Thanks! Bet you weren't expecting them to be the smuggler's adopted parents, were ya?
Also -- better hold on to your pants, in a few chapters it's really gonna pick up!
Outskirts of Keldabe, Mandalore
115 days ABDK
In the three weeks since the construction had begun, things had gone astonishingly well. With the help of the whole crew–even Skadge pitched in when he was not grumbling–the foundation was already down, and the construction on the underground rooms and halls was now nearing completion.
Dha smiled as he surveyed the construction site. Corridan and a couple more of Torian’s friends–even that less-than-likable chap, Jogo–had come to help tonight. With their help, it looked like it would go as far as getting a couple of rooms roofed up before they stopped.
Dha pulled his speeder to a halt. In the back seat, a dozen bags of food and drinks sat bagged up. He’d made a quick trip to Keldabe and paid out of his own account for the food. Mandalorians could eat.
He hopped out and walked into the middle of the construction site. Torian and Corridan were lowering a section of transparisteel into its window housing. As the house was mostly underground, the window was at the corner of the wall and the ceiling, so it was at foot level.
“When you guys get to a good point,” Dha said, “the grub’s here.”
Torian grinned. “Thought you’d never say that.”
They finished locking the window in place, and then Torian took off to round up the others. Corridan crossed his arms.
“Good man, Torian,” he said. “Like a brother. I am glad he found a family.”
“He needs a wife,” Dha muttered.
“He’ll find one,” Corridan said. “And they’ll have the fiercest babies on Mandalore.”
“His babies could actually become
Mandalore,” Dha agreed wryly. “Torian’s got the spirit. He’s young though.”
“So were you, when you started the Great Hunt. Look where you are today.”
Dha looked around the field. He had money, a wife, a family, and a home.
Yes. He’d gotten far.
“You’re right,” he said. “Look where I am.”
Jedi Temple, Tython
115 days ABDK
Gareb felt his muscles stretching as he slashed at the training dummy in the artful form of Makashi. His lightsaber–the First Blade–hummed, a noise that, for some reason, calmed Gareb.
He stepped back, raised his blade, and renewed his attack. Ever since the encounter with Darth Jadus, he had decided to work on his lightsaber technique. He knew he’d been pushing it aside in favor of his Force techniques–not a bad thing, but potentially a problem when facing a foe like Jadus.
Makashi was not a simple form–it was the most rigorous and mentally challenging of the lightsaber forms. But Gareb had chosen it for that very reason–he had to push himself.
Finally, dripping with sweat, he deactivated his lightsaber and clipped it to his belt. He retrieved his outer robe and pulled it on.
[Herald fights with renewed vigor,] Qyzen noted.
Gareb nodded. “So I do, my friend. So I do.”
[Failure on Dromund Kaas cost you points?]
“No, not exactly,” Gareb replied. “We won. Still, I feel it may have cost my cousin Methic more than points.”
[What can be worse than losing points?]
“Losing oneself,” Gareb replied solemnly.
Nadia glanced up from her meditation. She must have felt his worry, for she stood and walked over, placing a hand on his shoulder. Mentally, he warned her against displays of affection in the middle of the Jedi Temple training grounds. She took the hint.
“Master,” she said. “Don’t worry about Methic. I believe he will be fine.”
“I hope you are right, Nadia,” he said.
Suddenly, a young initiate ran up and pulled a datapad from his belt. He stopped and leaned down, hands on his knees.
“I…whoa…just got to…catch…breath,” he said.
“Take it easy, young one,” Gareb replied.
The initiate nodded. “Message…critical…for you. Immediately.”
Gareb took the datapad and flicked it on. A holo appeared on the screen, showing a warm-skinned man with dark hair pulled to the side in a braid.
“I am Jedi Shadow Sydin,” he said. “This message is for Master Gareb of the Jedi Council. Verify?”
“Verify,” Gareb replied.
“Accepted.” Sydin’s voice took a panicked tone. “Master Gareb. The Dread Masters are massing for a huge attack. I don’t know where, yet, but I have to be careful. It was all I could do to find somewhere safe to transmit this message. I may have to bail out soon. Just be on the lookout. Sydin out.”
Gareb frowned and replayed the message. From appearances, Sydin was in the hallway of an Imperial Dreadnaught, no doubt the Dread Masters’ command ship. Sydin was worried, no doubt about it. If what he said was true, the attack force must have been huge.
“Convene the Council,” Gareb told the initiate. “Tell them to meet me in fifteen minutes. This is a class-one emergency.”