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The Voyages of Targon Karashi


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TargonKarashi
03.23.2012 , 09:18 AM | #31
Chapter Two

The Lone Eagle set down on a landing pad with a larger clatter than Rick would have liked. He winced with each clang and bump as though it were a pinch in the heel.

“Rick,” Targon said, “you know it’s going to be fine, don’t you?”

“Hopefully.”

“We’ll find a good and honest mechanic, and she’ll be as good as new.”

Rick shook his head. “That’s just it though… We have to find a good and honest mechanic, and we need to afford the repairs.”

Targon raised an eyebrow. “I figured you were going to try you’re luck at the card tables. That’s what your plan usually is, isn’t it?”

“Buddy, this is Nar Shaddaa. There are more cheaters and skifters on this world than most other worlds combined. Trying to win big here will be…”

“Difficult?”

“Impossible.”

Targon sighed, “Coming from you, that doesn’t sound good.”

“What are you two moping about in here?” Gabrielle asked as she stepped into the cockpit.

Rick turned to her. “Money, that’s what. How are we supposed to afford repairs?”

“I thought you were good at cards…”

“We already went over this,” Targon shook his head.

Gabrielle sighed. “Well, I guess it will be up to me to get the money then, eh?”

“How?” Rick asked.

She gave him a look. “What was I doing on Corellia before we met?”

“Bounty hunting?”

“Before you figured that out,” she rolled her eyes.

A shock came on Rick’s face. “You mean you’re going to find a bar, get on the tables, and strip off your clothes?”

The fierceness of Gabrielle’s eyes looked as though they would strike Rick dead that very moment. “No, you idiot, I’ll sing.”

“Oh…” Rick’s face turned bright pink.

“Where?” Targon asked.

“Wherever I can,” Gabrielle replied. “You boys enjoy your time together…moping…while I go earn some credits.” She left the cockpit and went down the ramp.

“Don’t you think someone should go with her?” Targon asked.

“Eh? Did you see that look?” Rick’s voice was weak with fear. “I think she can handle herself.”

“Still…this is a rough place.”

“You want to go? That’s fine with me. I’ll just see about getting repairs…”

“I’ll be back soon,” Targon stood. Then he added, “To make sure you’re alright.”

“You don’t have to worry about me,” Rick shrugged. “There’s still Greyhawk and that other Jedi here to keep me company. Speaking of which, how is the cat?”

“He’s resting right now. I…don’t know if he’ll recover soon.”

“Well, you know Cathar – they’re tough.”

Targon raised an eyebrow. “If you say so.”

“Are you going or what?”

“I’m going.”

Targon rose from the seat and left the cockpit. As he went for the ramp, he passed the medical bay where Navor still lay, clawing at the bed in pain.

“He doesn’t look good,” Greyhawk said from behind.

Targon turned to him. “Is there nothing we can do?”

Greyhawk shook his head. “Maybe Jedi have ways…but this is far beyond me. I’m just a soldier, after all.”

“Do you think he’ll…?”

Greyhawk shrugged. “No idea, but the fact he hasn’t done any mutating yet gives us some hope, I believe.”

“Some hope is always better than no hope.”

“Were you heading out?”

Targon sighed. “Gabrielle’s probably long gone by now. Now that I think about it, Navor probably needs more help from me than she does.”

“Perhaps. All the same, I think I’ll go out and make sure no trouble gets started.”

“You?”

“Don’t give me that. I told you before, I may be old, but I’m not helpless.”

“No need to remind me, I remember.”

Greyhawk patted Targon’s shoulder. “I’ll be back.”

When the old soldier left, Targon sat down beside Navor. He placed his hand on Navor’s trembling claws to let him know he was there.

“I never had the chance to thank you,” Targon said softly. “It should be me lying there on the bed.”

Navor’s eyes opened. “It was my fight…” he rasped. “My sacrifice to make.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Targon asked.

The Jedi Master’s eyes had a tinge of sorrow. “No.”

“Don’t lose hope,” Targon said sternly. “There is always hope.”

“It is good of you to keep faith,” Navor grimaced in pain. “But I know that it is over for me.”

“I can’t let you end like this,” Targon said. “You can’t have failed your task.”

“But I did.”

“No,” Targon shook his head almost childishly. He raised his hands over Navor’s chest and focused himself through the Force. Sensing the strains of poison through the Jedi’s body, Targon concentrated on extracting it from his body. Yet each time he made contact with the foreign essence, it fled deeper into Navor’s body.

The Jedi Watchman’s hand suddenly clasped Targon and nudged him away. “Enough,” he said weakly. “It is useless. This power is beyond either of us, and it will only be a matter of time before my strength fails me.”

Targon shook his head defiantly, but Navor’s yellow eyes stared deep into him.

“All I can ask…” Navor began. “…All I can ask is you give me a clean death, so that I can become one with the Force as myself, and not as a monster.”

“I can’t do that,” Targon stood up. “It is not the way of the Jedi. It is not right! You will be healed – I’ll find a way.”

“Foolish and headstrong,” Navor sighed. “Yet brave and noble. What can you do? What can I do? For all our Jedi training, we are as little children when faced with a darkness we cannot understand. I thought I could defeat it…I was wrong. I was a fool. Do not be such a stubborn fool as I, Targon. End it now.”

“I…” Targon backed away. “I can’t…I won’t!” He gave into the childish impulse to flee the room. He ran down the ramp, along the docking bay, and out into the labyrinth of streets, buildings, and alleys of the Smuggler’s Moon. All the while, he tried desperately to hold back tears. He didn’t even know why tears were welling in his eyes.

He kept running, not knowing where he was going. He didn’t care anyway. All around him were throngs of people – people who had absolutely no idea the pain a brave man was going through, or the great evil that lurked in the edges of the galaxy. They had no idea of Selendis and her power to consume worlds and the inhabitants of them.

Targon finally stopped when he found himself at a dead end in a dark alley. He didn’t know how he had gotten there, but he figured the only way to find out was to go back. As he turned around, he saw a familiar, yet unwelcome face.

“Well, well,” the Kiffar Mandalorian smiled. “Look what I have here. It looks like the Empire had no need to hire those bounty hunters after all, since I’ve already found you.”

“Bounty hunters?” Targon raised an eyebrow. “I had figured Algayne would have his lackeys looking for us, but not the Empire.”

“You’ve stirred up a lot of trouble, Jedi,” the Mandalorian spat. “But the only one you need to worry about is me. I told you I’d have your head as a trophy.”

Targon grabbed his saber. “Yes, you did mention that; but I had figured you were simply upset about your leg.”

“A warrior always means what he says, and makes good on his promises.”

“I have no wish to fight you,” Targon said after taking a deep breath to calm himself.

“Easier work for me then,” the Kiffar said as he pulled out his pistol.

Targon’s saber sprung to life as the Mandalorian fired. With ease, each shot was deflected into the ground or the walls. Another shot came at him, but Targon simple leaped over it.

The Mandalorian came at him now, a vibroblade in hand. His attacks were fierce and quick, but they were also clumsily predictable. Targon was able to parry without too much trouble.

Something tugged at his senses. He turned to find two more of Algayne’s Mandalorians had appeared from behind, each holding a blade of their own.

All three came at him at once, and he had to concentrate heavily on keeping a solid defense against all of them. There were a few narrow misses, where the blades sliced through his robes and caught his skin.

Targon caught the Kiffar’s blade, and then kicked a second man that came at him. Then he smacked the first Mandalorian in the face with the handle of his saber.

He could then focus himself on a single opponent for a moment. But it was long enough. He cut down the third man and now had a way out of the alley. Starting to run, he suddenly found himself knocked to the ground.

The other Mandalorian had tackled him by taking out his legs. The Kiffar now stood over him, ready to plunge the blade into his backside.

Reaching out with the Force, Targon called a large garbage bin towards him. The large object smashed into the unaware Kiffar, giving Targon a chance to free himself from the other man’s hold.

Targon leapt to his feet and made to get out of there again. Just as he was nearly out of the alley, however, he felt something heavy strike the back of his head. It was the lid to the garbage bin.

He collapsed to the ground from the blow. His vision and his thoughts were growing fuzzy in his discombobulated state. But he could hear the approaching footsteps from behind.

His saber was gone. He couldn’t see where it was. A wash of panic was starting to grow quickly in his mind.

But his wits and training returned to him. Reaching out, he found his saber a few feet away from him. His hand couldn’t reach it, but it didn’t have to.

At first it barely budged, but then it leaped up into the air, activated, and swung at the pair of Mandalorians as they grew close enough.

Targon heard the sounds of them falling lifeless to the ground and breathed a sigh of relief. It was a gamble he had played – one he was not entirely certain would have succeeded.

It was a few moments before he felt stable enough and could see well enough to stand and continue on. He had to get moving, he knew. For there would definitely be more of Algayne’s men showing up before too long.

And he knew now that there were also more bounty hunters.

“I’m really starting to agree with Rick,” he muttered to himself. “Can’t we go anywhere that we’re not getting into danger?”
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
03.23.2012 , 09:22 AM | #32
Chapter Three

“What do you mean you don’t hire aliens?!” Gabrielle’s eyes were glaring harsh enough to kill a dozen people at a glance.

“Look lady, I already told you,” the fat owner of the club said. “The patrons here at the Pretty Lady are of a higher class. And since most of this world is dominated by non-humans, they want to be in a comfortable place where they can be with their own species.”

“Your signs outside say that all talent is welcome!”

“No, they say that all human talent is welcome. We pay good money for good performers that the patrons want to see. They pay good money to be part of the experience. What would they say if I let a cantina rat start singing on the stage?”

“You’re disgusting,” Gabrielle snarled. “You’re not even going to let me try out?”

“Lady,” the fat man shook his head, jiggling his numerous chins. “If you want to sing so bad, why don’t you go to one of the many other bars around? Those that welcome your kind?”

Gabrielle’s hands started inching towards her blasters.

“I warn you, any hostility will be dealt with harshly,” the fat manager said. “The security here is very tight, and Nar Shaddaa will find itself short one Twi’lek if you try anything.”

“What’s going on here?” Greyhawk’s voice asked from behind. Gabrielle turned to see the old soldier approach.

“Nothing to worry about, my good man,” the manager smiled amiably. “Just a little trouble with the unwanted.”

“Yes, I noticed,” Greyhawk nodded. “Why don’t you step aside so the lady can go through?”

The man blubbered. “What? Don’t you know that this is an exclusive club and aliens are not allowed? Is this tramp a friend of yours, good man?”

“Tramp?!” Gabrielle made a move to slap him, but Greyhawk’s strong hand held her back.

“Come on, Gabrielle,” the old soldier said calmly. “He’s more trouble than he’s worth. Let’s find somewhere else.”

“Yes, go someplace where you belong, both of you,” the man said, indignant at being threatened by a woman – an alien woman.

The two moved along down the street, leaving the Pretty Lady behind and not making the effort to bother looking back. Gabrielle’s face was flustered.

“First slave owners like Quinn, then that colony of people, and now that fat oaf…Are all humans such biased pigs?”

Greyhawk gave her a look. “Rick, Targon, and I aren’t like them. Are we?”

“No…” Gabrielle nodded. “No…but just about everyone else…”

“I’ve seen a lot of things in my life,” Greyhawk said. “I’ve seen humans and many other races capable of injustice and prejudice. But I’ve also seen many of the same be kind and noble and tolerant. You can’t let a few people lead you to make judgment of all.”

“Thanks dad,” Gabrielle rolled her eyes.

“I’m just trying to help,” the old soldier shrugged.

“Sorry…I’m just upset right now.”

“Sure you are, just as I would be. Now, let’s say we find ourselves a better place to line a gig, eh?”

“We’ll probably have to find a place that’s less hospitable to humans,” Gabrielle pointed out.

“Bah, what do I care? As long as they’ve got drinks and food worth the money, I’ll be fine with whatever the company may be.”

They kept walking until they found another club – one that looked like it might pay well, and it didn’t look too much like a slum. There were a few guards outside, keeping a close watch on the people that went into and out of the club.

When Greyhawk and Gabrielle approached, they held up their hand to stop them.

“I haven’t seen you folks visiting here before,” one of them, a Gran, stated. “Whatcha want here?”

Gabrielle stepped forward. “I’m looking for a singing gig. Perhaps I could see the owner of this establishment to talk about employment?”

The guards looked at each other, and then the other one, a Nikto, snorted. “Boss Kusten prefers dancers to singers. So do the customers.”

“I can dance,” Gabrielle said.

“You’ve certainly got the looks,” the Gran nodded. “Who’s this?” he pointed to Greyhawk. “Your bodyguard?”

“More like my agent,” Gabrielle replied at once. “He takes care of all my paperwork and deals.”

The old soldier said nothing, but she could tell he felt uncomfortable with the role he had been placed in.

“So can we see the owner or not?” Gabrielle asked impatiently.

They took a while to think about it, but then they replied, “Sure, go on in.”

Inside was a mess of people, mostly men, gathered around a number of tables. On these tables, spinning and dancing around glittery poles, were exactly the kind of dancers Gabrielle had been hoping wouldn’t be the type.

She sighed. “This isn’t going to work.”

“I’ll say…” Greyhawk gaped. “There weren’t any signs outside that suggested this was a strip club.”

“Well, what can you expect from Nar Shaddaa?” Gabrielle shook her head. “Come on, let’s get out of here before they start ogling me like these girls.”

Someone stepped in front of them.

“Now what’s a pretty dame like you doing in this scum pit?” the man asked.

“Leaving,” Gabrielle replied sharply.

“I can see that. What were you doing here in the first place? Picking up men? I think someone like you could do a lot better than this old fossil with you.”

“Excuse me?” Gabrielle glared at him. He was a Zabrak, with handsome features surely, but there was a cockiness about him that was almost palpable. “And who might you be?”

“You don’t know? I thought all the chicks knew Hel Katarn.”

“Nice to meet you,” Greyhawk said. “Now if you don’t mind, we’re leaving right now.”

“I couldn’t help but hear your problem, missy,” the Zabrak ignored him. “You looking for a singing job? It just so happens that I know a place that would love to have you. If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you there myself.”

“That’s very kind of you,” Gabrielle said uncaring. “But we really need to go.”

His hand grabbed her arm tightly. “Oh, but I insist that you come. Your singing career will skyrocket, and you’ll be an intergalactic star by the end of the week. I promise you.”

“Kindly unhand her,” Greyhawk ordered gruffly.

“Look gramps,” Katarn turned to him. “Why don’t you hit the road, or a senior center? The lady’s got more important people to be with than you.”

“Let go of me,” Gabrielle growled menacingly.

“Ooh, the lady’s got attitude,” Katarn smiled. “I like that in a girl. Instead of the stage, why don’t you and I find a hotel and have a real good time.”

“I asked nicely,” Gabrielle’s face darkened.

“Am I supposed to be scared of you? You’re too pretty to be scary.”

“I guess we’ll find out…”

There was the sound of a blaster shot, and then another outside. The door burst open and an ugly man with a filthy coat barged in with a blaster carbine. He smiled a crooked toothy grin when he spied the soldier and the Twi’lek.

“Everyone remain calm,” the man shouted. “I’m here for those two,” he pointed to them. “Nobody moves, and this will be quick and painless.”

“You again, toilet mouth?” the Zabrak called back at him. “You’re too late. These guys are mine.”

“We’ll see,” the dirty man pointed his blaster.

Greyhawk was faster. He swiped a chair out from a customer and flung it at the armed intruder. Then he charged forward and slammed man into the door. The two started scuffling, with the whole club watching them.

The old soldier grabbed the bounty hunter and tossed him out the door, soon following.

The Zabrak suddenly put a big hand over Gabrielle’s mouth and started dragging her through the club to the back door. He was strong, and harsh.

“You could have made this a whole lot easier, schutta,” he hissed in her ear. “All you had to do was be a good little girl and come with me.”

They were out in an alley now. He was leading her towards his speeder. As he slightly lessened his grip to get the door open, Gabrielle bit into is hand hard.

He yelped and pulled away from her for a split second. Then he came at her again, but this time she was ready. With a straight and quick kick to the groin, he was incapacitated.

As he lay on the ground, writhing and moaning curses, she climbed into his speeder and started it up. The engine revved with a loud whine as it lifted up and sped off.

Gabrielle sharply turned the vehicle in the air and set down right next to where Greyhawk and the other man had gotten into a nasty little fistfight. Opening the door, she shouted at the old soldier to get in. But before he could, something landed on the hood of the speeder.

It was a fully armored man with a jetpack. He pointed a blaster straight at Gabrielle, motioning her to get out of the vehicle. In his other hand was…nothing. The man’s left hand was missing. Something about that was familiar…

Silently cursing, Gabrielle complied with his order and got out. Greyhawk was still busy beating the other man’s face in, and getting beaten up by him as well. And from around the building came Katarn, still cringing and gripping his groin.

“Game’s over boys,” the one-handed man said behind his helmet. “They’re mine.”

“What makes you think that?” Katarn asked.

“Because I’m the only one who hasn’t been beaten by the bounty, that’s why.”

Katarn stood straight and pulled out his own blaster, aimed straight at his competitor. “You haven’t won this thing yet, Jet Harro.”

Gabrielle’s eyes widened in surprise. This was Jet Harro, one of the most respected bounty hunters in the galaxy – his career had lasted over twenty years, during which he had captured forty-seven bounties with only one hand.

She knew about him, but she had no idea who these other two scumbags were. They certainly weren’t as famous as Jet.

A noise drew her attention. Greyhawk had fallen to the ground, his muscles twitching heavily. The man in the ratty coat held a stun baton in one hand, and the carbine in the other.

“You may have her now,” he spat. “But do you think you’re going to be able to keep her?”

There was a long moment where the three bounty hunters stared each other down, their guns ready to fire. The air had grown still, and everything was silent. Gabrielle was starting grow nervous, wondering who would make the first move, and who would be getting out of this alive.
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
03.23.2012 , 09:25 AM | #33
Chapter Four

Rick was walking up to the repair shop manager’s office with low spirits. He was sure that he knew what was going to happen. He’d ask for repairs for his ship, the guy would demand money up front. Then the mechanics would find more problems with the ship than there really were and they’d demand a higher price. After that, Rick would tell them that he couldn’t afford it, and then they’d throw him out on the street.

Or maybe even have their criminal friends rough him up for everything he was worth…which right now wasn’t very much.

He sighed and walked in through the door. The manager stood up to greet him.

“Hello sir,” the man smiled, stroking his mustache and eyeing Rick, measuring up just how much money he figured he could get from him. “What can I do for you today?”

“I need repairs for my ship,” Rick said somberly.

“Okay,” the man started searching his documents. “What’s the ship’s name and landing pad?”

“The Lone Eagle. Pad 13-B.”

The manager made annoying clicking sounds with his tongue as he searched the files. Eventually, he pulled one up.

“Ah, here we are. The Lone Eagle…Hmm…the repairs look like they need to be extensive. What did you do to your ship? Fly through an asteroid field?”

“Nope, just escaped an Imperial warship.”

“I see…well, the price will have to be determined after the repairs and adjustments have been made. There’s no way to charge you for what we don’t know yet.”

“Yeah,” Rick nodded. “But what will happen if you fix the ship and I can’t afford it?”

The manager gave him a look. “Sonny, this is Nar Shaddaa. What do you think happens to people who can’t pay their debts?”

Rick wasn’t bothered at all by the poorly veiled threat.

“You still want those repairs?” the man asked. “I don’t see how you’ll be going anywhere anytime soon without ‘em. Maybe you could by a new ship? I could buy your vessel for parts and…”

“No,” Rick said weakly. “I’m not selling my ship.”

“Very well…about the repairs…?”

“Well, I…”

A voice interrupted from behind. A voice Rick knew all too well…and had prayed he would never have heard again.

“Of course he wants those repairs, don’t you, Rick?”

Rick felt his blood grow cold, and he felt as though he would lose control of his bowels. He turned slowly, hoping all the while that this was just his imagination.

It wasn’t.

In the doorway stood a tall man, armored in dusty green and brown armor. Two pairs of pistols were holstered on his belt, and a rifle was slung across his back. His face was concealed by a sandy cloth turban.

Rick tried to open his mouth, but his voice failed him.

The man laughed. “Eight years and all you can do is stand there with your jaw open? How about a ‘How do you do?’”

“Shazzar,” Rick gasped weakly.

“I’m glad you still remember me,” the man took a few steps forward, his reptile-skin boots clomping on the hard floor.

“Wh-wh-what are you doing here?” Rick struggled to ask.

“Right now, visiting my old friend.”

The manager stood up and coughed. “Well, I, um…I’ve got some things to take care of…so if you’ll excuse me…”

Rick wanted to beg the man to stay, but it wouldn’t have done any good. Even if Rick could have had the strength to speak.

When he was gone, Shazzar asked, “What’s the matter Rick? You didn’t think you wouldn’t ever see me again, did you? The galaxy’s too small a place for either of us to truly disappear.”

It was getting difficult for Rick to breathe. He could feel sweat already dripping down his face…and he knew there would be a lot more soon enough.

“What? No catching up, is that it?” Shazzar asked. “Fine, fine, it’s not as though you don’t know what all I’ve been up to, or that I don’t know what you’ve been up to.”

“Huh?” was all Rick could utter.

“I know all about your little mess with Algayne, and Gardogga, and the incidents on Calpronica and Corellia. I actually saw you in those gladiator games…Very impressive. But then, it wasn’t anywhere near the kinds of things you were capable of before.”

“Yeah, well…” Rick was slowly mustering his courage to speak. “A lot has happened since we last saw each other.”

“I know. That’s why I’m here.”

“You…what?”

Shazzar chuckled. “I’ve been looking for you a while now. You haven’t stayed in one place for very long. I only caught glimpses of the Eagle every now and then…and I had to follow cold trails.”

“Well, you’ve found me… What do you want?”

“Don’t look so pale,” Shazzar shook his head. “It makes it look like you haven’t slept or eaten in days.”

“You’ll forgive me if I remain this milky shade while you’re here.”

“That hurts, Rick. That really hurts.”

“Not as much as your vibroblade.”

Shazzar sighed. “Rick, I would never lay a hand on you. Didn’t we know each other long enough for you to realize that? Or have you simply forgotten over all these years?”

“I’ve tried to forget, believe me…but I remember everything. What do you want?”

“I’m here to help you out, old friend.”

“Help me? From what?”

“Well, first, I’ve come to give you some important news. Gardogga’s dead. Lycos Quinn killed him on Corellia after your little…escapade. Algayne’s made an alliance with a moff of the Empire, and they’ve hired bounty hunters to take down you and your little crew. Algayne’s Mandalorians are searching for you too.”

“That all is…interesting. But what do you care? Are you…?”

“I’ve got a different client. One that is interested only in your Jedi friend.”

“What Jedi?”

“Rick, you may be a good liar most of the time, but you could never deceive me. I know about the Jedi you met on Calpronica. Your ‘first mate’. My client is very interested in him, and he’s paying a great price for him.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“I want him, Rick. I want you to hand him over to me. The rest of your crew, your ship, and even you aren’t what I’m after. Once I have the Jedi, all the other thugs will be called off.”

Rick frowned. “Even if that were true, Algayne would still be after me.”

“True, but you can handle him, can’t you?”

“Didn’t you see the match?”

Shazzar laughed. “Alright, you’ve got a point there.”

Rick wasn’t laughing.

“Here’s the deal, Rick. I’m going to pay for your ship’s repairs, for old time’s sake. I’m going to see to it that the Empire and their hounds won’t ever bother you again, and I’ll even take care of Algayne for you.”

“Huh?” Rick could only gape.

“We’re friends, Rick, or at least we were. All I ask in return is for you to give me the Jedi. I’ll even give you half the bounty – a solid two hundred thousand credits.”

“So…one hundred?”

“No, two. The bounty is worth four.”

“That doesn’t make sense…” Rick shook his head, disbelieving. “No young Jedi Knight is worth that much.”

“It is to my client,” Shazzar countered. “Certainly that’s a good price to you?”

“Well...”

“Does it really take any time to think? The Rick Orlan I know would jump at this great opportunity.”

“But Targon’s my friend…”

“Friend? Rick, listen to yourself. If you remember everything…then don’t you remember what a Jedi did to you?”

Rick grew even paler. “I…I remember.”

“One Jedi is just like another. They’re all the same, I know this. You know this. Do you think Targon would be your friend if he actually know who you are?”

“That’s not me anymore!” Rick stated. “I’ve gone straight.”

Shazzar laughed. “Straight? You can’t change what you are. We both know that.”

“But…”

“Rick, I’ve got a lot of things to do. Much as I’d love to stick around and reminisce all the old days, I’m a busy man. And I’ve got a job to deliver. Now, I’m going to run this by you again. I pay for your repairs, I clear the bounty hunters off, I take care of Algayne, and I give you half the bounty. You know I’m a man of my word. So, in return for this…?”

“I give you the Jedi,” Rick sighed.

“So do we have a deal?”

“I…”

There was a painfully long pause.

“Deal.”

Shazzar’s scaly gloved hand took hold of Rick’s and shook it. “Deal. I’ll call to fill you in on details later.” When he let go of his hand, there was a five thousand credit piece in Rick’s fingers.

“For the repairs,” Shazzar said. He then started for the door and threw back, “You always were one of the smartest men in the galaxy. You’ve done great things – and some not so great – but you always came out on top. You know why?”

“Why?” Rick asked weakly.

The bounty hunter turned around and winked at him. “Because you’re a survivor, Rick. You’re a survivor.”

In a flash, Shazzar disappeared.

The manager walked back in after a few minutes. “Oh, I see your friend is gone,” he said, playing with his mustache.

Rick turned to him somberly and placed the five thousand credits on the counter. “This will be enough to cover the repairs for my ship,” he stated.

“I’ll have the mechanics get to work right away.”

The manager left, and Rick was left standing alone, with Shazzar’s words echoing in his ears.

“You’re a survivor, Rick. You’re a survivor.”
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.25.2012 , 10:52 AM | #34
Chapter Five

Targon was running. The incident with the Mandalorians was a sure sign of more trouble. And if they were getting after him, they were most surely going to be after the others. After all, the Kiffar had mentioned bounty hunters…

It was never a good thing to have bounty hunters after you.

The streets were full of people, and it was difficult to make the way through and keep from becoming a hazard. But his Jedi skills came in handy, staying out of undue attention and avoiding bowling people over.

A noise made him stop short. Screaming. Blaster fire. The sounds of a shooting spree in a nearby building.

Targon followed the sound, and the guidance of the Force, and entered a large building. It was a bank.

Nearly fifteen people lay dead on the ground. Others were wounded or cowering in masses behind furniture and counters. Holding a pair of pistols was a small man with a very large, very old hat. His face was covered by a respirator mask. Standing next to him was a massive Wookie with ratty hair and brimming with gadgets.

The shooters turned to face him when he entered.

“Ah, and there you are, right on time,” the little man said in an accented drawl.

“Who are you?” Targon demanded. “You are under arrest under the laws of the Galactic Republic.”

“How presumptuous,” the man shook his head. “The Republic and the Jedi don’t have authority here, buddy.”

“What do you want?”

“What’s it look like? You, Jedi, are what we want. We knew you’d come running when we made a disturbance like this. Such predictability.”

“Who are you?” Targon asked again.

“The name’s Djehad, and this is Rook. We are the men who will be collecting the bounty on you and your friends.”

“You are welcome to try,” Targon activated his saber.

“Oh, we’ll do more than try.”

Both man and beast started firing at him. Targon leaped out of the way, but the stream of bolts followed him. His saber deflected a few shots until he was able to take cover behind a column.

“Hiding only annoys me!” he heard Djehad shout. “It’s not like I won’t use collateral damage to draw you out, Jedi!”

Targon shuddered as he heard another blaster shot, and a woman’s dying scream following. Without hesitation, he emerged from behind the pillar and hurled a desk at the criminals.

The Wookie caught the desk easily and dropped it off to the side. His partner started shooting at Targon again. The flurry of shots was almost too quick for even Targon’s Force-enhanced reflexes. He leapt over the stream of bolts and closed the gap between him and the bounty hunters.

Landing next to the short man, he made a slash at him. But his arm was caught by the massive paw of the Wookie. It picked him up and tossed him into a bank teller’s counter.

He recovered quickly, and jumped up just as the beast was about to land a blow on his chest with a furry elbow. The force of the attack cracked the stone counter where Targon had once been lying.

With a roar, the Wookie swatted at Targon. When he missed, he followed up with a series of shots from his bowcaster.

The fearful civilians fled the scene, and soon the whole bank was empty except for the combatants. Files, datacards, desks, and glass exploded all around as the bounty hunters pursued the zipping Jedi.

Realizing that the people were gone and out of harm’s way, Targon decided now was a good time to get out of this situation himself. He made for the door. Just as he got there, an explosion behind him thrust him forward and right through the glass.

His ears were ringing as he struggled to get up from the ground. All around him were shards of glass. Smoke filled the air, and muffled screams echoed in the chaos.

Finally able to stand, Targon focused on getting all his senses realigned. Black smoke clouded everything, but only a little ways off he could hear the short man’s voice.

“You idiot!” Djehad shouted. “I told you a stun dart, not a rocket! And you missed anyway! How? He was only three meters in front of you, hairball!”

This was his chance. With his attackers bickering for the moment, it was time for Targon to continue on his way. It was more than likely that his friends were encountering other bounty hunters just as bad as these two. And though they might be able to handle themselves well enough, they didn’t have the Force to protect them from explosions like that.

Running was easier now, since the crowds were dispersing to get away from the carnage. He kept going, as fast as his legs could take him. But it wasn’t far enough.

Behind him he could hear the whine of an engine. Glancing back, he caught sight of the bounty hunters on a large swoop bike. The Wookie was driving, and Djehad stood up behind him. In his arms was a rocket launcher.

“That’s a little much, isn’t it?” Targon muttered to himself.

He leaped and zipped and dashed through the various alleys and streets, trying to lose his pursuers, or at least keep them from getting a clear shot.

The thought continually came to him – were they after him dead or alive? Because if he was wanted alive, then they weren’t going to get paid if they blew him up with a rocket. Then again…maybe it was a scare tactic? To make Targon panic and make a mistake?

He found himself suddenly in an empty square. Across the way, in front of a cantina, was a scene he most definitely wasn’t expecting to find.

Three bounty hunters were facing off – and it looked like they had Greyhawk and Gabrielle with them. The peculiarity of the coincidence did not register – or if it did, Targon knew that it wasn’t simply chance.

One of the bounty hunters – a man in a dirty cloak – turned to see what the upcoming noise was. His face at first bore a huge grin at the sight of the Jedi, but then it turned into a nasty scowl when Targon’s new friends came into view.

Targon heard the rocket launch from behind him. He was ready to make a dive, but he saw the missile pass right by him and hit the speeder near the group. The explosion was huge, a great red fireball that blinded everyone.

Targon found himself knocked to the ground. Again. And just like before, he felt his ears pounding and the sounds were muffled. There was shouting, and then there was blaster fire.

He felt a hand touch him. Looking up, he saw Gabrielle, or at least he was pretty sure it was Gabrielle. Everything was hazy – and not just because of the smoke.

She was shouting something at him, and tugging on his arm to get up. He complied as well as he could, though he found his balance greatly diminished. She dragged him over to where Greyhawk lay unconscious. Targon knew what she wanted. They needed to carry him to get out of here.

Gathering his strength, Targon lifted one side of the old soldier, while Gabrielle took the opposite. Together, with their heads down, they slipped out of the square and made off down the road as fast as possible.

Their escape went unnoticed by the lot of bounty hunters. The sudden convergence of all the competition had been the last straw. Hostility broke out openly and brutally.

Griff Ponz found himself close to the Zabrak where the explosion had deposited him. He was up on his feet and kicking Katarn in the gut as hard as he could.

The Zabrak responded by grabbing his foot and yanking him down. Katarn then crawled up on top of him and started pounding on the filthy man’s already beaten face. Griff made a desperate kick to get him off, but both found themselves swatted by the giant walking carpet as it approached.

Djehad and Rook had stopped their bike and dismounted. In this mess, they decided now was the best time to dispose of their competitors. The Zabrak and the man in the dirty coat were easy enough to find – brawling right on top of each other as they were. But they didn’t see the other one…

Out of the gloom of the smoke, Jet came roaring up with his jetpack. He soared right up to the Wookie and slammed his fist in the beast’s jaw. He then landed and fired a wrist-cable to trip up the small man.

A pair of arms grabbed around Jet’s neck. It was Katarn.

The two tumbled to the ground. As the Zabrak tried to constrict Jet’s throat, the veteran bounty hunter gave him several hard blows to the stomach with his elbow, and then a blow to the head.

Griff was up again, rapidly firing a flurry of shots from his carbine. He hit Katarn in the side, but then he was gunned down by three shots to the chest from Djehad.

With Katarn wounded, Jet was able to break loose and stand up. He gave a kick to the Zabrak’s groin and walked off.

“This job isn’t worth the trouble,” he spat. He then fired up his jetpack and was gone. He had his fill of this nonsense. There were other jobs that paid just as well as this one, and that required half the effort. He didn’t get to be a respected veteran by ignoring that fact.

Djehad looked at the rest of this party with disgust. Griff was dead, and Katarn was writhing on the ground and didn’t look like he was going anywhere soon. He turned to Rook, who was struggling to get up after the blow from Jet.

Shaking his head, Djehad pointed his pistol. “Some help you were, Rook,” he muttered. The Wookie snarled at him and charged, growling in his tongue that he was sick of listening to the small man’s voice.

The short man tipped his hat and shot the beast square in the head. When the walking carpet clattered to the ground, he walked off. This was a fun little escapade, but it was a waste of his time. Somehow, the targets had made off while they were lost in their little rumble.

Djehad was reminded why he always opted to work alone. And why he worked for the Hutts instead of for the Empire.

---

From atop a building, a pair of Mandalorians stared down at the brawl. Both were armored in silver and blue, yet they both bore the mark of the black hand.

The taller one, a male, activated his comlink.

“Commander Algayne, this is Stryker. I’m here with Merani. I thought you might like to know that the bounty hunters are busy killing each other and abandoning the assignment.”

“Worthless brigands!” Algayne’s voice spat from the comm.. “Why did Taan waste his time with them?”

Merani spoke. She was smaller, but just as heavily armed as her male counterpart. “The targets are headed back for their ship. Should we intercept them?”

“No,” Algayne commanded. “Follow them to their ship, and there you can take them all at once. Those bounty hunters may have been useless pigs, but I’m sure you can handle the targets easily enough. Right, my warriors?”

“Of course, sir,” Stryker answered. “We’ll be sure to take Rick and his friends down. They may be able to handle bounty hunters and lesser warriors, but they haven’t faced your Shadow Blades, sir.”

“See that you do not disappoint me,” Algayne said as he cut transmission.

Stryker turned to Merani. “Ready for battle, warrior?”

“I was born for battle,” the female Mandalorian replied. “I’ll race you to their ship.”

Firing their jetpacks, they made off into the sky, leaving the worthless bounty hunters to their foolishness.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.25.2012 , 10:55 AM | #35
Chapter Six

Rick leaned against a stack of heavy canisters. A lot of heavy things were weighing on his mind. He stared blankly at the loading ramp of his ship.

The Lone Eagle was repaired now. Everything was just as good as new, or so the manager claimed. Rick of course was probably going to have to go in and rearrange the wiring of the ship so that it fit him more.

Yet at this moment he had no desire to do anything of the sort. He had no desire to do anything but sit and brood.

He had made a lot of tough decisions in his life…and this one was not the worst of them. So why did he feel this way?

Shazzar had called half an hour ago with instructions and details. When Targon returned, Rick was to lead him to an empty docking bay. How he got him there was his problem. Then, Shazzar would come and take the Jedi quickly and quietly. All Rick had to do was bring him.

Then all his problems would be solved.

So it seemed.

There were voices and footsteps approaching. They sounded familiar.

Reluctantly, Rick stood up straight and made like he was doing something important. Anything.

The door opened and in came Targon and Gabrielle, carrying an unconscious Greyhawk. Rick turned to them and shook his head.

“What did you get yourselves into this time?” he asked.

“Bounty hunters,” Targon replied.

“Of course, it’s always something,” Rick rolled his eyes. He had always been good at acting and hiding what he was feeling. But something about right know seemed off. As if he weren’t being as convincing as he should be.

“Could you give us a hand?” Gabrielle asked.

Rick understood. “Oh, right, I’ll be right over…”

He was cut off by a crashing through one of the skylights up above. Two armored persons dropped down from the sky and landed between them. They all recognized Mandalorian armor when they saw it…but these were different than Algayne’s men. Their armor was blue and silver, not green and red, and yet they still bore the symbol of the black hand.

“I think you crashed the wrong party,” Rick sighed at them.

“No, I think we got here at the right time,” the female of the pair countered.

“Just who are you supposed to be?” Gabrielle asked harshly.

“Your worst nightmare,” the male replied.

A waking Greyhawk moaned. “I always did find Mandalorians very cliché,” he groaned weakly.

The Mandalorians had their pistols out. “Can the talking,” the female barked. “Surrender now and you’ll keep all your bones intact.”

“Bold words,” Gabrielle said as she set Greyhawk down. “I wonder if you can back them up.”

“We’ll try not to scar your pretty face too badly,” the male snarled.

Gabrielle was quick. In less than a second she had her pistols out and started firing. The male Mando dove and rolled to the left, and the female went the opposite direction.

Rick pulled out his pistols as well, and Targon’s saber hummed to life.

The Mandalorians were all over the place. They were incredibly agile, and they sporadically fired their jetpacks on and off to give them boosts of speed and height. The pair rained fire down on the crew – who scattered to keep out of the way. Targon kept the old soldier with him, deflecting all shots that came towards them.

Gabrielle was focusing on the male warrior, while the female pinned Rick down behind the canisters. There was a loud bang, and then Rick was tossed through the air, the boxes tumbling all around him.

There was a smoking crater where he had been hiding, and the woman was preparing another rocket to fire.

“Aren’t we wanted alive?” Rick shouted at her.

“No one specified how alive,” she answered. Then she fired again.

Rick leapt as hard as he could, but it wasn’t enough. His faulty jump only moved him a few feet – not far enough from where the explosive was bound. He felt something grab him then and yank him fast and hard away as the rocket struck the ground.

Looking around, he saw no one nearby. But he did see Targon’s hand outstretched towards him.

There was a major pang in Rick’s stomach for a sickening moment, but he shook it off and started shooting again.

The Mandalorian woman shot up into the air again to avoid his fire, and then she drove towards him, a blade appearing from her wrist gauntlet.

A shape intercepted her, knocking her to the side. Young Targon stood over her, holding his saber to her face.

“You are beaten,” he stated.

“Hardly,” the woman snarled. She then yanked out Targon’s legs from under him and was now atop him, ready to plant a hard fist in his face.

Rick was on her now, grabbing hold of both her arms and pinning them behind her back. She squirmed and bucked like an angry reek, but Rick held tight. She was so strong and intense, though, that Rick was sure he was going to lose some teeth or at least be sick for a long time from such rattling.

The back of her helmet struck Rick’s chin and finally knocked him off her. As she was free, she turned to give him a hard kick in the ribs with her metal boot. But now Targon had at her again, trying to wrestle her to the ground.

In a swift strike, the woman planted her elbow into Targon’s chest. He was sent reeling, and she took the offensive once more.

The male Mando came from behind, clamping both of the Jedi’s arms behind his back and holding him for his companion to make the hit.

A blaster bolt from Gabrielle’s gun hit the man’s leg, and he cringed. It was just enough to allow Targon to slip out of his grip and leap into the air.

The woman’s fist was moving so fast she couldn’t stop it in time. It planted square on her partner’s helmet, cracking the visor.

As he fell to the ground, the woman shouted an indiscernible war cry as flames burst from her gantlet to encircle Targon. The young Jedi hardly had enough time to react.

Suddenly, her flamethrower shorted out. The entire gauntlet had been crushed on her arm. She cried out in annoyance and tried to make another attack with the blade on her other arm. That one crumpled too.

“You could hurt someone with those,” a voice growled from behind.

Targon gaped and so did the others. It was Master Navor, up on his feet and looking as strong as he had been before. His skin and fur was still discolored – the stripes were still blue instead of black.

Standing next to him were two people that no one recognized. The first was a soldier, suited up in thick, red armor that bore the Republic’s insignia. The other was a large Whiphid dressed in Jedi robes. Both of them looked ready for battle.

“You’re outmatched, Mandalorian,” the soldier stated. “Surrender now.”

“Warriors fight to the end!” the woman shrieked.

“Then this is the end,” the Whiphid rumbled, lifting his hand and picking up the pair of Mandalorians. Up they went, and then he tossed them out the breach from where they had come.

It was quiet now, and the whole hangar sighed with relief. Targon still maintained a look of shock.

“Master Navor? How…?”

“More importantly,” Rick cut in, “who are they?”

“My name is Master J’Quille,” the Whiphid answered. “I have come from the Jedi Council to seek you out, Jedi Knight Targon Karashi.”

“The Council?” Targon was confused.

“And you?” Rick pointed a finger at the soldier.

“I am Lt. Colonel Aric Trinn,” the man replied. He was tall and strong, but he was incredibly young. Far too young to be a colonel, it would appear.

“Okay, and where did you two come from?” Rick asked.

“We were on your ship,” J’Quille replied. “I found Navor in the medical bay and I strove to heal him. Trinn is my escort from the Republic military.”

“On my ship?” Rick was horrified. “How?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Navor stated gruffly. “It’s past time we were going…before more bounty hunters show up.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Gabrielle stated.

“Could someone help me up?” Greyhawk asked from the floor where he lay.

“At once,” Trinn said primly. He and Gabrielle lifted him up and carried him up the ramp.

“What’s this all about?” Targon asked. “What does the Council wish of me?”

“That is something we should discuss later,” J’Quille replied. “Now we really should be going.”

“Well, take the old cat up with you,” Rick waved them away. “Just make sure neither of you shed on the upholstery, you furry beasts.”

The Jedi Masters nodded, pretending not to hear the last comment. They then made their way up the ramp as well.

“Aren’t we going?” Targon asked.

“Yes…I just need to talk to you for a second,” Rick said slowly.

“Now?”

“Now would be the best time.”

“Alright, what is it, Rick?”

Rick hesitated. “Would you walk with me?”

“We kind of need to be going…”

“It will only take a second,” Rick said, a little too hastily.

“Okay…” Targon nodded, confused.

Rick led him out the door and down the hall.

“What is it?” Targon asked. “Is something wrong?”

“I…” Rick struggled for words. He really didn’t want to say anything. He had no idea what he could say. What could he say that Targon would understand?

Nothing.

“Rick?”

Rick sighed heavily. His heart was pounding through his chest. He only realized now that he was scared. Scared of what he had to do…scared of seeing Targon’s face as he betrayed him.

“What’s wrong with you?” a voice in his head asked harshly. “You’ve done this before…you can do it again. You didn’t have any problems before.”

“But that was before…before I went straight,” he told himself.

“You can’t change what you are,” Shazzar’s words echoed. After that came, “You’re a survivor.”

“I am a survivor,” Rick agreed. “But I…I’m not…”

They stopped in front of the door. The door from which behind the cobra poised to strike. And Rick was bringing the bait.

He stopped for a long while…his face was growing pale.

“Rick, what’s going on?” Targon’s voice was concerned. Was it scared? Not nearly as much as Rick was, surely.

“I…I need to talk to you about Gabrielle.”

Targon raised an eyebrow. “Been having more of those dreams?”

Words came easily. Lies always did. “Yes…but…how can I tell her? Do I dare?”

“Tell her what you dream about? Absolutely not!” Targon shook his head. His smile seemed so innocent…so unaware. “I’m a Jedi, but I know what does and what doesn’t make proper conversation.”

“You’re probably right,” Rick nodded. “But what do I do? I can’t get her out of my head.”

“Rick, you brought me out here to ask about her?” the skepticism in his voice frightened Rick. Had he read his mind? Did he know what Rick had been intending?

“I…” Rick stuttered. “No. I brought you here to…apologize.”

“For what?”

Rick sighed. He inflated himself with confidence and conviction. “I’ve been a poor captain, and I’ve had a bad past. Yet all the while, you’ve been a good friend. You haven’t judged me for my mistakes, and you’ve endured all my poor jokes.”

“No more than you have done for me,” Targon said sincerely.

“I know…but I should have been better. I thought that you wouldn’t stay with me or be so supportive after all that’s happened. I…want to make it up to you?”

“How?” Targon inquired.

“I’m going with you to Tython.”

“Yes…I figured since J’Quille and Trinn are on your ship…”

“No, no, that’s not what I mean. You stuck with me as first mate. Well, the captain needs to stick with his crew. I’m going with you to Tython, and I’ll stay with you wherever they send you.”

“Rick…” Targon was speechless. “I…”

“Bah!” Rick shook his head and clapped Targon on the back. “Let’s just go before I start getting all mushy. Besides, I shouldn’t leave my ship with those people.”

Targon smiled as the two of them returned to their ship.

The door remained unopened.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.25.2012 , 10:59 AM | #36
Chapter Seven

Traveling through the long dark tunnel of hyperspace, the crew of the Lone Eagle finally took a moment to rest. They were out of danger now, and they were headed to one of the safest planets in the galaxy.

Greyhawk was recovering quickly, but he was on his bunk fast asleep. Gabrielle wandered aimlessly through the halls of the ship, a relaxation technique she personally found quite effective.

Navor was back in the medical bay, with the new Jedi trying to see about healing him some more. So far it hadn’t proven too effective. J’Quille’s companion, the young officer, was in one of the cargo holds repeatedly taking his rifle apart and putting it back together. Blindfolded, no less.

Rick sat in the pilot’s chair, staring out into the mottled blue mosaic out the window. His fingers thrummed lightly on the console.

Next to him, in the co-pilot’s chair, Targon was asleep. When he had drifted off, Rick couldn’t say. They had been talking a bit, about the bounty hunters encountered and how this trip had actually been better than their last few stops.

Silently, though, Rick disagreed with that statement. This visit to Nar Shaddaa had been the worst stop so far. And chances were, with this Jedi as his partner, there were going to be a lot worse things down the road.

Especially when he considered what he had done.

There was no denying it now. The Empire was after them. The whole ship. Yet for some reason it seemed it was more focused at Targon. It didn’t make sense, being as he was hardly more than a child, and a new Jedi. What interest did people in the Empire have for someone like him?

Rick couldn’t begin to suppose to understand. The Jedi and the Sith always seemed to have motives and plans that far surpassed the common man’s comprehension or logic. They were mixed up in this big war between dark and light, one religion of the Force combating another. And the small folks were all caught in between.

Small folks like him.

There was a soft beeping on the console, and a light flashed brightly. Rick knew it was a communication from someone. And he figured he knew who sent it.

He pulled some headphones over his ears and listened to the message without disturbing his sleeping companion.

“Rick, Rick, Rick…” the voice said in a sigh. “You always were full of surprises, and even now you don’t cease to amaze me.”

There was a pause, as if Rick was supposed to reply. But it was a recorded message…there was no point in talking back to him.

“I have to admit, I’m a bit at a loss as to what you just did,” Shazzar continued. “At first, I thought you were going to take the bounty all for yourself. But that’s not like you, is it?”

“Nope,” Rick muttered to himself. “Never was.”

“So I had to get to thinking harder about this. I had to remember what happened eight years ago that made you decide to try to drop off the radar. Had it been anyone else – a woman, another smuggler, a client, what have you – I probably would have understood. But a Jedi? That’s not like you either.”

“I know,” Rick sighed.

“Enough of my rambling,” the recording continued. “It all comes down to this – you chose your friend Targon over me. That’s fine. But now you’re going to have to live with that decision. And the consequences that follow. I was contracted for a job, and unlike you, I mean to uphold that contract. I’ll have the Jedi, Rick, even without your help. All I thought was you might like to get something in return. Yet if you keep this up, you’ll get something else… Something like a hole between the eyes. Nothing personal, Rick, but I’ve got a job to do, and you’re standing in the way.”

The recording finished. Rick took off his headset slowly, suddenly finding it difficult to breathe.

“Listening to your music?” Targon asked.

Rick turned and saw that he was awake now. He shook his head.

“What was it?”

“A call from an old friend,” Rick replied.

“From what I can tell, it doesn’t sound like good news. Something wrong?”

“Wrong? No, not exactly. He was just giving me some news…something I guess I already knew was going to happen.”

“What’s your friend’s name?” Targon inquired.

“It’s not important,” Rick shook his head. He changed the subject. “What do you say we actually listen to some music, eh?”

“Not as loud, I hope.”

“Nope,” Rick smiled. “Remember what I told you about Gabrielle?”

“How could I forget?”

They laughed.

Footsteps came into the cockpit from behind them. They turned to see Master J’Quille.

“How’s Navor?” Targon asked.

“He’s doing better,” the Whiphid answered. “I’m afraid some of the infection in his body is far beyond my skill to heal – and may truly never be healed. But I don’t believe he will die or worsen.”

“Well, that’s good,” Rick nodded. “Is there something we can help you with?”

“I need to talk to Targon about why the Council has summoned him.”

“Okay,” Rick said. “I guess I’ll leave you two alone then…”

“Stay,” commanded the Jedi Master. “It concerns you too, captain.”

“Oh…” Rick sat back down.

“What is it?” Targon asked.

The look on J’Quille’s face was suddenly stern. “The Council is concerned about your involvement with a smuggling captain and the messes you have created during your travels away from the Temple. This compounds the issue of your having left without assignment.”

“What?” Targon gasped. “But Master Cyrus…”

“Master Cyrus is not your master,” J’Quille said bluntly. “And he most certainly did not authorize you to cause troubles with Imperials and criminals.”

“He told me to…”

“Hold up,” Rick cut in. “Are you saying the Jedi Council has an issue of him becoming my first mate?”

“First mate?” J’Quille’s big eyebrows rose. “Is this so, Targon?”

“Yes…” Targon admitted.

“You realize that is not the way of the Jedi to become involved in the activities of…”

“Okay, stop right there,” Rick interrupted. “First off, I’ve gone straight. I don’t smuggle and I don’t break the law anymore. Well, much anyway. Secondly, what does it matter that I’m a friend of Targon? I bet a lot of Jedi make friends like me. Besides, he saved my butt as much as I saved his…and we’ve done a lot of good things to help people, and…”

“It’s not up to me,” J’Quille sighed. “My instructions were simply to bring Targon to Tython to go before the Jedi Council. He will have the opportunity to relate and defend his actions there. For now, we simply need to get there.”

“I don’t understand,” Targon said softly, the hint of despair in his voice. “I didn’t do anything wrong…did I?”

“No, you most certainly did not!” Rick answered boldly. “Don’t worry, first mate. If I have to, I’ll stand right beside you in front of those Council members and tell them straight out.”

“The Council will likely wish to speak with you as well,” J’Quille said.

“They can talk to the whole crew at once! They’ll all agree…”

“Enough,” J’Quille said sharply. “We will speak no more of this. You know what is expected and what will occur. What happens afterward is up to the Council.”

The Jedi Master turned and left the room.

“Seems like an old windbag to me,” Rick sighed.

“He is a Jedi Master,” Targon countered.

“Yeah, well, if you ask me, this whole thing is messed up. I mean…really? Just for having a drink with me they’re getting all…”

“I guess we’ll just have to see,” Targon shrugged.

---

Algayne entered the room, his fists clenched and his breath husky. It was plain to tell he was upset.

He wasn’t the only one, though. Taan stared at him coldly with his bright red eyes. On either side of him was one of his black guards. He hadn’t thought he needed them before. But at this moment…it was best to show the Mandalorian who had the power and authority here.

“What sort of rotten trash did you pull from the gutter and hire to hunt them down?” Algayne roared. “They were even worse than I thought…two of them are dead!”

“You said they were pathetic, and I suppose you have been justified,” Taan said softly. “Yet your own warriors fared no better. Even your legendary assassins – what do you call them? Shadow Blades? They seemed more like Court Jesters to me.”

“Do not mock my warriors! Do not!” the Mandalorian pointed a thick finger at the Moff. “To do so not only dishonors them, but it also dishonors me! I will not have it!”

“Then why don’t you prove me otherwise? Why didn’t your men perform according to your claims? They were as soundly defeated as the bounty hunters.”

“You had five hunters! My men were but two! Tell me who fared better?” Algayne felt confident that he had him there.

He was wrong. “They might have been two, but you also had three men face the Jedi alone. I thought a single Mandalorian, even the lowliest of rank, was worth four pathetic Jedi?”

Beneath his helmet, Algayne’s eye twitched with rage. Yet his tongue was still – for he could not find the words to counter. Instead, he started inching a hand towards his blaster.

“That really wouldn’t be smart,” Taan stated coolly. “You so much as move an inch more and my guards will have to gun you down.”

“You underestimate me, just as most Imperials do,” Algayne snarled. “Those who underestimate me end up dead.”

“Silence, both of you,” a sharp and furious voice snapped out of the darkness. The air suddenly got cold as a black shape came forward.

Taan bowed to the figure. “My lord…I had no idea you were there.”

“And well that you didn’t,” the shade replied. “Otherwise I might not have seen the two of you for what you really are.”

“My lord?”

“I am not amused,” the specter folded his arms. “A simple task, and neither of your thugs could complete it. That matters little, though, for I tasked my own agent to track them down.”

“Then why has he not returned successful?” Algayne asked haughtily. “It would seem to me that he failed as well.”

The wraith’s eyes glowed bright. “That is where you are wrong, Mandalorian. My hunter still gives chase, pursuing his target even now. Where are your men, Algayne? Where are the bounty hunters you hired, Taan?”

They did not have time to reply.

“I’ll tell you. They have given up the hunt! They have resigned from their task simply because of a single defeat. You do not see my agent whimpering back to me because he missed this time, do you?”

“My lord,” Taan began, “I shall hire more mercenaries…better ones that will not fail…”

Algayne cut him off. “My warriors will double their efforts. They will hunt and prepare both day and night! They shall not fail again.”

There was no sign of satisfaction in the black void under the figure’s hood. All he said was, “See that you do not. Both of you. It may take time to find another opportunity to strike, but when it comes, I expect you to be ready.”

With that, the shade walked off, taking his dark and terrible presence with him.

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

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TargonKarashi
03.26.2012 , 03:21 PM | #37
Episode Six – The Dark Covenant

Chapter One

Targon sat alone in a room overlooking the forests of Tython. The beauty of the world made him recall the walks he had with his master, and the lessons he was taught each day. The memories flooded into him, and they helped pass the time.

Three days they had been at the Jedi Temple. Three days of peaceful rest and relaxation. Well, at least for the others. Targon had stood nervously before the Council to account for his actions and make his say. Then the Council dismissed him and deliberated.

And deliberated and deliberated and deliberated.

Then his companions had been asked one at a time to come before the Council and give their perspective. All the while Targon had been essentially under house arrest. He hadn’t been able to see anyone. Not even Master Cyrus.

Finally, the summon came for him.

He breathed deep and calmed himself. Dressing in fresh robes, he made his way towards the Council chambers. Outside the large doors sat his friends. They looked up at him and smiled.

Rick gave him thumbs up, Greyhawk saluted, Gabrielle winked, and Navor nodded reassuringly. They all looked well. The three days had done them a world of good. Targon was glad for that.

The doors opened and he walked in. He tried to look as calm as possible, yet he remained humble and nervous all the same. No doubt the masters could tell.

There were fewer there than Targon had expected. Masters Shan, Salar, and three others were missing. Guiltily, Targon felt a little relieved that Master Salar was not present. He got the feeling the platinum blonde didn’t care for him much.

“Greetings again, Targon Karashi,” small, furry Master Wixas said. “We are sorry to have kept you waiting for so long, but this case needed careful deliberation.”

“I understand, Master,” Targon knelt before the ring of chairs. He felt the eyes of the masters on him.

“Let us just get right down to the matter, shall we?” Master Nalos suggested. “We have heard from your companions, and we have weighed the matters. Is there anything else you would like to say?”

“Might I inquire as to what sort of situation I find myself?” Targon asked.

“A wise and pointed question,” one of the Council nodded. She was a tall and beautiful Togruta, but not someone Targon recognized.

“I agree with Master Asha,” Cyrus gave a little smile towards Targon. “He deserves to know his case.”

“Very well,” Master Wixas put his small hands together. “Targon Karashi, the Council fears you may have caused great political trouble with the Sith Empire, especially in regards to the Treaty of Coruscant. Also, your antics with a smuggler have raised some particular concerns.”

“Is that really the right word?” Cyrus asked. “Antics?”

“What else should it be called?” another of the masters asked. He was a thickly built Zabrak, with long braids of hair down to his chest. “I think ‘antics’ is the perfect term.”

“Indeed?” Master Nalos turned to Targon. “Is Master Rahn accurate in calling your actions ‘antics’?”

Targon looked at each of the masters. “No, that’s not what I would call them.”

“What then?” Rahn’s face was stern.

“They were…voyages. Just stops to planets on our trips…and finding ourselves in trouble with each location.”

“That goes without saying,” Wixas said. “You seemed to be attracting a lot of trouble.”

“Jedi normally attract attention, especially with the Sith,” Cyrus stated. “It wasn’t Targon’s fault.”

“His immature actions caused many deaths and great upheaval,” Rahn countered. “Master Salar would concur with me if he were here.”

“But he’s not,” Cyrus smiled. “He got after me for supposing what Satele would say, should he not be upset for you supposing what he would say in his absence?”

“It’s not the same.”

“Oh, but it is.”

“This is not the point we are here to discuss,” Wixas held up a finger. “We are discussing Targon, not Master Salar.”

“Indeed,” Master Nalos nodded. “And I think the matter is settled.”

“Eh?” Rahn looked at him as if he had something particularly foolish. “Settled? We have only begun.”

“I see no reason to take this any further than where we have,” the indigo-skinned Twi’lek stated. “Master Cyrus’ argument is clear – the boy is not at fault.”

“Master Cyrus does not lead this Council,” Rahn frowned.

“No, but after reviewing the details of Targon’s reports, and meditating for long hours on this matter, I agree with him.”

“Two voices do not a ruling make.”

“Then what is the rest of the Council’s opinion?” Cyrus asked. “We’ve kept Targon and his friends waiting for three days over this simple matter. We should come up with a decision now.”

“Simple?” Rahn was incredulous. “The boy has attracted the attention of bounty hunters, Mandalorians, Sith Lords, and alien beings we do not even understand. Master Salar would not see this as simple, Master Cyrus, and neither do I.”

Wixas sighed. “If it is the Empire we are worried about with young Targon, then I feel we should send him on an assignment that takes him as far from the Empire as possible.”

“What?” Rahn asked.

“Your ears don’t seem as good as they used to be,” Master Nalos jested. “Master Wixas’ plan is wise and sound. Targon set out without a clear assignment in mind, and thereby was bound to get into some unexpected trouble. We can change that now.”

“Where would you send the boy?” Rahn asked.

“Should he go anywhere right now?” Master Asha proposed. “He should stay here and further his training. A knight he may be, but he is young. He needs more focus and understanding.”

“Normally that would be a good decision,” Cyrus nodded. “I would be willing to help him grow in his potential. But I don’t think there’s time for that.”

“Indeed,” Wixas nodded. “Trouble is brewing in the galaxy, and more knights have been requested in one area in particular.”

“Where?” Rahn asked.

“The frontier of Wild Space.”

“Master Wixas,” Cyrus frowned suddenly. “You don’t think to send Targon to Master Salar, do you?”

“He would not like that,” Nalos smirked.

“It’s not a matter of liking or not,” Wixas stated. “Tensions are rising on the borders of Kordak space, and the Republic’s military presence isn’t enough. Targon will accompany the Republic cruiser Autumn Moon to the Yunkai system.”

“A… good decision,” Rahn accepted. “I concur.”

Many of the other masters agreed as well.

“I don’t like this,” Cyrus shook his head. “There’s too much trouble in that area, and things are growing worse.”

“Which is why more knights would be a welcome maneuver,” Wixas replied.

“We just spoke of keeping Targon out of trouble…”

Asha sighed. “Sometimes trouble cannot be avoided, Master Cyrus. While I personally agree with you, I think the Council’s decision is for the best.”

Cyrus nodded. “Very well. Targon, you will take passage on the Autumn Moon and report to Master Salar on Yunkai.”

“What of my companions?” Targon inquired.

The entire Council gave a sigh of realization. “Ah yes…” Wixas shook his head.

“They are a bad influence,” Rahn stated. “Salar would…”

“Enough speaking in the place of Master Salar,” Nalos cut him off. “Let the man make his own decisions and do his own thinking.”

“If the troubles with the League grow worse,” Cyrus raised a finger, “Targon will need as much help as he can get. I say we let his friends go with him.”

“Very well,” Wixas nodded. As eldest on the Council and the majority speaker in the absence of Master Shan, his voice was the final decider.

Targon rose and bowed to the Council. “I will do my best, Masters,” he said. He then turned and left the Council chambers.

His friends rose as he came out.

“So?” Rick asked. “How did it go? You weren’t banished, were you?”

“No,” Targon shook his head, though wondering if that might actually be the case. “I’ve been given an assignment to the Yunkai system.”

“Yunkai?” Greyhawk frowned. “That’s on the fringe of Wild Space. What would they have for you there?”

“I guess we’ll find out,” Targon shrugged.

“We?” Gabrielle repeated.

“The Council wishes us all to report to the cruiser Autumn Moon today. I guess we’ll be filled in on details later.”

“Typical,” Navor sighed. “The Council didn’t exactly give me all the information when they sent me to protect the planet Dakara either.”

“We can only hope that it won’t turn out as bad,” Targon smiled.
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TargonKarashi
03.26.2012 , 03:27 PM | #38
Chapter Two

The Autumn Moon was a heavily armed Thranta-class battlecruiser. As such, it was built for warfare, not for luxury. So when the crew arrived to check in with the captain, the old Duro told them to land the Lone Eagle in one of the empty docking bays and reside in their during the trip. Nobody complained.

Of course, being passengers without shifts or traditional bunks did not win them many friends among the crew. For the five days of voyage, Targon and his companions ate by themselves in the mess hall, enduring the harsh stares of the crew.

It was only on the last day that someone joined them at the table.

“How are we holding up?” Aric Trinn asked. He was dressed in his suit of armor, and always seemed to be carrying his weapons with him. In this case, he seemed to carry his company with him as well.

“Well enough,” Rick replied, noticing the strongly built woman and the thick Zabrak with a prosthetic arm. Both were wearing the same kind of armor as the Lt. Colonel.

“Who are your friends?” Gabrielle asked.

“This is Scarlet,” Trinn pointed to the woman. “And this is Swann.”

“Whazzup?” the alien smiled.

“I take it you three are a…team?” Targon supposed.

“You would be right. Though we’re still working on a name for the squad.”

“That’s odd,” Rick stated.

“Not really,” Greyhawk shrugged. “My outfit just had a number, not a name.”

“So…I understand you all are unfamiliar with the mission,” Aric said.

“How do you know that?” Targon asked.

“Because I was tasked to fill you in, that’s how.”

“Oh.”

“You know, I’ve never heard of Yunkai,” Rick said. “What’s so important about it?”

“Nothing, really,” Scarlet answered, shrugging.

“The planet itself, anyway,” Aric added. “But it happens to be one of the disputed border worlds on Wild Space.”

“Disputed?” Rick gave him a look. “There’s nothing out in Wild Space…who is there to dispute with?”

“Ever heard of the Kordak League?”

“No,” Rick replied. The others all shook their heads too.

“You probably wouldn’t have,” Swann smiled. “Not many have…unless you’ve seen them for yourself.”

“What is it?”

Aric leaned close to them. “The Kordak League is a nation of systems ruled over by a race called the Necillains. They have about twelve sovereign worlds and a huge fleet of ships. It just so happens that one of their borders runs along a frontier of the Republic.”

“Are they hostile?” Targon asked.

“Not really,” Aric replied. “But then, if they weren’t a problem, we wouldn’t be headed out there, would we? No, so far it hasn’t been too serious…but there have been some incidents on both sides. Trade with the League has ceased, and the borders are being closely watched.”

“What’s going on?” Gabrielle inquired.

“What sort of incidents are we talking about?” Greyhawk added.

“There have been skirmishes and raids of peculiar circumstances. Kordak soldiers and citizens have been disappearing, their bodies found amid the corpses of Republic squadrons that also happened to go missing. The Necillians are proud and aggressive, a lot like Mandalorians, and so they’ve been demanding explanations. Apart from our own ongoing investigations, we have nothing to tell them, though.”

“And they’re not happy with that?” Targon supposed.

“Not at all. Their leader is the worst – Supreme Commander Arcon Talhawk. He’s one of the greatest military commanders that have ever lived, or so the stories would have us believe. Beyond his tactical genius, however, he also apparently wields great power of the supernatural.”

“Is he a Force Adept?” Navor asked.

“I don’t know…probably. It would make sense…”

An alarm rang throughout the ship, and a voice over the intercom shouted, “All hands, to your stations!”

“What now?” Rick asked.

“We’ve arrived,” Swann answered with a grin.

“It sounds worse…”

“It is.”

Targon and his companions rushed to a viewport. They were back in realspace, a planet far below them. Yunkai – a mosaic of mottled browns, grays, greens, and yellows. Up in orbit were dozens of ships. Many were Republic, but others were of a design nobody recognized.

One of the vessels was nearby. It was long, sleek, and silver, and it was just as large as the Autumn Moon. It loomed ominously, and its shape resembled a shark. It looked just as dangerous as a shark too – bristling with weapons and armed to the teeth.

“What is that?” Targon asked.

“The standard Kordak warship,” Aric replied. “A Blue Talon-class battlecruiser.”

“We call ‘em ‘Doom Ships’,” Swann interposed.

“Are they going to attack?” Rick asked.

“Not likely,” Aric shook his head. “The Republic and the Kordak share this world. But with tensions rising from escalating incidents…both sides are being cautious.”

“Will we be able to go down to the surface?” Targon then asked.

“Sure,” Aric replied. “You should probably see the captain on the bridge. He’ll give you the coordinates to take your ship down.”

“Will you be joining us?” Rick inquired.

“Later, most likely,” the Lt. Colonel smiled. “We’ve got jobs to do up here still.”

---

The ramp lowered and they stepped out into the hot and humid air of Yunkai. The Republic military base was large and spacious, yet it seemed so small and insignificant nestled in the huge trees of the jungle.

“Gah!” Rick exclaimed, his shirt already drenched in sweat. “Where did all the air go?!”

“I’m sure you’ll get used to it,” Navor said simply.

“Easy for you to say.”

“Quiet,” Gabrielle said. “The welcoming party is coming.”

Targon recognized the stern face of Master Karus Salar as easily as he recognized his platinum blonde hair. Flanking behind his soiled robes was a troupe of soldiers, engineers, some other Jedi, and officers.

There were two individuals who stood out as distinct as Master Salar. One was a Bothan, dressed in a bright red uniform and decorated with medals, above all the insignia of the Republic. Next to him was a tall human with short cut, brown hair and a red uniform not quite so ornamented.

Salar’s face was barely less than a scowl. “I was told the Council was sending you, Targon Karashi, and bringing a party of friends with you. At first I had hoped and believed it was the other masters pulling a prank on me. I guess I was wrong.”

“Nice to meet you too, sir,” Rick frowned.

“I don’t need to be introduced to your band, Targon,” Salar ignored the smuggler. “But these are some people you do need to know…”

He pointed to the Bothan. “This is Admiral Tek’yla, the commander overseeing the fleet in this system. With him is Vice Admiral Raynor Cordillian. Everyone on this base answers to their orders, including you.”

The admiral looked indifferent, but the man named Cordillain stepped forward with an outstretched hand. “Welcome to Yunkai, young Jedi and friends. We’re happy to see you here, with what’s been going on.”

“What is the situation here, sir?” Targon asked, shaking his hand.

“We should go indoors to discuss such matters,” Tek’yla stated primly.

“You got air-conditioning inside?” Rick rasped.

“No.”

“Great…”

“Follow us,” Salar said in a tone that fit his personality.

As they walked, Rick leaned over to Targon. “That guy’s a Jedi Master?”

“Yes, though I must admit he’s not the best kind to give the first impression.”

“I noticed…what’s his problem?”

Targon frowned. “It could be a lot of things…but I’m sure one of them is me.”

“You?”

“He was opposed to my knighting…he feels I am not yet ready for the task.”

“Well if he gets any gruffer,” Rick whispered, “people will start mistaking him for the enemy.”

“That’s just it…”

“What?”

“I have a strange feeling…just who is the enemy?”

---

There were more than a score of bodies littered throughout the dark hallway. They were all heavily armed and wore thick suits of armor…for all the good it did them.

A pair of individuals stalked silently among the corpses, and the vast array of artifacts and exhibits of the museum.

One was hooded and cloaked, the other was armored, masked, and stood nearly a head taller.

The taller man spoke. “Master, should we not make sure all the survivors have been accounted for?”

“Not at all, Tauros,” the hooded man replied. “Without survivors there won’t be anyone to tell the tale of what happened here.”

“But why? There should be no witnesses. We’ve never left witnesses before.”

“True, but this is a different situation. Now we want survivors…we want outrage and rumors to spread like wildfire. And spread they will.”

The shorter man stopped and looked around the hall. “Tauros,” he said softly. “Are our men dressed properly?”

“Yes,” the taller figure nodded. “They are fully outfitted with Republic insignias and equipment.”

“Good. Give them the command to begin ransacking the exhibits. I want everything of any sort of value – monetary or historical – destroyed.”

“It shall be done,” Tauros turned to fulfill the command.

“Wait,” the hooded man held up a finger. “Are the others also ready?”

“Yes.”

“And they are armed with weapons of the League?”

“Yes.”

“Then when everything is carried out, see that they do their duty as well.”

“Yes, my master.”

Tauros then stalked away, and now it was only the cloaked man and the corpses.

He stared at them contemptuously. “Necillians,” he whispered. “They say you are stronger than Wookies and fiercer than Mandalorians. I have seen battles that prove it so. And yet…here…on your own capital, you cannot muster the strength to fight two men?”

Chuckling, he kept walking. “Not to worry, though, you brave and loyal pawns. Your shame shall not be known. You fought boldly against the Republic strike team that came to vandalize and rob your sacred shrines. And you killed a great many of them. The survivors will sing praises to your devotion, and of the abominable acts of the Republic.”

He stopped in front of a great vault. “And that will be enough for Talhawk, won’t it? One look at this assault and he will march to war against the Republic. Fires shall engulf dozens of worlds…”

Waving his hand, he opened the vault effortlessly. “…Yet all the while it will be the Covenant and the Empire that benefit from your bloodbath. Such witless fools…”

He smiled as he saw the contents. Five indigo crystals glowed intensely as they hovered in a case.

“Toxeti,” the man grinned. “If only you could see this day…the day your old friend, Lord Avaris, found the source of your power, and completed your legacy.”
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TargonKarashi
03.26.2012 , 03:33 PM | #39
Chapter Three

They had been sitting so long Rick’s rear was really getting sore. From the looks on the others, they seemed to feel the exact same way.

This Admiral Tek’yla had the most monotonous voice that Rick had ever heard. And he just kept going and going and going and going…

He was briefing them all about the operations of the base, the geography of the area around the base, the distance to the nearest town, and the location of the Kordak military base on the other side of the planet.

Rick was starting to wonder if he was back in school again with his professor, Dr. Nuvo. At least the teacher had at least asked for class participation.

Before long, he found himself barely able to stay awake. His eyes were closing on their own, growing steadily heavy under their own weight. He started nodding and his neck was giving out beneath his head.

A hand clapped him on the back.

“Best not fall asleep while the admiral is talking,” Greyhawk whispered.

“Is he still going on? I swear it’s been at least seven hours…”

“More like three.”

“Oh…” Rick yawned. “Four more to go, I guess.”

“Something you’d like to add, Mr. Orlan?”

The Bothan was staring at him, annoyed. Everyone else was staring at him as well.

“No…sir,” Rick replied.

“Don’t be hard on him,” Cordillian smiled. “He hasn’t been around long enough to have gotten used to your briefings, sir.”

Tek’yla was not amused. “I was under the impression that the Jedi Council was sending capable and disciplined individuals to bolster our garrison. I see now that I was wrong.”

“You and me both, Admiral,” Master Salar said softly.

No one said anything to that for a long while. Then Cordillian stood.

“Admiral Tek’yla, Master Salar…perhaps I should take these men on a tour of the facility to get them better familiarized? Walking about will certainly keep them awake.”

The Bothan stroked his chin. “Yes, that would be a good idea. I have nothing more to add now. You all are dismissed.”

Rick sighed with relief and stood up promptly. It wasn’t any cooler in the command center than outside, but at least outside he could walk and have a landscape to look at instead of the dull gray walls, the boring images, and the droll admiral.

The group followed Cordillian out of the main entrance and off through the base. There were people all over the place – soldiers training and patrolling, engineers overseeing the works of the camp, Jedi wandering and meditating…no one paid them any mind at all.

“You’ll have to forgive Admiral Tek’yla,” Cordillian said at length. “He is a veteran commander and a good officer, but he’s gotten more boring with age, I’m afraid.”

“Boring?” Rick exclaimed. “Who said he was boring?”

“Your yawning and sleepy eyes did.”

“Oh, I suppose they might have suggested it…”

“How high of an alert status is this base?” Greyhawk asked, changing the subject. “There are quite a few soldiers and defenses, but it doesn’t seem too crazy here.”

Cordillian sighed. “It’s not as high as it should be, let me tell you straight out. Following Master Salar’s counsel, Tek’yla has chosen to show as little aggression or hostility as possible. This is supposed to show the Kordak that we don’t mean harm…but I think it’s just showing them we’re weak.”

“You think they will attack?” Targon asked. “Why?”

“I’ve been an officer for many years,” Cordillian replied. “I fought as a second lieutenant during the final days of the Great War. And during my career, I’ve seen plenty of moments when weaknesses were taken advantage of because an enemy decided to let down their guard.”

“But there’s no cause for war yet, is there?” Greyhawk inquired.

“With the Kordak…” the Vice Admiral paused. “They’re aggressive and proud. I don’t believe they’ll tolerate any more suspicious circumstances. If Talhawk so much as smells a Republic attack, he’ll muster his warships and hammer us hard. And don’t you suppose he won’t strike here first.”

“Easy now, sir,” a voice approached. “Let’s not scare the new guys before they’re settled in.”

They turned and saw Aric Trinn approach, followed by his teammates. Cordillian smiled at them.

“At least I’m not putting them to sleep like Tek’yla was.”

Aric laughed. “No sir.”

“What do you have to report?” the Vice Admiral’s voice was immediately professional and proper.

The Lt. Colonel saluted. “Our patrol was uneventful. The jungle was quiet…even when we were three klicks from the Kordak outpost.”

“That close? You should have heard them cursing at each other, if not their machinery.”

“There was nothing, sir,” Trinn reiterated. “We thought it odd and headed back as soon as we could. Scans couldn’t find anything either. Nobody hailed our shuttle either, though we were certainly within their sight range. It’s almost as if they packed up and left.”

“Or they were…” Cordillian began, but he was cut off as Greyhawk perked up suddenly.

“You hear that?” the old soldier asked. “It’s a soft droning…”

The Vice Admiral turned and bellowed, “Spectres!”

A wailing alarm screamed just as more than a dozen skyships appeared in the air above the base, just outside the perimeter. They faded in from nothing, and once visible, they began firing bright blue beams that caused whatever they struck to explode violently.

Chaos ensued. Soldiers and engineers scrambled all over, firing back at the large aircraft as they hummed overhead.

These vehicles were large, sleek, and silver – like the warships in space. They had a large pair of wings up front and a smaller pair of rectal fins at the engines. Double-barreled turrets swiveled in the shadows of the wings, firing at everything below.

When they were over the base, the ships opened up doors along their underside as soldiers poured out, dropping to the ground and attacking at once.

These warriors were large, almost seven feet tall and wider than any man. They wore thick armor, colored silver and cobalt. Their helmets had the Mandalorian T-shaped visors, but they were crested and shaped like skulls. They all bore the symbol of a great blue eagle.

Republic troops marshaled to engage them, but the invaders charged into them too quickly to be able to offer any kind of major resistance. Both sides shot volleys at one another, but soon they were getting too close to each other.

Man to man, the Republic soldiers didn’t stand a chance. Each warrior’s rifle had a large bayonet. Combined with their incredible strength, the invaders broke the still confused defenders easily.

Buildings were ablaze, the air was thick with smoke and shouting. The jungle was lighting up with blues and reds from lasers and explosions.

Aric shouted at them. “Get to your ship!”

“Without a fight?” Greyhawk shook his head. “We’ve got to defend the base!”

“It’s lost!” Trinn barked. “There’s too many – and they’ve taken us completely by surprise. We’ve got to get out of here and regroup!”

Cordillian nodded. “Aric, lead them out of here.”

“What about you, sir?”

“I need to see that we get as many out of here as we can. Go now! That’s an order.”

“Where do we regroup?” Targon asked.

“We’ll decide that when we’re up,” Trinn answered.

They all bolted for the docked ships. Other men were doing the same – and the attackers noticed.

A troupe of soldiers pursued them, firing at their heels.

Trinn pointed at Scarlet. “Give us some cover!” he ordered.

Without a word, the woman leaped to the left, taking position behind a fence. She had a long rifle out, but it was no sniper. She let loose a flurry of bolts in quick succession, mowing down most of the lead pursuers.

Swann stopped to give her aid, firing his own blaster. Together, they caused the attackers to fall back. At least for the moment.

It was long enough to see the fleers to their ships. The transports fired up and started lumbering into the air. Rick led the group as they rushed up the ramp of the Lone Eagle. He dove to his pilot’s chair and started his ship up.

Targon was in the cockpit as well. But he wasn’t sitting in the co-pilot’s chair. Someone else was there.

It was a woman, tall and slender, with bright red hair, wearing white uniform over here light armor.

“And who are you supposed to be?” Rick asked harshly as they took off.

“No time to explain, you need to get out of here.” Her voice was curt and sharp.

“Unless you want to head back down to the planet from orbit, you’d better start talking.”

“Who is this?” Aric Trinn asked as he entered.

The woman stood. She bore the Republic’s symbol on her shoulder. “Lt. Colonel Aric Trinn, I was ordered to find you.”

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Anna-sa Kyja, Republic Special Forces, Ghost Corps, sir.”

Targon raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never heard of Ghost Corps.”

“Nor have I,” Aric Trinn frowned.

“We’re a special task force for Republic Intelligence. It was formed only recently, sir, to counter the infamous Imperial Intelligence.”

“So what? “ Rick asked. “You’re a special agent?”

“Exactly.”

“There’s no time to go over the details,” Aric growled. “We need to contact the Admirals and see if they got off the planet safely.”

“Shouldn’t we contact your fleet?” Rick asked.

“They seem a little busy right now,” Targon pointed out the window.

A panorama of blue and red lights flashed across the stars. Scattered about was the Republic fleet, and moving to surround them were the Kordak ships. Bright orange flashes erupted often, the sign of a ship destroyed. Most were Republic.

“What the frell is going on?” Rick cursed. “I thought you said we weren’t at war!”

“We are now,” Kyja stated. “I was sent to inform you, Colonel, that the Kordak League has declared war against the Republic. My orders were to see that you and Admiral Tek’yla received the news.”

“Well, we know now,” Aric growled.

“Wait…” Targon hesitated. “Why? Why has the League attacked?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss it with you, Jedi.”

“Then discuss it with me,” Trinn ordered brusquely.

She complied. “Republic Intelligence learned recently that there was an attack on the League’s capital. It was a raid into their renown library. Countless relics were destroyed or stolen, and over three hundred guards and civilians were killed. According to reports, there were Republic soldiers among the corpses, and the guards were killed with lightsabers.”

“That’s preposterous!” Trinn spat. “The Republic would never!”

“Nor the Jedi,” Targon added. “There has to be some mistake.”

“Mistake or no,” Kyja’s face was grim. “Talhawk has declared a crusade against both the Republic and the Jedi Order to avenge the attack.”

“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?” Rick shook his head.

“Not for Talhawk,” Trinn sighed. “So the attack began here…we’ll need to warn the nearby systems.”

“That’s what I was going to tell you next, sir,” Kyja sighed. “The entire Kordak fleet has been unleashed…and they’ve invaded in five separate systems at once.”

Everyone’s face expressed their shock. Even Aric’s discipline was struck dumb.

There was a beeping on the console. A hail.

Rick hit the button and a hologram appeared.

“This is Vice Admiral Raynor Cordillian to the Lone Eagle, can you read me?”

Aric steeled himself and replied, “Yes sir, we made it out. I’m glad that you have too.”

“It wouldn’t be the case without Master Salar’s skill with a saber,” Cordillian said. “Tek’yla, Salar, and I have made it to the cruiser Autumn Moon along with the rest of the survivors. I’m afraid there aren’t many left.”

“Sir,” Trinn began. “The fleet?”

“Tek’yla has named Autumn Moon his flagship and given the command for all Republic forces in this sector to fall back to the planet Teth. There we are to regroup and prepare our defenses against the Kordak League’s invasion.

“Teth, sir?” Trinn frowned. “There’s nothing there but a more savage jungle than Yunkai. There aren’t even any settlements.”

“Unfortunately, Lt. Colonel,” Cordillian sighed. “It’s also the last planet still standing along the border. The League’s assault has the entire sector reeling. We need to regroup wherever we can to prepare to combat them.”

“I understand, sir,” Trinn nodded. “We will rendezvous with the Republic fleet at Teth.”

The hologram shorted out.

“So much for a simple assignment, eh, Targon?” Rick grimaced.

Targon only shook his head and closed his eyes. He could feel the deaths, even at such as distance. Strange visions flashed in his mind – hundreds of Doom Ships raining fire down on planets from orbit. Infernos consuming forests and cities.

He felt the hand of the Dark Side at work. But that didn’t make sense…Wild Space was far from the Empire. There was no way they could reach here…could they?

Shaking off the thought, he decided that it was only the tremors of war and death echoing through the Force.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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TargonKarashi
03.27.2012 , 01:44 PM | #40
Chapter Four

A storm was in the making for a long time, but now it had finally arrived. Just as he had foreseen. The plan had worked perfectly, and now the dark clouds burst, showering everything with rain and lightning.

He couldn’t have asked for a better sign.

A presence, bristling with rage and impatience, approached from behind.

“I hope you are more subtle when you approach your victims, Tauros,” he said simply.

“Always, master. I can never hide myself from you.”

“Indeed,” Avaris turned away from the window and the great storm outside to face his apprentice. “Have they assembled?”

“The Conclave has gathered and the fleet is ready.”

“And…?”

“And the Black Nova is nearly completed. It will be ready by the end of the week.”

Avaris shook his head slightly. “There’s no need to rush its construction. We want the war to continue until both sides are battered and broken.”

“Yes, master.”

“Come,” he stepped forward and headed for the door, his cloak and his apprentice trailing behind him.

His cloak was deep indigo, with shimmering gold lining. Hardly the outfit that would be acceptable to a typical Sith Lord. But Avaris knew he was not like the other Sith Lords.

Tauros looked more like those types. His black and red armor, cloak, mask…but he was effective, and far greater than many of those who had been Avaris’ peers.

Avaris regarded him with his empty white eyes. “I sense your anxiousness, Tauros. Are you so eager for battle?”

“My rage needs purpose,” his apprentice growled. “Stuffed in this citadel I am like a beast in chains.”

“Soon,” Avaris smiled softly. “Soon, you will be freed, my loyal beast.”

“Yes, master.”

They walked down a long and dismal hallway. The stone floor was uncarpeted, and the tall gray pillars were bleak. Atop the columns, running along the ceiling, were statues of savage beasts carved carefully out of the rock.

Avaris didn’t think the one who decorated this place had much imagination or taste. Sooner or later, he figured, some furnishings were going to need to be put up. At least some color, anyway.

A door opened before them and they entered a great chamber. Along the walls were more statues, these ones carved in the likeness of hooded Lords of the Sith, staring down upon the occupants of the room. In the middle of the chamber was a grand throne, several steps high. Before the seat was a circular table where several lords sat. They all rose as Avaris and Tauros entered.

He regarded them coolly, passing them by and making his way up the steps. When he sat upon the throne, the others were seated. All except Tauros – he was standing silently at the foot of his master’s seat, watching them.

My loyal beast, Avaris mused.

He held out his hands with his palms facing upward in a welcoming gesture. “Well met, my friends. I trust you all arrived safely and were treated comfortably?”

“Well enough, Lord Avaris,” an old man with a silver beard answered.

“I shall see about making things less hospitable then,” Avaris smiled. “After all, we are Sith, are we not? Comfort and safety are not things we worry about.”

“True, my lord,” another man – a ridiculously well-dressed man – bowed his head. “But hospitality never hurts.”

“Sometimes it can be more dangerous than hostility,” a hulking Pureblood grumbled. “The hidden blade is to be feared more than the brandished one.”

“Wise counsel,” Avaris nodded. “Though we of the Covenant need not fear each other here. Not in my presence.”

“Can we presume then, Lord Avaris,” a bald man with near a dozen earrings began, “that our plans are in place, since we have gathered?”

“Our plans?” Tauros growled. “They are Lord Avaris’ plans, not yours.”

“Heel, Tauros,” Avaris held up a hand. “To answer you, Lord Imperus, the plans have indeed been put to motion. War has broken out along the frontier of Wild Space. A terrible and bloody conflict, with worlds ravaged and the Republic dares not send more of their thinly stretched forces to quell the situation.”

“The Republic fleet is far larger than the Kordak…should they mobilize the entire fleet the war will end swiftly.”

“Yes, but not easily,” Avaris smiled. “Besides…who is the Republic more afraid of? The Kordak League that will only be able to take a few sectors or the Empire that could conquer everything in one strike? They will not send the rest of the fleet.”

“This is what you are hoping for,” the old man nodded.

“Of course. With both armies at each others’ throats, we will have little work to do in stepping in and annexing the entire region.”

“For the Empire or for the Covenant?” Imperus asked.

Avaris sighed. Standing up, he made his way down the steps.

“Gentlemen,” he shook his head. “Do you suppose us to be a splinter from the Empire? Do you presume that we are rebels?”

“Are we not?” the Pureblood asked. “Last I checked, we bore the banner of Toxeti and forsook the weak Sith on Korriban.”

“You are a great warrior, Fyr,” Avaris stared at him. “Yet as a warrior you see things as too simple. Yes, we bear Toxeti’s symbol and continue his legacy,” he pointed up at the great banner above them, a pair of black eyes on a violet field. “Yes, we do not associate ourselves with the Sith on Korriban…but we fight for the Empire, my friends. The Empire.”

“That isn’t how many of us have been led to believe,” Fyr growled.

“I have not deceived you, gentlemen. You have made assumptions on your own about our mission. Our mission is to bring victory to the Empire, not defeat.”

“How so?” the fancy clad man inquired. “If we are not in the Empire or answer to the Empire…?”

“You too, Lord Ebon? Have you all been so truly blind?” Avaris sighed.

“No, my lord,” a man in gold armor shook his head. “Only a few of the Conclave have failed to see your purpose.”

“I presume you are not one of them, Lord Sinitar?”

The man smiled. “Indeed, my lord.”

“Feh!” Ebon spat. “If that is truly the case, then why don’t you share it with the rest of us?”

“It is not my place,” Sinitar replied.

Avaris rubbed his temple. His Conclave – the members of his Dark Covenant. They were all loyal, he knew…but why did it seem that so many of them were turning out to be rather stupid? If he had known they were like this he wouldn’t have wasted his time with them.

Ah, well, they were going to have to prove themselves soon or they would perish.

“Gentlemen, I shall tell you what our goal is,” he said loudly. “Our goal is to gain victories for the Empire and then we shall use our success and prestige to institute a new regime into the Empire.” Or at least, he thought to himself, the worthy ones will.

Fyr laughed, and Ebon followed. “So we are rebels after all,” the Pureblood barked.

“Did I say that?” Avaris scowled.

“Indeed you did,” Ebon hooted. “Overthrow the Emperor and the Dark Council? I am starting to think I joined a comedy club rather than a Covenant.”

The ridiculously dressed man was suddenly cast to the floor, writhing in pain and crying out in alarm. The others watched him unmoving.

Tauros was standing over him. “You do not mock Lord Avaris,” he snarled pulling out his saber. It had a very long handle, almost the length of an arm.

“No, Tauros,” Avaris held up his hand. “No, I don’t want him dead. The mess he would make would be a headache to clean.”

His words and charisma weren’t going to be enough to keep this rabble in line. Many of these Sith were ambitious and clever, but others were foolish and careless. He should have taken greater effort to find better members for the Conclave. But he had to use what he had.

It was time then to test his theory…

“Ousting the Emperor would be quite impossible on our own, surely,” Avaris said. “We are too few to challenge him. But my plans have been made with care and precision. I think you all will agree as well.”

“Well, spit it out already,” Imperus rolled his eyes. “Your voice is nice, but not enough that I want to listen to it all day.”

Avaris ignored him. “Well, first of all, we are to let the Kordak break the Republic’s forces in Wild Space. With no reinforcements, that shouldn’t take too long. The end of the week will be our time to move.”

“Move?” Ebon stood up, having recomposed himself. “How? We have maybe fifty warships, maybe not even that. Once we do anything, the Empire will see us violating the Treaty and will finish us in short order.”

“Don’t be too sure,” Avaris frowned. “As I said, I’ve been careful.”

“Bugger that!” Imperus rose as well. “You’re insane, Avaris! Even more than Toxeti! Have you already forgotten what happened to him?”

Avaris seemed ready to explode into a terrible fury, and most of the lords feared he might. But Avaris reached into his sleeve and pulled something out.

A crystal.

He held it in his pale hands, holding it out in front of him and pointing it towards the men who mocked him. “Behold, gentlemen, the key to our victory.”

Some laughed, some cocked eyebrows, but only a few kept silent.

“What is that supposed to be?” Fyr asked.

“This is one of the legendary Falcori Crystals – sacred and secret power of the Necillians. They have harnessed the power of these stones to power their great warships, to cloak their vessels, and to enhance their abilities. For generations they have drawn upon stored energy, but now I have the source!”

“And so…” Ebon began.

“Fools! Blind fools! This is how Toxeti was so successful and effective. He gained a small piece of these crystals to cloak his fleet, inspire his followers, and even upgrade his lightsaber. His overconfidence was his downfall, and he could not find more of these crystals. But now I have them all! We shall conquer all with this power.”

“What’s to stop any of us from taking that power for ourselves?” Fyr asked.

“Scoundrel! Mongrel!” Sinitar rose and approached Avaris. He bent his knee before the Sith Lord. “Lord Avaris, accept my service and my loyalty. I shall serve the Dark Covenant.”

Some of the other lords followed suit. Fyr, Ebon, Imperus, and others remained standing, balking at the sight.

“I’ve seen enough,” Ebon shook his head.

“You have seen nothing,” Avaris smiled. “Blind you have been, but I shall make you see. I shall show you what Toxeti never thought possible.”

He held up the crystal. It started to pulse and glow and heat. The defiant Sith Lords found themselves unable to look away from it. They stared at it until their heartbeats were in sync with the pulse.

Then they bowed before him, swearing their power and their lives to the Dark Covenant. To him.

Avaris smiled and turned to Tauros. His apprentice bowed.

“My lord, you truly are all-powerful.”

“I shall prove it further,” Avaris inclined his head. “When the Black Nova is prepared, I want you to command it. Lead the fleet to begin the assault. Take Lord Ebon with you.”

“Ebon? But he…”

“He is one of my most loyal servants now,” Avaris smiled. “Toxeti’s followers obeyed him because of his power and leadership. And that was with but a fraction of the power I wield now.”

Tauros bowed again. “I shall do as you say. I shall take the Black Nova, and we shall be invincible.”

“And when Wild Space falls,” Avaris grinned, “we shall rise and claim the Empire for ourselves.”
I'd love you all to read my stories and tell me what you think!
The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi