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Old 06-17-2006, 04:14 AM   #100
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Chapter 18: Confrontations and Plans
Three months after meeting Admiral Onasi and we are still stuck here in the Outer Rim fighting the Rashikians. They were quite tactical in their maneuvers and they drove the battles hard. Right now the fleet is massing near Yavin IV for another round and I despair. It seemed as if we were getting nowhere with this battles. True we have pushed the Rashikians back further away from Republic space but they are stubborn as a mynock when attached to power cables and it is frustrating. I also miss my wife and my home, well I just wanted to be wherever she was and I was not alone there.

Carth and I became good friends though I probably wouldn’t say the best of friends. Maybe it was brought on by a slight bit of jealousy when I admitted that Revan kissed me and I her. He did get over it when I explained that it was simply etiquette for my people and he was more agreeable after that. He held me a bit at arms length until I saved his butt from being blasted into space dust. He made it up to me by putting me in charge of red group. At least I had T3 back.

It was a reunion and yet a standoff when the Ebon Hawk joined us after we arrived at Tatooine. It took all the diplomatic skills in my arsenal to prevent Atton and Carth from getting into a kerfuffle. I could have done without HK spouting out statements such as, “Statement: The Republic Meatbag will surely beat the Fool Meatbag,” and, “Statement: Handsome Meatbag please let me enjoy the potential for hostilities.” That last comment had Carth laughing at me and me pinching the bridge of my nose and shaking my head.

T3 was a happy little droid after ‘dancing’ around Carth and then me. I still think he has attachment issues. Right away he wanted to be my astromech in my fighter. The Miraluka, whom I learned was called Visas Marr had gone to her home Katarr and back and she was there. In fact, everyone was there that had some connection to Revan or Darius. Mission was a stubborn kid and insisted on coming even though the parent in Carth told her it was too dangerous. I sided with her after making her promise to follow all orders to the letter. I guess we were just one big happy family, well almost.

Truth be told I was highly agitated and I ruled it out that it was nobody else’s feelings but my own. I was agitated that the Rashikians were toying with us, like they had the upper edge. For the past few weeks I had been toying with an idea that may have profound effects but it would push the Rashikians back to Avalon space and we could round them up. I also toyed with the possibility that it was exactly what they wanted. I guess I was becoming paranoid over the whole thing. I could see what Revan meant when she once told me that Carth was paranoid when she first met him and why she made the comment that I was just like him. It didn’t help that I never admitted to anyone what that Rashikian had told me when we fought on NarShadaa.

I guess Jolee must have sensed my agitation and he tried to get me to talk about it. When I didn’t, he called me an ‘ungrateful whippersnapper’ and a bunch of other things. I responded that I just didn’t feel ready to talk yet. After that it seemed like everyone tried to get me to talk about what was bothering me. The only ones who didn’t were the droids, Visas and Carth being that I guess that they had an idea of my feelings at one point and were content to leave me alone. At one point I exploded at everyone telling them to mind their own business and that I was turning in. I felt bad but my blood was up and I was getting a headache that threatened to split my head in two. I decided that a shower would help.

I sat on my bunk in my quarters and looked out the window for the longest time. The stars were hypnotizing as they held my gaze and a calm washed over me. I felt bad that I had shouted at everyone. I couldn’t brush them aside as I went to sleep.

There they were in a ring, like the dueling circles. Blast I hated that sport. I stood in the center and opposite was a hooded figure and next to him was…not Tvark. I was confused as the hooded figure lowered his hood to reveal Eómeros but he had turned to the dark side. He gave me a menacing smile and announced that this was the moment I had been waiting for.

Then it was mystery man and I locked close in battle. He laughed at me as I defended myself and attempted to strike him down. He said, “Schutta, you seriously cannot hope to win. Release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.”

I gave a hard punch that connected and sent him flying. Eómeros raised his lightsaber at me and said, “The Sith creates the Blood King,” and he swung.

I sat up feeling the sweat pour down my chest as I breathed heavily. I was slightly disoriented and looked around. I had knocked the lamp off the stand it was on when I punched in my sleep. I got off my bunk and put my tunic shirt on and tied it securely. Kapu was still asleep when I was semi presentable to walk down the ship’s halls though I was only dressed in my sleeping pants and my tunic. I left my quarters and wandered down the halls of the ship, heading towards the mess hall, well at least to the kitchens.

No one was there when I arrived and I had the fortune to not meet anyone in the halls, as I didn’t want to talk to anyone. There was a limited selection of non-alcoholic so I settled for Dantooine milk. Personally I prefer kataran milk but it was the best around. I heated it and sat at one of the tables nursing it. I rested my head on my right hand and used my left to stir the heated milk rather absent minded. I spent the time not being there. It was a rather old technique of disengaging the mind from the present and seeking out a place where you and your bondmate can meet. Tergis taught it to me but I had never used it until after he died. Mostly it was a childish attempt to find him and I never did ‘hear’ him. I did manage to go to a spot that I always had felt safe, Tergis’ gardens at the old enclave on Mikkado.

I was just sitting there at the table lost in my secure place when none other than Jolee joined me. He must have been talking to me for five minutes before my mind actually returned to where I was for he was again muttering about ‘inattentive youth.’ Seeing that he was there I immediately apologized, “Sorry, Jolee. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Huh, the way you were staring I thought you saw me. But all I could get out of you was your inattentive self,” and he sat down with his own mug of warmed milk.

“Nah, not inattentive Jolee. I was well…somewhere else,” I replied rather lamely.

“I could see that. Where?”

“The gardens where I grew up with. My master, Master Tergis planted it in between his Jedi duties and I helped. I could actually smell the flowers and hear the clear water and see the footpaths.”

“I knew Tergis. Good Jedi. Tough fighter though you probably couldn’t judge that by the way he encouraged diplomacy. I kind of knew that you knew him by the way you were trying to keep Atton and Carth from fighting.”

I smiled. For some reason Jolee was easy to talk with even if he was blunt in his comments. I took a sip of my milk and continued to listen to Jolee as he continued, “I especially liked that part where that assassin trash can called you a Handsome Meatbag.”

I snorted in my milk. Jolee noticed and chuckled with me. I made a mental note to ‘fix’ HK when I had the chance. Kidding aside, I sobered immediately and sighed. I guess I should tell someone. I sighed again and said, “I had a nightmare.”

“Not the first I think,” was the reply.

I smiled sheepishly, “No. I have been having nightmares for the last year and six months. Always the same and yet so different.” I went into detail on the variations of the same dream. Jolee just sat and listened with a slight frown on his brow. I had never really gone into detail concerning my dreams except to old Petronius so I gave consideration to Jolee. When I finished, Jolee just fingered his beard in silence. Both of our milk was forgotten as we sat there. Finally Jolee said, “So this is why you are here and yet not the entire reason. Are you afraid?”

I didn’t know what to say. I was afraid, for my family, my friends and my home. I admitted to what the Rashikian had said to me and was quiet after that. I noticed someone else was coming in. Before giving Jolee a chance to speak, I picked up my mug of milk and left to go back to my quarters. No way did I want to reveal that I had been ruled and was still ruled then by fear and hate. I was raised on it and yet I couldn’t use it against anyone. I brushed by none other than Carth rather abruptly and I went back to my quarters and finished my milk. I buried myself on my bunk and tried to sleep though it wasn’t easy.

The next morning I was shuffling through the hangar making adjustments to my fighter. Kapu was just dozing having become adjusted to the mundane life in space. I suspect he was bored. If there were womprats running around, it would have alleviated his boredom. Instead he just dozed and ate the bare minimum. T3 was helping me so I didn’t have to talk much in Basic except to issue an order. For the most part, I was singing softly the old tribal songs of the medicine healers. I was actually singing the song of Kirabaros when Jolee came in saying, “You have a fine voice. Better than mine at that age for I sounded, and still do, sound like an angry mynock.”

I didn’t respond except to acknowledge his presence and I continued singing. I was still feeling uncomfortable about last night and not ready to talk. Looking back I think Tergis never addressed this issue because he didn’t quite know how. I never held it against him because saw the same cruelties throughout the galaxy much later. Just that I was becoming so transparent to others, especially Jedi, was disturbing. I feared that if I were to face head on a Rashikian or Eómeros they would use it against me. When I finished singing I turned and asked, “Something you need Jolee?”

“Just seeing if you needed a friend. I understand that you are uncomfortable sharing your thoughts.”

“It’s not that Jolee. I think I am losing it. I used to be able to hide my feelings and myself but now I am becoming transparent, like a ghost.” Then looking at him in the eye, I said, “I am afraid. Afraid that I made a mistake in coming here. Afraid that this transparency could be used against my friends and my family. I had known since I left that this threat is directed against me and I fear it dragged Revan into it because she touched once the power of the dark side.” I turned away to look at the stars through the open door. “She is strong but she can’t do this, be involved. I should have never asked her to stay.”

“If you know Revan as you claim, you would know that she is stubborn, more so than you,” Jolee responded. “It seems that your past and the dark side have formed an alliance. The ‘true Sith’ may be influencing these Rashikians and those that have been corrupted and because they were once part of your people, they feel it too.”

Jolee’s words made sense. I had heard enough of the Sith Lords lore to know of the power they once possessed. It wasn’t impossible for them to take hold. If they took Avalon, the balance of the Force would for ages be tipped in favor of the dark side. I shuddered at the thought and I think Jolee did too. How could I do anything? I was a nobody.

Almost as if he heard my thoughts, Jolee said through the Force, You are somebody. You have to look past what everyone sees.

I closed my eyes and thought back to my initial training with Tergis. For a moment I thought I felt the breeze of the plains on my cheeks. It was talking to me. Not a word was spoken as I stood there listening to it. I then slowly opened my eyes and turned to face Jolee. I said, “You are right and I know how,” and walked away feeling more assured and calm than I had in a long time.

I found Carth and explained how I knew how to find the Rashikians and how to drive them back. He gave me a raised eyebrow but I returned the look with my own. I had never felt this bold before and to be honest, it felt good not to be afraid constantly. Carth was hesitant to let me go ahead with the plan, which called for heavy covert operations and need to know basis and the fact that I would require the use of an old friend that really irked Carth to the bone.

After what seemed like hours of reasoning, I finally won him over with the stipulation that red squad would be back up. I nodded agreement and said nothing. It was risky but it the only way I could see to make the Rashikians play by Republic rules. I headed for the hangar bay to my fighter. T3 was ready to go and beeping in his spot. Kapu stepped into his cargo space and settled in. After a slight roll of my eyes and settling in the cockpit, I gave the call, “Red Squad confirm liftoff and attack plan alpha.”

“Red squad confirm.”

“See you at Duxn,” and we headed off into space.

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