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Old 06-19-2006, 12:39 PM   #106
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Chapter 20: Duxn and Mandalorians
Golly! How hard is it to gain respect or even notice around here! Here I am stuck in the abysmal jungle trying to convince Mandalore to believe me or even see me. Apparently he has had enough of betrayals to write a book about it. I have been here for two weeks trying to gain rapport with the Mandalorians here. I did succeed to some degree with the young ones and a few of the elder warriors. It was so frustrating! At least T3 wasn’t here to listen to me. I had left him on the Sojourn with Carth. It was for the best.

I was doing my usual pacing and exploring throughout the compound, Kapu chasing whatever caught his fancy, when I saw Mandalore starting to head for the hangar bays. I followed him all the way ignoring the dueling circles and some stares I had gotten as I walked by. Mandalore was obviously planning a trip or something, possibly to Iziz. I followed him until he got to one side of the ship before I said, “You know, if you would at least to me, I would be able to tell you why I am here.”

If I could have seen under Mandalore’s mask, I would have probably seen the look of frustration and annoyance. I didn’t have to considering he was broadcasting it loud and clear. He turned to look at me and asked, “What do you want?”

It was a start and it was better than nothing. I began by introducing myself. He made a snort that I took to mean that he didn’t care. I decided to come out right to the point and said, “I am here to ask for your help in meeting a threat. An old friend, Carth Onasi sent me.”

“So Republic sent someone out looking for me, and a Jedi no less. Maybe I should have you do something to prove that you are not lying to me. Maybe the dueling circle, no too merciful…”

I became aware that something was stirring where I was. I began to draw heavily on the Force to identify it. I began to speak in a voice that was clearly not my own, “Do you wonder where she wanders now? Why she gave you your orders and left you?”

Mandalore stopped. He seemed to peer at me and asked, “What did you say?”

“Show the same loyalty you have shown in the past,” I responded. I then snapped out of it only to be staring directly at a blaster rifle pointed at me.

“Did you know that Jedi witch?” was the question.

I had no clue as to whom he was talking about and I just shook my head to show my confusion. I had no idea why I said what I did but I had a hint that it may have been a powerful Force imprint. I could sense a darkness, the lies, deceit; it was bone chilling. I decided a different approach to get out of this mess. I said, “I don’t know who you are talking about but I do know that the Exile and Revan are alive. I am here because they sent me…”

“You know where Revan is? What does she want me to do?” Mandalore asked.

It was an odd question. I cursed myself for not having asked everything of Revan and Darius when I had the chance but it was too late now. I decided to come clean, “She didn’t tell me anything. I came of my own volition to halt the invasion that has already begun here in the Republic. I came here to ask for your help.” I paused slightly and drew on the Force. I knew this could probably get me killed but I said it anyway, “I know you admired her. She is grateful for that, Canderous.”

That did it. Mandalore put his blaster down and questioned me more. I was surprised that he didn’t shoot me. Most people would have shot at me for knowing something that no one should know and I wouldn’t blame them. It got me into trouble as a kid; I shudder at the memory of it. It seemed like hours before Mandalore was done grilling me about everything. I think he was convinced of what I said though I had a nagging suspicion that he wasn’t entirely convinced. I would actually turn out to be right later.

Nighttime on Duxn was not bad except for the occasional creature that would attempt to eat you if you weren’t careful. I was sitting with Mandalore and some of the older warriors around a fire. I was again going over what I was asking them to do. They were all amused by me or they didn’t like me and were doing a pretty good job of hiding it. I had just finished when Mandalore pulled a dirty trick. He said something along the lines that I had to prove my intentions by fighting against the top warriors in the dueling circle. I was flabbergasted and upset but I hid it as well as I could. I glanced at Kapu and he flicked his ears like it was my own fault and had to suffer through it.

I was thoroughly annoyed when I went to my tent near my ship in the compound. I did not ever want to set foot in a dueling circle again ever since Mikkado but I sighed realizing that I had no choice. To be honest, part of me wanted to fight, and it frightened me. I had never experienced that feeling before and I didn’t know what to make of it. I could only hope that it was just a side effect from being around Mandalorians. I went to bed inventing hundreds of names to call Mandalore and most of them in Avalonian. I slept rather well, very well and for the first time in months.

The next morning I awoke early and I was standing facing the east with my eyes closed and my hands behind my back. I was breathing in deeply and allowing the Force to wash over me. It was actually quite refreshing to hear the smallest of life making its own distinct noise as it went about its business. Mandalore caught me doing this but I had him in my sights long before that so I kept him waiting. It was the least I could do considering that he had backstabbed me the night before. I wonder if that was how Darius felt when he had to run around the compound doing Force knows what. When I was finished, I kept my eyes closed and asked, “Is it time?”

“Just seeing if you want something to eat. A warrior needs to keep up their strength,” was the reply.

“And a good warrior knows better than to backstab an ally,” I calmly retorted, still not turning around. I was hoping to get out the real reason for this. He took the bait.

“You are not an ally yet. You come here claiming you know Revan and then you say things that no one else knows and you expect me to believe you? Huh, you must not be the smartest Jedi there is.”

“Maybe and maybe not. At least I have shou,” I retorted. The word just popped out of my mouth for some reason. I had used the Avalonian word for honor and respect. I was frustrated and it came out with me using Avalonian. At least Mandalore wasn’t a Jedi. He would have probably shot me for all the vile names that I had been calling him in my mind.

“You speak of honor? What honor do you have if you don’t show it? I have no time or patience for cowardice.”

I was surprised that Mandalore knew the meaning of the word but I did not show it for I was still turned around. I shot back, “The way of the Jedi seems like cowardice to you and yet you respect Revan and the Exile.”

“That was different. They were worthy adversaries in battle. Something you wouldn’t understand, though I admit that for you to survive the jungles of Duxn was attention worthy of yourself.’

“Duxn is nothing, child’s play.” Then I replied more softly but still in the firm tones I had been using, “I understand battle. The thrill, the exhilaration and the death; I know it well. It’s not easy trying to defend against a band of cutthroats intent on laying siege to an entire city.”

“So you know battle yet I don’t remember you from the Mandalorian wars nor the war with Malak.”

“Too young and on Mikkado,” I replied.


“Mikkado, the third planet in the Avalonian system. Twelve parsecs from Rakata Prime.”

I think Mandalore’s jaw may have dropped but who can tell with a helmet on. I was still facing the east and had my eyes closed. Mandalore replied, “Maybe I misjudged you. I haven’t met very many of your kind that have dared to venture from their home. One I met was rather quiet but in a fight, he was fierce.”

“Tergis,” I said. I remember Tergis telling of his scrapes with Mandalorians before the Mandalorian wars and the early part before he came for me. I remember observing him when he sparred. You would never guess how skilled he was with the blade just by watching him tend to his gardens.

“That’s right. You know him?”

“He was my master.”

“Huh. Who knew?” I thought I heard Mandalore clear his throat before continuing, “Still you have to make a reputation here. Time to go to the dueling circle.”

I didn’t move but I did make a smirk on my face. I opened my eyes and gazed out towards the east. I didn’t respond or make a move. Some things I guess are true and others aren’t, one being that Tergis was right in Mandalorians being brutes. I was actually dead set on making Mandalore angry. I just had a sudden desire to do so and I derived pleasure from making him mad which I was succeeding at by not moving. When I was certain that he was angry enough, I said, “Why should I?”

It was a rhetorical and stupid question, but that did it. Mandalore exploded at me and I turned around to face him with a rather expectant look on my face. Mandalore almost shouted, “Have you no respect? I am Mandalore!”

Coolly I replied, “And I am a Jedi. That doesn’t mean you have earned respect from me. It is clear that I have not from you. Perhaps I’ll leave and seek aid elsewhere.” Then I shrugged my shoulder as if it didn’t matter and said, “Eh, at least I tried.” I made a move to pick up my stuff and put it back in the hold.

I was just bending over to pick up my sleeping blanket when a vibroblade struck the ground. It was followed by, “You want respect? You have to earn it and we will do it NOW! Pick it up!”

It was more of an order but I was not easily intimidated. I had faced worse during the Belosian sieges. I stood up calmly and just looked at Mandalore with a defiant look that dared him to make me. I placed my hands behind my back at an at ease position, one that I used when I was contemplating my next move. It tended to throw an opponent off edge. In this case, I was intending to show defiance and a plus was that I was getting mad. Something about Mandalore made me feel I had to push his buttons.

I did not have to stand there long for Mandalore gave me a huge shove that sent me to the ground about two feet from the stuck vibroblade. Mandalore had another in his hand and he had it raised to strike at me. I was still looking at him while summoning the stuck blade by the Force. When I felt it in my hand I brought it up to deflect the blow, which I gave a shove of my own to give me space. With an arching of my back, I flipped to get up. I brandished the blade with the deftness and skill that Cronus had taught me before settling on a start position.

“Very impressive. Give it all you got,” Mandalore responded. He then came at me hard.

I responded defensively, laying no attacks of my own. I was trying to get a feel for his style and movement. At this time the Mandalorian named Kex had spotted us fighting. He must have sounded the alert for soon after there were Mandalorians vying for a seat to watch. I was too busy concentrating on Mandalore who was very good at what he did though I think he had a better reputation as a good marksman. That was according to Carth. I defended myself until I saw an opening and I took it. I started attacking.

Mandalore was caught off guard for a moment having gotten used to me defending. We continued to exchange blows narrowly missing each other. At one point he gave me a backhand that spun me around. He grabbed me in a neck hold. I responded by grabbing his arm with my left and with the right I brought it up and hit him square on the head with the butt of the vibroblade. I turned back around and swung the blade. He deflected.

At one point he managed to kick my legs out from beneath me. My muscles had been growing sore from the fighting but I was determined to beat this Mandalorian. My blood was up but I wasn’t going to give up. I was on my back and breathing slightly heavily but controlled. I did a forward flip to get back on my feet and I made a movement to fix in on the three cuts form, a swordsman maneuver of the Bushida warriors. I think Mandalore was getting as tired as I was but equally stubborn. We kept at it much to the jeering and the calm watching of the others. Even Kapu was watching with an amused look on his face.

We had been fighting for quite a time when I began to do a run with him chasing me. I jumped on the side of my ship and flipped over Mandalore’s head and landed as if I were back on Avalon and dancing on the tree branches. I took my opportunity while Mandalore was off guard and knocked his blade out of his hand. He responded by grabbing my arms. With the last bit of strength I could muster I flipped him over hard onto his back. I got on top and held my blade close and just stared, still breathing heavily. It took a moment for me to realize my position and I got up and dropped the blade and stepped back.

It was an awkward silence for the Mandalorians were watching me. I was breathing more easily and just watching Mandalore. For some reason, I was having a sense of déjà vu of the time when I fought Manda in an attempt to try and get rid of the legend of Kirabaros. The silence was the same and all the faces watching me gave me a familiar sight. I watched as Mandalore got up and dusted himself off. He walked towards me. His intentions and emotions were hard to read and I was wondering on whether or not if I should bolt.

My fears were unfounded as Mandalore placed a hand on my shoulder. Taking a breath he said, “You fight better than Tergis ever did. A worthy opponent. A shame we didn’t meet during the Mandalorian wars. You would have been Mandalore for besting me. You have earned my respect.”

It took a while for it to register through my dull brain. I nodded respectfully. I was still trying to catch my breath to say something. The other Mandalorians murmured in agreement. I still wasn’t sure of what to do. When I could manage to say something I said, “You going to help or not? “

Mandalore replied, “We will help.”

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