Kumus curses himself for getting stuck up here after finally setting the last of permacrete detonators at the sites chosen by Mandalore. Likewise to be out of ammo did him no good either. He spots three cloaked figures not far below, but possibly out of shouting range. The young Mandalorian tosses a pebble in their direction, but it fails to attract attention except to rouse the nearby predators though he is safe from them for the moment. He could only hope someone would note his lateness and come looking for some sign of him though he hopes it would be those strangers, not one of his comrades.
The embarrassment of this is one thing, but to be a Mandalorian and have this happen is doubly so especially if other Mandalorians become aware of it. The constant rain and thunder also made being out in the open dangerous to one's health as a damp uniform is just as quick a killer as any of those creatures below. He folds himself up trying to contain his body heat against the wetness of the rock face. Survival is paramount until he should try to leave on his own, die here, or deal with the embarrassment of being found up here alive.
The three women near the banner only to be meet by a group of stealthy Mandalorians that Vina had thought might have been their watchers on the way up here or at least had some connection to them. She agrees to follow them into their camp, which looks like left over ruins from the Wars. Vina also however detects some unease from Mira as she seems to recognize some fixtures of this place or a place not unlike it. The numbers here are considerable, but it seems their leader would likely have something to do with that.
"My men told me of a cloaked trio moving in the jungle, and usually cloaks make me think of only two things. You can probably guess regardless of which of those two you are aruetii."
"Outsiders we are, but that is no need to make conjectures about our allegiances," responds Mira
"You speak Mandalorian?" asks Kelborn.
"I have had some experience with them."
"I would say it is more than that if you can speak the language," comments Bralor.
"I don't recall the clan name, but then I was a little girl when the war came to our world. I was either one of theirs or an adoption from a conquest. They were dead and gone before anyone told me anything, but war time does have a high body count as all company here know if they were alive at the time."
"Back to the matter at hand, your ship in the jungle, you obviously did not intend to land here, and before the sensors were offline again we had read some signs of weapons fire in the upper atmosphere," continues Kelborn.
"We were attacked the instant we came out of the jump, well almost, some Onderonian military blockade. A squad of fighters hit us the second they shut off the comm."
"It certainly fits the discharge readings we got, but at the moment most of our technology is down aside from what we have for close combat and for melee."
The discussion ends after a time once it becomes clear that Mandalore will only provide passage to Iziz if Vina can prove herself to him, but even then, it is not the only obstacle to reaching Master Kavar. Zuka, a technician, is stuck trying to repair the computers and the power relays, which are both malfunctioning. Vina starts fiddling around with the telemetry computer with Mira's help whereas Visas Marr tries to learn more about the fate of the power converters, which were lost to the jungle when their carrier had run afoul of a pack of cannoks. The trio reunites after the computers and the relays are back up, but a full power up is too risky without the converters.
Mira goes after the cannoks on her own leaving Vina and Visas Marr to hang around the camp for a time. The Miraluka having seen little and less of planets in general since her captivity is certainly reveling in the experience yet senses her Jedi companion's unease with this place in particular. The two meditate amidst the din of training Mandalorians. One particular pack is engaging in single combat, a ritual dating back to before the Wars, and once more in use to proof one's honor and skill against fellow Mandalorian.
"You wish to fight Jetti?" asks Davrel.
"If you wish a fight, I am open," remarks Vina.
Vina meets each of the young Mandalorian's attacks with her own counterattacks, which eventually break his defense for her to triumph over him. In public, he takes the loss with dignity, but this is not over in his mind. Something of a rush in her, Vina asks if others would like to test her and she test them. A notable pulse jump in the circle gathering is apparent as a runner is sent for the quartermaster. Kex arrives without delay after hearing a Jedi is among their numbers, but he underestimates in some capacity, the ability of Vina's swordsmanship.
He too accepts the loss with dignity knowing that losing to one Jedi is not necessarily the end for him as there will be other battles for him down the road at he hopes so as he returns to handling his armories. Bralor arrives to witness the Jedi's match with Tagren later that night. At this stage she has drawn nearly all their numbers away from training or whatever else they are doing to watch this match. The only ones not present are told to keep watch at the entry points unaware someone is already looking for ways to breach their perimeter.
Tagren's eventual defeat causes something of an uproar, but so far the lady has proven herself in the eyes of the Mandalorian sergeant. He informs her that the remaining two competitors for this circle will require a different kind of proof in order to allow a match with her. Bralor chuckles knowing she will find a way to battle with him if she really wants it. Mira returns with the converter parts in a backpack then hands them off to Zuka who hands off a sack of parts, spikes, and the like.
Mira goes over to see Vina replacing her cloak then heading over to join her. The two meet up with Visas Marr who comments to them that someone is watching this camp, and it is more than one group according to the pulses she is feeling through the Force. They head out into the jungle after getting a mission from Mandalore to seek out the wartime caches that were kept by the former inhabitants of the ruins.
The Mandalorian mechanic Zuka thanks them for returning the parts of the power converters to him. Vina shrugs off a reward before rejoining her friends at the outskirts of the ruins. Davrel intercepts them, the other women prepare to engage, but Vina hand signals them to hold off for the moment. A truce is struck so they would all engage the zakkeg together soon enough. Mira displays a faint sign of amusement and curiosity at Vina's latest call whereas Visas Marr cannot help beyond wondering why her new Master of a sort is going beyond 'necessary' lengths.
The Wars had taken their toll long enough yet somehow neither side would ever truly recover from it. As they scurry to follow Davrel, he somehow manages to lose them and Mira alone tries to keep as she dashes ahead along his last known direction of travel. Visas Marr however detects something or someone else stuck not far from them. They hurry off in that direction only to encounter someone similar looking armor wise to Davrel.
"So I am found by a pair of Jetti," comments Kumus.
"It would appear so, and I am guessing you are not Davrel."
"What is he up to now?"
"We had a pact to fight a zakkeg together."
"I take it something must have happened to lead to that, but right now my only concern is evading a slow death up here. The locals got wind of me before I could finish my rounds with the permacrete detonators."
"I will take care of them so we can resolve this situation as smoothly as possible."
Kumus finds he is unable to not awe at their sweeping moves to deal with the bomas nearby. Afterward he quickly thanks them then asks that none should know of this and so Vina agrees to keep his secret as one misstep ought not to be the last. At the same time, she still feels incomplete even with all the Force at her command. They press on reuniting with Visas Marr and Davrel not far from the zakkeg's lair. The four head straight in and find the creature not a difficult opponent yet Davrel begins to suspect that Jedi never actually had a need of him yet understood why she would do this for him. As the beast finally falls to their attacks, he takes his leave of them and they head back for the camp after checking out the remaining caches at Mandalore's directives.
Mira and Visas Marr detect someone watching them so they take opposite routes around him as Vina keeps heading down the more direct pathway only to find another Mandalorian who is standing over the corpses of non-Mandalorians. He looks up to her then to his left and right spotting the other women who thought it possible to get around him. Mira smacks her forehead slightly realizing she had learnt many of her tricks from Mandalorians so it would not necessarily work on him and Visas shows some surprise that this one could detect them yet it made sense soon enough.
"I take you recognize why I have some interest in these pitiful excuse for a black ops squad at my feet."
"They are obviously part of some operation here on this moon be headed up by the Onderonian military, possibly part of the same group that hit us in orbit, and maybe even has ties to whatever is happening on Onderon itself."
"Quite possibly so, now shall we hunt, I know there are other groups out there of these untagged soldiers."
Mira heads off first then Visas and Vina trails after them as Kelborn resumes his tracking pattern as well. He had indirectly heard that the Jedi had bested even Kex, which is quite a feat, but to beat Tagren is something more. It would take more than beating the recent regulars to convince him to fight her in the circle. She did however look tough enough at least at first glance.
"I take it you have a bead on the Onderonian Spec Ops unit?" asks Vina
"I have them in my sights, both teams, I told Marr to go after the other one, and you can join either of us as I am going in after the first batch now," replies Mira.
Visas however keeps her distance until the others catch up to her as she had not thought of battling enemies alone as if working as a team had finally gotten to her. She turns and vanishes back towards the other women. The OSOs made haste to setup some sort of a camp, but it is far more foolish to do it anywhere in the deep jungle as the predators are frequent in their passage especially in this area. She catches up with them as they engage the team that Mira had been following before. They are unsurprisingly in no mood to talk so they get cut down then they head after Visas' targets.
"Colonel Tobin wants her found; she presents too much risk to the revolution…"
Each woman approaches from a different direction while noting that the local cat species had taken interest in the OSOs. The attack goes off without a hitch as they like the others are not talking aside from that brief snippet overheard a moment ago. The snap hiss of lightsabers meshes with the firing of blasters. It is over before so much as an exhale passes as the only sound in the air aside from the rain, the thunder, and of course the lightning. Always the rain, always the rain echoes Vina's thoughts back to her last time on Dxun, which had been at the height of Jedi's entrance into the Wars.
The trio heads back towards the sentries, but face an interception by Kelborn. He reports that the other units were likewise silent. Vina reports a mention of Tobin, which Kelborn identifies as General Vaklu's favorite runner, essentially his leading pawn in the military. Vaklu is also Queen Talia's cousin and rival in Onderonian politics as the two regularly clash over leadership styles and on the future of their world's involvement with the Republic. It is clear they have made potential enemies before even setting foot on Onderon, but somehow conflict follows Vina wherever she goes, the destination is always with her.
Kelborn agrees to face her in the battle circle, and so they return to the ruins where the duel begins anew. The blades spark under the darkening skies of Dxun as Vina learns then alters the styles used by her Mandalorian opponents. Her ability then manipulate others' techniques had been a method that Vrook had never held in high regard and thought her likely to fall should she continue in her quick ways. Kelborn is like the others before him not a match for her and so Bralor contends to fight her next. He fights her straight without restrictions as he calls it, but like Kelborn he fails to recognize her ability to manipulate his method against him.
She realizes not that she does this periodically in fights, but she begins to suspect that her being cut off from the Force may not have been the Council's doing at all. She however dares not to share this with Kreia even though the fatal bond leaves little in the way of secrets between them, but both mentor and student have their secrets and burdens to carry within. She heads off again towards Mandalore's command bunker, and again senses someone watching her, which the others agree is likely. Their watchers are also not Mandalorian, which cuts the list down a bit as not even OSOs could get this close or anyone for that matter without equipping advance stealth technology.
Elsewhere Kreia senses the Exile's suspicions about their latest round of intruders and sets out to investigate after employing her usual disappearing act, which Atton had gotten used as she had proven too frustrating to deal with in general. He had also found it better to stay out of her way so long as she did no harm to Vina, but his feelings had been part of the reason he kept his word to the Exile. His past as leverage had been Kreia's bargaining chip, or so it had seemed that way until he told Vina everything back on Nar Shaddaa. The repairs had already been done not long after the landing, but Bao-Dur kept at trying to improve the overall functionality of everything given how crudely the ship had gotten through a simple blockade in his mind.
He thinks himself hidden from her, but as he like all the others underestimates her and pays the price for his arrogance in her mind. The blade is through his back and out the front of his chest as he flops over. She descends into the ruins taking note of all the other stealth assassins moving into position. The others had not given up the chase yet or they had a far more hidden plan at work here and were drawn out to attack to the Exile as she threatens the success of their plan. She as before could not allow anyone to harm her new apprentice. Vina, the Huntress, the Seer, and this new Mandalore are heading towards the hangar where a shuttle is kept for interplanetary travel.
It resembles the G-Wing she had been told about by Revan after his return to Malachor. He had told her a great deal about technology he used during his campaign to fortify the Republic against this threat he had become aware of during the Wars. It had some part in what the Council had been afraid of at time and still fears even when they try to really hide from it. One assassin nears the Mandalorian mechanic Zuka, but a momentary power spike kills the fool.
"We have stealth operators in our perimeter, Mandalorians attack!"
The female trio springs into action and mows down the Assassins as they go further amazing the Mandalorians to some extent. A combination of melee and range attacks whittles down the Assassins numbers quickly enough. After the battle, Mandalore gathers his leading officers along with the female trio. A plan is laid out for their trip to Iziz while Kelborn and Bralor direct their forces here in securing the perimeter as they direct the Hawk to move closer to the ruins. Mandalore concludes the meeting by directing Zuka to prepare the shuttle for launch and then he retires to his chambers for the duration of the launch preparations.
He locks himself in his chambers, unhooks the air tubes from the helmet, and then removes the helmet, it felt better and necessary to air out. The famous and infamous man beneath this helmet and armor is unknown except to a select few that follow him and as for the rest if anyone had known his name from before they would question it as many thought this man dead for years now.
Several Years Earlier
Canderous Ordo arrives at Coruscant at the behest of his Jedi comrade Revan to hear his latest plans. As more fragments of memories have come back to him, which on the one hand disturbs Revan's lover and wife yet arouses Ordo's curiosity. He enters the capital in his best civilian disguise, but carries a few concealed weapons that get pass security as he had clearances due to his service with Revan during the final year of the Jedi Civil War. The transportation network proves difficult to navigate even with Revan's directions, but he eventually finds his way and notices his old friend is there waiting for him.
The two walk for hours through the levels of the Galactic City until the Jedi finally gets to his point. Canderous listens intently remembering stories of Sith encounters that led to the Mandalorian Wars. Borden/Revan divulges the location of Mandalore's helmet and armor, a place kept secret for years, but the memory of its location is not lost. He provides Canderous with coordinates, with a system name, and an approximate description of how to gain access to it.
"Why are you telling me?" asks Canderous
"It is not me, but rather the message that matters," responds Revan.
"Fewer enigmas, more direct please," remarks Canderous.
"It is something you will need to know because other memories tell me of something else far more sinister at work in our future."
"You mean the Sith will be back, they like you Jedi always come back somehow."
"It is why we need to be ready, why I believe all sides must come together when they strike again."
"As you ask so shall it be."
"A good thing to hear, but now you and I must part ways for I need to prepare for a journey of my own."
"What about Princess?"
"She like you cannot follow me where I go when I start my true mission."
"You would leave all your earned elements behind to stop what might never happen?"
"I could find reasons not to go starting with Bastila among other things."
"I would believe you could, but you will not, what about Onasi?"
"He has his hands full between going up in ranks in the military and his son quite possibly heading towards Jedi training after a brush with the Sith during the Civil War."
"As much as he might have been a pain and an aggravation, I do respect the man, just not his false modesty, if there is such a thing."
"He tries, but he does not see the galaxy as we have seen it."
"Any other requests of me?" asks Canderous.
"After you have the helmet and the armor, you will have to reunite as many Mandalorians as you can as alliances and numbers will be vital to the future of all the things that matter most especially to me."
"I will do as you ask, but when the time comes how are you going to break your leaving to the Princess?"
"I will have to deal with that in my own way, if there is even a way to leave love behind."
It begins to enter the simulation of night on Coruscant as orbital platforms regulate light flow into the skies above them. Canderous seeks out the cheapest flight out only to be met by Carth Onasi who has come for a brief visit to Coruscant to see his old friends Borden and Bastila. His second wife Moira is not far behind as he tries to catch up to Canderous, but the Mandalorian is gone before he reaches where he just saw him. He shrugs it off with someone familiar though probably just someone that looks like explanation. She takes while it pulling his arm as they are heading over to visit Borden and Bastila. The flashback switches over to Canderous' arrival at the vault where the armor and helmet are hidden.
It fits almost like a glove, but then maybe that is the point. He exits the vault then boards his personal ship to search for recruits to begin building his new army with trainers, technicians, soldiers, and more. They assemble on Dxun, but none of them ever got to see his face except for a handful such as Kelborn, Bralor, and Kex as they had become his trusted lieutenants of a sort.
Mandalore's Bunker, Dxun (now)
The flashback ends as he stares at the helmet in the dimly lit sleeping quarters. He tugs it back on and heads for the hangar where Zuka is still working on the shuttle. Everything seems to check out so he directs Zuka to get back to getting everything at top notch or better around the camp.
"I trust you will keep her safe, be the armored warrior at her side as you were at his."
"What are you talking about you old witch?"
"You ever wonder why he told you to prepare an army, to gather your people, to become the new Mandalore, and then left you to it as he went off into the Unknown Regions leaving everyone else behind including you."
"Who the fierfek do you think you are crone!" shouts Mandalore.
"She is in your care, she fought with Revan as well during the Wars, she fought here on this moon among other places, she like you made it through Malachor V, and like you she had found it hard to live beyond what she had done before."
Kreia leaves him in silence and he murmurs into his wrist comlink that internal security priority is the old woman, not the Jedi given what she seems to know about what is really going on at this point. He boards the shuttle with Vina and Mira for passengers. He initiates take off and flies straight towards Iziz while bypassing the blockade as the shuttle is small enough for that possibility. There is also something strangely familiar about this Mira, but as someone taught by a Mandalorian, it had not been uncommon to experience a kinship. The flight would last at least another half hour as the clearances had gone through another recycle thanks to the travel restrictions especially to the capital.
"Our spies... have told me that the Ebon Hawk is still on the jungle moon, but its passengers are on their way to Iziz particularly someone of note, someone who could be valuable to us as an ally against Talia," comments Tobin.
"At first I thought she would be too set in her ways, but the fact is she met the Mandalorians first and not us. What's more is that the Assassins did not report in after following her to their camp," retorts Vaklu.
"We will keep tabs on her, and just maybe she can lure out Kavar. He is too insulated in the Palace, which makes it impossible to get to him. We have so few resources within the walls these days thanks to Kavar and the Royalists," continues Tobin.
"The Sith will not be enough to guarantee victory over Talia so either she joins or dies, make sure if Kavar goes to see her, that he dies regardless of her decision," remarks Vaklu.
"As you command General," replies Tobin.
Tobin suits up and assembles a strike unit to scour the city as a Mandalorian owned shuttle is docking at the spaceport right now. It felt like a doable interception, but the fact that she gotten away from him in orbit had been only bad luck despite concerns that she had proven more than just lucky.
Vina and Mira raise their hoods as she takes her starport visa from the customs officer. Mira whispers something about local security keeping tabs already, which Mandalore likewise suggests is likely by now if not soon enough.
The double time of their comments earns a mutual admiration glare between the former bounty hunter and former mercenary. A simple mental suggestion gets them through the security check point and soon enough they learn that Mandalore's inside man is under arrest pending trial for the murder of a female military captain. Vina employs a combination of forensics and questioning lead to a recording taken by a recently scrapped service droid from the city's cantina. However gaining Ghent's release, he withholds service for a favor of returning 'stolen' discs from Bakkel, a gangster that frequents the cantina.
It proves to be a less than amicable encounter, but she recovers the designated items. He promises to reach his contact in the Palace in order to reach Kavar so they decide to wait for Ghent's return with an update on Kavar's decision to meet with her. Ghent returns with news that Kavar is on his way yet he also says it would be best to part ways permanently. Vina finds no cause to disagree so they leave Ghent's office behind as they head into the cantina.
She senses Kavar's approach and turns to meet a poorly disguised male Jedi at their side.
"It is curious to see you again after all these years, but then I was not alone in my musings that you had much to teach us about what had happen by the disagreement that fractured the Order," remarks Kavar.
"I would say that both of us had been at fault at one time or another. However the reluctance and condemnation on the part of the Council had not been unwarranted yet still you could have heard me out. I have to live with what I did then and so do you until we die maybe beyond that too," replies Vina.
"What happen to you out there had been both a cipher and a threat in the eyes of some on the Council including Vrook and Atris. Vash and I felt similar about what you could teach us, but ultimately it had been a reluctant unity to exile you."
"What about the Force?"
"It could barely be felt in you at your return to us, some thought of it as an ethereal judgment against, and some thought something or someone else had a part in it, yet the exact nature or cause of the 'wound' is unknown."
"We have such imprecise wording to define these things, but there is still much…"
A mix of troopers and undercover operatives surround them. Kavar mentally stuns enough of them allowing him to escape capture. Tobin takes off after him. The trio battle their way through Tobin's men onto the streets only to encounter more of Vaklu's supporters in the military attacking them. The drawn out skirmish finally ends at the edge of the western quarter, which covers the area outside the cantina. The merchant promenade is the last sector between them and the spaceport. Royalists question Vina about what happen, but she feigns ignorance about their standoff with Vaklu's men.
However the automated defense grid begins to attack them in tandem with civilian undercover operatives. This second run around proves as one sided as the last especially from Kavar's vantage point high above them. He heads back for the Palace to plan for the eventual confrontation with Vaklu and his off-world allies. He also had a certainty that his old student would have a part to play in this even though she had not been his Padawan. He also had little doubt that this would be a defining moment in Talia's reign as Queen of Onderon. Kavar vanishes again sensing Tobin is almost caught up thanks to this brief distraction of an attack.
Tobin curses himself for losing Kavar yet suspects this is not the last opportunity he will have to rid himself of Kavar or this Exile. He reports to Vaklu about the two Jedi, which does not entirely upset him since the coup is still on schedule. Vaklu departs to meet with his political loyalists to press for further measures that will build the legitimacy for his takeover of the Onderonian government from his cousin, the Queen. His off-world allies would also hopefully provide further personnel support during the coup and against any supporters to Talia especially off-world ones like this Exile. Tobin deals with the fallout of his strike squad's failure and the handling of their dead bodies.
Mandalore lands the shuttle back at the outpost on Dxun then rejoins Vina and the others back at the Ebon Hawk. He fondly recalls the months he spent on the freighter years ago during the Jedi Civil War. It is also little surprise that Revan's legacy endures through the ship especially with its new captain and the droids are familiar too especially the astromech. The very same he had Revan 'borrow' from Kang before he and Revan's comrades took Kang's freighter for themselves. His minor hope is that the droid would not recognize him. The ship takes off and the pilot aims them towards Dantooine, their next destination. A world that been a new beginning for Mandalore at Revan's side yet now an open wound for many since the fallout of the Civil War.
Ordo realizes that this Exile, a former wartime general, is now in search of Jedi, particularly Masters who hold some unknown significance to whatever she is attempting to do with herself and for the Galaxy. However there is also something that feels not quite right especially when he is in the presence of this Exile's 'mentor', something familiar, at least by reputation or maybe past encounter. The ship touches down, and more than likely the ship's visual profile will not unnoticed since the Hawk had been a frequent stopover on this world during the Civil War. Vina dresses down for a change given what the Jedi reputation is these days in some star systems.
She also conceals her lightsabers in sleeve slings as she wishes not to go without them despite the unlikelihood of running into other Force users aside from Master Vrook, but this had been another reunion she had not totally been looking forward to. Bao-Dur and Mira follow her off the ship while Atton and T3 continue a lengthy list repairs left behind for them by their mechanically minded friend. The trio is given directions to the Khoonda Administration Complex so from there they encounter Administrator Adare and her militia commander Zherron. Berun, Zherron's second, also expresses suspicion at his superior's negotiations with certain mercenary elements, which is only the tipping point in this world's future.
They enter the Administrator's office only to find the doors closing behind them and she taps a series of buttons to ensure audio privacy. Adare rarely makes use of this function except when it seems undeniably necessary. She turns to face the rather well disguised visitors before her. Vina moves to speak, but Adare cuts her off.
"I would understand the necessity of silence, of denial on your part considering that ship sitting only a walk from this complex, it has been here before albeit under a different crew, a different captain, but you arrive at a delicate juncture…"
"If I can help you I will, I had come here to search the ruins and to find someone…"
"Let us say, I am looking for this someone too, his disappearance worries me especially given the stepping up of aggression on the part of our mercenary population…"
"I remember hearing that mercenaries were gathering here when I was last at Citadel Station, particularly someone known as Azkul as their commander…"
"He is leading them, but Master Vrook's investigation had led me to believe his armaments were of off-world origins as such our local technology hardly stands a change of withstanding a military grade assault…"
"We could help you there to some extent plus I am not the only one good with weapons in my group especially a certain kind of weapon that would serve to even the scales."
"However I advise caution against publicly displaying those weapons especially the kind those with your training tend to use."
"I understand, I must inform the others of what is going…"
"Do as you must, but be careful…"
Bao-Dur returns to the Ebon Hawk for a time as Mira and Vina scout out pathways to the ruined Enclave. Kreia takes this time to secretly slip away to briefly spy on this Azkul's encampment and noting that he is not keeping that agitating Vrook here though here is where that stodgy Jedi Master could do the most damage. She makes her way towards the Enclave where salvage teams or scavengers are still 'taking' what they can from that once secluded and sacred place. She can feel the ghosts that still vaguely haunt these grounds, but many had found peace in death when so few had clung on though they too went to their deaths.
Kreia falls back after ascertaining that Vrook is not here either, but he is near enough then she recalls the crystal caves that were among the plains and the savannas that still persist in some form despite Malak's bombardment of the surface. As if entirely too predictable he is there, alert, awake, yet making no effort to escape, only listening to their scheming and plotting against the locals. She never did like him yet somehow old age taught him something, but his failures could still outstrip his momentary wisdom. Kreia slinks away again passing everyone even Vrook without detection yet she had long since made a perfection of her stealth or ability to hide her presence through the Force.
Vina made some alliances both with Zherron and with Dopak, Zherron's insider with the mercenaries. She leads Bao-Dur and Visas into the Enclave while Atton and Mira contend with the repairs for the defense of the Administration Complex. T3 thrums about working on the droids. Kreia maintains her watch on the mercenary encampment and finally learns their off-world suppliers are an extension of that droid crime lord's organization on Nar Shaddaa. This Azkul is also a by-product of Malak's short lived reign, particularly the ruined Korriban Academy.
Vina, Visas, and Bao-Dur brawl their way through the creatures that have taken residence in the sub level. They finally reach a sealed doorway that leads into an abandoned library. A human male emerges from the archives yet is unable to reach for his weapon as Visas is already upon him and Bao-Dur is going for his lightsaber as well. Vina orders them to stand down for the moment. The pair retracts from their dual attack and man thanks her with a bow. She faintly blushes before straightening her form.
"Who are you?" asks Vina
"I am a historian, an investigator for the Republic…" says the man.
"Not your profession, your name."
"I am Mical, an intelligence operative…"
"I thought as much, but why are you here?"
"Trying to find out what happen to the Jedi Order…"
"It is very nearly dead with a handful of exceptions that are in hiding or running from their pursuers. The wars that we fought in have had deadly consequences so that makes me responsible as well being a Jedi and all."
"Not everyone blames the Jedi for the fallout after years of warfare."
"It is good to hear that in some way, but I am here searching for something and someone as well."
"Why is that?"
"I am an exile, cast out from the Order, for whatever crimes I have made especially by involvement with the super weapon used at Malachor V. We all have pasts that we are not terribly proud including me."
"I would ask to join you in whatever you are attempting… your exile from the Order presents a way to find out what happen to the Purge survivors."
"I sense no deception from him, but his allegiances are still questionable."
"He knows more than he is saying, but when has that not been the case."
The four head back towards the ramp that brought them to the sub level. However Gerevick is there waiting for them courtesy of Azkul's orders. Prior to their departure from the archives, they found orders on the dead mercenaries about Vrook's capture and plans to takeover Khoonda. It also means that they are running out of time if they are going to stop the mercenaries' assault. Gerevick only serves to delay them as Vina deals him out with ease while the others handle his thugs.
The group clears the ruins then heads in the direction of the crystal caves, which is where kinraths have been nesting for generations, likely drawn to the crystals. Vina directs their newest recruit, Mical, to the Administrative Complex. He meets up with Mira and Atton, prompting the pair's first agreement since her joining the Hawk's crew. They were ready to take him out quietly until he mentions Vina going after some Jedi Master that was on her list. At that moment, Kreia also appears to be watching this encounter and at first disliking another mind to have to keep from gaining any hold on Vina's path.
His eidetic memory would have however would prove useful in a different kind of way than most. She turns her attention back towards Vina's search for Vrook and the potential defectors in Azkul's ranks. Vina had put that in motion almost instinctively, which felt very unlike her present self, yet the redemption bent guise had its purposes when having to convince others to aid her. Kreia realizes that Vina will never quite have the atonement she seeks, but she will keep chasing it just as the Malachor nightmares keep haunting her.
Vrook is already freed by the time she nears the caves, but his agitation at Vina's intervention is visible as he stealth runs his way to the Complex. Vina, the Seer, and the Iridonian are left to fight the mercenary squad alone yet together they are formidable against even hardened mercenaries. Visas and Bao-Dur ignite their lightsabers yet Vina unleashes a powerful Force attack on them hurdling all of them to the ground. They seize the opportunity to kill as many they can yet just as they move to the last one he arms a grenade, which neither can deflect in time.
Vina races towards him then Force pushes him away just as the grenade detonates, but the blast is lessened by distance. Kreia marvels at Vina's powerful attacks, which at that moment begin to rival, Revan, but by no means his equal. She draws further strength from having allies like he did yet she is also manipulating them in a way she does not suspect, something Revan had never done unknowingly. The trio rejoins the others who have already been busy with the defense. The battle draws closer yet having Jedi allies they stood a better chance of defeating the mercenaries, it might go a way to redeeming the Jedi reputation at least on this world.
"I would suggest gathering our forces, a talk before the fight might boost their spirits."
"I think you are right Miss."
The Hawk crew assembles alongside the military and militia recruits within the complex. The preparations had put them on better footing yet even so it would take more than what they did so far to triumph here. Vina directs her newly trained Jedi companions to take up solo posts throughout the defense cordon then meet up inside when the outer defenses can no longer hold the line. The military and militia deploy along all entry points and the minefields cover all the approaches. Zherron and his lieutenants are on standby outside Adare's office. Vina stands with them though at the moment directs her thoughts to the others projecting her strength through Battle Meditation to them.
Kreia observes the battle from on high believing Vina would turn the battle whatever way she sought to turn it. Vrook's delaying tactics had only held back some of the mercenaries the rest charge blindly into the minefields. Many die before the rest realize they were expected, which only slightly upsets Azkul. The remaining mercenary numbers storm the front entrance yet meet fierce defenders that eventually collapse then noting visible blurs they stop for a moment allowing some to retreat inward. Azkul orders the rest to press into the main building.
Atton takes on two of Azkul's remaining fighters whereas Mira daring enough fights up to four or five. Visas rushes from another direction and Bao-Dur knuckles down several others. Azkul notes most of his men are now down and he is nearly outnumbered yet then he flourishes his favorite double blade. He manages to fend off all the other Jedi in training. This somewhat upsets Visas and Mira who feel they are near rivals to Vina in terms of swordsmanship already while Atton keeps finding himself tripping through attacks. As for Bao-Dur he notices how easily Azkul is sidestepping attempts to get at him.
Vina joins the fight yet even she is having trouble with him as his moves alter too quickly for her to find a gap. Everyone attempts to engage him yet he is able to hold them all off. Vina mentally contacts Mandalore and Mical who are still on standby. Both hurry towards good sniping positions, but Azkul spots Mical easily since he knows what he looks like. Mandalore however is a better stealth killer than most men. All five continue to attack on the ground yet Azkul still fends them off. Mandalore fires striking the mercenary commander's preferred hand forcing him to switch hands.
Vina seizes the opening to slice the double blade at the middle grip, which startles Azkul and the others. She offers him one last opportunity to stand off, to walk away. He snarls and charges yet she makes no effort to beat him to the punch. He never made it into her lightsaber strike range as Mandalore shot him in the back of the head. The Second Battle of Dantooine ends with the death of Azkul and the survival of Khoonda. Vina had been worn out by extensive use of Battle Meditation so she is taken to the medical bay to rest now.
The military and militia survivors watch her friends help her towards the bay. They cannot help, but feel envy and inspiration towards her and her team. Kreia descends from her vantage point as Vrook enters Adare's office with great satisfaction that battle had gone well. However the turn of Dopak and his men had been an unexpected gain that surprises Adare yet Zherron explains he had Vina make contact with him earlier. They likewise express thanks to Vina yet she is already sleeping by the time they find her. She had not been sleeping well since Dxun, but then old battlefields had their ghosts too.
Kreia's arrival spooks nearly everyone except Atton had gotten used to her disappearing acts even though he had no idea how she did it or why so often. Something felt more wrong about her even to the others as they had grown more attune to reading people through the Force and in some ways she never registers much. She was however far more experienced than they as she had been the one retraining Vina since Peragus. Vrook awaits Vina in the office and she meets him on her own time. The Jedi Master allows her that much after saving his mission after nearly wrecking it in his opinion.
These ones she had been training were poor excuses for Jedi in his mind, but then having nearly been a Master for most of his adult life he kept a jaded perspective especially after Revan and Bastila. The fact she had given into loving that man was beyond him and then there was having his offspring if the rumors were true on that topic. A child of such strong Force users would be an asset to a new Jedi Order. He however would have to wait on that, but somehow he had a wary suspicion that Vina would be the catalyst for a new Jedi Order something that deeply bothers him.
Vina also kept questionable company between all these shady characters she had given training especially with them being adults for starters. Vina manages to sneak up on him, which momentarily startles the older man. He snips at her with his glare then softens his expression to thank her for staving off disaster. She humbly admits she had great help from everyone on hand here and serves as a sign of their determination. However he feels traces of extensive Battle Meditation at work here despite Bastila having been the only prior successful practitioner of that ability.
"I have questions, ones that others have been reluctant or vague to answer. I had made contact with Masters Zez-Kai Ell and Kavar in my recent travels. Ell is already on his way back here, but Kavar is working through the Onderonian situation. As for Master Vash, I am still on my way to looking for her, but I had already met with Atris before taking on this trip."
"Atris is already dead, she has been dead for years, and she died at Katarr with other Purge survivors including Vandar and Zhar."
"The Sith nevertheless are back, I have fought them both at Peragus and on Dxun. If I remember right the only reason or cause to lure them there would be a certain tomb."
"I believe this is not your last stop if you are still searching for Vash and Kavar will likely try to reach you again too. I will join up with Zez-Kai when he arrives and any of the others who find their way back here."
It is with that line that the conversation ends and the two part ways for her journey is now towards Korriban in the hopes of finding a more amicable Master Lonna Vash who went into hiding there after the civil war. The Purge had taken its toll by the time she lost contact with the others, which makes it harder to find her since none of the other survivors had heard from her in some time. The garage repairs are finally complete allowing Bao-Dur to disassemble structural safeguards put in place to compensate for the aft hull damage. Atton resumes his usual spot at the helm as the freighter takes off into the sunset.
A few are curious to what Vrook said and others about why she had given up the money reward for saving Khoonda. Mira made a point of reminding them that they are Jedi, not Force for hire, which certainly got Kreia's attention though G0-T0 made his payment as promised to Vina. Vina told the others that she would do these things and only accept payment from the droid crime lord to learn what he knows about their pursuers from around the Galaxy. HK-47 likewise begins to divulge his secrets once properly motivated to let loose. The trip to Korriban would like any jump take time to complete.
Mical seeks her out to complete his Jedi training and so she begins by having him unlearn all the things he thought were already known to him. She has grown exceeding adept at teaching, which almost angers Kreia, but then the Force always had a visible influence on minds open to it. It could provide advantageous to her when the opportunities arise to do so. His feelings for her would also be useful though at least he had enough dignity not to think of the kinds of things that the ex-assassin had thought about when thinking on Vina. She also worries who has taken up residence on Korriban as all too often someone is drawn there or goes there. Another test lies ahead there for her and Vina of that much Kreia felt certain for now.
Vina begins meditation sessions with Mical, which draws the attention of Atton who dislikes the prospect of a rival when it comes to Vina. Mira notices his preoccupation with Vina and the amount of time she is spending with Mical. She grabs him by the shoulders then tosses him into the cargo bay for a chat after locking them in together. He gets up to release the lock, but she just Force pushes him into the wall with a gentle flick of her hand. He tries to move, but she pins him with her body.
"I am willing to bet if I were Vina doing this, you would not mind a bit, in fact, I think you would have had her halfway naked by now. She might enjoy the experience, but afterward she would feel uneasy that she had any kind of pleasure for all the pain she feels responsible for in the past. As for you, I am starting to get a sense of what you were before all this with the way you want to disappear even on this ship, she is not your black hole plus she has enough problems without your sexual overtures."
"I am getting tired of people getting in my way, locking me up, shooting me down, and of course pinning me to the floor like you. You hunt people for a living or you used so I thought you might get the whole I am tired of hunting, that I want to find, to live, instead of what I used to do that's what she is to me. It is a life where people can feel alive without all this getting in the way too often."
"She has enough of her own problems without you screwing up her mind anymore than already seems to be even though she can help everyone else except herself, she is healing, but she is nowhere there yet unlike some of us. You either tell her how you feel or stop being a stalker. "
She elbows him out and later he awakens to find Vina looking down at him. She pulls him to his feet as word comes from the cockpit that they are descending on Korriban after days of hyperspace jumping. They enter the main hold where a holo of Korriban is showing at the moment. Everyone else is here except them, but they arrive soon enough. Kreia chooses to not hide from everyone on this one except she tells Vina that she will remain here on this one. Vina only asks that ship be kept on standby so they can take off at a moment's notice or less.
Mandalore takes the time to work on the gun turrets after his memories of using them along side Revan years earlier. Bao-Dur comments on the Mandalorian's attention to detail, which Mandalore chuckles then tells the mechanic, these kinds of guns always need a little work from time to time. He heads towards the engine room for some maintenance on the hyperdrive and the other engines since nothing much has been done to look them over especially not since all the rain exposure on Dxun. Mical scours the archives in the computer and comes across files that T3 took from Atris' computers prior to taking up this mission with Atris' support.
It details in very unspecific ways that she had been the one sending her handmaidens to recover artifacts such as holocrons and more from various worlds including those hidden away on Ossus and Dantooine. He also examines the updated astrogation logs, at least the ones accessible to him, as some logs are encrypted without any sign of who did it, but someone had wanted to hide where the ship had been. Someone sought to make sure that it would be a one way trip without any means for someone else to retrace the path taken.
"Someone or something encrypted the logs, but there is something mysterious even about the accessible logs especially on the worlds visited during this search for the surviving Jedi Masters. Each of these worlds was deeply affected by war at one time or another, perhaps more than once, and it is also this that is drawing this new threat to them."
The origin of this threat could only be from one place, the world that was the end of the Mandalorian Wars, but truly could such a world survive what that weapon did to it as well as the surrounding space. It also had something to do with what is happening to Vina or at least he suspects that much. Kreia follows his investigations unseen and recognizes that this one also has potential greater than anyone had known when his training had begun as a young boy. He had idealized Vina from boyhood for she had been his inspiration for the kind of Jedi he could become yet to Kreia everything this particular man could do is wasted on Jedi though everyone has their own fixations or obsessions in life.
A/N 1: Enter the Mandalorians and Mandalore, something is all too familiar about him even before Kreia reveals how much she knows about him and his connection to Revan. Mandalorians one wonders why I should have such a fascination with them yet they like the Jedi or the Sith are timeless at least by philosophies that have shifted through reinterpretation yet the core of what they stand for remains like their armor.
A/N 2: Palace intrigues are afoot in Iziz. Very little time is spent between Dxun and Onderon the first time around aside from all the side quests involving the Mando camp. Always had fun with the Battle Circle, it gave Dxun's atmospheric feel on the first trip there.
A/N 3: Enter Kavar and Vrook. I'm more fond of the former than the latter. Its becoming clear what led to Vina's cut off from the Force after the Mandalorian Wars. In relation to Dantooine, I thought having the Hawkers (Ebon Hawk crew), the militia, the civilians, and some mercenaries working together made for a slightly more involved battle. In the game it felt shorter so I tried to make it longer.
A/N 4: Enter Mical, intellectual rival to Atton perhaps. Mira compels Atton to firmly indicate his romantic interest in Vina or quit circling around aside from his prior overtures. Anyone who can be Jedified has been done so, a few I was unaware of the first time I played the game so I actually had to utilize some characters without Force abilities in certain fights.