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Officer of the Republic (A SW SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by GSpectre, Jan 4, 2017.

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  1. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    One does need to remember that hit it and quit it is the Jedi way.
     
  2. shakeval

    shakeval Not too sore, are you?

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    Gotta make sure a steady supplie of new younglings keep flowing into the temple each year.
     
    Prince Charon and Simonbob like this.
  3. Rubén Martínez

    Rubén Martínez Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Jocasta Nu's butt? Dirty OLD man indeed.
    Gerontophilia, the new addition to the NSFW forums. ;)
    Or it may be an extreme Sexy Librarian quink. :sneaky:

    Either way, Gangay in a line:
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
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  4. Threadmarks: 5.7
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Rachi’Sitra was nervous as she entered the sparing hall on the heels of her Master, Renee Coris. She had known that this exhibition match would be closely observed but the number of Masters and Council members here to observe was still intimidating. Master Mundi stood at the back of the hall, in soft conversation with Master Poof, the two Council members clearly conversing over something of importance from the way their heads were together and they kept gesturing emphatically. Battle Master Cin Drallig stood at the center of the ring, watching the surroundings with hooded eyes, his presence as the officiant a testament to the importance of this match.

    “This should be interesting,” Renee commented dryly as she made her way over to Master Nu, ignoring the other beings in the room with supreme disregard for their importance. Rachi tried to match her Masters disinterested manner, but it was hard to do.

    “Master, just what is so important about an exhibition of Jar’kai?” Rachi asked in a soft voice.

    “It is not the saber play we are all here to see,” Master Nu answered her question easily. “Rather it is the unpredictability of this match. In terms of pure saber skill, Aayla’Secura is one of the rising stars of the Temple, and Ori’Daki for all his attempts, is not.”

    “Unpredictability?” Renee asked, her weather-beaten face set in a look of equine stupidity. Rachi was surprised by that, her Master almost never used her lack of looks to discount her intelligence when they were in the Temple, and she certainly knew that Master Nu would see through the pretense.

    “Daki has a habit of coming up with… unconventional solutions,” Master Nu ignored the attempts at stupidity and answered the real question. “He has developed a skill to repel the Force, and then proceeded to not show it to anyone but his Master.”

    “That… I cannot comprehend how that would feel…” Renee shuddered as she spoke. “You believe that he will use it?”

    “Look at him,” Nu said gesturing to where the twi’lek was slowly warming up. Rachi tried to see what was being spoken about but she couldn’t see it. Sure, he was mildly attractive in the way all twi’leks who didn’t let themselves give in to their baser natures were, and his skin tone hinted at his origins, but aside from exhaustion she couldn’t see anything special about him.

    “Interesting,” Renee commented, her eyes narrowing. “Rachi? Do you see it?”

    “Master?”

    “You don’t. It seems I have spent too much time dragging you across the galaxy and not enough time working with you on your combat skills.” Renee grimaced as she spoke, clearly not liking the obvious solution to the problem. “Describe him to me.”

    “Rutian hybrid,” Rachi started from the basics. “Common cross, well built, and he moves well. Tired, actually that is understating it; exhausted is more accurate. Calm, or at least not overly worried… That is what you wanted me to see isn’t it?”

    “Exactly, he knows what he is up against and yet…” Renee gave her Padawan a smile and gestured to Ori. “There he stands under the eyes of the Council almost as if he doesn’t have a care in the world, and despite his exhaustion. He has to have a trump card to play in order to make this match more than a well-attended beat down.”

    “Possibly, though this wouldn’t be the first time Padawan Daki’s reach exceeded his grasp. He is an interesting opponent when he puts his mind to it, very determined, but his technical skills leave something to be desired,” Master Plo Koon spoke up as he joined their small group. “Knight Coris, it is good to see you in the Temple, for once.”

    “The will of the Force and the vagaries of academic interest rarely leave me the time I would like to visit, Master,” Renee answered easily. She didn’t let her lack of rank bother her, even at her advanced age. Rachi wanted that self-confidence, but knew that Renee had only achieved it through years of hard work and multiple academic achievements. Her Master was one of the recognized leaders in the field of Sith Archaeology, part of the reason she had never taken a Padawan before. Her work often took her to dangerous sites heavily aligned to the dark side, and she had been reluctant to expose a Padawan to those dangers. Rachi still didn’t know what had driven her Master to the creche that day, and what had made her take such an interest in her development, but she thanked the Force that it had happened. Her Master's interest in the past had allowed her the freedom to explore intellectually in ways that no other Master would have thought of.

    “Your latest paper, Angularity and the Aesthetics of the dark side was illuminating,” The Kel Dor rumbled out, his interest in the esoteric showing through. “I had wondered if you had any interest in seeing if light side sects, not connected to the Temple, such as the Baran Do Sages of my own native Dorin hold similar aesthetic themes in their works?”

    “That, Master Koon, would be the work of a lifetime,” Renee answered with a wistful smile. “I’m afraid I just don’t have the prerequisite mindset to complete such a survey. The only reason I managed to put together my little paper on the aesthetics of the dark side was the sheer number of Sith and Sith adjacent Temples I have explored in my career.”

    “Still, it was a fascinating read,” Plo said easily. “Well worth elevating you to Master status.”

    “I think not,” Renee shook her head gently, sorrow now showing on her weather-beaten face. “The paper had little to do with the Force, Master, it had everything to do with the mindset of the beings who created the works discussed and how the dark siders self-selected for certain mindset. It was interesting to be sure, but not worthy of Mastery. To be a Master, a real Master, one must either raise a Padawan, or demonstrate mastery of the Force, neither of which I have done yet. To take the title without that would devalue it.”

    “Stubborn to the last,” Master Nu grumped out, her stern librarian looks only emphasizing her disagreement with Rachi’s Master. “Your dedication to academic rigor in all things makes you unwilling to accept your due.”

    “I am who I am, and I am more then comfortable in my skin,” Renee replied mildly. “It looks like the main event is here…”

    “Oh yes,” Plo’s grin was visible even under his mask. “This should be fascinating to see. I wonder if Padawan Daki is just being shameless, or if he has an actual plan?”


    Ori was tired, in a way he hadn’t been since Rothana, and not looking forward to being thrown around the ring by Secura. He had known he wasn’t going to win this match from the moment it had been announced, and instead of preparing to lose regardless, had spent his time in the archives looking up the right information to send on to the service corps about the Altisians sect. The basics had been easy enough to find, but the holy grail of how to contact them had eluded him until late last night. Then he had faced a time crunch, as the updated database went out early this morning and he doubted he would be in the Temple when the following update went out.

    Getting the information he wanted into the update wouldn’t have been hard; except the Order had started to wake up to their electronic vulnerabilities. He had been forced to sneak into the com center, and then wait for the update to be queued for transmission before making his additions. That was the only way he had figured out to keep the automatic routines from weeding out his additions, unless he wanted to try his hand at cracking the Master's personal comp where the original update resided. Success had come at the cost of sleep, a severe but necessary sacrifice.

    Given the unexpected turn out he was grateful that Master Mundi and Skrath had declined to put any pressure on him today. He was already on edge; waiting for sparring matches to begin had always been harder for him then the actual match, and after the tempest at the range, Ori's tolerance for that sort of pressure hadn't recovered. Of course, he hadn’t really considered what an actual empath would do to him. He could feel Secura coming down the hall before she entered the salle, and knew he was in for more trouble than he'd anticipated. Her Force presence was grating to be around, demanding entry into his mind a place she had no business being, assessing his emotions constantly even as she entered.

    Despite her fantastic looks, Ori couldn’t bring himself to appreciate her appearance. He did focus on her, his eyes roaming her body looking for tells or hints about how the match would go. She was too well trained to show any, her quick conversation with her Kiffar Master was interesting. The two of them seemed to be closer than he had thought, and Ori chewed his lip as he thought about how to handle that. His usual strategy for matching an opponent who would overwhelm him with their superior skill was to throw in as many dirty tricks as he could think of. Given the attention that this match had generated he had discounted that strategy, and seeing the closeness between Vos and Secura put the final nail on that coffin.

    Ori knew he couldn't pull off any joint kicks or digs with his claws hidden or subtle enough to avoid the face full of angry Kiffar seconds later. Vos wouldn’t care about any censure, his attitude screamed consequences be damned. That was going to make things a whole lot more complicated. He was going to have to fight this one 'clean,' relying solely on his blade skills and the Force. The only silver lining being that even a single point would be a good enough showing in his mind. Ori’s eyes narrowed as Vos loped over to the far wall, his strides projecting supreme confidence and predatory grace, and he took his place around the ring next to Master Mundi. Secura, as she advanced into the ring, had every bit of his confidence, but her strides were smoother, and less aggressive. That was a clue in how to fight her.

    “Greetings Padawan Daki,” Secura’s lekku twitched in the Ryl acknowledgment of a superior granting an inferior the right to speak, annoying him to no end. “I hope we have a good match.”

    “Agree Padawan Secura,” if Ori emphasized her clan name just a bit too much? Well... he could hardly be faulted for that. His lekku twitching out ‘slaver nobility’ at the same time on the other hand? Ori just hoped that the Masters watching weren’t fully conversant in the subtleties of Ryl or there'd be Hells to pay for the both of them. Her stiffening back told him that the shot had hit home, and he felt was an appropriate way to open the match anything he could do to put her off balance would help.

    Rachi couldn’t contain her giggle as she watched the two Padawans go through the painfully formal opening of the match with Master Drallig. Each word in basic was polite, and correct, all the while throwing the most vulgar insults at each other in Ryl. It was fascinating to watch, polite on the surface, but unless she missed her guess, as the only other twi'lek in the area, she was the only one who was seeing the entire conversation.

    “And what is so amusing Padawan mine?” Renee asked, her own eyes focused on the two Padawans.

    “I did not know they were so well-acquainted Master,” Rachi replied in a low voice, trying to avoid the attention of the other Masters. This was twi’lek business and none of theirs, or at least she thought.

    “Neither did I,” Renee kept her voice at a conversational level, not letting her interest show. “Why do you think they know each other?”

    “Well, Daki just called Secura a lyek masquerading as a rycrit, and Secura just call Daki too dumb to avoid the bright side,” Rachi replied with a shrug. “So, they’re either friends or they hate each other. Oh, dear…”

    “What now dear?” Renee was only keeping her own laughter at bay by dint of long experience. She always enjoyed being in on the joke, and from her observations she was the only Master who was.

    “They started on each other’s parentage,” Rachi’s deep purple coloration did a lot to hide her blush, but Renee had known her since she was a little girl so knew the signs.

    “Vulgar, I take it?”

    “Vulgar is far too mild a term.”

    Ori locked his Force signature down as Drallig finally came to the end of his talk, it wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard a hundred times before and paying attention to Secura was more important at the moment. Her head twitches, and the way she was shifting from foot to foot let him know he was getting to her. Now he just had to make this count, he would only get one shot before she came back into balance and he needed to ride that for all it was worth.

    “Take your marks,” Drallig's placid voiced command had Ori switching to a low guard, his body tense and ready for action with his sabers held in a reverse grip. Secura chose a middle guard, her sabers in the traditional position, but Ori could tell that she was tense and ready. He did note a slight flash of confusion, it seemed that by hiding his Force presence, he was further disrupting her. “And… Begin.”

    As Drallig Force jumped out from between the two Padawans, Ori started to move. He had no intention of falling back and getting into a long match, instead he sprinted forwards, closing the distance and getting inside of Secura’s guard. She was good enough to see what he was doing, but too off balance to do more then take a swipe at him before he was on her. His quick swipes at her legs didn’t do him any good, Aayla leapt straight up forcing Ori to defend as she came back down.

    Rather then let her take control of the match Ori kicked out, missing her legs by centimetres as she took to the air once more. She flipped backwards, showing off her acrobatic prowess. Ori wasn’t impressed, that was a standard Ataru move, with a known landing distance. He leapt, aiming for the point he thought she would land, coming down right behind her with his sabers set so they would impale her as he landed. He was a bit slow, she had time to roll away from her landing right before he arrived, slamming his sabers deep into the ring. Instead of being discouraged, Ori lashed out with a kick that would have caught her trailing ankle had she not twitched at the last minute, causing him to miss and her to lose control of her roll.

    Ori tried to reach her before she regained control, his flash of triumph breaking through his Force concealment, causing her to hesitate for a millisecond as she came to her feet. He rotated his left-handed saber to the traditional grip, forcing her to dodge once again, and brought his sabers into a diagonal slash, intending to bisect her from shoulder to hip. Aayla wasn’t surprised this time, and instead of dodging her left leg lifted into a kick spoiling his aim and intercepting his descending saber arm with punishing force. Ori lost control of his saber, her kick having hit the tendons in his arm causing him to let go, sending the saber flying in one direction while he flew backwards.

    After that it was over for him. Ori tried to go back on the offensive but Aayla had regained her balance, she easily fended of his slashes, then locked his remaining saber in place while her second saber fell like a guillotine blade. Had the match been at full power Ori would have been split in half vertically, as it was the saber just hurt.

    “Point to Secura, to your start positions,” Master Drallig stated calmly. Ori shook his head and summoned his lost saber. He could feel his arm protesting, telling him that her kick had done more damage than he had thought. He had failed in his best chance to score a point and Aayla was already finding the flaws in his Force concealment. Ori rotated his arm trying to get it working again even as he made his way back to his mark. Looking at Secura, and her arrogant walk back to her own mark, prowling like she was the predator and he was the prey; he wracked his tired brain trying to come up with a new strategy. The only clue he had to work with was her split-second flinch when he had emoted, chewing his lip Ori thought he might be able to work with that. Although given the amount of energy he had put into that first point he was going to have to be more conservative, he just didn’t have the endurance for another fast-paced match like that. Fortunately, he thought she would accept a slower pace, at least until he sprang his surprise.



    “Not as impressive as I thought Daki would be,” Ki-Adi-Mundi commented to his fellow Council member. “I expected better from him.”

    “That is the difference in skill between a senior Padawan and one who has just recently attained the rank.” Yael Poof replied unconcerned by what he had seen. “He seems to think he’s found another way to victory, interesting.”

    “Daki is many things but I know he isn’t foolish enough to think he can win this,” Mundi’s skepticism was on display as he said that. “Besides, for him that was sloppy. He usually has better control then that. His footing was atrocious, and he had his sabers over extended multiple times. He should not have spent so much time in the archives in preparation for this match, his exhaustion is going to make sure he has a subpar performance.”

    “That I agree with,” Poof frowned as he said that. “I think there’s more here then we are seeing. He saw something in those last seconds which has given him hope, and you know as well as I that it wasn’t in the saber play. He sensed something, note how he is concealing his Force presence again.”

    “Something about Padawan Secura?”

    “Known empath,” Poof said meditatively. “Want to bet that’s what he spent his time in the archives looking up?”

    “That would be just like him,” Mundi’s pained smile showed just how frustrating he found Daki. “He never goes for the obvious solution when there’s an oblique approach on offer. The problem with evaluating him is that he never follows the standard paths, always striking out on his own looking for a different way. It threw off large portions of the test I was running on him; his 'normal' reactions were too far off the baseline. Still, he started looking in the archive a week before this match was announced so… results like that are good evidence of a minor prognosticative talent, but if he has a strong one then Chancellor Palpatine is a Sith Lord.”



    “Fighters ready?” Master Drallig asked even as Ori put his left arm back, saber gripped in the reversed, while taking a more traditional Makashi stance. “Begin.”

    Ori didn’t wait for Secura to attack, this time he leapt backwards putting space between the two of them. He fended off a few probing slashes with the tip of his saber, but stayed defensive. Secura circled him, content to probe his defensive stance, allowing the match to slow down. It was clear from just a few passes that she was in near complete control of the match, her sabers stayed on target and didn’t over extend the way his blocks did. Even keeping to just using the tip of his saber the difference in skill was evident.

    When Aayla had confirmed the difference in skill she went on the offensive, pushing Ori hard and making him defend himself with everything he had. She committed to the attack completely, coming at him from divergent angles, when he sprung the idea he had been cooking up. Releasing one's emotions into the Force was one of the first lessons an Initiate learned, and Ori knew it well. He used it now, releasing his panicked horror from Rothana, his elated fear from when he had been chosen as a Padawan, his satisfaction from when he had returned to the Serenity with a case of blasters. Going from being a blank spot in the Force to the emotive center of the room was enough to hitch Secura’s step, and with that slight hitch he struck. His left hand swept around in a slash aimed at her hips.

    Unfortunately for Ori his injured arm didn’t quite want to cooperate, and he was just barely too slow. Aayla had dropped into a classic Makashi stop thrust and the tip of her saber got into position just that much faster, intersecting with his left arm before it could complete its rotation. Ori grunted in pained annoyance as Drallig called the point. He knew he had the right idea; his emotions just hadn’t been strong enough. A little more disruption and that point would have been his.



    “Now that isn’t something I have seen in ages,” Master Nu said in open admiration. “He must have scoured the archives looking for how to fight an empath.”

    “Master?” Rachi asked in confusion. So far, the match hadn’t given her the best impression of Padawan Daki. He was clearly out of his depth, and she thought she could take him, never mind a certified prodigy like Secura.

    “Padawan Secura is overly reliant on her natural gifts,” Renee answered for the more senior Master. “Like Knight Vos, she uses what the Force has gifted her beyond what is wise. Daki seems to have discovered this and put the time and effort into researching how to disrupt it.”

    “Empaths are a horror to fight against, surprising them is almost impossible and even in the instances you do achieve it, they recover almost immediately as well.” Renee took over instructing her Padawan on just what was going on in the ring. “The first point was Padawan Daki testing the difference in their skill levels, he pushed her hard while almost the entire time he kept up his Force concealment, making Padawan Secura’s empathic gifts a non issue. He didn’t have the skill to pull off a victory, but he clearly learned from it. This second point, well... if he wasn’t injured, then the emotions he pushed out would have given him the point. So using two different techniques requiring mutually exclusive mental states, Ori has surprised Secura.”

    “That would have been an upset,” Master Nu said with a slight grin. “I always liked him; he has the proper amount of respect for the archives. My only worry is that this is clearly not something he has practiced, and if he wants to regain anything he’s going to need to go hard on the emotions, that can be dangerous…”

    “He might not have had the time,” Renee answered, her eyes narrowing. “All of the standard texts about fighting empaths emphasize Force concealment as your best defense. He would have had to go deep into the archives to find an alternate method, which he evidently has done.”

    “And older texts tend not to have the types of warnings that I would like in their instructions,” Nu replied distractedly. Rachi noted that the old archivist’s hand was clutching her lightsaber with white knuckled force. “Lets just hope that exhaustion hasn’t overwhelmed his good sense…”

    “If he can keep it together…” Renee paused and looked around the room, her eyes zeroing on the tense form of Knight Kri. “He has the type of mind which would be useful for me, you have my blessing to allow them to join.”

    “As if I expected anything else.”



    Despite the match officially going to five points, Ori knew this would be his last chance, he just needed to dig deeper in order to get that point. Cycling his emotions had almost been enough, he was just too injured to properly take advantage of the opening he had generated. He thought about calling up a selection of the 'solid' emotions of his first life, and setting off an emotional storm right in the kriffing bitch's face, but dismissed that idea almost immediately as the currents of the Force flowing in the microns around him rumbled and started to push into his control strangely. No, she'd be ready for a broad swathe of emotions and he'd only wreck himself in all ways trying to overcome that defense. She wasn't entitled to his emotions anyway, not without paying for them... but... she HAD paid for one emotion that was running strong and true right now. And neither Ori's physical or Force presence betrayed his bridge troll grin as he welcomed Aayla to all the paranoia she'd wanted and far more besides.

    Not bothering to listen to Drallig Ori began his plan, focusing on the light paranoid feelings that came to him every time he interacted with a member of the Council. Then he shifted into high gear, letting his paranoia run rampant through the Force the way it had when Skrath had discovered that he had something of a gift for foresight. He kept his eyes carefully on Secura, noting the way her own eyes had begun to twitch like a hunted animal. He fed his trolling grin and a slight hint of triumph into the Force even as he twitched his right arm as if he was going to attack, just tensing the muscles, not actually moving. Secura’s almost block showed him that this was working, he had a chance.

    Even as Drallig's arm began to descend Ori was acting. He stepped forwards, and Secura lunged clumsily. Instead of letting triumph be released into the Force he went with a combination of paranoia and fear, what he had felt when Skrath had informed him he would be apologizing to the Supreme Chancellor. Secura backed away quickly, her eyes hunting for the threat even as her blades surged in a complex defensive pattern designed to ward off multiple attackers coming from multiple directions. He didn’t waste any time, he didn’t have the control to keep this up for much longer, and he doubted she would be so foolish as to keep from controlling her empathy once she figured out just what he was doing so he lunged.

    Ori’s right arm went to full extension, releasing the mix of paranoia and annoyance Master Mundi had caused him to feel. Secura turned, trying to withdraw, her Force senses at full extension as she searched for the 'true' direction of Ori's attack that she was certain was there. Her leg rose in a frantic kick, trying to push Ori back as she sought the distance she would need to regain her bearings, even as his sabers found contact across her stomach. His sense of genuine triumph was short-lived though as her leg kept rising, coming up under his chin and connecting with enough force to snap his jaw shut and lift him off the ground. That was the final straw, his abused mind shut down, and he crumpled onto the mats of the ring even as Aayla frantically flipped backwards, her face a mix of bewilderment, wariness and even some fear as she landed in a fully guarded stance as if Ori was feigning being unconscious heap on the ground.

    Master Plo Koon was the first of their little group to speak, even as the medics rushed to the downed form of Padawan Daki. Knight Vos had vaulted to his Padawan's side, clearly intent on calming her down. Secura kept her sabers activated and raised, wariness and anxiety giving way to confusion and then the shuttered expression of realization that proceeded embarrassment. Master Drallig moved to the center of the ring, clearly keeping himself between her and the downed Daki, was directing the chaos with calm certainty.

    “That wasn’t what I expected…”

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
  5. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    The question is if the content of his "emotes" is going to come back and kick him in the ass.
     
  6. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    I lol'd .


    His fear of the Force has it's advantages, I see. Now I want to see what his counter-Force technique would do to the assembled Jedi. That'd really be a shock to the system!
     
  7. Prognostic Hannya

    Prognostic Hannya Getting sticky.

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    Holy shit he turned his insane, slightly-unhinged paranoia into an actual weapon. I'm legitimately impressed, he basically found a way to project Naruto-style Killing Intent through the Force. Seriously, I love this story so much, you're a terrific author.
     
  8. shakeval

    shakeval Not too sore, are you?

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    Reptilian! Illuminati! They're turning the frogs into gay sexy women!
    The clone wars are an inside job, clone troopers can't melt the jedi temple
     
    lopsigon likes this.
  9. Threadmarks: 6.1
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “I am so glad to get out of the Temple,” Ori said as he entered the Serenity’s small galley, intent on finding himself something to eat. Take off and transition had been at an ungodly early hour and he was not in any way shape or form a morning person, so he had skipped breakfast again.

    “Because the Temple is the root of all your problems,” Rachi replied from where she was already seated, a cup of tea by her hand as she lazily scrolled through a book.

    “Nope, not in the least,” Ori replied cheerfully, pouring himself a cup of caf and looking to see what rations the ship had. He hadn’t had time to go out and get real food and so had to make do with the Order's ration packs until they got to Corellia. He grimaced at the selection and decided on one of the green ones. A little bit of boiling water later and he was regretting his choice, the only redeeming feature the gelatinous mass of… he didn’t know what it was… had was the color. “Interesting read?”

    “Hardly, my distance learning assignment,” Rachi replied distractedly. “Architectural cues as societal indicators, it presents interesting information in the driest manner possible. If this wasn’t the assigned reading for my sociology requirements, I wouldn’t touch it. That reminds me, so you know, soon after we arrive on Corellia, there'll be a four day period where Coris and I will be mostly unavailable since she'll be administering my finals. She wants me to get all of my undergrad requirements out of the way so there's no extra paperwork on her end in using my participation on this expedition as credit towards a graduate degree…”

    “Distance learning… How did that come to be?” Ori asked, interested despite the dryness of the topic. He'd completed the Republic General Education Degree but hadn’t figured out a way to gain access to formal education beyond that. “I thought that we needed to do most of our education through the Order?”

    “And you think this isn’t through the Order? Padawans do go on missions you know.”

    “Well yes, but I wasn’t aware that there was a formal system in place,” Ori responded without any heat. He wanted this information, so he wasn’t inclined to be rude about getting it. Being mostly self-educated he knew there was utility in formal certification, especially if he could get it from institutions outside the Order. “I thought that the Order handled all accreditation.”

    “True, but I’m First Knowledge, and to the institutions we partner with, our academic degrees matter infinitely more than our Jedi rank." Rachi put down the reader and looked at Ori for the first time in this conversation. She was shocked by what she saw, gone was the Padawan in his standard issue robes, in his place was a swashbuckler. He was dressed in a loose white shirt with a pair of grey slacks held up by a black leather gun belt. The only piece of the get up which didn’t scream smuggler was the sling restraining his arm, a legacy of his short-lived match with Secura. The most disconcerting thing about the transformation was how comfortable Ori was, it was as if he had shed an uncomfortable costume, letting his natural inclinations show for the first time since she had met him. “Interesting clothes, where did you get them?”

    “Ori loots the undercover commissary every chance he gets,” Skrath said as he entered the galley, looking over his Padawan and nodding with approval to see him eating, although he couldn't help but make a face on realizing what he was eating. “Verpine paste? Really?”

    “I hadn’t had it before and it looked the most interesting out of the reconstituted glops,” Ori defended himself with a one-armed shrug. “Besides it has all the nutrients, I checked.”

    “Well yes, but it tastes worse than it looks,” Skrath found the Caf pot and took a seat. "Sorry, please continue your conversation on... distance learning I think I heard?”

    “First Knowledge keeps close links with several universities of galactic repute,” Rachi replied promptly, noting how Skrath hadn’t commented on the transformation of his Padawan, he seemed to have expected it. “They let Padawans with a known Master take their courses via distance learning.”

    “Good idea, I wish the rest of the Temple knew about that,” Skrath seemed contemplative as he spoke. As if an idea had hit him that he hadn’t ever contemplated before. “Force knows how hard it is to stay on one planet long enough to get a cert, let alone a degree. I presume Renee is known?”

    “Considering her published work, I would say so…” Rachi narrowed her eyes trying to decide if she needed to defend her Master or not.

    “Oh Ori…”

    “Great, more work for me,” Ori replied to his Master's gleeful voice. “Do you think they will accept me?”

    “Well, you are accredited,” Skrath replied virtuously. “Besides, this expedition is going to involve long periods of boredom. Better to have you expanding your mind then getting into trouble.”

    “Shipboard?”

    “You are smarter than that, normally,” Skrath lightly teased his Padawan. It was good to see him coming out of his shell, he hadn’t expected it to be this quick though, he had thought it would take more time around Renee and Rachi before Ori let himself relax. So, it wasn’t the Jedi in the Temple per say, so much as it was the location? “Anyway, I have news! Master Nu came through for us and got a proper Guardian to watch over us for the expedition, we’ll be picking them up at Bespin.”

    “Them?” Ori asked his head cocking to the side. “As in more than one?”

    “Bespin?” Rachi asked almost at the same time. “What’s there?”

    “Them as in the Guardian in question thought that the expedition gave her enough time and opportunities to start training a Padawan. Caused something of a stir at the Temple when she announced she was coming to get her Padawan and would meet us before our second stop.” Skrath grinned as he said that. The chaos that announcement had caused had been glorious. The creche minders still remembered Knight Raskta and they had not been happy to hear she was intent on taking a Padawan, especially as she was just coming of a stint as a Watchman as penance for her training methods. “Nothing is at Bespin specifically but… it's right next door to the Hoth system, and I think you both know what happened there.”

    “That’s going a bit further back then I thought,” Ori commented his face a mask of disgust as he gulped down his goop as fast as possible. “Nothing from the New Sith Wars era was obvious then?”

    “No, it’s about coherency of training,” Rachi made a face as Ori downed his caf to get the taste of his meal out of his mouth. “During the New Sith Wars, training standards were all over the place, especially once you got past the first hundred years. By the end both sides were pretty much reduced to throwing untrained bodies at the other. If we want to find documentation, we need a polity with a coherent training policy, and say what you will about both the Old Republic and the Sith Empire, they had that. Not sure just what use the Sith documents would be though…”

    “They tended to have ship designs which are closer to ours than the Republic,” Ori replied distractedly, using the Force to pour himself another cup of caf without leaving his seat. “Republican designs tended to use a hatchet face, hammerhead in common parlance, for frontal assaults. Why almost no one uses the designs which won multiple galactic wars anymore I don’t know but…”

    “Well, you’re in for a treat once we get to Corellia then,” Skrath shared his news with relish. “Our first stop is going to be the old bone yards, get all of us familiar with the designs we’re looking for.”

    “If we know where the boneyards are why aren’t we starting there? I mean, the Corellians have to have the trained personal to look over those ships for the databases we want right?” Ori asked before he savoured a sip of his refreshed caf.

    “Those ships would've been stripped for parts a long time ago,” Rachi shook her head in disagreement. “Even the Sith ships were parted out, what’s left are the hulls and little else."

    “They might have missed something…”

    “And you will get a chance to find out,” Skrath interrupted cheerfully. “Your initial EVA training is going to take place on those ships.”

    “Are we basing off the Light of Knowledge or are we taking short hops in the Serenity?” Ori asked practically.

    “Short hops,” Renee entered the room and made a bee line for the tea. “According to Space Master Vire, the Light needs at least a month in dock, they took some damage during their last exploration mission when some old patchwork failed and he managed to clear the funding for a complete outer hull replacement.”

    Ori frowned in contemplation as he heard that. “How old is the Light?”

    "A century last year” Renee replied without a care. “She’s been with the Order for the entire time, mostly used by the Explorer corps but from time to time they let us First Knowledge geeks borrow her. Beautiful ship, they don’t make them like that anymore.”

    “CR class corvettes? I know I’m the ship geek here but…” Skrath looked confused as he said that.

    “CR-50 Wanderer, the last production run to use the CR-12 space frame before CEC switched to what they use now.” Rachi put in innocently, watching Ori’s expression carefully to see if he would get it.

    “A Thranta…” Ori’s eyes shown with glee. “I didn’t know they kept using that space frame. I thought the last vestiges of that design lineage were in the Sphyrna class…”

    “It was a proven space frame and during the New Sith Wars; CEC wanted a known design for their civilian corvettes. They kept making them right up until the transport market shifted to smaller, less infrastructure intensive designs. Still a good ship,” Renee was pleased to see Ori was interested in history, even if it was seemingly limited to ship design. “While it's in the yard we have free reign to the old bone yards, although you should focus on training and familiarizing yourself with the equipment and procedures you'll be using for the rest of the expedition since the odds of finding something important all the salvagers and previous trainees somehow missed is effectively nothing."

    “Are we going to have any time on world?” Rachi asked diffidently.

    "I'll make sure you have three days once finals and EVA qualification trials are finished, you might have more depending on how quickly the Light's overhaul is finished.” Renee replied with a fond smile, she knew that Rachi would enjoy the museums and historical landmarks in her time off, Ori and Skrath would need to be distracted though. From everything the rumor mill said the pair of them had a way of finding trouble without meaning too, and it wouldn’t do to have her Padawan's vacation interrupted. “Do you have any ideas?”

    “Well, there’s the Drall Burrows, the Cornet History Museum, and the Selonian Museum of Culture and Trade …” Rachi paused for breath before continuing. “I also thought about seeing a few of the Sith landing sites and the memorials there, but they are secondary to those three since everything I've read has indicated they're more tourist traps now thanks to centuries of rampant souvenir hunting leaving even the monuments themselves heavily damaged... a shame.”

    “Well, since you have destinations on three of the five brothers, I think Ori would be more then happy to escort you,” Skrath put in quickly, seeing an opportunity to let Ori relax before they started out. The Temple had been stressful for him and it would be best if he was relaxed before being cooped up in a ship not his own. He didn’t want Ori to spend the entire mission hiding on the Serenity, failing to take advantage of the enormous amount of learning that could be accomplished simply by listening to the old sweats in the technical core, let alone the maverick pilots of the explorer corps. Getting his Padawan to relax for a few days would make him more willing to at least eat in the common mess, where he was certain that Ori’s natural curiosity would lead him to what Skrath wanted him to learn.

    ======

    “Welcome to Corellia,” Space Master Quellcrist Vire’s voice was jovial as he met the small groups of Knights and Padawans on the hanger deck of his ship. His eyes briefly roaming over the ship which would serve as their second scout, appreciating the neat docking job their pilot had done. It had been put perfectly into the bay reserved for it, and he approved. “I hope the journey here was pleasant?”

    “Our pilot was more than adequate,” Renee replied with a sniff. “We hardly needed you to offer up one of yours for the trip.”

    “Clearly it wasn’t you or your Padawan,” Quellcrist shot back, enjoying the banter with his clan mate, it had been years since they had seen each other, but they fell back into their roles as if it had been yesterday. “Care to introduce me?”

    “Space Master Quellcrist Vire, be known to Padawan Daki and his Master Knight Kri,” Renee easily pointed the two out. Ori was busy looking around the docking bay with wide eyes, not paying attention.

    “An honor to meet you,” Skrath bowed slightly in greeting, discretely smacking Ori so that he would pay attention. Ori started and then offered a quick bow, before going back to his fascinated perusal.

    Far from taking offense, Vire's own face lit up at seeing Ori's awestruck expression, “I see someone is interested in the ships, your pilot I presume?”

    “When I can tear him away from ship watching,” Skrath shook his head in exasperation. “You would think he'd never seen a ship before from the way he’s acting.”

    “Are you kidding me? This is fascinating, the frame is from millennium ago but the internals are all new! I think the bay equipment was put in recently, KDY design if I’m not mistaken, I can see how CEC gets their reputation for modularity…” Ori gushed. “The fighters aren’t anything to write home about... but the scout ship? That’s a YG-4210, it hasn’t been in production for more than a century!”

    “Path to Illumination, she’s a good ship. Been with the Explorer corps for three centuries, and despite her advanced age she’s still one of the best scouts we have. They just don’t make them like they used to.”

    “Getting parts for her must be impossible.”

    “You would think that, but its not the case. Her frame is about the only thing left that’s stock. We’ve replaced just about everything else over the years to keep her in service, probably will keep doing so until CEC or one of the other corps comes up with a suitable replacement. For some reason they keep missing the mark with scout ships. Glad to see you have an interest in history young one, it’ll serve you well on this mission.” Quellcrist tamped down his huge grin to a more polite smile and turned back to Renee. “And who is this?”

    “My Padawan, Rachi’Sitra, Archaeologist in training,” Renee answered with a fond and knowing smile, that Ori was even more enthused about history when experiencing it than just reading about it was a very good omen for this expedition indeed.

    “So, you finally broke down and found a Padawan, I never thought it would happen,” Quellcrist‘s voice became solemn. “Greetings to you, Padawan Sicra.”

    “Thank you for the welcome to your ship,” Rachi replied evenly, blushing at the respect and trying to fade into the background.

    “Well if you ever want stories about how your Master was as a crecheling, let me know,” Quellcrist flashed his teeth, breaking the tension. “I’m sure she hasn’t told you but she used to be quite the wild one, kept escaping the crèche to wander the halls looking for artifacts. We all knew she was destined for First Knowledge after it kept happening, why I remember the time…”

    “No need to tell her about that,” Renee interjected, quickly changing the topic before Quellcrist could get started. It wasn’t often she ran into the few remaining members of her creche clan, and she had forgotten how embarrassing they were in their pride over her achievements. Being the only youngling to end up as a Padawan, they all felt her achievements reflected well on them, despite the fact that they were all masters of their own fields, and had universally chosen not to progress towards a Knighthood of their own volition. “I presume you have a plan for our EVA quals?”

    “Justine just passed her instructor's course, so she and Vandire are going to be taking you out to the graveyard in the Illumination.” Quellcrist held up a hand before Renee could interrupt. “I know you’re qualified, but it's been years since you took the test. Better to have an instructor with a fresh rating, and time on our current EVA exo suits, make sure that nothing goes wrong.”

    “Sensible,” Skrath interjected smoothly, he could tell the older Knight was on the verge of getting stubborn. “You have a plan?”

    “Spend the night settling in and then we start in the morning,” Vire replied easily, ignoring the daggers that Renee was glaring at him. She had wanted to handle the instruction herself, there were techniques for getting the most out of any sensor system that needed to be passed on to her Padawan. In her mind she acknowledged that she was being slightly silly, after all competent instruction would be a Force blessed gift when dealing with Skrath and Ori. She would just have to make time to add in her little tricks later in the lesson.

    As the two Knights and Space Master dove into the minutia of planning their first trip, Rachi drifted off to Ori who was pacing around the freighter, still fascinated by its lines. "I’m hardly one to say aesthetics aren’t important, but would you explain why this particular ship is so fascinating?” Rachi asked softly, her own interest in ship lineages being piqued while still keeping an eye on their masters in case they were needed.

    “It’s not the aesthetics of the ship, it’s the engineering style and the programming.” Ori replied evenly. “The YG series began the flat tri pod engine mounting system which you see today in the Consular class and other designs. In its time it revolutionized the shipbuilding industry. It’s kind of like if you found one of the first battery powered lightsabers still in use today, an artifact which represents a watershed in design evolution.”

    “Oh?”

    “Podded engines aren’t that revolutionary; you can see that from this ship after all. It’s the avionics system which allowed them to be flat mounted rather then cluster mounted around a ship's center of gravity. I really want to get a look at her computers and see if any of the original coding is still loaded, that’s the basis for a lot of the shipboard systems in use today. If I could get a copy of it…”

    "Hmmm," Rachi shook her head at the younger twi’lek's enthusiasm. “Getting your geek out moment over with early?”

    “A bit, I have time to wander and be impressed at the moment,” Ori replied with a soft laugh. “I doubt that when we’re all in the field I’ll be able to geek out like this. We’ll all have too much to do. Might as well enjoy it while I can.”

    “It’s not all going to be taunt delicate extractions of secret holocrons, there’s going to be plenty of tedium, repetition and make work between the real work excitement and I doubt anyone will comment if you geek out while doing that.”

    “Naturally, but you don’t think our Masters are going to let the time go to waste, do you? Between the three Knights on this expedition I fully expect that any 'free time' we have will be filled, and not with make work.” Ori flashed her a grin. “Any clue how and why the Explorer corps keeps such old ships around? I would have thought that they were replaced regularly…”

    “According to Space Master Ima-Dun-Gud, an old friend of my Masters who has transported us across the galaxy, the service corps are not visible enough for the Senate to give them the budget they deserve, and they’re viewed as old fashioned and too conservative in their design choices so no one wants to cater to their needs in the shipbuilding community,” Rachi shared what she knew freely, missing the way Ori’s eyes narrowed at the mention of their budget being Senatorially controlled, and practically slitted when she continued on about how they were viewed. The idea that ship designers wouldn’t want to push the edge, and create the most high-tech explorer possible was completely out of left field. In his estimation there should have been hundreds of design teams clamouring for their ship to be known as the one which charted the next Corellian Trade Spine. Something was seriously wrong here. “Exploring has been out of fashion for the last millennium, especially these past hundred years. According to the Space Master I talked to, Also, apparently the last couple of designs that were proposed looked good at first blush but… no one came back from the prototype flight expeditions which used them. The old ships got through fine, but the newer ones? Disappeared without a trace somewhere in hyper. So they couldn’t even figure out what went wrong. The best guess anyone has made is that the redundancy in these old designs keep them running even after a major mechanical failure, and newer general purpose designs just don’t have the redundancy to do the job no matter how modified they are to try and fill that gap. The corp would love to commission a design to their specifications but they don’t have the budget to do everything they need to and to sponsor an entirely new line of ships.”

    “Custom designs?”

    “The Councils, almost all of them, hate that. The Explorers already use their ships as homes, and modify them accordingly, but building one new to an Explorers spec?”

    “I can see how that would be an issue,” Ori winced as he considered trying to justify having a ship built to his specifications to Mace Windu. That was a mental image he didn’t need, he could feel his ears ringing even thinking about it. “Newer designs are that bad? I thought that technology was marching on, not going backwards?”

    “Not bad per say, just not as rugged. For ship hulls? The new durasteel formula is three times as tough as what we were using even fifty years ago. It’s the more sensitive systems which are an issue, the paradigm these days is for efficiency, so your engine geometry gives you three percent improvement on fuel efficiency but…”

    “If you lose one, you lose the entire cluster.” Ori grimaced as he contemplated that. It sounded to him a lot like someone was trying to keep everything contained to the known galaxy and had been for a very long time, which was worrying. He shifted to a slightly different topic, “How does that square with the Consular class being a repeat of the engine geometry of the YG series?”

    “That’s a case of the hyper matter plant being poorly designed, along with a really sensitive hyper drive, the Consular class has a massively overpowered plant, and it really doesn’t take well to reducing the power requirements. Too long at too low a load…. Let’s just say the results are spectacular to watch if you’re lucky enough to be in real space and leave it at that. If you try and run it as an all up military ship, then it doesn’t have the fuel capacity to do the job. The hyper drive eats fuel at a prodigious rate, and its sensitivity means imbalances can be… bad. Rip out both of those systems and replace them, well you might as well just buy an entirely new ship. The corp keeps hoping for one of the yards to come up with something they can use without gutting it and rebuilding it from the frame out, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

    “How did you find out about that? It doesn’t seem to be something you would be interested in…”

    “One of the first ‘digs’ Renee took me on was an abandoned Judicial station orbiting Ithor III, when the Ithorians began to scrap the station they found the remnants of an ancient explorer corp outpost that the entire station had been built around. We worked with a lot of the older explorer corp ship masters and technical corp engineers during that dig, it was fascinating to hear them complain about the issues they were having. Of course, that was in my downtime, most of the time I was looking over artifacts and systems that dated from the Great Galactic War, now those were properly redundant. Not powerful enough to use today but…” Rachi began to tell the story, happy to have such an attentive listener for once. It wasn’t often someone in her age group let her rattle on about her profession without either mocking or quickly losing interest and focus.​
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  10. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    ...... I see the Republic conttinues to show just how good bureaucracy is at meeting everybody's needs.

    The idea that a smarter Dark Sider set the Jedi up to be a Republic Agency works remarkably well. If only we could use that kind of reason IRL.
     
  11. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    Man this chapter had me hooked . If this wasn't around the clone wars I could have joyfully followed the MC's explorations and said continue!¡! Old ship's! Out of the way planets! Exploring the old with Empire's former main Capital! Discovery around every corner! Alas The clone wars are like tomorrow.!.!. Lol
     
  12. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    Man this chapter had me hooked . If this wasn't around the clone wars I could have joyfully followed the MC's explorations and said continue!¡! Old ship's! Out of the way planets! Exploring the old Sith Empire's former main Capital! Discovery around every corner! Alas The clone wars are like tomorrow.!.!. Lol
     
    Corvus 501 likes this.
  13. Kite

    Kite Getting out there.

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    Sounds like how the Space shuttle was still using vacuum tubes and had the computing power of a deluxe abacus, but was incredibly reliable. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't trust a space ship with a modern windows OS installed. As for apple, who wants to bet a mac would prompt you to update itunes before it let you complete the maneuver to get into orbit?
     
  14. Morkail

    Morkail Making the rounds.

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    Interesting story watched! Starwars sounds like a great setting but for a SI it seems more like a post apocalypse setting and the force is kinda horrifying there are hints it was made by some old race or another and has been making life horrible forever one ever since. Not to mention almost all the force “gods” seem kinda evil.
     
  15. Threadmarks: 6.2
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    The stars were beautiful, and while seeing them like this with no atmosphere in the way wasn’t completely unknown to Ori, he rarely got a chance to just sit and appreciate them. There was a certain majesty to their formations, a million points of light sprawled across the heavens for any sentient to see and appreciate. Even in this artificial system, their glory was well worth taking the time to appreciate, even if his appreciation at that exact moment had less to do with their inherent beauty and more to do with procrastinating.

    “I know you don’t enjoy the stars that much Ori, come back and join us,” Skrath radioed from where he was anchored to the Illuminating Light with Renee, Rachi, and their instructor in EVA operations Pathfinder Justine Dall.

    “Proper contemplation of the universe is something all Jedi should take the time to do,” Ori sent back as he feathered his jump pack to land beside the other Jedi.

    “Of course, it is,” Renee interrupted, exasperation tingeing her tone. “But not when a Padawan should be learning, you will have time enough later. First the sensor exercises.”

    Ori grimaced in the privacy of his suit. He knew this would benefit him in the long run but he really didn’t want to fully open himself to the Force when he was in this close in proximity to what felt like actual Sith artifacts. The looming bulk of the half-destroyed Harrower class showed him they were present in no uncertain terms. He chewed his lip for a moment and then triggered his radio.

    “Is there any possibility we could do this in less… fraught space?”

    “Less fraught?” Rachi asked, her voice seeming to convey disapproval.

    “There’s a kriffing Sith dreadnought hanging over our heads at the moment,” Ori replied keeping his voice as dry as possible. “I don’t know about you but I don’t want to feel the imprint they left behind even if it is gutted.”

    "This is the best place to do so, since it's in a controlled environment,” Renee answered calmly. “The fact you recognize what the Harrower is, and are smart enough to be wary of it is commendable, but you need to learn to deal with the imprints Sith leave on their possessions here rather than on a remote site parsecs away and days to months away from level one support."

    “Agreed,” Skrath said shortly, his voice betraying a tension which hadn’t been there before. “Is the Sith hulk all we need to worry about or are there more traps out here?”

    “Most of the boneyard contains Republic wrecks,” Justine replied in a calm, instructive tone. “The Sith only made it to Corellia once, while Republic ships were and are scrapped here regularly. There are ten relatively intact Sith wrecks cataloged besides the Harrower, and they are kept separate from each other to diminish their aura in the Force. Does that answer your question?"

    "Yes." Skrath replied, channeling the reassurance Justine was pouring into the Force to isolate a small but white hot spark of anxiety away from the rest of his feelings... for the moment at least.

    "Good. Renee, if you will?" Justine deferred.

    Renee continued the lesson in an enthusiastic voice that only years of experience working under such conditions could impart "Now that you all are familiar with the basic functionality of your EVA suits, we are going to be moving on to the introductory workshop for one of the most important skills that Jedi Archaeologists have developed. Before we begin are you all locked to the hull?”

    Ori quickly checked that his maglock boots were engaged and then threw his arm out to give a quick thumbs up. “This technique isn’t in common use, and it can be dangerous, so pay very close attention to your physical surroundings even as you use your Force sense. What I want you to do is gently, very gently, extend the Force into the sensor pack of your suit and enhance it. If you use too much power then it wont work, this is detail work so think like you’re using a brush to uncover what the sensors would have shown you if they were just a little bit better rather then using a compressed air gun. If you use too much then you are going to be overwhelmed, and remember the computers on these suits aren’t going to see and record what the sensor system shows you, so properly documenting the results depends on you.”

    Following the guide Renee was providing in the Force as much as her verbal instructions, Ori steeled himself before opening a tiny gap in what he pictured as Great War style barbed wire fencing between himself and the Force, not willing to use more than that with a Sith artifact hanging so close to his head, pushing the commands into the sensor pack. Immediately the sensors cleared up and he noted that not only had the resolution improved, but the range had increased by a hundred meters or more. All of which meant he could see a few more floating bolts and scraps of metal, admittedly in greater clarity then before, but little else. Rather than increasing the amount of Force he was using, he concentrated on those scraps, trying to feel if any of them had a negative aura. He wanted to know just what the Harrower would feel like before he tackled sensing it. The difference between the Rule of Two's smothering veil and this... proud belligerence could hardly be more different. Having a nuanced idea of the kind of imprint the Sith had left behind would prepare him for the larger wreck, he hoped. Out of the hundred or so pieces one had the distinct feel of despair to it and he instinctively knew that it had come from the dreadnought hanging over their heads.

    “Skrath, use less power, I can feel you from here. You’re using a fire hose when you want a watering can.” Renee’s voice was a reassuring presence, keeping him grounded in the now. “Rachi, I know you know how to do this so there is no reason to hide. Don’t worry about the others and how they will react. Ori, just a touch more power, you almost have it.”

    “I can tell one out of the hundred bits of scrap in the immediate vicinity came off a Sith ship already,” Ori replied, keeping his concentration and his Force use locked down outside of his point of focus. He was concentrating on that lone bit of scrap, contemplating it and trying to get a sense of how it would feel when magnified exponentially. A lone bit of despair was easy to handle, he had been forced to learn that back at the Temple when he had been an Initiate, but a sea of despair and worse besides? That would be a rather different kettle of fish. “I really don’t want to extend my range further then I absolutely have too.”

    “Really? Can you point out which one?” Renee’s voice was gentle as she spoke, almost as if she was calming a large animal. Renee could feel his disquiet and nerves from where she was standing, and while she wanted to push him, she willed herself to let the Padawan work at his own pace as long as he completed the assignment. Ori checked the sensor pack’s positioning system and memorized the bearing.

    “Three hundred and fifty degrees horizontal by twenty-three degrees vertical and forty three point four meters out from my position, according to my pack,” Ori replied.

    “Very good,” Renee approved of his precision. “That’s excellent work. Pathfinder Dall? Would you be a dear and take over walking Skrath through this exercise? Rachi knows it well enough that I have no worries about her, but this level of precision the first time out requires my full attention.”

    “Understood,” Justine sounded vaguely amused as she jetted across the hull to stand right next to Skrath and connected her suit to his with a hard line, intent on giving the young Knight a bit of one on one instruction.

    “Now Ori, I want you to increase your range. You don’t have to go far, but I want you to at least reach the Harrower,” Renee’s voice was soft and coaxing. She had a feeling that Ori’s inherent paranoia was both a help and hindrance going forward with this exercise, it was obviously keeping him alert and vigilant, but she needed him to know what Sith ships and ruins felt like. While the artifacts of this particular hulk had been purged centuries ago, it would give him an idea of what he was going to be dealing with, and prepare him for unexplored wrecks, ruins and other places where the Dark side would radiate with a far stronger intensity. Renee worried over how to guide Ori into controlling his paranoia so he could use it to navigate the auroras of pain, hate and despair which radiated from such places without being debilitated... although a tiny part of her wondered at her own confidence that Ori would be debilitated rather than tempted.

    Ori took a deep breath and slowly, cautiously, pushed just a trickle more Force through the sensor pack. He noted the expanded range and clarity, but there still wasn’t anything of note on its display. Just more debris, really you would think that someone would have come through the boneyard with a giant magnet and at least tried to clean up a bit of that he thought grumpily. It would be cheap enough, and probably profitable as long as you did it right. Of course, you would need to get clearance from the SDF and the Green Temple, but he imagined that would be easily enough to do. Silently he grimaced as he realized he was procrastinating, avoiding the exercise in favor of letting his mind wander. Slowly he allowed his connection to widen again, loosening his blockade an inch at a time, only to recoil when his enhanced sensors hit the very edge of the Harrower.

    The sense of despair, pain and utter hatred was throbbing in the Force like an infected cut... Worse, and Ori thought this was likely a problem only to him, the Force felt more like a living thing, or maybe living THINGS as it was both the animal wounded and the raging infection, than anywhere else he could recall. Ori paused, the image of Yoda fighting Sidious in the Senate suddenly coming to him, specifically the scene where Yoda was concentrating and nullifying the Sith Lord's lighting... and while the details of that technique were subjective and unique to the Grandmaster's perspective and command of the Force, there was something basic that could be learned. Ori paused and shifted his mental barbed wire defenses that were unwittingly feeding the passions swirling around him into an amorphous transparent ball of abstraction and rationality that evoked nothing other than determination. While it was a far cry from what Yoda had done, it allowed Ori to press his senses up to the dead warship and past that outermost layer of loathing before he dissipated it. Ori shuddered as the spell of despair crafted by Sith very different from Sidious fell open around him and he took a moment to marvel at its complexity and strength even now a thousand years later and from a hulk he could now see wasn't full of hidden relics, but truly stripped to the bones with the marrow cored out.

    He thought that he knew what to expect from the Harrower, a gaping chasm of darkness, rotting in open space, but once past that outer defense, all that remained is an imprint, an impression on the Force, which he could feel had slowly been smoothed out over the years. Almost as if the Force was flowing over the hull, like a stream, slowly filling in the depressions caused by the Sith with the silt of the universe until all that remained was contained in the ship's metal alone. The only way he could tell where the actual relics and artifacts had been was the delineation between the generalized despair which the hull seemed to be made up of and the pools of more 'neutral' Force which had come to rest where the darkness had been surgically removed. The sharp dividing edges were clear now to his enhanced senses, razor sharp without blending even after all this time.

    Taking a deep breath Ori expanded his connection to the Force even further, directing it through the sensor pack as if it didn’t come from within. This was a technique he liked, much to his surprise, the detachment that the sensor pack being there gave him allowed Ori to convince himself that the Force wasn’t acting on him, he was just directing it to act through the sensors. As the connection widened, more of the Harrower came into range, and he could see more impressions left by evil acts. His Force sense alerting him to the pain, anger, and fear once felt by those who resided, fought, and died on the ship on top of its general aura of despair and pain. The background throb of infection was creeping back as it fed on the emotional residue of the others, the Dark side seemingly inherent to the fibers and ores of the hull, and then it surged back a bit as it 'grasped' Ori's own curiosity, and he quickly wrenched that emotion back behind his mental barriers.

    “Not as disconcerting as I thought it would be,” Ori radioed softly, running his eyes over the Harrower to match where his Force derived sensor readings were coming from. He could see where entire sections of the hull had been removed, matching where he could feel dark side concentrations had been excised. “What’s left is like an infected scrape, not truly dangerous, but annoying in that it reminds you of its existence constantly. I doubt I would be comfortable living on such a ship but, for just seeing what’s there? The danger seems to have long past.”

    “You are sure of that?” Renee questioned, her voice level.

    “I can… feel, I think is the best way to describe it, where there were greater dangers once contained on this ship, but they aren’t there anymore. It has impressions left behind by evil, but not the substance? Someone took a cutting torch to the hull and removed the major spots of dark side energy.”

    “And yet you describe the ship itself as an infected scrape?”

    “Yes, not wrong but disconcerting. There’s something off about it, but I can’t feel more than that.”

    “Very well done,” Renee’s voice filled with approval. “I see your Master wasn’t wrong about how sensitive you can be, when you put your mind to it. Rachi, would you care to enlighten Ori of just what he’s feeling?”

    “The Sith Empire had a practice of darkening a ship's very being, aligning it with the dark side, which started in the foundries and mines that provided the ships metal. They used slaves exclusively in the mining of the ores, and then during the smelting process the Sith Lord in charge of production would cast defeated rivals, failures, or Force sensitive prisoners of war into the ore crucibles alive... What you are feeling is the impression of the misery of the slaves and the torment of the sacrificed."

    “That would certainly do it..." Ori shivered "...and none of the slaves sabotaged production?” Ori asked, if that was the case, he would have expected that there would be bright spots of hope, and more savage spots of vengeance, to feel in the hull not a generalized sense of despair and pain.

    “There are records of slave uprisings, but most only happened when the populations in question were on the front lines or at the end of the war. While the Sith were oftentimes their own worst enemies when it came to each other, they weren’t idiots when it came to those they saw and treated as lesser than them,” Renee said smoothly taking over for her Padawan. “From the point where the production process went to component manufacturing, they used droids, and final assembly was done by free beings who served the Sith willingly. At least that’s what we have learned through examining what ships and structures survived.”

    “There are texts that still exist which say the Sith used slaves for everything but…” Rachi put in, her voice colored with doubt.

    “That doesn’t match what we have found so it is almost certainly wartime propaganda rather then fact.” Renee’s approval of her Padawans interjection was impossible for Ori not to feel. “A lot of the texts that remain from that time period have issues, mostly due to only the most popular being saved for the last couple of millennia. The dark age did real damage to our understanding of the time period, a lot of the lore and history was lost. It doesn’t help that the main Temple was reluctant to allow so called heretical texts that weren't inherently dangerous Sith holocrons needing containment into the archives when Quist shut down the satellite Temples after Ruusan and standardized everything. Do you feel anything worth investigating Ori?”

    “No, there isn’t anything here.” Ori replied with a shake of his head that no one could see. “I suppose the composition of the alloys and a metallurgical analysis could be interesting to do but I doubt that hasn’t been done a thousand times before.”

    “I’m glad you got this technique so quickly and I can feel from here that Rachi is already fed up with doing this exercise yet again,” Renee said with a laugh she continued to tease her Padawan. “I understand, it’s something you’ve done a thousand times before. Still, practicing the basics is always a good thing to do, remember…”

    “A strong foundation makes for a solid house,” Rachi sent, her voice tinged with fondness and exasperation. She had heard the proverb regularly for years, applying to everything from her writing to learning new uses of the Force.

    “Right you are. Now, on to the second part of learning this skill. You can’t just cut the Force off from the sensor pack, right now it’s acting as if it’s providing additional circuits and relays to enhance the sensors. If you cut it off too quickly then you can damage the sensor pack as the electronics try to continue as they were without the Force providing direction. That can have catastrophic results.” Renee’s voice was calm and collected even as her Force sense washed over the two Padawans, sensing if they had any discomfort or if feeling the Harrower had affected them in any deeper way. She had no worries about Rachi, but this was the first time Ori had encountered an artifact like this and his sensitivity made him vulnerable to its effects. “Now, gently, begin to pull back the amount of Force you are using. If you get even a twinge of warning stop, and wait for it to go away before you continue. As you do that, I want you to tell me how much sweet air you have left, and how much power.”

    “Forty four hours, forty minutes of air,” Rachi replied promptly her voice assured. “Thirty minutes of power.”

    “Forty four hours, thirty minutes of air,” Ori’s answer is just a tad bit slower, and he glanced at the HUD to see his power level and blanched. There was no way that was possible, he should have more then enough power left, but his levels were dropping right before his eyes. It was all he could do to keep from cutting the Force he fed into the sensor array, to step it down slowly instead of cutting it off, and his hand flew over the built-in keyboard bringing up the power distribution display. Suppressing a curse, he continued his report in a strained voice, showing his uncertainty to everyone who was listening. “Power level is at ten minutes and falling…”

    “You just noticed?” Renee asked, Ori was surprised to hear a distinct lack of concern from her.

    “Yes Master,” his response was filled with worried shame. While the terrifying trope of running out of air in space was mostly subverted in this galaxy, with his suit's life support able to stretch what would be a thirty minute supply of oxygen in his first life into days of good smelling air and then able to keep him alive for weeks afterward utilizing both the suit's main power as well as its own separate battery, that main power was its own story. He knew he should have been keeping an eye on his power no matter what he was doing. That he had lost site of those indicators was a damning indictment of his attention span.

    “Keep a closer eye on it next time,” Renee didn’t condemn him, much to his shock. If he had been the instructor, he would have grounded anyone who made such a basic, and potentially deadly, mistake in a heartbeat. “This is your first time out, I expected something like this to come up. Book learning only goes so far, you need to make mistakes out here to really have it driven into your psyche and take hold. That said, is your power level stabilizing or is it still falling?”

    Ori checked his HUD again, his silent self-recriminations ringing through his head, and was relieved to find that the power level had stabilized. It seemed he wouldn’t end up in a dead suit today, needing to be brought back inside by the others. “Stabilized now.”

    “Very good, how close are you to shutting down your technique?”

    “Almost done,” Ori replied, only to have his reply mingle with Rachi’s, "done."

    “Then I believe it is time for us to get out of the black, we have a bit of a trip before we do our second spacewalk. I believe it would be best if the two of you complete the written exam on EVA operations while we reposition the ship. And Ori? I will have a secondary test just for you so reread the book.”



    =========================================



    “Written exam, what a joke,” Ori grumbled as he manhandled the armor plating covering the EVA suits oxygen supply back into place. “The written portion of the pilot’s exam was more complicated. That was disgustingly simple.”

    “You believe it should have been harder?” Justine's voice was soft but held a slight edge letting Ori know he had better have a decent answer for her. She had been assigned to make sure he could actually pull maintenance on his suit without screwing anything up and had been watching his actions with an eagle eye. So far, he hadn’t disappointed her, his technical skills were certainly acceptable, especially for a Jedi on the Knight track and not in the service corps.

    “Yes.” Ori replied flatly finally getting the armor back into place. He pulled the electric drill up and began to fasten down the panels. “Vacuum is not forgiving, I know this intellectually, but it should have been hammered home so that I know it emotionally. The written exam should have covered what to do in an emergency, how to patch your suit, each and every emergency procedure the committee which wrote it could think of, and how to calculate a trajectory for a long-term burn should you detach from your vessel.”

    “All of which we are covering with a series of space walks,” Justine didn’t indicate agreement or disagreement, her voice was somewhat flat. “The philosophy behind EVA training generally is that you learn by doing, rather then reading. It gives you a better grounding.”

    “True, but the test is so bad it's more a basic literacy test designed to collect licencing fees than test the applicant's knowledge. Now every time I need to hire someone and I see they are vacuum rated for repairs I’m going to be left wondering if they’re actually qualified or if they just took the test.” Ori got the last bolt fastened down and pushed the suit back into its frame before beginning to take off the cover for the sensor pack. Most of the maintenance he had done had been routine, just checking to make sure everything was still in place, but this next bit he would need to concentrate on. “We are keeping the same suits throughout this expedition, aren’t we?”

    “Yes, we are,” Justine looked amused as she said that. “Planning to do a bit of modification?”

    “I burned a lot of power with the technique we were learning… I think there’s a loose connection or two in the sensor system and it's been compensating. The alternate explanation is that I did something wrong and there is going to be burn patterns from where the energy was forced through and it could have damaged something.”

    “All viable options, so what is your solution?”

    “A secondary power bus should ease the energy transfer without interfering with anything when I’m not using that technique. It would also give my Force sense guidance as to where the energy needs to go without damaging anything. A couple of welds and everything should be in order and have a lower energy drain when I need to use that technique. I have a couple of extra boards as well, took them from the repair parts, so I can replace anything that’s damaged.”

    “And the dish?” Justine pointed to the over sized dish Ori had dragged out of their repair stocks. She had a feeling she knew where he was going with that, after all his ship gave her a pretty good idea about just how he felt for sensors. The oversized system he had installed was being given a very close examination while he was off the ship by the technical corps personal. It was a modification that she felt had potential, especially given that he'd somehow managed to fit the suite comfortably into the ship's power budget. Better sensor arrays were one of the deciding factors when they went looking for ships, and if Ori’s modification became standard it could substantially widen the pool of ships which would be acceptable to the corp.

    “I might install it, assuming the data bus can handle everything… not sure though..." Ori pondered a moment, "I need to get a look at what’s inside here before I decide. The technical notes were lacking, and I haven’t had a chance to look up the schematics for this particular model. We got hustled off ship pretty fast, didn’t have the time to do the usual background research…”

    “Investigators,” Justine laughed. “You are all so procedural. Still, it's nice to see that Master Coris brought professionals with her. We could have gotten away without calling in one of the Space Masters for this particular jaunt.”

    “Not to be too impertinent,” Ori finally got the last screw out and pulled the cover off the electronic guts of the sensor system. He ran his eyes over the boards and tsked, he had pushed the sensor power bus to the brink of failure in the way he'd commanded the Force. Giving the sensors power from the Force would've required opening himself to it in a way he was abjectly unwilling to do, and so they had drawn power solely from the batteries, draining them and severely overloading the regulators, that would be a problem for the future. Gently he began to pull the boards and lay them out on the work bench beside the suit rack. “But what can you tell me about the Explorer corps? I don’t remember more then the basic briefing all initiates get, and that was minimal at best.”

    “Ah, want to know who you’re working with?”

    “Naturally,” Ori worked to pull the last of the boards out frowning at the number. From what he remembered from the manual there should have been eight of them. He only had six. With a grunt he pulled the repair manual from its place of pride above the work bench and set it down, flipping to the index and looking for the page number of the exploded schematic. “That and the general culture.”

    “First thing you have to understand is that we’re a service corp, not Knights. We operate on a different dynamic. We’re still Jedi but…”

    “Let me guess, Ruusan's had less of an effect on your practices.”

    “Got it in one, we don’t take the vows that city Knights take…”

    “Corellian?” Ori smirked.

    “It’s that obvious?”

    “Only people I know of who call the Coruscant Temple city Jedi,” Ori replied with a chuckle. His hand flipping the pages to the part of the book he needed.

    “Born and bred, didn’t like the thought of becoming a Knight though, too much running around chasing people and not enough time shipboard. Explorers fit me right, so after a bit of meditation, I made the switch. I’m in the minority though these days unfortunately, too many of the initiates are being reassigned with little regards for the will of the Force, take the time to talk with some of the old sweats and they’ll complain about it endlessly.” Justine noted what Ori was doing with hidden approval. He was passing her tests, which meant she could open up a bit to him. “Anyway, mostly we map the black. Lots of runs around wild space and the like so we tend to see a bit more action then you would think.”

    “No saber though…”

    “Haven’t felt the call of a crystal yet. We are allowed to have them,” Justine admitted with a shrug. “That and a blaster can be set to stun. Helps with the follow up negotiations with new species if you haven’t slaughtered them in job lots defending yourself. Your piece is interesting new model?”

    “Pre-production run from blastec,” Ori answered as he studied the book, then he went over to the suit and poked at the power bus where the boards had been mounted. As expected, two of the circuits had been bridged with a bit of wire, reducing the sensors performance at long range. He popped out the wires and held them up to the light then let out a small chuckle. “Testing is a bit more extensive then you’re letting us know isn’t it?”

    “I’m surprised you let me know you caught on.”

    “Be a bit hard to hide it,” Ori said ruefully as he disposed of the wires. “You are watching me and weren’t surprised that the sensors had been reduced in capacity. Given I know you aren’t an idiot, this had to be some sort of test, better to get that out in the open before I start chasing down who had the suit before, where it was purchased, and if this was a sabotage attempt or the company cutting corners.”

    “True, I would have stopped you before it got that far though, no sense in you wasting your time when there’s learning to do. Not looking for more ‘faults’?”

    “You were careful about how you did it, the suit doesn’t have many systems which aren’t survival critical. The only places you could safely make modifications for me to catch were the sensors and the valve emptying the fluid reserves, which I already checked. Ironically, reducing the sensors probably saved me some concern considering I would've completely fried the sensor power bus and maybe even the mains bus while attempting Renee's technique with all eight boards.”

    “Fair point, and I was wondering how you could get such a clean reading with all the Dark side interference. I'll requisition you extra batteries and have the techs meditate on coming up with a more substantial power bus... for now though you should probably reduce the boards to four.”

    “I thought so as well, anyway hand me one of the spare boards and keep talking, I do actually want to know this stuff before I put my foot in it.”

    “As you like,” Justine handed him a board and began to talk. “We’re organized by ship and flotilla; titles depend far more on what you’re qualified to do than seniority...” She paused, and Ori heard the unspoken grumble of 'for now' loud and clear. "For example, I’m a Pathfinder, that means I’m qualified to run a single person scout ship on extended missions and scout out new hyper lanes. Aside from Apprentices there are no official ranks of Pathfinders. Next is Navigator, you qualify for that by demonstrating command of a crewed ship on a more complicated survey or expedition. The rank of Space Master came about only in the last century, they are qualified to command an entire flotilla and are there to interact with the rest of the Order, mostly to smooth ruffled feathers on any side”

    “Issues?”

    “Too many of the Firstys think because they’re Knights, they can just follow their own will without consideration for the people around them." Ori winced inwardly as Justine's resentment rose. Firsty... first pick... he doubted most Jedi of the Temple even knew of that service corps slur... "Given we haven’t had the right to use the title Master since Ruusan, we needed an equivalent rank to sit on the more aggressive Knights we interact with. It doesn’t help that too many of them consider us wash outs and rejects, they don’t respect the work we put in to our path.”

    “That sounds trying,” Ori slid the first board into position and frowned as he compared its pristine surface with the burns on the used boards. Grabbing a bit of wire, he welded it onto the board where it wouldn’t interfere with anything but if he used the Force the electricity would have an easier path than just jumping to position. “Anything I need to know when interacting with you all? I mean taboos and the like just so I don’t step on any toes?”

    "You've got a proper respect to you, so mostly just keep being yourself in not telling people their business but also in not taking any guff. Specifically though, don’t comment on any sabers you see, unless invited,” Justine shook her head, remembering the first Knight she had met and his disastrous interaction with the Navigator who was charged with getting him to his destination. He had apparently thought that only city Jedi had the right to wear a saber, not Jedi in general.

    “Good to know,” Ori finished his welding on the clean boards and frowned as he looked at the used boards he had pulled. They looked a little bit too burned for him to trust them, but he wasn’t an expert here. “I’m inclined to replace the lot of these, any objection?”

    “They’ll work for a year at most given the damage you did to them,” Justine commented as she looked at the boards. “Junk them all or you’re going to be pulling and replacing them and the new boards when they fail and the replacements need to take the load.”

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
  16. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I love the detailing between Knights and service corps Jedi.

    They weren’t very well explored in canon and only came up as a pseudo punishment in the books focused young Obi-Wan and Anakin. Which seemingly had the authors take their scholastic experiences and transcribe them to a scifi monk setting.
     
  17. Abnormalus

    Abnormalus Getting out there.

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    Thank you for the mix between social and technical, you hit an excellent note in not going into too much depth on the technical side of things without going too far into the other direction of *SPACE* Magic.
     
  18. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    I liked how you explored his mental barriers and how they interacted with the surrounding aspects of the force. It kind of makes me wonder if he can expand his barriers beyond his person. I read another Star wars fic that I really liked. Main character brought magic into the picture. Then he used that magic to create controlled environments for aspects of the force. Uncontaminated by outside elements he could explore the force without worry. Now you don't have magic LOL, but you have a foundation in his barriers. Esoteric Force techniques can be explored later in the story to add to that foundation. (Apologies if I am nagging on this a little bit too much. I really like this approach to the force, and it's "difficulties".) https://forums.spacebattles.com/thr...war-and-blood-star-wars-d-d-si.733117/reader/
     
    Corvus 501, Prince Charon and Ame like this.
  19. Threadmarks: 6.3
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “If you didn’t want to be dragged into following me then you should have found something to investigate on your own,” Rachi’s said playfully over the radio as the two Padawans sped towards one of the wrecks in the 'spares' part of the boneyard. Ships here were uneconomical to completely strip and so were towed out to this corner until the very occasional customer came along or a culling team swept through and sent the hulk to be be wholly broken up and mixed with freshly mined ores. For the past week they had been doing up to three spacewalks a day in all parts of the yard, Justine and the explorer corps instructors were absolutely merciless in making sure everyone displayed not just adequacy, but excellence in operating their EVA suits in both normal and emergency situations. Ori had taken it with good cheer and enthusiasm, the black was dangerous and being fully trained to operate in it might be exhausting but would save his life.

    “Because investigating just what I could make my sensors do was clearly me malingering,” Ori shot back, suppressing his laughter at the teasing. “What’s so special about this particular Hammerhead, there are hundreds of identical ships here after all…”

    “Just a feeling,” Rachi replied coyly.

    “A ‘feeling’ or a feeling?” Ori asked, his discomfort growing with every meter of their approach. Hunches were one thing, but if this was Force based… they could very well end up deeper than they could handle very quickly.

    “Relax, we’re the only ship out here, what could go wrong?”

    “You had to say that!” Ori replied while wildly twisting as if he expected a ship to burst out of hyperspace at any moment, and run them over. “Now I know we aren’t just going to face scavengers, but a full-blown pirate raid, which Corsec with respond to with an all up fleet, and we’ll be stuck in the middle of a fleet battle in our suits with no way to effect it.”

    “Relax,” Rachi laughed at Ori’s pronouncement. “Did you bring the tools?”

    “Everything we need to take off hull plating, and a cutter.”

    “You do know my lightsaber is rated for vacuum, right?”

    “And we will still be using the cutter, because I’m going to want you covering me while I work and I didn’t bring any vacuum rated weapons.”

    “Paranoid.”

    “Damn straight I am,” Ori settled his magnetic boots onto the hull they had been aiming for. “So, what’s the name and history?”

    “The Starfall, served with the Republic through the cold war, disappeared for a bit, and then was back in Republic service in time for the next round of the war,” Rachi replied distractedly. “Follow me, we need to get into the hull.”

    “You sure you don’t want to take a sensor read?” Ori felt his eyebrow rising at Rachi’s certainty.

    “I’ve been feeling the currents of the Force since we set out, nothing active you understand but…”

    “It’s been leading you on...” Ori’s anxiousness at hearing that clear in his voice. He thought about how to counter her, entirely logical for a Jedi, idea, but couldn’t really find an argument that would work. “It would make me feel a bit better if we took the time to look into what we’re getting into. Traipsing around the gutted hull of a ship is going to be creepy enough without the uncertainty factor. At least try for a scan before we go in…”

    “This isn’t a holovid Ori, your paranoia isn’t going to be validated here in the least,” He could hear Rachi’s eye roll clearly over the radio.

    “I maintain that narrative causality is a part of the Force, and the historical record is clear on that.”

    “I don’t want to hear it.” Rachi’s voice held an annoyed edge as she said that. “I know that you think you have evidence to back up that conspiracy theory of yours, but your evidence remains wholly undermined by selection bias. For every last-minute heroic rescue that a well known Jedi pulled off there are tens, if not hundreds, of smaller acts which resulted in positive outcomes. Those small acts aren’t remembered by the public at large, which includes you, though because they are so normal and pedestrian. Only the large narrative important acts are put into the history books. For example, I know you've cited the Seventh Ruusan as evidence since the mainstream histories credit General Nadine's masterful planning, leadership and execution, but while of course Nadine's contribution was important, most First Knowledge scholars of that battle and war credit Knight Dravit Hartok for removing upwards of half of the Sith's forces before the battle even started through a few well placed words to his intelligence contacts and the subsequent coup in the Brotherhood of Darkness and the defeat of the Sith. Despite his and his agent's actions, their contribution is almost completely unknown to modern day scholars, instead they focus on the larger than life personalities and write polemics about them.”

    Dravit Hartok... the name resonated... strangely... in the Force around Ori, as though it would be familiar to him, but instead of inquiring further, he immediately shot back, “Defeat of that particular incarnation of the Sith. We know that the Sith aren’t gone, how else would Kenobi have won the appellation Sith killer if they no longer existed?”

    “A quibble against my more cogent point about your theory.”

    “If nothing else then perhaps a sensor reading would give us a map of just where we are exploring?” Ori retreated back to the matter at hand, he would clearly need different evidence to persuade Rachi that the truth behind his theory was more than just him being paranoid or ornery.

    Rachi immediately put the distraction behind her, redoubling her focus, “We do have the plans for this class in our suit computers you know…”

    “General plans, do you know which shipyard this Hammerhead came out of? Do you have to as built plans for this particular ship? And more importantly, do you know everything that was cut out before they left this ship out here?"

    “Do you have to have an actual point?” Rachi was clearly pouting, but he could feel the Force explode off of her as she enhanced her sensors. It didn’t take long before the presence lessened, and he could feel her confusion on just what she had felt clearly. “Now that’s interesting…”

    “Something relevant?”

    “Feel for yourself,” Rachi replied distractedly. “I’m not quite sure what I felt but there’s something here, something worth looking for beyond my initial expectations.”

    “What were you expecting?” Ori gently let down his barriers and pushed a bit of Force into his sensor pack. As conversant with this technique as he had become, he still tended towards caution when using it. From everything he had learned the dangers weren’t the same ones as he'd anticipated, his cautious nature having created a new danger in the power drain his suit experienced every time he used this technique. In the end he and Justine had ended up adding a not just one, but two additional battery ports to his suit to make his setup truly hot swappable while in the middle of a scan while allowing enough power for him to have around three fourths the time of his comrades on one set of batteries. Renee hadn’t wanted to go along with his modification, but given the undeniable advantage his take on the technique brought, she and Justine had decided that modifying his suit was safer then waiting for him to get the technique the correct way. He had a feeling that she knew more, but hadn’t asked her about it yet. He had time after all.

    The sensors cleared up, ending his musing on the mystery that had been the reactions to his difficulties and he grimaced. For the most part everything on the ship was clear, but he could sense a bright flare where there shouldn’t be one. There was something Force active on this ship after all, how it hadn’t been found was a mystery though. Plotting out where it was was, that easy though, its very distinctive signature meant it could be on three decks, and in any one of six compartments.

    “This is going to be fun,” Ori sighed as he said that, his mind engaged as he figured out a route towards the bright spot on the sensor returns. “I’ve got a rough location, but unless you have clearer guidance than I do we have a couple of floors to search…”

    “Not really, unless the object is designed to be deceptive, then it could be anywhere in the distorted returns.”

    “I think it might be, designed to be deceptive that is, its signature has greater vertical presence then horizontal…”

    “That could be its shape,” Rachi imparted her wisdom easily. “The shape of an object, especially a Force active or reactive one, can have an effect on its Force presence. For example, the facets of a saber crystal will make the sensor returns using this technique distort… though I don’t think that’s what we’re seeing here.”

    “Any clue just what it is?”

    “Not yet,” Rachi pushed herself down and into the ship, “We’ll have to find out, now come on. Our best bet is the deck five levels down from this entrance.”

    “Joy,” was Ori’s only response as he followed her into the dark. Without internal power or the light of the stars to illuminate it, the interior of the ship yawned like a black hole just waiting to swallow the two Padawans. Not even turning on their spot lights changed that appearance appreciably. The lights on their suits seemed to dim as they made their way through the hull, their feeble glow barely illuminating the halls, leaving each open door to loom with a darkness which reminded Ori forcibly of them being cut outs of the universe. It made him shiver and check his battery level, before hurrying behind Rachi, who didn’t seem bothered by any of it.

    Things got worse as they made their way towards the empty lift shafts, marks on the floor which Ori knew came from heavy equipment being excised from the hull sparked in the light. The dull hull metal showing where layers of paint and floor coating had been gouged out, on all surfaces, giving the impression of finger marks where a being had been dragged out of the ship, fighting all the way, their claws desperately scrambling against anything they could reach. That was in the better maintained sections, where there was still paint. Other sections of hall had been stripped, the hull metal showing through clearly, with deep scratches and burn marks Ori couldn’t dismiss as mundane salvage work. Those sections made him think that a battle had been fought here in ages past, and never properly cleaned up. A bright splash of red paint in the middle of one of those dilapidated sections made him jump. It looked like a splash of fresh blood at first glance.

    Ori’s hesitation and jumpiness, wasn’t something that Rachi missed. She could clearly see how as they went further into the ship Ori’s nerves seemed to stretch, his motions getting choppier as he searched for a threat she knew wasn’t there. It was interesting for her to see it, because he clearly didn’t have a problem with the darkness, something about this ship was setting him off. Or perhaps it was the mission? He tended to be rather vocal about his dislike of the Force 'meddling' with him, but she had taken that to be hyperbole. Of course, it could be that ridiculous conspiracy theory he had put together, seeing as she was acting on Force given instincts. Maybe he thought that the roof was going to come crashing down due to narrative causality. Rachi hoped that nothing went wrong as they worked their way towards the lift shafts, because if it did, he was going to be insufferable with the I told you so’s, and it would be impossible to convince him that he was patently wrong, as was obvious to any logical sentient.

    Still perhaps a bit of reassurance wouldn’t be completely amiss. The way he kept grabbing at his plasma cutter was starting to make her nervous even though she could sense no other life nor any taint of the Dark side. It wasn’t a bad choice for an improvised weapon, especially given they were in vacuum, but she was right beside him with a saber if anything went wrong. That train of thought got the two of them to the lift shafts where she paused to let her Force sense out, not with the traditional sensing, but instead sticking to her sensor pack. Then she consulted the map she had made using the sensors without the Force and nodded. They were in the right place, just a few decks down and they would be within the epicentre of the distortion.

    “I’ve got our path on sensors, sending your copy now,” Rachi said pleasantly. “Just a few decks down and then a short walk towards the aft of the ship.”

    “She’s not a ship anymore,” Ori replied, his voice seeming to have gotten rather grim during their short walk. “Her soul was cut out a long time ago…”

    “Object, not person.”

    “I wouldn’t say that you’re objectively wrong but…”

    “Spacer superstition doesn’t have a place in proper archaeological excavations. Besides, her 'soul' as you put it would have drifted away over the centuries. Ships only have that resonance in the Force because of the life they carry. The longer they sit, the less resonance they have, unless its baked into their very marrow and the Jedi abandoned those practices long before this ship's time."

    “Doesn’t change the fact that it feels wrong in here, and not in a dark side way…”

    “Hmmm…” Rachi contemplated what Ori said and thought about how to respond. “All things have a life cycle, don’t let the fact she’s long since gone to her rest get to you.”

    “True, it’s just unpleasant to notice the difference between this hulk and a working ship. The... whatever it is up ahead is reacting to our Force presence in a way I'm only now consciously recognizing."

    “This is the first time you’ve been out without a set of tasks to carry out,” Rachi replied as she bounded down the lift shaft. Bouncing from wall to wall so that she wasn’t left floating without a point of contact. Her maneuvering pack had plenty of time left on its jets, but she tended to want to conserve her fuel just as a habit. There were times when she and Renee had needed that extra juice to get out of sticky situations and frugality had stuck with her since then. “Without the distraction you’re feeling the hulk properly. Make sure you mention the disquiet you feel to Master Coris, or Kri if she intimidates you too much.”

    “I will,” Ori followed Rachi down the shaft with a slight feathering of his maneuvering pack rather then bouncing behind her. “I don’t know if that’s really what has me so wound up though.”

    “Whatever it is, keep a lid on it, we’re almost there.” Rachi pushed herself out of the shaft and proceeded down the corridor. She knew she was getting closer but… the closer she got to the epicentre of the disturbance the more distorted her Force sense became. Something down here was calling to her, but where it was remained a mystery. Taking a side corridor, she came to a halt as her senses told her she was still on the right path. That was annoying, it seemed that the object, whatever it was, wasn't just Force reactive, but Force active as well. She had only experienced something like this once before when she and her Master had gone to a long abandoned asteroid base looking for a purported stash of Force healing crystals. The lack of life in the base had left the Force active crystals hard to localize, their presence in the Force expanding because of a lack of resistance.

    It wasn’t a phenomenon which happened on planets, or even working bases in the black. It only happened when you went into a long dead rock or hulk in space. Renee had explained it to her simply; without life to push back on a Force presence it would expand beyond all reasonable limits seeking out connection. Given how long this ship had been abandoned in the bone yards, Rachi was morally certain that what they were looking for had started off as a small Force active object, perhaps a saber crystal or the like? The other possibility was it was a just initiated holocron, because one with a more developed presence would have a larger signature.

    “Ori, can you go one corridor down from me and flare your sensors? I think we’re going to need to triangulate this.”

    “Gotcha,” Ori pushed his way down the corridor they were in and stopped at the next junction. He checked his battery level before pushing out just a tiny tendril of the Force from behind his defenses and into his sensor pack. The distortion in the Force from the object flared suddenly in response, blinding his sensors and he pulled even his slight presence back, forcing himself to calm down from the 'stubbed toe' feeling the flare had created. Whatever this object was, the character of its Force presence was completely new to him in evoking the kind of 'synesthesia' he'd come to associate with the Dark side, but Rachi was right in saying there was no Dark side taint... Ori started as he realized even the normal background 'shadows' in the Force were suppressed... and he groaned inwardly at the implications of that... namely that while he was feeling paranoid and jittery feeling like he was stumbling around a completely unlit room while both his physical and metaphysical vision were blinded by a spotlight, Rachi was almost certainly feeling the 'Do Things' euphoria the Light side would blind you with if you weren't careful. Ori's orneryness rose at that and he projected a bit of it in a renewed push into his sensors, the emotion restoring contrast and allowing him to start taking usable readings.

    “The readings I’m getting say we’re either on the right floor or its on the floor below us,” Ori didn’t let his revelations into his voice. “That said from where I’m sitting, we have about twenty meters towards the aft to go… and between ten and fifteen degrees to port.”

    “That matches what I’m seeing,” Rachi called back, her voice rising in excitement. “Do you think it's down the corridor you’re standing in or the next one over?”

    “Neither, it's in one of the compartments between the two…” Ori paused as he thought it over and he tried to remember the specs on this hulk. “How big are the compartments supposed to be on this level?”

    “Judging by the plans…” Rachi trailed off as she brought up her copy of the schematics and zoomed in. “Two and a half meters by three it looks like. Then again what I have are the general schematics for the class not…”

    “As built plans for the ship,” Ori only barely repressed a sigh at that as he contemplated his answer. He brought a vector to life on his sensor display and aligned it with the center of the disturbance before trying to visualize where the line ended. Not having the plans in his suit’s computer, he couldn’t bring up a mapping program to take a look so he was left doing all the work in his head. “I would say we need to go one more corridor down before we start moving aft.”

    “That’s what my mapping program shows,” Rachi replied letting him know she had been doing the same work he had only with better resources. She pushed off, bounding down the corridor they were in past Ori to the next junction. “Come on, lets see what this is.”

    Or followed her at a more sedate pace, Rachi's excitement was infectious intellectually since whatever they found at the end of their search would be a discovery. Emotionally was another story, his instincts were warning him to be cautious and protective of Rachi while she was seemingly in the grips of Force 'euphoria.' That growing sense of caution got a boost as he walked down the next corridor. The paint was visibly getting newer as they approached the epicentre of the Force distortion. It went from faded tans with a stripe of red running down the corridor to crisp soothing earth tones with the stripe firming up to a blood red slash dividing the corridor in half vertically. That was an unsettling effect.

    “Rachi, have you noticed anything about the walls in this section?” Ori tried to be casual with his question, but he could hear the tension in his own voice.

    “No, looks the same as it has throughout this hulk,” Rachi’s confusion was evident. “Have you seen anything?”

    "The paint is newer here.” Ori’s less then calm assertion caused Rachi to stop and play her light over the walls for a minute.

    “I don’t see it,” Rachi’s voice was beginning to show some tension. “It might be your Force sense expressing itself in a nonstandard way… definitely something to mention when we get back to the ship.”

    With that they continued down the corridor. Ori paid close attention to the walls and noted when the paint began to fade again. He was paying such close attention to the paint he almost ran into Rachi’s back as she stopped in the middle of the corridor. With amusement he watched as she retraced her steps a few times, back tracking and then going forward almost to his position.

    “Rachi?”

    “I know there’s something here, I just walked past it, I just can’t sense where!” Rachi’s frustration wasn’t only in her voice, it showed in the way she was standing as well.

    “Perhaps another sensor sweep?”

    “Right,” Rachi seemed invigorated by Ori’s question. “Go three meters down the corridor, I want to try and triangulate exactly where this is…”

    “Floor or ceiling?”

    “Take the ceiling, that will give me a more exact vertical bearing,” Rachi said decisively.

    Ori pushed himself down the corridor, landing on the ceiling and locking his boots into place while he brought up the sensor system. Without him pushing the Force into it, It didn’t report anything, unsurprisingly, and he licked his suddenly dry lips as he felt Rachi begin to pour the Force into her own sensor pack. Briefly he toyed with the idea of reporting that he wasn't getting any clear readings, but it would be a stupid lie. Rachi was certainly good enough of a Jedi to know when he was using the Force and when he wasn’t. Besides his assertion about the paint changing told her that he could sense there was something close by. She would just sarcastically insist he use the sensor technique to check again, properly this time. Closing his eyes Ori gently teased just a tiny bit of Force from behind his defenses and into his sensor pack. If Rachi was right, and knowing the games that the Force liked to play, she probably was, he wouldn’t need much.

    Closing his eyes and ignoring the burning beacon of energy in front of him Ori began to sort through what his sensor pack was telling him. There wasn’t much, returns off the plating, but just outside of his range he could sense the slightest flicker of Force energy that was distinct from the blinding metaphysical spotlight. It was gaining in intensity as if responding to Rachi’s more powerful presence. Ori gulped, and thought about locking down his signature, before shaking himself out of it. That wouldn’t do any good with Rachi right beside him radiating like a lighthouse on a moonless night herself. Instead he increased the amount of Force he was using, just a smidge, enough to get a sense of where the object they were looking for was located.

    “forty-two degrees vertical, three hundred and fifty horizontal,” Ori’s voice was calm even as he was trying to keep his paranoia and ornery'ness from crashing together. He didn’t think that this was likely to be dangerous but… this ship had disappeared from Republic service at some point during the cold war and no one seemed to know just where it was and what it had been doing. They could very well be tracking down a Sith object with no idea of just what they were getting into. With that in mind he actively probed the presence, focusing his sensor system on that point. The sheer absence of malice, darkness and danger was wrapping Ori's emotions around to it being the very definition of an abomination in Ori's mind... an abomination that, like everything Force related, he just had to deal with.

    Rachi decided that it was the perfect time to move, disrupting his ruminations, as she wrenched the emergency access panel off the wall and pulled down, popping the door behind which Ori had a sinking certainty that the object rested. In a split-second Ori decided, he wasn’t armed and was probably paranoid enough to deal with Sith Force enticements, he moved. Pushing off the ceiling he was through the door before it finished opening. Rachi didn’t have time to object before he was through the door and locked down in the middle of the room, slowly playing his search light over the room. There wasn’t anything here! Ori slowly scanned the room as Rachi followed him in, floating up to anchor on the ceiling in a mirror of the positions they had held a minute ago, all he could see was bare metal, not even the fittings remained.

    “Scan again,” Rachi’s voice bubbled with excitement, Ori had to fight down the impulse to snap at her now. He knew this was the sort of thing she lived for but it was still kriffing dangerous and now wasn’t the time to let excitement get the better of good sense.

    Still, her directions made sense, and Ori couldn’t find a reason to object. He returned his attention to the sensor pack and slowly took a step; the signature was directly below him! Ori’s reaction was to leap up to the ceiling, bringing the plasma cutter up as if it was a weapon and pointing it straight down. Nothing leapt out at him and he relaxed slightly, bringing the cutter down.

    “Really?” Rachi was highly amused by Ori’s reaction to finding he was standing on what they were searching for. “You know there are things in the galaxy which aren’t threats…”

    “Force imbued objects which have gone undiscovered for who knows how long on a ship which was actively stripped by attentive yard dogs, without finding it,” Ori paused as he noted the placement of the vents on the floor. He knew where it was now, so he shut down his sensor technique and quickly checked his power level. Even as he spoke, he let the cutter float and began to replace the supplemental battery, its charge wasn’t exactly low but it had lost more than he was comfortable with. “On a ship which disappeared from Republic service at a time when the Sith were active…”

    “Well it wasn’t sitting under your feet,” Rachi’s amusement wasn’t tempered by Ori’s mini rant. “So, I doubt that your plasma cutter would do you any good.”

    “If it had been just sitting there, I would feel a hell of a lot better about this. It would be a joke by one of the Green Jedi on the poor saps who train out here from the City temple,” Ori let his tension bleed into his voice as he said that. “Instead it's hidden in a kriffing air duct, put away like a piece of contraband.”

    “Recovered from a Jedi and the crewman didn’t want to let anyone know about it?” Rachi speculated.

    “Or hidden because they knew that the Jedi assigned to them wouldn’t have approved of keeping it!”

    “No way to know for sure until we get eyes on it,” Rachi floated down to the floor and began the laborious process of removing the floor plating. Ori hesitated for a moment before joining her. It didn’t take them too long to get the single panel of durasteel up and floating in the room like a table without legs, exposing the duct in which they were both certain that their prized resided. Rachi pulled her lightsaber only for Ori to grab her wrist, stopping her from using it as a cutting implement.

    “Use mundane means, we don’t know what this is and it might react to a saber,” Ori cautioned.

    “Damn… you’re right,” Rachi shook her head ruefully and pulled her own torch out. “I should have thought about that…”

    “Yes, you should have,” Ori’s voice was tense as they removed the top of the vent. “Make sure to use a grabber and not the Force.”

    “I’m not going to completely forget my training,” Rachi nudged the bit of duct out of the way and pulled out a grabber. Ori couldn’t see into the duct from where he was, increasing his tension, but after a minute of searching Rachi pulled back, her prize gripped in the durasteel fingers of her grabber.

    It was a six-sided pyramid, white with blue light escaping from the edges, pulsing a gentle blue glow into the dark room. A golden image ran up the sides of the pyramid, looking like a simplified star destroyer split in half. Upon seeing it Ori could feel his tension increasing, a kriffing holocron was the last thing he had expected to find here.

    “Pyramidal, interesting design motif, I don’t think it’s a darksider artifact but…” Rachi trailed off as she brought it closer to her face to examine it. “Six sides, interesting. This is a contradiction in construction. The shape is Sith, no question about that, but the numerology is pure Jedi. Not to mention I haven’t ever seen heraldry like this before, and the coloration isn’t established.”

    “Let’s get this back to Master Coris before we do anything else,” Ori voiced his nervousness.

    “Oh, definitely, I’m not going to be opening this without her looking it over first,” Rachi’s reply was distracted, but her excitement still shone through as she continued. “Still…. This is going to open up some interesting avenues of research for me. Almost nothing here is familiar, this is going to be fun!”

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  20. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Dead Space music or the Alien movies provide the perfect soundtrack for this chapter.
     
  21. Blackenedthorn

    Blackenedthorn Too many ideas, so little time

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  22. RogueDruid

    RogueDruid Getting sticky.

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    Uhh... That's Revans symbol. Right?
    [​IMG]
    This one?
     
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  23. Morkail

    Morkail Making the rounds.

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    Heh ravens going to pretend to be a Jedi Knight now which version is this Jedi, sith or both?
     
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  24. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    "The Force is going to eat me!"


    I still find it hilarious a Jedi is scared of the Force.


    Awesome fic, though.
     
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  25. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    To be fair, if you look at it from his point of view, it's pretty reasonable (and it's not as if there aren't horrifying Force-based abominations against life and sanity out there). Kreia would say that he was just being sensible.
     
  26. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    Sure.

    But, I don't think I've ever seen it before. It's a reasonable, interesting concept, done well.


    I don't get enough of that kind of thing.
     
  27. Threadmarks: 6.4
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    The holocron hung suspended by force fields in the middle of the room, its deep blue glow just short of brilliant as it cast an acute glow around it. Skrath Kri couldn’t help but glare at the offending item, as he had been for the past two days. No one was willing to let it go unwatched, and as he had the least mobile work, he'd been nominated to keep an eye on it. Knight Coris might not believe that it was a threat, her padawan being drawn to it aside, but its rapid empowerment in a living environment and nonstandard construction had everyone else on edge. The damn thing didn’t make any sense, especially the way it had been found.

    So instead of being comfortable in his quarters, Skrath spent his time doing paperwork while keeping an eye on the holocron and hoping that Master Nu had luck on identifying it. The Force might have brought it to their attention, but taking Ori as his padawan had presented some fundamental philosophical challenges to Skrath's beliefs on the Unifying Force... namely that the Force might not be as 'unified' as he'd always believed. The Dark side geometry of the holocron combined with the 'Lightness' of its presence to create a seeming inversion of emotions and rationality. Emotionally, the holocron felt completely harmless, bringing the image of a blank journal without even the name of its previous owner written on it to his mind. Rationally he 'knew' he was staring at a Sith holocron that needed containment until its provenance was ascertained, and the rest of the expedition had backed him up on his desires, overriding their archaeologist.

    Skrath had the feeling that her resistance had more to do with putting down a marker for later use than anything else. Renee certainly hadn’t fought nearly as hard as he thought she would have. Part of that was her awareness of the dangers an unknown holocron could represent, the other… he wasn’t entirely sure, but he thought she had a plan. Given who had found this particular mystery and how she had found it, Skrath was inclined to think that Renee was more concerned with her Padawan getting access to the holocron than anything else. Given its mysterious provenance that normally wouldn’t be in the cards but… it was very possible that the Force was speaking, and given that they were Jedi, listening to it was a given. Well, as long as Ori didn’t have a say in things, his distrust of the Force was becoming well known.

    Pausing the paperwork, he was doing Skrath shook his head at his Padawan's latest antics. They didn’t in any way surprise him, after all Ori’s picture might as well be up on the holonet under the definition of stubborn and ornery. Still, why his Padawan felt that spending the time following a major discovery like this was best spent checking and cleaning all the weapons on board the ship was a question he didn’t want to answer. Skrath wanted very much to pass it off as nothing more than Ori's inherent paranoia and heightened sensitivity to the holocron's 'energizing' presence in the Force, but the idea that it had also 'energized' Ori's prescience had frustratingly crossed his mind. Without Mundi around to interpret his observations and the Green Jedi 'amusingly' referring him to Mundi when he'd inquired if any of them could assist; he'd fallen back on Tulgree's advice and so spent far more more time than he'd wanted or planned to in the ship's salle running lightsaber drills and roping anyone he could into sparring practice.

    Most of his sparring time had been spent with Renee, who was also looking to burn off some of her nervous energy. She was an interesting opponent to face, having specialized in Shii-Cho and never bothering to develop her skills in any of the others. That was an unusual choice, most Jedi went for one of the more common forms, or if they weren’t interested in the saber choosing to use Niman. Renee wasn’t a master of the form by any stretch of the imagination, but she did have a workmanlike competence which presented an interesting challenge. She was old enough, and practiced enough, to know how to match his less than perfect Makashi. Skrath was well aware that had less to do with her skill in her chosen form, he could see the holes in her defense every time they spared, and more to do with her experience. The result being that most every time he thought he was winning she would pull out a new combination and he would end up on the back foot yet again. It was frustrating and educational at the same time.

    “Still in here brooding?” Renee said as she entered the room, looking around with what looked like mild interest.

    “Someone has to keep watch and the Explorers all have jobs to do,” Skrath replied lightly. “Finally get some answers?”

    “More like questions,” Renee grimaced as she admitted that. “The Temple got back to me with a few possibilities…”

    “No certainty?”

    “That would make life too easy for us. Anyway, I wanted to have a talk with you before we decide what to do with this thing.”

    “The Temple didn’t have instructions?”

    “They did, I’m trying to decide if following them is worth the cost of ignoring the Will of the Force.”

    “What did they have to say?”

    “The iconography is from the Eternal Empire,” Renee pulled up a seat and plopped down bonelessly. “The short story is it was a short-lived Force active political organization that either arose or simply made itself known during one of the dust ups between the Sith Empire and the Republic. They came out of nowhere and almost took over the galaxy with a robotic fleet. Naturally that made them enemy number one for all the other galactic powers and so their destruction came almost as quickly as their ascension. The interesting thing is that they had a unique take on the Force for the time, and several members of the sect joined the Jedi after their collapse.”

    “So you're saying it might be safe for your Padawan to poke around with this holocron…”

    “Right, but there is a problem. The first ‘Eternal Emperor’ was reputed to be a body hopping Sith. Not to mention that if we use this holocron, we'll be dealing with the philosophies, policies and morals of a very different Jedi Order. I’m not sure if the Jedi of today would have accepted any of their members, mostly because there isn’t much information on the sect.”

    “Bodyjacking Sith emperor... and this holocron might be his work!?” Skrath focused on the more pertinent issue, at least in his own mind. Being around Ori, and arguing with him, had given him a wide enough perspective to know that Renee was right in her comments about the Jedi, that was just a fact and couldn’t be argued with.

    “I doubt it, it lacks the deceptive nature inherent to Sith holocrons and it remaining undiscovered had everything to do with its lack of power. Honestly, without Ori's rather unique take on sensor boosting, I doubt Rachi could've pinpointed it to the Starfall but rather just have felt some vague pull towards that area of the boneyards. Getting it shipboard has been an educational experience for me, it blends in well with the background until you're looking directly at it or try and feel it directly with the Force. A Sith holocron wouldn’t feel like anything until it wanted to, and we wouldn’t have any knowledge of it until it decided to act. That’s part of what makes dealing with them such a pain in the ass. The other issue is if you say ‘Sith’ to the Temple they get their robes in a bunch and start demanding you do what they want to deal with it… and their evidence here is lacking.”

    “Really?”

    “The only people who claimed that the ‘Emperor’ was a Sith were the children he had who overthrew him, and they were both confirmed Dark siders. His wife, who ended up joining the Jedi by the way, didn’t think he was one. Add to that the destruction of primary sources due to the various wars, and... while you’ll never get me to say this in front of your Padawan, the purges that Master Quist presided over, we have very little background information on just what we’re dealing with.”

    *ermghaaa* Skrath groaned as he wiped his hand over his face before glaring as hard as he could at the 'completely harmless' holocron constructed by an ancient Force active polity led by an 'Emperor' who might be up there with the most vile Sith Emperors... or... maybe not... “Sounds a bit dangerous to me, especially if you want Rachi to access and use it."

    “It might be, but it’s been hanging out here in the black for millennium without anyone finding it, and then my Padawan is led straight to it? How am I to intrepid that other than it’s the will of the Force that my Padawan should have the access and use of it?"

    “Still possible Sith? Sounds like a recipe for falling to me…”

    “Right, but that’s not the only possibility. Like I said earlier there was an entire order of Force users who were an integral part of the ‘Empire’, and they were not universally dark side aligned. According to what Master Nu could dig up, the Knights of Zakuul were xenophobic and isolationist with an emphasis on sharing knowledge of the Force. Much closer to the Zaal She then any other organization, the only real 'fault' to a modern perspective was that they didn’t care which side of the Force a technique drew on…. and which is reflected in the seeming paradox of this holocron's physical geometry and Force presence."

    “Temptation comes in many forms you know…”

    “And this is the perfect form of temptation for Rachi, I know. We will need to vet it first, find out if truly is as blank as it seems and even if it is, to figure if it's still too dangerous for her to use. To that end there Nu did find the... 'Instruction Manual'... on handling the Eternal Empire holocrons stored at the Temple." Renee's face scrunched in chagrin as she spoke that last sentence.

    "Instruction manual?" Skrath parroted back as a question

    "The treatise's full title is "Instruction Manual: Eternal Empire Holocrons" and before you ask, yes it is as strange in its 'straighforwardness' as its title."

    "So not only did the Force lead Rachi to this. We also have an Instruction Manual." Skrath grimaced as he thought about their options and how-to best deal with the situation. His own inclination would be to send it back to the Temple ASAP, but he wasn’t the Archaeologist here. Renee had dealt with the deceptions and dangers of Sith holocrons in the past, and he wasn’t arrogant enough to gainsay her in declaring this to be anything other than what she, in consultation with the Temple, had identified it as. On the other hand, her depth of knowledge and breadth of experience made it hard for him to disagree with her, subconsciously he had found himself deferring to her preferences due to the gap in experience and this might not be the best time to follow her lead. This wasn’t the time to allow his own insecurity to dictate his course of action, he would need to be sure of his decision no matter which way he went so he went back to the basics, calling up the Force and asking for guidance.

    Falling into the Force was easy, he had trained himself well to use means other than meditation to clear his mind and focus on the evidence provided to guide him towards the truth... and he was immediately struck by the... obviousness... far past the point of insult at the title of the tome, and for the first time in his existence Skrath felt... affronted?.. by the Force. The strange annoyance giving him impetus to push past the blindingly obvious and look for other, more subtle and nuanced clues that could guide him further than 'Read Manual, Apply to Holocron.' And then, highlighted by the 'illumination' of the obvious clue, he saw the dark shroud existing in the present and stretching off far past his vision. He suddenly recalled one of his conversations with Master Mundi on the 'dark clouds' obscuring the sight of those Jedi with prognasticative abilities and basically gotten the impression that it existed in the future, rendering their future sight into something like his own where beyond the next few seconds it was nothing more than a blur of instincts and reflexes. He realized that while that impression might still be true, the shroud also existed in the present, obscuring some things while leaving others alone. For a few moments he tried to follow the trail of obscured evidence as evidence itself, but gave up as the light of obviousness faded and he ran into the blur of the future. Skrath opened his eyes and pondered what the Force had just revealed to him, the Dark side veil existed not just in the future but in the present. Unlike the future that it could obscure entirely along with itself, in the present it could only obscure its target, not itself... and with a bright and constant enough 'light' it might be possible to follow those puddles of darkness like a trail of blood back to its source... So much easier said than done, though... not the least of it being the 'character' of the Force while it was illuminating the trail of the Sith. Skrath suddenly felt a much greater appreciation for Ori's peculiarities.

    If that was what Ori saw when he looked into the future it was no wonder he had been so set on leaving the Order. It was disturbing to see and feel, and avoiding it felt impossible. Clicking his tongue on his teeth Skrath cocked his head to the side and really thought. If that was what the more precognitively inclined Jedi were seeing instead of their normal visions, then they very well could be making a mistake born out of fear. His own blindness to the future actually gave him an edge here, he realized, knowing what the shroud looked like in the present meant he could start an evidence report and bring it to the attention of his fellow Investigators.

    Putting aside his thoughts on the report, he returned to the matter at hand and the now brilliantly obvious truth that the Force clearly wanted Rachi to have access to and use of the holocron, and he was Jedi enough to follow its will. That still didn’t mean they needed to be stupid or credulous about it though. He and Renee would need to develop a plan to mitigate the potential dangers.

    “What did you see?” Renee asked with a hint of trepidation, the Investigator 'quick trance' was unnerving to most other Jedi and she wasn't an exception to that.

    "Enough to say the will of the Force is clear in wanting your Padawan to have the holocron, though why I couldn't tell you since whatever or whoever is working to cloud the future is also working to shroud the present. My best guess would be the Sith who revealed themselves during Naboo, it felt practiced and routine."

    “Agreed, and I must say I’m impressed. Usually it takes a bit of meditation to drop into a trance like that, how did you do it so quickly?”

    “Meditation is just clearing your mind so you can focus on a problem,” Skrath shrugged uncomfortably. “Can you really say your mind is fully engaged when you do paperwork? I find that doing paperwork or other bureaucratic drudgery clears my mind just as effectively as meditation. It’s not perfect but it does serve as a quick and dirty replacement when I want to act fast.”

    "So that's the trick... so much simpler than I thought." Renee sighed in half resignation, half exasperation. "So, now that it seems our course is set, how much do you know about holocrons?” Renee leaned back in her seat and gave Skrath a once over, as if gauging him for something.

    “Very little, I tend to be more involved in mundane matters then anything dealing with Force users. Not to say I haven’t come up against hostile Force users from time to time… but the majority of my expertise is in law enforcement.”

    “Right, so the thing you have to understand about holocrons is that they are supposed to be living repositories of knowledge. Added to over the life span of a Force user so they can offer their knowledge after their death. Usually there is a guardian who controls how and when that knowledge is dispensed.” Renee shrugged lightly as she said that looking slightly uncomfortable. “This one? Not so much. Whomever made this one spent all of their time and effort recording the lessons and knowledge they wanted to pass on and then either didn’t get a chance to make that guardian or deliberately eschewed creating it. It's also why this particular one felt so weak in the Force. I’ve seen it before, but not recently.”

    “So, if there isn’t a guardian, why are you worried?”

    “Because of the knowledge. Most of the holocrons we keep in the restricted stacks aren’t from the Sith. They tend to be the oldest of the Jedi holocrons we’re recovered and talking to them? They had very different ideas about what is and isn’t acceptable. Not to mention they had a very different way of looking at the Force.” Renee paused, considering the basic courses of action, “So we crack it open first and take a poke around? No, both of the Padawans are going to feel us doing that.”

    “Which means we do it while they are on vacation." Skrath replied easily.

    “You think it’s only going to take us a couple of days to work through a Holocron?” Renee’s face clearly indicated her disbelief.

    “You did say you thought it was a relatively new one… not much information there… and we do have that 'Instruction Manual' to hopefully know where to start and if we get stumped.” Skrath cocked his head to the side indicating he would accept that his assumption needed to be corrected without saying a word.

    “On the scale of a holocron, possibly, but on normal scale? I don’t have a clue how much is there.” Renee bit her lip before continuing to explain the problem. This wasn’t an issue which normal Knights would run into regularly so she couldn’t exactly blame Skrath's lack of knowledge on willful ignorance, but it was a bit frustrating that something so central to the Jedi was so misunderstood. “You have to understand a holocron is a mixture of recorded data, display techknoladgy, and Force. When a holocron like this one doesn’t have much of a Force presence it doesn’t really tell us anything about the recorded media, it says more about the amount of Force work that whomever made this did. The lack of a guardian alone lessens the Force potential of this particular holocron, because that’s usually the most Force intensive part of the whole thing… You could theoretically get by with a simple indexing program…”

    Skrath shook his head as Renee started to wander off into a theoretical blind alley and brought her back. “But you at least don’t think that’s the case, you’ve said before you think this is a 'new' holocron. I think it best if we start investigating while they’re on vacation and then go from there based on what we find.”

    “And you think Rachi will accept that?”

    “Probably, she is sensible after all. If it was Ori, I would be worried, he would be trying to get in as soon as he got back.” Skrath gave a minute shrug as he said that. From his observations Rachi tended to be the more level headed and accepting of the two Padawans, unlike his own.
    “With the Force pushing her…” Renee inquired giving her fellow Knight a flat look. She was hardly the best in the Order at people and she could see the problem with his assertion.

    “Ah.” Skrath's voice was chagrined and he raised his hand as if acknowledging a point in a sparring match.

    “And I think she knows she can get Ori to do anything she wants. For someone with his paranoia problems he’s remarkably open to manipulation if it’s a pretty girl whose doing it.” Renees voice was prim as she spoke.

    Skrath had to laugh at that. He had noticed just how Ori responded to Rachi; it wasn’t a problem yet as he didn’t think the boy had noticed his attraction, but it was something to keep an eye on as things went on; “Neither of them has noticed yet. I think we can thank the Temple's views on relationships for that. If they were normal teens, I would be worrying about getting them into medical before they went and did something out of character.”

    “Rachi at least will talk to me first, and I think she’s the one we have to worry about. As attracted to her as he is, Ori seems remarkably dense about how she feels about him.”

    “I think he’s assuming his own wants and desires are contaminating the Force. It’s a point I’ve hammered home a couple of times and he has listened to me, at least a bit. Now if he could only apply the lesson to his paranoia, I would be happy.”

    Renee chuckled, “Never going to happen. When Master Nu briefed me on Ori I thought it was exaggeration and hyperbole, but then I brought it up during my attempt to get him to sensor boost normally... He truly is convinced that his paranoia is coming from the Force and not from within, despite what everyone else he encounters tells him. Still, problems for another day. Getting back in the hyperlane, just what else should we do before we unleash Rachi?”

    “Given what you said about the knowledge, and views on the Force, of older sects… We’re going to have to give them both the point of view lesson in its entirety… it’s a little bit early but I can already see how being around the Explorer corps Jedi is making Ori twitchy. Their differing views on the Force and how we relate to it is confusing him a bit. If he ends up looking at this knowledge?”

    Renee's eyebrow arched “Really? For all that we just discussed his paranoia, he seemed remarkably unbothered by it. I thought he would have been questioning before now to tell you the truth.”

    “He’s holding himself back for the moment, but I can feel the questions he has. Besides it gives us a valid excuse for holding the two of them away from it. Ori will understand completely if we frame it as giving the two of them a point of reference.”

    “Which is something we will need to do even if it’s as wholly Light sided as it appears to be now. I know of a couple of Jedi who didn’t understand other sects’ teachings and how their teachings related to the Force who ran into trouble because of that. None of them fell but it was a close-run thing, even with every technique being Light side oriented.”

    “It’s not going to be a single lecture but a series of them…” Skrath paused and scratched his chin. He was beginning to grow stubble there and feeling it reminded him he needed to shave. Beards could be effective cover but they were a pain to maintain and he didn’t need the distraction. “Who takes the lead on teaching them?”

    “I have the better knowledge but…” Renee shrugged helplessly. “There’s a reason I went into archaeological studies rather than a more direct Knighthood. Ancient ruins and artifacts make more sense than people. Not to mention the way your Padawan tends to shy away from anyone using the Force on him, even if it’s in a benign manner.”

    “Right. Another reason to get them to go on vacation. I will need to time develop a proper lesson plan. This isn’t a lesson you can half ass…”

    “Force knows you’re right about that… we send them off, when? later today?”

    “By the end of the week. Let them decompress here for a few days before we let them go off on their own. Besides Ori is going to want to use the Serenity and…”

    “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”

    ____________________________________________________________________________________


    Vacation had been surprisingly restful, Ori thought as he worked in the Light of Knowledge's machine shop on his latest project. Rachi had done the itinerary and he'd found himself enjoying his time without responsibilities. Some of the things they had seen had been downright fascinating, though he wasn’t nearly as intrigued as Rachi was with the minor Force blocking levels of the old Drall burrows they'd visited. Ori’s preference was more with the time they spent in Cornet, and especially the massive flea market they'd attended. That had been fun, especially hunting for treasure amidst the massive piles of junk. He wasn’t sure just what Rachi intended to do with her prizes, but his finds were going to be put to use.

    Ordinarily Ori didn’t bother to do any wood working, it wasn’t a skill he had much interest in despite being capable, but the possibilities offered by a broken Worskyr wood stave he had found at the market had been too interesting to pass up. Seeing it sitting on that table surrounded by junk and ideas had started to pop into his head. For the moment he was limiting himself to the opportunity to learn a new weapon, and to work on his grip strength, something that had been commented on by a few Masters back in the Temple. Ori hadn’t been willing to dismiss their advice and had been working on it but it was boring to sit there and squeeze a grip strengthener over and over again. Dull and repetitive, something he had issues with when working out, it would be much more fun to use his new batons to strengthen his grip.

    The first idea he was putting into action was to fashion a pair of batons out of the broken stave, thirty centimetres of solid wood with a five-centimetre end cap of durasteel. They were short enough that he would never confuse them with his sabers, and they were heavy enough that using them would make it a decent work out. It would also give him the opportunity to see how the forms translated into a shorter weapon, or if he was going to be spending time searching for a galactic variant of Escrima. With the two broken end pieces taken care of he was left with the remainder of the stave to play with. He hadn’t decided what to do with it, but he had a feeling he would be making it into a dress version of his batons at the vary least. Other ideas might come to him but for the moment he was content with what he had. Given Skrath's specialty he wouldn’t put it past the man to have them both go under cover without their sabers, and having batons meant he would hopefully be able to keep up his saber practice without giving away his status as a Jedi.

    “Finished?” Rachi asked from behind him, making Ori jump slightly.

    “Just about,” Ori replied turning slightly to see what she wanted. Her dejected gait told him everything he needed to know. She had made another run at the holocron while everyone was distracted getting the ship ready for its journey to Bespin and been slapped down. “For the two I had planned on anyway… the last one? That’s going to take some time before I’m really sure what I’m doing with it.”

    “I still don’t know why you got that broken stave and the deactivated and disarmed OOM command variant battle droid,” Rachi shook her head and jumped up to sit on one of the counters. “I thought you would have cleaned out the used book store…”

    “I got a few volumes,” Ori defended himself lightly. “It’s just that most of what they had was fiction and their history section had been picked clean of most everything aside from pop histories I could buy anywhere. Besides, you’re one to talk, I saw the dozen staves and blanks you bought.”

    “I know, I don’t know why I got them,” Rachi grimaced as she admitted that. “Something about them just called to me. Still, I didn’t know you worked with wood?”

    “Hardly wood working, just sanding everything down till its smooth and attaching an end cap.” Ori offered her one of the batons he'd just finished working on. “They will let me keep in practice no matter what the assignment is.”

    “Ah,” Rachi jumped down and ran through a few of the opening drills for form one. “Heavy… are you sure this won’t throw you off when you move back to sabers?”

    “Probably not, I'm mostly worried about my grip strength. I figure if I run a few drills with these as part of my warm up then I'll be golden… plus I can finally get rid of the grip strengthener you were complaining about.”

    “Like you would,” Rachi rolled her eyes. “You could have just bought a bottle of oil you know?”

    “Tried that, didn’t work,” Ori dismissed her idea with a shrug. “So, what insanity do you want to talk me into this time?”

    “Why do you think I’m going to be the one who’s trying to talk you into anything?”

    “Experience maybe?”

    “Like I was the one who dragged us into that spacers bar and started singing in the middle of a wake.”

    “It’s bad luck to ignore a pilot's send off,” Ori... fibbed?.. in truth he didn’t really know what had possessed him to do that, but he wasn’t about to admit it. “Besides, aside from my tone deafness, you can’t tell me that the song wasn’t appropriate. The spacers liked it.”

    “Oh yes, because lyrics like; 'Take the carbon rods out of my kidneys/take the navcomp out of my brain/ and assemble my star ship again' are geared towards anyone but a pilot. I still can’t find that song anywhere in the archives you know.”

    “Don’t look at me,” Ori held up his hands defensively as Rachi pointed the baton she had been testing directly at him. “I told you it was a half-remembered song I had heard at another Corellian wake!”

    “That you did,” Rachi frowned as she swung the baton again. “You need to put a grip on these, otherwise you're going to lose them once you start sweating.”

    “Any ideas? I doubt that saber grip wrap would work…”

    “It wouldn’t be right anyway,” Rachi closed her eyes and Ori could feel a pulse of Force from her. “No, these need a natural substance for the grip. Leather wraps would be best I think…”

    “I’ll probably need to wait until we get to Bespin before I can do that, damn… I was hoping to get used to them before our new combat trainer arrives.”

    “You think that’s why we’re picking up another Jedi? Not the dangers of the Sith worlds?”

    “I mean, those dangers are obviously a factor, but a Guardian with a renowned and controversial sense of what is appropriate training and a fresh Padawan gets added to our expedition despite the fact that neither of our Masters know her?”

    “Point… of course they haven’t been interested in teaching at the moment…”

    “I think they’re leading up to something, and not letting you at the holocron you found isn’t a lack of interest in teaching.” Ori cocked his head to the side. “Sure, it’s interesting but, why are you so invested in this?”

    “Because its new knowledge!” Rachi’s voice rose as she spoke, clearly affronted. “Master Nu knew barely anything about these Knights of Zakuul. It’s almost completely undiscovered country and that’s the sort of thing that any historian or archaeologist should live for. We have the opportunity to discover so much, to add to our understanding of the Force and the history of the galaxy... and we aren’t acting on it!”

    “I think we will be,” Ori said after a moment, just letting her run out of steam. “Mind passing me that back?”

    “Really?” Rachi passed Ori the baton and stepped back giving him room to maneuver.

    “Yeah, Skrath's gearing up for a major lesson or three,” Ori grunted out as his arms got used to swinging the batons through the warm up for Jar’Kai. “He’s been hitting the books pretty regularly while we’ve been in hyper and he’s acting more like he’s checking to make sure his memory is correct than if he was learning something new. Kriff, this is more difficult than I thought.”

    “I’d say…” Rachi hummed as she walked around Ori, taking in his form. “You are going to have to do a lot of work before your comfortable showing them to anyone. Unless your pride in your saber work has decreased since the match with Secura?”

    “Hardly, and that had very little to do with my pride in my saber skills and more to do with her being a condescending aristo.”

    “As if you weren’t worse to her…”

    “She started it.”

    “Changing the subject, any reason you started with this project? I thought you would have been deep in the guts of the OOM you bought…”

    “That’s brain work, and I want to be ready when we get to Bespin. Raskta has a reputation for driving her students and if I look like I’m doing more than expected.”

    “She might go easy on you.”

    “Maybe… or she’ll see potential and try to polish it up. Honestly either way I win. Besides, given that neither of us has assigned work right now?”

    “Preparation to save yourself some trouble.”

    “Exactly, care to join me running a couple of single saber forms in the gym? It’ll take your mind off the holocron at least.”

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 12:46 AM
  28. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    Rachi looking at the Holocron is dangerous.


    Lucky she has the Paranoid Padwan on her side!
     
  29. Prognostic Hannya

    Prognostic Hannya Getting sticky.

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    Does anyone else feel like the masters are ignoring the very obvious strategy of getting Ori to vet the holocron? I don't think there's anyone less in danger of succumbing to a mind-bending dark side artifact than the guy who (from their perspective) was so neurotically paranoid that he invented a whole new technique just to stop the light side of the force from influencing his thought process, let alone the dark side.
     
  30. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    He's still a Padwan, though. I suspect they'll give the "Perspective" lesson, then put the both of them on it.

    She's got the historical mindset, and he'll look for threats. Between them, they'll cover a lot.
     
    Prince Charon and caspian1a like this.
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