[Master-Student] Realities of War


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #1

This is a Master-Student run-on. Characters sheets linked below:
(Master) Aura Ta’var: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/10388/character_sheet
(Student) Tyraal Bitshiver: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/14567/character_sheet


War is on the horizon. The evil Grandmaster Pravus has disappeared, but his faithful minions are already ensuring his reign of terror stays intact and grows outward. Regardless, strife and turmoil are reaching a boiling point in Dark Brotherhood space as those not so faithful to the Iron Throne are actively trying to seek its power for themselves. Amongst all this, the Lotus seeks to topple the evil regime of the Iron Throne, for better or worse.

The Lotus, an alliance of sympathetic Clans and rebels, are actively sent on missions each week to help further the cause. Sometimes the missions seem of little consequence, but every task is important in one way or another. Due to the overwhelming needs of the looming war, more and more Odanites are being called to serve. This is especially true for the Jedi and their padawan learners.

Tyraal Bitshiver, who has been training under the watchful eye of Aura Ta’var, now finds himself confronted with the realities of war as his Master has been called out to the front. An eager young apprentice, he asks his Master if he can tag along and help. Unsure if he’s ready, Aura sets up a grueling set of trials to prove his abilities. Tyraal readily accepts, anxious to make a difference and prove his worth to the Galaxy.


(Tyraal Bitshiver) #2

Tyraal sat aside, gently manipulating a handful of pebbles with the force. The Lotus had been busy as of late, working hard to slowly destabilize the Iron Throne. Tyraal’s involvement with the Lotus had been very limited, mainly due to his master Aura’s concerns with sending him into the crosshairs of Iron Throne and its allies. With a quiet sigh, he discarded the pebbles and rose, rolling his neck. He tensed his fingers and slowly made his way to the hanger and easily pulled himself onto a ship. He nestled himself against the foils and mechanicals and surveyed the area: calm, empty, and boring. As was expected with Aura’s choice of location.
With little else to do, he decided to attempt his force cloaking. With a little focus, he slowly turned from visible to invisible. He heard a quiet chuckling from below him. Tyraal grimaced.
“Zeltron giggles from below me. I must be completely visible, Master Aura?”


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #3

“Oh, you were invisible, but I tracked you through the Force a few days ago. After I saw that you liked this particular spot, I decided to practice my own concealment technique on you. After all, I have to keep up with my student.” Aura stepped out from behind a pile of cargo crates, a mischievous smile lighting up her face. “We really need to work on your detection skills.”

Tyraal grimaced, annoyed at the mention of yet another training exercise. The best sort of practice was out there in the galaxy at large, not in a calm hangar. A pregnant pause filled the space around them, his unspoken words carried on the crisp, clean air that was pervasive throughout the complex. After a steadying breath to vent off frustration, he finally responded with an affirmative.

“Yes, master. Can we start soon?” he asked, hoping the annoyance would be hidden.

“I"m sorry, but that might take a while.”

Tyraal sighed heavily, staring resolutely at nothing in particular. “Figures…”

Aura chuckled to herself again, letting the silence build until she gave him a glimmer of hope. "Because you’ll be too busy running through tests so I can see if you are ready to be taken with me on my next mission that starts in a week.

“What? You serious?” Tyraal sat up, flabbergasted at the moment.

“Crystal,” replied Aura, no longer smiling. The Zeltron didn’t want her apprentice anywhere near the operation for fear he might get hurt, but her own master had encouraged such exercises.

If he is ready…

Tyraal, whooped loudly and quickly got back up to his feet. He slid off the ship and stood next to her, ready to get started.

“I’m ready. Can we start now? Come on. Give me a shot,” pleaded her apprentice.

Aura grimly smiled as she thought of what she had in store for the Padawan. He was going to both hate and love her for what she had put together for him. He would come out the better for it in the end though. He wanted a shot. He was going to get it.

“Yes. I’ve spent the last few days getting it all ready. We’ll see just how ready you are to help me out on my missions. You can start right now. Run the long loop 3 times, then come back to the middle of the hangar. We will then duel each other. Once I tell you to stop dueling, you’ll start it the cycle all over again until I say so,” she ordered with a smile of encouragement.

“But,” Tyraal started to protest.

“Time is ticking, apprentice. If you don’t pass your tests in time, I’ll leave you behind with the other younglings. Get moving. You can do it,” encouraged the Zeltron.


(Tyraal Bitshiver) #4

Tyraal sighed. “The Long loop” was Aura’s way of saying “circuit around the entire compound”. Which first meant descending the mountains, and then starting the actual circuit. Tyraal knew better than to argue but he couldn’t help himself. How running three circuits would prove anything about him, he didn’t know.
“Master, please–” He started, but Aura waved him off.
“Get going. Your clock is running!” Aura gripped his shoulders, rotating him towards the hanger doors, and gave him a push. "You can do it!"
As he stumbled forward, he glanced back at her. The Zeltron stood there, pale red skin half-glowing in the hanger light, a mixture of uneasiness and peaceful confidence across her being. Tyraal knew why she didn’t want him along, per-say. Too much conflict. Too much emotion. Too much likelihood of her going off the rails herself. He shook himself, and rushed through the doors. Well, he’d show her he could. Whatever silly tests she conjured up for him.

“Maybe she’s right,” Tyraal thought to himself, panting into his rebreather. “Making the circuit three times will actually prove me capable.” The hellish surface of Kiast was absolutely unbearable. And as he couldn’t get a hold on a pressure suit, he had already technically failed Aura’s direct instructions of “The big loop”. And so, he was going as quickly as possible along an extraordinarily dangerous path, dancing on an erratic path half a meter wide at it’s best, and slick as ice. His balance had always been good, but this was a real test. Coupled with the fact that if he did lose his balance, he would plummet into a valley of Kiast’s surface, which would crush him if the fall didn’t kill him first. His biggest concern was whether there would be much tectonic activity. In the mountains, it was always colder, and relatively stable in comparison to the lower regions closer to the surface.

More than once his feet left the ground and left him dangling over the parapet. In those moments, while trying to climb back up, he wondered how much difference one trainee could make. If he fell, like he so often thought he would, what changes would happen? Aura would probably try to haunt him, just to say "Why did you do that path?"
He pulled back onto the ledge for the sixth time, and looked at the path ahead. He had maybe a circuit and a half to still complete. With a groan, he pushed himself to his feet and began trudging along once again.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #5

Aura watched her apprentice with apprehension as she looked at the security monitors. She drummed her fingers against her thigh, heart racing each time he slipped. Was she being overprotective? Yes. Was it because she feared how she would react if he was to get hurt? She didn’t like the answer, but it was a solid yes. As such, this was her test run as well. While Tyraal struggled with his body’s own limits, his Master struggled with controlling her own fear.

“Fool, why go on the icy path? Do you like to make life hard on yourself on purpose?” she asked out loud as she watched him fall once more, barely catching hold of the ledge. Aura balled her hands into fists as she repeated to herself over and over again, “He can do this. Don’t run to save him.”

Her apprentice ably got back to his feet, already underway to finish his last circuit. He would be back soon. “Hmm, keeps getting back up though. Good man,” she spoke quietly to herself. She waited till he got back inside to turn off the screen and then hid around a corner, lightsaber unlit but at the ready. She had told him that they wouldn’t fight until he got to the middle of the hangar, but Odan-Urr’s enemies rarely followed the rules. Aura centered herself in the Force, an obvious sign that she was nearby, and then struck out at her apprentice, going for a glancing blow.

“What the!” yelled Tyraal as he dodged away from her almost-white, blue saber. He brought his own lightsaber to his hand and activated it. “Why the hell did you-”

Aura went after him, forcing his apprentice on the defensive. She could feel him draw upon the Force as he slipped into Vaapad, his saber deflecting her flurry of stabs and slashes.

“Our enemies won’t give you the pleasure of resting first nor will they follow the rules. Prove to me you can hold your own, get back to the middle of the hangar unscathed,” Aura challenged as she started to press her advantage, ready to cut off his escape to either side.


(Tyraal Bitshiver) #6

Tyraal growled, feeling the emotional force charge begin surging through his body. He stumbled backwards working his defenses much harder than usual.
“You lied Master,” he growled, locking the two blades and pushing her back. “You said we would fight in the hanger.”
“We are.” Replied Aura, skipping lightly back and starting another series of attacks. Tyraal blocked one, and leapt, a force-assisted jump, hurtling him over her head.
“This is not the hanger!” He snarled, surrendering into Vaapad and lunging into an attack, despite the fact that he now had an open run for the center of the hanger.

He brought down his lightsaber quickly, swiping aggressively, speedily, attempting to poke holes in her defense. Aura blocked rather effortlessly, as the two danced around. She tried to lead him around, to reassert her position between him and hanger destination, but he moved along, keeping his solid placing. She snorted, half in irritation, half in amused appreciation at him. She moved to leap over him, but as she left the ground, Tyraal turned and bolted for the hanger. As she descended, she lashed with a telekinetic strike. The blow was much harder than she intended, and threw him hurtling into the hanger. He collided with an x-wing, slamming into the s-foils, jerking the ship from its relatively weak mooring cable. The x-wing groaned around, crushing against the wall. His lightsaber was thrown from his hand and lay fizzling to the side with the crystal knocked out of alignment with the saber. Silence dropped heavily on the hanger everyone looked up, Aura landing on the ground and the x-wing whining across the floor.

Tyraal bounced weakly off the wall, his back in pain after both Aura’s force punch and collision from the x-wing. He landed on the ground, and rolled back to his feet. He strained to rise, his back flickering with sharp, fiery needles jabbing painfully across most of his torso. He recalled his lightsaber, contemplating either a quick healing or numbing himself. He glanced up at Aura advancing and decided there wasn’t enough time for much, and backpedalled, numbing himself. He moved to activate his lightsaber, but it remained extinguished. He swore and blasted at Aura with several bolts of lightning, before backflipping onto the x-wing, blasting at Aura with some more lightning before dropped down. As he landed behind the fighter, he landed heavily, clipping his lightsaber to his belt and attempting to mislead Aura with some illusions. If he could distract her for long enough, he could cloak himself and make his way to the center of the hanger.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #7

Aura raised a quizzical brow as she saw Tyraal run away from the center of the room, wondering how he could be there given the stated objective. Unsure, she reached out to the Force, feeling his presence off to her left. The illusion fell to pieces as reality returned. She raced towards her apprentice despite the fact that he was nowhere to be seen, relying on the Force to guide her.

She could feel his anxiety seep into the Force as she reached the center, which was marked by a pile of crates. They were a mere 20 feet away. He might just make it. Aura launched herself into the air, her body falling in a gentle arc as she crashed onto the second layer of crates. She reached out to the Force and pushed Tyraal’s presence away from her but only managed to clip him as he changed direction. Nevertheless, his hand touched the corner of a crate as he laid down on the ground, exhausted at the moment.

“I did it,” heaved Tyraal.

Aura grimaced, chewing on a few choice words concerning the methods he had used against her.

“Good job, well almost. I commend you for your deceptive tactics. You’ll need them if you are to survive on missions. But I must warn you to not use Force Lightning on me or while we are on a mission together. I know you’ve found a way to not use the Dark Side while using it, but it has a certain reputation about it that Jedi don’t need.”

“But…” he started to protest before he got cut off again.

“I won’t force you to stop using it, but don’t use it around me. Got it?” asked Aura sternly, biting back a growl. She hadn’t fully explained why to Tyraal, yet, but one day she would. Almost as if on queue, he asked the inevitable question.

“But why don’t you like it, Master?”

Aura took a deep breath, pushing away bad memories, and then looked Tyraal in the eyes.

“Bad memories. A story for another time. It can be your reward for passing this next test. Good job passing this one. Now, rest up for 10 minutes and then we begin a new exercise. This time you will practice your blaster plus lightsaber form with many training remotes. No lightning allowed.”

Aura sat back a meter or two away and slipped into a meditation, willing herself to keep an open mind with her apprentice’s use of Lightning.


(Tyraal Bitshiver) #8

Tyraal gave a small, grim grin as she turned away. He panted for another few seconds and then pushed himself to his knees, sitting quietly, controlling and slowing his breathing. As his heart slowed, his senses slowly returned from the fogged abilities they had been in the last 30 seconds of the challenge. He rose to his feet and moved away from the center of the hanger. He sat down heavily against a wall, and laid his head back. He pulled his canteen to him from where he’d left it in the fighter niche, with the force, and took a small sip.
The drink was profusely more enjoyable than it had been before he left for the circuit. He slowly rose to his feet, taking a blaster as he made his way back to the hanger center. He slowly rolled and cracked his neck, looking around.
“How many, master?”

Aura’s eye flicked open, glanced at him and closed again. Then both opened, and she rose to her feet, walking to a crate. She pried off the top and removed one from the box, tossing it into the air. It buzzed to life and turned to Tyraal. He raised an eyebrow and blasted it with very little attentive effort. She grimaced.

“How about fifty?” She asked, flipping the crate as a fleet of remotes floated out. Tyraal hiccuped, backpedaling and igniting his lightsaber. He holstered the blaster quickly, looking for a quick strategy.

Aura watched her apprentice react, and saw the abrupt panic on his face.
“No,” she told herself. “This isn’t too many. He has to learn to cope with a mountain of foes.” Tyraal was too busy deflecting bolts to notice her discomfort.

Tyraal was struggling slightly. He decided to accept the consequences of destroying the remotes, and vaulted at them, slicing several apart. His senses sharpened as the panic passed and adrenaline joined the fight, and his precognition woke up, tingling with alertness. He drew his blaster, backpedaling and deflecting bolts as he pulled off a handful of shots. He was finding it inexplicably difficult, until he realized his targets were barely a foot large, and he was totally exposed. He grimaced, and focused.
A bolt clipped his shoulder as he spun, burning him. He swore and blasted the remote away with the force. He turned, on the last three. As he deflected the last three bolts to end the exercise, he turned to face Aura, and stared as she charged him, lightsaber ignited.

“Master!” He protested, dropping the blaster and sidestepping to no avail. His shoulder burned in pain as he desperately blocked his master’s attacks.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #9

Aura rushed her apprentice, a final test of his defenses. Her padawan had proven his mettle so far but she wondered if he was still as sharp as he was when they had started. Her saber clashed against his own as he desperately looked for an opening to escape, exhaustion threatening his ability to defend himself. The young Jedi scampered backward, while Aura purposely delayed a swing, and concentrated as he reached out to the Force. Suddenly, everything went pitch black around Aura. She heard her apprentice back off to a safer distance and smiled.

“Congratulations. You’ve passed the test. The exercise is done. Good job,” Aura called out, shutting down her saber and clapping her hands.

“You almost hit me!” Tyraal protested.

“And you retreated to safety. It was well done,” replied Aura as she found her way out of the fading darkness and walked over to her padawan apprentice.

Tyraal tensed, natural given the days events, but then stood shocked as his Master simply gave him a tight hug and gestured him towards a bacta tank.

“Let’s heal that up and then go have some fun before the mission starts. I’ll send all the details to your datapad while you rest for the next few hours.”

“Did you just hug me?” asked Tyraal, still surprised.

“Yes, one of many. Now go heal up. We did plenty of work. Now its time to have some fun. You’ve earned it. Make sure you bring some party clothes,” smiled Aura.

Aura watched her apprentice shake his head as he went into the med bay and perched herself on a crate nearby. The boy needed some relaxation too. Her thoughts went to someone who might help him out with that, even if he might be a bad influence. Teikhos Seleukides was her current beau and was quite adapt at helping others have fun. She pulled out a comlink.

“Hey Casanova, want to hang out tonight and help my apprentice?”
“Hey Beautiful, sure. How can I help?”
“I’ve just put him through drills today and I might have overdone it. Poor kid needs to blow off some steam. Maybe you can also bring along some friends. I don’t think he has a significant other,” explained Aura.
“Boys or girls?”
“I don’t know. Let’s got with both to be safe.”
“Yeah, I can help the kid out, especially if I get to see you. Let’s meet up tonight at our favorite place.”
“Sounds great. See you then.”

Aura couldn’t help but smile mischievously. Tyraal didn’t know what was waiting for him. A evening out with Zeltrons. Two hours passed until he returned from his bacta dip, fully healed for the mission. The Zeltron looked up expectedly and beckoned her apprentice towards her. The pair walked back to their respective quarters.

“Feel 100% again?” she asked.

“For now, yeah.”

“Great. Tomorrow afternoon we leave for our mission. Two Odanites, Len Iode and Ethan Martes, went on a mission recently but haven’t checked in yet. We’ve been assigned to check it out. You’ll be flying us there.”

Tyraal smiled. “What ship are we going to take? Do you have one?”

“No. But we can borrow most common craft types. You can look them over tomorrow and pick. Doesn’t hurt to ask for your favorite first. We just need something sturdy that can hold 2 extra passengers. I sent the mission details to your datapad. Read up on them before we leave. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of details so it will probably be a quick read. Short version, it looks like a standard supply run gone wrong. We’ll need to be sharp though. Something doesn’t feel right about it,” explained Aura.

“Alright, I’ll look over it tonight,” replied Tyraal enthusiastically, ready to finally go on a mission.

“But first, we are going out tonight. We leave in 2 hours for some fun at one of my favorite clubs. Dress appropriately.”

“But the mission-”

“You should have plenty of time to read up on it before we leave. I’ll see you then,” Aura cut him off. “Don’t look so scared. I’ve got you covered. Work hard and then play hard,” yelloed Aura over her shoulder as she went to her own room, leaving Tyraal to his own thoughts.


(Tyraal Bitshiver) #10

“Party?” Yipped Tyraal in confusion. “Master, why–!”

But she was already gone. Disappeared into her room, the door sliding down behind her as if signalling that the padawan was out of time to argue. He huffed discontentedly, sounding more like a pack animal than human, and then turned away towards his own room. He stepped into the dark setting, toned with dim blacks, greys, and browns, to his suited dusky color preference. He collapsed onto the bed, staring at the black ceiling. A beep later, and a holo-projection of stars illuminated themselves. Tyraal grinned with little amusement.

“Thanks Seven,” He muttered. The green and orange astromech could hear his disapproval, but kept his projector focused on the heavenly celestials. Tyraal groaned and sat up, rolling and cracking his neck in impatience. What he wanted to get in the field; test his wings; prove he was worthy of Master Aura’s teachings, trainings, and trust; but here he was, sitting on his bed in the gloom of his suite.

He pursed his lips in annoyance as he rose from the bed, and switched on the lights. He turned his head, unintentionally, towards a wardrobe (more for decorative purposes than for actual clothes housing) and his eyes fell on a holoprojector. With a sigh crossing of reluctance, agony, need, and angst, he crossed the room and took the projector. He sat on the floor, legs crossed, and he turned on the device. A projection of a planet popped into existence. A wave of depression, pride, sickness, and general misery washed over him. With a miserable finger, he moved to the next projection: another planet. Next projection: Theed city. Next projection–
He broke down and wept. The holoprojector fell from lifeless hands and clattered to the floor. The face of the projection winked out. He pulled his knees tight against himself and cried, rocking himself.

Aura rapped on the doorframe and entered. She saw Tyraal seated at his desk, mindlessly tossing a ball from hand to hand.

“Ready?” She asked, with a healthy dose of anticipation and excitement. Tyraal glanced up, briefly and looked back down. Briefly. Aura noticed. Tyraal set the ball on the table and rose from his seat.
“You don’t look festive,” Commented Aura disapprovingly. He wore his brotherhood robes, with the brand of Odan-Urr across the shoulders.
“I don’t do parties.” Tyraal replied. A slight, almost imperceptible quiver. A tenseness in the neck. A slight hardness in his jaw. Aura read him easier than the report on the mission he hadn’t yet glanced at.
“What.” She spoke. She didn’t ask. She commanded. His eyes shifted microscopically. “You’re angry Tyraal. Why?” She followed his unwarranted gaze.
“What have you seen? What did you do?” Tyraal’s jaw hardened. “Answer me Tyraal!” She gripped his shoulders-- and stared as Tyraal melted in her grip. He crumbled to the floor, tears once again running down his cheeks.
“What–? Tyraal!” Aura sat down, hugging her apprentice tightly against her. “What happened?”

He quietly wept in her arms. She looked at the projector, and then at the astromech in the corner, watching with obvious concern.

“Show me the projection.” She ordered the droid.
“It’s home,” Stammered Tyraal, gasping painfully for breath. Aura hesitated.
“Are you homesick, Tyraal?” She asked, gently.
“No!” He drew in another wracking breath, and they both knew he was lying. “I’m not!”

Aura sat there, feeling every tinge of her apprentice’s misery. She gently pushed her happiness to him, pained by his pain. The two sat there, him crying, her sharing her contentedness, her happiness with him.

Almost hours passed, it felt like, until Aura could feel Tyraal’s heart slow, and his breathing go normal. She rose to her feet and took his arm and helped him up also.

“You feel better?” She asked, gently. He nodded, sniffling with very red, watery eyes. He blinked a few times.
“Good.” She put her arm around him as she guided him to the door. She glanced discreetly at the projector on the wardrobe and contemplated grabbing it to look at later.
“Master, where are we going?” Tyraal’s drawn voice quaver interrupted her thoughts.
“To a very special spot,” she replied, enigmatically.
“But–”
“Patience.”

The slightly throbbing lights and low music was the first to catch Tyraal’s eye. The tears were gone, and he was much more like his normal self.

“Red Twilight?” He asked cynically. “Sounds more like a reference to a Sith meditation.”
“It does.” Replied Aura, with a slight shudder. Tyraal raised an eyebrow slightly.
“Why is it called that?” He asked quickly, trying to get away from the clearly unwanted subject.
“Well……” She started, but someone gripped her shoulders and yanked her back. Tyraal whirled, lightsaber ready. He snarled and then relaxed when he saw Aura kissing her assailant.
“Hello handsome,” Said Aura, leaning back and grinning, ruffling her assailant’s hair.
“Is this….?” Asked Tyraal, slowly lowering his blade.
“Teikhos.” Answered both Zeltrons in synchronized voices. Tyraal blinked.
“A pleasure?” He commented, extinguishing his lightsaber and slowly lowering it to his hip.
“You don’t sound sure of yourself. You didn’t tell me I had competition,” Teikhos said, glancing significantly at Aura. She guffawed.
“Stop it!” She playfully pushed him away and turned to Tyraal. “Ignore him. Let’s go.”
“Uh, no.” Replied Teikhos. “I reserved the suite.”

Aura gasped, and Tyraal honestly wondered if this was further sarcasm or genuine surprise and delight.

“You didn’t!”
“I did.”
“No!”
“Yep. So, not that door.” Teikhos stepped out the main door to cross the street.

Aura bounced after him, leaving Tyraal blinking in half bemusement and half irritation. He shook his head and decided to let the evening just pass over his head. He had a mission to attend to, which would keep him mentally occupied all night. Just have a few drinks, and wrap a mind around the mission. He could call 7V to come join him at the club so he could hear the details. He followed Aura and Teikhos, who were currently very intimately and aggressively kissing each other in front of the double doors to the Red Twilight Suite. He came up, and the two broke off and looked at him.

“Officially,” said the Zeltron, extending a hand. “I’m Teikhos Seleukides.”
“Tyraal Bitshiver,” Replied the human, gripping the hand.
“Charmed to finally meet you.”
“I’m glad to see Aura has you, and isn’t merely too damned buoyant with her life.”

Teikhos’ lip twitched slightly, and then smile genially again.

“And why do you say that?” He asked. Tyraal’s hair stood on his neck.
“Observation through training.” He answered, unnerved by the overwhelming and disconcerting feeling of attraction and distrust. “Please quit the pheromones.”
Immediately the appeal stopped.
“I apologize,” said Teikhos. “I was just trying to help us get along.”
“Noted.” Quipped Tyraal.
“Boys, boys, please,” Cut in Aura. “Can we just have a good time?”
Teikhos stepped toward the door, and bowed Tyraal and Aura in. They stepped through.

“How did you afford this?” Asked Aura, cozied up to Teikhos at the bar.
“We split the check,” Her companion answered.

At Aura’s voice, a dozen voices cheered and rushed over. Tyraal froze in the doorway as Aura was swamped with Zeltron fans. Various cries of “Aura!!” and “I’ve missed you!!” emerged from the mass. Several hundred hugs and love punches and playful slaps later, the crowd split into individuals. They all, almost in unison, looked concernedly at Tyraal, who stood in discomfort.

“By the stars, is he yours Aura?” Asked one, whispering in a voice audible for all.
“This is Tyraal,” Aura said quickly, stepping to him and pulling him in by the arm. “My padawan apprentice.”

They all gave a collective “ooooh”, and several giggled.

“Let me introduce you Tyraal,” Said Aura gently. “This is Nils, that’s Grejor, that’s…”

Tyraal lost it at Nils, trying to keep up with who Aura was pointing at. The various skin hues from pink to deep crimson, and hair from black to pale blue was mesmerizing and disconcerting at the least for him.

“And Sanah,” Aura concluded, gesturing to the last one. She glanced at Tyraal. “I’m sorry if this is overwhelming–”
“It is a bit.”
“I thought I pushed you too hard earlier. I wanted you to relax.” Tyraal slowly exhaled.
“Alright, master Aura.”
“That doesn’t sound relaxed…” She muttered.
“I’ll try.” Tyraal returned with a touch of heat. Aura sighed.
“Respect, apprentice.” She spoke, simply. “I’ll let it pass for today because of circumstances, but have respect.”

The atmosphere was thick with emotion. So thick, it felt that one could cut it with a vibroknife. The Zeltrons broke ranks, several returning to tables, talking, others tagging along with Aura and Teikhos. Three moved toward Tyraal, still standing irritated in the middle of the floor.

“I’m Nils,” Said the first, introducing himself again. His skin was a deep red and his hair shone black. A fine male specimen. “I’m not sure if you caught that when Aura was introducing us all; you looked a little…”
“Bewildered,” Supplied the second, a female with blue-black hair and light pink flesh. “Teikhos just told us to come and help out a friend so we all came along.”
“She’s Fessa,” Prompted the third, another girl with blue hair and medium pink skin. “And I’m Grehas.”
Tyraal blinked.
“Nils, Fessa, Grehas…” He murmured, analyzing them each for several seconds. “I apologize if I forget your faces among the others.”

Fessa looked a bit hurt by his statement, but Nils nodded.

“Most people can’t tell us apart when they’re first introduced. After a few days, we’ll all look as distinct as your own kind.”
“I’m not sure if I’ll have a few days,” Tyraal answered. Grehas gasped.
“No. We’ll keep you here if we have to.” She replied, firmly. She smiled. “We want to get to know you. You’re always with Aura; she’s a Zelton, and we all try to know everyone’s everyone.”
“Quite the list to keep track of,” Tyraal answered.

Nils and Fessa turned and vanished among the throng of Zeltrons, while Grehas talked with Tyraal for a bit.

“How long have you been with Aura?” She asked, as she guided him to a table.
“About eight months.”
“Is that how long you’ve been a jedi?”
“No, my former master disappeared. They never told me what happened to him.”
“What was his name?” She asked, as Nils returned with several drinks.
“Lithar.”
“Lithar?” Asked Nils, halting abruptly. “Andaris?”
“Yeah,” Said Tyraal, sitting up. “What happened to him?”
“If Aura hasn’t told you, that might be best,” He replied.
“Come on Nils,” Shot back Tyraal. Nils grinned.
“You remembered the name to my face,” he said, neatly evading the question.
“Answer!”
“Okay, okay.” Nils sat down, laying the plate of drinks down. “The most that I, me myself, can tell you is that he abandoned Odan-Urr.”
“He what?” Asked Tyraal, leaning forward onto the table.
“Left Odan-Urr.” Answered Nils. “And that is all that I can tell you.”
“And why is that?”
“Because I don’t know, and if I did, I’m not sure if I would be cleared to.”

Tyraal grimaced, his lips setting into a hard line.

“Oh my, what’s going on here?” Asked a voice, as two females and a male sat down. “You guys are giving off way too much tension.” She looked at Tyraal. “Remember me?”
“Fessa.” He answered.
“Yay! I’d like a little more enthusiasm next time, but at least you recognize me.”
“I’m Tirin, and this is my twin Twaea,” Said the male. Tyraal sighed, analyzing their faces for a moment.
“This is going to be a long night…” He muttered.
“Have a drink,” suggested Nils, handing out drinks.

The mood changed. The more drinks, the more merry. Aura and Teikhos had disappeared, probably enjoying some quiet alone time. Tyraal and the others were all in a group, laughing, cheering, enjoying themselves. Nils sat on the outskirts, the most straight headed of them all. Tyraal was almost intoxicated, between the pheromones electrifying the air and the alcohol. Outside the lights were getting lower, while the spirits in the Red Twilight Suite were ever rising.

They had all figured themselves out: Sanah and Twaea were Tyraal’s; Nils and Grehas had been a couple almost the same day that Tyraal and Aura had become master and apprentice. The others were paired off in their fashions. The night was deteriorating to statements, laughter, dares, and more laughter. It had been several hours since the icy introduction they had had with Tyraal, and it seemed now like they had all been together since birth. The night wore on longer, not gravely wounded by Nils decision to stop the alcohol flow.

“What do you do with yourself, Nils?” Asked Tyraal, sipping at a sobering brew Nils had handed him.
“Not much.” He answered. “I tinker, I gamble–”
“Gamble too much,” Cut in Grehas. The five of them laughed.
“Only according to you,” Nils returned, grinning.
“There’s no harm in running your chances,” Added Tyraal. “You see how well you’ve mastered your guessing, and maybe make something along the side.”

They had split away from the group, to better help Tyraal’s recovery. Nils and Grehas were seated on the bed while Tyraal was propped against the wall, with Twaea and Sanah lying against him.

“If he loses all his money in the excuse of educating himself, that’s no gain!” Replied Grehas with a fiery huff.
“Ah, but what if I don’t lose it all?” Asked Nils innocently. Tyraal burst into laughter. Grehas’ fine eyebrow arched downward.

The quintet was interrupted by a shriek from the other room. They all jolted. Nils and Tyraal leapt for the door. They burst into the main room, where a handful of armored figures stood, holding the Zeltrons at gunpoint. The one obviously in command eyed Nils and Tyraal.

“A human. Finally something that isn’t red.” He raised a blaster, and Tyraal snarled.
“What do you want?” He growled.
“Well I came here to get my prize,” Answered the Dug boss. “But seeing some Zeltron girls here, I could make some cash with the Twi’leks I’ve got on my ship.”

Nils growled. Tyraal ignited his lightsaber. The Dug and his goons stepped back unconsciously, aware of the lightsaber buzz. The Dug sized up Tyraal for a moment: messy tunic, pale; he laughed. A disgusting, hideous chuckle. And then Nils activated his lightsaber. The two yellow blades extended, and the goons yowled.

“Since when are you a Jedi?” Queried Tyraal, blinking at Nils.
“Since before you’ve been here,” Replied the other. The other doors opened, and Aura and Teikhos burst out.
“Well this is fine!” Snapped the Dug. “All I want is what’s mine!” He snarled as Sanah appeared in the doorway. Her red hue paled to a sharp pink. She turned and bolted back into the room.
“What do you mean ‘yours’?” Seethed Tyraal.
“Tyraal….” Said Aura warningly.
“I mean I own her!” Roared the Dug, raising the blaster.

He fired, and Nils and Tyraal rushed. Aura’s lightsaber flew to her hand as she threw herself into the mix. Somewhere a white lightsaber ignited and swung at Tyraal. Amid the chaos and blaster fire, Tyraal found himself sparring with a very real enemy who was not trying to test him. He defended, backpedaling to recover himself for an offensive. Blaster bolts flew around madly as a mob from outside rushed into the suite. Tyraal locked blades and was thrown back, over the bar. Aura snarled and charged the attacker, and they sparred, Aura clearly the superior of the two. Teikhos had a few of the Zeltrons grab dropped blasters and they were now firing.

Two more lightsabers ignited, and Nils engaged them both. Several loud zaps of stun bolts could be heard, accompanied by surprised groans as their victims dropped to the ground. One being Aura.

“Master!” Shouted Tyraal amid the ruckus.

The white-lightsaber wielding Duro pushed off the wall from where Aura had her cornered. Tyraal lunged, and was thrown into the wall by another. His lightsaber flew from his hand. He landed in a crouch, his vibroknife falling from his sleeve to his hand. He threw the blade into one, recalled it with the Force, and thrust it upward into his current assailant’s chest. He left the blade where it was and reached for both his lightsaber and Aura’s with the Force. They both flew to his hand and he leapt at the Duro, blades igniting together.

“Tyraal!” Thundered both Teikhos and Nils.

Tyraal ignored them, attacking his opponent. He had trained himself to an extent with a lightsaber and a vibroblade, but he wasn’t quite prepared for two lightsabers. However, he was capable enough to overwhelm his opponent into retreating into another room. The more swings he took, the more the clumsiness began to leave. His blades flew more in coordination than in singularity. Teikhos burst in behind, flanked the Duro and stabbed twice with a lightsaber, in the shoulder and hip.

The Duro whined and keeled backward. Teikhos glared at Tyraal.

“What are you doing?!” He hissed.
“Trying to save lives in this situation!” Shot back Tyraal.
“Aura explicitly told me you weren’t capable of using two blades! What are you thinking?!”

Tyraal growled and didn’t answer, returning to the main room where Nils was cornered with two lightsaber wielding opponents. Tyraal extinguished Aura’s lightsaber, clipping it to his belt, and rushed to Nils’ aid. He sliced through one, and caught the blade of the other for Nils to deliver a killing blow. A silence reigned in the room for a moment before an abrupt cheer flew up from the Zeltrons, minus Teikhos and Nils.

“What was that?” Asked Nils, gesturing at Aura’s blade on Tyraal’s hip.
“Me proving that I’m more capable than anyone here cares to admit.” He replied in disgust.
“You aren’t trained for two weapons,” Returned Nils bitterly.
“News flash!” Shot Tyraal, eyes wide in sarcastic amazement. He threw his hands out slowly in mockery of an announcement. “I survived! Clearly I can do it if and WHEN I need to.”

Nils’ face hardened, and he shook his head.

“THAT,” He said. “Was incredibly stupid and arrogant of you.”
“Blazes Nils, just because I’m just an apprentice and you have two blades, you think I can’t do anything for myself? You met me TONIGHT! How the hell do you think you know what I can do?”
“BECAUSE I’VE WATCHED YOU AND AURA!” He roared. “AND I’VE SEEN YOU WORK VAAPAD! WHICH USES ONE BLADE!”

The two of them stared each other down, Nils towering over Tyraal as he stepped to the floor. They both turned towards Aura.

“Nice job.” Growled Nils begrudgingly.
“Thanks you.” Replied Tyraal, irritatedly. After a moment he added: “Likewise to you.”
“I know. Be smarter on Ullyr.” Tyraal looked at him sharply.
“The hell does that mean?” He snapped.
“It means if you’re going to get yourself, Aura, and those two idiots out of trouble," wound up Nils, "then you need to think through your actions much better.”
“And what’s Ullyr?”
“The planet they were assigned to. By the Force, did you even read the report?”
“WHAT report?”
“YOUR MISSION.” Roared Nils.

Tyraal froze.

“How do you know about that?" Tyraal asked. "Or what’s on it?”
“I know about it because I was supposed to go until I was reassigned elsewhere.”

Tyraal was silent for a space. The tension between them was still tangible.

“You have a ship?” Asked Nils.
“No.” Replied Tyraal, his bravado gone as it struck him just how involved Nils was.
“There’s an E-9 in bay 347-C. It’s just idling while Odan-Urr waits around. Take it for your mission. You need it.”

Tyraal was silent.

“Take the ship. Get in it. Fly to Ullyr. Find our two Odanites. Fly back here. Preferably with the E-9 in one piece. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Nils’ voice dripped with heavy sarcasm.
“Nils. Are you an Odanite?”
“Yes. I stand in House Hoth.”

A cough and groan from Aura snapped them both to attention. They rushed to her side.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #11

Aura opened her eyes again to find Tyraal and Nils kneeling next to her, already asking her if everything was all right. Recent events played in fast forward as her conscious mind processed what had happened since she was stunned. She looked over the dead bodies, a quiet anger already showing on her face. She took a deep breath and reached out to the Force, sampling the room’s mood. A mixture of relief and fear came from the club’s customers, many of whom had already gone back to their business.

Teikhos was already speaking with the owner of the establishment, his flirtatious personality putting the businessman off guard. Seleukides used his keen wits to take advantage of the opening, already smooth talking him away from an angry response. Aura watched in wonder as Teikhos worked his magic, too distracted by his skill with words to think much about her disappointment with the two idiots next to her.

Eventually, Teikhos approached her and held out a hand to assist. “I think we should leave now. The owner is grateful for our help but requests we leave for the night.”

She took it and stood up, grateful for his assistance tonight. She looked at Tyraal and Nils again and frowned, choosing not to speak quite yet but simply asking for her lightsaber. Finally, she broke her silence. The pair appeared to be uneasy as Aura looked it over and returned it to her belt.

“Let’s talk outside, you two.”

“Master, I-”

“Outside, now,” Aura ordered.

Don’t be too hard on them. They had good intentions, Seleukides thought as he mentally sent Ta’var a message.

Aura looked him in the eyes. They rushed into a fight, might even have caused it. They’d deserve it, she sent back.

Getting into trouble teaches you a lot, Teikhos replied with a knowing wink.

Fine. I’ll go easier on them. Ta’var promised, taking Teikhos’ arm as she left the club.

Once everyone was safely away from the establishment’s entrance, Aura finally rounded on them, unsuccessfully keeping her voice down.

“Idiots! Couldn’t you see he was trying to provoke you?! He wanted a fight and you not only gave him one but saw fit to kill them rather than disable. We aren’t Sith. We protect life,” started Aura.

“But Master, I-” said Tyraal indignantly, trying to defend himself.

“No, Tyraal. You let your emotions got the better of you. Those men you killed are useless to us dead! Do you really think that was the only person he threatened? What about the Twi’lek’s on his ship? Do you know where they are?” interrupted Aura.

“No. I don’t know where his ship is,” Tyraal admitted glumly. “But I might have just helped save your life as well as the civilians. Does that count for nothing? I can do this.”

“You used two sabers untrained, Tyraal. It was unwise,” shot back Nils.

“Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, Nils. You are just as guilty as Tyraal. All of what I’ve said to him applies to you as well!” replied Aura as she stared down Nils, who wisely kept his mouth shut as he sulked.

Aura sighed before returning her gaze to both of them. “I commend your quick thinking. You did indeed save some lives today, but we could have helped even more. Now we can’t. The opportunity is gone. In a real mission, mistakes like this could cost innocent lives. You have to better than this, period. I want both of you to think of how you could have kept them alive for questioning and how you could have avoided a fight altogether. This better not happen again,” she warned.

Both Tyraal and Nils promised it wouldn’t, but Bitshiver in particular bristled.

How am I supposed to know about real missions? She hasn’t taken me on one yet! thought Tyraal.

As if answering his unspoken question, Aura looked towards her apprentice and said, “Did you find a ship for tomorrow’s mission?”

“Yes, an E-9 in bay 347-C. It’s already ready for us,” replied Bitshiver, not speaking his only fear at the moment.

“Good, we leave at 10 sharp. Apply what you’ve learned today to our next mission and be ready,” Aura replied to Tyraal before she left the pair to their own thoughts.

Teikhos gave the young men a sympathetic look, said a few words of encouragement, and then ran off after Ta’var.


The next day was rather pedestrian. Aura and Tyraal boarded the borrowed E-9, prepped it for its voyage, and then flew it to Ullyr. It was a quiet journey with both of them wrapped up in their own thoughts. The tension could almost be cut with a knife, each for their own reasons. Ta’var disliked how her apprentice had been behaving lately. Bitshiver felt as if he had been unfairly judged, given his lack of opportunities for field experience. He owed her an answer as to what he had learned yesterday, but so far had found nothing but accusations.

It was in this frame of mind that both Master and Apprentice landed on a makeshift pad on Ullyr, one of the few left usable by the local Wookiees. Aura was worried but hoped this would work out. She turned to Tyraal for a moment and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Look. I don’t exactly what is bothering you right now and we don’t have the time to fully discuss it. But know this. During this mission, I am going to be relying on you to watch my back. You’re my partner on this mission and I’ll be treating you as such. Make me proud. Let’s save some people,” replied Aura.

The Zeltron thought he seemed to cheer up a bit and hoped it had worked. Aura walked down the ramp, closely followed by her student. His eyes already alert as he locked the ship.

“Where do the Intelligence reports say we should head next?” asked Ta’var.

“They don’t mention much, but apparently they were last seen in a cantina not far off,” answered Tyraal.

Aura snorted. “Figures. Ethan can’t resist and Len probably went along to make sure everyone was safe. To the cantina then.”


(Tyraal Bitshiver) #12

“Suits me fine,” quipped Tyraal.

Aura watched as her apprentice bounded down the E-9 ramp and hopped onto the long, tangled turf below. Aura jumped lightly down and paused. Tyraal had squatted down, his eyes surveying the darkening landscape. He laid his palms flat on the floor of the woody grassland, his back arched and hunched forward.

A tiny twitch began on his neck, and started to spread. A twitch, turning into a spasm, turning into a ripple across the Clawdite’s flesh. Aura watched, grossly disturbed and interested. The apprentice groaned, and a slow patch of color began trickling along his skin, spreading and deepening to a dull pale, peachy hue. Hair sprouted out from his scalp, and fell loosely to his shoulders. He slowly rose, rocking light-headed, and turned to Aura. She squeaked at his transformation. The Clawdite had proven his changeling abilities.

“Did I miss something?” Asked Tyraal, in response to Aura’s squeak.

“No,” she replied, quickly regaining her composure.

She turned and ventured off into the growing dark. Tyraal followeder her, not saying anything for the length of their trip. They arrived, near dark, to the doors of the cantina registered in their mission report.

“Sunken Spirits…” muttered Tyraal, glancing around. “How cheery.”

“Wait,” started Aura, but Tyraal had already entered.

“Why.” Growled Aura, walking in after him, though not before hastily looking around in surveillance of the area.

Somehow, in the seconds since he had stepped inside, two fights had broken out in opposite corners of the room, and two chumps at the bar had got clobbered with heavy spirits bottles. He mosied to a corner, grabbing a cloak, and focusing on adding stubble and a pair of scars to his face.

He limped lightly on his left, and groaned up to the bar. The bartender glanced at him, and then resumed cleaning a nozzle under the bar.

“Open for drinks, or just janitorial duties?” Growled Tyraal, grinding a Coreillian accent into his speech.

“What do you want?” Snapped the barman, setting down the nozzle and towel with distinctly heavy thuds and stepping towards Tyraal.

“One On The Moon,” returned Tyraal, watching Aura saunter up to the far corner of the bar out of his peripheral vision. He nodded towards her. “Make that two, and send one over to the pretty lady in the corner. Pretty please, big boy,” he added, glancing up at the smouldering bartender who didn’t immediately move to comply with the two drink order.

The tender growled, but did as directed, depositing two blue drinks on the bar, one before each undercover Jedi. Tyraal raised the glass in an invisible and inaudible toast to “the pretty lady” before downing his own. The alcohol burned; not as much as some he had had, but it burned.

“Hoo.” He muttered, shaking his head. “That’s a fine fire.”

The man behind the bar grunted.

“Mmm hmm, Len would like it here.”

The room, as if on cue, turned to face Tyraal, who sat swirling his drink.

“D’you ever have a fellow in here named Lenny?” He asked, drawing out the “Lenny” like a musician.

“What’s his name, I have plenty of people in here,” returned the bartender, his hands hovering below the countertop suspiciously. Tyraal grinned.

“Iode.”

He received an abrupt and unexpected hit across the back of his head, and he went tumbling across the bar top. He sat up, and found himself eye to eye with a stocky fellow in a ragtag collection of armor, with an imposing helm covering his face.

“Who’s Iode?” Growled the computerized voice emanating forth through the helmet.

“Len?” Asked Tyraal, smiling drunkenly. “He’s my boy, my bosom friend, my–”

He was cut off by the soldier grabbing his collar and hefting him across the floor. Aura chose not to engage, despite her concern at her idiotic apprentice’s choice of action. Tyraal groaned and sat up.

“He’s an Odanite!” spat the soldier.

“Odanite?” Asked Tyraal. “Sounds like a fascinating club.”

The soldier moved to kick Tyraal, but he rolled to the side, and stumbled forward. Perhaps on accident, perhaps on purpose, he happened to stumble right into Aura.

“Oops.” He said cheerily, grinning cockily.

Choosing to assume that this was all part of his charade, Aura feigned disgust and shoved him away. As he stumbled backward, the soldier clipped him with his pistol butt, and sent him hurtling over the bar. He collided with the bartender, and they crashed to the ground. The bartender was immediately on top, pulling a large slug thrower out from underneath the bar. Tyraal saw it coming and jerked to the side. The two shots thudded into the floor beside his head, and Tyraal quickly reached up and wrapped his hands around the bartender’s throat, and slamming his head against the floor. He caught Aura’s eye as he moved to end the bartender’s interfering, and instead incapacitated him.

He laid his palms on the bartender’’s out-cold face. Aura looked back towards the various individuals in the bar, and was concerned to find them up in arms over the drunk who dared to reference the scum called Odan-Urr. She hopped lightly away from the bar to avoid a soldier who was about to pull her away. They seemed unanimously disinterested in her, directing all their rage at Tyraal. And as one stepped towards the bar, the bartender rose, and roared “OUT!”

Everyone froze.

“Everybody out, no more drinks for you lot tonight!” The bar man glowered at the gathering. One by one, with various complaints, they made their way out. The man kicked morosely at the body on the floor, and eyed Aura.

“You going to pay for your drink? Because HE sure isn’t.”

The aggressive soldier who had first collared Tyraal tried to argue with the tender, and was promptly shooed out. Aura paused, and started to head for the door, uneasily debating how to get her apprentice out from behind the bar without any more complications.

“Don’t go anywhere,” said the bartender, in a voice most distinctly not his. He sagged against the counter, breathing heavily.

“Tyraal.” Aura muttered.

“The one and only.”

“Consider me impressed.”

“Really??” The transformed Clawdite looked up, in shock and eagerness.

“And equally disgusted.”

The light faded out of his eyes, and he hung his head. He sank behind the bar.

“Well. At least we know they know about Len. Which means they probably know about Ethan too.”

“There were at least a hundred other ways you could have found that out, apprentice!”

“I’m sorry.”

Aura shook her head sadly; this Jedi was going to be trouble if this was how he was starting out on his first big mission. He rose from behind the bar, once again in the old familiar Clawdite body.

“How do you plan to continue?” She queried. He raised his eyebrows.

“Pardon?”

“Since the very get-go, this mission seems to have been turning around your impossible idiocy and luck.”

Tyraal’s face showed only too well his obvious upset emotions at having disappointed her.

“So tell me how you plan to continue.”

He shrugged.

“Not an answer.”

He was silent for a space.

“I suppose, given that they all seemed uniformly against me, that they’re all one military outfit.” He mused. “And given that, it seems likely that if ONE was so aggressive in regards to Odan-Urr or Len Iode, than probably all of them have that same aggression.”

“Proceed.”

“Which means that they’re all probably in on why Len and Ethan aren’t here.”

“So?”

“So… we should… follow… them.”

He asked, more than spoke, the words. Aurora eyed him, and looked at the door. It was pitch black outside.


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #13

“Sadly even in pitch black they’d probably see my hair,” Aura complained as she ran her hand through her hair, its bright blue locks almost always giving away her position.

Tyraal rummaged behind the counter but found nothing of immediate use besides an old cloth to clean off dishes. It didn’t look particularly clean either but he offered it anyway.

“Uh, I think I’ll pass. You know, I’m kinda envious at how easy you can disguise yourself. I can’t hide anywhere with this head of hair and my Zeltron skin makes me stand out,” she sighed as she took off her robe and proceeded to cut a long stripe off the bottom before putting it back on.

Aura wrapped the cloth around her head, keeping it close to her hairline. She then pulled her light amplification googles snugly over her makeshift wrap and turned them on. Tyraal couldn’t help but laugh a bit.

“Ha. Ha. At least I can see out there. Did you still have yours? If so, hurry up and put them on. We don’t want to lose them. You’ll have to take point but I’ll follow you a little ways behind through the Force.”

“Yes, I do,” Tyraal assured her with a bit of exasperation as he took out his newly acquired pair and put them on. She had nagged him about it for a while now and even given him one of her spares. She had insisted a good Shadow be able to see in pitch dark. The Clawdite focused for a moment and his appearance changed yet again, this time adopting one of the human ruffians they had encountered earlier in the evening.

“Alright, let’s go. The usual,” he offered more than commanded.

“You know the drill, seek and hunt,” she responded.

Aura waited a few moments to allow him a head start, patted ‘Jestille’, a japor necklace Tyraal let her borrow for missions, fondly, and followed him outside. This was a game both knew well even if it meant people wondering why she had her apprentice’s necklace. She assured them it was nothing, but in actuality, it could mean the difference between life and death one day.

Ta’var kept her head on a swivel and followed a safe distance behind, moving from tree to tree and trying to stay out of view. She tried not to think of how hard her loved ones would be laughing right now at her attempts at subterfuge, learned or not. Nonetheless, she managed to keep within range without calling attention to herself. She eventually reached a man-made ladder and looked around quizzically.

Please don’t say he went down there…

Aura knelt next to a tree out of the way and put her hand around ‘Jestille’. Reaching out to the Force, she focused on the bit of japor in her grasp and funneled the living energy around her into it. She first felt an additional connection to her apprentice come into being, almost as if it was a second pair of eyes. Mental images flooded her mind, all of them concerning Tyraal. She could see snapshots of him climbing down metal rungs, closely following their mark and still unseen. A slight smile finally appeared on her face. Something she had yet to admit to her apprentice in person. He really was quite good when it came to stealth. She mentally tracked him through the Force for a few more moments and then started down the ladder herself. For better or worse, the forest of Ullyr awaited them

–Time passes as the pair of Jedi slowly follow their prey into the depths of Ullyr–


Aura breathed a little heavy as her feet finally met the solid ground of what appeared to be a Wookiee settlement. She had lost track of how much of the tree she had climbed down or how far they had come, but the Force wasn’t wrong. She was still hot on his trail, a trail that was starting to worry her. Ullyr was much like Kashyyk and its more dangerous predators lived closer to the surface. The roar of several Wookiees in the distance didn’t make things any better.

What trouble have you gotten us into this time, Tyraal? she thought as she walked quickly towards the commotion.

As she rounded the corner she found herself face to face with a famed Wookiee turf war, but the reality of it was much uglier. There were already several dead bodies limp on the walkway. Aura reached out the Force around her and felt Tyraal nearby, but not moving. The Zeltron assumed he was merely keeping under cover but she could sense his tension as some Wookiees approached his position. Death also seeped into the Force, something she disliked in particular.

Aura’s feet moved before she could fully think through her actions. She ran towards the brawling Wookiees, threw off her hood, and put her arms up in the air.

"STOP! STOP FIGHTING! NO ONE HAS TO DIE. LET’S JUST TALK ABOUT THIS. I’M A JEDI. I CAN HELP. "

Everyone paused for a moment, unsure of why a brightly colored humanoid was among them.

“Please let me help you. No one needs to die,” she said, keeping an eye on a particularly angry pair of Wookiees stalking toward her.

Tyraal landed near her all of a sudden, hand moving towards his blaster.

“NO! Not yet,” she warned them all. “Peace, my friends. Peace.”

For a few precious moments, there was nothing but the sounds of the forest as they considered the options. A lone blaster bolt shot streaked through the air straight for Tyraal, who was conveniently out of her lightsaber range. She focused on the bolt with the Force and grabbed it with an invisible hand, freezing it in place. A loud crash came from behind her and she saw a furry arm swing at the side of her torso. She dashed away from it but not before the Wookiee’s arm gave her a glancing blow against her ribs. She cried out in pain and fell to the ground, hitting her head on something hard. The last thing she heard before her world went black was the sound of an energy bolt sizzling against a nearby tree.


(Tyraal Bitshiver) #14

Tyraal’s jaw dropped as he whirled, seconds too late. He watched Aura’s body snap backward and sail gracefully to a hard ending a few meters away. His heart stopped, and his mind went blank. The Wookie lunged forward towards Aura’s unconscious and battered corpse. He brought up his fists to pummel her, when another Wookie charged. A grey male, swinging fists at the aggressor.

They fought for a minute, before another pair entered in, and started beating down on the grey male. As the three of them started fighting, the original attacker went back after Aura. Tyraal, without even directing his body, lunged. His lightsaber was in his hand, and ignited. The Wookie turned and swung a hairy arm towards him. Tyraal vaulted, forcing the Wookie’s attack to sweep under him; he landed, and swung the emerald blade.

A millisecond of a gurgle roared out from the Wookie in question before his two halves dropped to the forest floor. An overwhelming odor of burning fur swept out and swathed the nearby area with the reeking smell. The other Wookies abruptly stopped and stared at the apprentice. The Jedi glared at them, his hands quivering on the hilt of his lightsaber; his knuckles bled white, as he slowly, carefully, sank down to one knee beside Aura. The gray Wookie took advantage of the distraction and clapped the two Wookies’ heads together.

They clunked loudly, and they dropped like heavy sacks to the ground. He turned and roared at the other twosome, who slunk away into the night. Tyraal extinguished his blade, and sank to both knees beside Aura’s corpse. She moved with quaking breaths, thoroughly unconscious, blood trickling out from where her head smashed against the roots. He heard wild cries amongst the dark trees, and in that moment, he felt painfully alone.

Aura was out cold; he had no droid with him; his projector with his reminders of home was locked in his drawer back on Kiast. He jumped as he felt a presence behind him, twirling to his feet as he stumbled back. It was the grey Wookie. He squatted down beside Aura, and Tyraal pointed the tip of his blade at his throat. The Wookie snarled and pointed at Aura, thumping his chest.

Tyraal raised his eyebrow, and slowly retracted his blade. The Wookie leaned forward, and gently pressed a finger against Aura’s collarbone. She groaned sleepily, her body twitching. The Wookie gurgled and looked at Tyraal, grunting and pointing away to the trees.

“You want me to go deeper into the trees?” Tyraal queried, his blade still ignited at his side.

The Wookie growled, and swung his hands around, gesturing at Aura.

“You want me to take her into the woods??”

The Wookie thumped his chest. Tyraal got it.

“You want me to take Aura and follow you?”

The Wookie nodded, raising his head and roaring. He stood up, and Tyraal extinguished his blade. He turned towards Aura, but got swatted away by the Wookie. The grey carpet swung down and lifted her body. Her head sagged backward, and Tyraal winced at the sharp angle backwards. The Wookie snarled as he lurched forward. Tyraal’s blood froze at the sound of screeches in the direction the Wookie was headed. He ignited his lightsaber and rushed after the Wookie.

The two conscious and one unconscious made their way along the forest floor. Tyraal’s lightsaber glowed dangerously in the no-light, and his eyes began to burn from stress, pain, dust, and exhaustion, all coupled with staring at a green stick blazing in the darkness. The Wookie seemed to know what he was doing though, leading them off to a niche underneath a flock of low, cluster growing trees.

Well, to say they were low was a bit hasty; they folded into a sort of archway leading into a closed off area, about sixteen meters by five meters. And except for the gap they had just stepped through, and another arch on the 9 o’clock side, it was quarantined from the rest of the jungle. The bows of the trees stretched heaven ward, leaving plenty of space to light a fire with no danger of setting their hideaway on fire.

Aura was mumbling something, a frenzy-paced gibberish, interrupted by coughing from bruised lungs, and intermittent moans from pain punching through to her deactivated brain. The Wookie set her down gently, propped against one of the trees, and set about clearing a trench, roughly two by two meters. And after wrench a root aside and leveling the bottom, he set Aura down. He looked at Tyraal and patted his stomach before running off out the archway.

Tyraal set a fire, something he had always been kind of good at. The leaves of the low trees combusted like engine fuel; which wasn’t something Tyraal was overly fond of, given that he was standing at the center of a ring of them. But, beggars were not choosers, and given his situation, he would have preferred to be a beggar. He didn’t like this whole scenario, mostly revolving around the fact that somehow he was the one being continually forced be take lead, when all his attempts at doing well seemed to backfire in various degrees in his master’s eyes.

He heard a groan and he was jerked out of his moody musing. He turned and found Aurora stirring. He started towards her and heard a gurgling hiss behind him. Tyraal’s lightsaber was in his hand in a second, and the blade ignited. A massive snake was squeezing between the gap that formed the entrance into the glade.

“Anakkona,” Tyraal hissed grimly. He twirled the green blade and crouched.

The predator shone a brilliant teal as the glow of Tyraal’s lightsaber glinted against the snake’s own blue scales. Its forked tongue flickered out, briefly towards Tyraal, but moreso towards Aura. Tyraal growled, more animal like than humanoid like. The snake started encroaching on Aura’s trench, and Tyraal swiped. The scales were not lightsaber resistant, but the creature evaded Tyraal’s attack, causing the blade to glance of its cheek. It hissed, rising up, towering over Tyraal’s head. He swallowed. It opened up its mouth, and instinctively, Tyraal lunged. He felt an abrupt wash of emotion flood through him, between angst, stress, and fear, and lightning crackled out from his fingers.

It blasted out, and the snake flickered as the lightning ricocheted around inside. It hissed, and toppled to the ground. The forest floor trembled as the Anakkona crashed heavily. Tyraal looked over towards Aura, who was stirring. He was on his knees at her side in a second.

“Don’t move!” He said quickly, laying his hands on her stirring shoulders.

“Ouch,” she mumbled drowsily, looking around.

She clearly was not abreast of the situation. She ignored his order and started to sit up.

“Stop!” He protested, but she ignored and sat up.

And gasped in pain. Her breathing abruptly became scores more difficult. She struggled for a moment, before letting Tyraal ease her back onto her back.

“Listen, damn it!” Tyraal snapped.

Aura considered arguing, and then realized he had told her to not move. She sighed.

“Sorry.” She muttered. She groaned, and shifted her weight.

“Just stop moving,” Tyraal returned, severely. “It’ll do you worse.”

“Alright, doctor,” quipped Aura, dryly. Tyraal eyed her. She cracked open an eye and peered at him. He snorted, and she laughed, jerkily. She immediately regretted it, feeling pain across her entire body.

“Laugh, apprentice,” she advised. “It’s the best medicine there is.”

He smiled tightly, more concerned with their situation than with humor.

“I’m sorry.” He said quietly, at length. She cracked open her eye again to survey him.

“Sorry?” She queried curiously.

He mumbled his answer so quietly that she couldn’t hear him. And she made sure to tell him.

“For failing,” he repeated.

“Failing?” She asked.

“I’m doing my best!” He snapped bitterly, more to the fire he was adding wood to than towards Aura.

She chose not to reply. She watched her apprentice stare moodily into the fire for a space, before he stood and straightened. He sighed, and breathed, and then turned back towards Aura.

“You need to recover.” He stated. “I guess we’ll hunker down here for awhile until you can get to the ship…. And then I guess I’ll look for the twosome myself?”

Aura snorted.

“Please. Don’t dismiss me.”

“Sorry, master.”

She shifted with a few grunts.

“I can use the Force,” she mused, “and probably patch myself up in a few days; I’ve never had to heal quite this degree of severity, but I can probably do it.”

Tyraal raised his eyebrow.

“Probably?” He asked. “What happens if probably turns into can’t?”

“Then I’ll just be in a coma like state until I naturally heal, or until you get me into a bacta tank.”

“Charming.”

“Could be worse,” Aura said, with as much cheeriness as she could muster.

A roar split the night behind them, met with a pair of adjacent roars. Aura swallowed loudly.

“Guess I should wait and lend you–”

“No! Get started; the longer you delay, the more likely things will go wrong.”

“How about a safeword?”

“What the hell does THAT mean?”

“I’ll be unresponsive. But if you say a word, I’ll wake up.”

“So if I say ‘mustard’, you’ll wake up?”

“If you want my trigger word to be ‘mustard’, then yes.”

“Let’s go with that. Night night.”

Aura rolled her eyes, but settled further into her trench. Might as well get comfortable, she was going to go under for a long time. She folded her arms over her chest, and breathed.

Just.

Breathe.


Tyraal unhooked her lightsaber and clipped it to his belt, stepping away from his master’s body, now more corpse-like than ever before. Except for the constant, sluggish rise and fall of her belly and chest, she could have been dead. Tyraal looked towards the two entrances, and gripped his lightsaber tightly. It would be just like all those predictable games in the cantina arcades, he told himself; waves of enemies rushing him.

“This is fine,” he muttered through clenched teeth.

No, it was not fine. And he knew it. He was too emotionally involved. Too emotionally involved to be accurately upholding the Jedi way, and code. Well, the Jedi code was going to have to accept that Tyraal WAS emotionally involved, and would STAY emotionally involved. And if they couldn’t accept that, he could just walk away. Besides, who cared about following codes exactly these days? Adherence to the Jedi code evaporated with the conclusion of the Jedi order at the end of the Clone Wars, everybody knew that.

Another pair of roars loosed, one nearing each entrance. Tyraal swallowed, and loosened his pistol in its holster. Another roar at 3 o’clock. Another two at 12 o’clock. Something thudded against the entrance to the right. Tyraal moved to the left, keeping distance between himself and the archway. Something pushed through, something that towered over Tyraal. It stood on four legs and flailed wildly for a moment. It seemed to zero in on Tyraal, and charged.

A Kinrath, as it turned out, not that Tyraal would learn that until he was safely off the forsaken surface of Ullyr. Tyraal drew his blaster and fired. Four shots, before diving aside to the right. The Kinrath screeched and stumbled about before toppling to the side. Another entered through the 3 o’clock entrance, and another two down at 12 o’clock. Tyraal swore and pulled off a handful more shots, until his clip expired, at which point he tossed the useless weapon aside. One Kinrath joined its brother in the afterlife, while the other two converged on Tyraal.

However, despite the very apparent threat before him, Tyraal’s senses tingled dangerously; a flicker he felt through the Force. He leapt backwards, ducking without quite knowing why. Something shot past him to where he had been standing. He whirled, igniting his lightsaber, and found himself staring down a hideous arachnid that was perched over Aura’s body.

Instinct reacted faster than Tyraal’s brain as the emerald blade swung upwards, cleaving the monster in two, and soaking Aura’s trench with its green blood.

“Sorry,” spat Tyraal quickly, not envying Aura’s position whatsoever. He turned back toward the two Kinrath that were stomping towards him. One got tangled on the web the arachnid had fired at Tyraal, and the other attempted to crush Tyraal. He cut out a leg and thrust forward. He called on the Force, and felt himself blast the Kinrath away. It sailed neatly through the far entrance into the night.

At this moment, the final Kinrath had discovered Aura. Just like everything else had so far. It lunged towards her, and Tyraal pushed it away. It stumbled to the side when met with the Force wave, but recovered quickly. It rushed Aura, but was met by a white-blue blade from the left and an emerald blade from the right. They sliced the creature’s head, and it fell to the ground. Tyraal landed and whirled, ready for more. Something hit him.

And he knew it was bad. He swung Aura’s lightsaber, but he felt dizzy. The world, already dark, was exploding into bubbles of color, spinning out of control.

“Spider,” he slurred. He knew it was the same… thing… from before…

It was painfully hard to focus. Literally. The harder he tried, the more it hurt. He dropped both lightsabers. Something whimpered approximately 45 kilometers to his right, but it was enough. He whirled, tipsily, and pushed out a barrage of lightning. Something wailed in front of him, and he could vaguely make out a shape, black, white, and red, contorted by blue lightning… but not much… else…

He heard something roar to the side, as he fell forward. He felt something hard hit his head, like he was hitting the ground, but he kept spinning forward, head over heels, again, and again. He reached numbly for his arm, and it was like pushing through a forcefield.

“No…”

He felt his arm. It was soaked. Probably with blood? Probably.

“No…”

He had to… get… up…

Up.

Up!

"No…!”

He reached blindly, still falling. Blackness flooding around him, floating around in bubbles.

“Up…”

His arm hurt. A lot. Like, really… really…


The world shifted. Something hit his face and he jerked up. It was light. He was wet. Everything was spinning still. His arm was entirely numb. He was aware of shaking; him; shaking. Quaking more like. And panting. He was gasping for breath. He looked around. The world was a little more back to its original state, but there were still some bubbles. He looked up and found a grey blob near him.

A blob. It seemed to flicker and then form a roughly rectangular shape. Something wet hit his face again.

“What?” He asked.

Or tried to ask. It didn’t come out quite right.

What the hell was wrong? He couldn’t see. He couldn’t talk. Damn it, he could THINK! What was going on?

Poison. The answer was stupidly obvious, and as soon as he paused for a second, he knew that was the answer. Something must have poisoned him last night. One of those arachnids must’ve bitten him. Yes, he could remember shooting something with Force lightning last night. And he remember the pain in his arm. So he was bitten, or stabbed, or something, on his arm. And with it being the point of origin, of course it would be numb. And the bubbles. And the inability to move or speak.

Alright; problem one was solved. He knew what was wrong with him. Problem two: what was that grey thing near him? Because if it was another spider, or something else trying to eat him, or Aura, he was toast. Aura! She was probably still out cold.

“Blast it!” He snapped, again, not resembling the actual words he spoke. She was probably actually dead. He blacked out, and she had probably been eaten. And he, being still alive and kicking, was probably dragged away for a nice lunchtime snack.

Which begged the question, why was he alive? And also, the original question, what the hell was that grey thing?

He heard a roar. And then he knew.

A Wookie. Of course. That grey one who had run off last night. He must have returned not long after Tyraal went down. That made sense. He must have returned soon, otherwise how was Tyraal still alive?

The Wookie roared again. Tyraal opened his mouth to speak, and decided better not; nothing he said was comprehensive anyway. Something gripped his collar, and pulled him backward.

“Easy!” Called Tyraal; well, at least that one sounded like a word: “theee-theee!”

Not speaking was going to be a pain. Not being able to move or see was also going to be a pain. This whole mission was a mess. He waved his arm.

“Oh good, at least there’s movement,” he thought to himself. At least his thoughts weren’t gibberish. He rubbed his face with less coordination than he would have liked, but accomplished the goal: his face was relatively dry.

And he could see a bit more clearly now. A lot more, actually, he could made out a shape in the ground near him. Aura’s corpse, possibly an actual corpse now. He felt the Wookie tilting him, and he waved his arm frantically.

“Wait wait wait!”

He pushed away, onto his hands and knees. He could feel the pressure of his weight on the shoulder of his numb arm. He froze, feeling the ground. He breathed deeply, and focused on a pebble directly beneath him. With an effort, he managed to call on the Force to lift it an inch. He let it drop, and the bubbles swirled around in his vision.

He rolled onto his back, and stared up at the trees. And then sat up. He could see the Wookie much more clearly now. He was holding something resembling a bowl. Food? Tyraal nodded weakly, and the Wookie handed the bowl to him. It was unexpectedly heavy. And unexpectedly tasteless, as he sipped at it.

Then again, one couldn’t rely on tasteless stuff to be safe, he recalled as he lurched to the side, vomiting it back up. It came up inexplicably blue. He blinked weakly and found the bubbles were further to the edges of his vision. He sat back gently, his stomach still queasy, and stared at the Wookie; yes, he was definitely clearer now. Tyraal took another sip, a bigger one. And again, almost without his own choice of motion, he lurched to the side and threw up; and again, it was a deep azure. The poison, he realized, was being ripped up with the brew he was drinking.

It was going to be a long day…


It was a few hours until he could stand and operate on his own. And while his arm was pins-and-needles, he could at least use it. It was a bit past midday, and Aura was still out cold. He had butchered, or had attempted to, the Kinrath and had cooked some of it over the fire. And while it wasn’t particularly delicious, it wasn’t particularly unpleasant either.

“Just sort of ‘bleh’,” he muttered to himself, taking a handful of it, and his canteen of water, and kneeling beside Aura.

“Wake up.”

She didn’t move. He frowned.

“Master?”

No reaction. He swore. Safeword. THIS was what she had meant. What had they decided?

“Mus… tard…?”

It was almost comedic: her eyes fluttered open and she inhaled deeply before exhaling it with an almost happy sigh. And then the comedy was over, as she blinked and frowned.

“Tyraal?!”

“Here.”

Her eyes snapped to him. They analyzed his face for a moment, and then closed. Her body relaxed slightly.

“It’s alright,” he grunted, shifting his weight and sliding his hand under her head.

“What…?”

“I’m going to ease you up; you need to drink and eat.”

She started to protest, but he had already lowered the canteen to her lips. She drank, slowly, spluttering initially before settling into the water’s flow. She grunted, and Tyraal tilted the water away, and it sloshed deeply in the container. She laid for a moment, feeling the water trickle down her throat, and she realized, yes she did need to drink and eat. She felt weak, and sick.

“Alright, you win,” she murmured easily, coughing. “I do need it.”

“You’ve been out for hours, you’d better believe you need it,” returned Tyraal, with a slight edge in his voice. She frowned and eyed him. He smirked. And she laughed.

“What’s on the menu?” She asked, trying to readjust to sitting up, which Tyraal refused to let her.

“Something I killed last night. Don’t know the name. Don’t particularly care at the moment.”

She raised her eyebrow.

“Is it going to kill me?” Tyraal laughed.

“I already killed IT.”

“I mean can I actually EAT it without dying.”

“I haven’t died yet.”

“You’re not half dead like me, apprentice.”

Tyraal chuckled; it came out more like an amused series of growls.

“Oh, you might be surprised.”

“What??”

“Don’t ask. I’ll tell you when you’re intact.”

“… if it wasn’t important, I’d say I don’t want to know. But I’m very concerned, and therefore, MUST know.”

“Later, Ta’var. First you eat.”

“You–”

“Didn’t your mother teach you it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full?”


Minutes passed in the space of hours, after Aura went back into her coma. Night came on eventually, after years of anxious foraging, gathering, killing, and guarding. The Wookie came and went; he was currently guarding the fire, tossing massive hulks of wood onto it when it seemed that maybe it might need a log in the near future. Tyraal sat wrapped in his two cloaks, one physical, and one Forceful.

His knees were pulled tight against his chest, his hands wrapped around between thigh and calf. He stared unseeing towards Aura, who had gone into her coma closer to the fire. He was silently fingering Jestille’s Harmony, passing the braid between his hands. A breeze was blowing, cold that sank through one’s bones into one’s very soul. Tyraal sat against the tree, unmoving. He watched the Wookie feed the fire.

Home. That had always been the meaning behind Jestille’s Harmony. A reminder of home. And if not, the cord was to remind one to find one’s harmony. The wind bit into Tyraal’s chest. His eyes became more glazed. He shook his head bitterly, and rubbed his wet eyes.

Not now.

Not now.

He stood up, and looked around. The Wookie glanced at his appearance as his movement disturbed his invisibility. He looked at Aura’s body, lying helpless in a trench beside the fire. The night was unnaturally quiet, and as such Tyraal felt very uncomfortable. He didn’t like this. At all.

Then he heard a snap.

He jerked backwards towards the fire, drawing his lightsaber. He looked up. Something large was perched on the tree above him. Another arachnid.

“Get down here, damn you,” he growled. He drew his pistol and fired. It leaned aside and fired a web at him. He ducked, but the web sailed too far overhead. It sailed neatly onto Aura’s chest. Tyraal whirled, lightsaber igniting. Too late. Aura’s corpse was jerked towards the tree. Tyraal’s heart leapt into his throat. And his life flashed before his eyes.

He vaulted after her, and smacked into a web. His head snapped backward, and he fell back to the floor. He groaned and hopped back to his feet. Aura was gone, and the arachnid was fleeing. Arachnids, he saw now, there was at least a quartet of them. He swore, and leapt upward, swiping his lightsaber up to slice any more webs hindering his path. He landed on the tree, and bolted after the sounds of spider scuttlings. He heard thudding below him, and noticing the Wookie running along.

In fact, the Wookie was running faster on the ground pursuing than Tyraal was in the tree. And the Wookie was passing the spiders too. Tyraal vaulted into another tree, and set himself as he landed. Getting his emotions churning was no hassle, they were stirred to frothing within him. He reached his hand forward, and before he even focused, deep azure lightning was crackling around his digits. A stream of bolts snapped out, and engulfed the two rear arachnids. They squealed hideously, and died on the spot, curling into balls and tumbling down, down, down to the ground.

Tyraal launched himself forward. He had to catch up to the other two, before they decided to just eat Aura on the run. And as he sailed forward again, the night tension was shattered by a terrifying roar, and a series of shrieks. He landed on the next tree, and launched himself towards the next one; and as he landed, he found a thoroughly dismembered spider, oozing various fluids, scattered across the tree. And the second spider was being crushed by the Wookie. Aura was dangling, half cocooned, below the pair of them. Tyraal sailed in, and slammed into the Wookie. The two of them tumbled towards the next branch; they caught on, and Tyraal snapped around. He sailed down and impaled the spider through the skull with his lightsaber. His chest shuddered with strained breathing as the hunt resolved.

Breathe.

Just. Breathe.

He extinguished his lightsaber, and kicked the corpse off the limb. It sailed limply and disappeared into the fog. He heard a satisfying thump, and he reached down to pull away some of the webbing around Aura.

She was stirring. She blinked and looked at him, frowned for a second, and then mumbled, dry both physically and in humoresque:

“Mustard.”


(Aurora "Aura" Ta'var) #15

Aura looked at her surroundings, her eyes widening as she saw the huge dead spider and the webbed material clinging to her body. Adrenaline surged throughout her body as she frantically swatted it away with her hands and scuttled backward, ignoring the discomfort near her ribs.

“What the sithspit happened? Where are we?” she asked.

Tyraal started to explain but his large Wookiee friend roared them onward with a swipe of his arm. Ta’var didn’t know anything about him but had seen him as part of their group for the last few days. Moreover, her apprentice seemed to trust him and she was still alive due to both of them. Unsure of how to say what Tyraal dearly needed to hear, she focused on the moment.

“Help me up?” she asked.

“Of course. How do you feel? Are you well enough to move?” Tyraal pulled her up to her feet, concern etched on his face. Stress was not kind to him as of late.

Aura winced but a little as she attempted to walk towards their Wookiee companion. Everyone noticed. Aura flushed with frustration, knowing she was mostly a liability. She sighed and then told her apprentice the bitter truth.

“I’m afraid I’m still a burden on the two of you. Given the current state of the two of you and how bad I reek, it must have been quite the adventure,” she admitted self-critically.

“I had it under control, Master. I-”

The Wookiee roared impatiently and swept her off her feet, hefting her into his arms. Aura froze for a moment, cautious after her last interference with their kind, but Tyraal jogged next to him and quickly interrupted, perhaps sensing the tension in the air.

“I think he wants us to move somewhere else,” he offered, looked behind him for a moment or two. “Our last shelter was a bit…troublesome.”

“I look forward to the debrief. Where are we going?” the Zeltron asked.

“Well. Not sure yet. We are having communication issues but he has been really helpful. I think he is definitely taking us somewhere,” Tyraal offered.

Aura failed to spare a judgemental stare. Her apprentice visibly shrunk. The Zeltron felt his frustration, anger, and despair leak into the Force. She stared at him a moment longer and then sighed, angry at herself now.

“I’m going to finish healing. Wake me up when our next camp is all set up. We need to talk.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll keep you alive,” he promised, his voice not altogether certain.


Tyraal sat and stared at the newly lit fire in front of him while his Wookiee companion silently took first watch. Much had happened today and yet things weren’t that different. It was any other day as her apprentice, bending over backward to prove himself. And yet it was never enough. He silently cursed under his breath, a mixture of regret at his own failures and anger towards the very person who refused to recognize just how skilled he had become. He had saved her life more than once already. The Clawdite jabbed a stick into the soft dirt of the forest floor, a frown already forming.

Aura lay utterly still but her eyes were open. She had finished healing over a half hour ago, but she preferred to observe Tyraal. She hoped it would help her say what needed to be said long ago. The Zeltron thought back to the last few days and nights as well as the events prior to it. She thought back to how he handled her challenges, the scuffle at the club, the potential bar fight on Ullyr, and now the dangerous forest floor down below. Aura frowned. The answer was clear and yet hard to admit. She waited for a few more breaths and then gingerly pushed herself off the ground.

“Master, you’re awake. Everything healed now?” he asked anxiously.

She thought she had almost heard him jump in place. Ta’var got up and stretched before sitting next to him and staring into the fire herself.

“My body is perfectly fine now. Fighting fit. But now I have another problem,” she answered cryptically.

“What’s wrong?” Tyraal replied, not looking at her directly.

“The last few days,” she half-joked, getting an appreciative grin from her apprentice. “I haven’t had a lot of time to think but one thing I know for sure is that I owe you my life. I’m not sure how many times but that’s not the point really.”

Aura paused and took a deep breath while she focused on the glowing red embers. Tyraal said nothing, perhaps out of shock. She didn’t know for sure. First, she had to say it.

“I’m overprotective. It’s why ever since I took you on I’ve been very strict with you. I just wanted to give you the ability to defend yourself and others. Be the best Jedi possible. I failed you,” she admitted. The Zeltron turned to look at him finally. “I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t fail me. If you’d just see what I’ve accomplished so far rather than-” he shot back as he stared back at her. The Clawdite shrugged and looked out into the vast forest in front of him. “Nevermind.”

Aura could feel his pain in the Force and did what came naturally. She hugged him and held on tight. “I failed you because I could not see how much you had grown as a Jedi. The fact that I am alive to tell you this is a testament to your abilities. My family will be able to see me again because of you. I haven’t been a Jedi very long but I think you’ll make a great one. Please, accept my gratitude and compliments,” she requested, fighting back the urge to cry a tear or two.

Tyraal was silent for a heartbeat or two and then returned the hug. Joy at approval and frustration at her treatment fought for supremacy. The latter won. “Thank you, Master. You have no idea what that means to me. But you know, you make it hard sometimes.”

Aura disengaged from him and looked him straight in the eyes. “I know and I’m sorry for that.”

“You dismissed my abilities with Jar’Kai at the club on Kiast. I got in trouble for that. Same thing here at the bar when I shooed them all away and a few hours ago when I didn’t know where we were going yet. You didn’t even give me a chance to respond. It’s not fair. I’m trying really hard and the fact that you don’t trust me doesn’t help,” he complained. “I’m afraid your apology does nothing to change this, but I hope I’m wrong.”

“I have no excuses to give and I can’t promise you right now it will never happen again. History already says otherwise. Trust is ultimately earned in the heat of battle. You saved my life multiple times. This is no simple act. This has gone a very long way to secure that trust.” Aura paused for a moment. “But what I can promise is to give you every opportunity to gain even more of it. What do you say to that?” she offered.

“I’d like that very much,” replied Tyraal.

Aura held out her hand. Bitshiver took it for a moment and then pulled her into a hug. “Thank you.”

Ta’var couldn’t see if her apprentice was crying but the urge to do so again came back just as strongly except this time it was much more hopeful, happy even. Her Zeltron physiology seldom lied to her and she was willing to bet that it wasn’t the Wookiee’s emotions she was feeling. Nevertheless, she let herself cry a little and didn’t mention anything. Maybe this is what they needed.


The rest of the night passed awkwardly, both tending to their own thoughts. Aura gave Tyraal some space and offered to take turns keeping watch once the Wookiee needed a break. It wasn’t until morning that she brought up their destination again.

“So, where are we going?” she asked Bitshiver.

“The Wookiee is a bit hard to understand, but ever since you woke up he seems to be impatient. Whenever I mention our lost friends he usually roars at me to follow and drags you along,” he replied.

“What’s his name?” the Zeltron asked.

“He never gave one, but he has saved both our lives so I trust him.” Tyraal gave him a knowing look that Aura simply acknowledged for now, choosing to add a follow-on question.

“Has the Force given you any reason to worry? Sense anything?”

“Besides killer animal life and the smell, nothing yet.”

Aura chuckled and smelled herself. It wasn’t a good scent and her clothes were stained with Force knows what. She stood up, clipped her saber back to her belt, and tried to talk to their new friend.

“Can you help us find our friends? Do you know where they are?” the Zeltron asked.

The Wookiee merely tilted his head due north and made a noise she couldn’t quite make out. Aura looked at her apprentice as if to say ‘worth a shot’ and the trio set off together into the forest, moving much quicker now that all of them were relatively healthy. They were hungry and a bit thirsty but they were alive and their guide stopped for food and water at least once that day. The pair of Jedi made small talk while they marched dutifully to their unknown destination, trusting the Force would lead them to their friends and hoping they were right.

The sun rose high into the sky and then eventually started to set. Thankfully the Wookiee stopped finally in front of a tall earthen barricade and pointed upward. The three of them climbed trees a few meters up and pointed downwards. Bright floodlights showed a variety of caged Wookiees next to crates marked with the symbol of Clan Plagieus. Trandoshans patrolled the area with blasters. As she started to strategize a rescue, she spotted two cages very much unlike the others. One housed the familiar form of Ethan Martes and the other Len Iode, both of whom were collared and unconscious.

Aura nodded Tyraal back to solid ground. Their mission had officially begun.