Kraft og skjebne

Journey
episode XXXIII

“It takes a wise man to see an obstacle as it truly is, and not as it appears”

As we left hyperspace we entered into what I can only describe as a graveyard of old ships.
Some of them were from the old republic, some even older. If this was the remnants of some old battle or a sign of the planets defences we did not know, but with Jesseks reassurances we set a course for the planet Pybus.

As a side note; I’ve reviewed my holorecords of the last year, and this is the 14th planet I land on while travelling with Onda and Krankawarrok. A remarkable number of these places have been mysterious and dangerous, hidden in remote and obscure parts of the galaxy. While the remainder have been civilized, or close to it in any case.
It seems like for now at least, that my life is one that is in transit.

Maybe this is why I have been feeling out of focus lately.
Our current mission is not one I fully support in my heart, I feel it is more pressing to free my mentor and friend Nela Kohn from the empires clutches than to chase after Kiados for the moment.

I’m also struggling with a vision I had on Kashyyyk, one involving my old mentor Victarion Kelren and my old owner Belor Goss.
I am still uncertain if it was a warning not to let the past cloud my judgment when dealing with Kiados, or a sign that something happened to my old master when he confronted Kiados the day Joe lost his squad. Either way I will be mindful of it and try to keep my thoughts clear and flexible, so I don’t get sidelined by unexpected events again like with Sinnius .
Because of this I have spent more time than usual in meditation, hoping to steel my resolve so that even if my dedication to this quest is not from all of my heart, at least my devotion to my friends and their safety shall be strong enough.

… but I digress.

After getting through the field of debris we entered Pybus atmosphere and set about trying to discern our destination. Matching the old charts to what our scanners were showing, we found a promising area. Unfortunately, because of the thick vegatation we had to set down a fair distance from our target.

Once again I found myself in an enviroment that I had no experience with.
So while Krankawarrok raced ahead as our scout and jumped from tree to tree, I mainly focused on not falling over too many times and to manage to keep up with my more martial comrades. Wherever the Force takes me and all that … I guess.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of our trek through the jungle, nor our uncomfortable night camping near a hive of Kouhun, or at least some similiar species of carnivorous insectoids.
If I was a biologist I would perhaps make some more detailed notes on these critters, but since I am not, I only find them disgusting and annoying, as I felt their bites and their poisons more than I would have liked that night.

In the end it was a challenge we overcame, but in the process we revealed our hidden talents to our guide. He became fearful and paranoid of our motives.
This led to a rather strained negotiation where I fear my tiredness might have gotten the best of me, as I quelled the old mans apprehension of us with some brusqueness I’ll admit.

It is fair to say that we were all a bit tired when we finally came upon the ruins and the mercenaries that were guarding the entrance.

Alice-jungle.jpg

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Havoc
episode XXXVI

“In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.”

As I walked towards the mercenaries covered in mud and scratches, like some hopeless lost academic (which wasn’t that far from the truth I’ll admit), I felt some trepidation.
Our opponents seemed both well equipped and well trained, it was time to see if that held up.

With minor misdirections and manipulations with the force I made them believe I was lost and alone, they led me to their makeshift base at the entrance to the ruined palace.
I took the time while washing myself to observe their setup and gear as I mentally readied myself for the violence that would soon come.

I was not wrong, a commotion from the outside distracted the guards in my room and with a push of the force I sent them flying into the jungle. Looking out into the plaza I barely dodged a blaster shot as both Onda and Krankawarrok were lit up with blaster fire from both the mercenaries on the ground, and the snipers on the building that we missed.

Unsure of what to do, because unlike my friends I’m not a warrior by heart or background, I decided to deal with the snipers that were shooting at all of us, but especially Onda.
As I reached out with the force I tried to float the speeder in front of the snipers to give Onda some cover.
But in my rush to help – and being surrounded by blaster fire, I ended up channeling more power than I intended and hurled the entire thing into the building.

I stood there and watched as the ancient ruin was caved in and engulfed in flames, I could hear the sounds of the mercenaries screaming out in pain as they were burned, crushed and buried, and I felt horror.
This I realized, was the dark side, how simple and easier it was to destroy than to save, how a little slip in concentration could end with death and destruction.

And then I was shot down from the back as the soldiers I had thrown into the jungle had advanced back and opened fire.
If there is a lesson there, I refuse to learn it.

When I came to the battle was over and the clearing smelled like fire and blood.
I saw to my wounds and looked over my armor: it’s pitted and scratched surface telling it’s own story of this journey so far:

The fabric is now torn, the right shoulder pauldron has been ripped off, there is a crack on the inlayed armor plate in the back, my left vambrace took a hit meant for my head and is now in tatters …
This is the state of the protection I made with my mentor, and in some ways this is the state of the group I’m in – we are damaged, we are torn, we are scratched up.
But we are still holding together, and still protecting each other.

And no matter what I do, everywhere we go, we wreak havoc.

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Introduction episode XXXV

After defeating Kiados mercenaries outside the ancient ruins the group takes a knee.
Krankawarrok and Joe climb down a hole that leads to underground caves and tunnels in search of the mercenary that ran away.

Meanwhile Onda, Kotan, Vrex and Jessek rest before finding a side entrance to the ruins, they start on their trek into the heart of the ruins.

Underground Krank and Joe stumble over a group of guards and swiftly incapcitate all of them. Krank drags one into a room and strts to question him. Joe spends his time between the screams slicing into the ancient systems and come across something quite practical, he presses the big red security button.

Back above ground the rest of the group step in some traps but eventually make their way to a mezzanine overlooking the entrance to a vault. In front of it is a large force of mercenaries, the ones in front ar busy planting explosives around a large door.
Suddenly ancient security systems come to life a bathe the room below in fire and plasma, the explosives are triggered, alle the mercs die horrible deaths.

The group reunite at the entrance to the vault.

Now they need to find what Kiados sent her minions for, before she herself shows up, after the commotion they have caused they don’t have much time.

The clock is ticking and the dark side draws near.

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The Duel
episode XXXV
“Brave men may be forgotten, brave deeds never do”

The hallways of the ruined palace echoed with the warriors boots as he dragged the defeated forms of the wookie and mirialan across the stones towards the exit.
He paused in the large antechambre and dropped the crumpled forms by his feet as he straightened up, the hairs on his neck stood up and he opened himself to the force,
He was dressed in brown and grey cloaks, his face was obscured by a featureless matte grey mask.

“Come and be defeated, like your friends”

From the mezzanine encompassing the room the siluette of a man in torn robes detached from the darkness and answered him, “Is there any way I can convince you to surrender?”

The masked man barely moved his head towards where the voice came from, he unbuckled the small staff from his hip and turned slowly, yellow light from his double bladed weapon lit up the chamber as he arrogantly hissed “my training is superior, you will fall like the others!”
He drew on the force and gestured at the man with the long dark hair and beard above him, who calmly held out his right palm in a warding gesture. The two men faced each other as a green glow lit up from his left.

“Very well then” Kotan leapt towards his opponent.
As he fell he made a grasping gesture with his right hand towards at the masked warrior, who was forcibly pulled from his stance and into the air towards him. His lightsaber broke through his opponents confused guard and scored a cut across the torso and left arm as he flew past him.
Both warriors landed on their feet, the masked man instantly starting to run at Kotan, his lightsaber forming dizzying circles. As he closed in he stabbed out against the sage’s torso, but Kotan moved gently out of his reach and into his blind spot forcing him to waste his energy spinning around to avoid exposing himself.

Kotans left handed Niman style made it hard for his opponent to forsee his attacks and moves, but it was clear to both of them that the masked man had spent more time perfecting his saber techniques, his form was strong and disciplined while Kotans was erratic and unrefined. The double bladed weapon also gave him an advantage both in reach and in intensity of attacks against Kotans shoto. The Scholar offset this as best he could with weaving the force into his moves as a he countered and parried the strong sweeps of the yellow lightsaber.

“I trained with the jedi before everything changed, you are not them, and your style is not superior at all.” Kotan punctuated his sentence by reaching out his right palm at the masked warriors legs, a current of the force made his opponent stumble causing his defense to waver briefly enough for the sage to score another shallow hit against the left leg.

Stumbling back, the man who had claimed to be a jedi made a cupping gesture with his off hand, the air around him became thick with the force before he gripped his double bladed saber and began a series of disciplined strikes. Kotan parried most of the strikes, but the sheer momentum of the kata slowly begun to overwhelm him and the hidden armor plates in his robes cracked under several shallow cuts as he was driven back.

The two men moved across the broken palace floor as staccato dancers, the walls reflecting the yellow and green glow from their weapons.
Kotan was breathing heavily as he struggled to keep up with his more physical opponent, but the masked man made no sounds a he fought, a stoic coldness emenating from his entire form as he continued his attack.
The sounds of their feet and the hum and clash of their lightsabers reverberated throught the hallways of the old hutt palace.

Wait, I see it now Kotan though, These moves are familiar, he is utilising a formal and structured version of Shii-Cho. But it has no improvisation, his training has been too rigid, his style is predictable.

Kotan let his eyes unfocus and recalled his training at youth and the lessons from the holocron of Tera Sinube. Instead of reacting to the masked mans swings he entered the same kata, but reversed it. The two fighters entered a state of synchronization as they stepped and danced around each other, Kotan sidestepped attacks that should have been hits and parried perfectly several blows without looking.
For a moment they were giving a wonderful performance fight to the empty room and the unconcious force sensitives on the floor, then Kotan ended it.

As the masked warrior shifted his weight to advance Kotan stepped into his style.
First he made a wide swipe from collar to ear, ruining the featureless mask and distracting his opponent. Then with a offhand block he locked the opponents saber arm with his right hand. He turned and backed into the body of the off-balanced warrior.
The green shoto turned off and on quickly as he switched it to a reverse grip and plunged it past his own ribs into the heart of his enemy.

The two men stood there, immobile for a second as the golden lightsaber clattered to the floor. The sound echoed in the green lit room.

Kotan turned around to his enemy as he felt him starting to fall over.
A gauntleted hand locked around Kotans throat and the two of them slid towards the floor, Kotans vision was tunneled and narrowing rapidly as the dying man who had claimed the mantle of jedi knigh sought to strangle him.
He has no eyes, was the last thing Kotan though before unconsciousness claimed him.
The green glow disappeared and the room was plunged into darkness .

Earlier that day

The two masked warriors had appeared as the group was leaving the vault and demanded the Sirens Soul.
Kotan and Ondas fight against one of them had spilled into the vault before Onda managed to cut down their opponent, but the explosion from the destroyed lightsaber had knocked him out.
MeanwhileKrankawarroks opponent had managed to evade him, so he and Kotan went searching for the last warrior hoping to stop him before he found Jessek and the artifact.
After they had split up Krankawarrok had gotten defeated, and the warrior had grabbed both the unconcious wookie and mirialan before heading to the exit.
It was here Kotan had intercepted him.

When they all eventually woke up, it was not where they had anticipated

In the custody of the empire Kotan finally made a deal with Sinnius.

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The treasure chamber
Episode XXXV: A fight to remember

Securing the scrolls in his bags, Onda looked around for more items that spoke to him. Pulling on the force, his attention was drawn to the item in “old man”’s hands. It gave of a resonance. Just about to check it further, Kotan said: “Lets leave this place before more of those troops arrive.”

Leaving the chamber they found two identical looking soldiers baring their path, both wielding lightsabers. Maybe I’ll finally have a decent fight, Onda thought. Kotan did his usual talking, except this time it didn’t work. The soldiers attacked. One quickly squared of with Krank and Kotan tried some new moves on the other one. Failing kinda badly Kotan pulled the soldier a bit to hard towards himself and was rewarded with a flight back into the chamber. Seeing that Krank finally could have his ass kicked, Onda opted for taking out the one Kotan fought.

The fight was beautiful. The Soldier could fight! Finally a challenge Onda thought. Carving up the soldier while sustaining no injuries himself, Onda had one stroke of bad luck: as he finished of the soldier he accidentally triggered the stun effect of his lightsaber and got it full in the face.

A marvelous fight! though Onda, while slipping into darkness…..

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Meanwhile, elswhere (and elswhen)
episode XXXVI

Dace ran across the galley into the cockpit, his dreadlocks whipping behind him, “Tara! It’s making sounds again, I think I got it to work!” His companion shot out of her seat by the console so fast she tipped over her cup of insta-pho-replica-soup, the liquid spilling across the worn floor of the old ship. “What?! Ouch! drek it Dace, my soup!”
As they both hussled through the ship, ducking low hanging cables and sparks from exposed circuits, Dace was babbling: “I did like you told me – put away the deathstick – stared at it – I think must have looked at that stupid thing for ages, and then that old dude popped up and started talking, this time it was about some ridiculous sword technique that involved waving your hand around and pointing or pushing or something, I didn’t quite catch it” Tara, showed him on through engineering, he was slowing down as he talked, so she interrupted him bruesqely “more farking ancient mombo jumbo and galactic gazetteering, that old man must have been all over the galaxy, you dragged me away from my favorite soup to listen to this dude talk about ‘Centering Oneself’ again?!” she punctuated her sentence by making overly expressive qoutation marks and rolling her eyes.

They both stumbled into Dace’s quaters, Tara wrinkled her nose at the combined smell of body odour, old deathsticks and engine oil as she looked disapprovingly at the pile of clothes, engine parts and random knickknacks strewn across the floor. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” Dace continued, almost out of breath from the talking and running around. “I must have said something right or fiddled with the right circuit or something, because the bearded guy suddenly started talking about something completely different. -Tara, he mentioned Zanzat!”
Tara stopped her pacing and stood completly still, her face ran through several expressions of rage and grief before settling on an intense focus. “Show me. Now”

Dace swallowed and pointed at his bunk, lying in a pile of used bedding and dicarded clothes was the box. It was made of metal and some sort of glass, it had weird angles and inscriptions. It was currently glowing a calm green glow that came and went, Dace thought it sometimes pulsed in beat with his heart, but that was probably just a coincidence.

He picked it up gingerly and after some shuffling with his feet to sweep a open space in the detirus set it down on the floor and patted the floor to imply that Tara should join him. The human mechanic and the seloninan pilot sat on the floor staring at the glowing box…

“Nothing’s happening Dace.” Tara’s voice sounded annoyed, but for some reason Dace felt like he could hear some fear under her attempt at nonchalance, he looked back at the box. “Give it time, there is a trick to it and I think I have it now.” The young man drew a slow breath and stilled himself as best he could, it seemed like the box only responded to calm sentients, which was probably why they’ve had so much trouble getting it to work in the first place, What did that say about them and their lifestyle? Maybe something to consider … After all, it had been many cycles since -
Dace pushed away the stray thought and watched the green pulsing glow, trying to match himself to it somehow, to his left Tara fidgetted.

The glowing box slowly rose into the air, parts of it started moving and realigning as it unfolded and twisted lazily. Dace had seen some of it’s insides, but he still didn’t know what made it work – there were circuits and wires in ther, but they didn’t make sense, there were also things in there he swore were inscriptions or bits of stones and whatnot. They’ve heard of and seen similar boxes in museums and on their travels, but this one was different – like whoever made it had different ideas and tools than the other ones, or maybe hadn’t fully agreed with the original bueprints and improvised along the way.
The box hung there almost expectantly, Dace swallowed audibly and said with as much authority and calm as he could muster: “Please continue, Master”

Again the bearded man with the long hair and the scars appeared before them displayed in a see-through manner before them, as always he was wearing his worn robes and armor, his voice was pleasant and smooth, a trained orator.

" … so Sun’saith would travel out looking for the artifacts he refferred to as ‘The eyes’ while he guided us in his usual oblique way to continue on our path to find Nela Kohn and to try gain an alliance with the Gensu’dai. we-"

“Wait! who is this Nellacohn?! who are the Gensiday?! what the frak are you on about old man!?” Tara was moving her neck back and forth in a deeply animal way that Dace had learned meant that she was unsure, probably something in her racial memory from their hunter/warrior instincts. The old man kept talking, not seeming to hear her.

“… my preparation for our trip was hurried, but I did have the time to spend some time with Aach and together we discussed ..”

“I’m sorry to interrupt master” Dace gently interjected. " but who are these people you speak of, the Genso Daaii?"

The old man stopped his explanation and vinced as Dace messed up the pronounciation, he lifted a hand and with slender fingers tapped the rhytm as he repeaed the word slowly to Dace “Gen. Su. Da-i. Apprentice. They were … a form of warrior cult you might say, dedicated to several aspects around warfare and justice, like the art of armor craftsmanship and saber techniques.
-Their leader, Nela Kohn was the one who taught me the skills and techniques for crafting protection and how to blend the skill of the warrior with ones armor to create a perfect defense, the Metal Shroud as she would refer to it …”

“this is useless,” Tara sighted. “We don’t need info on how to prance around looking like First Order goons, we need info on Zanzath and where the invincible dangerous murdering bastard came from!”

“Give me some time, I think I’m starting to figure it out, " Dace said as he tried calming down his friend, the glowing box was flickering and starting to close. He stared at it and tried to forget about everything the silver warrior had done to them. “Master, I fear you have lost me, maybe it would be better to go back to the start? you mentioned something about Sun. Sayt. leaving to look for something, where was this and how did you get there?” Dace tried his best to get the pronounciation right this time.

The apparition of the old man flickered and an exasperated look crossed his features as he berated Dace. "You must focus apprentice, one of the first lesson is to pay attention to the universe and that involves listening when people talk … " He chuckled suddenly, before continuing "but I guess I’ve done the same as well when I was a padawan, and things are not as peacful as they were then … "

“Ok, apprentice let me go back to the events after leaving the jungles of ”/wikis/pybus" class=“wiki-page-link”> Pybus , and the vault where we faced the deluded warriors that claimed to be Jedi Knights. As you recall, we were in the captivity of the empire and had just struck a deal with their leader:

After our third meeting with Sinnius and our deal to share information with him in our joint venture to foil Kiados nefarious plans, we were promptly escorted to Nar Shaddaa.
Arriving at one of it’s numerous spaceports we quickly acquired lodging and managed to make contact with an individual that could help us sell off some of the riches we had liberated from the vaults on Pybus; Tianos Grek.

Grek it would turn out was connected to Ta’lon and his crime empire, so we took the opportunity to get some rumors from him and to pay off some of our debt to Ta’lon.
This left us with a lot of credits, but no clear destination.
After several seeking and investigations, mostly using Onda’s connection with the force to look for Jessek or Vex, we had some answers, but mostly just piles of uncertainties.

Then Onda andJoe stole a ship.

Sigh

Escaping from Nar shadda, we again turned to Ondas powers, this time we sought out The Last Echo. Our parley with Sinnius had revealed that the ship was mobile again and head been seen on Spintir after Kiados attack. I had my own suspicions and hopes to who could be piloting it now, but I wasn’t sure.

In Mandalorian space we came upon the drifting Cr90 Corvette and docked with them.
After some suprise and a happy reunion with Aach, we met with Sun’saith in the newly converted dojo and shared what we knew.
He in turn brought us up to date on events while we had been away, apparently Aach had restored The Last Echo with the help of the Isini cult.
Upon hearing of the artifacts Kiados had collected so far he finally revealed to us that there were 4 artifacts Kiados was seeking.
That meant that unless we could find Jessek and the Sirens soul, she had all of them but the last.

So Sun’saith would travel out looking for the artifacts he refferred to as ‘The Eyes’ while he guided us in his usual oblique way to continue on our path to find Nela Kohn and to try gain an alliance with the Gensu’dai. I hoped that what Sinnus had told me about her joining the empire was wrong, but I had to see for myself.

My preparation for our trip …"

“yesyesyes, we heard all that! this is getting us nowhere.”
Tara stood up and brushed some dust from her pilot suit “I am going back to my soup – you stay with this old-man-in-a-glowing-box for all I care, let me know if he says something useful!” Tara stalked out of Dace’s room, he could hear her grumbling and kicking random objects as she made her way to the cockpit.

The hologram of the man with the beard was quiet, he seemes to be staring a Dace.
Suddenly Dace realized that he had never told the old man to pause his rambling.
But that meant …

“Is there something else you want to know?” the bearded mans voice was almost smug.

“Uh, what?” Dace’s suprise, made him do a double take at the apparition. The one that answered to ‘Master’ was standing with his hands behind his back and with a raised eyebrow at him. “Wait, you can hear her? So you were deliberatly ignoring her? And you can ask questions?!”

“You and your friend have been accessing my old journals, but is it really my lifes history you want to know? I can tell you other things, I can TEACH you other things, Dace.”

Dace scrambled backwards until he hit the bulkhead next to his door, he briefly considered running through it and never coming back, the hologram knew his … “Y-y-you know my …”

“Yes, Dace, I know your name, I know Tara’s name, I know that we’re on a ship – although the model is unknown to me, I know that the events I have described to you happened a long time ago.” The apparition gestured with his left hand as he listed up the items on his list. “This Holocron you have in your possession is more than just a recorder of old lore, Dace, it contains an imprint of my soul and my personality, a ghost in a machine if you will.”

Dace’s head was spinning, the smells and clutter of his room suddenly seemed oppressive and he felt himself wishing for a time where things were simpler, easier, before Tara’s brother hired him for this ship, before he died….
“What’s going on? who are you? what do you want?!”

The hologram of the old man straightened up and folded his hands in front of him.

“My name is Kotan Blen, I am the last of the Gensu’dai, and I want to teach you to harness the force.”

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Rescue
Episode XXXVII - Daces' studies continue

“Hold!”
A squad of army troopers had surrounded a man, he had his back to them. They were all standing in a clearing, at the start of its autumn cycle, some leaves were already changing colour but the forest was still mostly a vibrant green.
“Raise your hands and kneel!” One of the troopers, a sergeant, most likely, had stepped to the front and was shouting orders at their captive.

Kotan turned around slowly, hands raised. “You will find that there is no need for this , sergeant. I am expected at this compound.” he gestured at his belt and the datapad clipped to it. “If you will let me produce my credentials?”
The sergeant looked to his men and after a brief contemplation, edged forward to inspect the files.

As the man was glaring at the the datapad , Kotan was speaking, his words slow and careful “As you can see, it says here that I’m expected in the compound, everything is tip-top”

The trooper was nodding slowly.
“Yes, expected, tip … – wait, these ain’t no credentials, what the … ?!”

Kotan cursed, and reached forward with his right hand, around him, the troopers were taking aim and getting ready to fire.
Suddenly the sergeant lurched, and turned around in the air, as though a giant invisible hand had grabbed him, and lifted him up. He was screaming as he flew into the rest of his squad, bouncing between them and into a nearby tree

Time slowed to a still.
Dace was walking around the image of Kotan Blen who was standing with his arms pointed at the army troopers, his eyes were closed.

“That’s amazing! … Is this the true power of the force that you’ve told me about?”

The image of Kotan slowly started changing; his hair and beard growing longer, scars deepening, along with some wrinkles. “No, Dace this is not strength.” He turned his head towards the apprentice and opened his eyes, “This is just destruction and death, and it could have been avoided, keep watching Dace”

The scene resumed playing, and Kotan – looking younger again now, straightened up and sighed heavily at the destruction he had caused. He shook his head and briskly started walking toward the Imperial compound, on the way he snatched a stormtrooper helmet and ripped out the comlink, placing it in his ear.

The gates broke apart and warped like paper, between the crumpled forms spinning in the air on each side Kotan walked in, his hair was caught in the wind and he tugged irritably at it.
Somewhere in the distant parts of the facility, screams echoed and alarms started ringing.

The image froze.

Dace stood to the side, looking at the scene, “Why are we stopping? what happened after?” Behind him the older form of Master Kotan stepped out of the shadows.
“This was what I wanted to show you Dace.”
He walked around the young man as he spoke
“At the same time as I was seeking out my own goal, one of my friends was slicing into the Imperial mainframe and gathering info that would save multiple lives in our near future, and another was freeing their prisoners and putting his life on the line to bring the wounded out of the base. Both of them could have needed my help, but I didn’t care.”

Dace turned after the image of his mentor, “But you said this Neela-person was important, so somebody had to go after her, right?”

His mentor put his etheral hands on Dace’s shoulders and getured at the frozen form of the younger Kotan, “That’s not the point Dace, look at his eyes now, really look at them … what do you see?”

Dace glanced at his mentor before stepping up to the image, it felt weird to have the image of a man talk about his younger self like a different person. “Uh, they are dark-like yours, he is squinting slightly because of the smoke and wind …. Uh, he looks kinda scary, what is it you want me to see here?”

“The anger Dace, the intensity and the focus, all of these come from the dark side, I was afraid for the well-being of my mentor, of what had happened to her and what was happening to her, so I focused on her at the cost of everything else.”
He pointed at his younger self.

“So look at those eyes and see what I didn’t see myself that day: the Fear, Dace – that is what will lead you to the dark side.” He paused and sighed. “When you stop caring about what happens to anything else than yourself and your goal, that’s when you lose sight of it.”

Dace stood there for a long time, staring at his two masters.
“I … I think I understand, but what happened after?”
The old warrior waved his left hand dismissively “That is not important to this lesson, we should go back to your training”.
“No! I want to know what happened.” Dace’s pose was defiant and eager, he faced the ghost of the old man and the two of them stared at each other for a long time.

After a while Kotan rolled his eyes and gestured in front of them.
“Very well, apprentice, see for yourself.”

The younger version of Kotan was walking down a dark hallway, heading underground, he entered a dark hallway, the only light from wall-mounted torches

Standing in the middle of the room was a warrior in a crimson robe, with blood-red armour.
“Please stand aside and you won’t get hurt” Kotans voice was shaking, but his eyes were scanning the room confidently.

The red warrior brushed his cloak to the side and raised a metal baton, from both ends vicious metal blades appeared without a sound, he settled into a warriors stance, preparing for battle.
Kotans hand shot out, fingers spread and slightly curled, his brow was furrowed. Across the room his opponent tensed.

Kotan hissed through clenched teeth: “Skywalker … Is at the gates … you need to stop him, yes?”

The Royal Guard charged past Kotan and kept on running towards the exit.

The image of the younger Kotan exhaled audibly and kept walking into the next room, Dace was standing behind him pumping his fist in the air and laughing. “Yes! That was awesome! Who is Skywalker by the way?”
The older version of Kotan walked alongside the younger and answered " I have actually no idea, it was just a name that I overheard in hushed whispers and reverence while we were guests of the Rebel Alliance, it seemed like it was someone important." They entered an arene and crossed over into a cell to the left.

Kotan found the unconcious body of Nela Kohn suspended in the cell to the right, he cut the constraints with his lightsaber and gently lowered her to the floor, she was covered in cuts and bruises.
She briefly stirred, her eyes roamed over his face, not understanding.
“It’s ok, I got you, I’m going to get you out of here’” She mumbled something incomprehensible and drifted off into unconsciousness.
Kotan grabbed his mentor and lifted her to her feet, he staggered under the weight briefly and then started making his way out to the central arena.

The door from the opposite side of the arena slid open and a black-clad figure with a visored helmet stepped through, in his hand he was carrying a lightsaber of a uncommon, disc-like design.

The inquisitor charged at them, red blades appearing from his weapon.

Kotan turned his back on his opponent and carefully laid down his friend, dodging a blow aimed at his back he turned at his enemy. A quick gesture lifted the man up in the air and was followed by a precise cut into the mans torso.
He flailed around with his saber as he was dying, Nela cried out in pain as a leg was cleanly severed.
“No!” Kotan reached out and his opponent was crushed to the floor by a invisible hand.
He kneeled by the whimpering Nela Kohn. “Hold on, general, I’ll get you out of here.” He gathered her up and ran for the exit.

Behind him Dace was staring with his mouth open " I … uh … wow …. when am I learning THAT?!" The scene changed to the outside as Kotan was carrying the unconscious woman towards a gate, a large insectoid being in a trenchcoat was working at the controls.

The holocron image of the older version of Kotan was standing next to Dace “Sloppy, risky, if I had paid attention she wouldn’t had lost her leg, if I had helped my friends she wouldn’t had lost her leg and more prisoners could have survived, the possibilities are endless but they all have the same judgment Dace; I should have done this differently.”

The large doors slid open, standing on the other side was massively muscled wookie, covered in old scars, new cuts and blood. At his feet was the crumpled form of the Royal Guard. The wookie roared in pain and defiance, blood was pouring from his eyes.

“By the ancients! what is that beast?!” Dace was backing away from the image if the imposing warrior.
His mentor turned from the image to his apprentice and smirked at his apprentice
“That is my friend,Krankawarrok"

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Sensing the way forward.
Episode XXXVII. And So Smote Kranky.

Having agreed to save Kotans mentor, venerable Nela Kohn, Kranky found himself once more on a quest. Maybe even making it out of this one without being grievously wounded. These might yet be a good few days.

Leaving the Velvet Thunder the recently acquired vessel, they went to the Imperial Detention Facility. Having spent a fair amount of time scouting its defenses, they agreed to infiltrate, silently. What could possibly go wrong?

“Plans never survive contact with the enemy, or Kotans ineptitude at hiding.” Or so Kranky thought whilst throwing Kotan between the nearby boulders. Kotan had managed to make enough noise to draw a team from the patrol route. They had to find something. Finding something is better than them finding nothing, or everything. Such went the logic of Kranky as he found himself quickly in restraints and manhandled towards the facility.

The Imperial body search had relieved Kranky of all the weapons they could find. The vibroknife, the shield. Once more the cybernetic cavity implant had concealed his preferred weapon, the lightsaber. Transporting the big wookie downwards into the facility, they chained him to the floor in a damp cell, amongst other cells. The restraints made it impossible to reach for, kneeling, backbound and chained to the floor. Trying to extract it, made things worse. Getting stabbed from the inside, hurts somehow less than from the outside.

Having reached the state of mind necessary to enhance himself. Kranky sought to break the shackles. A heave, and the chains separated from the floor. Another and his hands were free to move. Using the weapon he rendered the chains from his being.
“Always me doing this. Once, just once, I would love to see the others do this bit.”

Breaking through the door, he came upon a small group of troopers. Inelegantly dispatched. One got away. Alarms sounding. “Attichitcuks hairy nostrils, this seems too familiar”

Other cells. Open them.

First cell, Gen’sudai worn, mobile. One of Nelas’. Second cell. Terrified twi’lek, in shock. Need to get them out. Carry twi’lek.

Gen’su dude volunteers to distract. Alright.

Get them to safety. Kotan and Joe, can handle themselves. They should. Cannot watch over them all the time. Others need me now.

Found Gensu’dude. Got them to the Void. Left the dude with instructions to fly if we do not make it back. They should be good. For now. Get back to the others. There is probably a bug in the software, and an idiot on the loose.

There is also a guard, all in red at the front. Pacing back and forth. No blaster. Would have engaged up close anyway, but bad sign.

The crimson guardsman can fight. Blows were exchanged, parried and riposted. Beating down the Guardsman blow by blow, Kranky gained the upper hand. Pressing the attack led nowhere good. Overextending and the parry deflected into Krankys eyes. Blinded. Angry. Still somehow maintaining an advantage. A strike finally taking the guardsman down.

Sounds like Kotan showed up. Cannot see….

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Episode XXXVIII: Impending resolution.
Plans and travelling

Onda spent a whole lot of time working on his lightsaber. The crystal he had gotten of Suljo Warde was a good addition to his collection. It seemed it could be well used in combat. Now it only needed to be christened in its first battle.

The proximity alarm went of; It was time to pick up Kotan and Kranky from their last foray into danger. Flying the Last Echo closer to dock with the Velvet Thunder, Onda felt it was good to drive something so big. It gave him a sense of power, of welcoming control. There seemed to be a spot of trouble coming out of the Velvet Thunder, after sending both ships into hyperspace Onda went to meet with the returnees.

His friends had returned with three other sentients, among them an unconcious Nela Kohn and a twilek girl that refused to leave Krankawarroks side.
Krank was a sight; he was covered in cuts and blood, but most disturbing was the deep cut in his face -where his eyes were supposed to be there was only blood and swelling.
Weird, he always seemed to be able to take a proper beating before. Onda thought.

“What happened to you down there?” he asked a disheveled Kotan.
“Things … escalated, they got a bit … out of hand.” he looked tired, his eyes were ringed and sunken.

Krank and Nela Kohn was wisked away by the onboard medic: Martail.

Later when she was awake, Nela Kohn and the other surviving Gensu’Dai; Kaitai Norma, got into contact with others of their kind and a meeting was set up in a remote part of space.

“I will not bore you with long speeches, " Nela Kohn said, before she bored them with a long speech about how they had survived the storm and gotten stronger or something.
Onda stopped listening to her drivel after a while and scanned the assembled faces in the Last Echo’s Dojo, almost fifty new bodies had joined the Gensu’Dai, The Last Echo had it’s crew now. More meat for the grinder.. Onde mused.

Having decided upon tracking Jessek and going after him, Onda and Kotan delved out into the galaxy in search of him. Using meditation techniqes they combined their forces and sent their minds out. This time Kotan let Onda take the lead, but it seemed like the universe itself was resisting his strength. This hurts! I need to be more assertive with my force use. The experience was not comfortable for Onda, but they prevailed. They found the system Jessek was currently in: a remote part of space near the Gree-system.
Now they just needed to get there.

The system was far off and needing speed to get there; they opted for the Velvet Thunder, Aach and Kotan had finally managed to get the enviromental controls to work.

Before leaving they made a plan with the Gensu’Dai and Isini: the Last Echo would travel through the outer rim to avoid the empire, while the Velvet Thunder would cut through the the core worlds and use the Hydian Way to arrive at their destination.

A mere two weeks journey got them to Cato Neimoidia, and a terse meeting with Onrein Hasar. She facilitated the refueling of their ship and got Krank a backstreet surgeon, he was tired of not seeing.
He spent an inordinate amount of time installing the new eyes, and there was something not right with the rest of him. Onda decided to keep an eye on him and to press him on it later.
As they left Onrein Hasar made sure they understood thet she was now done with them, and if they ever returned she would not treat them as friends.
Onda just smiled at the challenge.

Travelling onward to the final destination the ship was suddenly pulled out of hyperspace, and bombarded with ion weapons.

All systems failed, the ship was spinning uncontrollably.

Darkness claimed them.

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Harbours and Slipways
Episode XXXIX - Tarillion

Static, a blurry and waving image solidifies – a man with black hair and beard in brown robes leaning forward, he looks tired. He is in a small cabin, possibly on a starship.

“We are safe for now, Ta’lon and Burukut has seen to that, now we …”

He stops his account and composes himself before continuing in a calmer tone.

“It’s best to start with the beginning, rather than to launch oneself at the middle.
Trying to reach both back and forward in time to collect all stray bits of information usually results in flailing around in ones narrative like a child . – my first teacher would say.
I’ll take his advice. "

“Some of this information I’ve gained after the fact or through collaboration with others, some of it is plain guesswork and hypothese – I’ll try to limit that as well as I can.”

“So , after leaving Cato Neimiodia we navigated the hyperspace lanes from the hydian way, past mandalorian space and further towards the edges, our destination was a set of coordinates near Gree space.
But before reaching our destination our ship was forcibly ripped from hyperspace by two of the ships in Kiados fleet, using some unknown technology.”

“There were two reasons why this didn’t become our end:
First; whatever technology that allows to interfere with hyperdrives it doesn’t pinpoint where ships wil appear, so the gunners will have to find their mark before unleashing their firepower on it – I think this was why we were only hit with ion beams before our rescue.”

“The other factor is our rescuers; the Shadow Hound – a Lucre Hulk, the kind used by the trade federation during the galactic civil war, was waiting nearby and ambushed our ambushers. I’ve been told the fight was swift, frantic and inspiring – unfortunately we were unconsciously spinning in space while all this happened.”

“After regaining consciousness and getting the engines back online we quickly and roughly docked with the Shadow Hound before it jumped to hyperspace.
This is when we met Ta’lon, and more importantly his boss Burukut.”

“To clarify things I’m just going to reiterate what we were told during our meeting with him: Burukut has noticed the growing power of Kiados building in the galaxy and also has spied our growing interference with her plans. He has been using his network to keep tabs on both of us and has deciced that he does not like the idea of a future where Kiados gets her way. "

“He also admitted to manipulating us – Golok, on Mandalore was him it turned out, figures.”

“He seems intrigued by whatever it is Kiados seeks and has decided he wants it for himself, Onda was quick to agree with this notion I noticed …
I always suspected, but I guess I’ve deliberatly ignored his craving for power, it is crystal clear to me now – for all the good that does. "

He gets up and paces back and forth while talking.

“I don’t know what to do with this, scold him? like a child? or challenge his desire for strength and safety?
I can see how this is the darks side; the obsession with the ego and personal prowess … but it’s not something I can cure or remove with sweep of a hand. "

He sweeps his hands out to prove the point.

“He has to understand his mistake , he needs to choose a different path himself, I can only stand by him and give him the option, but the first step must be his, if I choose for him – there is no point, the pattern will repeat itself and I might as well kill him to save the galaxy from his growing power and ambition. -AND I WILL NOT DO THAT!”

He sighs, and sits down heavily on the bunk.

“I’ll never do that … no.”

Upset and worried he looks around the room and tries to gather his thoughts …

“Onda told me after our meeting that he sensed the force in Burukut, this suprises me, because I felt nothing … I don’t understand this, maybe it’s because that bothan is mad? or something else? Hmmm.”

“So here we are, onboard the Shadow Hound, we will soon leave for our destination, this time with new hyperspace routes that Kiados does not know. The Velvet Thunder is being repaired as we speak and we have some hours of rest before we leave.”

“Time to get some sleep”

He reaches out and turns of the recorder.
-
Static and warped images congeal to the same man, the lighting is different and shadows play across his face from a nearby powercell. His voice is soft and careful.

“It’s my turn to take watch.”

He gathers up his robes and gets into a better position before continuing.

“Tarillion Station is a marvel, I feel as though I should want to stay here and investigate it’s many habitats and secrets. There are large creatures living in sealed globes og immense size, droids scuttling around doing all manner of tasks, corridors realigning themselves at their own whim … some claim the place has it’s own intelligence. We’ve barely had time to look at it’s marvels before leaving. "

“But to be honest I don’t feel like staying, maybe I’m not just a scholar anymore? maybe these months have changed me more than I thought …”

" After meeting Jessek and the inhabitants of the outer station. We spent almost a day or more travelling to get to him – this place is enormous as I said.On the way there we met an ancient ithorian: Majora Untaithi. Her map helped us get to Kane Nebolous eventually."

“I could not sense her in the force like Onda did as well, it’s as if I’m deaf to it, maybe the station interferes with more senses than we know … Onda has always been the one with the sharpest senses …. yes, that is more likely.”

He clears his throat.

“But we were too late, Kane had already placed the Sirens’ Soul into one of the locks. Yes you heard that right, whatever these old artefacts unlocks, it’s somwhere here on the station.”

“We discussed with him the artifacts, the station, Kiados plans, our goals to stop her.
I tried my best to instill in him an understanding of the danger in unlocking something he had no understanding of. He was unfaced and kept going on about his research, the potential discoveries, how they could help other …”

“-Was I ever so foolish as this?!”

His look is baffled and annoyed, he shrugs before continuing.

“So let’s list the players in this game: Kiados seeks the artifacts to – according to Sun’saith; free her old master. Sun’saith, who’s morals I question as well as his sanity, seeks to defeat Kiados, possibly to continue his plans for her imprisonment – I don’t trust his reasons, and I’m sure ther are many things he is hiding behind that mask.”

“Then there is Ta’lon and his mad master Burukut, who desire power!”

He makes a dramatic and satirical clenching of his fist, before huffing and shaking his fingers offhandedly

“-regardless of the fact that they don’t know what shape or form it may come in.”

“there is also the explorer Kane Neboulous who wants to open up this vault simply to see what might happen …”

Kotan brings his hand to his temple and groans softly.

“Not one of all these fools consider the fact that if somebody imprisoned something inside a living, thinking, massive station at the edge of known space, it might be for a good reason?!”

“Even my own comrades, are drooling at the thought of power and forbidden knowledge that migh be a potential outcome if we fail. Am I the only one that understands how silly this is, how reckless it is to throw oneself off a cliff before checking if, you can in fact, fly?”

He composes himself after the last outburst and after a while leans back against the wall.

“I’m starting to see where all of this is leading, and what I must do to stop it … "

He sits in shadows for a long time, eventually he speaks and makes a small gesture.

“May the force be with us all.”

Recording ends.


“Sssh, he aproaches, the Betrayer-Saint, the King of Fools, seeking answers that he doesn’t want to hear. Get ready, yes yes, a venerable wise demeanor is what he craves, like so, and so.”

The old Ithorian turned away from her tinkering and sat herself in the middle of the small room, waiting patiently while talking to herself, eventually she grew still.
By the entrance a tall man slid out of the shadows, his long dark hair hanging down loose, his eyes haunted over the black beard that framed his jaw.

“Ah, the young man comes carrying a question, and a heavy one at that.”

“You were expecting me.” the man both stated a fact and asked a question as he stepped closer, the old crone merly nodded.

“The rule of two.” the man started, wringing his hands as he looked around the room, almost expecting it to have changed since his last visit. “It is the law between apprentice and master among the sith, there can only be the two … what if the apprentice takes on her own apprentice when the master is away?”

The old woman chuckled “It would make quite the mess if the master returned, uncertain where any loyalties would lie, who would turn on whom.” she snorted. “But you know this bit young Kotan, ask me what you’re really here for.”

Kotan kneeled in front of Majora, gripping his knees he closed his eyes and hissed. “How much will it cost? How far will it go? Who must I sacrifice if I try this?!”

He opened his eyes and stared at the crone, his eyes serching for hope or truth.
Majora Unataithi opened her left hand and red light from the kyber crystal in her hand spilled across the room, covering both of them in it’s glow.
“Everything Kotan, you could lose everything, but you could save everything as well.”

The young man rocked back as if he’s been struck, his eyes on the crystal, they sat there for along time.
Eventually he asked ,“How do I start? what must I do?”

“She will seek you out and offer you power after you do these two things; first pick up the crystal.” the old gnarled palm lifted up between them. “but know that if you do, you have to take the second step too, no going back halfway young man.”

Kotan held his hand over the crystal, after a minute he took a breath and picked it up. “Ok what now?”

“Now Kotan Blen, you must kill me.”

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