This is for the run-on between Master Prajna of Cerea and his Apprentice Tollo of Pella. All others should enjoy the adventure!
The lights of the Theta-class Aryx could barely be seen blinking across the landing platform. Caina seemed a perpetual storm these days. The blizzards were continually getting fiercer as the planet still struggled to adjust from the epidemic of Vongforming that happened back in 27 ABY. Tollo pulled his black robes tightly around his masked face, failing miserably to keep the chills out. Master Berkana walked imperiously across the platform, his cape fluttering in the wind. It appeared to the younger Padawan that the planet chose not to harass the one who had saved it from total ecological destruction.
Even though it was only a few dozen meters between the doors of the barracks and the boarding ramp, the Jedi Hunter was eager to warm his butt on the heated seats that PJ had long ago installed on his personal shuttle. Tollo knew something was up. Prajna had been quiet the past week, and had even avoided drinking. This made Tollo have to drink more in worry. When the former Aedile said they had a new mission, Tollo decided better then to press questions when the Cerean did not give the information freely. In their time training together, he had learned with enough bruises not to ask too many questions.
It was when the stars stretched for the eighth time in two days that Tollo finally broke. "Where are we going?" The deep blue eyes that matched Lake Ta-Gal glared, forcing the Human to involuntarily shiver. He took a breath and recovered. "Where are we going, Master?"
An awkward Corellian-style grin flashed across Prajna's face as he ruffled the red hair of his apprentice. "I was waiting for you to crack. Now let’s go get drunk."
Tollo looked wide eyed for a moment, and then forced a laugh. "Our mission is to get drunk? This sounds like my kind of adventure!"
"No," the other suddenly turned serious again. "We are headed to Nar Shaddaa. I only hope my old master's contacts are still alive for us to get a lead."
The Burning Deck was Prajna Berkana's favorite cantina in the whole galaxy. By favorite, he meant that he was still banned from an incident involving three dead bounty hunters and a mess across the whole bar. That next week he had picked up enough clients asking to fill kill contracts to feed him the next two years. The last time he had come back, Braecen Kaeth had almost been killed from a stray gun-shot as they were led out. Still every visit was successful.
This time was no different. As he entered the room, half a dozen people stood and drew blasters, including the bartender. The features of a giant alien with a cone-shaped skull were harder to forget than PJ would have guessed. With a flick of his fingers, each weapon drifted through the air to rest at his apprentice's feet, as if they were a magnet. "Excellent work, Tollo. Now we can begin negotiations."
Three hours later, and a bar tab even Ric Blade would be upset to have to expense off, Tollo sat casually with a plump Corellian woman in one of the booths. Prajna was just on the other side of the bench, chatting with two agents who had recently been part of the Smuggler's Alliance. They were still unemployed a year later with the success of their leader working with the Rebels. Disgruntlement and a few too many drinks had loosened the tongues he needed.
"And this Jedi shows up demanding we surrender. She must have been strong after fighting the Vong for so many years. We were arrested and locked up a week at her base. It was in the Roche Sector. What was that place Shane?"
The other rosy cheeked agent spoke in a hic-up stuttered voice. "Shantipole." He burped. "It was ... defini`ly Shantipole. Eh! Isn't that where the Rebel's base was back in the Civil War?"
"Yes," Tollo interrupted without turning around. "And the Jedi could have used it as a base during the Invasion. It sounds like we have a new plan PJ."
"We sure do, kid. Go get us another round of drinks or we might wake up with ugly women."
Space streaked past the cockpit viewport as Tollo glared out, now dressed in some generic robes they kept on the ship. Prajna stared at his apprentice with utter amusement. After a few minutes, the Cerean broke the silence, holding back a chuckle, “I can’t believe she threw up on you.”
“I told her she didn’t want to know. Why can’t people just trust me about my face?” Anger radiated off of the Jedi Hunter and PJ even noticed a slight ring of orange around his padawan’s usually very blue eyes.
Sensing the need for a subject change, Prajna returned to his controls, “We are coming up on the Roche Sector. We’ll come out of hyperspace just before asteroid belt.” The stars returned to small glowing orbs as the Aryx slowed out of hyperspace. Ahead, a field of rocks slid into view. PJ swore, “Sensors are jammed. See if you can find anything out there.”
Tollo closed his eyes and took a deep breath as his master had taught him. Prajna had been working to strengthen his senses and feel through the Force. Slowly, his mind flowed out like tendrils into the space around them, one touched something and his eyes shot open. “Master!”
“I sense them too! Get those weapon systems online!” The Templar ordered as he prepared for whatever was coming.
Four Tie “Uglies” emerged from the asteroid field, headed straight toward the Dark Jedi’s ship. The Jedi Hunter fired twice just before his Master banked hard to the left. The bolts met there mark and cleaved the wing off of one of the attacking fighters. Tollo switched the shields to full back and took control of the rear cannon as Prajna finished turning the Theta-Class shuttle.
“These guys are hard to hit,” mumbled the apprentice as he tried to lock on the next Ugly. Suddenly, he recognized their formation. “Kill the engines!”
“Shut down the engines. The captain will only come if we surrender.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” PJ complained as he powered down. Tollo deactivated the cannons but not the shields. Sure enough, as soon as the uglies had surrounded the Aryx, a Corellian Corvette floated into view from within the asteroids.
“Open a channel to the command ship. Let’s hope I’m right.” Tollo stood and prepared to get them out of this mess. On screen, a flamboyantly dress captain appeared.
“Who may I ask is entering my territory?”
“Captain Tarne, long time no see.” Tollo allowed a smile to show through his broken human face as he pulled his lightfoil from within his robes.
The CR90, its scars of many battles showing in the glistening light of the distant stars, was far too small to hold such a large shuttle, so Prajna allowed his ship to be slaved to the larger transport cruiser. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
“So do I,” Tollo spoke calmly. “However, we need to get in so we can find the Jedi. Here,” Tollo ruffled around in his robes and handed his lightsaber toward PJ. “Hide this with yours.”
“You have a plan?” The Cerean raised an eyebrow.
The human flashed an evil grin, and Prajna felt a shiver of despair shoot down his spine. Tollo then tossed a blaster rifle to his Master. “Follow my lead.”
Tollo carried an air of nobility as he graced himself down the ramp in a freshly pressed suit. Prajna hid his robe to leave himself in light battle armor. He placed the two lightsabers in a small pack he strung over one shoulder effortlessly with a pile of power packs for his gun. The two looked nothing like the image most pirates had of the Jedi, and everything of lone mercenaries like most of the crew that now was employed by the Captain.
As Tarne skipped across the docking bay based inside one of the largest asteroids either Dark Jedi had ever seen, Tollo bowed low. Prajna ignored the gesture and instead looked around, picking out each guard and sizing them up. He hid a smile as he knew he could take down the whole crew with his bare hands.
Tarne locked a suspecting eye on the brute-sized alien next to his old co-worker as he approached. The captain of the forces here had wild, dirty-blonde hair that stuck up in every possible odd angle. He was tall for a human but under built. PJ knew he would snap like a twig in a fist fight, but he carried a sword like the one his apprentice seemed to love so much. He might be deceptively fast. “Private Lucien Hejaran, I thought I had lost you forever when that Jedi came.” Tarne paused a moment after saying the word Jedi, hesitating in his thoughts before deciding to continue. He spoke with a overly zealous smile. “How have you come here?”
The former resident of Pella stood straight from his bow, making complete eye-contact with the leader. Prajna felt the other reaching out to feel a sense with the Force. “I still have contacts. I didn’t last long with the Jedi. Their style wasn’t my forte.”
“Yes, you did get the blood lust. I am glad you are here. We need more soldiers. And this is?” Tarne wrote of Tollo as safe enough, and turned his full attention to the larger physical presence.
Berkana snarled at the closest bodyguard, flashing a tangle of teeth and causing the guard to cringe. “This is my bodyguard and copilot, PJ. Do not worry though. He cannot speak basic. He understands commands well enough, and is great in a fight though.”
“Very well. Follow Private James to your quarters. Your first mission briefing will be in one hour.”
In their quarters, Prajna crushed a small camera, and then turned to his apprentice. “This was your plan? I did say I have a bad feeling about this, right?”
Tollo forced an innocent grin. “Relax boss. We run a mission or two, wait for the Jedi to show herself, and then crush her and Tarne in a single blow. Case closed, we go home.”
“And what if we run missions against Dorimad Sol and the Emperor’s fleet? They won’t know we are out here.”
Tollo buried a sense of worry deep inside of him. “Everything will work out, it always does.”
An hour later, the two Dark Jedi were ushered into a briefing room with the rest of the crew. Tarne stood at the head of the room, waiting for everyone to gather. Tollo searched the room, hoping the Jedi would be here so they could eliminate her and these pirates and hit a bar. Tarne spoke up.
“Everybody in? Good. Let’s begin.” The Captain activated a holo-projector and laid out the attack plan for the ambush. Lucian and PJ were to man one of the boarding pods in the assault. Once inside, the boarding party would subdue the crew and dock with the Corvette to offload the supplies. When he was satisfied everyone understood, Tarne dismissed the crew to get their gear.
Tollo led the way as he and his Master headed back to the hanger. Prajna nudged his apprentice with his mind as they passed an open cargo hold. Every crate bore the crest of the Clan Scholae Palatine…they had found the missing supplies.
Some of the pirates had already gathered around the battle worn CR90 when they arrived. A rather large Devorian announced their arrival.
“Look, it’s the new shields the captain promised us. I call the cone head.”
Tollo stepped in front of the Cerean just in time to stop him from charging.
“Aw, you need your boyfriend to protect you?” The Devorian continued.
Master and apprentice mentally shared a few thoughts and Tollo added out loud, “Just don’t kill him.”
Before the pirate could finish laughing at his own joke, Prajna had closed the distance between them and kicked the alien into the hull of the ship, his bones cracking as he bounced off. The other pirates had reached for their blasters but Jedi Hunter had already produced his.
“Stand down!” Tarne yelled, breaking the standoff. “I need all of you in one piece…What the hell happened to him?”
Tollo gracefully greeted the captain with a bow, “It appears this man had a few too many and fell off the ship.”
The other men nervously eyed the large headed alien with the cocky grin, none of them spoke up.
“Very well. Deck officer, get a medic over here. Everyone else, get on board, we shove off in five.”
A while later, neither of them could tell how log, the Dark Jedi sat in their pod, waiting for the launch order. Tollo could see his Master’s head was more wrinkled than normal but he said nothing. Again, the silence cracked him, “What is it, Master?”
PJ opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted as their comm came to life. “All units prepare for launch.”
Master Berkana primed the engines on the heavily modified escape pod. The pirates had altered them to be piloted and the trap door was equipped with hull cutting lasers and a magnetic air lock. Tollo sat with his hand over the launch button.
“Boarding team: You have the green light.”
The release was hit and the pod shot out of the Corvette along with at least 15 others. Prajna took the controls and steered toward the transport ahead. His apprentice nudged him and pointed toward the markings on the side of the vessel.
Tollo swore as he looked down at the old fashion radar screen. Countless dots were entering the space on the far side of the transport. They had fallen into a trap. The comm. channel activated again and a new, very familiar voice spoke.
“You are all ordered to surrender to the fleet of Scholae Palatine or fall to Thran Ocassus!”