Star Wars: The Dead Republic (closed, started)

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Six months after the execution of Order 66, the end of the Clone Wars, the formation of the Galactic Empire, and the fall of the Jedi Order, many now struggle to find their place in the Galaxy...

Could people please repost their sheets here before ANY RP POSTS so they're on the first page for quick referral? The coding wouldn't fit into a single post, there were so many.

Seranya

The crowd roared as the participants, species of all kinds, walked out onto the sand. The arena was huge, and could have comfortably held hundreds with room to run around. There were only one hundred present. The ground wasn't flat, but undulated in a series of rises, with the largest being a small hill in the very center of the arena.

Dotted along the walls were numerous weapons. Dran could immediately tell, there weren't quite enough to go around. A good handful of fighters would be left unarmed. The first minutes would be a ferocious race and melee to get armed.

He hadn't asked for this. No ship, very little money for food, and having to seek shelter beds at a local hostel, he and Meera were actively seeking work. Anything to set them on their way again. They had traveled around the city during the day, looking for any jobs, and also keeping a sharp eye for any bounty announcements. Huge as it was, Ylisia's capitol's grand arena had ever loomed in their vision. Yet, most days it was quiet. On some, small bouts were hosted, which attracted healthy enough attendance. Dran had stored his lightsaber, intact, but non-functional after being damaged by a stray blaster bolt in the Jedi Temple, in his bag. There was secure storage for people's belongings, and each bag was assigned a ticket. This prevented theft. However, he had not counted on the hostel's benefactor being a local spicelord, running it as a side business. Their belongings had been rifled through, and the saber had been found. The spice lord, a Nemoidian named Lat Remmo, had used it as blackmail, threatening to turn them into the Empire. His proposition: He would front Dran's entry fee, as did many who put slaves into the fight, and Dran would enter the annual grand melee. Being a Jedi would give him intrinsic advantage, and the prize money, 100,000 galactic credits, was huge. The money, 50,000 would go to Dran and Meera, and the other half to the Nemoidian, who Dran suspected was also placing high stakes wagers on him.

So, here he was. According to instruction, he and the other ninety nine ringed the central hill. The crowd was vast, though his attuned senses picked out Meera in the crowd. Her event issued view screen pinned to her chest as she watched the arena itself with nerves. The view screens could be used to track individual participants, or tune onto the 'selected' feed, run by the commentary.

The start horn blasted. Storms of men headed for the walls. Dran thought for a brief moment, then turned and made his way to the top of the hill. The high ground. 'And number seventy two, contestant Lan Toto, has taken a controversial decision to forgo taking a weapon!' The commentary boomed. He'd convinced Rimmo to enter him under a fake name. At the edges of the arena, the other gladiators fought viciously over blades, spears, clubs and an assortment of other close combat weapons. Some managed to grab them outright, and sprinted towards the center of the arena. After a weapon, high ground was the priority. Hearing the soft sound of footsteps behind him, Dran vaulted onto his hands, bringing up his booted foot into a momentous kick. He felt the crack of ribs, heard the grunt and then felt the disappearance of resistance as whoever had attacked him was pitched back down the hill. Already, the walls were picked clean and a dozen or so fighters lay dead or incapacitated.

Lysa and Rewald walked along a platform in the Taris Upper City, just leaving from a meeting with one of Lysa's contacts. The Tiberius' mission to Taris was one of personal favor, and little profit, as her contact required a shipment of "basic materials", to cope with the planet's current supply problems. The meeting itself was rather uneventful, and only a token amount of credits were paid.

As the pair neared a tower they had to pass through, Rewald noticed a sign that pointed to a cantina inside. "Mind if we grab a drink before getting back? We should talk."

Lysa looked back to gauge Rewald's intent, surprised to see he looked much more serious than she expected. "Fine, the boys can hold the fort down a while longer."

With a nod, she led the way into the bar, ordering a light drink before taking a seat by Rewald, who had chosen a table isolated from the rest of the cantina's patrons. "I'm getting tired of this charity work. We've become nothing more than shady-looking couriers, running about the galaxy keeping all your 'friends' happy."

Lysa nodded as she took a sip from her drink, feeling a gentle warmth run through her veins. "I'll admit, work has been boring lately, but we don't exactly have much choice."

Rewald snorted as he looked towards the band, who were playing a repetitive tune. "Is it 'cause our cargo is too hot?" He leaned in closer to make sure only Lysa could hear. "We could just turn him in, I hear his kind bring a good price."

Lysa squinted as she gave a light push to make Rewald back away. "Heard from whom? I thought I told you to stop listening to those scabs you used to call 'sources'." Catching a look of guilt flashing across the Mandalorian's face, Lysa confirmed her suspicions, smiling a bit at Rewald's poor attempt at subtlety. "Regardless of what you hear, we would simply become a target of a double-cross if tried to hand Tiren over. Because, why get something for a price when you can get it for free?" The captain let Rewald think on that for a moment before continuing. "As for our tour of ferrying around supplies for almost nothing, blame the newly-christened Galactic Empire. They've been putting more effort in quelling rebellions and hunting Jedi than keeping the worlds in their dominion well-fed."

"Maybe, but you're the one who's picking all these jobs over some good, credit-makin', gun-running."

"True, but unlike the Empire, I know how to keep my house in order. Instead of jumping out into this whole quagmire, selling weapons to the highest bidder, I'm keeping my people happy. When they're happy, they're less likely to leave me for better business, or competition, and more likely to net me some good pay later on." Lysa held out her hands to demonstrate a scale, holding one hand much lower than the other. "Long-term investment is always better than short-term gain." Taking one last sip, she looked up at Rewald to see that she had thoroughly taxed his attention, his eyes staring off into the distance. So, she stood up, placing a few credits on the table. "Come on, let's get back to the ship, I promise the next job won't be such a bore." With the tease enough to bring the warrior back to the present, the pair left the cantina.
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Meanwhile, aboard the Tiberius, Jak was busy tinkering in the cargo bay, trying to fix a deactivated Labor Droid that had broken down when they unloaded their cargo. With his astromech, Bart, busy cutting away at several panels so Jak could diagnose the problem. "I'm pretty sure it's either one of the servos in the claws, or a motor at the knee, nothing else would've made it freeze up like that."

Bart gave a few beeps in response, a long with a recognizable groan of dissension. "No, I know it's not the motivator, because I replaced that back on Onderon. Just open up those covers, will you? I want this to be fixed by the time the 'Cap comes back." Bart gave an affirmative beep as it started to cut away the cover on one of the droid's knees.

As Jak waited, he moved away from his project, and approached Tiren, who Jak had just noticed appear in the hold. "Hey, you sure vanished when we got here. Look what you made poor'old Trax break covering for you." He spoke in an obvious jesting tone, something he usually did to lighten the mood whenever the Jedi was near.

"Apologies..." Tiren sat cross-legged on the floor of the mostly-empty hold, his tone reflecting that the joke had been lost on him, again. "...I did not want to draw unwanted attention from the dock workers. I decided it was best to wait inside my cabin until the work was done."

As Tiren began his meditation, Jak could feel a...power...that radiated off him. It felt so mystic and grand that the boy had to sit a few feet away from Tiren to not be overwhelmed by the strange feeling. "Ah...well, it's okay, the old workhorse has seen worse. Got plenty of new parts after Max shorted out." Jak scratched the side of his neck as Tiren turned his head to face him, letting an awkward silence hang between them.

"Tell me, Jak, why do you name all the droids on the ship?" Tiren could "see" the Force that flowed through Jak, a weak glow representing a yet-untapped connection. To protect him, Tiren never mentioned what he saw in the boy, not even to Lysa, though he thought that someone like her could guess at Jak's sensitivity.

"Oh, uh...I just do. Feels like I can...understand them better if I make a personal connection with them." Jak could feel that Tiren was trying to pick something out of him, and it made him feel a little uncomfortable. To break the stare, he looked back at Bart, still busy cutting into the thick covers of "Trax's" knees.

"Doesn't that mean it hurts you when one of them needs to be taken apart?" Tiren could remember when the other Labor Droid, Max, broke to the point where it was easier to use his parts to fix the other droids then to try and fix Max itself. He could feel that it wounded Jak, but to what degree, he did not know.

"Well, it does, for a while, but you could say that with anyone that loses a sentimental object. I guess, for me, it's like losing a pet." A loud beep echoed about the hold, showing that Bart was listening in on their conversation. "All right, okay, a good friend."

"Interesting..." Tiren nodded as he returned to his meditation, making Jak shy further away. "...seeing your capabilities with machines, I guess it isn't prudent of me to question your method. My apologies for disturbing you."

Jak stood back up and started to back off, towards Trax, a bit flustered. "No, that's, uh, fine. I'm the one who disrupted you...so, I guess I'll just be...over here." Shaking his head as he got back to Trax, looking at its uncovered motors, Jak was a bit disappointed. I don't think I'll ever understand the Jedi, let alone Tiren.

Mira walked through the streets of Artisan Colony. It was a wonder, to see a society dedicated to art and beauty rather than politics or warfare. Statues in every square, musicians on every corner, wondrous murals sprawled on the sides of buildings. Truly a city of beauty. Sadly Mira knew this wasn't to last. Already she could see the empire starting to sink it's claws into the city. Troopers were mingled in with the crowd, one or two here and there. Not enough to show a proper foothold, but enough to show a presence. She needed to get off planet, somewhere where she would be harder to find. After watching her old master getting gunned down by whom they though to be allies, she knew they would stop at nothing to find her.

She needed to find someone, anyone, to take her off planet. Somewhere crowded, Taris, Telos, Nar Shadaa. These were her top choices, they were hubs of trade and commerce. Places where she could be lost among the sea of bodies. Now the task was getting to one of them. So she was making a direct beeline for the spaceport. Hopefully someone was on their way to one of her choices. She squared her shoulders and hurried her pace, her bare feet making soft taps on the ground as she walked.

As she neared the spaceport she noticed a small crowd gather outside the entrance. She was able to push her way towards the front to find the cause. Five troopers were running checks on all citizens trying to make it off planet, no doubt searching for Jedi. They pulled two Togruta aside into two small outposts. After a few minutes the Togruta came back out looking disheveled and grumbling. Strip searches then. This could work in her favor though. She made her way to the front of the crowd, finally one trooper turned to her.

"Name?" The Trooper asked, His white helmet masking his face.

"Gwen Sulik" Mira replied instantly. She had figured she would need a alias, her old masters first name and a random surname seamed like the best at the time.

The trooper nodded as he turned to another who typed it into a holopad. "Destination?"

"Taris." She had hopped to make it to Taris first, simply because a poor Togruta would fit in with the other poor "aliens" As the human citizens put it would fit in better than many other places.

Once again the 2nd trooper typed into the pad. "Alright, into the hut we need to search you and you belongings." The First trooper demanded as he led her into the small shed, the 2nd right behind her. As they entered the small room the 2nd trooper took her bag and the first directed her against the wall.

"Alright ma'am down to the skivvies, need to check everything. You check out, you can go through." He said as the other began to rifle through her bag.

"Actually, I have a better idea." Mira said calmly. The other head jerked up when she said this. Good, made things easier. Mira waved her hand nudging the Force to move through their minds. "You have searched me and found nothing, you will let me through without trouble." She suggested as the troopers went rigid for a moment as the force wove it's way through their minds carrying her orders.

"We... have searched you and found nothing.we will let you through with out trouble." They both said in unison. The Trooper hand her bag back. She took a few minutes to adjust her cloths to make it look believable and walked out followed by the troopers. She walked through the gates and when she was out of sight she leaned against the wall and let out a tired sigh. That was harder than it should have been. She took a minute to regain her strength then stood away from the wall. Now it was time to find a ride.

Various small fights had broken out across the battlefield, but a good number were still coming after the high ground. Others were using the smaller rises to similar ends. While Dran was grappling with two unarmed fighters, a Dug and a Zabrak who seemed to have briefly allied against him after seeing him pitch several fighters off the hill, despite being unarmed.

There were several weapons littered at its base now, but he couldn't use the force to summon one without giving himself away. To go undetected as a Jedi in this fight, he could only use it to enhance his physical abilities. Catching the Zabrak's wrist from his heavy right cross, Dran sank a force augmented punch into the joint of his elbow, causing a large snap, and shoved him back down the slope. This opened up the Dug's path for a two pronged kick. Dran caught his feet, and swung him round, sending him careening through the air. The Dug landed several feet away from the hill, dazed. Dran sensed a particularly aggressive presence, and turned as a large, muscular Trandoshan barreled up the hill. The gladiator was wielding a vibro-weapon that was somewhere between a sword and a cleaver.

Dran ducked the first slash and kicked out one of his opponent's legs. The Trandoshan buckled, and Dran took hold of his fist. He applied the Force, and the alien's grip broke. His own hand closed around the grip, and he planted a boot in the creature's sternum. Now he had a weapon, he had increased fighting potential, but less leeway to dispatch opponents none lethally. The idea left him ambivalent, but he had to keep going.

The commentator's voice cut across the air. 'According to our participant's tracker anklets, forty have been killed or incapacitated! And by my estimate, that rather plucky man on the central hill is responsible for nearly half of that. All of them unconscious, not dead. But now, our crowd favorite has a weapon. OH! That's gotta hurt!'

That in response to Dran dodging a dagger thrust from a human combatant, and severing his arm at the wrist, before kicking him off the hill. Now he had a sword, his saber training was taking over. The commentator continued on his rant 'With that sword, it looks like this bearded newcomer is nigh on unstoppable--oh! Perhaps I spoke too soon, folks. Looks like Arena Champion, Welawak the Wookie is making a beeline straight for him! Not to mention that crowd!

A dozen or so people were storming the hill, arriving at incrementally different times. Dran delved into his Shien training initially, although he had to compensate for the fact he wasn't to use the force in anything but an augmenting capacity, and the fact he wasn't using a lightsaber.

He changed to a Soresu stance. All Jedi were grounded in various saber forms throughout their education, particularly Soresu, and in order to master Shien and Djem So as he had, one had to become very skilled with Soresu. His web of defence was thick, and the gladiators trying to break through were savagely wounded. Around him, attackers fell, the majority clearly possessing no formal training. Saber combat was his forte, and though he knew he was quite a way off, he had entertained the idea of succeeding Master Drallig as the Temple's leading sword fighting master, and many had encouraged him to that goal. That was before the Order fell.

In areas other than the hill, battles raged, and the commentator crowed that there were only twenty fighters left standing. The last of the dozen fell, and Dran exhaled. Then a bestial roar made him turn and the electrostaff caught him in the sternum. For a few seconds, he was in spasms at its tip, then the Wookie broke the circuit it made in Dran's body in a rather ingenious maneuver, and Dran was catapulted off the hill. He sailed through the air, arcing through an exaggerated back flip, half out of will and half out of momentum. He landed on his feet, but the disorientating effect of the electricity stumbled him, and he fell. Somewhere in his flight, the sword had fallen from his hand.

Rather than replace him atop the hill, Welawak advanced towards him. Dran got to his feet, and took in the towering Wookie. He held an electrostaff in his shaggy hands, and had two single hand vibro-axes shoved through a belt on his waist. Blood matted his fur from numerous kills. In fact, near the hill, Dran could make out a corpse with both its arms pulled off. Glancing around for a weapon, he found a staff with barbed blades on both ends. Metal all the way, with no insulation. Against that staff, he'd have to be careful not to catch the electrified ends.

The Wookie sprinted forwards, and throwing off his daze, Dran responded in kind. They met in a flurry of staffs, the clangs ringing across the arena. The audience burst into cheering and jeering, all mixed up in the sheer size of the crowds. The Wookie was surprisingly agile for his size. Eventually, with a force enhanced strike, Dran cleaved through the middle of the electrostaff, and its ends fizzed out. Welawak had the vibroaxes out in a second, but too late to avoid a gash across his belly that bled thickly. He responded with a barrage of slashes, their edges humming past Dran's head as he dodged. The staff was too flimsy to block the brutal ax heads with. He could reinforce it, but channeling the force through metals that weren't designed for it was more difficult, and Dran was beginning to tire.

Then, the Wookie began to slow. His swipes were more clumsy. Dran noticed his blood was coming out a lot less thickly. In fact, huge slicks of it patterned the sand. He took an opening, hooking the end of his staff under the head of an ax, ignoring the tremors as the sonic vibrations channeled into his own weapon, and yanked the ax from the Wookie's grip. Then he lashed out, burying the barbed head in the Wookie's neck. When he pulled it free, more blood came from the new wound, and Dran walked away grimacing as the Wookie stumbled after him. He thought sadly to himself that Welewak would soon die. And eventually, the Wookie collapsed, and Dran was left to deal with the remaining fighters, five of whom remained. Dropping his staff, he incapacitated, rather than killed as he pursued them, hoping to balance out the necessary killing.

Eventually, the commentator was declaring that he, "Lan Toto", was the victor. He turned, taking in all the crowds as they roared in approval. He noticed the white. Clone troopers. He found Meera with his eyes. They were making a beeline straight for her.

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Lat Remmo had not failed to notice the Imperial soldiers, either. Running into the lounge area, situated behind the top box, he found the Clone commander, whose armor had green markings to distinguish rank. 'You told me you would not capture them until I had my money! My share of the prize, my wagers, and my fee for disclosing them to you!'

'The Empire says lots of things', said the clone, idly. He drew out his blaster pistol, leveled it at the spice lord's head, and fired, almost lazily.

Nar Shadaa

John's armour took an energy lance as he failed to take cover fast enough. The raid was not going well. Their leader, Flynn had taken a bolt to the head, and his second had cracked from the stress. Out of the eight men that had failed at assaulting the ship, five remained. The ship that was the supposed headquarters of an imperial smuggler, that was supposedly feeding their docking locations to imperials, turned out to be a bounty hunter ring using it as bait.

John ducked behind a stack of crates before the sniper could double tap him. He quickly checked his armour, the void seal was holding, currently unneeded but good to know none the less. His armour had a clear hole over his heart however.

A trandosian attempted to sneak up on John while he was attempting to restore comms with the rest of the squad, only to receive a blast to the face, from John's shattergun.

"Fek." said John as he realized the gun was emptied by that. He fitted it back against his sling and went back to restoring comms.
The commlink regained connection with the line and John relayed that they needed to focus fire on the sniper, and retreat after "the signal."
John drew his pistol and pulled a satchel charge from his pack.

He yelled "GO!" and ran from his cover straight to the ship. The four tried to cover him from the sniper, but John took another hit. This time in the leg, he felt his blood spray out but continued running as one of the hunters attempted to jump him, only to receive a shot to the face. John tossed the charge at an exposed terminal. The timer started as he began bolting for an exit from the docks. Unfortunately the sniper was watching him and John took another shot, this time through the shoulder. More blood coated his armour as he continued running.

The charge went off and the rest of the men ran with the casualties in tow, as the snipers attention was thrown off.

The ship hadn't been damaged too badly, just enough to kill it's power to the engines. It would most likely require a day at most of repair.

John kept running through hab blocks as he looked for friendly faces. The blood stopped trickling out, but he could feel shock kicking in. What the hell was that prick firing? John barged into a building he knew had friends in it. After a few minutes of wandering up stairs and through halls he found one of the designated safe houses. He walked in, hit the panic button, and collapsed as his system began to feel the effect of the shots.

Ria flipped open the cover of the control pad and punched in the nine digit sequence. She stepped back from the pod, gripping her blaster pistol and leaning against the wall. It'd take a few minutes for the pod to warm him back up, but once that was done...

She grabbed him and pulled the Quarren out of the tank, slapping stuncuffs on him before he had a chance to properly wake up and get his bearings. "Welcome back to Nar Shaddaa." The helmet amplified her whisper-quiet voice, injecting a mechanical buzz into it simultaneously. The Quarren - Dal Krasnan - let out a quiet moan of terror and tried to get to his feet, only for the cuffs to send a shock through him that brought him back to his knees. Ria grabbed him by the back of the neck and dragged him through Stiletto to the loading ramp, shoving him into the back of the speeder out front before taking the wheel.

"Please don't do this. I have credits, a lot of credits. I'll tell you where I hid them, they've got to be more than you're getting paid."

"No."

"I have friends! Powerful friends! I can get you things, useful things! Contacts, weapons, ships!"

"No."

"Please don't do this, you have no idea what they'll do to me."

"Actually, I have a pretty reasonable idea. They'll probably lock you up in a dungeon. Torture you - both for information and to make an example of you - and then when they've finally exhausted all your useful information and they've gotten tired of making you squeal, they'll kill you. Airlocking is popular, but back in the old days they used to just throw you off the top of the tower." She tilted her head. "They might do something a bit more gruesome to make an example. I don't really keep up with the trends."

"And you're just going to let them!?"

"Yes. Why does that surprise you?"

"But...but I can make a better offer!"

"One, I doubt that. Two, even if you could, I have a reputation to uphold. Bounty Hunters willing to cut deals are worthless. No one trusts them, which means I'd have to live off public bounties. That's no way to live."

"I...but...I..."

"I recommend you stop talking and save your strength. Once you're out of my custody you might be able to escape. Doubt it, though."

* * * * *
Transition from Hyperspace to Realspace was normally a fairly standard affair that most people might miss if they weren't paying attention, the ship decelerating at a comfortable clip as it exited realspace, the crew cushioned by powerful inertial dampening systems.

That was not the case today for the crew of the RSD Liberation.

A one percent inertial dampener malfunction resulted in the crew being slammed against control consoles and flung out of chairs. Savren Khaen himself was flung from his chair, his breath mask coming off. He gasped in pain as his ribs were compressed against the deck plating, gulping in toxic nitrogen/oxygen air before fumbling his mask back on and coughing.

"Status!" He yelled as he got his breath back.

"Inertial dampeners hiccuped. It looks like we took damage to one of their primary power conduits and the secondaries couldn't fully pick up the slack." His damage control officer shouted from his pit.

"Get repair teams on it. Is anyone hurt?"

A few acknowledgements came back. He flicked a comm switch. "Khaen to infirmary, we need medical teams on the Bridge." He flicked the comm off. "Were we followed?"

A long pause as his crew pulled themselves upright or back into chairs. "That's a negative, Captain. No sign of Imperial pursuit, I think we managed to slip them at Bimmisaari."

"Maintain battle stations for the time being. Get repair crews out there."

Khaen strode to the front of the bridge, looking out over the once shining surface of his ship. Liberation had once been a white dagger, emblazoned with the red stripes of the Republic. Now the hull was covered in carbon scoring and in places had completely buckled. Several compartments of the ship were uninhabitable at the moment - nonessential compartments, but still parts of his ship.

Men and women under his command had died in those compartments when they'd breached.

"I want this ship restored to full combat readiness as quickly as possible. This war isn't over yet."

* * * * *
The boxy shape of an Aka'jor class shuttle touched down on blasted, barren world of Korriban, in the middle of the great Valley of the Sith Lords. A few moments after touching down, the back of the craft opened, the ramp lowering and a figure descending through the kicked up dust.

From under her hood, Eris surveyed the world, and for a moment it was transformed in her eyes - a legion of white-armored soldiers assembled before her shuttle, while in the background hundreds of black-clad men and women stopped their digs and research to kneel to her. She strode down the ramp, a smile curling across her face, but a moment later the vision was gone.

A spectre of the past? Or a vision of the future?

Eris breathed deeply, letting her mind slip the boundaries of flesh and feel what lay around her. There were places in the galaxy where the Dark Side was strong - the ruins on Bpfassh, the Massassi Temples on Yavin IV. On Korriban, it was wholly different. In those places the Dark Side was a stain, like black ink fallen on white cloth.

Here, though, the whole world seemed to be crafted out of the raw stuff of the Dark Side, every speck of dirt, every laid stone, every mouldering skeleton burned dark in her mind's eye.

There was power here, great, unimaginable power. And yet, these were failures of the Sith. Every great Lord in his tomb, surrounded by artifacts, with great tomes extolling his deeds, they were all failures. They had all failed to meet the true ideal of the Sith.

A true Sith never dies.

Ian Galam walked out of the transport ship and into the hanger of the Circumtore Space Station with a duffle bag slung across his chest. He had finally made it to Hutt Space and away from the Empire. He knew he wasn't totally out of the woods yet, he was still wanted after all, but he was starting to think that he might manage to avoid arrest. Still, Ian was hesitant to get his hopes up. He had gotten his hopes up about the Republic, and look what had happened to that.

He followed a small group over to the back of the ship and got in the back of the line. One by one, the people in front of Ian stated their names to a tall Twi'lek male, who then checked a datapad before having a pair of workers retrieve and open a metal crate. The passenger would take their possessions and leave, and the Twi'lek would ask for the next name. Eventually, everyone else had gotten their cargo, leaving only Ian.

"Name?" he asked in a drone-like tone.

"Mord Talon." Ian answered. He'd been advised to use a fake name, and had decided not to take chances.

The Twi'lek traced his finger down his datapad. The finger stopped and he grunted in surprise. "78!" he called back into the cargo hold. A minute later, a Wookiee and a muscular human came back carrying a crate about 1 meter tall and 4 long. As they set it down and began opening it, the Twi'lek turned back to Ian. "This is the biggest item we've transported in a while." he said. "We've been taking bets on what it is. I've got money on a drug lab."

Ian snickered. "Na, nothing like that. Much more valuable, in fact, and 10 times as illegal." The crate fell apart to reveal Ian's customized and modified BARC Speeder Bike. The baster cannons were hidden by a black sheet, but it was still clearly a piece of military hardware that no average civilian had any right to own. "And I'd be a damn shame if any fine gentlemen in white found out about it." Ian added, and waved a handful of credit bills in front of the Twi'lek.

"Yes, a damn shame indeed." the Twi'lek said, and took the credits with a smirk.

A few hours later...

Ian sat at a bar stirring his drink. He'd rented some space in a warehouse to sleep and store his bike for the night. With that out of the way, he'd gone out for a drink to celebrate his new relative freedom. Nothing too strong or expensive, but after a month of plain water and dry fruit, it felt like a party to Ian. He took a sip of the ale and considered hooking up with a girl, but decided that he should keep a low profile for now.

Ian finished his drink and the bartender came with his bill. He payed for it, painfully aware that he didn't have much money left to spend. 200 credits, barely a month of living expenses. One thing was certain: he had to find work, and fast. "Excuse me." he called to the bartender before he could walk away. "Do you know someplace were a guy could find work?"

The human seemed to think the question over for a second. "Well, there's always a demand for traders heading for Nar Shaddaa." he said. "The crew of a small trading frigate frequents here. I could give you their number if you'd like."

"I'd appreciate that, thanks."

Meera's heart soared as Dran was declared the victor. He was safe, and they could escape. He'd put on a fair display to achieve it, proving that even without a weapon, a Jedi was still deadly. It was always a learning experience to watch her master fight; he was easily among the best swordsmen she'd seen in her years, and she felt her dueling tutelage would be safe with him. If he'd ever get over his irresponsible notions that they were not bonded...

Meera's train of thought was interrupted by Dran's voice in her mind. 'Empire. RUN!

Broken from her reverie, she sensed them now, and turned to see a group of Imperial soldiers elbowing through the crowd, carbine rifles held like clubs to barge people aside. She needed to leave. She hitched up Dran's utility belt, tightened around her middle, but too big to not sag, and started pushing through, away from the troopers. Using her lightsaber would draw unwanted attention, but for now, she had Dran's weapons. His vibroblade, and heavy blaster pistol. Meera wasn't as proficient with them as Dran, but it was better than nothing.

Feeling a faint disturbance, she drew Dran's pistol as she came to the stairs leading down from the stands. The Force proved itself right, as a trooper was squatted, holding a scatter gun at the ready. Her armed state caught him off guard, though, and she put two bolts in his chest.

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Dran glanced back to where he and the other gladiators had emerged, but the door, a huge blast door that was somewhat out of place, had been lowered prior to the fighting. He'd have to jump. Sprinting towards the wall, he snatched up a vibro-ax as he passed the Wookie's corpse. As he neared the wall, Dran bent his legs, calling on the Force, and pushed off. Sailing through the air, he cleared the wall, and the heads of most of the spectators. To bypass the rest, he flipped gracefully, casting out with the Force again to propel him the remainder of the way to clear floor.

As he landed, he carried on down the stairs. Coming into a lobby, he found three clones, who turned to face him, raising their carbines. One got a burst off, which he blocked with a Force imbued palm, then cast out with both hands, sending the soldiers sprawling. Flicking a hand back, he summoned a blaster to him, and used it to finish the clones before they could get up. He couldn't take any chances with the Empire. At that moment, the crowds from the stands poured out of the stairs, fleeing the violence. That was a shade confusing. He'd expect the presence of troopers to cause fights to break out; many citizens here had carry weapons and weren't afraid to use them. But what would make them flee like this?

A loud, mechanical groan echoed about the Tiberius' cargo hold, as the port-side cargo ramp began to lower. Jak looked hesitantly at Tiren, but seeing that the Jedi hadn't moved, guessed the Captain had returned. Sure enough, both Lysa and Rewald strode up the ramp. "Captain!" Jak hopped off his perch by Trax's left claw and scrambled over to Lysa, saluting. "Did everything go smoothly."

Rewald snorted a response as he headed towards his cabin. Lysa, on the hand, smiled with a nod. "Everything went according to plan, the shipment has been accepted, and the pay received. How's old Trax doing? Did you find out what happened with him?"

Jak blushed slightly as he looked back at Trax, with Bart busy welding together the several the pair had taken off in their repairs. "He should be functioning again, but I was hoping we would have something to load so I could test my repairs."

Lysa nodded with understanding as she started to walk towards the bow of the ship, Jak following close behind. "Well, I'm afraid the contact didn't have any work for us, so we'll have to go elsewhere to test your repair." A slight smirk grew on Lysa's face. "But, given your track record, I'm sure it will work."

Jak smiled in appreciation, and was about to respond, when a protocol droid emerged from the Storage section of the ship. It was QU-3PO, nicknamed "Q" by Jak, who served as the ship's communications officer and kept Lysa's far flung network of contacts organized. "Captain Estor, a songbird has come from Corsin." Lysa enjoyed using a code of sorts in her network's communiques, making it harder for spies to track her movements.

Lysa sighed as she beckoned Q over, thinking that another of her contacts wants so grunt-work done. "What did it say? I hope Forax doesn't need another shipment of spices, I don't feel like outrunning spicelords again."

Q's servos whirred as the droid shook its head. "The song has a note of sorrow, he requires assistance."

The captain frowned as she caught the hint, a songbird with a sorrowful note was a distress call. "Did he include anything specific in the message?"

"Only that we should prepare to have passengers."

Lysa sighed even heavier as she gestured for Q to lead the way to the cockpit. "Jak, make sure the everything is locked down and ready for take off. I guess we're heading for Corsin...maybe we can keep Rewald entertained this time."

Seranya smiled to herself after putting on the finishing touches. With the new motivator she had installed the little astromech was better than ever. A droid mechanic would have been a rather ineffective cover if she'd been bad at the job. She wiped her hands with a cloth and patted it on the top of it's head, "You're as good as new, little guy."

The droid beeped in response, "Yeah well, I am sure your master will be here to collect you soon. I'm going to power you down until then, okay?"

After hearing a sharp chirp as confirmation, Seranya powered it down. She nearly collided with Nuuta, her Ithorian employer, when she turned to leave the room. She would have apologized on the spot had it not been for the blank expression on his face. She could hardly blame him. Her aura was quite perplexing to say the least, "Yes, Nuuta?"

His trance was banished after a few quick blinks, "*Oh, uh sorry Shel. I came back here to warn you...*" Seranya's expression darkened. She knew what he was about to say. "*Someone just arrived at the spaceport yesterday and has been asking around town if they've seen any of your kind. I don't know what kind of trouble you've gotten yourself in, but I can't let you involve---*"

Seranya put a hand up in a silencing gesture, "Who is he?"

Caught off guard by the question, Nuuta took a moment to gather his thoughts, "*It's Xalron, that... famous bounty hunter ...*"

Seranya sprung into action, collecting all her belongings as fast as she could, "*What should I tell him when he comes by here?*"

After putting on her jacket, she double checked her lightsaber and blaster before starting for the door, "*Shel!*"

She stopped in the doorway and without looking back said, "Tell him the truth."

"*What's the truth?*"

"I worked for you and you didn't know who I was. Then I left."

"*Well, I guess that's not a lie...*"

"Thanks for everything Nuuta."

That would be the last time she ever saw the old ithorian.

Meera had been halfway down the stairs when suddenly, something tangled at her neck, and she was wrenched back up. At the top of the flight, she fell to her knees, choking, and clutching at the rappel cord around her neck. Dran's blaster had been knocked from her hand. She plucked the lightsaber from inside her sleeve, but before she had a chance to activate it, and sever the cord, an electric shock coursed through her and made her drop it. As she fell onto her back, a clone squad commander filled her blurry vision, blaster pistol in one hand, and a rappel gun in the other.

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

Dran came up the steps to see Meera at the clone's mercy. Springing into action, he flung the vibro ax. It spun through the air, and severed the cord that bound her, and she took difficult, gagging breaths. With the carbine in his hand, Dran laid down a spread of blaster fire, and the clone officer jumped down behind one of the benches.

Dran discarded the blaster, and called the discarded lightsaber to him, its blue blade bursting into life in time to intercept the shots the soldier put his way. One, two, and then three, the final one being redirected into the throat of the clone, who fell twitching.

Dran helped Meera to her feet, and pressed the saber into her hands, then set about retrieving his blaster.

Several hours later

They had managed to slip into the crowds and avoid the local security. Leaving Meera at a cheap Cantina on the outskirts of the Capitol, Dran had doubled back to the arena, returning some time later with three bright gold bars, and a pouch of coins. The stadium owner had nervously passed over his winnings, which were in local currency, Peggets. Now, he and Meera sat in a dingy room, rented for the night. At his insistence, she'd taken the bed, while he made himself comfortable on a questionably put together little armchair in the corner.

'Tomorrow,' he said, 'we'll go to the shipyards. We need something to get off this rock, and to make sure we don't get stranded again. Hitchhiking on transports and cargo ships isn't dependable, and we'll only get ourselves caught.'

'What kind of ship were you thinking, master?'

Dran glared at Meera, until she broke eye contact, but otherwise ignored the title. 'Probably some sort of light freighter. Large enough to provide comfortable living space, and gives us some potential for a variety of work. Plus, they're common as anything, so we can go undetected.'

By the time Lysa and Q got to the cockpit of the Tiberius, situated right on the bow of the ship, Rewald was already there, sitting in the co-pilot's seat. "So, where we going?"

Lysa raised an eyebrow as she sat in the pilot's seat. "What makes you think we're going anywhere?" The captain flipped several switches and the consoles lit up, ready to receive commands.

Rewald chuckled a bit as he gestured to the various monitors. "Besides the fact you're here?You walked right by my cabin, hard to ignore the clanks of metal on metal." Rewald jabbed a finger over to Q, who had taken a seat at a console behind the pair. "So, I ask again, where are we going?"

"Corsin." Lysa looked back to her controls and started putting in commands, resulting in the ship beginning to vibrate as the engines activated. "Another contact run I'm afraid, but you may like this one." Lysa paused as she switched the ship's intercom on. "All hands, brace for takeoff."

"Oh, great. What makes you think I'll actually enjoy another mission carrying freight from one side of the galaxy to the other?" Rewald gripped his chair as the Tiberius lifted off the deck, the view outside quickly getting dimmer as the ship pushed itself through the Taris atmosphere.

"Because, this isn't a simply courier job. Forax sent a distress call, I'm pretty sure he needs to get off Corsin." Once the ship was clear of Taris, Lysa slowed her down and switched on the navicomputer, giving it the coordinates of the Corsin System. Since the system was on a hyperspace lane, along with Taris, they wouldn't have to wait very long for the course to be set.

"Huh, that actually does sound interesting." Rewald scratched his chin as he got up from his chair. "I'll get the guns ready. Hope Forax doesn't disappoint, cause blood's gotta be spilled when I break out Hellbringer."

"It always does." Lysa felt her hand get drawn to her neck as she remembered her own encounter with Rewald's battle-tested rifle. Rewald didn't see this, already on his way out of the cockpit. With him gone, Lysa looked back at Q. "Ok, what have we got on Corsin? It's been awhile since I've been there."

Q looked up from the communications terminal and tilted its head to the side. "Corsin was quickly secured into the new Imperial domain soon after the New Order was established, believed reason for this was to secure the Hydian Way and the trade the route brought to the Core. However, actual Imperial presence has been light. Beyond a Mark I Cardan Station, there is little in terms of force projection."

Lysa nodded as she swiveled in her seat a little. "The Empire might have caught on to Forax's little underworld, not that surprising he wants a ride out if they're moving in for the kill." Lysa shrugged as she checked the computer, seeing it had plotted the course. With a pull of a, rather large, lever, the Tiberius flung itself into Hyperspace. "Although..." Lysa thought aloud as she leaned back in her chair. "...the Empire shouldn't care if a few extra slices get taken out of their pie with entire star systems slipping between their fingers. I wonder what made them stand and take notice?"
--------------------------------------
After the ship entered Hyperspace, Tiren found his attempt at meditating inhibited. Now practically out of phase with the rest of the universe, he was left with only what he could sense on-board the ship. So, now contained in an incredibly small space, he focused all his senses on picking up the tiniest detail.

In Engineering, Tiren could hear Jak toiling away with Bart on several pit droids that the crew had picked up on their last visit to Ord Mantell. The padawan never bothered to learn what he called them, but Jak always seemed to get a bit depressed when he spoke of them, like they reminded him of something sad. However, one would never know it from outward appearances, as the boy constantly, and enthusiastically, spoke his thoughts on the repairs aloud, presumably to Bart, who only occasionally beeped a response.

In a forward cabin, one just as large as the captain's, Tiren could feel the excitement pulsating from Rewald, working on the assortment of weapons. So a bloodbath might await us, unfortunate. Tiren sighed as he thought of the prospects of battle. Even though he had calloused himself against the feelings of pain and despair, something he did with much disdain, he loathed to be in conflict. Yet, in a galaxy such as this, with the Jedi on the verge of extinction, what else was there to do? Should I hide like the rest, cutting myself off from the rest of the universe for an age until my kind rises once more? The subject of so many meditations during Tiren's journey rose yet again, it dominated his waking hours as he spent considering his, and the Jedi's, new place in the galaxy. The Jedi have always fallen to the same pattern of growth, stagnation, and fall. The same mistakes are repeated, but the events take so long to mature that few can see them coming. Every time he came to the same deadlock, his moral views being contradicted by the history Tiren had spent so much time studying in the Jedi Temple.

Tiren broke his concentration as he rubbed the top of his head. He could feel the short pinpricks of his blonde hair starting to grow on his scalp, refusing to stay hidden no matter how many times Tiren cut them down. It was an apt metaphor for the Jedi, a stubbornness that made the young man's insides twist into knots. Perhaps I am looking for answers where there are none. A path not yet tread may yield the answers I seek. With a new objective in mind, Tiren resumed his meditation, this time focusing all his efforts inward, making him numb to his surroundings.

Circumtore System

Ian stood up on his speeder bike as it drifted along the halls of the crowded spaceport at a walking pace. His duffle bag, containing his carbine, spare ammo, and extra clothes, hung from his shoulder. "Bay 42, bay 42." Ian mumbled to himself as he maneuvered the bike through the crowd. "He said bay 42, didn't he? Aha!" he exclaimed.

Written above a large bay door were the words "HANGER BAY 42" in fat yellow font. "Bingo." Ian said, and brought the bike up to the door. He dismounted and knocked his fist against it four times. Over the rabble of the crowd, he only barely heard a "Come in!" from the other side. He grabbed the bottom of the door and pulled. It took a surprising amount of force, but the door slide up.

Ian was immediately assaulted by the smell of burnt oil and hydraulic fluid. His nose barely cringed though; it was a smell he'd grown used too. A Duro dressed in a blue jumpsuit approached Ian as he lead his bike into the hanger and closed the door behind him. "Hey there." the alien said in slightly accented basic. "You must be the guy Les was talkin' about. What's your name, friend?"

"Mart Camin." Ian said. The Duro seemed friendly enough, but wiser men than he had been duped by such an act. No need to trust these guys yet. "Who're you?"

"Regiomi Othi, pleased to meet you." he responded, and shook Ian's hand. "But most people call me Regi. That's Baxter Tartam, our engineer, and Dem Tamic, the navigator." Regi said, pointing to a pair of human males by their ship's ramp. "All together, we make a pretty good crew. But we're always looking for an extra pair of hands. What can you bring to the table, Mart? That bike of your has caught my eye. You can ride it, right?"

"Yes sir, best in the galaxy." Ian answered, and put on a face that said he could back that claim up. He'd spent a few credits this morning on extra armor plates to hide the blaster cannons better, and as far as he could tell it was working. Regi didn't seem the least bit suspicious. "I'm a good shot too. Fought in the war and still got the carbine I used. I'm not to bad with machines either."

A smile spread across Regi's face. "Sounds like you're over-qualified for what we need. We've been looking for someone who can move fast when we need him to. That bike of yours will do the job just fine, and the fact that you can defend yourself only makes it better." He looked back at his crew mates, who both gave him a crisp nod. "Welcome aboard, Mart."

"Oh, uh, thank you." Ian said. He hadn't expected things to be that simple, but he'd take it. "I guess I'll set my stuff down and get to helping you guys prepare."

"Sounds good. Dem can lead you to your new room. We have to leave in two hours, so don't take your time."

Nar Shaddaa

The torrential rain mixed with the sludge overflowing from the drainage pipes above to create a liquid that distinctly resembled raw sewage. It smelled like it too, thick, cloying, with the stench of rotten food. And then there was the heat, rising up from the streets below to meet the cool rain, creating a literal cloud of garbage. Slipping through the alleyway amidst the steam, Nyrial made a mental note to check in at one of the bathhouses after she dropped off the package. Her jumpsuit was already damp with sweat and condensation, and her usually silky black hair was matted against her skull with a filmy layer of the sludge dripping down onto her.

The two Keins were still after her, doing their best to blend in with the crowds. Even in these tightly packed, narrow streets, they stuck out like a sore thumb. It was the tattoos that gave them away. The Zabrak's clan markings set them apart from regular thugs. These were syndicate boys, looking to make a score off a Besadii Clan runner. They could try.

The alleyway opened up into a public transit station. Not bothering to look behind to see if they were following her, Nyrial hopped onto the monorail. They would be getting on a few cars down from her, and then they would try to corner her before she could move. In theory, what Nyrial was doing was suicidal. In practice, well, no plan is foolproof. She was taking a risk, but given the trouble they had already caused over this delivery, chancing the Keins one more time didn't seem so dangerous anymore.

Besides, by the time they reached her, they would be dead. They were dead the minute they stepped onto the train. It just happened to run directly through Besadii Clan turf, and the moment the two Keins stepped out onto the platform, they would have a hundred blasters pointed at them. People that caused trouble in Hutt territory often turned up in multiple dumpsters.

The shipyards were a maze of towering hulls, and scrap mounds. Dran walked through, casting his eye at various craft as dust swirled at the hem of a light hooded cloak he'd purchased for a few dreggats. The shipyards were half a mile out from the Capitol, a huge, sprawling collection of runways, factories, and a central trading hub, all spread over three miles. The trading hub was where he was now, where one could buy ships, parts or even droids of varying quality. The air was filled with the growl of engines, intermingled with the call of the sellers hawking their wears, which were the parts and droids. The ships themselves were sold by the yard itself. He flagged down one of the attendants, a short, dumpy male Twi'lek. He shuffled quickly over, a grin revealing yellowing teeth.

'Hello, friend, what can I do for you today?'

'I'm in the market for a ship--'

'A ship! Well, you're in the right place, I've got fighters, transports--'

'I'm looking for a light freighter. Something to live on. Something that can aid with work. And... I want to be able to protect myself, of course.'

An hour or so later, having looked at over a dozen freighters, the Twi'lek was trying to sell Dran a Gymsnor-2 that looked like it might fall apart in a light breeze, when he turned and had his eye caught by a glinting hull from across the hub.

'Tell me about this one', he said, approaching the ship. Its hull was a dull gold colour, and its shape reminded him of a Gorskin; a giant species of turtle.

The Twi'lek was on his heels, replying skittishly, 'that? Oh, that is... it's one of a testing run that I got on a deal. A fairly new model... wouldn't you rather--'

'I want to see a readout.'

Sighing, the Twi'lek called over a modified protocol droid with a holo emitter on its chest. 'Show him the prototype Ghtroc 720.'

'At once, sir,' came the tinny reply. A holographic representation of the ship bloomed from the droid's chest, and Dran prodded different sections of the image to have it zoom in, and the droid run through relevant information. It all seemed fair. He requested a look inside, which the dealer grudgingly obliged. Half an hour later, he was bemusedly watching Dran leave, holding the money paid for the ship, as the Jedi took transport back to the city to fetch Meera.

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

Zan stood, stripped to the waist in the sparring room he'd had fitted on the Dread Shadow. The room was spacious; large enough to comfortably support moving combat. Before him stood two humans, dressed in plain black training uniforms. The two dark Jedi serving under him. Former Jedi Service Corps members who had bloomed under the Dark Side.

Dran held one lightsaber in his right hand. The other hung at his side. He wanted to give himself a little challenge, and wanted to give them a slight chance. Lord Sidious had pronounced them fit to hunt the Jedi, but Zan would not rest until the two humans before him were honed killing machines. He activated his saber, the signal to begin. His apprentices were so quick in responding the snap-hisses were almost in sync.

They went on the offensive, widening the distance between them to flank him. He took a few paces back as they sprinted towards him. On either side of him, they pressed their attack, and he dodged and parried, twisting lithely. Three red blades burned through the air and flared hard against each other.

In a deft maneuver, he locked sabers with Kay, moving his blade in a circular motion to maintain, and when Tadoh prepared his next strike, Zan interrupted with a high kick as he broke saber lock. Tadoh flipped tightly backwards with the kick to the head, in a near flawless Ataru recovery, but per Zan's intent, he had yielded a few feet.

With his full force focused on Kay, Zan pressed the offensive. The Juyo form was said to eviscerate an enemy with its brutality, and had their sabers not been set for training, it would have done so now. Zan's saber whirled in a pattern of blinding light. Kay parried the first couple of blows but was soon brought to his knees by several hard blows, singing his uniform and leaving a light burn on his cheek that would soon swell with the bruise underneath it unless sprayed with bacta salve.

Zan kicked out behind him, not making contact with Tadoh, but instead sending him careening backwards with a tendril of Force. Once again, the dark Jedi recovered his balance, and bound towards Zan, who dodged his slashes, rising back up and clapping his saber to the man's head, following him to the ground as he fell to escape the pain of the blade. When Tadoh was sprawled on the floor, only then did Zan deactivate his saber. Had Tadoh not been in the habit of shaving his head, he would have been sporting a bald patch for the next couple of weeks.

The two men stood before him, and Zan spoke formally. 'Good, but not good enough. To hunt Jedi is a dangerous task. Go, now. Apply bacta salve to any burns and bruises on your heads and hands, but leave any on the rest of your bodies. You must present a respectable image, but that does not excuse you from your rightful pain.'

His apprentices bowed, and left, silently. Pulling on his undershirt, and his uniform jacket, Zan made his way to the main bridge.

Seranya had to get off world, but she couldn't do it from this port. If Xalron knew she was here he likely had eyes all over the spaceport. No, Seranya would have to make her way to another city. Once there it would be easy enough to smuggle herself onto a ship. Rust Bucket was by no means the most prominent city on Ord Mantel, a fact that had worked to her advantage thus far. Unfortunately it's low key nature only made it easier for a master bounty hunter to snuff you out if he managed to track you to such a place.

Hesitation was not an option. Seranya tied her ponytail to the side and threw her hood over her head before making her way into the crowded street. Considering her options as she brushed past eager shoppers she determined that taking public transportation would be too risky. The solution was rather obvious, but it came with its own risks. The planet's various settlements were connected via hovertrain routes. While many of these generally lead to scrapyards, she figured it was her best bet.

After a long, cautious walk through back alleys and city streets she'd found her way to a private scrapyard. A perfect place to hitch a ride onto a hovertrain. Careful to avoid detection, Seranya made her way to a junk pile near the tracks and hid there, waiting. Eventually a hovertrain made it's scheduled stop there and handful of droids began hefting large crates onto the train. Seranya took this opportunity to hop aboard and slip past the droids as they were preparing to close that particular train car. It was dark and claustrophobic, but it was strangely... comforting. There wasn't a bounty hunter in the galaxy that would find her here.

She waited for the hovertrain to start moving before she sat down to meditate.

Clear your thoughts. Your emotions. Everything. Feel the force and nothing else.

Seranya had been attempting Jedi meditation for a month now, but hadn't quite nailed it down yet. Her emotions were too powerful, her memories... too raw. It happened the same way every time. Memories of the Jedi she slew in the Emperor's name polluted her mind. Images of her first master's face burned into her retinas as he lay there, dying, with a finger pointed at her. Accusing. Damning.

Tears began to stream down her face, but she kept her solitary position and kept her eyes shut. She would have to weather through this. She had to or...

She threw out a powerful telekinetic blast that ripped open a metal container in front of her, rocking the train car back and forth and sending her tumbling backwards. Her rage was momentarily quelled when she hit the back of her head against the wall of the car, "Damn it!"

With dry tears burning into her flesh she sat there motionless. Helpless. The force had turned her emotions into a weapon. A self perpetuating, self defeating weapon. Fuck the force.

Seranya pulled herself back up into a sitting position and leaned herself up against the wall. She let her head slump back against the wall and closed her eyes. And with that, the gentle, steady motion of the hovertrain lulled her to sleep.

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

She woke to a loud thump above her head. Her eyes snapped open and she instinctively reached for her heavy blaster pistol. The train was still moving, so what could that have been? She took a deep breath before attempting to find her center and reached into the force. After some mentally exhausting probing she came to a realization. Xalron was standing on the train car... right above her. Her first instinct was to silence herself and hide, but somehow... somehow he knew where she was. If he'd tracked her here there was no use hiding now.

She reached into the force once more. Bingo. Upon discerning his relative location she leveled her pistol and began firing at the ceiling. Thankfully the damn thing wasn't magnetically sealed as the blaster bolts burned right through the cheap metal. After a full barrage of blaster fire the bounty hunter was nowhere to be found. Was he dead? She attempted to feel him through the force once more, but was interrupted by the sound of a loud clattering noise in the center of the train car. It was a thermal detonator.

Seranya's eyes widened and she turned to see the ceiling above, calling upon the force with all her might. In one fluid motion she leaped up with one arm extended, throwing a powerful telekinetic blast in front of her. The damaged ceiling of the train car ripped open just as she was crossing its threshold. Before she could land and regain her footing on the top of the train car she found herself bound around the waist by a some kind of zip-line and was yanked over the gap between the two train cars. She barely managed to make it across the gap before the car she had left turned into a fireball. She hit the roof of the next car hard.

After planting her hands and lifting herself up, a tall, slender man, armored head-to-toe, came into view, "Sorry little girl, but recess is over. It's time to report back to Lord Vader," The man said chuckling to himself.

Seranya sneered in response. He had a carbine trained on her, but if she moved quick enough she'd be able to sever the cord and dodge the blast, "Vader's a hard boss to work for."

"So I've heard. Thankfully I'm working for the Hutts. They're happy so long as the credits keep moving," Seranya could sense he was smiling underneath his helmet. As he spoke she managed to wiggle her grip around the hilt of her lightsaber.

"Send Vader my regards, will you?"

"Sorry, but your not going--" Before he could finish his statement Seranya rolled onto her back, igniting her lightsaber and severing the cord in the process. He fired three shots that she barely managed to deflect as she scrambled to her feet. Once she'd gained proper footing she returned fire with her pistol in her left hand. The shots were inaccurate, but it did the job. Xalron rolled to the side to avoid the shots.

"Later," By the time he'd gotten to his feet she'd already leaped down to the flatbed of the next car over. He had be briefed about her speed and agility. The force was a bitch-in-a-half. "Oh no you don't!" He fired a few shots, forcing her to serpentine and dropped down onto the flatbed in pursuit.

Mira walked the docks of Artisan Colony, there was less of a crowd here, but more varied amongst the populace. Cargo, coming or going, was hauled on and off ships. Now she need to find one that would transport her, hopefully for the meager amount she had.

She stopped by a Twi'lek holding a holopad. He looked up with a look of annoyance. "*What? Can't you see I'm busy?*" He snapped at her in Twilish. Mira gave a small bow.

"I apologize sir, but I have a question. Would you be on your way to Taris?"

"*No! Now leave me be.*" He snapped as he went back to his holopad. Mira nodded and moved on. She met several others who responded much the same, either they were not going to Taris or would not take her for what little she had. After the fifth time a captain of a freighter laughed at her small payment she sighed and retreated to a small cantina kept on the docks.

Most of the patrons had a look of either crew members or captains. A few togrutans sat here and there, already near drowned in juma juice. A sad thing to be sure. How proud they must of been. Now they sit there and wallow. Mira thought as she passed and chose a empty table in the corner. She tapped her foot silently to the band playing a Togrutan folk song. A favorite that she had kept in her memory before becoming a jedi. A serving droid came by asking for her order. "Kopi tea if you would please." She asked the droid. It beeped in conformation and shuffled off. She heard a chuckle to her left. Mira turned to see a human woman with shoulder length dark hair covering her right eye, a smirk on her lips.

The woman approached Mira's table. "Not many here that would order tea here lady." She said her smirk never leaving her features. Now that the woman was closer she noticed the single glove, over her left hand. "Yes well, I'm not like most other here. I'm not here to drown my sorrows, merely here to get respite from the heat of engines, bodies, and the sun." Mira responded eying the woman. She could not feel any foul intent on the woman as she sat. She called for the droid and asked for a couple shots of juma. "May I ask why you, rather rudely, joined me?"

"Simple." The woman replied as the droid returned with her juma and Mira's tea. "I saw you asking around for transportation, I'm in a business of transporting cargo." She said downing a shot. "I also noticed that all the bad news wasn't getting to you, that's why half of your people are here. They tried for days to get a ride and nothin." She shook her head.

Mira raised an eyebrow "Then why not help them.Why come to me and tell me of their plight?" Mira asked taking a sip from her tea. The woman smiled.

"Also simple, they never asked." She said laughing. The noise caused several people to turn their heads to investigate the noise. After a few seconds they turned back to their drinks with a grumble. The woman's laugh died into a chuckle. "But in all seriousness, they simply couldn't meet my price; like all the other captains here." She said waving a hand towards the door. "I'll carry just about anything, all I ask for is someway to pay; information, credits, anything to make up for my time."

Ah a smuggler then. Mira thought on this, she defiantly had information that would surly pay for her trip, but would she trust this woman. She would have to take the chance. "Alright, I might have something. But we should discuss it in private. This is something I don't want to get out." The woman nodded and downed her last shot. "I'll pay for the drinks, consider it a gift." She said her smirk returning.

After paying for the drinks they left the cantina. "My ship is down this way. We'll discuss payment there, you have something I want we take off; you don't, you leave. Simple." She said turning to Mira with a grin.

"Very, though I would like to know your name?" Mira asked watching the woman.

She chuckled again shaking her head. As the woman's hair shook she caught a glimpse of metal under the sheet of hair over her left eye. "Of course, Saalia Knoses at your service miss......?"

"Gwen Sulik" Mira replied and Saalia's smirk once more widened into a grin.

"Nice try 'Gwen'. But I know an alias when I here one. I've had to use a few myself. I'll add your real name to my payment." She said looking past Mira. Her grin changed into a frown. "Wonder what the boys in white are up too?" She wondered.

Mira's head whipped around. Sure enough, five troopers, including a captain with an orange shoulder piece and red striped helmet, were questioning one of the ship captain's Mira had asked for a ride. The captain showed the spacer something and he pointed towards the cantina. "We need to move now, I'll tell you everything, but we need to go." She told Saalia who nodded with a grim smile.

They moved as quik as they could without causing a scene among the crowd and soon they were at Saalia's ship rushing into the cargo hold. She quickly push a few bolts on the back panel and mumbled something into a wall light. A large panel opened up revealing space large enough to fit Mira. "For the times I need to move something someone doesn't want found." Saalia said as Mira ducked inside. Saalia gave her a thumbs up as the panel slid shut.

As Mira stood there in the darkness her original question rose in her mind. Could she trust Saalia? Or would she turn her in? If she turned her in, Mira would fight. She would not let herself die at the hands of the servants of the Dark side. She reached into her vest and gripped her lightsaber. She would be ready if the panel opened and she was greeted by blaster fire. She heard voices on the other side of the panel as she waited.

"....as you can see gentlemen, nothing here but my cargo." Mira heard Saalia's voice say.

"Hmmm so there is, what did you say you were shipping again?" She heard a new voice. Male probably either the Trooper captain. She could hear the clear suspicion on his voice.

"Mostly supplies bound for Corsin sir, as well as some cargo from a higher up on Taris. Supplies are for the refugees from the war. Damn republic never sent them a single credit. The rest I never bothered to learn, you know how nobles are always think they're better than you since they can buy things you can't while they sit on their asses. " Mira heard the male voice laugh, along with chuckles from two other sources.

"All to true there...well it seems she's not here. Let someone know if you spot her, you'll be well compensated I'm sure. Unlike these two idiots." She heard the captain near shout. "Let her slip right past 'em. Morons both of 'em! Wonder they let them of planet instead of just starting over. Now move out you useless sacks of flesh!"

"Yes Sir!" two voices responded as she heard the sounds of feet leaving the cargo hold. Mira heard another set approach the panel and gripped her lightsaber harder, just in case it was a trick. The panel slid up again to reveal the smiling Saalia. "Now I believe you owe me an explanation?

'So, what do you think?'

Meera frowned as she looked at the ship Dran had paid for, as the droids taxi'd it into a runway. 'I'll be surprised if it gets off the ground.'

'Oh, don't be so cynical!' replied Dran, grinning. 'I checked its readout, and looked at everything inside, myself. She'll fly, and she'll make a good job of it, too.'

The boarding ramp lowered, and the droids disembarked. Others hauled food, and the other supplies Meera had purchased up the ramp, and the two Jedi followed them up.

'I suppose you've thought of a name, too,' she sighed.

'Oh yes! The Brass Turtle! Next question you should be asking: where are we going?' As they passed various doors and came into the cockpit, Dran turned and leaned against the pilot's seat, resting a hand on his utility belt, still grinning.

'Where are we going, then?'

'Phaeda.'

'Phaeda? Why in the Force would we want to go to a place like that? It's an absolute...' Meera was unable to contain herself. 'It's an absolute shit hole, mas--uh, Dran...'

'Exactly. Perfect place to find some work to break in the Turtle.'

In Hyperspace, on route to Corsin

"These pit droids..." Jak flicked one of the tiny bots in the eye, causing it to, literally, spring to life. Without even receiving any instructions, the droid ran over to Bart and started to bash the astromech repeatedly. Luckily, Bart zapped the pit droid with one of his tools before it could do anything permanent, forcing it to shut down. "...damn it Loke!" Jak picked up the tucked-in droid and put it with its brothers. "We got screwed on this deal." Jak thougt aloud, as he commonly did, with Bart deciding to move over to the hyperdrive. "It's been, what, 3 months since we got them? They're still malfunctioning. No wonder they were a steal."

Bart beeped and whirred with a tone of annoyance as he stuck his probe into a computer plugged into their hyperdrive. "I don't want to replace their behavior cores!" Jak exclaimed, plopping himself down on the floor and pulling another pit droid out of the pile. "What's the point of getting cheap droids if we have to spend more than what we saved in order to get them running?"

Another beep, a whir, and a boop, the droid now seemed to play with the boy a bit, mocking him. "Hey, I fixed you plenty of times, right? I can fix these too." With a swipe of his fusioncutter, Jak sliced open the droid's head. "There has to be some way to wipe the cores without leading to a shorted circuit." Jak continued to mutter to himself as his deft hands fiddled with the bot's brain, trying to find a harder solution to the problem. Bart looked on, but was paying more attention to the data the hyperdrive was sending him rather than his master.
-----------------------------------------
In the First Mate's cabin, Rewald was humming a marching tune to himself as we worked on the trove of armaments he had collected over the years. He currently was working on Masochist, his usual carry-around blaster, checking the contacts for the batteries and making sure the firing chamber was unobstructed.

Working on his weapons in peace always brought back memories for Rewald, of battles where the dust has long since settled. The Dantooine Brawl was what had caught his focus this time, a battle he had experienced in his early days after leaving Mandalore, after falling into a merc crew. It was wetwork, a Hutt tracking down a spicelord that had failed to hole up his end of the bargain, but the simplicity of the job betrayed the resources the target had on his hands. In the short time between fleeing Hutt Space and the offended Hutt getting a crew to sick on him, the spicelord had hired a fleet of mercenaries to protect him as he set up shop where he thought he was safe, he thought wrong.

Rewald's group had poor intel when they jumped into the system, and he recalled quite clearly that one of the newer mercenaries pissed himself when he saw the fleet waiting for them. A couple frigates with several fighters and complementing fighters was certainly nothing to thumb your nose at, especially when you're packed into a underwhelming Wayfarer transport. However, their leader was an amazing man, or...amphibian, since he was a Mon Calamari. The bug-eyed alien had been a accomplished commander, but went rogue for reason Rewald didn't bother to find out. He posted the man with wet pants to man the only gun that ship had, giving him a bit of a backbone with a nice turbolaser to empower him. As for the rest of them, he ordered them to wait in the cargo bay.

As they waited, Rewald heard their leader speak to the fleet before their attack, telling them who hired them and that they would be paid twice as much as they were being paid to protect the spicelord. The captains of the frigates, and some of the corvettes, weren't stupid and saw past the ruse. However, about two thirds of the corvettes and most of the fighters had money on their mind, and turned against their "brothers in arms", and a battle ensued. In the chaos, their transport flew through the carnage and did something Rewald didn't expect: it detached the cargo hold and let it fall to the surface of the planet below.

It was certainly something to get the adrenaline pumping, and Rewald had to bite his lip so hard to keep from panicking that it bled. Luckily, the gang kept their wits about them and were able to man their swoop bikes, which were stored in the bay, and use their lift to negate the force of the crash. The hold was sturdy enough that, while it wasn't ever going to be usable again, it didn't collapse on itself, allowing the crew to disembark and quickly assault the target's hideout. It was there that a firefight broke out, and pinned the group down on the outskirts of the base, which were really just a thrown-together assortment of prefabricated buildings. Knowing that they had to break into the base to make anyone more progress, Rewald had an...interesting idea. He turned his swoop bike on and revved it without boarding, letting it speed right into the enemy lines and take most of the opposing force out.

With the others distracted, Rewald's group charged, losing a few with the benefit of finally getting a foothold in the base. Moving from building to building, they fought tooth and nail for every inch of the facility, until Rewald found himself one of the couple members of the gang still standing, with just one more building to clear. The Mandalorian expected to find the last building the hardest, the climax to their battle. Instead, he was disappointed to find it was occupied by only their target, clutching an outdated blaster to try and defend itself. Distracted by his lament, he didn't even get to make the shot that killed the poor bastard.

It was only during his chase to capture Lysa did he realize that the battle was still epic, as the hunt taught him that the journey to the target could be just as exciting as, if not more than, the kill itself.

Once he had returned from his nostalgia trip, he found that Masochist looked almost like new, with the deep scratches and the dents the only reminders of proud moments past. However, Rewald's amusement was cut short by a loud click of the ships intercom coming on. "Everybody, get up here!" It was the captain, and she certainly wasn't happy. Being so close to the cockpit, it only took seconds for Rewald to hop off his bunk and get there.

"What? What happened?" Rewald noticed that the Tiberius had dropped out of hyperspace, with the planet Corsin taking up most of the view. He looked to Lysa, who's eyes seemed transfixed on a certain part of the scenery. Rewald followed the stare and finally saw it: a Mark III Cardan Station, with two Acclamator-class Assault ships floating right next to it.

"Looks like the Empire's been busy." Lysa spoke flatly, knowing they had already been detected. "This probably won't end well."

Nar Shaddaa Orbit

"Alright." Regi said from the cockpit. "Here we are. Nar Shaddaa."

Ian entered the cockpit to look at the gray sphere in front of them. It had taken nearly 2 days of hyperspace travel, but the crew of the Essence had finally arrived. The moon seemed to match the descriptions Ian had heard over the years. It was a featureless ball of steel gray floating above Nal Hutta, which wasn't much to look at in it's own right. Ian was sure it looked more appealing at night, but for now Nal Hutta's sun was at their backs. The most interesting feature was the massive amount of space traffic. Thousands, perhaps millions, of starships of every size and function were going to and from the world's surface. The effect reminded Ian of an angry beehive, only made of metal.

Regi looked at Ian and laughed. "You should see the look on your face, Mart." he said. "I'm guessing you've never been here before?"

"Nor any place quite like it." Ian said with a smile. "I always thought people were exaggerating when they said the whole surface is one big city."

"You don't get around too much, do you kid?" Dem said from the navigation seat. "Worlds like this are all over the galaxy."

"Hey now, don't harass the kid." Regi put in. He turned to Ian. "Don't worry man, we'll break you in. But first we gotta get down there. Dem, call up the nearest space port."

Barely a second later, the comm light on the pilot dashboard lit up. "Well, that was fast."

"Umm, I didn't say anything." Dem said worryingly as Regi keyed for the comms.

"Light Freighter Essence, this is the Fighter Craft Saraque." came a grizzly voice over. "I understand that you are harboring an Imperial fugitive on your ship."

Regi looked at Dem and Baxter in confusion. "I think you have the wrong ship, Saraque. We're transporting ore, not outlaws."

"Do not lie to me, Essence. I've been tracking this man for weeks and I saw his get on your ship at Circumtore."

"We've scanned the ship several times. We don't have any stowaways."

"I didn't say anything about stowaways."

"Well none of my crew are criminals."

"Let me jog your memory. Ian Galam. He's about 1.5 meters tall, wears a brown leather jacket, and rides a BARC speeder bike."

Regi's jaw dropped. "Speeder bike..." he mumbled, and dropped his hand to his blaster holder as he swiveled his seat around.

"Don't you fuckin' move."

Ian had his blaster carbine trained on the Duro's heart. Dem and Baxter turned in bewilderment, but didn't move to attack. "Key off the comm and put your hands up." Ian ordered calmly.

Regi turned off the comm and raised his hands over his head as the others did the same. "Now get to the escape pod." The trio obediently filed out of the cockpit with Ian at their backs. They approached the nearest escape pod, opened it, and squeezed in. They didn't have much elbow room, but none of them were in any position to argue. "Thanks for the ride. I'll owe you guys for the ship." Ian said, then punched the launch control. The pod closed and shot off into space.

Ian ran back to the cockpit. The hailing light was blinking on and off, a sign of an urgent message. Ian hit the button. "Essence, is there a problem?"

"Yeah, there's a fucking problem!" Ian shouted back, trying to sound as worried as possible. "That fugitive of yours just gunned his way off the ship! The captain's bleedin' out!"

"Were is he now?"

"On the floor next to me!"

"No! Galam. The fugitive."

"He's in the escape pod that just left. I think he's heading for Nal Hutta."

"Thank you." the man on the other end sighed. "Be more careful of who you recruit next time. Saraque out." Ian saw the fighter zip away though the view port, and only then did he allow himself to relax. Once again, he'd cheated death. But if one bounty hunter had tracked him this far, then more were likely to follow. But if there was ever a place to disappear, Nar Shaddaa was it.

Bridge of the Exactor

Vader strode away from the front view port, past the various bridge staff of his new flagship, he walked straight on through the door that opened automatically for him. Passing a couple of doors on either side, he then turned into one. A small room, containing a holo-projector. Keying in the frequency he wanted, he pressed the activator. Almost a minute later, he was answered. The overseer of the Imperial spies moving into Hutt Space.

'Commander, I want an update on your progress.'

'None to speak of as of yet, sir. Though we have a few leads we're chasing up. We should have a chance at some Jedi fairly soon, if there turn out to be any. Two of Palpatine's Dark Jedi are leading a detachment of plain clothed soldiers onto Nar Shadaa. The new recruits, and new clones from fresh templates, obviously. The Fett clones would be seen a mile off by the Jedi. There has been one complication.'

'And that is...?' Vader replied, his synthesized voice taking on an even more menacing tone, if that were possible.

'Well, prior to our orders to investigate this region, Imperial forces were contacted by someone claiming they could deliver two Jedi.'

'Yes, the Nemoidian. I remember. I doubted anything would come of it.'

'Well, it seems something did.' That surprised Vader, and he remained silent. The officer continued. 'The squad commander in charge told us the Jedi were separated. The older of the two was fighting in the arena they were preparing to engage them in. The younger, an apprentice by the sounds of her age, was to be intercepted in the stands, and once she was secured, snipers were to finish the older. However, we lost contact with the commander shortly afterwards, and have since learned he, along with others in his group were killed. The Jedi escaped. We did retrieve the older male Jedi's damaged lightsaber from the Nemoidian, though. And we have footage of him. I've transmitted it.'

'I see. Very well, commander, that will be all.'

'Yes, Lord Vader.' The officer saluted, and cut transmission. Vader turned, and left the room, entering an elevator, and heading to his private chamber. Arriving there, he strode past the unit that removed and applied his helmet, to a screen on the wall. The control pad underneath had been customized for his large, gloved fingers. Activating the system, he found the file the commander had sent him, and played the footage. A colour image blossomed onto the screen and motioned into life. From far off, it showed him a man atop a sandy hill, set on from all sides by various and non uniform assailants. He moved and fought with a chilling grace and precision that marked him out to the trained eye, not only as a Jedi Knight, but a skilled Guardian. When only a couple of opponents remained on the hilltop, the camera zoomed, bringing the man into sharp relief. When his face turned well enough to the camera, Vader paused.

He gazed at the crystal clear image, showing a man with a tousled mop of blonde hair, slightly plastered by the sheen of sweat brought on by exertion and the heat of the planet. The hair transitioned seamlessly into a trimmed beard, connected by sideburns. The man's eyes were a stern grey. Vader felt the barest trace of possible recognition. But then, he had at least seen thousands of Jedi in his life as Anakin Skywalker, and he certainly did not know the man. He captured the image, and sent it to the private archive that only he, Palpatine and a select few members of the Dark Jedi Corps had access to. A few minutes later, the archive had a definitive match. Dran Telvann. Twenty six years old, though the image from the arena, and other images of him in the archive put Vader more in mind of someone around thirty. Not surprising, as the file told him Dran had lost his master, and his apprentice, not to mention leading or participating various grueling campaigns in the Clone Wars. What caught Vader's eye most were the mentions the file made to the man's prowess with the lightsaber. Very interesting...

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

Cockpit of the Brass Turtle

As the Brass Turtle shot through Hyperspace, Meera turned around in the co-pilot's seat. Though she occupied it, Dran had handled the entirety of the take off and jump. She wasn't much of a pilot, and besides, she hadn't been able to bring herself to intrude on the clear childlike glee he was taking in the ship. 'So, what sort of work will we be taking?'

'Well, we could transport cargo from this system to another. Illegal, or otherwise, I suppose. I'd like that, as I want more time getting to grips with this ship. But another possibility would be taking some public bounties, in which case we'll probably stay on the planet for a week, or more.

Above Corsin

The Tiberius had stayed on its plotted course, to not look suspicious, and had gotten much closer to the station be the time Tiren and Jak got to the cockpit. With a better view, it was clear that the military station wasn't entirely a functional Mark III, but actually still under construction. "Looks like quite a project to start up for no reason." Jak finally broke the uncomfortable silence.

"They must be screening anything that flies through the sector, not much else would warrant such a massive upgrade." Lysa shook her head as she counted the number of small ships that formed a loose cluster around the station. Searching everything that drops by on a major trade world? "I have to admit, I'm stumped. Forax works on too small a scale to catch this much flak, unless he screwed over a Moff."

"Well, what if he did?" Rewald took up his usual seat by the weapons console, but didn't make any attempt to ready the Tiberus' scant armament.

"He may be greedy, but he didn't cultivate his little niche in the galaxy by being stupid." Lysa looked back at Tiren, who she could tell was trying to read the situation through the Force. "What do you think? Could they be looking for Jedi?"

Tiren remained silent for a moment, as he peered past the curtain of lives on board the various ships in the area and focused on the station itself. "The Empire is always aware of their mandate to hunt Jedi....yet I do not think that this is the fleet's true purpose."

The pings of the ship's sensors forced another silence as Jak moved to the console to see what set it off. "Fighter patrol just-" He was cut off by what detected flying directly overhead, a squadron of newly-standardized TIE Fighters. "I'm pretty sure they just gave us a passing scan."

Tiren nodded as he settled himself after the surprise. "Regardless, the focus of this fleet is currently held by their weak position in this sector. There is much activity aboard the station, they must be using all available manpower to complete its renovation."

Lysa nodded as she rubbed the bottom of her chin. "Well, then we'll at least have an opening. Once that station gets finished, getting out will be a job onto itself."

Q looked up from the communications console in the middle of the discussion. "Captain, we have been ordered to land in the station's main hangar. They have declared us to require a full search in order to land on the planet's surface."

Lysa bit her lip as she turned back to her controls. "Dammit, this job's getting worse all the time."

Nar Shaddaa

A buzz came from inside Ria's helmet. She flicked out her tongue, pressing the switch to activate her comlink. "Tovarish here."

"I hope you weren't foolish enough to try to double cross me, Tovarish."

She paused for a moment, pulling up a news feed on the speeder's dash. Nothing notable. "Odd thing to ask me, Rethik. Why, what's going on?"

"About half an hour after you set down, craft began arriving onto the planet and disgorged troops. The troops aren't in armor, and they aren't our standard clones, but there are a number of duplicates among them if you examine the details." Rethik was a new player in Nar Shaddaa, but he was as sharp as they come and had a talent for knowing the whole picture. If he didn't get killed he'd end up going far.

"The Empire." She flicked off the comm. "Frak." Then flicked it back on while bringing the speeder into the lower levels. "Alright, well, package is still en route unless you want me to change my plans. I'm a little bit uneasy about having a Quarren stuffed in the back of my speeder with the Imps crawling around."

"Cancel the meeting. I'm arranging for another dropoff. Head to Sector 117, the three hundred eighty-eighth level. Once you're within a hundred meters of it you should begin receiving a beacon, your pay is waiting there. Just leave him in place of the money."

"Can do. I'll let you know if I get in any entanglements en route."

Deep Space, aboard the RSD Liberation

The Liberation was like a hive as every one of its thousands-strong crew pushed to repair the vessel, and to their credit they were doing good work, as damaged systems were restored to operating status and hull breaches were patched. Even so, it wouldn't be enough.

Khaen sat in his chair on the bridge, examining the datapad. Restoring the ship to full readiness was impossible - the crew losses could be soaked, but the damage to material couldn't be fixed in the field, not entirely. They didn't have parts to construct replacements for the loss of turbolaser battery five. Several squadrons of fighters lost, and damage to numerous other critical systems that couldn't just be fixed, they had to be replaced. As it was, the ship was operating at roughly two thirds normal strength.

A Venator-Class Star Destroyer, even at full strength wasn't enough to wage a one-ship war against the Empire. More than the repairs, they needed allies and supplies. With an organized rebellion at their backs the Liberation and her veteran crew could be an invaluable asset. As it was they were little more than a pest, the only reason they weren't dead because the Empire hadn't been quite fast enough to squash them flat yet.

"Ops."

"Yes, Captain?"

"Prepare a ground team. A squad of marines with support, and alert the deck crew to prepare a hyperspace-capable shuttle."

"Yes, Captain."

"Tell them to pre-load coordinates into the navicomputer for Nar Shaddaa."

Ord Mantell

The hovertrain was moving fast so using his jetpack to catch up was out of the question. He only had one option... he had to slow her down. Seranya was a blur as she ran across one flatbed and leapt over to the next one. As Xalron pursued her he noticed a parallel hovertrain rail in the distance, with another hovertrain closing in fast. That was her ticket out of this fight. Xalron wasn't about to let that happen.

Holding her lightsaber in one hand, Seranya twisted her body as she ran, just barely managing to deflect the oncoming blaster bolts. By the time she'd made it onto the third flatbed the blaster-fire had subsided. Had he fallen so far behind that he was full-on sprinting to keep up? She banished the possibilities from her mind and welcomed the force into the now vacant space of her thoughts. The parallel rail was close now and the other train would be here within the next few seconds. She was going to make it out of here! And then it hit her.

Doubt crept into her mind. What if he followed her onto the next train? Should she incapacitate him so he can't? Could she do so without... killing him? She was just about to jump onto the next train car as these thoughts polluted her mind... she slowed but for a moment, distracted by her fears and her theoretical guilt. She felt the blaster bolt through the force before it made a sound. She quickly turned to deflect it only to realize he wasn't aiming at her. Xalron had stopped one car back to line up his shot. He'd lined up a perfect shot on the train car ahead of her... one transporting a natural gas.

Seranya dove backwards shielding her face from the blast as the train car erupted into an inferno. The force from the blast, coupled with the momentum of the train sent her flying backwards, up high into the air. Xalron chuckled to himself as he aimed up on her helpless form and fired another grappling cable. Once it had firmly coiled around her waist once more he hit the switch and his armor did the rest of the work. Her spine nearly snapped as an opposing force took control of her momentum and brought her crashing down 6 meters onto the flatbed... a mere meter from where Xalron was standing.

"Déjà vu," Xalron laughed arrogantly.

She was in a lot of pain. Not only was her back nearly snapped in half, but the impact when she landed knocked the wind clear out of her. She'd managed to slow her decent with the force, but that only managed to prevent broken bones. Thankfully she held onto her lightsaber and had hidden it under the weight of her body. Her best bet now was to feign unconsciousness. After several moments of silence Seranya got worried... was he not taking the bait.

Xalron tilted his head, but kept his carbine trained on her, "Nice try, but I know when my quarry's aware of my attack. I've been at this business a long time. You aught to--"

He was interrupted when Seranya quickly and violently ignited her saber, severing the cord as she had before and lunged at him with an overhead swing. It was a desperate attack. She had hoped to catch him flatfooted. Maybe he'd be lucky and get a shot off on her, but he'd be going down with her. Xalron laughed and did something she truly did not foresee. He dropped his carbine, letting it hang from the strap, and held out one hand to... catch the blade.

Though he'd slid back a bit due to the weight of her blow, he did in fact manage to deflect the blade. Not only that, but he was actually... gripping it, "I-I... HOW?!"

Laughing, Xalron examined the palm of his off-hand, "Cortosis vambrace circa Jedi Civil War. It's an antique, but it gets the job done." With that Xalron gripped the lightsaber blade and thrust his leg hard against Seranya's abdomen, sending her staggering backwards onto the floor of the flatbed and ripping her lightsaber from her grip.

Who the hell was this guy? Just as she struggled to get to her feet she noticed him pull out a small device and connect it to the bottom of the lightsaber hilt. Oh no...

"Ionized the power core. Like to see this thing work without one," She could see his dastardly smile in her mind's eye. That lightsaber had originally been her master's. If she didn't get it back from him.... now this was personal.

She leveled her heavy blaster pistol and fired, but her training with a blaster was limited and it was clear this bounty hunter knew it. Despite the assistance of the force, he dodged and weaved past her shots with easy. Even if he was unaware of it himself, Seranya was certain the force was strong in him. It would seem the outcome of this bout would be determined by who the force favored and at this rate Seranya's chances weren't looking all that promising.

He returned fire, first disarming her with a shot to her blaster's barrel and followed up with a trio of shots to her chest. Fortunately she'd trained for this exact eventuality. Seranya threw her hands out and deflected the shots with her hands before reaching out with the force once more to summon her blaster pistol to her side. She stood up and took aim once more. During the scuffle Xalron had made his way closer to her position. They were no more than meter apart now. No room to dodge at this range.

"Impressive, little girl. It appears we are at an impasse," Seranya noticed the second hovertrain car in her peripheral vision. It would complete its pass soon. She either had to kill this man here or find a way onto the train without taking a blaster bolt to the spine. "Any more tricks up your sleeve?"

Seranya nodded, "Just one," She closed her eyes for a moment and when they shot back open her silver pupils had turned into a pure white. She had called upon the force and summoned her penance ability.

Xalron stood there, staring for a moment until he realized what she was doing. Then, he started laughing hysterically, "Oh that's rich! You should probably do your research kid," Keeping his carbine trained on her, he took off his helmet with his off-hand to reveal a rugged yet slim, green-skinned man. "I'm a falleen. Your little Jedi tricks don't work on minds like mine."

Shit...

"Just give it up, kid. At this range I'll paint the flatbed with your entrails while you'd be lucky if you get a single shot to pierce my armor," He took a step closer. "Put the blaster down."

No... I cant... I can't return to them. I can't kill for them anymore... I WON'T!

Enraged, Seranya lunged at him with a force augmented punch taking a stray shot to her side as it connected with his jaw. Xalron, caught completely off-guard, toppled end-over-end across the flatbed. With but a moment to spare, Seranya threw herself across the ever expanding gap between the two hovertrain rails and managed to cling to the train's last flatbed. She pulled herself up, fighting the momentum of the train with all her strength and collapsed onto the flatbed. As she lay flat on her back she closed her eyes and sighed.

That was way too close.

By the time Xalron had stood up and leveled his carbine she was already long gone. He cursed under his breath and hailed his ship on his comm.

*********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Seranya took a public shuttle to the next port over and hid herself on a cargo freighter that was prepping for departure. Hopefully she'd be able to slip out without anyone's notice once they had arrived at their destination. Hiding behind a stack of crates she heard two of the ship's crew talking as they were loading the last of the cargo, "I hope the boss let's us get a little R&R when we come into dock."

"Yeah, it's been awhile since I got to hit the casinos there."

Casinos?

"That's right, you were born on Nar Shaddaa, weren't you?"

Nar Shaddaa? ...Great...

Mira sat at a table on board Saalia's ship, The Roge she had called it, waiting for the smuggler to return. Mira's head turned as the door opened and Saalia walked in, carrying two mugs. "Alright lady, I saved your hide." She said setting a mug in front of Mira. Luckily she had a small bag of Kopi leaves in her backpack. "Now I think you owe me your name for that alone, might as well tell me your whole story if you want to get to where ever it is your going." Saalia said taking the opposite seat at the table and kicking her feet up, her boot making a small thunk on the table.

Mira sighed, she had been hoping she would forget about the name. "You are right, I owe you quite a bit." She said reaching into her vest and setting her lightsaber on the table. "I assume this tells most of my story?" She asked the smuggler. She just grinned."Figured it was something like that. Wanna hear the whole story though." She said taking a drink of her own mug. Mira could smell the tea from Saalia's mug.

"Fair enough." Mira said nodding "My name is Mira Quee, Knight of the Jedi order. I was stationed here on Kiros as the lieutenant for a platoon of troopers tasked with routing the remnants of the separatist forces from the invasion. The captain, my former Jedi Master, and I had sensed the sudden change in the troopers, but it was too late. We tried to fight our way to safety, but the troopers were well trained. My master didn't make it, I barely escaped. Heavily wounded I made my way through a canyon nearby, following a river until I came upon a small village. They took me in a dressed my wounds for weeks I was confined to bed as my wounds healed and as news came pouring in from Artisan Colony. The Republic had fallen, and with it the Jedi. For the nest few months I had made the decision to live among my people gain. About a week ago, the village had heard the news of Jedi hunts being performed by the Empire. Fearing for their safety, they asked me to leave. And I did. They sent me off with enough money to get a ship off world and a few basic supplies. Now I just want to get off planet, somewhere crowded, someplace a person can get lost among a wave of bodies and minds. Where even a force user can have difficulties pinpointing anyone. Taris is my first choice. After a few months I plan on moving again, and agian. Eventually I pan on settling on a world in the outer rim. Or some other secluded place. Until a time when the Jedi can regain our strength to somehow stop the Empire." Mira explained as Saalia listened, her usual smirk leaving her face.

"Well, that was certainly enough to get you to Taris." She said downing the rest of her own tea. "But I have a proposition for you." Mira raised on eyebrow. "You need to keep moving, need to keep hidden. Frankly, I need someone else to help me, my droids good, but poor little guys not enough. So here's the deal; you stay on with me, here on The Rogue, help me moving some goods. That way we're both happy, you keep moving, I get help. Whaddya say?" She asked her smirk returning. Mira thought about this. It was a sound plan, she kept moving never staying down in one place. Plus it saved her from having to sell her self as a dancer to pay for her way around the galaxy.

"Hmm, as long as you can promise me to stay with more helpful goods." Mira said looking at Saalia. She frowned at this. Mira could almost see her weighing the options.

"I can't promise that, I'm in this business for the credits not as a charity service, I can promise I look for those more often. But I'm not gonna narrow myself down to meds or food." She said looking Mira in the eye. Mira nodded "I can understand that, it was unrealistic of me to ask such a thing. I accept your offer Miss Knoses. She said extending her hand. Saalis smiled and shook. Mira could feel something stronger than flesh and bone beneath. "Glad to have you aboard Mira, and please it's Captain Knoses now." She said laughing.

Mira rolled her eyes. "Yes well if I may ask a question 'captain'? You said you had a droid, where is it?"

"Taris actually, had to leave him their for repairs, poor little guy got nailed by a chunk of asteroid about a week back. That's my next stop actually." She said as they walked towards the cockpit of The Rogue.

"Very well, one more question." Saalia raised an eyebrow. "May I see what behind your hair, and why you wear only one glove?" Saalia smiled at that as she sat in the pilots chair.

"Wondering when you were gonna ask." She said pushing her hair behind her left ear, revealing a metal plate extending to just before her ear with a blue cybernetic eye. She removed the glove, what looked like a normal hand but with a protective flesh colored plate on the wrist covering the circuits. "Growing up on Nar Shadaa can really screw over a girl sometimes ya know." Saalia said with a wink. "Speaking of which, heading there after Taris. I lied to those troopers about Corsin you see." She hitting a few buttons on the center console of of the ship.

Mira could feel the ship hum to life. She watched as the spires of Artisan colony left her vision and was replaced by the vast horizon of space. "Hang onto that saber Mira." Saalia said grabbing a lever on the center console and pushing it forward. Mira sat back with a sigh as the hit hyperspace.

Phaeda

Dran and Meera pushed through the heavy crowds, heading towards a slightly dank looking bar on the corner of the street. Occasionally, passersby looked at them with intent; but Dran's hand dropping to the hefty blaster pistol, or vibroblade on his belt was enough to turn away unwanted attention.

They eventually got into the bar's dimly lit main room. Several customers lounged in booths or tables, or at the bar itself. Meera headed to an unoccupied booth while Dran headed to the noticeboard on the wall, calling for two glasses of keela as he passed by. After a few moment's staring at the board, he turned back, picking up the drinks on his way.

He sat down across from Meera and slid a glass over to her, and sipped his own. 'Alright, so I have a few options for us.'

'Go on?'

'Well, there are some public bounties, each paying out around five thousand, give or take. Then there's a perfectly legal transport job.'

'I see. Well, as long as we're here, we could grab a bounty for some quick money, and then take the transport job, right?'

Dran grinned. 'Yeah, that's probably the best compromise. The simplest target's probably this Rodian, Jebran Brig.'

'What makes you think he's the easiest mark?'

Dran's smile widened. 'Well, for starters, he's sitting right over there.' Meera twisted in her seat, and picked out the Rodian, slumped against the bar, a crowd of empty glasses by his head. A Bryar pistol was holstered on his hip.

'You take care of him,' said Dran, jovially. Then in a stern undertone, he whispered, 'he has heard us though. You can sense his tension, can't you?'

Meera nodded, and Dran slid his blaster across the table. Meera picked it up and set off across the room. She approached the seemingly comatose Rodian, and reached out to shake him. Just before her hand touched his shoulder, the alien whipped around in his seat. Only her prior awareness of his consciousness allowed her to lean back to avoid the stunner in his hand. As it happened, the tip of her nose tingled sharply as the crackling tip passed in front of her face. The Rodian shoved the stunner at her, and she grabbed his wrist, holding him away. His other hand came up with a Q2 holdout blaster, and bright green bolts streaked across the room towards Dran. Meera was unable to take her attention off of Jebran to look around, but she heard the thudding of Dran moving swiftly to avoid being shot.

Meera raised the heavy blaster in her hand, but Jebran veered away, and the lance of red light left a large black burn on the wall across from the bar. She brought it around, when the Rodian spoke sharply. 'Don't move!'

She glanced down to see the holdout blaster's muzzle aimed at her throat. She had been so concerned about Dran that the Rodian had gotten the drop on her. The green alien grabbed her shoulder, and at that range, she had no choice but to let herself be turned around. To Dran, the Rodian said, 'these little blasters charge for six. Now, the real question is, how many did I fire?'

Dran, standing with his vibroblade in hand scowled. 'Six.' His blade flashed through the air and the butt of its hilt hit the Rodian hard in the face, sending him sprawling. He squeezed the trigger desperately as he fell, but the weapon only clicked.

Jebran was groggy, and Meera pinned him in front of the onlookers, inconspicuously using the Force to push him deeper into full unconsciousness. That done, she yanked the full sized blaster from his belt.

Above Corsin

Lysa sighed loudly as she weighed her options. There wasn't much time to plan anything, as the Imperials would surely grow suspicious if she stalled her landing. After a brief moment, she put her hands to the controls, moving the Tiberius through the thick cloud of stalled merchant and transport traffic. "Q, can we contact the surface from here?"

The droid shook its head. "The Imperial forces are jamming all unauthorized data transmissions. It can be safely assumed that they are also monitoring the transmissions they do let through."

Nodding to herself, Lysa appeared to have come up with a plan. "Rewald, Tiren, get your gear and head to the starboard escape pod. I'll move the ship so I can jettison you to the surface. When you get down there, find Forax, he should be able to get us a better grasp on the situation." As the pair started to leave, she held up a hand to stop them. "Take Q with you. Given enough time and the right tools, it should be able to get past the jamming."

"I will do my best, Captain Estor." With that, the protocol droid followed Tiren and Rewald out, though they soon dispersed as Tiren went to get his weapon and cloak and Rewald went to gather as many guns as he could. Soon, the three reunited at the starboard escape pod, quickly entering once Lysa gave the signal.

In the cockpit, Lysa waited for the ships beneath her to thin out before turning the ship on its side and firing the pod, sending it speeding to Corsin's surface. Jak, now at the communications console, mildly frowned. "They probably noticed that. What makes you think they won't call you on it?"

"Oh, they'll call me on it all right." Lysa couldn't help but smirk a bit as the Tiberius neared the Imperial Station's hangar. "What happens next depends on how gullible the guy in charge is."
-------------------------------------------------
Corsin Atmosphere

The escape pod began to rattle and shake as it started to burn through the atmosphere of the planet. Rewald was buckled into the forward seat of the pod, trying to guide it in as best he could. Tiren and Q were secured on benches behind him. "Dammit! This thing flies like a sack of bantha shit!"

"The standard Class 5 escape pod isn't meant to fly in an atmosphere under its own power." Q suddenly spoke up from the back, much to Rewald's annoyance. "It is only meant to survive reentry in a marginally good condition so its passengers may-"

"Shut up!" Rewald shouted as the pod's shuddering increased when the retrorockets fired, slowing the craft. However, a loud "pop", then a "clunk" was heard, and the rockets stopped firing, long before they were supposed to. The pod was now in freefall, with nothing slowing it from smashing into the ground below. "Hey, kid!" Rewald looked back at Tiren, who seemed to carry the air of tempered distress at the craft's state. "Mind doing something about our landing? We got sensitive cargo here!"

Tiren looked over at the Mandalorian for a moment as the padawan sensed the worry the warrior was trying to hide. It made his ears perk for a moment with intrigue before he looked away and locked his hands together, intending to comply. Focusing on the craft's speed, Tiren first tried to bleed away its momentum before catching it. However, he didn't compensate for the pod's weight as he tried to hold it through the Force, causing it to fumble a short distance before he caught it securely. Rewald was about to bark an insult for the shock of the fall, but Tiren raised a hand to silence him before he spoke, make him decide to just let out a growl instead.

Luckily, the pod wasn't that far from the ground when Tiren took control, allowing him to bring it gently to the ground. Once solid earth was beneath them, Rewald grabbed Tiren by the collar. "Listen, you blind little punk, if you ever do that-"

"Perhaps you should check on your 'sensitive cargo' before harassing me for doing what you requested." Tiren spoke with no detectable emotion in his voice, which might have been his saving grace. Rewald dropped him and walked over to his gear, checking it for damage.

With that moment of peace, Tiren sat back in his seat and took deep, silent breaths. The stress of the event, combined with the energy expended in the effort, had taken a lot out of him. However, he dare not show his wariness to Rewald, especially now that they were on a world with the Empire's influence so easily felt.

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