Chapter Eight

Thanks so much for being patient with me, while i worked out a few kinks for this chapter. i apologize that it seems that very little actually goes on in this chapter but i decided that i needed to add some back groud for my OC character. i really appriecate everyone that has reviewed this and to those of that haven't...Shame on you!!! JUst kidding. thanks again and i hope you enjoy!!

Raven stood under the shower head, letting the hot water wash away the dirt and grime not to mention tension that lingered from the strenuous effort of their battle in the Undercity. Carth had offered to go and pick up some food from the local shops. Mission still sat slumped on the tatty sofa in the apartment, with the holo-net controller firmly in her grasp. She put the troubled teen problem from her mind as she grabbed the shampoo and began to scrub her head. There was matted blood in the strands, the last remnants of the Rakghoul's that they had faced. The water was tinted pink from not only the creature's blood, but her own she'd been determined to not let Carth notice she had had taken a few nasty slashes from the beast's claws.

When she was finally clean she slipped from the shower, she dressed quickly in the slim fitting sleep pants she'd picked up at the local merchants and a pale yellow cami. The armour that she had worn needed some definite work, so she dumped it in the shower to wash the remaining blood and guts off the surface. As soon as she had enough credits she'd have to buy a new set, but for now she'd just have to work with what she had. When she'd finished she grabbed the rest of her gear and headed back into the main apartment. She noticed that Mission hadn't moved a muscle since she'd left the room, as she made her way to the workbench, set off to one side. The armour fell to the bench with a thud, rousing Mission from her channel surfing. The teen looked up as raven turned t o walk across the room for her backpack.

"Wow… are those real?"

The young girl's voce was awe filled and uncertain, yet it stopped Raven in her tracks.

"Are what real?"

She knew the answer before she even spoke, but wanted to test how far Mission would be willing to go with this. The girl approached, her hand stretched out to finger the odd metallic graph's that lay on her skin.

"Frack, they are real – where… where did you get them?"

"I take it you mean the graph's?"

"Yeah… I've heard of these. I thought it was a myth."

The girl hadn't noticed how uncomfortable her line of questioning had made Raven feel, but she tamped down her irritation. It was a perfectly valid question.

"I wish they were."

"What? These are great! They increase strength, help endurance. There lighter then bone and ten times stronger. Why wouldn't you want them?" The girl was genuinely confused.

"Because unlike what your imagining the reality of having graph's fitted is utter burning agony… especially the way I received mine."

"Why I thought that you'd volunteered or something."

"Frack no! I was in a… accident when I was eleven. A wall fell on me, crushed my entire right side which is why I have this."

She raised her metallic hand to show the girl.

"The graph's well they aren't just on the surface Mission. Every bone in my entire body was replaced. Where the graphs sit o the surface is where the nerve damage was too severe to ever be repaired."

"Sith spit! How did you manage to survive something like that?"

"That's what I'd like to know."

The reply was short but the edge had left Raven's voice. The girl was simply curious; there was no repulsion or horror at the metallic implants.

"Here check out my spine."

Raven turned and lifted the bottom of the cami for Mission to see the exposed metal where each spinal section had once been.

"Wow! How sis they do that?"

"Most of my bones were damaged in the … accident so it was decided that it would benefit me more to just replace them. But you can't just take bones away, so they used this technique called metallurgy where a compound was pumped through my body and as it was absorbed it bound itself to the calcium of my bones… eventually it replaced then altogether."

"Didn't that take forever?"

"A year… I couldn't move, couldn't feel. I was in a bacta tank for most of it but still – it hurt – a lot."

"So your bones are made out of this… metal stuff now?"

"Cortosis… it's pretty rare but one of the few metals that can be used."

"So the graphs, do they sit on your skin? Or are they connected to the bone-metal-whatever?"

"The nerve damage from the accident was worse on my right side. Some of my bones where completely crushed. So the graphs sit on the skin but are connected to the 'bone-metal-whatever' they carry the impulses from my brain and move the muscles needed."

"Didn't you say you where a pilot? Do they let you fly like that?"

"I'm not broken Mission… I'm healthier than most humans… most sentient's out there; like you said thought it does make me stronger and give me a higher endurance. I'm also left handed so the finer movements aren't affected."

"I didn't mean to say you where broken… I just think it's amazing you still do what you do."

"So do I."

Carth's voice echoed from the doorway, he'd obviously arrived sometime ago as the door had closed on its own, but neither Raven nor Mission had noticed his arrival.

"How… how long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough. If what I heard was true then I'm assuming you got your Cortosis from the Mandalorian's. They're the only ones who still use that form of reconstruction."

"How do you know that?"

"I fought in the Mandalorian's wars remember? I got the food we should eat before it gets cold."

"Thanks."

She watched as he unpacked various cartons on the unit in the tiny kitchenette. Mission grabbed two, handing one to Raven as she passed before retaking her seat of the overstuffed sofa. Carth pulled a stool from the tiny breakfast bar out for her, then one for himself.

"So you where in the Mandalorian wars, funny your service record never mentioned it."

"It wouldn't I was hardly old enough to be in academy prep let alone the military."

"But you did fight… didn't you?"

"In a manner of speaking."

"I'm asking you to tell me."

"Is this your attempt at being open?"

"I … yes I guess it is."

"Ok, I'll tell you – if you tell me why you're so distrustful of everyone – deal?"

"I guess so … yeah it's a deal."

"Ok … Officially I never fought in the Mandalorian wars."

"Unofficial then?"

"My home world was Derelia… I don't suppose you've ever heard of it?"

"No."

"It was a tiny world… well moon really… a research and development compound the only base, the rest of the planet was farmland. My father was a geneticist at the base a highly compassionate man he dedicated his life to helping people. My mother was … well a warrior, her combat skill where unmatched. Her ship crashed on the planet's surface and she was seriously injured… my father nursed her back to health… they fell in love - got married - had my sister and me."

Raven took a bite of her food quickly not letting herself linger too much over the past.

"When I was eleven… the Mandalorian's came. We had no weapons… no defences… we where peaceful. It didn't matter; they bombed the R & D base. My father died instantly, my mother and I were at home when the troops started pouring through our village. She made me stay inside then grabbed her weapons and rushed out to meet them. Have you ever seen a true warrior in battle?"

"I saw many of the Jedi battling the Mandalorian's, they fought like demons."

"Yes … that was my mother, a hurricane of fury and determination. I can't remember how many she killed but the bodies lay waist high. A Mandalorian stabbed her in the back while she fought, I watched as she fell. The world seemed to stop… that's all I remember. The next thing I know I have my mother's vibrosword in my hands and its shoved straight through the coward who attacked her. Time passed I guess as I kept fighting I could tell they were wary. I was a child yet I fought like a demon, finally I was backed against a wall a group of then having blocked me in, when an air strike hit not 100 meters away. The wall at my back … collapsed, trapping me and the group of Mandalorian's beneath it."

"By the force Raven, that's almost unbelievable."

"I know… I wish it was. The Mandalorian's have this thing… if a warrior dies in battle then he is given a warriors funeral. They don't leave their dead behind… or at least they try not to. Anyway they were digging through the rubble for the dead when they came across me. I was alive… somehow. I don't remember what happened but evidently the commander of the Mandalorian ground troops was impressed. A mere child killing their trained warriors surviving what those some warriors hadn't. They decided I had the spirit of a true Mandalorian and deserved to die in glorious battle… not at the bottom of a pile of rock. The idiot's… if they'd only known."

"Known what?"

"I already was Mandalorian… half anyway. My mother had crashed her basilisk war-droid after taking heavy damage in battle. I'd been raised as Mandalorian… trained as a Mandalorian, and still they slaughtered us as if we where cattle."

"You're… you're Mandalorian?"

Raven watched a tenseness settle over Carth's shoulders and gave an inwards sigh.

"I haven't changed Carth, I can't change the circumstances of my birth and I wouldn't want to. My parents where good proud people, my father was half Echani. Being a warrior is in my blood but I believe in the Republic have fought for that Republic since I was 15."

"I'm sorry… I just … I guess I still have some issues to deal with regarding Mandalorian's. I know you're different, I trust you."

"Thank you that means a lot."

"I'm assuming the Mandalorian's took you with them when they left?"

"Yes… to Duxn… like I said I spent a year in a bacta tank."

"That was you?"

His eyes snapped wide as if a piece of a larger puzzle had suddenly fallen into place.

"You where the civilian on Duxn… the one who directed the Republic's fleet where they needed to strike and how … when… everything – it was you!"

"I worked with Commander Dodanna or at least she was at the time… yes."

"You went into battle with the ground troops, even though you had been ordered to remain behind."

"I knew they'd never make it where they needed to go without my help."

"You could have been killed!"

"Possibly… but I had vengeance very firmly on my mind. Do you know why you've never heard of Derelia?"

"No I thought I would have it being a scientific community like you described."

"You've never heard of it because it doesn't exist anymore. The Mandalorian's bombed an active volcanic chain… causing a cataclysmic eruption that blasted the planet into pieces. There isn't even enough to form an asteroid field, just a sorry little dust cloud circling the gas giant that the moon orbited."

"Oh force Raven… I – I'm so sorry. I know this is going to sound trite but I know how you feel… somewhat anyway."

"How the hell can you possibly know that?"

Raven snapped, grief clouding her words.

"I … I was born on Telos. I lost everything when the Sith attacked my world."

"Oh … is that why you don't trust?"

"Yeah, my friend… or at least I thought he was my friend… and commanding officer was Saul Karath."

"Oh Carth… I'm … I don't know what to say."

"I guess we've got a lot more in common then we'd wish for. Thank you… for trusting me with this."

"You're my friend, and a fine soldier. I'm honoured to have had this time to work besides you."

Raven smiled and went back to work consuming her cold meal.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------