Chapter Twelve

(Jedi Temple, Ossus Three days after incident)

The mercenary turned. "Hello, Anek."

Jean rocked against the wall of the hallway, pushed back by an invisible force. She reached for her lightsaber, but before she could press the activation stud it flew from her hands. It slapped into the mercenary's with a [ithunk.[/i

He looked at the lightsaber for a moment, then casually tossed it over his shoulder. "I'm disappointed," he said. "That's not an appropriate greeting on my homeworld."

Jean cleared her throat. "Of course, sorry. Bad reflex. I normally take it out when somebody pushes me against the wall. I should have made an exemption."

Looking at him now, she knew she shouldn't wince. The mercenary stood before her, a weird gleam in his eye. The same one she had seen in the cafeteria so long ago. His wispy gray-black hair seemed to rustle slightly with an invisible wind. His tone remained curiously friendly, not at all angry. "Where is the Weapon Master?"

"Went off to Bespin to find your master," she lied.

"No. Here. Ossus. Where at?"

"If I tell you, you won't kill me?"

"I won't kill you. I admire your persistence." There was almost a purr to his voice.

"That's comforting." Jean narrowed her eyes slightly, and the mercenary fell backwards. With another mental exertion, she activated the lightsaber he had thrown behind her. It would have run him through had he not moved at the last minute. He collapsed on the ground. She held him there, pushing down as hard as she could.

Suddenly she was released from her invisible hold. She stumbled foreword like a drunk as the pressure was removed. Her momentary lapse in concentration made him break his own chains and scramble to his feet. "Insolent girl!" he bellowed.

Instantly, Jean felt herself being lifted into the air and slammed into the ceiling. She felt the breath knocked out of her, and suddenly gravity reversed, and she slammed towards the floor, head-first. Stars exploded in her head, and she lay there for a moment, unaware if she was alive or not.

"Get up, girl. Fight like a Jedi!"

Jean let out a howl of rage and launched her own Force-propelled attack at him. He slammed into the wall, hard enough to make a chip in the stone, and lay there, unmoving.

She slowly got up to her feet, keeping a weary eye on him.

His hand twitched.

She turned around and ran down the passageway, towards the cross-corridors filled with students just ending their classes. She wouldn't waste her breath on a comlink until she was surrounded by people. She put every effort towards running.

Something seemed to move in her head, as though there were a greased worm wriggling in her brain matter, heading toward the exit of one of her ears. She ignored the sensation. She ran.

The first corridor was ahead, lightly trafficked by small Padawans who didn't yet notice her. She turned rightward into it, towards heavier concentrations of Padawans. Her rapid movements didn't attract attention; a lot of people were running, playing tag or hide 'n seek before the next meal. Even a large giant like her wouldn't disrupt the children from their game. A few moments later she was in a crowd of Jedi Knights and their Padawans, streaming out of a room where the Bonding lessons took place.

She pulled out her ocmlink. Now she could…

She could what?

Call someone, she supposed. But who? And why did she need to call anyone? What had she been jogging for?

And where had she lost her blasted lightsaber? Maybe she had dropped it in the throng of Padawans. That would be just perfect, a great ending to her day.

Putting away her comlink, she turned around and began searching for her lightsaber, looking through the Force for its' distinctive pulse. When she finally found it, in one of the deserted corridors, she noticed a crack in the granite wall. Part of the artificial light shown though.

Wonder what happened there…

--

The fight had drained Ghez, both physically and mentally. He limped down the halls, keeping to the ones where there were no observers. His head throbbed painfully where it had struck the hard wall. He was surprised the girl had managed to get so far away before he had come to his senses and erased her memories. It had been a test for himself, and to see the girl's own fighting abilities. N all honesty, he had thought of her as the weaker of the two Padawans he had the pleasure of fighting, but now…

This girl was clearly the stronger. Even without the strange, mysterious power that had boosted his own during that last fight, he could feel that she would play an important role in events to come. She had been able to break his grasp. To knock him senseless.

That power, he sensed, had come from something that was at once part of her, and part of something greater. Like a second person living within her, directing her actions.

Troubled, Ghez continued to his new assigned quarters. With his last reserves of strength, he slowly but steadily healed the large gash on his forehead, leaving nothing but a small, white scar where the granite had pierced it.

--

Evlyn's room was small and modest, with a small desk, a sleep-couch, a HoloBroadcaster, and bookshelves stuffed with books from a few science-fiction and fantasy series. There was a large granite table that seemed to be growing out of the ground between the couch and HoloBroadcaster. Evlyn stood behind it, placing a few extra clothes into her bag. She glanced up as Auron entered. A smile broke out across her face. "I thought you got lost," she said, chuckling.

Auron shrugged. "I don't take the turbolifts," she said. "Too packed."

Evlyn raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Auron noticed she had already changed out of her simple jerkin and into a loose-fitting purple T-shirt with a picture of flowers on it that could have been a tattoo. She had her hair in multiple braids that seemed to stick to her hair, like a darker-skinned person would do. Auron could see makeup on her face, and could very clearly see the earrings in her ears.

"Where are you going to hide your lightsaber?" Auron asked, giving Evlyn another skeptical gaze. "With those tight pants I bet you cant stick a credcard in there without everybody knowing."

Evlyn smiled. "I'll bring a purse with me."

"A purse." Auron looked at Evlyn incredulously. "You have… a purse? You're Vieux's Padawan and you have a purse?"

Evlyn nodded. "I'm a bit more girly than you or Jean." She shrugged. "Sorry."

Auron just shook her head and dumped her bag on the floor. "Master Taban said you have some clothes that might fit me." Auron hoped that she didn't. Digging something out of the other clothing units would suffice enough. And the only reason I haven't done that is because I'm supposed to stay with you and be a good little girl, she thought bitterly. "I'm a medium. Size sixteen. Whatever."

Evlyn nodded. "Yeah, Sanji told me. And you'll have to call her by her first name, now. She's our parent's best friend and she's watching over us until our parents sort out their differences and pick us up."

Something inside of her revolted against being sisters with Evlyn, but she nodded anyway. Evlyn showed her to a closet and told her to pick out whatever she wanted. When Evlyn went over finish neatly putting things into her bag, Auron muttered, "Force save me," and covered it with a sneeze. She picked out a dirt-brown shirt that clung to her body, and few more plain ones, and some jeans. Evlyn seemed to have raided the Jedi Civilian Closet herself. There were tons of things in there that didn't even fit her.

Auron took her selection back over towards her bag and stuffed it in without folding them up. She caught Evlyn giving her back a Look, but ignored it for now. "Do you have a hairbrush and toothpaste?" came the next question from Miss Priss.

"I have the hairbrush."

"What about shoes? Or are you going out in your travel boots?"

"Let's say I'm the tomboy of the two." Auron took out a dark blue shirt and a pair of flared jeans. "I'm going to go change."

"Alright."

--

On the speeder ride to Imbraani spaceport, Auron sat in the back. Sanji and Evlyn were up front, chatting excitingly about the mission. Auron held her bag close to her and stared out the window, back at the Jedi Enclave. You could barely see it against the mountain unless you knew what you were looking for. They drove over a field of wheat grains, careful not to damage them.

Sanji turned her head to glance back at Auron once or twice. They were already miles away, and getting farther. Auron felt a pit of nervousness in her stomach.

My first mission. With a Council Member.

This is… crazy.

Auron still couldn't believe it. She was too used to computers, RPing on the internet with her friends, talking on forums. She never told anyone but two how old she was, and what she was. She shared her own drama at the Enclave with them, and she was sure they doubted her, at least a little bit. She didn't know what their reactions would be if she told them she was going on her first mission. They were only used to her brief periods of absence so she could study.

If it's a bigger absence, will they realize what is happening?

Missions are classified information. She wanted to tell them so much. The only thing she could force out was that she was sorry, and to please watch over the RPs and the site until she got back.

They seemed to understand. They had accepted the fact.

Why could she herself accept it?

For twelve years she had waited to be sent on a mission. Twelve years of bravado. Twelve years of teasing. There was an entire galaxy out there, and she wanted to explore it! To feel the currents of the Force around her. And she had the chance, right here and now.

What if I fail?

The prospect of failing made a dark imprint in her mind. I won't. I won't.

Maybe, if she kept telling herself this, she won't. Maybe she won't. Maybe.

"You're awfully quiet back there, Auron," said Sanji. "Are you tired?"

"Nah. Just thinking how hard it must've been to carve out the Enclave." The lie was hollow, and she knew it. In the reflection of the window, she saw Sanji flick a glance at Evlyn. The knot of nervousness in her stomach grew. It was one of those things you wished you hadn't seen, or noticed. "How much farther until we reach Imbraani?"

"About half an hour," Evlyn said. "I hope you brought a book or two."

"Yeah… I borrowed one of yours, by the way."

"Which one?"

"Knights of the Old Republic I and II. It should help me with my old History classes. We don't learn much about Revan anymore. Just the recent history." Auron could see the cover of the two-part series in her mind's eye. She really wanted to start reading it, but she knew she'd have to start while she was on the ship towards their first stop, Jacinto. Otherwise, she's finish the first one before they set down for landing about an hour later. "Have you learned about Revan, Ma—Sanji?"

The dark-skinned Zabrack nodded gravely. "He was a very powerful man," she said. "Only through his actions did the Jedi survive."

Auron made a noncommittal sound. "I guess…"

"You have a question?" Evlyn asked. "I've read that thing cover-to-cover and over again."

"Tell me about Mission Vao," she said. She loved to hear about the blue Twi'lek and her Wookie companion. "I know that after Revan destroyed the Star Forge she became an ambassador. Nothing else, though."

"From what I know, she quit her job and went back to Kashyyk to take care of Jolee Bindo. By the time of the second novel, he had shown signs of kidney cancer and a whole lot of problems. It progressed too far, and after he died she went back to Dantooine to help in the reconstructing. She died later on in the Crystal Cave. They call it Mission's Cave is remembrance to her."

"She didn't have any kids?"

Evlyn shrugged. "If she did, they're lost now. Not everybody cares about bloodlines anymore."

"Some people still do," Sanji said severely. "Jedi, for instance."

"If we were Luke Skywalker's descendants, would you know?" Auron asked. "I mean, seriously."

"Of course we would. We have every initiate's family tree in the database. Most of them are sons and daughters of Jedi Masters."

Suddenly, the speeder went silent. Auron could see the set of Sanji's jaw, and knew she was miffed. Evlyn was sinking deep into a book called Invincible by Troy Denning, an author from Naboo. The cover showed a female Jedi with a bright lightsaber blade fighting a Sith. It had to be a Sith, anyway. His lightsaber was red and his hood obscured his face.

Auron sighed through her nose and rummaged through her bag for her datapad. Time to see if there were any new posts in the RP.

She was in the middle of the part where Jedi Knight Nell Lamboda and Private Carlos Mathers engaged in a firefight with the Locust Horde when they arrived into the city. Auron typed in a quick "g2g and bbl" message before shutting it off and stowing it in her bag.

--

Like most of the galaxy's sentient species, Kalanese had a torso, two legs, two arms, and one head. They bear much resemblance to Humans, and are often called Humanoid. Their heads had two eyes, one slitted nose for breathing and smelling (which also released a pungent odor in the air when the Kalanese is stressed. Purple or blue steam is usually seen coming out), but no mouth. Instead, two great tusks curve where the jawbone should be. Kalanese arms had four-clawed hands for manipulation, mirrored by their legs' three-toed feet. Also, like most species, they came in two sexes, male and female. Their skin came in varying shades of black, green, and even yellows and blues. They were made of hard scale which can take a hit from an artillery blast with minor damage.

Despite overall physiological uniformity, baseline Kalanese varied greatly in appearance. Their face shapes were largely different, and many were smaller or larger than the normal, average height. Their eyes came in shades of blue, green, gray, purple, yellow, or brown. In their culture, purple eyes were deemed as bad luck, while gray eyes were killed. Their skins tones varied greatly.

Not much is known about the Kalanese history, only that their home planet is somewhere beyond the reaches of the Galaxy. They first appeared in the Yuuzhan Vong war, and have since not allowed further research be done upon them. The most famous Kalanese to this day is Jedi Grand Master Vieux.

Jaing leaned back in his seat, frowning. With a click of a button, he ordered the computer to give him a printout of the information and various examples of Kalanese diversity. It would have to do. He folded the papers and tucked them into his pants pocket. Having already changed and packed for the journey, he could spend his free time doing something more productive. He quickly typed in the Galaxy Wide database and clicked on YouTube.

For the next thirty minutes, sounds of loud hegsae rock music filled the deserted computer room. When Vieux came to collect him, however, the music was nothing but a simple classical version of the renowned musician Roland E. Krate's 18th Symphony, the Grand Master's favorite, and his faithful Padawan was doing research on Rogan Strife using the universal databases. It looked like Jaing had been doing something a boy his age should be.

The freshly-printed flimsy-sheets in his pockets told otherwise.

--

Notes: Sorry for the R/L mentions in there. Invincible is actually a book by Troy Denning. Knights of the Old Republic is a video game series. Auron Kae actually does RP and post on forums much like some of us. YouTube is the best video-hosting site on the 'net. :P And I own none of those.