Set during the YJK series.
Erm, well, I don't get any moola for this and GL owns everything.
A new student at the Jedi academy makes his own group of friends and had some adventures.
Gabriel "Chi" Tenzner fidgeted nervously as the NightFox descended delicately through the cloud cover over the misty jungle moon of Yavin 4. He sat back in his chair, pondering all that was to come. He had been raised mostly by droids, since his parents had been killed in a smuggler raid, when he was barely three years old. Many of his relatives had since noticed his uncanny abilities to sense what people were feeling, and to move small objects from across the room. The more logical ones had suggested that he was strong in the Force, while the others did not believe any of it, dismissing his uncanny abilities as "pure Bantha dung." Ultimately, it was, however, his grandmother's decision to send him off to the Jedi Academy.
He had wondered, sometimes bitterly, about his relatives' lack of concern for his upbringing, preferring to stay back and let the droids do the upbringing and education. He had been pleased with the decision of his grandmother. He would finally be going to a place where actual people would educate him and he could actually make friends with real people. At age fifteen, Chi had never had many friends. He had kept mostly to himself, but some of his friends had given him some invaluable skills that he could use throughout his life: Hered, the slicer; Lira, the mechanic; and Srilla, the medical wizard. He suppressed a smile. He and Srilla had once been together, and she had always found a convenient "medical emergency" that required her to take off his shirt and stare at his strong chest while "healing him."
Those were the days. But I have more important things to worry about. The RX-12 pilot droid informed him that the NightFox would soon be landing at the Jedi praxeum. "Thanks, Rex."
He sighed and sat back in his chair. It had been an uneventful fifteen hour journey from Torus V to the Jedi moon, and those hours had gone by slowly. He looked to his right and saw the two small duffel bags into which he had packed his life, his hopes, his dreams. His future lay ahead, at the Jedi Academy. There would never be a future for his on his homeworld. He would become a Jedi. He would have it no other way.
- - - -
Jaina withdrew a fresh jumpsuit from her closet and changed out of the grease and oil stained one she was wearing. She had already been here a year, and her brother Jacen, and their friends Lowie, Zekk, and Tenel Ka had been involved in some exciting adventures. Qorl's TIE fighter, the Shadow Academy, and numerous others, too many in number to mention. She changed and walked out of her room, which was strewn in what she called an "organized chaos" of droid parts, computers, and spare parts for dozens of oddball spacecraft.
Walking down the corridor, she took the turbolift to the main floor of the temple, intending to go for a walk in the humid jungles. But when she saw the NightFox sitting on the landing pad, her priorities changed order considerably. She wondered who it could be. A new student, perhaps? Yes, Luke was walking out to greet the new arrival. She stretched out with the Force. Luke? Who is this?
He is a new student, Jaina. Come meet him.
She received his answer and began to stride briskly toward the sleek passenger craft. A lone figure walked slowly down the ramp, taking in his surroundings. She reached out with her mind, trying to sense his emotions. She was struck by his poise and confidence, his desire for success. In return, she felt her mind being queried. She wanted to meet this new arrival.
- - - -
Chi stepped onto the ground outside of the ship. The pilot droid uttered its best wishes to him as the boarding ramp retracted and the craft lifted off. "Thanks, Rex."
"Hello. You must be Gabriel."
"Yes. Master Skywalker, I presume?" Chi bowed slightly.
"That is I. On behalf of the Jedi Academy, I welcome you to Yavin 4."
"Thank you. Who is that?"
Jaina drew up beside Master Skywalker and introduced herself. "Hello. I'm Jaina Solo. And you are . . . "
"Gabriel. You can call me Chi. I'm pleased to meet you."
Attracted by the congregation on the landing pad, another of the Jedi students jogged to the center of the area. It was a Bothan, Chi surmised. And a beautiful one, at that. She must have sensed his thoughts, because she gave him a warm smile and a mischievous wink. "Hello, L'aysa," greeted Master Skywalker without turning around.
Chi smiled thinly. "Hello, L'aysa."
Master Skywalker decided to introduce the two. "Gabriel Tenzner, meet L'aysa Borsk."
The pretty Bothan female replied, a smile on her face. "Charmed, Gabriel."
"As am I. And you can call me Chi, if you'd like."
L'aysa's creamy brown fur rippled. Chi wasn't sure what to make of that. He knew that the movement of fur on a Bothan was similar to the variety of facial expressions that humans expressed their emotions through.
"L'aysa, would you show Gabriel here his quarters?"
The Bothan's fur rippled, pleased. "Yes, Master Skywalker."
Chi picked up his two duffels and followed the Bothan. He decided to try and break the ice. "So, how long have you been a student here?"
"Not very long, only about a month."
A stupid question, but in retrospect, it seemed genius compared to his next inquiry. "How old are you?"
She seemed a bit taken aback, but nevertheless answered the question. "I am sixteen Standard years old." She paused briefly. "How many years have you completed?"
L'aysa slowed her quick pace and seemed to consider that. Chi was amazed by his new surroundings. The lush jungle on one side, the ancient stone ziggurat on the other. Absorbing the incredible sights and sounds, he picked up his pace to match L'aysa's brisk walk. He posed a question. "I haven't seen many people around. Why's that?"
"Ah. You have arrived just as Master Skywalker has given us a four-week leave to relax, and visit our homeworlds. He does, however, expect us to continue our exercises though we do not have regular classes. I have decided to stay here on Yavin 4 to study my Jedi exercises, as well as to learn more about the wildlife of this place."
Chi didn't have time to respond. They stopped in front of a door on one of the upper levels of the dormitory temple. L'aysa nudged open the door gently, holding the door for Chi as he sidestepped across the threshold into his room. So this was to be his home for his tenure at the Jedi Academy. Chi dropped his bags onto the floor and sat in one of the chairs that was already positioned in a corner of the room. L'aysa turned and was about to leave, but paused and did an about face. "Would you like to go for a walk in the jungle? I could introduce you to some of my friends and fellow Jedi trainees. We could attempt to help you begin to use your Force abilities to do small tasks, such as lift rocks or sense the presence of small animals. . . ."
There was definitely an edge of hopefulness to her voice as she spoke, but Chi decided it better to rest, saving his energy. "Maybe later. I'm exhausted from my trip here, but I'd be glad to join you for a walk this afternoon."
Her light brown fur rippled, and Chi sensed that it meant she was pleased. "Very well. Have a pleasant rest."
"Thanks. See you later."
With that, she closed the door, and it clicked shut with a soft thwack. Chi laid out on the sleeping pallet, and glanced at the chrono on his wrist. 1000 hours, Standard. He set it to wake him at 1300. Giving the room a quick once-over with his tired eyes, Chi let his heavy eyelids slide shut. Within minutes he was asleep, dreaming pleasant dreams.
- - - -
Chi awoke, disoriented by his new surroundings. He quickly remembered where he was and glanced down at his chrono. 1530 hours. He sighed. Well, it would be best not to keep L'aysa waiting any longer. Sitting upright quickly, he felt momentarily dizzy as a headrush entered his brain. Shaking the fuzziness out of his vision, he rubbed his eyes, refreshed. He reached into the bag with a red tag on the handle, indicating his garment bag. Searching through it, he found a comfortable, all-purpose jumpsuit, one of several he had brought, along with some less utilitarian clothing.
He slipped on the light grey jumpsuit over his white undershirt and zipped up the half-body zipper on its front side. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew a small band. He held his long brown hair back in one and looped the band around it with the other, creating a pony tail. It was a hairstyle that he's grown fond of, as it expressed his individuality, he thought. With a smile to his mirror, he headed out the door, locking it behind him.
- - - -
As it turned out, L'aysa hadn't been waiting very long at all. He was able to catch up to her as she speedily walked across the anteroom to the great hall, where lessons would begin again in less than a month. Her fur rippled as he crossed the floor to meet her. He called a greeting out to her. "L'aysa! Hello!"
"Hello, Chi. I trust you had a pleasant rest?"
"Ah, yes, very. I feel refreshed now. Are we still on for a walk in the jungle?"
She smiled. "Of course."
"Lead the way."
- - - -
L'aysa and Chi walked into the jungle on a small, winding pathway. They met up with several of her friends on the way, and Chi, in turn, was introduced to Kalina D'arin, a human from Ord Mantell; Rooql Qoorygg, a Gand; and Teral 'Tracer' Lerask, a human from Mytus IV. The five of them had walked into the jungle to a serene spot by a pond, where Kalina said that the four often came. L'aysa spoke to Chi. "Would you like to try to use the Force to do a task?"
He nodded an affirmative. He was finally ready to put his abilities to some use, to learn how to improve his existing skills and learn new ones. "Very well. Lift that rock by the tree over there."
Chi closed his eyes, and concentrated, extending his right hand. The rock slowly lifted off the ground. Opening his eyes, he was pleased the see the rock hovering gently, several inches above the damp surface of the jungle floor. He let the rock come to rest on another rock, and the two stacked perfectly. Tracer spoke up. "Wow, that was pretty good, Chi. Hey, anybody up for a swim?"
Everyone except Rooql decided to jump into the cool, calm waters of the pool to refresh themselves. The Gand instead sat on a large rock, in meditation, which Chi suspected to be a mixture of the famed Gand intuition and learned Jedi techniques.
Chi finally felt at peace with himself. Here he was, on the jungle moon of Yavin 4. He had already practiced his Force technique with success, and had made the acquaintance of several friendly Jedi-in-training. He finally felt accepted, part of a team. He smiled. Tracer was the first to get out. Kalina playfully splashed him as he toweled off. The two ran off into the woods, laughing hysterically and chasing after each other.
L'aysa explained that Rooql would be returning to Gand soon, but she didn't know when. He told them that he was, in fact, to leave that very afternoon. With a few words of goodbye and wishes from the two swimmers to have a pleasant trip, the Gand departed, breathing heavily through his ammonia mask. Chi had learned about the Gand race during his studies. Ammonia breathers from the planet Gand, some of them possess natural intuition, which is why there are many Gand bounty hunters. They could predict with surprisingly accurate results where a target might be, or anticipate a move ahead of time. It was a little unsettling to Chi, but he knew that Rooql was, from what he had seen and heard that day, an honorable man and would never stoop to such lows.
L'aysa swam over to Chi, asking him a question. "Enjoying your first day, Chi?"
She had a mischievous glint in her eye as she addressed him. He light brown fur, now dark with moisture, glinted as droplets of water reflected the bright Yavin sun. "Uh, yes. Very much."
"Good, I'm glad," she replied in a soft tone, as she slid a finger down his cheek.
She reached her hands behind his head and undid the pony tail, sending hair cascading out in all directions. She pulled his head close to hers, and Chi put his hands at her waist. They embraced and kissed for a moment, but then he pulled away, a doubtful look on his face. He voiced the doubt swelling in the back of his mind. "I don't know. . . I've barely been here a day, and I hardly know you."
She drew back from him, pondering his last statement. "It's all right. I understand. I am sorry if I have made you feel uncomfortable." She tried to hold her composure, but she had a hurt look on her face.
"No, no. . . I just, I, er, um." Words tumbled around uselessly inside his head. "No, I'm not uncomfortable, it's just that. . . I'd like to get to know you better."
L'aysa's spirits seemed to rise with that comment. She smiled once again, and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Let's get acquainted," she said in a teasing voice, a seductive glint in her eye all but melting his resistance. He put his head to hers and they kissed for what, to Chi, seemed like only a short while. She drew back and regarded his bare chest. She was impressed at the hard muscles of his torso, and lingered over his abs as she drew back to lean against the bank of the pond. Chi glanced down, but did a double take. What the hell? What happened to my shorts? She wouldn't. . . would she? Oh great, now what am I gonna do?
L'aysa apparently detected his thoughts, and she chuckled, amused. She brought one of her hands out from the water, holding his sopping wet shorts. Laughing, she said, "Looking for these?"
With a feigned growl and a lunge, Chi dove after her, trying to recover his shorts (and his dignity). "Hey, I want to get out! Give me my damn shorts back!" He said with mock seriousness.
L'aysa giggled. "Oh, go ahead. I won't look." She put her hands over her eyes.
He climbed quickly out of the water and scrambled to his towel, wrapping around his waist and shooting a self-satisfied grin at L'aysa. She also climbed onto the shore, toweling herself off and slipping her vest and pants back on. Chi did the same with his loose jumpsuit. Chi elbowed her playfully, chiding her for her "childish stunt."
Laughing and talking, the two strolled back to the academy on one of the many winding pathways through the jungle.
- - - -
The remaining weeks of downtime passed quickly. Chi had been introduced to many of the new students at the academy and was preparing to start his real training.
The morning had finally come. He woke and rose from his sleeping pallet, shielding his eyes from the bright Yavin sunrise. Looking himself over in the mirror over the cistern, he combed his long, dark hair and tied it back in a pony-tail. He pulled on a fresh jumpsuit on over his shorts and undershirt. Stowing his dirty jumpsuit in his closet, he washed his face and prepared to exit his room.
He stepped out across the threshold and locked the door. He began a slow walk towards the turbolift chute, hoping to perhaps run into one of his friends. In most of the rooms, he could sense Jedi students rising and preparing for the day's lesson.
Tracer rounded a corner, and before he could speak a word, Chi said, "Morning, Tracer."
"Ah, hi, Chi. How're things?"
"Pretty good. How about yourself?"
"Not too bad myself, actually. You ready for your first lesson?"
Chi frowned slightly and shrugged. "Ready as I'll ever be. I'm already confident in my limited abilities, so I'm really ready to begin to put them to some use."
Tracer nodded approvingly. The two walked into the turbolift and sped downwards. Seconds later, they emerged from the transport into the anteroom of the great hall. Chi drew in a deep breath, and entered the room, with Tracer leading the way.
- - - -
"So what do you think of him?" Kalina asked of L'aysa.
"Who?" she replied, an innocent tone in her voice, but with a mischievous grin on her face.
Kalina elbowed her gently. "Oh, don't play stupid. You know who I'm talking about. Chi."
"Oh, him. Well. . . Oh here they come now."
She waved to the two boys and they came over to where L'aysa and Kalina sat, awaiting Master Skywalker's lesson. "Morning, L'aysa, Kalina," said Chi.
Tracer greeted the two. "Where's Rooql? Isn't he back from Gand yet?"
Kalina replied, "No. He's going to be back tomorrow, I think."
Theirs and a few dozen other conversations filled the room, but as Master Skywalker strode confidently into the room, accompanied by his assistant, Tionne, the conversations died down quickly. He smiled and began a short speech. "Good morning, students. I trust that all of you enjoyed your break?"
Nods and murmurs of agreement rippled through the assembled Jedi trainees. "This morning, I will merely be supervising and describing your assignments for today. Tionne will handle most of the lesson. Today is more of a history lesson. Please, listen, and enjoy."
"She is an excellent musician," whispered L'aysa to Chi. "She also tells us of Jedi history in her ballads. They are really quite beautiful."
Chi gazed down at Tionne from the top of the amphitheater-like hall. She was beautiful. Her silvery-white hair and slightly pointed ears gave her an elfin, ethereal, and striking appearance. She began to sing and play on her self-constructed instrument. Her voice and strumming filled his ears. Indeed she was a very talented musician. However, not just music filled the ears of the students. The light side of the Force flowed freely throughout the room, captivating the students, some of whom closed their eyes, listening intently. Chi felt any tension in the room disappear as the beautiful ballad drifted through the immense room.
The ballad concluded, and Chi was amazed. "You're right, she is a very talented musician. That was quite a song."
"And she claims it's not one of her better works," grumbled Tracer.
Master Skywalker stepped to the center of the platform in the front of the room. Tionne smiled and bowed to him as she stood from her seat and moved to sit on a bench near the wall of the room. He instructed them in what they were to do as an assignment. When he was finished describing their "homework," a flood of students exited the few points of ingress to the immense hall.
They four rose from their seats and headed for the door. "Shall we perform our assignment now?" asked L'aysa.
The other three nodded agreement and headed for the jungle. They took a winding pathway into the jungle, eventually coming to a clearing. They came to rest beside a pile of huge rocks, ideally suited to the task at hand. The Jedi Master had told his students to find heavy objects, and manipulate them with their abilities.
Chi took the initiative, saying, "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's get to work."
He stretched out with the Force, closing his eyes and reaching towards one of the largest rocks with his arm. He strained with effort, but couldn't lift it. It was too big. Suddenly, he sensed the rock lift. He opened his eyes and saw L'aysa doing the same thing that he was. He could feel her Force power through his mind, and it strengthened him, as his power helped her. They dropped the rock, and it fell with a thump to the ground, rolling against a thick tree trunk.
"Thanks," offered Chi.
Chi looked over to his right and saw Kalina and Tracer engaged in a similar activity. After about two hours, the four were next to exhausted from their efforts. Kalina was especially tired, never having done such heavy lifting before, even with help. She lay down on the soft ground of the jungle and fell asleep within minutes. Tracer sat next to her, panting slightly, sweat rolling down his brow. He wiped his forehead and let his eyes close.
L'aysa took Chi's hand. "Shall we go for a walk?"
He grinned broadly. "Why not?"
- - - -
Rooql struggled valiantly to bring the Night Searcher under control. He cursed in his native tongue as he gave the status display a read. He had less than fifteen percent shields and engines, and was losing life support. He breathed a huge sigh of relief as he noticed that his hyperdrive was not completely destroyed. It was a desperate gamble, but he was close to the Yavin system. The attacking craft lanced out with heavy laser cannons, some splashing off of his remaining deflectors, some scoring hits on his charred hull. Rooql made a lightning quick course change, and engaged the hyperdrive.
He cursed as he remembered his failing hull integrity. If he had a hull breach. . . he didn't walk to consider that. He checked his functional sensors, and was surprised to discover that the ship had broken off its pursuit.
The trip to the Yavin system was short, only a few hours. He dropped out of hyperspace and found himself perilously close to the gas giant for which the system was named. His hull integrity was critical and he had lost life support. He had no choice but to abandon ship. Gathering the possessions that he kept on his ship, he walked hastily to the ship's lone escape pod. He sighed. It was a fine ship, and he hated to lose it. But life was more important than anything.
With a final glance into the passenger compartment, he ducked into the lifeboat and jettisoned. He watched the Night Searcher fall away into the red giant as his pod spiraled down to the jungle moon. At least he would reach his destination.
He winced as his ship plunged into the planet, with a brilliant flare of red and orange, for just an instant. His escape pod plummeted toward the moon, spiraling as it went. He was torn with emotion. He would be seeing his friends again and would be returning to what he knew was his true calling. On the other hand, his family had been attacked by a group of terrorists, and he had barely made it out alive. He felt that the should join them, to honor their sacrifice so that he could escape.
No, no. Rooql must return to the Academy and keep training so that he can become a Jedi. Jedi. That word filled him with confidence and buoyed his spirit. He suddenly felt a whole lot better, despite the fact that everything had gone wrong since he had left for his beloved homeworld of Gand.
- - - -
Tracer grunted loudly as Chi's wooden stick crashed into his with a cracking of wood and a flurry of sweat. Tracer broke from the deadlock and hit Chi in the leg with his stick.
"Ha. You just lost a leg."
He regarded Tracer with a casual glance. "Oh well. I wasn't even using the Force."
"Oh really? How about you use the Force this time?"
Chi detected the challenge in Tracer's voice, and decided that he really had nothing to prove. "Sure, whatever. Let's go."
Tracer brought his stick up to a ready position. Chi stretched out with the Force and let it begin to guide him. At once he was a flurry of limbs, parrying Tracer so quickly that he couldn't quite comprehend his own moves. "Convinced, Tracer?"
"Not really," he said with a thin smile, jabbing at Chi, to no avail.
- - - -
Watching the two spar with wooden sticks amused Kalina, but L'aysa was impressed with Chi's seemingly natural fighting abilities. She once again brought up the question that she had never gotten a response to. "So, L'aysa, what do you think of Chi."
The Bothan's fur rippled in discomfort. "Uh, well, er. . ."
Kalina at once knew. "Ah. You like him. A lot, don't you?" she teased.
"Uh, well, I guess. . ."
"Uh huh. You guess."
"Oh fine, yes. He's strong and handsome, smart, strong in the Force. What the hell is there not to like in him?"
Kalina said nothing, but she nodded in satisfaction. "So, what happened at the lake after we left?"
L'aysa's creamy fur rippled in surprise. "None of your business."
Kalina rolled her eyes. "Oh sure, nothing happened. Come on, just tell me."
The Bothan help up the "I'm not telling" face for another few moments, then she resigned. "Oh, fine. After you left, well, we kissed. There's not much to tell, really. Oh, wait, I did steal his shorts. . ."
Kalina had an expression of incredulous amusement on her face. "You what?" she said, laughing.
"You heard me. He didn't even notice until he began to get out!"
Kalina rolled over on her side, laughing hysterically. Between laughs, she managed to speak. "Did he get out. . . naked?"
The Bothan nodded. "But I had my eyes closed."
- - - -
"She did what?"
"Oh, c'mon. You heard me. She stole my shorts while we were kissing."
Tracer laughed so hard he nearly fell off the bench where he was resting. "Gods, that's the funniest thing I've heard in ages."
"Glad you approve."
Tracer let his side-splitting laughter fade out. Between choked breaths, he said something. "Hey. . . there's. . . Kalina and L'asya," he choked out, poking Chi teasingly in the ribs.
Kalina spoke. "You boys put on a good show."
Tracer spoke with feigned indignity. "Show! Ha!"
"Nice, boys, let the ladies have a turn here," said Kalina, grabbing Tracer's wooden combat stick out of his hands with a jerk.
Chi looked up. "Hey, I don't want to interrupt your little spat here, but what's that in the sky?"
The others looked up at the small black dot that was quickly descending on a course to land at the Academy. Tracer made an observation. "Looks too small to be a ship. An escape pod, maybe."
The others remained silent as the pod sped towards the ground. Little flashes of light from the rapidly growing shape indicated maneuvering thrusters being fired. It grew steadily louder and larger.
"It's Rooql!" exclaimed Chi. "I can feel his presence!"
L'aysa confirmed his feelings. The pod was on the ground now, smoking and hissing as clouds of dust stirred by the abrupt landing swirled around the escape craft. The hatch swung open, to reveal Rooql, alive but battered. "Rooql! What happened to you? Where's your ship?" exclaimed Kalina.
"Rooql. . . was attacked. They. . . killed his family. He barely. . . survived." was all the Gand could muster.
Agreeing on a course of action, Chi and Tracer supported him as they slowly walked to Master Skywalker's chambers. The Gand tried to stammer words, but he couldn't muster the energy. "Save your strength, Rooql." said Chi.
Master Skywalker, probably sensing the trouble in their minds, was waiting outside his chamber. "Rooql! What has happened?"
"Rooql will tell Master Skywalker everything, in his own time. Rooql is very tired. He needs to rest."
Skywalker considered the request, but refused it, offering a better alternative. "Why don't you sit in my chamber, and I'll put you into a Jedi healing trance. When you are revived, you can tell me what happened."
"Rooql thinks that is a good idea. Please proceed."
Skywalker and Rooql stepped into the chamber and Skywalker closed the door. "Hey, Tracer. What do you think?"
"About what happened to Rooql? I really don't know why or who or anything. Looks like he was ambushed or something."
"Yeah, but why? He probably never did anything to anyone."
"True, but he once told me that his family ran one of the most well-known and respected shipping companies on Gand. Could it have been a rival company or something?"
Chi shivered, remembering how his parents had been killed at their company by a rival shipping magnate. "Beats me. I suppose we should see what we can do after he comes out of his healing trance."
Tracer just nodded and murmured quiet agreement. He glanced down at his chrono, then addressed Chi. "Oh, man. I gotta go. I promised my parents I'd send them a transmission over an hour ago. Don't want to be any later than I already am!"
He smacked Chi on the back, wishing him good luck. Good luck? What in the hell is he talking about? "Crazy man."
He suddenly felt a presence in the Force, approaching him. He whipped around, hoping to surprise his mystery follower. He turned quickly. . . No one. He decided that it must have been a fluke. . . "Oooff!"
"Gotcha!" teased a familiar voice.
"Gods, L'aysa, what the hell are you trying to do? Give me a heart attack?"
She smacked his playfully on his arm helped him up. "No. Just practicing my pursuit skills."
"Mm hm. I'm sure," he said, his voice full of playful sarcasm. "So that's what Tracer was talking about. . . hey, wait a second. What the. . .? How did he know you were there and I didn't. . ."
"We work in mysterious ways, darling." She teased.
Wait a minute. Darling? Did she just call me darling? "Did you just say what I think you said?"
The two embraced for a moment, then she whispered in his ear. "I love you. We're going to have so many good times together. . ." she trailed off and they began to kiss.
He knew it was true, that he loved her. He knew that they would be together and have good times. . .He knew it to be true. He felt it.
To Be Continued. . .
Like that, did ya? If you did, or didn't, well, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ClaptonIsGreat@hotmail.com
Compliments and suggestions are appreciated, but flames will be mocked and then used to light the barbecue grill.
A New Arrival, pt. 2 - A New Card on the Table
By Gabe Z.
Well, you know the drill, Lucas owns it all. True, true.
The next installment in my series about other young Jedi Knights who have their own adventures during the time of the YJK book series. This is more action than the first, but it's got some romance (never fear!).
Chi glanced furtively at his wrist chrono as he sat fidgeting on the hard stone bench. He hoped that Rooql hadn't forgotten about their scheduled combat match that afternoon. Well, that was alright. The Gand was still shaken from his nearly fatal encounter with the terrorists and was barely back to his usual self.
At that moment, Rooql ambled around the corner. "Greetings, Chi."
"Oh, hey, Rooql. Ready for the match."
"Rooql is prepared. Shall we begin?"
Chi nodded and picked up the thick wooden stick laying on the bench beside him. He hefted it into his hands, and Rooql did the same with his weapon. The two combatants moved into the clearing and prepared to fight. Chi stretched out with his Jedi senses, letting them guide his strikes and retreats. The clacking of wood against wood filled the clearing and reached back to the temple, surmised Chi, as several Jedi students had gathered along the outskirts of the clearing to watch the match.
Chi grunted as Rooql swiftly cracked a blow across his leg. He recovered immediately and offered up a lightning-quick series of thrusts and swings that drew a few murmurs from the crowd and a surprised sound from Rooql. In one fell swoop, Chi brought his thick weapon down onto Rooql's extended stick, cracking it into two pieces. Rooql backed down. "Rooql thinks that you are an excellent fighter. He congratulates you."
"You're not too shabby yourself, Rooql."
With that, the Gand hustled away into the jungle, no doubt to meditate and calm his thoughts. That left Chi standing in the middle of the clearing, the subject of some admiring glances from the erstwhile spectators. He hefted his weapon in his left hand and strode slowly back towards the Academy, through the thin ring of watchers. He recognized most of them. There were the two Solo twins, along with their Wookiee compatriot, Lowbacca. Raynar, the spoiled heir to the Bornaryn fleet had witnessed the fight. He saw two reptilian faces and recognized Krossk and Vrassk, the Trandoshan brothers. The Wookiee offered a compliment in the form of a short howl. "Thank you, Lowbacca."
Chi heard the Wookiee's miniature translator droid. "Really, Master Lowbacca! Must you force me to watch these dreadful spectacles? Really, someone could have been. . ."
The Wookiee cupped a large paw over the shiny droid and howled at it. Chi kept walking, going in the vague direction of the academy, but he made a short side trip at a minuscule pond just at the edge of the temple grounds. Drenched in sweat, he eagerly set his stick down on the bank and shed his shirt and pants, then jumped into the cool, calm waters. He had been relaxing for only five minutes when he heard a voice. "Pretty fancy fighting there, flyboy."
He didn't have to open his eyes to recognize L'aysa's distinctive voice. "Oh, you were there? Didn't see ya."
"Oh, there's one more thing. Master Skywalker wanted me to inform you that a new student is arriving today, from your homeworld of Torus IV."
"Really?" was all he could say.
He hardly knew anyone from his homeworld, and had always wondered about his planet after he left it. He looked up at L'aysa. "Well, I guess I should try to look somewhat presentable, eh?"
She laughed. "Presentable? You? That's too much to ask, isn't it?" she joked."
He leaped out of the water, chasing her, trailing streams of water from his damp body. He caught her and tackled her. They wrestled around on the ground for a moment, and she came out on top. She pinned him to the damp jungle floor with her legs and put her face close to his. He laughed uncontrollably and spoke between laughs. "Now how am I supposed to look presentable?"
She gave him a playful smack across the head and got up. "C'mon, let's go. You need to get cleaned up."
- - - -
Cassandra Li Yaros looked out of the starboard viewport of her ship, the Red Storm, and observed the Massassi temple briefly. Incredible.
Her parents, after consulting with several supposed "Jedi" on her planet, had decided that she had enough Force potential to be a candidate for the Jedi school. She didn't care. She was generally a spoiled one who got whatever she asked for. But now, now she was mellowed out. She could keep her cool if things didn't go her way. What am I doing here? I get a bad feeling that I don't really belong here. She shook her head. No, Master Skywalker had enthusiastically invited her to the Academy. She had no reason to worry. Did she?
Cassandra had also heard that there was another Jedi student from Torus IV at the academy. She never had too many friends growing up, mainly due to her stuck-up, aristocratic manner. She hoped that she would make friends there, or else it would be an unbearable experience for her.
She had just turned sixteen, and her parents had given her this ship, a Torus Systems Starshot 2X-R, to do whatever she wanted with it. Only a week later, they had announced that she was going to the Jedi academy. They, of course, were much too busy to even consider transporting Cassandra to Yavin 4, so she took matters into her own hands and flew herself there. She wished that her parents hadn't been such high and mighty, duty calling obsessed, distant snobs during her childhood. She decided that there was nothing worthwhile to go back to on Torus. Maybe an arranged marriage to some noble, and a pampered life in some distant star palace. She might have actually looked forward to that a year ago. But now she was independent, struggling under the smothering blanket of aristocracy. She decided that for once her parents had made a good decision by sending her to the Academy. This would help here become more independent than ever, and as futures went, this was most likely the best thing that could happen.
Cassandra shook nagging doubts out of her head as she touched down on the tarmac of the temple's landing field. She observed several figures standing on the ground, no doubt waiting to greet her. She deactivated the Red Storm's engines and other systems as she lowered the boarding ramp. She reached into the cargo bin to her left and extracted a large cloth bag. It contained, as far as she was concerned, all that she would need for life at the Jedi academy. She slung the carrying strap over her shoulder, and with a sigh, she slowly walked down the ramp.
- - - -
Chi looked around the landing area to see who else was on scene to greet this new arrival. He felt a wave of deja vu wash over him. Not two weeks ago, he had landed here in a similar ship, from the same planet. Interesting, he mused. "What's interesting?" questioned L'aysa.
"Aw, nothing. Just some deja vu."
She didn't reply, but nodded, obviously understanding what he meant. At that moment, a figure walked down the ramp of the ship that had just landed on the black surface of the landing pad. Chi was struck by the beauty of this new arrival. She had long, jet black hair, beautiful dark brown eyes, and a slender, graceful form. She wore what he recognized as a traditional garment of the aristocrats of Torus IV. Mesmerized, he watched her stroll over to Master Skywalker and exchange greetings with the Jedi Master. He pointed to Chi and said something, unintelligible from where Chi was standing. The mystery arrival walked to him and offered a hand in greeting. "Hello. I'm Cassandra Li Yaros. You can call me Cassie, if you'd like."
Chi wore a grin as he returned her grip. "Hello, Cassie. I'm Gabriel Tenzner, but everybody calls me Chi."
She smiled and chuckled. "Pleased to meet you, Chi."
Cassie exchanged a greeting with L'aysa, but the Bothan's fur was standing almost entirely on end, her hackles raised. Was she. . . jealous? Chi hoped not, but he didn't know why she would be so perturbed anyway. He stretched out with his senses and observed her thoughts. From just a cursory glance, he caught the fact that she thought that Chi was, well, eying Cassie "that way."
"Um, L'aysa? Something the matter?"
"No, nothing. Of course not." With that, the Bothan walked away, thoughts swirling with jealousy.
Chi sincerely hoped that she wasn't angry with him. Beautiful as Cassie may be, he didn't really have any feelings for her. Yet. Now where the Hell did that come from? Of course I don't have feelings for her, and I love L'aysa. Well, I'll jump off that bridge when I come to it.
"Hey, Cassie, I'll show you your quarters. Here, let me get your bag."
Cassie smiled as Chi hoisted the large bag onto his shoulders and began to lead the way. He was happy to help, as usual, but was disconcerted when he observed L'aysa, hackles raised, glaring at him. He shook his head and walked towards the temple, moving ever quicker. He hustled through corridors, brushing past other students, until the two finally came to a door at the end of a hallway on one of the upper floors of the temple. He keyed the door open and stepped across the threshold, placing the bag lightly on the floor by the sleeping pallet. She walked in and sunk into the solitary chair in the room. Chi was nervous and wanted to leave as soon as he could. "Erm, well, here's your quarters, hope you like them. I'll come back later to fill you in."
He bit his tongue and winced at that last statement. That would really get L'aysa's goat, him coming to Cassie's quarters, if only to tell her about the academy. "I look forward to it. Bye, Chi."
He hurriedly stepped through the door and closed it behind him. He leaned heavily on the wall, breathing loudly. He felt a drop of moisture of his neck. He had been sweating profusely, for God knows how long. No. He didn't like her "that way." He just wanted to be her friend. Right?
- - - -
Cassie lay awake on the sleeping pallet. Wow. He looks so handsome. Wonder why he was so nervous. And why was that Bothan girl so upset? They probably don't go out. . .
She thought not, at least. Well, things were turning out better than she had ever expected. She was confident that she could win Chi over. She wouldn't take no for an answer.
- - - -
Tracer braced his head against a wall of the medical wing, trying not to cry. He failed and burst into tears. Why? Why did this happen? He looked at Kalina's frail figure laying on the examination table. She was racked by convulsions and had been coughing up blood, telltale signs of the Ceruvian Plague. She hadn't been able to eat. He bent over her and stroked her golden blond hair lightly. "Don't go, Kalina. I love you."
She could scarcely mutter a word, but in a raspy voice, she muttered. "T-t-tracer. . .I l-love y-you. . ."
She trailed off and closed her eyes. He head rolled to one side on the headrest and sighed, drawing in a final breath. Blood trickled from her mouth and she sighed. Tracer collapsed into a chair as he felt the disturbance in the Force. It sapped him of life, the desire to live. Kalina was gone. "No! No! It can't be! She can't be dead!"
Master Skywalker walked slowly into the room, head bowed, face grim. "Tracer, there's nothing you could have done. . . she was a fine warrior and friend. . . I don't know what to say."
Tracer couldn't respond, and just put his head in his hands, tears flowing freely. Master Skywalker attempted to calm his thoughts, to no avail. It was incredibly hard for a Jedi to lose the one he loved, and especially hard on a learner, one who can easily be tempted by the Dark Side. Luke vowed not to let his student turn to the Dark Side. Never. He would battle to the death to keep his student on the path of the Light Side, using his abilities only for good. He was too determined to fail. And he wouldn't fail.
- - - -
The news hit Chi like a lead weight. Kalina had died. When Luke told him, he had been in shock for several minutes, but the stunned expression had faded into a levee of tears for his friend. Kalina had been. . . well, almost a sister to him since he had began his training at the academy. Luke explained the circumstances of her death, which did little if nothing to ease the shock and surprise of the tragedy. Choking back tears, Chi asked Luke a question. "Funeral arrangements."
Luke sighed heavily, and Chi could sense his distress and sadness. "I don't know. Did you have any ideas? You knew her better than I ever could."
Chi's face brightened slightly. "I think Tracer would agree on this. The lake. . . about four kilometers into the jungle. . . we loved that place. She felt in tune with herself there. I think it would be a fine spot for a Jedi to be laid to rest."
Luke nodded and left, leaving Chi in silence, save for occasional sobs. Chi looked back on the times that the group had shared. It had been wonderful. But there was a void, a void not easily filled. He sighed, and found himself falling asleep, and he was out in a matter of minutes, dreaming dreams of Kalina, appearing to him in luminous form, expressing her thoughts. He awoke in a cold sweat, but he had not had a nightmare. 0544. "Time to get up."
As he rose, he sensed what felt like a lead weight hanging over the temple. He knew. Kalina would not be forgotten. He would not let one of his friends ever be lost, in the flood of time.
- - - -
Tracer had readily agreed to lay Kalina to rest in the clearing by the lake. That morning, the band went into the jungle. Accompanied by Master Skywalker. Tracer and Chi bore a simple wooden coffin, holding the body of Tracer's beloved, and the friend of all that were standing in the clearing. The two set the box down on the bank of the lake and returned to the makeshift podium Luke had devised. He began to speak, but reluctance filled his words. "We are here to bury Kalina D'arin. . . a Jedi. She is one with the Force. . ." the Jedi Master trailed off. "I cannot adequately give her the honor she deserves. . . Tracer, would you say a few things?"
Teary-eyed, Tracer walked up to the stump-podium and gave a tremendous sigh. It was painfully obvious that he was strained, torn apart. Though crying, he managed to choke out some words. "She. . .was the best friend. . .I ever had. . ." He trailed off, sobbing again.
A hole was dug, and Tracer and Chi lifted Kalina's coffin into it, and filled the hole with dirt. L'aysa erected a simple cross fashioned from two small branches from a nearby tree. All of the Jedi could sense the sorrow, fear, anger, and sadness in the minds of the others, though they said nothing. Heavy-hearted, the Jedi trudged back to the Academy. Kalina may have been gone, but there was no way she had been forgotten.
- - - -
As days rolled on, Tracer seemed more and more distant, removed from what he was doing. Master Skywalker was especially concerned that he would begin the journey down the dark path, and would never return. Chi, L'aysa, and Rooql did the best that they could to try to boost his spirits, but every day he drifted further, gloomy and depressed.
The students continued their lessons, trying to concentrate. After three weeks, it seemed that Tracer had almost come back from the edge. Then Master Skywalker found him in his quarters, a blaster in his mouth, his finger on the trigger. Tracer almost lost it right then. He was given a leave from the Academy to return home and visit his family, in the hope that they might be able to ease his growing pain.
Cassie seemed to fit in nicely at the academy, noted Chi. She had found a group of students and befriended them. She made no attempt to make the acquaintance of any of Chi's friends. She did, however, seem to want to make his acquaintance.
- - - -
Chi knocked lightly on Cassie's door. "Hello? Cassie?"
"Yes? Chi, is that you?"
"Come on in."
The door swung open, to reveal Cassie sitting in her chair, studying a datapad intently. "Have a seat."
Chi sat slowly on the bed and began to speak. "Did you still want to know more about the Academy? I mean, I never really got back to you. That death hit me pretty hard. . ."
"I understand. I've seen my fair share of deaths." she replied sympathetically.
She rose from the chair and tugged on her tunic to straighten it out. Placing the datapad gently on the nightstand, she walked to the bed and sat down next to him, putting her arm around his shoulders. He squirmed uncomfortably. Undaunted, she moved closer to him, until their heads were barely and inch apart. "Cassie, really. . . I can't."
She didn't reply, but kissed him full on the lips, until he thought he would run out of air. Struggling, he pulled away forcefully and stood bolt upright. "Gods! Please, no! I can't!"
Cassie lay on the bed, gazing longingly at him. Resisting all of the urges inside of him, he tore open the door and hopped across the threshold, slamming the door behind him. Breathing heavily, he considered what had happened. Oh, great. If L'aysa gets wind of this. . . He quickly strolled down the corridor and called the turbolift. When the lift doors open, he was surprised to see none other than L'aysa. "L'aysa! You startled me."
"And exactly what were you doing on this level?" she inquired skeptically, arms crossed in front of her chest.
"Just wanted to fill Cassie in on the history of this place. . ."
"Ha! I knew it. That tramp!"
Furious, L'aysa stormed down the corridor towards Cassie's room. Chi decided that it would probably be better to stay out of her way, for the time being. He quickly caught the turbolift and shot downwards. He emerged into the anteroom of the great hall and paused. Oy! This is not good. A puzzled expression on his face, he walked slowly out into the open. He had never seen L'aysa so angry before. And he had certainly never had two women fight for his affection.
No, that wasn't it at all. He loved L'aysa, and he just wanted to be friends with Cassie! But neither could see that! Gods. L'aysa thinks I'm schmoozing with Cassie and Cassie's trying to make it that way! It could get ugly, he surmised. But he couldn't concentrate on that. He, Tracer, L'aysa, and Rooql would be leaving in a few days to discover the identities of Rooql's attackers on a tip from one of Rooql's friends from Gand. He strolled down the hallway and jogged into the jungle. He took a long run to clear his mind, and very nearly succeeded, but as he sat, panting, next to the lake, all of his troubles came flooding back to him. He sighed and hopped into the water. He hoped it wouldn't escalate, and that the two women would work it out and come to their senses. He swam for a long while, and then got out and dried off. He laid down on the wet ground and drifted to sleep, recovering from his long run.
- - - -
En route to Rnnag, one of Gand's colony worlds, L'aysa wouldn't speak to Chi. He figured that Cassie had said something, likely one thing that had sent the Bothan over the edge, causing her to hate Cassie and to not speak to Chi. He couldn't be sure what Cassie had said, and he wanted to find out. "Er, L'aysa? What did Cassie say to you. . ."
"None of your business."
"Oh, come on. You don't believe what she said do you."
Her tone softened a little and sounded a bit tired. "I don't know. She said that you loved her and didn't want me."
Chi's stomach did a flip. "What? How can you believe that? I hardly know her!"
No reply. L'aysa just flew her ship, the White Lightning, and looked sullen. Tracer and Rooql were back in one of the cabins, poring over transmissions and records, hoping to find some clue as to the identity of Rooql's mysterious attacker. Chi persisted. "Now, really. Just because she tries to get at me. . ."
"Means what? I don't know what to think! She said that you two kissed passionately for an eternity, and didn't talk about Jedi history!"
Chi sighed. She wasn't going to believe much of anything now. "No. . . I went in to talk to her about Jedi history, and she kissed me, but I left."
L'aysa didn't respond. She glanced at the console and continued flying. It was a long and quiet trip to Rnnag, and Chi was glad once they arrived. He had to put his feelings aside, or else they would do him in during their mission. They would find Rooql's attackers and bring them to justice. Master Skywalker had even given them his blessing to do so. Chi's confidence swelled as they landed in the swirling mists of Rnnag.
- - - -
Rooql led the way through the soupy, swirling mists, followed closely by L'aysa, Tracer, and last, Chi. "Rooql knows where we can stop to get information and rest. Come this way. We will go to his brother's dwelling."
Rooql had a brother? Well, you learn something new every day, thought Chi. They soon came to a small hut-like structure and Rooql uttered something in his own language. A reply sounded from inside. "Rooql? It is I, Kooryl."
Chi was a bit taken aback by the other Gand's use of a first-person pronoun. Ah, he must be janwuine. Rooql was led inside by Kooryl. "Friends of Rooql, I welcome you to my humble dwelling. I will assist you in whatever way I can."
Rooql and his brother went into a back room to discuss matters, the nature of which none of the other young Jedi could guess. Tracer sat in a small chair in a corner of the room, a blank expression on his face. L'aysa busied herself by looking through her canvas pack, checking every item. Chi, mystified by the holoart adorning the walls, was absorbed in what looked like a landscape portrait of Rnnag, albeit alive with a battle scene. Rooql and Kooryl emerged from the rear of the dwelling, carrying several datapads and assorted bundles. "Kooryl gives you information about Rooql's attackers and will give you supplies if you need them."
L'aysa replied. "Kooryl, we are honored that a Gand such as yourself would assist us. We are grateful for your hospitality and kindness."
Kooryl seemed to swell with pride as he spoke. "I am honored to help those who seek the attackers of my family."
Rooql and Kooryl exchanged some words in Gand, and Rooql hefted a pack onto his back. He distributed packs to Tracer and Chi, and they shouldered them. "Brother Kooryl, Rooql is honored to have visited you. We will not fail you, or the memory of our family."
"Go, Rooql. May the Force be with you."
Rooql appeared surprised when he heard that. A bit taken aback, he simply replied, "Thank you, brother."
With that, the four companions left the hut where they had stayed for most of the day, and began to walk. Tracer asked Rooql a question. "Where exactly are we going?"
"Rooql and his friends are going to infiltrate the group that attacked us."
Rooql handed Tracer a datapad from his pouch. Tracer's eyes widened as he scrolled through the data. "We're going to attack this place?"
Chi looked at the data, and understood. It was virtually a fortress, built almost entirely underground, in a secluded area of Rnnag. It had a large compliment of weaponry, soldiers, and vehicles. And it was run by the Yrrasskan Guild, a notorious smuggling organization with a reputation for extreme cruelty. "And just how do we plan to get in there? And what are we going to do once and if we do get in?"
"First, Rooql does not know how we're going to get in. He does, however, know what we will do. We will destroy their communications center, and destroy some of their ships. Rooql does not want revenge; he merely wants the Yrrasskan Guild to be disable so that they can no longer destroy legitimate corporations such as the one my family owned."
L'aysa spoke up. "I think I have an idea of how we can get in."
She produced a beckon call from one of her pockets and thumbed the switch. About three minutes later, the White Lightning came into view and landed less than twenty feet from where the four stood. "We'll get on it, and let them capture it. We'll sneak off once we're in, and when we go, we can probably get it back and get out."
The others nodded approval. Satisfied, L'aysa lowered the boarding ramp via the beckon call and the four climbed into the ship and strapped in for what would be, most likely, a very short trip. Rooql fed a datacard into the navigation computer's slot and L'aysa switched to autopilot, letting the nav computer follow the course Rooql had laid out. Tracer posed a question. "How are we going to do so much damage? We don't really have any weapons, do we?"
"Ah. Rooql obtained weapons from Kooryl. He has several blasters and well as thermal detonators."
"Ah, well, that answers my question."
Chi noticed that Tracer's mood had been brightening steadily over the past few days. It was probably just the mission distracting him, but he was glad to see his friend in better spirits. "There it is," announced L'aysa.
That was it, all right. On the surface it looked like a small, ordinary bunker, perhaps a storage facility or even a home. "Alright, I'm masking life signs and putting it on repulsors."
A crackling of comm static buzzed over the intercom, demanding identification and code clearance. L'aysa remained silent, as did the others, hoping to fool the smugglers into thinking that it was a derelict, abandoned and sent on a random course.
The comm static finally buzzed out, and the White Lightning shuddered as the base extended a tractor beam to pull the ship into its opening maw. Yes, a maw, that's what it looked like, thought Chi. What had once been a huge section of grass and foliage opened its jaws to allow access to a cavernous underground lair. The four took in the surroundings as they were tractored in, surmising that any info they could gather could come in handy at any point.
The ship thumped to the ground as the tractor beam was deactivated. The sigh of hydraulics filled the ship as the landing gear decompressed. Chi looked out the forward viewport and noticed two figures approaching the ship. "Uh-oh. We've got company. Tell you what, you three find us a way to get out of this hangar and I'll take care of these two."
The others just nodded, and Tracer tossed him a pack. Glancing briefly into it, he saw a blaster pistol, a thermal detonator, some ration cubes, a small medkit, and a portable heater. Kooryl thought of everything, didn't he? He thought. Chi cleared his mind and stretched out with the Force to the two men who were almost at the ship. He told them that they didn't need to inspect the ship, that it could wait until later. One of the men turned, and the other followed suit, scratching his head.
The three quietly slipped out of the White Lightning via a rear hatch as Chi kept the guards distracted. They finally began to move the other direction, distracted by the crate that had fallen off the nearby supply shelf with some gentle prodding from Chi. He hurried and joined the others as they crawled along the ground to a small door that was propped open with a small block of wood.
"Rooql thinks that we should split up."
Tracer agreed. "Yeah. We can do more damage that way. Let's see. . . let's meet back here at 2000 Yavin time?"
Soft murmurs of agreement resounded through the group. Tracer took charge, apparently glad to be doing something besides mourning for Kalina. "Alright, Rooql and I will take that door. We'll try to get the comm center. Chi, you and L'aysa just try to cause as much damage as you can."
Chi smiled. "Will do."
Tracer and Rooql hustled quietly, taking up positions on either side of the door, stretching out with the Force to detect any hostile presences. Finding none, the duo slipped through the door and into the deserted hallway. L'aysa gave the room a quick once-over. "Looks like the basic hangar control center."
"Yeah. Let's see, we've got about four or so hours before we have to meet back. Let's do some damage here."
L'aysa nodded her agreement. Chi stretched out with the Force and sensed the presence of the two hangar guards, watching over the far door to the gargantuan facility. "Alright, it's clear. Head for that open grate there."
L'aysa lithely slipped across the hangar and stooped to crawl into the air duct. Chi quickly followed, throwing back a quick glance to make sure that they had not been followed. L'aysa led the way through the twisting maze of piping until they came to a grate. Looking out into the room which they were above, L'aysa observed several large computers and a pair of ugly-looking droids working the terminals.
Chi recognized them. "Hmmph. Hacker droids. Looks like they're busy working on their information library. What do you say we start here?"
L'aysa replied. "Yes. Looks like a good target."
Chi drew his blaster and aimed at the head of the nearest droid. Before he could get a shot off, though, L'aysa reached back and pointed the muzzle towards the ground, a finger at her lips. She lay flat on her stomach and closed her eyes. Realizing what she was doing, Chi joined in. Together, the two were able to find and use the deactivation switches on the droids. "Good job, Chi."
"Thanks. You too."
"Well, let's get down there."
Chi inspected the grating, looking for fastenings or weaknesses. "Ah ha." he muttered, noticing a small crack in one of the bars. He grasped the bar and its neighbor, pulling back, using the Force to aid him. He had pulled off a sizable portion of the grate, enough to allow the two Jedi to slip through into the data library. It was a small room, no more than the size of the passenger cabin on the White Lightning. The walls were adorned with computer readouts, and data terminals were organized around the walls. A lone door at the far wall of the room provided the only point of ingress, save for the ventilation shaft that they had crawled through.
L'aysa was the first through the grate, dropping to the hard floor with no more than a soft thump. Chi, however, was not so graceful, taking a bad step and tumbling back first onto the floor. "Oof!" he exclaimed softly as he impacted.
L'aysa couldn't help but chuckle as she offered him her hand. Pulling him up, she went to one of the only active data ports. "Hey, Chi, this could be helpful. . ."
"Schematics of this place."
"Well, download them onto a datapad."
She smiled. "One step ahead of you. Pad's already in the data socket."
He nodded approval. "Well, how do you suggest we do some damage here?"
She pondered the question for a moment, then answered. "Open the computers and rip out the wires?"
"I like the way you think. I'll get started, you keep on those schematics."
She replied with a mock salute. "Yes sir, captain sir!"
He laughed as he began to gut one of the terminals with a cutting beam from his blaster. About forty-five minutes later, the schematics were complete and all of the computers had been gutted to some degree. L'aysa surveyed the room with a look of satisfaction on her face. "I'd say we did good."
"Yeah. . . I hope we didn't set off any alarms. We should probably erase those droids. . ."
"I've got a better idea." she said as she reached for her blaster.
She set it to a low power cutting beam and melted the heads of the hacker droids. "There we go. Uh-oh. . ."
"I feel it too. Probably six, eight men coming this way."
She nodded. "I'll get the door, you get back into the vent."
In no mood to argue, he leaped into the grate with a Force jump. He crouched in the conduit, watching as L'aysa blasted the door controls repeatedly and propped the ruined droids in jamming angles on the door. He assisted her from long range with the Force. "That's not really necessary, Chi."
He grinned. "Just wanted to help, dear."
She jumped into the duct as the dull thuds of blaster butts resounded in the room. "We'd better get moving." stated Chi.
"I agree. Lead the way."
Chi crawled down the shaft, away from the data storage room, stretching out with the Force, trying to sense Rooql and Tracer. He couldn't, but that didn't mean anything. He was not so well trained as to be able to sense friends that were far away. He focused on the tunnel in front of him, senses alert for the slightest sign of danger.
- - - -
Tracer glanced back at the crumpled bodies of the guards that he had been forced to waste. He stretched out with his senses, but sensed no danger coming from any direction. He motioned forward with his hand and Rooql followed. Using persuasion when necessary, the two Jedi moved quietly, in and out of corridors, sneaking around guards, searching for the communications room. He was happy now, though, to finally be out on a mission, using his Force abilities to do good, steering him away from the Dark Side.
"Rooql senses several life forms in the room to the left."
Tracer confirmed, and in his mind's eye saw five burly men, blaster rifles slung over shoulders, guarding a series of advanced looking computers mounted on shelves. "Rooql, got any idea of how we can get in there?"
"Rooql does not. He does, however have another idea."
"Rooql will persuade the men that you are not there. You will arm the thermal detonators and throw them under the console shelves. That should sufficiently damage the communications systems and disorient the guards. If necessary, we will then enter the room and do what you would call "'mop-up work.'"
Tracer smiled and nodded. He reached into his pack and removed four thermal detonators. He prayed that he would be able to get them into proper position in time, that Rooql would be able to distract the men long enough. Rooql let himself relax. "Rooql is ready. Please begin."
Taking a deep breath, tracer armed the detonators with a one minute trigger. The men didn't seem to notice him sneaking about the room. He placed two grenades under one console, one under a single computer, and one under the actual holomessage computer. He had about thirty seconds. As he left the room, he helped Rooql persuade the guards that he was not there. He breathed a sigh of relief as the door hissed shut. "Rooql! We have about ten seconds. . ."
The Gand needed no encouragement and was already moving away at top speed. Tracer followed, and in no time, the floor shook with a tremendous explosion. Tracer nodded, satisfied. His smiled was wiped away as he heard the blaring of an alarm klaxon. "Uh-oh, one of the guards must have gotten to it. Let's go."
He sprinted back to the room and stepped through the molten hole that had been blasted through the door. He noticed that the sole guard that had survived had his hand on the alarm trigger. Rooql emptied a quick shot into the alarm and the blaring stopped. It was too late, though, to prevent the stream of guards that would inevitably come after them. The two took a quick account of their surroundings, and each emptied a dozen shots into the already charred communication computers and sprinted out the door. "C'mon, Rooql, we need to get to the ship. Hurry!"
The two arrived at the hangar in less than five minutes and were pleased to see that it was empty, save for a pair of maintenance droids ambling about. Tracer and Rooql sprinted up the still-extended boarding ramp of the White Lightning. Tracer stretched out with the Force and touched the mind of the controller manning the hangar controls. His effort was rewarded as the huge maw of the hangar opened. Rooql powered up the ship with blinding speed, and they were airborne in no time. Relieved, Tracer paused. Oh no! Chi and L'aysa! "Rooql! What about the others?"
"We must wait for them. Rooql suggests that we find a safe place to land, and let L'aysa use her beckon call to summon the ship."
Tracer let himself relax. That was a good idea, one he hadn't thought of. He just hoped that she would think of that.
- - - -
Chi scrambled through the air duct towards the hangar with L'aysa in tow. They had heard the alarms going off and decided that it would be a good time to leave. They detonated their unused thermal detonators in various rooms along the way, causing more damage.
Chi slipped out of the grate and into the hangar, with L'aysa a fraction of a second behind him. "Where's my ship?" she asked, a mixture of surprise and anger in her voice.
"I'll be Rooql and Tracer took it. That means they got out! Good. We just need to get to the surface. . ."
A bolt of orange blaster fire interrupted his statement and he immediately took a defensive position, firing back at the swarm of smugglers that had followed the alarms to the hangar. L'aysa used the Force to block some of the shots, but she couldn't hold them all by herself. "L'aysa! Follow me, we've got to get out of here!"
She sprung up from her crouch and dashed after him. "Ahhh!" she yelled as a blaster bolt stung her leg.
"L'aysa!" yelled Chi.
Firing and squatting, he moved to her. He hoisted her over his shoulders and moved as quickly as his cargo would allow, trading shots with the attackers. He stretched out with the Force, remembering the shield technique. It wasn't perfect, but it would work. He focused his energies on the shield as he ran toward a staircase leading up. L'aysa, though wounded, combined her efforts with his, to form a strong shield that deflected many a stray blaster shot.
Emerging from the stairwell, Chi was immensely relieved to see that they had made it above ground. It was, in fact, the bunker on the ground that they had first observed on this fateful mission. A lone guard sat in a chair, studying a datapad. He didn't have a chance to look up before Chi shot him clean in the chest. The man doubled over, dropping the datapad. Chi picked it up, wondering what it was. He would look at it later, though.
Frantically poring over the panels, he finally found the door controls. A blast door slid open ponderously and he rushed out. "L'aysa! Give me your beckon call!"
She winced as she reached into her satchel and pulled out a small cylindrical object. "Here."
He pressed the call button and continued to move, for fear that the smugglers would catch up to and kill them. A moment later, the familiar shape of the White Lightning roared into view, boarding ramp down. Hovering barely a foot off the ground, it maneuvered into position beside Chi and L'aysa. Straining, he lifted her into the ship, and with a last heave of effort, laid her on one of the comfortable chairs in the passenger cabin. The boarding ramp retracted and the hatch closed as a few stray blaster bolts splashed harmlessly across the reinforced shields of the White Lightning. Chi began to tend her wound with the medkit from his pack as Rooql and Tracer piloted the craft expertly, taking a final pass over the smuggler base.
The ship rocked suddenly, to the surprise of all but Chi. Looking back, the Jedi could see the remains of a gigantic explosion from the base. Tracer looked wide-eyed. "What in the. . ."
Chi cut him off. "Sleeper thermal detonator. In the vents, we passed what I thought looked like a power core, so I tossed a sleeper in there. I guess it worked." he grinned and shrugged.
Tracer smiled. "I'd say so."
Chi returned to his medical work, cleaning and dressing L'aysa's wound. She was almost passed out from the intensity of the pain, but she did, however, distinctively hear Chi say something before she fell into the sea of unconsciousness. He said "I love you, L'aysa."
- - - -
Back at the Academy, L'aysa was being treated for her wound, and Chi would not leave her side. He constantly checked on her, bringing her food, redressing the wound. He was sitting in a hard, uncomfortable chair in the medical wing, practicing his Jedi relaxation techniques, when a knock came at the door. "Come in."
The door opened and Cassie stepped through. "Hi."
Chi suddenly felt uncomfortable. "Um, hi, Cassie."
"Look, I know. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done what I did. I feel like a fool."
"No. . ."
"But I did," she paused. "And I hurt her even more. I can't live it down. Will you tell her I'm sorry?"
"Yes, but it would be better if you said it yourself. . ."
"I know. I will, then. Come get me when she's awake."
"Thank you, Chi. And I'm sorry. More sorry than you will ever know."
- - - -
Tracer kicked a stone across the tarmac of the landing field. He was missing Kalina again. He sighed. She could never be brought back, there was no use dwelling on it. His brooding, gloomy thoughts were interrupted when an unfamiliar voice called to him. "Hello there!"
He didn't know who it was. "Um, hello." he said as the person strode along side him. "I don't believe we've met."
"I'm Cassandra Li Yaros. Call me Cassie."
She was beautiful. Her black hair blew freely in the light wind, and her large, dark brown orbs transfixed him. He was awestruck by her beauty. Stuttering, he replied. "Um, I'm, uh, Tracer. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
"As am I."
She herself was surprised. He was quite a handsome man himself, but she knew that he had lost the one true love of his life. She wondered if it would be a bad thing to start any sort of relationship with him. She considered, but her heart won out. "Want to go for a walk?"
Cassie grinned. "Lead the way."
- - - -
Chi helped L'aysa step gingerly off of the medical cot. She took a few light steps, favoring her uninjured right leg, but she was soon walking as well as ever. She walked to Chi and spoke. "You know what. . .I'm sorry. I'm sorry I ever doubted that you loved me for that Cassie."
"It's okay. I still love you. Oh, by the way, Cassie has something to say to you. . ."
- - - -
Chi and L'aysa met Tracer and Cassie in the jungle, and the two women exchanged apologies profusely. They sat down to talk, and Tracer and Chi took a walk into the jungle. "So, Tracer, found someone, eh?"
"I guess so. Sounds like she was trying to find you for a while, thought. Looks like your girl and her got into a pretty ugly argument."
"I'd hate to think so, but I can't say it isn't true. Looks like they got over it, though."
"I'm glad." replied Tracer, relief in his voice.
"Me too. I know this may not be the smartest question in the galaxy to ask you now, but. . . how are you handling. . ."
Tracer cut him off, knowing what he was asking. "Well, actually, I'm getting along much better, thanks to that mission and meeting Cassie. I can't believe you never introduced me to her."
"Yeah, well. . ."
"I know, I was kidding. L'aysa and Cassie have an argument, then Kalina. . . it hasn't been easy on any of us."
"You can say that again."
"It hasn't been easy. . ." he trailed off as Chi elbowed him jokingly in the ribs.
"Well, I'd say I'm ready for some normalcy around here. I'm happy here."
"Yeah. Me too."
- - - -
Tracer and Cassie ascended the steps to the top of the temple and sat, hand in hand, on one of the hard stone benches placed on the roof. "Cassie. . . you've done so much for me. . ."
"Tracer, I'm not sure if this is right. I mean, you just lost you best friend. . ." she trailed off, her voice tinged with shame as she lowered her head.
He drew her closer and wrapped his arms around her. "No, no. I've barely met you and already I'm feeling so much better. It's as though there was a part of me missing. . . someone I cared for, and someone who cared for me. You've filled that hole, and I couldn't be happier."
"I'm glad." was all she could say.
He put his hands behind her head and their lips met and locked for a passionate eternity. She pulled him tighter and drew back only when she could no longer breathe. "You're a great kisser, Tracer." she said, a mischievous tone to her voice as she pulled back to kiss him again. He broke off as he suddenly blanched, the color draining from his face. It was the. . .the ghost of Kalina? "Hello, Tracer."
It was Kalina, or her spirit, at the very least. He recalled that when Jedi died, they became one with Force, and could appear to those who had known them. "K-k-kalina?"
"Yes, I'm here. Tracer, I never wanted to let you go. . . but we can't change that. I don't want to burden you. Please, live your life to the fullest. Become a Jedi Knight, and fulfill what I was not able to. And please, Tracer, remember me. I will always live on, in your heart."
He choked back tears as her spirit vanished. Cassie wore a worried look. "Tracer? You look like you've seen a ghost. You're so pale."
"I did see a ghost. . . it was Kalina's spirit. . ."
"I understand. You're so cold, let me warm you up."
He dried his tears as she pulled him into her warm embrace, and their lips locked. And he was feeling something that he had not been able to find since Kalina's death. He felt happiness.
- - - -
Chi and L'aysa sat at the edge of the pond where the group of friends had come so many times before. "You know, Chi, i think Cassie's really alright."
"Yeah, Tracer seems happy to have met her."
"I'm truly glad that he met her. He seemed so sad and distant before, but now it's as if his soul's been given a recharge, a boost."
"And I'm glad you're still here, L'aysa."
"I'm so sorry, for not talking to you. . ."
"It's okay." he trailed off as he embraced her and began to kiss her.
She wrapped her long, slender arms around his waist and drew him tighter. They kissed for what seemed like only a short while to Chi. "I missed doing that, L'aysa."
"I know. So did I."
She giggled as he began to shower her neck with soft kisses. She laid on her back and gazed up at the brilliant stars in the sky as Chi continued to neck her. She rolled over and found herself on top of him, pinning him to the ground with her slender but muscular legs. "Gotcha!" she squealed gleefully.
He just laughed and drew her body to his. He began to kiss her full on the lips and she clasped her hands behind his head as they embraced and locked lips for hours. Chi, tired, closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her close. She closed her eyes and rested her head on his strong chest. "I love you, Chi."
"I love you, L'aysa. Good night."
"Good night, dear."
She fell asleep in his arms, smiling, as did he. Brought back together at last, the two slept peacefully, dreaming dreams of each other, in love.
To be continued, of course
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