"Go!" Mira shouted at Atton as she saw Seth, Mandalore, and Bao-Dur return from G0-T0's ship. The ship itself was going to explode if Atton didn't get them out of there fast. "Hurry up!"
Who the hell does this woman think she is to order me around when she's barely been here! Besides, she's after Seth in the first place, Atton thought irritably. "Maybe you should drive this thing since you seem to be omniscient," he snapped. Women… Atton didn't even understand them himself. From day one when he was born, he was convinced he was for Pazaak, Juma Juice, and ogling Twi'lek dancers in cantinas. He never laid eyes on anyone who would make him want to do something crazy—and he was convinced the current entourage was no exception.
The Handmaiden who didn't even had a name snuck on the Ebon Hawk just after leaving Telos. She gave them some fabricated lie about seeing the Exile for herself. "He has a name," Atton remembered saying. That's what really annoyed Atton: everyone called Seth "the Exile" as if he was some kind of inanimate object rather than a human being.
Mira was the strange red-haired bounty hunter that had tagged along. She had some nerve to even come along and claim to the storage room for herself. She was hunting Seth, and she was just a bounty hunter—scum hired for a mere 5 credits to end a life so they could get the bills paid. A cold blooded killer at your doorstep was something Atton never wanted to experience, but here was one in the flesh.
Atton steered the Hawk away from the explosion and turned on autopilot. Although it's boring, Dantooine should be pretty peaceful, he thought. I've had about enough of Nar Shadda for a few days—or weeks. He set in the coordinates and stood up when he set the Ebon Hawk into hyperspace.
Atton walked out into the main hold to hear Mira talking. "I can't believe we just blew up Goto's yacht!" she exclaimed rather surprised. Atton gave her a quizzical look. "Crime in this system was like the economy. Even if Vogga gets his freighters back running, this will affect years to come," she told Atton's face. "This will corrupt every single crime operation around!" He looked at her with a blank stare. "Then you won't mind if I hold back the tears?" he said unscathed by anything that had just happened.
"Hang on," Seth interjected. Why do Atton always have to fight? "Shut up both of you." He turned to Atton. "Where are we going next?" "Dantooine," he said simply. "Rolling fields of grass must be better for me that exploding yachts and crazy bounty hunters." He flashed a glance at Mira. "At least we found Master Zez-Kai Ell. After this, we still have to go to Korriban and then I'm guessing we'll receive Kex's transmission from the Queen so we can go back to Dxun and Onderon," Seth said, trying to be an optimist. They will never stop this arguing, will they?
The three turned suddenly at the sound of a droid floating in. A droid like the ones on the yacht came into view. "What the hell are you doing here?" Atton asked the droid. "I present a gift to you," the droid said. "This is absolutely insane!" Seth said. A gift from a guy who tried to kill me? No thanks. "Let's scrap it. Maybe there's some useful parts Bao can use." "I wouldn't do that," the droid, G0-T0, said. "You see, if scrapped or disabled, the self-destruct mechanism is triggered and there will be a new sun in the area." Seth sighed. So I'm stuck with this thing? Maybe we can dump it out the loading ramp, he thought.
Beeping came from consoles in the cockpit. Atton automatically got up and left to go see what was going on without Mira or Seth commenting. He disappeared along the hallway.
"So why are you here?" Seth asked. Mira shrugged. "You're just business," she said plainly, as if it was obvious. "Suuure," Seth said. "Look," Mira said, getting defensive, "you're my bounty and I'm stuck here, got it?" He laughed. "I'm your bounty? Who's the one with the lightsaber?" he asked. "What are you without it?" she challenged. "Or the Force? What are you without the Jedi priceless items?" Seth shrugged. "What I was before," he said bluntly. "A Jedi without the Force is like…is like Nar Shadda without the crime," Mira said. "Then I guess Nar Shadda is like me," Seth said. Mira scratched her head; Seth looked at her. "I don't have time for this," he said and walked towards the cockpit.
"Hey Atton," he shouted, "when will we reach Dantooine?" "A few hours at least," Atton yelled back. Seth looked at Mira who was standing and giving him quizzical looks. He looked away and walked out of the main hold to Kreia's dormitory. Who cares if she's a bit crazy, he thought. And she answers questions or yells at me
He reached the dormitory to find her meditating. Is this all she does? "I need to center myself, Exile," she said, strangely stressing the word "exile". He stared at her blankly. She's reading my thoughts! "I've got a name," he said. There were a few moments of silence between them for a few seconds before Kreia got up. "Why do you insist upon the growth of crew members?" she asked. "How many more will step onto this ship untouched?" "They invite themselves," Seth explained. "The bounty hunter? Self invitation. That strange droid? Self invitation. Do you think I want more?"
"You lie," Kreia said. "You enjoy the idea of the crew growing, especially with females. But you must not set your sights on them now; you must focus on the task at hand." "What the hell are you talking about?" Seth objected. "This is crazy." She stared at him blankly. I haven't got my sights on you He thought, knowing she was listening to them. Your face looks like it was stepped on by a herd of bantha—there are more creases on your face than there are on a messy Jedi robe! She grinned a somewhat evil grin at him. "At the very least you have your excuses sorted out, young one," she told him wryly.
Cursing her under his breath, he walked out of the dormitory. Why is she against me too? He thought. Before, she was talking my ear off but now she's whining about everything I do and everyone here. Hell, she complains more than Atton!
Seth walked out of the dormitory and past the cargo hold where the Handmaiden was kicking and hitting the air. Seth stood silently in the doorway and watched her concentrate on the invisible enemies. At least she has more dignity than Mira, Seth thought. The way she fought the air fascinated Seth, and he wondered how she could do that.
He walked into the cargo hold. "What are you doing?" he said. Startled, she twitched and stood to face him immediately. "Practicing," she said plainly. "What are you practicing?" he asked. "Echani fighting movements," she said. He watched her for a half a second before saying, "Can you teach me any?"
"I need to see you in battle first to know you," she said. "I can teach you the first tier. You must predict your enemies' movements; you must know where they are going to strike. We can train if you'd like, but it is without the Force or the use of a ranged or melee weapon of any kind." "I'd like that," Seth said, taking a few steps into the cargo hold. "I need to improve on hand-to-hand combat anyways." She nodded. "Alright," she said as she walked over to the doorway and closed the door.
He stared at her. "What are you doing?" he asked. "Privacy," she said like she was too lazy to say an entire sentence. "Privacy for what? We're just sparring," Seth said. "Among the Echani," the Handmaiden explained, "it is customary to spar without anything—swords, the Force, blasters." She paused, as if to add effect or because she was embarrassed. "Or armor." Seth looked at her quizzically with wide eyes. "No armor?" he said bewildered. After a few awkward seconds, he shrugged. "I've got some normal clothes underneath my bed," he said as he went for the door. Somehow, I can't believe this, he thought.
"Then I cannot teach you," she said. "Vanity is something you must give up for these lessons." She stared at him. Either she wants to teach me and follow the rules or just see me half naked, he thought. He turned around and messily untied his Jedi robes. Get this over with quickly, he thought. He untied the belt and threw the robes on the floor in one big pile and kicked them to the side so they would be out of his way. She had taken off her clothes too and folded them neatly. Must she outdo me in discarding clothing, also? He thought.
She was wearing barely anything and Seth felt slightly uncomfortable. He didn't want to stare at her.
He's not doing anything, the Handmaiden thought. He's just here…You've finally gotten him here and he's doing nothing! Teach him! "Look at me," she commanded. "Bow." She bowed to him, and he to her.
This is way too awkward, Seth thought. "On my command," she said, "we start." Seth nodded as he got into a ready stance. "Ready?" she said, getting into another ready stance. "Start."
Seth lightened his blows so he wouldn't hurt her. She's too beautiful to hurt, he thought. "Why are you going lightly?" the Handmaiden asked as they were fighting. She hit him—hard. "Act like I am the enemy."
At this invitation, Seth hardened his blows. "You are not fighting like I am the enemy," she said. "I cannot train you more until I know how you are in battle. I must observe and fight you myself." He gave a serious face and nodded, now swinging his fists and blocking madly.
He threw blows at her as hard as he could since she wanted him to. And if she gets hurt she better not cry to me, he thought. She seems like a tough warrior. His self-consciousness was wearing off just a bit, but still was at the realization he was fighting in his underwear.
As he was moving his hands and concentrating, she suddenly hit him in the side pretty hard. Trying not to show that it had hurt more than he expected, he put up more of an effort not to be beaten by a servant girl of Atris.
"When we're done," Seth said, "I want to talk to you about Atris." Why would he want to know about her? The Handmaiden wondered; she parried his moves and bit and tried to deliver final blows but he kept on evading and blocking her attempts.
Exhaustion eventually came to her, but it didn't seem to come to him. Does he tire at all? Her punches and kicks became less frequent and hard after about a half an hour of sparring. She finally fell to the floor after exhaustion took its toll on her; she didn't sleep well these nights so that was her excuse.
After a few seconds of eye contact, he held out his hand. "Good," she said. "Come tomorrow." She was speaking again as if she was too lazy to use sentences or explain anything. Seth nodded at this, threw on his robes, and scratched his short, dark hair. "Alright," he said. "Tomorrow then."
Seth walked over to the keypad to open the door and pressed the button to trigger it. The Handmaiden looked like she could've pinned him to the floor either for a rematch because her honor and ego had been affected by defeat or to start kissing him. There was this hunger, this eagerness, in her eyes that haunted Seth a bit. The woman herself was a bit scary—her strange haircut scared him a bit as well as her nature. She was a bit taciturn and serious at times, deep and through provoking, but still a bit boring and exciting at the same time. He'd learned that her father had been with someone else and that was her mother. She was the tainted member of the sisters, and Seth pitied her for this. She'd told him of her mother just a bit, and her mother's old Jedi robes were on her meaning she had a little pride in her background.
He stopped in the doorway to take one last look at her and waved so it wouldn't look suspicious. The Handmaiden watched him leave. We're going to Dantooine, she thought. We've already been to Onderon and the Mandalorians will send a message for us when Queen Talia tries to contact us. Nar Shadda—a place I never want to travel to ever again, especially if all of those bounty hunters are like that redhead. We've still got to go to Korriban and Dantooine. Hopefully this will be over soon so I can return to Atris and my sisters.
The amusement of counting the ticks in the power couplings was wearing off on Atton. Time to get something to eat, he decided as he got up out of the slouching position he was in as he sat in the surveillance room's chair. He stood up, stretched, and opened the door to the main hold. Atton walked the short distance to the cargo hold and stopped to see the Handmaiden practicing those Echani tiers again.
"Don't mind me," he said as he worked his way around her to get some strangely wrapped food out of a compartment. She didn't respond but just kept on getting in the stances. "Hey," he said, "don't think the ship doesn't know about you sparring with our ex-Jedi friend." He cast her a wry smile. "That is a training session," she said as she faced him. "And it's none of your business anyways." He shrugged and shuffled through packets of food. "Oh, I'm just here to tell you this isn't some kind of pleasure yacht," he said, "so just lay off." "What?" she asked. "You like him?" Atton gave dry laughter. "Hah, that's real funny. How many years of meditation it take you to think that one up?" He took a few steps. "He's got enough to deal with—and this schutta from Nar Shadda doesn't exactly lighten his load," he added. "You know the first tier," the Handmaiden asked, "don't you?"
"Maybe I do," Atton said, turning right in his tracks to face her. "Maybe I don't." "Why don't we duel?" she asked. "With you?" he asked, obviously shocked or insulted by the inquiry. "No thanks. Hey, I know the rules and regulations." He looked grimly at her. "Including the dress code." "It's Echani tradition," she corrected, "not a dress code." "Same thing," Atton said, opening up a package of nuts from Tatooine. "Besides, if you want your clothes to come off, just go play some Pazaak—Nar Shadda style though." "Is that all you think about?" she said angrily. "Don't you realize that there's more going on here than your stupid Pazaak?" This comment hit what home Atton had. "Hey," he said defensively, "at least I know how to play. I'm sure you locked up in that glacier have no idea what the hell Pazaak is." She cast him a scowl. On the verge of victory, Atton polished the argument: "Just lay off the sparring, alright? Oh, and make sure to give the other sisters my regards," he said. He took a few steps before adding, "Next time I'm coming in here I'm bringing a blaster." He walked a bit off. "Fool," she said. "Schutta!" Atton shouted back at her, saying that he wasn't deaf.
Seth was meditating in the empty dormitory opposite Kreia's when he felt a gentle thud. We've landed, he thought as he stood up and walked into the main hold. "We've landed," he heard Atton say. The entourage looked up as Seth entered. "Good," Atton said. "You're here." Seth nodded and walked forward.
"We're looking for Master Vrook here," Seth started. "I'm going to go check out the situation." The Handmaiden lit up at this statement. You mustn't let him go alone, she thought. Learn from him if anything… "I will accompany you," she spoke up. Atton cast her a glance. "I need to see these worlds for myself." She paused, searching for another excuse. "And so I can learn about them and share the knowledge with my sisters." Atton looked at her. "If you're going to lie," he said, "then do it right."
She glared at him. "I suppose you're the expert, aren't you?" she snapped. "Well, maybe," he said, "but at least I know how to lure a girl away without lying." The Handmaiden had a violent look in her eye. "Enough!" Kreia shouted. Atton stopped and glared at her.
"Enough of this foolishness," she said. "You, fool, will offer what little advice you have left in you when the time is right. Return to your silly cards and lifeless thoughts." She turned to the Handmaiden. "Accompany him if you wish, just be aware…I am watching." What's her problem? Seth thought as he beckoned for the Handmaiden to come with him. The two exited the ship; Seth noticed Atton watch them from the cockpit and make a face at the Handmaiden's back. This caused him to chuckle a bit, but stop when he saw the scenery.
There were beautiful rolling hills of grass and large bluffs and a stream that flowed quaintly nearby. The stream added a kind of background music that would be found only in the traveling holovids; it was sunset and looked like it belonged on a postcard. There was a small structure standing tall against the scenery. "Let's start there," he said, not heeding the mechanic or Ithorian salesperson or broken protocol droid on the landing pad.
The Handmaiden watched Seth's robes sway as he walked. His stance is even Jedi, she thought, even though he is an exile. His pace quickened once they were about twenty meters from the building. A woman approached them. "Hello," she said. "Welcome to Khoonda." She went on to explain its history and how this used to be the Matale house. She told the two of small and short history of Khoonda.
Seth nodded and said a quiet, "Thank you" when she was finished. After the greeter left them, he said to the Handmaiden, "Let's walk a little more and then go inside Khoonda." She knew not to argue, and she wanted to see the beautiful scenery. This is certainly a peaceful and pastoral place, she thought, observing the landscape.
As Seth and the Handmaiden approached a curve in the road, they saw some scrawny looking men coming towards them. "Don't bother headin' out to the enclave," one called. "It's been picked clean."
After the past, the Handmaiden said, "Salvagers." She looked at their departing bodies. "They pick off all the history that poor enclave has left in it, and the ones trying to preserve its history are having a hard time suppressing those salvagers, even though they're just trying to make a few credits to keep themselves alive." She looked at Seth; he was looking in the direction of the enclave with heavy eyes. "Don't you think?" she asked. He ignored the question or didn't know what she was asking about. He started walking, silently, the usual glimpse of happiness in his eye gone.
Something is troubling him, she thought as she watched his robe sway; he was walking differently. They rounded the corner and saw a salvager's camp with a few more scruffy looking guys and a woman who looked masculine—she was wearing big armor and carrying a large blaster. She stared the Handmaiden down with grim eyes that seemed to envy her youth, beauty, and clothing.
Seth and the Handmaiden proceeded a few more steps. She gasp, he stared. The enclave had collapsed so that most of it was crumbling on the ground. Maybe he felt an attachment to the enclave? She asked herself as Seth walked forwards and bit to a place where a large stone stood. To the left were dirty kath hounds and on the right was a woman and even more scrawny men were walking with blasters.
"Where's Jorran?" the woman barked at her crew. "Huh?" they said. "He's the one with the loot and he gets stuck…hopefully the laigreks didn't get at him." She noticed the Handmaiden and Seth looking at her. "What? You're going to go salvaging? Don't waste your time. If you don't find anything, the laigreks will most defiantly find you." "Why would I want to salvage things from an old Jedi enclave?" Seth asked. "For credits," the woman said. "Damn it, why can't Jorran keep up!" She surveyed her men. "Who's going back for him?" They shook their heads and said, "Not me", "Someone else", "I'm no better than Jorran", and other excuses so they wouldn't get killed by the laigreks. The woman shook her head and gave a disappointed, exhausted, and frustrated sigh. "Go back to the camp," she said. Turning to the Handmaiden and Seth, she spoke again, "And don't bother going in there. Besides, you need clearance from the administrator and she's back in Khoonda!" With that, she led her men back to the camp.
The Handmaiden stared at the locked door. Seth turned to her, and she already knew what he was going to say. "We need to get clearance," he said, stating the obvious. Shrugging, he added, "Besides, where else would a Jedi hide if not in an old Jedi academy itself?"
Author's Note: Since I breifly skimmed descritions of the fanfics for KotOR, I noticed there weren't many—or any at all—fanfics about the male exile. So, I've decided to take matters into my own hands (uh oh!) and write my own. I would like feedback on how this chapter has turned out so far so I know I'm not going down the tubes with this.