Star Wars: A Light in the Galaxy

Victory on Sestan
Nobody is going to read this anyway

A daring raid by the group of Republic fighters led by 1034 and Alrik crippled the giant robotic spaceport the Separatists were using as their base. By sneaking aboard the moving city disguised as Seps, the group managed to escape capture (and shoot their way out of situations where they were discovered) long enough to cripple one of the four giant treads, each as large as a Jawa sandcrawler, that moved the city. Sven’s expertise with explosives helped them bring down a major drive shaft within the tread, bringing the whole thing grinding to a halt. With the city stopped, the Morna would have a chance to gather to attack.

“I almost feel sorry for the Seps,” laughed Navik as the group prepared for the final rush.

And attack they did. The Morna overwhelmed the city with the help of the group. Even as the brave furry warriors rushed over the outnumbered Separatist warriors, the human soldiers surrendered, leaving only the droids to fight. Finding the battle lost, an entire ship filled with battle droids started to lift off from the spaceport. Wasting no time, the group got aboard, dispatching the droids inside and commandeering the ship. A huge Separatist ship was still in orbit, ready to depart with many of the droids and supplies that had been stockpiled on Sestan. A group of Morna came along.

When they arrived on the Separatist lead ship, the group found it in disarray, the battle on the groud almost over and most of the droids aboard in storage, not ready to receive the boarders.

“Stick together and find a way to stop this ship,” 1034 insisted. “If they jump to hyperspace, we’re in deep trouble.”

With the Jedi leading the way, the group ran out onto the loading dock of the ship, only to be faced by two huge droid battletanks! “Fall back!” shouted Alrik, deflecting a battlecannon blast and dodging behind some cover. As the group laid down cover fire, the tanks chewed through walls and boxes, forcing them to keep moving or be pinned down by the murderous fire.

Navik winced as he changed the power pack on his pistol. “There’s no way we’re going to be able to beat them like this! We’re pinned down!”

“I’ve got a little surprise for you,” muttered Sven, shouldering a rocket launcher. When he attempted to fire, however, the tube clicked, and the rocket misfired. He cleared the weapon and tried with a new rocket, but it also misfired. Cursing in his native language, the scout tossed aside the useless weapon, only his fast reflexes saving him from a hail of blaster fire as he dove back behind cover.

Seeing the gravity of their situation, Alrik closed his eyes, drawing on the inner poise of the Jedi. He activated his lightsaber, letting its soft hum soothe him, then jumped up from behind the fragment of metal wall he had been hiding around. Deflecting a blast that would surely have killed him, he dashed across the floor. With deadly swings of his lightsaber, he disabled one of the tanks, but as he turned toward the other, a hail of fire dropped him, tearing through his clothes and singing his flesh.

“We’ve got to get to him, and quickly!” shouted 1034, but he was forced back behind cover by the remaining tank. “Navik, can you reach him?”

“There’s no time!” shouted the usually selfish Mik-suul. “Save the Jedi!” With that, he jumped out, dashing across the plating that was hot from blaster discharges. The tank swiveled, its cannons tracking him, and he took several close shots and stumbled. He only bared managed to stagger behind a bank of computers and collapse in pain.

But the distraction had been enough for 1034, who dashed bravely across the floor to revive Alrik. Drawing their weapons, he and Sven split up, flanking the droid tank. First one, then the other would fire, drawing its attention. One tread fell off. They continued to pour fire into it, feeling their cover starting to give way, blaster bolts inching uncomfortably close. Then, at last, a mighty crunch echoed through the chamber, and the tank was quiet.

“You think you’ve won.” A cold voice sounded across the hangar floor. “You don’t know what victory is.” Clad in red, a terrifying woman, tall and broad-shouldered, strolled across the hangar. She carried an ignited red lightsaber. Beside her walked a giant four-legged droid, its rusty hide scarred by hundreds of blaster marks, its legs tipped by long, deadly claws. “My name is Crimson Dove. Master Tyrannus promised me he would make me his apprentice when he was Sith Lord. I had plans for this world. You Jedi, with your codes and your laws. How can you ever know something by only embracing half of it? Your knowledge of the Force is a lie. And you, Twi’lek. What do you have to gain by this? And you, clone. You’re just a puppet, a copy. You are nothing. It’s not too late to join the winning side. And you? A mercenary,” she said, pointing to Sven and Navik. “There’s no profit in dying.”

“Maybe not,” said Sven, gripping his weapon. “But I’m going to enjoy kicking your ass.”

“That’s right,” said the Twi’lek. “Mik-suul not like.”

The ensuing fight was vicious. First the Separatist pair, then the group of Republic warriors would seem to be ahead. Finally, a well-placed shot from 1034 cut through the space between armored plates at the droid’s neck. It toppled, and the fihgt continued around the collosal wreck. Navik climbed onto the giant droid, firing again and again from his perch, forcing Crimson Dove to keep moving. The enraged dark Force user charged Mik-suul, who dodged and dove, but soon collapsed. Even as 1034 tended him, Alrik charged. Lightsabers clashed, and the pair were locked in battle, their weapons whirling almost deafeningly as sparks flew from the blades. Crimson Dove raised her lightsaber and brought it down hard, forcing Alrik to lower his blade just long enough for her to lunge. Alrik fell, slashed across the chest.

But it was all the opportunity Sven needed. Standing behind her, he leveled his weapon. “I told you,” he quipped, and fired. Crimson Dove crumpled to the deck, dead.

With Mik-suul and Alrik conscious again, supported on the shoulders of their companions, they took over the rest of the ship. The Separatist droids mostly destroyed by the Morna who had landed with them, the rest didn’t put up much of a fight. What fate awaited this disparate group, only the Force could tell, but their actions, regardless for which side they had fought, had brought a little more good into the galaxy at a time the world needed it badly.

Mek's Poem
War Song of the Morna

In the days of old, our fathers lived long,
They spent their days in hunt and song,
But time moves fast, those days are past,
And we spill our blood upon the grass.

From among the stars, the space-men roam,
They bring their war now to our home,
They cut our trees, our people flees,
Like blossoms tossed before the breeze.

They bind our leaders up with steel:
A ploy to bring our tribes to heel.
They send their spies to blind our eyes;
The mountains tremble with their lies.

Yet we have learned good knows no races
And our fires now warm these hairless faces.
It gives us pride to know we die
With men like you fighting by our side.

Our children lived in fear of their attacks
And the stars themselves turned their backs
Like a touch of light you came one night,
Though this is not your world and not your fight.

What feud this is, not even the wisest knows,
But we drew the lines and then we chose.
All we can do is stand by you
And pray the stars will see us through.

The sun now rises, red with dawn,
The blood is hot and the hunt is on.
We go our way to join the fray
Our children shall sing about this day.

Battle on Sestan!
Alrik reports on the final battle

The miniature, holographic images of the Jedi High Council spread out in front of Alrik as he keyed the communications console of the commandeered Separatist craft. The young Jedi knelt respectfully before his elders as he made his report.

“We have succeeded in crippling the Separatists’ mobile base, and the Morna are taking the fight to them. As soon as we land the craft we escaped the base with, we will rejoin our allies and aid them in stopping our enemies.”

Mace Windu leaned forward, an intent look on his serious face. “And tell me, young Jedi, how did you accomplish this?”

The Alderaanian Knight composed his thoughts for a moment, then answered, “With the help of the Morna, we were able to locate a remote outpost that had access codes to the Separatist mobile base. Sven helped us scout the place and determine the best angle of approach. We managed to avoid the blaster cannon and sneak up to the base. Then, we split into two groups and caught the enemy between us, quickly destroying their communications and dealing with their defenses. We were then able to get a copy of the access codes.”

Yoda nodded. “Showed great bravery, your group has. A diverse mix of talented people, you are.”

“How did you manage to cripple the base?” asked Windu.

“Everything went like clockwork,” said Alrik. “Using the codes, we got onto the Sep… aratist moving base. Thanks to Mik Sool’s smooth-talking, we found the drive shaft for the walking mechanism. We then got into one of the armories and, with Navik’s knowledge of explosives, we managed to cripple the machine. We then got up the elevator, fighting off several droids along the way, and escaped on the craft we are now on.”

The ship landed, and the far-off sound of the gate opening could be heard.

Alrik listened for a moment, then reported, “We are taking some Morna on board to bring them around to the other side of the base and flank them.”

Mace Windu nodded. “Very good. You have truly proven this council’s wisdom in making you a Knight. Now, if you could tell us—”

“Excuse me, Master,” said Alrik. “Our scanners just picked up two ships full of Separatist soldiers and battle droids moving for orbit. We will leave the crippled Separatist base to the Morna, and bring the Morna warriors who just came on board to help against these ships. We are moving to intercept.”

“Are you hanging up on me? Oh, you are NOT hanging up on ME, motherf-” The transmission cut off as Alrik hurried away.

The War on Sestan
Mik meets Mek

The group landed on Sestan. Mik-suul, Alrik, Navik, and Sven decided to make contact with the indigenous tribes while the others decided to do something else for a while. It wasn’t long before the four found a Morna named Tep, an expert hunter and tracker who offered to lead the group back to his village. There, the group received the hospitality of the tribe, who were cautiously generous, giving the four supplies and a hut to stay in. The village itself was half-underground, a circle of rock-supported dugouts in mounds built amid the giant trees. The hut was in one of those mounds, and there the four settled in. They spoke with Tep again, who explained,

“It has been three moons since the other off-worlders arrived here. They have not done anything done us any harm yet. The forests are deep and the grasslands are broad, and there is room enough for all of us here, so we have not had much trouble with them.”

The group pressed him; Navik and Alrik were particularly insistent that the Separatists would sooner or later turn against the Morna, particularly if the war came to Sestan. At last, Tep told them of one thing that concerned him:

“During the growth of the last moon, off-worlders came to our village and took our poet/philosophers with them. The off-worlders say that it is to allow them to better communicate with us, so that there will be no misunderstanding and violence, but we haven’t heard much from them, and we are concerned about what might happen to them.”

The four were quick to surmise that the Separatists had taken prisoners to safeguard against a Morna uprising. Although they were a little confused why the Seps would take philosophers and poets, they correctly surmised that these people had positions of high honor among the tribal Morna.

They managed to talk Tep into leading them to the camp where the poet/philosophers were being held. Navik stayed behind at first, and, although Alrik managed to cut through the side of the building where the Morna were being held, the shootout with guards on the watchtowers proved very dangerous to the group. By the time Navik rushed in to help pull his friends out of the fight, the other three were unconscious. The Morna were freed, and a group of Morna arrived to take them back to the village, bringing the unconscious warriors with them. Navik, the last one left conscious, was the hero of the day, although it must be said that Sven did get in one amazing shot against one of the guards on the tower.

The group learned an important thing: it seemed that Sestan was manned not by battle droids, but by humans. A single low-quality Droideka was the extent of the droid presence at the camp. Although there were no doubt more (and more dangerous) droids on the planet, armored humanoids seemed to make up the bulk of the Seps.

Back at the Morna camp, the four recovered from their injuries. Tep came into their hut after they were rested, and introduced the other two with them: a female (the only difference was in the voice) and a gray-haired elder.

“These are Siv and Mek. Siv is a gifted healer; it was through her help that you were brought back to health. She is also a gifted poet. Mek is one of the oldest and the wisest among us; his poems and wisdom are known throughout the continent.”

The Morna invited the four to a gathering. They met in the largest hut, the stars shining down through a circular hole in the ceiling above ground. It was cool and dark, and damp from the rich earth that surrounded them. The Morna philosopher-poets proved to be the leaders of the furry humanoids, who valued rhetoric and poetry above power or gain.

The Morna leaders were divided. Siv and some of the younger Morna, including Tep, agreed with the four that it was only a matter of time before the Separatists started harming the Morna, and that with every passing day the Morna were allowing the Separatists to become better fortified on their planet even as the Morna were scattered by their growing presence. Others, including Mek, argued that the Separatists hadn’t done themm any harm, and would no doubt leave as soon as the war was over, or even once the campaign zone shifted away.

Alrik proposed that the group would find proof of the Sep plans, and soon Mik-suul came up with a cunning plan: he would pose as a noble in order to gain Separatist uniforms for himself and the others.

His deception worked well. They attacked a scout outpost, where they got three speederbikes and four uniforms, one of them singed through the chest where Sven shot the one of the scouts dead before forcing the rest to throw down their weapons. The group learned that the soldiers were mostly from volunteers from the arid planet of Dammasc, and they believed strongly in independence and freedom from a government they saw as out of touch and unfairly meddling with them and taxing them while giving them little to show for it.

The group prepared for their mission to retrieve some proof of the Separatist plans to sway the Morna to the Republic cause. Mik-suul used a sniper’s camouflage netting to disguise the burn on his disguise, and the group went to the local base of the Separatists: a sprawling series of steel installations in the hollow of a tall cliff. They crossed a grassy plain on their bikes, then headed into the main building. The guards there were mostly fooled by their uniforms, and even allowed the group access to their computers.

That’s where things got complicated. Although Alrik, Sven, Mik-suul, and Navik all had a turn, none of them could hack into the computer; they just didn’t have the talent. The guards outside were getting impatient: “What’s going on in there? You should have already sent off those messages home. We’ve got things to do, you know,” said one of the guards.

“We’re looking at girls on the Holonet,” blurted out Alrik. “Just give us a few more minutes. Come on, man, you know how it is.”

In desperation, Alrik used his lightsaber to slice out components from the computer, which Sven disassembled. Sven then put the computer back together and shoved it back in; it wasn’t pretty, but it would hopefully last long enough for the group to get out of Dodge (so to speak). They rushed as quickly as they could through the corridors back to their speeders.

“Hey! You there! Stop!” called a Separatist soldier. The damaged computer had been discovered.

Mik-suul jumped on his bike and ran while the running was good, leaving the other three to twist. They managed to avoid the hail of blaster fire from all around them, but one of their speeders was damaged. They stopped to repair it in the jungle; they had a brief confrontation with a local monster, its mouth full of fangs, but they fought it off together. Sven got the bike cobbled together, and they managed to limp back to the Morna.

Alrik patched the computer parts they had brought with them into his datapad, but the information wasn’t very helpful: the Separatists did have a plan for killing the Morna, but it was only a contingency plan in case the Morna got ‘agitated.’ The group played down the latter point as they presented the information to the Morna.

The Morna looked grave. Finally, gray-furred old Mek stepped forward, and said, “We will go to council in the ancient gathering place, and we will call the tribes of the whole region together there. You will make your case to the poets and philosophers then. I suggest you brush up your poetry and philosophy as you prepare what you are going to say.”

With that, Tep, Mek, and Siv, along with several of the hunters from the tribe, set out with the group for the gathering place.

The Flight to Sestan

On the trip from Tattooine to Sestan, Alrik Pol made a transmission to his temporary master….

Alrik knelt before the communications console, which projected the holographic image of Asthal Krup.

“Our business on Tattooine is concluded,” said Alrik. “We are on our way to Sestan, to join our comrades and fight the Separatists.”

“Your business is concluded?” asked Krup, his flickering white-and-blue image leaning forward. “Was the conclusion satisfactory to you?”

Alrik turned his face away for a moment before meeting Krup’s eyes. “We have fulfilled our debt to the Trandoshan. I regret the methods we had to use to accomplish this, but I have a feeling that the situation could never have resolved itself in a way I would have wished.”

Krup cocked an eyebrow. “Oh? You have this feeling?”

“Master…” began Alrik, one hand tightening where it rested on his knee. He composed his face, relaxed his hand, and continued. “I regret that I became involved with the black-scaled Trandoshans. Their world is not one which I understand, and I do not wish to be a part of it. The deceit and violence…” He trailed off, his face burning with shame.

“And yet you are part of their world. We all are. You must learn how to live with such people and deal with them, without allowing yourself to become like them.”

“But my companions…”

“Do not blame those you are with,” chided Asthal Krup. “You are a Knight now. That means that you must take responsibility for your own actions. Do you understand?”

Alrik nodded. “Yes.”

Krup nodded in return. “May the Force be with you.”

“And with you.” The transmission ended.

That night, Alrik Pol was troubled by dreams. In one, they had made contact with Nissa by offering her back her ship. They hid a tracking beacon on board and gave the coordinates to Sarrin, who laid a trap for Nissa and destroyed the ship and its entire crew when they arrived at their desination.

In his next dream, Alrik saw himself remaining behind at the Pit of Carkoon to negotiate between Nissa and Sarrin. He convinced Sarrin that Nissa had the fire he once had, and he showed Nissa that Sarrin had the experience she craved. He convinced them to work together, but in doing so, he released them to bring death and chaos to the galaxy.

In his last vision, he saw himself, glowing lightsaber in hand, standing over the bodies of both Trandoshans, their blood spattering his Jedi robes. He awoke from this last vision with a cry and stared into the darkness of his room. What was the Force trying to tell him? Had he made a mistake back on Tattooine, or had it been the right decision? If the Force was guiding his actions, why was he so unsure…?

Confronting Nissa
Trandoshan on Trandoshan Action

As 1034, Rontwroth, and Navik prepared for a mission to the Separatist-held planet Sestan, the remaining members of the group (Alrik Pol, Mik Suul, and Sven) set about repaying an old debt: they would find Nissa, the black-scaled Trandoshan imposter, for Sarrin. The Twi’lek set a trap for Nissa by putting out a rumor that Mik Suul was a man with a price on his head (not a hard feat, considering he was indeed in deep water for murdering the thug, not to mention his previous crimes) and transporting a valuable cargo. The three set off in Nissa’s ship as bait, and sure enough, a crew of bounty hunters arrived to collect the price on Mik’s head. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t Nissa’s crew! Another bounty hunter had seized the initiative. The three boldly fought off the bounty hunters, killing two and forcing the other two to flee the ship. Sven fought particularly well, his shots flying almost unerringly and impacting again and again on the weak parts of the bounty hunters’ thick armor. The ship took heavy damage in the attack, however, and they were rewarded for their effort by a 5,000 credit repair bill.

After paying the bill and arriving on Tatooine (it was a suitably remote planet), Alrik came up with another plan: they would put out a rumor that they had captured a black-scaled Trandoshan. Mik Suul used his contacts to spread the rumor, and before long, they were contacted by Nissa, who arranged a meeting at Watto’s junk shop. The trio met Nissa and three of her cronies at the shop. They negotiated a price for the Trandoshan: 40,000 credits, of which the greedy Watto demanded 10,000 for letting them use his shop and not squealing. They realized an important flaw in their plan: they didn’t actually have a black-scaled Trandoshan prisoner. They had completely neglected to get Sarrin’s help. Improvising, Mik led Nissa out of the shop and to a cantina. There, he contacted Sarrin, who said he would come in a week to confront the Trandoshan counterfeit. The Twi’lek then sneaked away, leaving his two compatriots to twist as the three guards kept them covered at Watto’s shop. Sven tried to sneak away, but he tripped over an old droid, and was discovered. Finally, Nissa returned, and Alrik managed to convince her that he and Sven were just hired muscle and had no idea what Mik’s plan was. Alrik and Sven asked for a week in which to get around to finding and delivering Sarrin (it was a COINCIDENCE that Sarrin needed exactly that amount of time to get to Tatooine). They would then meet her at the Great Pit of Carcun or Carcoon or however you spell it.

Sarrin showed up and agreed to pretend to be tied up after a tense discussion. Meeting over the stinking, horrible beast buried in the desert sands, the two parties faced a grim standoff. Finally, the three heroes turned to walk away, leaving Sarrin to his fate. The tough old Trandoshan wouldn’t have it any other way. As they hurried away, the trio could hear blaster fire and shouting, and finally, a powerful explosion that send a geyser of sand into the sky.

Back home, the group received 10,000 credits to share among themselves (Alrik and Sven split it, since Mik pocketed the 30,000 credits for himself) from a transmission that stated ‘Thank you for your help. Your friend, Sarrin.’

They then received their mission information: they would join Ront, 1034, and Navik on the planet Sestan. This is what that group had learned:

Sestan is a lush planet covered in thick jungles, mighty rivers, and broad savannas. It is rich in wildlife, much of which is dangerous. The sentient natives of Sestan are called the Morna, slender creatures that are anthropoidal, with long claws on hands and feet and long, coarse hair on their heads. They are covered in fur ranging from yellow to brown. Their faces are inhuman, with no nose, wide red eyes, and mouths filled with two rows of sharp teeth. They live in a tribal society and have simple weapons up to complex bows.

Would the Morna prove to be wily adversaries or loyal allies against the Separatists? Only time would tell!

Panthulu Attack
The rescue of Baron Highquarter

After receiving a tip, the group headed off to investigate a lead that Nissa’s ship had been spotted floating derilect in deep space. When they arrived, they found signs of scarring on the side of the ship, but too random and light to indicate a space battle. Several of the escape pods had also been jettisoned. When they boarded near the engines, Rontwroth checked the systems discovered that the hyperdrive was barely functional, suffering a massive power drain. They advanced through the ship and found sticky residue and blood on the floor, but no signs of life. The lights flickered overhead and they could hear things moving around in the ship. Alrik reached out with the force; in addition to a few human minds, terrified, he sensed a strange, cunning alien presence that he had never felt before. When one of the group quickly analyzed some of the goo left behind, he found it to be the blood of a creature not previously identified, but distantly related to mynocks.

After forcing a door open, the group discovered a pair of thugs hiding in the security room. They told a confused story about space monsters that killed some of their crew; apparently, Nissa and some of her men blasted through to the escape pods and escaped, but these two were cut off and hid, surviving off what emergency rations they had. As they conversed, they were suddenly attacked by the monsters. They vaguely resembled panther-sized mynocks with big, fleshy wings, slimy skin, and grasping heads with long, seeking tentacles. Forming a defensive line, the group held off the monsters that Navik immediately dubbed “panthulus,” after a creature from a strange watery planet called a ‘panther’ and a Rodian god. Rontwroth, who had stayed behind to work on the hyperdrive, tried to flank the monsters, but was attacked from behind by another one. No-one was seriously injured, however, and they beat the monsters back. Sven, a gun-for-hire the group had just added, stocked up on grenades from the armory, and the group made their way to the bridge. There, they discovered a hole in the floor that led to the lower deck. Rontwroth managed to force enough power out of the hyperdrive to make the lifts function for one trip, and the group split: one part went down the lifts and the other climbed down the hole in the plating. One of the thugs came with them; they left the other behind.

The lower level was a mess, the walls plastered thick with alien matter and reeking. Apart from more “panthulus,” the group faced a larger beast: a mammoth monster with empty sacks hanging limply on its slimy, veiny sides, its head a massive mess of tentacles and teeth, its legs thick and clawed. Behind the creature, barely alive, Baron Highquarter was being kept for food as the creatures slowly drained away his vital fluids the way mynocks drain power from ships. In the fight that followed, Alrik was knocked to the ground, unconscious, but his friends dragged him back and revived him with medpacks. Sven dropped the giant monster with a final shot.

After they reached the Baron, Alrik helped revive the weakened man, and the group made their way to beneath the hole under the bridge. While some of the heroes made their way up, Rontwroth remained behind to guard the baron, and a shifty Twi’lek scoundrel named Mik Suul did also. Mik Suul had been brought along by 1034, who was charged with watching over the notorious criminal but also using his considerable combat skills to do some good. After the group fought their way through a panthulu ambush in the bridge, they discovered the devoured corpse of the thug they had left behind. After the Baron and Ront climbed back up through the hole, Mik Suul shivved the remaining guard in an unprovoked attack, killing him instantly. After the group noticed the man’s absence, they discovered the Twi’lek’s bloody deed, and 1034 clapped him in irons again.

The Baron rescued, Rontwroth managed to coax enough life back into the ship to limp back to Coruscant, where they received their reward for a job well done.

Into the Mouth of Madness
Confronting Rexib

After learning from Republic Senator Pavel Jervyn that the famed, retired Trandoshan bounty hunter Sarrin was responsible for the kidnapping of Baron Highquarter. The group traced the Trandoshan to the crime-ridden planet of Ord Mantell, where they confronted him at his weapons store, now closed and thoroughly booby-trapped. Taking the advice of Rontwroth, an Ithorian demolitions expert assigned by the Senator to the group to help them against Sarrin, the group attempted civil discourse rather than wholesale violence… which is to say, they buzzed in. Although Sarrin was suspicious even to the point of paranoia (one doesn’t live to be an old bounty hunter without developing a bit of that), he agreed to lead the group to his newest captive upon hearing that the group knew of a female black Trandoshan bounty hunter. Since Trandoshans don’t naturally have black scales, the group suspected someone was trying to impersonate Sarrin and borrow his reputation. Sarrin led the group to his newest bounty, who proved to be not Baron Highquarter, but Tryn (small galaxy). In order to gain the trust of the group, Tryn told them all (or seemed to). She was the accomplice of a pupil of the Dark Path who called himself the Seeker of Truth. He had discovered the ancient Sith holocron and was attempting to learn its secrets, passing what he knew on to his disciples. However, a feud erupted when a Jedi Master arrived and demanded to learn its secrets. The Seeker of Truth seemed to recognize the Jedi Master, whom he called Rexib, and refused. Rexib left after a short fight, but then later, the holocron was taken by our group, and thereafter stolen by Tryn herself. On her way back to return the holocron to the Seeker of Truth, her ship was unexpectedly thrown off course, and Rexib found her and took the holocron. She now said that he was staying on the besieged Republic world of Gessik. After quite a bit of haggling and arguing, the group finally managed to convince Sarrin to take them all to Gessik. Sarrin said he would keep Tryn unless the group paid triple her bounty, which the group didn’t mind.

When they arrived on Gessik, the group learned that the planet was populated by two groups: its original settlers, living in agricultural groups, and more recent colonists from the Republic, who lived in the Hive City. An influx of refugees from the escalating Clone Wars put population pressure on the Hive City, leading to tension between the two groups, as the original farmers never took kindly to the planet making itself part of the Republic. Sure enough, when the Separatists offered troops, the farmers agreed to side with them, and the Hive City was besieged. After a brief space battle, the Republic controlled space around the planet, but lacked the ships necessary for a blockade or sustained bombardment.

Piloted by Sarrin, the group managed a shaky landing in the city, where they learned from a local commander that Rexib was holed up in his penthouse. They also learned that the Jedi Master didn’t seem to take much interest in the war, although he was nominally the general, leaving the clone commander in charge; the only action Rexib had taken was to have a gravity drive installed in the city, even though hyperspace travel so close to the planet seemed impossible.

Led by Alrik, for whom confronting the Jedi Master was paramount, the group confronted Rexib at his penthouse. The Jedi Master Twi-lek was dressed in traditional Jedi robes and held his lightsaber, although deactivated, in his hand. As Rontwroth took up a sniping position across the street in the house of a very surprised local official, Rexib’s Padawan Taren Tlo unexpectedly went to his aid, turning the tables on Alrik and Navik, who nevertheless continued their line of argument.

“Master, I have returned to you at last,” said Taren.

“Good, my young apprentice. Take your place at my side,” said Rexib.

“You must return to Coruscant, Master Rexib. The Jedi Council must hear of what you have done, and they will judge you for it,” Alrik said.

“No!” shouted Rexib. “I will stay here until I can unlock the holocron’s secrets. Come, my Padawan. Together, we will learn more about the Force than any living being can remember.”

“If the holocron is such an important artifact for you, then surely the Council will agree, and they will learn the same truth you have, and they will help you,” reasoned Navik.

“I’ll never give it to them! They would only take it and use it to their own ends, or they would destroy it. They would never see its potential,” growled Rexib. “Now, begone! Or I will defend myself.”

Alrik stood his ground. “So be it. You must answer for what you have done, and I’m not leaving until you do.”

Rexib ignited his lightsaber, and a fierce fight ensued. Neither side seemed to gain the upper hand: even though Rexib’s Jedi powers and mastery over the lightsaber was greater than that of the others, their superior numbers allowed them to hold back his fierce assault.

Alrik tried to reason with Taren. “We were your friends, Taren. Don’t do this.”

Navik joined in. “You must listen to reason, Taren. We have been your friends all along, and we have never deceived you or tried to manipulate you. Look at what Rexib is doing! He’s clearly defying the will of the council. You don’t want to be a part of that.”

But Taren wouldn’t listen.

Then, Rexib reached out his left hand, and Alrik’s lightsaber jumped from his hand into Rexib’s. “Now, you will have no choice but to talk terms, young Padawan,” said the Jedi Master. He led the group to his private room, a barely-lit chamber so sparsely furnished it could have served any purpose. On a pedestal stood the Sith holocron, radiating evil. As the Jedi Master gazed at it, Taren Tlo unexpectedly snatched it up.

“Now, Master, I will learn the same things you know,” said Taren. “Together, we will…”

“No!” shrieked Rexib. “Give it back to me this instant!”

“But Master,” said Taren. “You said you would teach me…”

“Later!” said Rexib. “I must have it. If you don’t give it back to me…” And he reignited his lightsaber.

“You would attack your own Padawan?” said Taren, his faith shaken.

“You don’t understand. It must be mine. I can trust no-one with it!”

Taren passed the holocron to Rontwroth. “If you can’t even trust me with it, then you are not my Master.”

As a fresh melee swirled, the Ithorian sneaked into a hallway and placed a detonite charge on the holocron. Rexib, as though drawn by the holocron, rushed to it, but was too late to stop it exploding. It detonated in his face, burning him horribly, but he was still alive. Clutching the damaged device, Rexib rushed from the chambers. The group followed, and cornered him in a room. In desperation, the Jedi Master used his lightsaber to cut a hole in a window. Rontwroth rushed into the room ahead of the others. Summoning all of his strength, he let loose a terrible sonic attack from all four throats. Something went terribly wrong, though, and the attack came out as a gargled whiff, and the Ithorian fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Although the Jedi Master slipped through, the time it took him allowed the group to close in in teh street outside the penthouse.

Rexib fought with all his strength, but it proved to be not enough to overcome the renewed efforts of the group. Sensing that his defeat, even death, were close, Rexib charged at his former Padawan, rage and hate glowing in his eyes. “Take this, you traitor! If I can’t have the holocron, then you should at least suffer for turning on your Master! REXIB NOT LIKE!” And with a terrible two-handed blow, he struck Taren to the ground. The young Jedi died in an instant.

Navik and Alrik continued to fight, aided by a heroically struggling Rontwroth who fought on despite the agony in his throats, and managed to knock out the Jedi Master. After Rontwroth secured the defeated Jedi with manacles, Alrik selflessly sacrificed some of his own vital energy to save Rexib’s life.

As Rexib slowly regained consciousness, an alarm went through the Hive City. The Separatists had broken through the outer wall and were entering the city! What would happen next? Stay tuned!

((As always, clarifications, additions, and comments are welcomed from the players))

Brief Recap

After surviving the Battle of Geonosis, the only member of his squad to do so, trooper 1034 was singled out for his bravery and skill. He received specialized training in individual combat and covert operations, and was assigned to Task Force 8, the Republic-aligned group consisting of Jedi Padawan Alrik Pol and his cohorts. The Task Force was assigned the mission of returning to the planet Drukon. Unlike what they had promised, they would come with little reinforcements save themselves and the Jedi Master Asthal Krup.

The ship arrived and was stopped by an inspection officer who complained that there was no landing clearance, but 1034 stepped forward and browbeat the man into letting the group land unchallenged. In the capital city, the situation was clearly terrible. The Seperatist droid army was crushing the local populace, forcing them to do ceaseless labor and arresting any who showed signs of rebellion. The Task Force observed the arrest of one man, but did not interfere, choosing stealth over heroism. They made contact with the local resistance, who flew them to an abandoned mining platform, where they met the leader of the resistance, the former Baron’s chief of security. The Task Force arranged to fly out to a platform where Garen was being held prisoner. After a grueling fight on the platform, the team found Garen and escaped, but not before noting what appeared to be a droid factory on an adjacent platform.

Returned to the secret base, the group whipped up rebellion among the local resistance and requested and received a squad of clone troopers to aid them in their attack on the droid factory. The battle was hairy, and few clones or resistance fighters made it out alive, but the team succeeded in disabling the factory and then destroying the platform, sending it down into the acidic depths of Drukon’s liquid surface. The prototype droid they encountered, however, was an ill omen for the progress of the war, and they took one back to Coruscant for further study. Meanwhile, the citizens of Drukon, supported by a Republic task force, rose up in revolt.

Although they had worked mostly through the Jedi Council, Task Force 8 was tasked by the Senate with a new mission: to once again rescue Baron Highquarter, taken by a bounty hunter for unknown reasons from the secret resistance base on Drukon. The group’s contact was a a Twi’lek Councilor in the Galactic Senate named Pavel Jervyn. Task Force 8 met in the Councilor’s chambers high above Coruscant, and were given a report on a legendary Trandoshan bounty hunter that would lead them closer to finding Garen Highquarter.

In the meantime, Asthal Krup’s disappearance during the battle on Drukon was explained away as an attempt to draw away Separatist attention. Padawan Alrik Pol, however, sensed a feeling of frustration, even anger, from Krup throug the Force during the mission.

((players, feel free to fill in details and gaps as you remember them))

The Adventure So Far
Meetings up to the end of February

It had been hardly a week since Alrik Pol returned from his missions on the Bothan homeworld of Bothawui that he met an unexpected face at the door. His Master, a middle-aged Bothan Jedi named Cale’rho, had left for a routine mission to a distant Rim world called Drukon. Saying that a young Padawan like Alrik had little to learn from the political squabbles of the planet, Cale’rho insisted that Alrik stay on Coruscant and continue his studies at the Jedi Temple. There, the young Alderaanian studied under powerful Jedi Masters such as Yoda and Mace Windu. Although his masters liked the young man’s obvious dedication to the Force, it would still be some time before he attained the rank of Knight, despite the dangerous missions he had undertaken on Bothawui.
Alrik was just finishing a round of Jedi meditation when his door chimed. Alrik rose and opened the door, sensing a familiar Force presence. He smiled when he saw the rubbery green face of his old friend Navik. Navik was considerably bigger than the last time Alrik had seen him, and he had a harder light in his bulbous green eyes. The old friends greeted one another warmly, but Navik had a grave message for Alrik.
“As you know, I’ve been working as a soldier since I left the Jedi Temple. On one of my mercenary jobs in the lower reaches of the city, I came across a disturbing rumor. They say there is a secret Jedi trainee somewhere in the lower depths.”
Alrik rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “If it’s true that someone is training a Jedi without the approval of the Council, that would be bad news. We should investigate.” After Alrik and Navik spoke with Jedi Master Yoda, they agreed to this plan of action, and borrowed* Master Windu’s landspeeder to take to the city. There, they followed their Force intuition to the cramped, deserted city streets.
“Hmmmm. You wantss to buy ssomething? Gunss?” a black Trandoshan asked, but the pair just shook their heads and moved past the big reptile. They also met with a shabby human who offered to guide them for a fee, but also turned down his offer.
Then, they came across an old, faded woman wearing brown robes. She took Alrik by the arm and said, “You’re a Jedi. I can sense it on you. Be careful.”
The pair questioned the strange old woman, who muttered vaguely about a conspiracy in the Jedi Order. “You have to be careful. If they find out you’ve been talking to me, they could kill you.” The old woman gave them a holocron that would prove what she said was true, but when Alrik tried to access it, he found it was broken.
The two finally arrived at what seemed to be a disused warehouse. Although they tried to access it, the creature inside denied them entry. They talked back and forth: the stranger demanded to speak with Rexib, a Jedi master who had gone with Cale’rho to Drukon. Alrik and Navik demanded to be let inside. Finally, the mysterious person let them in. He was a Kel Dor male dressed in what appeared to be second-hand Jedi robes.
He told them his story. Although he was strong in the Force, he was deemed much too old to join the Jedi when he was brought before the Council. He had already had a long life history. “I am not proud of what I did in the past. I did many bad things,” he told the pair, but he wouldn’t go into further detail. “Jedi Master Rexib took me as his Padawan, and was training me in secret.” Suitably alarmed, the pair convinced the Kel Dor, whose name was Taren Tlo, to come with them to the Jedi Temple to speak with the Council. Rexib would answer for his actions.
In the meantime, a small crowd of ne’er-do-wells had gathered outside the warehouse and confronted the group as they came out. The three of them had little trouble convincing the hoodlums to back down, and returned to their speeder and the Temple.
At the Temple, the Jedi Masters called the three to their presence in the Council Chambers. “Most distressing this secret Jedi is,” Yoda said, shaking his head.
“I agree,” said Mace Windu, nodding. “Master Rexib shouldn’t have taken on a Padawan without our consent. We denied your request for Jedi training for good reason, Taren Tlo, and it worries me that you decided to go against our decision.”
“Answer for his actions, Master Rexib will,” said Yoda. “But first, find him we must. Long overdue his message from Drukon is. Fear for him, we do.”
Ki-Adi-Mundi said, “Your final fate will have to wait, Taren Tlo. I have felt a growing darkness in the Force. You must go to Drukon to learn the fates of your masters, Cale’rho and Rexib. It would seem the Force has brought you three together, and with luck, you will find them before something terrible happens.”
Although Taren Tlo expressed his hesitation to work with the Jedi, he finally agreed to help for the sake of his Master, and the three chartered a starship, a Corellian vessel named the Ghost of Kessel. When they asked the Captain about the ship’s name, associated with a planet known for its illegal spice mines, the stubbled, long-haired man grinned and said, “It’s… from a previous owner. I only do legit jobs, of course.”
The Ghost of Kessel was less than a day from Drukon when suddenly it fell out of hyperspace. “It’s some sort of gravity well,” said the captain, Derin Fewn. “It’s not on any of the charts. I’ll try to steer us around it.” Before he could restart the hyperdrive, the crackle of ion energy shook the ship. “We’re being attacked!” Derin shouted. The trio quickly armed themselves and stood ready to fight, but Derin convinced them to hide in the engine room.
As they waited, they overheard the pirates entering and searching the ship. The two pirates who started searching the engine room were called away by a female voice. When they were gone, the voice said, “I know you’re in there. Come out. I won’t hurt you.”
With no other choice, Derin, Navik, Alrik, and Taren walked out. They were met by a pretty Twi’lek who said, “I’ll help you escape if you help me, too.”
They agreed. Although the Twi’lek wanted to take back control of the Ghost of Kessel, and Derin strongly agreed, Navik and Alrik were all for capturing the pirate ship instead. Posing as the prisoners of the Twi’lek, who called herself Tryn, the trio went on board and sabotaged the gravity drive of the pirate ship. Alrik then told Tryn to transmit that there was a power drain from the Ghost of Kessel, and the other crew were needed to check on it and to help with the loading. With the ship seemingly empty, the five made their way to the cockpit. On the way, Derin had a change of heart, and escaped in one of the escape pods instead. “I didn’t sign on for a fight. This was supposed to be a transport mission. Now I’ve lost my ship, and we’re going up against a whole ship of pirates. I don’t mind a good fight, but this is more like suicide.” And so saying, he left.
In the cockpit, two battered, bulky battle droids confronted them, their red eyes springing to life. “Halt there and identify yourselves,” one of the droids said in a mechanical voice.
Taren Tlo led the attack, chopping down one of the droids with his lightsaber. The others followed suit, and soon both droids were smoking wrecks. The fight had taken precious time, however, and a voice outside the locked cockpit shouted, “This is Sal Plotts. The Freebooter Legacy is my ship. Come on out of there!”
With their plans for escape dashed, the group threatened the pirates back, hoping for leeway. “With us in here, you’re not going anywhere,” said Alrik, gripping his lightsaber more firmly.
“All right. I’m a reasonable man. I’ll let you have your ship back, but I’m keeping your cargo and my ship.”
“Fine,” said Navik. “But we’re taking Tryn with us, too.”
“Deal,” said the captain. When the door opened, he proved to be a large man with not much hair. Although the conflict was tense enough to cut with a vibroknife, the respective parties edged past each other, and the group, minus their captain, returned to the Ghost of Kessel.
The pirates had done a number on the ship, but with a group effort and a lot of elbow grease, the group managed to get it to Drukon.

Tryn told the group her story. She was just a drifter, a girl from a boring planet that decided life among the stars might be more exciting. The life she lived was fast and hard, but she grew to adapt, trusting herself above others and struggling to get by however she could, knowing that returning home was no longer an option, and she had no-one else she could depend on. She eventually fell in with pirates, a life which proved much less glamorous and more dangerous than she had bargained for. When the chance for her to get away from the pirates presented itself, she took it.
She told the group that their capture wasn’t accidental. She had heard Captain Plotts talking with a man he only called “The Captain.” “The Captain” gave Plotts the coordinates for the hyperspace route from Coruscant to Drukon and told him to intercept a ship that matched the description of the Ghost of Kessel. She didn’t know why or what they were supposed to do with the ship or the people on board, but she knew that, by the way Plotts talked to him, “The Captain” was not a man to be crossed lightly.

Drukon was a small planet that was mostly a hot green color, as its surface was entirely made up of superheated acidic oceans. The acid created the perfect condition for the production of the mineral sortium, which was essential to the production of some kinds of artillery weapons, as well as the engines of starships. For generations, the planet had been ruled by the Highquarter family, a group of merchant-rulers. Before the Separatist movement, the Highquarters were supporters of the Republic. Because of the worth of sortium, they even had a seat in the Senate. With the war, however, the political situation had become tentative: with the potential profits of a large-scale war, the Highquarter family had taken Drukon independent, and it was rumored that they sold their precious mineral to both the Republic and the Separatists.
When they stepped off the ship, Navik, Alrik, and Taren were greeted by a man who introduced himself as the chief of security for the Highquarter family, who told them about trouble between elements in the merchant group that supported the Republic and others that wanted to join the Separatists. They then went to speak with the current Baron Highquarter, a man named Garen. Garen, a pale young man seeming ill-suited to the opulent chambers of his palace, said, “It’s good to see that the Jedi contingent has finally arrived.”
“But we’re not the first Jedi here,” said Alrik, stepping forward. “Masters Rexib and Cale’rho should already be here.”
The young man shook his head. “You are the first Jedi to arrive in the city for quite some time.”
The young Force-users exchanged looks. They could tell Garen was speaking the truth. But then what had happened to Rexib and Cale’rho?
“Wait,” said Taren. “I can tell he’s hiding something.”
“What else are you keeping from us?” insisted Alrik.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. If there’s nothing else, we can consider this meeting finished. You should send Republic aid as soon as you can, if you don’t want this city to fall into Separatist hands. We don’t have the forces required to repel an attack.”
Navik shook his head and pointed a suction-cupped finger at the Baron. “We won’t help you until you tell us everything.” The young man sank down into his chair and sighed. “Although I hold the title of Baron Highquarter legitimately, my older brother, Klem, is also claiming that title. He has taken control of our largest sortium refinery, in a city on the other side of the planet. I have heard that there are Separatist ships coming and going from that spaceport. Some say he has already pledged the Highquarter family’s support to Count Dooku.”
“We’d better have a word with Klem,” said Alrik, turning to his companions. “He or the Separatists might have something to do with the missing Jedi Masters.” The other two agreed. Within a few minutes, they were back aboard the Ghost of Kessel and on their way to the city of Factory Alpha. Although they found that Tryn was missing, they didn’t give it much thought. Unlike Highquarter City, which was built on impure sortium standing up out of the acid, Factory Alpha was a floating city within the acid itself. Claiming to be diplomats with an offer from Garen, the trio landed the Ghost of Kessel. Alrik sensed a familiar presence nearby: the Captain of the Ghost of Kessel, Derin Fewn. He decided that it would be best for him to stay aboard, while the Rodian and the Kel-Dor, who would probably look like any other member of their species to a human like Fewn, would go to see the self-proclaimed Baron Highquarter Several guards escorted them to a durasteel bunker where they met Klem, a broad-shouldered, dark man dressed in a plain uniform. He was talking to Derin Fewn. As Navik and Taren walked in, Derin left, apparently not recognizing them.
“You say you have a message from my brother,” said Klem slowly. “Has he finally come to reason?”
“We’ll give you the message after you answer some of our questions,” said Navik. “What do you know of two Jedi named Cale’rho and Rexib?”
The nobleman blinked at them. “What is this? Are you diplomats or aren’t you? You’re in no position to ask questions of me. If my brother wants to talk, then I’ll hear what he has to say, but don’t play games with me.”
“Do you know about Jedi in this system or not?” insisted Taren.
“I don’t know anything about Jedi. You don’t really have a message, do you?”
“Well,” stammered Navik, his mouth quivering. “He says he wants to… talk… about the situation. That’s all. We’ll be leaving now.”
Klem Highquarter laughed and turned to his soldiers. “I’ve had enough of this. Why don’t you take our guests some place they can be comfortable?”
“Well, see you later,” said Navik, turning to leave as Klem walked out of the room.
“You’re coming with us,” said one of the guards, stepping forward with a pistol.
“The hell with this!” said Navik, pulling his blaster lightning-quick and dropping one of the guards with a shot. Taren activated his lightsaber and charged, cutting down two more of the guards. The fourth turned to run, but Taren pushed him down with the Force. Alrik, alerted by ripples in the Force, dashed out of the ship to help his companions. By the time he arrived, it was mostly over. The three walked back toward the ship, only to hear a familiar voice.
“Stop where you are! I want my ship back, you thieves!” Derin Fewn was aiming down the barrel of a blaster rifle towards them from one of the windows in the factory.
“Run!” The three sprinted across the launching pad to the safety of the ship as blaster bolts rained down on them. Alrik activated his lightsaber and parried shots, keeping the other two safe until all three were on board.
“We have to leave, now!” shouted Navik, and Taren jumped into the pilot’s seat. Within seconds, the ship was in the air, and even as the defensive turbolasers of the factory came to life, the ship blasted off into the sky.
“I knew I sensed a familiar presence,” a smooth voice said from behind the trio as they slumped in relief in the chairs of the cockpit. They turned to see a well-tattooed Zabrak dressed in fine clothes standing in the doorway.
“Dragomira? What are you doing here?” said Alrik. He recognized her as the sister of one of the young Jedi he had trained with as a boy. He, Navik, and Dragomira had known each other back when Navik and Alrik were still younglings. Even then, the well-born Zabrak was always getting the others into adventures, not to mention trouble. Now, she walked both sides of the line, both as an adventurous young woman and the heir of a vast financial fortune inherited from her noble parents. No matter what she got into, either her cunning wits or her money always managed to ensure she got out in one piece, with another story to tell.
“I thought I sensed you aboard. I ran into Derin on Factory One, and when he told me the story about how he lost his beloved ship, I knew it had to be you two. I thought that since he doesn’t have a ship now, and you do, this would be the more interesting place for me to be.”
“You two know her?” said Taren, surprised.
“This is Dragomira,” said Navik. “We were friends years ago, on Coruscant.”
“This is Taren Tlo,” explained Alrik to the Zabrak. “From what we gather, he was being trained in secret by a Jedi Master named Rexib back on Coruscant. He’s helping us try to find two missing Jedi Masters, Rexib and Cale’rho.”
“So, were are we going now?” said Dragomira, taking a seat in the remaining chair in the cockpit.
“First, we should check in with Garen Highquarter,” said Alrik. With that, he activated the ship’s comms system. “Baron Highquarter, this is Alrik. We didn’t find anything out from your brother. Are you sure there’s no other sign of the Jedi?”
“Alrik! Did you negotiate with my brother? Have you agreed on anything?”
Alrik looked at Navik and Taren. “Not as such, no. But are you sure there’s nothing else happening in the area? Something that might explain what happened to them?”
“Listen, I don’t mean to sound callous to the fate of your Jedi friends, but the situation here is getting out of control. Since you didn’t negotiate with my brother, war is almost unavoidable. You have to talk to the Senate to get us some protection, before the Separatists overrun our city and our planet.”
“We’ll see what we can do,” promised Navik. “In the meantime, is there anything else you can tell us?”
“Not much at all. There’s one thing, and I almost wouldn’t even mention it, but there have recently been rumors of Sith in a nearby system. I know it’s crazy, but there might be something else behind it. There have been ships spotted landing and taking off from the planet Sellis, which they say is completely uninhabitable because of its climate and extremely dangerous animal life.”
“Thanks, Baron. Goodbye.”
“Please, Jedi. I know your search is important, but you’re needed here on Drukon. Isn’t there any way you could help us?”
Alrik looked at the others. “I’m afraid our mission is our priority. May the Force be with you.” And then he called up the Council and asked them to send reinforcements to Drukon, although the Council expressed their concern that no such reinforcements would be possible.

On a flyby, the Ghost of Kessel dropped Navik over the planet. Using his jetpack, he found what appeared to be a structure on the surface, but he couldn’t tell much more because of the dense growth of poisonous-looking trees. Landing on Sellis proved to be a tricky affair, and as the Ghost of Kessel set down in an open patch of land, it proved to be a plant-covered swampy lake, and the ship sunk so deep that only the top hatch was serviceable. Deciding to deal with their stuck ship later, the companions climbed out. Between their determination and skill with weapons, they sliced their way through the jungle, fighting off the hostile animals. They arrived scratched, chewed-on, but alive at a structure they had picked up on their scanners. It appeared to be a Sith temple, buried in the fast-growing vegetation of the planet. The architecture was ancient, and with no other signs of habitation, it was a mystery who had built it in such an inhospitable place and why.
Their ruminations were cut short by a burst of blaster fire from the stone door sunken in the ground, the entranceway almost completely choked with plants. Navik flew down using his jetpack and blasted at the thin slit in the door from which the barrel of the heavy blaster fired. Finally, amid a flurry of blasts and lightsaber cuts, the group tore through the door and disabled the strangely-dressed man who had been firing the blaster.
He was dressed in odd clothes, black leather and spikes, with his hair done up in a bizarre way. He was muddy and unkempt, and when they questioned him, he only opened his mouth to show that his tongue had been cut out. After rendering their prisoner unconscious, the group advanced down the sloping corridor, bypassing traps and ready for danger. They came to a huge central chamber in the temple. The tall ceiling opened at the top, a small circle letting in the reddish light from the planet’s surface.
There, they found what appeared to be a well-polished metal pedestal, and resting atop it was a holocron. Even Dragomira, who had no Jedi training but was sensitive to the Force, could feel the evil energy flowing from the holocron. When Alrik touched it, the device sent painful feelings through him: despair, anger, hate. It was clearly deeply tainted by the Dark Side.
As they bundled away the deeply evil artifact, they noticed that each of the eight hallways leading out of the room were blocked off by two men each, all dressed like the man they had met earlier. The ragged, hollow-eyed men held wicked-looking vibro-axes, but made no attempt to attack the group. They stood like ominous sentinels, as though waiting for a command or threat from the group. When Navik and Alrik tried to ask them questions, they only stood mutely.
“Who are you, and why have you come to this place?” said a silky voice. They turned to see a tall man with regal features and long, red hair step out from one of the passageways. He was dressed in a dark, flowing robe and carried no visible weapons.
“Where are Rexib and Cale’rho?” demanded Taren.
“There is no-one here but us,” said the man. As he walked closer, the four could feel the strength of the Dark Side of the Force as it flowed around and through him. “Return the holocron. You don’t know its power. It will be your undoing. You can’t possibly leave here alive with it.”
“You can’t stop us,” said Dragomira. “If you attack, you’ll risk damaging the holocron.”
“You’re right,” said the man. “But if you attempt to leave, I would rather destroy the holocron than see it fall into your hands. So we’re at an impasse.”
Alrik stepped forward and waved two fingers through the air. “You will show us what you know about the disappearance of our Masters.”
The Dark man blinked, shook his head as though confused, and then said, “Come right this way.” He turned and headed down one of the tunnels. The four hesitated, then followed, the Dark Side servants stepping aside to let them through. They came to an ancient computer, barely functional, and the man used a star chart to show them the location of the planet.
“This is Tatooine, a galactic backwater where nothing ever happens. ‘The Captain’ is based there. Your Masters are most likely in that place.”
As the four made their way toward the exit, the Dark Siders moved toward them, vibro-axes ready. But then the red haired man raised a long-nailed hand and said, smiling, “Let them go. The jungle will finish them, and we will have the holocron back before long.”
With a flourish, the man pulled a grenade from his cloaks and tossed it at the group. Although the group attempted to cast it back, with a particular effort by Alrik, the grenade exploded between them, and by the time the smoke cleared, they escaped from the temple, coughing in the dust.

After they returned to the Ghost of Kessel, the group found that their ship was in no state to take off. They sent a distress call, then settled in to wait, in the meantime effecting what repairs they could from inside the vessel. They weathered monster attacks and an ambush from cultists armed with blasters.
With nothing to do but wait, Alrik tried his hand at repairing the holocron the old woman had given him on Coruscant. He was able to get a brief message out of it: it was his Jedi Master, Cale’rho, and he could hear her speaking. “Beware the Dark Side. Its power is growing more powerful by the day. I have heard rumors of an ancient artifact of great evil, and a new group of Dark Force users rising.” Then, the message went dead.
When a starship finally arrived, it proved to be a courier vessel dispatched by the Council. Aboard was Gy Daii, another Padawan. He gave the group power cells and directed his own droid to help in the repairs. When Alrik activated a human-like droid he found in the Ghost of Kessel’s hold, he introduced himself as 2P0. The astromech droid they found with 2P0 said nothing, merely starting work on repairs. A few minutes later, a long-distance transmission was sent from the Ghost of Kessel, identified by Gy Daii. The group was unable to deduce the source of the message, but assumed it had been sent by 2PO, whom they deactivated.
The takeoff from Sellis was shaky, but the Ghost of Kessel managed to limp to Sluis Van. In the vast shipyards, the starship was repaired with Republic credits, although the Jedi Council communicated their displeasure that the group had racked up such a debt without any results. They agreed to send them to Tatooine, but the trip would be the last expense the Republic would pay for.
Gy Daii took the group to Tatooine, where they rented rooms in the spaceport Mos Espa. Alrik and Taren rented a landspeeder, then followed Alrik’s Jedi senses toward the Jundland Wastes, where he could weakly sense the presence of Cale’rho. They skirted the wild rocky area, passing through a deserted village through which Tusken Raiders were picking, but couldn’t follow any definite path: the Jedi Master was too weak, her presence dim in the Force. The group’s landspeeder continued on, noting the closeness of Jabba’s palace, and deciding to investigate.
Once inside the palace, the group was met by a cloaked Chevin, the long-faced creature directing them to a side room where they could state their business to a man known as the Captain, one of Jabba’s most trusted underlings (which isn’t saying much). Inside, they met a man in a plain military uniform who introduced himself as Bors Reynolds. They spoke with Reynolds, but weren’t able to get much out of him: he claimed he didn’t know about Jedi in the area, although the group could tell he was lying. Leaving the office, they detected the presence of two Force-using individuals: the stronger presence in the main chamber, and the weaker in the dungeon. They decided to sneak into the dungeon, knowing that the main audience chamber would be too dangerous to get into.
As they sneaked down the dungeon hall, they were greeted by the hideous scents and horrible moaning of the creatures trapped in the cages that lined the corridor. They came to one room where they discovered the limp form of Tryn, the Twi’lek they had encountered among the pirates.
“You’ve got to get me out of here! The Captain kidnapped me. I have a feeling I’ll either end up feeding the Rancor or the Sarlacc once Jabba grows tired of me. Please, help me.”
Taren pulled out his lightsaber, but Alrik was more cautious. “What can you tell us about the Captain?” he said, his hand on his own lightsaber.
“I’ve kept my ears open,” said Tryn hurriedly. “I’ve overheard him talking to someone about a Bothan in the Jundland Wastes. I think he’s working with the Sand People, selling them guns in exchange for their cooperation with something.
Taren’s lightsaber sheered through the metal bars of the cage easily. “Come on. We’ll take you back with us,” he said. As they started back down the corridor, they caught a glimpse of a Gamorrean running away from them, squealing in alarm. Alrik raised his hand and knocked the piglike guard into a wall, stunning him, but the alarm had been raised. Supporting Tryn, the group ran in a frenzied chaos back to their landspeeder. Shouts filled the air and blaster bolts whined around them. Fortunately for them, the heavy door of the palace was open for routine traffic, and they were able to return to their vehicle and escape relatively unharmed.
When they arrived back in Mos Espa, the group let Tryn stay in their quarters while they met to talk over what to do next. Suddenly, Alrik’s head snapped up. “Tryn’s gone!” he exclaimed. The others leapt to their feet, and they searched the area. Taren noticed something was missing in Alrik’s quarters. The holocron from the temple on Sellis was missing. Reaching out with the Force, Alrik pointed in the direction of the starport. “She’s heading that way!” The group hurried off in pursuit, but before they could catch up, a starship lifted off above them, heading toward the blue sky. The four met Gy Daii in the hangar of his ship. His mission complete, the young Jedi padawan was preparing to return to Coruscant.
“Someone has taken something important from us,” said Navik. “We have to follow her.”
“Wait. The holocron is important, but our mission is even more vital. We have to find and save our Masters. If Cale’rho is being held by the Tuskens, now is our chance to save her. If we don’t act now, we might not have another chance,” said Alrik.
“I’ll do what I can to retrieve it,” said Gy Daii, clasping Alrik’s hand. “Go save Master Cale’rho.”

The next day, the group decided to return to the Jundland Wastes to search for Cale’rho. Navik, Alrik, Taren, and Dragomira climbed into the rented landspeeder and sped off across the desert. As they entered the rocky expanse, their landspeeder was hit by blaster fire. They had come under attack by Tusken Raiders hiding in the cliffs. Dragomira stopped the landspeeder, deciding to fight rather than flee. Using the vehicle for cover, the group returned fire, with the notable exception of Taren, who sat calmly meditating in the landspeeder. Alrik charged forward while Navik and Dragomira picked off one of the raiders. Finding the rocky face too difficult to climb, Alrik instead used the force to slam the remaining shooter. The blast hit hard, knocking him from his perch, sliding down the cliff to stop amid a flurry of pebbles at the base.
Alrik climbed back aboard, and Dragomira took the landspeeder into a canyon. They spotted a line of banthas, Sand People mounted atop them, winding through a narrow ravine toward the north. After letting the banthas pass, and using the Force to distract a group of Tuskens who became too nosy, Dragomira guided the landspeeder into the narrow pass.
Although Taren’s sharp eyes spotted guards along the path, the ravine was too narrow to stop the landspeeder in time. Instead, as the two Tuskens ahead raised their blaster rifles, Dragomira gunned the engines. The landspeeder swooped toward the startled sand people, whose shots scored a painful but not life-threatening hit on Taren, and the group leapt out and made short work of the Tuskens. The ravine led to a huge cave, outside which the group stopped. Inside, they could hear the muffled roars of banthas and the harsh dialect of the Sand People. After waiting a few moments to catch their breath, the four crept slowly inside, clinging to the shadows. They entered a giant cavern, doubtless formed long ago when water ran on Tatooine. The stench of banthas was overpowering, and ahead of them, they could see the Tuskens leading the giant, shaggy animals toward the north. There, they climbed a rise in the ground followed by a downward incline leading into another cave. The four waited until the chamber was empty, save for them, then sneaked out.
While Navik, and Alrik went north, to find out where the Tuskens had gone, Dragomira moved toward a passage she saw to the northwest. After taking a moment to try to sense his Jedi Master, but failing to find more than a weak sense that she was nearby, Alrik followed Dragomira.
Navik crouched behind a boulder on the rise leading toward the north as Taren sneaked further up the slope. As he climbed down the slope on the other side, he found himself in another cave, where the Tusken were having a heated argument, their banthas lined up and loaded. Taren took one long look at the crowd of Sand People, numbering perhaps a hundred, and tried to sneak back. Unfortunately for him, his foot slipped on a rock, which tumbled loudly down the slope. The Sand People didn’t take long to fill the air with shots. Taren quickly ran up the slope toward the cave where Navik waited, staying wisely hidden, but just as he crested the rise, a blaster bolt hit him in the back. He cried out and fell, sliding part of the way down the slope toward Navik. The Rodian leapt up and dragged his friend down the slope to hide him behind the boulder. Three Tusken Raiders crested the slope, firing down at him. He returned fire, killing one. Alrik appeared from behind them, charging with his lightsaber glowing, and pushed forward with the Force. The Tuskens toppled, disappearing from view down the opposite side of the rise.
“What happened?” said Alrik breathlessly. “I felt Taren’s injury in the Force.”
Navik nodded to his friend. “He’s unconscious. Where’s Dragomira?” “She’s still checking out the tunnel.” Alrik crouched beside Taren and placed a hand on his chest, channeling the healing powers of his Force abilities into him. After a few seconds, Taren groaned and opened his eyes.
“We’d better hurry,” said Alrik. “Can you walk?”
“More or less,” replied Taren weakly. Navik and Alrik hoisted the Kel Dor to his feet and supported him as they stumbled toward the northwest tunnel.
Dragomira appeared around the corner, breathless and excited. “There are three of them in a small room ahead. I think they have a hostage. It might be Cale’rho”
“We’d better hurry,” said Navik. “The Sand People are right behind us. We don’t have much time.”
The group walked as quietly as they could down the passage. They came to a bend, where they hid, listening to the conversation in the room around the corner.
“We need more guns. You aren’t doing enough for us,” said one voice, gruff and angry, speaking in an accented Basic barely understandable. “We keep your captive and guard your secrets, but you don’t keep your bargain. We want to raid big cities; little villages are too poor. Give us more guns!”
“Patience. As soon as we learn what we want to from the Bothan, you’ll get your reward,” said the other voice, clearly human, speaking Basic well.
“Come on,” said Alrik, peeking around the corner. As he looked, he saw three humanoid forms, all dressed like Tusken Raiders. These were the same creatures Dragomira had seen: two Tusken Raiders, and one other, probably human, dressed like one. Alrik also saw a crumpled form in rocky alcove across the small chamber.
With a shout, Alrik raised his lightsaber and advanced into the room. Navik and Dragomira opened fire, dropping one of the Tusken Raiders. As Alrik rushed into the room, the human in Tusken Raider disguise raised his blaster and yelled, “Kill the Bothan! Do it now!”
Before he could shoot, Alrik struck. In a few seconds, the last Tusken was down, but the sound of pursuit sounded close behind them. The others back fired down the tight corridor, discouraging the sand people from attacking, but it wouldn’t hold out for long.
Alrik knelt by the side of the prone figure. It was his Jedi Master, Cale’rho, the Bothan’s fur dirty and her body bruised. The Padawan put his hand on her shoulder, giving her what strength he could, but she was still too weak to move on her own.
“Isn’t there any other way out?” shouted Dragomira, sending another green bolt from her bowcaster down the passage. “There’s something up there!” coughed Taren weakly, pointing toward the ceiling. In a few seconds, the group gathered around a tight fissure in the rock. With just enough luck, they might all be able to squeeze up into the desert sun that filtered down through the dust.
With the sand people bellowing behind them, the four and their rescued captive climbed carefully upwards, scraping their skin on the rough rocks and struggling to keep their balance in the tight space. Dragomira, Navik, and Alrik tried to help Taren and Cale’rho, who were both seriously injured, climb as best they could. At last, they emerged at the top of a mountain, surrounded by the forbidding Jundland Wastes.
They weren’t alone. Parked atop the treacherous path that led up the mountain was a landspeeder, and crouched behind a rock was the shape of a female in Jedi robes. “Come with me if you want to live, quickly,” she said, stepping forward. She was a graceful Falleen with violet eyes and blue hair, her sharp, aristocratic features exotically beautiful.
With no energy left to question the providence of their rescue, Dragomira, Taren, Alrik, and Cale’rho piled into the landspeeder with the Falleen Jedi and headed off across the wastes.

In the dusty city of Mos Espa, Falleen Jedi introduced herself as Zelina. As they spoke, she led them to the unassuming house she was renting, a dun-colored building with sloping walls and four rooms. After helping Cale’rho to a bed to rest, she sat the other four down. Taren, despite his wounds, insisted on speaking with Zelina.
She said, “I have been tracing the activities of the Captain for some time now. For the last few months, his influence over the Outer Rim has been growing. He isn’t as powerful as the established crime lords, but he’s unpredictable and dangerous, and he has had a destabilizing influence. After I arrived on Tatooine, I learned that he was trading with the Tusken Raiders, encouraging their raids against the moisture farms and smaller towns by giving them guns. In exchange, the sand people were storing his cargos in their camps and transporting them by bantha, allowing him to trade under the nose—so to speak—of Jabba the Hutt.
“I spoke with some survivors of a Tusken attack who were able to give me information about finding the hidden Tusken camps. I’ve been watching and waiting for the Captain himself to come through the Jundland Wastes, so that I could confront him personally. When I saw that you were in danger, I decided that helping my fellow Jedi was more important than trapping the Captain.”
Alrik nodded. “Do you have a plan now?”
She smiled. “There is another plan in motion. The Captain has gathered quite a fortune from his dealings, but you can’t get involved in the black market in this sector without attracting the attention of some very dangerous people. For that reason, he’s been trying to legitimize his enterprises. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to cut his losses or if he just wants a place to launder money, but he’s expressed his interest in one of the less seedy nightclubs and cantinas in Mos Eisley, the Moon’s Shadow.”
“What does this have to do with us?” asked Navik.
“Because of the Captain’s reputation, no-one has challenged his bid on the nightclub,” explained Zelina. “I’ve managed to establish myself as a businesswoman interested in it. If I can make an offer on the place, I’ll be able to lure the Captain into an open auction. Once he’s no longer in the safety of Jabba’s palace, I’ll be able to deal with him.”
“So what’s the problem?” asked Dragomira, folding her arms.
Zelina turned a slightly lighter shade of green. “I have to get a total of one hundred thousand credits to make an offer. I just don’t have that kind of money. I’ve been able to gather thirty thousand, but that leaves us short, and the sale will be finalized in a week.”
“We’ll help,” said Alrik.
“Not so fast,” said Zelina. “If you show up out of the blue, the Captain will suspect something is up.”
“That’s no problem,” said Navik. “We can pose as criminals. After we do a little pushing here, a little shoving there, we’ll be all set. People will know there’s a new bad bunch in town, and no-one will think twice about us getting involved in the auction.”
Taren shook his head. “I don’t know. I’m not comfortable with pretending to be a criminal. We might have to do some things that would violate the Jedi Code, and I’m not ready to do that.”
Zelina listened in silence, watching the other four.
Alrik suggested an alternative. “Let’s pose as rich merchants. We can throw some money around the city for a while, and people will start to take notice. By the time the auction comes around, we’ll have enough of a reputation that no-one will really care.”
Taren nodded. “That would be sneaky, but it wouldn’t violate the Jedi Code.”
Navik looked a little disheartened that he couldn’t be a badass, but he accepted.
“I’ll meet you at the end of the week,” said Zelina. “There are more preparations for me to make.”
The four bought themselves new, expensive suits of clothing and rented a luxury landspeeder (quite possibly the only luxury speeder on Tatooine). They traveled to Mos Eisley, where Alrik dressed up as a prosperous Alderaanian noble, and Navik and Taren posed as his bodyguards.
They played a few hands at a sabacc table. Alrik, finding his luck was quickly destroying what credits (and credibility) they had, switched Navik in as he excused himself. Navik, taking over, managed not to lose his shirt, but the experienced gamblers around him also kept him reaching deeper into his pockets for credit chips.
Navik felt a hand come down on his shoulder, and looked up from his chair to see Derin Fewn, the rogue starship captain whose ship they had belatedly returned. He was wearing a new leather jacket, but his breath smelled of alcohol. “Well, if it isn’t my old green-skinned friend,” said Fewn with a grin. “I hope you don’t mind if I play a few hands?”
“Actually, I was just about done,” said Navik, rising to his feet, his hand moving toward his blaster. “There’s no reason for you to be mad at us. We got your ship back to you, and it was in pretty good condition.”
“Mad? You took my ship and left me stranded in the middle of a war zone. The Seps attacked a few days after you left,” said Fewn, still smiling as he met the group at the bar. “The way I see it, you owe me.”
“If you were a better shot, you wouldn’t have lost your ship,” returned Alrik.
“What are you doing on Tatooine?” said Taren Tlo suspiciously.
“I’ve got a shipment of bacta burning a hole in my hull,” explained Fewn, sipping a Saalian brandy. “I thought I could turn a tidy profit on it, but it turns out, Jabba the Hutt has stomped the market since the Separatist movement began. I’ve offered to sell it to Jabba, and I’m meeting his representative here soon, but his offered price is too low for me to make any profit at all.”
“Where do we come in?” asked Alrik.
“I was hoping you could do me a favor. Jabba might think twice about messing with me if I had a well-armed group with me. If you help me out, I’ll call us even.”
“All right,” said Navik, his mouth constricting a little. Then, he whispered to his friends in an aside, “This could serve our purposes, too.”
Alrik shrugged and looked around the casino. Before long, he spotted a human male who was moving through the crowd towards them. “That’ll be the guy,” he said.
The man walked up to Fewn and said, “All right, I’ve got your five thousand credits. Let’s get this over with.”
Fewn shook his head. “I’m not selling for that much, not to you and not to Jabba. Ten thousand is a bargain for how much bacta I’m offloading.”
The man laughed. “You’re in no position to barter!”
“Eight thousand,” said Navik, putting his hand on the butt of his blaster menacingly. “And that’s because we’re feeling generous.”
“Six thousand,” said the man, taking a step back. “And Jabba won’t be happy to hear it.”
“Six and a half,” insisted Navik. “We don’t have a problem here, do we?” If he didn’t have big bug eyes, they would have been dangerously narrow. Instead, he flicked his ears.
“All right, all right,” agreed the man, holding up his hands. “I’m sure we’ll still find a buyer for it.”
“I’ll make the arrangements,” said Derin with a smug grin. After the man left, he clapped Navik on the shoulder. “Thanks, buddy. I’ll call that even.”

Now remained the question of raising a hundred thousand credits. Although the group “persuaded” Derin to contribute some of his own funds, they couldn’t make the up the rest of the difference. Dragomira finally agreed to contact her family, who reluctantly agreed to offer their resources, so long as nothing was actually bought: the money would be available, but they refused to actually buy the Moon’s Shadow. Dragomira wouldn’t put in a single one of her own credits, either: she wasn’t interested in a money pit on a backwater.
The auction took place in the night club as a sort of grand opening, and what element of society Tatooine possesses were out in style. Serving droids wove through the crowd, offering drinks and snacks, and a band that wasn’t Bith played off to one side. As the four arrived, they met Zelina. She was dressed in a lavender dress that matched her eyes.
“We have your money,” said Dragomira, sounding rather put out. The others had talked her into fronting part of her family’s fortune, which left her feeling rather bitter. “I hope you have a plan.”
Zelina nodded. “I’ll try to get the Captain alone. You should deal with his bodyguards until I take care of him.” She looked worried: her green skin was more ashen than usual.
“How are you going to manage that?” asked Alrik.
Zelina only shook her head and shrugged.
“You should use your Falleen talents,” Alrik suggested. The female Jedi shook her head. “I don’t like using that. It’s not the way of the Jedi.”
Alrik grinned ruefully. “Yeah, but we’ve come this far. None of this is really by the book, and we won’t have an opportunity after tonight to take out the Captain. We’re already putting our necks out as it is.”
Zelina nodded reluctantly. “I’ll do it, but I don’t like it. It reminds me of things I’d rather forget.” With that, she weaved through the crowd. The four could see her chat amiably with the Captain, then smile and motion her head to a quiet corridor. The two left, with the bodyguards starting to follow.
“Hey,” said Navik, blocking their path. “I think they want to be alone. We’re the Falleen’s security detail.”
“I know who you are,” said a large Trandoshan female, her black scales shining in the soft lighting. “What do you want, Rodian?”
“Let’s step outside,” said Alrik. “We have something to tell you.” He gave her a meaningful look, the Force tingeing his words.
As they walked outside, the Trandoshan was followed by her human cohorts, each of whom carried a blaster. She carried a bulky blaster cannon that bore the scars of years of combat.
“Now, what’ss thiss all about?” hissed the Trandoshan suspiciously as they stood under the stars.
“Your master is in trouble. Jabba knows what he’s been up to, and it’s not going to end well for him. It’s in your best interest to get out of here,” said Alrik. “That’ss a lie,” growled the Trandoshan, but her voice didn’t sound sure.
“You should leave while you still can,” said Taren. “You don’t want to die with him. He’s not worth it. Imagine what Jabba will do to you if you stand with someone he’s decided to take out.”
The Trandoshan narrowed her reptilian eyes, but said nothing.
Alrik stepped forward and waved two fingers. “You will go home.”
The bodyguard blinked, then nodded, walking off silently through the dangerous streets.
This left the other bodyguards, who stood around looking at each other nervously.
“This applies to all of you as well!” shouted Navik, putting his hand on his blaster. “Get out of here.”
After a few seconds, he pulled his blaster. This was all the encouragement the guards needed. They took off through the streets, disappearing into the night.
A few moments later, Zelina appeared, her dress ripped and her hair loose. “I took care of it. Come on. We’ve got to get out of here. We need to get you to Derin’s ship.”
After a quick dash through the alleyways of Mos Eisley, kicking over stalls and startling the night denizens, they got to the docking bay, narrowly avoiding the thugs that followed.
“Come with us to Coruscant,” said Alrik to Zelina.
“I can’t,” said Zelina with difficulty, looking away. “Good luck. Maybe the Force will bring us together in the future.” Alrik dashed up the boarding ramp to the spaceship and they took off.
A few days later, the group arrived on Coruscant. In the Jedi Temple, they first conferred with Cale’rho, who gave her story.
“I was on my way to Drukon when our ship was attacked by pirates. I tried to fight, but I got separated from Rexib and knocked unconscious. I woke up tied and gagged, my lightsaber stolen from me. They kept me weak by giving me barely enough food and water to survive. A few days later, we landed on Tatooine, and they gave me to those sand people.” She shivered at the memory. “Before I left, I was approached by an old woman, who tried to give me a holocron. I knew I didn’t have time to see to it, so I told her to try to get in contact with you. I recorded a message onto the holocron, but it was in such a bad shape, I’m not sure how much was stored.”
“Do you remember what happened to Rexib?” Taren asked anxiously.
The Bothan shook her head. “I haven’t seen or heard from him since the pirate attack.”
Taren shivered, a feeling of dread coming over him. Alrik decided it would be best to go through the archives to investigate what they could about the holocron they had found.
The following day, they met with the Jedi Council. Unlike before, almost all of the Council was there.
“While your actions are very commendable, this situation makes us gravely worried,” said Adi Gallia. “There are dark times ahead, and if it is true that there is a new Dark Side threat looming, things may be even more dire than we have foreseen. We will need brave beings like you in the future. Alrik Pol, you and your friends are to be commended for the return of Master Cale’rho and your actions against the criminal Bors Reynolds. Alrik, it will not be long before you join the ranks of Jedi Knights. For the time being, we must see to the matter of your training. Unfortunately, Master Cale’rho is too weak to continue your training for the time being. Although it is unusual to place a Padawan so far along into the hands of another Master, I’m afraid we have no choice.”
A man stepped forward out of the passage opposite where the Council sat. The group turned, and saw a man with long red hair in flowing, rich Jedi robes. He had handsome, aristocratic features and smiled warmly at the group. “My name is Asthal Krup. I hope I will be a fitting replacement for Master Cale’rho in the time she takes to recover. I look forward to working with you, Padawan.” He and Alrik bowed to each other.
The resemblance to the man they had met in the Dark Side temple was too close for Alrik to ignore; he reached out with the Force, but sensed none of the evil the other man had projected.
“Now comes an even more serious matter,” said Ki-Adi-Mundi. “Taren Tlo, the council has discussed your status. We have taken into account your bravery in the course of the rescue of Master Cale’rho. The debate was long and hard, but we have reached a decision. Although we commend your actions, we cannot allow you to continue your training as a Jedi.” It was difficult to see the reaction on Taren’s face as he turned away.
“The Senate has also decided not to dispatch a force to Drukon,” said Mace Windu. “The new Grand Army of the Republic is needed elsewhere. We don’t believe, however, that Drukon should be allowed to fall to the Separatists without a fight. Therefore, we are dispatching a small team to Drukon to retrieve Baron Garen Highquarter. When the political situation changes, he will return to Drukon to re-establish Republic control. For the time being, it is vital that we keep him alive and in safe hands.”
Yoda smiled at the four. “Brave your actions have been. Hope I have for your future. A few days should you take to rest and relax. For the Jedi, sometimes peace is best. Then can you resume your fight against the Dark Side with new strength.”
With that, the group left the Council Chamber.

Alrik were met by Cale’rho. Even in her weakened condition, she had insisted on seeing the meeting. “Well done, Alrik. You will make a fine Jedi Knight in time.”
“Tell me something, Master. Do you know a Jedi named Zelina?”
“I know of her, yes. We have only met a few times.”
“Why does she avoid Coruscant?”
The silver-furred Bothan shook her head sadly. “When she was young, she studied hard at the Academy, but she never had the strength in the Force that others did. She was Falleen, and she was seen with distrust by some of the other Padawans, because of their reputation for being manipulative and cold. To a degree, she played into the type, but she wasn’t happy. Then, she saw others, such as Anakin Skywalker, become Padawans at an older age, learning much quicker than she had. She became bitter, and her connection to the Force was clouded by her jealousy. She asked to leave Coruscant as soon as she became a Jedi Knight, and she has hardly returned since.”
Alrik nodded, and bidding his Master farewell, walked through the corridors to his cell, where he hadn’t set foot in weeks. His old home felt a little odd to him after his adventure, but he set his head down and rested.

Navik put an arm around each of the Rodian females sitting beside him at the bar. “So, ladies, who wants to come back to my place?”

Taren paused in the hallway when he heard a light step behind him. He turned his head, and saw Asthal Krup step out of the shadows. “I think we have some things to talk about, my young friend,” said the red-haired Master. Taren nodded.

Dragomira hadn’t slept in a proper bed, one stuffed with the feathers of exotic birds, the sheets spun from silks native to only one planet, in too long. As she stretched out on her back, looking out the window at the skyline of the highest buildings in Coruscant, she reflected back on the turn her life had taken. It would be interesting to see where things would lead.


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