Author's Note - Set six to seven thousand years before the battle of Yavin, before Knights of the Old Republic even, sits our story with a unique cast where every character has a play time of more than six months in the story-based environment of Star Wars: Ways of the Force. Some even have a life of over fives years, (yikes) which makes them incredibly deep and quite easy to write for.

If you review this story I thank you ahead of time. However, I hope you simply enjoy reading this work of fiction!

The Times

After the Sith and Jedi clashed on the frozen surface of Arkania, the galaxy has been at piece, mostly. The Jedi still train and the Sith continue their selfish efforts towards their 'freedom' of power. Smugglers still run illegal payloads through space and the many criminal organizations still operate on remote moons.

Taking from the prize of information, the Bounty Hunter's Guild is paid to find a certain place on a certain planet and report their findings to a private dealer, Nel Huri.

The Falleen's voice registered in unstable cracks over their ships coms. It was clear, Jansur Moon was the place. X'en was never really interested in books or artifacts, but the bounty on this particular find was outrageous. The dealer paid for their fuel and supplies, offering the reward as well. The golden Twi'lek's teeth showed as he walked with the olden style map that crumbled in his hands.

"No reason to upset yourself pollo…" His black eyed, green skinned of a Rodian friend answered him from behind. X'en was nearly six feet tall leaving his partner Teesan at an early five.

"The credits are worth it, but I wonder if the Guildmaster will give us a fair cut of this headache." The Rodian shrugged, the bounty office was fair most of the time when they didn't make up expenses to tear from your bill.

X'en licked his teeth, disgustingly, as they began their trek into the jungle. It wasn't that hot, especially when compared to the Rodian jungles and casinos, and even seemed to be further chilled the deeper they walked.

"What do you suppose that is pollo?" Teesan asked as his wide, expressionless eyes reflected the large entrance in the dimming light.

Flicking his tongue, X'en stuffed the yellowed map in his hard leather flight jacket. "That's our baby." He said with a wide, and sharp, smile. The slanting green light was becoming simply a mere memory as they walked into the artifact's home. It was cold and dark but as Teesan clicked a switch on his blaster, a wide filling orange glow pervaded down the hallway. X'en's wrapping head tentacles, lekku they were called, twitched as his sharp eyes widened. The walls were covered in markings he'd never seen before. Statues lined the hall as far as the eye could see, ending with a speck of blue. Teesan blinked,

"You see that too? I think it's getting brighter pollo." The Rodian squeaked in protest wiping away the drop of slime that fell from the ceiling. His steps were light as he walked in his full, yellow, flight suit. Tapping his tooth with a clawed finger X'en followed before something suddenly came to mind.

"Why do you suppose, as easy as it was to get here, that it's worth so much to deep pockets?" A minor nickname for clients with bountiful bank accounts.

"Deep pockets…" Teesan started with a shrug, as he held his blaster at chest level, "Maybe he's just generous pollo?" Maybe. But that wouldn't explain what a rich dealer wanted with something old and decrepit, other than to hang on his wall perhaps. Teesan was wrong though, the rich were such because they were either greedy, or killed someone. As they walked, the blue light steadily became more luminescent and he could make out small bits of photon bits floating freely, similar to the zapflies back home. It still several meters away though, his attention turned towards the markings. He once had a good contact, a scholar, that pursued all languages and one of the few non-Twi'leks to understand what his lekku meant when they sometimes twitched and moved.

It was seemingly familiar, a character that he'd seen many times before; always in these dank, dripping tombs.

"Pollo!" Teesan exclaimed sliding the top of the stone box away to reveal the altar sitting prize within.

A lightsaber.

"A lightsaber pollo?" he questioned turning to face a terribly frightened X'en. His own, Rodian, face twisted in confusion.

"There's traps, always traps Teesan. Please just… set that down." But it was too late, the statues behind Teesan animated and there was no time for screams, just the gurgle from Teesan. They came hard and fast but weren't solid, the spiked Massassi weren't right. Instead of hands they had several black tentacles that cut Teesan to pieces with a single swipe.

X'en fell over himself, stumbling and choking on his own pained breaths as he watched Teesan fall in a puddle of unrecognizable matter. The creatures screamed after the running X'en before they began their pursuit.

The Twi'lek wasn't the best shot, the best slicer or even the best pilot for that matter. But the vision of his good friend falling apart and the horrific look on the marred creatures faces made him the champion runner of all time in the neutral system. They continued after him though and he didn't know what they looked like in the light that was nearly gone. He could hear the heavy thuds of their clawed feet glistening with blood. Another scream; like the deep sound of a ship's hull dragging against the edge of a docking bay. Save it was deeper, more carnal.

And they were getting closer.

Even their tentacles made a horrible sound, whipping and snapping against themselves. Easily filling their victims with terror and their master with delight.

Then another sound, that of the churning whips reeling back.

Purple. It was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. Then he realized what it was and his joy grew ten-fold. It was Shiv, standing right behind a spinning power cannon as it's end began to heat up. Diving, he rolled up the docking ramp and into the cockpit to slide against the opposite wall, back resting against it. A perfect sight to watch the black Massassis charge through the bush.

It was loud, deafening even, but as the near constant stream of ship shaking laser bolts exploded from the end of Shiv's weapon, it was nothing but music. The creatures screamed as they began to turn red and then each exploded together.

Then there was silence. For even though the cannon's spinning emitted a noise none could hear it. Shiv's boots clanked against the docking ramp as she landed from the stationary turret. Then a hand came over her mouth as she saw X'en lying in a pool of blood.

The Find

"So that's it? Ah black Massasi? Ah'm tellin' yah miss they don't make 'em like that." Back at the Bounty Hunter's Guild, Shiv waited for the Guildmaster as she bickered with a drunk and condescending Kaid.

"That's what I saw…" her tone had risen beyond simply yelling at this point, "Black with spikes all over. And blades and covered in blood!"

When Rad left his office he only saw the six and a half foot brick wall Kaid slumped on the floor, held up only by his beaten duster's collar. Held by the hands of a slender, but solid woman. Kaid could take it but even if Rad didn't know that, he'd have let her beat him regardless.

He waved a clawed hand for her to come in and walked the some thirty feet to his expensive wooden desk.

"Now…" The Falleen started, removing his two blasters to set them on his desk, "I've heard a few different things up until now. But what did you actually find?" He asked with his solid green eyes watching the purple haired mercenary before crossing his large arms.

Yon sat meditating quietly, it'd only been a few days since his arrival at Coruscant, but he'd acclimated quickly to the greater amount of life that flowed through the force here, and the distant noise of ships landing and taking off. Everything was quiet with him though, his mind was silenced and listened only to the force.

And he saw the statues come to life, tear a man apart and rage through the jungles of a certain planet before their demise. It wasn't quite that simple however, there was something else in that Sith tomb. Something more than the items, but their owners didn't belong their either. Jumping violently from one part vision to one part force Yon felt his stomach sink and his feline eyes snapped open with only shock on their canvas of emotions. He had to find his Master, a Master to help him interpret these visions. He'd never trained in the force to do such a thing and its sudden arrival was startling.

The Jedi

Ian smiled brightly as the female Twi'lek walked past, a pink little miss.

"Hey there darlin', stay around here for awhile. Once we're done here ah wouldn't mind yer company." To him his smile was genuine, to her it was dopey. Rolling her eyes with a sigh she, walked into the nearby bar. Kyle had told Maxwell countless times that his actions didn't meet Jedi requirements, that he needed to serve others more boldly than he did and act with more self consciousness. His words had fallen on ears that would not hear them. He watched Ian Maxwell blow kisses to another youthful Twi'lek, this time blue. Ian didn't even wear his Order's outfit most of the time, instead picking out a leather flight jacket and dark pants. Never the less he was a Knight and a powerful Battlemaster like himself. They were a team, two of the most potential Jedi Master's seen in the last hundred years across several planets.

They weren't here to debate their greatness, Ian's habits or Kyle's own morals as he sat on a nearby bench outside the Darkside bar on Coruscant, full clad in his robes. This was a mission for the Order; a disgruntled mercenary was walking around with a set of battle ready droids and a lightsaber threatening people. They'd heard about this through rumors on Taboon, a rogue Mandalorian is what they'd heard through The Order.

Ian's sources however, shady as usual, gave them a great more deal of information. That he was going to show up outside of this particular bar in Coruscant's underworld for a bounty. The worried Human was much happier when he knew that two Jedi would be protecting him. And so here they were, chatting with multi-colored Twi'leks and waiting for six hours. Kyle still sat in his chosen spot, head down, feeling through the force for their quarry while Ian did the same thing…just in a different way. Pacing about with the occasional smiles to any lady that would enter the bar and again when they left.

Then Kyle lifted his head opening his eyes. Ian had already turned his head in the direction that his once master was looking.

Four droids rounded the corner, each with a blaster on each arm and marred metallic finishes; blade and blunt damage marks all over their forms. Then following them was, just as they'd been told, a large figure in full Mandalorian armor that glinted and shone even below the surface of Coruscant. But more importantly was his weapon; a heavy arms Mandalorian issue blaster repeater, much larger than anything even a credit-filled bank room could buy.

"People are going to be hurt." Kyle said as he stood to his feet. Ian nodded. They'd have to end this quickly. Then they heard a male's altered voice echo through metal,

"A Jedi? You must be here to stop me. I'm going to get Danik.." He said and immediately eight blasters came to bear and the heavy repeater started to whirl.

"An' here ah thought he'd have a lightsaber." Ian said with a large, mocking grin.

There were so many shots, as it began to rain, that fire started to light the darkened walls of the underworld. Kyle stood and drew his saber, his mind beginning to flow through the force only; in the hail of red only a few bolts had him actually moving his saber to block them. Ian didn't even draw his two sabers as he ran through the maelstrom of fire. Deftly he stepped aside the blasts, they pushed so much against him in the force that to get burned by them seemed impossible. After ducking and shifting his feet to slide here and there, left and right, he came to a skidding stop just in front of the Mandalore.

"'Scuse me mut." He then winked, tipping the hat that wasn't present on his head. Flinching inside his helmet and gritting his teeth, the Mandalore wheeled the weighty blaster towards the too-close target. Inside his helmet his eyes followed Ian's leaping form some thirty feet into the air before movement at ground level caught his eyes. All of his droids followed Ian! The same distance before they began their smashing decent towards the highly scorched Underworld floor. He only had a moment to worry about his lost droids as light reflected off of his armor; a bright one that severed his weapon to a worthless piece of metal before slamming against his chest, knocking him back and down. The Mandalore hadn't even seen Kyle move, let alone close the distance between them enough to strike him. He came to a sliding, noisy and armor scraping halt against the ground, as did his droids… practically disintegrating as they and Ian landed at the same time. Kyle brought his saber up to deflect a handful of rogue parts as the Mandalore began to scramble to his feet. Ian, having landed just next to him, with hands in his pockets, took his boot and knocked the helmet free, watching it slide several feet.

"Kor?" Ian's face twisted into one of subdued laughter, but even his Jedi training couldn't hold back the girlish giggle that escaped his mouth. Kyle, again noting the lax of Jedi traits that Ian showed frequently, slipped his cold saber back into his belt loop.

"We were fighting such a minor threat?" Kyle said, even admitting himself that this particular man could be intimidating to cooks and waitresses in the neutral sector, but never really held his own against real challengers. Ian knew Kor from his high amount of knowledge in neutral space, Kyle knew of him because he'd kidnapped two Republic officers.

Honor was important to Mandalorians, more so than nearly any other race of peoples; so as Kor picked up the shattered pieces of his pride he drew his small hold-out blaster to fire on Kyle but it was far too late. With one blast of force the weapon was ripped from his hand to skid harmlessly away before both Master and his once student sent a wall of force to crush Kor. The result was a crumpled Mandalore on the floor of the Underworld outside of the "Darkside" Bar.

"Lightsaber?" Kyle asked as Ian shook his head.

"Don' look like it. What do ya suppose got ta him 'fore us?" Ian asked holding a hand on his chin and mouth, half introspectively and half to stifle the smile that was growing. Kor's armor was beaten, as if by a blunt weapon, and there were blade marks all over the once shined blue suit.

"And if he were to be carrying one around, where did he get it? Neutral worlds don't have that kind of technology." Then Kyle took a hand to his chin for a moment, "He's probably just had that armor for awhile, it's been a couple years since the wars." He mused before turning away and speaking with the police force that had been nearby, for the pickup. Meanwhile Ian turned a bit more serious, someone was playing a trick; but who and why? He couldn't see the motive for sending a failed Mandalorian about the galaxy on a power trip with a weapon he couldn't use. If he had the time; a trip to beat the answers out of his favorite Sith would be in order. Ian threw his floor length braid over his back before his violet eyes looked up to Kyle; he felt something strange coming from his old Master.

"The Order needs us back at the Praxeum soon. Something's happened while we were away." Ian's brow tightened as he tried to interpret what Kyle was meaning. The soldiers arrived, each of the four giving separate salutes, and began the extraction of Kor to his cell. Ian nodded,

"Let's get back ta' the Praxeum an' see then."

Thank you for reading! But why stop? Chapter two is one click away.