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Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

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Caernos
04.05.2013 , 07:01 PM | #1
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

A SWTOR FF: By Caernos

1. Homestead
Outside Garang, Dantooine, 5 ATC


It was a bright and lazy summer day. The sun shined high above in a clear blue sky, only marred by the occasional fluffy white cloud. Green fields of tall grass gently waved back and forth as a gentle breeze tassled them. A bird trilled in the branches of a tree, singing a song of joy for any who would stop and listen. The house on the hill was a perfect match for such a day, a picturesque scene right out of a holovid.

In a rocker on the front porch a rather scruffy looking man dozed. His feet were propped up on the porch railing, and a wide brim hat was pulled down over his eyes. A shaggy and mangy looking anooba lay next to him, its long head resting on its big paws. They made the rustic and rural picture complete; a house, the tired man, and his faithful hound.

The front door of the house banged open and a young teenage girl walked out. Her long brown hair hung in a braid down her back, and her smile went up to her clear gray eyes when she saw the man dozing. Unlike the man, her skin was a deep and vibrant emerald green. Playfully she snatched the hat off the man’s head and jabbed him in the shoulder, rousing him from his nap. “Mom says lunch is just about ready.”

The man grunted and blinked owlishly. Yawning he ran a hand through his graying mane of hair. He looked up at the girl. Two nasty scars crossed his face; one in a line that ran across his nose under both eyes, and another that ran down over his right eye and bisected the first scar. A glowing red sphere stared out where his right eye should have been, contrasting sharply with the cool blue left eye. “If it’s not ready yet, then why are you waking me now?” the man asked, rubbing at his human eye with the back of his hand.

The girl smirked and crossed her arms over her chest. “Mom also says that by the time you get your lazy backside in the house it will be ready.”

The man grunted again and stood. He raised his arms above his head to stretch and his joints groaned and popped. The girl grabbed the door and pulled it open, waiting for the man. He wasn’t ready to move just yet though. “It was just a quick nap. Was working on Mac’s tractor all morning.”

“And I’ve been cleaning the house, slaving over a stove, and teaching the kids,” said a fierce new voice. A petite woman with copper hair and bright green eyes appeared in the doorway. Despite the tiny wrinkles around her eyes and the few silver threads in her hair she looked quite young and fit. Toned arms were crossed over her chest to show her displeasure. In one hand she held a glass of lemonade. She shoved the glass into the man’s hands and then gestured into the house with a tilt of her head. “There’s more inside if you want it. Move quick or the kids are likely to get it all.”

The man nodded his head and took a sip from the glass. He then turned and looked out over the yard. Sun light beamed down on everything. It was going to be a beautiful day. “Why don’t we have lunch out here today?” he asked, resting his hands against his hips.

The woman let out an exasperated sigh, rolling her eyes. “Sure,” she snorted, “After I’ve already gone to all the trouble of setting the table inside.”

“Just tell the kids to move everything out here. They can do that.” He looked at the girl. “You and your brothers and sister can do that, right Kali?”

The mirialan girl shrugged. “Sure dad. Be another minute or two before we eat though.”

“I don’t mind if your mom doesn’t.”

They looked at the woman expectantly. She rolled her eyes again and threw her hands up into the air. “Fine, let’s just ignore all the hard work I’ve done. We can have a nice family lunch out on the porch. It will be lovely!” Her frustrations vented, she turned and disappeared through the door and back into the house.

The man chuckled and then noticed his daughter’s raised eyebrow. It made him chuckle more. The girl couldn't help but smile and shake her head. “You two are weird.”

Suddenly the anooba whined and raised his head. He panted for a second, then let out one loud bark. Both the man and the girl looked at it. “What is it Rocky?” the girl asked. The anooba whined again and lowered his ears. The man and the girl followed the hound’s gaze out beyond the yard and the fence. Coming down the road towards the house was a hazy cloud of dust. At the front of the cloud were a speeder and two swoop bikes.

Seeing the fast approaching craft a frown lowered over the man’s face. “Go inside,” he said to the girl. “Send your mom back out and then you and the others go to the basement. You stay there till your mom or I come get you.”

There was a flash of anger in the girls eyes before she scowled in frustration. “Dad, I can—“

“Kali!” he snapped, cutting her off and taking his hat from her hands. “I gave you an order. I’m counting on you to make sure your siblings don’t get in any kind of trouble, do you hear me? Now go inside.”

The girl huffed angrily but made a terse nod of her head and disappeared into the house, the anooba following her. The man put his hat on and grabbed up his gun belt off the railing of the porch. He slung the belt around his waist, making sure he clipped the holster down to his hip so it wouldn’t bounce around. Then he drew his D-200 and checked its powercell before jamming it back into the holster. Finally he slapped a modified bracer over his left wrist. He pushed a button. There was a flicker of light as a blue bubble enwrapped the man and instantly vanished. He moved with the practiced ease of someone who had done such preparations a hundred times over.

The three craft came to a stop at the fence on the edge of the yard. The man started down the porch steps towards them, stopping a few feet from the stairs to wait and see what happened next. Behind him the woman returned. “Who is it Cyn?” she asked, standing in the doorway, propping the door open with her shoulder.

The man took a long look over the occupants and riders of the three craft. There were five in total, three in the speeder and two on the bikes. They had a motley collection of armor and blasters between them. “Don’t know, maybe trouble,” he said low and quiet.

The three people in the speeder stepped out while the two on the bikes stayed on their durasteel steeds. “Watch my back Gwen?” the man asked, glancing over his shoulder and flashing half a grin.

The woman nodded and flashed a coy smile. “Always,” she replied.

The five finished their discussion and two of the men that had been riding in the speeder started to cross the yard. The third leaned against the ride. Now that they were closer and the dust had settled some, the man took a good look at the two approaching his house. One was a rattataki; bald head, gray skin, and black tattoos. The other was a human with a mishappen face, a bizarre combination of bruises and tattoos marring his looks. The two stopped when they were within spitting distance of the man.

The five stared at the man and the woman.

The man and the woman stared back at the five; Rattataki, tattoo-bruiser, biker one, the speeder driver, and biker two.

“Is this the Cinderheart home?” tattoo-bruiser asked. His voice was rather high pitch for someone so ugly.

“It is,” said the man.

The rattataki spoke next. “We’re looking for a man and a woman, Cynfor and Gwenhyvar Pa’Shan. We heard they own a home in these parts, you know em?”

The man stuck his thumbs through his belt and shook his head. “Nobody around here by that name,” he answered.

Rattataki scowled. Tattoo-bruiser shook his own head. “You know, you fit descriptions of Cynfor pretty well. Why don’t you just come with us down to Garang and we can clear everything with the proper authorities.”

The man shook his head. He made a rather disgusting noise deep down in his chest, then hocked up a gob of saliva from the back of his throat and spat it on the ground. “Don’t think I will. I got work to do here on my land,” he said firmly, finished with clearing his throat.

Tattoo-bruiser looked disgusted and taken aback, unsure of how to proceed after such a gross act. Rattataki kept scowling. He raised a finger and gestured wildly, pointing at the man and the woman. “Look, we know you’re Cynfor, and that the woman is probably Gwenhyvar. You surrender and come with us, and no one gets hurt.”

With that a line was drawn in the sand. The man’s jaw clenched and his eyes hardened into flint. His words came out a growl between his teeth. “I think it might be best if you all just leave,” he said.

The breeze kicked up into a gust of wind. A few stray leaves were snatched up off the ground and tossed high into the air before floating gently down.

Rattataki moved for his blaster first but the man was quicker. He dropped to one knee and drew his piece in a single fluid motion, firing twice at Rattataki. The shots punched through Rattataki’s cheap armor and bored searing holes into his stomach and side. Rattataki dropped his weapon, twisted and fell. He was dead before he hit the ground. The man didn’t watch but kept his pistol moving, firing a steady stream of bolts at biker one. A shot caught the biker in the shoulder and knocked him flying off his ride. He landed on the ground, screaming in pain and calling for help.

Tattoo-bruiser was still reaching for his blaster when his head exploded into chunks of bone and brain matter. The woman moved from the cover of the doorway and out onto the porch. She had a slughthrower raised to her shoulder and her eyes down the sights. She cycled the action with one hand between each shot as she fired on biker two. Biker two rolled off his vehicle and ducked down behind it when the first round pinged off his ride’s control panel.

While Rattataki and Tattoo-bruiser both fell, the driver turned his back on the scene to jump behind the wheel of his repulsor craft. A brilliant red beam of light lanced out to pierce him clean through the back. He threw his hands high into the air as if reaching out to some higher power for help. Then his body fell forward over the side of the vehicle, half in and half out of his ride.

The whole shootout took less than ten seconds.

Seeing he was the only one left, Biker two threw his blaster over the side of his bike and called out. “Stop shooting, I surrender!” Biker one continued to twist and writhe on the ground, calling for help and cursing at his cowardly ally. “I surrender!” Biker two yelled again, ignoring the wounded man.

The woman stopped firing and pointed her weapon at the ground. A serpentine trail of smoke snaked up out of the hot barrel. Grunting the man pushed himself up off his knee and back to his feet. “How did you find us?” he called over to Biker two.

Holding his hands high above his head Biker two stood up from behind his swoop bike. Warily he watched the man and the woman. “We happened to be at Garang’s spaceport. Nithras," he gestured with a nod of his head at the remains of rattataki and tattoo-bruiser, "overheard a dockhand talking about you and so we thought we would check it out."

The man took in some deep breaths. With the adrenaline wearing down he felt his age more than ever. His bones ground at one another after such tense action, and his heart hammered away in his chest. “Who do you work for?” he asked, walking towards Biker one. The injured biker still lay on the ground screaming and writhing in pain.

“Nobody, we’re bounty hunters,” said Biker two.

Biker one saw the man approaching and tried to draw his blaster. The man snarled and kicked the blaster aside before stomping down on Biker one’s injured arm, making him scream anew. Biker two shivered as he watched the man deal with his ally.

“Did you tell anyone about us?” asked the woman.

Quickly Biker two turned to look at the woman and shook his head. “Uh, no ma’am. We didn’t want to advertise our lead and attract attention. We thought we’d be more than enough to handle you quiet like.”

The woman glanced towards the man and made a nod of her head. The man nodded as well. Then he snapped up his blaster and fired once. Biker two’s face froze in surprise as the bolt caught him right between the eyes. His body went rigid and he toppled backwards, rising a tiny cloud of dust as he hit the ground.

“Definitely trouble,” said the woman casually, switching the slugthrower’s safety on. She rested the butt of the weapon on her hip. The man nodded, pointed his blaster at Biker one and fired again. The noise of the pistol bounced off the house and echoed across the plains. Biker one’s body jerked and then stopped thrashing about. His limbs loosened and his body relaxed in death. The man took a step back and began reloading his blaster, inserting a fresh powercell. “I thought we would be safe here,” the woman said after the echoes died down.

“So did I” said the man. He holstered his weapon and turned to look at the farmhouse. “We’ve been here a few years. Probably about time we moved on.”

The woman snorted. “That’s an understatement. If these idiots were able to find us, then that means someone else could too. It’s definitely time to move on.”

The man rubbed at the stubble that clung to his chin. He looked at the house and its porch and how it all looked so nice and clean in the sun light. If he narrowed his eyes he could just forget about the scene of carnage that lay around him in his yard. Shaking his head he looked at the woman. “Go ahead and get the kids out of the basement, have them start packing up I guess. Send Kali out here to me though, I want to talk to her about disobeying orders.”

The woman raised an eyebrow. “You sure it was Kali? Lorcan’s pretty good with a laser rifle, could have been him who got the driver.”

The man thought about it for a moment then shook his head. “Nah, it was definitely Kali. Damn girl gets through her verd’goten and thinks that she knows what’s best. I bet you’ll find her inside still holding the rifle.”

“Go easy on her,” the woman said calmly, “she did take out the driver.”

The man growled, more in exasperation then anger. “You and I could have taken the driver easily. She should have been watching the younger kids!” He took a deep breath in and sighed. He stood there for a moment then shook his head. “Just send her out. She can help me clean this mess up and I’ll talk to her.”

The woman shrugged but did not debate it further. She rested her slugthrower on her shoulder and went back inside the house. “Kids!” she called out, “you can come out now. Everything’s fine.”

The man rubbed at the stubble of his chin and turned back around to survey the dead. It was a starkly different scene than the one his house provided. One was a perfect picture, straight out of the holovids. The other was a scene from long in the past; a life the man had thought he and his wife had left far behind.

Spoiler
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

Caernos's Avatar


Caernos
04.21.2013 , 06:01 PM | #2
2. Wagecutter
Mos Eisley, Tatooine 19 BTC


Cynfor was hot. His armor’s temperature regulating systems were working in overdrive, and still he was hot. He would have loved nothing more than to duck into a cantina, take off his helmet, and dunk his head into a giant bucket of cold water. Not sip at a cool drink, dunk his head in a bucket of freezing cold water that was swimming with big thick ice cubes.

But of course he couldn’t do that. One, this was Tatooine and ice was in short supply, and two, Cynfor wasn’t going to stop running until after he caught his quarry. So he ran across the hard packed sands of Mos Eisely, under the blistering light of twin suns, chasing a bounty with temperature regulators that may or may not have been working. It was not making him feel any more merciful towards the bounty.

His prey was a snot nosed rodian named Eliseo. The bug faced alien had thought it would be fun to rob a trade caravan passing through the system. Unfortunately the caravan belonged to a hutt named Waddash. Waddash did what any angry hutt would do and put a bounty on Eliseo’s ugly head. 500 credits alive.

It was a small time price for a small time crook, paid for by a small time hutt. It was a good thing that Cynfor was a small time bounty hunter.

Eliseo turned sharply and bolted into Mos Eisely’s marketplace, hoping to lose Cynfor in the crowd. Cynfor was smart enough not to be fooled by such a trick though. Instead, he fired his jetpack and leaped onto a nearby rooftop. It gave him an excellent vantage point to see all of the market and what was going on. It was quite easy to pick out the frightened rodian hurrying through the masses. Cynfor grinned to himself and followed along the rooftops above.

On the other side of the marketplace, the crowds began to thin out. Eliseo glanced around nervously then turned and darted down an alley. Cynfor kept following, waiting for the right time to strike.

He waited till Eliseo was halfway down the alley to the next street, when no one would see what was going on unless they tried to cut through or they looked down it. Cynfor fired his thrusters again and leaped. Eliseo heard the noise of the jetpack and looked up just in time to see Cynfor drop out of the sky and smash the butt of his pistol right between the rodian’s eyes. Eliseo stumbled back from the hit, then bounced off the wall and fell to his hands and knees.

Cynfor shook his head. He kept his blaster pointed at the prone rodian and pulled a set of binders from his belt. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that running only makes it worse?” he said as he slapped the binders over Eliseo’s closest wrist. “Now come on. You’ve got a date with a hutt.”

Eliseo stammered in rodian buzz squeak. It sounded vaguely like huttese or bocce. Cynfor was still learning both languages though and so he wasn’t sure. He definitely didn’t have the patience to turn on the cheap translator equipment he had bought. Instead he just shook his head and yanked the rodian to his feet. “Come on, give me your hands.” He shoved him against the wall then yanked Eliseo’s hands behind his back and cuffed them together.

Cynfor heard a noise like a puff of air and felt something pinch the back of his knee. Before he realized what was happening, every nerve in his body misfired and sent a thousand different signals all at once. His legs gave out and he fell on his back, a twitching jerking mess, painful spasms running through every part of his body.
50,000 volts at 26 watts would do that to most people. Beskar’gam was designed to absorb and diffuse that kind of shock, but that was only if it hit a protected area. The back of the knee was not a protected area.

Lying helpless on the ground Cynfor saw another figure approach. Like him they were wearing beskar’gam. It made Cynfor seethe with impotent fury; to have his bounty stolen by someone who supposedly followed the same code as he did. As the figure neared he could see that it was a woman, the orange and blue armor plates curving to her figure despite their bulk.

She grabbed Eliseo by the collar and then jauntily saluted Cynfor. “Thanks.” He could hear the smugness in her voice. Then she fired the thrusters on her jetpack and went shooting up into the air, a terrified and screaming Eliseo in tow.

Cynfor lay on the ground and silently cursed the woman. Now he truly understood why older hunters hated wagecutters.

* * * * * * * * *

By the time Cynfor made it back to the Pearless Krayt he was hot, dehydrated, and probably sunburned despite the full-body protection of his beskar'gam. After having lain frozen for nearly half an hour, he had finally been able to get the strength and control back over his aching muscles to get himself moving. The heat had only made his anger and frustration worse. Woe to the unfortunate jawa that crossed his path or looked at him funny. The first one that came to close got punted away with a boot to the back side. The rest stayed clear.

Entering the cool shadows of the Pearless Krayt took most of the heat away, but it didn’t take away the frustration or anger. Cynfor made his way to the stairs in the back of the cantina and started down. The crowd of beings let him slip through without bumping him too much. He was a mandalorian after all; only fools picked fights with one.

The basement level of the cantina was not overly crowded, but it was occupied. Everywhere you looked, men and women and aliens in beskar’gam relaxed and drank. The mandalorians weren’t paying for the sole use of the basement, but everyone else had cleared out when they came down. Thus it became the base of operations for any mandalorian looking for work while in Mos Eisely.

Looking around the room, Cynfor spotted his cousin Teagun and their friend Ciar Jendri. Teagun was a tall and burly looking young man with bleached hair. Ciar was the opposite, short and shifty, with dark skin and eyes. The pair were sitting in a booth with their backs to the wall. Drinks sat on the table, and they appeared to be discussing something on a holoplate.

Quickly he made his way over to them, taking off his helmet and pulling up a chair. Ciar grinned and made a low whistle when he saw Cynfor’s face and waved to a waitress. “I lost the bounty,” Cynfor said, not even bothering to try and hide the frustration.

Teagun raised an eyebrow and gave Cynfor a once over. “Yeah, I think we could’ve figured that one out on our own.”

“What happened?” Ciar asked.

The waitress arrived and set three glasses of water down. A precious commodity on Tatooine, water was expensive and usually only served to be drunk slowly with much enjoyment. Cynfor ignored such custom and chugged the first glass and slammed it back down on the table. “Wagecutter took it from me.” He then gulped the second and third glasses down too. Who cared if they were meant for Ciar and Teagun.

The waitress stared in astonishment until Ciar gave her a ten credit tip and sent her on her way. “You know who stole it?” asked Teagun.

“No,” Cynfor said, shaking his head. Then he paused. “But I know she’s a woman, and get this, she’s pretending to be mandalorian.” Both Teagun and Ciar raised their eyebrows and leaned forward. Cynfor continued speaking. “That’s right, she was wearing a full set of beskar’gam, orange and blue plates.”

“Really now,” Teagun muttered. He reached up and began scratching his broad chin deviously.

What was more ominous was the malicious smile that crossed Ciar’s face. “Why do you say she isn’t a mandalorian?”

“Are you kidding?” Cynfor slammed a hand down on the table. “No mandalorian, even from a different clan, would stun a fellow warrior in the back and steal him of his hard work. True mandalorians have honor! You settle things face to face!” His voice ended with a snarl filled with his anger and he jabbed the table with a finger to emphasize his point.

Cynfor could see that Ciar was trying not to laugh and that the small man’s malicious humor was spilling over to Teagun. He felt his cheeks flush and his anger build. Cynfor could tell when he was the brunt of some joke. Ciar slid over in the booth to be closer to him, and then pointed over Cynfor’s shoulder at the bar. “Its funny cause, that girl over there has been saying something very similar.”

Cynfor looked confused at Ciar and glanced at Teagun. Both were definitely smirking. He turned and looked at the bar, then felt his jaw drop in disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he muttered.

There at the bar, her back to the room stood the woman. Or more aptly the girl, just as Ciar had said. She looked just as Cynfor remembered her, a petite figure of curves that armor plating hugged perfectly. In the safety of the cantina she had taken her helmet off. Her head was turned to give him a good view of her profile as she talked to the warrior next to her. It was clear she was young, younger than Cynfor had thought, definitely younger than him even with her smooth and unmarred skin. Her copper hair did not hang but flowed down her shoulders in a shimmering waterfall that caught and twisted the light everytime she shifted. Her eyes were a bright and sharp green that carried even more warmth than her wide smile, flashing perfect teeth.

She was possibly one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen.

Beauty or no beauty though, it did not make him any less angry or frustrated. In fact he irrationally felt even angrier at her; as if discovering that she was not a hideous and nauseating troll or monster made her crime even worse. “She looks like she just completed her verd’goten!” he scowled, turning back to Teagun and Ciar. “What is she doing here?”

“Celebrating,” Teagun said, still smirking. “I mean if she’s completed her verd’goten then she’s old enough to be here, right? You can drink at 13, and it's not like the bartender cares on this dustball.” The humor in the comment was lost on the irate Cynfor.

Ciar leaned closer to Cynfor and began to whisper like he was conspirator, divulging some great and terrible secret. “It’s funny, you see. Cause when she got here she was telling everyone about how she tagged this chump who was clearly not a mandalorian, despite the beskar’gam he was wearing. She said a real mandalorian would never have let another hunter sneak up on them, and that a real mandalorian would have shrugged off the stun dart and fought her.”

“True story,” Teagun added, backing up the shorter man with a serious smile and eyes mocking.

“And you two just sat here and laughed?”

“Us?” Ciar put on his best look of deep pain and emotional hurts. He even put his hand over his heart. “Of course we laughed. It was funny.” His pain and hurt vanished with the return of his malicious grin “We would have laughed harder—“

“—If we had known it was you!” finished Teagun, cutting in with his own teasing smile.

Cynfor could feel himself getting flush with anger. Fuming, he jerked to his feet. Both Ciar and Teagun froze in place, waiting to see what he would do. A couple other eyes turned towards him as well. With one final scowl at his comrades, Cynfor turned and started walking towards the bar. Behind him he could hear credits hit the table as the two began to make bets. He ignored them though, and told himself that he didn’t care what they thought. He was just going to give this girl a piece of his mind and that would be it.

Taking a deep breath in to calm himself, he walked up and stopped right next to the girl. She noticed him out of the corner of her eye and saw the look of tightly restrained anger that he was holding in. Slowly she turned to face him, leaning against the bar and taking a sip from the edge of her glass. “Can I help you?” she asked calm but curious.

Cynfor continued to glower at her. “You know you’ve got a lotta nerve showing your face here wagecutter!”

The girl momentarily raised an eyebrow in confusion. Then her eyes ran up and down his body, taking a good look at the beskar’gam he was wearing. Recognition dawned on her then. She broke out into pealing clear laughter. Despite the crowd in the room it still drew attention. Eyes turned towards him yet again, and Cynfor felt himself growing even angrier. “You owe me 500 credits!” he growled, pointing a finger at her.

The girl shook her head and her laughter fell to chuckles. “I don’t owe you anything. You should have moved faster.” She set her drink down on the bar and smirked at him.

“If you were a mandalorian, a real mandalorian, you wouldn’t be shooting people in the back and stealing from them!” Cynfor challenged. Dimly he became aware that there were a few conversations were quieting down around him, paying more attention to the brewing argument thanks to his raised voice.

The girl snorted in derision and sneered. “Real mandalorians win fights. If you were a real mandalorian,” she raised her hands and moved her fingers in mocking quotes, “then you would’ve stopped me.”

For a moment, Cynfor couldn’t think of anything to say. “You tagged me with a stun dart!” was all he could come up with. It wasn’t well thought out and it sounded really stupid. It made him even angrier. He didn’t know if he was mad at her or himself anymore, he was just mad.

“And here you are, yelling in my face about it,” the girl said, rolling her eyes. She turned to grab her glass before turning back to him. “Look, you’ve just got your codpiece in a twist cause I embarrassed you, I get it. But you’re fine, and there are other bounties. Go chase them; and next time, don’t just stand there flapping your jaw.” She tipped the glass back and drained the rest of the dark liquid before slamming the glass back down on the counter. With a wave she motioned for the bar tender to pour her another.

Cynfor balled his hands up into fists. His heartbeat roared in his ears and it took every inch of restraint not to hit this girl. He closed his eyes and shook his head. “I think you are nothing but a gutless schutta who let’s others do the work for them before taking all the credit!” he challenged. She was an insult to the armor she wore and the code he followed, he was not about to let her talk down to him.

The girl stiffened for a moment and then shot a very cold and seething look at him. Cynfor was sure that if looks could kill he would have just been shot clean through. The bartender refilled her glass then slipped away and she turned to face him. She raised the glass and pointed at him. “Let’s get this straight. You lost, I won. The only thing that matters is winning! You couldn’t take me in a fight anyways! You’re damn lucky that all I did was tag you with a stun dart!”

“Bold words for a coward who shoots people in the back!”

The smile she flashed was all venom. “Must have fried your brain with that dart. It was the knee, not the back. Difficult target, high precision, you know?”

Cynfor swatted the glass in her hand and knocked it free. It fell to the ground and shattered. “Why don’t we settle this like real warriors do, face to face!”

“Pffft!” she jabbed a finger into his chest and pushed back. “Why, you looking to be embarrassed again?”

“Oy!” There was a loud and audible click as the bartender pulled out a scattergun and loaded a shell into the chamber. He held it loosely in his arms, not pointed at anyone in particular. All eyes turned to regard him. “Take it outside, no fighting in the Krayt,” he growled.

As one, everyone present brushed him off. They were mandalorians; a bartender with a scattergun wasn’t that intimidating. Instead they folded arms across chests to watch the argument play out.

“No I’m looking to break your pretty face in!” Cynfor snarled leaping right back into the verbal fray.

The girl stepped away from the bar and walked right up to Cynfor. She pressed herself close, chest to chest and glared up into his eyes. She met him anger to anger, and refused to back down. “Then come on! Don’t just talk about it, throw the first punch, I dare you.” A tense silence hung in the air. Everyone waited to see if Cynfor would strike.

Cynfor took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out again, fuming with red hot anger. But he didn’t move.

Finally the girl sneered in disgust and took a step back. “I knew you couldn’t do it. All your stupid little talk about real warriors and honor is just a cover. You’re just a hut’uun who doesn't have the mandokar. Just another dar'manda pretender.” Her voice was filled with nothing but disgust and contempt. She spat on Cynfor’s foot for added benefit.

Being called a hut'uun; he could handle that. He wasn't the one shooting people in the back. Hell, he could even handle her spitting on his foot; it was beskar'gam, it would all wash off. But when she called him dar'manda, a warrior who had lost their way, well, enough was enough.

Next thing he knew he was fighting. He caught the girl with an uppercut in the chin that sent her reeling backwards into the bar. She latched onto it for support and to keep herself from falling, but it left her open and unprotected. Cynfor caught her side with a quick hook followed by a strong punch to her stomach. Then the two warriors that been on either side jumped in to help her. Too little too late did Cynfor realize that they were her clanmates. He threw all caution to the winds and attacked with a fury.

* * * * * * * * *

The brawl that Cynfor started grew until it spilled out of the Pearless Krayt and into the streets, and it only ended when the municipal authorities arrived and began stunning everyone in sight. The girl and her clanmates walked since they were only defending themselves from Cynfor. Cynfor spent the night cooling in a cell with two dozen other mandalorians, his cousin bailed him out the next day. The Pearless Krayt got a lot more attention and to keep it, the owner opened an underground fight ring. Fights were held at random times in the basement or back rooms. The business thrived, particularly amongst the mandalorian crowd.

Spoiler
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

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Caernos
04.22.2013 , 09:28 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by YoshiRaphElan View Post
Loving it! Keep going.
Thank you. No idea when the next post will be though, kind of writing these chapter/episodes when the mood takes me. There will be more, eventually.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

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Caernos
05.01.2013 , 08:02 PM | #5
3. Rest
Somewhere outside Sashasa, Ukio, 1 ATC


Kali sat next to her dad, her legs crossed and her elbows on her knees, her chin propped in her hands. Her dad sat with one leg stretched out and the other bent. He had a beer in his hand which he steadily sipped at. Together they stared at the hulking draconian machine.

It sat silently now, deep in sleep mode. But Kali knew if she were to scramble up its back and sit in the saddle, right between the shoulder wing blades, the metal beast would come roaring to life. It would roar and buck till she finally got her hands around the controls and brought it to heel. You had to assert your dominance over the metal beast, show it who was boss before it would obey you. Only then could the several tons of destructive firepower and the finest example of mandalorian engineering be controlled.

The machine could open its maw and breathe out a stream of fire or spit a river of laser bolts. Its claws could crush durasteel and throw starfighters like little toys. The tail could release a repulsor pulse that would send people flying. And all along its body, repeating blasters, missiles, flechette launchers, and more were hidden, waiting for the right command to raise out of their secret hatches and attack.

To Kali, the death machine had always been a part of her life. Granted she knew her father had first acquired the monstrosity when she and her brother Lorcan were babies, but to her it had been a part of her entire life. Dad and Uncle Teagun spent a year repairing it and putting the beast back together. Her dad had then used it in the blockade, fighting jedi and then smugglers. She knew that the metal teeth of the machine had tasted blood and that its claws had torn lives apart. But she had been just a baby when that all happened, too young to remember any of it.

She knew that it was a deadly war machine, but she never saw it as that. Never remembered it as that.

She remembered how her dad would take everyone for rides on its back. They would hold on tight as it galloped across a planet, claws tearing up the ground as it ran miles in minutes. Then it would leap and the thrusters would fire and they’d be flying through the air. With the wind whistling through her hair on a bright blue sky, Kali would let go and stretch out her arms, as if she too was flying with the great big machine. More fun than that were the storms, when winds would howl and rain would fly in their face with nothing but lightning bolts to see by. Then their dad would take them through loops and turns, diving and spinning through the air. All of it to show them what the metal beast could do, how it could handle anything and everything.

Kali loved every minute of it, and she thought the beast did too. Her dad explained it to her once that the machine wasn’t just a simple droid or a speeder; it was more an animal. There was a bond between rider and machine, warrior and beast. They could both fight apart, but together they were stronger than ever. She knew the machine had saved her dad’s life more than once. The monstrosity was just as much a part of the family as any thing else was.

And that was probably why this was so hard.

Her dad raised the beer bottle to his lips and tilted the head back, then finished it all in one go. He set the bottle on the ground and got to his feet. He stood there for a moment, just looking at the machine with his hands resting on his hips. “I guess there’s nothing else to it,” he said aloud. Kali didn’t know if he was talking to her and so she stayed quiet.

Her dad stepped forward and put a hand on the machine’s snout. The machine roused itself at his touch; systems powered up, servo motors whirled, and circuits hummed. The machine had no visible photoreceptors, but Kali knew it was watching her father. He gently patted the monster’s snout, then rubbed a hand all over it. “You’ve been a loyal friend,” her dad whispered, so quiet that Kali was not sure if she was meant to be here, to see this. “You don’t deserve this fate.” She felt as if she was an intruder.

The machine groaned. Kali knew that others would argue that it was just the gears shifting, the motors rotating. But she knew that wasn’t the case. The machine could feel her father’s sadness and knew what was coming. To her it was a sign of acceptance; it knew it was fate and went willingly towards it, knowing that it would help its master and family survive.

Slowly her dad made his way down the side of the machine, running his hand along its metal hide. He stopped at the beast’s massive shoulders and pulled himself up onto its back, using its joints and plating as foot and hand holds. Kali watched as her father pressed a button and the saddle lifted, allowing him access to the machine’s innards.

Her father sat there for one final moment just looking into the machine. Then he gave it one final pat on the shoulder and reached inside. Kali heard a click. Instantly a change descended over the beast. Its body tensed and locked up, the circuits stopped humming and the servo motors stopped whining. Any sign of life in the machine faded and disappeared. Slowly, her father twisted his arm and then drew it out from within the beast. In his hand he held a simple powercell.

She watched him sniff and rub at his nose with the back of his hand. “You rest now,” he said, patting it once more on the shoulder. “You’ve earned it. We had some good runs. It’s a waste, to...a waste to...well you know…but Gwen and I have to protect the kids…the clan has to come first…” Slowly, he lowered himself down to the ground and took a step back. “Just rest right now.”

Her father then turned and looked at her. She could see that his sole blue eye was red and wet, but no tears ran down her father’s face. Instead he waved for Kali to get up. “Come on,” he said. “We’d better go see how your mom’s doing. I’ll come back and finish this up later.”

Kali didn’t say anything as she got to her feet. Her father smiled and wrapped an arm around her, and then the two of them turned and left the barn, heading for the small house they were staying at. “Did I tell you about the first time I took that beast into a fight? It was back on the blockade and your mom was in the medbay on one of the cruisers…” Kali had heard the story before; she had heard it a hundred times over, but she didn’t groan or complain. Her dad talked nonstop on the short walk and Kali listened quietly. She did not know what to say to her father, and so the only comfort she could offer was her silence.

Spoiler
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

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YoshiRaphElan
05.01.2013 , 08:47 PM | #6
Aww.

Am I to take it that it was a Basilisk war droid?

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Caernos
05.04.2013 , 08:57 PM | #7
Yoshi: Yes, it was a basilisk war droid. It will feature in several other events in the story, whenever I get around to writing them. For right now though, enjoy its cameo appearance in the newest addition.

* * * * * * * * *

4. Doubts and Trepidations
Cynfor’s Garage, Concord Dawn, 2 BTC


Gwen tucked the kids into bed, making the older ones recite the resol’nare before leaving them alone. Juli and Rae she kissed and sang a lullaby to, leading them into quiet slumber. And when all were down for bed, she flicked off the light in their room and gently closed the door.

With all five of them in bed now, her thoughts turned to her own bed. She looked down the hall to the bedroom and the open door, but she did not move towards it. Inside everything was dark and swathed in shadow.
She still had one person to say goodnight to.

So with a sigh, Gwen went downstairs and to the backdoor of the house. There she paused and threw a jacket on before stepping outside. Above, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so the stars shined down in full. Across the long cluttered yard, Gwen could see the lights were still on in the workshop. With a shake of her head, she started across. When she and Cynfor had bought the house from an old farmer four years ago she had thought it to big. The multiple rooms, the large yard, and the barn; all of it seemed to much space for a family of five. But two more kids and a successful boom in business now left the house feeling cramped and crowded.

Clutching her jacket tight about her to ward off the cool night air, Gwen paused at the door to the workshop and glanced around the yard. It had been Cynfor’s idea to open a garage where he could work on speeders. Unfortunately he worked alone, and so the yard had become a parking lot for customers who were waiting for repairs. Gwen looked at them now, to see if Cynfor was perhaps trying to get a rush job for a customer done, but she could see that all the speeders had their protective tarps covering them for the night.

That left only one machine that Cynfor could be working on, and only one reason why he was working on it.
She pushed open the doors and entered the workshop. Before they bought the house, it had been a barn. After they bought it, they had gutted the interior and refitted it with everything a successful mechanic would need. Most of the space was empty and open; save for some cabinets, a counter, a holotable, and some chairs. The remaining space was more than enough room for Cynfor to work in out of the elements. And sitting right smack in the center of that open space was the basilisk war droid.

The animal like machine seemed to note her entrance to the workshop and shifted its weight a little. The joints of the monster groaned from the sheer bulk and weight. Gwen couldn’t help but marvel at it. When Cynfor had first gotten a hold of it, it had been little more than scrap metal. Gwen had been skeptical, but with his cousin’s help, Cynfor turned it from useless scrap to fully functioning killing machine in less than a year. Gwen had piloted it only a couple of times, and she had to admit that it was a thrilling experience, but she never could get it to move or respond the same way it would for Cynfor.

“Hey,” came her husband’s voice. Gwen looked around but didn’t see him. Then she saw his arm waving at her from the other side of the droid. Quickly Gwen walked around it. Kneeling on the floor, Cynfor was hunched over the droids ankle joint, his hands fiddling with the hydraulics that attached it to the leg. Gwen noted that he had also removed all of the armor plating from the entire leg and claws, exposing the inner workings. “Leg felt a little stiff on the last ride,” Cynfor said, as if knowing what she was going to ask. “Thought I would tune up the whole thing’s responsiveness.”

Gwen nodded absently. “You cold?” she asked, leaning over and laying a hand on his back. She curled her fingers and then gently rubbed them back and forth up and down his spine.

Cynfor shook his head, oblivious to her ministrations. “Nah, I’m fine.”

“You plan on working all night?”

“No. I’ll be along in a minute to tuck in the kids.”

Gwen shook her head and smirked at how absorbed Cynfor could get sometimes. She ran her hand up his spine and to the back of his neck. There she curled her fingers into his hair and gave a sharp but playful tug. Cynfor winced and tilted his head back to ease the pressure off. Gwen looked into his mismatched eyes and her smirk grew at his confusion. “Cyn, I just finished putting them to bed.”

His brow shot up and he glanced at his chronometer. “Har’chaak!” He dropped the wrench he was holding and rubbed at his real eye with the heels of his hand, careful not to get grease or dirt in it. “Sorry cyar’ika, didn’t mean to get sidetracked.”

“I know,” Gwen said, nodding her head. “So what’s the bad news that’s got you out here playing with your toy.” Something in the basilisk hissed, as if the idea that it was just a plaything was insulting to it. Gwen ignored it and grabbed the two chairs from the holotable. She walked back over to Cynfor and set them down on the ground, then patted the back of one, motioning for him to take a seat.

“It’s nothing,” he said, taking the offered seat and sinking into it.

Gwen bent down and picked up the dropped wrench. “Clearly its not nothing or you wouldn’t be out here playing with you toy.”

Cynfor just grunted noncommittally.

Gwen sighed and put one hand on her hip. “Cyn, I am a mandalorian not some outer rim colonial rube.” She lifted the wrench above her head and growled playfully. “If I have to beat you senseless to prove that I can handle things, I will.”

Cynfor flashed half a faint grin. Gwen smiled as well, relieved that she could lighten his burden. Whatever was on his mind though wasn’t so easily wiped away; Gwen could see it in his seriousness, and she felt it pull her own mood down as well. “Alright, I’ll talk,” Cynfor sheepishly said, “torturer.”

“Whatever it takes.” Gwen tossed the wrench on to the counter, the tool just falling short and bouncing off the side. Cynfor winced and Gwen shrugged; then she dropped into the chair next to him. Cynfor wrapped an arm around her shoulders and she leaned in close, putting her head on his. “So what’s eating you?”

Cynfor took a deep breath in and slowly let it out. His shoulders rose and fell with it, a gentle and calm motion that Gwen savored. “Mand’alor is calling for warriors to go attack the Republic in several star systems. Supposedly, it is to draw Republic forces away from the real attack which will come later.”

Gwen didn’t respond. Instead she took a quiet moment to contemplate what Cynfor wasn’t saying, and what it could all mean. “You don’t think he’ll assemble the clans do you?” Cynfor didn’t answer her. Lost in his own thoughts, his fingers gently caressed Gwen’s arm. “Cyn?

Roused by her words, Cynfor shook his head. “No,” he grunted, “Not after the fiasco with the blockade. To many of the aliit’alor wouldn’t answer. I think the Empire is behind this. They've either got operations going on in those sectors, or they want the pressure off of them.”

Gwen considered his words. She knew people were slowly turning against Mand’alor. Being defeated by a ragtag band of criminals had hurt badly, and since that defeat five years ago, the clans had done nothing but take jobs from the Empire. No attempt to build a new fleet, no attempt to build new armies, no real attempts to recruit new warriors even, left many feeling bitter and cheated. Mand’alor had promised much when he ascended to leader of the clans, but he had been unable to deliver. Unless Mand’alor did something to turn his popularity around, Gwen knew it was only a matter of time till some warrior challenged him for the title.

Oblivious to her thoughts, Cynfor shook his head. “I don’t know Gwen. Things were so much easier when it was just you and me; a couple of hotheads who couldn’t stand each other. Now we’re trying to take care of a family and a business, and I’m worried that we’re all gonna become sith tools again forget all of our traditions and lose our honor.” His hand found hers and grasped it. It was rough and calloused with more than a few scars from hard work and many fights, but Gwen didn’t mind. Her hands were just as rough as his. “I just want the kids to grow up as proud warriors, not…” his voice trailed off as he tried to find the words to express what he was feeling. Exasperated he rolled his head around and gave up. “Not whatever. I just don’t know Gwen.”

Now it was Gwen’s turn to take a deep breath in and let it out. “I think,” she began quietly, “We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. They’ll turn out fine, as long as we’re a good role model for them.”

Cynfor grunted noncommittally again, making Gwen chuckle. “What you doubt me?” she teased, sitting up slightly and turning his head towards her with her hand. “If we show them our best, if we live true to the resol’nare and keep our honor, then they’ll turn out fine. It doesn’t matter if we trip or fall a couple times, as long as we get back up and keep going, they’ll turn out fine.”

Half a grin crossed Cynfor’s face. He stroked her cheek and made a very tiny shake of his head, his grin growing into a smile. “How do you make it sound so easy?”

“It’s a gift,” she said, casually flipping her hair over her shoulder. Cynfor chuckled fully, and Gwen smiled as well. She got to her feet and grasping his hand, tried to pull him to his. “Now come on, you’re not doing any good out here tinkering away. It’s time to come inside.”

Cyfnor’s brow raised a few inches. He resisted her pull, staying seated in his chair. “I still have to put my tools and things away. Plus I gotta put the armor plating back on—“

“Leave it for tomorrow.” Gwen shook her head and tugged again. The stubborn man would stay up all night if she let him. “Come on, you have other things you need to do.”

Finally he caved to her persistence. “Like what?” he asked as he rose to his feet.

“Well the kids are all in bed but you could tuck your wife in.”

Cynfor threw his arm over her shoulder and pulled her close. Together they started for the door and the house. “Cyar’ika, last time I tucked you in we got surprised by Juli.”

“Men!” Gwen scoffed. Cynfor laughed as she jabbed an elbow into her side. “I swear it’s all you ever think about.” Cynfor laughed again and kissed her head, then reached out and flicked the lights, leaving the garage in darkness.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

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Caernos
05.05.2013 , 07:01 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by YoshiRaphElan View Post
Hmm, it's going good!
Unfortunately I don't have anything new, or I wouldn't just bump my thread to respond to a comment.

I am glad you're enjoying it so far Yoshi, comments and thoughts are always appreciated. I also enjoy your stories, but unfortunately, I am not through with Makeb yet, so I haven't even started on Rise of the Black Sun because I don't want to know the spoilers. Hopefully I'll get to it soon, I'm trying to play through the Empire side right now, then I have to figure out who I want to play through on the pub side.

Also, for anyone else who's reading, please let me know if the mandalorian gets confusing. I'm trying not to use it to much, but there are points where I think inserting a word or two, just as reminders that these two characters are from a unique culture, really helps with the story. So if you have any questions, please ask, I'm always happy to answer and explain.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

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Caernos
07.30.2013 , 06:27 AM | #10
Surprise! This thread is still alive. I am still working on this story, its just coming at a snail's pace as I've had a hard time writing some of this stuff, and I keep getting sidetracked by the game. Plus, I have another project that I'm working on, on my current commute and I need to start transcribing that from paper to computer.

So things are progressing, just at a snails pace, like I said. Anyways, I hope everyone enjoys this chapter. As always, all comments and criticisms are appreciated and welcomed.

5. Family Lessons
Preserver’s Town, Dxun, 16 BTC

Spoiler


Notes
Spoiler
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts