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Zeroth
🌋Welcome to Ryloth! Enjoy the read! Timestamps are up in the upper righthand corner, most of the story is organized into chapters to better organize the changing of timelines/major events.

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🌋 2/1/20 - Ryloth is now open for the public to write in. If you're interested in joining, hop on over to to the Discord and see what we've been talking about. You can also ask @Fallenreaper or myself if you have any questions and need help figuring out where to fit in. Happy writing!
Hidden 6 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Bea
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Chapter 1
Training Has Begun... Finally



Tython, 6 ATC, 6
Week 2, Day 1

Jedi Master Dominik Rothul sat in silence as the transport ship shifted, docking easily onto the main Tython landing pad. An announcement was made to all its passengers to exit if they wished, and moments later everyone aboard the shuttle began to do so. His mind was elsewhere, his body moving with the crowd as he exited the spacecraft and made for the Temple.

Corellia, Sith, evil schemes that would have been far better off had they been uncovered sooner, it was all swirling around in the Master Jedi’s head as he moved. His body ached, his hip screamed at him as he walked despite being aided by a waist high walking stick as he walked. He had meetings with the Council to attend, meditation to perform, but most importantly, a Padawan to meet.

Padawan learner Lo Lya'Tre, a young Bothan girl whom he had met while she was still very young. There was a history between them, involving a promise and many many questions and times of self doubt on both sides. Ultimately, the local council deemed it good for both parties to be paired together, despite the silent protesting of Dominik’s grieving and grumpy heart. The man, aided by his walking stick, made his way towards the speeder hangars, for no particular reason, but feeling that the hangars would soon prove to be the right place at the right time.

Lo’s fur pushed back against her skin. The wind raked its invisible fingers across her surface and pressed it close, causing her muzzle to pull into a smile. Her eyes narrowed on the winding landscape. She swayed instinctively with the speeder bike as she parted the long grass in her wake. Each movement appeared perfect and without flaw in its execution. Lo couldn’t explain it, but being on a speeder felt natural for her. Rarely did she ever second guess or hesitate with her actions. She didn’t think in depth over it. Instead she reacted and followed the result to the end, even if she crashed into the dirt.

Her hands gripped tightly onto the handles and revved the engine into life. Her body leaned into the movement as she swept to the side then began to slow on entering the hangar. Unlike many Padawans, Lo didn’t wear a helmet. It blocked her head in and made thinking difficult so she often conveniently left it behind. Even in the wind in her eyes didn’t bug her since she moved more on instinct than her sight.

As the speeder bike grinded to a stop, she cut off the engine. Her right leg slid about and she hopped off, pushing her spiky fur back into place. She let out a sigh of relief while she considered what to do next. The last several months blurred together. Loneliness had began to settle in and allowed dark thoughts to gnaw at her. Lo shook them off before she began to push the machine back into line with the others.

Guilt had started to eat away at the old Jedi’s heart. First, his Padawan, then one of his best friends and her Padawan, Xid Terrik. Now, he had been assigned to Lo, and it had been months since the Master Jedi had stepped foot into deep friendly space. Here he was, attempting to meet a young Bothan who he had known for years, who had been assigned to him and who had waited patiently for his return. The man stood back, watching his young Padawan from the entrance to the speeder bay. He could not claim credit for what he saw.

Confidence as she walked; it reflected in her posture and her expression. No doubt she was feeling better about herself, about her situation, feeling optimistic about the opportunities she’s been afforded and no doubt ready to train and grow stronger. He took no credit in the changes he saw and the aura he could sense. She had done this all on her own; quite a big step for the timid, doubtful and shy little Bothan. With proper reinforcement, and the Jedi Master she had waited so long for, she would make a fine Jedi.

The Jedi decided to wait. To see if their bond was remotely strong enough to allow the girl to feel he was there. He wanted to give her space, to allow her to realize just who had come and to take in everything that was about to change, for the better.

As Lo put the bike away, she turned to the thoughts of her daily lessons. Depression poured over her like cold water causing her to sigh again. She didn’t look forward to them. Especially combat. Why couldn’t life be so simple, she thought as she turned about. Something tugged at her causing her to look up from the ground. Her eyes focused on Master Rothul as her mind numbed in thought. Everything about the upcoming day vanished from her mind when she began to realize he really had arrived.

“Master Rothul?” She asked, her voice soft and unsure.

A soft, warm smile made it’s way to Dominik’s face, the man shifting where he stood to put more weight onto the side that was supported by the walking stick. He took a deep breath, starting to walk towards Lo, glancing around at the controlled chaos that was everyday Tython in the hangar. “I apologize for my tardiness,” he began, approaching the young Bothan before stopping just a couple feet in front of her, “but I seem to have lost my way.” He teased, winking at the young girl before him. He took a deep breath, the smile from his face fading as his playfulness was drowned out by the apology he wished to make.

“I’m sorry for making you wait so long, little one.”

Calm replaced the uncertainty causing Lo to smile slightly, her eyes showing genuine joy.

“I thought… maybe something had happened or…” She didn’t finish her thoughts, but the tone made it clear. The little Bothan wondered if he had decided she wasn’t worth the effort to train.

Dominik could sense the mixed emotions coming from the young Padawan before him. He took a deep breath, shifting his weight again away from his injured hip before the Master Jedi spoke. “Remember what I told you? Years ago on H’ratth when you were doubting yourself?” he asked, calmly, gently, watching Lo and letting her think about what he meant.

Lo nodded, her eyes raised higher.

“I told you to trust in the Force, to let it guide you. It is the will of the Force that you and I are together. It just… took a little longer than expected.” Dominik said to the girl, teasing her near the end to keep the mood light.

“I tried, but when the days turn into weeks and weeks into months… Silence is often my worst enemy.” For once, Lo spoke from a place of strength despite its negative effects. She wanted to hide her doubts, but the recent months proved lying to herself hadn’t done much good. It only made reality much more painful.

“And look where the waiting has brought you.” Dominik added, kneeling down to better see the girl’s eyes.

“The Force is a fickle thing, Lo. But now you have been rewarded for your resilience and patience.” The man said before he stood slowly back up, regret crossing his features as he used the walking stick to help himself stand. “Now come. No more classroom lessons, no more hours of reading, no more waiting. You’re leaving Tython, we’ve been tasked to help with a relief effort.”

The man stood fully, winking at the young girl before him before turning, expecting her to follow in his wake as he made for the shuttle bays.

Lo cocked her head. Her ears perked at the words. She had hoped to hear them since she arrived on Tython, but her mind wanted to imagine it away. This couldn’t be actually happening, could it? Lo bit her lower lip as she shot up beside him. Her face lifted up to examine his expression and see through any illusion. All her senses told her she had nothing to be worried about.

“A relief mission? To where?” She asked, trying to control her river of questions from pouring out.

“Ryloth.” Dominik replied quickly, looking down to speak to Lo before the man continued forward.

“Are you sure you don’t need to rest?” Lo noticed the walking stick and Master Rothul’s movements. She didn’t decide to address it until now.

“We’ll have time to rest before we arrive. Ryloth is located in the deep Outer Rim, it will take us some time to arrive even by hyperspace lane. I’ll take my time then, don’t fret.” He advised, his heart feeling appreciative of the young Bothan’s worry. An old wound that fought any form of healing, Dominik was constantly reminded of the price one sometimes paid as a Jedi, though he was never bothered by it. It was simply a test of endurance that we constantly revisited.

“Gather your things, we won’t be returning to Republic space for quite some time if all goes well. I’ll meet you in hangar eleven, alright?”

Lo nodded then rushed off. As she neared the corner, her foot slid along the marble floor and she slipped. Just before she fell onto the floor, her balance adjusted and she caught herself. In a few moments she was gone to retrieve what meager belongings she brought with her. It didn’t her long before she returned with a small haversack filled with a spare outfit and a few trinkets inside. She hung it over her shoulder, pressed against her back, while she located hangar eleven.

When Lo found her way to hangar eleven, she would see Master Rothul speaking to a few other Jedi, along with some Republic workers who were leading supplies onto the Mirage.

When she looked closer and reached out through the bond, she faintly sensed concern and worry from her master. Her muzzle scrunched up as she tried to understand it. Unsure if it was due to his body language or the bond she heard about between padawan and master. He was being briefed on the situation on Ryloth, it was starting to become much more serious than he had initially been told. The man quickly masked his feelings though as he noted Lo approaching. The few Jedi and Dominik said their farewells before the Master Jedi turned to approach his Padawan. This mission was supposed to be in support of the relief effort to the planet's struggling colonies of Twi'Leks and Humans alike, but it seemed he and his Padawan would be dropping into a much more dire situation. Introduction by fire, as he liked to call it.

He addressed Lo as she came near, smiling reassuringly to his Padawan before gesturing for her to follow him onto the Mirage. Lo paused long enough to adjust her haversack while keeping close.

"We've got a long journey ahead, Lo," he began, resting a comforting hand on the Bothan's shoulder as they started up the ramp. "Are you ready for this?"

“Maybe?” She tried not to squeak in her voice. Her eyes looked to him, suspecting her expression revealed more than she wanted to. One born from concern and desire to help, but also of inexperience and uncertainty.

“You still haven’t given me any details aside from the fact it’s a relief effort.”

"We're going to help aid the Twi'Lek colonies on Ryloth. Both in settling parts of the surface that haven't been established yet, and helping to protect them from any outside opposition." Dominik explain. He led Lo to the cockpit of the ship, a small space with four single chairs, two in front of the control panel and two further back.

"Master Rothul! Things are all ready for you. Everything is strapped down and ready to go Sir." Came a shout from behind them, further back on the ship.

"Loud and clear mister Henry. Thank you." He responded before taking a seat in the main pilot's chair.

The Jedi looked to his Padawan, feeling her uncertainty, judging her confidence, his mind playing through their arrival on Ryloth. Once things were settled, training would begin, but not before he would try to build the relationship between Master and Padawan.

Lo’s curosity still gnawed at her as she took a seat behind him. She couldn’t sense if he wanted her to sit in the wingman’s seat or a passenger one, so she decided to take the best possible option. Unlike a speeder bike, she had rarely flown a starship. The few times she had went well enough, but she didn’t want to risk complicating things if issues rose up.

Dominik began the startup procedures for the ship as Lo sat down, reaching up and flipping switches above his head before his fingers moved across the dash, years of piloting and ship maneuvering making these procedures turn into muscle memory for him. The ramp to the Mirage closed as the last of the supplies were loaded and the loading team departed. Dominik glanced behind him, watching the young Bothan behind him.

"I feel pretty lucky to have you around Lo," Dominik began, turning back and continuing with the procedures as the ships engine started. "I've been without a co-pilot for quite sometime. I was starting to feel a little lonely."

The Master Jedi wouldn't force her, but he wanted Lo to feel comfortable at his side. He tried all he could in that moment to direct her attention to the co-pilot seat. Every Padawan belonged next to their Master, but their relationship was not the norm for every Master and Padawan. Dominik fully accepted Lo as his Padawan, but he would let her take her time when it came to accepting herself as his Padawan as well. He wanted her to take her rightful seat, but would not say so directly. She had to make her own decisions.

Lo cocked her head again then began to pull up from her seat, cautiously slipping into the co-pilot seat. She exhaled as she strapped herself in. Her eyes glanced at Rothul, trying to read the faint bond between them. It wasn’t easy.

“I’m not very confident with flying, but I’ll try.” She tried to keep the unsteadiness out of her voice. Her eyes turned to him for guidance as she smiled, happy to hear his compliments.

“I think I’m pretty lucky to have you for a master too. You give me strength when I feel like I have none, and not ashamed.”

After Lo took her seat and strapped in, Dominik took hold of the main thrusters control and pushed it forward. The Mirage lifted off from the bay floor, maneuvering through the open door and speeding up towards Tython's atmosphere.

The Master pondered many thoughts in the back of his mind. The coming mission would test them, both of them, both physically and mentally. He would have to balance Lo's overdue training with mission priorities and objectives. The Master knew there would be time, and the experience old-world would be good for Lo. There would be new beings to meet, new things to experience; but dangers and threats followed closely behind. Ryloth needed the aid of the Jedi; just as Dominik needed an opportunity to teach Lo, something that was long overdue.


Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Bea
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Chapter 2
Searching



Tython, 6 ATC, 6
Week 3, Day 3


From Tython to Ryloth was not a quick journey. It had been a week, nearly two since they left Tyrhon. Dominik made sure to plot the most direct, but safest course they could take through hyperspace lanes so they they would arrive as quick as possible. He didn't blame Lo for the boredom she began to express as the trip dragged on. The Master Jedi supplied her with Holocrons to study with while they waited.

Take the time to relax and study peacefully, you may not be afforded that opportunity once we arrive. he would tell her. The mans body had fully healed since the skirmish on Corellia works ago, his hip being the only part that would still continue to bother him, as it had for years.

The ship pulled out of hyperspace, coming to a slow glide, Ryloth positioned in their front, allowing a full view of the colorful planet, earthy tones making up its surface. Scanners were quickly activated as soon as the ship pulled out of hyperspace, searching for enemy ships, distress signals, anything.

Minutes went by as Dominik allowed the ships scanners to complete a full sweep. The sector visuappy looked clear, but he was taking no chances. During their time en route, Dom had taken the time to teach Lo some of the more simple tasks of flying. During their stops to refuel, he began to let her take control as they landed, taking her with activating their landing gear, lowering the ramp, and slowing down the engine.

Reaching out through his communication systems, Dominik attempted to make contact with some form of antenna in the village they planned to land in. His information provided by the Council indicated they had crude but working communications systems amongst the rubble that was their villages.

Pressing and holding a switch on the dash, Dominik waited to receive a small signal, indicating they had made contact.
His hand remained there for several moments, the Master himself silent and focused.

"We're going to land on the surface Lo," he began, removing his hand from the toggle switch and increasing the thrusters, moving the ship forward. "Prepare the landing gear and shutdown procedures as I showed you, but keep the engine running." He instructed the Bothan. The man's tone was serious, almost urgent as he spoke. He sensed something was wrong, but decided not to speak of it until they had eyes on their destination.

"Right," Lo then flipped the switches. Each one clicked and turning from green to red, save one. She found her breathing began to slip into a steady pace and her early week anxieties became lost in her focus. The engine’s dull humming became her background noise indicating she left it on. After flipping the switches, she leaned back into the seat. A thought occurred to as she caught Dominik’s emotions.

“You’re worried… Why, Master?” The title rolled off her tongue easily causing her to pause. She blinked with surprise at the habit developing.

"Because our contact on the surface isn't connecting to our signal." Dominik replied, looking to Lo before his eyes returned to their front. Dominik carefully maneuvered the ship as it entered Tython's atmosphere, its scanners still not picking up anyone else's signal, be they friend or foe. As the Mirage neared the planet's surface, much more detail was revealed. A planet consisting of numerous scatters mesas and jungles, deserts and valleys that stretched and connected for as far as the eye could see. A dense fog lay on the horizon, hiding the terrain from view as it stretched as far as they could both see. Below, Dominik steered the ship towards a large clearing on a cliffside. The clearing was bordered on one side by the cliff, and on the other side by an arching treeline of a jungle. As the pair grew closer to the surface, Lo's keen eyes made out a small village, evident by dark wooden and rock structures that dotted the clearing.

Lo did as she was told, almost perfectly. The landing gear started to emerge from the bottom of the ship, the thrusters throwing up dirt and pebbles as the Mirage gently touched down on the planet's surface.

Taking a moment, Dominik ensured his ship's systems were prepared and operational should they need to board quickly and take off. The engine sat at a low idle, quieting down as the boarding ramp started to lower at the back. The Master Jedi turned towards his Padawan, his eyes still scanning their surroundings, watching, observing.

"Remember what I've told you. Stay alert, reach out with the Force, feel your surroundings, look at everything. If anything feels wrong, you tell me. Do you understand?"

Dominik's eyes finally moved to Lo as he finished talking, ready for any questions that may come his way but also showing that their time to be serious and understand each other was now.

“You’re expecting trouble.” A statement rather than a question as Lo looked hard at him, seeming to tune in on their bond. She frowned at how weak it still remained causing her to exhale in frustration.

“I can do that. Are you heading out first?” She expected she knew the answer, but her lips still asked. There was little reason to keep the ship on idle unless someone would remain behind and be ready to lift off.

"Expecting, yes. But I think the conflict has passed. When I reach out, Lo, I can sense there are no living beings in that village." He explained, gesturing to the group of houses just a couple hundred feet in front of them. "Yes, I will go out first. Keep your wrist comlink on," he said, gesturing to the same device that was on his wrist, "if I give you the all clear, seal up the ship and come join me. But prepared to take off if I tell you to, do you understand?"

“I do.” Lo bite back the unnecessary questions.

She had gotten better at it, especially when the timing was inappropriate. Her brown eyes stared a bit longer than she intended as fear and concern rosed at the back of her attention. As the wristcom was offered, she placed it onto her wrist and let it fasten there. It rubbed a bit, but she didn’t mind it.

Lo inhaled then exhaled, trying to push the emotions away.

“I think I’m ready when you are. Just… be careful.”

Dominik smiled softly at her concern as he stood. "Trust in yourself, trust in me." He said, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder before he moved out of the ship.

“Harder than it sounds.” Lo forced a chuckle, trying to hide her insecurities. Her posture immediately relaxed when she noted his hand on her shoulder. She lifted her head and followed him until he vanished past the cockpit door.

Master Rothul stepped down the ramp after making his way through the ship. He tapped a small button on his comlink to ensure he had a connection with Lo's before stepping onto the surface of Ryloth. The man moved slowly, now without his walking stick to side him, unlike two weeks prior. The limp in his gait was minimal, but there. It didn't slow him down though. Dominik started towards the village farther into the clearing, looking behind him at the ship as he grew farther away.

It took the man about five minutes walking to reach the village. Nearing it, Dom felt nothing out of the norm. His lightsaber still hanging at his hip, the Master Jedi could sense it wouldn't be needed; the conflict had passed. Regardless, he started looking through the small houses, knowing Lo probably could hardly see him from where the ship was now. It was a good lesson in trust and patience.

Searching the houses, empty home after empty home. They were just, gone. Dominik had been given instructions by the Jedi Council that he was to make contact with one of the colony heads, Glie Tualin. Word had reached the Order that clans, whole villages even, had started to suddenly vanish. Buildings and objects were all that remained, but their people were just gone. There was never a trace of who or what was behind it, or where the Twi’Lek people would be going. That was why Dominik had been sent here with his Padawan. With a history of gathering intel, piecing together clues and tying up loose ends, along with his experience as a diplomat, Dominik was the man for the job.

Meanwhile in the cockpit, Lo’s hands remained on the steering. Her eyes closed as her senses extended, trying to apply her training into effect. She focused on her breathing first. Calming her jittery and untamed emotions into still presence. With some struggle, she began to listen to the wildlife outside as her force sense extended beyond the boundaries of the ship. Her comlink’s light blinked indicating an incoming communication from her master.

Raising his wrist to his mouth, Dominik started to speak into the comlink. “We’re all clear Lo,” he began, making his way up an eroded stone staircase to get a better view of the ship over the houses. “Toggle switch three on the rear control panel, in the central access chamber.”

Lo’s head cocked in confusion. “Umm, all right. Why?”

Even as she asked the question, the Padawan began to toggle the switch on the control panel. Her ears caught the sound of something rumbling from the central access chamber. She frowned then jerked out of her seat. With building curiosity, she treaded lightly toward the source. Her fur puffed out in concern creating a furball effect. Secretly, she hated it, but her dislike faded when she spotted the elevating speeder bikes.

Her finger pressed the button to comment, her muzzle curled into an eager smirk. “You didn’t tell me you brought a pair of speeders.”

“Of course I didn’t,” came his voice over the comlink, “Where’s the fun in that?”

The old Jedi smirked as he felt the giddiness from his Padawan. Standing atop one of the houses, watching the ship for another few moments before turning to look farther out into the horizon, the Jedi pondered. The ship was decently hidden near the treeline for now, and they would not be far. Investigating needed to be done before they started announcing themselves to the surface of Ryloth. Somewhere, there were other clans, other leaders, other connections. If they were to receive periodic support from the Council and the Republic, connections needed to be established.

It was early morning, and the days stretched long, giving the pair of Jedi the light they’d need for their search. If they could find a clan or village, they could find a leader. Then, they could start assisting with relief, and try to find the missing colonists.

“The blue one is mine, by the way.” Came his voice again, teasing the Padawan for a moment before instructions followed. “On it, punch in these coordinates: Twenty-five North, at point three-five mark eight. Follow it to the village, I’ll be waiting for you here. And seal up the ship, we’re going to do a little scouting.”

“Favorite color?” Lo asked suddenly, pressing in the numbers.

As the engine began to warm up, she flipped a switch and the back doors began to lower. Her figure quickly shifted to her own and turned it on. Just seconds before hers warmed up, Dominik’s claimed speeder took off. She flinched when she heard the bike scrap against the door’s side in its take off. She silently regretted not waiting until the door was fully open before starting his bike.

Biting her lip, she leaned and made a jump start to catch up to his.

Dominik chuckled at her question, but didn’t let that through the coms. “Yes, it is.” He heard the rev of a speeder a few moments later, watching it kick up dust as it followed a path towards the inputted coordinates. “Now hurry out here, we’ve got some ground to cover and I want to make sure we use the daylight to our advantage.”

Dominik waited until he saw both speeders headed towards him before taking the old staircase back down to ground level. His senses pushed out, he still didn’t feel anything near them; both good, and bad. Moments later the blue speeder stopped in front of him, his eyes seeming to miss the scratches on the side as they looked to his Padawan. He waited for Lo to come to a stop before climbing onto his speeder and looking to her.

“Keep your senses sharp. If you feel anything, alert me with your comlink. I’ll see it.” The man wasn’t sure why, but he wanted to wait to explain exactly what was going on; the information from the Council, what he pieced together so far just by walking through the village. But in the back of his mind he also wanted to wait, to see what his young Padawan gathered about the situation simply by watching, and observing.

Relief flooded Lo when her Master didn’t mention the scratches. After thinking that, she chided herself for her stupidity and knew he cared more about the villagers than a speeder. She began to turn hers to an idle then wait for him to mount his. She nodded as she considered what to say next.

“Do we have coordinates for the nearest village? What happens if the next one we stop at has been hit too? Do we keep moving until we reach a village that isn’t empty?” Lo’s questions poured out, one after another.

Dominik couldn’t help the smile that came to his face at the young girl’s spew of questions. He didn’t blame her curiosity; how could he when he had kept her in the dark for most of the trip?

“We don’t have the coordinates, that’s why were going to take speeders. They’re lower profile and easier to hide. We’ll keep moving until we find one of the Twi’lek clans. We need to make a connection with one of their leaders, otherwise our mission will be for naught.”

Dominik took the handles to his speeder in his grip, revving the machine for a moment before looking back to his Padawan. “Follow me closely, keep your lightsaber close and your wits about you. And if I tell you to turn back to the ship, you turn back.”

Lo opened her mouth to protest, then shut it. She nodded her understanding. Her fingers wrapped about the handles of her speeder as she twisted it, the engine roaring back to life. She leaned into the seat ready to take off at the same time he did.

“Ready.”

Dominik pushed a foot down on the right pedal, speeding forward as Lo said she was ready. He followed a main path that kept pretty straight, following the village across the plains before the houses ended and a faint path continued. He had confidence in Lo’s ability to maneuver a speeder, otherwise this would have proven difficult. He planned on following a deep, dried up river bed that swept through the canyon next to the village. Someone needed to be found. They couldn’t waste days looking for the colonists, so Dominik would hit the search hard until clues were found.

Lo’s speeder kept hot on Dom’s tail. Her muzzle curled into her smirk as she moved through the entangled landscape. She lifted her hips then leaned down causing the front to press close to the ground, skidding underneath the large root bridge. She jerked to the side taking a hard left before realigning herself back onto her master’s wake.




It had been hours of an exhaustive search as Dominik’s mind moved to focusing on finding them a path back to the Mirage. Their search had turned up empty. Nothing but seemingly abandoned villages that left no trace of where its inhabitants had gone.

The Master Jedi’s speeder started to slow. He banked it to one side, giving Lo time to notice his speed change and adjust hers. Soon after, Dominik halted his speeder, pulling it to the side to that he was perpendicular with the path they had been travelling. As soon as Lo had come to a full stop, he dismounted his to approach her.

“We’re headed back to the Mirage. I need to contact the Council and let them know what we found. Then perhaps we can get better intel on where to look for more Twi’lek colonists.” He explained, watching the young Bothan to see how she took her information.

Lo had contemplating what had happened as they found more and more empty villages. Barely any signs of struggles and none that fit anything that could make a whole village vanish without a trace. Her figure leaned back in her seat while she put her speeder into idle. She looked into her master’s direction, listening to the information he gave.

“It makes sense, but eventually it will get dark. Maybe we should consider using the Mirage for a shelter when it does?” Lo asked, considering the future likelihood they would be staying here.

“Good thinking, Padawan.” Dominik said, smiling with a nod to Lo at her suggestion. He had planned on them taking shelter in the Mirage until they were able to make contact with a Twi’lek colony. He was glad to hear that she was thinking, preparing, ready should that need arise.

Lo’s fur stood on end as her eyes jerked to the side, her hand lingered near her lightsaber. She quickly dismounted fully to stand near her master, half listening to him.

“We’ll-”

Taking his lightsaber in hand, Dominik ignite the green blade, turning quickly to look back the way they had come. Dominik took a couple steps back towards that direction, holding his lightsaber out as his senses tugged at his mind. Suddenly, from around the bend of the canyon they were in, came a herd of Gutkurrs. Large, two-legged, insectoid carnivores whom the Twi’leks were known to hunt, and be hunted by. Six of them ran at the pair of Jedi from one direction, and when Dom turned towards his speeder, many many more were headed from the other bend of the canyon.

“Lo, get up on that ledge, now!” He ordered, pointing to a rock ledge that hung down from the cliff wall, about fifteen feet above to their side. Gutkurrs were fast, had very impressive endurance, and were relentless. In order to deal with the herd, he wanted to make sure Lo was at least safe, for now. The more that focused on him, the better.

Lo’s head turned to him, her thoughts hesitated at his orders. A split second too long. The herd advanced on the pair causing her to remember Dominik’s orders. She coiled her legs underneath and leapt too late. A Gutkurr screeched then slammed into her side. It sent her tumbling a few feet behind Dom, curled into a defensive ball. She shook her head to clear the ringing from the hit while she struggled to stand upright.

Seeing Lo get hit, Dominik stepped back to better defend his Padawan. He sent a strong Force push towards a pair of the creatures that charged at them, forcing them back and off balance as they crashed into each other. That same hand reached out then, Dom’s keen eyes spying Lo’s lightsaber fly from her side as she was knocked down. He took it with that free hand, holding it tight as he quickly rolled out of the way of a Gutkurr that had focused solely on him. He turned back, Force pushing another pair that would have trampled Lo had they kept going.

Lo whimpered as her ankle refused to accept her weight. She leaned on her right side to avoid pressure on her left ankle, her hand reached down to feel it. The joint felt swollen and hurt every time she touched it. It had to be sprained.

“Master Rothul, my ankle… I think I sprained it.” Lo meekly said through the pain.

Hearing his Padawan, Dominik doubled his efforts, stepping back to her as he pushed another creature away. Dominik picked Lo up in his arms, numerous more Gukurrs starting their charge towards the pair. The man knelt down, placing Lo’s lightsaber in her hands before he took hold of her fully, launching her up in a Force powered toss up to the ledge. When Lo left his arms, her body shrank into itself. Her eyes couldn’t help but close, her breath sucked into her lungs.

The Master Jedi couldn’t join her on the ledge, the creatures would only shift their focus and attempt to reach them. Gutkurrs would do anything to get to their prey.

He used the Force to guide Lo’s form safely onto the ledge, releasing his hold on her before he jumped high. The Jedi leapt up, his feat finding the constantly moving bodies of the Gutkurrs as their focus shifted as he moved. He moved nimbly across their tops, managing to gain some ground as found an open spot within the herd. He drew his lightsaber again, stabbing it through the head of one of them as it missed its charge. The Jedi moved, almost dancing as the creatures charged at him, ultimately crashing into each other as their target moved suddenly.

Lo twisted about to look over the ledge. Her lightsaber in her hand, but useless due to her condition. With each movement Master Rothul made, her heart thumped in her chest and seemed to bruise it. Unable to physically help, she reached out a hand toward a small chunk of rock near one of the Gutkurrs. As it snapped at Rothul’s foot, she shoved it upward. About the size of a melon fruit, it smacked hard into the creature’s jaw causing it to slam shut.

Dominik took advantage of Lo’s help, turning and stabbing his lightsaber into the head of the stunned Gutkurr. The Master Jedi felt it then, more lifeforms, headed quickly towards them. He turned quickly, feeling the ground shake as his eyes looked farther down the canyon. Charging towards the pair of Jedi and the Gutkuurs were a dozen Twi’lek riders mounted upon Blurrgs. They didn’t seem to stop as the Twi’leks spotted the herd, steering their mounts into the large group, unaware of the Jedi Master within them. The Gutkurrs, seeing pressure from further down the canyon, turned and started to challenge the herd of riders coming in.

The two groups hit hard, throwing up dust and dirt as they challenged each other. Master Rothul braced himself, focusing in on the groups and the creatures that ran amongst each other. He moved gracefully, hidden amongst the dust constantly being stirred up.

Only a few minutes went by, but to Lo and Dominik it may have felt longer. One of them waiting for her Master to emerge, and the other using all of his focus to be able to emerge once the chaos was over. Suddenly, the herds started to die down, the Gutkurrs either killed by the Twi’leks or having run off. Dominik stood his ground at the base of Lo’s ledge, lightsaber drawn and eyes on the Twi’leks, all focused in on him and Lo. Blasters held up as the dust settled, their mounts moving uneasily as the Twi’lek warriors stood up against the newcomer.

“Well well, Master Jedi, I really thought the Jedi Order had abandoned us.” One Twi’leks voice rose over the coming silence as the man urged his mount towards Dominik. An orange-skinned Twi’lek, his lekku striped with darker orange stripes down to the end of them.

“Master Rothul, can I come down now?” Lo’s timid voice broke out from on the ledge, peering down at the scene.

“No.” Dominik replied bluntly, his hardened gaze on the arc of wary Twi’lek warriors around them.

“Not abandoned, but dealing with things closer to home.” Dominik argued, holding his saber loosely at his side.

“Surely you’ve noticed what is happening to us? On our home planet? Our people disappearing, those that remained are starving. And what does the Republic send? A Jedi Master and his little Padawan?” the man yelled, hands thrown out above his head, causing Dominik’s grip on his saber to tighten.

“And you’re showing such distaste towards two, how would you feel if we brought fleets? Invaded your home?”

Dominik knew why only two had been sent. For one, Ryloth was on the outer edge of the Outer Rim, edged up against Sith territories and far from any major outpost. Secondly, the Jedi could not just send fleets of starships and fighters into the system. It would draw the attention of the Sith and effectively break the treaty. The Jedi did not have the full support of the Republic, and could have very little to no response from the Republic to send troops and ships.

“Is that a threat, Jedi?” the Twi’lek leader growled, edging his mount closer towards Dominik.

Dominik withdrew his saber, taking a deep breath as he returned his saber to his hip, “It is a promise if you force the wrong hand. Jedi and Republic aid would draw attention from the Sith Empire, and bring full on war to Ryloth.”

The Twi’lek male suddenly held out his hand to the warriors around him, and in return they began to lower their blasters. The man took a deep breath, eyes closing for a moment, thinking. His gaze then focused back on Dominik, “Come, Master Jedi. I think we have much to talk about.”



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Chapter 2
Searching -cont.



Ryloth, 6 ATC, 6
Week 3, Day 3, Dusk


The man’s name was Sar Tarkona, a thirty-two year old Twi’lek who had grown up in a time where his kind were often kidnapped for slavery and invaded by independents who wished to take the planet's resources for their own. It was a never ending battle for the Twi’lek people. As soon as one conflict was resolved, another would follow in its wake. There was never rest, never any true peace. The minds behind exploiting the Twi’lek people had been identified as the Hutts, a council who denied every involvement but refused to make any of their records public or to come before the Republic Senate to argue against the accusations thrown at them.

This is where the Twi’leks had requested help from the Republic, the Jedi, anyone. But after the Sacking of Coruscant, many relief efforts and security projects were called off, and all eyes turned from Ryloth yet again.

Sar led the Jedi through the canyon to a small underground cave system that remained close to the surface, but very hard to detect or notice.. Their speeders were brought along and stored near the entrance that was heavily guarded by very well hidden Twi’lek scouts. Inside the caves, natural light was brought in by grates that acted as windows to the surface, allowing in light when the sun was high. Torches and illuminating rocks were used to line the rest of the caves, and kept the area bright and welcoming despite the fact that it was a cave.

One Twi’lek helped Lo as the group followed Sar through the tunnels, ultimately coming into a large cavern that seemed to be the central space for all of the Twi’leks living in this clan. Tents provided sleeping areas for many while rooms carved into the side of the cavern supplies spaces for the rest. The middle of the cavern was wide open and flat, while further in the back was another, smaller cavern, seemingly used for gatherings and meetings. Rooms were also carved farther back into the smaller cavern, and it was into these rooms that Dominik and Lo were led.

A Twi’lek female tended to Lo’s injured ankle as they all were seated, discussing the current situation and trying to make sense of both sides views.

Lo tried not to squirm as the wrap was applied. Her energy began to flood inside her causing her to become restless. She leaned forward into the stool as her fingers dug into and released from the seat’s edge. Her other leg bounced on the foot while she watched the process closely.

“Our villages are being emptied because of slavers, our holds invaded by pirates and raiders. Yet no one has come to help us, Master Jedi.” Sar explained, a few other warriors sitting around him in the circle.

“The information that the Jedi Council received did not explain your situation fully. We did not know entire villages were being emptied, and we have no evidence as to who’s behind it. Have you seen any of these raids? The slavers taking your people, do you know what they look like?”

“No,” Sar began, clearly frustrated at his lack of an answer. “Only one of us here has ever walked away from an attack,” he continued, gesturing to the blue-skinned male beside him. “Farsa.”

The man nodded to the Jedi as his name was spoken, his body language speaking a lot to the Master Jedi.

“Farsa,” Dominik began, nodding in respect to the man, “Do you remember anything from the attack? What weapons they used, their armor? What language were they speaking? Anything.”

“I remember their armor,” the Twi’lek began, his voice quiet and raspy, “It was brown… leather I think. With gold inlaid into it. Their helmets were oddly shaped too, but I never saw their faces. It was dark when they attacked.”

“These villages,” Dominik began, looking to Sar, “Can you take us to more of them?”

The Twi’lek man nodded, his gaze then moving to the men besides him who stood and egan filing out of the carved room. “Tomorrow we’ll bring you.” He explained, standing from his perch upon the small rock ledge many of them had shared as a seat. “But for now you and your Padawan should rest. If you are hungry, we don’t have much to eat or drink, but it is our tradition to share what we do have with our guests.”


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Chapter 3
Ambush



Week 4, Day 2, Midday


In nearly a weeks time, Dominik and Sar and many of his men had located six more empty villages. They had also made contact with two leaders from other clans. One was a good friend of Sar’s, Cayne Freetaa; the other was a man named Lera Kairn who seemed much more wary than the rest in working with the Jedi.

Two days after their encounter with the Gutkurr, Dominik had allowed Lo to accompany him back out on scouting missions. Her ankle had healed well with help from the Twi’leks, whom Dominik was starting to make great headway with, relations wise. He and Sar started to see eye to eye on many things after both of their views were cleared up and a mutual goal was agreed upon. Dominik wasn’t sure how long it would take, but he promised he and Lo would stay with them, doing all that they could to urge the Republic and the Jedi to send aid to Ryloth.

He managed to make contact with the Council, confirming the Twi’leks would get one to two shipments a month of supplies in support of their cause. It was all the Jedi could spare for now.

The Mirage had been moved closer to their place of operation, but had been kept shut down and out of sight to avoid attention from anything on the ground.

A very crude satellite receiver had been constructed out of junk from different villages, allowing Dominik to relay communications back to the village should he and Lo need to make contact with their wrist links.

Many of the warriors from the now three united clans were gathered in Dusa to discuss a new plan, one that would allow them to find out just who was behind the disappearances of the Twi’lek villages.

Dominik sat before the large crowd, all seated on the stone floor. Sar and Cayne sat next to him, and Dominik had Lo seated at the very front with the crowd, so that she was facing them.

“We’re taking twenty men to Gandra tonight,” Sar began, looking over the gathering as he spoke loud and confidently, “We’ve received intel from their leader about rumors that there will be an attack. We will lay in wait so we can surprise those slavers when they arrive to take our people. If we can find out who is behind this, we can better prepare to oppose them in the future.”

“Surprise is our key,” Dominik then began, “We will lay in wait and surprise them when they show. This is a simple ambush, we will take as many prisoners as we can, killing them will only breed more hate. We leave at dusk. I will take my Padawan and scout ahead so that when the rest of you arrive, we can quickly take position. By the end of the night, we will have an answer as to who’s threatening your people.”

At the end of Dominik’s speech, the group of warriors started to slowly disperse and prepare themselves for the fight to come.

Lo continued to sit for several moments longer, waiting until most of the Twi’Lek had departed. She gradually rose to her feet and walked toward her master. Her fur laid flat upon her skin indicating her calmness. When her nose twitch, she scratched it and spoke.

“Is it bad I’m nervous about tonight?” She asked quietly, her hands folded into her sleeves. Though she attempted to look indifferent and ooze tranquility, Lo suspected she failed on that part. Especially when her feet kept shifting in place.

Looking to Sar and Cayne, Dominik nodded, indicating his leave before he stood and moved to Lo. A hand rested on her shoulder as he pulled her close, urging her to walk with him as they started towards the tunnels. “You aren’t the only one Lo. There’s a lot that could happen. All I need you to do, is your best. Alright?” he asked as they started into the tunnels. Twi’lek men stood guard with blasters here and there, but all of them smiled as the Jedi passed, their faith in the two unwavering, their relations having grown strongly in the past week.

“I’ll try. I just hope it’s enough.” The padawan replied as she walked with her master. Her eyes watched the smiles and couldn’t help but return it, happy they were helping the natives.

“I’m not the best in an intense situation or combat. I wish I was, but my friend Mideo kicked my butt so many times. She was amazing at it. Of course, she had to keep herself from getting sick during swoop bike races.” Lo chuckled at the memory.

“When you’re in the heat of the moment, I think you’ll be surprised at how little ‘try’ there is, and how much ‘do’ you can accomplish.” Dominik replied. A sigh escaped the older Jedi’s lips as they walked. Finally they came upon the exit, their speeder bikes just to the left, ready to leave. “I know you haven’t had much real world training, Lo. But you would not be here if the Council did not deem you ready, you understand that, right?”

“I want to say yes, confidently. Somehow, I think you can feel my doubt over it even if I try to hide it.” She smiled weakly, being truthful about her answer.

“Even if you have doubts, showing courage in the face of uncertainty is the best thing a Jedi could do. I can help with doubts, uncertainties, questions… but I cannot force you to have courage. You have to do that all on your own. This is our mission Lo, we have to do this ourselves. As allies, we have the Twi’leks to help us, but as Jedi, as those who are connected to the Force, we’re on our own here, we only have each other. I’ll do my best for you, and all I ask in return is that you do your best as well.”

“I always do even in my gloomiest mood. Drove my fellow younglings crazy.” She let her smile strength a bit, her eyes looked at Dominik and lingered there. Her chest inhaled as she tried to push away the worry. Courage was like an elusive creature that refused to stick around.

“I don’t understand how anyone can keep it up or even do it.”

"It's natural, Lo. I'm sure you'll be surprised at the courage you have when it comes time for it to show." Dominik lead them towards the speeder bike, the man quickly mounting his as he looked back at Lo.

"Now come, we don't want to put the operation behind schedule. We're going to scout out the village and ensure we have a strategic place to wait for nightfall. Stick close behind me." He said, smiling to his Padawan before the engine on the bike started to rev up, before Dom took off towards the village, aiming to stick to the bottom of the canyon until they arrived.

“Right.” Lo replied.

She strode to hers pausing long enough to notice the dent from the Gutkurr attack last week. Her hand brushed over the damage before she glanced at her ankle, clearly healed now. A smile tried to hide her bitterness as she lifted her leg and mounted her speeder bike. Her finger flipped the switch causing the engine to roar. She revved it once then twice, savoring the vibrations of power rippling through her.

As Dom took off, she hit the gas and followed suit. Her bike slipped into his wake following the naturally carved path for them.

Week 4, Day 2, Nightfall


Set up on the cliff’s edge overlooking Naluamoor, Dominik instructed Lo to keep her head down as they both crouched next to an old, eroded wall of a house that once stood. If the slavers were to raid tonight, he expected them to come from the eastern or western canyon path. From the south was a cliff that held no pathway down to the village, and their position sat to the north, on the cliff’s edge near a slope that lead down into the village. They had the upper hand, the high ground, the best strategic position they could hold while they waited for the raiders.

“Once the enemy makes their assault, our job is only to protect the Twi’leks in the village, alright? I want you by my side at all times. Follow my lead and trust in the Force.”

Lo fought not to flinch or twitch, her eyes peeled for any signs of life. Her ear twitched causing her to look to the side and listen to her master’s words. She bit her lip then nodded her understanding. Already her anxiety tried to overwhelm her, but she pushed it to the side in favor of focus.

Dominik could sense his Padawan’s anxiety, but he also felt her attempt to control it. It was good to feel the young Bothan trying to reign in control over her emotions. Night was falling and the Twi’leks were finding their positions. Everyone in the village below was advised to stay indoors and vacate the houses that were farther away from the defensive position.

Sar moved from one eroded building to the next, using larger boulders as cover when there were gaps in his movement. "Master Jedi," he began as he loved closer to Dominik and Lo, finally stopping and kneeling down next to them a few moments later, "Our scouts haven't reported any suspicious movement. Maybe they aren't coming tonight."

"It's still early," Dominim interrupted, his old eyes scanning the horizon as the last light of the day started to disappear. "Tell your men to hold their positions and watch the horizon. We have to be patient."

Sar nodded to Dominik, shooting a quick, reassuring smile to Lo before moving back towards his position. Dominik turned to his Padawan, watching her movements, feeling what she felt. He wished they had more time to train, to prepare, to be the Master to his Padawan. Lo had waited patiently for months while his Jedi duties kept him elsewhere. Now he was finally able to be with her and he had thrown her into neutral space.

She deserved to be trained just like all other Padawans. He could sense her want to please, to do her best; but behind those feelings were senses of self-doubt, hesitation, and worry. Her training was his priority, but first he had to ensure they had a hold of this conflict before anything escalated, otherwise they wouldn't make it long enough to do any training at all.

From far behind them in the darkened treeline, about one hundred feet behind them, yelling and gunshots suddenly erupted. The yelling was in Twi’leki, the Twi’leks native language. Blaster bolts started to light up the treeline as Sar turned his men’s attention to the disruption behind them. Dominik stood from his position, two hands going out and pulling a large chunk of wall from farther to their side and to their front to provide cover.

“What are your scouts reporting?” Dominik yelled to Sar, to which the Twi’lek man glanced over from his position as his men prepared for what could be coming. “Nothing! We’ve received nothing back!”

Standing behind the wall, Dominik drew his lightsaber, it’s vibrant green blade lighting up the night around them. Blaster bolts started firing in their direction, hinting that the Twi’leks who were in the treeline must’ve been overrun.

“Lo, fall back into the village. Some of the warriors will follow you, make sure the Twi’leks in the village are safe and hidden.” Dominik instructed, moving from his spot behind the newly acquired wall and starting to deflect laser bolts back away from their Twi’lek allies. Nothing emerged yet from the trees, though the amount of blaster fire coming from the treeline indicated the enemies were many in numbers.

Lo wanted to stay despite her master’s orders. She tightened her jaw as she struggled with the emotions churning in her. With a heavy heart and strong will, she turned on heel and bolted for the village. Her feet rushed down the slope that led to the village while she left Dominik behind.The speed nearly skittered across the land, her body swaying to adjust her balance and stay upright on the way down.
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Seeing Lo hurry back down into the village followed by many Twi’lek warriors, Dominik turned his focus to the firefight. The darkness shrouded most of what he would’ve been able to see, but the Master Jedi could tell their enemy was emerging from the trees. Time seemed to slow suddenly as his ears picked up the faint whirring of a machine warming up, the sound coming from further within the treeline. There was a loud boom before Dominik noticed a large projectile shooting up in the air, illuminated by the glowing moonlight from Ryloth’s moons. Two more loud booms and two more projectiles followed in its wake. Dominik’s eyes followed the first, reading its arc, watching as it started dropping, falling through the air, directly at them. “Everybody over the edge, now!” He hollered. The man reached out, taking many of the Twi’leks in his grasp through the Force and helping them safely over the edge. Then he reached out towards the wall he had moved earlier. Dominik put his saber at his waist, using both hands and slowly lifting up the piece of rock into the air. He then thrusted it up, towards the projectile before he started to dive over the edge as well.

The wall made contact with the projectile, prematurely setting it off above the surface. There was an explosion of gas and fire as the Master made it over the edge. The gas started to sink, flowing over the cliff’s edge and starting to fill the area of the village. The other two projectiles made their mark, one hitting the center of the village and delivering more gas into the village. The other hit the far cliffs edge, covering even more area with gas as it started to sink and spread across the ground.

Lo’s feet dug in as she slid into a halt. Her eyes widened and watched the projectile land into the center of the village, the impact hurting her ears and causing her to jump. As the thick greenish gas began to spread throughout the buildings. Twi’leks, in their panic, began to bolt from their hiding place to escape. Seeing the fear, Lo didn’t know what to do. Her mind tried to scramble for a solution.

A few of the younger ones crumbled into the ground, passed out from the effect.

“Master!” Lo shouted as she tried to help whoever she could.

Dominik, recovering from the concussion of sound at the explosion of the first projectile, quickly took to searching for his Padawan as the gas began to spread through the area. As he ran out into the more open plaza of the village, speeders started darting through the gas and blaster fire started going every which way. The Master Jedi drew his saber, deflecting the bolts that came too close to him, all the while covering his mouth and nose with his free arm.

“Lo! Sar!” Dominik yelled, his eyes squinting as he tried to see through that gas that fogged the area.

Lo’s eyes darted about, her breath shallow and fast. She watched as gas began to surround her when tried to find her master in the chaos. Unable to escape, she leaned down to check on the fallen victims. She feared they had died from something lethal. Her fingers pressed into their throat and noticed the faint pulse. Relief replaced her worry as she went to the next one. She inhaled catching the bitter scent before a heady sensation began to swell in her focus. As the effects started to take hold, her figure lowered and Lo quickly realize what was happening.

“DON’T BREATHE IT IN!” Lo shouted before her world went black.

A tall, dark figure towered over Lo as the young Padawan collapsed. Through the sealed mask he wore no one would see his face, just as it was with the rest of the enemy that was attacking. He kneeled down, taking Lo’s cheek in his clawed hand, turning her head slightly before his eyes spotted the lightsaber on her hip.

“A Jedi Padawan? Now where is your Master little one?” Came a deep, melodious voice. His words almost purred as he spoke, observing the Padawan closely.

The slaver was thrown back suddenly, a strong push from the Force pinning him against a wall that was just a few feet from the fallen Lo. The man collapsed immediately as the hold on him was released. Dominik ran up to his Padawan, looking her over for a moment, one arm covering his nose and mouth while the other moved to scoop her up to carry her. From within the thick gas came a long, electrified whip that shot out and wrapped itself around Dominik’s arm that was trying to scoop up Lo. The man gritted his teeth as electricity was forced into his body. Another whip emerged from the fog, taking his other arm in its hold, forcing that arm away from his face, making him breath in the gas.

“It’s nice of you to join us, Jedi.”

From the gas emerged a masked Zygerrian, Dominik noticing the facial and structural features of the creatures head. The Zygerrian people were easily identifiable by their feline appearance, but many in the galaxy knew the race as the founders of the Zygerrian slave empire. For thousands of years their people thrived by providing slave labor to the galaxy. And now, they were targeting the Twi’leks for their next wave of slave labor.

More Zygerrians emerged from the gas, one holding each of the whips that kept his wrist in place, and many others with their blasters aimed at Dominik. The Jedi Master and the Zygerrian man glared at each other in a contest, but Dom soon started to fall victim to the gas that filled his lungs. The man's eyes moved to his motionless Padawan before darkness took him as well. He fell forward onto the dirt, his eyes closing and mind falling victim to a dark void.
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Chapter 4
All Alone



Week 4, Day 3, Dawn


Lo stirred. Her figure pushed upright as she fought against a faint headache. The pain threatened to burst out the back of her skull, mental note to treat it using payne root. With the passing moments, the haze began to clear enough for her to recall the attack. Her hand jerked for her lightsaber only to find it gone. She looked at her waist and confirmed it, realizing it had to been taken so she didn’t cut her way out. A long annoyed sigh escaped her muzzle. She head panned the detention cell.

Barely furnished at all, she noted the cell only housed a bed and open water closet. The basic needs for indefinite stays as long as the meals were provided. Lo rubbed her chin side when her skin crawled and tingled a little. She inhaled again and began to rise from the bed, aiming to explore the cell more thoroughly.

Zygerrian slave keeper, Silus Linaki, stood in front of Dominik as the man was being suspended, held in a containment field along one wall of the main control room. There were windows across from Dominik, but all he could see was the horizon of the land, which only meant they must have been very high up. His thoughts were interrupted when another stream of electricity was forced through his body; his wrists held by metal cuffs that generated electricity, along with the blue energy field that seemed to flow around him like ribbon.

“Eyes on me, Master Jedi.” Silus said, a remote control in his hand letting the slaver activate the containment unit from afar. Silus walked over towards Dominik from a wall of screens and holovids, security cameras feeding a constant eye to the men in the room. “Why did the Republic send you here?” he demanded an answer, to which Dominik took his time to give. Silus activated the field a moment later in annoyance at Dominik's lack of response. The Jedi took deep breaths, attempting to reign in control over the shock the electric currents brough him.

“The Republic didn’t send us, the Council did.” He replied bluntly.

The Zygerrian keeper frowned in annoyance, “But why did they send you here?” Silus restated, to which Dominik raised his head to meet the Zygerrians as he stood directly in his front. “Because the Council does as they please.”

Silus face started to contort in anger at Dominik’s avoidance in answering his questions with something more than a blanket answer. One finger moved on the remote and Dominik was met with another vicious current of electricity, causing the man to hiss in pain.

“If you won’t talk, maybe your little Padawan will. Bring the other one here!” Silus demanded, turning to two guards in the room who quickly turns and left to retrieve what he wanted.

Back towards the containment cells, Zygerrian guards kept watch over all of the prisoners, many of them taking turns pacing up and down the hallways to ensure none were misbehaving.

“Keeper Silus is not very pleased.” One of the men said, glancing at the cells as he walked by them, another Zygerrian male at his side.

“Why? Because the Jedi are here?” the other asked.

“Not just that, but they disrupted the ambush last night, a lot of the men were injured.”

Lo’s ears pressed to the cell door when she heard muffled voices speak. Her hands braced herself against the metal and rapidly considered an idea. A half-planned, dangerous one, but worth a try.

She stepped back then loudly spoke to the slot in the door. “What type of injuries? How severe? Did you check for internal ones too? How many were hurt exactly? Did you use payne root in tea or create a balm from some of the local plants? Are their pupils large or can they follow a light pretty well?”

The two men stopped suddenly as the barrage of questions came from the Jedi’s cell. Both looked at each other, slightly confused, before turning to face the door as the questions just kept coming.

“And what do you know about any of that, Jedi?” one of them asked, walking closer to the door, his arms crossed.

Lo caught his steps getting closer. She leaned back and kept her head tilted upward, straining her neck to ensure her voice could be heard. Her voice took on a false strength to it as she spoke.

“I was raised in a temple that specializes in healing. If you don’t believe me, I can heal a small wound to prove it.”

The two Zygerrians looked at each other, both obviously asking the same question to themselves even if they didn't speak. Their comrades were hurt, and quick and easy aid wasn't an option on Ryloth.

"Fine," one of them said, his hands moving to the door, his blaster held at the ready, "but no funny business Jedi."

“I don’t have my lightsaber to block your blasters if you decide to shoot me…” Lo stated the obvious.

"You still have that freaky magic you call 'the Force'." The other said, mockingly.

“... Do you want me to heal your friends or not?” The Bothan puffed a bit, her arms crossed over her chest.

He held his blaster at the ready as his comrade opened the door, one of his clawed hands grabbing Lo's shoulder before they started to lead her down the hallway. The second Zygerrian made sure his blaster was trained directly on Lo as they led her through the hallways.

It took only a few minutes, but the two Zygerrians turned down another hallway and into a large room. It had rounded ceilings, the arch minimal as support beams led from the floor to the center of the room. There were large bay windows along one side that allowed the occupants to gaze out at Ryloth's horizon. It was midday, as the sun was centered and high over Ryloth.

Many beds lay in rows around the room, a good majority of them empty, but the rest filled with Zygerrians whose injuries ranged from simple cuts and bruises to broken bones and worse. It was obvious the Twi'lek people were putting up a fight, and not just in the fight Sar and Dom had tried to lead.

Lo paused when she entered the room, her connection with her master stirring her worry. Her head looked back toward the door as if to guess the cause.

"This way, girl." One of the men growled.

Lo jumped and nodded, understanding his orders. She was led over to beds near the back of the room, a few Zygerrian men and women hovering over the patient's that lay on them. Most had their wounds wrapped, on their arms, legs or head. One of the men struggled against the novice Zygerrian healers who were trying to wrap his broken arm. Lo’s lips puckered in disapproval as she rolled up her rode sleeves and stepped closer.

“You’re going to set it wrong then you will have to rebreak it and let mend again. Let me show you.” Her hand rose up and gently held the patient’s wounded arm in the air. As she did, her attention looked at the mangled mess of bandages and sighed. She gently lowered the limb onto the bed then handed the most tangled parts to the novices.

“Focus on untangling those and laying them out straight. I need the splints ready and try to find some payne root for the pain. It needs to be ground up and boiled into a tea, then he needs to drink. It will be bitter, but it helps.”

Her attention looked to the uncooperative patient next with a toothy, friendly grin. “Now, try to stay still. I don’t want to have to make you.”

The injured Zygerrian scowled at Lo, the idea of a Jedi healing him making the man hesitate at listening. The novices however were reluctantly following Lo's instructions. The injured man, seeing his comrades listen, said nothing to Lo but remained still to allow her to do what was needed.

“Thank you.” Lo’s expression softened from her meek attempt to be firm.

Lo's attention shifted briefly onto the wounded. She instructed and directed with a softer tone than before. Her eyes darted around the room in search for medical supplies or bandages. every time a novice began to help, she insisted she retrieve them herself or occupied them.

Despite her attention being scattered, she collected information over the room's layout. Only one exit and it through the two guards. With only one door, her options to escape were limited.

In the quiet peace that was Lo tending to the man, through the entrance came two more guards.

"There she is, the little runt." One of them growled while the other followed.

"How did she get here?" The second asked, looking to the two Zygerrians who had escorted Lo before.

"She said she could help us heal our wounded. Plus she's just a little Jedi, she can't do no harm!" One of them said in an attempt to justify their actions.

Lo's ears caught the argument starting causing her to glance in their direction. She had been wrapping a leg as she sensed the others attention drawn to the tension's source. Finishing half-way, she began to slink to the door in the disguise of obtaining more herbs. Already the fight began to escalate leaving the exit wide open. Lo inhaled then rushed for it.

One of the guards spotted her movements and raised his blaster, firing off a shot. It breezed by her as it landed into the table. The supplies toppled to the ground as everyone scrambled into action.

Lo just kept running. Her breath heavy and paced while she searched for another corridor to slip into. As she drew close to the next path, her senses caught incoming danger. With a burst of adrenaline, she ducked down the corridor narrowly missing three shots. She yelped in surprise as she kept going. Her peripheral caught them on her heels causing her to turn into another hallway.

A dead end caused her to abruptly skitter to a stop. She bit her lip then searched for a vent or another way out. Just several feet above her head, she spotted several horizontal pipes. An idea appeared in her head. She jumped from one wall to the other as her arm reached out, snagging the pipe above. With a little effort, she managed to cling onto the roof and held her breath.

"Are you sure she went this way?" One Zygerrian yelled as the group rounded the corner. They all stopped at seeing nothing at the end of the corridor.

"I know I saw the little brat go this way."

"Well she's definitely not there, you dimwitted fool."

After some more cursing, the group turned around and split off as they continued to look for the young Bothan.

Lo stayed up in her hiding spot as she watched them move underneath her. They couldn’t tell where she went and it gave her courage to shimmy across the pipes. When she neared the end, she gently lowered herself and dropped to the ground. Her landing failed to be silent. Her breath held in her chest while she flipped her head from direction to another, fearful that someone might’ve heard. Not sparing much time to find out, Lo rushed down the hallway she came from. The path looked familiar while she collected her bearings.

After several minutes of following the Force, Lo managed to finally find the command room. Her figure hunched low while she pressed tightly to the wall. Her ears flicked at the sounds of voices coming from one door way.

"You Jedi think you can just interfere in the natural order of things. The Zygerrian slave empire is thriving no thanks to you or the Republic. We prosper, our customers prosper, yet the Jedi think they're going to come in and wipe that all away!"

Silus paced around the room as he spoke to Dominik, his hand holding the remote, fingers brushing along its surface as he contemplated making the Jedi suffer again.

"Slavery is cruel and disgusting. No lifeform should have command over the will of another." Dominik said, his head hanging in exhaustion from where he hung, suspended in the containment field. The man's eyes were closed, but he was not quitting. His thoughts raced as to what he could go from his position. And he tried to keep the man's attention, his complete attention, for he sensed a sneaky little Bothan not far from him, and he wanted to give the man no reason to take his attention away.

"Yet you Jedi peruse around the galaxy preaching peace and justice. And here you are trying to disrupt the way of life that Zygerria has lived under for thousands of years!" Silus retorted, his fingers pressing multiple buttons in a row as the field Dominik was held by began to activate.

The Master Jedi grit his teeth and tried to keep from yelling out as the voltage invaded his body.

Lo whimpered a bit too loudly when she saw Master Rothul suffer. Her hand jerked up and popped over her mouth, silencing her. She jerked back around the door to stay out of sight. Her eyes looked upward then to the sides, trying to find a way to hide.

Upon hearing the whimper, Silus suddenly turned, pulling a holdout blaster from his waist, and started firing at the direction of the doorway.

“You two!” He growled, looking to two guards that stood besides the containment field, “go grab that little runt!”

The Zygerrians didn’t hesitate, both pulling their blasters from their waist as they started towards the door.

Dominik couldn’t help the slight pang of panic that he felt in his chest, he looked towards the door way as the guards ran past it.

“Run Lo! Get away from here!”

Lo rushed for the corner, Dominik’s voice echoed in her head and drove her on. She gritted her teeth while she pushed her body harder. One blast slammed into the wall behind her as the next one clipped her shoulder. Lo screamed in pain, but managed to keep upright. Her left side smacked into the wall and righted her once more. Again she raced for the detention cell in hopes to find another place to hide.

After weaving the halls, she looked back and spotted no one. Her feet once more pushed against the ground and brought her to a full stop. Breathing heavily, her head twisted about to seek out a new escape. Her eyes landed on a grate cover on a vent. With the force she extended her hand and focused. The frame rattled then finally ripped off from its fixings. Despite exhaustion filling the void of her energy, Lo began to crawl into the vent and disappeared just when two guards rushed in.

“We’ll see how well you’ve trained your Padawan, Master Jedi.” Silus said looking back to Dominik who’s face attempted to reflect no emotion towards the situation, though anger was clearly present.

“We will deal with you and your little Padawan accordingly. Perhaps our Sith allies would like to know that there are Jedi helping the Twi’leks on Ryloth, hmm?” The Keeper said, turning back to one of the consoles and grabbing a handheld holocommunicator.

Dominik couldn’t hear what Silus was saying as the Zygerrian walked towards the opposite end of the room. The Jedi could see a figure in the holo communicator, but couldn’t make out who it was from his containment field prison.

Turning, Silus started back towards Dominik whilst still holding the communicator in his hand, conversing with the figure on the other end. “Yes Lord Daeden, we are holding him in the control room.” the Zygerrian said as he walked back up to Dominik. Holding the holo communicator up to the Jedi Master, the figure on the other end became a lot more clear. It was the same apprentice he had fought against with Xid, eight years ago on Balmorra.

“Jedi Master Dominik Rothul, what a pleasure it is to finally see you. It’s been so long.” The Sith teased, to which Dominik frowned.

“I wouldn’t call it a pleasure to look at your ugly mug again.” The Master challenged, to which the Sith just scoffed.

The man in the holovid turned where he was, effectively bringing his view back to Silus. “Hold him there, I must discuss with my local council on how we will deal with this treachery from the Jedi. I will send someone to retrieve him in two days time.”

With that, the holovid ended and Silus looked up towards Dominik, smirking before turning and leaving the Master to his thoughts.

Lo crawled deeper into the vents and ducts. Her small size helped her avoid becoming stuck within the cramped confines of her situation. Left… right… left...left… Her mind failed to keep track of her whereabouts as she continued to retrace her steps back to the command room. Every so often she glanced down and spied into the room below. Several Zygerrian scrambled to locate her, but failed each time. She inhaled then kept going.

Abruptly something rattled then gave out from underneath her. Gravity took hold and the young Bothan fell through the loose vent, tumbling into the ground. She shifted to attempt to land on her feet. Her reactions were too slow causing her to land on her ass instead. She scrunched her face as she rubbed her tailbone, feeling the tenderness flare.

“Ooowww.” Lo muttered, cursing the stupid vent above her. She glared at where she fell from, seeing the vent cover swinging open.

“Lo?”

A familiar voice came from the corner of the dimly lit room. Looking around the room, Lo quickly recognized Sar, along with four other Twi’lek warriors.

“Sar? Where’s everyone else?” She asked as she began to pull herself upright.

“They split us up amongst all the detention cells. Everyone from the village plus others they've taken from other villages." Sar explained, moving to the bars that separated Lo from he and the warriors.

"Where is your Master?"

Lo swallowed and began checked her surroundings. The room was bare save for the lower grade isolation cell.

She took a moment to examine it, noticing its larger size and door covered with an energy field instead of completely boxed in. Her upper teeth bit her lower lip.

“Did anyone see the combination, know how many digits, or anything?” She asked the Twi’lek, hoping it would be easy.

All of the Twi'leks shook their heads, including Sar. "We were all out when they brought us here." He explained, watching Lo. His thoughts went to the other Jedi, Dominik. If Lo was here alone then something must've happened to the older one.

Lo went through her options. She noticed some buttons held more wear than others, indicating being pressed often and likely used in the combination. However, without the actual number of digits or pattern made this information less than helpful.

“Sar, can you gain-” Lo tensed, her fur bristled and stood on edge. A dread filled her system without warning causing her to feel sick. Her hand back pressed to her muzzle, barring the sour taste from spewing into the floor and leaving evidence of her presence behind. She swallowed then repeated herself.

“Sar, can you and the other Twi’leks get someone’s attention and get them to come over here? I’m going to force shove them into the force cage to knock them out and take the blaster. From what I can tell, this cage is old enough that a blaster shot in the energy wall or panel might short it out.”

Sar watched the young Jedi for a few moments, worried for a second when Lo looked like she was going to be sick. She seemed to have pushed past it as she asked then to create a distraction. The Twi'lek man nodded before he looked back to his friends. Moments later they all started yelling, shouting names about Zygerrians and calling for the guards.

Lo hid around the cage side. She held her breath and hunched down, trying to make herself as small as possible. Her ears heard the guard’s boots stomp in followed by his muttering. Tentatively peering around the corner, she caught a young Zygerrian scratch his chin as he grumbled. His hand held a blaster at the ready then began to holler at the Twi’leks to shut up.

Lo’s worry and insecurities gnawed at her courage. She swallowed it as she thought about her master, realizing she had to save him.

When the slaver began to turn away, Lo pushed out of her hiding place. Her hand raised and yanked him to the side. The feline alien had enough time to cry out as his body slammed into the energy field, electrifying him into unconsciousness. Not having much time before others showed up, Lo worked fast. She tugged the blaster free then examined it to find the trigger.

“Stand as far back as you can, I’m going to try to blast the energy field. If that doesn’t work, I’m trying the panel.”

After Sar and the others collected against the far wall, Lo pulled the blaster up and aimed at the upper part of the field. Thankfully it was large enough to make it hard to miss. She pulled the trigger causing the bolt to strike at the energy field then deflect into a random direction. The little Bothan flinched when it landed near her foot, escaping damage at the last moment. Lo exhaled and settled her fear before she tried the panel next.

She held the tip nearly on top of it when she fired. Her eyes closed and braced for the impact, pulling the trigger again. The energy field immediately dissipated allowing the Twi’leks freedom. Lo shortly presented Sar with the blaster as she muttered, “It’s not my thing. I prefer my lightsaber.”

Her eyes looked to the fallen Zygerrian then back to Sar, “What do we do with him?”

Sar took the blaster from Lo with a nod in thanks. He looked to the Zygerrian as she asked what they should do.

"We could bring him with us and use him as leverage. Zygerrians are savages but they won't risk the life of one of their own." he explained as one of the warriors picked the man up and threw him over a shoulder.

"I heard some other guards talking about the rest of my people. We should find them first. The more of us there are, the harder it will be for the slavers to fight back." Sar explained, looking to the young Padawan to see what she thought.

Lo nodded, feeling her adrenaline wane. With its absence, her shoulder began to throb and ache again. Her head turned to her shoulder. The blaster left black streak, churring the fabric, fur and skin underneath. She gently began to peel away the damaged area. Fresh pain seared through her attention causing her to to hiss. Tears shamefully found their way into her eyes as she paused long enough to collect herself, wiping them away. A scratch compared to others after all.

“Sound logic. Also, I think we should keep an eye out for weapons and first aid. It will come in handy for the fight we’re about to start.” She decided to leave her wound alone for now until she could properly care for it.

“Do you know where they are being held?” Her voice calmer now.

"There's a larger bay just down the hall from here. Most of them should be there." He explained, to which many of the men behind him nodded in agreement.

“Doesn’t sound too far. Let’s hurry, I doubt your escape will go unnoticed for long and we still need to rescue Master Rothul. He’s being held in the command center. I feel...I think he’s being tortured.” Lo tried to keep the worry and fear from her voice.

"Don't worry Lo… we'll help my people and then hurry to Master Rothul's aid. Zygerrians are ruthless but I know he's stronger than anything they can throw at him." Sar said, trying to comfort the young Padawan before the group started towards the rest of the Twi'lek people.

[Hr]

Rounding the corner to an empty hallway, many of the Zygerrian guards attention had been taken by a small group of warriors that had split up from Sar and Lo. The Twi'lek leader didn't waste any time hurrying up to the control panel and pointing his blaster. He looked away to shield his face as he fired a blaster bolt into its circuits, trying the panel and causing the large energy field to dissipate. Many of the Twi'leks stood up in surprise at the sudden noise, and didn't hesitate to hurry towards the exit of their prison. It was a large group of about forty Twi'leks who had been kept in the bay, many of them men, but there were women and children as well. All stolen from their homes to be put into slavery.

Not one of them ran out the doorway, instead they all stopped and formed a horse shoe around Lo and Sar, many of them speaking in Twi'leki and vowing to help each other escape.

The sight warmed Lo’s heart before she focused on the matter at hand: saving Master Rothul. She inhaled then held up her hands, cutting the conversation short. Her eyes fixed on Sar.

“Sar, we need a few of your men to take the women and children to safety. They need to return to the village, collect whatever they can carry and head to a safe place. We can find them after we save Master Rothul.” She didn’t state the possibility of if they failed. It wouldn’t help morals or reassure them to leave with the warriors.

“Rest of us need to get into that command room.” Lo really wished she had her lightsaber, it would make things easier.

Sar didn't hesitate as Lo began to speak. She took her orders and translated them into Twi'leki so that some of the Twi'leks who only spoke their native language could understand. A few of the warriors immediately volunteered to lead the women and children to safety, while the rest stood confidently at Sar's side, ready for the fight that was to come.

"Lead the way, Lo." Sar said, smiling to the young Jedi.

“Before I do, how much do you know about this place?” Lo asked. She noticed how the men began to move women and children out of a door she never entered at, her curiosity drawn to understand.

"This is the control building of Ryloth's capital city, Lessu," Sar asked as he started down the hallway they had came, "though it seems they've done some construction since they overtook it months ago." He explained as he peeked around a corner, his blaster ready. "They've added a lot of technology we did not want, like the cells." Sar added, looking down at the small Jedi.

“Do you think they might’ve stashed weapons in the original room? We might be able to even the odds a bit.” Lo’s fur perked up showing how pleased she was of herself. It fell short of being smug though.

“Perhaps. The Zygerrians do like their weapons.” He replied shortly, keeping an eye out around the corner in case more came their way.

Lo nodded then looked to the other side, seeing no one approach. “Looks like it is all clear. Let’s head to the weapons stash first then the command room. Now it’s my turn to say ‘Lead the way’.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, she managed to flash a cheeky smile.

Sar smiled back at the little Padawan before taking the lead. Many of the Twi’lek warriors followed closely behind Lo, along with the larger group aside from the women and children. Should any Zygerrians challenge them, the Twi’leks and Lo had numbers, and spirit.

It took just a few minutes before the group arrived at the weapons room. An energy field barred the doorway, but guarding it were just two Zygerrians.

“You must’ve stirred up quite a ruckus. If there are only two of them there, the rest must be guarding the command room.” Sar said quietly, peeking around the corner and watching the Zygerrians closely.

“When you’re ready, we’ll charge them.”

“All right, is there another path we can circle around while a group here distracts them?” Lo asked Sar, figuring it might limit casualties.

Sar nodded to Lo before glancing behind him. Two of the warriors from before didn’t hesitate before stepping out. “Over here, scumbag!” the younger one yelled, while the older one started around the corner. The younger one went the opposite direction at the “T” of the hallway, causing both Zygerrians to split up in order to catch the two that had ran.

“They’ll lead them away this way we can go straight in and save time.” Sar explained, looking down to Lo as the sounds of the chase started to die down. He knew the Zygerrians preferred to catch his people versus shoot to kill; they wanted to make sure they could supply as many Twi’leks for slave labor as possible. Even one less Twi’lek meant less profit.

“Let’s go.” She darted forward to the door, her hand pointed to the panel and Sar fired. Both turned their heads to avoid the flash as the panel hissed and the energy field powered down. Several Twi’lek rushed in to arm themselves.

“All right, next stop is the command center. It’s going to be a lot harder to get in there. Any ideas?” Lo looked to Sar since his people knew the place better than her.

As Lo asked for ideas, one of the Twi’leks from the group yelled to Sar. The Zygerrian from before had started to wake up, and now was in a headlock as the Twi’lek man held him. The Zygerrian was spewing curses at them, Sar knew they had to hurry before someone heard him.

“We’ll go in and offer an exchange.” Sar began, looking back at Lo before he glanced at the Zygerrian before.

“That Zygerrian is the son of the Slave Keeper, Silus. He’s the one who had your Master confined. We can offer a trade. His son, for your Master.” he suggested, glancing down the hallway to make sure no one approached them to investigate the Zygerrian son’s yelling.

“But we have to hurry.” Sar added quickly.

“Right.” Lo led the way to the command room since she could recall most of the way.

As they drew closer to the corner, two blaster shots scorched the wall as Lo jerked back. She smacked into Sar and muttered an apology.

Sar made sure Lo was unharmed as he backed into her, before ushering the young Bothan behind him. The Twi’lek warrior from before brought the struggling young Zygerrian to Sar, who took him in a not so gentle way and put the younger creature into another headlock. While holding a blaster to the Zygerrian’s head, Sar started to step out into the hallway.
“Hold your fire! We have the Keeper’s son out here!” Sar threatened, holding the younger being tightly as he walked into sight. All firing stopped just as quickly as it had started. The Zygerrian slave keeper, Silus, stepped slightly outside the door to confirm for himself what was said. He glared at his boy before that same glare looked to Sar. The man glanced sideways to his guards before backing into the room. “Let them in!” he hollered, to which the guards stood down, lowering their blasters as Sar started to inch towards the doorway.

“Stay behind me, Lo.” the Twi’lek man ordered as he started to inch towards the command room, keeping the young Zygerrian in front of him and held tightly. Many more of the Twi’lek warriors followed behind as Lo followed Sar’s lead.

As Sar, Lo, and a few more Twi’lek warriors filled the doorway, they saw Silus positioned in the center of the room. Silus stood, his body openly facing the small fighting group as they entered. He knew there were many more Twi’leks outside, anxiously waiting to see what was to happen with the exchange, all ready to spring into action should a fight erupt. Both Jedi’s lightsabers could be seen hanging off of the man’s belt, almost as trophies to his catch.

Silus held up the remote to the containment field, pointing it in the direction of the Jedi Master who hung within the field, motionless.

“Easy now… one push of the button and I could kill your Jedi friend right here and now.” Silus warned.

“And I could kill your son with the squeeze of a trigger.” Sar shot back.

Lo’s fur rose in fear, an instinct she hadn’t fully trained out of herself.

Silus smirked at Sar’s threat before his eyes moved to the young Jedi behind him. “You’ve bet your friend’s life and your escape on my son? Expecting me to hand over such a prize for someone who has failed me so many times?”

Silus growled, to which his son tensed at the statement. In the containment field, Dominik’s body hung motionless, eerily silent, as if his body had been pushed to its breaking point. Sar’s eyes moved from Dominik back to Silus, his hold on the Zygerrian son not lessening, and the blaster not moving from the side of his head.

“Don’t be a fool,” Sar yelled, watching Silus and the remote as the Zygerrian adjusted his stance. “Take your son and give us the Jedi, we will leave!” He demanded.

Suddenly, Silus free hand moved to his waist as the Zygerrian took hold of his blaster and raised it, firing a flurry of bolts towards Sar, Lo, and the Twi’leks behind them.

Lo’s force sense tingled causing her hand to raise and her eyes found her lightsaber. It zipped from Silus’ belt as she pushed past Sar, her posture fell into a defensive stance.

An eruption of fighting ensued as the Twi’leks behind Sar all dove sideways, some taking hold of the guard’s blasters and others starting to fight; throwing kicks and punches. From the side of the room, Dominik’s eyes opened slowly, just enough to allow the man a clear view as chaos ensued. They followed his Padawan and she deflected the blaster bolts away and back towards Silus.

When the blue blade hummed to life, Lo took stock of her targets. Silus’ arm and the containment unit. She adjusted her wrist as she batted away three of the four bolts fired at her. One shot to the prison while another shot back at Silus’s arm, grazing the remote on his arm. The last deflected one completely missed anyone. She turned too slow on the last one, he reflexes still green and unrefined. It hit her leg side bring a fresh heat to her pain.

She fell to one knee, crying out from the wound. Charred skin and fur filled her nostrils while she pushed herself upright.

One of the blaster bolts Lo deflected into the containment unit hit its base, shooting a hole through the machinery and frying wires and circuit boards, causing the prison to deactivate. The Jedi Master fell to the floor, but almost immediately, Dominik started to move. Whereas Silus thought Dominik’s motionless response after hours of torture reflected the Jedi’s beaten will, it was the opposite. Dominik had allowed himself to fall into a trance with Crucitorn, thus his body started to reserve its strength for the moment the Master Jedi could find an escape; Dom just hadn’t expected his Padawan to bring him that opportunity.

The Master stood slowly, pushing himself up off the floor with his hands and knees. It didn’t take him long as he stood, the expression on his face reflected the care he felt for his Padawan, and the ire he felt towards the Zygerrian who had threatened them. One hand reached out, as Lo took a blaster bolt to her leg, and pulled his saber from Silus’ belt. After it reached his hand, the man suddenly pushed both hands out.

As Silus raised his blaster, the aim trained on the young Bothan’s head who had been distracted by the bolt she took to her leg, he felt a sudden forceful push. The slave keeper flew across the room hitting the bay windows on the opposite side and crashing through them. By Dominik’s guess, they had been eight stories up, at least. His mind off the being he had just shoved out the window, Dom’s eyes moved to his Padawan and the chaos that continued in the room.

“Sar! Get your people back! We need to escape the city through the rear bridge… the front will be too heavily guarded!” He ordered. Dominik reached out with the Force to one of the consoles, pulling a lever towards him. The lever controlled the two bridges that connected the capital city of Lessu across a canyon and to the other side. Dominik pulled on the lever and then used the Force to bend it out of shape, rendering it unable to be pushed back should the Zygerrians try to deactivate the bridge.

Sar heard Dominik’s orders and did as he was told, dispatching the remaining Zygerrian guards in the room and pushing back to the hallways, yelling orders to his people in their native tongue.

Lo trembled a bit as she tried to remain on her wounded leg. Adrenaline hadn’t numbed the hurt like it did last time. Her eyes looked to her thigh where it centered and saw it went pretty deep. It burned through not just the surface, but the muscle underneath. Her thumb clicked her lightsaber off as she ripped her sleeve off to bind her leg quickly. Left open to the air risked infection setting in.

Dominik hurried over to his Padawan, positioning her on his right side putting one of her arms up and around his neck while his right arm hooked under hers, holding her securely. He was careful of her injured leg as he started to raise her off the ground.

"Hold on tight to me, Lo. We're leaving this place." He said. His lightsaber in his free hand, he quickly followed after Sar and his people as they led the way through the building and fought to get to the lower floors.

"Right." Lo tried not to whimper, any movement jarred her injuries and caused her to flinch. Her head leaned against him while she held tightly. Fear and worry battered at her control, threatening to overwhelm her. She swallowed as she focused on her breathing.

Master Rothul moved with intent, his actions showing no hesitation as he followed the Twi'leks through the structure. Many split into separate groups in order to easily take care of the Zygerrians who tried to stand in their way. Many times Dominik drew his saber and deflected incoming blaster bolts, protecting Sar as he moved alongside the Twi'lek, and making sure Lo was not in harm's way.

It wasn't long before the freed Twi'leks and the Jedi bursted from the ground floor of the structure, surprising many Zygerrians and enslaved Twi'leks who were just outside. Many of the Twi'leks moved to help their enslaved brethren, while others fought off the Zygerrians. Dominik kept Lo held close to his side, his lightsaber twisted this way and that in a show of experience and finesse as the slavers shot blaster bolts back at him. A large group if Zygerrians rushed Dominik, but were quickly knocked down as the Master Jedi held out his hand, Force pushing many of them out of the way.

The Twi-leks quickly made it to the rear bridge which was made up of a flat, bluish energy field that stretched across the canyon. No one hesitated as they charged across, many knowing the bridge's switch had been locked in place in the control tower behind them.

Seeing it would be useless to pursue, many Zygerrians stopped running after the group as soon as the last Twi'lek passed the bridge. By the time the escaped group reached the nearest treeline and disappeared from view, the total count of freed Twi'leks had reached almost ninety. Many others had been helped from cells on the inside, plus those that were performing hard labor at the base of the structure.

Sensing the danger had passed, and seeing many of the Twi'leks had stopped to rest and help each other while they hid amongst the trees, Dominik searched for Sar, his arm still easily supporting Lo. It didn't take long for him to find the Twi'lek man who was tending to a few wounded farther in the treeline. Many Twi'leks had gathered around as he gave orders to each.

"Sar! Are you alright my friend?" The Master asked, walking up to the kneeling Twi'lek who stood as soon as he saw Dominik.

"I am, and you? Your Padawan?" He asked, one hand moving up to rest on Lo's shoulder as he looked at the young Bothan. He was with her both times she was hit with a blaster bolt and frankly was surprised she was still looking awake and alert. "Set her down," Sar began, "Let me take a look at her leg."

When Dominik set her down, Lo adjusted her seat and presented her leg. She slowly began to untie to reveal the wound underneath. Outer edges had been burnt by the blast’s heat and left it sealed, but nasty looking. Her eyes skimmed her shoulder noting it looked better than her leg.

“It could be worse…” Lo chuckled trying to make light of her situation.

Sar smirked at Lo's attempt at lightening the mood. "We'll need to get somewhere more secure than the forest so I have time to look at it." Sar explained as he looked up to Dominik.

"We can't go back to the village. Not after today." Dominik said. Sar didn't respond, but the Twi'lek knew he was right. After the chaos they caused, the death of the Keeper, the Zygerrians would be out for revenge. "There will be Sith here, on Ryloth. In two days time." He said, and suddenly all of the Twi'leks around went silent.

Sar looked up at Dominik, before looking back to Lo. "It was only a matter of time before the Sith got involved."

There was silence amongst everyone before Sar stood again. He held out a hand towards Dominik to which the Master quickly embraced.

"We'll find somewhere new. We'll rebuild. Together, we'll free Ryloth." Sar said, to which Dominik smiled and nodded. "Everyone! Gather what you can, we've got a long journey ahead of us as we free Ryloth from the clutches of those who wish to control it!" Sar yelled, to which many Twi'leks held up their arms and cheered.

"We'll head East," he then said, looking to Master Rothul. "The forests growth thicker, and the land may serve us well in hiding where we settle. Are you ready, Master Jedi?"

Dominik looked down at Lo, thinking, eyes watching his Padawan as his heart searched his past. With a nod towards his Padawan and a smile, he looked to Sar, "We're ready. Lead the way."

“To be honest, I’m ready for anything. But I agree with my master. Lead the way.” Lo agreed, her muzzle smiling despite the anxiety for the future building inside her. She watched Sar walk away as he began to gather and check on his fellow villagers.

Dominik kneeled down in front of Lo, one hand moving to rest on her shoulder as he looked at her. His head bowed for a moment as the words he was searching for didn't come right away. It had been years since he had said anything similar to a Jedi Padawan, it had been years since he had taught a Padawan.

"I'm beyond proud of you, you know." He finally said, pulling his head back up, a soft smile on his face as he looked at Lo. "You showed courage in the face of defeat. When you were all alone you found a way and beat them." He said, moving to gently pick her up, holding her as he had been before, before moving to follow a group of Twi'leks as many started to move.

"And I can't take credit for any of it. All you did back there was because of what you learned on your own."

“I wouldn’t say I did it alone. Sar helped some and so did the other Twi’leks. I just stumbled about and landed on my ass a few times.” Lo shrugged as pride warmed in her heart, showing on her fur.

“I felt dread when you were being tortured. I didn’t know what to do and I felt scared.”

"But you didn't let it control you. You fought it, Lo, and came out on top." Dominik pointed out, glancing to his Padawan as the Twi'leks began to gather. "You didn't let your emotions decide your actions. Sar and I are both alive because you found a way to beat your emotions. You saved everyone here today, Lo."

“I don’t feel like I did. At least not much. I mostly hurt and feel exhausted. Part of me just wants to curl up into a batch of grass and sleep. Is this what it is it going to be like all the time?” Lo asked, her figure settling into Dominik’s arms.

"It'll get better with time. Your body will grow stronger and your mind will think faster. I think it's time I train you, as a Master should; as you deserve." Dominik said, smiling at Lo as he continued to walk. "Once you're healed, we'll get to work."




Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Ellri
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Ellri Lord of Eat / Relic

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Deep space, somewhere along the Corellian Run.
week 4, day 3, late evening.



The visit to the beautifully ruined Jedi had not been at all productive. The information stored in the system had proven worthless. Not even the so-called guards had proven any challenge to bypass. To be honest, Nimm had found the entire trip dreadfully boring. Even if the odds of it being productive had been low from the start, she had at least hoped that something would turn out interesting there. Alas, it had not, so she had to depart without even that meager satisfaction. Even so, she had spent considerable time on that world, working behind the scenes to arrange events to her satisfaction.

The fact that the travel from Coruscant to her next destination had already taken ten days did not make it more fun. It was fortunate that she had only a short distance further to go. As it was, she had diverted from her original destination following the report that some merchants had run into some trouble with their deliveries. Normally, such would never be the business of a Sith like her, but she was bored and the merchandise had particular value to one of her projects. Thus, she had decided to go deal with it herself.

She had a feeling that the Jedi were meddling again. If they were, she would almost certainly get some enjoyment out of it. There was unfinished business with them that needed dealing with. Violently. She smiled to herself at that thought. Any Jedi would be foolish to go this far out from their precious Republic. Such a short jump away from an Imperial sector. So easy for someone to get lost. And if there is no body and no recording to link to it, did it really happen?


A few hours later.


The ship floated down, no longer moving at the velocity it had needed to pass through the atmosphere. Slowly it moved onto the landing pad. Though with similar capabilities, it did not look like an Imperial Fury-class interceptor. There might be a so-called peace treaty with the Republic, but that did not mean they let imperial vessels move around their territory freely without being watched. Preferring not to be observed during her work, Nimm had commissioned multiple vessels that would blend more in whenever she traveled outside imperial space. She had made a short stop at a base in the Denon system to switch from one such vessel to another, just in case someone had actually observed her on Coruscant.

With a dull but loud thunk, the ship came to a stop. Nimm rose from the pilot’s chair, walking to the aft where the landing ramp was located. No doubt the merchants were sending a representative out to meet her. An ugly species these Hutts, but many of them were reliable enough when it came to delivering the ordered merchandise.

She was already on the way down the ramp as it lowered, doing nothing to hide her identity as a Sith. At this point, she wanted them to know exactly what they were dealing with.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Chapter 5
Unsettling Future



Week 4, Day 5, Midday


Two days had passed since the massive breakout in the capital city of Lessu. In that time, the Twi’leks had gathered together and all agreed on rebuilding and combining to be one fighting force against the Zygerrians and others who wished to control them and Ryloth.

Many of their remaining villages were vacated, the remaining villages finding it in their best interest to join the movement to rebuild and fight together. Moving along an inhabitable strip of land in Ryloth’s surface, the new gathering of almost one-hundred Twi’leks found a place to call home. Hidden by thick forest and canyon walls that worked together, they started rebuilding. With help from Dominik and Lo, they would fortify their new home and make both above ground and underground sectors to use as a base of operations as they fought their enemies. Together they named their settlement New’Talik and appointed Sar as the head of their people, then began to rebuild and prepare for the war that was to come.

Above the canyon in the thicket of trees that was to be the village’s main living district, Dominik Rothul was using his connection with the Force to help Sar and many others move a large wall into place. Due to the abundance of trees and the difficulty of transporting rock to the surface, the Twi’leks adapted and started to use the resources of wood around them to construct their homes.

Lo leaned heavily against the walking stick provided for her. Her eyes glanced up and watched her master move the large wall, still amazed by his usage of the force. She tilted her head before sighing. Her eyes glanced around, finding nothing useful for her. Her thigh still stung, but the herbs and bandages helped. She scratched her hair then began to move deeper into the center.

She asked the first Twi’leks she approached about helping, but they waved her off. A depression lingered at the back of her skull until she pushed it away.

Once the wall was upright and proper, Dominik released his hold on it and instead used his hands to hold it up along with a few other Twi'leks as the rest secured it to the ground.

He felt a sensation pull at the back of his mind and knew almost immediately where it was coming from, his Padawan. Turning to glance behind him, Lo wasn't very far away. He knew the last couple of days had been hard for her; healing from her injuries and not being able to do much outside of wandering around.

"I can sense your boredom, little one." Dominik called out, knowing Lo could hear him from where he stood as he helped support the wall.

Lo’s ears perked up causing her head to turn to her master. Her head tilted as she considered what to say, deciding to be honest.

“I’m sorry Master, I’m trying to find something. I’m still looking.” Lo smiled in a sheepish fashion. Her hands gripped the top of the stick and managed to find a balance. She didn’t want him to worry about her.

Looking back at the wall, Dominik began to ponder a few things. His hands on the wall shifted, allowing him better posture as his head turned to look at Lo. "Give use a few more minutes, then I've got somewhere I want to bring you." He said, smiling to Lo for a few moments.

Lo frowned with confusion. Her fur rippled, then settled as she nodded her head. She looked for a nearby bench. With a bit of effort, she sat down and waited. Her stick remained in her hands while she watched him finish his work up. As Dominik began to walk toward her, Lo smiled.

“Are you sure they still don’t need you?” Her curiosity filled her voice.

"Lo, you are my Padawan. You come first, always." He said, smiling to the young Bothan before him. "Now come, there's somewhere I want to bring you. Your training starts today." He said, turning and taking a few steps before watching Lo. He would let her walk on her own, he didn't want to baby her, but he'd also wait and walk at a pace that allowed her healing body to keep up. "Follow me."

Lo's smile widened into a grin. She rose up and gently plopped along as she took her time, careful not to damage any healing. Her ears caught the background noise of the creatures while they walked. She occasionally spotted movement, but noticed there was no danger.

Dominik knew there would soon be a time where he wouldn't be able to take these moments with Lo. To simply walk somewhere so they could sit and train, or talk. There were Sith already on Ryloth, for they had came in response to Silus message two days ago. The Master Jedi knew Lo and the Twi'leks were safe, for now. But the peace would not last long, war was about to come to Ryloth.

The Master Jedi kept his pace slow so that Lo could keep besides him. He led the young Bothan through the thick trees, along an old walking path that he had rediscovered the day before. At the end of it was a small clearing along the cliffs edge. It opened up as the trees created the small grove and kept going until they met the edge of the cliff. Looking over you could see the canyon's bottom far below, but looking up, the horizon was in perfect view. Miles and miles of hills and mesas kept the eyes constantly looking at something new.

He led Lo through the clearing until they were a few feet from the edge before Dominik sat down on the ground.

Lo stood a bit longer. Her figure leaned against the walking stick and absorbed the serenity, commiting the beauty to memory. Her breath inhaled then exhaled before she noticed her master sitting down. She limped over next to him then stretched out her legs, lowering her body into the ground. A stick had been placed beside her within easy reach.

She fought back the questions and observed the scene. Her eyes narrowed for answers before she questioned their purpose here.

“What did you want to show me?”

“This.” Dom said, his eyes closing and lungs taking a deep breath as he took in the peace around them. A deep breath in before Dominik exhaled was all that broke the tranquility of the scene.

“Once your leg is healed, we will begin your training. It will not be easy, Lo. Whereas other Padawans may get the time and peace to train alongside their Masters, here it is different. I want you to know why I will push you, why I will challenge you every day.”

His eyes opened finally before he looked over to the Bothan sitting next to him. “The Sith have come to Ryloth, Lo. They’ve come in support of all who wish to see Ryloth’s people enslaved and it’s resources taken. We are safe here, for now, so I want to take this chance while we still have peace to tell you these things. We cannot leave, we cannot flee. It is our duty to help the Twi’leks and restore peace to their home. Do you understand?”

“Yes. I won’t lie and say I feel confident we will fare without difficulty. From my experience with the Zygerrians, I know I have much to learn and improve. I feel underprepared. I don’t want to leave our allies defenseless or to suffer.” Lo’s heart choose the words while her voice gave them life.

Her eyes had returned to the tranquil imagine, feeling a mixture of sorrow and peace. It would never last.

“We are Jedi and it is our responsibility to bring balance to the galaxy. I wanted to become a Jedi so I can help heal and protect those who needed me. I never expected the training to be easy, Master. Making a difference never is.”

A smile found its way onto Master Rothul’s face as he listened to Lo speak. “You’ve grown up quite a lot Lo. You’re not the same little Bothan I once knew on H’ratth. I’m proud of you.”

Dominik slowly stood from his spot but held a hand out ensuring Lo would stay seated. The man took a few more steps away from her before turning to face her directly and sitting back down.

Lo cocked her head. She watched him, full of curiosity and uncertainty.

"It's a simple exercise, but very practical." Dominik began. From around him, rocks started to gather. Small, light pebbles, the kind that were great for throwing. "I want you to stay seated and intersect these pebbles with your lightsaber as if you were deflecting blaster fire." Dom explained and he took a few of the smaller pebbles in his hand.

"Trust the Force, trust what you feel. Prioritize those that would hit you or your allies, leave those that would not… are you ready?"

Lo nodded her understanding then summoned her lightsaber into her hand. She inhaled then exhaled letting her worry fade. “R-right.”

Dominik held one small pebble in his fingers, showing it to Lo before his hand lowered, preparing to throw it. His elbow went back as he tossed it towards his Padawan, making it very easy to see and now throwing it very fast as he wanted to let her warm up to the simple exercise. He saw her hesitate for a split moment, which caused the rock to fall past her saber, missing it, and into her lap.

“That’s alright,” he said before she could get too discouraged, “Try it again. Focus, all this is, is practice. I want you to feel comfortable with this before we move on.” he said, preparing to toss another one before he did so.

Lo inhaled then readied her lightsaber. She gripped it tighter while her eyes settled on the new stone, her upper lip biting the lower. When Dominik tossed it, her tensed and flashed her lightsaber to deflect it. It missed again causing her to grit her teeth together. Despite the failed attempts, she didn’t look ready to stop until she got it.

Dominik could see the determination in Lo’s eyes. He knew this was a little more difficult while sitting, unable to move her feet and body the way she would in battle. Considering her current condition, still healing yet wanting to train he figured this was the best. Just a few more days and they could jump into more rigorous training. Dominik readied another stone before tossing it at her again.

Lo’s anxiety and tension filled her core, her mind distracting her instincts. Her muscles tightened causing her mind to freeze. She swing, but again her reactions delayed and she missed. The pebble darted through her defense then past her. Wasted moments due to her overthinking causing her to sigh.

“I keep… hesitating. I’m not sure how to stop that.” Lo stated, knowing the issue. She just couldn’t figure out the solution.

"You're anticipating it, trying to guess when to meet it with your saber versus trusting your senses and moving naturally. Try again." Dominik said. This time he took four small pebbles and tossed them in quick succession from each other, watching as each flew through the air, watching Lo and gauging her reactions as she prepared herself.

Lo frowned then decided something. Her eyes closed and her force extended. She sensed her fur raise on end while she loosened her grip on her lightsaber. The little Bothan's posture straightened up while she rotated on her waist. Her lightsaber buzzed with her heartbeat. With a quick flourish, she flicked it out. Her force sense twitched at her right, left, front then right again. All four stones dropped onto the ground. Halved by her blocks as they sizzled with heat. The lightsaber turned off indicating she had finished.

Her right eye peered open to see the result. She squeaked with surprise. Her hand picked up the nearest stone and glanced at Dominik with awe.

"There you go." Dominik said, chuckling a little at the look on her face. "Trust yourself and trust in the Force. I knew you could do it. Now, go again." The Jedi said, waiting until Lo was ready for more before he picked up more stones. This time he threw three in quick succession, all in a slightly different projection than the others. He waited for a few seconds before throwing two more, wanting to see if she would still be prepared for the added two.

Lo nodded, then closed her eyes. She struck as her blade went for each twitch, attempting to hit the right spot. The last two missed as the stones went over the cliff. They cracked on the tumble down. Lo frowned then opened her eyes, her body leaned to look over the edge. She watched the two small kicks of dust at the bottom.

“That shouldn’t have happened…” Lo commented in annoyance, her lips curled to one side.

“Good, acknowledge it, but don’t let your mind sit on the mistake. Think about it, let it pass, and work towards correcting it. You must always be prepared to expect the unexpected.” Dominik said, his tone calm and compassionate as he spoke to Lo. He took up five more stones in his hand, tossing them each in quick succession before picking up two more and throwing them a few seconds later, as he had done previously.

Lo rose upright. She faced Dominik once more and nodded, though her expression faltered a bit with her confidence. Her hands wrapped about her lightsaber while she closed her eyes again. Again, her blade went into a fury of fluid movements. All but one stone managed to fall to her flourishes. She flinched at hearing the last rock smack the bottom as she looked to her master. A small row of canine teeth revealed themselves through her lips.

“At least it was just one this time.”

“Indeed, that's an improvement.” He said, smiling to his padawan before he let her prepare yet again for the same exercise. It was basic, yes, but necessary. No need to hurry into her training when they had a time of peace for Lo to learn, and for Dominik to feel out her pace, how quickly she caught on, and her confidence. “Keep your eyes closed, just like you have been, I’m going to throw some more at you. More projectiles means more concentration, never let down your guard.”

Lo inhaled and smiled. "All right."

Her eyes closed as she prepared herself. Her lightsaber ready again and the blue blade illuminated against her brown fur. She listened to the hum vibration within her spirit. Fur relaxed on her surface while she let her senses extend like before. Mentally she noted she had to be faster and more alert this time.

"Ready, Master."

Dominik watched as Lo readied herself after his instruction. One by one Dominik started to toss the pebbles towards her, making sure they weren't all going to have the same projection, throwing in a couple oddballs that Lo could either choose to deflect or let pass as they weren't going to hit her.

He waited a few seconds before throwing another few at her and did this multiple times. He wasn't trying to overwhelm her, but he did want to see how much she could keep up with; it was a good start and something they could easily build upon in her training.

With the last time to think and more stones, Lo’s reaction began to improve. Her hands whipped smoothly about as they clipped one or two in a single motion. The remains began to pile up around her with each success. Eventually she got to the point no stone came out untouched. Even if she didn’t cleave them completely in half, their surface was damaged and scarred by her deflects.

Her movements slowed as soreness edged into her arms. She didn’t want to say anything, instead continuing to force herself to move. Her flourishes became sluggish with her pushing.

Dominik quickly started to notice as his padawan began to tire. “If you’re tired, Lo, you need to say so.” He warned, but continued to toss a couple more stones at her. He would not force his Padawan to keep training should she begin to tire, but he also would not baby her; only Lo truly knew the limits of her body and mind, and it was up to her to speak up should she need to rest.

Lo nodded, through her eyes didn't meet his. She swung her lightsaber a few more times. Only about three found her business end of the blade, severing them into half or chunks onto the ground. The rest eluded her as they fell over the cliff edge. Deep down she knew she had pushed her limit, her thumb pressed her button and deactivated her weapon.

She hooked onto her belt while her hands found her knees. Her teeth bit her bottom lip before she forced herself to look into his eyes.

"I'm sorry Master, but I think I'm pushing my limits." Disappointment in herself poured out of her eyes as she pulled them away.

Dominik was silent for a few moments before a soft smile came to his face. “There is no shame in that, Lo. Realizing when you are at your limit is important, especially in training.” He said, watching his Padawan for a moment before he slowly began to stand. He stepped over to Lo, offering out a hand to help the Bothan up.

“You and I will be training a lot in the coming months. I want to make sure you are ready for whatever comes at us.”

Lo took his offered hand and pulled herself upright, her hand jerked her stick upright. The end firmly pressed into the ground as she shifted her weight and leaned on it. Her eyes turned to take in her master.

"I feel I should be better than what my limit is." Lo explained, her figure started to lead the way back to the village.

"I want to be ready when we encounter the Sith because from what I've been told, they will not hold back. They won't be merciful."

"You can better your limit by training and focus on pushing yourself when it is necessary. You're healing, Lo, you need to let your body fully recover first, then we can focus on pushing ourselves and setting a new limit." Dominik said, watching his young Padawan for a moment. "I will make sure you are as ready as you can be before we face them. I promise."

"I am glad to hear that. I trust you, Master." She continued to walk back to the village, their figures appearing on the edge.

Her eyes flickered to a small group of Twi'lek playing among themselves. They tossed a stuffed bag made from the cured skin of their last meal. It overshot an older child and sailed over to the two Jedi. Sensing the danger, Lo's hand shot up, It stopped it in mid-air.

She turned to Dominik, silently asking permission to join them. It seemed her energy had returned once more.

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Chapter 5
Unsettling Future -cont.



Week 5, Day 6, Morning


Dawn cracked across Ryloth's skies, the night's purple faded away to reddish gold. The light climbed through the crude door. Separated into bars, they stretched across the dirt floor toward Lo. The young Bothan sat cross-legged while she inhaled then exhaled. With each breath, she spread out her energy. Letting it mingle with the outside world as a peaceful mood spread over her.

It didn't last long. Her head cocked when her ears caught the sounds of foot steps bolting toward their hut.

"Master, I believe we will have company shortly."

Just when she finished, a young Twi'lek shifted the dangling planks aside and stepped in. The youngster, Ro'Sara, was Lo's senior by only a year or two. Pale blue skin painted by the dark stripes and tribal markings of her original tribe caused her to stand out. She wore the simple, streamline garb fitting for both modesty and the humid weather. Her eyes shifted from Dom to Lo, her voice breaking the silence within.

"Jedi Rothul and Lo! Sar needs your help. Come quickly."

Lo's eyes opened and concern crossed her expression, showing in her bristled fur. With grace, she shifted to her feet then looked to Dom to note his reaction.

Hearing Lo’s warning, Dominik began to stand from his crude bed as the young Twi’lek burst through the crude doorway. The man adjusted the boots on his feet before looking to Lo, and then back to Ro'Sara. “Lead the lay, Ro'Sara.” he said. He made sure Lo was ready before following after the Twi’lek girl, out their crude hut and towards the place in which many of the farm animals for their small village were kept.

Adjusting the robes on his shoulders, Dominik spotted Sar as the younger Twi’lek rejoined the group. “Sar, what’s wrong?” he asked as he stopped right beside the Twi’lek man.

“The gate wasn’t shut properly on the Rycrit’s pen. They’re all gone. Our hunters have searched nearby but could not find any of them.” Sar explained.

“Lo and I will take a look. Pay attention to your wrist com, if we find them I’ll let you know.” Dominik said, thankful that one of their most recent supply drops had included some older technology they could use to communicate in short distances. “C’mon Lo,” the man said, looking to his Padawan next before turning towards the treeline, “We need to hurry before they wander too far.”

"Agreed. A large herd like that is bound to gain the attention of a few Gutkurrs'." Lo stated as she glanced to the ground. The Rycrit's cloven tracks sank into the dirt, but barely left traces or indicated a direction. She wiggled her muzzle before turning to Dominik with an uncertain look.

"I have no idea how to track them, do you?" She was blunt in her addressing of the problem and lack of skill.

“It’ll be tricky, but I do. Come, I’ll show you.”

Dominik didn’t wait much longer before he led his Padawan towards the treeline, where the faint tracks disappeared amongst the underbrush and foliage. He kneeled down upon reaching the start of the thick brush, seeing as the tracks disappeared but many other clues presented themselves.

“Look here, on the brush.” He explained, his fingers moving to grab a small tuft of fur from the rough foliage. “We can keep a look out for their fur on the brush, it might take us far if we can keep finding it.”

Lo carefully watched him. Her dark eyes narrowed and absorbed into his lesson. When he brought forward the brown fur of the Rycrit, she leaned in to get a good sight of where it came from. Her eyes lifted to look deeper and farther into the indicated direction.

"Are there any other sights we can look for too? Fur can't be the only way to track them, can it?" Her questions once more rapidly fired from her muzzle.

“Come.” Dominik said at her questions, leading her into the brush now, quietly, his old eyes scanning their surroundings for clues. “Broken twigs on the ground, disrupted leaves, bent foliage. Like this, here.” Dominik explained, his hand caressing a small leaf that had been torn as an animal had ran by.

Lo quickly followed in Dominik's wake. Her eyes gradually began to piece together the faint, but clear impression of a path within the foliage. It wove farther from the village as she smiled, finally catching onto the lesson. Her head turned when she sensed her master about to give her additional instruction.

“Use your senses Lo, close your eyes, listen to your surroundings.” He explained, looking down at the young Bothan before his eyes scanned through the trees.

She nodded. Her brown eyes sank behind her eyelids as she inhaled then exhaled. Her force began to reach out into the surroundings and take stock of all living creatures within it. Faint flickers of living creatures, their various shapes outlined in her head, darted throughout the flora. After identifying each one, she got a tug into one direction. Her arm rose to point them into it.

“They went that way. Toward water.”

“Very good.” Dominik said with a quick nod and a smile before his feet started in the direction she had pointed. His form kept low, hidden in the brush in case they were to come upon the unsuspecting herd, or worse. He took the lead in front of his Padawan, following the clues, reaching his senses out and feeling the herd as well. His eyes scanned the forest around them as his senses remained out, feeling the aura of the forest and seeing many of the surrounding creatures.

As Dominik led her, Lo expanded her senses. She mimicked him in his posture and alertness, understanding the importance. Her foot stepped on a twig causing it to loudly snap. Immediately, she froze in place.

Two of the six Rycrit rose their heads, their four nostrils inhaled. The wind blew downwind pulling the jedi's scent away from the beasts. With some hesitation, they lowered their heads and satisfied their thirst.

Just to the right of them, three Gutkurr stalked the herd. Lo immediately caught their energy causing her to whisper to her master.

"I think we need to hurry. The Rycrit won't be safe for long." She didn't know why, but she got an unsettled feeling for them to hurry.

Dominik heard Lo's warning so he closed his eyes and focused. He could feel the energy too, and hear their huffs and large clawed feet on the forest floor. He could feel their passion for their prey, could feel the vibrations of their muscles as they prepared to launch towards their prey.

"Lo, go directly to the herd. I'm going to intercept the Gutkurr." Dominik instructed. He didn't wait for Lo to ask any questions before he started moving towards the small group of Gutkurr to their right.

Lo opened her mouth, but she shut it when she spotted her master take off. She sighed. Her legs tensed and pushed off the ground, her figure pushing into a quicker pace. She remained in stealth as she continued to pull closer. Just a meter or two from the drinking animals, her foot snapped on a twig.

All six Rycrit's heads lifted into her direction. Lo gave a guilty and toothy grin. Exposed to their line of sight, they snorted then began to bolt away.

"Crap..." She cursed then began to rush after them.

Master Rothul heard the herd bolt before he saw them, and then saw his Padawan chasing after them. He brought a finger to his wrist link, activating it and sending a signal to Sar that they needed help.

As the Rycrit bolted, the Gutkurr charged after the running herd. Dominik's feet pushed off the ground in order to keep up with them, the man suddenly seeming a lot younger than he was as his speed matched the large animals. He jumped a few moments later, flying through the air before his feet found the hard shell of the Gutkurr's back.

The creature started banking left and right at the realization that something was on top of it. Dominik drew his lightsaber and activated it, the blade shooting down into the creatures head. Keeping his saber active, Dominik jumped onto the next closest one, shoving the end of his saber down into its head. The creature collapsed immediately and Dominik caught himself on the ground, not a moments hesitation before he chased after the final one.

Lo's eyes narrowed on the Rycrit. She picked up her speed and pushed forward, rushing from the tall grass onto the river's shore. Dust kicked up behind her with each step, driving her closer to the nearest Rycrit. The nostrils shorted in heavy breaths as it raced forward. Her mind shuffled through numerous solutions to get them to stop.

Her attention snapped up to the head Rycrit's open back. She smirked then picked up her speed to get to the nearest one. Her eyes closed and she focused her force within her. With a coiling of her legs, she released then jumped into the air.

Lo's eyes snapped open. Her legs came together when she managed to land on its back. The beast snorted and jerked causing her balance to shift. A small yelp escaped her muzzle as Lo wobbled, catching herself. Her eyes jerked to the lead Rycrit.

She inhaled deeply then leapt again. Flipping herself over, her foot slipped when she landed. Her arm shot out and gripped a fistful of fur. Desperately she hung onto the beast's side while it continued on. Each twitch and sway threatened to knock her off as she fought to keep on.

"Oh no... oh no." Lo uttered while her original grip slipped.

With heavy effort, her other arm came up. It tugged on another fistful of fur, and she scaled up the creature gradually. Reaching the back, she gripped the creature's hunches.

“Why did I think this was a good idea?” She asked herself.

Looking ahead as he ran, Dominik noticed his Padawan moving amongst the herd, balancing on their backs and finding her balance in the chaos that was the raging herd. The remaining Gutkurr charged faster towards the Rycrit as they moved as one, its large eyes spotting even larger prey moving amongst them, Lo. Dominik saw the creature’s desire for food fuel it’s movements as it sped up. Dominik moved fast, pushing hard off the ground and finding very unstable footing on the back of the Gutkurr. It bucked and struggled immediately, it’s desire for food outweighing the alarm at the feeling of something on its back.

Lo felt the Rycrit’s movements jar through her own body. She winched with each bump they trampled through as they continued to stampede. Her eyes widened when she glanced to the right. Large biped, segmented Gutkurr bared down on the herd’s side. Gritting her teeth, the young Bothan scooted higher on the hunches and gripped the ears of her stead. She jerked the head to the side. A small resistance before the Rycrit she rode turned. With its guidance, the rest started to follow as they pulled away from the predators.

Seeing the Rycrit herd change direction thanks to Lo's quick thinking, Dominik's focus moved back to the Gutkurr. Two more had come up from within the treeline to one side, making three again.

Suddenly he jumped from the one he was one, propelling himself forward and landing just before the small group of Gutkurr as they charged their prey. The Master Jedi held out one hand, eyes closed as he took the Gutkurr's attention with the Force. The three predators skidded to a stop almost immediately, their focus suddenly taken by the Jedi Master as he stood before them, attempting to buy Lo some time to get the Rycrit herd under control while he held the Gutkurr at bay.

Lo knew the Rycrit wouldn't settle down until they no longer had the scent or sight of the Gutkurr. Her hands gripped the Rycrit's ears as she continued to veer them away. She glanced back to see her master fully ceasing the Gutkurr's attention on their prey. A smirk crossed on her muzzle as her eyes caught the small figures of Sar and his group coming in to intercept the herd.

"How do I stop these things?!?" She shouted.

“Show them you mean no harm!” Sar called back, racing somewhat close to the Rycrit herd with his Blurrg. “Place your hand on its forehead, you have to show the leader it has nothing to fear!”

“Easier said than done!” Lo yelped as the Rycrit bucked.

She lost her seat and began to slip down the side, her hands clinging desperately to the fur. Her eyes widened in panic while she pulled herself back on. Gently her arm stretched out to rest her hand on the creature’s head. He snorted then began to slow down, the gallop trickling down to a walk. Lo laid against the Rycrit’s back as it continued its meandering pace, her jawline pressed into the neck.

“That was an unpleasant ride…”

Coming in riding on the back of a Blurrg, Dominik joined the rest of the group around the herd of Rycrit who had calmed down. A few of the other Twi’leks had dispatched the Gutkurr that Dominik had been dealing with, leaving the Master Jedi to check on his padawan.

A chuckle could be heard as he slid off the back of the Blurrg, walking amongst the Rycrit who had now come to a stop. “Very well done, Lo.” he said, walking up to his Padawan and giving her one, then two pats to her back as she rested on the Rycrit. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you have a way with animals.” He said, half joking as he had seen what she had done to finally stop the herd. “Now, shall we get them back to the village?”

“I seriously doubt that. They refused to listen to me and if not for Sar’s instructions, I would still be hanging on for dear life.” Lo huffed in exhaustion, her eyes rolled into her master’s direction. She let her arms hang down while she felt the beast move underneath her.

“Yes, please. I don’t think I could handle any more excitement today.”

Week 6, Day 4, Midday


“Pace yourself.” Dominik said, his saber lit as he struck falsely towards Lo to his front. After many sparring sessions, the Master Jedi had decided it was time to pull out their sabers, to make it as realistic as possible. A injuring blow and the sparring would stop so that they could discuss with each other, right and wrong.

“Your breathing, your strength, you must control it all; otherwise you’ll tire easily and give the enemy the upperhand.”

“I’m trying to, Master.” Lo stated as her arm fidgeted and rose to block the fake out attack.

She ducked underneath his next swing. She lifted her leg and went to instinctively kick his side. The little Bothan hesitated. Her second guessing caused her to retract it and missed an opportunity, adjusting her stance.

Decades of experience was one of the things that separated the two Jedi as they sparred. A man of hundreds of conflicts and duels versus a young Bothan with a trying past and troubled present. “Do not hesitate, Lo.” Dominik said, noticing as the young Bothan adjusted herself for a kick but backed off at the last moment; he knew it wasn’t just because they were against each other, there was more to it. “If you start something, you must commit to it, no matter where it may take you.” He began, swinging his saber and catching Lo in a parry before he used a light Force push to force the Bothan backwards. He watched her stumble at the sudden push, so went in for a feinted strike towards her form.

Lo widened her legs but her balance suffered. She fell to her side as she raised her blade to protect from a downward strike by Dominik. She flipped back onto her feet and swung at his feet, ducking underneath his next incoming attack. Despite her grace, her mind continued to race. It questioned her actions and choices. With each parry or block, her strength threatened to give. She inhaled then exhaled, trying to purge her mind of the negativity.

Seeing and feeling everything from his Padawan, Dominik stopped immediately. His saber was withdrawn and he stood, taking a few deep breaths as his body pulled out of it’s sparring tension. “You’re hesitating. You cannot hesitate Lo. Your enemy will see that and take advantage of it immediately.”

“It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose.” Lo’s frustration showed in her voice causing her to flinch.

She closed her eyes and inhaled, her own blade deactivated in the same motion. “Thoughts just keep flying into my head whenever I try to do something. I try to shut it off, but…”

Her foot shifted and scraped the dirt. She found the ground with her eyes.

“Remember what I’ve told you. Trust my words, trust yourself, and trust in the Force.” He said, taking another stance before his saber was activated. “Again.” He said.

He gave his Padawan a few moments to prepare herself before the years of experience suddenly began to show from Master Rothul. His feet moved in almost practiced grace and fluidity as he covered the distance between he and Lo in a heartbeat. His saber hit hers, but he didn’t wait unlike before. He moved again, and his saber was caught with another parry. The Jedi struck at Lo with precision only one could gain from the experience Dominik had been a part of his whole life. Despite the Master kicking it up a notch, he made sure to give his Padawan a chance. He purposefully left openings as he struck, seeing if she would notice them, and, in time, use them to her advantage.

Lo's eyes widened in surprise when Dom's attacks came. They struck with unfamiliar aggression and precision. She had little time to think as her body reacted.

Her blade wiped out to block. First right, left, then jump. She flipped over him coming down with a vertical slash. He blocked it causing her arms to push herself away.

A tingling sense warned her of danger. Her eyes shifted to see the green blade swing around for her legs. She stretched out an arm. With the force, she gripped the nearest tree. With some effort, she jerked herself to it. Landing on her feet, she spotted the opening. She spun on her leg as her blue blade went for it. Every ounce of her committed to the attack.

Her master's green blade buzzed while it blocked her. Plasma hissed and sparked when they locked. Lo gritted against the man's strength. Her feet lost grip when he pushed her back. The blade released each other, once more engaged into a whirling battle.

Lo continued to parry, dodge and block. As her master's last swing missed her, a right leg shot out. She aimed a round kick to his shoulder connecting with flesh.

Dominik almost immediately noticed the change in Lo’s attacks and parries when he gave her little time to think. This was as close as he could get her to an actual duel right now. He watched her reflexes, as she handled her saber and her footwork while doing so. He could hide the smirk on his face as he became impressed at how quickly she was learning.

The man felt Lo’s kick to his shoulder; strong and committed. It knocked him off balance as he went down to one knee, catching himself. His saber was withdrawn immediately before the man raised a hand, signalling the end of their duel. “You learn quickly, little one. Now do you see what I mean?” He asked, referring to how her actions changed when she trusted each movement and counter. “You’d do well to remember this.”

Week 7, Day 1, Midday


Lo’s head shifted and took in the ambient noises. Avian creatures rustled in the trees. They chirped their songs, calling to mates or chasing away the silence. Water ran its course through the land at a steady, relentless pace. Its noise calm and inviting. Sunlight peeked through the canopy’s gaps placing a dapple light pattern on her brown fur. A smile cracked on her muzzle while she looked into her basket hung. She lifted the arm it hung from as she shifted through the damp moss and leaves.

“Master, make sure to keep the leaves damp. They are less likely to wilt. If that happens, it would be harder to press and properly dry them later.” Lo commented as she turned to glance at her master.

Hearing words of wisdom from his Padawan, Dominik looked over to her and smiled. "You're the expert." He teased, watching her for a moment before his eyes moved back to the surrounding forest. Now that the caverns were halfway finished, the Twi'lek people were preparing themselves, stockpiling herbs, food, and even water down in the cave system. Everyone knew war was coming to Ryloth, it had already begun. His old eyes moved to the Twi'leks around them who were helping to gather different kinds of herbs. Some for healing, some for cooking or other things. Children and adult alike were all helping to better their now large village and prepare for the worst. It was something that constantly ran through Dominik's mind.

Far from Tython, from the Republic, he was prepared to do anything necessary to protect Lo and make sure she made it to see more worlds than just Tython and Ryloth. It was his duty as her Master, and as a Jedi.

Lo flashed him a wider smile, her lips curled back and exposed the white canines. She checked her basket then spritz some water over the plants with the force. A faint mist wafted over them to keep them fresh and moist.

She couldn't help the pride or oddness that filled her from teaching her master something. Her figure leaned down as she examined a flower. Noting its odd colored markings and buds, she carefully trimmed off a sprout then placed it in her basket. With the proper care and attention, it would regrow roots.

A Twi'lek child rushed toward her. In his fist he clenched a small vine of leaves.

"Lo! Lo! I found some clot vine!" The child squeaked. His foot caught in a tangle of roots as he stumbled, a large thump echoed from his landing.

The pale twi'lek yelled causing Lo to jerk upright. Carefully the navigated her way to the fallen child, seeing the young boy holding his leg. A large bleeding gash ran from mid-calf to the ankle.

"Shh, it's all right. Let me see?" Lo asked as she sat down, her arms raised to gesture for the leg.

The boy, Na'seca, shook his head causing the Padawan to frown and thoughtfully put her finger to her lips. Her attention turned to Dominik as she shouted.

"Master, can you bring some of your herbs and the bandages?" Meanwhile, she looked through her basket of plants for a specific one.

Dominik heard the commotion from his location, not too far from his Padawan. Stepping through the foliage, he rummaged through the bag he held to find what Lo had requested. His fingers found what was needed and pulled out the roll of bandages, as well as a handful of the herbs a moment later.

He held them out for Lo, helping the Padawan with an extra hand for when she was ready.

Lo turned to Dominik then nodded her thanks. She gently took the materials from his hand as she set the plants into her basket creating a bundle. Her hand gestured causing two rocks to float toward her. One large and flat and the other small and rounder. They would create a crude mortar and pestle. Finally, she passed both the rocks and the twisted plant bundle back to Dominik.

"Can you grind the herbs into a paste? One will stop the bleeding, another is for pain, and the final one is to accelerate healing. Please sterilize the surfaces with water." She was calm and confident in her knowledge while she turned back to the boy.

"Na'seca, isn't it? I can't heal it if you don't let me see it. I know it hurts, but I'll be gentle. Promise." Again her hands reached out to gently take the Twi'lek's leg.

The boy inhaled then let her examine the gash. It was thankfully shallow as she turned to her master.

"Are those herbs done?"

Listening to her instruction, Dominik did as he was told. The Jedi master hadn't done much in the way of healing in his time, besides dressing wounds in the battlefield and treating others in a proper medical environment.

He followed Lo's instructions so that when she asked if he was finished, they were ready. He handed the crushed herbs back to the young Bothan carefully, letting her take them and continue treating the Twi'lek boy with relative ease and wisdom. The Master watched her, his eyes moving from his Padawan, to the Twi'lek, and back again. He couldn't help but be proud in that moment.

Lo adjusted a stray bang in her eyesight. She curled her finger around the tip and pulled it behind her ear, the curl caught in place. Dipping a forefinger into the mush, she reached over and spread it across the wound. The boy recoiled then relaxed. Once a generous amount had been applied, she placed the crude mortar and pestle aside. She stretched out the bandages to wrap about the leg tight enough to hold, but loose enough to not hurt.

As the young padawan’s eyes shifted, she noticed the sunlight dying. Night was coming causing her to frown. She leaned into her master’s direction and pointed to the evidence.

“Sar stated no one should be out past dark. We should collect everyone and start heading back, we can determine what else we need tomorrow. I think Na’seca needs some help.” At those words, she pushed herself upright.

In a smooth movement, she slipped the Twi’lek’s arms onto her shoulder and scooped up his legs. Carrying the boy on her back, she handed off her basket to Dominik.

“I hope you don’t mind carrying that.”

“Not at all.” Dominik chuckled, taking the basket from Lo and watching her lead the way back to the village. He almost felt like he was the student, and she was the master for a moment; the way she held herself when assessing and caring for a wound was something Dominik had noticed and almost seemed natural to her. Lo was a very knowledgeable Padawan, despite her lack of experience in the field.

A smile on his face and confidence in his heart for his Padawan, the older Jedi followed the young Bothan back as she led the way to the village.

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Chapter 6
Sacrifices




6 ATC, 8
Week 5, Day 4, Midday


To Dominik Rothul, two months on Ryloth seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, yet he could remember almost every single moment when he looked back. Perhaps it was his young, good-spirited padawan who had made every moment memorable, or perhaps it was the new friendships they had both made with the Twi’lek people, or the experiences of living off the land and fighting off an enemy that always seemed one step ahead.

The Twi’leks had made their own improvements though, despite all of the hardship the relief effort was putting them through. From discovering a large tunnel system underneath the village and refining it, making it into a home to making the largest cavern they could find into a village suited for the people. Large crystals hanging off the cavern walls provided light during the day as they absorbed the energy from the sun which hit the planet’s surface. At night, the crystals would dim and provide enough ambient light for the villagers to continue working and going about their duties. Materials to build their homes and stockpile supplies they needed were provided on a monthly basis with the second supply drop from the Jedi just being received. In these drops were bundles of medical supplies, old tech that could be repurposed, and weapons and ammunition needed to fight against the Zygerrians.

Master Rothul was able to get through to the Jedi council twice since their arrival on Ryloth. He relayed their location and gave a brief update on the situation; winning this conflict would be difficult, but the Twi’leks were hopeful.

With their main base of operations moved underground, the village above the cavern, on the surface, provided a very reassuring decoy to anyone who wished to spy upon their efforts. So far though, hourly scouts and perimeter checks had thwarted many Zygerrian spies who wished to get the upper hand on the relief operation. Despite the efforts they’ve made as a village and the progress that can be seen, Sar’s clan, New’Talik, had received criticism from other clan leaders and their people, stating it would be easier to lay down their arms and accept slavery as a way of life, versus to fight it and die to a cause that they most certainly believed to be useless.

Dominik had made Lo’s training a priority during all of this. He provided help to the Twi’leks when necessary, otherwise the two Jedi were rarely seen if there was free time to be had. The younger Jedi had both learned and taught much to the Twi’leks about the art of healing and medical care and had helped in building their knowledge and respect for the Jedi as a whole. Dominik noticed her growth every day; from the way she held and swung her lightsaber to the way her hands worked while helping an injured Twi’lek, she was constantly learning and growing.

He often found himself reflecting upon their recent time in Ryloth. He took a few hours each night to himself to meditate and think about all they had done and all they had yet to do. There was still much to teach her. He finally felt the grief from his time as Jedi and as a previous teacher to a deceased Padawan start to release from his heart, allowing the man to find peace with what was now, in the present.

Even now, as he and Lo were joined by Sar and a couple other Twi’lek as they scouted the perimeter, Dominik found himself reflecting on their time there and felt a sense of obscurity and uncertainty about the future of Ryloth and the friends they have made.

“Our scouts saw a small group of Zygerrians just past the next bend in the canyon.” Sar explained, snapping Dominik out of his thoughts. “They spotted them early this morning, as the sun started to rise.” he continued, glancing over to Dom as the group walked down the canyon.

“How long were they around for?” Dominik asked, his old eyes glancing up at the top of the canyon, keeping an eye out for movement, and keeping his senses pushed out, preparing for anything.

“Not long. My men think the slavers noticed they were being followed, so they bolted.”

"Did anyone track their direction and follow them or investigate the area?" Lo asked, worried a trap might've been placed there for one of the younger children or adults.

"For a little while, yes. But the men stopped before they got too far, just in case. They didn't want to get ambushed if they were too far out." Sar explained, glancing back at the younger Jedi next to Dom.

Lo looked to Dominik. “Should we check it out first?”

Dominik nodded to his Padawan, words seeming to escape him as his focus was suddenly directed elsewhere. His eyes closed as they walked, his feet stopping just a few moments after as something pulled at his senses. Eyes opened slowly as he looked to Sar, then to Lo, and then to the other two Twi'lek behind them.

"How long ago did you say they were spotted?" The Master Jedi asked, his head turning to look at either side of the canyon before he glanced behind them.

"Just this morning. A few hours ago."

Lo’s brown eyes lingered on her master. The fur on the back of her neck rose up, but she knew from his expression he could sense the Force’s disturbance. Her arms stood at her side while she absorbed the information their strengthening bond had begun to feed her.

“Master?” She didn’t say much more than a single word, unsure how much her master wanted to share out loud. Her head tilted and right eyebrow raised. A subtle hint to clue him into the fact she knew something was up.

A deep rumble could be heard and even felt through one’s feet should they be paying attention. “Get to the caverns, everyone, now!” the man shouted as a high-pitched whistling could be heard above them. Mortars, a weapon Dominik hadn’t fought against in years, impacted into the ground just fifty feet from them and immediately exploded in a symphony of fire and destruction. The man’s hand grabbed Sar and pushed him back in the direction of the caverns as another one went off further down the canyon.

Lo had already been moving the moment Dominik yelled for the caverns. Distracted by trying to understand the feelings of concern and unease, she hadn’t noticed the incoming threat until then. Her figure bolted toward the alerted Twi’lek with her arms waving a warning.

“MOVE!” She screamed when the first mortar hit the ground.

A panic spread through the villagers. Many dropped whatever they had and bolted toward the tunnels as the mortars continued to rain down. Lo stopped just outside the entrance and sought sight of her master, pushing those slower in before her.

“Get inside! Don’t stop!” Dominik yelled, ushering anyone inside that he could and helping the smaller children and older Twi’leks move. The concussions caused a lot of the younger Twi’leks to lose their footing, or stop and cover their ears at the overwhelming sound. Dominik had two younger Twi’leks in his arms by the time he made it to the tunnels, passing them off to adults who ran by before he continued.

“Lo! Don’t stop, get in there!” He yelled to his Padawan as he came running towards her. Sar had also stopped a little further in the tunnels, helping his people move and waiting for Lo and Dominik, ensuring they made it inside safely. Not many Twi’leks had passed into the tunnel, but he knew there were other entrances nearby that many of them could use to get to the cavern.

Dominik caught up with his Padawan and ushered her on, looking behind him just as a mortar exploded near the entrance of the tunnel, throwing dirt and rocks in every direction.

Lo flinched at the explosion. Her feet paused and steadied her to prevent loss balance. Her eyes glanced behind her to note Dominik coming in hot on her heels. Ushering the last Twi’lek in, she pushed in behind and traveled deeper into the tunnel. Despite haste being critical, her fears and worries about her master held her back. She made sure to be remained among the last that entered.

Ears ringing, Dominik’s eyes watched as Lo ran just ahead of him. He could feel the explosions on the surface, threatening the integrity of the tunnel’s structure, barreling down upon the decoy village they had created, turning it to ash and dust. The tunnels that led to the cavern didn’t wind through the ground too much, they were fairly straight with a few bends and turns here and there. Many of the Twi’leks had pushed ahead while Dominik had initially stopped to make sure everyone had made it inside. The older Jedi’s mind had little time to think about the fact that the weapons they were firing down upon them had seemingly appeared on the enemy’s side in days. A recon into their ranks hadn’t revealed any plans for equipment or ammunition such as this. He thought about the Zygerrian’s capabilities; the allies they might have that could supply them with such firepower. The Sith, sure… but what about the Treaty?

Lo’s eyes kept drifting back. The tunnels were tight and narrow, creating a claustrophobic sensation all around her. Even with the anxiety building, her worry kept returning to her master. The exit of their underground tunnel drew nearer with each step now as she spotted Sar’s figure at the mouth.

“We’re almost there.” She panted, feeling exhaustion settle in her bones.

Dominik too saw the light from the large cavern up ahead. His eyes took in the light, his lungs took deep breaths as he pushed his body towards safety. It was his ears that made the man think. He heard Lo’s panting, heard their footsteps on the hard ground; but from behind them, Dominik heard the explosions growing again, and felt the heat slowly grow on his back before he turned to look.

The crystals that lined the cave were filled with a form of gas. This gas allowed the crystalline structure to illuminate when there was sun and heat on the surface during the day. The gas was also encased in crystals, making it relatively safe to be near. But with the combined force of the explosions and heat the mortars created, should one land too close to the outer walls of the tunnel, near the entrance, it would set off a chain reaction. And a chain reaction it caused.

With each crystal that burst open, exploding outwards, came more gas and more fuel for the raging wall of fire and combustion that could only go two ways. Back out towards the canyon, or in towards the cavern they called home; the same cavern that was filled with these crystals.

The Master Jedi saw the speed at which the wall of fire and death was gaining on them, and the distance they still had to go before reaching the cavern. There would be no time to block the tunnel entrance when they got there, it would be too late. It was only about fifty feet from the cavern, but Dominik had made his choice. The Jedi Master used the Force and pushed forward, towards his Padawan. The push sent her the last few feet she had and into the cavern. Sar was there in an instant, kneeling down to Lo and moving to help her stand.

The Jedi Master stopped suddenly, his feet digging in to their position as his body turned to face the raging inferno that raced towards him. Arms stretched out and wide, palms open as he focused the Force, Dominik pushed forward, meeting the wall of fire with a strong resistance as he fought to keep it away from the cavern. If he could hold it long enough, the combustion would die down and he could retreat to the cavern. He could feel the heat on his face as he held the wall of flame at bay just twenty feet from him. Eyes closed as he focused on the Force, feeling it flow through his body and push to fight the natural forces that threatened to overtake him.

Lo pushed herself upright with Sar’s help. Her hand reached to touch her head and shook the daze from her focus. Quickly, the blurry shapes becoming sharp again. A dread filled her mind as she glanced back. It and adrenaline buzzed at the back of Lo's skull before it shot through her system. Everything appeared to crawl now as she absorbed the scene playing out before her.

Her eyes widened at the surreal scene. Impulsively her body moved to reach him, but met resistance from Sar. The Twi'lek's arms gripped her shoulders and held her back.

"No, NO. Sar, please. I have to get to him! He needs help!" The desperate scream ripped from her throat into the air.

Fire light barely illuminated her youthful face. Terror from the possibility entered her thoughts. Her struggle against the older Twi'lek increased as the reality grew. Sar's eyes couldn't meet hers, even when he continued to hold her back.

"NO! Please, let me help him!"

"No Lo, it's too dangerous! You need to stay back!" The Twi'lek argued, holding the young Jedi tight as she struggled against him.

A sinking feeling dropped her heart into her stomach.

"This can’t be happening. NO! Please..."

Tears began to form at the corners of her eyes, blurring her vision and feeding her determination.

Sar just held her tighter. Helplessness haunted her while she watched her worst fears come to life. Memories of her mother flashed in her head, fleeting emotions of love and loss weighed her down. Her knees crumbled underneath her.

"No... Not again."

As Sar held Lo back, the Twi’lek desperately watched Dominik, hoping to see the Master Jedi making a move towards them, doing something that indicated he was coming, that he would be alright. His arms tightened around Lo and held the young Bothan close, steeling himself against her desperate outcries as she tried to get to her friend.

Dominik could feel the emotions flooding from Lo. His heart hurt for his Padawan because with each passing moment, as the inferno refused to die down and instead wanted to push towards him, to push towards those he cared about, he knew he had to stop this himself.

Dominik Rothul had lived sixty years, learning to use to Force, learning to trust it and to let it flow through him, so he could become one with it. He had seen things most couldn’t stand, had endured hardships that many couldn’t bear. He had failed his first Padawan, Evin, during the attack on the Coruscant temple. As he stood there, losing a battle against the natural forces that gas and fire created, he hoped that in doing this he wasn’t failing Lo too. He could only hope. Keeping one hand towards the wall of fire, the Jedi shot the other one back behind him, turning his body slightly so that he could see the mouth of the tunnel.

He saw Sar, he saw Lo. His old eyes went to his Padawan, to the young Bothan whom he had known through her entire life. He wished he could’ve seen her sooner, could have started training her as she deserved. She deserved more, and Lo did not deserve this. Suddenly, the mouth of the tunnel started to crack and rumble. Cracks grew up into the cavern just after the tunnel exit. Large boulders started to dislodge from the wall and the sides of the tunnel. Dominik’s eyes met Lo’s. He held that gaze for as long as he could.

Suddenly he pulled that hand down, and down came large boulders and pieces of rock as they began to pile in the entryway of the tunnel. Dust and dirt flew, and by the time it settled, the tunnel entrance was completely blocked - with Dom on the other side.

There was little time as he turned back, holding back the wall of inferno for as long as he could. Dominik made sure the tunnel had been sealed, so that all others in the cavern would be safe. Including Lo. He felt the inferno building, threatening to overtake him as he fought against it with the Force. Too long had the explosive forces been held using the Force, too long had they been contained. Dominik suddenly felt his hold on the Force loosen as the forces he was trying to fight exploded violently outward. The Jedi master felt the gravitational force against his body as it rippled through him. He heard the sickening crack of bones, and the internal tearing of something more. His body was forcefully thrown back against the wall of rock he had created mere moments ago.

He hit the rock wall hard, losing the air in his lungs as his body succumbed to the forces of gravity. The man’s body sunk down over the rubble, sliding down closer to the tunnel floor as the flames he had been fighting danced along the tunnel ceiling above him. From within the cavern, the sound of the explosion could be heard, louder than ever. There was an eerie silence as explosions from mortars on the surface could be heard, their sound suddenly so much quieter compared to the one on the other side of the collapse Dominik had created.

Nothing can prepare the young for when their world crashes down around them. Yet against her will, Lo faced it. Any strength within her seemed to die when the cave-in happened. An emotional storm of his last moments raged inside her core and flooded it with regret. Lo trembled at the disassociation of her master's death before her eyes. She pressed her face into Sar's shoulder, hiding her agony and shock from view.

She fought not to openly weep while the mortars' muffled sounds began to lessen.

An emptiness gnawed at her. Where warmth seemed to give her hope, a dull ember struggled for the last of its life. A weak, faint...

Lo's head jerked up. Her eyes blinked away the salt stinging at her vision as she wiped the tears on her sleeve. Her confusion evaporated when an epiphany dawned on her. Without warning, she pushed the Twi'lek aside then rushed to the cave in. The Bothan's small heart pounded at the sheer, renewed hope rushing in.

Broken words gained new strength while she shouted. "He's alive. He's still alive! Help me, please. He needs help! Master Dominik is alive."

She raised an unsteady hand, but her mind struggled to focus. Fear and doubt pushed at her calm, driving it from her. Unwilling to give up, she began to scale to the top. She stumbled when a rock dislodged and cracked its way down, skinning her knee. Lo didn't feel or care. When she finally reached the top, her hands began rip away the rubble.

Lo could feel Sar’s concern burning into her back, but she didn’t care. Her mind fell to a single task: get to her master. New callouses began to build on her old ones causing a soreness to sink in. It didn’t stop her.

Seeing she relentless in her actions, Sar stared a few moments longer then shouted for others. He pointed and directed his fellow villagers to start digging. Needing little encouragement thanks to Lo's determination, the work began.

Locked in a single mental goal, Lo didn't register their existence. She just kept mumbling the same phrase under her breath.

“Please let him be alive…. Please let him be alive… please let him be alive.”

When Na'seca's hands touched her shoulders, her attention returned to the present. Lo blinked as she let the younger twi'lek guide her to the bottom of the heap.

"We need your help for the medical supplies." The younger boy urged as he continued to pull Lo away, allowing the other Twi'leks to work.

Hesitating, Lo looked back to the collapsed entrance. Many villagers started at the top and worked through thinnest parts first. Their display of loyalty filled her with reassurance they would get through. She inhaled, letting her frustration and fear settle, before she nodded in agreement. Strength from her was needed now.

"We'll need..." She stumbled in her thoughts until she forced herself to continue. Listening to the Force, she listed off the critical materials.

"Bacta, herbs, stims, bandages, and a surgery medical kit."

Na'seca nodded. "We'll see what we have available. Let's allow Sar and the others to work while we prepare. We won't have much time when they find him."

She nodded then allowed him to lead her away.

Time was lost to the group of Twi'leks as they worked tirelessly to get through the top of the collapse. Sar knew time was critical for his friend, who knows what happened to him after he had blocked himself off with the collapse. No one had been keeping track of time when they finally broke through to the inside of the tunnel. Pitch black and with a hazy feel, Sar and a couple other Twi'leks slid through the small opening and searched for the Master Jedi. It didn't take long to find him after they got through, and for that Sar was thankful. Gently moving larger rocks that had Dominik pinned into the collapse, not much could be seen for injuries in the darkness of the tunnel. It wasn't until he was pulled back to the other side that Sar started to realize time would be Dom's enemy.

The Master Jedi was unresponsive as they called his name, caressed his head and glancing over what injuries they could see. There were cuts and gashes that littered his forehead, face and neck. A trickle of blood ran from his nose and the corner of his mouth, indicating something internally was wrong. His breathing was slow, and inconsistent; chest heaving with each short breath he took, audibly they could hear he was struggling to breathe.

Laying him on a blanket and using that to carry him, the four corners were all lifted simultaneously as the Twi'leks ushered him off to one of the larger, empty adobe houses that had been constructed recently. Meanwhile, Ro'Sara ran as fast as her legs would take her to get Lo.

The place where most of the wounded were kept was an area covered by a canopy of blankets and cloth on the opposite end of the cavern as the tunnel Dom was pulled from. The Twi'leks eyes spotted Lo immediately, changing her course and shouting for the Bothan as she approached.

Lo's arms were elbows deep in a basin of water. Her hands scratch away the dried and wet blood, tainting it brighter blue. Her lips curled into a frown at the thoughts of all the wounded. As she sloshed them about, her ears caught Ro'Sara's words. Her head turned to face the older Twi’lek standing there.

"Lo! They found him! They took him to the new hut!" She called, pointing in the direction of it. It was the most recently constructed adobe house, built bigger so that it could house a small family, or in this case, a Master Jedi in need of much care.

Lo's fur fluffed out. She shook her arms dried and grabbed the nearest surgical kit beside her. In a quick dash, she rushed toward the mud dried structure. Realizing she forgot something, Lo abruptly stopped then hollered back. Ro'Sara stopped in her tracks at the mention of her name.

"Ro'Sara, grab the rest of the supplies and bring them to the hut. Quickly!"

After that statement, Lo took off.

On arrival, she ducked through the entrance. A hand pressed against the smoothed walls as she stepped down the stairs on to the main floor. In the corner, her eyes locked with her master. He rested on the clay bed covered with woven leaves and softer materials. Purple-blue crystals rested in a nearby mount. Their faint glow illuminated the darkness where the fire light failed to reach. A makeshift table had been set up nearby.

Lo hesitated. Her fear jumped up into her throat and began to suffocate her on the spot. Each breath felt like inhaling powdered glass as she tried to move.

Ro'Sara's hand touched the young Bothan. Lo jumped and looked over her shoulder. Fresh tears brimmed along the corners of her eyes from the conflict within.

The Twi'lek gently squeezed her shoulder with reassurance.

"We have to hurry Lo, if we're to save him." Proving her point, the older alien moved past and began to set up the tools.

For the second time that miserable day, Lo dried her sorrow from her face. She purged her suffering with an intake of air then drew closer. Hope. It drove her as she set the kit down and assessed the damages.

Her head leaned over his chest to hear the faint, rattling signs of life. Lo gestured for a knife which Ro'Sara passed her. With a skilled and practiced movement, she sliced along the robe sides. Extremely purple bruises maimed his white skin.

"We need to stop the internal bleeding before I can heal him with the Force. I need the vibro-scalpel and bacta bottle."

As Ro'Sara handed off the small device and bottle, Lo went to work. She silenced her worried thoughts while she sliced open her master. Memories of injured Jedi and Troopers on H'Ratth leaped into her mind, driving her skills. Time ticked by at an agonizing slow pace. After some cartelization and stitches, Lo sealed the ruptured veins. Finishing off with some bacta patches she turned to her assistant.

"Ro'Sara, get me a chair."

The demand in Lo's tone caught Ro'Sara off guard, but she didn't question her friend. The Twi'lek girl brought a chair as the padawan sat cross-legged in it. She once more rolled her sleeves as her expression hardened. Her hands rested on Dominik's patched abdomen lightly as she took a cleansing breath. With closed eyes, she quieted her thoughts into meditation.

She spread her connection with the Force to the planet itself. Her heart and soul touched it, asking for its help to heal him. Nearly an hour passed before a tingling edged from her center into her hands and finally into him.

Just when her Force healing took hold, a fearful thought surfaced. What if she couldn't bring him back? Lo shuddered as her fingers curled. The tingling ceased and the collected energy quavered. Threatening to fade.

Lo's eyes snapped open in pure shock. "No, please no...Why isn’t it working?"

She couldn't stop the trembling. It started off small then grew, engulfing her whole body. Paralyzing her connection with the Force. She wrapped her arms about her, trying to soothe herself.

A deep, gentle voice rattled through her mind. "Trust yourself and trust in the Force."

"Master. I'm not sure I can do th-" Her mutter quieted when she heard her master again.

“I told you to trust in the Force, to let it guide you. It is the will of the Force that you and I are together."

Lo nodded softly then closed her eyes again. She pushed her hands flat against his still body and meditated once more. Another long, endless hour passed. The longest one in her whole life. A faint tingling budded in her center. Gradually it trickled out into Dominik giving him renewed life and will to live.

"Please master, I'm not ready for you to leave me. There's still so much you have to teach me." Lo pleaded as the tingling grew stronger.

Dominik's pale body was still as Lo meditated beside him, her hands on his abdomen as she tried her hardest to focus. Nearly two hours went by as Lo started to find her inner peace, to collect herself, trust the Force, and to trust herself. During the second hour, as Lo's life energy helped to heal his body little by little, Dominik was pulled back from the brink. Color returned to his skin, indicating that blood was starting to flow properly again.

The difficulties that hampered his breathing were slowly pushed aside by Lo's life energy, allowing the older Jedi proper oxygen, his lungs able to expand fully as deliver the breath he so desperately needed.

Though he had been pulled from the brink, from knocking on death's doorstep, the man's body had undergone tremendous trauma and would need much time to heal properly. He did not wake, his mind hardly stirred as Lo's energy poured into him. If she had been looking close enough though, the younger Jedi could see a very small twitch of his fingers on the hand closest to her. Once, twice, a third time they moved before going still again.

Lo slacked in her posture. The boundless energy she usually held onto now carefully redirected into Dominik. Her chest slowly rose then fell, a steady but notably weaker pace. Though her common sense knew to stop, but her worry insisted on going on.

Heavy eyelids fluttered open then glanced toward her master's hand. Twitches of life caused her to smile as she removed her hands. Exhaustion weighed down her like a reminder of the burden her responsibilities carried.

"He's going to be all right..." Immediately her head lowered to her folded up arms, resting on the narrow space at his bed edge.

"I'm so tired now."

Standing just outside of the doorway so as to give Lo and Ro'Sara room to work, Sar watched the entire time. He did not move for two hours, for fear of not being there for Lo, should the worst happen. Upon seeing the young Bothan pull her hands from Dominik the second time, resting her head at his bedside, he walked in and up to her side. “You need to rest Lo… we’ll take it from here. I promise… he’ll be alright.” the Twi’lek man said, a gentle hand on her back as he kneeled down to her level. On the other side of the Master Jedi, Ro'Sara began to clean up what she could, and gathered the tools she had used so that they could be properly sterilized should they be needed again. Medical supplies were already running low, they had to take care of what they had left so their wounded could be properly cared for.

“I’ll stay here too, Lo. I’ll get him cleaned up, and find him some blankets. Everything will be alright.”

The young padawan shook her head. Her braid had become disheveled and spring stray hairs across its well-kept form. She rose upright, leaving her comfortable position.

"I can't rest. I need to assess the situation. That means checking the medical supplies, the wounded's condition, and-"

Lo's muzzle opened into a wide yawn, interrupting herself. Though she still had strength to stand upright and walk, weakness showed in her figure. The young padawan felt hundreds of years older in a few hours. Her balance tilted causing her arm to snap out and prevent her tumbling into the floor.

“We can do that Lo. Those of us who aren’t hurt. You don’t have to take on all of this responsibility alone. I’m here to help, just as I helped Dominik. We’re all in this fight together.” He said, one hand gripping Lo’s shoulder as she suddenly started to lean. “Pushing yourself will only make the situation worse.”

Lo put her fingers to her nose bridge. She tightly closed her eyes and breathed, steadying herself.

"You're right. I need to listen to my body and accept my limitations. Rest will do me some good. Will you bring me information over the state of the tunnels, the wounded, and see if we can send a message to the council? Ro'Sara." Lo turned to the twil'lek causing Ro'Sara to pause and pay attention.

"Can you run the small group of healers? Take stock of the medical supplies we have and monitor their usage?"

Ro'Sara nodded. "I also have to prepare burials for those we lost. Just go rest little Lo, you look terrible."

Lo nodded. "I feel worse..."

She began to move to the door then turned back to Sar, "I'm going to find an out-of-the-way place to rest. Please keep me in the loop over everything. I have a feeling my master won't wake for some time..."

Sar made sure to be next to Lo, just in case the young Bothan suddenly lost her ability to stand. The last thing they needed was the younger Jedi down too.

"We'll make sure all of that is done, Lo. I promise. Get some rest, we will be here when you're ready to continue." He said, helping the younger Jedi to the door.

Five hours after Lo's efforts to stabilize her Master, Sar had done all that Lo had asked. With two of their healers looking over Dom and cleaning him up with the help and guidance of Ro'Sara. No one bothered Lo while she rested, knowing good and well what she had gone through in a span of hours was enough for a person in a lifetime.

Sar sat in a huddle of Twi'leks who were seen as leaders, secondary to Sar. They were tallying up their supplies, talking about how they should move forward from here, and what they were going to do should no support come soon. There was no sugarcoating what had happened to Dominik, and there was no guessing when the older Jedi would wake. All they could do was support the Master Jedi and his Padawan for as long as possible. It was because of them that they as a people had made it this far.

Stepping away from Dominik's side, Ro'Sara was asked to find Lo and bring her to the small circle of leaders. It didn't take much searching to fond the young Bothan, passed out on an unused bed in a structure not far from the one Dominik was in.

"Lo?" Came Ro'Sara's gentle voice. She walked up to the sleeping Bothan, making sure to give her space before a gentle hand rested on the younger Jedi's arm.

Lo groaned and stretched, her tongue licking her chapped lips. Without warning, she flipped over away Ro'Sara and curled into a ball. She didn’t want to wake up.

The older Twi’lek couldn’t help the small, soft smile on her face at Lo’s antics. It wasn’t all sadness and grief with this little one. “Lo, come on. Time to get up. Sar gathered all of the information you wanted. He and the secondary leaders are all gathered in a meeting. He wanted you there.”

After a few moments, Lo begrudgingly sat upright. Her fists began to rub the reserves of sleep sand from her eyes as she took Ro'Sara in. Another yawn escaped from her lungs before she swept her legs over the edge then stood upright.

“I’m coming. Still drained from healing Master Dominik, but I can at least stand on my own. Lead the way, please.”

Ro'Sara's smile increased. She gestured with her hand and both girls walked out into the open streets. Silence swept over them during their path toward the gathering. Their shapes were easily disguised from the darkness thanks to the faint crystals. All huddled around the empty fire pit, talking in heavy conversation. Their words ceased when Lo walked into hearing range and all eyes fell on her.

She swallowed her nerves as she sat in an empty spot near Sar. Usually her master took his place there, but his condition prevented it. A sharp pain entered her chest as she ignored it. She couldn't fall apart here of all places.

"Ro'Sara you had the information I asked for, Sar?"

“I do.” He said, looking around to the other Twi’leks before he turned a little more to face Lo. “Out of the three tunnels we had, two are still usable. They’re dangerous, but we can try to fortify the parts that look bad so that we can safely walk through them.” he paused for a moment before continuing. “We have twenty two wounded, six of them critical. Ro’sara was trying to divide out the medical supplies, but we do not have enough to ensure all of our wounded can heal properly.” Sar kept Dominik’s name from the report on the medical supplies, but did count him as one of the critical. He wanted to keep Lo’s mind off of her Master, constantly reminding her of his condition would not help.

“We found your Master’s holo communicator, but it’s been badly damaged, and we couldn’t repair it enough to get it to work. I’m not sure how else we’ll get a message out for aid.”

Lo sat quietly. Her eyes found the dirt floor. She digested the details, thinking of the possible solutions. At least one came to her.

"The ship might have some spare supplies and a message can be sent there. It's best since there's no cave system to risk blocking the signal."

She took a breath then continued.

"We should also take the speeder bikes. It's likely the slavers will investigate the surrounding areas. Locking down the ship helps, but it makes getting anything out more difficult."

“We’re with you wherever you need to go, Lo. When do you want to leave?”

"Morning, we can prepare some gear for the trip. The ship is still a small trip away. A small group is best as it will attract less attention and quicker." Lo pointed out.

“Alright, just before sunrise, when there’s first light. We’ll be ready for you.” Sar said, giving Lo a reassuring smile as he looked to her. He couldn’t imagine what she was feeling inside, but knew it had to be similar to the way he felt about losing all of his people. This was a night she would never forget, but he hoped it was something she could work past, in time.

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Chapter 7
Finding Hope




Week 4, Day 5, Dawn


Trekking outside and leaving the safety of their underground base was not something to do so soon after being attacked, but with their medical supplies low and having no form of communication to get a message to the Council, it needed to be done. Sar, Ro’sara, Lo, and one other Twi’lek male planned to greet the early morning light as the sun started to rise over the horizon. The light of a brand new day would be a welcoming sight to the older Twi’lek leader, as the night previous had been hell for everyone involved.

He had taken his time and visited the downed Jedi Master before they had left. He didn’t know much about the Jedi, and knew even less about the Force, but in a way Sar had hoped Dominik could still hear the words he had spoken.

”We’re leaving soon, Master Jedi. If my people are to be saved, if you are to wake to see another day, we must get to your ship and send out a call to the Jedi, or anyone for that matter. Lo is coming too, I will not let her go alone. I promise I’ll keep her safe, just as you have kept my people safe. We’ll see you again soon.”

Sar’s thoughts were on his words to Dominik, if the Jedi had actually heard him, if this mysterious power they called ‘the Force’ could actually keep them safe. Eyes moved to the young Jedi just ahead of him. He wanted to give Lo her space, for he couldn’t imagine the turmoil she was feeling inside. Sar hoped she would open up a little during their trip. He was worried for the young Bothan’s well-being during all of this chaos.

Lo adjusted her belt and bag, checking her gear before they were ready to set off. She had decided against bringing a medical kit. Their trip stretched across the safer terrain to the ship and limited the potential danger. At least, she hoped it would.

Her hands adjusted her braid while she glanced back at Sar exiting out of Dom's hut. She flashed him a forced smile.

"We ready?" Though guilt swept through her, Lo ignored it.

She had to ensure she took care of everyone. Master Rothul would've wanted that before she risked mentally breaking down. On the outside, she looked calm and collected. Inside... a storm brewed that would eventually break out.

“Yes, I believe we are.” Sar said, walking up to stand next to Lo, looking to Ro’Sara and the other Twi’lek male who both signalled they were ready.

Leading the way through the tunnels, avoiding partial collapses and navigating through the darkness, Sar and Lo finally emerged from the tunnel with Ro’sara and the other Twi’lek, Cur’taca, close behind. The morning sun was just starting to peek over the horizon, a sight which Sar embraced, bringing a smile to his face.

“Once we get to the ship, Cur’taca and I will keep guard while you get the message out. Okay?” Sar asked, looking to the young Padawan as they walked, wanting to make sure everyone understood the plan before they arrived.

All three nodded in solemn silence. Their eyes locked on Sar before Lo broke it with her next words.

“It will take me a while to locate everything, activate the communications, and to pop up the speeder bikes. Hopefully neither the Zygerrians nor Sith have decided to 'claim' the ship." Her eyes scanned the forest area as she followed the others.

“We’ll make sure you’re protected, Lo. Our back up plan will be to take the ship should we encounter any resistance. Better to take it and have to hide it again versus trying to flee and letting the enemy have it.” Sar explained, looking to everyone as they continued forward.

“And Lo,” he started again, looking directly to the Padawan, “If we encounter any resistance and getting away seems impossible, you will leave us, do you understand? We’re all prepared to pay the price to help our people, but you must be there for your Master.”

"Sar..." Lo began, but she paused. She knew that look and the words hit far closer to home than he knew. A sharp inhale purged the clawing emotions in her heart.

"I'm important, but so are you Sar. You helped the people trust and accept Jedi assistance. Your contribution and experience as one of their own is important too. As a Twi'lek, you will be able to sway many more into helping the cause than I ever could."

She paused for another breath.

"So... let us all try to focus on staying alive and safe."




Sar attempted to keep track of the time as they made careful progress towards the ship. Dominik had stowed and hid it in a place that his allies could easily get to, but made sure it would be hidden well to their enemies. Dominik hadn't touched the Mirage in at least a month, simply because it wasn't worth being spotted when travelling to the ship, and keeping their main source of transportation hidden was always the best idea.

Sar kept a very watchful eye out all around them, constantly glancing behind as they trekked across the landscape, using the natural geography to their advantage and attempting to stay under cover for most of the time that they moved. Eventually, deep into the forest, the ship slowly started to come into view through the trees. It had been covered in a blanket of leaves and other natural foliage to better conceal it to wandering eyes. To one who didn't know better, it looked completely abandoned.

Lo halted before the ship. Her eyes darted up as she spotted through the camouflage. She noted the curves and the neglect paid to it, sparking heavy feelings over the ill-treatment. Green vines dangled from their anchors into the smooth hull of white and red. Lack of activity gave it a metal bestial impression as it loomed over the small group. Memories of the past surfaced to fill her with shame and pain.

It took her a moment to focus through it. She couldn't be weak or helpless, her allies needed her strength. Again, Lo let the negative flow from her center. She had a job to do.

She raised a hand and used the force to guide a few branches from the Mirage's lower half. Dropping them to the side, she stepped up to the ship. Her finger pressed a button on her wrist link causing the boarding ramp to lower to the ground. She turned back to the Twi'lek staying behind.

"Be safe." Then she entered the ship with Ro'Sara behind her.

Taking up defensive positions around the ship, Sar nodded to Lo as she started inside. He shot her a smile, trying to give the girl some positivity during this hard time, before Ro'Sara continued inside with Lo.

For the Twi'lek girl, who was only slightly older than Lo, the ship was something she had never seen before. As she walked up inside, feeling the cool air greet them a draft started to move around, her mouth was open in awe.

"Lo, this is amazing. This is you and your Master's ship?"

The young Bothan didn't linger long. She was already heading to the nearest room, her mind fixed on the mission and determined to finish it.

"Sorry, Ro, but no time for a tour. We need to get the supplies first." Lo's arm pointed to the southern part of the ship as she continued.

"Head that way and take a left turn. The medical bay should be about one third stocked, which is better than nothing. We have some bacta bottles, patches, and more still in there. I’ll head to the cargo bay and see what we have there. I can also get the speeder bikes ready.”

Ro couldn't help but feel sorry for the awe she had in the ship despite the importance of their mission. "Alright, I'll get looking." She said, nodding to the Padawan before her feet quickly turned towards the medical bay, aiming to give it a thorough look and find anything that could be useful.

When Lo entered the cargo bay, she pressed a code into the panel. Mechanic hissing and grinding sounded as two speeder bikes rose up from the floor. The young bothan didn't let her emotions distract her. She began to check each one and ensure they didn't need repairs. Thankfully, both her master and her had repaired most of the damage from prior trips.

Satisfied with their condition, she lined them up with the lift then turned to help Ro.

"Bikes are all set up and ready to roll when we are. We just need to load them up. What did you find?"

Coming back out with a smaller satchel full of supplies, Ro’sara set it down and pulled some of the pieces out to show Lo.

“There wasn’t much, a few more rolls of bandages and a couple bottles of bacta. But I found some extra sheets in there too, so I grabbed them, they’re in the bottom here.” Ro explained, packing everything back into the satchel nicely so that it was secured for the trip. She moved to one of the speeders, placing it in one of the small side cargo holders and closing its top.

"We'll find more in the bunks. We might need to wash all of these just to ensure they are sterile, but that is easy. Next is the upper level."

She gestured for Ro to follow her toward the back of the ship. A simple press of a button released the ladder down the access hatch allowing them to scale to the next level.

Lo paused at the top to help Ro'Sara up before explaining their next step.

"All right, we need to head this direction. The storage for the supplies should be to the left of the door. We should have a good amount of rations left in there." The padawan gestured for the Twi’lek to come with her.

Ro’sara nodded at Lo’s instruction and wasted no time before following after her. She knew they had to be quick, but in the back of her mind, she was worried for Lo and the turmoil the younger girl might be dealing with. No doubt it was hard to be back in this ship without her Master. In time, Ro’sara was confident the other Jedi would wake up, his body just needed time to heal.

Lo continued on and headed into the bunk room. When she spotted the first bed, she began to rip off the sheet and rolled it up neatly. Each one had been stuffed into her bag until none remained. A small task considering there was only three bunks. As she searched for any missed spares, her vision brushed over her master's side of the room.

She swallowed heavily. Dominik's modest nature showed easily with the meager belongings he set out. In the small storage closet, about four extra sets of robes hung in good condition. Her hand reached out to touch the material as sentiment warmed her heart. A faint smile flickered to her muzzle. When her eyes leaked again, her palm wiped the tears away.

"I really need to stop crying." She muttered under her breath.

Something blue and copper in color caught her attention. Lo paused then leaned in. Her hand pulled out a small, cube-like device hidden in the corner. Carefully she turned it in her hand while she examined it. Enlightenment glowed in her eyes when she identified it.

Master Rothul's Jedi Holocron.

The padawan just stared, unable to think or feel. Gradually her expression softened as she held it tightly. For a moment she had to remind herself of a critical fact: Master Rothul wasn't dead. The thought gave her hope.

Carefully she placed it into her bag among the sheets. Once more securing the bag to her shoulder, Lo exited the room.

Ro was quiet as she searched the room for supplies. She found a good amount of rations left in storage along with sealed bags of smaller-sized rations, and some in capsule form, just as Lo had said. The Twi’lek girl wasted no time in taking them all out, stacking the small containers neatly in her hands before following Lo out of the room.

"Do you need help?" Lo's right eyebrow raised as she meet Ro half-way.

She watched the older Twi'lek struggle with the rations, frowning. With a wave of her hand, her force pressed the small packs together and brought them to her. She opened her bag to lower them inside.

"How about you take this and what you have left down to the cargo bay. I need to work on the holoterminal. Wait for me there."

Accepting Lo’s help in her struggles, Ro’sara watched the young Jedi pull the supplies to her with the Force, and then pack everything neatly away into the bag she had been carrying. Ro’sara took the bag with a nod, “Alright, I’ll let Sar know we’re almost done.” she said before her form moved to the ladder and started to descend down into the other level.

Lo watched Ro disappear down the hatch before she turned to the holoterminal. She sighed then got to work. Her fingers clicked in the coordinates to contact the Jedi Council. The holoterminal began to start up, but the machine sputtered and died abruptly.

"Oh come on!" Lo protected.

Her foot flew out then smacked the base. Once then twice until it rumbled back to life. She pulled around to face the viewer as she left her message.

"My name is Lo Lya'Tre, Padawan of Master Rothul. The twi'lek village we provided aid to has suffered a heavy attack. During it, Master Rothul was critically injured. We're low on medical supplies and aid. Any assistance is greatly needed now." Lo stated in her clearest and firmest voice.

After she checked the replay, she included the coordinates of the village. With a single push, she sent it. She hoped the Jedi Council would send help in the form of additional medical supplies and other Jedi. Until then, she had to protect what progress they made.

Getting down to the speeder, supplies in hand, Ro’sara secured what they had to the other speeder and double-checked the first one. She peeked outside, relieved to still see Sar and Cur'taca still there, and let the older Twi'lek know what was going on. He nodded as his focus returned to the world around them, blaster at the ready should any surprises show themselves.

Lo paused just at the entrance to the cargo bay. Her eyes tightened and her head moved to the side, feeling some off. She expanded her sense with the force.

An inky, darkness in the force presented itself. She had difficulty in actually determining what it was, but the unfamiliarity put her on high alert. The sensation curled her fur causing it to fluff out in alarm. Her eyes snapped open as she rushed into the cargo bay. She slapped the panel to lower the bikes down to the ground, shouting orders.

"We need to go. NOW."

Urgency in her tone indicated danger as she straddled her master's speeder bike.

“Why? What did you see?” Ro’sara asked quickly as she climbed aboard the other speeder bike. She watched her friend nervously. She had heard nothing indicating an attack, nor had Sar said he had seen anything suspicious. As the bikes were lowered, Ro’sara followed Lo’s lead in pulling them out and down the ramp. Sar and Cur’taca were right next to the ramp as the bikes pulled out. The older Twi’lek leader could tell by Lo’s posture that something was wrong. He climbed onto the back of her speeder and watched as Cur’taca joined Ro on the other one.

“Lo, what’s wrong?”

“I’ll explain on route. We need to move now because we’re being watched. Watched by something… bad.” Lo pressed another button on her wrist link causing the ship to start locking down. She roared up the bike’s motor then took off.
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Week 5, Day 1, Midday


Using an incense stick, Lo carefully lit the Rycrit fat candles. One by one the candles cast a comfortable glow where the crystals couldn't reach. It drew a smile from her as she snuffed out the stick's tip with a simple shake. The smoke danced around her as it tried to entrance her attention.

She ignored it in favor of a seat. Her hand hooked underneath the wooden three-legged stool. She dragged it closer to Dominik then plopped into the hard surface, stinging her tail bone on impact. Lo made a note to sit a little less carelessly. Adjusting her bottom, she focused on checking Master Rothul's vitals. She pressed her fingers to his neck. Silently measuring the strengthening pulse and steady rhythm, positive results brought a smile. Next she changed the bloodied bandages and replaced them with freshly made ones. Ensuring she applied the herbal paste to prevent infections.

With her check list done, Lo stared at her master. All the strength his aura produced had dimmed in his coma.

"I miss you Master Rothul." The words started off uncomfortable and hesitant, but soon became fluid.

"I found your holocron on the ship and each day, I'm still trying to figure out the keyword you set for it. For now, I've been working on deflector practice. Sar and the others have been improving their aim too. Solves two issues at once."

She reached for a clay bowl and took a sip. Ro'Sara had ensured to leave two every day since the twi'lek girl discovered Lo's visits. The Bothan appreciated it.

"Sar wasn't happy with the idea, but I assured him we could set it to stun. Still hurts though."

Her eyes looked away.

"I don't know what to do... not while you're like this. Some Twi'leks are unsure of my abilities. They say I'm too young to do this on my own. And I fear they are right."

Despite the coma that held his body down, the Jedi Master was still there for his Padawan. Through the Force he could listen, focus on her words, comprehend them. Thought his body would not let him speak, not yet. Not enough strength had returned, thus he couldn't even wake if he tried. Tired mind listening to her words and her voice, they soothed his exhausted soul.

His lungs took in a long, deep breath for a moment before exhaling, his body coming to rest and laying still once more.

The first time Master Rothul took a breath, Lo nearly jumped out of her seat. Now it had become common place. She could sense he could feel her emotions, thoughts and listened to her words. She hoped one day he would speak to her.

"I'm learning diplomacy isn't easy. Some Twi'lek have accepted slavery as a better option and I can understand why. Just the other day, a gathering group was attacked by Gutkurr. We lost three hunters and several returned wounded. I don't even feel like a proper healer since I couldn't force heal them all. I could barely heal the most critical one."

Her hand reached out and gripped his, squeezing it softly.

"I never did ask you... why did you choose me? I don’t expect an answer. I don’t even know for sure if you can hear me or not."

Dominik's body remained still for a few long moments after Lo finished. His chest slowly rose and fell, but the rest of his body was unmoving.

After what seemed like minutes later, after feeling her hand in his, the man's fingers moved slowly. For a moment they held Lo's in a loose and weak grip before his grip let go completely, his fingers returning to how they rested before. Muscles on his face twitched slightly, his brow furrowing for just a quick moment before everything went still again, the man's mind moving back into the deep slumber that continued to hold him prisoner.

Lo smiled. Her hand lingered a moment longer then released, her body coming to a stand. As much as she hated it, her time with her master had run out. The Twi’leks still needed her.

“Thank you, Master. Get better quickly because I don’t think the Sith are done and I can’t do this alone.”
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Chapter 8
Finding Aid




Week 6, Day 6, Dawn


It had taken weeks to undo the mess pirates had caused at the orbital station above Naboo. Many of the workers had been killed and supplies stolen. Luckily though, the crucial intel the pirates had downloaded and attempted to get away with had been recovered by Jedi Knight Aren Bec and her Padawan, Val’Ko Sate. After Val had suffered an injury to his leg from a blaster bolt, Aren had taken up much of the rebuilding effort in the station while her padawan healed. In the end, she was glad to have him almost back to his full self, for word came from the Council of a dire situation on Ryloth. Not many Jedi were being sent due to the instability of the situation and the simple fact that the Empire could not notice that the Jedi were sending aid to Ryloth.

Jedi Master Dominik Rothul had been critically injured during an attack. He was alive, but now it was his padawan leading the effort aside the Twi’leks while he remained unresponsive. Their main area of operation had been hit hard, and now they were short on all forms of supplies; medical assets, munitions, and probably soon to be food and water. Aren’s thoughts went out to the Master Jedi. They were friends in a way. They hadn’t talked much, but she had been on missions with him, both diplomatic and combative assignments. She would be lying if she said she wasn’t worried. Aren hadn’t met his padawan but she did know the Jedi was younger and no doubt taking on a huge responsibility.

The Knight’s thoughts were stalled as their ship, the Pathfinder pulled out of hyperspace just above Ryloth. The Jedi Knight took a deep breath as she took the planet in. They had the coordinates for the Twi’leks base Dominik and his padawan had found themselves in, and their ship was stuffed with as many supplies as possible. Most of it was medical supplies and rations; picking up munitions proved hard to do without catching someone’s unwanted attention.

“Strap in Val,” she said, looking to her padawan in the seat to her right as she pressed a couple controls on the console of the ship, “I’m not sure how much resistance we’re going to meet on the surface.”

“Yes Master, I'm not worried about the amount of resistance. I'm actually looking forward to getting back into action. I think this is going to be fun.” Val’Ko replied as he joined his Master in the co-pilot's seat with a big grin and hopeful eyes. He reached over his shoulder sliding into the harness as they neared the planets surface. “You know Master, I’m pretty sure I know the other padawan on the surface. We haven't seen each other for quite some time. I'm excited for that too.” He added turning, studying his Master's face for a response. Val was proud to say he had made a friend, it was a bit hard to do so with all the traveling he did. Not that he minded much in the first place.

Aren listened to her Padawan’s words as he spoke, his enthusiasm was definitely there. She tried to keep her outward expression matching with his; positive, encouraging, hopeful. She knew Val hadn’t had much experience in the way of real battlefield experience, much less being called to help their fellow Jedi when something had gone terribly wrong. It wasn’t often a Jedi Master went down, and Aren couldn’t help but worry about the condition her old friend was in.

“Just remember Val, this is a very sensitive operation. The Sith aren’t supposed to know there are Jedi here... helping the Twi’leks. Remember the Treaty. While we’re here, we need to be quiet, patient, and mindful. Making ourselves known is not what we want to happen.”

Val’s head snapped towards his Master as if she was breaking this to him for the first time. He was both overly excited and frustrated at the same time. He wished he would meet a sith apprentice here, and strike down his first sith. But what his Master said came first. They had to lay low. Val always had a hard time laying low. He loved the flashy side of saber combat. However, Val recognized this opportunity for learning and growth, and he would get to see an old friend. So he made up his mind that he would try to make the best of it.

For the first time in awhile, Val might’ve noticed Aren’s seriousness on the topic. Her tone was quiet, she was distracted by something else. As they entered Ryloth’s atmosphere, Aren directed the ship towards the coordinates that had been included in the holomessage sent to the Council by Dominik’s padawan, Lo. As they neared the surface, Aren made sure to keep the ship closer to cover; luckily a treeline near the coordinates allowed her to do such a thing. The landscape was riddled with deep holes, craters formed by the mortars no doubt. Aren’s eyes scanned the surface for anything out of the ordinary, be it friend or foe. Pulling the Pathfinder into the treeline, Aren landed the ship with grace before starting the lockdown procedures.

“Stay close to me Val. We’ll need to scout the area and find a way into their hideout before we bring out the supplies.” she said, undoing her harness and standing from her pilot chair. She moved quickly to the loading ramp, stepping down onto it as it lowered to the ground. Her senses were pushed out, feeling for anything out of the ordinary. There was nothing, which both surprised and frightened her. Waiting for Val to catch up to her side, she led the way on foot from the ship and into the unknowns of Ryloth.

Val’Ko undid his harness quickly and was just behind his Master until he split off to run off to his room. Once he made it inside he took a quick glance around searching for something in particular. He ran his fingers across his lucky charm which happened to be a torn tapestry with a design that always pleased him when he saw it. Locating what he entered the room for just a second later he ran over and grabbed his walking stick. A solid branch that was almost his height. He enjoyed taking it whenever he knew he would have to walk any extended distance over terrain. With walking stick in hand he threw on his cloak and hurried after his Master. Val slowed from his jog and stepped his first step, side by side with his Master, onto Ryloth.
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Week 6, Day 6, Dawn


Munitions were low, medical supplies were basically spent, rations... the Twi'lek man didn't even want to think about those. Despite their dire situation the Twi'lek people couldn't let their guard down. With the Jedi padawan busy tending to the duties her Master had done before, she and Sar were both very busy keeping the village running smoothly despite the hopelessness many of them felt.

The days went on, duties must be fulfilled which included men for scouts as the younger boys and women helped with the rations and healing. His ears picked up a deep rumbling overhead, the sound of a ship lowering and flying low over the ground. Eyes looked up, past his goggles, past the dust that was being kicked up. Shrouded by the boulders in the landscape, he was able to watch an unfamiliar ship as it flew lower to the ground and landed, just past the treeline.

Nothing could be taken lightly now. Friend or foe, Sar and the padawan needed to know, quickly. Alerting his scouting comrade of the ship nearby, the Twi'lek man turned back towards the tunnels, as fast as his legs would take him, to warn Sar and the Jedi padawan of unidentified ship that found its way to their position.
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Week 6, Day 6, morning


A calming breeze gently blew one of the older Twi'lek's lekku as he worked tirelessly with his wrench. The recently retired mercenary was down on one knee as his gloved twisted in the final screw on his speeder bike. He let out a sigh of relief then wiped the sweat from his brow with an old towel, letting himself fall backwards to sit on the ground. Jer Vusid smirked at the sight of his familiar ride, having finished a few simple repairs on the repulsorlift vehicle. The fresh grey paint he'd given it a week before made it look brand new. He'd even painted over the insignia which had sat on the side of the craft for almost a decade. The all too familar sign of his mercenary band, a golden rancor skull. He technically wasn't a member of the group anymore, he was one of the few that could say he'd retired from the business. He rose up to his feet with a stretch, then grasped a metal canteen on top of his speederbike.

As Jer took a swig of water he stepped away from his bike and gazed upon the valley to his side, the canyons of Ryloth spread around his home. He'd nearly forgotten how beautiful the world was, but also how damn humid it was. He was practically soaked in sweat from working outside barely for a hour. As he swallowed the refreshing gulp of water he felt himself cool down internally. The ex mercenary then sat down on the sturdy wooden fence near him, which encircled his property. He smiled as it held his weight well, he impressed himself with his own building. Since he'd arrived back on his homeworld he'd taken it upon himself to do all of the groundwork at his new home. It was a simple cabin he'd purchased cheap, abandoned but not very run down. No major housework was needed, which was had filled him with relief.

The cabin was in a more isolated part of Ryloth, a ways up from one of the villages. Jer hadn't even set foot in them since he had landed on the world. He honestly did not wish to go into any of them unless it was necessary, they were dangerous and infernally noisy. He'd brought enough rations and supplies to last for a little while. Any food they needed could be hunted or harvested, as evident by the growing vegetable garden behind the cabin where Jer was. They were practically in the wilderness where they'd chosen to live, but it was quiet. None of the native predators gave them much trouble, if they did Jer still had his proud collection of blasters. His starship, the Fortitude was parked not far from his home, it was an old Corellian light freighter he'd bought the day of his retirement from the Golden Rancor company.

"Jer, there's people approaching the cabin. They have blasters." A female voice exclaimed to him, breaking him out of his state of relaxation. His wife's words caused him to drop his drink, splashing water all over the grassy ground. He stared at Sienni, noticing the fear in the green skinned twi'lek's eyes as she held onto their son Adal's hand tightly. Seeing his beautiful wife in fear instantly filled Jer with anger at the 'visitors'.

"What? How many of them?" He asked, walking past her to get inside as he darted into his bedroom. The twi'lek pulled open a set of closet doors then frantically pulled his set of armor from out of it.

"I counted five, I don't know if there's more but they were coming up the hill and heading towards the front door. They're all holding blasters. I'm scared Jer, what do we do?" She asked as her husband speedily put on his armor. He quickly adjusted his boots, then walked to a locked cabinet where his heavy blaster rifle resided.

"I will handle it. They might be bandits or something. Hunters from the village wouldn't approach a home like that," Jer stated calmly as he held onto his V-201 in one hand, approaching his wife and son. Then spoke with total certainty. "Stay inside, stay out of sight, do not let them see you or Adal. If you hear blaster fire take Adal and run to the Fortitude. If I'm not back within a few minutes then also run there. Go out the back, get in the ship and lock it down behind you. Arm yourself and sit in the cockpit, do not let anyone inside but me. Make them think the ship is abandoned, use the cannons if you absolutely need to."

"But what about you? They could kill you. They don't look like twi'leks. You're finally done fighting wars the last thing we need is to bury you. Adal and I need you Jer." Sienni replied, tears welling in her eyes.

"Don't worry about me Sienni, you're even tougher than I am. Just listen to me please. A few bandits are child's play," Jer said calmly, flashing a tension breaking smile as he brought his wife in for a brief but powerful hug. Then he spoke once more, forcing his determination to protect his family overtake his sadness. "I love you both so much, please let me handle this."

"Be strong for us both Adal, I know you can be." He said to his young son, the boy was barely three years old. He reached out and hugged the young twi'lek, then rose to his feet.

His wife and son ducked into the kitchen, away from the impending conflict. Jer stepped out of the front door and shut it tightly behind him. He was greeted by the sight of five armed Zygerrians, each looking ready for a fight. Four of them held blaster rifles while a fifth clenched onto a sword. They were slavers, had to be. Ryloth was in Hutt space and he never recalled the Hutt cartel and the Zygerrian Empire working together. The situation made his skin crawl but he kept any fear in check. None of the feline beings were heavily armored and he had the biggest gun as well as the most combat experience.

"What the hell are you schuttas doing here? Leave now." Jer loudly exclaimed towards them, mindful of the distance between them. The quintent of slavers had just crossed over his fence, well within blaster range.

"What do we have here? We thought this building was abandoned, it was last time we flew over it. Instead we find an old tailhead, maybe more? Seems to be our lucky day." The sword wielding Zygerrian replied in words more akin to a taunt. A deep scar embedded in the slaver's right arm.

"I'm the only one here. Get out of here now, I'm giving you one chance. I'm not some weak twi'lek, I could easily rip through all five of you like nothing." Jer declared, narrowing his brow as the invaders took another step towards him.

"You sure are cocky for a future slave, I'll take delight in watching you toll away working. Take him in alive!" The scarred swordsman hollered back, as Jer answered with a volley of blaster fire which sent the Zygerrian to the ground in a heap. Smoke seeped from where the laser bolts impacted as the other slavers advanced, firing back at the twi'lek.

Jer dove to his right, sliding behind a set of metal crates. He thanked himself for not having brought the contents inside as the shots impacted into them instead of him. The former mercenary reached for his belt then flicked the ignition on a thermal detonator. With a grunt Jer heaved the explosive towards his attackers, causing them to scatter. Two were not quick enough and were caught in the ensuing blast. Dirt and wood kicked up as one of the Zygerrians screamed in pain, severely injured and blown away in the explosion. Another laid fallen on the ground, gruesomely taking the impact directly. The two still on their feet shifted to flank Jer as the mercenary rolled out of cover, firing into one of them with his blaster. Not letting go of the trigger until there was a hole in his target's gut.

The last slaver fired at the twi'lek, bolts slamming into the ground around him. One glanced off his leg, causing him to grunt in surprise. His adrenaline carried him forward as he dashed to duck behind a set of rocks. More shots rang out, filling the once serene landscape with the sound of battle. They sailed above Jer as he held onto his weapon, waiting for the exact moment to retaliate. Once the volley of blasterfire was finished he rose from behind cover and shot back, his heavy blaster rifle kicking like an angry bantha as he made his mark. His shots struck into the skull of the last remaining Zygerrian, ending the attacker's life suddenly. Jer shifted out from behind the rocks as he was the last man standing. The slavers likely didn't expect such heavily armed resistance.

The twi'lek strolled towards the other bodies as he ensured all of his attackers were dead. One of them still took labored breaths, his legs heavily disfigured from the detonator's blast, weapon out of reach. Jer approached the incapacitated slaver, making eye contact as he stood above the beaten raider victorious. The ex mercenary did not speak a word, only leveling his blaster at the slaver's skull before unleashing a trio of shots to finish the kill. He did not intend it as mercy, he simply did not want to leave the scum alive to potentially report to other of its vile kind. Then he walked with intent back towards his cabin, going around the left side to where his speederbike was. As he approached the vehicle he climbed onto it, flipped a switch and ignited the hovercraft.

"Sienni its me, are you and Adal on the ship?" He asked, turning on his comm link. Directing his words to the communications device in the Fortitude. He prayed deeply that his wife would answer.

"Yes, are you okay? Please tell me they're gone!" Sienni replied, speaking from aboard the ship. She sat inside the freighter, having locked it down completely. Adal on her lap as she tried to keep the child calm.

"They're all dead. I survived without a scratch, I'm gonna hop on my speeder and investigate. I don't want any others coming around here." He stated as he gently throttled the controls of his speederbike, coming into the open near the Fortitude.

"Jer don't. Get on the ship with us. We can leave the world and go somewhere safe. You don't know whats out there." Sienni said, on the verge of pleading. But she kept herself strong for Adal's sake.

"I can't Sienni, this is our home I have to protect it. I will contact you later, I promise. Do not leave the ship, do not let anyone aboard, its the safest place to be. The slavers didn't look armed enough to cut into a freighter." He replied, a somber tone in his words as he continued to speak. "I love you so much, I promise I will make it back."

Then the twi'lek speeded away, a part of him doubting his decision making. He very well could have hopped aboard his ship and left world. That wasn't the right choice, they'd work so hard to settle down on Ryloth they couldn't just pack it up and flee. His people were strong, even if they tended to be disorganized. He would bet there were some that were fighting back and Jer could help. Slavers were the worst of the worst, he couldn't have lived with himself if he let Sienni and Adal be taken by them. The former mercenary throttled harder on his speederbike as he headed into the tunnels beneath the surface, it was the best bet to find others. He'd found himself plunged into another conflict even in retirement.
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Week 7, Day 1, Dawn




Lo’s legs crossed and folded underneath her. Her arms rested on her thighs while she inhaled then exhaled, her breath locked in a steady rhythm. A faint blue tint outlined her brown fur sticking out of her robes. The crystals’ light cast away the shadows in the clay house used for her master’s healing, adding the calm mood. Lo’s force stretched across the stones. It followed the floor like a snake before it branched out and spread to the local surroundings. A small, serene smile flicked onto her long muzzle.

Unlike Tython, Ryloth’s humidity required her to change a lot about herself. She had shed the tabards, sticking mainly to the under tunic and pants due to the humidity. Even her obi had a thinner leather belt to lessen the layers. The colors remain earthly, but much lighter than her first arrival. While she couldn’t remove all of her fur, she could arrange the longer strands. Her bangs were woven into a fish tail and wrapped about her head. The end twisted into a bun toward the base of her skull. She repeated this with the other side. To hold the buns’ shape, she used tightly twisted pieces of clothes too small to patch a wound.

Over all, her look give her youth a more mature appearance. Lo hoped the change would help to build confidence in the capabilities she had already proven. She had a good feeling, both Sar and her master had approved of her appearance.

The Twi'lek man had made it back to the village in no time, winding his way through the dark tunnels and then finding Sar once he had made it to the cavern.

News of an unidentified ship was both a blessing and a curse for Sar. Were they enemies? Or an ally? The village couldn't tale much more conflict, not with their lack of medical supplies, lack of rations, and not with the Jedi Master still in a coma. Morale was low, but his people pushed on; for that, he was thankful.

After receiving the report, Sar immediately made his way to the hut being used to shelter Dominik as he healed. Lo was in there meditating next to Dominik, the older Jedi still not having woken from his coma. It had been a week at least; Sar couldn't help but feel worried for Lo, no doubt the young Bothan was feeling lonely. He didn't want to push the topic though, so he had remained close in case she reached out to him to talk.

Now though, Sar would have to interrupt her meditation. Hurrying up to the doorway, Sar looked inside and towards Lo before speaking.

"Lo, I'm sorry to interrupt," he said, glancing from the young Bothan to her Master's still form on the bed and back. "One of our scouts spotted a ship. He's not sure what kind, they landed not far from here."

"You didn't interrupt. I was aware you were there when you walked in." Lo reassured his concern as she collected herself. Gradually she began to rose up onto her feet and dust off the dirt on the back of her legs.

She took a moment of silence, digesting the information.

"Well, we'll won't know if they are friend or foe until we approach them. I rather get a sense of their intentions before they get too close to the village. Do we have any individuals able to volunteer for a short walk?" Her dark eyes settled on Sar, turning her body to face him.

"We do, I have a few men already prepared." Sar replied, nodding to the Bothan as she turned towards him. Sar withdrew from the doorway and walked back towards the men who were ready, knowing Lo would join them shortly. Then they could investigate this ship, and hopefully uncover an ally or two who had arrived to help them.

Sar could only hope.
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Week 7, Day 1, Midday


There hadn't been any signs of life besides the native wildlife around them. Thought Aren could sense eyes. Be they friend or foe, she couldn't tell. But ever since they had approached the end of the treeline and the start of larger rock structures, she could feel them.

"Stay close, Val, and keep your head up. We're not the only ones out here." she mumbled, glancing to her Padawan as they found a rough-looking trail heading down towards a larger canyon.

It took them about an hour until Aren and Val ran across a tunnel that dug into the canyon walls. It was dark and the Jedi Knight could tell it wasn't one just made by a larger animal. The walls had been carefully shaped to fit whoever was using it, but it had also seen some damage not long ago judging by the small pile of rocks, fallen from the ceiling, scattered throughout.

She had been wary about stepping inside, though she could sense others nearby. Pushing her senses out, Aren heard footsteps not far from them, coming from the tunnel. One hand moved to her saber, but she did not ignite it; her eyes simply watched as six dark figures started to emerge from within the tunnel. Five of them taller, more masculine. But one of them was significantly smaller, and walked with a gait and posture similar to someone she had seen before. The Jedi Knight stopped in her tracks, aiming to let the figures show themself first before she could decide on what her next actions would be.
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Week 7, Day 1, Midday



On most days, Lo could overlook her shortness being a hassle. Not today. Their current mission was an urgent one as the small group moved to the surface. Her legs moved at a faster pace and pushed to keep up with the taller Twi'lek warriors. Her eyes skimmed each one's appearance. Their skin tones varied from blue to the pale pink. Dark paint formed various tribal patterns indicating tradition or individuality. Their lekku bore no such markings. In a primal world, it showed strength without speaking a word.

Upon approaching the exit, the sun's harsh rays poured down upon the group. Lo's hand rose to shield her eyes briefly. A few moments passed until her vision adjusted. Even through the small padawan showed no outward aggression, her weapon hung on her belt. Just within her hand's reach.

When her vision cleared, she glanced at the two humans that stood before them. Their robes indicated the traditional Jedi robes causing Lo to pause in her thoughts. Relief swept over her worried mind as her muzzle cracked into a gentle smile. Her hand rose to her longer hair where she adjusted her padawan braid.

"Hello. My name is Lo Lya'Tre, padawan of Master Rothul. Bluntness tends to be best in these cases so please excuse my lack of elegance. Seeing you here, can I safely assume you're here to help?" Lo's gut seemed to agree with yes, but she felt assumptions were rather rude. Calmly she waited for an answer as she briefly scanned the horizon. One could never be too careful.

Something familiar swam in the back of Lo's mind about the older Jedi woman, but she couldn't place it. With the stress and trouble they faced, her memory failed her right now. Her head tilted to the right when her eyes fell to the Jedi's Padawan.

"Val'Ko?" The name slipped through her lips. Memories of H'Ratth, weak and distant, crossed her attention. Her head immediately righted itself.

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Week 6, Day 6, Midday


Val followed his Master step by step once they left the ship. His eyes peeled for trouble. He had be exercising his healing leg and wanted to try it out, even if that meant just some local Fauna saw them as food. Val'Ko's mind drifted, Who would they run into here? Master said they were helping Jedi, Val Loved running into jedi he'd never met before. Learning from them like he does Master Aren, and if they are here to help the Twi'lek then he would be bound to run into some slavers.

It seemed like there was more behind this mission. He could feel it through Master Aren, who seemed more focused than usual. Showing less smiles, eyes intent on every task at hand. He didn't worry about it. He knew his Master would tell him if this mission would be something she didn't think he could handle.

Val dismissed his thoughts as they approached a rather large looking cave that looked almost natural. He took Master Aren's que to slow down to a stop, he gave their position a swift 360o clear to make sure no one was doing a poor job at hiding. Before resuming his stance next to his Master. Val waited vigilantly. They weren't too exposed but it was clear Master Aren was trying to look as little threatening as possible for whoever they were trying to meet here.

Sure enough shortly after they halted, figures started to appear in the shadows of the cave. A few larger ones and one, rather small one, comparatively. As they approached the mouth of the cave, sunlight started to define their bodies and add a little color with each step. Val'Ko squinted trying to get a good look at them as they drew closer but it was no use, and the second he realized it probably made him look rather ridiculous, he wiped the look off his face as fast as possible.

Once fully emerged from the tunnel the party stopped and oddly enough the little one stepped forward first, which confused Val until he saw them adjust their padawan braid. Before she could even open her mouth to start her introduction her name was already on Val'Ko's mind. She looked just a good as he remembered, only now, more mature. She told them who she was and inquired about their intentions, waiting for their response. Val could almost see when she recognized him. Her eyes turned soft and locked onto him as her mouth made an inaudible movement before she turned her head back to Master Aren with a focused gaze.

Val'Ko grinned slightly and looked up to Master Aren, knowing it wasn't his place to respond in such a situation. He was happy to see a familiar face, now even more eager to fight along side an old friend.
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Week 7, Day 1, Midday


Aren bowed her head to Lo as the young padawan introduced herself. She caught the familiarity between the two padawans, but decided to leave it for another time. There were more important matters to tend to first.

"Padawan Learner Lya'Tre, I'm Jedi Knight Aren Bec. We were sent by the Council after they received your message." She said, looking from Lo to Val as she spoke. "We've brought medical supplies and rations, as many as we could carry. Our ship is hidden in the treeline, not too far from here. We wanted to meet up with someone so we could start hauling in supplies." Aren explained, turning to the side as she momentarily glanced in the direction her ship was. At the same time, her eyes scanned the area around them, looking for trouble as her senses reached out and kept focused attention on their surroundings. "It might take a few trips but we wanted to bring as much as possible."

Aren was curious about Dominik. If he was not with Lo, he must still be gravely injured; it wasn't like the man to leave responsibility to just one person alone, let alone his padawan. But the supplies came first. Once they were delivered, then the Jedi Knight planned to ask about her old friend.
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