After taking out several more guard details, he finally made it to the Snivvian’s little office. Behind the locked doors fear and anger poured through the force. Using a hand gesture, Bacillus blew the doors in and ignited his lightsaber. Rotul’la pointed a large blaster rifle and at seeing his foe, he hesitated. This was not Skuldren. Who could it be?
Seeing the little being hesitate, Bacillus clarified his confusion “Skuldren sent me, this is over now.” This time Rotul’la didn’t even flinch. At hearing Skuldren’s name he erupted into a paranoid rage and ripped open a prolonged burst from his blaster rifle. Bacillus simply swiped away several bolts and shot the Snivvian with his lightsaber. The powerful orange bolt crumpled Rotul’la back over his desk and into his chair. Just like in his vision. Tendrils of smoke curled from the wound. Rotul’la was dead. Bacillus hopped on top of the desk and began cutting his way through the ceiling and the roof.
Cadius had his visual sensors locked on to the roof. As soon as he seen a lightsaber cutting through he opened fire. The cannon fire caught the police forces off guard. They had been prowling around the compound trying to determine what happened for the last ten minutes. All they found were craters and bodies. To them it looked like someone tried to take out Rotul’la with an aerial bombardment. Now with shells falling all around them, they ran away in fear. Luckily for them, Cadius was taking extra care not to actually hit any of them. It would not do well for him and Bacillus to massacre the local security forces.
Bacillus heard the gunfire and knew that now was the time for escape. Leaping from the roof, and sprinting across the battlefield, he made his way to Cadius. Together they ran back to their ship and managed to get into space before the authorities issued a lockdown. They were home free now. Mission accomplished.
The Void, Muulag Space, Kahn Kazen’s personal flagship:
A massive, blocky warship sat quietly in space. It was a huge metallic construction that took one hundred thousand Muulags to build. Though it was not the largest vessel in their fleet, it was still large enough to instill pride in Kahn Kazen. Upon his massive bridged he brooded upon elevated throne. It marked his place of rank. Below him squirmed a bridge crew numbering well over a thousand. All of them manning various posts and computer consoles. The ship was huge and required an enormous crew to coordinate all of the systems. The droid overlord’s new technology powered most of the ship, allowing the Muulag to increase the number of weapon emplacements. This ship alone could handle an entire enemy fleet. Yet Kazen thought to himself, the Jardroost was also a fleet killer and it fell in battle, along with its Kahn commander. The enemy is far more capable than we imagined. He sobered himself with such thoughts. He could not allow the propaganda to brainwash him. No matter how much the media told his people that they were an infinite empire that could not be stopped, he knew it was only moral boosting lies. The soldiers were green and had little experience, as did he. The only thing in their favor was numbers. They had more ships, more troops, and more determination to win this conflict than their enemies. The oracles had foreseen it. Just like they had foreseen the droid overlord. He would lead them to salvation and peace. Kazen was in no hurry for peace. War was his purpose in life. The eternal dusts of time forged him into a great strategist. He only needed the opportunity to use his skills. Of all the Kahns, he was the youngest and the only one who had yet to experience battle. One thing was for sure, he would not let this war end until he got a chance to prove himself. His plans would prevail.
Excerpt from the recordings of Jedi Holocron 1783-MZK of the Jedi Archives,
Personal Memoirs of Darth Skuldren.
Personal Note: Today Skuldren’s holocron told me of the adventure of his apprentice Darth Bacillus. I asked him what the importance of this story was and he told me that it was simple…Bacillus and Cadius formed a bond forged in battle. Together they would achieve many things. And that if I paid attention, I would notice that all of his apprentices were forming bonds. By working together they increased their capabilities. All of this would come together with the battles in the Katarii Sector. It would seem that everything plays a part. I cannot wait to hear what happens. As a side note the council was pleased with the information on the Krudesh rituals. Master Fulumn and Master Rayne have both petitioned to extend the timeline of the project. Thus the research continues.
Tales of Darth Skuldren: Story 12
The Muulag prepare their defenses, the apprentices prepare their vacations, and a shadow killer stalks his prey…
Kajji XII, Skuldren’s Academy:
Among the ancient yellow brick of the academy’s walls, Skuldren’s apprentices were getting ready to take a much-needed vacation. Alone, Darth Skuldren sat upon a terraced wall overlooking the river plains. The sun glowed warmly on the green, grassy expanse in front of him. He noted the approach of his apprentice, Darth Praxus. Praxus was dressed in a white cape and hood. His eyes were shielded by silver framed protective goggles and a smile curled upon his gray skinned face.
“Master I am excited about visiting Mustafar. I hear it is a wonderful planet of beautiful lava falls and fire rivers. A true marvel of the galaxy!” Praxus’ voice was filled with excitement.
“Mustafar…yes, aren’t they some what of an insectile-like species, I know they have exoskeletons and that they use insects as beasts of burden…” Skuldren let the words trail off, waiting for a response.
Praxus caught his cue, “Yes master, but your teachings have widened my perspective on things. Perhaps some insects are worthy of sentient status. Though I do not think it is a stance my people will adopt anytime soon.” He went over to his master’s side and peered out at the grassy plains. “The green is quite pleasing to my eyes. Mustafar will be a bit of a test.” Skuldren could see the worry in his student’s expressions.
“Do not worry Praxus, the reds of Mustafar will not blind your eyes nor imprison you to the indoors. I have faith that Bacillus’ modifications to your goggles will hold up quite well.” He looked over at his apprentice, “Have they not already improved your vision?”
“That they have, master. I’m able to see things I didn’t know existed.” Somewhat bolstered by his master’s confidence, Praxus again looked cheerful. “Well master, I guess I’ll be leaving. I’ve left the academy’s financial and supply affairs in the hands of a competent man named Skrall. Ziam recommended him.”
“Yes, I know the man, he will do a fine job in your absence.” Skuldren turned back to the plains before him. “May the force be with you, young warrior.”
* * *
Elsewhere Darth Iconoclast was busy assembling his family. His wife Nora was finished packing and Icono was gathering his nine children. Some were playing upstairs, some were in the backyard, and some were feeding one of Xenon’s little creatures. Icono’s eldest son, Max, was following him around dutifully. Eventually the two of them managed to get all the children lined up and ready for inspection.
“Alright everyone, bags are packed and were ready to go. First things first, you carry your own luggage. You lose it, your fault, so everyone better keep an eye on their things. Second Max is in command when me and Nora are not around. Hal, you're second in command and I want you especially to keep an eye on Jollo. If he gets lost you're responsible.” Icono glanced at his wife who was carrying her bags down the stairs. “Everyone’s clear on procedure, good, now lets get to the ship.” Icono hurried over to help his wife with her luggage.
“Icono, you sure it’s a good idea to catch a lift with Xenon, he’s a little…restless.” Inquired Nora. She knew Xenon was a bit adventurous; his reputation with the female students at the academy had gotten around.
“Xenon is a good friend, he’s young still. Maybe one day he’ll settle down, but one thing is for sure, he’s trustworthy. If he says he’ll pick us up on such and such day he will.” Icono tried to comfort his wife and sooth her uneasiness. Nora’s brown eyes seemed to accept her husbands trust. She pulled her sandy brown hair back and took Icono by the hand. Yes, if Icono trusts Xenon, then I trust Xenon. So they made their way to the ship.
At the main courtyard/landing bay there were seven ships gleaming in the sunlight. Icono noted that five of those ships were being loaded up for their various journeys. Master Skuldren always kept two ships for himself, a fighter and a freighter. Xenon and Icono would be taking one of the luxury yachts. Xenon stood on the boarding ramp wearing a dull green military vest and beige shorts. He welcomed his passengers.
“Welcome to Xenon Air, all flights heading towards the core. Please stow luggage in rear and a flight attendant will help you find your seat.” A smile blossomed across Xenon’s face and his spiel managed to get a giggle out of Icono’s kids.
* * *
Meanwhile Darth Ziam was getting the other yacht prepped for departure. Moto was sliding up the boarding ramp. Lotus gave Ziam a sly look.
“Did you have something to do with this?” She asked somewhat flirtingly.
“Maybe.” Ziam smiled coyly. “But I hope you don’t mind Moto, he’s kind of on his own still and I thought I should stick with him until he makes some new friends.” Lotus didn’t seem to mind, she simply looked at Ziam’s glowing blue eyes. Persuasion, she thought to herself, to think he was only using his natural charms right now. God help me if he unleashed the force.
* * *
Darth Adder raised his head and watched Praxus take off. It was a sleek looking shuttle, too bad the heat on Mustafar would probably scorch off all the paint. Why in the stars would anybody want to go to a lava planet, he thought to himself. Personally, Adder was a fisherman. In the entire galaxy the best fishing spot was Mon Calamari. Yep, it was time for a little R’n’R.
* * *
Bacillus was also prepping a ship. He had returned just two days ago. His news brought a bit of relief to his master, but Master Skuldren was still worried about his old friend, Siyal. Siyal was a Ryn who used to rob banks with Skuldren. He was suppose to meet Bacillus and tell him about Rotul’la, but for some reason he didn’t. His absence was bothersome. Bacillus was concerned with his master and had offered to go look for Siyal. Master Skuldren accepted.
So while everyone was on vacation, Bacillus was heading out another mission. At least Cadius will be with me, he thought.
* * *
Vlakor, the Muulag homeworld:
The landscape was a twisted dreamscape of violets, blues, and blacks. Vivid blue trees with purple leaves stood magnificently over rolling hills. Black rivers flowed through the land dividing the numerous clans of Muulags.
Everywhere you looked there was a three or four story house. Each had multilevel basements and housed around fifty Muulags. Even though the Muulags were asexual, they still had very strong family ties. Most families were bounded to several others and formed a clan. The largest clans formed the ruling parties of government.
At the top was the High Kahn of the People, Mal Furthog. He was a benevolent leader and he went to great lengths to ensure the happiness of his people. Several massive orbital stations, used for expanded living space, were constructed under his initiative. In fact the war was his doing. His people needed living space, thus he used their army to take it. Initially they had great success. Several colonies were set up in the far lands and the enemy was reeling back before the might of the Muulag navies.
But then the Katarii allied with the Wallonians.
Those Wallonians were skilled adversaries. For several years they struggled against the Katarii Alliance. The oracles proclaimed that a metallic deity would come and spare them from their misery. It would bring them peace and victory.
Then the overlord arrived. He was nearly 3 meters tall and his eyes glowed a crimson red. His metallic skin was a dark grey, almost black, and it gleamed in the light. On its face was a sinister grin of polished metal fangs.
It had entered the system in a strange vessel; barely big enough for one passenger. The fleet picked it up for inspection. Upon opening the ship, the overlord woke and their misery began.
The overlord immediately seized one of the Muulag in a viselike grip. Painfully it extracted the contents of the creature’s feeble mind and excruciatingly assimilated its knowledge. It learned of the oracle’s prophecy and decided to proclaim himself the Savior of the Muulag.
For two weeks it demanded sacrifices. In order to please his people, Furthog sent the fleet out to go capture some prisoners. After that it became a necessity. The overlord had to be continuously supplied with prisoners. No one knew exactly why the prisoners were needed, but all understood what happened to them. They were tortured, perpetually.
And so Furthog, High Kahn of the People, sat in his office looking out at his beautiful, strange world. How he used to love to simply float down the black waterfalls in his youth. Now he had no time. The war and the overlord took it all.
If only he could rid himself of this nuisance. To the astral pits with the oracles, the overlord was a curse. Surely he would be the end of them all.
* * *
Xando II, abandoned warehouse:
Truger Paego was much more active in the resolution of his problem. In fact the key to his success stood before him. Across from him a wiry Ryn was restrained to an inverted table. Metal bands secured his wrists and ankles. A special hole allowed his tail to pop through the other side.
Captain Siyal was having a rough week.
Last thing he remembered was being in Galdon’s House of Delight. Three beautiful women were sitting at his private table and the drinks were on the house. Life was great.
Then some deviled-ray looking guy taped him on the shoulder and asked him if he wanted to accept a holonet transmission.
Messages like that cost a lot of dough.
So Siyal excused himself from the ladies and followed the guy to the back. Going through a door, he looked for the transceiver and whop! Everything went black. He was out before he hit the floor.
When he woke, the deviled-ray guy was still there but the ladies were gone. He wasn’t in Galdon’s anymore either. Probably not even the same planet, he thought.
The man never asked any questions. Never even raised a hand. He just sat there, waiting. Waiting for what?
Siyal tried one more time, “Hey friend, what is this about? You know if you told me, maybe I could help you?” Still nothing. It was always nothing.
Truger just sat there amused. Yes it was only a matter of time. Someone will come.
* * *
Praxus arrived on bubbling planet of red magma. His ship sat down in fairly new landing bay with top of the line air circulators and climate control. In fact, it was chilly.
To think, I’m on a burning ball of heat and its cold. That will change.
He made his way outside and was not surprised. The heat hit him like a speeder crashing into a wall. It nearly knocked him on to his knees. Sweat began to poor out of him. His clothes were soaked. Alright, time to find an environment suit.
After a short ride on the local transportation, an oversized bug carriage, he finally made his way to the local tourist center. Upon entering the facility, he was again blessed with a miraculous blanket of cold air. Looking around, he saw all kinds of services: speeder rentals, hotel accommodations, listings of amusement parks, and behold, climate control equipment.
Praxus stood in awe of all the various products. They had mobile climate systems designed to cool off 10 meter hemispheres so you and your family could enjoy the sights at leisure; smaller units could be worn by your pets. Special coolers that guaranteed to keep even ice cream fresh on the fiery tundra. And dozens of cooling suits in all shapes and sizes.
One of the employees approached Praxus, “Can I help you find a suit sir? I imagine the heat must be especially hard on you with that extra head gear.” The employee, Rez, seemed genuinely concerned. “Don’t worry, I can get you a suit that’ll accommodate your mask and species without any problem, just give me a second.” Going into a back room, Rez returned with a heavy looking space suit.
“Here sir, you can try it on in one of the dressing rooms and if it fits we can ring it up for you at the counter.” Rez gave a warm smile and went to go talk with another customer.
Luckily the suit fit Praxus fine, a little cumbersome, he thought, but if it kept him cool it wouldn’t matter. It was also a little pricey.
With his suit on, he again braved the raging heat of Mustafar. The door slid open, he stepped out, and the blast of heat…was not there. It actually worked. Time to go sight seeing.
Talking with the locals, Praxus learned where all the major tourist spots where. There was the Seven Falls, the Three Rivers, Danti’s Peak, and Devil’s Gorge. However, he came to learn that the real beauties of Mustafar lied elsewhere. So he noted the new locations on his datapad map and set out on his journey.
Now the hard part.
Mustafarians did not like speeders, instead they domesticated large insects to carry them around. Praxus debated renting a speeder but the prices were absurd. The bugs were cheap.
He managed to pack his supplies on Nessi, his insectoid beast of burden, and force jumped up into the saddle. It was a rough ride. Every step was a bounce and Praxus quickly learned how to lean and hop with the insects strides. But the scenery was magnificent.
In the distance black peaks erupted with brilliantly bright lava, splashing like a gigantic geyser. Glistening onyx decorated the landscape and a majestic red sky bloomed on the horizon.
Broiled. Salted. Filleted and buttered. Sautéed. Stop it, he told himself.
He couldn’t help it. The delicious insect beneath him made his taste buds drool. All that food on a giant, natural grill. Food. This wasn’t working.
* * *
Hyperspace, Correllian Run:
Space. Bacillus was still held in awe at it’s inifinteness. Endless. “Cadius, what do you think is beyond the stars?”
“Besides more stars and planets, plus other negligible debris…vacuum.” Replied the innocent looking robot.
Bacillus did not design Cadius to look sinister. Nor did he look human. Instead he was a droid with physical features capable of displaying emotion. Emotions that he actually felt, regardless of their origins.
“That’s rather gloomy. Come on Cadius, you can do better than that. Use your imagination, I did give you one you know.” Bacillus spun the pilot’s chair so that he was facing his copilot.
“Very well, I knew you would want something unrealistic.” Metal eyelids shut halfway giving the droid a mystic quality, as if he were really peering into the depths of space. “I see dragons. Angelic serpents flying through the ether. They have long, scaly tails and giant wings. They are also intelligent. They are the guardians of the void. No one leaves without the permission of the creator. Thus they guard his kingdom from his creation.” Cadius’ voice was rhythmic and enchanting, “beyond that no one can comprehend, not with our current state of existence. It is not yet time for that.”
Bacillus sat flabbergasted. “That was astral. You are really something else.” He reached over and patted Cadius on the back. “I never knew you had it in you. Put that in a poetry book and you could make some spare credits.”
Cadius did not look amused. His thin, metallic lips frowned. “I wasn’t spinning that for your amusement.” He sounded hurt. “I meant it. Its what I believe.”
This got Bacillus’ attention. “Why dragons?”
“It’s not a secret. Such creatures do exist, though they are rarely scene. The Jedi have met with such beings from time to time. Though no one knows much more than that, other than they are able to live in the vacuum of space.” Cadius’ glowing eyes stared at Bacillus.
“I didn’t know that.” Cadius’ glare eased a bit. Bacillus continued, “Maybe, after we find Siyal, we’ll go look for one of the dragons. The Force might be able to guide us to one.” Cadius looked pleased.
* * *
Blue as far as the eye can see. An endless landscape of gently rolling blue, sparkling in the sunlight. Overhead a cloudless blue sky permitted maximum visibility. Darth Adder peered over the side of his midsized aquatic skimmer. He could see nearly fifty meters down. Beyond that, the dark depths of the ocean swallowed all visible light. To his delight, he could see six different types of top water fish. It was going to be a good day.
Adder baited up his hook and dropped the line straight down. It took nearly a minute for the sinker to hit bottom. At this spot the water was 200 meters deep, fairly shallow compared to most areas on the planet’s all encompassing ocean.
The tip of the pole tugged down twice, Adder gave it a modest yank, and the line took off. Adjusting his grip, Adder loosened the drag. The fish was zooming along the bottom but slowly coming up as torpedoed away from the skimmer. Slowly the fish lost momentum and Adder began reeling in. It was big and full of fight. He had to let it run two more times to let it tire out. Finally after eight minutes of reeling, he got his first glimpse of the fish. Ten meters out, the beautiful neon speckled marlander leapt out of the water. Two magnificent sails glowed in a multicolor spectrum of wonder. Adder continued to reel the fish in and it seemed to have lost its fight. With a quick heave and a bit of the Force, he pulled the fish into the skimmer. Its tail thrashed on the deck. Grabbing it by its long spear-like bill, Adder held the fish up. It was as tall as him and three times as heavy. And this was his first catch of the day.
The hours rolled by and Adder continued to pull up monster-sized fish. It had been a long time since he had done this. A long time. Back when his pal Milo was still alive. They use to go fishing all the time. That all ended when a Sith artillery barrage wiped out 98 percent of their battalion. Of course it also wiped out an entire Republic division. Their commanders thought it was worthwhile sacrifice. Darth Adder made sure it was their last mistake.
The ocean was soothing. He watched the sun set on the horizon. The red-golden glow beaming over the water. Water. So much water. Hmm. A thought occurred to him. Water was one of the fundamental aspects of the Krudesh rituals. From water and earth sprang life. So far none of Skuldren’s apprentices had been able to make the next step. Perhaps, with a little effort and patience, Darth Adder could make that leap.
* * *
Praxus had already gone through half his rations. So far it had worked. His hunger had been kept at bay. Besides, he was almost there.
With the unexpected difficulties of Nessi, he had to alter his plans. The Mustafarian locals had pointed out three major sites. He would have time for only one. Thus he picked the one that they said rivaled all the fountains of Aderaan and the rays of the Rainbow Drift. They called it the Red Maelstrom.
Checking with his datapad, he discovered that he was there. Off to the right were five small hills. Tendrils of smoke crept out of the top of each black mound. There were no lava seas, no lava rivers, not even a lava fountain. Only the rough, course rock and five puny hills.
“Mustafarians must not like tourists”, Praxus muttered to himself.
His steed neighed in return.
Praxus admonished the giant insect. “Ah, you’ll get yours too. When I get back will see about you.”
He had come all this way for nothing. Just looking at Nessi made his mouth water. One more meal might hold him over until he got back to town.
With a heavy heart, he sat down on the hard rock surface. His cumbersome suit kept him cool but provided little in the way of cushion. Pulling an instant meal packet out of his satchel, he removed his helmet and began to eat. Crunchy little morsels of candy covered bugs crunched in between his dull teeth. The juices poured out of their tiny carapaces. To Praxus, it was delicious.
Behind him he heard a low rumbling sound.
An earthquake? He thought.
Turning around, he noticed that the amount of smoke coming from the mounds had increased. The rumbling was increasing, slowly gaining momentum. Beneath him the ground shook. Steam was building up in the mounds. He could hear the screeching sound of the pressure wheezing out of the planet. Then the pressure climaxed, blasting out of the mounds, spewing lava in a massive 60-meter arc.
Praxus stood dumbstruck. Five giant fountains of lava crisscrossed before him. Each stream drizzled off as it reached its peak. All of the intersecting arches meshed together like branches on a tree. Where each one met, a tiny star burst of lava splashed out in all directions. It was like looking at liquid trees of fire, blowing in the wind. He had never seen anything as breathtaking as this in his entire life.
Gently the lava geysers subsided back into their rolling mounds. The lava disappeared into the crevasses in the ground. Just like that, it was all gone.
Praxus wanted to stay and watch it again but he knew he had limited supplies. He needed to head back.
The journey was long and tiring. Yet the beauty of the lava fountains managed to subdue his appetite. He couldn’t help but think of all that fire. Fire. The Krudesh.
Mustafar was a planet abundant in fire. This was an opportunity he should take advantage of. With this much raw energy to work with, he could surely make strides towards the fifth element of the Krudeshi rituals. The power of life could be just over the horizon. The key would be the fire oceans.
* * *
Xando II, Truger Paego’s Hideout:
Siyal lay restrained to the table, trying to put together the pieces. Why I am here? The answer was simple, he had been kidnapped. Now who would want to do that? Rotul’la. All right, the scumsucker finally tracked me down and now he's going to get his revenge. To think, he was supposed to meet with Skuldren’s apprentice. He was so close to wrapping up this whole ordeal. Now all hope was lost.
Siyal tried the Dashade again, “I know Rotul’la sent you, guess you're just waiting for him to show up so he can do this personally. Least you can do is let me know what I’m in for.”
Truger sat perfectly still in his chair. He eyed the Ryn from across the room. He wasn’t smiling anymore. “Whose Rotul’la?”
He didn’t know. Siyal was taken back. “He’s a Snivvian gangster, lives on Ketel.”
“Does he work for the Sith?” Came Truger’s stern voice.
The Sith? Siyal’s thoughts began to race. Now I’m getting somewhere. This guy is awfully worried. He’s snooping around about his employer…a Sith. Why would a Sith hire someone to kidnap him? Skuldren.
“From time to time.” Siyal finally responded. “He had a big grudge against this guy called Skuldren.” It was a dangerous game, but he had to play his hunch.
Truger took his feet off his desk and sat up straight. So Rotul’la sent a Sith to hire him to take out this Skuldren. “What else do you know about this Skuldren?”
Siyal paused. Gathering his thoughts, he replied, “Well I only met him once. Rotul’la caught the guy trying to cheat in the casinos. We were all in Rotul’la’s office when this Skuldren guy snapped. Starting flinging stuff across the room with the Force, whipped out a lightsaber and cut the desk in half. Then to top it all off, he blasted with lightning! Stuff shot straight out of his fingers, just like some old spook tale. Never seen anything like it. I mean I heard stories about people doing such things but I didn’t think it was true.” Siyal’s facial expressions added to the story. He had a real gift for storytelling. Hopefully this paid off.
* * *
Kuat, KDY Theme Park:
Screaming by at subsonic speeds, Iconoclast’s face was being thrashed by the enormous g-forces. Gravity whipped him side-to-side, then the entire car inverted in a loop-to-loop. His stomach heaved as he was wrenched into a blistering corkscrew. His hands were tightly squeezing the handlebars on his restraints, his legs dangled freely. With the wind rushing past his face, he had to admit that this…was…astral!
Air rushed out of the cart above as the brakes slowed them down. The ride came to a smooth stop as eager kids waited in line for their chance to get on board. The harnesses lifted up and Icono and his family rose from their seats.
“Dad, dad, that was galactic. Let’s do it again!” Cried Jollo as he was jumping up and down in excitement.
Hal budged in front of Jollo, cutting off his pleas. “Hey Dad, why don’t we try the Nubula Spider next. We haven’t rode that one yet.” Hal used just enough Force persuasion that it managed to affect his little brother.
“Yeah! Let’s ride that one next!” Yelled Jollo, still brimming with enthusiasm.
Icono smiled at Hal. A Jedi might not like such manipulation, but when done with tact, Icono saw it as an art form.
“Alright kids, let’s head for the Nebula Spider next.” No sooner than the words left his mouth, all nine kids charged out of the exit line and sprawled toward the next ride.
“This is nice Icono, we should get out more often.” Nora’s words to her husband were sweet and comforting.
“You’re right Nora, we’ll have to start taking trips once a month. It’d be good to let the kid’s see what the galaxy has to offer.” Icono was happy.
In fact, he was jubilant. He was with his family and all of them were having fun. Still, he couldn’t quite shake the thrill of having the wind rush by him on the amusement rides. The Force was tingling. Something about the wind. Yes, that was it, the wind and Krudesh.
An idea popped into Icono’s mind. On this next ride he was going to try something. With any luck, he just might stumble upon the solution to the next step.
* * *
Dazzling light hummed and blinked all around the room. On the dance floor were species of all kinds. From Abyssins to Zeltrons, they all danced to the beat of the music pouring from the stage band. Tonight the band was Nek Lightning, Xenon didn’t recognize them but admitted that they were pretty good.
“So what do you think of the band?” The seductive voice belonged to a female S’kytri.
Xenon looked into her glowing eyes, “They’re good.” He eased his hand on to her thigh. She smiled. “You ever hear the Ryn Devils play, I saw them on Commenor couple years back.”
“Oh they’re my favorite!” She leaned in closer to Xenon. Her light green skin pressed up against him.
Xenon wasn’t for sure what he saw in her. Was it her shimmering yellow eyes, her green silky skin, or the wings. Come to think of it, he had never dated a girl with wings. This was the first.
She leaned over to Xenon’s ear, and in a husky whisper, “You know, we can leave anytime you want. My place or yours, it doesn’t matter.”
Xenon was game.
Three days later, he found himself wandering the shops of Coruscant with a beautiful woman by his side. The same women. Her name was Jina. She had gone to school here, furthering her education, and got a degree in business. She now owned several popular nightclubs on the upper levels of Coruscant. And for some odd, spontaneous reason, he was still with her. It wasn’t normal for him, then again, he had never been to Coruscant before. Maybe there was something in the water.
“Jina let’s go over to that plant store, I want to see what they’ve got.” Xenon was anxious to see what kind of selection they had here in the Galactic Core.
“Alright, I like looking at the flowers.” Jina was wearing a simple, full-length, white dress. Her wings slipped comfortable out of the back and were nestled in closely.
The store’s glass window displayed an array of colorful, exotic flowers. As Xenon approached, the glass door slid open. Inside the air was humid and damp. A Ho’Din stood behind the counter. Several legal notices were posted on the wall, advertising what plants were illegal on what planets and systems. Jina wandered off towards the flower section. Xenon noted that the store was rather spacious. The aisles stretched a good 30 meters towards the back of the store.
Xenon strolled over to the Ho’Din. “Do you happen to have any Nosaurian quick soil?” He asked.
“Nope, that stuff’s been hard to come by. Most people don’t know too much about dirt, they just take what they can get. The few people who do keep a small garden usually pump it full of chemicals.” The Ho’Din eyed Xenon with a look of interest. “You know much about sentalias?”
Xenon grinned, “I have three. One of them is a golden spackled dwarf breed nearly six meters high.”
The massive Ho’Din gave a deep laugh. “Ah, so you are a fellow botanist. Tell you what friend, I’ve got some genuine Coruscanti soil straight from ground zero. Don’t ask me how I got it, it wasn’t easy.” Xenon followed the storekeeper into a back room.
“I keep this stuff back here because it’s not exactly legal. Nutrients in the soil are radioactive. Causes the plants to mutate, however I’ve done some tests and none of it is toxic, at least in human standards.” The Ho’Din’s baritone voice rumbled in the little storage closet.
“How much?” Xenon’s voice was sharp and to the point.
“Technically I can’t sell it. Far as anyone’s concerned, I don’t even have it. That stuff in front of you doesn’t even exist.” He put his blue-green, webbed hand to his chin and paused. “Take it as a gift. In return you can look at a plant for me.” A curious smile swept his face. There was something mischievous about that twinkle in his eyes.
“Show me.” Xenon replied.
They both left the storage closet and headed for the back. Xenon gestured over at Jina and she came over to see.
“We’re going to look at a plant in back, I’ll be right back.” Xenon’s voice was caring, he stroked her hand in a gentle caress.
“Okay, but don’t be too long.” Her voice was music to Xenon’s ears.
The Ho’Din and Xenon made their way to the back. He noticed that there was several special sections back here. One door was labeled desert, another artic. The door they entered simply said private.
Inside was a small storage room lined with shelves. In the middle of the room sat a cluttered table. The Ho’Din approached it. Beneath a yellow cloth, the storekeeper revealed a small plant concealed under an overturned glass bowl.
“It is a frantul bolonda. This one is still an infant. I know you have a touch. If you could but spare a little magic for this one, I would give you the soil, free of charge.” The Ho’Din looked at Xenon, his face was stern.
Xenon wanted the soil and yet, “I’ll do it…but how did you know?”
“The sentalias, no one but a force-sensitive can get them to live for more than a month. You have three.” Another smile crossed the Ho’Din’s face.
“I’ll remember that.” Replied Xenon.
He knelt by the little plant and peered at it through the force. He could feels its cells pulsing within the green stalks. Something was causing them pain. Focusing in on the macroscopic cells, he visualized the intruders. Small purple bacteria were consuming the plants carbon and water. It was starving the plant. Xenon concentrated on the bacteria, analyzing its structure and composition. He could actually feel the bacteria’s fears and desires. It feared sodium.
“Do you have any salt?” He asked the Ho’Din.
The storekeeper left and returned shortly with a cute little bantha saltshaker. Xenon took the shaker and sprinkled some salt onto the plants leaves. He sent a mental image to the bacteria, this is better than water, sweeter than carbon, eat deeply.
Now the bacteria would eat the very poison it feared without ever realizing it.
“There, that ought to do it, if it persists try some sodium solution. The bacteria in the plant seems to dislike it.” Xenon returned a grin to the storekeeper.
The Ho’Din beamed in thanks, “Thank you, this has been most helpful. I thought I was going to loose this one.” He put his arm around Xenon and led him back out front and to the counter. “Now, lets see about that soil hmm.” He went into the storage closet and returned with a sealed metal box. “This should protect it from any sensors, wouldn’t want to damage it.” The Ho’Din winked.
“Yes, those sensors would be an unpleasant surprise.” Xenon caught the Ho’Din’s meaning. Travel authority sensors would normally pick up any radioactive materials. The box would prevent that.
Xenon looked over at Jina, “Come on Jina, let's go get something to eat.”
After a delicious meal and a full day of window shopping and exploring, the couple retired to Xenon’s upper level hotel room. Jina was taking a shower while Xenon sat in the small living room area of the hotel suite. He was staring at the shining metal box the Ho’Din gave him. Dirt. Soil. From the ground and the water springs life… The Krudesh. There was something special about this dirt. A secret that was begging to be unlocked.
Xenon opened the box and gazed at the brown soil within. It had a strong, musty aroma. Through the Force he felt something odd. A small infinitesimal will waiting to be heard. A tiny little voice whispering in a strange tongue. He could almost understand the words…life, life, life.
Without thinking, he did something in the force. A gentle nudge, with a slight projection of thought. To his surprise a green bud appeared in the course granules of dirt. The little speck of green grew to the size of his thumbnail.
The thought entered Xenon’s mind like a blaster bolt. He needed water. Quickly he went into the tiny kitchen and filled a caf cup with water. Returning to the table where the box sat, he poured the water onto the green bud.
As the water soaked into the tiny pod it split, revealing a thin, twisting stem.
Xenon sat back in silence. Thoughts racing through his head. Through the Force he had just created a plant. He had created life.
From the bathroom Jina’s voice called out, “Xenon, come join me, the water is just right.”
He hesitated. This was a momentous occasion. Then he thought to himself, what better way to celebrate! Thus he triumphantly went to go join Jina.
* * *
Bacillus and Cadius returned to the Ketel System searching for clues as to Captain Siyal’s whereabouts. Their investigations led them to Xando II, the third planet from the system’s sun. Whereas Xando I was a mountainous planet mined for its ore, Xando II was vibrant, lush green financial hub. Forest covered two thirds of the surface and played an integral part of the planet’s architecture. The primary business on the planet was investment firms and brokerages. Money was their main export.
The best information Bacillus and Cadius were able to find always seemed to come from the local bars and night spots. Siyal loved the night life. After visiting half a dozen bars and clubs they ended up in a place called Galdon’s House of Delight. Bacillus went over to the bartender.
Casually Bacillus asked the man, “You see any Ryn in here lately.” Nonchalantly, he slid a decricred across the bar.
The bartender, a rough looking Houk, palmed the chip. “Not too many of their kind around here. Most of’em don’t got much in the way of spending money. But I did see one in here awhile back. Real flashy dresser. Purple captains tunic with a bunch of medals on it. Probably got’em at a pawn shop.” He gave a slight chuckle that caused his big belly to shake grotesquely. “Can’t tell ya too much more than that, he got pretty plastered then disappeared without paying the rest of his tab. Say you friends of his, I still need someone to settle up the bill.” Despite the man’s portly stomach, he had two massive arms. He crossed them in an intimidating gesture.
“You tell me who he was with that night and how I might be able to get a hold of them and I’ll settle the bill.” Replied Bacillus.
The Houk looked up and stared at the ceiling. He seemed to be thinking. “Well he was with three women that night. All ugly too, heh.” His belly began shaking again and he chuckled. “One was Warta, a trashy Gamorrean madam. She had two of her girls with her…Trixi and Shuluu. Trixi’s been workin’ over at Bolo’s across the street. She’s a real big heavyset Twi’lek. Shuluu still hangs out here at night, she’s a Sanyassan, real brute. Come around after sunset and you’ll probably catch all three.” Reaching into his back pocket, the Houk produced a datapad. After typing a few buttons he replied, “Now that bill comes out to 236 credits, hard currency.”
“Very well.” Bacillus pulled out a cred marker, set the amount, and handed it over to the Houk. He gave it a quick scan to verify the amount, then put it into his pocket.
Later that evening, Bacillus and Cadius returned. They each took a different table and ordered drinks. Bacillus eyed the room and easily spotted the two women. Warta was sitting with a Whiphid, by the looks of things they were both dead drunk. The Whiphid was spilling his drink all over the place and Warta was struggling to order another round. The waitress was having trouble understanding the slurred basic.
He eliminated her for the time being. Even if he could get her away from the Whiphid, he probably wouldn’t be able to understand a word she said.
That left Shuluu. She was a well built Sanyassan. If you only looked from the shoulders down, she was quite attractive. Yet her face reminded one of a rotting corpse or some undead creature. It was a terrible combination. Right now she was by herself sitting at the bar.
Bacillus made his way over and sat in the barstool next to her. She took notice immediately and cracked an innocent smile.
Her heady voice spoke in a thick accent, “What can I do for you handsome.” Her hand placed itself on the inside of his upper thigh.
Bacillus was a bit startled. “Actually I was looking for some information.”
Shuluu continued to stroke his thigh, “Well what do you want to know sweetie.” She cast a lustful gaze at Bacillus’ innocent brown eyes.
“I have a friend, he’s a Ryn, fashions himself a captain. He was in here a while back with you and I was wondering what happened?” Bacillus’ blood was beginning to boil. The room was getting hot.
“Oh we never got anywhere, he left with a Dashade gentleman out the back door. Something about a holonet call.” She smiled, her ruby painted lips spread deviously across her face.
To himself, he couldn’t help but think that she was pretty when she smiled. Gathering his thoughts he managed to reply, “Dashade, um, that’s…interesting.” His words were choppy. Right now he couldn’t seem to think straight.
“If you want, we can go back to my place and talk some more about it…” The words purred out of her mouth. Her body poised itself at Bacillus, offering it like a gift.
He couldn’t help himself. “Alright…that sounds good.” The words came out fast.
On the way out, he gave Cadius the all clear sign and followed Shuluu back to her apartment.
Cadius watched him leave and felt humor. Hopefully he would have some fun. Cadius continued to drink his nova spritzer. Companionship. Most droids didn’t have such a desire, not in the way sentients do. Back on Kajji there were a couple dozen droids like him, capable of feeling emotion, and even love. Yet there wasn’t a special someone for him.
But daydreaming wasn’t getting him anywhere. In fact the sooner they found Siyal, the sooner he could leave this place and his disturbing thoughts behind. He scoped out the being known as Warta and concluded that she was in no shape for questioning. Maybe the Twi’lek across the street would be of some help.
Paying his tab, he walked out of Galdon’s and over to Bollo’s. Inside he scanned the crowd and saw the Twi’lek over in a corner booth. She was alone.
Cadius walked over, sat down and introduced himself, “My name is Cadius and it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” His synthesized voice had a charming quality to it.
Trixi looked taken back, “That’s awfully sweet of you, uh is there something I can…do…for you.” She leaned forward exposing herself somewhat tactfully, just enough to see if it had an effect. She had never worked for a droid before.
Cadius’ optical sensors didn’t miss a thing. He noticeably looked. After a slight hesitation he replied, “Do you remember a Ryn a while back, over at Galdon’s.”
“Yes, he left with a Dashade and didn’t come back. It was rather odd, he seemed like he was interested.” She continued to study Cadius. Maybe this droid has something most don’t, she thought. Carefully she slid her purse to the edge of the table and accidentally bumped it off. “Oops…don’t worry, I’ll get it.” Leaning down to pick it up, she glanced over at Cadius. That compartment there could be hiding something. “Say dear, if you want, we could talk about this somewhere else. Somewhere intimate.” Her arm reached across the table to take Cadius by the hand.
“That would be…well…I’m not sure.” This was unexpected. Cadius had never thought about being with a flesh and blood before. In fact, he had never had any reason to try out his special features. Bacillus thought it would be interesting if droids could reproduce. Technically they could only do so successfully with the other droids he created. But Cadius might still be able to engage in such matters simply for the experience. “On second thought, I think I will take you up on your offer.”
Cadius held her hand and they both rose to leave when a burly human interrupted them.
“Hey robot, I seen her first.” The stubble faced human pushed Cadius back. “Just cus’ a guy goes to the fresher doesn’t mean ya’ can hone in on his girl.” He was obviously upset.
Calmy Cadius asked Trixi, “Do you want to go with this ruffian or with me?”
Trixi smiled at Cadius. That was all the reply he needed.
The human took a swing at Cadius. It was a wild powerhouse of a left hook. Cadius simply dodged it and using the man’s momentum, he turned the guy off balance and flung him to the floor. He took a step over to the fallen human and zapped him with a stun bolt. Putting the concealed blaster back in his wrist, he strolled over to Trixi, took her by the arm, and strolled out.
* * *
Praxus stood before a fiery ocean of lava. He sat cross-legged on the ground in deep meditation. A Sith would bask in his anger in order to manipulate the Force with ease. However, Master Skuldren did not approve of this method. Praxus agreed. Such techniques were sloppy and bred out of impatience. The key to power was time and it should not be rushed.
Thus Praxus absorbed the energy of the heat spewing from the molten fire. The energy in turn fueled the Force. The power coursed through Praxus’ veins. His muscles quivered in anticipation. But what next? A glancing thought passed through his mind and no sooner than it left, the power surging through his body disappeared. It was gone.
What went wrong? What happened? The thoughts raced through his mind, yet the answers did not appear.
Feeling defeated, once again, he got up and decided it was time to go. As he rose, he noticed something on his forearm. A bug. He took his gloved right hand and picked the insect off of his suit. Carefully examining it, he noted its metallic green carapace. It had two translucent wings speckled with violet dots. Six tiny legs jutted out from its abdomen. It was the exact image of the thought that interrupted his meditation. On the brink of discovery his mind though about food. And yet now he held the very thing he thought of.
Was it coincidence?
No. This insect was native only to his home planet, Kubindi. It was the Force. The Krudesh. It worked! He had done it! He had created life!
For the first time in his entire life, he was able to look at an insect out of admiration and fondness instead of hunger.
Now, full of vigor, Praxus went over and jumped on top of his insect steed. The journey back to town was not nearly as arduous as the journey out. In town, Praxus returned his beast of burden, Nessie, back to the Mustafarian trader, event though it was his to keep. As of the moment, a new perspective had washed over him. Everything appeared in a new light.
He managed to check out with the docking authorities without any problems. Firing up his engines, his sleek shuttle rose from the docking bay and slipped into the atmosphere above. Next stop, Kajji.
* * *
Peacefully rocking back and forth amongst the giant sparkling ocean, Adder sat serenely. The moon was out and caused the water to glimmer like diamonds. The smacking of a fish, jumping out of the water and slapping it on the way down, was the only sound to punctuate the calm silence. Life was abundant in the water. Adder could feel the Force rolling out of the depths in abundance, a massive well of power, waiting to be tapped. It would allow him to create life, yet he knew it would not bring back what he wanted. His friend was dead. Not event the Force or the Krudesh could bring him back.
Alone on the sea, he swayed to and fro in his little skimmer. What should he create?
A rock guppy. They were Milo’s favorite.
You couldn’t eat them, they were barely big enough to swallow your bait, but they were pretty. All kinds of colors covered their little smooth skin bodies. And they made a grunting noise when you held them. As if they were trying to ask you to be put back in the water. Milo would collect them in a bucket as they were fishing and talk to them. They answered in their tiny grunts and both of them would bust out laughing. They were times of joy. Days long missed.
Adder looked over the side at the noise but he didn’t see anything. It was dark. The black water stared back. Adder sat back dismayed. He had heard it, he knew it wasn’t just in his head.
A small smack...this time in the boat. Adder looked down at his feet. It was a guppy. Gently he picked the tiny fish up and held it in his hands. It was wet and slimy. Red and purple spots covered its marbled brown skin. Bulgy eyes stared up at him.
“Yes, I know. The air world is harsh isn’t it? You want to go back in?” Asked Adder.
“Here…lets put some water in the bait basket.” Adder reached over and filled the plastform container with fresh saltwater. “That’ll do for now.”
The little fish swam in circles around the pail. Water splashed as his tail thrashed back and forth.
Too many, it was time to leave. He would have to see if the locals had any travel aquariums.
As the matter sunk in, it just didn’t seem to matter. He managed to create that little fish. There was no way it just swam to the top like that. Yet it wasn’t the miracle he wanted. Perchance in time it would suffice. Adder felt that it was time to head back to the academy. His vacation no longer held the thrill.
* * *
Kuat, KDY Theme Park:
The Nebula Spider was a central sphere that spun in a circle. As the ride progressed, the axis tilted. Out of the sphere four dozen outstretching arms held open seated passenger cars. Each seated four people. Icon sat with his wife and youngest son, Jollo. His other kids were spread out among the other cars.
At first the ride started out slowly, picking up speed as it went. After ten seconds Icono was firmly pasted to his seat, the wind washing his face. Now was his chance. Opening his mind, he channeled the motion of the wind through him, using it to push the Force from his toes out through his hands. He struggled to raise his left arm. Letting go of his safety harness, he gradually slithered his hand on to the car’s sideboard. The energy welled up in his fingertips, waiting to be released. In his mind’s eye, he pictured a beautiful dragon tailed robin, his wife’s favorite animal. The power rushed out of his hand and swirled through the air in front of his spinning car. It looked like a multihued fireball, soaring off to the left side of his car as the ride continued revolving around the central sphere. He jerked his head around, trying to follow it.
Nora and Jollo tugged at his shirt. They had to yell over the rush of the air, “Look, it’s in front of us!” They cried in unison.
Icono gazed out in front of the car. About twenty meters out, his fireball was metamorphosing. A shape was beginning to appear. At the same time, the ride was slowing down, coming to a stop.
Jollo yelled out to his brothers, “Hey guys, look over there!” He pointed out at the fluid object circling in the air.
Everyone looked up. The shape was growing wings and a long, forked tail. Myriad colors turned into vivid indigos.
Quietly Nora whispered to her husband, “Did you do that?”
Icono nodded his head in silence. A smug grin swallowing his face.
The object was now a bird flying through the air.
“It’s a dragon tailed robin. Oh honey, those are my favorite.” Nora leaned over and kissed her husband.
“Awh, come on dad, cut it out. I’m right here you know.” Whined Jollo.
The ride came to a stop and as everyone was getting off they were murmuring about the phantasmal bird. It just appeared out of a ball of plasma. No, I seen it fly in from over there. The sun was in your eyes. People were talking amongst themselves. Icono just smiled.
Finally, he and his family had walked away from the ride and not too many people were around. His children assaulted him with pleas.
“Come on dad.” “You gotta tell us.” “Yea dad, let us in.” “Ya how ja do it.” They all cried at once.
“Sshhhh.” He murmured. “I’ll tell you, now settle down.” He looked over at his wife, who stared in interest. She wanted to know too. “I used the Force.”
“You mean Krudesh. Yippee, dad’s the best!” “He did it, I knew he would!” “Yahoo!” His kids jumped up and down in celebration.
“Did you really do it sweetheart?” Asked Nora.
“Yes, I did it just like Skuldren said it would work. I took the energies around me and channeled them with an image in the mind. I though you would like the bird.” Added Icono.
“Oh Icono it was wonderful.” She gave her husband another long kiss, much to the dismay of his kids who blushed and turned away in disgust. All except his eldest, Max, he just turned and smiled.
“Alright kids, where to next?” Asked Icono.
“Thunder Ball!” Screamed Jollo. He lead the charge and everyone else followed. It was turning out to be a very productive vacation.
* * *
Early in the cool of the morning, Bacillus and Cadius walked happily along a nearly empty street. Both had exchanged stories on last night's adventures.
“Well I must say it was a rather interesting experience.” Remarked Cadius.
“I imagine so. Regardless, we better focus on the mission at hand. We both got the same information. A Dashade left with Siyal. Local mechanic said he’d delivered a special crate for the guy to this warehouse.” Bacillus pointed at the building across the street.
It was a large, rectangular, prefab building painted an off white. Similar buildings stood along each side. The number on the door matched the mechanic’s story. Now it was time to check it out.
“Bacillus, do we have a plan?” Asked Cadius, his metallic eyebrows raised in curiosity.
Bacillus paused in his footsteps. “Good point. If this guy nabbed Siyal, he could be a professional. Let me check it.” Bacillus closed his eyes and peered through the walls with the Force.
It was blurry.
“That’s odd, I can’t get a read on the place, it feels scrambled.” Replied Bacillus, a hint of worry in his voice.
Cadius scanned the building with his enhanced photoreceptors. “I cannot detect anything either. Someone has placed thermal shielding along the interior walls.”
Bacillus knew that this had to be the guy. “Alright, we go in like this guy’s a deadly threat. He obviously has prepared himself against Jedi and tech, lets show him what we can do.”
They crossed the street and went down the alley along side the warehouse. About ten meters back, Bacillus took out his lightsaber and ignited the blade. The red-orange beam sliced a neat hole in the cheap prefab wall. Using the Force, he gently guided the chunk of wall down to the ground.
Cadius went in first, Bacillus followed. Inside the building, they found themselves in a narrow corridor. Cadius nodded to the left. At the end of the hall they peered around a corner.
They saw a large open room, flooded with white overhead lights. One gray skinned man sat in a chair watching a Ryn who was restrained to a standing table. Cadius and Bacillus ducked back around the corner.
Barley whispering Bacilus muttered, “You take the Dashade, I’ll get Siyal.” Cadius nodded.
Charging around the corner, Cadius opened up with his wrist blasters. Rapid-fire bolts poured into the Dashade. Meanwhile Bacillus somersaulted through the air, landing next to Siyal. Using his lightsaber, he cut the restraints. Siyal fell off the table, his legs drained of all their strength, he crumpled onto the floor.
“Dikut! Help me up, my legs are asleep.” Cursed Siyal.
Bacillus picked him up and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. Holding Siyal up with his other arm, he replied, “Hold on, we’re get’n out of here.”
Bacillus turned only to see Caduis standing dumbfounded in front of the Dashade. “What are you doing Cadius, waste’em.”
Cadius looked over at Bacillus, “But it’s a hologram. It’s not real.”
“What?” Bacillus was shocked.
Siyal spoke up. “When you guys entered, you set off an alarm. He darted out the front in a hurry.” Siyal looked tired and sounded beat. “One more thing, this guy ain’t after me, he wants Skuldren. Some Sith hired’em. Don’t know why, but it ain’t good.”
“First things first, lets get out of here.” All of them went back to the hole in the wall and out into the alley.
“Should we split up? I could go after Dashade.” Offered Cadius.
Bacillus though about it. “Alright, but don’t go too far. Keep your distance. I’ll drop Siyal off at the ship and meet up with you.”
Cadius sprinted down the alley and out into the street. Bacillus and Siyal went down the alley and out the other way.
* * *
Two hours later, Bacillus caught up with Cadius. “So what happened?”
“Nothing. Not a trace. No residual heat traces, fluids, nothing. He got away clean.” Cadius’ voice was dejected.
“Firefek.” Bacillus continued, “Well lets get airborne. This guy has gone under. We won’t be finding him now.”
They headed back to the ship.
* * *
Bacillus went through the preflight sequence while Cadius checked out with the flight tower.
“Good to go Bacillus.”
“System green, taking off.”
Siyal sat back in a passenger seat. “Uh where might we be going off to?”
“Kajji, I think you and Master Skuldren need to talk.” Bacillus looked back at Siyal to see if that was okay.
“Sounds good. I haven’t seen by old buddy for almost ten years now. Like to see what he’s up to.” Siyal relaxed. He was free again and with friends. Nevertheless, this Dashade character needed to be dealt with. All in good time.
* * *
Muulag Battle Front, Space:
Kahn Kazen stood before a table of his peers inside the confines of his flagship. Around the table sat the other three Kahns of the Fleet. Kazen looked to his left. In a simple uniform adorned with only one medal was Kahn Shtohl. He was the oldest officer among the Muulag armed forces. He had fought in the old wars against the dark ones and a dozen wars afterwards. On his chest gleamed the highest commendation available, the Crux del’ Kron. When Kazen was in the academy, he heard someone say that old Shtohl had earned the Kron by single handedly killing the dark one’s commander in the Gloom Wars. But that was a long time ago.
Now Shtohl was aged. He struggled to stand and stubbornly insisted on moving under his own locomotion, refusing a repulsor chair. Yet his mind was still keen. Sharp enough to still outwit even the wiliest of opponents.
Looking to his right, Kazen gazed at Kahn Lol. Lol was a green commander. He was cautious but a wizard at logistics. His position was gained mostly by the feats of his older brother, Kahn Ohl. Sadly, Ohl was killed in the Battle of the Demon Sphere. The enemy overwhelmed Kahn Ohl with stunning new technology and a massive spherical ship covered in demonic faces. His death still caused pain among the commanders. It was felt that his absence had helped lead to the enemies success.
Kazen knew better. The enemy had a new leader; a very smart leader. He was uniting the entire system against the Muulag. Kazen would have liked to have Ohl still at his side, but his loss was not their doom. The brightest mind in the Muulag Fleet was poised to make his move. He needed only one more vote.
Across the table sat Kahn Tog. He was one of the old school commanders. In his day, he was the best. Whatever command he took, he brought with him a wealth of experience. But in his old age, he had become timid and traditional. His tactics became predictable. It was possible he still had a trick or two left, but the stream had run dry nonetheless. He was the only thing in Kazen’s way. Him and the overlord.
In a stern, resolute voice, Tog replied, “No.”
Kazen was not deterred. “Kahn Tog, you cannot allow yourself to be ruled by that robot. We are the commanders of the fleet. What we say goes. We are the only ones who realize the situation of the war. If we continue to wait, the enemy will outsmart us again and quite possibly defeat us. We cannot allow that to happen.”
“You use a lot of we’s Kazen.” The words rolled slowly out of Tog’s mouth. “I will not allow the enemy to take Vlakor. Nor will Shtohl and Lol. Nor will the overlord. He has our best wishes in mind. His wisdom should not be brought into question, it heresy. The priests have shown us the omens. The oracles have proclaimed it. What more do you need?”
Shtohl shuffled in his seat. In a rough voice he spoke up. “I do not agree Tog. I’ve been around longer than you. I’ve fought the dark ones. These new enemies are smarter. More crafty. We shouldn’t underestimate them. Just because the oracles predicted the coming of the overlord does not mean his judgment will save us. It could very well be enough that he has provided us with new technology.”
“I agree with Kahn Shtohl.” Replied Lol. “He is wise and correct. My brother would have agreed. New technology is the way to defeat our opponents. It gives us more options. Surprise. These are the ways to victory.”
Tog cut in, “I don’t need some young pup lecturing me on the ways of war. I know war boy. I’ve known it for a long time.” Tog was quiet. He looked at his comrades around him. “Your all set aren’t you…very well, I’ll give my consensus. You may initiate your plan. I hope for all of us that it works. Otherwise the overlord and the High Kahn will have our heads on a platter.”
Kazen smiled. He had done it. Now all the Muulag fleets were under his control. The enemy would get their first taste of Muulag ingenuity and Kazen would get his first taste of battle.
* * *
Excerpt from the recordings of Jedi Holocron 1783-MZK of the Jedi Archives,
Personal Memoirs of Darth Skuldren.
I’ve been making a lot of progress lately with the holocron. Now we have confirmation that the Krudeshi rituals actually worked. Yet the holocron doesn’t give the details on the procedures. The basics are almost enough to go on, but something solid would be preferred. So far the masters have turned down my requests to try and recreate the rituals. Regardless, I have taken it upon myself to look into the matter. Last night I made some major steps. With a little coaching from the holocron, I was able to create fire, wind and water. With this new knowledge I’m going to try the next step. The realms of creation are almost within my grasp!
"I believe toys resonate with us as humans, we can hold them, it's tactile, real! They are totems for our extended beliefs and imaginations. A fetish for ideas that hold as much interest and passion as old religious relics for some. We display them in our homes. They show who we are. They are signals for similar thinking people. A way we connect with each other...and I guess thats why I do toys. That connection." -Ashley Wood