Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Roleplay log: Target Practice
an e-mail roleplay log

By the time Zet does a second round of errands, returning with a tote bag full of fruit that’s getting too wrinkly to sell, it’s getting dark out. In her opinion, that shouldn’t matter. The whole point of this target practice is to teach her friend to hit things with his brain, right?

She stops to fetch him from their room first, and then knocks very enthusiastically on Callia’s door to get the Jedi moving. From there, the Twi’lek leads both of them up a back stair to the roof access, where she sets her bag down to deftly jimmy it open without setting off an alarm. “I picked almost rotten fruit because it was free and soft,” she remarks in a conversational undertone. “Definitely not because it’ll make the biggest mess.” The lock pops open. Brushing her hands together in a satisfied way, Zet leads the way out onto the roof.

Santos is over the moon excited to leave the hotel room. The fact that they are losing sun makes it even better- there’s less of a chance of a Black Sun noticing a wandering Chiss. As soon as he sees Zet he grabs his vibroknife (it will have to do in place of a training saber) and is out the door.

“Soft is good. And try not to hit my face. We can’t have anything messing up my good looks.” Remembering the blindfold part of the whole affair that Callia suggested, he kneels down, resting on his knees and the ball of his feet so that Callia doesn’t need to stand on her toes, or have Zet lift her to put the blindfold on.

Callia smirks softly as Zet explains why she went for the closest to rotten possible. “Probably for the best. We wouldn’t want to be tempted to eat anything we could toss at Santos. And yes, I’m sure we don’t want to bruise our poor friend.” Not yet, anyway. She takes up the rear, her fingertips sliding against the walls up the stairwell and then falling to her side as they get outside. Her ’saber is clipped at her belt and a piece of soft cloth is woven between her fingers.

She stops abruptly when she realises Santos is bending down for her. “Ah, thank you.” She murmurs and pulls the cloth out to tie about his eyes. It takes her a moment to figure out she has it in the right spot and then tie it tight enough so he cannot see. “You will want to stand somewhere where you won’t fall off the side…” She murmurs. “Zet, if you would please be so kind as to guide him to an appropriate point.”

There’s something about the sight of her extremely tall best friend kneeling to let the miniscule Jedi tie a blindfold on his face that makes Zet crack a little grin. Not that either of them can see it! She sets her bag down, backtracking to make sure the door is secure. They don’t need anyone coming out onto the roof behind them. “Yeah.” Approaching Santos, she waits for him to stand up again and then loops her arm through his. “There’s actually tons of room. I’ll come back for you, Callia.”

She leads him over to an open area, far away from any of the edges. When she lets him go, he’ll hear the scrape and clatter of her kicking some junk away. “Wanna make sure you don’t trip,” Zet explains before her footsteps recede. She snags her bag of fruit and takes Callia by the wrist, leading her closer as well. “What do you want me to do? Throw them right at you? Or just kinda around you?”

Santos allows himself to be guided to a safe area, implicitly trusting his bestie. “Uh, both I guess.” He’s not entirely sure how this is supposed to work while blindfolded, at the very least this is going to be fun. “Callia, how exactly am I going to hit what I can’t see?”

He turns on his vibroknife and assumes a starting position, as Qel ’ Droma instructed.

“This is almost an exercise in moving meditation,” Callia explains. “The difference is that we’re going to be distracting you by pelting you with rotten fruit.” Santos can probably hear the smirk in her voice. She can’t help it, it’s exciting to finally be able to do this to someone else after all the years she did it as a Padawan.

“You need to open yourself to the Force. This is about feeling. You need to anticipate the moment and prepare yourself. So before we start throwing this at you, you must center yourself. It is all about being focused.”

Zet already has a piece of fruit in her hand, tossing it up and down in her palm to get a feel for the weight of it. It’s not quite the same as throwing a little stun grenade.

Her eyes drift towards Santos. She doesn’t really wait, she just whips it right at him, aiming for his torso. “Are you focused yet?”

“Umphhh” Santos doubles over ever so slightly at the impact of the fruit. Not so much because of pain, he’s not sure Zet could cause him physical pain if she tried. It’s more a reaction to the surprise of the piece of fruit striking him before he’s ready. Also, the feeling of the overripe fruit effectively exploding upon contact with his torso, covering him in it’s juices. Guess tonight’s laundry night.

“No, Zet. Not yet.” He attempts to sound angry, but the ruse is immediately blown by the huge grin on his face, “How about you wait until I give the word. Remember, you still have flying lessons.”

He begins to move through the movements of Ataru, slowly as he gains his focus. He’s getting quicker at centering himself, an in just a few moments he finds himself back on that glacier, just outside of Csaplar, The Force has a twisted sense of humour. He’s no longer blindfolded, although there’s not much to see outside of the near endless fields of snow. He moves back into a ready position, hopefully facing the source of the impending fruit barrage. “Now.”

Callia covers her mouth as she coughs, trying to mask the laughter in her voice. “Yes, Zet, now is perfect.” She replies. Welcome to Initiate hell, Santos. She takes a moment to get her own bearings about her, summoning a piece of fruit to her hands with a small application of the Force and lobs it up and down a few times. She can sense Santos getting his focus and may even try to interrupt by sending another piece of fruit flying at him.

Zet’s answer for Santos is nothing but laughter. She stoops to take another projectile in hand, but this time she waits to give him a chance to at least START preparing.

Callia hovering one right into her hand gets a little pout. “That’s really unfair,” she says quietly, before turning to really put her back into the next throw. That piece is going to get Santos right in the shoulder if he doesn’t notice it coming. She’ll take it out on him.

Santos easily spins around with a flourish, gracefully sliding his vibroknife through the center of the airborne fruit. He allows one half to fall to the ground, and effortlessly catches the other half in his mouth.

At least, that’s how he imagined this all going down when Zet was out collecting the tasty projectiles. Instead, he gets a vague sensation that something it about to hit him somewhere in the upper left quarter of his body. A fraction of a second later his right shoulder is covered in peach fibres. Some of the splattered juice found its way onto the corner of his mouth, so there’s that.

His focus falters for a moment, as he’s struck not at all where he was expecting it. He doesn’t lose it, though, and is quickly ready for the next attack.

Zet will find that fruit are starting to float over for her to grab out of the air. Callia must’ve overhead her deeming what she’s doing unfair, right? She grabs another out of the air for herself. “Focus, Santos.” She offers. “Feel it through the Force.”

The she hurls the fruit in her hand at his midsection.

Zet’s amusement falters when she finds herself gently accosted by floating bits of fruit. Perhaps she isn’t sure how she feels about that, either. She’s tentative about grabbing her first piece out of the air, like she’s worried it might suddenly turn on her.

It doesn’t. Winding up, she lobs this one lower, intending for it to splatter on the ground right in front of Santos and spray fruit guts all over his feet. “Yeah Santos. I thought you had some kinda super-impressive Chiss brain.”

“Zet, my super-impressive Chiss brain can astronavigate the hell out of any course,” The blue giant isn’t able to finish his though before he feels another piece of fruit approaching. In his mind he starts to see the faintest distortion, heading for his torso. He twists to the side in time for the fruit to soar past him, right off the roof of the building.

Encouraged by this, he notices another distortion, much lower this time. He meets this distortion with the inside of his foot, splattering slightly, but sending the fruit back in the direction it came from. “This isn’t about the brain though,” he continues, glowing triumphantly, “it’s about… something else.” A poet, he is not.

Awww, Callia is just trying to be helpful. Don’t worry, the fruit won’t bite. “It’s about focusing on the projectiles and not your witty comebacks,” She deadpans, sending another two at him in quick succession. One for his head and one at his shoulder.

Emboldened by the fact that the first fruit behaved exactly as it was meant to, Zet snags three or four of them while she watches Santos successfully dodge two in a row. “That was pretty good,” she calls encouragingly. See, she can be nice sometimes. His rebounded fruit comes skittering back her way, but she backs up a step or two to keep her boots clean. “The footwork I mean, not whatever you were trying to say.”

She’s silent after that though, because she’s skirting around him. Zet can be very, very, very quiet when she wants to be, although the fact that she suddenly stops talking may be a clue that she’s changing position if the Force doesn’t tip Santos off first.

Aww, Callia thinks Santos is witty.

Santos listens to Callia’s advice with a sigh. She just won’t let him forget that being Force Sensitive means he’s not allowed to have fun. He focuses again as two more balls of goo come hurling at him. He’s seeing them more clearly in his mind now. Interestingly, they are coming from the same direction. Given the height they’re flying at, he’d have to guess that a certain diminutive human set them in motion. That, of course, means that Zet hasn’t fired again, although he has no doubt that she’s armed. What is she up to?

No time to worry about her now, as he swings his vibroknife, again following the movements he’s been studying from the holocron. He’s disappointed when he doesn’t feel his blade connect with the first piece, but he manages to bring it around quickly enough to hit the second piece with the flat of the knife, launching it to the side.

He brings the blade up into as defensive a position as he knows how, and listens for any movement coming from the twi’lek.

Callia, at least, senses the Twi’lek as she begins to move around Santos. The floating fruit seem to follow her, even as she throws more fruit at the Chiss.

“You are doing well, Santos,” She offers in encouragement. Keep him distracted from his friend. “Just keep your focus up.” Another three fruit come in quick succession for him.

The way Zet sees it, Santos is already getting too good at dodging or hitting things that come at him from the front, so it’s already time to up the ante. When she’s at about a 5 o’clock angle from where she started, she sends a fruit whizzing towards his right hip. Before she’s even had time to see whether or not it connects, she darts near-silently to another position, directly behind him, and she aims for the back of his head.

Santos tries to keep up with the rapid fire fruit coming from Callia’s direction. He’s not entirely successful with his mind divided, trying to locate Zet. He can see that Callia is trying to keep his mind off of Zet, but he also knows better than to forget about her. Distracted as he is, he manages to catch one of the projectiles, slicing off a quarter of the meat, and successfully deflecting the rest. He pivots sharply to avoid contact with a second piece of fruit. Unfortunately he turns right into the path of the third. At least that puts him in position to hear the subtle whistle of Zet’s piece coming towards him. Instinctively, he brings his blade down swiftly as the fruit meets it, dead center.

“I think I got one!” He shouts with excitement.

“It certainly sounds like it.” Callia replies. “Good job. Now work on hitting the rest.” There is a teasing note in her voice. See, she has emotions. She seems to sound amused at Santos’ enthusiasm.

He’ll find another three fruit flying at him from the front, plus one from the side Zet is no longer on by the power of the Force.

“I was hoping you’d hit that one with your face.” Blindfolded, Santos can still hear the playful pout in her voice. It’s uncanny, the way he can hit something so accurately with his eyes covered, but at the same time, his enthusiasm is infectious. Zet hardly thinks anything of it to pluck another fruit out of the air. She throws it just as Callia is flinging one with the Force on his other side.

“Sorry to ruin your day Zet.”. Santos might be getting a little cocky. In his mind he can now clearly see five spheres heading towards him. Three from one direction, and one from either side. There’s no chance that he’ll be able to deflect them all, so he focuses on other techniques he’s been studying. He crouches down slightly to create a spring action, and launches himself straight into the air, allowing the force to give him a slight boost. Just enough to avoid being caught in the centre as the five pieces of fruit collide into each other, spraying juice all over.

Unfortunately, he’s not so graceful on the landing, and slips on the newly lubricated surface. He soon finds himself lying on his back, covered in nectar.

“Did he just…” Callia thinks she is sensing the movements correctly, and the loud splat on the ground seems to indicate what she thinks happened. “Are you alright, Santos?” She asks, laughter touching her lilting tone. She must not be too concerned about his well-being because more of that sticky fruit suddenly falls out of the air to drop on top of him.

Zet’s face flickers through an entire range of emotions all in the span of a few seconds – faint astonishment at how high Santos leaps, then alarm when he comes crashing down on his back (she even takes a small step forward, ready to rush over to him) … and then she just bursts out laughing and flings another fruit at him. “He looks fine to me. Just sticky.”

Santos joins his friends in laughter before sitting up. He grabs the remains of the fruit Callia so kindly dropped on him, and lobs it in the direction of her laughter. When Zet’s latest assault makes contact he does the same, throwing it towards the Twi’lek’s most recent position. No sense in him being the only one getting messy.

“I’m fine, Callia. This shirt might be a write-off though.”

Callia deflects the fruit so they squish to the ground at her feet. “Now now, Santos, you just need to scrub it out with some water, soap and good old elbow grease.” She steps gently over the fruit and toward the Chiss to offer him a hand up. “You did very well for your first time. Next time, hopefully you’ll be able to deflect more of the fruit. Then perhaps Zet’s blaster shots.”

Given she has full use of her senses, it’s little challenge for Zet to sidestep that final attack. She’s grinning crookedly as she approaches, letting Callia be the one to get her hands dirty by pulling Santos to his feet. (Also, it looks funnier.) “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t aim my blaster at your perfect face.”

“Be sure you don’t.” Santos welcomes the jedi’s assistance in getting to his feet, although she can only help him get half way up. “We may need to rely on my face one day.”

He feels around the back of his head until he finds the knot of the blindfold, and quickly unties it. He looks around at his work, and frowns slightly when he only sees two fruits with cuts in them. “Not my best showing.”

“Considering you’ve only begun controlling the Force about a week ago, you did well.” Callia replies. She dusts her hands off on her pants once Santos is on his way to his feet. “How many of them actually hit you?”

She smiles as the pair exchanges their usually witty banter.

Zet sticks her hands in her pockets and looks around at the fruity genocide on the rooftop. “Looks to me like most of them hit him. Full marks for effort, though.” She flickers a smile at Santos once he’s all the way upright. “Would it help if I started just randomly poking you when you aren’t expecting it?”

“Three.” Santos answers Callia, ignoring Zet’s slight. “Excluding the two you hit me with while I was on my ass.” In response to Zet’s suggesting, he simply grabs her in a tight bear hug, making sure to share the fruit juice as much as possible.

Callia smirks softly. “Only three? That is good.” She brushes some hairs from her face and crosses her arms over her chest. “How many did you hit with your vibrosword, total?” It’s hard to be all serious “you must focus!” Jedi around these two. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

Zet should have anticipated that when Santos had enough of her taunting he’d take action. She lets out of a shriek of laughter, trying to wiggle away from him before he can even set hands on her, but a second later she’s securely captured in his arms and covered in fruit entrails. “Gross! I’m gonna roll all over your bed!” The Twi’lek makes a show of trying to struggle to freedom, relying on her flexibility over her (lack of) strength as she tries to twist and contort herself loose.

The Chiss just laughs. “I’ll just take your bed then!”

He gently lets Zet go and looks at Callia. “Three. Well, two with the blade, and one with the side. I kicked one too!” He sounds defensive as he adds that last part.

“The rest you dodged? Hmm, yes Ataru is a good form for you.” Callia chuckles. “Of course, dodging blasts from a blaster gun may be a little more dangerous for any companions you are trying to teach. I can teach you some defensive moves sometime.” She offers.

She can only imagine what the two are doing that Zet is squealing about rolling in his bed. “Just keep your sticky selves over there.” She laughs.

Now Zet is holding her arms out awkwardly at either side, like she doesn’t want to stick to herself. She gives Santos a half-hearted and no doubt completely ineffective shove. “I’d keep my blaster on stun,” she insists. “And not fire so many at once.” She eyes Callia, then glances at Santos. Too bad the blind Jedi would see her coming if she tried to share the wealth a little.

Santos doesn’t miss Zet eyeing Callia. All they need is the right opportunity. “Alright. I’m starving now. And sticky. I need to clean myself up.” He heads towards Zet’s bag. “How about you help Callia to the stairs while I gather up our stuff?”

Both seem to forget that Callia may be able to sense their duplicitous motives. “Yes, Santos, it’s meant to just stun you, not scar you.” She agrees. “Though I may suggest still firing many at once. Distractions and lots of them is how you learn. And the desire to stay awake especially helps. It’s good to fight through that sort of distraction to find your calm center.”

“I want the refresher first,” Zet says immediately as she approaches Callia. “You signed up for getting splattered with fruit. I didn’t!” The Twi’lek lightly touches her hand to Callia’s back. Her fingers actually aren’t very messy. She uses that slight pressure to guide their friend along, trying to project as much innocence as possible.

“Whatever. You knew the risks.” Santos retorts light-heartedly as he follows behind his friends.

Callia allows herself to be led toward the stairs, hands clasped in front of her for the time being. “You can get him back Zet, don’t worry.” She lilts warmly. “Next time, I want to be able to see it happen.” Do your worst, kids.

Santos is the one with all the leftover fruit. Zet glances back at him under the pretense of continuing to argue, but her eyes flicker from the bag, which still carries a couple of them, and Callia. “I wasn’t expecting you to be /so/ grateful that I finally helped you with this stuff that you felt the need to immediately hug it out…”

As Zet is speaking Santos carefully, quietly takes a few pieces of fruit out of the bag. “Come on Zet. I’m always up for a good hug.” He lightly tosses them in quick succession, allowing gravity to do most of the work. They should land between the poor Jedi’s shoulder blades any second now.

The first piece goes wide, arcing up toward Zet’s face. The last piece flies back toward the Chiss as it hits it’s projectile arc. It’s the second piece that the Jedi didn’t seem to be expecting, that one hits right in the desired target, causing her to jump in surprise. “Aah…well, two out of three isn’t awful.” She says, trying to arch away from the feeling of the sticky juices running down her spine.

Zet snaps her hand away as Santos throws the fruit, so at least the one that does connect with Callia doesn’t really get her. But there’s just no time to react to a projectile that changes direction so quickly. She ducks, turning her face away to at least keep the stinging fruit juice out of her eyes, and instead it thwacks right into the side of her head, half-connecting with one of her lekku. The Twi’lek hisses quietly, sounding less amused and more legitimately pained by that, but she can hardly get angry with Callia for defending herself.

Unfortunately, Santos doesn’t have sufficient time to react, and prevent Zet from getting hit in the brain. The fruit coming back towards him has a longer trip to make, however, and is slowed down slightly after completely reversing direction completely. He fights Force with Force, and quickly freezes the fruit in the air, and then guiding it gently back into the bag. “Truce?” He calls to Callia. “I think Zet needs a stim now.”

The Jedi turns around to face the two smugglers. “Truce.” She agrees. “A stim, why on earth would she need a stim. I was aiming for her shoulder…” She trails off. “Are you alright Zet? I apologise if I hurt you.”

It’s not like their fragile Twi’lek friend is fainting away, but it takes her a moment to gather her thoughts again. “I don’t need a stim,” Zet replies threadily, wiping a few chunks of fruit away from her stinging lekku with the gentlest touch she can muster. “Guess that’s what I get for messing with a Jedi.”

“A nice water shower should get you back into shape.” Santos opens the door to their room for Zet. “I’ll let you get cleaned up while I walk Callia to her room. Qurzer must be wondering where everyone is.”

“I am truly sorry, Zet.” Callia offers sincerely. “No more half-rotted fruit will be projected at anyone, I promise. Or they will only be projected at Santos from now on.”

“It’s okay.” From the strain in Zet’s voice it’s not, like, /okay/ okay, but she’s not angry. “I mean, you jumped me ahead in line for a shower…” Flashing a grin at Santos, she heads into their room, already peeling off her vest as she heads towards the refresher.

Santos closes the door behind Zet before heading on to Callia’s room. “So how did I really do? Honestly, without being encouraging?” He asks as he leads Callia, linked arms. “How would I have compared with the 6 year olds at the temple?” He stops just in front of the room.

Callia nods her head and smiles to Zet as she disappears to the ‘fresher. Some of her quiet, closed-off demeanor is beginning to return as they walk the few steps back to her own room. “Santos, the six-year-olds in the Temple had been aware of and using the Force for their whole lives. You have been at it for a week.” She chides softly. "I can sense that you are Focusing, you need to keep that up. But you also will not be able to deflect a blaster shot with your foot unless you want it taken off. Your dodging is very good, but you need to focus less on getting out of the way and more on deflecting. Multiple projectiles from multiple locations doesn’t make that easy, I know."

She tilts her head up, eyes focused on his face. “Tomorrow morning, come with me. We can practice some simple katas together, to learn form and good deflection techniques. It will be good for your focus to learn moving meditation.”

“Tomorrow morning then.” He replies, somberly. He really doesn’t want his foot taken off. As soon as Callia is settled into her room, he heads back to his. Hopefully Zet’s finished with the refresher.

“Tomorrow morning.” Callia repeats once more. She opens the door and gives Santos’ arm a soft squeeze before pulling away. “You will improve, Santos. No one learns this all over night so do not be hard on yourself.” She tells him. “Now go make sure Zet is alright and wash all that fruit off of yourself. Good night.”

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Vignette: Self-Actualization
Cut Scene

It has been days. Days of unrest, of healing and of the constant bombardment of doctors and nurses and tests. Callia hasn’t had a moment to herself in that time, not the way she would have preferred to. The holo novel Zet had left for her helped for a time, letting her mind drift off into some fantasy realm where worrying about her state of being or the state of the galaxy was not her problem.

It was nice, to finally get to the hotel with the others and hide herself away in the room she shared with the Selonian. It was even more thankful when the Selonian decided to disappear for the afternoon. She had time to sit and think. Perhaps even time to put the emotional turmoil bubbling beneath the surface to rest.

The ex-Padawan sat down on the floor in what she judged to be the center of the room. It was hard to tell when everything was still a blur. Her eyes closed to shut out the little light she could make out. In the past few weeks, she found herself falling back into the habits of meditation with general ease. It was a comforting place to be, in her own mind and surrounded in a protective cocoon of the Force.

Today it was harder to accomplish. She was still wracked with guilt and shame for her unbecoming actions in the Temple on Jiroch. She felt unrest and unease with how close she had come to the Dark Side. Not even during the Clone Wars had she come face-to-face with any Dark Force user, let alone a Sith. The fact that said Sith was a girl she once called a friend only added to the hurt she felt. Callia took a deep breath, finding herself shuddering. Her eyes felt wet.

“Why Sora?” She murmured.

It was from there that she fell. The Force embraced her, a warm light enveloping her on all sides. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering, suffering leads to the Dark Side. The words were so clear in her mind, as if the Grandmaster were speaking them to her himself. Suffering you are, young Jedi. Fear and anger, you felt.

It was a conversation she had hear before, but not in such a drastic context. It was a conversation most Jedi heard from the Grandmaster in some iteration or another. Mistake, you made. Infallible, you are not. Learn from this, you must. She remembered the words so clearly. She fell back into that memory, a young Padawan standing before the Council. Her eyes were cast downward as disapproval radiated off of the members before her. She had struck another student in anger after they insulted her friend. There had been a bad injury, one strong enough for both Padawans to require the censure of the Council. Her shame had been great then as well, but now the incident seemed trivial compared to the trial she had faced and failed.

“I will learn from this, Master Yoda.” She spoke to the empty room, the memory swirling away from her. “I know you must be disappointed in me, Master Alesca. I went in blind, over my head and I put beings in danger.”

The Force, despite it’s disapproval, seemed to sooth her. It knew. They all knew.

“It’s ironic that I am now blind myself. Perhaps this is your will, though. To teach me a lesson?” She chuckled at the thought, but the Force rings it’s approval. It’s a lesson she has yet to figure out, whatever that lesson may be.

Callia sighs softly, letting her mind empty further. Her Master appeared before her, same as she always had. Facing our fears and conquering them is not easy, Callia. She said. This is a task you must do alone. You run from the past rather than come to terms with it. If you truly want to become a Jedi, you must stop running. I believe in you.

She had expected this. She knew this, on some subconscious level. The past was scary. She had run from it all her adult life. Even now, part of her was still running…from responsibility, from the Empire, even from the Rebellion. She was not ready, not yet. Something was holding her back.

You are holding yourself back.

The Force rang loudly with this realization. It surprised her, caused her to waver momentarily. She knew it, of course she did. Perhaps it just needed to be said ‘out loud’ for her to truly realize it.

The only person who is blinding you is yourself.

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Roleplay log: fake_name
An email RP log

It’s getting close to what should pass for dinner time. Earlier this morning, Callia helped Santos to open up the Jedi holocron, setting him on the path to responsible lightsaber ownership. His best friend and business partner has been largely absent from the hotel today, save a short period of time when the pair of them were holed up in their room early in the afternoon. Now, a soft knock at Callia and Qurzer’s door informs those within of her presence. It’s Zet, who carries a shopping bag in her left hand so her right remains free to hang near her blaster. The smuggler looks and feels a bit weary, but seems to be in better spirits than she was when she visited Callia at the hospital.

Callia is alone at the moment, quietly doing her own thing. It probably involves a lot of trying to figure out where she’s going with the Force and possibly bumping into things now and then. That is what it sounds like, anyway, when she comes to open the door. It slides open to reveal a dressed but barefoot and wet-haired Callia. “Zet.” She greets with a small bow of her head. “Come in.” She takes a few steps back so the Twi’lek can indeed step into the room.

“Hey Callia.” Zet smiles automatically at her, even if she can’t see it, and enters. “It looks way less fun in your room without any blanket fort.” She moves over to sit on the edge of one of the beds, setting her bag down beside her. “Um, how’re you feeling? Santos told me you spent some time together this morning.”

Callia is careful in her trip back to her own bed. She manages to close the door fine and she even walks with the confidence of a woman who knows exactly where she’s going. When she finally sits, her hands grab a towel draped on the bed to continue drying her hair with.

“Well, thank you. I have a few outpatient appointments over the next three days, but things are well.” She bobs her head. “Yes. I helped him with the Holocron he found. How was your day?”

“He showed me.” There’s an uneasy tremor in her voice, and Zet is plainly eager to move on to non-Force related topics. She made it all the way through a conversation about it with Santos earlier without flipping out, okay? “So-so. Santos wants us to sell those Imperial speeders we stole, but they’re really obviously stolen so it’s been challenging to rustle up some of my old contacts here. We’re hoping to repaint them and file off the serials. That should solve the problem. The other stuff… I think we’re just gonna hang onto it until we’re a little father away from the core. Ah, he wants me to help him with some target practice…” The smuggler glances down towards her feet, nudging the bag she’s carrying. “Like, throw fruit at him or something so he can try to whack it out of the air. On the roof. Maybe it would be good if you came, if you think you could help when you can’t really see.”

Poor Zet, having to deal with the Force. Callia does feel for her, though she says nothing. Instead she finally finishes drying her hair and drops the towel. “I think that’s a sound plan. Do you know anyone who would paint them for you?” She asks. “What else do we have to sell?”

Her eyebrows rise up on her head and a smirk tugs on her lips. “Target practice? That sounds enjoyable.” She laughs. “Fruit would be useful, for sure. We used to use this little bot that shot non-lethal shots at us, while blind-folded. It would be good practice and I would be willing to help.”

Zet blinks. So, what, Santos didn’t actually tell Callia that he filled both their pockets with corrupt Jedi temple crystals on the way out of there? “Just some stuff Santos and I picked up,” she answers evasively, assuming her friend would object to relics of her people being shipped off to the highest bidder. “It’s even less legal than stolen speeders, and with Black Suns running this town I don’t want to attract too much attention. Anyway, I have a name, but she isn’t ready to meet with us yet. I’m hoping she can at least give us a garage to work in. I know how to strip a speeder. We can do the work ourselves.” She shrugs. “It’ll still be obviously stolen, but there are plenty on Corellia who don’t care about that. They just don’t want it to be obviously stolen from the Empire.”

She has to pause for a minute to picture even tinier Callia, blindfolded, fighting off a gentle robot. A smirk tugs at her lips. “Well, I can shoot non-lethal shots too,” she points out. “And you’re practically already blindfolded. Are you gonna make Santos wear one while I chuck fruit at him?” Does she sound a bit excited about the idea?

Callia seems satisfied with that answer. Zet seems to have effectively fooled the Jedi or Callia has decided she doesn’t want to know. Either way, her head bobs once more. “That’s a good plan, then. We really don’t want to get tangled up in all of those factions. If you need any help with the speeders, I will do whatever I can.”

Tiny Callia fighting off flying robots is pretty adorable. “Ah, well then. Perhaps we’ll try with fruit first. He doesn’t have a lightsaber to properly block shots of any type, at the moment. We’ll work on his form and then blindfold him. He’ll need to be able to sense the fruit coming, after all.” Yes, Zet, Callia will make sure you can chuck fruit at your unseeing friend.

“Well if your eyes are working, we can use as many painters as we can get. So we’ll see what this Catrinna has for me.” After the past week or so, Zet would love it if just one thing would go right. This is the kind of job she’s done dozens of times; she should be able to pull it off without too much of a hitch. As long as Callia and Qurzer can both keep up, anyway. “Okay, good. I was thinking maybe tonight after dinner I’d get us up there. It should be a breeze.” She pats down the many pockets of her vest. “I remembered how you didn’t think your identification papers would pass muster back on the Corellian Runner. I’m not sure yet how I’m gonna get us all offworld again, but we can’t have your ID being the problem, so I made you something.” Withdrawing the new ID she worked up, she leans across the space between the two beds to press it into the Jedi’s hands. “This should get you through most basic security checkpoints. Obviously if anyone digs deeper, you don’t exist.”

Callia and Qurzer aren’t stupid, they can definitely keep up. Callia just might make grumpy faces about it at some point. “Ah. So we’re going to start practicing already? That’s good. Santos has a lot to learn in a short amount of time.”

She runs her fingers over the ID handed to her, a wry smile coming to her lips. “Thank you. What name should I be expecting to go by when we go through the Imperial checkpoints?” She pauses. “Hopefully no one tries to dig too deep, then.”

“Miranda River.” Zet leans back on her hands. “Most of them shouldn’t. I was thinking, maybe we could colour your hair or something too. Like a little more strawberry blonde?” Tackling the easier topic first, the Twi’lek gives a little sigh. “Yeah, already. After Jiroch, me’n Santos really just want to do whatever we can to make sure he doesn’t turn out that way. He’s under the impression that this kind of practice will help him stay focused. That and he says he hopes that he’ll be able to use his newfound lightsaber skills to protect the two of us.” What exactly is their relationship, anyway… “So we can’t waste time. We’re stuck here til my contact will meet me, we might as well do what we can to be fully prepared to move on.”

Callia bobs her head. “Miranda River.” She repeats. “Colouring my hair may be a good idea. Changing my whole appearance may be a good idea…” She trails off, trying not to focus on evading the long arm of the Empire. There is a slight twitch in her expression when Zet explains to Santos what he wants to learn his lightsaber skills for. Whatever they are, they’re very attached. “Yes, a good plan. Let’s not get complacent.”

“You want me to keep an eye out for a disguise kit? I’ve been in and out of all the market areas around here today and yesterday. You make me a list of what you need me to find, I’ll get it. Whether it’s that kind of stuff, new gear, whatever. I can pick it up for you. Your number one job right now needs to be keeping the Chiss on the straight and narrow.” Zet pauses. “Um, and recovering. Is something wrong? You made a face.”

“Yes, if you could? That would be helpful.” Callia replies. She runs her fingers through her still-damp hair, trying to pull some of the tangles out. She falls silent after that. “You two are incredibly close.” She comments off-hand. At least, it sounds off-hand. “He has to be careful. This is something I will repeat to him as well…but if something were to happen to you, his attachment could lead him down a dangerous path.”

She pauses again. “I’m not telling you to just give up on your friendship. These bonds are all we have left to hold each other together in this dark universe. I just want you to be aware of the dangers.”

Zet swallows her knee-jerk emotional reaction, which is to shoot to her feet and say something angry and disparaging about the Force. Again. Her fingers twine tightly together in her lap. “I don’t understand what you mean by that. This far from home, me and him are all we’ve got. If something happened to him, I’d do anything and everything to make it right. I know he feels the same way.” She fixes Callia with a flat look, her shoulders stiff. “Why shouldn’t he?”

Callia doesn’t twitch nor sigh. She shows no emotion at all but calmly trying to explain. “The heightened emotion. I’m not saying he shouldn’t do anything in the galaxy to help you,” She replies. “I’m saying he needs to be careful not to go off the deep end. You two are very focused to the point of tunnel vision on each other. I know it’s because you only had each other for a long time, from the sounds of it. I would give this advice to anyone, Force-sensitive or no. Just be careful.”

“You’re right, you should probably be the one to try to explain this to him.” Zet’s tone has gone all flat again, although her quiet frustration isn’t directed at Callia, really. Just this whole confusing situation. “It’d probably come out wrong if I said it. I don’t want to fight with him about something that’s out of his control.” She turns her gaze down towards her folded hands, sighing. “We spent the past year as a crew of two, on our own ship. A lot’s happened. I just don’t like the idea of him going somewhere I can’t follow.”

Callia nods her head. “I’ve had this conversation before, Zet, but I was on the other end of it. I know it can be frustrating and confusing. It’s just the attachment I see between you two. If your happiness is only dependent on him or vice versa, it can be devastating to you both if something out of your control were to happen. Especially if it was something you could not fix.” She takes a deep breath. “Entire worlds have fallen for this sort of thing before.” A whole Republic did once, not that Callia knows that. “I do not think anyone likes the idea of their friends going somewhere that they cannot follow.”

“Then it’s a good thing whole worlds aren’t depending on Santos.” She makes a real effort to inject some humour into her tone, but Zet’s words just come out a little bitter. “We’ve got other things going on. A business to run, a ship to maintain. I’ve got family back on Nar Shaddaa that needs looking after. We’ll be fine. But thanks for your concern.”

“I suppose not, yes.” Callia agrees, trying to give Zet her humor and bitterness. She’s said her piece, now she can go back to judging silently. “Of course.”

Good, because this is a surefire way to get Zet all pissed off again. “Just let me know if it seems like he’s not okay,” she adds quietly. “Do you have anything else on your shopping list? I don’t mind running errands.” Even if you’re a yucky Jedi.

Poor Zet. She is just having to deal with so much shit coming her way.

“I will.” Callia replies. As best she can. Callia is just getting in the way of everyone’s happiness, it seems. “At the moment, no. A disguise kit should be good enough for the moment. There isn’t anything more I need at this time. Thank you, though.”

“Okay.” Zet picks up her bag and gets to her feet. “I’m gonna get a few more things done before dinner. I’ll let you know when me and Santos are ready to practice. If you think of anything else, I’ll just be next door.” She moves towards the door.

“Of course. Thank you for the ID. And for checking up on me.” Callia replies. She starts to rise again, being a polite host to show her guest out of the room. “I will be ready when you both are.”

View
Roleplay log: Chill Out, Santos
An email roleplay log

It must be early afternoon already by the time Zet lets herself back into the room she’s sharing with Santos. There’s a bag slung over her shoulder, and she’s lacking the usual skip in her step that would suggest she made a big sale and all their problems are now solved. “Ugh.” She pries her feet out of her boots and shrugs off her long jacket before dropping to her knees to crawl into their blanket fort. “I brought lunch. The food here smells like it’s bad for you.” Not that it matters for a Twi’lek, but who knows when Santos might reveal a delicate Chiss constitution. She pulls some takeout containers out of her bag and sets them down so he can help himself. “What’ve you been up to all day?”

Santos had quickly lost track of the hours after opening the holocron earlier that morning, and didn’t actually hear Callia sneak out. He poured over the theory involved in lightsaber training, and had begun going over the basic movements of Ataru. He found the activity much more intense than his usual workout, and had long ago shed most of his clothes to cool himself down.

He barely hears Zet enter the room, but as she speaks he closes the cube to give her his full attention. “Great! I’m starving.” He hadn’t realized how hungry he was until the Twi’lek said ‘food.’ “I was just… well, it had to do with that thing we aren’t talking about.” Life is going to be very complicated if he needs to walk on eggshells with Zet now.

He decides to quickly clean himself up before eating lunch, so he heads into the refresher. “You didn’t have much luck, did you?” he shouts into the main room while turning on the shower. It didn’t really occur to him how difficult it would be to move their haul.

At this point in their relationship, walking in on each other half-naked is hardly worth commenting upon, which is why Zet went right for the blanket fort with hardly even a glance. “That thing we aren’t talking about?” She’s been so focused on unloading those stupid speeders all day that her brain had finally stopped chasing its tail over the Force. She’s just popping open a container full of some kind of greasy-looking smoked meat when she realizes what he means. “Oh. Umm. Did I say we couldn’t talk about it?” The Twi’lek sounds a bit uneasy, but not upset.

Not as upset as she is about the fence situation, anyway. “One, they’re obviously Imperial speeders, and two, the Suns run this town. Just one of those alone, I could probably deal with, but together… I dunno, I got a few leads, but people don’t really conduct this kind of business in the light of day anyway. I figured I’d come entertain you for a while and maybe check out a name or two later tonight.”

The Chiss quickly finishes his shower, dries off and puts some pants on. He grabs a container and crawls into the blanket fort beside her. “Maybe we could paint them, disguise them in some way.” He digs into the food almost without tasting it. The man survived on Trandoshan cuisine. He can hardly be said to have a delicate Chiss constitution. He does, however, have a refined Chiss palate, and finds it best to chew and swallow this stuff with as little contact with his tongue as possible.

He takes a good look at Zet, and that familiar expression. “Maybe we can get those speeders on another transport. Find someone on another planet to take them off our hands.” Or maybe they should keep them. “We’ll figure it out.”

Zet’s just kind of picking at their meal in a profoundly disinterested way. Digesting it won’t be the problem, and growing up where she did, she likely ate a lot of unpalatable things, but that doesn’t mean she has to look excited about this slop. “I think we’d have an easier time buying paint than transporting them offworld. The crystals… we might just have to hang onto those for now. I haven’t even asked around about them because that kind of merchandise would attract all kinds of the wrong attention this far in. But some repainted speeders, with all the serials filed off? That, we could probably move. And we could likely do most of the work ourselves if we had a secure spot to get it done.” She’s got a far-off look that probably mean she’s running through the contacts she met today, trying to decide who might be able to lend them a garage for a few hours.

“Sounds like a plan.” Santos typically lets Zet take care of the business side of their partnership. He’s far more interested in the actual implementation. Today is no exception. He doesn’t have anywhere close to the network Zet has managed to build up, and not many would call him charming or manipulative.

“Have you seen Callia recently?” He changes the subject, thinking that they have their plan of attack, so there’s nothing more to discuss. “She stopped by this morning, says she can see blobs of light now.” Whatever Zet may be feeling towards the Jedi at the moment, they’ve already accepted her as part of their crew.

Honestly, Zet would prefer not to dwell on what she perceives as a mostly wasted morning anyway, so she’s happy to drop the topic. “I visited her in the hospital the other day, not long before she was released.” She shrugs, her eyes dropping to her meal, staying fixed there in a way that suggests she is now avoiding eye contact on purpose. “We had some words. I’m glad she’s feeling well enough to be up and about.” At least that sounds genuine.

Sometimes Santos gets the feeling Zet thinks he’s younger than he actually is. 16 may still be a child for a Twi’lek, but not for a Chiss. Still, it seems like she’s trying to avoid upsetting him, as though he believed everything was sunshine and roses all the time. “What’s on your mind, Zet? you know there’s no point trying to hide anything from me.”

“The same thing that’s been on my mind since I woke up.” Zet forces down another mouthful of her lunch. “I just figured, I’ve already made my feelings known, so there’s no point in repeating myself aloud every time I’m reminded that there’s no getting away from this Force stuff. That’d get old real fast.” She glances up at him. “I don’t really want it to be a thing that we have to deal with, but our friendship is more important to me than that, so I guess we’re just gonna deal with it.” We, together. “You don’t have to just not talk about it, as long as you don’t mind that sometimes my face might go like this.” She furrows her brow and frowns dramatically.

“Good.” Santos wipes his hands on his pants to get the grease off. “Because I want to be able to talk about it. I want to be able to tell you that the box I found in the temple contained a 4000 year hologram that’s going to teach me how to defend us with a lightsaber. And I really want to figure out a plan of action to make sure that whatever comes our way we can handle it.” He pauses in order to concentrate on the half bottle of whiskey he still has from the Corellian Runner, causing it and two glasses to float gracefully to the floor in front of them. He’s not as much interested in excessive drinking as much as he is in showing Zet that he is learning control. “And I really don’t like that something about me that I can’t get rid of or ignore makes your face go like that.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. One thing at a time. Zet’s face is absolutely doing the thing right now, if only because ‘hologram,’ ‘lightsaber’ in the context of Santos owning one, and floating alcohol all at once is a bit much to process. It’s a big leap forward from not talking about it.

She recovers, rubbing at her temple. “I can’t get rid of or ignore my face…” Maybe they can take these action items one at a time. “How does a hologram teach you how to use a lightsaber? Does Callia figure you can learn to use one safely?” Zet is doing her absolute best to let her curiosity win out over her skepticism and general Force-related anxieties. Usually both of them are equally excited to tackle a new challenge.

This is one of those times where Santos is asked to explain something he doesn’t fully understand himself. “So that thing I found is called a Holocron, a really old one. Callia said the Jedi Order used to use these things to store knowledge for subsequent generations. She helped me open it using the Force, and called that hologram a ‘gatekeeper.’” He picks up his food container and takes another bit, using the time it takes to chew and swallow to gather his thoughts and breathe. "This gatekeeper is an interactive, almost sentient, hologram of a Jedi who lived thousands of years ago, back when the Ascendancy was still establishing itself. It works through the theory and forms with me as those he were a living teacher. I’m sure it’s not as good as having a flesh and blood instructor, but what he’s teaching me is different than what Callia does. More suited to my body.

“As for if Callia think’s I can learn to use one safely, she didn’t stop me. We talked about the risks. I brought them up myself, but I think this training will help me avoid losing myself. Anyway, I don’t have a lightsaber right now, so I’m practicing with a sheathed vibroknife.” He watches Zet, looking for some sign that what she’s hearing does anything to convince her he’s actually being responsible for once. “The last thing I want is to hurt someone because I didn’t know what I was doing.”

The Twi’lek listens closely, at least, her expression more or less neutral. This is Zet when she’s trying to just take in the facts without judging them. The idea of a fully interactive hologram is a strange one, but it doesn’t sound dangerous. It’s just like a fancy holonovel, right? And it’s certainly better than Santos just trying to figure this stuff out on his own.

Saying that she and Callia had words may have given Santos the wrong impression. Zet isn’t exactly angry at their Jedi friend anymore, but she’s trying to work through a lot of complicated feelings right now. They at least parted on good terms. Which means that Callia not immediately objecting to the idea of Santos learning to use a lightsaber really is a point in his favour. “Okay. Um.” She sets her food aside and draws in a deep breath. “That all sounds like a good start. And I guess she can maybe work through some of it with you, right? Like in case things have changed since that- Holocron? Was made. At least you won’t be bored all cooped up in here.” She gives him a thready smile, which is likely an improvement over the frowny face.

That’s not much of a smile, but it is better than a frown. And she’s asking questions now! “Yeah. Callia offered to practice with me.” After he empties the container he’s working on, Santos produces the toy he found in the temple, and starts spinning it like a top, watch light emanate from it and dance on the the blankets as it twirls. “She said that she was taught the basics of each of the lightsaber forms. I think she said there were seven. Maybe you could help too. I am starting to feel trapped in here. Maybe we could break onto the roof sometime, and you could throw stuff at me.”. He has a feeling she’ll like that idea. Maybe not the roof thing, but the throwing.

The light catches Zet’s eye too, and she watches the holocron spin for a few seconds, mesmerized. Then she leans forward and pours each of them a bit of whiskey. Judging by the volume of liquid in those glasses, she isn’t looking to get drunk right this second either. “I can get you onto the roof,” she says with a little nod, holding his glass out to him. “What are you gonna do? Hit them with the knife? Catch stuff with your brain?”
With that last comment Santos’ mind drifts to wonder what Jedi sports would look like. Sitting in a large circle, cross legs, catching and throwing balls while deep in meditation? He laughs briefly at the idea and takes a sip of his drink. “Callia said the form the Holocron teaches, Ataru, isn’t great for protecting against blasters. I want to test that. It has to be something soft though, like fruit. I don’t want the get any bruises on this beautiful face of mine.”

“Well you don’t have to twist my arm to get me to throw fruit at you.” Zet’s smile is more natural now, and she has a sip of her whiskey to wash away the flavour of their meal. “I’ll get some stuff when I go back out later.” Yeah, lightsabers are high on the list of things that make her a bit uneasy, but maybe if she just watches what Santos is working on it’ll start to feel normal. There’s so much about the Force she just doesn’t understand. “We can work you up to blaster fire. Catch me in a bad mood one day.”

“Great.” Santos replies with a smile. “We’ll get Qurzer to run around with a big bowl to catch the fruit. A nice fruit salad will be a welcome change from this food.” He stretches out under the blanket fort, careful not to knock over any supports. The toy has stopped spinning, leaving spots of light on the blankets, reminding Santos of the stars that separate them from his ship. “How are we getting off this planet? Try our luck at stealing a third ship?”

Zet nudges their empty takeout containers right out of the fort, the better to eliminate the lingering smell. “That’s one option.” Try as she might to get cool with lightsaber practice, the tension legitimately seems to leave her as soon as they return to normal business. But she made an effort. “It kind of depends on how much we can get for the speeders. I definitely don’t want to be paying for passage all the way back to Hutt space, but if we’re flying a stolen ship that brings its own challenges. Working our way back there could do the trick. Before I met you I was starship-hopping all the time.” She has another swallow of her drink, letting it pool on her tongue for a moment. “It’s not glamorous. I’m also kinda wondering if Qurzer can’t pull something off now that we’re so close to Selonia. I haven’t had a chance to pick their brain yet.”

As much as he’d like to have a shop to fly, he can’t imagine it being Selonian. “What would a ship from Selonia look like? I don’t want to be crawling through tubes to get everywhere.” Still, it’s better that working their way back. Santos needs to be in the cockpit, he wouldn’t do well as an errand boy. “How easy was it to find work? There would be 4 of us looking for something on the same ship.”

“I’ve never really seen a Selonian ship up close. I’d hardly interacted with them before Qurzer. They kinda keep to themselves.” Zet shrugs. “But there are actually plenty of them right here on Corellia. They’ve dug tunnels all over it.” She’s quiet for a minute, considering his question. “Well, it was simple when it was just me, but… that was just me. In a big spaceport town like this there’s always someone who needs an extra hand. With four of us it’d take some doing. But you’d be surprised how many people have money and ideas but no crew. We might find someone with a ship and an errand to run. Sometimes those guys don’t even have a pilot.” She can’t really picture Santos sucking it up and carrying boxes around either. “That or we get work on a bigger ship like that passenger liner. It’s slow but it’s regular.”

A passenger liner would likely have a roll for each of them. Zet would clearly work one of the gambling tables. Qurzer would be a hit in a formal uniform, handing out hors d’oeuvres and aperitifs in the dining hall. Hopefully they’d need pilots. Callia would be more difficult’ especially if the vessel is boarded by Imperial Customs.
“I’d feel a lot better if we left on a personal ship, but I guess we don’t have much say. I suppose we could also pay our way pretending to be a traveling band.”

That earns him an incredulous look. “I didn’t know you were also a musician,” Zet replies. “I’m gonna see if I can find someone rich and stupid. It sounds like the most fun way to solve this problem. Then the ship isn’t technically stolen…” She finishes her drink at last, setting the glass aside, and then flops down to stretch out on her back. “Callia is the real problem. I need to get her some good ID.” Zet rubs her eyes. Running with a larger crew is revealing its downsides.

Santos smiles sweetly. “I started the flute when I was two.” Somehow, Zet doesn’t know everything about the Chiss yet. “And I’m all for rich and stupid. Or rich and generous. Why not both? I’m sure it won’t be too much of a problem for you to get her something convincing. As long as you’re able to talk enough.”

“Oh, of course you did.” Zet lets her hand fall away from her face, just sprawling it beside her head as she looks up at him. “You must be way out of practice by now, ‘cause I’ve never seen you touch a flute.” She lets out a slow sigh, that sounds tired more than anything else. “Okay, so now I’m making a list – Callia’s ID, fruit for you plus break you onto the roof, paint and space to clean the speeders…” It sure is a lot of work being the brains of this operation.

“Um, by the way, there’s something else we should think about. Like I said, I talked to Callia.” She closes her eyes. Maybe she won’t make that Force-face when her eyes are closed? “About what happened in the Temple, like, the way she flipped out at her ex-friend. I don’t think she wants us to give her the opportunity to react to something that way again.”

“Nossk took my flute when he stole my ship.” Santos always gets his back up when talking about Nossk. He still hasn’t quite gotten over the whole betrayal thing.

He watches Zet closely as she mentions Callia. There’s that face again, although he appreciates the effort. “We have to watch her closely in situations like that. I can try to talk her back to us, but I don’t know how well that would work.”

Zet just pats Santos’ leg. She knows Nossk is a touchy subject. “That’s actually kind of what she said, except she also said that we might have to run away or kill her…” Yes, she was pissed off with Callia over this most recent debacle, but the idea of killing someone she’s come to think of as a friend doesn’t make her happy at all. “I think we should brainstorm some non-lethal ways to take her out if she needs a little downtime. Maybe not right this second. I just… don’t want it to come to that. Ending her, or abandoning her to go on some kind of rampage.”

“No, that can’t happen.” Santos doesn’t like the idea of killing a friend any more than Zet, and on top of that, if someone as disciplined as Callia falls, what chance does he have? “We’ll think of something. Probably involving a lot of stun grenades.”

Funny. That’s exactly what Zet has been so anxious about. “I guess I better restock. Guess who got hit with my last one.” She opens her eyes to look up at him again, that frown disappearing to be replaced with an open, earnest expression as she folds her arms under her head. “Same goes for you, Santos. I won’t let you become that, even if it means kicking your ass. So I guess I’ll have to keep some of my ideas a secret.”

“Well, that’s good enough incentive for me to stay on the straight and narrow.” Santos teases Zet, “I wouldn’t want to risk you kicking my ass.” As soon as he says it he realizes it’s probably not the best time for humor, and adds as an after thought, “There’s no reason any of us has to become that. We’ll watch each other, keep each other focused.” The Chiss is fully aware that he won’t win any prizes for his devotion to the lightside, but the lighter shades of gray suit him just fine.

Zet huffs. “You’re risking it right this second…”

She feels around beside her for the bag she carried in, then drops it on his lap. There’s still something inside it. “I brought you something to do for when you get tired of playing with your holocron.” If he reaches in, he’ll find a compact little chess set, with a board that folds small enough to fit into a pocket and an interior compartment which holds tiny magnetized tokens bearing symbols to indicate which piece they’re meant to represent. “Maybe if you’re good I’ll let you beat me at it.”

As he feels the weight of the bag fall on his lap, Santos pushes himself back up into a sitting position. He reaches inside, half expecting a pazaak deck, and it surprised when his hand is greeted with metal, instead of card. He pulls the board out and chuckles a little. Finally. A game he might have a chance at winning, as long as he keeps an eye on Zet’s busy fingers. He plays along with Zet’s joke, replying, “Go easy on me. You know how quickly I tend to lose my clothes.”

“I don’t have to beat you at a game to get you to take your clothes off. You do it without anyone asking, all the time.” Zet grins up at him. “But maybe we should teach Callia and Qurzer the Nar Shaddaa pazaak rules while we’re killing time here. You can try out some trick shuffling on people who don’t know better and see what it’s like to play that game not naked.”

“I thought the point of the game was to take your clothes off.” Santos returns the grin, “I get the feeling Qurzer is pretty willing to do anything asked of them. Callia, on the other hand, will be a tough sell. May as well let me practice shuffling while you wear her down.”

Reaching into an inner pocket of her new vest, Zet drops one of her marked pazaak decks on the floor beside him. “Practice away. Is this some kinda Chiss rebellion thing? It’s so damn cold on Csilla that you’ve gotta wear like twenty layers, and now that you’re out here in the rest of the galaxy you just want to be naked all the time?”

“I think it’s more about culture.” Santos sounds like he’s given this far more thought than it needed. “Growing up on Csilla was hard. There were so many expectations on Csilla, and so many restrictions.” He picks up the desk and starts playing around with it, trying to figure out what it is that Zet does with her thumbs while shuffling. “When I joined the military things just got worse, so I decided to leave those restrictions behind. Clothing is restrictive in its own way, so shedding clothes is like a symbol of leaving Csilla behind again and again.” If he’s at risk of sounding like a mature adult, he adds, “Also, it’s always so bloody hot wherever we go!”

Zet rolls onto her side, propping her head up on her hand to watch what he’s doing. Her eyes don’t leave the cards as he just… rambles about how clothes represent the repressive Chiss lifestyle or whatever. Wow, what a nerd. “Sorry I asked. I thought the heat was the only good thing about Jiroch.” She sits up with him, drawing her spare deck out. “I’ll show you again. Keep in mind that more legitimate places have house decks or even droid dealers, so when it comes to pazaak you’re relying on stacking your side deck. Or having a card up your sleeve… or marking the deck as you go. Actually, I guess you’ve got tons of options.” As she’s taking, she casually shows him the number four on top of her deck, flips it, rifles through the cards (complete with that hard-to-follow thumb movement) and then reveals it on top again even after what appeared to be a thorough overhand shuffle with a fancy little flourish at the end. These Force users can meditate to chill out, but nothing puts Zet in a good mood like showing off a little sleight of hand.

Having a card up his sleeve isn’t usually an option for Santos, so he focuses intently on what Zet’s doing with her hands. He can’t help but laugh at the juxtaposition of studying with a Jedi master in the morning, and a master thief after lunch. “It must have taken ages to get to the point where you could do this without being noticed.”

“I started practicing when I was a kid, which means before you were a twinkle in your mother’s eye.” Zet does it quickly one more time, not (just) to show off but to let him get a good sense of what the final effect should be. “But I messed up a lot when I started. There’s a social aspect to it too, right? Like if you make a little conversation, it distracts the other players from your hands. So watch.”
She holds the deck in her left hand, on its edge. “I want the six to come up on top, so when I pick up half the deck to shuffle-” Zet moves the top half, with the six, to the back, “then I just peel off one card of the next package to cover it.” She’s kept the two halves slightly separate with the edge of her right thumb so she’s able to cut the deck in the exact same spot, and she now slides just one card down to sit on top of the six. “Leave it sticking out the bottom, facing you, to mark your place, and shuffle the rest as normal.” Now Zet holds up the deck to show him how there’s just one card poking subtly out the bottom. “With me so far? The six is under this card.”

Santos resists the urge to remind Zet that when she was a kid, his mother may well have been in diapers.
“I’m with you. Conversation and a place marker. But how can you be sure the marker and your card aren’t separated during the shuffle?”

“Well, that’s the next part. You have to do this a few times. So technically they will get separated.” Zet angles her hands so he can see what she’s doing as she picks up a chunk of the deck again, using the pad of her thumb against the protruding card to subtly hold the marker away from her six. She shuffles the cards on top of the marker normally, and then simply tosses the bottom quarter of the deck on top. Then she flips over the topmost card – it’s the six. “You just do this four or five times, so it looks good and shuffled, but you’re really just sticking the same card on top over and over. This is what you’d do with a side deck. It’s a bit more complicated with the main deck ‘cause you don’t deal the top card to yourself, but you should just get the hang of keeping the deck split as you shuffle it first.” She shows him again slowly, then quickly. Each time she successfully plants the six on top.

After the demonstration Santos takes the deck, selects a -1 and attempts to plant it on top each time he shuffles. He reproduces Zet’s instructions as much as he remembers, moving slowly until he gets used to the technique. He managed to pull it off once or twice before losing track of the card.

Zet watches him quietly, playing with the cards in her hands without so much as glancing at them. She’s not stacking hers now, just going through the gestures of shuffling and riffling them to keep her fingers limber. “I think you get the general principle, but it took me a lot of practice to get fast and subtle. Just hang on to that deck and do it over and over when you have a few minutes.” She grins crookedly at him. “The real trick is in your thumb. If you can get it past Callia, that’s a good start.”

“Alright.” Santos keeps going over the same movements, slowly so that he can see what every card is doing. “I’ll keep practicing this. Callia won’t know what hit her.”. The idea of pulling on over the Jedi is more exciting than he would have thought.

Now that the Chiss has plenty of things with which to amuse himself, Zet pockets her own deck and wriggles out of her vest. “I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long night, so I’m gonna grab an hour or two of sleep.” She curls her arm under her head. “If you need to keep jumping around or whatever, don’t mind me.”

Sleep seems like a great idea to Santos as well. He has been jumping around all morning, after all. He grabs a pillow from one of the beds and stretches out as much as he can.

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Roleplay log: What's in the Box?
An email roleplay log

Santos sits, alone, inside the blanket fort that was almost immediately erected in the Corellian hotel room he shares with Zet. She left the room about an hour ago, likely looking for a contact to sell the Jedi crystals and speeders to. Santos uses this time to figure out that cube he found in the temple. He hadn’t so much as looked at the thing since he told Zet about it. She made it clear that she wanted to be as far from the Force as possible. Not realistic considering the company she keeps, but he can at least pretend it’s not a permanent addition to their lives.

Having no training in the Force, or knowledge of Jedi relics, he has no concept of what he’s holding in his large, blue hands. He runs his fingers over the cube, failing to feel any joints or seams that would suggest an opening. After a half an hour or so he gives up, satisfied that it won’t just pop open when at his touch.

If he were on the Rainbow Dash, he would have access to his tools. On Corellia, he has to improvise. He holds the vibroknife he liberated from a Stormtrooper on the Corellian Runner, almost at the point, with the blade facing away. The cube’s surface is by no means smooth, a pattern of metallic ridges decorates each side. If he applies enough pressure with the knife, he just might be able to pop one of the ridges off.

Sometimes the Force prompts you to be in the right place at the right time. Callia is feeling one of those promptings at the moment, probably due to the fact that Santos is bound to accidentally stab himself in the leg before he ever manages to pry his newfound cube open.

That’s why there comes a gentle knock on Santos’ hotel room door at the moment before he really starts to giv’er.

Shit! Who could that be? “Just a minute,” Santos says through the door. He sets the cube down on a desk and throws a crumpled up jacket over it. Even on Corellia it isn’t smart to be in possession of anything related to the Jedi.

He opens the door and let’s out a little sigh of release as he sees Callia waiting on the other end. “Oh, hi. Feeling better? Can you see again?”. He closes the door as she enters the room, and got back to the holocron, and knife.

Callia smiles at Santos when the door opens. Her eyes are still vacant, answering the question as to whether she can see again or not. “I am, thank you.” She replies. She walks confidently into the room, back straight and somehow avoiding tripping or bumping into anything. “I cannot, sadly. It’s returning slowly. Just light and blobs of what might be objects.”

She stops not far from inside the door, trying to get her bearings in the Force. “I felt a prompting…” She starts. “Is something the matter in here?”

“Nothing’s wrong,”. Santos focuses on repositioning the vibroknife. " I just found this funny toy in the temple, and I’m trying to open it. I almost have the knife in the right position."

“A toy?” Callia asks. “You are trying to open a ‘toy’ you found in a Dark Side-infected Jedi temple by prying it apart with a knife.” She deadpans. “You realise how ridiculously dangerous that sounds, right?” She moves closer, tentative before she lowers herself to the floor. “Describe the toy to me.”

“Well, it’s a cube.” He holds up the holocron to examine it closely. “It fits in the palm of my hand. I’d say about 10 or so centimeters.” He spins the cube slowly in his hand. “Each face features a center disc, with thick, elevated designs reminiscent of circuit boards reaching out to a solid border along the edges. These designs are metallic and silver in colour, while the depressed portion seems to radiate with a pulsing blue light.”

Callia lifts a hand, holding it palm out. “May I hold it?” She asks. Her tone is tentative, brows furrowed as she builds the picture in her mind. “It sounds like an old Jedi relic used to hold knowledge. We had many of them in the Temple.”

It makes sense the the one trained by the same tradition as the creator should look at it, so Santos guides her out stretched hand around the cube.
“What kind of knowledge would it hold?”. He asks, slightly disappointed. Would the knowledge from this thing be useful or even interesting to him?

Callia murmurs a soft thanks as Santos helps her find the cube. She doesn’t hold it for long, fingers feeling every crevice, nook and cranny on the device. “Mmm yes, it is a holocron.”

She holds it out to the Chiss after she has thoroughly inspected it. “You are not going to open this with a knife or any other commonplace means. To open a holocron, you must use the Force.” She inhales slowly. “As to what what knowledge it holds…it could be anything from the most mundane to esoteric Jedi knowledge in the galaxy. The only way to discover what this one contains would be to open it. Would you like to try?”

Santos would be lying if he said he wasn’t apprehensive about accessing knowledge found in a dark Jedi’s temple, but Callia had said it was a real Jedi temple before Sora came along, and the holocron is probably older than that.
“Ok. Let’s open it.” He replies cautiously, but with a mixture of excitement and curiosity. “What do we do? Wait, don’t tell me. Meditate, right?”

Callia chuckles. “Yes, meditation is how you open it. It doesn’t feel particularly dark, so it should be safe for us to look at what’s inside.” She folds her legs under herself. “You have to focus on the holocron and wanting to open it.”

Santos sighs. It looks like meditation is a fact of life for him now. He flops down beside Callia and crosses his legs. He then places the cube on the floor in front of them, and stares at it until the image is completely ingrained into his memory. Time to unleash the power of wanting.

Callia smiles softly at the sigh. “Meditation is a good way to keep you grounded. You learn now with no distractions to clear your mind and stay calm, it will be a little easier when there are distractions. Emotions cloud our judgement and reactions, as you may have seen on Jiroch.”

She releases a slow breath and closes her own eyes. “Clear your mind, keep the image of the holocron at the forefront.” She says, her voice picking up that familiar cadence once more. “Reach out to it with the Force.”

It’s not hard to keep the holocron in the forefront of his mind. The cube itself is remarkably beautiful, and despite the dangers he does want to know what is hiding beneath that tiny shell.
As the cube floats peacefully in the void he creates for it, he imagines the Force encompassing it, causing its already lit core to shine brighter and brighter.
Callia keeps her eyes open through this guided meditation, not that it matters much for her. She has the cube pictured in her own mind, feeling it with the Force as well.

“Alright. Reach inside of of the holocron with the Force,” She says. “Twist it with the Force and pull it apart at the seams.”

Santos follows instructions as best he can, willing the Force to probe deep into the holocron. He loses track of time as he focuses on the object, struggling to have any impact on it. He retreats briefly, and tries another approach. The Chiss feels the internal walls of the cube he’s created in his mind, tracing the joints with the Force, and applying pressure until the seams are forces apart. For an agonizing moment it seems like still nothing has happened, until he feels another presence join him and Callia in the room.

Santos opens his eyes and is greeted by the projection of a human male, dressed in antiquated clothing that calls to mind an air of nobility. Even through the bluish tone of the holographic image, the man’s left arms seems to possess a metallic sheen, a product of a time when cybernetic prosthetics weren’t commonly covered with synthskin.

“Welcome, Padawan,” the image begins to speak in a calm, even voice. “I am Cay Qel-Droma. It is my intent that this holocron serve as a learner’s manual in the art of Ataru, so that it may live on through the ages.”

The Chiss simply blinks, waiting for his Jedi friend to explain what the hell this human is talking about.

Callia is patient, trying to help him as best she can, guiding him with the Force. He might feel a gentle nudge in one direction or another, or a helpful swell of power at one joint. She wants him to be able to do this mostly on his own, but she will guide where she feels it’s necessary.

She’s aware of the other presence immediately, though she remains seated and calm. A smile curves up on her face and even lights her unfocused eyes.

“Ah. You did it.” She says brightly, perhaps with more emotion than she usually displays. “Cay Qel-Droma? This is extremely old, then.” She pauses and tilts her head.

“Ataru is one of the seven Lightsaber forms.” She explains. “It’s an offensive form, relying on acrobatics and using your space to your advantage. It’s about power and agility and may be a good form for you.”

“So you think I’m offensive?” Santos cocks an eyebrow and smiles crookedly. He’s succeeded, no doubt with a little bit more than simple guidance, so he feels he’s earned a bit a light-heartedness. It doesn’t help that he’s egged on by Callia’s uncharacteristic display of emotion. “How old do is it? I have some idea of the Old Republic, in the centuries after Revan, but the Chiss didn’t have much contact before that.”

He gives some serious thought to this Ataru form. He has to agree with his diminutive friend, it does sound like a good style for him, and he finds himself looking forward to focusing his ability in the Force in some fashion. “How does this work? Do I talk to him, or does this have to be done through meditation? Is he alive somewhere? Was he alive at all? Is this some kind of ghost? Is Ataru the form you use?” Santos stops at that question, realizing that he should give her a chance to answer one or two before continuing.

Callia chuckles. “It depends on which meaning of the word we are discussing.” She quips right back, clearly kidding as well. “In all seriousness, you are a big, powerful being. Ataru is about wipe sweeps and big strikes. It’s not meant for long-term combat, though.” She brushes her fingers through her hair. “It is believed to date back to the Mandalorian Wars, if I am recalling my Jedi history correctly. Cay Qel-Droma, on the other hand, was a Jedi warrior during the Great Sith Wars.”

“He is no longer alive, no. It is not a ghost so much as it is an interactive hologram. Cay Qel-Droma is the gatekeeper of this particular hologram and he will give you what you need to know to begin to learn the Ataru form. You use the Force, focus on the questions you would like to ask and the Holocron will begin to display them for you.” She chuckles again. “So many questions. No, I do not use Ataru. I use Niman, form six. It was developed as a more catch-all form for Diplomats. It relies heavily on defense Form three, Soresu, though with bits and pieces of all the other forms sprinkled in.”

Santos nods his head in response and starts to address the hologram, before hesitating. He’s not sure what exactly to ask a computer representation of someone who lived 4000 years ago. However, the real reason he hesitates is that he knows exactly what he needs to ask Callia before he even considers pursuing this. “You said that this was an offensive lightsaber form, built on power. Isn’t that, well, isn’t there a risk of going dark?” The memory of Callia losing control and Sora fully embracing her dark side is still fresh in his mind.

Callia looks both surprised and pleased when Santos asks that question. “There is always a risk of going to the Dark side, no matter what sort of weapon you are using.” She replies. “It’s not an offensive form in terms of…attack first or for nefarious purposes. It’s offensive in the sense that it is built for Lightsaber to Lightsaber combat.”

She pauses, considering her words carefully before she continues. “I do not, typically, engage in combat with a Lightsaber without a level of reservation. A lightsaber is a last resort and at least, with the Jedi before the Clone Wars, it was purely meant to protect. It is a tool in which the holder carries a large amount of responsibility when using it.”

“If you choose to learn this form and to look for a kyber crystal in order to build your own Lightsaber, you will have to accept that responsibility as well. We do not attack to seek death or revenge, we defend ourselves. Even with an offensive form like Ataru. What I mean by power is that it is built for someone with your build and reach. A form like Niman is built for someone like me, who is small and can utilize the small amount of space that I occupy. Ataru is about keeping combat moving. Niman, pulling from it’s roots of Soresu, is about keeping the combat focused.”

“I will warn you, though, that this form will not be as proficient in combat against blaster fire.”

“I think I understand.” Santos is going out on a limb and assuming that it’s ok to defend others as well. It doesn’t take long for him to think about how things might have been different on Bespin if he had had a lightsaber, and knowledge of the Force when Shard attempted to abduct Zet. “I think it would be useful to proceed. At the very least it will give me something to focus on, other than meditation.”

He turns towards Cay, unsure how to address him. “Where do I start?” he asks the gatekeeper, deciding to let the program play out how ever it was intended to. He considers the hologram to be a teacher in every sense, listening intently, and asking questions. This Chiss would seem almost unrecognizable to anyone who didn’t grow up with him on Csilla.
“You’ll be able to learn the forms and move onto moving meditations.” Callia offers helpfully. “We were taught all the basics of every form when we were Initiates. I may remember some so if you want someone to practice with, please let me know.” She brushes a hand through her hair again. “Moving meditation can be an extremely helpful way to clear your head if you are a more fidgety sort.” She smiles. “The process of moving through the forms can be very soothing.”

Callia cannot see the Chiss, but she can feel how intent he is on learning this. She doesn’t move from her place, instead listens to what the holocron has to say. She seems pleased, once again, at how much Santos wants to learn. “I shall leave you to this.” She murmurs after a time and begins to get to her feet. “If you would like my help further, please come knock.”

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Roleplay log: Visiting Callia
an e-mail roleplay log

The Rebels delivered Callia and company to Corellia nearly two cycles ago, and Zetnu’ri hasn’t come by the hospital to see her at all. She didn’t return to the infirmary on the Rebel ship to speak to her after she was discharged, either. After what Callia overheard, she might be right to suspect it’s not an accidental oversight brought on by her close encounter with her own stun grenade.

The door hisses open and shut, and someone softly steps inside. They linger on the threshold for a long moment, silent safe for the quiet sound of breathing. Luckily, Callia is Force-sensitive, so being able to sense that it’s just the Twi’lek makes this a bit less creepy than it might have been otherwise. Zet’s emotions are a tangled mess, if Callia is trying to gauge them: she’s still angry about what happened in the Jiroch system, and she’s afraid – not for herself so much anymore, although there’s a low-level anxiety to Zet’s emotional profile most of the time, but for the woman laying in bed, and for Santos. She’s frustrated with herself for letting Callia pick their destination based on a gut instinct and no actual information.

“I brought you something to do,” Zet says finally, her footsteps coming closer to the bed. She drops a holobook on the mattress. That’s not passive-aggressive at all. She flops down in the chair at Callia’s bedside, waiting to see how she responds.

Callia has tried to enjoy the downtime as best she can, her mind focused elsewhere for the most part. Too bad the dreams she’s been having are full of frightening visions of the past and potential future. She’s thankful, though, for the private time. Her friends are understandably upset with her and that is just the way it needs to be.

Her head pivots and unseeing eyes study the Twi’lek as she moves into the hospital room. Callia utters not a word as Zet decides whether she truly wants to be there or not. “How kind of you,” She says softly, a ghost of a smirk crossing her lips as her fingers close in on the holobook. “Of course, I will not be able to use it for some time yet.” She takes a soft breath, readying herself for the minefield of a simple question. “How are you faring, Zet?”

“Well it’ll still be there when you can see again,” Zet mutters. She actually exercises some restraint when Callia asks the inevitable question and does not loudly explode in the middle of a hospital. “Better now that we’re back in a normal place with normal problems that normal people can confront with their normal problem-solving skills. I’ve had some time to think really hard about what went wrong in that temple and how we can avoid getting in so deep like that in the future.”

Zet’s passive-aggression skillz are top-notch. “Ah, so you weren’t planning to at least read some to me.” There is a hint of bitter amusement in her tone as she turns to ‘look’ out a window. “Yes. Normal is good.” She agrees as her head stays fixed away from Zet. It’s easier to hide anything that may give her away. “What is your solution to that?”

“I’m plotting a course back to Nar Shaddaa.” Zet’s eyes remain fixed on Callia, even if she isn’t looking her way. “And we aren’t making any more detours unless I think it’s a good idea, no matter what the Force is telling you to do. You wanna make another pit stop like that, you can go by yourself. We’re even now.” She stretches her legs out in front of her and slouches down in her chair. “Santos and I have a business to run, Callia. We’ve got to make money and get our ship airborne again. And I don’t want him to suddenly have the urge to reach out and pull me across the room by the throat if it’s all the same to you. Lost Jedi temples aren’t just unprofitable, they’re a bad influence.”

“Of course.” Callia responds to Zet. She’s definitely not about to tell the Twi’lek girl that whatever happens is the will of the Force. That won’t go over well, at all. “I don’t believe any of us want to see Santos fall to the dark side.” She agrees. “Or anyone, for that matter.” The woman is closed off, keeping her head turned to “stare” outside. She hugs her arms briefly. “I am truly sorry for what happened.”

“I hope so.” Zet’s voice turns chilly. Underneath the fa├žade, fear rises to the surface of her roiling emotions. “Even that bounty hunter on Bespin would’ve taken me in alive. When your old friend had me dangling there from her hand I knew I was gonna die. Santos too. And you, and everyone. For nothing. We’ve all gotta die sometime, but I don’t want it to be stupid when it happens to me. So I’m gonna call the shots for a while, and if you don’t like it, you can take your cut and find something else to do. I’m sure the rebels would take you with open arms.”

Callia’s fingers dig into the flimsy hospital sheet. It’s the only real sign that she’s feeling just as or more conflicted than she lets on. “I know that, Zet.” She replies, turning her head back toward the voice of the Twi’lek. “I can accept that. I’m sure the rebels would, but I’m not sure I’m a good fit for them right now.” Too much violence.

The thing is, it’s hard to keep chewing someone out when they’re basically just laying down and taking it. Zet feels a flutter of renewed irritation that Callia isn’t even arguing with her. She kind of came in here spoiling for a fight. But her companion – her friend – just looks so tired, so prepared to accept the consequences of her actions, that the Twi’lek’s sails are quickly deflating.

She’s just silent again, staring belligerently at Callia’s sightless face, until she mutters, “Good.” Another long, awkward pause. “Are they feeding you okay in here?”

Oh there is probably some fight in the Jedi, somewhere, but jeopardizing this new friendship doesn’t sound like fun to her right now. Attachments are tricky things. Zet will notice the way her skin puckers around her eyes and her thinned lips giving away whatever conflict currently broils through that blond head of hers.

“Yes, as well as can be expected for a hospital. I will be glad when I’m well enough to get out of here. I remember a few hospital visits from my youth, all of them in some sort of extreme situation like this one.” Aah, to be a child thrust into the precipice of danger. “Though that hospital was much nicer, I will have to give it credit.” She smirks.

“How is Santos doing? And Qurzer? Is everyone staying out of or getting into trouble?”

Zet doesn’t really know what to say to that. Of course Callia’s been in hospitals before. Her old life just came back to hit her full force in the face. She glances away, swallowing a small lump of guilt. Callia took the worst beating of all of them, and she discovered an old friend has fallen to the dark side. For Zet, the fear that it might happen to Santos remains abstract, but for Callia it’s become a reality. Much of her lingering anger with the Jedi fizzles away.

“Qurzer’s just opaque to me.” Zet shrugs. “I’m not sure what they want to do next. I wanna talk to them about it. And Santos and I are just getting our affairs in order. Figuring out how we’ll travel, raising some funds for that and to pay off our debt. I’ve gotta be careful on Corellia. The Black Suns took this place over a few years ago where everything illegal’s concerned. But I’ll try not to panic and shoot anyone in the head.”

“Qurzer seems to be content as long as we’re doing whatever they believe is good. Selonians, by nature, care about the whole rather than just themselves.” Callia murmurs. “Their homeworld is close by, though.” She smooths her covers gently, fingers relaxed once more. “I’m sure you’ll be as discreet as you can.” She murmurs. “I’d be more worried about Santos sticking out. If our bounty hunter friend back on Bespin has been in touch with the Black Sun, they might know what to look for. There aren’t a lot of Chiss in this part of the galaxy.”

“Well then hopefully Santos is smart enough to keep his head down.” Zet stores away this information about Selonians for future use. She really does need to get into Qurzer’s head a little. Their fuzzy friend is just a wee bit too unpredictable. “Corellia’s a big place, though. I’ve been trying to find Hutt places instead. We owe the cartel, but we’re not on bad terms with them.” Well, none of them but Teemo. “Um, how are your…” She gestures at her eyes, sort of pointlessly, before concluding, “Your eyes, and stuff…”

“Hutts are slippery but not as bad as the Black Sun…relatively, anyway.” Callia murmurs. She laughs softly. “I think Santos is smart enough to keep his head down when you are there to ground him.”

“Healing. I believe I hit my head too hard when Sora engaged with me.” She takes a deep breath, releasing it slowly. “It has been a long time since I’ve had any formal training in that sort of situation. Our saviors showed up at a convenient moment.”

“The rebels.” Zet is still a little fuzzy on exactly what happened after her grenade. Santos was the most clear regarding one detail: those dicks stole their ship. “I don’t really wanna work with anyone who thinks it’s cool to just take my stuff, so I’m glad you aren’t that interested in looking them up…” She sighs, watching Callia. “…Are you okay? After meeting someone you used to know, who turned out that bad? She kind of… said a lot of stuff about you…”

“Yes, the rebels.” Callia replies. “They’re still forming, right now. The violent acts are well and good, but I’m concerned they’re so caught up in destroying the Empire that they might hurt the innocents that are among them. Like the cruise ship. I realise Rakine was trying to make sure they had no means to chase us, but those passengers were stranded.” She takes a deep breath. “They need time to figure out that violence begets more violence.”

The breath is slowly exhaled. “Truthfully? I am not. I was shaken to my core by this experience, Zet. It’s not something I admit easily. It’s truly brought into perspective that one, I am still just a padawan with much to learn and two, I truly am twenty years out of practice.” She swallows. “The things she said were not true. They were exaggerations and they dragged a very painful wound to the surface.” But everything happens for a reason, right?

Zet leans forward, her elbows on her knees, and rubs her fingers into her eyes. “You said to keep an eye on you,” she says quietly. “I almost didn’t recognize you back there, when you freaked out. And if you’re all messed up, but you’re the one who’s supposed to be making sure Santos doesn’t get messed up, then…” Peeking past her fingers, she just lets that hang between them. She doesn’t need to complete that thought. It’s not that she isn’t also worried for Callia, but the Chiss is always her first concern. “Should we do something, next time? Like excuse me for not wanting to jump between an angry lady with a lightsaber and a creepy masked nightmare ghost, but I dunno, should we be knocking you out before YOU turn into a creepy masked nightmare ghost?”

“I did.” Callia replies. “I didn’t recongize myself, looking back on it. I know I am the one who is supposed to make sure Santos doesn’t get messed up.” She smooths the blankets again, head turning to “look” at them. It’s a comforting gesture for her. “I don’t expect you to jump between my lightsaber and anything. If you think you can knock me out, please do. Otherwise I would advise either running or killing me.” Beware the dark side, Jedi. “I will not make that mistake again, though. We learn from our mistakes, or we hope we do.”

Zet has now seen what a lightsaber is capable of one too many times to want to be anywhere near one that’s lit up. “Ummm…” Has Callia ever seen a Twi’lek go pale? If not, she’s missing her chance. “I’ll … keep that in mind…” Note to self: discuss Jedi takedown plans with Santos at the earliest opportunity.

She rises from her chair, moving over to perch at the edge of Callia’s bed. Uncertainly, she touches the woman’s arm, the prelude to trying to give her a gentle hug. “I’m sorry about your friend. And that I was mean. That was scary for everyone.”

Callia grew up with lots of Twi’leks, of course she’s seen them go pale. She does recognize the tone of voice. “Alright. I would prefer not to fall to the Dark Side, though.” Her voice is soft as she says this. The Twi’lek moving closer catches her slightly off-guard.

“Thank you. You have every right to be upset, it’s alright. But thank you.” she sighs. “I would like to think there is still hope for Sora, but the girl I knew is gone. I’m sorry I reacted the way I did. With a clearer head…” She trails off. “It will not happen again.”

“We won’t let it happen again,” Zet replies quietly. “It can’t.” She sits there a moment longer, her arm slipping away from the half-hug. Then she reaches for Callia’s hand, touching it gently first so as not to startle her before guiding it to the edge of the holobook. “There’s an audio setting,” she admits, the faint grin in her voice audible. Zet runs Callia’s finger along the book, showing her where to find the switch.

“Aaah. So it was only passive agressive until you got the answers you wanted,” Callia is teasing, of course. She feels for the switch then the rest of the book. Yes, she’s sure she can find it again now with even a little help from the Force. Yes. “Thank you again, Zet.”

“Diversity of tactics.” Zet gives her friend a reproving tap on the back of her hand before she withdraws completely, rising to her feet. “I needed to do something passive-aggressive and something aggressive-aggressive to make sure it stuck.” She glances towards the door, once. She has a lot to do still, and they don’t want to stay put on Corella indefinitely. The sooner they make their preparations, the sooner they can all move on. “I should go. But we’re checking in often. When they’re ready to release you one of us’ll meet you to take us back where we’re staying. It’s not far from here.”

View
Backscene: The beginning of a beautiful friendship
an e-mail rp log

(OOC: we got excited and roleplayed how Zet and Santos first met on Nar Shaddaa. This takes place at least a year before any of the events of the game, we’re sharing it for nosy people.)

The evening is growing late, and slowly but surely the other patrons sitting around this dimly lit table have folded and left in disgust. The Slippery Sarlacc, a seedy pub located on one of the lower levels of the Corellian Sector, serves guests of all species, some of whom are holding raucous, drunken conversations around their tables while others murmur quietly over their drinks in darkened corners.

“Ha! That’s another one for me,” a green Twi’lek woman says smugly as she throws down her winning hand and sweeps the pazaak pot over to herself. Earlier she introduced herself to the table as Zet, and she’s been taking the majority of the hands tonight. Now she and an irritated-looking male Duros are the only two other players left. “I’m game to go again if you guys still have money to lose.” When the Duros gives a disgruntled nod, she slides the deck over to let him take his turn to deal as she pockets most of the cash on the table, then glances across to their third tablemate with a crooked grin. “You in?”

The young Chiss takes his time considering whether or not to continue. He’s down to his last three hundred credits. This isn’t exactly how he planned this evening to go. He came to the Slippery Sarlacc to win some more money to buy a ship with. Now he’d lost 700 credits, and really should bow out. That’s not exactly how he operates, though.

He doesn’t respond with words, and doesn’t return the woman’s smile. Instead he throws 30 credits in, and turns his gaze to the Duros, expectantly.

Zet’s smirk doesn’t waver as she also tosses thirty credits into the pot. The Duros adds his money and finishes shuffling the main deck. Each of them gets one card to flip over – the Duros’ card is highest, so he’ll get to go first. Those cards return to the deck, which the Duros leaves stacked in reach of all of them before drawing his hand of four from his own side deck. By now, Zet has also done the same, and she kicks back in her chair with a confident grin for whatever she sees in her hand.

A few minutes later – pazaak is a quick game – Zet is again gleefully pocketing everyone’s money, having laid out a perfect 20 in just three cards. Their Duros dealer tosses his cards from the main deck down in disgust. “I’m finished.” Draining his glass, he scoops up his side deck and departs in a huff.

The Twi’lek turns her attention to Santos as she picks up the green house deck and starts to shuffle it. “Running low on credits? We can always switch to Nar Shaddaa pazaak…”

Another perfect 20? That’s what? 4 rounds now? Santos feigns concern, starts to fidget nervously, and starts to unfasten his shirt slightly. “I believe it’s my turn to deal?” The first time he speaks anywhere on this moon, heads turn. Even in as cosmopolitan a world as Nar Shaddaa, Chiss are almost completely unknown. “You play for money, I play for clothes.” He keeps his red eyes, trained on Zet, watching her every move.

There’s a hitch in the smooth motion of Zet’s hands as she hears Santos’ unfamiliar accent for the first time. She shrugs, sliding the deck across the table to him to let him shuffle as he pleases and flip the cards that’ll determine who goes first. “I was starting to think you didn’t speak Basic.” Swiftly, she shuffles her own side deck, and then she tosses fifty credits into the centre of the table. “Fine with me. That’s polite of you.”

“Who doesn’t? You don’t think it’s a challenging language, do you?” There’s the grin. He hasn’t been away from Csilla for long, and still carries the arrogance of his people with him.

He takes his time shuffling, not taking his eyes off his opponent. After a few minutes, he’s content that the deck is sufficiently mixed, and flips a card. One. “You’re lead.” He says, not needing to wait for her flip.

Well, it’s not like she’s got a card up her sleeve – hers are short today, and Zet always keeps her hands in full view. So if she’s cheating somehow, he’ll have to watch her very closely to catch her. Maybe she’s just really lucky, and it definitely has been difficult to tell when she bluffs.

His snarky response gets a puzzled blink from her and a disinterested shrug. “Nope. It’s fine, now I know you’re actually just unfriendly.” She flips over an eight from the main deck for her spread and gestures at him. “Your turn. What’s that accent?”

“Chiss.” As though that means anything to her. "If you haven’t heard of us, I’m not surprised. “Your ‘Galactic’ Empire labeled our territory the ‘Unknown Region’ instead of bothering to learn something.” Although it’s usually not a good idea to speak critically of the Empire, Santos is pretty confident there aren’t many loyalists on making a living in Hutt space. “And please, don’t confuse unfriendliness for caution. I haven’t met many friendly people during my time here.”

Santos flips over a ten. That will go very nicely with the 9 sitting in his hand.

“It’s not my Galactic Empire. I sure didn’t pick ’em.” There’s no recognition on her face at the word Chiss, though, that’s for sure. Zet can’t help but smile faintly again, lifting her eyes from her cards to regard him across the table. “And you think they’re being unfriendly because you talk funny?” She’s quite clearly teasing him.

Reaching for the main deck, she puts down another eight. “Ah…” Zet tosses down a four to go with it. “That’s twenty again. Gonna start with your shirt?” She rakes her money back towards herself.

Unless you have other ideas," Santos shoots back coyly as he unfastens the remainder of the shirt and slides it off of his arms. He then hands the main deck to the Twi’lek, and waits for her to shuffle. That’s 5 twenties now. How is she doing it? “Shoes next, or would you rather skip straight to the pants?”

“You’re gonna lose ’em both anyway.” Zet’s been shuffling cards since she was a child; she hardly looks at the deck as it flickers between her hands. That’s because she isn’t being at all shy about letting her eyes drift from his face down to his chest and back up again. Placing the deck down, she counts out a hundred credits this time, setting them in the middle of the table with a quirk of her lips. Next, she reshuffles her side deck. There’s something about the way she’s moving her thumb…

Flipping over the top card for herself, she then tosses one to him. He beats her six to four, so he’ll get to go first.

There it is, Santos thinks as notices Zet’s thumb out of the corner of his eye. At least, it’s a beginning. He also notices her eyes wandering from the cards to his chest. The Chiss as a rule possess exceptional physiques. While Santos is fairly average for his own people, in this part of the galaxy he’s anything but.

He examines the cards in his blue hands, then lays down a four from the main deck. It will go nicely with the eight he’s still holding, as well as the double he managed to ‘borrow’ from Nossk. He grins, expecting Zet to notice the tell. “Your turn.”

Zet certainly notices it, but it’s impossible for him to gauge whether or not she buys it. Pulling a nine from the deck, she adds a negative two from her hand. “I guess you must not play much pazaak back home,” she says with a laugh. “You’ve been having a rough night.”

“Not much time for fun and games on Csilla.”. At least after you turn 13. That’s part of the reason Santos left. The Chiss studies the cards in front of Zet. Seven on the table, so she’s got 13 in her hand, or is going for a 9 card win.

He drops down his eight, and waits for her move.

“Hah, this isn’t fun and games for everyone. You know how many people in this sector make ends meet playing cards?” Zet casually pulls the next card off the deck, revealing an eight. With fifteen on the table in front of her, she drops a five and lifts her eyes to his face with a sunny smile.

There’s a little nick on the corner of that eight. Could be nothing – everyone plays with beat-up decks around here. But Zet was the one who pulled it out when she started the game. “Your deal.” She pushes the cards over to him and starts to set up her side deck. There’s that little thumb slip again.

First thing’s first. Santos stands up and casually pushes his pants down. He favours loose clothing, so he’s easily able to pull his shoes through the legs. He take a moment to ensure his remaining credits and other vitals are safely tucked into the side of his underpants, and sits back down.

He shuffles the deck for a few moments, not that it would make any difference with Zet at the table. “So, exactly how many of those cards have you marked?” He asks as though it were small talk.

That smile only grows as Santos strips down, though it has more genuine amusement in it than any real interest in the Chiss. Heads are starting to turn their way. It’s hard to miss a tall, blue, good-looking guy pulling his clothes off in the middle of a busy bar. The area immediately around them grows a little quieter as he calls her out.

Zet laughs, sweeping the hundred credits she bet last round back into her pocket. She looks pretty calm in the face of his accusation and all the attention they’re drawing. “You wanna borrow a deck from the bar instead and see if you can win your money back? It won’t help you.”

“Mmm, no.” Santos replies, equally calm. “I’m sure you’ve been stacking the decks in several other ways as well. I’ll just accept my credits back, and enjoy the round if drinks you’re going to buy with what you ‘won’ from the Duros.”

The tables to either side of them are dead silent now, and a ripple of anticipation runs through the Slippery Sarlacc. This likely isn’t the first time the regulars have seen Zet get caught scamming the new guy.

The Twi’lek hasn’t removed her right hand from below the table where she’s been stowing her money, and her left rests easily over her side deck. There’s a pause as she looks up at him, still grinning, although a palpable flicker of tension runs between them as she seems to size him up.

He’s a lot bigger than her.

In one smooth motion she pulls her cards off the table and kicks her chair back to spring to her feet. The advantage of being petite and agile is that she can easily weave through the other patrons – within a few seconds she has already hopped the bar to disappear into the kitchen.

Bigger yes, and he’s willing to bet he’s faster too.

As Zet begins weaving through the crowd, Santos swiftly grabs His own side deck and springs to his feet. Whereas the Twi’lek is able to find a path between people, Santos has a different approach. There are too many people and chairs cluttering the floor, so the half naked Chiss decides to take advantage of the closely positioned tables. He leaps on top of one, and begins Hoping from one to another until he reaches the bar, and dashes into the kitchen only moments after Zet.

No one was going to get in Santos’ way anyway. When he goes barreling after Zet the crowd parts like a sea, with a mix of startled yells and laughter. Are they laughing because she’s gonna get shaken down for what she stole or because they’ve never seen a Chiss go table hopping in his underwear before?

The kitchen may prove a bigger challenge for him though. It’s hot and cramped and the ceiling is barely high enough to clear his head, and the flustered cooks are trying to set things right after a Twi’lek in a hurry blew past them. He’ll spot her turning a corner at the far end, and then there’s the unmistakable sound of a door slamming shut.

Santos makes his way as best he can through the busy kitchen. He’s certainly slowed down by the kitchen staff as they try to get out of the way in the cramped space. The patrons in the bar are sure to hear a succession of crashes as trays and flatware fall to the floor, which of course causes another roar of laughter.

Santos eventually makes it to the door Zet escaped from, although the heat of the kitchen fires quickly covers the man who grew up on a glacier planet with a thin layer of sweat. White underwear turned out to be a bad idea. He quickly makes his way through the door and looks around for the Twi’lek.

The door leads him to a back alley, covered in the same kind of grimy layer as everything else on this polluted moon. Good thing he kept his shoes on.

Zet is just darting around another corner – he only catches sight of her because she’s slowed to glance back and see if he’s still following. Their eyes meet, and she gives him a cocky wave before disappearing into the warren of alleys and side streets. He may have speed and size but he’s on her turf now.

At least the air of the alley will start to evaporate the sweat and being him back down to a comfortable temperature.

He wastes no time with the chase, turning the same corner he last saw her disappear behind. He quickly realizes the disadvantage he’s at, and the near futility of finding her in the maze of side streets, so he instead heads to the front of the bar and hops on a speeder that would look more at home In a junk heap. One good thing about the filth of Nar Shaddaa is that you can always find the parts you need, if you know what to look for. The speeder roars to life and he begins combing the alleys.

Zet’s smart enough not to run in a straight line. And it’s a good thing he’s a talented driver because there’s plenty of debris and tight turns to make his life hard. It takes him a good minute or so of zooming around before he spots the Twi’lek again – it looks like she looped around to double back towards the bar. She looks up in alarm at the sound of the speeder bearing down on her from the left and darts right out into the busy street, shoving her way through passersby as she tries to lose him in the traffic and the crowd.

The Twi’lek really doesn’t understand what’s happening. She may have home field advantage, but Santos’ speeder isn’t simply a vehicle- it’s an extension of him. He easily weaves his way through traffic. Hovering over pedestrians, and positions himself directly behind the green woman. He lowers the nose slightly, and gently nudges her until she fall back, lying prone on the front of the speeder.

Furthermore, while Zet is quick and dodgy, it’s already obvious that she doesn’t have the stamina for a long chase, let alone a chase versus a speeder. She lets out a startled squawk as she’s nudged onto the hood. Around her, pedestrians push into each other to get out of Santos’ way before anyone else gets hit.

She gets her thick-soled boots onto the slick metal for purchase and arches her back so she can angle her face back towards him. The next thing he’ll see is the barrel of a tiny holdout blaster, which she tries to discharge right into the speeder controls. This one’s flexible.

Santos smiles as he watches Zet attempt to trash the controls. His year in the Expansionary Defense Force taught him a thing or two about how to protect a vehicle’s vitals. As the blaster fire leaves a burn mark on the protective cover, Santos winds his veers off the main road, on to a ramp leading up to an elevated residential block. If Zet had remained facing the road she’d have noticed a small makeshift shelter nestled a short climb up between two buildings.

At this point Zet is beginning to look panicked. Suffice it to say no one has ever responded to her fleecing them by abducting her on a speeder in their underwear.

She glances up ahead of them, gauging the current space. Her arms tuck up around her head and she kicks off with one foot, rolling off the hood at high speed. Her landing actually isn’t the problem – she hits the ground in a proper tumble, absorbing impact with little more than a few scrapes. Unfortunately she miscalculated the distance to the wall. She lets out a sharp yelp as her shoulders smack into it, knocking the wind out of her. Though she’s off the speeder, she won’t be on her feet and running again for a few minutes.

As the woman electively jumps off a moving vehicle, Santos brings the speeder full stop. He dismounts and walks toward her as she struggles to regain her breath. He kneels down, puts one hand on her shoulder, takes her hand in the other, and slowly helps her to her feet. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.” He walks her slowly over to the speeder, and helps her lean on it while he checks for injury. “And exactly what I would have done. I’m Santos, by the way.”

Zet shrinks away as he approaches, her fingers tightening on the pistol which she’s kept in hand in spite of her fancy maneuver. When he only touches her shoulder she flashes a suspicious look up at him. What’s his angle?

Her eyes drop to his proffered hand, and after a second of silence she takes it. He’ll discover she’s every bit as light as she looks when he helps her upright, and she allows him to guide her to the speeder. Her bare arms are scratched up from rolling across the concrete and she’s walking like she banged up her knee, but nothing looks serious. That smug mirth has left her face entirely; she’s watching him guardedly, hyper-aware now that she’s good and caught. “If that’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen, you’ve never seen a Chiss on a speeder in his underwear.”

“Point taken.” He finds a space beside her on the side of the speeder. “Look, I think it’s clear the I’m not trying to hurt you. I just want my credits back. You look pretty messed up. I have a medpac in my place I could patch you up with” he gestures with his thumb behind him. Yes, at the mess of junk on the ledge.

There’s something a bit sullen about the set of Zet’s jaw. “I won fair and square. It’s not my fault you took so long to figure out I was scamming you.” She looks where he gestures, then squints. “That’s not a place. That’s a pile of garbage. Why do you live in a pile of garbage?”

“That’s my home since I was beaten up, thrown out of my own ship and left for dead.” Santos explains that matter of factly, as though discussing what he ate for breakfast. “And there’s nothing ‘fair and square’ about stacking the deck. I’d have no problem with losing honestly. I signed up for that.” He hops on the speeder again, making room for her on the back. “Anyway, you need to get looked at. Hop on.”

Zet huffs. “It’s fair and square around here. The regulars at the Sarlacc know better than to play with me and I buy a round now and then so they don’t tip anyone off.” Some of the stubborn conviction has left her voice, and she’s studying his profile to gauge the veracity of his claims. She had ample opportunity earlier to get a sense for when he’s telling a lie… he’s no good at it.

With a wince, she gets her leg over the speeder and slides forward to hang on around his waist. This isn’t awkward at all. “I don’t think your clothes will still be there when you go back.”

“That’s ok.” As soon as Zet is steady on the back, he starts up and head towards his home. “I didn’t pay for them.”

He stops the speeder in the corner where two buildings meet, just under his place. Trash heaps are common sights in the neighborhood, and he carefully bids the speeder behind a large one.

Once he’s satisfied that the speeder is taken care of, he starts feeling a wall, feeling for the gaps that allow him to climb. He finds a rope at the top and throws one end down for Zet to ascend on.

Zet lets go of him to let him climb off first, then carefully eases herself back to the ground. Normally scaling a wall wouldn’t be a problem for her, but as banged up as she is, she’ll take the rope. Bracing her feet against the wall, she starts to climb up. By the time she hits the roof she’s a little out of breath again. “I think I hit that wall harder than I thought.” The Twi’lek looks around, taking in his so-called home. “Who stole your ship?”

“My partner.” True to his word, there’s a medpac in the shelter. As well as a blaster, a few stun grenades and some stims. He starts binding her cuts and making sure she hasn’t broken anything, at least, to the extend the medpac allows. “Friendly tip: never trust a Trandoshan. I’ll be off of this rock so. Enough though, once I make enough for my new home.” He gestures towards a hole in the shelter wall that happens to look directly into a hangar housing a dilapidated YT-1300.

Uneasy about letting a complete stranger get up in her personal space, Zet is tense as she holds her arms up to let Santos patch her up. He won’t find anything broken, but there’s a tender bruise forming across the right side of her ribs, visible on the patch of green skin between her cropped shirt and her waistband.

She says nothing while he works away, her eyes fixed on the ship in the hangar. “That thing doesn’t look like it’ll fly in that state,” she observes with the air of someone who knows what she’s talking about. “When’s the last time you had a decent meal?” Zet sniffs the air delicately. “Or a shower…”

“Three solid meals a day. Showers every few days.”. Once he’s done all he can for Zet he sits back and enjoys the view of his soon to be new ship. “Not everyone who lives this way has to. I take whatever jobs I can get and bank what I make.”

He clearly doesn’t see the ship in the same light. “Just needs a paint job and some minor repairs. I can fix it just as I built that speeder. The seller is giving me a great deal seeing as it’s been sitting there for a few years.”

“Around here, a lot of people live like this and it definitely isn’t what they would choose.” Zet takes a moment to examine the bandage on one of the cuts. Apparently she approves enough of his handiwork not to complain.

She just shakes her head at his optimism, moving closer to the hole in the wall to study his ship. Her mind is working furiously. Maybe she’s having a luckier day than she thought. “Hey, let me apologize for making you lose your clothes.” Not for cheating you out of your dream ship fund. “Come eat with my parents and me. You can clean up and we can probably find you something to wear.” Zet glances back over her shoulder at him. “… if we ask the neighbours or something,” she adds, reminding herself of his ridiculous height.

With a crooked smile, Santos teases her, “You don’t think we’re moving too fast?” He offers her a hand again before leading her back to the rope. “Can you climb down, or should I give you a lift on my back?”

“No,” Zet replies with a blank look. “My parents like to share what they have.” She does blink down at his hand, given she’s not exactly having trouble walking, but she takes it as they move to what passes for his front door. “I can climb just fine.” She proves it by grabbing the rope, swinging herself over the edge and sliding right down to the ground with confidence. Of course when she touches down she swallows a soft whine at the impact on her bashed knee. “Uh, you don’t have a jacket or anything to wear do you?”

“Lemme see.” He heads back inside and emerges moments later wearing a thick leather vest that looks like it once had sleeves before being ripped apart.

Santos is sure to coil the rope up again and leave it in the shelter before descending, in the exact same pattern as before. He’s clearly been around long enough to memorize the path.

“This better?” He seems oblivious to the absurdity of a many wearing a vest and underwear to a nice sit-down dinner. He gets the speeder ready and waits for directions.

Zet just stares at him as he descends. Well, good old mom and dad are gonna think she’s crazy. “Objectively, yes…” She follows him back to the speeder, taking her seat behind him and wrapping her arms around him again. Now that he’s kind of got a shirt on she seems a bit more comfortable pressing up against his back. “It’s not far.” She rattles off some simple directions for him that will take them up a few blocks within the same sector.

This area is clearly more residential than that around the Slippery Sarlacc, but it’s no nicer or cleaner. Beings of many different races live close together here in cramped dwellings, and although there are very few established businesses, there are plenty of entrepreneurs trying to sell street food, trinkets, or mechanical parts (no doubt stolen) from blankets and rickety tables.

Zet guides Santos to stop his speeder outside a poorly maintained apartment building. “You might wanna leave it in the alley behind a dumpster or something… Stuff like this tends to grow legs and walk away around here.” When his speeder is stowed, she ignores the openly confused looks from some of her neighbors, hooking an arm through his to drag him in the front doors. It’s clearly not a secure building, though she needs an access card to open her parents’ second-floor unit. The smell of meat cooking fills the air immediately as she slides the door open. There’s a small sitting area here, pillows arranged around a low table, with the kitchen appliances along the right wall.

A blue-skinned, older Twi’lek woman turns to greet Zet as she enters and stops dead at the sight of a Chiss with no pants. Then she says something in rapid Ryl to Santos’ new friend, her tone accusatory. Zet hastily closes the door to shut him inside the apartment as she responds – he’ll likely pick up his name somewhere in there if he’s listening carefully.

Well, this is awkward, although the twi’lek woman seems to be taking this far better than most Chiss parents would.

“You must be Zet’s mother. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Hopefully his unusual accent is enough to distract the woman from berating Zet. “Zet’s told me how much you enjoy helping those less fortunate.” Being pants less certainly qualifies.

No matter how exasperated Zet’s mother is with her daughter, she turns a polite smile on Santos when he greets her. “Please, be welcome,” she replies, her voice carrying a Rylothian accent (which Zet herself notably lacks). “My name is Jirgu.” She begins to gesture to the pillows, but her eyes are inevitably drawn back to his, um, lack of pants.

Before she can say anything, Zet interjects. “I thought the Cereans upstairs might have something lying around. They’re probably tall enough…” She plants a hand at the small of Santos’ back and tries to steer him forward. She’s certainly not strong enough to make someone his size go anywhere he doesn’t want to, but she’s trying to usher him towards the arched doorway at the far side of the room. He may need to duck his head slightly to pass through it. “You can clean up through there if you want,” she says, pointing out their small but functional refresher. “I’ll have something for you to wear by the time you’re done.” And now he’s off the hook: he doesn’t have to make awkward small talk with her mom while she goes to fetch them.

True to her word, she taps on the door at some point to offer him some clean clothes. The pants are an inch or two too short for him, but they should otherwise be all right. By the time he emerges, Zet is busily helping her mother set the table with stoneware bowls, and the women are chattering quietly away in their own tongue. But for Santos’ sake, Zet switches back to Basic to ask, “Did they fit?”

Santos obliges his new friend, and makes his way into their modest Refresher, careful not bump his head on the threshold. He takes off what little he was left wearing, and steps into the shower. Water based. Even on Nar Shaddaa he hasn’t scene many of those. He turns the water on and begins cleaning himself up. His neck and head remain completely dry as he towers over the shower head, so he has to crouch uncomfortably to finish up.

The pants are noticeable too short, but not short enough to appear intentional. The shirt is a bit better. Short sleeved, so it doesn’t look too unusual. That is, aside from the inch of blue flesh peaking out around his waist. “They fit where they need to.” He replies politely. “It smells delicious in here.” He adds as he stands awkwardly beside the table. Some people are very particular about where they sit.

Zet can’t quite hide a smirk at how undignified Santos looks in his new clothes, but at least her mother will be marginally less scandalized moving forward. “It’s rycrit stew. Misha’s is the best, but it’s hard to get your hands on rycrit meat on Nar Shaddaa. This is your lucky day.”

“Sit,” Jirgu says insistently, ignoring her daughter’s attempts at flattery. “Anywhere but this one.” She points to the seat nearest the door. “Zetnu’ri, get our guest something to drink.” She adds something that sounds vaguely disparaging in Ryl after that.

With a little roll of her eyes, Zet fills four glasses with some kind of sweet juice and bears them all over to the table, plunking one down in front of Santos. “My father moves cargo at one of the spaceports, but he should be home any time now. We don’t start without him.” Which explains why dinner is so late. She does, however, seem to think she’s done her share of the preparation, picking a pillow next to Santos for herself. “How long have you been living here?”

“Not long. Maybe five months or so.” He’s a bit distracted, taking in the modest arrangements. The family certainly doesn’t seem to have much, but there’s an endearing quality to the home, and how they insist on eating dinner together. “I’m hoping in a month or two I can make a serious offer on that ship. That is, of course, if I stay away from the cards.” He grins.

“I don’t think pazaak is helping you,” Zet agrees. “Though maybe I could show you a few tricks.”

“Oh, is that how he lost his clothing?” Jirgu pipes in from where she stirs the pot on the stove. Apparently Zet’s gambling habit is no secret around here. “No wonder you were so eager to help him…”

“Please, it’s not like everyone I bring to financial ruin gets invited back here for a homecooked meal… Let him think he’s special.” Zet reaches her hand out to wiggle her fingers at a fluffy little creature with eight spindly legs who comes creeping out from a curtained doorway near the refresher. “We should talk about that ship, Santos. Maybe after dinner. You can fly it?”

Santos can’t help but break into laughter at that question. “If it moves, I can fly it.” Chiss arrogance at its finest. He turns his attention to Jirgu. “Yes, I made the mistake of playing Pazaak with your daughter. It made for a very memorable evening.”

The appearance of the spidercat fascinates Santos. “What is that? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“At the Slippery Sarlacc? Most people know better.” Jirgu is unaware that she’s echoed Zet’s earlier words – and Zet’s grin is anything but sheepish. Notably, Jirgu isn’t telling her card cheat daughter to return the money either…

“This is Lirj.” Zet scoops the little furball up once she gets close enough. Immediately, Lirj begins to emit a soothing purring sound, and Zet holds her out to let Santos touch her extremely soft fur. “She’s a voorpak.”

“Another of Zet’s strays,” Jirgu supplies as their front door opens. A male Twi’lek joins them in the small space, the same shade of green as Zet but taller and broader than both the women.

He hesitates on the threshold, glancing from Santos to Zet. Something silent seems to pass between them; if Santos knows anything at all about Twi’leks, and he’s observant, he might notice a subtle twitch or two of their lekku. Then he gives the Chiss a faint, tired smile. “Kah’lehalle.”

“Welcome,” Zet translates. “This is my father, Yune.” As Yune takes the seat Jirgu was saving, she gestures towards the Chiss with the hand she’s not using to cradle her pet. “I invited Santos for dinner because I made him lose his pants.” She says it with a straight face. “We’re gonna talk business after.” Santos hasn’t even confirmed that he wants to, but Zet seems to have already made that decision for him.

Santos reaches out to feel the creature’s fur and has to agree, very soft. “I once had a little narglatch when I was about six years old.” He’s not one for small talk, but it seems appropriate. “but she ended up eating my sister’s tauntaun, and that was the end of that.” Did he do that wrong?

The Chiss isn’t certain what to do when Zet’s father comes in. Should he stand? Bow? He settles for dipping his head a little and saying, “Thank you.” After Zet’s introduction he chimes in cheerfully, “Apparently we have business.”

Yune sure doesn’t seem to expect any more than Santos’ polite greeting. “What kind of business?” He has the same accent as Zet’s mother.

“Oh, you know. My kind of business,” Zet replies breezily.

Jirgu joins them, setting the thick-bottomed pot of stew down on a little woven mat to protect the table’s surface. Meat and herbs float in a thick, rich-smelling broth. Once she’s seated, she sees to ladelling it out into their bowls. There’s a strange mark on her right wrist – at first glance, it might seem to be a faded tattoo, circling it like a bracelet, but closer inspection would show that it’s more like an old brand.

In case Santos was wondering if there’s any kind of Twi’lek observation before a meal, Yune scoops up a spoonful of soup as soon as everyone has been served. So apparently not. “Where are you from, Santos?” he asks after the Chiss has had a chance to taste his meal.

Santos tries not to register recognition as he see the marking on Jirgu’s wrist. He hasn’t seen that particular brand before, but he knows what brands mean. You brand something you own. They must have been through hell to get to where they are now, and this must seem by orders of magnitude an improvement.

He takes the time to truly tastes the soup, and comes to the same conclusion Zet mentioned earlier own. “This is incredible, Jirgu. You truly have a talent.” He hesitates to answer Yune’s question. How does one explain that their from a part of space you’ve never heard of? “I’m from beyond Wild Space. From a part of the Galaxy most people have no concept of.”

Zet ushers Lirj out of her lap now that there’s food on the table. The voorpak is apparently well-trained enough not to beg. She just curls up against Zet’s pillow, still purring away. Right this second, she’s more focused on devouring her stew than on making small talk.

Jirgu smiles at Santos, inclining her head to acknowledge his compliment. She’s just as curious as her husband about their guest, though. “And you’ve found yourself stranded on Nar Shaddaa?” Either she’s put the pieces together, or Zet was gossiping while he was in the shower. “Are you trying to make your way home again?” Yune bears a very similar brand, by the way – it’s briefly visible when his long sleeve falls back from his wrist as he lifts his spoon to his mouth.

Santos almost shudders at that thought. “No. No, no, no, no, no, no. No. If I wanted to be there, I wouldn’t have left. Life on Csilla is very… Structured. I’m not in a hurry to return to that, especially when it means going back to the military.” He takes another sip of soup. “I like the freedom of being up there among the stars. Something new everyday. There are definitely some bumps along the way (never trust a Trandoshan), but everyday is a new possibility.”

Santos notices the brand on Yune’s wrist, and his curiosity gets the best of him. “Is there another home you’d like to make your way back to?”

Something about the way he says that makes Zet laugh out loud. If she knew anything at all about Chiss it would probably be even funnier. She trails off when he asks that question though, glancing uncertainly at her parents for their reaction.

Jirgu glances away, tugging her sleeve down over her wrist, but Yune meets Santos’ eyes steadily. He doesn’t look offended. “Jirgu and I were taken from Ryloth when we were only children. It wouldn’t be home anymore anyway. And this one barely cares to learn about it.” He shoots a stern, if fond look at his daughter. “I swear she picked up Huttese faster than she learned Ryl.”

“I was there a couple of years ago. It was weird,” Zet replies defensively between mouthfuls of soup. “I don’t really want to live in a cave on a planet where clan leaders sell their own people into slavery. Did you run away?” That’s directed at Santos. Her attempt to divert attention from herself before her father says anything about her childhood that would actually be embarrassing.

“Run away?” That’s an unfamiliar concept for a Chiss. “I left, and my family accepted that. I’m the youngest of four, so by the time I came around my parents’ ambitions were all tied up in the my older brothers.” He finishes off his soup before continuing. He really has no problem discussing his history. “I tried to do what was expected of me, so as soon as I turned 13 I signed up with the Expansionary Defense Force. Turns out that wasn’t for me, so after a year I found my way onto a cargo ship, and didn’t look back.”

“Is that like the military?” Zet frowns, stirring her spoon around in her nearly-empty bowl. “Thirteen’s so young.”

“Please, help yourself if you’d like more,” Jirgu insists, sliding the soup ladle around the pot so it faces Santos. “What’s ours is yours.”

“The navy.” Santos takes Jirgu up on her offer. “How is thirteen young? That was only two years ago.” The result of being part of a Xenophobic species is that you don’t know a great deal about other species, and they know less about you. “At thirteen I was legally an adult. Ready to being an illustrious career, choose a mate and start pumping out loyal little servants of the Ascendancy. Is that not the same here?”

All three Twi’leks seem a bit stunned by this revelation, especially given that Santos, looking like nothing so much as a blueish, exceptionally fit human, does not look fifteen. “I’m thirty-one,” Zet says after a moment. “These two are pushing sixty. I can’t think of another species that, um, grows up that fast. I mean, there sure are some that put kids in the army, but… that doesn’t sound like what you’re talking about.”

“No, it certainly doesn’t.” Santos is equally affected by Zet’s age. He just always assumed that was just the way people aged. “It may be a result of the self-imposed isolation over the past 4000 years.” His appetite appears to be as large has his body as he’s already half way through his second bowl of soup, “At any rate, I wasn’t a child soldier. I wasn’t a particularly good soldier either. I was always more interested in discovering what was beyond our space than defending our space.”

“Do Chiss just… not do that?” Zet’s trying to put the pieces together. She’s finished her bowl, and she takes just another ladleful to pick over while they continue their conversation. “Explore this part of the galaxy, I mean. I’ve been on and off starships for over ten years now and I swear I’ve never even seen another one.” By now, her parents have finished their own meals, and Yune stacks his bowl inside Jirgu’s. Neither of them seem to be rushing the younguns along, though.

Well, there’s your answer. “Not really, no. Back when the Ascendancy was you we were gobbling up systems left, right and centre.” He finishes his last bit of soup. “Then we got to a point where we said, ‘you know what? We’re good.’ And the policy became avoidance.”

“It would be better if more of us felt that way,” Jirgu observes softly. “Knowing when to stop taking when we have what we need already.” Her eyes drift briefly to Zet’s face, and the younger Twi’lek twitches her headtails. Whatever just passed between them makes her mother snort.

Zet leans across the table to add her empty bowl to the pile. “That was amazing as usual, misha. Should I help you clean up?”

“I will help her, if the two of you have business.” Brushing his hand against his wife’s arm, Yune meets Santos’ eyes and jerks his head towards Zet. “Don’t let her talk you into any trouble.”

That implies Santos needs help getting into trouble. He does not. “Yes sir!” How else do you address someone old enough to be your great great great great grandfather?

He turns to Zet after her parents have busied themselves in the kitchen. “So, about this business, does it pay well?”

Yune and Jirgu gather up the dishes and move over to the kitchen area, which can hardly even be said to be another room. They speak quietly with each other in Ryl, largely ignoring the conversation at the low table.

“Sometimes.” Zet is speaking softly as well. She’s obviously not that worried about what her parents will hear or she’d take him somewhere else, but no doubt Santos has picked up by now that they don’t completely approve of how she makes a living. “I’m a smuggler. Problem is, I’ve always got to take work on other people’s crews. I don’t have a ship of my own and I couldn’t fly it even if I did.” She’s watching his face intently, trying to gauge his reaction as she goes along. “I’d rather be my own boss. The cut is bigger.”

Santos is more than a little apprehensive about partnerships lately. Zet certainly doesn’t look like a Trandoshan, though.

“I’m not against the idea. But… Well, I told you what happened with the last partner. It kinda makes it hard to trust.”

“Yeah, of course.” Zet props her chin in her hand and flashes a grin. “I wouldn’t expect to strike up a partnership and bring nothing to it, either. I mean, other than the fact that I’ve apparently been doing this since you were a baby… and I’m awesome. What are you hoping to offer for that ship?”

“Given the repairs needed, he’s offering it to me for 70 000.” Realizing he hasn’t touched his juice, he takes a big sip. Not the usual accompaniment for negotiation, but it will have to do. “I’ve already got 45 000. What can you bring?”

This guy has 45,000 credits in the bank? Zet doesn’t even feel a little bit bad about stealing his money now.

“I know a guy who knows the guy who owns that shipyard. I bet I can talk him down. And is that gonna cover repairs or just the ship?” She’s been drinking her juice all along, but she has another little sip of the sweet liquid. “I’ve got contacts who’d do it for us on credit so we could get in the air faster. Hutt cartel. Plus my own savings, plus ten years’ worth of contacts and trade secrets to keep work coming in once we’re up and running. I don’t have as much put away as you… a lot of what I make comes right back here.” She gestures vaguely at her parents’ little apartment.

Like he said, not everyone who lives that was has to. He was able to cut living expenses substantially just by having not having a place to live.

“I was going to so the repairs myself, but I’m all in favour of getting of this moon faster.” Zet doesn’t seem like she’s planning on double crossing him, and he does need to rebuild his network. “See what you can do about the price.” He extends a cautious hand.

With what he’s been able to surmise of Zet’s parents’ background, maybe he can figure out why she’s so motivated to keep them as comfortable as she can. No matter how she has to do it.

“Yeah, I’ll go talk to him tomorrow.” Zet takes his hand. She’s got a good handshake. “There’s some other stuff we should discuss too, but not here. After I’ve got a better total for your ship we can go over it.” She reaches into her pocket and drops most of his credits on the table – about 600. “Minus idiot tax. I’m gonna show you how to spot a cheater before you gamble any more of your savings away.”

Santos picks up the credits and counts them. Once he’s satisfied he starts heading to the door. “You know where to find me.” He calls back. As he opens the door he looks back at his new partner. “Thank you for an interesting evening. Next time I’ll teach you chess.”

Jirgu and Yune look up when Santos stands. “Thank you for joining us,” Zet’s mother calls after him.

Zet just grins at him, gathering her voorpak back onto her lap. “Yeah, I’ll come see you tomorrow night and we’ll finalize everything. See ya.”

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Vignette: The Shards of Nihilus
NPC cut scene

The old hermit had seen much excitement lately. Oh yes, indeed! The temple on Jiroch that had become his home had hosted many guests since the Master arrived. With a pout, the hermit realized it was unlikely any new guests would arrive, now that the Master had been shattered.

Tsk tsk – the hermit clucked with his tongue as he busied himself with a make-shift broom and dust pan. He limped his way deeper into the temple of Jedi, minding the broken remains of spiders twisted by the dark side and smashed columns – evidence of the heated battle that had recently taken place.

With effort, the old hermit crouched down and began to sweep up the broken pieces of white and red, humming the song of Jedi children. Up into the pan went the shards of a long forgotten Sith Lord – a Sith so terrible that he consumed the Force itself, darkening the galaxy with each Jedi whose light he devoured.

The darkness crept in behind the hermit and shadows stretched across the stonework floor. He frowned and turned to see what was obstructing the light – he had much to do to collect the pieces of this mask!

His frustration caught in his throat as he felt the Force tense there – strangling, choking, suffocating him. The hermit flailed and whimpered and fell lifeless to the ground. A gloved hand of black reached down and carefully began to collect those shards of that broken mask, one at a time, placing them in an elegant box.

Then the temple was still again. Once more it fell into that tranquil place where the galaxy forgets about you, the carcasses of spider and hermit, the broken pillars and shattered stonework floor. Jiroch can fall back into obscurity once more.

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Vignette: Fleecing the Rebellion
cut scene

“If you think you’d have better luck with chance cubes…” Zetnu’ri is not even trying to hide the broad smirk on her face as she scoops another dozen credits up off the table and tucks them away into a pocket. Three rebel agents sit with her – a dark-skinned human woman, a female Bothan, and a male Mon Calamari. She hasn’t bothered to learn their names. She’s just here for their credits.

The Bothan snorts, tossing down her losing pazaak hand. “I’m done here.” She shoves her chair back and leaves, but the other two shrug at each other, prepared to try to win their money back from the smug little Twi’lek.

Zet graciously allows the Mon Calamari to shuffle the house deck, not that it matters. She’s an old hand at stacking her side deck by now. Tipping her chair onto its back legs, she plays and wins another three rounds in a row with ease, forcing the aquatic being to bow out as well.

Her remaining rival, the human, watches Zet closely as she reshuffles her side deck for the next hand. “Let me do that for you,” she says suspiciously.

“You think I’m cheating?” Zet feigns offence, her slender fingers pausing. The flat look on her opponent’s face clearly says yes, and with an indifferent sniff, the Twi’lek passes her set of ten cards across the table to let the woman shuffle them for her. “You can do the main deck too if it’ll make you feel better when I kick your ass again.”

Thanks to the woman’s interference, Zet’s starting hand isn’t as great as it could be. But when the human is focused on her spread and her own hand, deciding whether or not to add an extra card, Zet easily palms one of her own, replacing it with a positive two tucked inside the cuff of her jacket. As luck would have it, she draws and places a four when the woman nods at her to take her turn; she adds the two to make a perfect twenty and sits back to stretch her arms over her head in a satisfied way.

“Aw, don’t be that way.” Zet paws the money in towards herself as her mark gets up with a sound of disgust. “We could play for something else. Favours? Clothes?” If the Twi’lek had eyebrows she’d be waggling them.

“You’re lucky I don’t stun you right back into the sickbay,” the human retorts, her eyes flashing.

Pocketing her hard-earned cash and her cards, Zet laughs, rising gracefully to her feet. “If you’ve got any more suckers working on this ship, send ‘em my way. It’s the least you could do after the kung in charge here took our shuttle.” Humming under her breath, she shoves her hands into her pockets and heads out of the mess area, no doubt looking for Santos so he can help her gloat about her winnings.

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Roleplay log: An Unwilling Ally
An email RP log

When the blackness of the dreams recedes from Callia, she’s still faced with blindness in her physical sense of sight. At her bedside, there is a presence vaguely familiar to her. The muted artificial light would show marble-striped horns and long head-tails, and a red-skinned face with pale markings: the point of a diamond between her brows, large circles around her eyes, and cheeks like a skeleton’s jaw. It’s Rakine. Who knows how long she has been quietly, patiently waiting at the human’s side.

The darkness of the waking world is discerning, especially after the dreams she’s been having. The Jedi wakes with a sharp intake of breath, taking a moment to realise this is the waking world and that her exaggerated memories and dreams of warning can’t affect her here.

It takes a few moments more for her to realise there is another presence in the room besides her. The Force is sluggish and out of sync when she reaches out with it. “Rakine.” The name is said flat, her usual calm, melodious voice sounding dead. “Where are we?”

The Togruta answers calmly, “The medical bay. This ship is taking you to Corellia, where you should have a chance to recover properly. My associates will shelter you.” In a pause, she considers the extent of Callia’s wounds again, wondering if she should be left to rest. But there’s very little time left for this conversation.

“Your associates,” Callia repeats, a touch of sarcasm warming up her tone. “You are with the rebels.” She makes the statement without malice. She takes a deep breath and tries slowly to sit up. “Please thank them for sheltering us. How are Zet, Santos and Qurzer?”

By habit, Rakine nods curtly, even though she remembers to speak up. “I had them track the shuttle on the way to Jiroch. They came to my signal while we were inside that temple.” She doesn’t sound guilty. She isn’t sorry. (Not even about stealing the shuttle, presumably.) “Zet isn’t badly injured; they say her body just needs rest. Her friend is worrying for her and I’m sure he has that duty covered.” Those smugglers have hardly had time yet to feel bitter about the confiscated ship, but Rakine knows where she would be an unwelcome intrusion. “Quzer is well, but I’ve suggested that the Selonian also take time to rest. I know you should, too — but I’m — …relieved to see you awake again. I wanted to talk to you once more.”

“I am thankful they showed up when they did,” Callia says. “Otherwise we may all be dead.” She’s so honest about it. Perhaps she can’t remember the circumstances under which they ended up on the Rebel ship because she doesn’t seem upset or offended that they took the ship. A troubled look passes over the Jedi’s face at the mention of Santos’ worry for Zet. “I’m glad they are all alright. I’m sure we’ll have lots to answer for later.” She pauses, reaching through the Force to sense why Rakine seems hesitant. “Ah, of course. What would you like to discuss.”

“I have a mission to prepare for.” Some things the Rebel will say outright. “Of course you’re in no condition to help us, this time.” There’s facts, and her observations. What she tries consciously to avoid are overly emotional word choices that might make her sound less than impartial. She’s /‘glad’/ the Jedi is awake. She wanted to talk — to say goodbye, just in case — and she has a pressing question. “But will you? Once you have your strength back, are you going to fight?”

Ah yes. The question that the Jedi should probably be expecting. Callia is silent while Rakine explains herself, taking note of her word choices compared to her emotions. She’s a Jedi, she should be expected to throw down everything and join the Rebellion, right?

“Power corrupts, absolutely.” She murmurs softly, more to herself than the other woman. A slow sigh escapes her. “Rakine…I’m not sure it’s the wisest decision at the moment. You don’t want me on your side, for plenty of reasons. Number one being that you saw what happens to those who attack the Empire for the wrong reasons. Sora was not the young Padawan I remembered. Her lust for vengeance against the Empire led her down a dark path that I’m not sure she’ll ever be able to return from. Right now, if I were to join the Rebellion…”

Rakine folds her arms, turning her face away from Callia. The closed-off posture doesn’t do anything to hide the turmoil of unmistakable disappointment. “You might try to ignore the Empire all around you, but they won’t overlook you.” She’s aware that this cold truth should be intimately familiar to the Jedi who has been hiding all her life, but there is a personal angle. “My people once tried to be neutral while a war was building all around them.”

Her eyes settle on Callia’s belongings, primarily seeking the shape of the lightsaber hilt somewhere in the tidy pile. “When it was already too late for so many others, the survivors chose a side. Even then, we wouldn’t have had the chance, if we didn’t have help.”

“Callia, you could help us. You don’t need to be a power-hungry monster like that creature in the temple. Just join us as you are. Use your sword and work with us.”

Callia’s own posture goes momentarily rigid, anger expressing itself in a subtle way before she shuts it down. She exhales slowly. “Rakine, I understand. I do. I fought in the war which you speak of when I was still a child. I watched neutral planets and bodies fall to the Separatists, I saw the desperation of the Republic and the exhausted, thinning Jedi Order before it’s extinction. So believe me when I say I understand wanting to break down the Empire’s oppressive regime.”

There is a but, of course. There is always a but. “A Jedi is not meant to be partial like we were in the Clone Wars. I remember my Master speaking of it, how it was destroying so many of us. We fought and died for a Republic that ultimately destroyed us and we were blinded to the fact that it was coming. The Dark Side oppressed everything and we weren’t aware of the consequences until it was too late. My heart still aches for those deaths. I was a hollow version of myself for a very long time after that, forsaking my birthright and ignoring the Force. It’s only now that I have started to heed it’s prompting once more.”

There is another pause as she gathers herself and her thoughts; another deep, shaky breath filled with long-buried trauma. “Jiroch has proven something more. I am not ready to run into battle and fight like I did long ago. If I did, I know now that it may not be in the noblest attentions for the greater good of a long-lost Republic like I believe. I have past hurts that I need to come to terms with. I need to let go of what happened and come to peace with it, otherwise I will be acting for the wrong reasons.”

“I cannot allow this…this quest for vengeance be the reason why I fall to the Dark Side. I do want to help the Rebellion, please believe me when I say that. Right now, though, I am still just a Padawan on her path to Knighthood and Jiroch has shown me that I still, as any Jedi Master would have told me in the past, have much to learn.”

Hearing out what Callia has to say in steady silence, the Togruta waits to be sure the speech is finished. Finally she responds by sliding her chair backward, as if preparing to stand. For now she rests hands on her knees and focuses her attention on the injured woman for a few more moments. “You think the Jedi of the past were wrong? If that’s how you feel, I won’t push to change your mind.” Her tone reflects her own resolve, not an accusation.

“The Commander already gave the order that you’ll be cared for, so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about — " Despite the deep-down convictions that stir her feelings, Rakine’s presence on the surface remains the equivalent of the smooth, stilled pond. Callia’s words seem to have passed over like a breeze, leaving barely a ripple. It’s the skill of an infiltrator: expressing one reality and experiencing another. " — though I can’t promise I’ll be the only one who’s trying to recruit you. Whatever happens, I hope you find someone to watch your back." And she ends with just the /slightest/ hint of a pointed comment. Implying something?

“I think many Jedi of the past felt that they were wrong, even in the moment.” Callia replies. “Look at where it got us, after all.” She turns her head to ‘study’ Rakine, unseeing eyes focused intently on the Togruta for a time.

“I’m sure there will be others. In good time, it may play out that way. For now, this is for the best for all.” She replies. “We all have to come into our own in time, realizing just how far we are willing to go in the name of the greater good.” Rakine is not the only one who can make subtle jabs, though Callia’s voice is soft as soothing as she speaks. The dead tone from earlier has been replaced, the fire of her speech seeming to light a passion in her once more. “I hope you find your peace, Rakine. May the Force be with you.”

The Rebel, now on her feet, adjusts the set of her belt and the angle of the holster that holds her blaster pistol. Her sense of regret is genuine, although there’s no easy way to separate her concern for her cause from personal feelings toward her recent ally. "After all the effort of getting you off Jiroch alive — let’s not forget the brutal sun, those raving hunters, the beasts, the spiders, not to mention your own fallen sister… — " She’s made some attempt to be respectful, carefully describing Sora with a level of gravity reserved just for the sith. “I’d hate to see you cast adrift someday. Or worse. There’s a bounty on Jedi for anyone who decides they need the credits, don’t forget it.”

Rakine does not look upset. She doesn’t sound as if she’s making her point to be cruel. All the same, to Callia’s senses it might seem that the shadows cling to her as she departs. The water is calm, but sure enough there is a powerful current stirring something inside it. “It’s freedom we need. All of us. May the Force also be with you.”

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