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The Voyages of Targon Karashi


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TargonKarashi
03.19.2012 , 07:15 PM | #21
Chapter Six

Rick awoke with a start. He was in new quarters – but still a cell. A nicer cell than what he was in, with a cot and a toilet, but it was still a cell.

Someone had entered. He looked up, and saw that it was Gabrielle. She had a container of water and a rag with her.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“I’m here to clean you up. Your little show with the bikes caused some scrapes.”

Rick groaned. The pain was now registering. “Why bother? I’m just going out again, aren’t I? They’re just going to keep me going until I get killed.”

“True,” Gabrielle nodded. “However, Lycos will likely want you looking nice for the cameras.”

“Oh, he’s so thoughtful.”

“And…” she hesitated. “I thought it might help you be a little more comfortable.”

Rick looked at her. “Why do you care?”

“Lycos may be my boss, but he doesn’t govern everything I do.”

“That’s not really an answer.”

Gabrielle soaked the rag and started dabbing Rick’s sore face. “I don’t think I’m obligated to give one.”

“You’re more cryptic than my Jedi friend,” Rick winced as she ran the cold, wet cloth against his injuries. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to treat you.”

“No, no,” Rick looked at her straight in the eye. “You’re here for a different reason – but I can’t figure what. You’re a bounty hunter, and your boss and his associates want me dead.”

“So?” Gabrielle continued her work. “I’m allowed to take my own initiative.”

Rick rolled his eyes. She didn’t seem to want to give any answers. And he didn’t want to make a foolish assumption. That would be a big mistake with a bounty hunter. All of a sudden, he noticed her arm. On the perfect blue skin was a scar.

He pointed to it. “What’s that? It’s definitely not a combat wound.”

“How would you know?” Gabrielle asked as she covered it up quickly.

“I know because I’ve seen lots of people get scars like that. You were once a slave, weren’t you?”

Gabrielle’s face flashed with anger, and Rick started to fear that she might shoot him. But then the anger changed to pain. She looked away.

“I…uh…I’m sorry,” Rick said softly. “It’s really not my business…”

“You’re right, it isn’t,” she responded. She dabbed him hard with the cloth and he winced again.

“Now, there’s no need to do that,” he groaned. “I’m sorry I brought it up… You probably don’t get treated much better by your employer, do you?”

“You’d better drop the subject,” she suggested.

“No,” he stood up. “No, I don’t think I will. Someone as lovely as you deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. I’ve seen far too many beautiful women suffer at the hands of criminals.”

“What concern is it of yours?”

“I…” his face grimaced with hidden guilt. “I’ve seen it before, and I abhor it! I abhor anything and anyone that harms…”

“If you’re trying to say that I should be protected and cared for, don’t bother,” Gabrielle rose and stared at him. “I am perfectly capable of handling myself.”

Rick stared back at her. “If that were the case, you wouldn’t let crooks like Lycos Quinn and his men misuse and mistreat you.”

“How can you be sure I am treated poorly? You hardly even know me.”

“I saw that scar, and I see it in your eyes. I’ve seen it countless times…the look of pain and grief that rises from the suffering soul and pierces the heart of anyone that perceives it.”

Gabrielle peered at him. “You’re more than a smuggler…”

“Was,” he said simply. “I’ve been many things. And one thing I’ve never been nor ever will be is one that tolerates the abuse to a woman.”

“As if you could do anything,” she scoffed.

“No, I suppose I can’t do anything to help you – prisoner that I am. But you can help yourself.”

“What do you mean?”

“You don’t have to take the treatment. You don’t have to let Quinn dominate you.”

She shook her head. “You don’t understand, you can’t understand.”

“I do,” Rick’s face was solemn. “More than you know.”

Gabrielle looked at him and then glanced at the door. “I have to go – before the guard gets any foolish notions. You should make yourself ready. You’ll be going out again soon.”

“You don’t have to let this continue,” Rick pleaded. “We can both get out of this.”

“There’s nothing we can do against him,” she shook her head. Then she started for the door and opened it up.

Looking back, she winked to him. “For what it’s worth – though you probably don’t trust a bounty hunter that captured you – it wasn’t all fake the other night. You are really rather cute.”

She didn’t have long to see him blush before she closed the door. The locks secured themselves again and she walked off.

There really wasn’t anywhere she needed to be at the moment, so she wandered around for a while. The maze of hallways – the same carpeting, lighting, and pattern of doors – had long ago become drab and dull to her.

She heard all too familiar voices behind a door. Most prominent of all was Lycos’. Stopping at the door, she silently listened to what her boss was talking about.

“Believe me, my friend,” Lycos said, “I don’t like having the slime around any more than you do. If anything, I want him dead more than you.”

“If that’s so, why don’t we get rid of him now and be done with it?” asked the cold voice of the one Gabrielle had long since grown to despise.

“Business. We need the deal made with his assets and connections, and the only way to get that is if he signs the contracts.”

“And he won’t sign until the smuggler dies?”

“Precisely,” Lycos sighed. “Once that is done, we can deal with him. The moment his signature is secure, you can carve him up into tiny pieces.”

“I want him dead for his associates,” the other snarled. “That runt of a man, Djehad, in particular. I fail to see how you could want him dead so eagerly. You’re a man of business and appearances. Your goals have never been crossed or hindered by him.”

“You forget that I am also a man,” Lycos replied. “And as a man, I am bound to certain desires – vengeance and justice, particularly.”

“Vengeance? Justice?”

“Yes. That same man, Djehad Nguyen, has killed countless of my business associates on the Hutt’s errand. But above all, he killed my sister as…collateral damage.”

“Your sister?”

Lycos’ voice grew cold. “Exactly. I want him dead – worse than dead. But I need his business, and we also need to make sure the slug’s family does not try to avenge his death on us. We can’t be suspected of foul play.”

“The worms are naturally suspicious of everything,” the bounty hunter growled. “How will you keep them off your trail?”

“When you kill Gardogga, make sure it looks like it was done by Gabrielle. And make sure it looks like she went rogue. That shouldn’t be too hard, given that she has been getting rather distanced of late.”

“You want to frame one of your employees? How are you expecting me to take this? How can I know you won’t do the same to me when my value has expired?”

“Because I know full well that you can kill me easily – if I were to do something like that.” He paused. “Now, the games will be starting again, and Rick’s special performance is drawing near.”

Gabrielle bolted away from the door, down the halls, and kept going until she was a good distance away that hopefully nobody would suppose she had been eavesdropping on Lycos.

When she came to a stop, she leaned against the wall and panted hard. Not from exhaustion, but from shock. She could not believe what she had heard. Her own boss was setting her up! After all the good work she had done for him for so long!

Fear gripped her, and then turned to barely controlled anger. But what could she do? Lycos had hundreds of men working for him…and none would be on her side. She could not hope to kill him for this – she wouldn’t stand a chance against…his favorite hunter.

She had become expendable to Lycos…expendable like a slave again. After a dozen masters and employers all treating her like property and a tool, now it was happening again. She had thought that Lycos would have been different. He was cruel, she knew full well – and apparently Rick had been able to see it. But he had never thought of her as expendable.

Gabrielle breathed deep and let the rage and shock flow out of her. She needed to get away. Now. But was she to leave Rick to his fate? Was there anything she could do even if she wanted to?

There were a few blaster shots down the hall. Grabbing her pistols, she tentatively made her way towards the noise. She turned the corner, her guns pointed at the people she encountered.

Four of Lycos’ guards lay dead, two shot and two cut down. Standing over them were two men who were the last people she would have expected to see here. And now.

“You!” the young Jedi held up his lightsaber. “Where’s Rick?!” he demanded.

His companion – the old soldier – held up his gun back at her. “Speak quickly, bounty hunter.”

With her guns pointed at each of them, they were caught at a standoff. Anyone could have made a move, but at least one or two would be killed in the incident. Her fingers were ready to pull the triggers, but the Jedi and the trooper were just as prepared.

The crazy idea sprung into her head. These men were here for Rick, and Rick had been taken because of orders given by Lycos. Lycos was these men’s enemy. She had simply been the one carrying out the command.

She lowered her pistols and holstered them. “I was not expecting to see either of you for a long time.”

“We’re not slow when our friend is concerned,” the Jedi said sternly.

“You’ll never be able to help him,” Gabrielle said coolly. “He’s being taken to the arena right now – and the security is tighter than a paranoid senator’s estate.”

“That doesn’t matter,” the old soldier responded. “We’ll fight our way through all this crime lord’s scum.”

“Your chances of survival and success are slim.” She paused and then winked. “But the odds might be better if you have my help. I’ve got some ideas that could level the field.”

The two men glanced at each other and then back at her. Their expressions showed their granted mistrust. But there was something in the look of the Jedi that might suggest he wasn’t sensing any treachery.

She hoped he was a man willing to follow a gut feeling.

---

The screams of the crowd was deafening as Rick rose through the floor on a lift. The lights were blinding, all of them pointed directly at the center of the field.

The arena had been altered. It wasn’t a flat grid anymore. There were areas where rubble had been left to make barriers. It appeared there had been something like a deadly landspeeder race, judging by the debris.

Well, thought Rick, at least he could find some cover in whatever he was doing.

At the very center of the arena was a red ring on the ground. The light’s focus was on this single spot. Rick noticed there was a stand with something on top and started to walk towards it. He stopped short when he heard Lycos’ voice over the speakers.

“It’s time for the event you’ve all been waiting for, ladies and gentlemen! I hope your bets are down because we’re ready to begin!”

An excited cheer came in reply.

Lycos continued, “Here we have a brave man – a man who has made some dangerous enemies. And it just so happens that one of these enemies is here tonight, and eager to challenge this man in the arena!”

“Enough with this nonsense!” Rick shouted. “Tell me what’s going on so I can get this over with.”

“Alright then, Mr. Orlan,” Lycos’ patronizing voice mocked. “Your job is to make it to the red ring alive.”

“Simple enough,” Rick sighed. “And who’s this challenger? Not Gardogga, I hope?”

Lycos and the audience laughed. “No, Mr. Orlan,” Lycos replied, amused. “It’s another man I believe you know quite well.”

The sound of a jetpack roared over the audience, and a large man landed not too far away. Rick’s blood ran cold when he saw who it was.

“Now we can settle our debt of honor,” Algayne’s voice bellowed. “You and me, Rick. Single combat.”

“Well that’s not fair,” Rick scoffed. “You’ve got – what – dozens of weapons?”

“Reach the red ring and obtain your pistols,” Lycos’ voice said.

“Oh, well,” Rick groaned. “I guess we’re really going for the dramatic.”

“No more words!” Algayne shouted. “Give me a worthy fight, Rick!”

The buzzer he recalled from the bike show rang, and with it, Rick saw a rocket zooming towards him. He ran and ducked behind a pile of rubble to avoid the explosion. Soon following the bang, he heard Algayne’s jetpack fire up and get louder.

Rick got to his feet and started running. Blaster bolts struck the ground, trailing after his feet. He glanced up to see the Mandalorian hovering above him. He wasn’t aiming to kill, he was toying with him.

Rick tripped on a piece of twisted metal, landing on his face. There was no shot to his back in this vulnerable position. That wouldn’t be sporting.

He got himself back up and tried to make for the ring. Nearing less than ten meters away, he felt the Mandalorian’s hard boot smash into his backside. He dropped, and the heavy boots planted with a thud a short ways off.

Getting back to his feet, Rick was facing Algayne directly. The Mandalorian stood directly between him and the ring. There was no going around him, there was only through him.

Rick charged, leading with his shoulder. He smacked into Algayne’s legs and tried to knock him down. He was not successful.

Algayne slammed his elbow down into Rick’s shoulder, took a step back, and planted a direct smash of his fist into Rick’s face.

Catching himself before he toppled over, Rick threw a punch of his own. It was blocked by Algayne’s arm, but he followed it up with a quick second one. His knuckles cracked as he struck hard armor.

He cried out, but attempted a kick. With any luck, his foot would be better off.

Algayne caught his foot with his hand and twisted. Rick screamed and fell to the ground.

Reaching down, Algayne picked him back up, smacked his face three times, and then sent him crashing down again with a head butt.

Everything was spinning. Rick tried to put a hand up to his bleeding head but missed and just rubbed his nose.

His whole body scrunched up when Algayne planted his foot into Rick’s gut. He writhed on the ground, moaning and struggling to breathe.

“Get up!” Algayne barked. “Give me at least a partial challenge!”

Rick rasped, “I won’t give you the satisfaction.”

“Then die like an animal, instead of a man.”

There was a strange wailing sound – the sound of a speeder’s engine – high overhead. The light was diminished as something moved in its way.

Something struck Algayne hard and he stumbled backwards. When he saw what it was, he roared in a fury.

Rick saw a cloaked person standing over him, blocking the path between Algayne and Rick. A bright green light appeared in his hand.

Though muffled from the ringing pain in his body, Rick could hear the familiar and blessed voice of his first mate state, “You will not touch this man again!”
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.19.2012 , 07:19 PM | #22
Chapter Seven

Targon held out his blade toward the Mandalorian, his face stern. There was a moment of silence. The crowd had gone still, and Algayne hesitated to make a move.

Then he lifted his arm and activated his flamethrower. Targon ducked and pulled the battered Rick away from the fire. Then he leaped and kicked Algayne’s side.

The Mandalorian’s fall echoed on the floor, but he soon got himself up. He unsheathed a knife and slashed at Targon, but the Jedi’s reflexes were quick and he caught the blade with his saber.

With a flick of his wrists, Targon flung the knife out of its wielder’s hands and kicked his armored chest. He ended up just throwing himself, as the sturdy Mandalorian and his thick armor held against his foot.

Up above, the speeder zipped past the VIP box, where Lycos and his guests could only look with shock at the occupants. Lycos’ face scrunched into a scowl as he saw Gabrielle piloting. But it was the passenger who posed the threat.

Greyhawk had his blaster out and fired at will into the box, hitting the guards that surrounded the dignitaries. Most of his shots, however, simply hit the walls, spraying sparks over the occupants.

Then the speeder moved off, heading down towards the combatants on the arena below. As floating security droids appeared following the sound of the alarm, Greyhawk took aim and started knocking them out of the air one by one.

Targon stood up just in time to barely get his head out of the way as Algayne charged at him. Instead of his face, his shoulder took the hit from the Mandalorian’s large fist.

Dropping to the ground, Targon rolled and then got back up a short distance away from his opponent. From the corner of his eye, he noticed Rick’s blasters in the ring, and he called one of them to him.

Once in his hand, he fired at Algayne’s jetpack, which sparked and hissed. Expecting it to explode, Targon dove to get Rick out of the way. As he did so, he pulled the second gun to him and slipped both into Rick’s holsters.

The jetpack did not explode. Instead, it fired up, taking off and taking Algayne along with it. He shouted in alarm as he was rocketed across the arena. He smashed through a wall, leaving a large cloud of dust and smoke behind him.

Gabrielle brought the speeder down next to Targon and Rick. Targon heaved up Rick and lifted him into the vehicle. Greyhawk grabbed the injured captain and set him down before returning to fire at the approaching droids.

The security machines fired bright blue bolts from their guns, but they were slow to maneuver and fire. Greyhawk had no trouble taking them down.

“This is going a lot easier than I thought,” he smirked. “Lycos should invest in better security.”

Targon got himself into the speeder, and once he was seated, Gabrielle took off. The roof of the stadium had been closed, so they circled around above the crowd for a minute.

Greyhawk pointed to a large window. “There! We’ll get out there!”

“No chance,” Gabrielle shook her head. “These windows are made of transparasteel, almost as strong as starships’! We’d simply smash into it and be flattened!”

Targon stood up and pointed his hand towards the window. Through the Force, he felt the surface, reaching deep into the molecular level. The particles were vibrating softly, but he could feel the erratic nature of the atoms. He concentrated and broke the bonds that held many of the molecules together.

Opening his eyes, he nodded with satisfaction as the window shattered into pieces and they were able to fly through. But he didn’t realize how intensely he had been concentrated until a moment later. He collapsed into his seat, his strength sapped.

He felt a cringe of guilt that the shards of the window might have fallen upon some of the crowd and injured them.

Rick’s groans drew his attention, and he strained to gather the strength to look after him.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“Considering all that I’ve been through?” Rick asked weakly. “Yeah, I guess I’m good.”

“Let’s get to your ship and get off planetside before Lycos can react,” Gabrielle said.

“What are you doing here?” Rick asked.

“She’s driving the getaway car,” Targon smiled. “We were able to rescue you so easily because of her.”

“Don’t call it easy just yet,” Greyhawk said. “We’ve got a trailer…”

Behind them was a speeder – one with a pair of cannons on the sides. When it was in range, it started firing.

Gabrielle took the vehicle left, right, left again, up, down…meandering all over the place trying to avoid the fire. Targon held tight to Rick and to the vehicle so that neither of them would slip.

Turning to face the pursuer, Greyhawk pointed his blaster and started returning fire. With the pilot’s “graceful” flying, he found it difficult to get even close to hitting the target. Yet the same was true for the attacker, and so her tactic was working fine in his book.

They were nearing the docks, but the pursuing speeder was getting closer. Greyhawk kept firing, and missing, because Gabrielle was having to level out in order for them to make a landing and get inside.

It was then that the welcome sound of whining sirens arrived. Two police craft came in on either side of the armed speeder and ordered it to cease firing and land immediately.

Without further hindrance, Gabrielle landed the ship. Carrying Rick, they rushed to The Lone Eagle and climbed aboard. It took much longer than they liked to get cleared for takeoff. Each minute they sat waiting left a moment of fear to grow. Lycos’ reach was unknown to any of them, so their minds quivered with frightening presumptions. That was the real power of Quinn’s – the simple knowledge that he could find and kill anyone he wanted. The only question was time.

Despite the others’ protests, Rick claimed he was well enough to pilot his own ship. He was determined to be the one that got them out of this blasted mess. After all, he was the one that got himself into it.

They were up and leaving orbit. Targon took a glance at the planet. A pity, he thought, that their visit to Corellia had to be so unfortunate. He had heard plenty of nice things about the planet, and he had actually been hoping for a bit of a rest.

But it appeared there would be none here. This time.

---

Lycos stood up and brushed his clothes off. There was chaos amid the crowds. Many were leaving, others were standing around and totally unsure of what was going on.

Ignoring the useless mob, Lycos turned around and studied what had happened to his box. Deep anger festered inside him at having had such a mockery occur in his estate, in the presence of all these other businessmen. It would be extremely bad for his reputation.

His guests were getting up, indignation and anger was apparent in their faces as well. Anger at being attacked and having been unprotected by their host.

Before any of them could start accusing him, Lycos gestured to his men. “Get them out of here. The show is over, gentlemen, and it’s time for you to go home.”

One voice would not be sequestered by Lycos’ dismissal.

“What sort of circus are you running here, Quinn?” Gardogga bellowed. “You’ve made what happened aboard my airbus on Calpronica look like a tea party!”

“Shut up, slime!” Lycos cast aside his calmness.

“And now you dare to lose your hospitality and throw insults at me? I will see you dead or bankrupt for this offense!”

“Wrong, Hutt,” Lycos grinned cruelly. “This event hardly sets my business back. Since I won’t be getting you to sign the deals, I’ll simply buy out your holdings.”

“Ho! Over my dead body!” Gardogga laughed.

“Yes, yours and my sister’s!” Lycos shouted. “Next time your assassins kill the family member of a fellow businessman, you’d better fire him, not reward him.”

“Your empty threats and personal grievances do not concern me,” Gardogga gurgled. “It is a pity about your sister, though. Had she lived I could have made a fine ransom out of her…or a fine dinner.”

“I’ll see you gutted and fed to a rancor!”

“How so? Your guards seem lost in the disorder of the breakout, and my glorious person is kept safe by my entourage.”

“You mean that entourage?” Lycos pointed.

On the ground behind the Hutt were Gardogga’s men – guards and assistants. All of them were lying dead on the ground, all of them bore deep slashes and lay in a pool of blood.

“What have you done?!” Gardogga bellowed.

“The same thing I’m going to do to you,” came the reply as a surge of electricity revealed the presence of a tall, armored man. His blades on his wrist were scarlet from the dripping blood.

Gardogga roared in alarm as Lycos’ man cut him open. The Hutt’s recent meal spilled out onto the floor along with the rest of the gunk. He bellowed and gurgled in his death throes, but finally went still and silent. The box was empty except for the hunter and the boss. All the others had been escorted out.

Lycos put his hand to his nose to block out the stench. “Good kill.”

“Too bad his death couldn’t have been more painful,” the Phantom snarled.

“It’s done now. Come, we’ve got a lot of work to do. First off, would you be kind enough to get the cleaning crews in here to deal with this…mess?”

“What about him?” the Phantom pointed to the man the Hutt had swallowed and now lay in the stinking juices. “He’s still alive, and he looks like a man from Black Sun.”

Lycos didn’t bother to look as he started walking out. “There’s no use for him, and I’ve never been a fan of that criminal gang. Put him out of his misery.”

---

Rick had just gotten dressed after a dip in the bacta tank to recover from Algayne’s beating. He came into the main hold, where he found Targon, Greyhawk, and Gabrielle all cleaning up the mess left from the other night.

“Feeling better?” Targon asked.

“Much, thank you.” Rick nodded. “Is the ship on auto-pilot?”

“Yes,” Greyhawk answered. “Despite what you might think, we do now how to fly a ship.”

“I know that,” Rick said. “But she’s a special ship, and I’m very careful with her.”

“Yes, we know,” Targon smiled.

Rick turned to Gabrielle. “So, what are we to do with you? I mean, you are a bounty hunter after all. One that gave me a nasty bump on the head, if I recall.”

“I suppose I could say I’m sorry,” Gabrielle sighed. “But that probably wouldn’t mean much.”

“What possessed my crew here to even work with you?” Rick asked.

Targon replied, “We encountered her in the hall, after having wandered around in it for quite some time and getting nowhere. With her help, we were actually able to get to you and have a way of getting you out.”

“I’m curious,” Rick looked back at the Twi’lek. “After our little talk got nowhere, what made you decide to actually get out of there?”

Gabrielle closed her eyes and stifled any outburst of emotion. “I didn’t see how bad my situation was until I heard Quinn’s plan to frame me for Gardogga’s murder. I guess…I guess that’s when I realized I was still a piece of property to him.”

“Criminals,” Greyhawk spat. “The galaxy would be infinitely better off without them.”

“But then the bounty hunters would be out of a job,” Rick smiled.

“What will you do now?” Targon asked.

Gabrielle sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t have anywhere to go…”

“You aren’t going anywhere,” Rick said. “You’re staying on this ship, with us.”

“Rick?” Targon raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure you’re okay with that? I thought of suggesting it, but you weren’t exactly happy when I brought Marc along.”

“Yeah, well…” Rick grinned. “No offense, Greyhawk, but she’s a lot prettier than you.”

“So I’m just here for my looks?” Gabrielle asked.

Rick’s smile sank. “Um…no…that’s not what I…uh…”

Gabrielle laughed. “That’s a joke, Rick. I thought you were good at those.”

Everyone laughed.

“Well,” Rick nodded. “We’ve got a nice little crew forming here. A young Jedi Knight, a retired soldier, a sexy bounty hunter…and me, of course.”

“So what will we do now?” Targon asked. “Find another vacations spot? Somewhere in the Core?”

Rick shook his head. “Nope, I’m through with the Core Worlds for now. Besides, we’re going to need to make ourselves scarce until this whole thing with Lycos blows over. How does the Outer Rim sound?”

“With the luck we’ve had,” Greyhawk shook his head, “it won’t matter where we go. We’ll find some trouble, or trouble will find us.”

“Now, now,” Targon held up a finger. “There is no luck. The Force is guiding us.”

A groan came from the others. “Please don’t say things like that,” Rick said. “From what I hear, whenever a Jedi says something like that it usually means a string of problems is right on the horizon.”

“You’re not scared of a few problems, are you?” Gabrielle asked.

“No, I’m just thinking about your well-being. I told you it might have been a better idea to keep away from me before I did anything stupid.”

“Or get any temptations?” Gabrielle winked. “I could learn to take a few risks. I’ve got nothing to lose anymore, after all.”

Conclusion of Episode Three
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.22.2012 , 12:34 PM | #23
Episode Four – Ensnared in Shadow

Chapter One

Targon was walking on a path through a forest, wondering how he had gotten here. He looked up at the tall trees, connected to each other by great vines between the branches. Sunlight came down in splotches through the canopy.

Despite his confusion, he started feeling calm and at peace in the forest. It reminded him of his walks with Master Tieru on Tython.

Silent mist began to rise on the ground, but it was light and hardly noticeable. Targon paid no mind to it as he continued down the path. As he pressed on, the mist grew thicker and colder. It swirled around his legs, getting higher and higher. Still, it was only fog, and therefore shouldn’t cause any trouble.

Nightfall fell suddenly, and Targon found himself enclosed in gloom. He activated his lightsaber to give him some light, and noticed an eerie change in the forest. The trees were no longer fastened together with vines, but instead with black webs.

Targon began to walk faster, starting to run…but the mist had grown thick like mud and slowed him. Soon he could hardly make a single step. He slashed at the mist with his saber, but it made no effect.

Looking up, he found hundreds of people caught in the webbing in the trees. Some were struggling to get free, but instead were getting further entangled. Others were peaceful, but so still they may have been dead. The webbing started to expand and multiply, completely covering up those caught, and trapping countless more.

Targon’s breath became quick and weak, full of fear and confusion. He heard something not far away. Looking towards it, he saw his companions, struggling against the web as it sought to entangle them too. Targon called out to them, fighting against the fog that held him still.

They could not hear him, and their fight was in vain. Soon they too joined the others, trapped and helpless, hanging high in the trees.

As Targon kept straining to get free, he felt a dark presence approaching. Something grabbed his legs, and then his arms. He struggled to get loose, but it simply tightened its grip.

Whatever it was that held him in the dark, it started to spread. He could feel tendrils creeping down his arms and up his legs, and as they moved, he lost all feeling in his appendages. It continued until it consumed him entirely.

With a cry, Targon awoke and sat up. His eyes darted about, but he saw that he was in his bunk, on the ship. It had only been a nightmare.

He was drenched in sweat, and his garments and sheets clung to him. It felt too familiar to his dream, and he quickly cast them off. Standing up, he got himself dressed in his robes and went out into the hall, walking to the cockpit.

The rest of the group was asleep, except for Rick at the pilot’s chair. He sat with his legs resting up on the console, leaning back with his hands behind his head. The music of his stereo was playing over the speakers, though not at all blaring as usual.

“What’s with the tone down?” Targon inquired.

Rick hadn’t heard him come in and was startled. He nearly fell out of his chair. Seeing that it was only Targon, he sighed and faced him.

“Apparently the crew does not appreciate the volume of my music.”

“Oh? I thought that Marc had told you several times earlier.”

Rick shook his head. “Yeah, well, I figured those were the gripes of an irritable old man. I got the message when our bounty hunter friend flipped me and dug her heel into my chest.”

Targon raised an eyebrow. “Gabrielle?”

“Quite a woman, isn’t she?” Rick smirked. “Gorgeous and deadly. Quite a combination. Apparently she wasn’t too fond of the loud tunes either.”

Targon smiled. “Did she hurt you much?”

“Nah, just a big purple bruise on my chest. Nothing I can’t handle. At least she was more gentle than Algayne.”

“Do you think we’ll be seeing him again?” Targon asked.

“Probably,” Rick frowned. “I doubt he’s killed very easily. Obviously, he didn’t stay in jail very long. I had hoped that little stunt back on Calpronica would have kept him away for at least a few weeks.”

“What do you suppose happened?”

“That Mandalorian has lots of skills. He would have broken out sooner or later. But that soon…he must have had help.”

“The Empire?”

“No doubt. But I don’t think we have much to worry about with them. I mean, really, how important could a former smuggler and a single Jedi Knight that disrupted an unimportant planet be?”

“I wish I could feel the same way,” Targon sighed.

Rick sat back down. “So, what are you doing up so late? You were first to go to bed.”

“Is it late? I can’t tell.”

“Yeah, space tends to do that.”

“Nightmares,” Targon shrugged. “Terrible ones.”

Rick smiled. “Nothing as terrible as mine, I’m sure.”

“Oh?”

“After Gabrielle’s foot in my ribcage, I’ve been dreaming of her doing all sorts of…things to me.”

“Painful things or otherwise?”

“Perhaps they aren’t the things to discuss with a Jedi,” Rick winked.

Targon’s eyebrow rose higher. “Does she know?”

“No, and she won’t know. Got it, first mate?”

“It’s not my place to tell people things of this nature. I am a Jedi, after all.”

Rick smiled. “So, you want to talk about your dreams?”

“I don’t think you could help,” Targon sighed. “My master could have given me guidance…”

“Fine, don’t lay your problems on me,” Rick raised his hands. “Fine by me.”

Suddenly, the ship shook hard. An alarm flashed and wailed. Rick turned to the console and Targon sat down in the co-pilot’s seat.

“What is it?” Targon asked.

Rick’s face flushed. “A Imperial warship. It pulled us out of hyperspace.”

“Are we in Sith space?” Targon inquired. “I thought we were going to the Outer Rim.”

“We are in the Outer Rim…there shouldn’t be Republic or Empire in this part of space!”

“Apparently not anymore,” Targon frowned. “We should try to outrun them.”

“Way ahead of you, my friend.”

The ship jerked forward and veered away from the destroyer. Cannon fire followed after them, shaking the ship as it struck the shields.

“What is going on?” Greyhawk asked as he walked in. “Can’t an old soldier get his sleep?”

“Imperials!” Rick replied. “They seem unwilling to oblige you, Greyhawk.”

“What are Imperials doing here?”

“Should we ask them?” Rick countered. “Hold on, I’m trying to get us out of range of them.”

There was a beeping on the console. Targon checked it.

“They’re hailing us,” he stated.

“What? They want to talk?” Rick was surprised.

“Probably demanding our surrender,” Greyhawk growled. “I have not interest in being in an Imperial prison.”

“Then sit tight,” Rick said. “I’ll get us out of here.”

“Should we respond?” Targon asked.

“We really don’t have anything to say,” Rick replied. “Besides, no need to show our faces to the faceless Empire.”

Over the speakers came an audio message from the pursuing warship. “Crew of The Lone Eagle, cease this pointless chase and submit to be boarded.”

“Pfft,” Rick scoffed. “Not a chance.”

The ship shook several times more as the warship’s cannons battered the shields. Gabrielle came into the cockpit.

“Can’t you jump to hyperspace?” she asked.

“If I could, then we’d be gone,” Rick answered. “We’ve got to get out of range first.”

Targon pointed to the scanners. “There’s an asteroid field not too far away. Perhaps we can hide out there?”

“And they’ll just sit there waiting for us or send fighters to find us,” Rick shook his head. “That won’t work.”

Looking back to the scanners, Targon saw something else. “There’s a planet…”

“No good either,” Rick shook his head.

A major tremor rumbled through the ship, and sparks flew from the conduits. Systems started failing throughout the ship.

“It doesn’t look like we’ve got any alternate options,” Gabrielle said. “The planet is our best bet.”

“Who is captain here?” Rick asked.

“You’ll be captain of a cell if you don’t take us in,” Greyhawk said. “At least on a planet we can hide and make repairs.”

Rick groaned. “Alright, three against one…let’s see if we can lose them.”

Their vessel headed towards the planet, trailed by the Sith warship. The nearer they came to the planet, the greater a strange feeling grew in the back of Targon’s mind.

Something pinged on the scanners.

“The Imperial ship,” Targon exclaimed. “It’s turning around and leaving!”

“Well,” Rick sighed. “That was fun.”

“We still need repairs,” Greyhawk pointed out.

“I know, I know,” Rick said. “You all had better strap in. My girl’s systems are all messed up. The landing is probably going to be rough.”

“It’s always something, isn’t it?” Greyhawk groaned.

“Shut up, sit down, and let me fly,” Rick snapped.

“You mean let you crash,” Gabrielle smirked.

The Lone Eagle rushed through the atmosphere and flew over a large expanse of forest. Smoke billowed behind the ship, creating a long black tail behind as it crossed the sky.

Coming in for a landing, the ship bounced twice on the ground and then came to a groaning stop, after sliding a short distance on the ground. The landing equipment didn’t work too well, but they had been fortunate enough to land in a large clearing, instead of smashing into a tree.

“Well, that was better than I thought it might be,” Rick smiled.

“Better?” Targon raised his eyebrow.

“Don’t give me that,” Rick said. “It’s not like any of you guys would have done better.”

“Let’s just get the ship fixed,” Gabrielle said. “You can gloat when we’re off again.”

“Well, that’s going to be tricky,” Rick sighed. “I’ve got to inspect the damage, but I doubt I can fix all the damage with what I have.”

“I saw signs of a settlement during our descent,” Targon said. “Perhaps they have what we need?”

“You’re assuming they’re space-flight capable?” Gabrielle noted.

“It doesn’t matter,” Greyhawk said as he started to leave the cockpit and head towards his quarters. “Let’s just get going. There will be plenty of time for nonsense when we’ve confirmed whether or not the ship may be fixed.”
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TargonKarashi
03.22.2012 , 12:36 PM | #24
Chapter Two

The ramp lowered and the crew stood still for a moment, observing their surroundings on the world they had landed on. It was a wide forest, trees spanning in every direction beyond the clearing.

“Well,” Rick sighed, “at least it’s a boring planet. Nothing but trees.”

“Very funny,” Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “Did you consider what might be wandering through the trees?”

“I don’t need to worry about it,” Rick shrugged. “I figure I’ll stay here and fix what I can while you guys go find the town and see if we can get any help.”

“Where did you get that notion?” Greyhawk asked.

“From the fact that I know how to repair my ship,” Rick countered.

“And what about parts? You’re the one that knows what you’ll need. You should be with us to get the right kind of help.”

Rick shook his head. “Can you all really not stand being away from me for so long?”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Gabrielle smirked. “You’re just the pilot and the captain – the one who knows his ship best.”

“And as the one in charge, you should follow my orders,” Rick smiled back.

Targon raised his hands. “How about we stop arguing and all go into town? That way we won’t have to worry about anyone getting in harm’s way while their alone – either here or there.”

The three others looked at him. Rick frowned. “I knew you would take their side. This is mutiny!”

“Oh please,” Gabrielle rolled her eyes again. “Just shut up and come on, Rick. It’s not like anyone’s going to steal your ship while we’re away. Unless it’s repaired, it won’t be going anywhere.”

Rick held up a finger and maintained a defiant look on his face for a moment. Then he sighed and shrugged. “Alright, alright, you mutinous crew. You win. Let’s go.”

The four of them headed out together. None of them said a word for a long while as they marched through the forest. The trees were immensely tall, towering over them and blocking out a great deal of the sun.

Two hours into their walk, the forest went completely silent – so still that even Rick noticed it and knew there to be something wrong.

“Do you smell that?” Greyhawk asked the others.

“So now you’re smelling things as well as hearing things?” Rick scowled.

“Quiet,” Gabrielle shushed them harshly as she drew her pistols. Her cold eyes peered deep into the woods, scanning for some unseen threat she knew was close.

Targon felt a shudder trickle down his backside. Something familiar echoed in his mind…something from his dream.

A horrid howl rang through the trees as a creature burst forth at them. When it leaped out through the bushes, Gabrielle shot at it quickly. It effortlessly leaped out of the way, onto the trunk of a tree, and leaped at them again. Landing too close to use her pistols, Gabrielle tried to step back. But the animal knocked her down and jumped on top of her.

It was a foul bluish color, with a tough hide covered in a bristles. It was bipedal, yet its arms were longer than its legs. Its eyes were pale and empty, like a doll’s eyes, seeming as though they were rolled up into the back of its head.

What worried Gabrielle the most about the ugly thing were its dripping fangs edging towards her face. Its hot, smelly breath made it hard to breathe.

Greyhawk’s arm reached around the creature’s neck, yanking it off of Gabrielle. As it flailed its arms to slash at him, the old soldier tightened his grip on the neck and pushed with his other hand until it fell limp with a crack of the neck.

Gabrielle stood up as Greyhawk dropped the dead animal. The forest had gone silent again now that it was no longer howling. Mere seconds of racket was forgotten in an instant.

“What is it?” Gabrielle gasped.

“I’ve seen a lot of creatures in my day,” Greyhawk sighed. “But I haven’t seen anything like this. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was a small gundark or something.”

“There are no records of this that I’ve ever heard of in the Jedi Archives,” Targon shrugged.

“Guys,” Rick said, “does it really matter? We need to be ready in case there’s any more of them out there.”

Gabrielle and Marc had their guns out and pointed towards the forest in an instant. Rick kept his hand up against one of his own pistols.

“How about drawing the lightsaber?” Rick asked Targon when he noticed the boy hadn’t got his weapon out.

Targon didn’t hear him. His mind was focused on the strange resonance he could feel pulsing through the air. Nobody else seemed to notice it, but Targon shivered with each strumming as though it were a drop of ice water down his nape.

Rick tapped the young Jedi’s shoulder. “Hello? Anybody home there, Jedi?”

“Huh? Oh, sorry,” Targon shook his head. “I sense something very wrong about this place. We should leave as soon as possible.”

“No argument there,” Rick nodded. “The sooner we fix my ship, the sooner we can get out of dodge.”

As they started to continue walking on, Targon glanced back at the strange creature, studying it for a final time. There seemed a greater concentration of the peculiar shadow about the animal – though it was fading away quickly.

He knelt down and touched it. It felt frighteningly cold. Not through his fingers, but through his feelings. It was as though this creature was not connected to the Force anymore. Like something had stripped it from it, or had consumed it.

Even more disturbing, though, was how similar this creature looked to a human.

---

The holographic image of Moff Taan easily displayed his displeasure as it stared coldly at Commander Hugo. The whole crew on the bridge of the Imperial warship felt uneasy with the angry silence of the Moff.

“You’re telling me that you gave up the pursuit?” Taan cracked an eyebrow.

Hugo swallowed with difficulty. “There…there were strange sensor readings on the planet that the Lone Eagle landed on. We didn’t want to follow until we were sure of what was down there.”

“Do you not suppose that landing on the planet would get better answers than hovering miles away in space?” Taan asked.

“Well…sir…”

“Enough of the excuses,” the Chiss shook his head. “I want that ship found, Commander, and I want it found now. There are individuals more powerful than I that have an interest in the ship and its crew.”

“The Dark Council?” Hugo flushed. “What interest do they have with a single smuggling vessel?”

“That’s none of your concern. Suffice to say, certain persons have felt tremors in the Force – and they have linked them to the Lone Eagle, among other things.”

“I understand sir,” Hugo bowed. “We shall find the ship before the day is through.”

“Good hunting, Commander.”

Taan’s image blinked out and Hugo let out a soft sigh of relief. So did the rest of the staff on the bridge. Even a hologram of the cold alien caused discomfort among the men of the Imperial military. More so because they knew what sort of connections he had beyond his already considerable rank.

Hugo stroked his moustache and removed his gray cap from his head to fan the light sweat that had accumulated on his face. Turning to the crew, he straightened and ordered, “Take us in to planetary orbit. Prepare landing parties.”

The crew said nothing, but simply complied in silence. They knew that Commander Hugo had shown weakness to them all, but they too had been intimidated by Moff Taan. They had no desire of incurring any more wrath from superiors.

Hugo shook his head. Whatever the Empire wanted this ship for, he didn’t care. But he was not going to look so pathetic again. He was going to succeed and prove he was worthy of wearing the uniform of an Imperial officer.

The ship approached the planet and the hangar doors opened. Landing shuttles began to disembark from the vessel, heading down towards the surface of the strange planet. Commander Hugo boarded one to lead the mission on the ground himself.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.22.2012 , 12:39 PM | #25
Chapter Three

Targon and the rest of the group did not realize they had arrived at the settlement until they nearly tripped through the woods and entered a sudden clearing. The trees ended and houses and streets immediately began.

It was a small city, by the looks of it. The streets were paved with cobblestone and the structures were all built with the fineness and skill to be expected in any mining colony. There were vehicles zipping down the road and vendors selling amiable products.

Nothing appeared on the same technological level of a standard Republic world – but the people were by no means primitive. What was more, they were all human.

The citizens all around the visitors stopped suddenly and stared at the strangers. They focused their amazement on Gabrielle – but they were almost just as wondering about the strange garb of the three humans with her.

“Why are they all staring at me?” Gabrielle said, fidgeting uncomfortably under all the eyes upon her.

“They’ve probably never seen someone as hot as you before,” Rick smirked.

“Don’t be a sleaze,” Gabrielle growled.

“I’d say they’ve never seen a Twi’lek before,” Targon said. “But that’s odd – since these humans have to be colonists from the Republic.”

“They might’ve gotten lost a long time ago,” Greyhawk suggested. “They might not even know what the Republic is.”

“Well, how about introducing ourselves?” Rick said. Waving his hand, he said loudly, “Hello. We come in peace.”

The people stared at them silently for a long while. Rick glanced at his crew for ideas before continuing. “Um…We come from…very far away. My ship…crashed and we need to fix it. Do you know anyone who can help fix our ship?”

Still no answer.

Rick muttered, “What? Are we on the planet of the mute people?”

Targon stepped forward. “We are travelers from a distant land, we mean you no harm.” He placed his lightsaber on the ground and motioned for the others to put their weapons on the ground.

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” Greyhawk whispered. “We’ll be defenseless.”

“We need to show them that we aren’t dangerous,” Targon replied.

The rest of the group put their weapons on the ground as well and followed Targon’s lead. After a while, a man walked up to them. He was middle-aged and sported a head full of red hair.

“Who are you, strangers?” he asked. “We’ve never seen men dressed as you before. And how is it your woman has not yet succumbed to savagery?”

“Excuse me?” Gabrielle asked.

The man pointed to her. “The woman – her skin is blue and her hair is replaced by growths. Is she not afflicted with the Plague?”

“Plague?” Gabrielle looked offended. “Just because I don’t happen to be a human doesn’t mean I’m some sort of freak! You racist pig!”

Rick grabbed her shoulder and put a finger to his lips as Targon raised his hands.

“I think you’re mistaken,” Targon said. “She is Gabrielle Vao, and she is a Twi’lek, not a human.”

“Is that your word for victims of the Plague, then?” the man asked. “Twi’lek?”

“Gabrielle is not a victim of any plague,” Targon shook his head. “She is of the people that come from Ryloth.”

“I don’t understand…are you also from Ryloth?”

Targon sighed. “No. We are travelers – our ship crashed and we are stranded here.”

“Travelers from the sea?”

“No…” Targon was cut off suddenly by Gabrielle.

“Travelers from the stars, you nitwit,” she said harshly.

Before anyone could rebuke her for the rude outburst, the crowd of people – which had been growing substantially – stepped back and bowed their heads.

The inquiring man, noticing the confusion on the strangers’ faces, stepped forward again. “You come from the stars? Like the Sorceress?”

“Um…” Targon hesitated. “Yes…I think so. Who is the Sorceress?”

The man grabbed Targon’s hand. “Come, we will take you to the Sorceress!” Others stepped forward and grabbed the rest of the visitors, leading them through the streets. The crowd followed, surrounding the strangers and pelting them with questions and awe.

“Okay, Jedi,” Rick whispered to Targon, “what’s the deal now? Are they going to pamper us like kings or sacrifice us like swine?”

“I don’t know,” Targon answered. “But I don’t sense any hostility or danger…at least from the people.”

“Just know this, Targon,” Rick said. “If we get pampered, I’ll kiss you. But if we die, I’ll kill you.”

“If we die,” Targon said, “you won’t have to worry about killing me. But save the kiss for the ladies, okay?”

“Fair enough,” Rick shrugged.

They traveled through the city in a massive procession, as if it were a parade for a festival. Hundreds of people gathered around, but oddly enough, there didn’t seem as many people as there should be for a settlement of the size.

Targon and the others were brought to a large structure, far more beautiful and decorated than any of the others. A great stairway led up to the main doors, where statues of armored guards stood eternal watch over the center of the city. Only the party and the red headed man went up the steps. The rest of the throng stopped short before the first step, as though they dared not place a single foot upon it.

The closer to the door they got, the greater clouding of Targon’s senses became. There was the great wave of interest and wonder in the minds of the people behind them, but in the great building before them, there was a shroud.

He could feel the darkness in the back of his mind, tingling like the brushing of leaves against his skin. But he could not find the source, and all his senses grew fainter as they reached the top of the stairs and stood before the great red door.

The man with the red hair turned to them. “Wait here,” he said. “None may enter the temple without the Sorceress’ consent. As one of her servants, I will speak to her of your arrival.”

“Okay…” Rick nodded slowly, the look of confusion plastered to his face. “And we’ll just sit here on the steps and wait…while the whole city watches us like freaks.”

The man opened the door and disappeared into the temple. With nothing better to do, the crew of the Lone Eagle sat down on the steps and tried in vain to ignore the endless staring of the crowd below.

---

Over an hour passed, and the crowd had not lessened. They stood at the base of the structure, silent and eager for the return of the red headed man and the news from the Sorceress.

Struck with immense boredom, Rick stood up and started pacing up and down the steps. When he came closer towards the crowd, there was a slight gasp of amazement.

Deciding that wasn’t such a good idea, Rick headed back up the stairs toward his companions. Movement in the corner of his eye drew his attention. Someone had come out of the crowd and was coming up the steps.

The others noticed the odd event as well and stood up. The man approaching them was thin and far younger than the red headed man. He was dressed in a simple tan outfit. His hair was light brown, and he had a subtle bit of hair towards the back of his head that was slightly longer than the rest of his hair.

“Um…” Rick shook his head with his continued confusion. “Hello?”

“Greetings,” the man nodded. “I know it seems strange to approach you now at such an odd time, but I needed the time to figure out who you were.”

“By staring at us?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes. I know who you really are…and I know where you come from. It’s been a very long time since someone from the Republic has shown up.”

“Who are you?” Greyhawk asked. “If you citizens know the Republic, why are you so confused at…”

“The citizens do not know of the Republic,” the man cut him off. “I don’t have time to explain, but I must inform you that you are in danger and you need to come with me.”

“In danger? Care to elaborate?” Gabrielle asked.

“Just who are you?” Targon asked. “What do you know about us?”

“There’s no time…”

The door opened behind them and the red haired man emerged. He looked surprised at the young man standing on the steps.

“Covus? What are you doing here?”

The young man smiled and bowed to the older man. “I was simply greeting our visitors and warning them of the dangers of the forest.”

“Yes, the Plague and the Man-Tiger. Speaking of which, shouldn’t you be out hunting the beasts and making sure they don’t encroach on the city’s boundaries?”

“I’m going right now,” the man named Covus bowed again and descended the steps, disappearing into the crowd.

“Honored visitors,” the red headed man said to the group. “The Sorceress wishes to meet you. You are most blessed to be granted audience with her. Come, this way!”

He waved his hands to usher them in. Hesitantly, Targon and the group conceded to enter through the doorway.

“Anybody else as utterly confused and lost as I am?” Rick asked. No one said anything, which was more than answer enough.

When the doors closed behind them, they were lost in darkness for a short moment until strange lights on the wall illuminated the hallway for them to walk down. Following their red headed guide, they kept quiet until the questions in their mind could not be contained.

“So…who was that man?” Rick asked.

“That was Covus. He is the beast-tracker. He keeps the creatures of the woods away from our city.”

“I gathered as much. And…who are you?”

The red headed man replied, “I am Kwi, servant to the Sorceress.”

“Yes, we gathered that as well,” Gabrielle muttered. “Care to explain what’s going on? What is this Plague? What is the ‘Man-Tiger’? What…?”

She was cut off. “The Sorceress will make everything clear to you,” Kwi said simply.

“Of course,” Gabrielle rolled her eyes.

Targon patted her shoulder to assure her that everything would be fine, but she shrugged him off, still offended at being so gaped at.

Noticing the many doors and halls branching off from the corridor they were walking down, Targon felt a great unease as he discovered he could not sense what lay beyond these alternate routes, nor could he sense what lay before them as they walked on. He felt as though he was walking blindly in a fog.

Finally, they entered a greatly lit room. It was a large circular chamber, with a banquet table in the center. Upon the table was a vast assortment of food and decoration. Sitting on the far side of the table was a woman.

She was extremely fair, with long locks of luscious golden hair and soft skin clad in thin, translucent cloth. In every aspect, she was mesmerizing – and powerful. She radiated an aura that was detectable to everyone, but most strongly to Targon. In the endless fog surrounding the area, she was the only source of light and clarity.

She stood to greet them. “Welcome, strangers, to my temple. Please….” She gestured to the table. “Sit and be comfortable. Join me for dinner.”

With no excuse to be made and with stomachs growling, the group sat down and began to eat. The Sorceress watched each of them with great interest.

Targon finally looked her in the eye. “Thank you for this fine food, madam. Now before we become further confused, could you please explain what’s going on?”

“How about introductions first?” she asked. Her voice was sweet and soft, friendly and peaceful.

Nodding, Targon answered, “I am Targon Karashi, Jedi Knight. This is Rick Orlan, our captain; this is Marc Avis, and this is Gabrielle Vao.”

The Sorceress nodded. “My servant tells me you come from the stars, as I do. You are travelers?”

“Yes,” Rick replied with his mouth full. “Our ship crashed and we are stuck on this world until we can fix it.”

“Then you are welcome to stay as long as you like,” their hostess smiled.

“Do you have a name?” Greyhawk asked.

“Yes, I am Selendis.”

“A beautiful name,” Rick grinned.

“Could you please explain why everyone seems to think I have some sort of plague?” Gabrielle asked.

Ignoring her abruptness, Selendis nodded. “The Plague is a terrible affliction that grips this world. The wildlife and even the settlement are slowly being consumed by it. My powers to protect this people has stemmed it somewhat, but the machinations of the Man-Tiger are foiling many of my efforts.”

“And what is the Man-Tiger?” Greyhawk asked.

“A wicked creature that has spawned the Plague to destroy this peaceful world and people. Had I not found them, these people would have been consumed many years ago.”

“So that man, Covus, hunts this beast?” Rick asked.

“Yes, and he is a brave man for doing so. But put your minds at ease and do not be troubled by the monsters tonight. You are safe here, and tonight you shall be my guests. Tomorrow we will see about fixing your ship.”

“We are very grateful to you,” Targon said. “Hopefully we will be able to repay your hospitality.”

“I’m sure you will,” the Sorceress nodded.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.22.2012 , 12:42 PM | #26
Chapter Four

Each of the guests was given a bedroom to stay in as the sun went down. The beds were quite comfortable, and they all had fallen asleep with the rest of the settlement. Silence ruled over the surrounding forest – an eerie silence that felt like a great void – and yet not one person seemed to notice.

For Targon, the sleep was short and restless. He found himself experiencing the same horrible dream from the night before. Yet this time it felt far more frightening and realistic.

He awoke suddenly and sat up. His skin was soaked with sweat. Rubbing the weariness from his eyes, he stood up and started pacing around bed. His mind was swirling with confusion and apprehension. Despite everything, he was sensing a dark tremor in the Force – something he could not decipher on his own.

If only he had Tieru with him still.

A sharp notion popped into his mind and started pinging like an enemy on a sensor grid. He had the urge to go outside and go into the forest.

At first, Targon tried to shake his head and disregard it. Such an act was not only pointless, but dangerous as well. A forest with dangerous creatures? At night? Alone? What sort of foolish notion was that?

But the urging grew stronger, as though someone was demanding it of him. He decided he could not ignore it and so he put on his robes and clipped on his saber.

The walk through the empty halls was long as he strained to find his way through the dark. Eventually, however, he found the exit and descended the stairs.

Cool night air surrounded him, and everything seemed so peaceful at first. But then the strange feelings of dread filled him again. Doing his best to keep his mind calm, he wandered the streets of the town until he reached the edge of the forest. Ignoring the intimidation that the trees presented, he headed into the dark.

The soft rustling of branches and leaves as he walked was comforting to him. It drew his mind away from the odd silence and clouded thoughts. For a moment, he forgot all about any sort of dangers that might be lurking in the woods.

That was when he heard the sharp snap of a fallen branch, and the hair rose up on the back of his neck. He could feel a strange tingling, and he knew a riled presence was nearby.

His hand slowly went to his saber, and he breathed out slowly. There was a soft rustling to his left, and he wheeled about to face it.

A raucous howl echoed as a dark shape leaped towards him. Once it was close enough to the light, Targon saw that it was another one of those creatures. In a flash, he swung his saber and cut it in half. After it dropped to the ground, the only noise made was the soft hum of his saber.

He kept his eyes scanning the dark trees around him, in case any other creatures were around to make another attack. The noise he had caused would probably draw attention to him soon enough anyway.

Something caught his attention. To his right, there was a dim and well-concealed shape – but by reaching out with his feelings, Targon knew it was someone watching him. Not a mindless creature, though, but a sentient presence.

The shadow of a person must have noticed it had been discovered, for it soon started to dash off into the night. But Targon was quick to follow. To make his way through the dark woods, Targon employed the skills he had learned from his master back in the forests of Tython.

He was starting to catch up to the person, and so he called out for it to stop. He didn’t expect to be responded to quite so readily. The shape stopped and whirled about to face him. Then two bright lights lit up in its hands. Their blue blaze and familiar hum almost caused Targon to trip over himself.

Lightsabers.

The shadow came at him, twirling the blades in a blinding flurry. Targon closed his eyes and reacted with his other senses. He caught the blades with his own, and countered a strike.

Around the two of them, the shadows danced and leaped as blue and green flashed about; the forest came alive with the crackling and hissing of the sabers as they crashed against each other.

A moment came when both their blades and their strength were equally strained against each other, causing a brief pause in the battle. Targon took that time to get a glimpse of his opponent. The face was not human, but neither was it one of the creatures he had encountered. It was a feline’s face.

Bright yellow eyes stared back at him, black stripes streaked along its orange fur, and great whiskers bristled beneath its nose.

This must be the man-tiger that the sorceress mentioned, Targon thought. But what is he doing with lightsabers? Is he a Jedi? A fallen one?

Combat started up again, and Targon struggled to maintain his own against his opponent’s agile offensive. Soon, though, it became too much and he lost his grip on his saber.

The weapon landed in the soft dirt as both blades pointed straight to his neck. Targon held up his hands to show that he yielded. Hopefully, he thought, there might be a way to reason with this person.

For a moment longer, the blades remained poised at his throat. Then, his opponent withdrew and deactivated them. Targon unwittingly let out a sigh of relief.

“I am not your enemy,” the man-tiger stated gruffly.

Targon raised an eyebrow. “Could have fooled me. As soon as I caught up to you, you attacked.”

“As would you, young Jedi, had you lived so long as I have.”

“Who are you?” Targon inquired.

“This is not a good place to stand around chatting. Follow me, and we can discuss our case.”

Targon sighed and nodded. He reached down and grabbed his saber. Then he followed the man-tiger through the forest until they came upon a fallen tree.

“Welcome to my current home,” the man-tiger announced. “Yes, I live under a log like a burrowing rodent. It’s the best I can come up with these days. Forty years of protecting this planet, and now look at what I’ve got to show for it.”

Targon cracked an eyebrow in confusion. “How about we start with introductions before we go into rants?”

“Very well,” the man-tiger crawled under the log and motioned for Targon to follow with his prehensile tail.

It was snug, but the two of them – no, three – fit well enough. The third person was already there, polishing something that looked also like a lightsaber.

Targon’s eyes had adjusted well enough to the darkness that he could tell who it was. And it surprised him greatly.

“You’re Covus, aren’t you?”

The man that had spoke to them on the steps earlier nodded. “I guess I don’t need to introduce myself, since you already know my name.”

“This is Covus Ozil, my apprentice,” the man-tiger said. “I am Master Pand Navor, Jedi Watchman of the planet Dakara.”

Targon’s eyes widened in surprise. “Jedi Watchman? Navor? I’ve never heard of you.”

“I shouldn’t think you would have,” the Master said. “I’ve been protecting this planet for decades longer than you’ve been alive, young man.”

“If you’re a Jedi…then why are you perceived as some monstrous creature that designs the fall of the people…and why is Covus depicted as a hunter that pursues you? What’s going on?”

“Confusion,” Navor nodded. “Such is to be expected when one enters a play in the second act. I’m afraid, young man…ah, what is your name?”

“Targon Karashi.”

“Well, young Jedi Knight Karashi, you have been deceived on who is friend and who is foe.”

“What do you mean?”

“I am not the creator of the plague, as the sorceress claims, and as the people believe. I am the one fighting against it.”

“And the true progenitor?”

“You should know it well enough. Have you not been able to feel the darkness that shrouds the sorceress’ temple?”

“Darkness? No, but…”

“Well, you haven’t been around it as long as I have,” Navor sighed. “But I don’t think there’s time for you to fully understand. You and your friends need to leave this world, immediately.”

“We can’t,” Targon shook his head. “Our ship was damaged. We need to make repairs – extensive ones. Perhaps you could help?”

“Young man,” Navor’s eyes were stern. “I live under a dead tree. Does it look like I have parts to help fix your ship?”

“No, I suppose not. The sorceress said she would help us…but I assume that won’t be the case?”

“Your ship is nothing to her, but you and your friends are.”

“Why? What does she want? What is she?”

“Unless you get off this planet, young Targon, you shall see soon enough.”

Covus stirred. “Dawn will be coming soon. I had best get back to the settlement and continue my work. I’ll see if I can contact your friends and warn them.”

“How long do we have?” Targon asked. “What will happen to us?”

“Perhaps you noticed how closely those creatures resembled humans? The settlement used to have twice as many people living in it only a few years ago.”

Covus was about to depart, when he suddenly dove to the ground as footsteps echoed through the forest. There were a great many of them, with heavy boots and a uniform rhythm.

“What is that?” Targon asked.

“Maybe you should take a look,” Covus whispered.

Targon crawled up next to him and looked out into the forest. Shapes were passing by a ways off. But Targon could tell, even in the dark, what they were. He recognized the armor of the large party.

Imperials.
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.22.2012 , 12:46 PM | #27
Chapter Five

Rick awoke with a hearty yawn and a lazy smile. It had been such a wonderful sleep – and he had such a great dream. If only every night had been so nice…

He dressed himself and opened the door. He was startled to find red haired Kwi standing in the doorway, with a queerly pleasant grin on his face.

“Good morning,” the man said cheerily.

“Likewise,” Rick nodded.

“The sorceress asked me to guide you down to the breakfast table as soon as you were up.”

“Oh, how nice,” Rick smiled. “What about the others?”

“They’re already there – well, except the young man.”

“Targon?”

“Yes, he seems to be gone. The sorceress is worried he might have gone out into the forest alone.”

“Nah,” Rick shook his head. “I’m sure he’s just out…meditating. Jedi are like that.”

Kwi gestured down the hall. “This way, sir.”

Rick followed him through a series of corridors. Everything still seemed so dark, though it was surely morning. They passed a door that was barely open a crack. Suddenly, the door swung open and the hideous face of one of the creatures from the forest appeared, accompanied by a roar that seemed more of a squeak.

The surprise made Rick jump, and small laughter answered his gasp.

“Hee hee, I scared you!” a small voice said.

Kwi frowned. “Sigi, that wasn’t very nice to scare the nice man”

Rick looked back down at the face and saw clearly that it was only a small girl with a mask. He was immediately upset with himself for being so scared of a child.

The girl took off the mask and grinned. “It was only a joke, daddy,” she said innocently. Her hair was the same bright red as Kwi’s.

Rick smiled at the sweet face of the girl. “And who might you be?” he asked her.

“I’m Sigi,” she beamed.

“My daughter,” Kwi added. “Please forgive her prank. She has been given to trying to scare people with that mask she made. I find it not amusing that she jokes about the victims of the plague.”

“She’s a child,” Rick shrugged. “Children like to play.” He leaned over to the girl. “Now, Sigi, would you like to lead us to breakfast?”

The girl laughed and scampered off down the hall. Rick and Kwi followed at their own pace. Finally, they entered the great chamber where they had feasted the night before. There were bright lights about, glowing near as brilliant as though sunshine through windows. Yet not a window could be found at all.

Greyhawk and Gabrielle were already eating and conversing with the sorceress. She was garbed in the most brilliant colors – red, green, gold, white, violet, black, and silver. Yet the only blue about her, oddly enough, were her eyes.

The old soldier looked well off, for once, and Gabrielle was bright and cheery, also a new sight. Both of them had been the more somber members of the crew, and yet here they were, as though they were the happiest of people.

“Good morning all,” Rick said.

The others turned to him. “Ah, Rick,” Greyhawk raised a cup. “Nice to see our captain finally out of bed. We’ve been up for the better part of the hour, and Targon has been up likely since before the sun rose.”

“Have you seen him?” Rick asked.

“No,” Gabrielle replied. “But being a Jedi, he’s likely out meditating.”

“Exactly what I figured,” Rick joined them at the table and started digging in. He paused when he spotted the masked Sigi sneaking about the table.

“I trust you slept well?” the sorceress asked.

“Quite well, thank you,” Rick answered with a mouth full of food.

The young girl leaped up and startled Gabrielle and Greyhawk with the loudest roar her little voice could make. It was enough to catch them with a look of alarm on their faces.

Rick laughed, “I see you’ve been attacked by my little friend.”

“Who is this?” Greyhawk asked, lifting up the girl’s mask.

“Little Sigi,” Selendis smiled, reaching over to pet the child’s hair. “She’s the daughter of my faithful servant, Kwi.” The red haired man beamed with an inner pride as she said that.

“And what’s with the mask?” Gabrielle asked.

“A mere toy to keep the minds of the young off the fear of this world,” the sorceress replied. “Many of the children have masks like these.”

Sigi grinned. “And the sorceress makes sure none of the real monsters can hurt us.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Selendis smiled and kissed the girl on the cheek.

A loud echo boomed through the walls, interrupting the pleasant breakfast. Kwi rubbed his hands together.

“Forgive me, sorceress,” he said. “It seems there’s someone rudely knocking on the doors of the temple. I’ll go see to them.”

He left, but the pleasantries did not resume. There was a stern look on the sorceress’ face, something that nobody could recall seeing before. It contrasted terribly from her beaming smile.

After a few moments, Kwi returned with the man they remembered from the day before.

“Covus,” the sorceress greeted. “What is the matter?”

“Forgive me,” Kwi pleaded. “He said he simply must see you and there was no way to keep him from barging in…”

Selendis held up a hand to quiet him, keeping her eyes trained on Covus. “Well? What is it? Is it the man-tiger?”

“No, sorceress,” the man bowed respectfully. “More strangers have been spotted in the woods. They are heavily armed and have a hostile look about them. I felt it my duty to report it to you.”

The sorceress nodded. “I see. This is…peculiar.” She paused. “We must see to the safety of the citizens.” Turning to Kwi, she said, “Spread the message that all the citizens are to seek shelter from these strangers in my temple.”

“All of them, my lady? There isn’t room…and it will be so full…”

“Now,” she said.

“At once,” Kwi bowed and left.

Greyhawk’s face grew solemn. “What sort of people are these?” He asked. “Were they armored in black and gray and have the symbol of a red hexagon?”

Covus looked directly at him. “Yes.”

“Blast,” Rick sighed. “We’re in a tight spot.”

“Imperials,” Greyhawk spat. “How many?”

“Maybe a hundred,” Covus reported.

“Blast,” Rick said louder. “We’re in a tight spot.”

“Not to worry,” Selendis rose. “These strangers will not harm anyone while I protect these people.”

“With your leave,” Greyhawk said. “Let us go and divert them away from the settlement. It is highly likely they are after us anyway.”

“That is very noble and kind of you,” Selendis said. “But it shall not be necessary.”

“Wait a minute,” Rick said. “We’ve got to go find Targon. He’s out by himself, and if he’s caught by the Imperials…”

Gabrielle rose. “Let’s go then.”

Selendis sighed. “I will not stop you. It is good to see that you care for one another. Come back when you’ve found your friend.”

“Can I go with them?” Sigi asked.

“No, little one,” the sorceress said softly. “It’s too dangerous. Stay here with me.”

“I’ll show you where the Imperials are,” Covus said.

“Wait,” Selendis said, louder than normal. “I would speak with you, Covus.”

“It’s fine,” Greyhawk shrugged. “We’re aiming to keep away from Imps, not find them. Let’s go.”

The three departed, and the temple became suddenly silent.

Covus stilled his breathing and faced the sorceress, who had stepped away from the table and towards a door.

“What is it you wanted to speak to me about?” he asked.

“The people of this town admire you, Covus, for the dangerous work you do in scouring the forest for the man-tiger.”

“I’m just doing my job to protect the people.”

“One would find your modesty even more admirable,” the sorceress’ voice was back to its usual softness. “Come with me,” she said as she opened the door to a long hallway.

“As you wish,” he nodded and followed her through, with young Sigi tiptoeing softly behind him.

The hall was extremely dark, yet it was wide and straight, so no one had any trouble getting through. Each step seemed to multiply in echoes, so that it seemed a thousand people were walking down the hall, instead of three.

“I must ask you,” the sorceress’ voice came through the dark. “How is it that a hunter of your skill has not yet defeated the man-tiger and his creatures?”

“He is quite skilled himself,” Covus replied uneasily. Something about this hall and her voice sent shivers down his spine. “Some days I find myself being the hunted one, and I must devote my abilities to keeping alive.”

“Would you say that you are learning from him? Getting better in your skills by studying what he does?”

“I suppose you could say that.”

“Or is it that you have monstrously deceived us all?”

“What?” Covus felt a sudden chill in the air, and he found it difficult to breathe.

“Could it be that you are not what you claim to be?”

“I don’t understand…”

“It’s understandable,” Selendis continued as though he hadn’t spoken. “Everyone is never what they truly claim to be. Even me. Even Sigi.”

“I’m afraid I still don’t…”

A light suddenly filled the darkness, and he found they were no longer in a hall, but in a great chamber. This room, however, was not at all like the rest of the temple. Instead of stone and grand furnishings, this room was…alive. The walls were pulsing with warmth, and a myriad of black veins created a great web. Even the floor was soft and shimmering, like silk, and it glowed with strange illumination.

“What is this place?” Covus gasped.

“As if you don’t know? Surely your master has told you by now?” There was a chilling smile on the sorceress’ face.

“My master?”

“You still cling to your lies even when you are discovered. Perhaps you are more of a foolish man than a brave one.” Selendis drew close to him. “I know you are the man-tiger’s apprentice,” she whispered. “And I know that he is Pand Navor, the Jedi Watchman.”

“What?” Covus stepped back and drew his lightsaber. It hummed to life, bright and violet. “How could you have…? No, it doesn’t matter. We will stop you, sorceress.”

“You suppose so?” she smiled. “You see, I don’t think you understand just who I am yet. All these years, and still you haven’t puzzled it out? I would have thought your master’s efforts to be more fruitful. No matter.”

“I know enough,” Covus pointed his saber towards her.

“Do you? Why don’t we ask Sigi?”

Covus turned to the young girl and gasped. The mask on her face looked as though it had been welded to her skin. And it was…growing. He realized there was no mask, and the girl was already as good as dead.

The child started thrashing and clawing at her clothes, ripping them to shreds and flinging them off. Her skin was quickly turning blue, and her nails became sharp claws and her eyes became wild and fierce. She shrieked hideously, and Covus knew that Sigi no longer existed.

“You wicked demon!” he roared and leapt at the sorceress. All of a sudden, he felt a power grab hold of him and yank him back into the wall. Nothing held him, that he could see, but he could sense the power emanating from the sorceress.

“No more demonic than you, Jedi,” Selendis’ smile had grown greater. “You can manipulate objects with the Force, and so can I.”

“You are no Jedi, Sith, or adept,” Covus said as he struggled in vain against his invisible bonds. His lightsaber had been lost from his hand.

“Indeed,” the sorceress walked closer to him. “I am something far greater.”

Covus felt something tingling his skin, and he saw that the veins in the wall were drawing towards him, and starting to grab onto his legs and arms. The tendrils coiled and spread across his skin, sneaking under his clothes and attaching to him.

He turned to face the sorceress again. In a quick motion, her clothing vanished, and she was no longer human. Her eyes flashed bright with sapphire, her skin had become a cold shade of blue, and where her legs had been, now there were a number of writhing, snake-like coils.

She glided towards him, and started to wrap her tentacles around his body, shredding through his clothing and slithering across his bare skin. Her touch was deathly cold, like the grip of the harshest winter.

Her voice however, sounded exactly the same. “A motherly kiss may have been enough to seal my power over a child, but for one such as you, I think it requires a loving embrace.” Her words were just as cool, and sweet, and soothing. His whole body became weak and numb under her hold, but he could feel…something…growing within him.

As he fell deeper into the dark snare, he heard Kwi’s voice, faint and distant.

“Sorceress? The people are coming as summoned.”

“Wonderful,” her voice answered. “Now we can be together and no longer fear the man-tiger, or anyone, ever again.”
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.22.2012 , 12:50 PM | #28
Chapter Six

“Anyone else noticing the quiet of the woods?” Rick asked as they trudged along.

“Yes,” Gabrielle growled. “Just like we noticed it when walking through the woods before, now shush!”

“What?”

“Has it occurred to you that the noise you’re making with your mouth might draw unwanted attention to us?”

“You’re talking just as much as me,” Rick pointed out.

“Shut up.”

Greyhawk got down and had his gun out. “Both of you, quiet and get down,” he ordered. They did as instructed, putting their hands to their guns as well.

“What do you think it is?” Rick whispered.

“I’m trying to listen,” Greyhawk answered harshly.

“Alright, alright…” Then he heard it too. Footsteps. They were getting closer, but it was impossible to tell how many – wait, it was definitely more than one.

They held their breath for a moment, and then all three leaped out with their guns pointing towards the noise.

“Hey! Don’t shoot!” a familiar voice called out.

Rick sighed with relief. “Targon? Where have you been? And what are you doing sneaking up on us like that and…” He noticed that the young Jedi was not alone.

Targon noticed their eyes. He gestured to his companion. “Guys, this is Master Pand Navor, the Jedi Watchman of this world.”

“What?” Gabrielle exclaimed.

“Isn’t that the ‘man-tiger’?” Rick asked.

“Yes, I guess you could call me that,” the feline humanoid said gruffly. “Now, are you going to shoot us or what?”

Noticing their guns, the three put them away slowly.

“You’re a Jedi?” Greyhawk asked.

“Last time I checked.”

“Prove it,” Rick demanded.

“Rick?” Targon raised an eyebrow. “Is my word not good enough?”

“Come on, now,” Rick ignored Targon’s query. “Let’s see the saber.”

“I don’t think I need to cater to your petty demands,” Navor said. “I’ve got more important things to do like stopping the plague.”

“For all we know, you created the plague,” Rick countered. “All we have is your word against Selendis’.”

“You would do well not to trust that creature,” Navor stated.

Targon sighed. “Look, this is pointless.” He grabbed one of Navor’s sabers from the hook behind the master’s back and activated it. “See, it’s real and it’s blue. Not red. He’s not one of the bad guys.”

Rick shrugged. “Alright then…wait, is he coming with us?”

“He’s going to help us,” Targon replied. “But first we need to get our ship fixed and get out of here. There are Imperials now, and the creatures…”

“Yeah, we know about the Imperials,” Gabrielle said. “The problem is, the ship is damaged and we don’t have the parts we need to get it up again.”

“Unless your friend here has some parts?” Rick suggested.

“No, I don’t,” Navor replied.

“I thought not.”

“But he and I did find the Imperial landing shuttles,” Targon said.

“Oh, well,” Rick nodded. “I guess we could relieve them of some items…”

“Let’s go then,” Greyhawk said. “I’m sure the Imperials won’t be too pleased if they find us borrowing their parts.”

“Follow me,” Navor said.

---

The settlement was completely empty, and it looked like it had been vacated only recently. Commander Hugo did not like that. If someone had spotted them and alerted these people, it was certain that the crew of the Lone Eagle knew that they were here too. That was going to make finding them that much more difficult.

“Sir?” Sergeant Gol asked.

“What do you have?” Hugo asked.

“The scouts haven’t seen any of the population anywhere. But several squads have had trouble with those creatures in the forest.”

“Any thoughts as to where the colonists are?”

“Personally?”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“I think they’re all dead, sir.”

Hugo turned to face the young man. “And why is that? What do you have to base that theory?”

“Well, sir, I’ve just got this feeling.”

“A feeling? Sergeant, you are not a Sith – you cannot feel things through the Force. Give me substantial evidence to base your standing. Where are the bodies? Have you seen any signs of blood or struggle?”

“I don’t know, sir. We haven’t seen anything.”

“Then what do you have?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“I see. Well, sergeant, I’ll tell you what I think. Look around the settlement. Everything is left as it should be. Items in the shops are still up, tables and furniture are undisturbed – it’s all ready for the day, except there are no people.”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, Sergeant Gol,” Hugo looked squarely at the man’s face. “What do you think that means?”

“That the colonists just left everything behind, and the cleanliness of everything suggests they left recently. Sir.”

“Exactly,” Hugo nodded approvingly. “That tells us two things. First, the people know we’re here. And second, they aren’t far away.”

“Should we set up to pursue them, sir?”

“No,” Hugo studied the settlement again. “They might have gathered in a central area of the city to find protection – they certainly wouldn’t find any out in the forest. Search the area, find any supplies worth taking, and locate the likeliest gathering site.”

“Yes sir,” Sergeant Gol saluted and left.

Hugo continued to search the area on his own, leaving nothing unchecked. The more he found, however, the uneasier he became.

It didn’t take long to find the central structure – a large building atop a great many stairs – probably a temple. Hugo had his full force gathered to make an entrance.

“Sir,” the sergeant said hesitantly, “why are we preparing the entire expedition to storm the building?”

“Because, sergeant,” Hugo said patiently, “we don’t know how the colonists will react. Especially if the crew of the Lone Eagle have managed to illicit their aid. We could be dealing with a full mob trying to fight us off.”

“You really think so?”

“It’s impossible to be certain, but I’d rather not be caught unprepared.”

“Yes sir.”

The vanguard troops were making their way up the steps towards the entrance. Their blasters were ready to shoot anything that moved. To Hugo, it seemed like they were taking hours to climb the stairs, and he couldn’t understand what had him so anxious. There was nothing he needed to worry about. A few angry citizens wouldn’t be a match for his skilled troops.

He then heard shouting and blaster fire. Not from the building, but to the rear.

Turning around, he saw what the matter was. Those beasts from the forest were attacking – leaping from building to building, and pouncing on his frightened soldiers.

“Take positions!” he shouted. “Drive these monsters back!”

Bright red lasers flashed into the air, streaking towards the savage blue animals. Yet only about half the shots made their mark – the creatures were so quick.

Finally, the troops on the steps had reached the doors, and had begun to open them. They were slow at first, being cautious and ready, but then the opening burst wide, and dozens more of the hideous beasts poured out.

Hugo heard the screaming around him as the creatures tore the men apart. There was no formation between the ranks, no order, no adherence to training and discipline. Terror had gripped the men, and the result was absolute chaos.

A beast came near him, but he shot it dead between the eyes. Two more came close, and he killed them too. His blaster was getting hot very quickly as he kept shooting. There seemed to be no end to them.

He heard Sergeant Gol’s shouting to keep some men in line, but his voice was paling in the sea of carnage. One by one, the soldiers were slaughtered. Gol kept his command even until his last man fell. He didn’t see the creature come behind him and leap on his back. Three more came up to him, and they each took a large piece out of him.

Hugo shuddered as he heard his men’s desperate screams, but there was nothing he could do. Every time he made to help out one of the soldiers, another called out for aid while the first one was killed. He couldn’t help anyone. Not even himself.

His blaster overheated, and he could only use it to bash one of the creatures’ jaws away from him. It was over, he knew, so he reached for the only thing that might do him any good – a thermal detonator.

He grabbed it and fumbled for the activator. But then he was knocked to the ground. The small grenade rolled out of his hand and was lost in the swarm of bodies.

Hugo expected at any moment to be ripped apart, just like the rest of his soldiers, but the moment when fang and claw ripped into his skin did not come. He did, however, feel something cold touch him.

At first, he thought he was losing all feeling as his flesh was being rent, but he didn’t see any blood on him, and he looked entirely intact.

Then he saw a face, blue and alien, and what looked like a great snake constricting around his body. He could feel himself losing consciousness.

“This world is mine, intruder,” a female voice said. “Now, you are mine too.”

---

It had taken several hours, but the crew had gotten all that they should have needed from the hulls and components of the unmanned shuttles. Now they were back at the Lone Eagle, trying to see if they could make any of it work compatibly with the rest of the ship.

“This is a real hack job,” Rick muttered. “My baby deserves better than this.”

“It doesn’t have to be pretty, Rick,” Gabrielle said. “It just has to work well enough to get us off the ground and off to a repair shop.”

“I know, I know…but I just don’t like using this Imperial trash.”

“You have to use what you’ve got.”

“Alright, cut the chatter, both of you,” Greyhawk’s voice came from the other side of a panel. “Just get the job done and you can jab at each other to your heart’s content when we’re out of here.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Rick shook his head. “Say, how’s it going in there?”

“I don’t know who wired this thing, but I’m surprised this ship has worked for as long as it has.”

“Hey,” Rick pounded the panel. “I wired this ship myself!”

“Oh, I guess that explains it.”

“Now who’s making the jabs?”

Targon walked into the compartment. “How’s it coming here, guys?”

“Well enough,” Gabrielle muttered.

“The engines and the stabilizers are good,” Targon stated. “I think this is the last of everything.”

“Are we going to have to check your work?” Rick asked.

“Everything’s just fine, captain,” Targon sighed. “I know how to handle repairs on a ship – even unorthodox repairs like this.”

There was a clank, then a curse, then a snap, and then a sigh from behind the panel. “Alright, that’s it!” Greyhawk shouted. “I’ve got this done…now if I can just get out of here…”

“Good, now you can help us,” Rick said.

Targon shook his head and left them to their work. He walked quickly through the ship and down the ramp. Navor stood silently at the foot of it, staring out into the forest.

“Master Navor?” Targon called. “We’re about ready to depart…”

“I’m not coming with you,” Navor said huskily.

“What do you mean?”

“My duty is to protect this planet and its people. And…I felt my apprentice’s fall.”

“Fall?”

“He’s dead. The sorceress knows about us.”

“All the more reason to get out of here,” Targon stood next to him.

“No, you need to leave,” Navor grabbed his twin sabers. “I have to confront this darkness.”

“You can’t go alone.”

“Do you intend to try to stop me?”

“No,” Targon faced the master. “I intend to go with you. I understand what’s going on now. The dreams I’ve had – they’ve led me to this world and to you and to the danger posed here. It must be stopped.”

“You don’t understand, boy.”

“What?”

Navor growled. “This plague is far beyond you, Targon. I’ve been fighting it for decades, and still have yet to defeat it. You place too much pride in yourself if you think that you can defeat it after only a day.”

“It isn’t my pride you’ve pointed out, Master, it’s yours.”

Navor gave a look at Targon and cracked a bit of a smile. “So it is.”

“Okay, it’s time to get out of here!” Rick shouted to no one in particular as he sat in the pilot chair. “Despite the Imperial garbage used to stitch things up, we are good to go!”

Greyhawk walked into the cockpit frowning.

“What’s with the look?” Rick asked.

“The Jedi are gone,” the old soldier replied.

“What?!”
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.22.2012 , 12:54 PM | #29
Chapter Seven

Targon suddenly found it difficult to maintain pace with Master Navor once they really got to sprint. His cat-like agility allowed him to weave through the trees with ease, and very soon, Targon was panting and struggling to keep him in his sights.

Finally, he caught up to him, but that was more because Navor had stopped instead of him picking up speed. The Jedi Watchman was still as a statue, his whole body tense beneath his simple, soiled robes. His lips were pursed as he bared his animal teeth.

“What’s the matter?” Targon whispered.

The orange and black fur on the master’s body stood up straight and rigid. “There are more of them.”

“More what?”

“Creatures.”

Targon’s eyes widened in shock. He hadn’t been counting on fighting an army of those monsters. How were the two of them to get through? This was starting to turn out to be a bad idea after all.

“So what do we do?”

“You can turn back and return to your ship, if you’re too afraid,” Navor suggested.

“A Jedi does not give in to fear.”

“If you say so,” Navor shrugged.

“You don’t?” Targon raised an eyebrow.

“Fear is a natural instinct, Targon. Even the lowliest of all animals has it. It’s what keeps us alive. If you follow me, it’s likely you won’t find yourself alive for much longer.”

“If we work together,” Targon countered, “we may both come out alive.”

“You’re a naïve young Jedi.”

“Maybe, but at least I’m optimistic.”

“Quiet,” Navor raised a hand. “The creatures are getting closer.”

“So, do we fight or run?”

“Which appeals to your optimism?”

Targon frowned and breathed deep. Pulling out his saber, he said, “We run straight through.”

“What kind of idea is that?”

“A bold one, and one that might just catch them off-guard.”

“They’re animals, not an army. They don’t think rationally.”

“That’s what I’m counting on.”

Targon activated the blade and shouted as loud as he could. Then he charged headlong through the trees towards the settlement. All around he could see bodies – many of them creatures, but a greater number being the Imperials. Targon could only wonder if any of them were still alive, but he would know soon enough as he emerged from the forest.

All over the settlement, on top of the buildings and down in the streets, was a swarm of the horrid creatures. They were of all sizes, and all ages.

“No,” Targon gasped. “The whole village…”

They were closing in around him, on all sides, even from behind. He had charged straight into a great web, and now he was caught.

Coming closer to him was an alien creature unlike anything he had ever seen. It seemed humanoid enough, much like the creatures, but it slithered along on great tendrils, almost like an octopus. The body – particularly the face – was familiar enough for him to recognize the sorceress.

“A brave and nearly successful maneuver,” she smiled, her burning blue eyes staring at him. “You almost caused a massive panic.”

“Not well enough,” Targon answered, holding his saber out in front of him.

“We missed you at breakfast,” Selendis said.

“I was getting some answers.”

“Not enough. What could the man-tiger tell you that I could not?”

“I could tell him whom he could trust,” Navor’s voice boomed from the forest. A great shrieking rose through the forest, as a blur of blue sabers and orange fur slashed a swathe through the horde of beasts. Finally, Navor stopped at Targon’s side. A path of escape had been created behind them – at least temporarily.

“Ah, and there you are,” Selendis smiled. “We’ve been together on this world for so long, and yet we hardly had a chance to see each other in person.”

“I haven’t come here to mince words with a monstrosity such as you!” Navor growled. “I have come to put an end to your plague.”

“Indeed? Well, you come too late, I’m afraid. The colonists are mine now, and so are the Imperials. Their knowledge and abilities now substantiate my own.”

“Silence!” Navor roared. “You will pay for your evil!”

“But we’ve only begun,” the sorceress grinned. “Someone here wants to be reacquainted with you…”

She parted her skirt of tentacles and a creature emerged from beneath. It looked much like the others, but was larger and had less animal eyes. It was these eyes that allowed Navor to recognize it.

“Covus? What have you done?!” Navor roared with a ferocity that outmatched any of the creatures that surrounded them.

“How?” Targon gaped in astonishment.

Selendis laughed. “You are meddling with powers beyond your comprehension, Jedi. Had you placed your trust in me, you might have understood. Not like this howling cat.”

“No more words!” Navor’s teeth were bared and his fur was in a fray. “I will give my apprentice the peace he deserves, and I will kill you!”

With that, he leapt towards them, but his mutated pupil intercepted him in the air, activating his own purple lightsaber. Their blades crackled against each other, and their humming of their swipes at one another filled the air.

Targon watched in dismay. He could feel the taints of the Dark Side growing in Navor’s mind. They didn’t seem natural at all – but rather stimulated by the savage corruption emanating all around them. The taint had a source, he knew, and that source was the sorceress.

He took a few steps towards her, his blade ever ready to strike down anything that came near him.

“You maintain in control of your emotions,” Selendis observed of him. “Even when the ‘master’ could not. Impressive.”

“You’ll find I’m full of surprises,” Targon said.

“Oh, I know. I felt your power when you and your friends arrived on my world, Targon Karashi. I can only imagine your limitless potential.”

“You talk like a Sith.”

“Do I? Well, perhaps it’s something I’ve gained from the mind of the commander of the Imperial soldiers. They came here for you, Targon.”

“What are you talking about?”

“They came to take you to their masters. The commander’s mind was occupied with his orders to bring you to very powerful individuals. At least you’ve been brought to me.”

“To become one of these mindless beasts, a mockery of life? I shall sooner die.”

Selendis shook her head and looked at him pityingly. “Oh, how your mind is trapped in lies. You see me as a monster – prejudice from your human culture. You see me as evil – programming from your Jedi teachings. Am I so hideous that you shun me and my children, all because of what others have decided for you?”

Targon unwittingly let a look of confusion slip onto his face for a mere second. But the sorceress saw it.

“I see you are at a loss, the societal hold over your mind is weakening. Free yourself from it, Targon. Don’t let yourself be trapped like a beast in a cage, like a fly in a web.”

The saber in Targon’s hand felt heavy. He looked around him, at the countless beasts staring at him, at the fight between Navor and his student. There was so much power in them. Such liveliness…such strength…such freedom. And the sorceress herself – a deep and powerful presence that penetrated every mind around her. A wild beauty about her, unencumbered by clothing or laws or the designs of the world. The constant swaying of her coils was mesmerizing.

A face appeared before Targon – a face he knew all his life. The blank, yet thoughtful eyes; the pointed ears; and the deerskin robes.

Master Tieru.

Suddenly, Targon’s wit and strength returned, his mind became clear and focused. He raised his saber towards Selendis.

“A fly in a web? I am caught in a web indeed, but you are the spider that weaves it. Your honeyed words and seductive aura will not hold sway over me. I am Targon Karashi, Jedi Knight and defender of the Republic. I will not fall to the Dark Side, or to you.”

Surprise flashed on Selendis’ face. “You are strong, child, but you will not stand against me. You will see your friends fall to me, and then you shall join as well.”

“Not while I yet draw breath,” Targon countered.

One of the beasts leaped at him, but he sidestepped and cut it in two. More came at him, but the same fate befell them. He swung his blade back and forth, and for an instant he turned away from Selendis.

That was when she struck. One of her great tendrils snapped out towards him, like a snake. Targon saw it too late to respond.

He was suddenly knocked to the ground as something pounced upon him. Looking up from the dirt, he saw the tiger face looking back at him, wincing.

The defeated body of the mutated Covus lay not too far away. Apparently, the student’s power and the savagery of the beast were not enough to overcome the master’s skill.

But Targon noticed it was hardly a triumph. Navor growled softly in pain. He had been struck by Covus’ saber.

No, he realized, it wasn’t from the saber. The sorceress’ tentacle had stabbed into his side when he knocked Targon aside, already the skin around the wound was discoloring.

Targon got himself up and held Navor tightly. “No,” he rasped, unable to say anything else.

“First him, now you,” the sorceress mused.

A familiar rumbling sounded from overhead. It grew incredibly loud, even deafening, and the noise sent the creatures scampering off into all directions.

Looking up, Targon smiled as he saw the Lone Eagle descending down towards them. The cannons were firing at the scattering creatures, sending them further into a panic. The ramp was lowered and Greyhawk was there, waving to them.

Selendis uttered a furious shriek and lashed out at the ship. The Lone Eagle started destabilizing, as though a storm gust had blown in. Targon knew it was her, though, and he started to fear that she truly was more powerful than he could have supposed.

Targon lifted the weak Navor, a difficult task, and tried to get him up to the ramp and to Greyhawk. The old soldier reached down and grabbed the Jedi Master, but was struggling to get him up. One of Selendis’ tentacles swiped at them, causing Greyhawk to nearly lose his grip. He grabbed the Jedi’s cloak again and held tight.

They weren’t going to get him up alive with her attacks, so Targon gave a hard push at the Jedi, aided by the Force, and leapt towards her. Leading with his foot, he struck the sorceress’ chest with a hard kick.

She was knocked back, but still stable. The same could not be said for Targon. He landed flat on the ground, the air knocked out of him.

Groaning, he got to his feet. He turned around barely in time to see another of Selendis’ coils lash out. This time, however, he was able to barely get out of the way in time.

Reaching out, Targon felt a weak part of the wall in a nearby structure. He concentrated and ripped the piece out and flung it at Selendis.

Turning to the ship, he was relieved to see Greyhawk had gotten Navor up safely – with assistance from Gabrielle.

It was over here. There was nothing to be done to help the colonists or the Imperials. Selendis had taken this world, and would take them too if they didn’t leave now. With a sorry sigh, Targon leaped up to the ramp just as it was starting to close. With great effort, the ship was able to ascend into the air and out of the atmosphere.

Targon entered the cockpit and plopped down, exhausted and disturbed.

Rick turned to look at him and shook his head. “You Jedi, always rushing off into trouble.” Seeing Targon’s face, Rick decided not to go into his rant he had been preparing the entire trip over here. He said simply, “Well, I guess this settles the score for when you saved my sorry butt in that arena on Corellia. We are leaving this planet now, for good.”

Targon smiled weakly, but felt himself losing consciousness. Somehow, a greater strain had been exerted from him than he had thought. He had no idea why.

He opened his eyes and saw stars.

“Why aren’t we in hyperspace?” he asked.

“Well,” Rick pointed out the window. “That’s why.”

Targon saw it – the Imperial warship. “They have us in a tractor beam?”

“Yep.” The disgust and anger on Rick’s face was obvious. They were supposed to have escaped, not get caught by the people who put them on the planet in the first place.

Gabrielle walked into the cockpit. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” she groaned as she saw the ship. “Why didn’t you take us into hyperspace when you had the chance?”

Rick turned to her. “Well, the worthless junk from the Imperial shuttles didn’t help as much as we hoped. I can’t seem to get the ship to jump. And they did catch me by surprise.”

“Shut up, I wasn’t asking for excuses!”

“Look, lady, you’re not exactly helping…”

Targon felt something odd – an idea to activate the hyperspace jump again. He started to do so.

“What are you doing?” Rick asked. “We can’t jump if we’re caught in a tractor…beam…” He trailed off as they all stared at the ship outside. It was shaking wildly, ripping apart, and even collapsing on itself. Suddenly, the ship exploded, stars became lines, and the Lone Eagle lurched into hyperspace.

“What. Just. Happened?” Gabrielle gasped.

“We…escaped?” Rick shrugged.

“We were let go,” Navor’s weak voice said from behind. He was walking, but his stance was uneasy. His face looked haggard, and the black stripes on his fur had turned pale blue.

“What?” Targon asked. “I just got the inspiration to punch in and…”

“Selendis destroyed the ship to let us go,” Navor cut him off.

“And why would she do that?” Rick asked, overtly skeptical of the master’s claim.

“She wants us, and she won’t let anyone else have us.”

Targon nodded. “I understand. We shall be seeing her again?” The thought sent a freezing chill through his body.

“Yes,” Navor replied. “We shall see her again. Soon enough.”

Conclusion of Episode Four
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.23.2012 , 09:15 AM | #30
Episode Five – No Disintegrations

Chapter One

Targon stared blankly out into the mottled blue panorama outside the cockpit window. The color reminded him all too well of the horrors on that simple little world. But it wouldn’t do to let the memories determine how he viewed the world now. After all, he had seen far worse with Khan Arc-Saal. And Targon had defeated him.

“Hey, could you hand me that springy little contraption?” Rick’s voice came from below.

Shaken from his thoughts, Targon grabbed the requested item and leaned over to hand it to Rick. The captain was on his back, halfway under the dashboard. His legs kicked out occasionally as he shifted.

“Thanks,” Rick said when he had the part.

Targon sighed. “You know, I had really thought we had gotten all this fixed.”

“Hey, what can you expect from cheap Imperial engineering? Besides, it’s not like we had the finest mechanic shop around.”

“I know, I just thought we wouldn’t need to do this.”

“Well, we should consider ourselves lucky that we’re still in hyperspace. At least we’ll be back to a civilized system and we can get the repairs we really need.”

“Where are we headed, anyway?” Targon asked.

“Nar Shaddaa. I have an aim to get lost.”

“Is that such a good place? I mean…we haven’t exactly made a lot of friends with criminals lately.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. It’s not like crime is the only thing going on there. How are they going to find us anyway? Nar Shaddaa is one of the best spots to get lost. We’ll be fine, trust me.”

“If you say so.”

Rick sighed and emerged from the panel. “Look, if it will set your mind at ease, look at it this way – we’ve got the Empire and a powerful, freaky alien after us. With figures like that, who would touch us? And I can promise you that neither the Empire or the sorceress will be finding us on Nar Shaddaa anytime soon.”

“I find your reasoning questionable.”

“Fine, don’t trust me. That’s cool. Go and meditate then, since that’s what you Jedi do to relax, isn’t it?”

Targon sighed. “It’s not that I don’t trust you Rick…It’s just…well, it just seems wherever we go we get into some sort of trouble.”

“Yeah, you’re right…but I feel a change in the wind now.”

“That’s probably a glitch in the life support system.”

Rick chuckled. “That too.”

---

The lights were dim, and the air was hazy with smoke and ripe with greed. A group of five men – all dressed in a varied assortment of garb – stood in a half-hearted semicircle. All their eyes were glued to Moff Taan as he walked into the room.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” he said casually. “I trust you have all been treated comfortably?”

There was only silence in reply.

“I see we can dispense with the pleasantries,” Taan nodded. “So let’s just get to business then, shall we?”

One of the men stepped forward. He was dressed in battered armor, with a filthy coat. “We came here to make money, not chat with Imperial princes.”

“Yes, of course,” Taan showed no sign of annoyance at the man’s rudeness.

Another man snorted. “I came to make money for myself, not to work with the likes of that filth.” This person was covered in a battle suit and full of equipment, but the most noticeable thing was that he had only one hand.

The first man knew he had been insulted and glared at the second. “Watch yourself, buddy, or you’ll find yourself missing your other hand.”

At that, the armored man snorted again. “I’d like to see you try.”

“Look at them start squabbling like a pair of hens,” a short man in a re-breather mask and an old, tattered hat laughed. “It’s obvious who won’t be getting paid for the bounty.”

A large Wookie that stood next to him barked out a chuckle and said something in a low growl.

“Gentlemen, please,” Taan raised his hands. “Let’s start this meeting a little more civilized, if we could.”

“Where did you find these…people?” a Zabrak asked. A visor covered his eyes, but the contemptuous look on his face was easily discernable. “I thought only professionals were invited, not common thugs.”

The man in the filthy coat walked over and bared his crooked teeth at him. “You’d best leave insults unsaid, unless you want some of the same.”

The Zabrak ignored him and turned his face in disgust. “Please don’t stand so close to me, I can smell your rancid breath. What? Did you brush your fangs with bantha fodder?”

Taan sighed. These were bounty hunters, all right. They didn’t seem so hostile before he entered…but that may have been because they were busy thinking of ways to kill their competition. What was the matter with them? He hadn’t even given the assignment and they were already at each other’s throats.

Their arguments and bickering started to escalate until Taan was certain they were going to come to blows. He was seriously considering calling in his blackguards to remove the bounty hunters from the ship…

That is, until an angry voice from behind bellowed, “Silence!”

Each of the hunters shut up immediately. A tall figure entered the room, armored head to toe in thick mando durasteel. A ragged red cape draped behind him.

“Moff Taan did not have you all brought here so that you could have childish tantrums in front of him,” the Mandalorian snarled. “You were brought here for a job. If you’re not interested, then I’ll kill you and see that we find some people who are.”

Silence.

“Good. Now that we have settled the matter, let’s continue.”

“Thank you, Algayne,” Taan nodded to the warrior. “Now then, here is the target I would like you to find.” A holoprojection of a ship appeared from a table nearby. “This ship is called the Lone Eagle, and its captain is a smuggler by the name of Rick Orlan. Each of you has been given a datapad with all the necessary information. I want this ship and its crew, found, captured, and brought to me.”

“Sounds easy enough,” the man in the hat shrugged. “How much is it worth to you?”

“Ten thousand for each member of the crew brought in unharmed.”

“Unharmed?” the filthy man spat. “Why?”

“Because he said so, Griff,” Algayne replied.

“Okay then, unharmed as you say,” the one-handed man nodded. “Anything else?”

“I would prefer they be found as quickly as possible,” Taan answered.

“You’ll get your ship,” the short man said. “But you’d better have the money ready.”

“It will be, if you bring them in. And remember, no killing, no torturing, and no disintegrations.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Well, you have your job,” Algayne growled. “What are you waiting for? Get to it! We don’t pay you to stand around.”

The bounty hunters left one at a time, making sure they weren’t too close to each other. None of them spoke as they departed, either.

“Worthless slime,” Algayne spat when they were gone.

“Not entirely worthless,” Taan held up a finger. “They have some use to us.”

“Any of my warriors is worth a thousand of the likes of them. Why did you bother with hiring them anyway? My boys are already out searching for the ship and its crew.”

“Yes, but think of how your men will have an easier time of it when the Lone Eagle is too focused on escaping common bounty hunters?”

“True, and I have no intention of giving Rick or his friends a chance this time,” Algayne nodded. “Still, I think you could have done better than that smutty Griff Ponz or that philandering schmuck Hel Katarn.”

“You disapprove of them?”

“They’re dumber than a Coruscant granite slug. That little man, Djehad Nguyen, is fine – and his beastly friend Rook is strong. But they’re both wanted by several governments, and won’t be able to sneak around easily. The cripple, Jet Harro, is respectable, but he’s long since past his prime.”

“Yes, well,” Taan smiled, “they all are willing to work cheaper as well.”

“It won’t matter. They’ll get themselves killed, either by Rick or my men.”

“True enough. And it is you who should be bringing Rick and his ship in anyway.”

“I guess I’d better be going,” Algayne said. “I look forward to working with you in the future, Moff.”

Taan was alone when Algayne left. But after a few quiet and easy moments, there was a beeping on the holoprojector. He reached over and activated it. The image of a man in a hood and cloak appeared. His face was hidden by a skull shaped mask.

“My lord,” Taan bowed. “I have dispatched the bounty hunters, and the Mandalorians.”

“Excellent,” the man smiled. “With so much chaos and confusion, my own agent will have no trouble finding his quarry.”

“Your…own agent?” Taan’s eyebrows rose in confusion.

“You didn’t think I’d be counting on some thugs to handle the job, did you?”

“I…” Taan struggled to find the right words. “I had figured you would include me in on this other agenda…”

A holographic finger pointed harshly at him. “What I do is my own concern, Taan. You need only focus yourself on your own tasks.”

“Yes, my lord.”

The image faded away like a specter.
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi