was all but over.

    And so it was proven, as mere seconds later Gar’s blade was sent flying away, ending the fight.

    As the light of the Jedi’s blade faded, Pre saw that the boy had stooped the blade with the upper shaft of the weapon pressed tight against Gar’s neck. That area was one not covered by armour or the beskar-weave combat suit – a flaw Pre realised he would have to fix in his own armour even as someone in the room gulped loudly.

    A few seconds of total silence passed in the arena as everyone seemed to take a moment to catch their breaths and processed what had happened.

    “This fight is over. Cameron of Clan Shan is your new Akaan’lor.” Kraviss’ voice echoed around the arena.

    That set of a roar from the stands. While it was louder from those seating Diryc, Pre realised that the Laamyc and visitor stands were also cheering.

    Yet even with the fight having ended, Pre kept his eyes on the fighters. This was for three reasons.

    First, so that he could push down the rising anger he felt at seeing a Jedi be crowned Akaan’lor. Second, so that he could watch the pair before Kraviss, who had just entered the illuminated arena floor, could reach them. Third, there was much you could learn from a fighter after a battle.

    At Kraviss’s words, the Jedi had stepped back and depowered his lightsaber. As Gar lifted a hand to his neck, the Jedi almost lazily reached out and his primary weapon flew into his hand.

    Pre was less than pleased to see Gar’s reaction, but he could understand the moment of weakness as having a blade that close to ending you was not a comforting moment. Pre hoped that it would drive Gar to continue improving himself and then seek out the Jedi for a rematch. Though that part would only be possible if Pre had not already removed the boy from the board.

    As the Jedi clipped his lightsabers to his belt, Gar removed his helmet then spoke to the Jedi. Pre didn’t know what was said as there was no audio of the ring now that the fight was over, nor was he skilled at reading lips. Though even if the microphones were active, Pre doubted he’d hear what was said over the ongoing cheering from the stands.

    Whatever Gar had said made the Jedi smile as he replied. Gar then nodded and offered more words which drew a laugh from the Jedi. The two then clasped forearms in a mark of respect.

    At the show of camaraderie, the roar from the crowd grew louder, though Pre was concerned that Gar’s motivations had altered, and he was now less anti-Jedi than he had been months earlier. Yet even if he was annoyed at Gar showing the Jedi respect, Pre couldn’t deny the boy had earned it. Though he would never admit to such a thing verbally.

    “You alright there Pre?” Adonai asked and Pre felt a hand clasp down on his shoulder.

    He turned and looked at the man, letting his feelings about the end of the fight dissipate. He could analyse the whole thing later from the recordings.

    “Yes. While I’m disappointed that Gar didn’t win, I can’t change the outcome of the fight.”

    Adonai laughed. “I’m not sure either of us could’ve done any better at Gar’s age.” He turned and looked out of the viewport. “The Jedi fought with honour and proved the stories about their Order being worthy opponents for our people true. The speed, the grace.” Adonai whistled as turned back to face Pre. “Magnificent.”

    “Young Cameron has improved immensely since I last saw him spar with Master Dooku, but he still has a way to go.” Fay offered and it took all of Pre’s mental discipline to stop his head snapping round to gawk at her. “Still, it was an impressive duel and I wish to speak with my Padawan before the other trainees can swallow him in a crowd of well-wishers.”

    “Yes, yes.” Adonai said as he removed his hand from Pre’s shoulder. “We should head down and speak to both warriors. My lady?” He finished as he offered Fay his arm.

    The Jedi took the offer with a smile that made Pre wonder how often someone did that with her before the pair headed for the door.

    Pre turned back to the viewport, taking in one last look and collecting his thoughts.

    After everything he’d seen today, Pre was now utterly convinced the boy was a threat. He fought like a Mando’ade, haran, he’d soon be one, and with his family name was a contender for leadership of the people. That was something Pre wouldn’t tolerate. Though after seeing the Jedi’s performance today, he mentally scrapped over a dozen plans that he now knew would never work. With that kind of speed and skill – and the threat that he could become even better in time – it would take something more than a simple attack to remove the Jedi from the board.

    “Pre?”

    At hearing his name from his sister, he turned and saw her waiting in the doorway. Her face was calm, but her folded arms and the slight tilting of her head let him know she was concerned about something.

    “Sorry. I was just… thinking.” He began, smiling at his sister. “Also, I believe I owe you an apology.” Nia’s brow rose and he explained. “Before today, I still doubted if you were being honest about the boy defeating Girk. After that…” he waved his hand aimlessly towards the viewport. “Well, there can be no doubt. He is Akaan’lor.”

    Nia stared at him, narrowing her eyes. Pre knew she was likely looking for any hint of deception, but he’d grown so good hiding his intentions with the fools in Sundari that deceiving his sister was child’s play.

    “Hm.” Nia eventually said before shaking her head. “Well, come on. Gar is likely waiting for your critiques.”

    Pre laughed honestly at that. He had never shied away from telling his nephew – nor his children – the truth about their abilities. Thus, it was likely that Gar was waiting for his review even as the others offered commiserations for losing and congratulations on a fine performance.

    “Yes, he likely is.”

    As the doors shut on the room, one prevailing thought dominated Pre’s mind.

    How best to remove the heir of Revan from the game before he realised that he was playing?

    ……




    As before, you can find me on the server for this story in particular, and Star Wars in general: discord .gg /UM89QfyQk3
    Or in the Omniverse: discord .gg /wd3tUYWVCd
    Regardless of if you join one, both or neither...

    May the Force be with you.
    Always.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
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  12. Danu

    Danu Know what you're doing yet?

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    This Mandalorian bloat is getting ridiculous, when does it finally end? It feels as though it's been longer then the entire rest of the story by now.
     
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  13. Scholar of Time

    Scholar of Time Master of Lurking

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    It's a good section, and will build on the next. Show some gratitude to the author.


    BLOAT DEEZ NUTS, SON!
     
  14. Sandsforever

    Sandsforever Not too sore, are you?

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    Good shit... I had missed this
    Le sigh the wait begins anew
     
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  15. nquddus

    nquddus Getting out there.

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    Hoping they move on from Mandalore soon. It seems like everything on the planet will get wrapped up pretty soon, but I hope the assassination attempt and ensuing political drama don't take too long. Was Cameron sandbagging to make the fight interesting? With gamer powers and the force powering him, I'd expect him to see any threats coming way before actually getting hit, and be able to close distance a lot more easily, powerful bolts or not. Also was there a reason for not just force grabbing his saber after being disarmed? Or a reason to not heal himself, or teleport? None of those things are directly acting on Gar...
     
  16. Aegorm

    Aegorm Getting sticky.

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    The mando part has been awesome. The MC is a grandchild of Revan, ofcourse the story is gonna be stuck on Mandalore for a while.
    Not to mention that with a war coming up in a few years, and a galaxy spanning war 10 years after that, the MC will probably want an army anyway

    Cam wanted to win, but he also wants the respect of the mandalorians, he wouldn't have gotten any respect if he won through using the force in such an obvious manner.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
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  17. GrandmasterEli

    GrandmasterEli Versed in the lewd.

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    You really captured Pre and made him seem a credible threat, in opposition to what Observe has told Cam(though I wonder if that will change if he uses it again). Well done. Also sets up the smoking gun/credible basis for whatever elaborate and thorough plan you write him setting up to kill Cam, without it seeming like you let him hold the Smart Ball. Although, you are aware that setting it up this way means he needs to die when Cam inevitably pulls through: the greater the height, the greater the fall. The more elaborate and well-thought-out the plan, the greater the consequences of it failing. Or to sound more fanciful:
    “If you’re going to shoot the king, don’t miss.”
     
  18. kongarthur

    kongarthur Know what you're doing yet?

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    I greatly enjoyed the chapter good work, also I'm really looking forward to next chapter to see Cameron's skill increases
     
  19. GrandmasterEli

    GrandmasterEli Versed in the lewd.

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    It's probably buried on that one jungle planet with the hidden sith cultists. That's where Surik left it. Also, HK is in a buried Hammerhead ship on the same planet Obi-wan and Anakin fought on I think. The names of both planets escape me at the moment.
     
  20. Russian conscript

    Russian conscript Not too sore, are you?

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    I've honestly been falling off in recent chapters since it feels like the author nerfed the mc pretty hard and while I understand the need for plot beyond the mc just walking through every fight like he's massacring younglings that's just sorta how it works with strong jedi he was either sandbagging or all of the training he did in a martial art dedicated to fucking people up in 1v1 with a lightsaber and the honestly disgusting amout of power he has with the force went to waste
     
  21. Amrynel

    Amrynel Wat.

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    I'd presume part of it was playing to the crowd - the slow buildup to get the audience's interest and create a reputation as each tested each other's skills and found out what tricks had been brought to the field - and part of it was not showing off his own best Force tricks - because he's got to know folks like Pre will be watching the fight.
     
  22. Creed

    Creed I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    So like, I know Pre could be a credible threat (if everything went right for him and he throws an obscene amount of resources at cam) but every time he mentioned he was going to kill Cam all I could do is

    The dude doesn't even know how strong Cams force powers are and he's over here plotting. though there is an old saying “never interrupt your enemy when they’re making a mistake” so have at it Pre lol.

    On a more serious note, I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter, it really captured Pre and made him seem a legit threat which is nice. I'm also a fan of alternate POVs so it has that going for it as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
  23. alec_potter

    alec_potter I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Happy birthday and thanks for gifting us a chapter on your birthday day.

    I am thoroughly enjoying the ongoing arc.
    The fights, though cut off a bit from force and associated tricks, are nicely choreographed.
    And like Fay remarked Shan has progressed immensely in his time here.
    THE Mandlorian army won’t be built in one day.

    This really made me laugh out loud.
     
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  24. USSExplorer

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

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    This arc is a longer one as it's taking up a lot of time and there's a lot to cover that has effects for later arcs, leading all the way into the Clone Wars.
    If I just jumped to the major events (movies, TCW) and had certai nthings happen, would you feel enjoy that or would you wonder how/when/why certain people and events had happened but not been covered?


    Cam wasn't wearing the bracers [which make using most powers hard for any real length of time 800% FP const increase is a big chuck of change]. However, he was holding back to give Gar a fairer fight. What's the point of fighting someone all out if all you'd do is embarrass an potential ally?
    Plus, as someone already said, there was some showboating/spectacule in it as well. By taking his time, making the fight 'look good', Cam earns more respect with people that want to fight. And I'm sure there will be a time when such people will be useful to Cam.

    How have I nerfed him?
    The weakness about wounds was actually mentioned way back when Cam got a concussion.
    He is using Player Powers, which has always been setup as a weaker form of the Gamer system.
    This was done - at the start - to ensure that we didn't have a teenage boy fighting and defeating people like Sidious and Yoda. While that would be cool to see, it wouldn't make for a good story.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
  25. USSExplorer

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

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    Ebon Hawk, if it still exists and wasn't melted down for scrap, landed on Dromund Kaas. A planet Cam has a quest for.

    HK is on Mustafar (the lava world from Revenge of the Sith)
     
  26. USSExplorer

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

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    Pre was far more fun to use as a POV than I expected, and that rare chance to get inside the head of an antagonist. [Even if he's not one on par with Sidious/Plagueis]
    Any while he can likely do a fair few things to try and take out/slow down Cam, in the long run...
    Well Pre's nothing more than a rabid dog and when dragons roar, all the dogs cower ;)
     
  27. auraofcalm

    auraofcalm Versed in the lewd.

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    Cameron knows those tricksy Mandalorians loves to stick things in their gauntletses.

    EDIT: Seriously, for all that he was probably jobbing a bit I could practically hear him thinking 'If I just charge in he's gonna pull out some ridiculous anti-Jedi bullshit from that shiny new armor and wreck me.'
     
  28. FTR2017

    FTR2017 Experienced.

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    I could almost see this as a Dark Souls 3 fight between players in my brain.

    So much awesomeness distilled into one friendly spar, and man does that Pre guy is getting pretty salty at the attention that Cameron is drawing. :p

    All we're missing is for Pre to go yandere on The Gamer here. /jk

    Thanks for this monster of a chapter, and see you next time! :)
     
  29. Miestwin

    Miestwin Monster on the outside, bishoujo on the inside

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    Happy Birthday my friend!
    Loved the chapter. Don't listen to naysayers. Fleshing out things properly is The Way.
     
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  30. HyrulerSage

    HyrulerSage Making the rounds.

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    Happy Birthday, Birthday buddy.
    Thanks for the chapter!
     
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