The Origins Of Demious
Ok. I've been working on this project for almost a year now. It isn't quite complete yet, but it is still a work in progress. Enjoy.
NOTE – This story is set in an alternate reality, where the Yuuzhan Vong invasion never happened. As such, story elements differ in this particular piece of fan fiction.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....
Phantoms and Shadows
Twenty-five long years have passed since the death of Emperor Palpatine
and the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Democracy once again rules under
the jurisdiction of the newly formed New Republic, and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker
has restored the long extinct Jedi Order to its rightful place as defenders
of peace and justice throughout the Galaxy, and the Jedi Knights now number in the hundreds.
The Alderaanian Princess Leia Organa and the Correllian smuggler Han Solo have wed,
and their children now serve under their
uncle as Jedi Knights. With the signing of the Bastion Accords, peace now envelopes
the fledgling New Republic and the Imperial Remnant. Everything in the Galaxy has seemingly
returned to a docile peace it had not known for centuries....
But now a new threat has arisen. Hundreds of senators have been assassinated, each killed by an
Except for one.....
"Have the droids put up a perimeter around this wing of the complex," the aging human officer commanded to his underling as he fell to one knee to examine the body. A small, hovering droid appeared by his shoulder, it's large orb-eye casting an eerie light over the alien corpse while it created an exact holo image of the dead creature in its memory banks. The droid then flew away, but the guard remained, still staring intently at the details of the body. Soon, his underling stood behind him once more.
"What do we got, Kaart?" He asked simply, confident in the older man's attention to detail.
"Quarren. Middle-aged for his species. Multiple cauterized wounds...." the old man said, his voice trailing off as he plucked a pin from the quarren's singed robes. He gave a deep sigh as he raised the pin over his head for his comrade to see.
"Emperor's black bones, not another one," the younger man said, "This is the fourth senator this month!"
The elder man continued his search of the quarren senator's body. A total of five wounds were visible: a severed face-tentacle, two shallow cauterized gashes on his back, a dismembered left arm as well as an entire dismembered lower torso. This troubled the old detective. Blasters singed and vaporized, but these were precise and clean cuts. Not even disrupters can do this, the old man thought to himself, right before the younger man behind him finally spoke up.
"Hey, what's in his hand?" the man asked, pointing to the severed arm a few feet away. The elder man rose from his crouched position with a pained grunt, then ambled over to the hand. Bending over and cautiously removing the item that it held, he examined the small, metal object.
"It's a datapad," the old man said as he began to search its archive's.
"What is its latest entry?" the younger man asked, his question answered when the elderly man activated an audio recording. Series of watery gurgles and slurps issued from the pad.
"Hmm. Speaking his quarrenese. Probably a personal log or some kind of report to his superiors," the young man said. He opened his mouth to speak again, but was interrupted by a shrill scream coming from the datapad. Both men paid the utmost attention, stern faces laced with a hint of horror, as the sound of scrambling feet and doors opening issued from the datapad. It went on for several more moments, then was replaced by an eerie silence broken only by the quarren's heavy, gurgling breathing. Then, a sound came from the datapad, a strange, snap-hissing sound. The sound whizzed a few times, followed by the screams of the quarren. Though the younger man was too horrified to pay attention to the last part, Kaart caught it as clear as the Chandrilian sky.
The sound of the quarren's last breaths formed a word recognized throughout the galaxy.
She sat on her heels in the pitch-black gym, her hands on her knees. One of those hands, the right in this case, held the symbol of the order she served: A lightsaber. It was customary for students to meditate in darkness before any form of exercise, as visual distractions proved difficult to be rid of with the younger Jedi. Though the darkness hid her features, beneath it's inky-black veil was a blonde haired girl, nearly twenty years of age and her hair tied back into a long ponytail, which reached down to in-between her shoulders. Her eyelids were closed in concentration, but they housed large, bluish-gray eyes that still sparkled with the sheen of youth, and rimmed with long, golden tipped eyelashes. Her skin was pale, and her face looked like the face of a person who was more accustomed to scowling, but beautiful nonetheless. The physique that was concealed beneath her Jedi tunic was perfectly formed, tight and taut muscles covered by a healthy layer of her pale skin, and to the disappointment of her male classmates, a Jedi tunic, pants, and knee-high boots. Though to many she seemed a bit on the short side, standing just under 5'4, that proved to be their greatest down fall when the Master's called for them to spar against her.
She was concentrating hard, trying to let herself be swept away into the eternal flow that was the Force. Her entire life, Masters and fellow students have commented on her enormously powerful presence in the Force, but for all their talk, she had no results to show them. She didn't doubt in her potential, but her control of that potential was another matter entirely....
It didn't matter now though. She was preparing for a simple sparring match, but hardly any sparring match was considered simple by a student when the opponent was a Jedi Knight. The Jedi Knight in question was somewhere else in the dark room, and as part of the exercise, the girl was not allowed to reach out into the Force. This would make the Jedi Knight's exact location in the room impossible to pinpoint, as he was extremely proficient at the arts of stealth. No, she would get no help in this exercise but from her own reflexes.
She waited for what seemed like a millennium, when, suddenly, she detected the pressing of a button across the room with incredibly acute ears. Like a flash of lightning, she darted up from her former position and activated the blue blade of her lightsaber in one swift motion. Almost simultaneously, a cyan bladed lightsaber ignited, then flew through the air and crashed into the girls blue one just as she had turned around to block. But the Force of the blow was not strong enough, and the lightsaber fell harmlessly to the ground, deactivating halfway down. But the fight wasn't over. Milliseconds after the lightsaber hit the ground, it soon shook with an invisible force. It activated its glowing cyan blade and leapt from its short resting place. Spooked by the move and to disheveled to look for its owner, the girl swung at the cyan blade in an attempt to divert its course. It collided solidly with a crashing hiss, and the lightsaber was sent sprawling through the air, towards the far side of the room. But the fight still wasn't over. The lightsaber, seeming to possess a mind of it's own, diverted in it's course in mid-air, right into the hand of a cloaked and hooded figure, who was charging with all the force of a ronto stampede. Once his grasp on the weapon was complete, he raised it high over his head as he charged, intending a powerful downward chop. The girl summoned all her courage and control to stand firmly in her original spot, her legs and feet unmoving. She then summoned all her strength as she raised her blade into a high, horizontal block to defend against the Knight's attack. It seemed like it took him forever to complete his menacing move, but in reality, it was only a few seconds. His cyan blade once again collided with her sapphire-blue one, and the sheer force of it made the girl feel like her arms had gone numb. But the block held, and the girl and the Knight's were forced to press their lightsabers against each other in what had come to be called a "saber lock". They pressed and pushed against the other's blade, hoping and trying to gain the advantage. They held the lock for a few moments, neither combatant gaining any ground. Finally, the Knight jumped back, putting himself out of range of any counter-attack from the girl. But, he didn't jump far enough, and soon, the girl was all over him like flies on bantha fodder. A flurry of quick strikes kept the Knight on the defensive, and the form of the girl's strikes revealed her to be quite skilled in the ways of Form V, the way of the Krayt Dragon, or most commonly known as Shien or Djem-So. Though the Knight was on the defensive, his moves proved to be a Knight that of Form I, the way of the Sarlaac, or Shii-Cho. The seven forms of lightsaber combat, though thought lost with the old Jedi Order, were rediscovered when the New Jedi Order's Grandmaster, Luke Skywalker, re-established the Jedi Praxeum on Ossus. The barrage of offense continued to flow from the girl for a few moments. The Knight's and her blade collided hundreds of times in a matter minutes. Finally, the Knight began to turn the tides, first putting in a counter strike behind a few of his parries, but it escaladed from there. The girl understood. The Knight was holding back on his assualt, wanting to make her think she had the edge. But the girl expected it, and began to switch modes from her unrelenting offensive to her quick, efficient defensive. It wasn't easy though. The Knight's strikes came just as fast as hers, but the fatigue in her arms from the offensive combined with the Knight's more powerful blows forced her to use every defensive move she had, as well as a many evasive ducks and jumps. Then she saw it. Once again, the Knight raised his lightsaber over his head for a horizontal downward strike. To exhausted by her previous antics, she raised her own lightsaber to a horizontal position once more. She fully expected that it would fail, either by her own fatigue or from some new trick the Knight had up his sleeve.
The Knight's blade collided with hers once more, and once more, they were put into a saber lock. But this time, the Knight had the advantage, having relaxed with easy defensive moves for much of the fight. Slowly but surely, his blade inched forward, overpowering the girl's fatigued arms. But, the girl had one last trick up her sleeve. She let the Knight push forward, giving him the idea that he would win. Then, with one swift motion, she sidestepped, creating a fulcrum out of the Knight's incessant pushing. Her lightsaber's blade was flipped away by the Knight's shove- just as the girl activated a second blade from the other side of its hilt. It came within inches of beheading the Knight before she halted its progress, holding it menacingly near the back of his neck. They held perfectly still in revelation of the surprise win.
"Sith-spit..." the low, croaking voice of the Knight said finally. He deactivated his blade and lowered his hood, revealing a black-skinned, bald human in his thirties, his features feral yet dignified, a short goatee ringing his mouth and his eyes an icy blue color. He was heavily built, huge muscles covering his tall frame; there was no more physically fit person in the Jedi Order than he. The girl deactivated her lightsaber and smiled.
"Oh, c'mon! Don't tell me you forgot about the second one? Why do you think the hilt is twice as long as a regular one?" The girl asked incredulously. She was referring to her double-bladed lightsaber, which consisted of two independent lightsabers attached to one another. It was very well put together. The hilt was a tight and sturdy baton, showing the practical construction common in those who practiced Djem-So.
"I hate Katarn's damned students," the Knight said out of frustration. He looked back to find the girl was no longer smiling, but wearing a face of caution, as if she was to be scolded.
"I hate Katarn's students," the knight reiterated, then smiled, "They're too clever".
The girl smiled softly. "Well, he is the Battlemaster of Yavin. It's his job to make sure we can fight," the girl replied.
"To defend! It's his job to make sure you can defend yourself, but more importantly, those around you," The knight said harshly, shattering the happy aura the room had acquired and setting the girl back on her heels. She bowed in submission.
"I'm sorry, sir. I meant to say defend," She apologized.
"No you didn't," the knight said, "You are more transparent then you realize. You have much to learn....my young apprentice". The last words sent a shockwave through the girl, and she bolted up from her bowed stance.
"Do you mean....?" she asked, almost in total shock.
The knight smiled. "Yes, yes. From this day forward, Eloiin Standl is the apprentice of Jax Skauk," he said, "I will inform the council later today. It will be a few months before I leave, so you don't have to worry about packing just yet. And you'll have time to inform your parents. They live on Dantooine, don't they?".
Eloiin tried to reply, tried to say "yes", but the words had escaped her, so she just nodded. She had barely started to open her mouth to express her gratitude towards being picked as his apprentice when the intercom came on.
"Jax Skauk, you are wanted in the council chambers," A droid voice said over the loud speakers in the gym.
"I'll be right there," Jax replied loudly. He gave a quick bow of his head to Eloiin before walking out of the gym doors. When he was gone, she looked to the ground and gave a heavy sigh of relief. Clipping her lightsaber to her belt, she levitated a towel and her robes into her hands from across the room and wiped off her face's recent collection of sweat. In her mind she repeated the same phrase over and over again.
I did it.
The battered Black YT-1930 Light freighter quaked around him as it exited hyperspace travel. The pilot remained calm, though. Considering the way he first jumped into hyperspace, this rough exit was a luxury compared to what it should have been. He was a young man, having just passed his nineteenth year of life. He had a soft, almost boyish face that looked more accustomed to no expression whatsoever. It framed two large, brown eyes, and was topped by unruly and loose dark brown hair. His skin was an eerie color of pale white, which was starkly contrasted against his hair and clothes. He wore jet-black, floor-length trench coat, which covered most of the black combat armor underneath. Black boots came up to the top of his calves, and black leather gloves covered his hands.
The ship smoothed out as it flew further through the empty vacuum of space. The pilot gave a deep sigh of relief when he finally assured himself that he had lost his aggressive pursuers. He looked to the numerous small display screens around the main cockpit view port.
"Ossus," He read aloud. He was going over the population details when an explosion rocked the ship. Nearly thrown from his seat, the pilot held on tightly as the explosion caused the ship to swoon violently left and right. When the shockwaves subsided, sparks were flying from short-circuiting wires and cables, causing the lights and displays to flicker. Just before the power in the cockpit shut down, the ship's AI managed to speak a message that concerned the pilot more than a little.
"Warning. Orbit Degrading".
* * *
Eloiin walked through the halls of the academy at a casual pace, her robes billowing behind her. No destination was in her mind; going on walks were her favorite form of relaxation. Though she wanted to go tell of her exploits to her closest friend, Sareth Halcyon, she chose not to, remembering that Sareth was probably training somewhere else in the Praxeum. Instead, she just started walking through random corridors. The Ossus Praxeum was one of the largest buildings on the planet, and housed thousands of students and their families. Ossus Praxeum not only as a training ground and nerve center for Jedi, but it also provided jobs and careers for the family members of the students, for those who were not quite ready to leave their children and loved ones. Eloiin smiled absently as she walked, almost in a daze, down the unending halls. Most of her family was still on Telos. Her father, Stant Standl, kept a ranch of a variety of galactic livestock, and her mother, Lorrel, helped him in his day-to-day affairs. Eloiin's elder brother, Marsel, was training to be a computer engineer on Coruscant, while her younger brother, Ken, had taken a route that no one in his family had taken before. Joining the New Republic Fleet about the same time Eloiin joined the Jedi twelve years ago, he rose from a simple student in a piloting academy to the youngest pilot of his generation to become a member of the famous Rogue Squadron. But, though all three of them were Force-sensitive, only Eloiin chose to be a Jedi.
But that didn't mean she was a natural at it. Of the twelve years she had been a member of the Order, she had had countless hard-knocks and rough times. She had high potential in the Force, and everybody expected her, almost forced her, to be a Jedi Consular, a scholar of the Force. But, Eloiin chose differently. She enjoyed the simplistic, almost dance-like maneuvers of lightsaber combat, of taming one's own body, instead of the philosophical mind training of studying the Force. She much preferred the dodging of an enemy’s blade or bolt than dodging the dark side.
When Eloiin finally came back to her senses, she was standing outside the main building. The halls had led her to the outdoor speeder port, where the trainers kept a small speeder bike rental shop for outings into the Ossus wilderness with their students. It was a strange construction. Though she was outside, Eloiin still had a roof over her head, though it was more like an awning. She thought about this port's strange construction. It was if someone had taken the exterior wall right from the hallway. The Jedi always enjoyed architecture that was both technological and urban but natural at the same time, and this was definitely an example. If one did not pay attention, they wouldn't even know that they had just been outside. There were several racks full of speeder bikes dotting the grass. Instead of following the hall to her next destination, Eloiin walked out onto the grass, laid on her back, and began to reflect. She had spent a decade honing her Jedi skills for this moment, the moment in which she would become leave the subjugated world of being a student into being an apprentice, and the, a knight.
"Eloiin Standl, Jedi Knight," she said with a grin, then it widened, "Jedi Master!". The pent up excitement finally exploded, and she leapt up from her prone position. Grabbing her lightsaber, she ignited it, and went into a flurry of exercises and maneuvers to work off the energy. After a few seconds, she slowed down, half from loss of breathe, and half because she noticed a group of giggling younglings were pointing at her, laughing at how silly she was acting. Nearly turning red from embarrassment, Eloiin deactivated her lightsaber and sat down cross-legged on the grass, feigning meditation so the younglings would leave. But, to her irritation, they did not, instead going off into the grass and sitting down just a ways from her, their faces towards the wilderness of Ossus. Eloiin gave up the facade, relaxing in her cross-legged sit and staring blankly at the grass, going over the events in the gym over and over again. A familiar voice spoke up from the hallway.
"Giving the grass the death stare, I see," the feminine voice said sarcastically. Eloiin looked up, surprised to discover the identity of the person walking towards her. The girl was tall by human female standards, close to 5'7. She was thin, with thin arms concealed underneath her robes and tunic. Her skin was pale, and her face had an eerie resemblance to a doll's, which sat atop a long, thin neck. Though very attractive, many a male had been scared off by the unrelenting scrutiny of her large brown eyes, which gave her the doll-like appearance. All of this was topped off by straight combed brown hair that hung loosely at her shoulders. Though her appearance suggested elegance, grace was obviously not her forte as she plopped down on the grass next to Eloiin.
"Oh? Am I? I apologize, Sareth. Would you rather I gave YOU the death stare?" Eloiin asked playfully.
"No, no. That's all right. I like being alive, thank you very much," Sareth said, giving a fake show of fear. Her show dropped when she noticed Eloiin's gaze had not left the ground.
"Are you ok?" she asked cautiously, never the one who wanted to incur her friend's wrath. Eloiin gave a slight nod as she continued her contemplative stare.
"I'm an apprentice now...." she said, her voice trailing off. Sareth smiled from ear to ear.
"See! I told you! I knew you were going to get picked today!" She exclaimed in congratulations to Eloiin, "Who picked you?".
"Jax Skauk. He's a knight. He said he'd take me as his apprentice if I beat him in a practice duel...." Eloiin answered, once again fading into her daze. Though she was still grinning, Sareth held her next string of interrogations. She looked around, taking in the joy of the Force among nature as Eloiin continued her deep-thinking.
Suddenly, Sareth's mind snapped back to more serious matters.
"The HoloNet was talking about those murders happening on Coruscant," Sareth mentioned ominously.
"And?" Eloiin asked, finally breaking her gaze from the ground.
"They were talking about the latest one. So far, it's the only one to have any sort of visible cause of death or solid evidence," Sareth stated plainly, but her voice soon turned grim, "The autopsy reports the victim was killed by numerous cauterized wounds. Sliced right in half. They also found an audio recording".
"An audio recording of what?"
"Well, they said the first part of it was just screaming and sounds of struggle, but at the end, you can hear a lightsaber ignite in the background and the victim say 'Jedi'".
This troubled Eloiin, as it rightly should. Anti-Jediism was an ever present problem in the galaxy. Many races and peoples hated the Jedi. Many people hated the Jedi for past tragedies caused by a Dark or mislead Jedi, such as the Hapes Cluster, while others just hate them from evil spite. Either way, many would pounce on any opportunity to wipe the Jedi from the face of the galaxy. Eloiin broke the reflective silence with a grim sigh. It was ironic how some people hated those who try to help them.
After several minutes of silence, a gasp came from the group of sitting younglings. Eloiin and Sareth looked over to see them pointing at the sky. It was not uncommon for younglings to do so - there was hundreds of different types of avian on Ossus. But this was different. Whether it was their panic through the Force or the look of fear on their faces, the pair didn't know, but they both traced their pointing fingers to an object in the sky. It was bright and moving fast in a downward angle.
"Meteor, probably" Sareth said, figuring it to be some loose asteroid. Then, as the pair watched its slow descent, it's path changed dramatically, looking as if the meteor was pulling up. Of course, at the speed it was going, it quickly resumed it's previous trajectory into the forests. A jolt shot through Eloiin in the Force, and she leapt to her feat. She ran over to the nearest speeder rack, entering the code into its computer to unlock the bikes. When she realized what her friend was doing, Sareth ran after her, stumbling from the sudden change in attitude.
"Wait! What are you doing?!" she asked desperately as she reached the rack. Eloiin was already mounting a speeder bike.
"Meteors don't pull up," Eloiin answered simply as she started up the bike. The whine of the speeder's engines increased just as Eloiin shot off into the forests, chasing after the strange meteor, her robes flowing like a flag in a hurricane.
"WAIT FOR ME!!!" Sareth screamed as she mounted her own speeder bike and chased after her determined friend....
* * *
"C'MON, BABY! WAKE UP FOR DADDY! PLEEAASE!" The pilot pleaded to his still inactive ship. It had flickered on a few moments earlier, and it began to level out. But it was a fleeting hope as the ship systems failed once more. The pilot was frantically rewiring consoles and pushing the ignition button on the main console, while at the same time trying to keep his balance in the chaotic tumbling caused by the friction of re-entry. He looked out a side view window to see flames dancing off nearly every square inch of the ship's hull from the friction, and the black paint job peeled away to reveal glowing, red hot metal. He found the two wires he was looking for and cut them. Taking the opposite wires, he gingerly pressed them together. Sparks flew as electricity passed through the wires.
"C'mon, c'mon!" He berated himself quietly. He pressed them together again, this time zapping himself slightly. Stubbornly, he tried again. This time, his persistence was rewarded as the ship came back online. To his dismay, but no surprise, hundreds of alarms and warnings were going off. The pilot hopped into his chair just in time to see the nose of his ship plow through a tree and into the ground....
Eloiin heard a loud crashing noise a few miles ahead of her. Not deterring her in the least, she increased the throttle. She was deep in the Ossus jungle now, weaving through the masses of trees and other obstacles like a blaster bolt with homing capabilities. Soon, the smell of smoke and flames filled the air, and Eloiin found herself in the midst of the most horrible crash scene she had ever seen. The few trees that weren't broken from the impact were burning like stars. The sounds of animals screaming in terror as they fled the now burning forest filled the air, though most of it was drowned out by the roar of flames. She dismounted her speeder bike and walked farther down the path of destruction. She soon discovered a great crevice in the ground, a trench of charred dirt and ashes. It made sense, Eloiin thought. If the ship hit the ground straight on, she would have heard an explosion caused by the drives. The scar in the ground showed that the ship hit the surface of Ossus at an angle. Eloiin quickly congratulated the pilot on the landing. Not many pilots had the skill to pull a ship up from an angle like that after re-entry. Then, a thought pierced her mind. Was the pilot still alive? She hopped down into the dug-out trail the ship's crash had created. Almost immediately, she regretted it. Her boots began to warm up, and she had forgotten the kind of heat a crash like this could cause from the friction. Deciding that it would be good motivation to keep her moving, she started down the trail. Smoke rose from random spots along the path, so it was almost impossible to determine how far away the ship finally stopped. She didn't get far when a voice behind her shouted out.
"WAIT! STOP! CEASE!" Sareth's desperate pleas came in-between her gasping. She was running at full sprint, waving her hands frantically for Eloiin to stop. With great difficulty, Eloiin obeyed, though she felt her boots quickly heating up. Finally, Sareth reached her, then bowed low, trying to catch her breath.
"Shouldn't....we let...a Master....handle this" She said in-between pants.
Eloiin ignored her suggestion and turned around, continuing down the trail at a jog. Sareth rolled her eyes and followed. After jogging a considerable distance, they passed through a veil of black smoke to find their target. The ship itself was a rough gray, though shards of it's former chrome black remained. Steam and heat rolled off it like a Tatooine sandstorm. Sareth gave a shudder at the horrible sight of the destruction that had been wrought, caused by the ship and of the ship. Eloiin's heart fell into her stomach. How could anyone possibly survive this? Slowly, hesitantly, she reached out with the Force, both hoping and dreading the thought of finding life near the ship. A slight beacon in the Force glowed several feet beyond the destruction, further along what would have been it's path.
"Eloiin...." Sareth warned, reminding Eloiin of what had happened here. If that beacon was a survivor from the ship wreck, then one could only imagine the condition they were in. The emotions that came with such a sight would be terrible, and they had been told all their lives to avoid such emotions. But something was different this time. She couldn't explain it, but Eloiin had to help the survivor. The Force was speaking to her now, and it told her to help. She continued past the burning ship, Sareth following cautiously behind her. Following the feeling in her stomach, Eloiin's path led her into a part of the jungle not more than fifty feet away from where the ship lay, into the parts that had been touch very little by the devastation that lay behind.
Then she saw him. Laying on the ground in a prone position on his stomach, lay a survivor. Eloiin and Sareth rushed to him. Sareth got on her comlink and was giving details as Eloiin gingerly examined the survivor. His black coat was charred and ripped in many places. His breathing was strained and shallow. Blood streaked down from a gash on his forehead, matting his dark brown hair with the life liquid. Eloiin's heart sank even further. He was lying in a pool of his own blood, and he was pale. So very, very pale. She turned him over carefully onto his back. What she saw horrified her.
Projecting from his side was a large shard of transparisteel, dug deeply between his ribs. She grasped it gingerly, almost breaking out into tears when she felt how scorching hot it was. Trying desperately to stop herself from breaking down, she swiftly ripped the agonizingly serrated metal out of the survivor's side, followed by another small torrent of blood. The survivor gasped and coughed, opening his eyes briefly. Eloiin gasped as she looked into two orbs unlike any she had seen before. Something about them drew in Eloiin's attention like a magnet, but she couldn't decipher what. Then, the survivor's eyes closed as he fell unconscious. Eloiin then became frantic. She could feel his presence fading, releasing itself into the Force. With one desperate plea of "No!", she used all the power she could muster from the Force to keep him alive. Sareth, who had already sent the message and was assured that help was on its way, watched helplessly as her best friend held the survivors head in her arms.
It seemed like hours, but in reality, it was only minutes before dozens of Jedi Masters appeared at the scene of the crash on speeder bikes.
Two of them rushed over to Eloiin and Sareth while the rest went to go take care of the flames, both of them guiding a hover-stretcher. When they reached them, the two Masters went immediately to Eloiin and the survivor. They grasped her shoulder, bidding her to let go and let them get him back to the academy, but she couldn't hear them. She couldn't hear anything. She stared blankly at the Masters before letting go of the survivor. She upheld her blank stare as they loaded him onto the stretcher and strapped him into it. They rushed away with the battered survivor, strapping his stretcher to the back of one of the Masters' speeder bike, then bolted off into the dense forest.
All the while, Eloiin stared blankly after them. Sareth moved beside her.
"Elo? Hey, you all right?" Sareth asked softly, gently nudging Eloiin's shoulder. But her soft voice was lost on her friend. To Eloiin, the entire galaxy had gone silent.
"Hey! Eloiin!" Sareth continued, louder and more forcefully. Her persistence paid off, as Eloiin shook of her stupor and looked up at Sareth from her crouching position, bringing herself back into the focus of reality.
"What?" Eloiin asked when she saw Sareth's inquisitive look. Sareth would have executed her eminent interrogation, but a small detonation originating from the crashed ship's hull reminded her of the setting.
"C'mon. The Masters can handle this. Let's get back to the academy...."
* * *
Two weeks. Two weeks had passed since the crash of the stranger's ship and his insertion into a bacta tank. Everyday, Eloiin, and occasionally, Sareth, had visited his bacta tank to check on his progress from the medical readouts and droids. Under direct orders from Grandmaster Skywalker himself, one of the Jedi Order's best healers, the Mon Calamari Cilghal, had been sent to Ossus to personally oversee the survivor's recovery.
Eloiin was walking through the hallways of the Ossus Praxeum, returning to her dorm after a meeting with the Jedi Council on her acceptance as an apprentice. Exhausted from a full day of training as well as the ridiculous wait for her appointment with the council, she wanted nothing more to do than to find a good bed and pillow and fall into blissful unconsciousness. She gave a heavy sigh, knowing that she was still a far walk from the dormitory sector. Then, a possibility crossed her mind. Her current path took her right past the medical center. She quickened her pace as her mood brightened at the possibility of killing to gundarks with one shot - checking up on the survivor's condition and picking up some stims so she won't nod off while walking back to her room. The walk to medical center wasn't easy though. The halls of the Ossus Praxeum were always packed, and with classes and training sessions letting out, there were more students in the halls than normal....or needed. When Eloiin finally did manage to shove and weave her way through the living roadblocks to the medical center, she was greeted by Tekli in the reception area, Master Cilghal's Chadra-Fan apprentice.
"How is he, Tekli?" Eloiin asked, rubbing her sore and bloodshot eyes.
"Well, Cilghal says all his bones and other wounds are all healed, but he has showed no signs of waking up yet," Tekli answered, depressed at not having much good news to give to the concerned girl.
"May I see him?" Eloiin asked.
Tekli hesitated, but then nodded her head. Using the Force, she pressed a button behind the receptionist's counter, which opened a door into the bacta recuperation room. Eloiin proceeded past Tekli into the bacta room, the former not following. The door shut behind her, leaving Eloiin alone in the dark room. The walls of the room were lined with tanks filled with the healing substance, the liquid itself giving off a soft, bluish green glow. All but one of the seven bacta tanks in the round room were empty. In the middle of the room stood a single bacta tank. Within it was the floating form of the survivor of the crashed ship. He floated limply in the tank, his body covered by a medical black body glove and an air mask covering his nose and mouth.
Eloiin stared at his unconscious body for a moment. All of his wounds were healed with no sign of scarring. While it was a relief, Eloiin shuttered at the memory of his condition. When they first brought him in to the medical center, they declared him the worst case they had ever seen. What part of him that wasn't covered in gashes and cuts were filled in with burns and bruises. Both of his legs were broken. His right arm had a compound fracture, and his left shoulder blade was completely shattered. He sustained multiple fractures to the ribs, and the metal that was lodged in his side collapsed his left lung.
Eloiin shook her head, ridding herself of the grim thoughts. All that mattered now was that he survived. She looked to a small console attached to the survivor's tank that kept track of his vitals. Regular pulse and breathing rates assured any concerns she may of had about his condition. Suddenly, her exhaustion caught up with her. Keeping her balance from the sudden surge of light headedness she stumbled back over to the door and opened it. Tekli was sitting at the reception desk, and concern crossed her rodent-like face immediately when she say Eloiin's expression and posture.
"Are you all right?" Tekli asked as she rushed over to Eloiin's aid.
"I'm....I'm just tired," Eloiin said, but that didn't stop Tekli from reaching out in the Force to examine her.
"Kneel," Tekli commanded, almost requested. Eloiin complied, and when she kneeled on one knee, Tekli raised her furred hand and applied it to Eloiin's forehead to further examine her through the Force. Tekli shook her head.
"Your exhausted. And dehydrated. You'll be staying here for tonight," She said, as she used the Force to open the door to a room full of beds. Eloiin would have argued it, but another surge of light-headed queasiness defeated her debate. She followed Tekli to a bed at the far end of the room. After downing a glass of water and hanging her cloak on a hook, she laid down on the ultra-soft pillow and enveloped herself in warm blankets. And then, quite literally, she passed out.
Fires burned all around her in a perfect symmetrical circle. She stood in it's center, trying desperately to find a break in the flames so she could escape. But every time Eloiin moved towards the edges of the circle, the inferno reached out to her, trying to envelope her in their searing flames. Then, she recognized a sound coming from the flames. Instead of their symbolic roar and crackling, the flames spoke with voices. Voices of disappointment, of scorning, of anger. They told her of her imperfections, of her failures. Then, a break in the flames appeared, and the voices ceased. A figure walked down the path in the flames, towards Eloiin. He was shrouded in a black cloak and hood, his face covered by a mask with a single visor, like the holo-vids of the first Clonetrooper helmets. When he reached the perimeter of Eloiin's circle, he stopped before it.
"Let me in," A deep, basso voice said, and Eloiin recognized it. It was a voice she had heard many times in old Imperial recordings. It was the mechanically altered voice of Darth Vader. For some reason that was beyond her, she felt she knew this man.
"Take off your mask," Eloiin answered hesitantly, unsure of whom it was.
The cloaked man did not answer. Eloiin looked past him to see that the trail was diminishing, as the flames were slowly catching up with the cloaked man. Apparently, the cloaked figure noticed it too.
"Please....let me in," The cloaked figure pleaded. But Eloiin knew she couldn't let him in while without knowing who he was.
"Take off your mask!" she cried to him, but the figure shook his head.
"I can get you out of here, but first, you must let me in!"
"Not until you take off your mask!"
"I CAN'T TAKE OFF MY MASK!" The cloaked figure answered, but it was too late. The flames caught up with him. They ignited his cloak, replacing it with a cloak of flames. The man screamed in agony, and Eloiin could feel tears rolling down her cheeks. The cloaked figure held perfectly still as the flames consumed him. Then, he raised his arms up. In a bright flash, the cloaked stranger exploded like a sun going nova. It knocked Eloiin onto her back, and when she sat up, her protective circle was gone and the flames were creeping towards her. The voices had returned, and they were all yelling at her.
Then a single word could be heard being chanted by the oncoming flames.
* * *
Eloiin's eyes bolted open, and she nearly leapt from the bed. Closing her eyes in a silent self-ridicule for her foolishness, she sat up in the warm bed, wiping the sweat that had collected on her forehead. When she opened her eyes to the darkened room, she found that someone was standing at the foot of her bed. She stared at the person for a second, trying to re-focus her eyes in the dark room. When they finally adjusted, they widened in shock. Standing at the foot of her bed was the survivor of the crash, soaked and dripping from head to toe in bacta. He was staring at her intently.
"Jedi?" he asked flatly. Eloiin nodded her head in confirmation.
"Yes? What do you need?" she asked the survivor.
"Do you know where I can find some clothes?" the survivor asked, and it was then that Eloiin noticed his crossed arms and his subtle shivering.
"Yeah, just hold on a second," she told the survivor as she rose from the bed. She plodded barefooted over to the wall, where her cloak was hanging. Lifting it off the hook, she tossed it over to the survivor, who quickly wrapped himself in it. She then swiftly slipped on her boots.
"C'mon. We'll go find you some clothes," Eloiin said to the survivor as she led him out of the room. Once in the receptionist's room, Eloiin hopped behind the desk and began pushing buttons. Opening up a comlink, she contacted Tekli.
"Tekli? Are you awake?" she asked, not sure what time it was. There was a scrambling noise on the other end of the comlink before Tekli's high-pitched voice answered.
"Yes? Eloiin? How are you feeling?" the Chadra-Fan asked.
"I'm fine," Eloiin answered. She glanced over at the survivor to find him standing a few feet away from the end of the receptionist desk, near the door they just came through, staring sheepishly at his bare feet.
"Eloiin? You still there?" Tekli asked in a worried tone. Eloiin shook her attention away from the survivor back to the comlink.
"Yeah, I'm still here. I was just calling to tell you that our....visitor, is awake and sopping wet. Were do you guys keep the spare robes?"
There was a silence on the com before Tekli finally answered.
"Do you want me to come over there?" she asked with concern. Eloiin looked over at the survivor again, then answered.
"No, that's all right. I can handle this. Just tell me where the robes are."
"Well, if you're sure. The spare clothes are in a compartment near the door to the bacta room," Tekli answered.
"Thanks," Eloiin said before she turned off the comlink. She walked brusquely to the designated compartment, lifting up the panel in the wall that housed it and extracting a standard tunic and a cloak.
"Here. Put these on," Eloiin said, tossing the robes over to the survivor. He reached to catch him, but his reflexes and motor functions were still slow from the fourteen-day nap, and the robes fell to the floor at his feet. Like an embarrassed child, he bent down and picked them up, then retreated into the ward. Eloiin let out a sly smile at the spectacle of the survivor's modesty. While the survivor dressed in the other room, her thoughts turned to what she had been told by the Master's about what they found out about the survivor. They had pulled her out of class the day after the crash to give her what details they could find, seeing as it was because of her that there were any survivors at all. The Masters found a fully stocked armory, complete with various weapons and battle-droids aboard his YT-1930 Correllian transport ship, leading them to believe he was either a mercenary or a pirate. He was wearing combat armor underneath his black trench coat, and it was probably one of the reasons he survived the crash. In his coat were two concealed and heavily modified DL-18 Blaster Pistols, as well as a palm-sized holo projector that was crushed from the impact. But the last item they found on him disturbed the Masters most of all. Hooked onto the belt of his combat armor was a small, silver cylinder, which, after further examination and an accidentally pushed button, they discovered to be a lightsaber. That, along with Cilghal's reports on his recovery, led the rest of the Jedi Council to believe him to be one of there own, or at least a descendant of a member of the Old Order. Eloiin laughed at her own pride. She had honestly believed that it was because of her efforts that the survivor was still alive.
The survivor stepped out of the ward, clothed in a Jedi tunic and robes.
"I'm lucky these fit," he said as he tossed Eloiin's soaked cloak back to her. Her thoughts then turned back to unanswered questions.
"What is your name?" Eloiin asked. The survivor's reaction to the question was an expression of surprise, but it was quickly replaced with one of suspicion.
"Why do you want my name?" he asked ambiguously.
"Because I don't want to have to refer to you by your patient number all the time," Eloiin answered simply, recognizing the survivor's hesitancy to answer.
"Why would I tell you my name?" the survivor asked, continuing his enigmatic game.
"Why wouldn't you?" Eloiin inquired, answering his question with another question as he did.
"Because you didn't tell me yours," the survivor answered flatly. His reply slapped Eloiin in the face with logic, and she held back an embarrassed blush.
"Of course. My mistake. My name is Eloiin Standl," she said, giving a slight bow. When she raised her head, she found that the survivor was smiling, remaining silent.
"And you are...?" she asked, getting slightly annoyed at his smugness. Giving a similar slight bow, he answered.
"Korr. Davion Korr. Unwittingly and accidentally at your service," he added with a chuckle and his own slight bow. Eloiin grinned, glad that the steely, serious moment of introductions was finally over.
"What's the chrono say?" Davion asked casually. Eloiin flipped back her tunic's right sleeve back, revealing a wrist-chrono.
"About zero three hundred hours," she said, amazed at how early in the morning it was. Davion let out a yawn and headed back into the ward.
"Where are you going?" Eloiin asked.
"You read the stupid chrono! It's still three in the morning! So...I'm going to sleep," he answered stubbornly, closing the ward door behind him. Eloiin sighed, shook her head, and then headed out of the medical center, down the halls towards the dormitories.
While walking, she muttered something to herself.
"Nice meeting you too, Davion...."
* * *
The next day, Eloiin woke up to the blaring siren of her alarm chrono. She limply raised her arm, letting it crash down on the alarm chrono and deactivating it. She raised her face from the pillow, feeling as if she was peeling it off of the soft fabric. She sat up in her bed, lingering with eyes closed for a moment. Almost spontaneously, she ripped the covers from her pajama covered legs, only to replace them when the chill draft that was so common in her room touched her legs. She sighed, then slowly leapt from her bed, which was suspended high in the air by repulsor lifts. She grunted from the impact when her feet touched the ground. Slowly, but surely, she made her way to her dresser, opening it and extracting one of hundreds of the exact same tunic. After replacing her star-covered pajamas with the tunic, she stood in a daze with her eyes closed, exhausted from the previous days of endless training. A loud thumping noise and a yelling voice woke her from her standing coma.
"ELOIIN!!! IT'S TWELVE HUNDRED!!! YOU'RE GONNA BE LATE FOR CLASS!!!" Sareth's voice shouted from the other side of Eloiin's apartment, outside her dorm's door. Eloiin's eyes popped open at these words, and in movements too fast to discern, she used the Force to summon her cloak and her utility belt, which had her lightsaber attached. Bounding over the furniture that filled her dorm's living room, she darted towards, through, and out the door....
"What is your name?" the large Jedi Knight asked. Davion sighed in frustration.
"I told you already. I'll tell you my name if you tell me yours," he replied to the imposing Jedi, not intimidated in the least. Though it didn't matter. He'd remember this Jedi easily enough - few in his order could boast that size and be human, which Davion was sure he was. Even with his cloak on and his hood up, one didn't miss muscle mass that big and not recognize later on. The Knight's voice also helped; Davion had never heard such low of a voice before, not even from the holo-records of Darth Vader. The Knight returned Davion's previous frustrated sigh with one of his own.
"Fine," The Jedi said at last, "My name is Jax Skauk. Now tell me yours."
"Why?" Davion asked.
"Because if it wasn't for us, you'd be dead right now!" Jax barked angrily.
"Now, now, Jedi. Don't lose your temper. Anger leads to the dark side of the Force," Davion said mockingly. Jax opened his mouth to reply, but then he stopped suddenly, as if distracted by something. Davion smiled smugly. He knew the ways Jedi worked. Jax was communicating telepathically with his superior, probably the one standing on the other side of the concealed window looking into the questioning room. A moment of silence ensued as Jax spoke with his mind to his superior. He then rose from the chair and looked down on Davion, who was sitting in the chair opposite of Jax.
"Somebody wishes to speak with you," Jax croaked, his icy blue eyes peering down on the young man from underneath his concealing hood. As the door to the room slid open and Jax walked stiffly out, another cloaked figure walk into the room, and Davion subsequently felt his stomach doing barrel-rolls. He had felt someone outside the room, but he had thought that it was a multitude of Jedi Masters listening in on the interrogation. Suddenly, the power of several Masters walked in the room concealed in the body of one man. One man! Davion felt sick as the man sat down in the chair Jax was just in. Like Jax, his identity was concealed beneath a cloak and hood. He hunched over in his chair, his elbows on his knees and his hands clasping one another.
"Hello, Davion," the man said in a soft, docile voice. Davion immediately felt his heart fall into his gut. He knew that voice. Everybody knew that voice. Summoning all the nerves he could, Davion spoke.
"Hello, Master Skywalker," Davion replied in a calm voice, and he congratulated himself within his mind for the best cover-up performance he had ever done. While he had maintained an even, business like facade, his mind was in a state of petrified fear. Sitting in front of him was Luke Skywalker! The Jedi Master! Davion saw a smile coming from Master Skywalker from beneath his hood, and Davion's heart sank even further. He knew how nervous Davion was. But, maintaining the facade, Master Skywalker continued.
"Ahh, Davion, what brings you to Ossus?" he asked casually.
"So I am on Ossus?" Davion asked, feigning ignorance.
"Yes. Your ship crashed in the jungle, not far from this Praxeum."
"So I'm currently in a building cram-packed full of Jedi brats?" Davion asked unenthusiastically. Master Skywalker smiled.
"Just like old times," he chuckled. Davion gave a roll of his dark brown eyes and remained silent.
"Well, anyways, it will be a while before we can send you on your way," Skywalker continued. Davion looked at him nervously.
"Why? I'm not under arrest, am I?" he asked cautiously. Skywalker let out a light-hearted chuckle.
"No, you aren't under arrest. But unless you want to fly that wreck of a ship out of here before we have it fixed, I suggest you make yourself comfortable."
Davion thought for a moment before he answered.
"How bad is it?" he asked, not sure he wanted to stay long in a complex full of Jedi.
"Let's just say, it makes the Millennium Falcon look like a Nubian Cruiser," Luke said with another sly smile, "it'll take a few weeks to fix. In the meantime you can repay us for our charity."
Davion stared wide-eyed at the Jedi Master.
"What do you mean?" he asked incredulously, "I didn't ask for you guys to do all this!"
"No," Luke replied calmly, "but, then again, you didn't really object either". Davion opened his mouth to respond, but decided against it, letting his forehead fall into the palm of his hand. He looked back up to Master Skywalker with a face the expressed utter and total defeat.
"What do you want me to do?" he asked finally.
* * *
Eloiin rounded the final corner in an all-out sprint. Halfway to class, she had realized that she was barefooted, and she was forced to run back to her dorm to get her boots, costing her valuable seconds. When she reached the door to the classroom, she stopped before entering to put on her boots and cloak, as well as to smooth her wild hair. When she entered the classroom, all the students were already seated cross-legged on the floor arranged around a podium in the front of the class. She quietly headed to the back of the class, though it did little to quell the stares of her fellow classmates. She took a seat on the floor at the back of the class, unwittingly near a familiar face.
"You're late," the scarlet lethan twi'lek whispered as Eloiin crossed her legs.
"The Master isn't here, therefore, I'm not late," Eloiin replied sharply.
"Why do you think the master isn't here? He's out looking for you!" the twi'lek exclaimed. A look of worry crossed Eloiin's face, but when she noticed the expression of sheer amusement on the twi'lek's face, it turned quickly to an arctic glare.
"Tara....are you lying?" she asked, holding her leer on the red twi'lek. Eloiin knew how Tara acted. Before they were both accepted into the Jedi Praxeum, they were neighbors and friends on their homeworld, Dantooine. Eloiin could remember playing with Tara when they were young, using wooden staffs and sticks, pretending to be Jedi Knights. But, when they were accepted to the academy, Tara and Eloiin grew apart, with Eloiin dedicating her life to study and practice, and Tara dedicating hers to looking pretty and gaining popularity.
Tara initially resisted Eloiin's glare, but her resolve quickly dissolved.
"Jeez, just kidding, Eloiin," she said in false exasperation. Eloiin had a sharp come-back for her rival's teasing, but she was forced to bite back when the door to the class opened. The first person to walk through the door was Master Kell Low, the resident Weaponmaster of Ossus. Brown haired and bearded, he was middle aged, but his age did nothing to deteriorate his well toned muscles. Master Low had the keen distinction of being one of the most skilled lightsaber duelists in the galaxy, and he was the primary trainer for any Jedi wanting to learn the ways of the double-bladed lightsaber. Many thought the only reason this powerful master wasn't on the Jedi Council was his weak affinity with the Force. His parameters barely met the requirements to be labeled as force sensitive. Either way, he was one of the most deadly Masters of the Order, and even the Council members made sure they bowed to the powerful man.
Another person entered the door, and the sight of him made Eloiin's jaw drop. Still walking around in the Jedi robes she gave him was the survivor, Davion Korr. Master Low took his customary stand directly behind the podium, while Davion picked to lean on the wall behind the students.
"Welcome back to Lightsaber Training, class. Today, we'll be reviewing the seven forms of lightsaber combat, followed by some sparring," Master Low announced to the class. His gaze shifted momentarily to Davion, then he started again.
"We also have a new guest instructor helping us with class today. He'll be giving the review. I'd like to introduce ex-Jedi Knight Davion Korr," Master Low said, giving Davion a signal and stepping away from the podium. Davion slowly made his way around the sitting students and up to the podium, nodding slightly to Master Low as he passed. Once there, he glanced quickly around the room once, then spoke.
"Can anybody tell me what is considered the first of the forms of lightsaber combat?" he asked the class as he gripped the sides of the podium. Several hands shot into the air, Eloiin's among them. He looked around the room, trying to choose one of the multitudes of hands. Suddenly, he pointed in Eloiin's direction.
"You. With the lekku. What is the answer?" he asked, and Eloiin a slight shade of red when she realized he had meant Tara and not her. Tara stood up from her cross-legged seat.
"The first of the seven forms is known as Shii-Cho," Tara answered proudly.
"And what is so distinct about this style?" Davion inquired.
"Umm....it's....the first?" Tara asked in embarrassment. Eloiin smirked at the thought of Tara turning any redder than she already was. Davion shook his head. He waved his hand, bidding Tara to sit, which she complied with no argument.
"Shii-Cho is distinct in the fact that it is the simplest. But its simplicity is it's strength. It is the stepping stone to the rest of the forms of lightsaber combat. Without it, there would be a lot more self-injured Jedi in the galaxy," he stated in a raised voice for the entire class to here, and his last comment coaxed a few giggles from them.
"Okay, another question," he continued, "Which Jedi, whom you've no doubt heard of, was considered the greatest master of the fourth form?"
This time, fewer hands were raised. Eloiin raised her hand with six other students. Once more, Davion scanned the crowd, looking for a prime choice. He chose a rodian student on the other side of the room from Eloiin.
"So? What is the answer?" Davion asked the student.
"Isn't it Master Luke's former mentor? Yoda?" the rodian asked. Davion nodded his head.
"Yes. Very good," Davion said as the student sat down again, "Now, can anyone tell me why Yoda was the greatest master of form four? And, before you answer that, can you tell me form four's name?". Only three hands shot up this time, among them were Eloiin's, a young, dark haired and tanned skinned man name Domas Lay’rah, and from across the room, Sareth's. Once more, Davion's eyes scanned the room, and Eloiin gave a frustrated sigh. She felt like he was purposefully trying not to choose her. Then, he pointed straight at Eloiin.
"You. Eloiin, I believe. Can you tell me form four's name and why Yoda was so good at it?" he asked. Eloiin stood up, her heart racing. She cleared her throat and began to speak.
"Form four's name is Ataru, or 'Way of the Hawk-bat'. Master Yoda excelled at this form for a few reasons. Firstly, Ataru requires tremendous use of the Force to increase one's agility and acrobatic ability. This meant that it needs a considerable amount of room to maneuver. Yoda was perfect for this, as his respectfully diminutive stature gave him extra room to move," Eloiin recited prideful. She looked Davion in the face to find him smiling from ear to ear. She smiled also, but the feeling of blood rushing to her face startled her, and she quickly took a seat, hoping that the heads of her classmates could hide her reddening face.
Davion then looked to the class again, contemplating his next question. He suddenly smiled.
"All right. Now for a tough one. Which style was frowned on the most by the Old Jedi Order, and why?" he asked. Eloiin looked around the class. Not even she knew the answer to this one. Then, slowly, a single hand rose from the crowd of students. Davion waited for anymore, and when he realized there were none, he called on the single hand. The single student stood up, revealing her to be a human of similar age as Eloiin. Built almost the same way, her nose was more pointed then Eloiin's, and her hair, though the same length as her blonde counter-part, was the exact same color as Davion's - A brown so dark it was almost completely black.
"What is your name?" Davion asked, his interest in the young student putting Eloiin off slightly.
"Audra. Audra Shan," the dark-haired girl answered.
"Well, Audra, do you know the answer?" Davion asked softly. The entire class waited for her to answer.
"Makashi," Audra stated shortly. Davion waited for her to add on, but when she didn't, he asked again.
"And why was it frowned upon?" he asked once more.
"Because after the Seventh Battle of Ruusan, the Sith threat was completely destroyed....or so we thought. Without any other lightsaber wielding enemies to fight, Makashi became obsolete," she stated weakly. Eloiin could feel her fear of getting the answer wrong rolling off her, but it brightened into personal triumph when Davion nodded his head.
"Very good, Audra," he said as Audra took a seat once more. Davion opened his mouth to speak again, but was interrupted by Master Low clearing his throat. Instead of continuing with his speech, Davion lifted up the long sleeve of his cloak from his left arm, revealing a chrono.
"One more question. What is the seventh form of lightsaber combat, and what is significant about it?" he asked. Another crowd of hands rose from the students, but instead of scanning, Davion spoke again.
"Oh, no. This question goes to the brunette girl in the corner. The one who won't stop leering at me," Davion said as he pointed straight at, to Eloiin's surprise, Sareth. She rose from her sitting spot, holding her glare on Davion. Everyone in the room could feel the resentment flowing from her and directly into Davion.
"So, you squinty-eyed nerf-herder, what is the answer?" Davion said sharply, drawing a healthy wave of laughs from the class. But Sareth was unaffected.
"The seventh form of lightsaber combat is Juyo. It is an incomplete style," she said sternly. Davion shook his head.
"Not so smart now, are you? You leering little schutta! Juyo is a complete style. The records held by the Old Jedi Order were corrupted when concerning Juyo. Recent discoveries in various holocrons show that it was, in fact, a complete form," Davion gloated, drawing an entire torrent of laughter from the class, as well as a disapproving glare from both Sareth and Master Low. Once the laughter subsided, Davion opened his mouth to talk, but was once again interrupted by Master Low purposefully clearing his throat.
"All right, all right. Time for sparring," Davion announced as Master Low left the room....
"How is he doing?" Luke asked, eyes closed and sitting in a cross-legged position on a hovering pad as Master Low walked in to the darkened meditation room.
"This is a bad idea, Master Skywalker," Master Low answered ominously.
"And why do you say that?" Luke asked as Master Low took a seat in the hoverchair across from Luke's.
"First off, his attitude. It is volatile and easy to set off. If the student's experience prolonged exposure to his behavior, they will act in kind!" Master Low answered with concern.
"It is not our place to control the chosen behaviors of our students," Luke said, but Low refused to be deterred.
"....And secondly, how do know he hasn't fallen to the dark side?"
"I don't sense the dark side within him," Luke countered, his eyes still closed.
"They didn't sense the dark side in Palpatine either, until it was too late," Low said seriously. Luke opened his eyes, and even in the dark room, the sight of them calmed the near-ranting Master Low.
"And what do you expect us to do? Exile him? Kell, that is how The Sith Order was created," Luke answered sternly. A silence enveloped the room before Master Low bowed his head and rose from his chair. Before he left the room, he stopped and turned in the doorway.
"I hope you're right about this, Master Skywalker," he said, then turned to leave.
"For their sakes, I hope you're right," Master Low added under his breath as the door closed behind him.
* * *
Eloiin darted straight for Sareth. People all around her had risen to claim a sparring partner, but some of the more desperate ones will take whatever they could take. When she did get to Sareth, she looked like her head was going to collapse in on itself, so thorough was her scowl.
"Why did you glare at him?" Eloiin asked, knowing the source of her anger was their new 'instructor'.
"I didn't! So what if I don't blink often! It doesn't mean I'm glaring at him. And besides, for most of those questions, he looked straight at me, then looked away and picked somebody else. As if he was doing it on purpose!" Sareth answered, her tone bordering on a hysterical rant. Her rant would have continued, but the approach of Davion cut it short.
"Hello Eloiin," he greeted pleasantly, then he turn towards Sareth, "And your name is?"
"Sareth," she answered calmly, but Eloiin could feel the distaste being held from her voice. Apparently, Davion felt it too.
"Are you still sore about your new title?" Davion asked Sareth. She answered him with another one of her glares. Davion scoffed at her persistence. "You really think that bothers me?" he asked her, but when she silently continued her leer, he continued.
"Fine. If that's the way you want to play it...." he said. Eloiin saw Davion squint his eyes slightly in concentration as he matched Sareth's stare. She then turned her gaze to Sareth herself. Eloiin saw Sareth's gaze begin to weaken, followed by a series of quiet grunting noises from Sareth's throat. Suddenly, the grunting stopped, and Sareth's glare was once again upon Davion, its wrath increased tenfold. Davion bowed his head slightly and walked away, but not before turning his head towards Eloiin and giving her a wink.
When he had disappeared into the scrambling crowd of students, Eloiin turned back to Sareth.
"What did he do?" Eloiin asked eagerly.
"He bothered me," Sareth answered simply. Eloiin screwed up her face in confusion. Sareth shook her head in frustration.
"He was communicating with me telepathically," Sareth clarified.
"And what was he saying?" Eloiin asked, continuing to gather details. Sareth shook her head.
"I told you. He 'bothered' me. As in, he tried to fill every nook and cranny of my mind with the word 'bother'," she said with exasperation. Eloiin held her reaction as best she could, but it couldn't last. Soon, she was doubled over with laughter.
"Shut up! It isn't funny!" Sareth pleaded weakly to a breathless Eloiin.
"You....your right....it's hilarious!" Eloiin choked out in-between laughing fits. Just as Eloiin began to recover, Davion's raised voice was heard calling for silence. When the crowd of students quieted to some degree, Davion spoke once more.
"All right. Everybody have a partner?" he asked, and smiled when he was answered by complete silence, "All right then. Off to the training area!"
And with that, the students stormed out of the classroom with all the subtlety of a herd of stampeding banthas.
* * *
Davion patrolled along the edges of the great gymnasium that was the Ossus Lightsaber Combat Training Area. The gym itself was a large, single room with padded mats; a safety measure for rambunctious trainees. The walls were bare and plain white durasteel, and the ceiling was covered with patterns light sources, their gaps filled in with small windows into the clear blue Ossus sky. Six small doors equally spaced along the walls led to private training rooms. These rooms were used for a variety of purposes, from advanced sparring to monitored fights against Jedi Training Droids, which were droids with advanced AI and were equipped with lightsabers. In-between the doors to these private training rooms were a variety of shelves holding and equal variety of equipment, ranging from extra lightsabers, paint grenades, staffs and wooden swords, and stun blasters and training remotes.
Davion intently watched the students as he continued his route around the gym. He couldn't help but crack a smile when an unlucky or unskilled student was hit with his opponent's lightsaber. One of the Ossus Praxeum's countless safety rules was that every student must attach a restraining cap to their lightsaber at all times. These restraining caps, or 'zap lenses' as the students referred to them, refocus the blade of a lightsaber from a deadly, cauterizing blade into one that was much weaker and almost totally non-lethal. The blade of a restrained lightsaber electrocutes instead of cuts, allowing for safe practice with enough of an unpleasant sensation to teach the students not to be hit. Being hit by these blades usually results in numbness of the specific part, rendering it useless as a unrestrained lightsaber would. It also allows a student to become accustomed to using their own unique lightsaber hilt, instead of the standard hilt of a training lightsaber.
As he walked around the gym, one pair caught his attention from on the far side of the room. Slowly, he made his way around the room, until he could see clearly who the pair were. He was surprised to find that one of them was Sareth, but didn't even bat an eyelash when he saw that her opponent was Eloiin. He let out a laugh at the scene of their sparring. Eloiin wouldn't hold still for more than two seconds, so constant was her incessant jumping-around. But even in light of her amazing offense, Davion was impressed to see Sareth keeping up, though the strain was showing. Davion moved to the wall closest to their area and continued his examination.
From her wide slices and aggressiveness, Davion identified Eloiin's style to be Djem-So. But there began the conflicts. Her style, while definitely powerful and aggressive, was also evasive. Her constant jumping and dodging reminded Davion of the lesser known eighth form, Sokan. Davion was impressed. Mastering a form was hard enough, but to combine the advantages of two forms while subsequently eliminating their weaknesses was truly a feat. As he continued his observation, he witnessed Eloiin striking from her right, then dropping to the ground and swooping her left leg to sweep Sareth's feet out from under her. It failed, as Sareth predicted it and hopped over it. This was a bad thing, Davion decided later. In that short interval where Sareth's feet left the floor, Eloiin was given enough time to make a shot at her upper torso, and Sareth barely blocked it in time. Davion let his breath out in a heavy sigh, amused at how closely Sareth had come to defeat.
His attention then turned to Sareth. Though she was struggling and mainly on the defensive, Davion could tell her form as well. Her style was very much like Juyo, but it was wilder, quicker. Only a few moments later, when Sareth found a gap in Eloiin's onslaught and began to go on the offensive herself, did Davion manage to place her style. The flailing swings and seemingly clumsy attacks were the customary cover for the seventh form's famous variant, Vaapad. Knowledge of this style was restricted, as it was only recorded by one man, its creator, Mace Windu. Davion would have contemplated more on how Sareth would have come up with such information had her duel with Eloiin come to such an abrupt halt. While Davion was deep in thought, Eloiin had found a gap in Sareth's attacks and filled it with the blade of her weapon. As soon as it made contact with Sareth's side, the electricity generated by the blade shot into her, causing every muscle in her body to seize up, which led to her falling to her hands and knees.
As soon as the sparks stopped, Sareth rose gingerly, still panting hard.
"Did you have to hit so hard?" she asked, still favoring her numb side.
"Did you have to leave yourself so open?" Eloiin asked with a smile. Sareth shook her head in frustration, then regretted it when it threw of her balance, causing her to stumble. Davion started towards them, and he held back a smirk when he saw Sareth visibly straighten.
"Well done you two," he congratulated the two girls. Sareth just rolled her eyes, but Eloiin answered.
"Hey....when are you going to drop the Master-act and start behaving normal?" she asked playfully. To Sareth's surprise, Davion upheld his cheerful expression. Without turning, he pointed his thumb over his shoulder, indicating a far off corner that concealed a surveillance device.
"As soon as they stop watching me like a flock of starved Mynocks," Davion answered with a defeated sigh. As if answering to Davion's complaints, a soft but loud beeping sound filled the gym's intercom system, signaling the end of the class period. As the students went over to racks near the main door to retrieve their cloaks and leave, Eloiin retrieved hers and returned to Davion.
"So, where do you head to next?" Eloiin asked casually. Davion shrugged his shoulders.
"I have no idea. They told me to teach this class, and that was it for the day," Davion answered simply. He then turned to observe the exit of the few last students. This annoyed Eloiin greatly. He is avoiding me, she thought to herself. As Davion began to head for the door, Eloiin took up pursuit and tried to strike up conversation.
"Where are you staying?" she asked as she matched Davion's pace. He glanced over to her, but quickly set his sights ahead of him again as he walked out the door, Eloiin following closely.
"They gave me a dormitory to stay in," he answered shortly, and which confirmed Eloiin of his efforts to avoid her.
"What is your dorm number?" she asked, not relenting in her own crusade. Davion glanced over to her again, this time with a measure of discomfort in his eyes.
"B-143," he answered even more quickly than his last response.
"You do know that B-wing is in the other direction, right?" she asked cautiously, not wanting to offend Davion. Instead of coming to a direct halt to question Eloiin or to scold her as she expected, he turned a complete one-eighty turn, walking in the direction Eloiin indicated. The abrupt course change startled Eloiin, causing her to jump back out of reflex. This stopped Davion, and he eyed her curiously. Eloiin felt a blush coming on, too powerful to hold back. Davion cracked a wry smile.
"So jumpy! I've seen hawk-bats that were harder to startle than you," he said in a mocking voice, "and what a lovely shade of red you're turning. A few more seconds and you'll start to look like that twi'lek you were talking too".
Eloiin felt a sudden surge of vengeful feelings, and only the symbolic snap-hiss of an activating lightsaber from behind Davion revealed to her that these were not her feelings. From out of a crowd of students came Sareth, jabbing her lightsaber's violet blade for Davion's head. With lightning reflexes, he responded to Sareth's aggressive stab by subtly tilting his head. Almost immediately after the initial dodge, a lightsaber appeared in Davion's hands, which he quickly used to deflect any further attack from his attacker with its glowing blue blade.
Before Sareth could continue the assualt, Eloiin pounced, simultaneously putting herself in-between Davion and Sareth while using the Force to knock Sareth's lightsaber out of her hand. But the anger within Sareth would not subside, and she tried to plow right through Eloiin to attack Davion with her bare hands.
This was another of Sareth's mistakes, as Eloiin was much stronger than her. Grabbing Sareth's wrists, Eloiin managed to keep her in the same spot. After a few seconds of struggling, Sareth calmed down and Eloiin was able to let her go. But it did nothing to calm Eloiin's mind. Sareth was the calmest, most rational person she had ever met. For her to act like this defied everything Eloiin knew about her best friend.
"Sareth...." Eloiin said, at a loss of words for her friend’s suddenly violent behavior. But Sareth remained silent, keeping her glare on Davion. Davion matched her glare.
"In the dueling chambers. Now," he commanded as he headed back to the Training Area.....
Eloiin looked into the view screen equipped below the observation transparisteel that lined the spectator room, which in turn viewed the entire expanse of the private training room. In the view screen’s display were two video feeds; One each for the two combatants. In one showed Davion pacing back and forth through the small, compact room, sometimes walking full circles around the hovering platform in the center. In the other screen it showed Sareth, using the hovering platform in the center of her room for what it was put there for; meditation and reflection. Eloiin looked over to the timer next to the view screen.
"Thirty seconds," Eloiin said into the microphone attached to the bottom of the view screen. When her eyes turned back up to the display, both combatants stared into the corner of the room where the holo-camera was, nodding in confirmation of Eloiin's alert. Eloiin bowed her head and shook it with a sigh. This fight wouldn't end well either way. If Davion wins, Sareth's pride would pay the price. If Sareth wins, Davion would be put off by his own hurt pride, shattering Eloiin's attempts to befriend him. Then an amusing thought came to Eloiin. If it came down to it, she could enter the main room unnoticed, using her advantage of stealth and surprise to take them both out and end the feud before it takes root. She began to plot it out, when the buzzer sounded throughout the room. The doors to the prep rooms slid open, and the sound of two igniting lightsabers replaced the buzzer's drone.
Both Sareth and Davion walked out calmly; Sareth in her Jedi tunic and Davion refusing to remove his cloak even in a duel. Sareth stooped into a bow. When she rose, all Davion gave was a curt nod. Another buzzer sounded, and the two combatants fell into their opening combat stances. Eloiin saw Sareth fall into the pose she had seen so many times; her upper body and arms drawn back with the tip of her violet lightsaber pointing directly towards Davion. Eloiin then looked to find Davion holding his blue lightsaber at his side, it's blade pointing down and diagonally away from his body. This confused Eloiin greatly. Never before had she seen such a stance. Once again, her inner contemplations were defeated by an outside stimuli, as the last buzzer sounded, propelling both combatants into each other.
* * *
"I told you this was a bad idea," Master Low said as he stared into the view screen. In it was a redirected transmission of the events unfolding in the very private training room that Davion Korr and Sareth Halcyon were using.
"Patience, Kell. It will turn out in time," Master Skywalker said as he, too, stared at the fight that was unfolding before their eyes and that of the hidden camera in the private training room.
* * *
Eloiin flinched as Sareth's and Davion's blades clashed together for the first time with brutal force, creating a flash that hurt Eloiin's eyes. When Eloiin looked back, she couldn't help but smile at the scene unfolding before her. She had never seen Sareth fight with such efficiency before. As the seconds ticked by, Sareth and Davion's weapons collided thousands of times. Though Eloiin was impressed by her closest friends, she couldn't help but also admire Sareth's opponent. Though he was on the defensive, she noticed that he was still using only one hand. His movements seemed so familiar to Eloiin, but she could simply not place the form. Then it hit her as Davion went on the offensive, pushing back Sareth from her onslaught. Makashi. Davion was using the second form of lightsaber combat, the way of the ysalamiri. The form of contention. Eloiin smiled as it all came into place and her suspicions proved correct. The one-handed fighting, the quick jabs and slices, the relaxed, almost smug look on his face; it was all Makashi. But, after a few seconds, his form changed into something that more resembled her own style, Djem-So. Still distracted by the incredible show, Eloiin did not pursue the thought. The quick succession of flashes from colliding lightsabers continued in various ways for a few moments.
Suddenly, during a short saber lock, Davion raised his hand at Sareth's face. Using the Force, he sent Sareth flying towards the wall like a proton torpedo, doing back flips all the way. When she finally hit the wall, Eloiin thanked her, and Sareth's, lucky stars that the walls of this room were padded. When Sareth rose, which was almost immediately after she hit the ground, she launched herself at Davion, letting out a stomach-flipping roar. Davion matched with a bone-breaking swing, countering the force of Sareth's enraged attack. Their blades bounced off each other, and Eloiin was amazed that either of them was able to hold onto their weapons after such a blow. Then, standing static, they entered a elegant dance of thrusts, parries, slashes and blocks. Then, their lightsabers collided solidly. Their sabers locked, and both combatants pushed with all their might. Or so Eloiin believed. She could not see through the calm facade that was Davion's face, and her insufficient knowledge of him did not help her. But Eloiin could plainly see Sareth was trying hard, as her face was turning red from strain. Upon closer inspection through the transparisteel, Eloiin saw the seething anger in Sareth's eyes.
That was what she had dreaded, and she put her fledgling plan into effect. Barely taking time to take off her cloak, Eloiin removed her lightsaber from her belt, pressed the opening button, and darted through the door that led into the private training room. She charged into the room, igniting the single mode button on her lightsaber. She pounced, using her blade to break both of the combatants saber lock. Both of them jumped away too opposite sides of the room, leaving Eloiin in the center. Eloiin looked first to Sareth, who's absolute confusion showed clearly on her face as she panted. Eloiin's gaze then shifted to Davion, who, though he looked slightly confused, was absolutely calm and seemed to expect it more.
Eloiin raised her lightsaber, it's glowing blue tip pointed vertically toward the ceiling. She then brought it down and held it far in front of her, so that her lightsaber was now horizontal.
"Both of you. Come get me. If you can," she declared forebodingly as she ignited her weapon's second blade. Davion smirked, his suspicions of Eloiin's weapon proved correct. Sareth looked even more confused. She started to stalk back over to Davion to continue her original fight, thinking Eloiin's antics to be some kind of joke. Eloiin intercepted her, jabbing at her with one of her blades and forcing Sareth to block. Eloiin looked back to Davion, who seemed to have gotten the idea as he walked over towards Eloiin, his lightsaber ready to strike. One last jab to Sareth sealed the deal as the two-on-one match began.
* * *
Master Low sat quietly next to Master Skywalker, watching intently as the fight went its course. While Master Skywalker took notice of the whole fight, Master Low could not bring himself to look at anything other than what confirmed his fears. The use of Makashi, the aggressive use of the Force; all of it helped to confirm his suspicions of the young Ex-Jedi. Then, as they watched the fight continue, a third combatant entered the fray. Master Low identified the new participant as one of his brightest pupils.
"Eloiin Standl," he said to Luke.
"I know," Luke answered mysteriously. As they watched, something caught Luke's attention. He bolted from his chair, startling Master Low. He walked brusquely to the door, leaving Master Low in a stupor.
"Luke! Where are you going?" Master Low asked desperately as he attempted to catch up with the surprisingly fast Master Skywalker.
"Something isn't right," was all Luke answered as he exited the room at a swift pace.
* * *
Eloiin felt adrenaline rush through every vein and artery as Sareth and Davion teamed up to defeat her. Eloiin's weapon, her double-bladed lightsaber, was finally getting a workout it was designed to have, as double-bladed lightsabers were literally made for more than one opponent. Each blocked strike gave Eloiin's weapon the momentum it needed to make an attack. Sareth was easy to Eloiin, as she had trained with her for years and Eloiin knew her every move. Davion was more difficult. He was unpredictable and fast; a deadly combination. Either way, Eloiin held her own against the pair, and it pleased her greatly that the two had found some common ground to bond on. From their movements and attack timing, Eloiin could tell that they were communicating telepathically, choreographing every move.
After a few minutes of playing with them, Eloiin finally brought out her big guns. Her attacks increased ten-fold, and not all of them were with a lightsaber. Davion sustained a soft kick to the chest that forced him back a bit, and Sareth had her feet swept out from under her twice. Using the Force, she began doing acrobatics, jumping over and around the pair to confuse them. She tried to jump over them once, but Davion expected it, and he lashed out in the Force, grabbing Eloiin by her ankle. Dangling in mid-air, Eloiin was vulnerable as Sareth closed in to end it. But the blonde warrior would not be so easily taken. As she hung in the air by her ankle, she brought her lightsaber to bear, putting on a wonderful show as she defended herself from Sareth's flurry of attacks. Any spectator would either be amazed or rolling on the ground from laughter at such a display of skill. Davion saw that his efforts were getting him nowhere. He waved his hand, sending Eloiin flying towards the wall. But the indomitable Eloiin would not be manipulated so. She twisted and turned as she flew through the air, until finally, her feet hit the wall. Using her well-developed leg muscles, she launched herself from the wall, straight into Sareth. Caught totally by surprise, Sareth just stood there as Eloiin flew into her lightsaber-first.
Her blade skewered Sareth squarely through the sternum, followed quickly by the tumbling mass that was Eloiin. When Eloiin recovered from the crash, Sareth lay paralyzed on the ground, her eyes closed with the unconsciousness customary of such a square hit. Eloiin rose quickly, expecting an onslaught, but found Davion standing still just a few feet away. Eloiin scanned his face, confused by the look of regret on his face. Not understanding, Eloiin deactivated her lightsaber and stepped towards him.
"Are you all right?" Eloiin asked, concerned by the look on Davion's face. He returned her gaze with one a face of regret.
"No. Are you all right?" he asked, sounding quite shaken. Eloiin gave herself a quick examination before answering.
"Yeah. Why?" she asked, her concern returning two fold.
"What about her?" Davion asked, indicating Sareth. Eloiin gave Sareth's unconscious form a quick glance.
"Yeah, she's fine. What's wrong Davion," Eloiin inquired. Davion shook his head in shame and lowered his lightsaber. As it's blade touched the ground, Eloiin saw nothing strange; only the common snapping and hissing of a lightsaber colliding with another object. Then Davion pulled his lightsaber away, revealing the true concerns behind his expression. Eloiin's eyes widened as she stared at the ground, which was now marred by a deep, melted hole where Davion lowered his weapon. She looked wide-eyed up at Davion, not knowing what to think of this revelation.
"I'm sorry. I didn't-" Davion started, but he was interrupted by the main door opening. In walked a cloaked Master, followed closely by a confused Master Low.
"Davion," the cloaked master said in a warning voice.
"I-I know, Master Skywalker. I didn't mean to-" Davion started, but was interrupted by a flabbergasted Master Low, who had just seen the gashes on the walls and floor. Eloiin was experiencing almost the same thing as Master Low, but more out of realization that Master Skywalker was in the same room as her than the sight of the collateral damage caused by Davion.
"What in the ruins of Alderaan where you thinking!?" Master Low bellowed at Davion.
"I didn't mean to! I just forgot to-" Davion tried to explain, but Master Low would have none of it.
"You put the lives of these two students in jeopardy!" Master Low said, indicating Eloiin and Sareth, who had just emerged from her nap, "I have half a mind to-"
"Enough, Kell!" Master Skywalker commanded, immediately humbling the Jedi Master. Master Skywalker lowered his hood, revealing his big, bright blue eyes, scarred and wrinkling face, and sandy-blonde hair streaked with gray. Eloiin clasped her hands in front of her and lowered her head in respect of the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order. Sareth was merely sitting on the ground, blinking and trying to regain her senses. Luke looked over to Davion. Reaching into a hidden pocket within his robes, Master Skywalker extracted a small, cap-like object. He tossed it over to Davion, who caught it with ease.
"I apologize for taking so long to get it to you," Luke said to Davion as he looked over to Master Low with a serious look on his face, and then continued, "it took some time for the labs to create a zap lens that would fit your own lightsaber's unique emitter."
Davion remained silent as Luke went to exit the room, whispering to Master Low to follow. Master Low obeyed sheepishly, obviously hurt by Luke's indirect scolding. Before they exited the room, Eloiin looked up. Though she could only see the backs of the departing Masters, what she was paying attention to was the look on Davion's face. He was breathing hard from nervousness, Eloiin observed, but that wasn't what grabbed her attention. He seemed paler, more fragile looking. And there was something about his eyes. She couldn't place it, but something about his eyes reminded her of the day she met him; of the day he crashed on Ossus's surface. But, with a blink of an eye, it was all gone, and his visage returned to its normal self.
A grunt snapped Eloiin out of her state of deep thought. She looked over to find Sareth attempting to stand. Guilt coursed through Eloiin as she rushed to her friend's side.
"I'm sorry, Sareth. I didn't mean to get you so good," Eloiin apologized, putting one of Sareth's arms over her own shoulder to help Sareth get back on her feet.
"Whoa," Sareth said as she got to her feet. She then began to let off a series of giggles.
"Ha! I can't feel my legs!" Sareth mused as she struggled to gain her balance. Eloiin was relieved that her friend wasn't holding grudges, as what seemed to be the norm lately.
"Can you stand on your own?" she asked Sareth, still supporting her. Sareth nodded, and Eloiin cautiously removed herself from under her friends arm. Her attention then turned to Davion. She walked over to Davion to reassure him about the previous incident. Halfway there, Sareth said something indecipherable, and Eloiin turned to see her friend falling forward. She darted to catch Sareth, but even then she knew she would never make it in time. Then, for some unseen reason, Sareth's plummet halted, her body standing at an impossible forty-five degree angle. A quick glance back to her original course confirmed what Eloiin had thought; Davion was standing with his arm outstretched in front of him with is palm pointing towards Sareth's general direction He was using the Force to stop Sareth from falling.
"Whoa. Wiggy," was all Sareth said as Davion raised his hand, using the Force to make her stand in her usual ninety-degree angle. When Sareth started to fall once more, Davion used the Force to pick her up into the air instead.
"C'mon," he said to Sareth as she floated past him on her back, "let's get you to the med center."
Davion and Eloiin finally made there way to the doors of the Med Center after weaving through countless crowds of Jedi all ages, gender, species, and rank. After walking in a full medical escort met them at the door, whisking Sareth away on a hover-stretcher. Davion and Eloiin were left in the receptionist room, watching the news on the HoloNet. After deciding nothing was on but drama-infested talk-shows and commercials, Eloiin turned to Davion, who was sitting in the chair next to her.
"So, you were a Jedi?" she asked casually. Davion gave a mocking smirk as he turned his head to look at her, prying it from the HoloNet screen.
"No! I just watch lots of holo-cinemas. I'm not a Jedi, but I do play one occasionally," he replied in a dead-serious voice. Eloiin almost took him seriously, but he could not hold up his charade for long, and his face soon cracked into a wide smile.
"You're teasing me," she accused him with a false glare.
"Oh no. I'd be much to frightened to tease a Jedi," he laughed. Eloiin let loose a small giggle, then continued.
"Seriously," she said, wanting him to answer her question. Davion just sighed and shook his head.
"Yeah, yeah. I was a Jedi once," he said as he raised his face to stare at the ceiling.
"What rank were you when you quit?" Eloiin continued, curious to her new friend's background. Without lowering his face, Davion shifted his eyes in their socket, glancing at Eloiin before returning them to there original sigil of the ceiling.
"I was a Jedi Knight when I resigned," he answered shortly and seriously, his voice heavy from some cause Eloiin did not know about.
"You're a little young to be a Jedi Knight," Eloiin commented, not entirely convinced of his claims.
"Do you think they'd let me teach a class if I was just an apprentice?" he asked her, defeating her doubts with logic. Eloiin thought for a moment, then spoke up.
"What Praxeum did you go to?" she inquired.
"The one on Coruscant. In the old Jedi Temple," he answered simply.
"Where are you from originally?" Eloiin asked, preparing herself, and him for that matter, for an all-out interrogation.
"Concord Dawn," Davion answered. Then Eloiin's questions went into rapid fire.
"How old are you?"
"Are you gay?"
"Do you have a mate?"
"If you mean a girlfriend, no."
"Are your parents alive?"
"I don't know."
"Is that your true hair color?"
"Why did you leave the order?"
Davion opened his mouth to answer, but the wide-eyed, hopeful look on Eloiin's face snapped him back to reality. He remained silent, scowling. Eloiin kept up her hopeful face for a few more moments, but tired of it and dropped the facade.
"Oh, fine! Have your secrets," she said, crossing her arms and putting on a pouting face.
"Why don't you answer all the questions you asked me?" Davion suggested.
"In the same order?" Eloiin asked. Davion nodded. Taking in a deep breath, Eloiin prepared.
"Dantooine, twenty in one month, no, no, yes, yes, and I haven't quit the Order," she said in one breath. Davion gave her a mock applaud, smiling from ear to ear. Apparently it was contagious, as Eloiin was doing the same. Then, the HoloNet produced a sound that was slightly reminiscent of a small bell, signaling the beginning of a newscast. A green twi'lek in a business suit appeared on the screen. Text above her gave the headlines.
"The force versus the senate," Eloiin said, reading the headline of the story.
"Be quiet," Davion whispered as he intently watched the screen.
"And now for our top story," the twi'lek said to the screen, " politicians and civilians alike are taken aback as evidence to last weeks murder of Senator Quoral'zee was released to the press. The evidence includes autopsy reports of multiple cauterized cuts and dismemberments, as well as an audio recording from the victim’s datapad. Investigators agree that the wounds of the victim, combined with the sounds produced from the datapad recording can point only to one organization; The Jedi Order. A speech was given today by Chief of State Borsk Fey'lya on the issue."
The screen switched from the serene face of the twi'lek reporter's face to a recording taken from within the Senate Rotunda. The screen centered on a chocolate furred, short Bothan standing on one of the floating pods often found in the building.
"This evidence that the Jedi Order is the architect of these murders can not be ignored. As of now, the entirety of the Jedi Order is under investigation. The Jedi Order will comply to these investigations, or they will answer to the New Republic fleet. Too long have we let the Jedi shape our fates. It is time for the people to shape this Republic again," Borsk announced, which was followed by an almost equal amount of applauds and disapproving boos.
Not able to take it any longer, Eloiin used the Force to turn the ceiling-mounted screen off. She was scowling with frustration. Davion noticed her expression, and it concerned him, which came as a surprise to him. He had spent most of his life never being too connected to anything, and him caring for the feelings of another hadn't been practiced in his behavior for a long, long time. While most Jedi preferred to keep their feelings under wraps, he preferred to keep them under chains.
"People fear what they do not understand," Davion commented, drawing Eloiin's gaze to his pale skinned face, the upper half of it hidden behind a parted veil of blackish-brown hair.
"They hate what they fear, and, eventually, they destroy what they hate," he continued as Eloiin continued her stare. When she did not cease her stare, Davion smiled sheepishly.
"What?" he asked. Eloiin snapped out of her stare, almost as if she hadn't intended to do it. She checked her chrono, seeing that they had been there for a half hour, but it didn't bother her. All her classes for they day were over.
"Your eyes," Davion said, once again drawing Eloiin's attention.
"What about them?" she asked, curious of what he had to say.
"Your right eye has a tinge of green in it," he commented. When those words hit Eloiin's ears, one of the feelings she dreaded most came to her. She could feel the blood rushing to her face, the beginnings of a blush. But this time she had more time to prepare, and she was able to dissipate it without turning too red.
"You're the first person to notice without me having to tell you," she said, bringing a smile of pride to Davion's face. He would have replied to Eloiin, but the doors to the ward opened to reveal Tekli scuttling towards them. Eloiin and Davion rose to their feet, and Eloiin walked to intercept Tekli.
"How is she?" Eloiin asked, confident that Tekli knew that she wanted to check on Sareth.
"She's fine," Tekli squeaked, "a little disoriented, but fine. We'll keep her over night just to make sure. If you want to go talk to her, you're welcome too."
Eloiin bowed to the diminutive Jedi Apprentice, then walked through the open door of the Medical Ward, followed silently by Davion. Too silently, Eloiin thought. When the door closed behind her, the only thing that alerted her to Davion's presence was the well-timed grunt of Davion clearing his throat. Eloiin then walked to the end of the room, more than a little amused that Sareth was laying in the exact same bed she had used not more than twenty-four hours ago. Sareth was sitting up in the bed with her back propped up against the wall.
"Hey! What's up?" Sareth said cheerfully, glad to see her friends face instead of the incessantly annoying medical droid that came to check on her periodically.
"Nothing much. Just checking on you," Eloiin answered, matching Sareth's mood. She took a seat at the foot of Sareth's bed, and Sareth's face turned to one of anger. She subsequently kicked Eloiin from underneath her covers.
"Ouch! What was that for?" Eloiin asked playfully, not truly hurt by such a face and knowledgeable enough in Sareth's behavior to know she was joking.
"That really, really hurt!" Sareth exclaimed, "and now I'm going to have heart-burn for another hour before the medicine kicks in!"
"Sorry, but I couldn't help it. It was too sweet of an opportunity. Besides, you had the nerve to attack me while I was hanging upside-down in the air!" Eloiin countered in the same playful, fake angry voice. Both girls broke out into forgiving giggles, and when the fits ceased, Sareth looked over and past Eloiin's shoulder.
"Are you going to just stand there, or are you going to come and talk to us?" Sareth asked Davion, reminding Eloiin of who exactly was in the room. Davion gave a weak smile and an even weaker nod, then sat down on the bed next to Sareth's.
"That was quite impressive today, considering you are still a student," Davion commented, bringing a proud smile to Sareth's face.
"You weren't bad either," Eloiin said, "I didn't think such a calm demeanor was possible in battle."
"Usually it's not, but some styles demand it," Davion replied modestly, the word style catching Sareth's attention.
"I saw that you were a Makashi practitioner," she commented.
"Makashi learner. I don't know it all yet. I don't think anybody does. But I do my best with it, and fill in the blanks with other techniques," he replied, still upholding modesty, "and you were using Vaapad, if I'm not mistaken."
Sareth nodded in agreement. Davion's eyebrow rose, and Eloiin could tell that he was more than interested in that fact.
"How did you acquire knowledge of such a form?" he finally asked, his curiosity not able to stand the wait.
"My sister," Sareth replied.
"Your sister?" Davion asked incredulously. Sareth nodded again.
"Yeah, my sister. Laureth Halcyon. She's a Jedi Master, but she's currently training to replace Master Tionne on Yavin IV," she answered informatively. Davion merely nodded to let Sareth know he heard her. Eloiin was about to bring up an off-the-wall topic when the door to the ward opened again. Davion rolled his eyes at what was walking towards them.
"Does everyone in this academy always wear their hood up?" he whispered to himself as a tall, stocky cloaked figure walked hurriedly towards them.
"Sareth! Are you all right? What happened?" the cloaked figure's soft, gentle voice asked from across the room as he approached. Sareth shook her head sheepishly.
"I'm fine, AJ. Just got zapped a bit," Sareth answered. Davion grinned slightly, amused to hear a tinge of embarrassment in Sareth's voice. When AJ got nearer to Sareth's bed, he slowed, then stopped in front of the bed Davion was sitting on.
"Who are you?" AJ asked cautiously. Davion rose from his seat and turned to face AJ.
"No. Who are you?" Davion asked as he waved his hand, using telekinesis to slide back AJ's hood. What Davion saw surprised him. The cloak had concealed well the blue-skinned, Midnight-black hair, and glowing red eyes of a species well known to Davion.
"A Chiss? Always a pleasure to meet a member of the Ascendancy," Davion said as he swept into a deep bow, "I am Davion Korr."
AJ returned Davion's bow, though his wariness did not waiver. A long moment of silence swept over the four. Eloiin hadn't missed the tone of voice Davion had used; an honest measure of respect was interlaced in it along with a suspicious tone. Then Davion spoke up.
"Well, the day is waning, and I'm getting tired," Davion said as he turned towards the door. He turned his head back to see Sareth and Eloiin.
"Hope you get better soon Sareth. Eloiin, could you please show me where the dormitories are?" he added. After giving a quick glance to Sareth to reassure her, Eloiin rose from her seat.
"All right," she said pleasantly as she led Davion out of the room.
"Are you sure this is wise, Luke?" one of the holograms of the men sitting at the round conference table asked. Even though Luke Skywalker was the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order, his responsibilities as its primary leader could not be avoided, even when separated by thousands of kilometers of empty space. Though the chairs around the conference table were technically empty, holograms of the Jedi Council members filled the seats; broadcasts of the actual council members scattered across the galaxy. But, one of the Council members was present in person; Cilghal was called there to monitor Davion's condition and recovery and had not returned to Coruscant yet. Master Low was also there, sitting in a guest seat.
"Yes, Corran," Luke replied to the hologram of a handsome, dark-haired man.
"How can you be so sure?" Corran's hologram asked. Luke shook his head and looked to the floor.
"He has shown no signs of what we had thought had happened to him," Luke answered simply. Though he was looking at the floor now in deep thought, Luke could tell that a few of the councilors were scoffing at his logic. But that was to be expected. After all, they didn't know what he did.
"Then there is the subject of why he left us in the first place," Master Tionne stated. This caught the attention of the gruff-looking man next to her.
"Yeah. Is it me, or did the timing of his resignation seem a little convenient? I mean, after that event on Coruscant...." Kam Solusar, Tionne's husband, asked, his voice trailing off on a subject that he knew didn't need to be repeated. A uneasy hush fell over the council, and many holograms looked to one another, each silently recounting the memory of what had happened. Suddenly, breaking the hush of remembrance, Master Low rose from his seat.
"I request that the Council put him under my surveillance," he stated sternly, scanning over the holograms of the some-dozen Masters that made up the Jedi Council. Master Horn shook his head at Master Low's request.
"Your feelings towards the boy cloud your judgment, Kell. We can all feel them," Master Horn commented.
"Were this the Old Order he would have been put on trial the second he woke up!" Master Low fumed, his patience wearing thin.
One of the other Masters rose from their seat at Master Low's claims. He was a young man, probably one of the youngest on the council. Though the hologram of him wasn't in any other color than static blue, one could still pick out the gray streaking through random areas in his tousled brown hair.
"Were this the Old Order, every Master, including Master Skywalker, would have been exiled for heresy! Where then would you be, Kell? Not with your wife, you hypocritical-" the young man countered angrily, but was cut off by a string of insults from Master Low. A torrent of angry shouts and arguments erupted throughout the Council.
"Silence!" Kam Solusar bellowed over the arguing, every member of the council eerily becoming quiet, "Master Skywalker wishes to speak."
Luke gave a nod in Master Solusar's direction to give thanks. He then looked grimly to the rest of the council.
"We will discuss the way this at another time. For now, Davion is our concern," Luke said. Cilghal looked up at Master Skywalker with her large, fish-like eyes.
"We should monitor him. Watch him. I wager he'll be here until his ship is repaired. In that time, we will determine whether we should let him be or whether we should intervene," she suggested, the majority of the council voicing their agreements. But, not to Luke's surprise, Master Low was still silent.
"What do you say, Kell?" Luke asked, waking Kell from a trance of deep thought. He merely nodded his head weakly in response.
"Then it is settled. Council adjourned," Luke stated, and he watched as the holograms faded away.
* * *
"You sure aren't very talkative," Eloiin said, breaking the long silence. She and Davion were still walking through the now-darkened corridors of the Praxeum, and neither had said a word as they made there way slowly to the dormitories. But all that time gave Eloiin a chance to go over the events of the day. Davion had tried in vain to avoid her, to scare her off. Why? Why did he want to avoid her so badly. What did he have to hide? Eloiin soon shook the thought from her head, though. I'm just being paranoid, she thought to herself. Perhaps he is just shy.
"No. I prefer to keep to myself," Davion replied. Eloiin's face turned to one of shock at the realization that he had just read her mind. Davion noticed it and screwed his face up in confusion.
"What?" he asked her, "so I'm not talkative. You don't have to look all surprised about it."
Eloiin then let her breath out. He had been talking about her vocal statement, not her mental one. She berated herself in her mind, scolding herself for coming to fast to conclusions. They walked silently for a few more moments before someone spoke up.
"It's dark," Davion stated bluntly, trying to strike up conversation. Eloiin was glad that it was he who was finally trying to talk.
"Yeah," she answered, "they do it to simulate night within the deeper complex; the part without view ports. Probably to keep the younger kids from running wild."
"Ah. But it does nothing for the older ones," Davion said, just as they passed a group of female Jedi students huddling in a doorway, giggling and gossiping. Eloiin giggled a little herself, nodding her head in confirmation. She had been guilty of sneaking around at night many times before.
"Here is B-wing. What did you say your dorm number was?" she asked
"B-143," Davion answered quietly. Eloiin nodded, then walked further down the corridor, looking at the blue glowing numbers above every door ascend until they arrived at number one hundred forty three.
"Well, here you are," Eloiin said as she stopped in front of his door. Davion walked up to it and began a search for the button that opened the door. Eloiin began to laugh as Davion started rubbing his hands over the door, trying in vain to find the right switch.
"It's right here," Eloiin said finally, reaching over to a switch on the wall near the door and pressing it. The door to Davion's dorm slid open, with Davion looking somewhat subdued by embarrassment.
"Sorry. It's dark and I couldn't see," Davion apologized for his ineptitude.
"No need to say sorry. You're new here," she replied.
"Not as much as you'd think," Davion added mysteriously. Every instinct and impulse in Eloiin's mind screamed at her to inquire what he meant, but the fatigue in her muscles and the fact that she could barely make out his face in the dark reminded her of the hour.
"Good night, Davion," she said as she turned away, starting down the corridor.
"Wait!" Davion called after her, bringing Eloiin to a complete and sudden stop. She turned around with enthusiasm.
"What classes do you have tomorrow?" Davion asked calmly, and for some reason, the question made Eloiin's stomach flutter.
"Umm....nothing. I've passed all my classes except for advanced force studies and lightsaber training," she replied, suppressing another one of her irritating and embarrassing blush-fits.
"When do you have them?" Davion asked, Eloiin quiet able to hear the strain of bashfulness on his voice.
"Every other day. One day I'm in lightsaber training, then I get a break, then I go to force studies," Eloiin answered, glad that the darkness concealed her growing smile. She could see Davion nod.
"Alright. Good night," Davion said meekly before retreating behind the door of his dorm. Eloiin let her growing smile take full flight then. Maybe I did get through to him....
* * *
The next day, Eloiin went through the exact same morning routines as before. First, an awakening by her alarm chrono, which she forgot to turn off the day before. Out of frustration, she instead pointed her hand and index finger at the chrono and then at a far wall, using the Force lift it from it's hovering pedestal and send it flying across the room, smashing into the wall and breaking into several pieces, and inadvertently causing it to make an even louder, shriller noise combined with static. Eloiin raised her head to examine the damaged chrono from her perch atop her floating bed, rolling her eyes in the face of her luck. She leapt from her bed, walked over to the heap of broken chrono, and kicked it hard into the wall, disabling it permanently. She had forgotten that she was still barefoot, and limped around on one foot while the new pain in her toe throbbed and faded.
After several minutes of standing in one place, dozing while still on her feet, Eloiin finally managed to coax herself into getting dressed. After putting on her tunic and cloak, she walked into her living room, which consisted of four easy chairs. She plopped herself into the closest one, wishing that she had a couch. For now, she had to do with throwing her legs over one arm and her back propped up against the other. She closed her eyes, enjoying her periodical free day. Closer and closer she came to falling asleep again. So close, that dreams started coming to her. In her mind, she was back on Dantooine. Back on her father's farm. She was feeding the Nerfs, large, bovine-like animals raised for their meat and milk.
One of the Nerfs looked up to her from behind the durasteel-barred gate as she filled its food trough. Her eyes widened when its mouth opened and spoke.
"Hello? Is anyone here?" the Nerf asked. The simple context of her dream sent her spiraling back into consciousness. It was then that she felt it. Someone else was in the room with her now. She leapt from her resting place into a ready stance. Using the Force, she flipped her lightsaber from her belt into her hand, ready to ignite it at any little incident. But, her stance faltered, and she nearly fell over at the sight of Davion standing in the door way with his hands raised in surrender.
"Davion?" Eloiin said as she dropped her guard, "how did you get in here?"
"Through the door," Davion said, smiling slyly.
"How did you get the door code?" she asked, still shocked at his sudden appearance.
Davion took a small, monocle looking item out of one of the inner pockets in his cloak.
"With this," Davion said, still smiling, but more smugly, "it's usually found in the optical scanners of crime-scene investigation droids. It can see finger prints, heat signatures, it can even see through solid objects."
"A pervert's best friend," Eloiin said suspiciously, drawing a hurt look from Davion.
"I would never," Davion said with unconvincing sincerity as he slipped the monocle back into his cloak pocket, "so, how was your sleep?"
"Let's just say that I had an uncanny similarity to a rock," Eloiin answered truthfully. She slept so hard that she could feel the tell-tale signs of an oncoming headache. She walked back over to her chair, motioning for Davion to take a seat as well. He accepted the offer, taking a seat opposite from Eloiin's.
"I have a question for you. A question that you've no doubt been asked a million times since you woke up, and a question you've no doubt refused to answer," Eloiin said in a business-like tone. Davion rolled his eyes and let his head fall into his palm, which was upraised from his elbow being propped up on the arm of his chair.
"And what makes you think I would give you the answer?" Davion asked.
"Because I asked," Eloiin said in a pouting voice, putting on her best innocent, begging child face. Davion smiled at the face. He opened his mouth to give her the answer, but stopped himself suddenly. His look quickly turned from one of surprise to one of enormous irritation.
"You're using a mind trick on me!" Davion accused Eloiin, his tone hurt and somewhat annoyed.
"Oh? Am I?" Eloiin asked innocently, keeping up her fake-pouting charade. Davion cackled. Whatever she was doing, she was very good at it, he decided. He never considered himself to be weak minded, but after this, Davion wasn't so sure.
Eloiin continued her begging stare for several moments, Davion answering her only with a defiant smile. Finally, when Davion realized that she could keep this up for more than five minutes, he cracked.
"All right. Fine. You really want know? Ok. I'll tell you, but you have to make a promise," Davion said, his voice riddled with defeat. Eloiin's mood brightened immediately.
"What?" she asked, referring to the promise Davion required.
"You have to promise me that you won't tell any of the Jedi Masters. Maybe that Sareth kid, but no one else," Davion stated. Eloiin nodded in agreement, thinking it easy to hold secrets.
"I promise," she said, and Davion smiled at that.
"All right. You want to know what I am, right? What my job is?" Davion asked, and Eloiin nodded quickly, intent on his answer.
"All right. I am a....." Davion said, letting his voice trail off to increase the suspense of his answer. Eloiin waited patiently for him to answer, but when it was evident that he would not answer without a fight, her patience broke.
"What? What are you?" Eloiin asked frantically, her patience now gone.
"I am a Dark Lord of the Sith," Davion said with a sly smile. Eloiin again waited for him to admit his joke, but when he didn't, her impatience flared up a again.
"A Dark Lord of the Sith?" she asked skeptically. Davion leaned back in his chair and smiled smugly.
"Yep," he answered as he folded his arms.
"Really?" Eloiin asked. Davion laughed a bit.
"Yeah, really," he said.
"So why aren't you all ugly and wrinkly like Palpatine?" Eloiin asked playfully. Davion's laughter increased.
"Because I'm too damn pretty!" he said, and Eloiin laughed with him this time.
"Okay, then why aren't you behind a mask?" she said in-between her giggling.
"I told you! Because I'm too pretty!" Davion asked, leading Eloiin into another fit of laughter.
After the fit of uncontrolled laughter ended, Eloiin asked again.
"Seriously, what are you?" she asked, still panting a little from the giggling fit.
"Ahh, I see there is not fooling you," Davion said, still smiling, "I'm a smuggler. I was running from my former employer after he falsely accused me of stealing some of his products".
"What were his products?" Eloiin asked.
"You don't want to know," was all Davion answered.
The conversations between Eloiin and Davion went on for hours, covering such wide topics as combat forms, food, and even Nerf ranching. Eloiin learned much about Davion's past - of how he was found on Concord Dawn as a young boy by the Jedi Order and was taken to Coruscant to train. Even more, she learned his character. As shy and withdrawn as he was, she was glad to find that he was quiet talkative and social once you get past his protective shielding. When she mentioned that she was to become an Apprentice, he told her stories of when he was an Apprentice, easing Eloiin's fears of the trials that were to come.
Finally, Eloiin decided on something that she was debating ever since she woke up. Abruptly, she rose from her seat and walked over to a wall-mounted console, leaving Davion in his seat to stare at her and inquire silently what she was doing. Pressing a button on the console, Eloiin activated a comlink built into the device.
"Sareth? You there?" Eloiin asked into the comlink. There was a moment of silence, followed by sounds of whispering and then sounds of movement, ending with Sareth's voice answering.
"Hi!" Eloiin said simply. In the background, she heard somebody else's voice ask who it was on the comlink.
"Is that AJ?" Eloiin asked suspiciously.
"Uhh....yeah," Sareth answered. Eloiin gave a smug smile, then continued.
"Hey, I was just about to head down to the cafeteria with Davion. Wanna come?" Eloiin asked.
"Yeah, sure. See ya there," Sareth answered before closing the link. Eloiin then turned to Davion.
"C'mon. Let's go."
A half-hour, Davion and Eloiin finally made there way through the congested halls of the Praxeum into its residential cafeteria. Davion chuckled a bit at the sight of it. Food court was more like it to him. The room was almost as big as the training area, but instead of weapon racks and doors to private training rooms, the walls were lined with little alcoves carved into them, housing different booths for different species and homeworlds and bearing a striking resemblance to the eating areas commonly seen in malls on Coruscant. Hundreds of different species were congregating around the booths of food, or the round tables that filled the center. Davion turned around in circles, examining the room for details as Eloiin peered out into the crowd, searching for any sign of Sareth. Finally, she spotted something, but it wasn't Sareth. Being one of the few of his species in known space, let alone the Ossus Praxeum, AJ was probably the easiest person in a crowd to pick out. Well, other than a certain black-furred wookiee, Eloiin thought.
"C'mon," Eloiin said as she tugged on Davion's coat, breaking him from his observing trance. They made their way around a few crowds until they reached the table where the AJ and Sareth were sitting at. AJ was saying something to Sareth while she was sipping some kind of beverage from a plastic cup and straw. Eloiin sat down in one of the two unoccupied chairs and said "Boo" before Sareth or AJ had a chance to notice her presence. This, in turn, startled them both, with AJ jumping back in his seat and causing Sareth to choke on her drink.
"Don't....do....that!" Sareth gasped in-between coughs. Eloiin simply smiled and cocked her head cutely. Davion slipped smoothly in the chair next to her without a word.
"How's your side?" Davion asked Sareth, being the first to strike up conversation.
"I'm fine," Sareth said simply, still somewhat uncomfortable around Davion.
"Any of you guys hungry?" Eloiin asked. Every one shook their head.
"So....what's up?" Eloiin inquired to the rest of the group.
"Nothing," AJ said, "me and Sareth were just plotting out the next Y.J.S,"
Davion's face screwed up in confusion.
"Y.J.S?" he asked. AJ nodded his head.
"Yeah. Y.J.S. Young Jedi Society. It's a group function to help other students with their training," AJ clarified.
"Ah. I see. Kinda like the D.A," Davion answered. This time, it was Sareth's turn to be confused.
"D.A?" Sareth asked. Davion was about to answer, but caught himself.
"Never mind," he said, dropping the subject. It was then AJ's turn to speak again.
"So, Sareth tells me you're a Jedi Knight," AJ said to Davion. Davion shook his head.
"Former Jedi Knight. But, yeah, I was one once," Davion clarified.
"Where were you trained?" Sareth asked.
"Coruscant," Davion answered. Up until then, Eloiin had remained silent, pleased at seeing two former enemies getting along so well. Then, pity ran through her. This would probably be Davion's fourth attempt to answer these questions, and now she was feeling pity for him having to do it a fifth time as well as guilt for contributing to his rising requests.
"Really? I've heard stories about the Coruscant Praxeum," Sareth said, her interest piqued by Davion's answer.
"Trust me, whatever you heard, they aren't true. I hated that place. The students were almost divided into castes, those who got the answers and were pampered by Masters, and those who were forgotten and left to fend for themselves," Davion said with much distaste.
"It sounds like you were of the second caste," Eloiin observed, her claims confirmed by a nod from Davion. Sareth ignored his protests though.
"Did you ever get to visit the Jedi Temple?" she asked eagerly. Davion nodded his head.
"How about the Room of a Thousand fountains? I heard they rebuilt it," AJ spoke up, and was answered by another nod of Davion's head. Eloiin looked to see Davion smiling, and it lifted her heart to see that he was at least enjoying himself.
"All right, are you guys gonna give me chance to ask my own questions?" Davion asked, interrupting impending questions from both Sareth and AJ. Both nodded their heads in compliance and remained silent for Davion to begin.
First off, where are you from?"
"Onderon," Sareth answered.
" ," AJ answered.
"Full names?" Davion inquired.
"Sareth Elizerta Halcyon," Sareth answered on queue.
"Arkai'jar'nuruodo," AJ answered hesitantly, knowing that it was a mouthful for humans. Davion's eyebrow rose upon hearing AJ's name.
"Nuruodo? As in one of the two ruling Chiss Houses?" Davion asked, followed by a nod from AJ. Davion bowed his head a little before speaking again.
"I have to admit, it is somewhat of an honor finally meeting a member of House Nuruodo," Davion said, drawing a confused look from Sareth and Eloiin.
"Why is it an honor?" Sareth asked, a little put off at not knowing something about her friend.
"What? You don't know about House Nuruodo?" Davion asked, "AJ never told you?"
Sareth and Eloiin shook their heads, while AJ's face was once again in his hands.
"C'mon!" Davion exclaimed, "you don't know Miith'raw'nuruodo?"
His question was once again answered by two shaking heads.
"Ah, c'mon! Don't tell me you guys have never heard of Thrawn?" Davion asked finally, drawing sighs of reorganization from both of them. Grand Admiral Thrawn was a leader of the Imperial remnant and a formidable foe, nearly toppling the then-fledgling New Republic. He also had the distinction of being the focus of a stereotype on the Chiss people. The Chiss as a whole were seen as cold, calculating Imperial supporters, and though some of it was true, most of it did apply to the Ruling houses.
"Well, technically, he wasn't a member of the house. Records show he was adopted," Davion said, almost apologizing to the embarrassed look on AJ's face. Davion smiled as his tactic worked, AJ's expression lightening dramatically.
They talked on different subjects for a while, mainly composed of questions and opinions from AJ and Sareth and answers and fact-stating by Davion. Eloiin remained silent, only interested in her friends getting along. Suddenly, the topic of Nerf herding came up, and Eloiin opened her mouth to add her expert opinion, since her father was a Nerf Rancher, but was cut off by too large arms wrapping around her neck from behind her chair.
"Hey, Nicole! How 'bout some love?" a deep, somewhat dumb voice asked. Leaning behind Eloiin was a large, brutish looking boy of her age, his strong-jawed, un-intelligent head topped by curly blonde hair.
"Jay! Let go!" Eloiin said as she struggled against Jay's grip, but he had her firmly pinned against the back of her seat. This frustrated her, as his face was uncomfortably close to hers and his breath smelled bad. AJ scooted back from the table, wanting to avoid the confrontation. Sareth was not so passive, and after threatening to do terrible things to Jay if he didn't let Eloiin go, she rose from her seat and reached for her lightsaber. Davion saw the volatility of the situation, as he was right in the middle of it all. He darted from his seat with surprising speed and raised his palm at Sareth. Using the Force, he pushed her back, causing her to fall onto her chair and sending the chair sprawling backwards to the floor with its occupant. Then, Davion turned to Jay and did the same thing, only more forcefully and directed at his face, an equivalent to being punched in the face. He stumbled away from the chair, releasing Eloiin.
"Hey!" Jay said, still not sure of what had happened. When he finally did realize what had happened, he put on a vengeful face and started towards Davion. But, Davion had expected it, and he used the Force once more, this time to sweep the feet out from under Jay. Jay fell flat on his back, so hard that it knocked the wind out of him. Eloiin was in shock from Davion's quick action, Jay still lay on the ground, paralyzed by his fall, and AJ was leaning back in his chair, simply taking in the wonderful view of the show. Sareth, on the other hand, was standing in the same place, a look of extreme irritation on her face. Eloiin almost thought that she would attack Davion again, but then she turned her look on Eloiin, then AJ.
"Will you guys please stop doing that!" She fumed, referring to Davion's recent disarming of her, and of the billions of times Eloiin had exploited Sareth's poor grip on her weapon. Eloiin began to laugh uncontrollably, part from shock, part from the amusement at Sareth's frustration. Then, the lighthearted moment was over as abruptly as it had begun as Jay stumbled to his feet.
"Hey! What did you do that for?" Jay asked, his voice shallow from the impact. Davion didn't even turn to answer him.
"Hey!" Jay said louder, "turn around, pretty boy!"
Davion did turn his head, which was accompanied by a nearby table floating into the air threateningly. Jay finally took the hint, sneering proudly as he walked away. Davion sat back down calmly.
"Anyways, where were we?" he asked, as if nothing had transpired at all.
* * *
The bridge of the Super Star Destroyer was darkened, the only light source being the hundreds of glowing buttons and consoles on the stations of the numerous Imperial officers. Standing in front of the main view port was a man staring meditatively through the transparisteel, his identity shrouded by a black cloak and hood, giving him a startling resemblance to the late Emperor Palpatine, who was never caught without a full cloak and hood with the cowl pulled down low. A sinister aura radiated from the cloaked figure, and every soldier and officer on the bridge seemed wary and nervous in his presence. They dare not even whisper, so great was their fright for him. Then, suddenly, the doors to the bridge opened, letting some of the light from the corridor through and alleviating the eerie darkness.
In walked a half-dozen Stormtroopers in black armor, walking in perfect formation around a short, heavily built man with dark blonde, short hair and a small beard on his chin. He was stocky, but not fat, and his height left much to be desired. His face and skin was free of blemishes, and they framed two small, piercing eyes. He wore simple, dull gray combat armor covered by a black cloak. On his belt hung two Westar-24 blaster pistols, identical to those of one of his greatest heroes, Jango Fett. Even more unnerving was the charcoal black lightsaber hilt hanging next to them.
"You wanted to see me?" the man asked to the cloaked figure. Without even turning his head, the cloaked figure acknowledged the man's presence with a nod of his head.
"He has failed," the cloaked figure said in a hoarse voice.
"What do you want me to do about it?" the man asked arrogantly, causing a few of the surrounding officers to flinch, as if this man's pride had endangered them all.
The cloaked figure turned around to face the man, though only the figure's mouth and nose were visible, they both showed him to be in his middle-twenties.
"I want you to find him," the cloaked figure said, " and bring him back."
The man smirked.
"Dead or alive?" the man asked, arrogance still interlaced in his tone. The cloaked figure smiled back and turned away, walking back towards the forward view port.
"The condition in which you return him is the condition you shall be in upon receiving your reward. But I guarantee you, my friend, it is very hard for one to spend credits when that particular one no longer has a pulse," the figure said, "Oh, and if you fail in returning, I'll make sure that you will never be able to land on another planet as long as you live".
The man smirked again.
"Very well, my lord. I'll find him," the man said as he turned to leave, his escort following him. He was stopped by the cloaked figure speaking up again.
"Oh, and Mye'kel....don't disappoint me," the cloaked figure said forebodingly, "it is so hard to find Bounty Hunters as deadly and affordable as you."
Mye'kel cackled a little.
"Pay for excellence, my lord, and excellence is what you shall get," Mye'kel said as he left the bridge.
Another week had passed since the brawl in the cafeteria. Curiously, Davion was the only person called in for it. Though it confused them, Sareth, AJ, and Eloiin paid it no heed. Davion seemed disaffected by it anyways, claiming that they gave him a "slap on the hand". Since then, Davion had spent everyday with his new "friends", following them and learning them, which they did likewise. A friendly rivalry had developed between Sareth and Davion, while he and AJ could often be found in the workshop, adjusting their lightsabers. Davion's was a blue blade with an unremarkable, sturdy chrome hilt, but to any who had studied their history, it was an exact replica of the lightsaber that had belonged to Anakin Skywalker and was passed down to his son Luke.
AJ's, on the other hand, was almost totally unique. Not only did he have two identical lightsabers, using both at the same time and making himself one of the premier Jar'Kai practitioners of the Ossus Praxeum students, but he also used unthinkable concepts in their construction. Instead of a chrome covering, his lightsabers' delicate inner workings were protected by transparisteel, protecting them from damage, but not vision. Every wire, every power cell, every focusing crystal was visible through the weapons' covering. It also gave him an advantage when letting other members of the YJS examine his lightsabers, as the transparent coverings made people use extra caution in handling it. Both weapons were also constructed using a dual-phase setup. A twist of their hilts' made the lightsabers' blue blades jump to twice their one-meter length. AJ took great pride in his wondrous weapons, and they helped to draw the attention away from his features, which still drew inquiring looks even from the Jedi Masters.
But, most of the time, Davion was with Eloiin. When he wasn't observing her in Lightsaber Training - since he knew there was little to nothing he could actually instruct her in- , he was a guest in her Advanced Force studies and History. He had become quite a character in those classes, sitting in the back of the classroom near Eloiin, causing such vigilante disruptions as "accidentally" igniting his lightsaber in class. "Oops. Sorry. The button on this thing is really touchy," he would say once or twice per lecture. In force studies, he would laugh and giggle when the teacher - a senile, nagging, wrinkled old man named Kraod Oluib - would start preaching about the dangers of the Dark side. And when in History, he would lean back in his chair and start whistling "The Imperial March". Eloiin never joined in, but his antics thoroughly amused her. AJ joined him a few times, and laughed when he saw Sareth rolling her eyes.
Eloiin was walking out of her bedroom and into the living room, having just dried herself and gotten dressed after a bath. Before she could take a seat and start on what little homework she had from History, a buzzer sounded off near her door. She walked over to the door console and pressing a button. It activated her comlink, with Davion on the other line.
"Hey. I'm heading down to the hangar to check on my ship and recover any equipment they found. You wanna come?" he asked in a friendly tone. Eloiin smiled.
"Are you asking me to go with you for the company or because you still don't know where the hangars are?" she asked playfully.
"Whichever answer you like better," Davion answered.
"All right. I'll be there in a nano," Eloiin said as she flipped off the comlink and walked out the door.
When she arrived at Davion's dorm, he was already waiting outside, Sareth and AJ with him. When he noticed Eloiin walking up, his expression brightened immediately.
"Hey! What took you so long? I could be halfway to the Ssi-ruuk Cluster by now!" Davion said. Eloiin just smiled.
"Sure," she said, a sly look in her eyes, "anyways, shall we go?"
With a nod from Davion, they were off. The halls were fairly empty at that time, which helped immensely with navigation through the unending corridors. As they walked, AJ and Sareth were off in some distant universe, discussing YJS and other academic things. Eloiin followed Davion, who lead, silently, listening in on AJ and Sareth's conversation, even though she had no inkling of what they were speaking of. Davion noticed her silence, and waited up for her a bit. When she was at his side, he spoke.
"Smile. I've seen more cheer on an Imperial Star Destroyer," Davion said. Eloiin shook her head.
"No. I'm fine. I was just listening to them," Eloiin said, reassuring Davion. She was concentrating not on the fact that they were talking, or what they were talking about, but how much they were talking. Even though Eloiin had known her longer than almost anyone else, she never had such conversations with her. Eloiin always saw Sareth as the conservative one, always doing what is logical. Eloiin was the rambunctious one, but even then, she was still considered conservative.
"Well, stop it," Davion said playfully, "if you keep listening to them, you'll turn into them. And then, I will have no reason to hang out with this bunch."
Eloiin raised her eyebrow.
"Oh? Why would you do that?" she asked, hoping to catch Davion in a bind. Davion just shrugged.
"Because I don't like hanging out with ugly people," he said without the slightest hint of sarcasm, though Eloiin knew it was part of that entire statement. First Eloiin laughed at the joke, and then went silent upon realization that he had just gave her a compliment. Once again, she felt that horrible feeling, the feeling of blood rushing to her face. She focused all her concentration, even a little force ability, to keep it down. Because of that, she remained silent. Finally, they reached the corridor leading to the Hangars. Davion visibly quickened his pace, walking through the large doorway into the main hangar. Probably one of the biggest parts of the building, the Ossus Praxeum Hangars were numerous and large enough to house thousands of vehicles. Each hangar was large enough to park a Star Destroyer in, though those were reserved for the landing pads directly outside the hangar. Hundreds of ships of all sizes filled the first hangar, each arranged in an orderly line, similar in pattern to a parking lot. Davion looked around, a look that was part concentration, part confusion as he searched for his ship. No one dared to break his conversation. Except for AJ, of course.
"Uh, Davion?" he asked.
"What?" Davion replied, still scanning the hangar.
"Don't you think you should call a droid to help you?" AJ asked, cracking a smile.
"Where the heck are we gonna find a droid?" Davion asked as he continued his vigil. He was answered by something tugging on his cloak. He looked down to find a droid of the same design as the Pit Droids often found in old Pod races. Davion's expression turned to on of embarrassment as he looked down on the thing.
"Oh. Sorry," he apologized to the small droid, who was tapping it's foot impatiently. It was then that AJ's smile took full flight, and both Sareth and Eloiin cracked up into laughter. Davion ignored them and spoke to the droid.
"Do you know where I can find my ship?" he asked quietly. The droid replied with aggravated beeps and squeaks, acting with all the spunk and zest of a droid that had missed its past thirty memory-wipes.
"Alright! Ok! It's a black - well, I guess now it's silver since the paint burned off- a silver YT-1930," Davion said. The droid scratched it's head as if in deep thought, then squeaked an inquiry.
"Its name? The Black Raptor," Davion answered. He was then answered by a nod from the pit droid, which squeaked some directions and pointed towards a door leading into an adjoining hangar.
"Thanks," Davion said sheepishly as he walked away and towards the door. Eloiin and Sareth followed, but AJ was lagging. They both looked back to see him kneeling near the pit droid. He was smiling and whispering something. Eloiin couldn't hear what he was saying, but his whispering was followed by AJ holding out his palm. The droid squeaked gleefully and slapped AJ's open palm, which Eloiin identified as a friendly gesture known as "five". As AJ rose, chuckling the whole way, he gave a complimentary spin of the droids head, throwing the droid off balance. When it recovered, instead of being angry, it gave AJ a thumbs-up, and AJ turned his head and did the same as he caught up with the group. It was all Sareth and Eloiin could do not to burst into laughter.
They caught up with Davion, who was still walking down a line of ships. Then, something caught his eyes, and he broke into a slow run. Once he reached his destination, he stopped and dropped to his knees in awe, and when the group caught up with him, Eloiin thought he was cry. Then again, he had good reason. She looked up to see his ship, and she herself debated crying. It was the worst ship in the entire hangar, and the worst ship she had seen in her life. It lay on its belly, its landing gear torn to oblivion. The paint was flaking off in the few small spots that it remained. The front starboard prong was smashed like a beverage can, and the port side wasn't much different. A good sized chunk of the rear of the ship was gone, vaporized by the hyperdrive overloading. And this was how it looked AFTER almost a month of droids working around the chrono on it.
"M-my ship," Davion stuttered, a look of horror on his face. Sareth and AJ seemed to withdraw from the scene, afraid of getting caught up in a eminent mental breakdown from Davion. Eloiin moved closer, cautiously.
"Davion? Are you all right?" she asked. When he didn't answer, she inched closer to him. She had never been able to sense anything about him before, but that had ended. Anger. Anger was rolling off him in waves. It took Eloiin a second that Davion head was bowed menacingly, and she knew that, underneath the oversized sleeves of the Jedi cloak, he was clenching his fists so hard that his knuckles were turning white. He suddenly rose from his knees and stormed over to the side of the ship. To wary to go after him, the rest of the group merely watched as Davion stomped over to the loading ramp and attempted to open it. When it didn't, he let out a feral growl and withdrew his lightsaber, popping off the zap lens like a bottle cap. He ignited his lightsaber, then jammed the blade into the ship's hull, keeping it in the same position for a moment before creating the beginnings of a large circular hole, all the while anger and frustration pouring out from him. Sparks flew from the melting hull as Davion cut his way through it.
Then, finally, he withdrew his lightsaber and deactivated, attaching it on his belt once more. He backed up a step and raised his hand up at the spot he had just cut, and used the Force to knock the circular hulk of metal he had just cut out. He placed himself under the whole and, using the Force, leapt into the ship.
Eloiin looked back over to Sareth, whose eyes were wide. Both of them wanted to leave, to escape, lest Davion's wrath be turned on them. But, from what little experience with human behavior they had, that would only increase it two-fold, so they stayed stationary, though Sareth and AJ did move up next Eloiin.
For the longest time, they could hear nothing, and the only thing they could feel was the cloud of anger resonating from Davion. Then, as if some cosmic light-switch was flipped, the anger was gone, replaced by relief. A few more minutes passed, then Davion exited the ship through the hole he created. He carried a large suit-case in his right hand, a duffle-bag in the other.
"All right. I got what I wanted. Let's go," he said simply, as though nothing had happened. Eloiin gave Sareth a confused look, Sareth returning it. And, at the same time, they shrugged.
* * *
After they arrived back at the dorms, Davion barely waved goodbye as he retreated to his dorm. The next day, Eloiin went to Lightsaber training to find Master Low instead of Davion. She thought of bringing up the question of where Davion was with Master Low, but it seemed that the Master spent the entire time either lecturing or observing and testing other students, so the opportunity never presented itself. When the bell rang for classes to end, Eloiin headed straight for Davion's dorm, still concerned that his absence was related to the events of the previous day. It was also to alert him that, after a brief conversation with Jax, she was leaving with him to start her apprenticeship in two weeks.
She reached his door and pressed the door buzzer. Nothing happened. She pressed it two times more, then knocked on the door.
"Davion?" she asked in a raised voice, so that it would carry through the thick, metal door. Still no answer. Eloiin's concern began to double. She checked the door, and was surprised to discover that it wasn't locked when she tried the button. The door slid open, revealing a darkened dormitory.
"Davion? Are you here?" Eloiin asked nervously as she walked in, uncomfortable with the darkness. It was pitch-black in the living room, and Eloiin debated getting her lightsaber out to help her see. Then, a flash of light came from one the doorways leading into the living room. Eloiin walked cautiously over to the open doorway. When she peered inside, she realized it was a bedroom, just from the size of it and the contents. She had to really focus her eyes, but she could barely make out a form sitting on the bed, facing away from her. Then, the flash came again, lighting the room up just enough for Eloiin to recognize Davion hunched over something while sitting on his bed.
"Davion?" she asked, and this time she got a response. A big one. Davion jumped from the bed, retrieved his lightsaber, and ignited it, leaped over the bed, grabbed the intruder's collar, and put his lightsaber to their throat, all in one fluid, lightening fast motion. Eloiin was too shocked to even respond. Once again, as she looked into his scowling face, she saw in his eyes what she saw the day she first looked into them. And, once again, she could not figure out what it was about them that caught her attention. Then, he blinked, and it all seemed to disappear.
"Eloiin?" Davion asked, even though he knew the answer. Eloiin managed to force a smile through the overpowering instinct to knee him in the gut so he'd release her.
"Now that we've re-introduced ourselves...." she said, her voice trailing off. Davion then realized what he was doing. He deactivated his lightsaber and let Eloiin go.
"Y-you scared me," Davion said, half apologetically.
"You scared me," Eloiin said, his same statement easily applying to her, "what were you doing?".
Davion flipped a switch on the wall, turning the lights on and revealing what a mess his room was. Dirty tunics and metal parts were everywhere, and it was a wonder that anyone could get around in it. He went over to the side of his bed, dancing around objects on the ground, and lifted up a gun from the side of his bed.
"I was working on this," Davion said, indicating the DL-18 blaster pistol he had in his hand. Eloiin looked at the gun. It was heavily modified, no doubt to be more powerful then the regular ones.
"The second one is around here somewhere," Davion said as he looked around the room. Eloiin noticed the disheveled look of him. His hair was messier than usual, and he had dark circles underneath his eyes.
"Why weren't you at Lightsaber Training?" Eloiin asked, snapping Davion's withering attention back on her. He shook his head.
"I was going through my stuff. Kinda taking inventory. I called in and said I had caught a bad case of the Coruscant measles," Davion replied, ending in a smile.
Eloiin then began to really look at the contents of the room. All the un-identifiable pieces of clutter suddenly became dangerous weapons - thermal detonators, guns, armor, swords, knives; he had a whole armory laying on his floor. Eloiin looked to her feet, noticing that her toes were just inches away from a detonation pack.
"Umm....you don't mind if we talk in the living room, do you?" Eloiin asked nervously, uncomfortable with being around so many explosives. Davion nodded his head in accord, oblivious to the danger he had unwittingly put around him. Once they were in the living room, Davion took a seat in a easy chair while Eloiin sat down in a couch opposite of him.
"You have a couch," Eloiin whined to Davion. She had requested for years for the Praxeum to give her a couch, but they had yet to answer her. Davion merely nodded. Seeing that her small-talk attempt had failed miserably, she got down to what was bothering her.
"You were really angry yesterday," Eloiin said, hoping that it wouldn't strike a cord in his temper. Davion looked at her for the longest time before answering.
"Yeah....sorry about that. I was intent on leaving soon, but now it seems I'll have to stay," Davion apologized.
"Anger is a dangerous emotion," Eloiin said, recounting countless lectures on it. Davion's gaze became sharper, less apologetic.
"Anger is a dangerous emotion for a Jedi, which I am not," Davion said sternly.
"Is that really what you think?" Eloiin asked.
"I think you're wrong".
Davion's gaze then turned to one of aggravation.
"Of course you do. You've spent your entire life hiding emotions, living the life of a rancher, living with the stench of death and loss of things you love everyday. And when you weren't that, you lived the controlled life of a Jedi, giving up your humanity to save the ungrateful and unable from the unforgiving and uncaring, all the while believing that those people are in-human. Monsters," he said sharply.
His statement hit home on Eloiin, and she felt her throat contract for several reasons. The first was how accurate he described her views, though his words warped them a bit. He had clearly stated in two sentences half of her existence, all with a tint of anger. The second was that he knew what to say, meaning he knew her thoughts. Was she so weak-minded, or had he simply observed her so much that he had come to know her so intimately? Eloiin could feel the blood rushing away from her face, making it paler than it already was. Davion continued.
"Even worse is the realization that you have dedicated yourself to a cause that no one else dedicates themselves too. You follow rules that nobody else does. Believe in what no one will. You see hope where they say there is none, potential in things that they will never understand. They will never understand. For that, they will ever see you as a hopeless hopeful, waiting for something that isn't coming. No one will ever peel back the layers of protection you have covered yourself in, for fear that what they will see will change them; destroy them. You think that you'll be alone forever."
Eloiin said felt lightheaded from shock, and barely managed any coherent thoughts.
"How do you know?" was all she managed to say after Davion's statement. Davion looked at her, then rose from his seat, heading towards the door.
"C'mon. Let's get out of here," he said, but Eloiin would not be swayed.
"How do you know?" she said again, but more forcefully. Davion looked back at her.
"Because, a long time ago, that was me," he said, then walked out he door.
Eloiin didn't see Davion for the rest of the day, after he had stormed out of his own dorm. Though her curiosity was great, she decided against going through his things, not wanting to upset him more than he already was. She exited his dorm, making sure to lock the door as she left, and walked. She walked aimlessly through the unending halls of the Praxeum, as she often did in her spare time. The halls were much more crowded than the last time she had taken a walk, but it didn't deter her in the least. People could be ignored. She turned her thoughts inward as she paced through the halls
Davion's words had rung truer than a Vortexian cathedral bell. What did this mean? Was she going through the same ordeal that made Davion decide to throw it all away; to leave the order? Would she decide to leave the Jedi, as Davion had? No, she decided. She was more loyal than that. Or was she? She had jumped at the opportunity to leave her family and friends behind to become a Jedi. Perhaps she had betrayed them. No, she thought. They wanted her to go as much as she wanted to go. Then, Eloiin remembered Davion's words. "The controlled life of a Jedi, giving up your humanity to save the ungrateful and unable from the unforgiving and uncaring," Davion had said. Even in her memory, the conviction, the sound of absolute truth was startling. Or had she really felt that. To attain such information about her, he would have had to use the Force extensively to peer in into her mind. Did that not mean that he could also use that power to override to trick her; to make her think an unjust thing just?
Eloiin would have thought more into it, but a familiar voice brought her back to reality.
"Eloiin! Hey!," a cheerful, female voice said from behind her. Eloiin stopped in her tracks. First off, she noticed she was in the entrance corridor to the hangars. She turned about to see a welcome sight. Her brown hair was streaked with green and cut short, almost to her jaw line, and it was so messed up she looked like she had spent the night in wind-tunnel. Her friendly face framed even friendlier eyes, though they were ringed with dark circles. Her clothes were some of the most eccentric Eloiin had known. Her cloak, which had once been the purest of white, was tie-died in a rainbow's worth of color. Her tee-shirt was of the same dye-dye color as her cloak, all atop baggy beige pants with zippers, so they could transform into baggy beige shorts, her legs finally ending in worn-out sandals that exposed her toes and much of the rest of her feet.
"Amberly!" Eloiin exclaimed as she closed in for an embrace with her old friend. She soon regretted it, as Amberly's hug was more akin to a wompa's, and Eloiin tried not to grunt as her friend squeezed the life from her.
"So what have you been up to?" Amberly asked as she released Eloiin, who was grateful that she was out of Amberly's vice-grip.
"Oh, you know, the usual," Eloiin said casually, "what brings you back here?"
Amberly rolled her eyes.
"Work. Apparently an astromech droid went hay-wire last month, and now they're all paranoid about viruses and errors. I'm here to check and upgrade ALL droid AI in the Praxeum," Amberly said, a smidge less enthusiastically than a hutt facing exercise.
"Ah, I remember that. Well, at least we get to spend some time together," Eloiin said, sympathetic to Amberly's complaints, but glad that she was chosen to do it anyway. Amberly lifted her tie-died cloak's sleeve, checking her wrist chrono.
"Well, I have to go. I've got about five thousand droids to check and upgrade," Amberly said regretfully, "do you still live in the same dorm?"
Eloiin nodded her head.
"Yeah. You can come and visit in your spare time if you like," Eloiin said happily.
"All right. Bye," Amberly said as she turned into the surrounding crowds. Eloiin watched as she disappeared in the masses of people. A smile crept onto her face. Amberly had been one of closest friends, back when Eloiin was still new to the Order. The eccentric Jedi had been like a sister to her, much like Sareth was now. They were all friends, the three of them, and were inseparable until the day Amberly was chosen as Master Komez's apprentice and advanced to a Jedi Knight. Ever since then, Amberly was stationed on Coruscant as a Jedi electrical and computer technician, repairing droids and computers. Though separated by an unfathomable distance of empty vacuum, Amberly kept in touch with her old life, often contacting her old friends on their comlinks.
As Eloiin began to walk, she began to realize how much distance she had covered when a dull ache appeared in her legs and feet. She started to go forward, but was caught by yet another voice, this one belonging to a male. She turned to see Davion staring at her.
"Friend of yours?" Davion asked as Eloiin neared him.
"Yeah. Her name is Amberly. We've known each other since I joined the order," Eloiin said, still in the good mood placed on her by Amberly's appearance.
"She looks familiar," Davion said. Eloiin wasn't surprised. After all, Amberly could well have bumped into Davion while she was on Coruscant.
"She's a technician stationed on Coruscant. She's here to check the droids," Eloiin answered, fully anticipating Davion's question. He merely nodded, distracted by some other thought.
"C'mon. AJ and Sareth are already in the Training Area," Davion said as he began to walk off down the corridor.
"The Training Area? Why are we going there?" Eloiin asked, lost to Davion's reasons. He merely looked back at her mischievously.
"I'll tell you when we get there," he said as he continued his march.
* * *
When they arrived in the Training Area, Davion darted straight for one of the private areas, Eloiin doing her best to follow closely. Once within the room, she found AJ and Sareth standing idly in the center of the main combat area, standing and talking to one another. Davion joined them.
"All right, everybody ready?" he asked the two cheerfully.
"Don't you think you should tell Eloiin the rules?" Sareth asked.
"Oh! Yeah," Davion said quickly. He closed in on Eloiin, who was clueless to what was going on.
"All right. Handicap tag match. Two of you versus me, while the third waits to be tagged by one of you. No weapon restrictions, except the whole stun thing. No armor restrictions. No force restrictions. No restrictions whatsoever, except for the killing or serious hurting. Got it?" he said even quicker, with Eloiin nodding in consent, "Okay. Go into the prep room and choose your weapons. You have five minutes."
He looked to the rest of them.
"You guys too," he said to them, and all four of them went to different corners of the room, doors sliding open in front of them. Eloiin walked into hers and went immediately to work. Pressing several buttons on the wall-mounted console, opening sliding panels on the wall and revealing racks of weapons and armor. She shoved off her cloak and went through the choices. The only thing on her list was the cortosis alloy bracers, a favorite of hers that allows her to put more martial arts into the mix. She clamped their sleek silver forms onto her wrists. After they were attached, she went through some quick stretching exercises, everything from pulling her arms across her chest to doing the splits and touching her toes. Then, when she felt that her body was sufficiently loosened, she stood by the door patiently, lightsaber in hand. She used that time to concentrate, bring her mind back into focus. While she meditated, she silently congratulated herself. For someone who had been thrown into an exercise of this magnitude so suddenly and prepare so efficiently was commendable, and she wish that some sort of Master was around to recognize it. But, it was a passing thought. Soon, her mind closed in on itself, waiting patiently for the buzzer that would spin her into action.
* * *
"How's he doing, Kell?" Master Skywalker asked from his home on Coruscant. He had returned after his 'official' business there was completed, and was communicating with Master Low through a holoprojector.
"He hasn't caused any new problems since he batted around that student in the cafeteria," Master Low answered. Luke tried to suppress his smug smile, but he caught it to late.
"How are things over there?" Master Low asked, referring to the situation brought on by accusations of the Jedi murdering the senators. Luke shook his head.
"Not good. I've been getting reports of harassment from the students by locals. I've had to lockdown the Praxeum here," Luke answered, his face suddenly tired looking. Master Low bowed his head.
"Master Skywalker, you've seen the evidence. Do you think it really was one of us," he asked finally. Luke merely nodded his head. Though he expected it, the news still pained Master Low. He was proud of his Order, and it was hard to bring himself to believe that one of his own would stoop so low as to kill a defenseless innocent. Well, not totally innocent, Master Low corrected. They were senators, after all, and an innocent senator was about as common as a hairless wookiee.
"I have a bad feeling about this," Master Low said somberly, and Luke nodded in accord.
"Dark times are ahead of us. We've all felt it in the Force. The New Republic is loosing influence and allies quickly. Sooner or later, someone is going to notice its weakness and exploit it," Luke said forebodingly.
* * *
The buzzer finally sounded off, followed by the doors to the prep rooms shooting open. Eloiin leapt out of her room, igniting one of her lightsaber's blades. Almost simultaneously, Sareth did the same. They had decided that AJ would be on the bench, awaiting a tag from his teammates. He walked calmly out of his room, more intent on watching at the moment. Then, Davion walked swiftly out of his room, and Eloiin and Sareth charged at him.
But, there progress was soon halted as Davion withdrew his two modified DL-18 blaster pistols, firing a torrent of yellow blaster bolts - the common color of a blaster set one stun.
Sareth reacted quickly, deflecting the bolts with her lightsaber, using the Force to guide her blade. Eloiin wasn't so lucky, and though she block most of the bolts, one got through her defenses and struck her right shoulder, causing her entire right arm to go numb. Acknowledging that she couldn't fight with a limp arm, she used the Force to nudge AJ, who responded by pouncing onto the floor mat to take Eloiin's place. Davion was still firing his blasters, and the split second before Eloiin called in AJ gave Davion the time to pour the contents of both blasters on Sareth. Eloiin silently congratulated Sareth, who was deflecting blasters bolts with the ease of someone who had been doing it since they were a child. That was to be expected though. Between Sareth and Eloiin, Sareth was always the more precognitive one.
AJ spun into action, igniting both of his lightsabers' blue blades. But, his progress was also halted, as Davion diverted one of his blasters and dedicated it to raining stunning blaster bolts on the second combatant. He looked back and forth from AJ to Sareth as he continued pouring shot after shot from his guns, with all the repetition of a rapid-fire assault gun. Eloiin had to commend his aim - every shot streaked towards his opponents vital areas before they were deflected. Sareth couldn't move from her place, lest she be nailed by one of the bolts, but since AJ had an extra blade, he was able to - slowly but surely- make his way closer. Eloiin's face was simply glowing with elation, totally engrossed with the fight.
Suddenly, Davion's torrent ceased, the power packs of his weapons drained dry. He tossed them aside, summoning his lightsaber and igniting it. He took up what Eloiin considered his starting stance - his body leaning back with his lightsaber hilt by his head with both hands gripping it, its blade pointing diagonally down towards the opposition.
Eloiin watched with an excited smile as AJ and Sareth collided with Davion, and thus began a flurry of colliding lightsabers. Davion held up well against three enemy blades, deflecting any strike that came his way. But it was the other two who were on the defensive. Davion attacked them with all the ferocity of a starved vornskr as his Makashi\Djem So battled AJ's Jar'kai and Sareth's signature Vaapad. Davion was forced to focus most of his attention on AJ, since the threat of two blades greatly outnumbered one. This left Davion open from a well planned attack from Sareth. Even though she was trying not to get in the way of the artful spins, slices, and jabs of AJ's lightsabers, Sareth found a shot and went for it, thrusting her lightsaber through a gap in Davion's defense. But, as Eloiin thought, Davion had expected it, and while using his lightsaber one-handed against AJ's onslaught, he managed to raise his hand, summoning the Force and sending Sareth sprawling to the floor. She hit so hard that the air seemed to slip from her lungs, paralyzing her temporarily.
Eloiin's smile widened. From what she could sense, Davion was gathering the Force to him, making it swirl around him like some sort of invisible gale. Davion refused to hold his weapon with both hands, suddenly finding enough strength to use one arm only, allowing for faster slices. He went into a slight flurry, ending finally with AJ jumping back, his arm having been struck by Davion's lightsaber. His face was a mixture of disappointment and excitement as he nodded to Eloiin, who was almost busting from her adrenaline-spawned energy. Now the fight really begins, she thought.
One hour. Sixty cycles of sixty seconds, and still nobody had so much as grazed Davion. Eloiin chuckled. Half of the times she had been taken, it was because of a reckless swing from Sareth. AJ was currently outside the mat, leaning against a wall as he sat. He was still panting, the sweat trickling down his face standing out on his blue skin. He was exhausted. They all were. Davion included. Eloiin couldn't help but notice the waver in his walk, or the new paleness in his face. Though it confused her that he would become paler instead of flushed like the rest of them, she didn't have time to dwell on it. She watched as Davion sliced his blade through Sarah's thigh, causing her to collapse.
That was it, Eloiin decided. She took up her double-bladed lightsaber, which she was forced to activate both blades at the half-hour marker, and readied herself. AJ had been hit in the chest, and was too dizzy to fight anymore. And Sareth was down, leaving only Eloiin. She charged into him, lightsaber twirling. He deflected her blades and side-stepped her charge. She turned around, totally expecting a counterattack, only to find Davion deactivating his blade.
"Give up?" Eloiin asked. Davion shook his head and smiled wryly. So be it, Eloiin thought. She attacked him with the same fury that she had used all through the sparring match. Davion dodged her dancing blades, ducking, jumping, and sidestepping with incredible reflexes. Eloiin became annoyed at his antics, and stepped up the pace. Davion still dodged every jab and slice. Her irritation increasing, she raised her palm and used the Force to push him back, but it didn't work. Davion had raised his own palm at the same time, countering her push with his own. Eloiin pushed harder, but then, so did Davion. They stood in a stand-still for a moment before AJ noticed.
"Oh, oh! Force struggle!" he hooted as he jumped to his feet and ran over to referee, but Davion and Eloiin didn't hear them. Both of them focused only on the struggle itself, their own force energies colliding against the other. Eloiin had been in many such "force wrestles", and telling from Davion's efficiency, he had too. They focused even harder, matching the other's increase in pressure with their own while trying to summon up the power to push harder. Eloiin suspected that she would lose. She never was as good as the other students at this game, and lost often to them. Then, a voice appeared in her head, as vivid and understandable as if it was transmitted vocally.
"Stop thinking about them. Focus only on the task at hand," it said, and Eloiin had no doubt that it was Davion.
"Easy for you to say. I can feel how strong you are. A rancor among mynocks. Even Master Durron doesn't stick out as much as you," Eloiin replied mentally.
"Your either blind or recklessly modest. You are stronger than this. How many times have your teachers commented on your power?" Davion thought to her.
"They're just saying that to make me feel better."
"They're saying that because it is the truth. Or are you accusing Master Skywalker of being a liar?"
"Well, I do. Push harder, or I'll fail you."
That was all the motivation Eloiin needed. With a power she didn't even know she had, she forced all of her will into the struggle. It blew past Davion's defenses and crashed into him, sending him sprawling across the room. He hit the padded wall with his back, but nimbly landed on his feet once gravity had caught up with him. Eloiin was about to gasp an apology when she noticed the slack-jawed look coming from Sareth and AJ. She also noticed the smug grin on Davion's face.
"Whoa," was all Sareth could say, but AJ hooted in celebration.
"Yeah! Pay up, sucker!" he hollered to Sareth, who, once she snapped out of her stupor, withdrew a small datachip, which Eloiin identified as credits. Her face held no signs of lingering grudges though, and she still focused on Eloiin.
"You've never pushed that hard when we wrestled," Sareth stated in amazement. Davion walked up behind her, still smiling at Eloiin.
"It's truly amazing what one can accomplish when their grade is in jeopardy," Davion said mischievously. Sareth looked at him with squinted eyes.
"You didn't say anything about grades," she said. Eloiin shook her head.
"No. But he was thinking it," Eloiin said, returning Davion's smile. Sareth paused for a moment, working out the confusion Davion and Eloiin had cast into her mind. Then, it clicked together.
"Oh! I get it!" she said in revelation, pointing at her head and then at AJ's, indicating telepathy. AJ avoided her finger, as if it were some kind of parasitic insect.
"Don't point. Someone could loose an eye," he said as he batted Sareth's finger away. Playfully, she raised her finger again, imitating a buzzing insect with her voice. AJ slapped it away again, bringing laughter to Sareth lungs. Davion, shaking his head at their ridiculous behavior, walked towards the door as they distracted each other. Little did he know that Eloiin followed him.
* * *
"You wanted to see me, Master Low?" Jax Skauk asked in his baritone, croaking voice. He stood in the doorway to a darkened meditation room, the light from the hallway making him a massive silhouette to Master Low's eyes. If they were open, that is. Master Low sat cross-legged on a hovering pod, his eyes closed in concentration.
"I hear you have a new padawan, Jax," Master Low said, eyes still closed. Jax nodded.
"Yes. I have chosen Eloiin Standl to be my apprentice. I'll be taking her out on active duty once my business here is finished," he croaked. Master Low had the respect of everyone in the Order, Jax included. Jax Skauk had been Master Low's Apprentice for a while, and he had come to trust him, as many Apprentices did with their Masters. But, Jax did not want to be involved with the dejarric game that was Jedi politics, as his Master was. On one side stood those who supported Grandmaster Skywalker and his New Order. On the other stood Master Low and many other members of the Jedi Order, who thought the ways of the New Order were to soft. They longed for the ways of the Old Order, the one wiped out by Emperor Palpatine and his Empire. Jax himself would have never been admitted into the Order if they followed the old ways, because of his advanced age upon recruitment. But his trust in his Master outweighed that face.
Master Low nodded.
"Take care of her Jax. Problems have already arisen," Master Low said, in a very sage-like way. Jax looked confused.
"Problems? What problems?" he asked, unsure of Master Low's cryptic statement. Master Low sighed heavily.
"Davion," he said finally. Jax was even more confused.
"The survivor? What damage could he be doing?" Jax asked. Master Low opened his eyes.
"He is a distraction. He is a dark influence," Master Low said. Jax shook his head.
"No. That's not right. I've seen them together, but I haven't sensed any loss of focus on Eloiin's part. Or the dark side in Davion," Jax reasoned. It was Master Low's turn to shake his head.
"Oh, c'mon Jax. You know what happened with him. How could he have NOT fallen to the dark side? The first Jedi Council couldn't sense Palpatine either," Master Low warned, "trust me in the fact that he is not to be trusted."
Jax nodded his head.
"I will be wary, Master."
* * *
Eloiin kept a healthy distance from Davion as she followed him through the crowds filling the halls. She could already tell, judging from what halls he was going through, that he was going back to his dormitory. Once they had entered the main corridor of the dormitories, Davion stopped in his tracks, almost causing Eloiin to jump from her own skin. He looked around a bit, but never behind himself, then continued. Eloiin's heart dropped. She had felt him nudge her in the Force during his quick scan. But, she would not be dissuaded, and she started following him once more.
They came to Davion's dorm. Punching in the door code in the small terminal, he walked through the door as it slid open, then closed it from the other side. Eloiin, after a moment to reassure herself, moved up to his door. She raised her arm to knock, but was surprised to find the door was already sliding open. Davion stood on the other side of it, smiling from ear to ear.
"You really suck at sneaking trailing, you know that?" he said playfully. Eloiin couldn't help but smile also.
"May I come in?" she asked innocently.
"Sure," Davion said happily as he showed her in, "Wanna nerfburger?"
"Sure," Eloiin replied, entering Davion's dorm, which was surprisingly clean. Though the lights were still off, the shades on the windows were deactivated, letting daylight flood the room.
"Do you want cheese on it?" Davion asked, yelling from the kitchen.
"Yeah," Eloiin hollered in reply. She looked around. Just earlier that day, the entire room had been filled with trash and other miscellaneous items. Now, it looked like as clean as immaculate as a Coruscant shopping mall. She smirked. To have done this, he would have hired an army of cleaning droids. Or used the Force like none other. She suspected the second option. As she sat down on an super-comfortable couch, Davion walked out of the kitchen and sat down next to her.
"So, what do you wanna watch?" Davion asked, flaunting his force powers by turning on a wall-mounted HoloNet screen. Eloiin just shook her head.
"Does it matter?" she asked. Davion looked at her, then smiled.
"Unless you don't mind watching Twi'lek's giving strip-teases, than no," he replied, keeping the straightest face he could muster. The crossed look of disgust and shock on Eloiin's face broke his facade, and he shook with silent laughter.
"All right, all right. Spoil sport. I'm sure there is something on that is more "suitable" to your tastes," he said as grabbed a nearby remote control, flipping through the channels of the view screen. Finally, they came to a channel playing old Imperial propaganda movies.
"Wow. I didn't think they showed these features anymore," Davion said.
"You'd be surprised. Sareth lives off these kinda movies. I guess because the violence in these older features are almost non-existent," Eloiin commented. She heard Davion give an exasperated sigh. He had already bore witness to Sareth's personal censorship. If there was even the slightest hint of gore or sensuality in the feature's description, she would ban herself from ever seeing it.
As the beginning credits began to role, Davion recognized a name.
"Garik Loran? This feature is old," he said in amazement, referring to a child holovid star. He was famous for starring in Imperial propaganda features, but in true life, he had betrayed the Empire and joined the Rebellion. Davion was preparing to change the channel, but a quick glance over to Eloiin revealed that she was already watching intently. He lowered the remote control and leaned back in the couch, content that at least one of them liked the ancient holovid.
But, in truth, Eloiin wasn't paying any attention to the movie. She was instead marveling at her situation. Davion had literally asked her to dinner. She was trying not to show her smugness, but she was afraid that Davion would sense it anyways. All these weeks, people had commented on how "cute" of a couple they were. Though Davion quickly corrected them, reminding them that they were, in fact, NOT a couple, Eloiin couldn't help but enjoy the compliments. But it did leave her thinking.
Davion was a good friend, no doubt. His personality was as infectious as a rakghoul bite. Only a few days ago had Eloiin started to think it going deeper. She entertained those thoughts. Over the weeks, she had become more drawn to him, spending more time with him and talking about more personal subjects. They even got into some discussions on philosophy. Sometimes their views were the same, and other times they were opposing ideas. But at the end of the day, both acknowledged and respected their own defenses.
Respect. That's what was different about Davion. He respected her ideals, no matter how deluded they may be. He respected her, commenting on how she was doing more than she should. Eloiin smiled at that. She had spent her entire life being told by people who did not know her toils to "toughen up". To stop whining, even though they hadn't a clue what she was going through. Davion....Davion understood.
But she understood little to nothing about him. He knew his personality, his way. He wore a silent and anti-social blanket to hide his kind and caring self. To protect his soft and oversized heart, he had covered it in constricting, cold durasteel armor. He was still somewhat conserved around AJ and Sareth, but when it was just herself, just Eloiin, it was as though he had opened his armor.
But now, something felt awkward. She had been warned against such feelings, mainly from two sources. Her parents had warned her about attachments, worried that a they would cause distractions from her training. Sometimes, it felt like that was all they cared about.
Master Low had also warned her about attachments. Eloiin knew that his warning stemmed from his desire to reform the Jedi back to the old way, back when Jedi with attachments were considered heretics. Davion knew this as well, and always chuckled at it. "Hypocrite," he had said, referring to the fact that Master Low had a wife and child. Though Eloiin had a great deal more respect for him, it was clear to everybody that Davion and Master Low did not get along.
A small buzzer went off from Davion's wrist chrono. He rose from his seat and marched into the kitchen. Eloiin smirked at that. He had the process timed.
A few moments later, Davion emerged from the kitchen, balancing a plate on each hands.
"Here ya go," Davion said as he handed her the plate. She thanked him and received the plate. After a quick and subtle examination of her food, she bit into the nerfburger. It wasn't the best she had ever had, but it wasn't bad either. Davion caught her expression.
"Sorry 'bout the burger. The burners in this place are pathetic. Hoth generates more heat than those things," he apologized. Eloiin shook her head.
"No, it's alright. They aren't that bad," she said honestly. Their attention focused on the movie. She had seen it before, but didn't mind seeing it again. She was more interested in the way Davion was acting. He sat a full cushion away from her, and his posture was stiff and rigid, as though he expected her to suddenly sprout fangs and face tentacles like an Anzati. Eloiin felt somewhat put off by this, but she ignored it for the most part.
They struck up multiple conversations throughout the movie. Many times, Davion scolded himself aloud, saying that he was distracting her from the movie. But Eloiin didn't mind, and she matched every one of his comments with one of her own. They were in the middle of a conversation on prosthetic's when the movie ended. Eloiin told of her personal experiences of people with such needs, while Davion joked about cutting off his own arm just to acquire a mechanical replacement.
"Why would you do that?" Eloiin asked incredulously, convinced by Davion's honest tone.
"Look at Luke Skywalker! Do you really think Mara Jade married him because she enjoyed his boyish good looks? His sandy-blonde hair? His scar-covered face? No! It's the hand! Girls dig guys with prosthetics!" he answered in a rant. Eloiin burst into laughter, her face turning slightly red from the force of it.
"I never thought of it that way," she said once her laughter died down. She looked out the nearby window to see the Ossus sky had gone dark. Lifting up her cloak's sleeve to reveal her wrist-chrono, she confirmed her fears.
"Oh, it's late. And there's a test tomorrow. I got to get home," she said, sad that the pleasant time had to end. Davion nodded his head in acknowledgement.
"All right," he said, standing up from the couch at the same time as Eloiin, "I'll walk ya back".
His words caused her stomach to flutter, and Eloiin suppressed another blush as she nodded in agreement. They walked out of Davion's dorm into the darkened hallways, devoid of any activity. Eloiin's dorm wasn't far away from Davion's, but it did require them to go to a different wing. C-wing, to be precise.
They whispered a little as they went, still talking about off-the-wall-subjects. When they reached C-Wing, they both went silent, and no words were spoken until Eloiin's dorm was in sight.
"Here we are," Davion stated, trying to relieve the silence. Eloiin nodded. When they reached the door, Eloiin punched in the code for the door, then turned to address Davion.
"Well, don't be a stranger," she said. Davion just smiled. He moved closer to her. Dangerously close. Closer than any other male of her own species was allowed to get. It was then that Eloiin noticed how tall he was. He could easily see over her head, able to touch his chin on the top of her skull. His face closed in with hers, and Eloiin felt her heart nearly leap from her chest. His hand was suddenly on the back of her head as his face drew ever so closer to hers. She lifted her face, trying to prepare herself for what was to come.
Her preparation quickly turned to a blush as Davion kissed her forehead.
"Thanks," was all he said. Eloiin, speechless, couldn't coax her voice into saying 'you're welcome'. After he ruffled her hair in the back a little, he turned, walking off into the dark corridor. It was then Eloiin realized her stomach doing advanced acrobatics.
Eloiin didn't see Davion the following day. Or the next, for that matter. Though, she was content with it. She needed to spend some time with her old friends, and for those two days, there was rarely a moment when Eloiin couldn't be found without one of them. Sareth was easy to find, since her location could be narrowed down to four places; her dorm, AJ's dorm, The AFS classroom, or the Training Area. Amberly, on the other hand, was much more difficult to track. Her job - meticulously wiping memories and installing upgrades in the million's of droids owned by the Ossus Praxeum - required that she move about the academy in erratic patterns. Eloiin could spend an entire cycle of Ossus's day trying to find her.
Luckily, though, she had another tool to find her. The force. Amberly's signature in the Force bristled and crack with energy, and only Jacen Solo, Leia Solo's oldest son, stood out in the Force more than her. But, there was also a side-effect to Amberly's power. To locate another through the Force, you must touch them in the Force. To touch them in the Force, certain images, certain states of mind are transferred through the touch. Amberly's way of reasoning often made it extremely uncomfortable to be touched - her logic was so simple, so basic, that it was possibly the most complex thing someone could experience. Just nudging her in the Force could make you lose your bearings and become lost, even when in one's own bedroom!
The third day, Eloiin actively sought Davion out, half out of concern, and half out of boredom. Sareth had limited conversational options, and watching Amberly reprogram hundreds of droids was never too appealing; though, after all she had watched, she was sure she could get a protocol droid to learn to use a blaster rifle. Outside his dorm, Eloiin reached out with the Force, trying to find Davion's signature. Her efforts were in vain, as there was no trace of him in the extent of her senses. She tried again, closing her eyes and increasing her focus.
Still nothing. He was either outside the Praxeum, or hiding his presence. She reached out again, then again. Still nothing. Frustrated, she tried to calculate his most likely possible location.
Suddenly, the door in front of her slid open, startling her so bad that she literally jumped back a foot behind her. In the door way stood a very surprised looking Davion.
"Did you knock?" Davion asked, a smile cracking through his astonished expression. Eloiin screwed up her face.
"How - why didn't you - how did you-?" Eloiin stammered. Davion's faced morphed into one of understanding. He walked up to her, placing a hand on her shoulder.
Davion whispered into Eloiin's ear, "It's called a control panel. You press the corresponding button, an electrical signal is sent through some wires, and rotating gears and mechanisms open the sliding door".
Eloiin turned red.
"I know how a door works! What I meant was how did I not sense you? You were just a door away, and I did a scan of the whole praxeum!" she fumed. Davion merely shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know. Did you know what you were looking for?" he asked. Eloiin gave him an unenthusiastic, exhausted glare.
"Seriously! I don't know why you couldn't feel me! I felt you, though. Why do you think I came to the door?" Davion explained. Though it didn't answer her question, it managed to ease the confusion. At least HE sensed something. Her mind turned to lighter subjects.
"Where have you been?" she asked, putting her hands on her hips.
"Here. Where have you been?" Davion asked playfully. Eloiin just rolled her eyes.
"Whatever," she said, tired of his games. Davion sensed her frustration.
"You hungry?" Davion asked. Eloiin shrugged her shoulders, equaling a semi-yes response. With a nod of Davion's head in the appropriate direction, they started off towards the cafeteria.
* * *
Once at the cafeteria, Davion ordered a nerfburger from the Dantooine booth, while Eloiin chose some spice-covered avian from some obscure planet. Davion and Eloiin took seats opposite of each other on one of the hundreds of tables. Talking about the small things, they quickly polished off their meals. Then, in a middle of a joke Davion was saying about a chrono and a Gammorean, someone plopped into the chair next to Eloiin.
"Hey!" Amberly said, leaning dangerously back in her chair. Davion stared at her incredulously, while Eloiin merely said a greeting of her own.
"Hi, Amberly. This is Davion Korr. Davion, this is Amberly," Eloiin said casually, introducing her newest friend to one of her oldest. Amberly gave a slight, seemingly arcane nod of her head. Davion returned it with a sheepish smile.
"Nice robes," he said, referring to Amberly's brightly colored, tie-died garments. Amberly looked over to Eloiin.
"So, this is your boyfriend?" Amberly asked, causing Davion to choke a little on the fluid he was extracting from the straw inserted in his beverage cup. Eloiin visibly turned red, but then felt at piece for some reason.
"How do you know?" she asked Amberly, not doubting her friend's resources. Amberly's perpetual smile widened.
"A protocol droid told me," she said smugly. Eloiin nodded her head. Amberly probably came across a visual feed file within the droid's memory. Davion understood as well, but less enthusiastically.
"What's the droid's designation?" he asked Amberly. Amberly giggled.
"Why do you want to know?" Amberly asked.
"So I can decommission him," Davion said slyly. Eloiin looked at him with a face of astonishment.
"Davion! Don't be so mean!" she said, even though she didn't mean it. She knew he was just playing.
"Yeah!" Amberly said, joining in on Eloiin's fake crusade, "if you do that, the Council might make me check all the droid chassis while I'm at it!"
A question shot into Eloiin's mind.
"Why are you here anyway? I mean, I know WHY you are here, but why is it you? I thought Master Komez handled this stuff?" Eloiin asked. Amberly's smile went from pure joy to what looked like an apologetic, I'm-not-supposed-to-say-but-I-will-anyway smile.
"Umm....Emilio is kinda....umm....incarcerated," Amberly said, her tone subdued by what sounded like light-hearted guilt. Davion was unaffected by the news; he didn't even know who Master Komez was. But Eloiin was in shock.
"He's in jail! Why?" she asked, still having trouble to grasp the news. Master Komez had taught at the Ossus Praxeum for a year before moving on to Coruscant with Amberly, who was his apprentice at the time. He had the prestige of being one of the weirdest, most eccentric Jedi in the Order, and it was no wonder Amberly was the only one to be chosen to be his apprentice. Her eccentricity almost rivaled his. Eloiin and the rest of her group believed that Master Komez left under orders from Master Low; who everybody knew despised Master Komez and his method of teaching.
"He crashed his X-wing," Amberly said.
"And they threw him in the big house for that?" Davion finally piped up. Amberly shrugged.
"Well....it wasn't about the fact that he crashed....but what he crashed into," Amberly said, subdued. Eloiin rolled her eyes.
"Do I want to ask?" she inquired, almost dreading the answer.
"He...kinda crashed into the Chief of State's transport," Amberly said. Eloiin's jaw dropped in awe at the news. Davion's reaction was very different. He was laughing so hard, Eloiin thought he might pass out from the sudden loss of air in his longs. He was also having trouble pulling air back in to them as his laughter continued. Eloiin giggled a little when she saw tears welling in his eyes, so hard was he laughing.
"You serious? That's HILARIOUS!!!" Davion mused, still chuckling at the thought. Eloiin was now looking in awe at Davion. This information really did tickle him. After a full minute of laughter, Davion finally gathered himself.
"How long is he in for?" Davion asked, his voice a little hoarse from his laughing fit.
"I don't know. Until they let him out, I guess," Amberly said uncertainly. Davion rolled his eyes, suppressing the urge to make some sarcastic comment on the obvious. A look of revelation crossed Amberly's face, as if she had just remembered something.
"Oh, did Sareth tell you about what we had planned?" she asked Eloiin excitedly. Eloiin shook her head.
"Me and Sareth are going to Hoth! There's a new snow-sliding run there," Amberly clarified. Davion smiled and looked over to Eloiin.
"Sounds fun. Shall we?" he asked cheerfully. Eloiin's thoughts, though certainly bright, were weighed down by one thing.
"It takes days to get to and from Hoth. It's practically on the other side of the galaxy. I don't think the instructors' would let me be gone for that long," Eloiin said glumly.
"Nonsense! Of course they'd let you go," Davion said, and he then puffed out his chest in a regal manner and spoke in a stuck-up accent, "I give you my permission as an instructor of Ossus Praxeum to disappear to a sub-zero, wompa-infested wasteland of a planet for as long as you see fit."
Eloiin smiled, grateful for his gesture, but her situation still had a ball and chain.
"What about Master Low?" she asked. Davion opened his mouth to say something, but he closed it without a sound when he realized that whatever idea he had wouldn't work.
"I'll talk to him," Amberly said, breaking the silence.
"Will that work?" Eloiin asked.
"Probably not," Davion snorted.
"Oh, shut up," Amberly said, "Yeah, it'll work. I'm a Jedi Knight after all."
Her mind at ease, Eloiin reveled in the joy that came with knowing she was actually going on a recreational trip. Recreation. That's right! For fun! It had been years since she had left the academy, and when she had, it was back to Dantooine and the toil of nerf ranching. Eloiin swore she still had a swore muscle in her leg from three years ago, which was the last time she helped her father with his job.
"Can he come with?" Eloiin asked Amberly, pointing her thumb at Davion. Playing along, Davion looked at Amberly and put on his best pouting-child face, downward tilted face and bottom lip sticking out and inches. Amberly nodded, and Davion acted like a child would; jumping up and down in his seat, clapping his hands, and making a strange howling noise caused by inhaling and constricting his throat that was slightly reminiscent of a young wookiee.
"When do we leave?" Eloiin asked. Amberly shrugged.
"How fast can you pack your bags?"
"I told you, I don't know anything!" the pale skinned twi'lek pleaded. His arms and legs were bound to the chair he sat in, under a bright light in a dark room. The cone of the light's reach did not stretch to the walls, making it nearly impossible to see beyond it's illuminated sphere in the center of the room.
"You're lying. I can smell it. Tell me what you know," a soft, disturbingly smooth voice said. The twi'lek shook his head, closing pale eyelids over bright pink eyes.
"Stay....out....of my....mind!" he said desperately. Impulses where being sent into his mind - feelings to manipulate him. Right now, he couldn't shake the feeling that there was a Rancor standing behind him, breathing down his neck, waiting for the signal from its master to devour him. That impulse quickly combined with another - the feeling that upon releasing the information he was asked for would wake him up from this nightmare, and all would be good.
"Tell me, or I'll break you," the voice from the shadows said, unnerving the twi'lek by his calm, disaffected tone.
"I told you! I don't know!" the twi'lek screamed.
"My patience is wearing thin. Do you want to make me cut you open and search for the words I want in your throat?" the voice threatened. The twi'lek, already terrified beyond rational thought, didn't answer.
A red rod of light sprung from the shadows, it's glow casting over a dark cloak. The twi'lek was horrified at the sight of a lightsaber in his interrogator's hand.
"So be it," the man said, and he stalked forward a little. Terror filling every synapse in his brain, the twi'lek flinched.
"No! Wait! Stop! Alright! I'll do it!" he begged, tears of fright rolling down his cheeks. The man with the red lightsaber stopped, inches away from the border of the revealing light.
"You'll do what?" the man asked. The twi'lek gathered his voice with a gulp.
"A-alright. I-I don't know who or were he is," the twi'lek said, and he yelped a little when the man raised his lightsaber a bit, threateningly.
"No! Wait! I don't know where he is, but I know someone who can find him! He's a slicer, has an apartment in the Red Sector of Nar Shadaa. He can hack anything - even the main databanks on Coruscant! If anyone can find this guy, it'll be him!"
The man didn't move for a few moments, which was enough time for the twi'lek to offer a prayer to whatever god he worshipped.
Then, the lightsaber hissed as it retracted back into it's hilt.
"See, wasn't that easy?" the man asked, his voice as bending as duracrete. The twi'lek didn't answer. The twi'lek couldn't answer. The twi'lek couldn't even breath. He thrashed his head wildly as an invisible vice tightened on his neck. Then, the vice twisted, and the light in the twi'lek's horrified eyes went out as broken bone severed his nerve cords.
* * *
Within the following hour, Eloiin had packed enough clothes and various other items for two weeks. Thirty standard minutes after that, she ambled her way into the Hangars, suitcase in hand. With the help of the Pit-droid-gone-hangar guide, she was able to locate Amberly's transport. The Beowulf Shaeffer was a YT-1300 that was reproduced a year after the Battle of Endor, mainly to honor the new Correllian hero Han Solo than to celebrate a new age of peace. It was built exactly like the famed Millennium Falcon, minus the flaws and back-firing hyperdrive. Eloiin smiled at it, knowing that Amberly had taken the liberty and time to customize it. She must have. Nobody else in their right mind would paint a ship that shade of bright green. It stuck out like a lightsaber in the dark. Eloiin could only imagine what the inside looked like.
The sudden sound of something heavy hitting the floor next to Eloiin brought her out of her observations. Standing next to her was Sareth, her face red from exertion, panting lightly and sweating a bit. Eloiin traced where the sound had come from, her eyes falling upon a suitcase that looked like it was fifty objects over its limit.
"Are you sure you got everything?" Eloiin joked, though she made her tone sound like she was serious. Sareth said, "Ha ha. Very funny."
AJ suddenly appeared beside Sareth. Eloiin smiled at him. He had already taken the liberty of changing out of his Jedi cloak and tunic into civilian clothes, wearing a simple whit shirt, baggy black pants, and a vest. Eloiin couldn't help but notice how much gracefully he moved without a cloak tripping up his steps.
"Nice ship!" he exclaimed, smiling from ear to ear at such an offensively colored vehicle.
Then, the ramp that led into the ship lowered until it's tip hit the ground. Davion walked down it, waiting at the bottom.
"C'mon! Let's get outta here!" he yelled, reminding the three of how far away they stood from the ship. After a quick look at each other, the three bounded off towards the loading ramp. Well, two bounded off. Sareth had to drag her overstuffed luggage. Being polite, Eloiin and AJ waited for Sareth to catch up with them before going up the ramp. They even let her go first. As Sareth passed by Davion, who was standing midway up the ramp, she gave him a suspicious look. He returned it with one of his own. AJ simply waved and smile at him as he passed him, following Sareth up the ramp. Then, Eloiin walked by, and Davion followed her side by side up the ramp. Before they go to the top, Davion had already insisted on taking Eloiin's luggage.
"Make's me look bad if I let you carry heavy stuff," he had said, and once the luggage was in his hand, his enthusiasm dimmed when he discovered how heavy it was.
Once inside, Davion turned to a button on the bulkhead near the loading ramp. He pushed it, and the loading ramp raised itself back up, filling the whole in the green hull that it had made.
"You sure have made friends with Amberly fast," Eloiin commented as they made their way to the main hold. Davion shrugged.
"What can I say? She has a magnetic personality," he said. Eloiin giggled. She wouldn't have said magnetic. Her personality is more like tractor beam - it attracted, but it almost never meant good things were to come. Trouble followed Amberly like a shadow.
They met the other two members of their party in the main hold.
"Where's Amberly?" Sareth asked. She was answered by a battle cry and numerous clanking noises coming from one of the cargo holds. Reflexively, all four companions began headed towards the cargo hold, and what they saw stopped them in their tracks. In the middle of the empty cargo hold, Amberly was wrestling on the floor with someone. He was young, maybe thirteen our fourteen years of age, and was very thin, like exercise was lethal for him. His short blonde hair was messed up, and a big nose was positioned under and between two wide, nervous looking blue eyes.
Amberly had him in a headlock as she sat cross-legged on the floor. The boy was repeating some kind of strange, yelping noise. They struggled around the floor like two children at play, Amberly trying to retrieve something from the young boy's hand.
"Who's that?" AJ asked, who was just as unfamiliar with Amberly as Davion was. Eloiin smiled and shook her head.
"Connor. Amberly's little brother," she said, still watching the entertaining game that the two played. Finally, Amberly wrenched whatever Connor was trying to keep from her out of his hand. She pushed him halfway across the room, holding a hydrospanner triumphantly over her head as she went over to address her passengers.
"Sorry about that," she said, still a bit winded, "are we all set?"
By this time, Connor was already up and by Amberly's side, passively reaching his arms out, trying to retrieve the hydrospanner. Amberly pushed him away again, and when slowly ambled back up and tried again, she merely held her arm out in the opposite direction, defeating his grip.
"Yep. Ready to go," Davion said finally.
"Alright!" Amberly said as she pushed Connor away once more, sending him sprawling to the ground, "to the cockpit!"
* * *
Eloiin sat in one of the two rear seats in the cockpit. She mused at herself while Amberly and Davion, who had taken up a role as copilot, went through the startup.
The unique thing about the Beowulf Shaeffer was that it was completely reversed from the regular YT-1300, in the sense that it's cockpit was on the left-side of the ship, instead of the right, as was the norm for that model. Amberly went through the start-up diagnostics within milliseconds, her skills at reading data enhanced by her occupation. Davion merely sat with his hands behind his head, knowing that any help he would offer would merely slow Amberly down.
Then, the ships thrusters roared to life, and Eloiin had to clamp her hands over her ears as the sound from the engine room reverberated off the walls and amplified.
"Do you think your thrusters are loud enough?" Eloiin yelled over the roar.
"What?" Amberly yelled back, not able to hear her.
"I said, are the thrusters loud enough?" Eloiin yelled even louder, hurting her throat in the process. This time Davion turned around.
"What?" he asked, and Eloiin was overcome with frustration. She mouthed "Never mind," and sat back in her seat.
Amberly pushed a few buttons and levers. Than, she grabbed the steering mechanism. With absolutely no subtlety at all, Amberly jolted the Shaeffer into the air, and then bolted through the hangar doors. While they had lifted off, Eloiin heard a loud clank from the main hold. Amberly heard it too, and she giggled.
"Someone wasn't wearing their safety harness," she mused as she steered the ship out of Ossus's atmosphere. The way Amberly had planned it, they would orbit Ossus once, then jump for Coruscant. Once there, they would take a number of routes, until they finally reached the Correllian Trade Spine, which would take them straight to Hoth. The orbit gave Eloiin a chance to look out of the Shaeffer's view ports, and even from orbit she could spot out the black mark in the Ossus jungle that was Davion's crash site. After a single revolution around Ossus, Amberly told everybody to buckle down once more. When they did so, she engaged the hyperdrive. The white pin points that were stars distorted as they jumped into lightspeed.
Wow i really enjoyed that it took me all day but it was really awsome thanks for sharing it,
I know. I think this is one of the best stories I have ever read. If you add/write any more stories, please send me a link to them or send them to me in e-mail.
Thank you for the kind words. And here is some more.
Davion leaned back in his chair as he waited for Eloiin's move. He was trying to teach her how to play HoloChess, a game for those who didn't have the funds or the time to learn how to play Dejarric. There was hundreds of different modes for the holo-pieces, each representing a different conflict, species, and organizations. Eloiin had chosen the old Trade Federation's Droid Army, with the light battle droids for pawns, Destroyer droids for brooks, IG-Lancers for knights, IG-Magnaguards for bishops, a Vulture Droid for a queen, and a perfect representation of General Grievous for the king.
Davion's pieces were of the ancient Sith Lords and their armies of Massassi warriors. He had explained what they were, but Eloiin didn't bother remembering their names. All she knew, is her king was about to be killed by Davion's queen, which was a rather distinguished looking old man in a cape, wielding a red, curved lightsaber.
Eloiin had trouble playing the game just because of it's detail. If two opposing units were placed next to each other, even if they couldn't take each other, they would go into a miniature duel. There was one with Eloiin's pawn and Davion's pawn side by side. Her pawn shot it's blaster rifle at his pawn, which Davion's pawn dodged, jumping back and forth on its square. When the droid ceased firing, Davion's pawn, which he designated as a Massassi warrior, flailed his arm horizontally, sending sharp, spinning disks towards Eloiin's droid from a wrist mounted Lanvorak; the droid merely stepped from sided to side to dodge.
Another scene showed one of Eloiin's bishops, the IG-Magnaguards, dueling with it's stun-staff with a cloaked Sith Assassin. With every move, Eloiin could see her king giving a command to the corresponding unit. The detail in the game was amazing.
"Ironic," Davion mused, catching Eloiin's attention for a moment.
"What's ironic?" she asked. Davion looked at her as if he hadn't meant to say it aloud.
"Ironic that your king, General Grievous, is about to be slain by my queen. Count Dooku," he said. Eloiin nodded. She didn't know what he meant, of course; history always was her worst subject.
Either way, she couldn't take his queen. If she did, one of Davion's bishops, a very nasty looking cloaked figure, would take her and she would lose the game. She moved her king in the only possible direction she could think of.
"Checkmate," Davion said, moving his queen into the final formation for a trap. Eloiin gave an exasperated sigh. She expected it, so the disappointment of losing was non-existent. She managed a smile.
"You did very good," she said. Davion responded with slight bow of the head.
"Well, it is all good. You've learned how to play HoloChess," Davion said somberly. Eloiin let out a smirk.
"And you've learned what happens when you give your opponent a breather," she said, referring to a previous game. Davion, out of pity for Eloiin, allowed her to get a pawn to the other side of the board, meaning she could take back a piece. She, naturally, took back her queen, and nearly toppled Davion from his winning streak.
"Well, we all make mistakes," Davion said, more meaningful than just simple conversation. Eloiin didn't catch it, though, and she rose from her seat.
"I'm gonna go check up on Sareth. You want to come with?" she asked. Davion put on an evil grin and rose to follow her. Outside Sareth's door, Eloiin knocked.
"Sareth? Are you still breathing," she said. There was a scrambling noise, than a voice resonated from the door.
"Yeah! Hold on a sec!" Sareth yelled.
"Darn," Davion joked, drawing a sly grin from Eloiin. A bit more scrambling from inside Sareth's quarters went on before her door opened. In the doorway stood a disheveled looking Sareth, her hair a mess and the beginnings of dark rings below her eyes. It was a small room that Sareth had, barely having enough space for a queen-size bed. AJ sat cross-legged on the bed, intently reading papers and other objects scattered across the sheets. Eloiin only gave a knowing smile, but Davion spoke up, clearing his throat.
"Hmm....so. What have you two been up too?" he asked smugly, eyebrow raised in curiosity. Sareth just rolled her eyes.
"Homework. YJS. Useless things like that," she said, showing them into the catastrophe area that was Sareth's quarters, "Why? What have you two been up too?"
"Running Eloiin through lessons in humility," Davion bragged, leaping over the garbage and items that filled the floor and onto Sareth's bed, his shockwave nearly tipping AJ off it. Eloiin chuckled.
"And running Davion through lessons on mercy," she said mischievously. Davion suddenly shut up, not wanting to press the matter as Eloiin sat down next to him. She looked around at the mess, clothes and other objects scattered everywhere.
"I see you've unpacked," Eloiin said, smiling. Sareth sighed, laying down with a plop on the remaining free-space on her bed.
"My mom would have gone into cardiac arrest if she saw this mess," she said blankly to the wall. Eloiin giggled.
"Your mom would have gone into cardiac arrest if she saw two teenage boys sitting on your bed," she said slyly. Davion smiled, looking intently over to Sareth.
"Where are your parents, anyway?" he asked. Sareth rubbed her sore eyes as she stared at the ceiling.
"Onderon," she said. Davion nodded
"Is that your homeworld," he asked, and Sareth nodded in confirmation.
"Why?" he asked simply, and Sareth propped herself on her shoulders.
"My dad - his name is Darrel - works for the New Republic. Had to take one of those oaths to swear that he wouldn't discuss the nature of his job, though. He's gone most of the time, but my mom's job is planet-side," Sareth said. Davion, predictably, was the only one paying attention - Eloiin and AJ had heard it before.
"What is your mother's occupation?" Davion asked. Sareth hesitated for a moment before answering.
"She is the Royal Advisor to the Queen of Onderon," she mumbled, but Davion heard every word.
"Royal Advisor? She's Keira-dala's advisor?" Davion said. He opened his mouth to say something, something like an expression of astonishment, but he waved it away.
"Never mind," he said wearily, "if I'm gonna hang around with you guys, I'm gonna have to get used to this sorta thing."
Eloiin laughed at his frustration. Davion shook his head at her.
"It's not funny! I'm half expecting AJ to admit that he's Shawnkyr Nuruodo's brother!" he said exhaustedly.
"Who's Shawnkyr?" Eloiin asked, causing Davion to slap a hand to his forehead in frustration. She laughed even harder because of it. Then, the system's intercom system came on. A high-pitched, shaky, slightly neurotic male voice came on, and it was easily identifiable as Connor's.
"Uh, is this thing on? Testing - Jedi, Sith, bantha poodoo...." Connor said.
"Connor! Quit messing around!" a voice in the background commanded, half laughing, and Eloiin knew it to be their pilot, Amberly.
"Uhh, okay," Connor said dissapointedly, "anyways, we're about to enter the Hoth system. Amberly says to get to your seats and buckle up."
"Why do we have to buckle up?" Eloiin asked as they all scrambled out of Sareth's room.
"Because the Hoth system is noted for three things. One is the ice planet that we are going to. The second is the pirate activity in this area," Davion said as he and Eloiin separated from AJ and Sareth and headed towards the cockpit, "and the third is the fact that the entire system is up to it's eyeballs in asteroids. Their constantly moving, so we might jump out of hyperspace and find ourselves in the midst of thousands of huge space rocks."
Eloiin gulped back a lump in her throat. When she was a child, no more than six or seven years of age, her father had taken her on a business trip to Correllia. They made a stop in some remote system for supplies, only to find that their destination had attracted a shield of asteroids with it's gravitational pull. All she could remember from the trip was how terrified she was as her dad desperately tried to manuevar through the cloud of deadly moons.
And now, here she was, knowingly with a less competent pilot in a system renowned for it's tightly packed asteroid fields. She shuddered as she turned around, heading back towards the main hold. If the were going through another asteroid field, she didn't want to see it. She sat down next to AJ and Sareth on the couch that surrounded the central holo-interface.
"Are you all right?" Sareth asked, concerned by the pale look on Eloiin's face.
"Yeah," Eloiin croaked through a voice that was suddenly hoarse, "I just don't like asteroid fields."
"Well, look on the bright side," AJ spoke up, "If we crash, there is a fifty-fifty chance that we'll hit one with a nice, frozen methane coating. It'll take about a picosecond to ignite, and when it does, it'll explode with such force, so quickly, that we won't even realize we've been blown to itty-bitty molecules."
Both the girls stared at him with horrified expressions. AJ shrank under their glares.
"Or we could hit one without methane, and-" he started again, but Sareth's fist colliding into his shoulder silenced him.
"Ignore him, Eloiin. We won't crash," Sareth said, trying to quell the tears of fear that were forming in Eloiin's eyes.
Then, a sudden falling feeling in their stomachs alerted the three that they had just come out of hyperspace. The ship immediately began to toss and turn.
"Uhh....testing - jedi, sith, bantha-" Connor's voice started on the intercom, but a very distinct "Give me that!" in the background halted his announcements. Then, Davion's voice came on the intercom.
"We've just jumped out of-" he started, but stopped when Amberly made a gut-wrenching turn, "out of hyperspace, straight into an asteroid field."
The three were sitting straight up in their seats, each either gripping the arms of it or the passenger next to them like a vice-grip. Tears of horror streamed down Eloiin's face.
Suddenly, and a loud banging noise echoed through the hull of the Shaeffer. Then, a string of profane curses came echoed down the hallway to the cockpit. The beeping of a comlink was the next sound. Sareth searched her clothes frantically, finally finding the comlink stashed in her pant pocket.
"Yeah?" she asked.
"I need your and the other two's help," Davion said quietly, Sareth having to strain to hear her voice. Sareth confirmed his request and unbuckled herself.
"Eloiin, AJ; we're needed in the cockpit," she said as she stumbled towards the corridor to the cockpit. The other two followed closely once free of their restraints.
The constant tossing and turning of the Shaeffer doing maneuvers made it difficult to stand, and Eloiin was surprised she could move at all. Once they got into the cockpit, the scene was almost as frightening as the ride.
Outside the cockpit's view ports, there were almost no places in the empty vacuum of space that wasn't filled in by an asteroid. Some of them were simply brown balls of rock and dirt, mostly the smaller ones. The bigger ones seemed to have a semi-translucent coating of bluish ice, which Eloiin knew to be asteroids with methane deposits.
Then again, the scene inside the cockpit wasn't too good either. Connor lay sprawled on the floor, unconscious and sliding around in concert with the movements of the ship. Davion and Amberly were struggling like to small children over the controls.
"You're going to kill us!" Davion screamed at Amberly as he tugged on the controls.
"I know what I'm doing!" Amberly retorted, tugging on the controls with her left hand and laying a sufficient fist into Davion's face. Amberly then sent the ship into a double-barrel roll, barely missing a methane asteroid by a few meters. Seeming to have a brain storm, Davion rose from his seat, his hand on the side of his face were Amberly hit him.
"Watch her!" he said to the gaping three as he stormed out of the cockpit. The three looked helplessly at the others and sighed. Moments later, Davion returned with something concealed in his cloak's sleeves. He plopped back down in his chair, then began fumbling with something in his hands. A few snap sounds reverberated off the walls, then a triumphant "Ha!" as Davion pulled out a newly-assembled dart launcher. He pulled the trigger while aiming at Amberly's neck. A small dart was suddenly sticking from the side of her neck, and she immediately slumped over. Sareth went into a panic.
"Davion! What in the galaxy are you doing?!" she nearly screamed as Davion pushed Amberly's limp form out of her seat and took control of the ship. He didn't bother to answer Sareth's question as he changed the ship's coarse by ninety-degrees up, sending everyone to the floor. He punched on the acceleration as they continued their climb upwards. Then, as suddenly as he had done it before, another ninety-degree coarse correction put them on their original coarse. When Eloiin rose, her eyes still moist with tears, she felt a wave of relief as she looked out the forward view port. They were no longer amongst clusters of asteroids, but instead, above them.
"I was keeping us from getting killed," he finally answered Sareth's question. The cockpit was disturbingly quiet as the white sphere that was Hoth loomed before them.
Mye'kel walked slowly through the crowded, dark cantina. Music blared from the speakers near the stage, where a band played music. If it could be called that. Ever since the fall of the Empire, music and the galaxy evolved. Now, it seemed every song played in the lower cantina's of Coruscant were violent, dark, and almost always included a guitar.
Above the booths, which sat in alcoves in the wall, were numbered signs, mainly to help the waitresses keep track of them. Mye'kel watched the numbers as he walked through the cantina. Finally, a number caught his eye. Number 37. He walked over to the booth to find it empty. Just as his contact had told him. He sat down with the hood of his cloak up.
Mye'kel watched as the crowds, mostly human, made their way closer to the stage. Like a mob of crazed idiots they thrashed their heads, jumped up and down, all the while holding their hands up in the air and making a strange symbol with their hands. He rolled his eyes. No wonder humans were among the most hated races in the galaxy.
A drunk couple staggered by, the female farthest away from Mye'kel's table and supporting her extremely inebriated companion. They swayed back and forth as they walked, mainly the male's fault. As they ambled pass, the man threw something up in the air. It smacked to a landing on Mye'kel's tables. He smiled.
It was a datapad. His contact wasn't stupid, Mye'kel decided, since he was clever enough to choose against meeting his associates in person. He took the datapad in his hand and pressed the activation button. As the screen flickered to life, a small compartment in the side of the datapad slid open. It contained a small, strangely shaped black object. As the screen came on, instructions appeared on the screen. Insert in ear appeared on it, along with an arrow pointing towards the objects location. Mye'kel obeyed, taking the strange object from the compartment and inserting it into his ear. A loading screen appeared on the datapad, music coming over the earpiece Mye'kel had just put in his ear. When the loading completed, a human face appeared on the screen with an undistinguishable background.
The face was of a male human, dark skinned with midnight black, somewhat greasy longish hair that hung around where his eyes should be. His eyes themselves were hidden behind UV shades. He wore a cocky grin.
"Okay, first of, this thing doesn't have an audio receiver, so you won't be able to talk to me. I apologize for that. Most of my clients are smart-mouthed schuttas that don't now a damn thing, so I choose this way," the face said, his voice being transferred over by the earpiece, "not to say that you are one of those kinda people. It's just they way these things work."
Mye'kel noted the strange accent on his voice, an accent that signified Basic was not his primary language. He was also somewhat young - not much older than twenty.
"Anyway, I found what you were looking for in the New Republic's databanks. There was this guy in Rogue Squadron - Ken Standl was his name - anyway, his ship's computers recorded that he made two direct hits with his lasers on a YT-1930 of the same description as you described. Then, it said his target made a jump into hyperspace. I compared that data with the data I found on the this Ken-guy's vector at the time of the jump, and it strongly suggests that whoever you are looking for took the Perlemian Trade Route," the face said.
Mye'kel nodded. It made sense. Maybe this informant wasn't as green as people had told him. But there was still a gap in the information. There are hundreds of thousands of planets on the Perlemian Trade Route. It would be even more difficult finding out which system his target chose to exit hyperspace. Mye'kel also managed to determine the man's accent - Toydarian.
"I know what you're thinking, and don't worry. I've covered it," the face said, almost reading Mye'kel's mind, "I sliced into the incident reports from all the systems along the Perlemian. There were only two reports of a YT-1930 crashing within your given time frame, and one of them had no survivors. But....the one that did survive happened on Ossus."
Mye'kel chuckled. Not because that his target had crashed on a planet full of Jedi, but because it meant he would have to go back.
"Anyway, that's all I could find out. Thank you for choosing Rakso Slicing. This datapad will self-destruct in five seconds," the face said, his visage soon replaced by a numbered countdown. Mye'kel worked quickly, removing a small covering in the bottom of the datapad. After digging through wires with amazing speed, he extracted a small cube-like object. Within five seconds, he had removed the explosive in the datapad and threw it a few feet away. No one even flinched as it performed it's function, the echo of it's ignition drowned out by the loud music.
Mye'kel wasn't done with this particular informant.
* * *
Davion eased the Beowulf Shaeffer onto the snow-blanketed landing pad outside the huge complex. Though clouded by the blizzard that raged around them, the complex's unique architecture gave one the impression of a huge, wooden lodge that stood out starkly from the huge, mountainous slope it stood on, but upon closer inspection one could see that it was actually all metal with a rust-colored coating. It was half as big as the Ossus Praxeum, but still large enough to house a good three thousand sentients. Once Davion had powered down the Shaeffer, everybody scrambled for warmer clothes as they felt the icy cold creeping into the ship's hull. AJ, Eloiin, and Sareth put on identical, standard issue sub-zero climate parkas and pants. Davion stayed in his robes, and upon questioning, simply answered, "The cold never bothered me much."
Then, when Davion, Sareth, and Eloiin were almost bounding down the loading ramp, AJ spoke up.
"Uh. Hey! What about Amberly and Connor?" AJ asked. They were still laying in the Shaeffer's cockpit, Amberly still under the affects of Davion's dart, while Connor was still out from the hit to the head he received during Amberly's crazed piloting. Sareth nearly jumped at his comment.
"I'll go turn on the heaters!" Sareth said, abnormally cheery in the ice-cold temperatures. AJ swiftly followed her. Eloiin merely shrugged, following Davion down the loading ramp into a four inch sheet of snow. The blizzard made it difficult to see, with all the snow blowing right in Eloiin's face. She closed her eyes, and stretched out into the Force, using them in place of her physical vision. She could sense the four life forms aboard the Shaeffer, could feel AJ's amusement as he watched Sareth frantically searching for the temperature control, all the while trying to be quiet for the two sleepers at their feet, no wanting to incur the siblings wrath by waking them up.
She could sense some distant life-forms in the complex ahead of her, though they were hard to read - unfamiliar life forms always were. But, then again, the shining beacon that was Davion's presence eclipsed them well. She had never truly watched him through the Force, and it would prove useless anyways. Ossus was full of life, and any presence in the Force would look dimmer in the light of it's thriving magnificence. But here, on the cold, sparsely populated world that was Hoth, life contrasted against the dead cold, showing their true colors.
Davion's aura in the Force was bright, brighter than most Jedi Masters. But it was wild, untamed. Where a Jedi Master's aura would be fine tuned, an almost continuous loud, dull hum in the Force, Davion's was different. It was random - always different depending on his mood. When he was calm, relaxed, it was like the beating of a heart, his aura swelling and deflating in tune with his pulse. When he was active, like when he was instructing students on Lightsaber techniques or sparring, it burned, sometimes flaring like a star.
Suddenly, Davion's form stopped, and Eloiin knew it was because he had reached a door. She opened her eyes a little, making out Davion talking to someone through a wall mounted view screen. The howling of the wind drowned out his voice and that of the droid on the view screen, but she knew his talk had been successful when the door to the complex slid open. She quickly followed him into the building, instantly being assaulted by the warmth of the place as the door closed behind them. Rubbing the snow from her eyelashes, she opened her eyes to a small, well lit corridor; it's walls were plain a smooth, plain brown with water-absorbing gray carpeting on the floor. . She took of her parka, revealing a simple white tank-top atop her snow pants.
She looked over to find Davion a little farther down the corridor, near a corner that turned it to the left. He shook his head violently and suddenly, flinging small flakes of white snow from his near-black hair. He beat his cloak a bit with his hands, removing the snow that had collected on it as well. She smiled warmly, finding herself in romantic mood as she began to move towards him. Her progress was halted by a loud, repeated bashing on the door she had just came through. She instantly turned around and opened the door with a flick of a switch. In walked AJ and Sareth, their parka's covered in an inch of snow.
"What took you guys so long?" Eloiin asked as the two beat the snow of themselves.
"Sareth, would you like to tell them?" AJ asked, and Sareth rolled her eyes.
"We couldn't find the temperature control," Sareth answered unenthusiastically. She would have went on to explain how AJ tripped in the snow in between the landing pad and the complex, and how he had almost took a tumble down the entire mountain, but someone had rounded the corner and was heading towards them.
He was a tall and surly man, with a barrel chest and his face covered in a beard. Short, gray-black hair topped it all. He wore a dark gray, ragged jumpsuit that barely fit over his huge frame. What part of his face that wasn't covered in his thick mat of facial hair was red, giving on the distinct impression that he either never wore face protection in the cold, or was a heavy drinker.
"'Elo! Muh names Beorg! Welcome to tha Hoth Hover skiing Resurt!" he bellowed cheerfully, in a strange accent that no one in Eloiin's group recognized.
"Hey, Bee-bee," Davion said, and the man squinted his eyes, as if trying to figure out how Davion had known to call him that. Than, the big man's eyes widened in recognition.
"Davion?" Beorg asked, his face lighting up upon seeing the confirming smile on Davion's face, " Davion! By the twin suns, you've gotten big!"
The man charged the rest of the way to Davion, taking him up in a bone-breaking bear hug.
"It's been years since I seen ya!" he yelled as he squeezed the life from Davion.
"It's....been a while....hasn't it?" Davion managed to grunt as his feet left the floor. Beorg suddenly released Davion from his grip, letting him fall back to the floor. Eloiin giggled at the light hearted moment, moving up beside Davion.
"Well, aren't you going to introduce us?" she reminded Davion.
"Oh, yeah. Beorg, this is Eloiin Standl. Eloiin, this is Beorg Dentger," Davion said. Beorg raised his hand for a friendly hand shake, which Eloiin obliged.
"I'm his girlfriend," she added as Beorg attempted to remove her arm from its socket.
"Ohhh!" he said, eyeing Davion suspiciously. It was at this time that AJ and Sareth walked up.
"Oh, and these two," Davion added, "This is Arkai'jar'nuruodo - AJ for short - and Sareth Halcyon."
Beorg shook both the two's hands, Sareth resisting every impulse to try and rub her newly sore arm. Luckily, the ecstatic man didn't notice.
"So, how is your trainin goin?" he asked. Davion shrugged sheepishly.
"I....I quit," Davion said meekly, and a look of shock crossed Beorg's face.
"Quit? But why? Does yer pa know?" Beorg asked, still surprised by the sudden revelation. Eloiin looked over to Davion, only to see a look she had never seen on him before. A look of pain, of old pain.
"I haven't talked to him lately," he said, his voiced strained to say it. It was upon hearing it that Beorg realized the look on Davion.
"I'm sorry, kid. I didn't mean to-" Beorg started apologetically, but he was halted when Davion raised his hand.
"It's all right Beorg," Davion said half-heartedly, "anyway, how much is it to get a room in this place?"
Beorg seemed to have put the previous conversation behind him, though his mood was no longer sun-bright.
"For you - free. Can't have an old friend paying for something he doesn't have to. And that goes for all yer friends! Jedi are welcome here at the Hoth Hover skiing Resort!" Beorg said happily.
"How did you know we were Jedi?" Eloiin asked curiously. Unless this man was force-sensitive, there was no way he could tell with her their lightsabers tucked beneath their clothes. Beorg merely smiled and pointed past Eloiin. She turned around to find Sareth standing behind her. She had apparently gotten bored with the conversation, and was now twirling her lightsaber in midair with the Force, inches away from the opened palm of her hand. The sudden silence snapped her attention away from her lightsaber, and she quickly grabbed it from the air and hid it behind her back, smiling innocently.
"Well, you guys must be tired. Just follow me, and I'll show ya to yer rooms," Beorg said, chuckling to himself as he turned to lead them down the long hall.
Eloiin stood at the top of the slope, half frozen from terror. Beneath and before her was the expanse of Resort Mountain. The complex, which the locals affectionately called "the lodge", was further down the hill. When the blizzard had dissipated the following morning of the Beowulf Shaeffer's arrival, the lodge technicians reactivated the resort's normal functions. Posts with little glowing lights on the top rose from beneath the snow, serving as markers for the hundreds of different runs. Taller posts rose further down the slope, behind the lodge. Once raised to their full height of nearly thirty feet, a net rose up in-between them all, interconnecting themselves to form a safety measure for those who had lost control and could not stop their sliding descent down the mountain.
But even those did little to quell the horror that was welling inside of Eloiin. The ride up to the top via hovering chair lifts made her realize how frightened of heights she was. And Davion was not there to comfort her, as she knew he would like to. He had been caught down in the hoverboard rental, which had suddenly run out of functioning boards.
Now, she stood at the top of the slope, scared and cold. Amberly and Sareth had gone ahead, and AJ was probably just getting on the lift. Nobody was here to help her.
She didn't know how long she stood at the top of that slope, staring down at the lodge, stricken with horror. Suddenly, someone slid up behind her.
"Are you all right?" a masculine voice said. Eloiin nearly jumped, overjoyed that Davion had finally arrived, but she turned her neck to find AJ's blue skinned face looking concerned at her.
"I-I don't like this. I want to go back down," she stuttered, her teeth chattering from the cold and her own fright.
"All right, then let's go," AJ said as he started to slide past her and down the slope on his board, hovering five inches from the ground and kicking up soft powder. He stopped a few feet away when he realized he wasn't being followed. Eloiin hoped he couldn't, but from his face she could tell that AJ could clearly see the tear rolling down her cheek. Increasing the throttle on his hoverboard by stepping on a pedal on the back of it, he made his way back up to Eloiin. He looked into her face for a long moment. Eloiin knew he was probably reading her face to determine her condition, but she couldn't make out a thing beneath AJ's blue skin and glowing red eyes.
"I could take you down. Carry you, I mean. I'll go slow, if you want," AJ offered, his voice barely a whisper. With a lack of ideas, Eloiin gave a weak nod.
"All right. Take off your boots," AJ said, referring to the attachments on the bottoms of her boots. They were much like hoverboards, but more compact, giving the impression of hovering roller-skates with braces that went up the leg to the middle of Eloiin's shins. She removed the hovering attachments from her own boots and set them on the ground. AJ bent over and picked them up and pressed a button on the side of each of them. They suddenly flew from his hands and headed down the hill, toward the lodge and the rental station from which they came.
"All right, piggy-back, or damsel-in-distress?" AJ asked playfully. Eloiin giggled a little as she went for him, and with surprisingly strong arms, he picked her up like a human would a child. She wrapped her arms around his neck to help hold her own weight.
"Ready?" AJ asked. Eloiin merely nodded. Then, with a subtle shift of his leg, they began to slide down the slope.
* * *
Beorg sat in the lounge area of the lodge, which resembled to some degree a cantina, minus the shady characters and loud music. In fact, the lounge was almost completely empty, save a few serving droids and the devil-like Devaronian playing sabaac against him. After having a tantalizingly near-Pure Sabaac hand, a blaring noise filled the entirety of the lodge. It took Beorg a moment that it was an alarm system, and he bolted from his table to the wall, almost knocking the table over in the process. He traced his finger along the bare, brown wall, till he finally found the sensory pad concealed on that particular wall. A compartment opened up just where his finger was, a computer screen concealed behind it. One look into the screen drained the color from Beorg's normally reddened face. He immediately launched himself into a sprint down an adjoining hallway. On the screen of the computer it showed a video recording of two dozen huge, white furred creatures walking past the outer sensors on the mountain. On the side of the screen, blaring in time with the alarms was a single sentence. Wampa Alert.
* * *
At first, she clamped her eyelids together, frightened to witness the descent, but after a few bumps and near tumbles, Eloiin opened her eyes. They were going at a moderate speed down the slope, though, because of her fear, Eloiin thought that they were going faster than a hyperdrive could take them. Not that her confidence in AJ was that little - she just didn't like the situation. Secretly, she hoped that no one would see them as they came down the slope, as her position was somewhat ridiculous. Riding down a Hoth skiing resort run being carried in the arms of a Chiss Jedi would prove for some interesting stories.
AJ began to pick up some speed, and Eloiin tightened her grip around him. She hated her position, but until they were down the hill, there was nothing she could do about it. And she couldn't blame him after all. He was carrying her down, and she couldn't expect him to have perfect control of his own speed with one hundred and thirty five pounds of tensed muscle and fear clinging to him. Finally, after the silence of the ride down, AJ spoke up.
"Uh, Eloiin?" he asked, his voice somewhat strained.
"Yes?" she asked, her voice barely audible.
"I can't breathe," AJ grunted. Eloiin blushed and immediately slackened her grip. She then reminded herself that it wasn't her fault, not because she was scared, but because she couldn't tell if AJ was suffocating or not. After all, he was already blue.
They continued down the slope until they came to a cross roads in the runs, different signs designating different difficulties. AJ didn't stop, and Eloiin felt her heart fall to her feet when she saw that he had gone down a black jewel run, the most difficult of the three difficulties. She held her tongue, though. So long as he got her down in one piece, she didn't care which route he took. She did happen to notice the name of the run when they passed by.
"Wampa," she recited to herself as she looked down to the twists and turns of the run.
* * *
Alarms blaring through the entire complex, Davion shoved through crowding people to get back inside the lodge. When he came to a break in the crowds, he began to sprint down the lodge's corridors, following his force perceptions to Beorg. But, in the rush of adrenaline and excitement, his attunement to Beorg's presence was not as sharp as it could be, and Davion had only the faintest idea of what wing he was in. He ran past many doors, and was called to a sudden and abrupt halt when a voice called after him.
"Davion! In here!" came the gruff, low voice of Beorg. Davion went to the corresponding doorway and entered. Unlike the halls, which were lit with plain white light sources, this room was filled with red emergency lights, and it did well to obscure everything in the room with the exception of what was on the walls.
Davion squinted his eyes, and then he recognized the strange shapes on the wall. Blasters. The walls of the smallish room were covered in blasters, from miniaturized hold-out pistols to huge, hulking E-Web repeating blasters. Davion even recognized a few thermal detonators next to the blasters.
It was then that Davion's eyes fully adjusted to the red lights, and he recognized a dozen people standing in the middle of the room, gearing up with all the weapons they could find. One in particular, a huge man, was walking towards him.
"What's going on?" Davion asked. The big man in front of him made a movement with one of the blaster rifles in his hands, which was accentuated by the click of a newly inserted power pack.
"There's wampas on the slopes. 'Bout twenty of 'em," Beorg's said. Davion screwed up his face in confusion.
"Twenty? I thought wampas were solitary hunters?" Davion reasoned. Beorg's shadowed form nodded his head in agreement.
"They are. But video feed don't lie, Dav," Beorg said as he inserted a blaster pistol into the holders attached to his belt. Davion could sense the fear rolling off of him, and Beorg knew it.
"You have to understand, Davion," Beorg explained, his voice suddenly shaky, "we have about enough armament to handle two or three of 'em, but twenty?"
Then, a sudden flash fear grazed Davion's consciousness, so vivid it was if he had experienced it himself. The sensation drained his face of color with dread.
"Where is Eloiin? Where are the others?" he asked quickly, almost frantically. Beorg tilted his head, then walked over to a rare space of empty wall in the room. Davion watched him trace a peculiar design on the wall, followed by a panel sliding open under his finger. Another panel of wall opened up, revealing a security computer. Beorg fumbled with the controls on the bottom of the screen. Then, he was still, and Davion knew what he had seen.
"They're still on the mountain," Beorg said finally with dread, but he was talking to air. Davion no longer stood in the doorway.
* * *
Amberly and Sareth had barely reached the lodge. People were crowded around the door, some talking, some taking off their snow covered equipment to go inside. They had all heard the same alarm Amberly and Sareth had. As was the protocol, all persons on the mountain were required to return to the lodge.
The two had just taken off their hover boards and hover boots when a familiar presence could be felt within the crowd. It was halted, no longer moving. Then, they felt a surge in the Force, and three of the people in the crowd were sent flying through the air. Davion emerged from where they had been standing, running towards the mountain patrol shack. Concerned by their friend’s behavior - though Amberly was more curious than concerned - they followed him. It was difficult though. Davion was sprinting at full speed, and still clothed in light Jedi robes. When he reached the small shed, he punched a few numbers into the door code. It must have failed, as the doors did not open. Sareth hoped that it would give them a chance to catch up, but then she saw Davion extract something from his robes. With a snap-hiss, he activated his lightsaber, jamming it right through the door's lock. It slid open, and he replaced his deactivated weapon into his robes, and then went inside. Sareth and Amberly were almost to the shed when a loud whining sound resonated from the shed, and like a bullet, Davion, atop a snow patrol speeder bike, darted up the mountain. As Sareth looked after him, she sighed.
"Not again," she said, then turned to follow Amberly into the shed, who was already firing up her own speeder bike.
Done yet, Demious?
If you're not, keep posting; if you are, let me know so that I can start working on a review for this.
AJ did his best to keep his movements mellow for Eloiin, but on this run, it was near impossible. It was filled with sharp twists and turns, one part of it actually turning back up the hill a bit. She was becoming more comfortable with it, but not by much. They were about halfway down the run when they came to some strange snow banks. They were on either side of the run, and so high they almost formed a perfect half-pipe. Though menacing, Eloiin wasn't concerned with them much, as the slope on this part of the run wasn't so bad.
They went for a while down the peaceful, quiet corridor the banks created, the only sound being the hum of AJ's hoverboard. Eloiin reflected during the calm part of the ride.
She was a student of the Jedi, soon to be the apprentice of a Jedi Knight. How could she possibly expect to succeed in her career as a defender of peace and justice when she doesn't even have enough courage to slide down a hill?
Stop it, she thought to herself, you aren't helping things by criticizing yourself.
Then, it happened. AJ and Eloiin were sliding down the hill when a huge flurry of white bowled over them, sending Eloiin from his grip. The incline on the slope wasn't steep enough to let her continue her slide down the hill, and she came to a tumbling stop a few feet away from AJ. Her face stinging from sudden cold and blinded by the snow now coating it, she lifted herself to her feet with the agility granted to one on an adrenaline rush. After swiping her snow-bitten hand across her face to wipe it clean, she looked to see AJ still lying on the ground.
She scrambled over to his unmoving form, and breathed a sigh of relief when she noted that he was still drawing breath. She then gently turned him on his back. He had a good sized gash on his right cheek, which was bleeding moderately, and his right arm was bent the wrong way. But even that didn't make Eloiin cringe. After she saw what had happened to Davion, there was little left out there that would make her resolve weaken.
She shook him a little to try and wake him, but her efforts were for not. He was out as cold as the air around them. She then quickly turned her attention fully to the gash on his cheek, which was still bleeding a healthy amount of AJ's life-fluids. Eloiin was about to search her pockets for the small, wallet-sized med pack she often packed with her, but her hands stopped when she reached its soft edges.
Something snorted from behind her. Eloiin froze in place as she searched through the Force. Something indeed was behind her....something big. And hungry. She slowly stood up, then, even slower, she turned around.
There, standing in the snow were AJ and Eloiin had once been sliding on, was mountainous form of white fur and teeth, two horns mounted on its head like a tauntaun’s. Its huge torso, which stood atop to tree-trunk thick legs, was heaving in and out with heavy breathing, and it's menacingly thick arms hung at its sides, its black talons gleaming on its fingertips.
Eloiin quickly felt terror paralyze her entire body. Some shard of hope in her mind said that if she held absolutely still, maybe the beast would get bored and go away. She couldn't keep her eyes of the things gigantic teeth, as well as the claws that topped all ten of its fingers. Then, the creatures name struck her.
"Wampa," she said, the irony hitting her like a ton of bricks. Where all the runs on this mountain so aptly named?
Eloiin just stood there, frightened beyond the capacity for rational thought, hoping that if she didn't move, the thing would simply go away. But it didn't. She watched in horror as it opened its mouth, a bellowing cloud of steam from its warm breath filling the air around its head as it let out a blood-curdling roar. The creature lifted its huge foot, taking a long stride towards its new prey.
That was all the reason Eloiin needed to snap herself out of her paralysis. She went through her pockets until she finally extracted her lightsaber, but by the time she had activated it, which was only after fumbling around trying to activate, the wampa was upon her. With a mighty swipe of it's great hand, he sent Eloiin sprawling towards the ground, ten feet away from where she had been previously standing, losing her lightsaber in the white snow.
She tried immediately to get back up, but the world suddenly decided to spin like a YT-1300 with an overzealous thruster. When she managed to lift her head from the snow, something grabbed her left ankle, using it to hoist her into the air. With another roar, the wampa tossed her again. She landed hard on the snow, the air knocked out of her own lungs. This time, the wampa was on her as soon as she landed. It took both of her ankles this time, crushing them together painfully as it hoisted her up into the air and letting her dangle like a limp fish. Eloiin wanted to struggle, to fight the monster to the last, but all her strength and focus had been knocked out of her with the air in her lungs. Hanging upside down in the air, she could see into the wampa's face, into its shiny, black, malice filled eyes and its mouth filled with sharp teeth. Faintly, in the background, Eloiin could hear something, but couldn't decipher what exactly. The creature roared again, and it brought it's free-arm back, as if winding up for the killing blow. The sound in the background got steadily louder.
The wampa was about to strike, to send its black talons into Eloiins side and darken her vision for eternity, when something zoomed behind it, past it. The monster stood motionless for a moment, before suddenly releasing its grip on Eloiin, who barely managed to twist her body so she wouldn't fall on her own head. When she lifted herself so she could see, the wampa was on the ground, sliced cleanly in half, smoke rising from where it had been cut. She looked uphill to see a speeder bike heading slowly towards her.
It was Davion, blue lightsaber in hand. Eloiin immediately tried to walk towards him, but the snow collapsed under her weight, and she fell back down to her knees.
"Are you alright?" Davion asked as he stopped his bike near the opposite snow bank.
"I don't know, I - Davion, watch out!" Eloiin yelled, but it was too late. Another wampa had leapt through the same hole the first one had made through the snow bank. It rammed into Davion's bike, sending him five feet through the air. He was about to rebound immediately after he landed, but the wampa expected it, and it pounced on top of him. But Davion, unlike Eloiin, had not lost his lightsaber. He ignited it once more, and he reached up and sliced the wampa's head off its shoulders.
As the wampa's lifeless body fell to the ground, Davion returned to his feet, immediately running towards Eloiin.
"C'mon, let's get you outta here," he said as he lifted Eloiin from her knees to her feet, but even as he spoke, more wampas were emerging from the gap in the snow bank. Two of them were heading towards Eloiin and Davion, while a third went to go check out Davion's toppled speeder bike. The wampas were menacing the two with their teeth. Davion ignited his lightsaber once more, preparing to fend off the rabid monsters.
But, then, Eloiin recognized yet another familiar sound in the background. Suddenly, two more speeder bikes were screaming up the mountain, Amberly and Sareth riding them. Amberly fired the forward mounted blasters on her bike, knocking one of the wampas clean off of its feet. Sareth continued streaking towards her designated target, setting her bike on auto-steering. Then, cautiously, she shifted her weight, bringing her feet up and standing atop the speeder bikes seat.
Just before her bike sped past the wampa, she leapt from its seat towards the wampa with the speed of a concussion missile. She collided into the wampa, immediately wrapping her arms around the monster's neck and bringing it with her as she fell to the ground. The move stunned not only Eloiin, but the wampa as well, and the few seconds it took trying to figure out how it got where it was just enough time for Sareth to retrieve her lightsaber from her parka, popping off the zap lens, igniting its violet blade and taking of the monster's head. Sareth then began what looked like a victory dance over the wampa's corpse, pumping her arms up and down, hopping from side to side and rotating while making a shrill hooting sound. When she finally turned enough to face Eloiin and Davion, Eloiin had her faced covered by her hand while she shook her head. Davion smiled smugly and pointed to an area behind Sareth. She turned around to see what he was pointing at, only to find that he was indicating a dozen wampas clambering over and walking through the gap in the snow bank.
Sareth turned suddenly, her courage apparently nullified by the oncoming hoard of wampas. She sprinted her way over to Davion and Eloiin.
"Where is AJ?" she asked frantically.
"He was just over there," Eloiin said, pointing towards where she had left him, but she lowered her finger when she saw what was wrong. He was no longer there; the only indicator of where he had been was an imprint small patch of blood-soaked snow.
"C'mon!" Davion said as the wampa hoard drew ever closer. He tried to yank Sareth to follow him.
"No! We have to find AJ!" Sareth begged, ripping herself from his grip, her bravery revved up once more. She charged into the group of wampas, intending to take them all down until she found AJ. Eloiin looked over to Davion, giving him a wicked, slightly psychotic smile, before she charged after Sareth, retrieving her lightsaber from the snow with the Force, removing the zap lenses as she ran.
Davion rolled his eyes.
"Why me?" he whimpered as he followed after them, activating his lightsaber's blue blade.
Sareth rammed into the first wampa with the help of the Force, sending it flying back into its followers. The ones that weren't caught up in it swarmed over the three. It was a frenzy - Eloiin took off a leg, Davion skewered one through the chest, Sareth severed an arm. But, even with their Jedi skills and training, they couldn't match the numbers of the beasts, and as the number that engaged them in combat increased, so did the punishment the three took. Eloiin got knocked to the ground. She tried to fight them off, but one swiped at her, and though she managed to dodge most of it, the wampa's razor sharp claws raked her leg, leaving several deep gashes. Sareth, though untouched by anything sharp, was getting batted around like a smashball. Davion seemed to be doing better than the others in the account of numbers, but he had sustained a wampa-sized punch squarely in his back. That particular wampa was rewarded by Davion with a quick, lightsaber lobotomy.
As valiantly as they were fighting, the three soon found themselves outmatched as wampas swarmed over them. It seemed as all was lost when a welcome noise sounded off. The ignition of two lightsabers. Busting with confidence and conviction, a voice could be heard through the clamor of battle.
"That's not fair!" AJ said as he twirled into the mass of wampas, making himself a spinning wheel of death. In three seconds, he had taken out four wampas. Being the only wampa remaining, the last creature soon saw the futility of the assault, and with its long legs it began to flee. Eloiin and Sareth were glad to see it go, but Davion was not as forgiving. He ran after it, reversing his grip on his lightsaber and holding it like a spear above him. He hurled his makeshift javelin at the fleeing wampa, spearing right through the black. As the wampa fell to its knees, it back arching in pain, Davion clambered up near its shoulders, retrieving his lightsaber. In lightening fast succession, Davion took of its left, then right arm, followed closely by a dismembered head. Using the falling body as a prop, he launched himself away from its corpse. Everyone but Eloiin seemed to notice how brutally Davion dispatched the thing.
"Where did Amberly go?" AJ said as Davion rejoined the main group. Sareth shrugged. It was very unlike Amberly to make just one pass at a group of enemies.
"She's with Beorg. She's getting rid of the rest of the wampas," Davion said, no trace of a lie in his voice.
"What? How do you know?" Sareth asked skeptically. As an answer, Davion merely held his finger up to his mouth, a gesture for everyone to remain quiet. Echoing in the mountain air was the sound of battle, blasters firing, wampas roaring, and even a few loud bangs from grenades. One set of blaster sounds was too high-pitched and powerful sounding to be one of those carried by the snow patrol, like the ones mounted on a speeder bike. A voice cried out from down the mountain.
"Hey! Watch were yer shootin!" the booming voice of Beorg echoes.
"Sorry!" a feminine voice shouted back, and there was no doubt that it was Amberly. Suddenly, Sareth was putting on a subdued look, and AJ did his best not to laugh at the thought of the scene going on down in the second battle zone.
"C'mon," Davion said as he started down the mountain, "they can handle themselves. After all, Beorg was the one who taught me to shoot".
The four friends stumbled there way down the mountain, Davion leading them in a hurried pace. Eloiin was limping behind him, almost totally ignoring the wound on her leg. Davion had offered to carry her, but she had politely declined. Sareth was lagging. AJ had lost quite a bit of blood from the gash on his face, and only Sareth, who was supporting him on her own shoulder, kept him from falling to the ground. Eloiin knew of her plight, but the only thing she wanted was to be off the mountain and in a warm bed as soon as possible. Finally, after Sareth was sure that Davion would not slow down, she spoke up.
"Davion....could you slow down a bit?" Sareth said in a raised voice, careful not to make too much noise for fear of the sound waves bouncing off loose snow and causing yet another catastrophe. But, Davion did not respond.
"Davion, slow down!" Sareth said a bit louder, but again, Davion did not respond. Eloiin, distressed by his lack of response from Davion, reached over to tap him, but quickly retracted her hand. She had seen what he had done to the wampa, and though he was close to her, she didn't want to take the risk of accidentally setting him off. Instead, she reached over with the Force. She touched his presence, and was surprised that, for once, he was open. His aura burned and flared from the previous adrenaline rush, and when she touched his mind, it was in a flurry. One message kept rising above the rest, repeating itself over and over.
She doesn't want to be here.
Eloiin didn't know whether to be worried about his state of mind, or feel gratified over the fact that he was trying to fulfill one of her wishes. They had been together, if that's what you'd call it, for only a couple of days, and Eloiin did not expect this level of devotion from someone she hardly knew. Wrong, Eloiin corrected herself, I know him as a friend. That was the heart of it - Davion was a friend. He was a friend first. It was almost like he had worked out a system. First he was introduced by means totally out of the norm. Then, he befriended her. And after that, he befriended Sareth and AJ, and soon after, Amberly. Then, and only then, had he dared to get closer to her. Eloiin knew that was what she had always wanted, but it still didn't explain how he knew. Maybe he was more skilled at mind reading than she had first perceived. No, she concluded, I think he respects me too much to do that.
Another aspect that surprised Eloiin. Boys had asked her out before. Crude and impractical as they were, they were still requests. Mostly, it was either a joke, or a crude attempt to get into her robes. But when Davion invited her into his dorm for dinner, she knew that wasn't the case with him. He respected her. For the weeks that she had known him, not once had he forced her to do something she didn't want to. And his caring for her seemed to be unending.
She would have thought on it more, but outside stimuli did not permit.
"Davion!" Sareth yelled, almost at the top of her lungs. Eloiin felt a sudden surge of anger from Davion as he stopped in his tracks and turned around.
"WHAT?!" Davion bellowed, his voice amplified by his anger in the Force. Everyone froze as they heard Davion's voice echo off the silent mountain. For a moment, they stood like statues on the slope; even AJ had regained full consciousness and was standing erect beside Sareth. For what seemed like ages, they all listened to Davion's voice echo as they remained motionless. Then, a rumbling sound could be heard in the distance, higher up on the mountain, steadily increasing in volume. Simultaneously with the start of the rumbling sound, everyone, AJ included, turned a bit paler. Then, once again in synchronization, they bolted away, streaking towards the lodge as fast as their legs and the snow beneath them could allow.
* * *
For what seemed like ages, they sprinted down the hill, but in truth, it was only a few minutes. The rumble had turned to a roar, and they could feel it vibrate in every step and every breath. Eloiin, terrified beyond rational thought, stumbled, and after a moment of trying to regain her balance, fell. Only pure instinct pulled her face from the snow, otherwise she would have held still, hoping that it would wake her up from this nightmare. She looked over her shoulder as she lay on the ground. A white tidal wave was bulging towards her at incredible speed. Upon seeing the avalanche approaching her, Eloiin frantically tried to stand back up, but her movements were to fast and uncoordinated, and her limbs merely slid off the slick snow. As she realized that she wouldn't be able to get up by herself, Eloiin stopped struggling, just looking at the oncoming wave of snow with a blank horrified glare. The thought of calling for her friends to help her crossed her mind, but she soon pushed it aside. At the rate they had been going, they had probably reached the lodge.
Before she knew it, the avalanche was almost on top of her. She could have sworn that her life flashed before her eyes. She didn't notice that someone had come after her. She didn't notice that they were standing over her, as if to fight off the oncoming storm. All she knew was that something had her hand, and the strangest feeling had come over her. Involuntarily, she felt herself becoming strong. So strong. She had never felt anything like it. The Force was gushing through and over her, as if she was less than substantial and a hundred-foot tsunami was going through her.
Her eyes still frozen on the oncoming avalanche, she watched as some outside force directed the power coming through her towards the tumbling snow. When the power and the snow made contact five feet away from where Eloiin lay, it was as if the snow had just hit a wall. She watched, flabbergasted as the invisible wall parted the flow of snow around her. The flood of snow had almost a dreamlike quality as it flowed past them. It was then that Eloiin looked up at the person kneeling above her, the person holding her hand and pointing the palm of their own at the avalanche.
She almost started to cry with joy when she saw it was Davion. But, the shield he had brought up from Eloiin's own power was fading as she began to snap out of her dream-like trance, replaced by a feeling of light-headedness in her. More and more snow began to leap over the shield. Then, suddenly, Davion stopped drawing on Eloiin's power, most likely from exhaustion. The shield fell, the snow came, and then for Eloiin, all went black.
* * *
Eloiin's eyes opened again, though there was no light for them to see. She was on her back, and could feel snow melting beneath her. For a second, she tried to gain her bearings. When she did, she tried to rise, but was forced to stop when she bumped into something. That something spoke.
"Nice...of you to wake....up," Davion's voice said, strained.
"Where are we?" Eloiin asked. Davion ignored her.
"Can you reach your lightsaber?" Davion asked. Eloiin shifted her hand around, finding her lightsaber attached to her belt.
"I got it," she said as she unclipped it.
"Hold it out to the side and turn it on," Davion commanded. Eloiin obeyed, and when she turned on the single blue blade, she smiled in surprise. The sky was no visible, replaced by a dome of snow three feet above them, glowing blue with the light from her blade. Davion was positioned above her, on his hands and knees, his torso defending Eloiin's.
"Wow...cool," Eloiin said, her astonishment not letting her find better wording. An awkward moment of silence ensued as Eloiin surveyed her surroundings. Then, Davion cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry that I have to interrupt your amazement, but this snow is getting very, very heavy," he said as politely as the strain would allow. Eloiin then realized the strange way the dome hovered above them, the shape of it seemingly defying the laws of gravity and structure as it loomed above them. Then, her attention turned to her own force sense, and she found the answer. A surprising amount of effort on Davion's part was keeping the dome standing.
"Y-you're keeping that thing up?" Eloiin asked for lack of better conversation. Davion strained a laugh, but did not answer.
"Do you think we could melt through it with my lightsaber?" Eloiin asked. Davion thought of it for a second, and then shook his head.
"It would take to long," he said, "and it would make it harder to hold up".
A long silence ensued as Davion and Eloiin both thought of ways to get out. Eloiin was drawing a blank, her mind almost completely empty after the previous episodes of terror and excitement. Instead, it was Davion who had the epiphany.
"I got it," Davion said. Eloiin let out a small smile.
"What?" she asked eagerly.
"Do you think you could hold the dome for me?" he asked, his voice growing hoarse from the strain. Eloiin's ecstatic mood ceased with a screeching halt.
"I don't think I can," Eloiin said, her voice suddenly shaky. Davion screwed up his face.
"Of course you can. You held the whole thing back the first time," he reasoned. Eloiin shook her head.
"No, that was you," she answered him. It was Davion's turn to shake his head.
"I was merely a funnel - a director. It was your power."
"That's my point - I can't control it!" Eloiin started frantically, but Davion shushed her. He shifted his position and craned his head, planting a soft kiss on her lips.
"I'm confident in you," he whispered. Shell-shocked by the sudden expression of affection, Eloiin raised her arms to the roof of the small dome, deactivating her lightsaber.
"Give me five minutes," Davion said as Eloiin took up the support of the dome. He moved himself from on top of Eloiin to the ground next to her, and from what Eloiin could see, passed out.
* * *
Five minutes. That was all. It seemed like both a nanosecond and an entire hour to Eloiin. Though it was hardly enough to tire her out, fatigue from such heavy use of the Force was not her primary concern. It was her control. All her years in the Ossus Praxeum, Eloiin had barely managed to provide the skills to wield the Force. Though her instructors, and even some classmates, told her of her own great power and brightness in the Force, Eloiin had always chosen not to exercise them, thus letting her control on them atrophy.
But now - now she was using her powers in a way she could never have dreamed. The dome above them was not easy to hold. Hundreds of pounds of snow separated them from the blue sky of Hoth. But, somehow, with a control she had never known, she kept the dome raised.
Suddenly, Davion stirred next to her.
"Thanks for the nap," Davion said as he began fumbling around.
"I....don't know how I'm doing this," Eloiin said. Davion looked at her, and even though they were in complete blackness, she knew he was smiling.
"Show's how much you know," he said smugly. Soon, the dome was refracted the blue glow of Davion's lightsaber.
"Have you figured out how we're gonna get out of here?" Eloiin asked eagerly.
"Yep," Davion answered as he positioned himself above Eloiin in the center of the dome, "you got the roof right?"
"I have for the past five minutes," she answered.
"All right, hold on," Davion said as he pointed his lightsaber at the roof of the dome. He hurled it like a javelin, its energy blade imbedding itself in the roof, with the hilt halfway submerged in melting snow. Davion stood up a little, enough to scrape his head against the dome. He began fumbling with the pommel of his lightsaber. While he did so, he spoke to Eloiin.
"Now, as soon as I'm done, I'm gonna count to three. On three, I want you to push as hard as you can. Can you do that?" Davion instructed, ending with a concerned question. Eloiin nodded, starting to build up her own concentration. Davion managed to slide the bottom off of his saber. But, instead of exposing a power cell, it looked as though another emitter had been fit into it. Davion put his palm to it, and even though she was concentrating on her instructions, she could help but feel the torrent of power Davion was summoning.
"Oh, and one more thing," Davion said, temporarily breaking Eloiin's concentration.
"What?" she asked.
"Close your eyes," he said, and Eloiin, though hesitant, obeyed.
"One," he said as the hurricane that was Davion and Eloiin swelled in the Force.
"Two," he continued, and Eloiin prepared to launch.
"Three!" Davion shouted, and Eloiin let loose. The results of her push where obscured by a blinding flash of light, with the intensity of a star going nova.
Even through closed lids, the light burned Eloiin's eyes. She had expected to hear something, but only a high-pitched drone filled her ears, much like when an explosive goes off too close to someone's head. Suddenly, she felt the chill wind of the surface, and her eyes snapped open.
She stared directly up at the cloudy Hoth sky. A smile stretched across her face, and she jolted up to her feet, ignoring the aching pain in her leg. Their dome was now a crater in the snow, its walls stretching fifteen feet to the surface in the newly settled blanket. Once her glee and awe wore off, Eloiin noticed Davion wasn't standing next to her. She looked around, finding him huddled up against the far side wall of the crater. He was smiling along with Eloiin, but she could tell something was wrong just from the way he was sitting. He was in a fetal position, his arms folded behind his legs and his back propped against the wall of snow.
"What's wrong?" she asked, taking a cautious step forward. Davion laughed a bit, and then shifted a bit, unfolding his arms. He held them out for Eloiin to look.
She gasped as her eyes fell on his hands. They were covered in horrible black burns and bleeding, and she could barely make out metal shards sticking out of them. Eloiin tried to speak, but the words were caught by the lump in her throat.
"I think I'm gonna need a new lightsaber," he stated jokingly, a slight waver in his voice.
Eloiin stood looking blankly at Davion's hands for a moment before reason caught up with her. She rushed to his side, kneeling and examining his hands.
"D-do they hurt?" she asked as she witnessed the burns and gashes. Davion gave out another wavering laugh.
"No, they tickle!" Davion joked, but his humor was almost completely lost on Eloiin. She was already searching for an appropriate spot on her parka to rip off and make into bandages.
"Hey, before you start that, can you do me a favor?" he asked, still in a light-hearted mood despite his injuries. Eloiin, wanting to help as much as she could, nodded and waited intently for him to give her instructions. He held out the palm of his right hand, revealing a large shard of metal jutting from his skin.
"Take that out," Davion said. Eloiin looked concernedly at him, looking for confirmation of his wishes, which she found in a simple nod. She steeled her nerves, taking a hold of the metal with the tips of her index finger and thumb. Then, she swiftly ripped it out, a small amount of blood following it. She expected a yelp of pain, but Davion instead sighed out of relief.
"Ah, thank you. I couldn't move my hand fingers. You may proceed," he said. Eloiin ripped of a few shreds from random places on her parka, and then gingerly wrapped them around Davion's hands. She helped him to his feet. She then leapt out of the crater, using the Force to aid her flight. Eloiin came up first, and once steadily on her feat, she went to the edge of the crater.
"I'll help you up," she said as she peered down to their former prison, only to find it filled only with snow.
"Davion?" she called.
"What?" his voice replied, but from behind her. Eloiin nearly jumped out of her own skin as she twirled around to see him waiting farther down hill for her.
"I thought you would - how did you -" she began, but she halted when Davion raised one of his bandaged hands.
"I'm burnt and a little cut up. I'm not dead," he said, a laugh hiding behind his voice. Eloiin was about to plead her case, but she gave up, throwing her hand up in resignation.
"Let's go," she said as she caught up with Davion, hanging her head in defeat as he laughed.
* * *
Rakso hated traveling. He had hacked into computers from halfway across the galaxy, all without leaving the sanctity of his home in one of the hundreds of random, shady apartment buildings in Coruscant's lower levels. But when he did travel off world, something bad always happened. When he left his homeworld, he got stranded on Nar Shaddaa. And when he left Nar Shaadda, he got stranded on Coruscant. Now, he had finally left Coruscant, and every nerve synapse in his body screamed at him, begging him not to be stranded on this planet. It was cold, covered in snow, infested with predators and stupid herbivores, and had absolutely no entertainment on it whatsoever. That, added with the fact that most of the computers on this wretched snowball were shut down and locked up in the wampa infested Echo Base, equaled probably the worst possible place in the galaxy for him to get stranded on.
Yet, even with the knowledge of his past curses, Rakso wouldn't dare defy his orders. His last associate took advantage of Rakso's own confidence in his work. He had found Rakso's base of operation, and after heavy death threats and blackmail, joined him in his mission. While his employer, a human named Mye'kel, lay in wait, Rakso was charged with finding his target and bringing it to him. As he approached the landing pad, he noticed the painfully green YT-1300 on one side of it, its top covered with three inches of snow. Remembering the advice of Mye'kel, he landed on the opposite side of the landing pad, as far away as possible from the Beowulf Shaeffer.
As his small transport's loading ramp lowered, Rakso put on his nerf-leather coat and sunglasses. He descended down the ramp, and then plodded off towards the lodge.
* * *
Finally, after almost a half-hour of walking, Davion and Eloiin were coming upon the lodge. Eloiin almost began to run, but Davion stopped her.
"Wait," he said to her as she began to pick up her pace. She stopped in her tracks and turned back towards him, a quizzical look on her face.
"Throw a snow ball towards the lodge," he commanded her sternly, and though it didn't make sense, she obeyed, scooping a bit of snow into her hand. She shaped it quickly, and then threw as far as she could. It sailed through the air for a ways, and Eloiin had to squint her eyes to follow it. They quickly widened as she saw the snowball stop and splatter apart in mid-air. Where it had hit now glowed a faint orange color.
"It's some sort of shield. Probably to protect the lodge from avalanches," Eloiin deduced. Davion nodded in agreement.
"And if snow can't get past it, then that probably means we won't be able to either" she added. Davion didn't bother to reply this time. Almost spontaneously, he plopped to the ground, sitting in a cross legged position.
"Wait. What are you doing?" Eloiin asked incredulously. Davion gave her an innocent look up at her.
"It's like you said - we can't get past the shields. We'll have to wait for them to deactivate them," he replied.
"What? But that could take hours! Maybe even days. We'll freeze to death before then!" she frantically explained, hoping that for once, Davion's decision could be overruled. Again, he looked up at her innocently.
"Do you really want to try?" he asked, and Eloiin unwittingly nodded in agreement. Davion sprung from his sitting position.
"Alright, let's get to it then," he said as he briskly walked towards the shield. Eloiin followed him, confused at how they were going to get past the shield. When they arrived, Davion stood examining the shield. Eloiin did as well. The shield covered a mile radius of the mountain, centered above the lodge. On the other side of the shield, Eloiin could see the level of snow dropped off a significant amount, as none of the snow from higher elevations increased the depth of the snow inside the shield. If the shield did turn off and Eloiin and Davion could proceed, they would have to jump down from a fifteen-foot ledge of snow.
Davion was busy at work, fumbling with things from inside his utility belt. Finally, he extracted the zap lens from his and Sareth's lightsabers, which she had forgot to retrieve when she removed it for her assault on the wampas.
"Gimme you're zap lenses," he asked Eloiin, who quickly retrieved the lenses for her two blades from her own utility belt. She watched as he one by one applied great pressure to the lens of the caps with his thumbs, eventually poking out the actual lens part. Once all four lenses were free of their caps, Davion moved closer to the shield. Eloiin watched as he inserted a lens high into the shield, and she had to cover hear ears as the sound of sharp nails scratching on slate ensued from the insertion. Then, Davion let go, and the lens was held in place by the opposing forces of the shield. He repeated the same process three times, setting up each of the lens at an angle. Soon, he had created a rectangular doorway, with each of the lenses at its corners. As soon as the fourth one was in place, the orange shield in between the lenses diluted in color, almost becoming a pale translucent color, with only the slightest hint of orange. Davion then turned back to Eloiin.
"Alright. Now we can go through. But a warning - this might sting a little," he said as he turned back to the shield.
"How much is a 'little'?" Eloiin asked cautiously. Davion turned back to her.
"Imagine walking through a doorway that gave you the same sensation as being shot by a blaster on stun, and you'll pretty much have the idea. It isn't going to tickle," he said, almost cheerfully.
"Are you sure we won't get fried?" she asked, with the same hesitancy as before. Davion thought on it for a moment, and then stuck his arm through. Eloiin watched as it passed through the shield, but his arm convulsed and writhed with electric shock, and he quickly withdrew it. She cringed at how eager Davion was to painfully prove something.
"Yep," he said, wincing at his hands, seemingly forgetting that they were already injured, "though you might wanna take a run at it".
"Wait a second," Eloiin said, "aren't you going first?"
Davion shook his head.
"Ladies first," he said through a devilish grin, and then he put his hand threateningly close to the portal again, "unless you would like another demonstration to motivate you."
Eloiin scowled at him. He was playing off her sympathies and she knew it. But, with a defeated sigh, she backed up a ways. Steeling her nerves and trying to ignore the nervous pace of her heart beat, she charged at the door, leaping into it.
A shocking volt went through her before her vision went black in midair.
* * *
The darkness lifted as Eloiin opened her eyes. She was staring at a blue sky. She felt as though she were floating. Then, as the darkness faded away, nausea hit her. She was dizzy. Her eyes couldn't focus.
It seemed like it took her forever to focus herself again, and when she did, she noticed arms supporting her in the air. She looked over to see Davion's face looking down on her. He was carrying her.
"How.....how long have I been out?" she asked, her voice somewhat slurred.
"Not very long. Five minutes or so," he said warmly. Eloiin nodded as nausea found it's way back to her, and she looked back up into the sky. At first, nothing seemed wrong, but as her memory began to come back to her, she turned back to Davion.
"The sky is blue," she said. Davion chuckled.
"Yes. It's always blue," he said. Eloiin shook her head.
"No, I mean it's blue. As in, the shield is gone," she said. Davion chuckled again and nodded.
"Yeah. They turned it off five seconds after I jumped through," he said. Eloiin rolled her eyes.
"Figures," she said, but Davion just continued to laugh to himself. After he stopped laughing, there was an awkward moment of silence as he carried her down the hill. Finally, it became unbearable.
"Uh, could you let me down?" she asked.
"Maybe. But you have to do something for me," Davion said as he plodded along with Eloiin in his arms.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"Kick your leg."
"I said kick your leg."
"Does it matter?"
"Because I think the left one is still numb."
"Well then that settles the matter. No, I will not let you down."
Eloiin crossed her arms and put on her best pouting face, but Davion laughed at it and mocked it with an over-exaggerated expression of his own.
They traveled in silence for five more minutes before Eloiin tried again.
"Aren't I getting heavy?" she asked. Davion shook his head.
"Back on Coruscant, they made trainees go through a gauntlet of obstacles wearing weighted clothing. To become available for apprenticeship, you had to carry at least twice your body weight and pass the gauntlet in ten minutes. I think I can handle carrying one hundred and thirty pounds," he said confidently, his voice riddled with hints of sarcasm. This time, Eloiin shook her head.
"One hundred and fifty," she said.
"What?" Davion asked, confused.
"I'm one hundred and fifty pounds," she said. Davion laughed.
"No you aren't," he said.
"No! It's true! Put me on a scale. It'll say one fifty," she said.
"Then the scales are wrong," he answered, and Eloiin found herself fighting back frustration.
"Whatever," she said frustrated. They walked for the longest time in silence again, Eloiin staring blankly at the blue sky and Davion looking ahead. Finally, the frustration welling within her erupted.
"Lemme down," she said.
"But we're almost -" he started, but Eloiin cut him off.
"No! I want down now!" she commanded in a raised voice.
"But-" he started again, but Eloiin found herself thinking like Amberly. She drew her arm back and landed a light punch on Davion's face, and he immediately dropped her to the ground with a thud. Dazed for a moment, she looked blankly up at him, to see that he was wearing an apologetic expression. But her frustration had turned to anger. She tried to strike his shins for retribution, but he jumped back. She used that opportunity to lift herself back up. She dusted off the snow from her coat and turned to walk back towards the lodge. She stopped dead in her tracks when she found a crowd of people staring at her with mouths gaping fifteen feet away, standing outside of the door to the lodge. She looked back to Davion, who was standing where he was last time, shrugging with a sheepish look.
"I told you we were almost there," he explained. It was then that it dawned on Eloiin that she had just struck what the people would have no doubt thought was her rescuer. Their gapes of astonishment were more a look of disgust now. Eloiin's already reddened face turned even more red as she turned back to the lodge and nearly ran through the crowd, towards, through, and in the door that they were blocking.
When Eloiin got to her room, she immediately changed out of her parka and warm clothes, which had become considerably uncomfortable. A quick bath in her room’s refresher remedied the frozen limbs, and she walked out of her sleeping clothes. Guilt plagued her from punching the man who had practically saved her from an icy death. And, after she was done apologizing, she still had to go reap revenge on AJ and Sareth, who hadn't so much as looked back when she fell.
The only thing she looked at was the plush, shag rugged floor in the hallway. Before she knew it, Davion's room was in front of her, the sound of hydrospanners and welders coming from inside. She knocked hard on the metal door.
"Yes?" Davion's voice yelled, "Who is it?"
"It's me," she yelled back, and suddenly, the noises stopped. The door opened, and Eloiin walked into the Davion's darkened room. He was on his bed, facing away from Eloiin. A small lamp standing lamp illuminated the workbench he was sitting at. Occasionally, brighter flashes of light coming from a welding tool lit up the rest of the room, and when they diminished, he grabbed another tool that sounded like a hydrospanner. She moved to an angle to see what was going on, but she immediately wished she hadn't. He wasn't working on some tool like she had expected. Instead, she witnessed Davion's hand split open down the palm, and it looked like he was drilling something through the bloody pulp.
"Tarkin's teeth - what the are you doing to yourself?!" she said frantically, trying not to shriek. Davion didn't look up.
"I'm fixing something," he stated simply, concentrating on his hand. He flipped the black goggles on his forehead back down to his eyes, and then proceeded to weld into the flesh beneath his palm. Something dawned on Eloiin.
"You have a prosthetic replacement?" she asked. Davion shook his head, and Eloiin tried to swallow the hard lump that had formed in her throat.
"I have skeletal reinforcements," he clarified, and Eloiin breathed a sigh of relief, though it wasn't as much as it would have been were it prosthetics he was messing with. Pushing aside the grim sight of Davion fixing his flesh-and-bone hand like a power converter, she decided to proceed with what she came for.
"I'm sorry about earlier, Davion," she said. Davion didn't look up at her.
"Sorry for what?" he asked as he grabbed the welding tool again, pressing it into his flesh and causing sparks to fly. Eloiin closed her eyes.
"For punching you. I shouldn't have done that. You didn't deserve it," she explained, but Davion didn't even shift his position.
"It's alright. Skeletal reinforcements, remember? It's not like you broke anything," he said dully.
"That's true, but it must have hurt," she reasoned. That got Davion's attention. He set aside his tools, used the hand that wasn't torn up to lift the goggles from his eyes up to his forehead, and turned and looked hard at Eloiin.
"My hand is split open and I'm using welding tools to reattach a metal plate to bone. And yet here you are, apologizing for hitting me," he said, and Eloiin didn't know whether she was being forgiven or cruelly mocked. It was answered with a smile stretching on Davion's face.
"So am I forgiven?" Eloiin asked, just to make sure. Davion nodded, his smile ever so wide, and he turned back to what he was doing. Eloiin took a seat in a small chair next to him, and watched as he handed her a pair of her own protection goggles. She was content with just fitting them on her forehead as she examined Davion's hand. It was actually quite a clean incision he had made, and very little blood could be found. Though it disturbed her that he was capable of such things, she couldn't help but notice his bones. They were almost completely silver, with only small sections showing the pinkish-white of a natural bone. She watched as Davion used a small pick to remove a small shard of metal from his flesh. She turned away, her stomach suddenly doing flips.
"Doesn't that hurt?" she asked out of reflex, and it drew a chuckle from Davion as he set aside the pick to look.
"It doesn't tickle, if that's a good enough answer," he said, "all done."
Eloiin didn't bother to turn back and watch him pluck the restraints that were holding his flesh back from the table.
"How do you do it?" she asked when he requested her to pass him the welder. He chuckled again.
"In the days of the Old Order, it was found that many Jedi had natural abilities that came easier to them than most. Some had one, others had more. One of them, a Zabrak Jedi Master named Agen Kolar, had the ability to surpass his already impressive natural parameters to tolerate pain. It was called 'Crucitorn' by Jedi," Davion explained. Eloiin nodded in realization.
"And you have this power?" she asked. Davion's smile widened and he shook his head.
"I know the technique. I can use it. But it isn't my ability. I had to learn it," he stated, and Eloiin saw him wince as he replaced the stretched skin over his palm, "and as you can imagine, it has its limits."
He activated the welding torch and set it to it's finest settings. A small pin of light appeared at it's end, and he applied it to his closed flesh, cauterizing the incision closed. He then used the force to fling a jug of bacta to his good hand. He inserted his newly repaired one into the jug, and locked it in with special knobs on the side. Eloiin found it quite comical to see Davion with a jug of transparent green fluid attached to his hand.
He saw the smile on her face, and he raised his arm and tapped his head a few times with the jug, making a hollow, sloshing sound. She giggled a little, and he smiled too.
"So," he said finally using the force to activate the overhead lights, "how are we going to reap revenge on Sareth and AJ?"
Eloiin's smile lingered.
"I don't know. Have anything particular in mind?" she asked. Davion let out a disturbingly realistic evil cackle.
"Are you kidding? I have it all worked out. But...." he said, indicating his hand in the bacta caste, "I think it'll be morning before this stuff finishes it's job."
Eloiin laughed and nodded.
"Alright. First thing tomorrow, we'll have our revenge."
* * *
The next day came, and Eloiin didn't sleep a wink. Early in the morning, she sneaked back to Davion's room, where he revealed his plan. They sneaked through the darkened halls back to Sareth's room. Eloiin tried the door.
"It's locked," she whispered to Davion. But he had expected it. He stood in front of the door pad and closed his eyes. Eloiin could tell he was calling upon the Force from his expression and the surge she was feeling. Slowly and steadily, his hand punched the door key into the console, and the metal barrier slid away, revealing Sareth's darkened room. They quietly slipped in and closed the door behind them, leaving them silently standing in darkness. The earlier conversation had come to Eloiin's mind.
What if she wasn't decent? Eloiin had asked. Davion shrugged at her.
You say that like it would be a bad thing, he had replied, and had been subsequently battered around by Eloiin. She giggled to herself in the darkness, remembering all the I'm sorry's and stop hitting me's. Maybe she would double his punishment by enlightening Sareth on his thoughts.....
Davion found the light switch.
"Get ready," he whispered to Eloiin, but she already was. He activated the lights, and in front of them, Sareth awoke suddenly and leaned up in her bed.
"What the heck are you guys do-" she started mumbling as she squinted in the light, but it was cut off by a pillow colliding with her face. Davion had rolled in a whole crate full of them, and he used his arms and the Force to bombard her with more. Eloiin assisted him, and the pillows soon piled with Sareth buried beneath them.
"Now!" Davion yelled at her as he continued the bombardment, and Eloiin obeyed by pressing the remote trigger she had in her cloak's pockets. It was hooked into an audio player that Davion had stowed in AJ's room. On the audio player, he had recorded himself screaming for help, using the Force to disguise his voice as Sareth's. Soon enough, AJ was pounding on the door, and Davion told Eloiin to take over for him. He went to the door and opened it, and before AJ knew what was going on, Davion had grabbed him by the collar of his pajamas and hurled him into the mountain of pillows. They both continued the bombardment, burying both AJ and Sareth. A few more minutes, and Davion and Eloiin were running out of pillows, but still they laughed and shouted with glee like crazed maniacs. Then, someone pounded on the door again. Davion scrambled to it and opened it, but Eloiin couldn't see who was on the other side. At least, until she saw Davion flying through the air and landing in the mountain of pillows. When she recognized Amberly's face, it was too late, and she too found herself flying into the pillow mountain, propelled by Amberly's amazing Force abilities. Davion used his own powers to lift half the mountain of pillows and toss them at Amberly in retaliation, but was then belted in the face from another pillow, thrown by a reddening Sareth. AJ tackled Eloiin to the ground with his bulky Chiss frame, and Amberly threw the other side of the pillow mountain back at them.
Thus began the five-way Pillow War.
The war lasted for most of the early morning. By the time it was done, every person in the room had been officially bombarded at least twenty-three times. Sareth got the brunt of the attack, as she was never very good at telekinesis. Amberly was officially claimed the victor, having never been totally buried by the pillows. AJ was still un-burying himself, and Davion was still trying to untie the unusual knot of pillows that bound his ankles together. They all picked up the pillows and replaced them in the container, which sucked them into compressed compartments for transportation in large quantities. After the room was restored to proper order and truce agreed upon by Davion, Eloiin, Sareth, and AJ, they all parted ways. It was announced the previous night that the slopes would be open again for business the following morning, and they all wanted to make good use of their last day on the slopes of Hoth.
Everybody but two. Eloiin and AJ were still somewhat traumatized by the previous day. Eloiin was still frightened of the slopes, and AJ declared he now hated everything that had to do with ice and snow, the scabbed gash on his cheek holding him firm to his conviction. Davion and Sareth split up to convince their friends, the latter going for Eloiin and the former trying AJ. Davion's efforts proved successful, and Eloiin went off to prepare for the ordeal. AJ wasn't so easily swayed, and that added with Sareth's low motivation for persuasion equaled AJ's new position as benchwarmer on the Beowulf Shaeffer.
On there way to meet Eloiin in the checkout room, Davion decided to give Sareth a hard time.
"Couldn't get your boyfriend to come, eh?" he said smugly. Sareth turned a bright red and looked incredulously at him.
"He isn't my boyfriend," she said unconvincingly. Davion just shook his head.
"Then he's your friend, right?" he asked. Sareth knew he was getting somewhere, but she didn't have the energy to fight him.
"Of course," she said.
"And I'm your friend, right?"
Sareth eyed him cautiously.
"Yeah, I suppose so."
"Then that makes me and AJ equal, right?" he asked innocently. Fake innocence, Sareth knew.
"You could say that," she answered enigmatically. Davion laughed a bit in his throat.
"Right on. So when are you going to start snuggling with me and rubbing my back?" he asked, cracking up on the last bit. Sareth turned even more red, but she didn't notice.
"I-I have no idea what you are talking about," she stammered, her mind freezing in shock. It just made Davion laugh harder.
"Sure you do," he said sarcastically. Sareth was getting annoyed.
"Why? Have you been spying on us?" she asked a bit angrily. Davion halted their progress down the hall and stared her in the eye, his humorous mood replaced with an observing serious one.
"Define spying," he said. She sighed with frustration.
"Surveillance cameras. Peeking into my or his room, either with your eyes or the Force," she said, her patience wearing thin.
"Then no, I haven't spied on you," he said simply.
"Then how did you know?" she asked, and later wishing she hadn't, since it basically confirmed his beliefs. He shrugged.
"Lucky guess," he said, and he began to turn back down the halls. Sareth's heart fell to her stomach. He could have completely fabricated that story, and yet she had just confirmed it. While she berated herself for being an idiot, a thought hit her so strongly that she acted on it.
"Bantha fodder," she said to him, halting his progress once more, "you knew. How?"
He walked back to her and looked her in the eyes, and it was then that Sareth noticed something strange about his eyes. Just a brief flash, but enough to get her attention.
"Whenever he comes near you, your mood automatically picks up. Your eyes light up," he said.
"Coincidence," she said, blowing off the details.
"Coincidence? Just because I'm not a Jedi anymore doesn't mean that I'm suddenly an idiot. You can deny what I say all you want, but those endorphins, over-active nerve endings, and increased heart rates don't lie," he said rather coldly. Sareth honestly didn't know whether to blush in embarrassment at his assessment or to slap him in anger for his assumptions. Obviously, Davion could tell how she felt.
"I'll keep your secret. All you have to worry about is keeping it yourself," he said, then turned and continued down the hallway.
Sareth was convinced on her violent option, but soon revoked it.
Aggression is of the dark side.
* * *
Once more, Eloiin stared down the frozen slopes of the mountain, alone and petrified with fear. She had wanted to stay with AJ on the Shaeffer, but hope and stupidity made her believe it would be better this time.
A sliding hoverboard stopped behind her, Davion on top of it. Even in the brisk cold of Hoth, he still wore only wore a Jedi tunics and a brown cloak. He put his arm over her shoulders, and Force-spawned warmth flowed through her. Now Eloiin truly remembered why she had come up the mountain.
"Ready?" Davion asked softly, his voice barely a whisper yet surprisingly clear in the loud winds. Before tears welled in her eyes, Eloiin nodded once and bit them back. Davion took her hand in his own as he slowly slid down the run, tugging Eloiin behind him.
It lasted for almost an hour, but to her, it lasted much longer. The entire time down the hill, Eloiin could feel Davion comforting her through the force, and as the warm feelings heightened, so did their speed. By the time the lodge was in sight, they were racing down the hill at breakneck speeds, Davion leading Eloiin by a mere six feet. They both had to stomp as hard as they could on the ends of their boards to stop their momentum. Eloiin hadn't noticed how fast they had gone until Amberly caught up with them and told them of two bullets shooting past her on the slopes. Davion didn't say anything, but Eloiin was in disbelief. She didn't think they were going that fast.
The rest of the day were spent in moments just like the previous one - Davion caressing Eloiin through the Force while they turned into human projectiles. Only Sareth was able to beat them, who had been skiing down snowy hills all her life with her father on vacations, and it was quite a contradiction towards her timid, down-to-earth composure. Davion teased her about it, and insisted that her board had a hyperdrive hidden within it.
Twilight dawned on Hoth, and the loud speakers recalled all customers to the lodge. Davion and Eloiin, after warming themselves up and returning their gear to the rental shop, entered the lodge food bar. Several dozen other snow-sliders were arranged around the many small tables, and many more standing in line for food from the lodge's cook. The cook was a spindly armed FX medical assistant droid, and it's battered frame showed evidence that it looked like it had been crushed like a can of caf and then reshaped. It's arms twirled and manipulated plates and food frantically as it tried as hard as its gyro's would allow to fulfill the needs of the lines of customers.
Davion scanned the crowd as Eloiin looked for a place to sit. She found a vacant table in a far corner, but when she tugged Davion's arm to get him to follow her, he resisted her, and she looked to see him squinting into the masses of people. Of course, not all of them were human - there was a family of wookiees talking to some Mon Calamari in a corner.
Suddenly, Davion's face brightened and he smiled. As loud as the bustle of the crowds would permit, he yelled across the room "RAKSO!"
Through the Force, he directed Eloiin's eyes to a cloaked man in the corner, and he seemed frozen in place. Davion started towards him, and Eloiin had the distinct feeling that this cloaked person wasn't so happy to have been recognized. Nevertheless, Davion went over and talked to the cloaked man while Eloiin held back. Soon, Davion returned with Rakso in tow, his hood down to reveal his dark skin and greased-back black hair. Eloiin couldn't help but notice a slight resemblance Rakso had to Lando Calrissian, but she didn't know whether it was through the Force or just the shape of his eyes.
"Eloiin, this is Rakso. We've known each other since I was a padawan," Davion said, "Rakso, this is Eloiin Standl, my.....err.....significant other."
Rakso's face lit up at the news.
"What? You mean to tell me you ACTUALLY netted a girl? A HUMAN girl?" Rakso asked Davion, jokingly elbowing him in the side. But even then, Eloiin could feel nervousness rolling off him.
"Hey, I wasn't the one sneaking into the cantina dressing rooms just to take a look at the Twi’lek’s wearing less clothes than they normally do," Davion joked back to him, nailing Rakso even harder in the ribs with his elbow.
"So, why are you here, Rak?" Davion asked, and Eloiin could vividly see Rakso turn pale.
"Oh....I....umm.....am on vacation. This business back home has been really taking it out of me," he explained sheepishly.
"What's your occupation?" Eloiin asked abruptly, and almost sinister purpose behind her words. Rakso looked at her like a womp-rat staring at an oncoming speeder before Davion cut in.
"H-he's a computer technician," he shot out, almost too quickly, Eloiin thought. But she played along.
"Computers, huh? Then you might know my brother, Marsel Standl," she stated. She expected another excuse, but she was surprised to find Rakso's face showing realization, though it was an irritated version.
"Marsel? I know him! He's that idio-" Davion gave Rakso a harsh look, "- I mean, he's that guy who created the Anaxes Firewall. Nearly un-hackable. The guy is a genius. You're his sister?"
Eloiin nodded, but she knew she wasn't getting the whole story. She had every intention to exercise her infamous interrogation techniques on the shifty-looking "technician", but a strong nudge through the Force from Davion revealed that he could sense what she was planning. She transmitted her resignation to him and bid farewell to Rakso as she headed back up to her room.
* * *
Eloiin took a long, hot bath in her room's refresher. Afterwards, she dressed into her sleeping clothes and sat on her bed, folding her legs into a meditative stance. She closed her eyes and let herself fall into the Force. She let it's never ending magnificence and grace flow into her, refreshing cells, promoting blood fall, and expanding her mind until thought was a memory. She expanded her awareness past her bed until it filled her room, then the next, then the entire hotel wing of the lodge, then to the rest of the lodge. She could feel every living being in the complex. Many were asleep, dreaming dreams of their homeworlds and families. She could feel Sareth and AJ in the room next to her, playing a game of sabaac. She could feel Amberly wrestling Connor in her room, and cringed when she felt Connor collide with a wall. The wookiee family down the hall were packing their belongings, preparing to leave at daybreak. There was someone walking up the hallway, towards her room. She reached out to the familiar warmth of his presence in the Force. Then, out of curiosity, she delved into his mind. She had been curious to why he had defended Rakso, and wondered what he was trying to hide.
But what she sensed in his thoughts confused her.
Hand: Two, three, negative one, negative three, five. Table: 5, 3. Place down five. Total = Thirteen. End turn. Draw = Ten. Place down negative three. Total = Twenty.
What did it mean? Never since Marsel tried to explain the corresponding binary codes to their father's moisture vaporator had she been so confused and utterly lost.
A beeping sound outside her door signaled that he was punching in the door code. She snapped out of her meditative trance, opening her eyes just as Davion walked in.
"So? How did the conversation with Rakso go?" she asked. Davion chuckled a bit.
"Why do you ask?" he said, and Eloiin conceded his point.
"I'm sorry. I'm kinda nosey when I meet someone new," she explained weakly. Davion waved the issue away.
"You're telling me? I was barely out of the bacta tank when you were sending interrogation hooks into my brain," he ranted, exaggerating all the way. But his humorous tone wasn't making Eloiin feel any better, and she her head fell into her hands. Davion saw her reaction, and he made his way over to her, sitting next to her on the fluffy bed.
"If it makes you feel any better," he started, wrapping a comforting arm over her shoulders, "you did great today on the hill."
She looked up at him, and he could see in her eyes that she was about to cry.
"You shoulda seen the look on Sareth's face when she looked back to see you right on her butt," Davion said, and he started to crack up, "it was priceless".
She laughed, flattered and amused at the thought of what Sareth's face looked like.
"Thanks," she said, sniffing a little and leaning in him more. A look of surprise crossed Davion's pale face.
"Thanks? For what?" he asked, obliviously.
"For making me feel better," Eloiin asked as she closed her eyes, deciding to use Davion as a human pillow.
"You don't need to say thank you," he answered humbly, "it was the least I could do, Angel."
The name caught her, and she looked up at him and smiled.
"Is that my nickname?" she asked innocently. Davion smiled wider.
"If you want it to be, Angel," he said, and Eloiin gave a nod. She closed her eyes again as she leaned on him, and then, almost entirely unintentionally, she fell asleep.
Morning came, and Eloiin found herself lying snugly between the covers of her bed. She sat up and surveyed the room with bleary eyes, though it was too dark to distinguish anything. She crossed her legs in the dark and began meditating. She had made it routine for as long as she knew how - meditate after awaking and before falling asleep. She lost herself in the Force, and reached out to all the living beings in the lodge once more. After a half hour, she dressed in her warm snow pants and parka, and gathered her things back into her repulsor suit case. Commanding its droid brain to return to the Shaeffer, it darted out of the room. When she was sure she had gotten everything, she left her room and headed down to the main exit, where AJ, Sareth, Amberly, and Davion were waiting for her.
"Where's Connor?" Eloiin asked, noticing their head count was one shy.
"He slept in the ship. Said he didn't like how cold his room was," Amberly said. When they had all accounted for themselves, the group headed out into the blizzard raging outside. They made their way out single file, though Davion insisted on staying at Eloiin's side, a gesture that earned him many rolling eyes and a curious look from Sareth.
"Looks like Rak has already left," Davion yelled over the howl of the wind, and Eloiin's curiosity peaked again, but only for a second. Soon, stinging snow on her face was the only thing on her mind.
When they reached the ship, Amberly activated the comlink she had.
"Connor! Lower the loading ramp!" she yelled over the wind. The rest of them couldn't hear what Connor said back to Amberly, but apparently it wasn't an affirmative, as Amberly walked to the closed loading ramp door and pounded violently on it.
"C'mon, Connor! Open up!" she yelled into the comlink. Davion nudged her through the Force, and she released her grip on the comlink as he used the Force to bring it to his own hand.
"Connor, if you don't open this door right now, you can forget about the Kashyyyk Detonators I promised you!" he said into the comlink, and as if it was a password, the loading ramp lowered, almost crushing Amberly. When they began to walk up the ramp, all of them took a hesitant pause as they felt the waves of heat roll over them. Eloiin thought it was just because it was extremely cold outside, but once they were all in, she thought differently. It had to be at least eighty degrees inside the Shaeffer, and all the overhead lights were set on maximum brightness, as if a star had been pulled inches from the top of the ship. Within three minutes, sweat was already soaking into everyone’s parkas, except for Davion, who still insisted on wearing nothing but robes. It gave him a somewhat reasonable disposition in the heat, as he playfully whistled as Eloiin removed her parka, revealing a simple white undershirt.
As Sareth and AJ went off to change out of their snow gear, Eloiin, Davion, and Amberly found Connor in the main hold, lying back in a beach chair with his eyes behind tinted glasses, and with a metal reflector in his hands, the light reflecting off it onto his face. He was clad only in a pair of swimming trunks with tropical tree designs on them. Davion immediately broke out laughing, while Eloiin and Amberly giggled.
"Connor! What are you doing?" Amberly asked. He looked up at her and lifted the tinted glasses from his face.
"Enjoying a tropical cruise on the surface of an ice planet. What does it look like?" he explained.
"Who said you could go on a cruise in MY ship?" she asked in a fake Coruscanti accent. Connor smiled devilishly.
"The Shaeffer's central computer, of course!" he said, and Amberly's jaw dropped. By then she was right next to Connor, and looking at him like he was the most audacious creature in existence.
"You hacked my SHIP?!" she asked, and was answered with another smile from her neurotic brother. Like a gun triggering, they were both on the floor, wrestling like two toddlers. Eloiin could help but laugh, and Davion rolled his eyes and smiled. He passed them and headed to the cockpit. Eloiin followed, and watched as he plopped into the pilot's seat and started up the ship. The engines whined on, and he went through preliminary checks.
When he had confirmed everything was green and ready to go, he slammed on the repulsors, launching the Shaeffer of the docking pad like a rocket. Several thumping sounds could be heard throughout the ship, some accompanied by yells and screams. Davion immediately got on the intercom.
"Hey, it isn't my fault. Serves you guys right for not buckling up!" he said, then clicked off the com.
He maneuvered the ship into orbit, when Amberly came in and took over the controls. Within thirty minutes, she had plotted the hyperspace route and was engaging the hyperdrive. Eloiin and Davion sat in the main hold, and she felt her stomach leap as they jumped into hyperspace.
But something went wrong. A half second later, they came out of hyperspace with a jerk.
"What's going on?" Eloiin asked as she and Davion unbuckled themselves.
"Interdiction field. Someone's yanked us outta hyperspace," Davion said as he darted for the cockpit, Eloiin in tow. When they got there, they looked out the main view port to find they had been pulled into one of the asteroid fields, and how they hadn't hit one of the giant rocks yet was a mystery. On the radar display on the left bulkhead, the green dot that was the Beowulf Shaeffer was being approached by several yellow "unidentified" ships approaching.
Davion immediately grabbed the comlink and put it on all channels.
"Incoming ships - this is the Beowulf Shaeffer, requesting identification and purpose," he said in a grave voice. There was no answer for the longest time, but then a static-filled response came.
"Beowulf Shaeffer, bring your rust-bucket to a stop and prepare to be boarded. Have you're goods ready," an alien voice wheezed.
"Ha. Yeah right!" Amberly said defiantly, and Davion agreed with her whole heartedly. Eloiin braced herself as Amberly put the Shaeffer into a wild barrel roll, thwarting any efforts by the aggressors to put her into a tractor beam.
"We gotta get out of this asteroid field. Jump to hyperspace," Davion said as the first enemy ships came into view - a wing of Rihkxyrk fighters. Their leader let off a few low powered warning shots, a gesture which Amberly did not take kindly towards. With the push of a button, she pulled the trigger to the Shaeffer's forward laser cannons, catching the leader off guard and without active shields. His ship was instantly vaporized. Amberly hooted in glee.
But while Amberly seemed to light up, Eloiin looked grim with a foreboding fear, and Davion looked downright angry.
"Damn it, Am! Why did you do that?" he asked in an outburst.
"He called my ship a rust-bucket!" she defended herself, and Davion rolled his eyes.
"You just blew away our one chance of getting out of here without a fight!" he accused, but Amberly didn't listen. The little yellow blips on the radar turned red as the Shaeffer's sensors caught the tell-tale signs of weapons powering up. The sight frustrated Davion more, and he sighed harshly.
"Eloiin, how good are you with turrets?" he asked, referring to the turrets mounted on the top and bottom of the ship.
"Uhh, I don't - " she started, but was interrupted by a shockwave ripping through the ship as laser shot collided with the Shaeffer's shields, nearly toppling Eloiin from her feet.
"Never mind! Get to one of the turrets!" Davion shouted as he darted past, and Eloiin followed him as best she could while the ship tossed and turned under the direction of Amberly's evasive maneuvers. Soon, she was sliding down the ladder to the lower turret, and she plopped into the turret seat, donned the comlink headset, and took a hold of the controls.
She rotated the turret and locked on to a fighter who had strayed from his comrades. She let off a few pot-shots at it, and the target easily dodged them in his nimble craft. But, he unwittingly put himself in line with the dorsal turret, and Eloiin watched the fireworks as Davion unloaded on his shields, overwhelming them and destroying the craft.
The ship tossed and turned as Amberly put it into evasive maneuvers, Eloiin could her and feel shots being let off as Amberly fried her own share of pirates with the forward mounted guns.
Reaching through the Force and checking her radar, Eloiin determined that there were three wings of fighters on them at the moment with two freighters waiting out of range to back them up. She heard Davion's voice come on her headset.
"Amberly - remember how I said flying recklessly through an asteroid belt was dangerous?" he asked.
"Yeah," she replied.
"Well, I've changed my mind. These guys are more dangerous. Get us outta here!" he said as enemy shots hit the rear shields.
"What? And miss a fight? No way!" she said as she deftly turned the ship around a full 180 degrees and fried the enemy who had just hit them. Just then, a loud whine sounded from the scanners.
"Someone just jumped out of hyperspace outside the asteroid belt. Really big!" Sareth's voice said over the speakers, and then dread filled her voice, "Black bones.....it's an Executor -Class Super Star Destroyer!!"
Eloiin suddenly felt her hands go numb. The severity of their situation hit her like a ton of bricks. All thoughts, all movement, all action within her froze. Even Amberly seemed to abandon her wild antics in light of the new information. Only Davion seemed to have retained his cool.
"Do you have it's name?" he asked, seemingly more concerned with its title than the fact that it was one of the biggest and deadliest class of ship in the galaxy.
"Hold on...." Sareth said, and Eloiin knew she was trying to contact the ship and ask for designation. Eloiin hardly noticed that Amberly was still firing away at the pirates like an oblivious fool, not knowing of the threat that awaited them.
"I couldn't get more than a coded designation," Sareth alerted over the intercom.
"Say it anyway," Davion said, simultaneously taking out another enemy fighter.
"S-14313816," she said hesitantly. Eloiin could immediately feel dread and cold fear running off from Davion's general direction. It soon excited itself, becoming a frantic panic.
"Amberly, I'd hate to rain on your parade, but there is currently a 19,000 meter long hulk of metal and weapons waiting for us just outside this asteroid field. Can we please GET OUT OF HERE?!" he yelled over the comlink, hurting Eloiin's ears and scaring her out of her wits. But she had to concede it had worked, as Amberly broke off her attack and swerved the Shaeffer into a high speed retreat through the asteroids. Just in time, because within her peripheral vision, Eloiin could see several dozen squads of smaller blips coming from the radar representation of the Super Star Destroyer - TIE Fighters.
Amberly catapulted the Shaeffer into the twists and turns of the asteroid maze, and what few pirates didn't get obliterated by the space rocks were destroyed by Davion and Eloiin.
"Hurry up, Amberly! Those TIE's are gaining!" Sareth said over the comlink, and then paused, "we got a new ship jumping in - an Interdictor cruiser! We got to get out of here before it activates its gravity well generators!"
Eloiin heard a laugh from Davion.
"We are sooooo busted," he said as if they were a bunch of naughty children whose mother was coming to get them.
Then, it happened. Suddenly, the Shaeffer was in clear space. Eloiin could hear the hyperdrive revving up as they prepared to jump, but she managed to blast one last pirate fighter before the stars melted away as the Shaeffer jumped to light speed.
By the time Eloiin had climbed out of the turret control room, her undershirt was drenched in sweat and her blonde hair frizzed from the combined heat of adrenaline and the increased temperatures of the ship. Everyone else had already gathered around the holotable in the main hold. Amberly was just passing through, making her way back to the engine room. Sareth was standing near the table, visibly shaken, and Eloiin sensed through the Force that she was still jumpy. AJ sat on the couch next to where she stood, and Eloiin suppressed a giggle when she saw him clothed only in his undershirt and boxers, sweat dripping from his blue skin. Davion stood quietly on the other side of the table, his arms crossed and eyes closed in a standing meditation.
"Where was Amberly going?" Eloiin asked Sareth. She snapped her attention at the question, as if woken violently from a daze.
"She said something about getting Connor "dislodged" from on of the bulkhead panels. Probably got stuck in there when Amberly was flying like a mad women," Sareth answered with a certain degree of distaste. Eloiin partly understood her mood of course. A cheerful vacation had been marred not by one, but by two near-disasters.
"Why do you think they came after us?" she asked to no general person.
"Well, pirates usually aren't that picky when it comes to victims. But the Star Destroyer....." AJ trailed off.
"Do you think they were after the pirates?" Eloiin asked.
"Yeah right. I doubt the Imperial Remnant would send one of their prized Super Star Destroyers across a galaxy of New Republic space just to get at a band of mindless thugs," Sareth said.
"Perhaps the ship was working with the pirates," Davion mumbled, the fact that it was barely coherent suggesting that he was deep in meditation. Eloiin noticed how he swayed when he stood there meditating - his dark bangs swishing back and forth on his forehead.
"So, you mean those pirates managed to bag an Executor - class Star Dreadnought?" Sareth asked incredulously. AJ shook his head.
"Nah. Ship is too big. An Executor needs a minimum crew of at least 50,000 people. Pirates don't have the numbers, training, and moral inclination to serve on one of those things," AJ said, and Eloiin thought she saw a glint of admiration in Sareth's eyes as he flaunted his knowledge of starships.
But Eloiin also noticed how quiet Davion was during the theorizing, and though she could sense nothing beyond his natural aura, it told her enough. He was holding back some information, or some view that the others had not seen yet. He opened his eyes and returned to reality.
Suddenly, a loud racket came from one of the rear holds of the Shaeffer. Amberly came sprinting into the main hold, shouting "Get down!" at everybody else. Connor appeared at the doorway Amberly had just entered through, a mad look of pleasure in his eyes and a blaster pistol in his hands. He fired off a few shots at the ceiling, blowing holes in it and revealing to the others that he didn't have it on stun. Sareth and AJ immediately dove for the floor, while Eloiin ran to tackle Davion down, who was standing defiantly. But she soon dove to the floor as well, having had a blaster bolt miss her head by mere inches. She thought she could smell her own hair melting a bit.
Her heart dropped as she looked over to see Connor aiming directly at Davion.
"Get down!" she screamed at him, but it was if he had gone deaf.
Then, Connor fired.
* * *
A half hour later, Eloiin sat on the bed in her quarters, the lights turned low. Her body trembled violently, partly from the adrenaline wearing off, partly from shock.
She didn't know what exactly happened. Connor had fired dead-accurate shots at Davion, but they never hit him. Before Connor fired, Davion extended his arm forward, and lifted his palm towards Connor, directly in the path of seven rapid-fire blaster bolts. It seemed as if they would hit his palm and blow it away, but instead of burning through his hand, they ricocheted off it as if it was a lightsaber blade. The shots scattered randomly around the room, and one nailed Connor in the shoulder just as he let off another shot, changing its intended trajectory and grazing Eloiin's back as she lay on the floor. Though it didn't cause any real damage, it was close enough to burn her badly, and she yelped in pain. Davion heard it, and soon Eloiin could feel unabashed rage pouring off him. He reached out with the Force, and Eloiin watched as Connor clutched at his throat as Davion's invisible hand gripped it tightly. Eloiin felt cold dread fill her as she felt the anger in him. But soon, Amberly was on her feet, and while Davion had him immobilized, she pounced on him and held him to the floor. Like bolts of lightning, everyone was up and surrounding Amberly and Connor, watching him struggle against her grip. His older sister threw his weapon away, and she instructed Sareth and AJ to hold his arms, while Eloiin held his legs. Nobody had time to notice that Davion was still standing back.
The three watched as Amberly frantically searched through Connor's blonde hair like a primate searching for a grub. Eloiin saw a small sliver of metal near the roots of his hair, connected to his scalp, roughly the shape and size of a staple. She watched as Amberly stroked it three times at oddly timed intervals, and with that, Connor went limp as a fish and seemingly unconscious. Then, Amberly stroked it three more times, again at odd intervals. A beep sounded from his skull, and Eloiin, AJ, and Sareth watched in awe and disgust as the left side of Connor's skull slid open like the doors on the Shaeffer. But shock prevailed, as they saw what was within said skull. Instead of the gray matter of a brain, the entirety of Connor's left lobe was a jumble of wires and electronics, shaped to resemble a human brain. It was crackling and spitting out sparks, as if it had been damaged.
"Shoot," Amberly said as she dodged a stray spark.
"Amberly.....what the heck is that?" Eloiin asked, staring dumbfounded at Connor's "brain".
"A cybernetic implant. Borg Construct Aj^12-b, left lobe model," Davion answered for her, "a very advanced and heavily modified model if I do say so myself. I assume that is his older sister's doing, is it not, Amberly?"
She merely shrugged, using the Force to throw a tool kit into her hand. She pulled out a few tools and began working on Connor's electronic brain.
"Why does he need it?" Eloiin asked. Amberly glanced up at her with the gravest look she had ever seen her wear.
"An accident," was all she said as she continued her work.
Eloiin could feel the hurt through the Force, and it was then she realized that she had stumbled into sensitive matter like a ronto stumbles into a mine field.
She looked over to see Sareth turning visibly green, and AJ was staring intently in awe at how Amberly poked and prodded Connor's mechanical brain. Amberly cursed under her breath as a spark shot out of the implant.
"C'mon, Amberly. Let's take him into the cargo bay so you can work on him," Davion said, motioning for AJ to help him. Together, they hoisted Connor's limp form into the air and shuffled out with him, Amberly supporting his head the entire way. Only Eloiin and Sareth remained sitting on the floor in the main hold, and Sareth looked like she was about to lose her breakfast.
It was then that Eloiin remembered the fact that the ship still felt like a sauna, and she looked down to find her clothes, as well as Sareth's, absolutely soaked with sweat from the heat and excitement. She felt dizzy from it, and when she tried to stand, the sting from her near-blaster wound forced her back down. She tried again, but pain and nausea overwhelmed her again. And again. She looked helplessly over at Sareth, who now seemed in a lot better condition than Eloiin was. Sareth returned the look with one of her own.
Davion returned from helping Amberly, a neutral look on his face, as though he had expected the whole thing.
"Connor's gonna be alright, although unconscious for the rest of the trip," he said without emotion, looking to his wrist chrono, "it's pretty late, and we've had an eventful day. Get some sleep, you two."
Neither Sareth nor Eloiin disagreed with him. Eloiin stopped thinking about the events, once again bringing her mind to the present. Thinking on the recent events succeeded in dispelling the adrenaline and uneasiness. Only fatigue remained, and Eloiin changed into her sleeping clothes, and fell asleep on top of her covers with the air conditioning on full blast.