Offshore Mining Facility
Two Years Ago
The hum of the ignited yellow blade was inaudible. Against the crackling lightning, roaring waves, and howling wind; nothing pierced the deafening sound of Svolten as she attempted to sink the mining platform and those that had landed on it. Defiantly, a single Nautolan stood in the centre of the platform baring gritted teeth and mustering what agility he could to bring the yellow blade between laser bolts and their intended targets. One after again, the deck was scorched with black spots confirming the creature’s success while he bellowed over his shoulders to those retreating behind him.
"Hurry the frack up!”
It was at this moment the first crimson blade ignited in the hands of a man across the platform. He emerged from the latest drop pod to connect with the mining platform and behind him several similarly dress individuals spilled out, all in black robes with silver lining and the same insignia stitched on the inside of their cloaks. The Nautolan stood his ground, even when the blasters ceased firing and the enemy troops withdrew from between their Sith commanders and their prey, the Jedi. When a strong arm tugged at the Nautolan’s sleeve, in a plea for him to join the owner in flight, the Nautolan popped the hand from his clothes with a hard tug of his shoulder. The Nautolan’s left hand stretched out under his right arm and aimed behind the creature, unleashing a wave of energy that cast his assailant to the ground behind him and at the feet of a familiar Hapan male and female Togrutan.
“Get Lyze out of here!” The Nautolan shouted, over his shoulder with a glance directly at the standing man. When the man paused, the Nautolan was quick to press the issue. “Go Revak! Remember the plan!”
With that, heavy stomping of the pair echoed through a calming of the storm and as they hoisted Lyze to the deck of the lifting shuttle; Revak looked back in time to see the Nautolan collapse and disappear from view behind the swarming dark masses.
* * *
Council Room - Jedi Temple
New Tython, Yhi System
“He raped me!”
For the past several minutes the chamber had been a chorus of debate, no single individual stood out among the crowd until that line was cried out with a wail of pain. Shamefully, the crowd backed into their seats and exchanged guilty looks with one another until each of them in turn made awkward eye contact with the sobbing mess that was the voice’s owner. When the room was completely silent, the sobs broke into a stream of crying that was immediately comforted by a strawberry blonde that rushed in to take the other woman into a hug. The pair exchange several whispers before the blonde walked the other woman out of the chamber and no one dared make a sound while the doors of the Council room remained open.
It was then that a long, drawn out whistle sounded from the hall.
“Welp, I’m no lawyer fella.” The loud, boastful voice sounded from the hallway to someone outside of view of those in the Council room but all could easily make out the conversation. The sound of light steps on the polish marble floor indicated the owner was moving towards the Council room while he spoke. “But after that exchange, I’m thinking its in your best interest to ask for mercy.”
Immediately a large, green Nautolan sauntered into the Council room with a crooked smile while jerking a thumb over his shoulder back towards the hallway.
“Did you guys want me to just tell this fella to get his last meal picked out and head on down to the gallows already?
Several dumbfound expressions were given to the Nautolan in response before every head turned to the High Councillor; whom sat slouched in his seat with his face buried into his right hand. Drawing the moments out into years, Liam finally responded kindly and also with a tone of demand only he could pull off.
The doors of the Council room were quick to close after that, pulling the accused rapist into the judgement of those behind the doors while Raiju plopped himself back into his seat outside. This time he was accompanied by a pair of guards. Standing to the left of the Nautolan, was a man of average build and typical Jedi features - beard and all; while sporting a cybernetic arm. Standing beside him, and towering over Raiju, was a wookie who obviously was still young - having nearly reached his full height already but still slender and needing to fill out. Looking back and forth before the pair, Raiju raised a finger and pointed. First at the human, and then at the wookie.
“I know him, Zeon, but I don’t know you.” Pausing with his finger extended at the wookie, a growl of annoyance was the only response the Nautolan was given before he quickly retracted his finger. Immediately, one of the Council room doors leapt open and another familiar man stepped into the hall and walked directly to the pair of guard, in his outstretched hand that he presented to Zeon was a lit datapad.
“Oh good, rapist rightfully punished already?” Raiju exclaimed cheerfully as he leapt back to his feet, before immediately being shoved back into his seat by the wookie.
“They shouldn’t be much longer now,” the exiting man stated. “Go gather these people and bring them back here. I’ll remain with the prisoner.”
A confused expression crossed over the Nautolan’s face as Zeon left. He looked between the guards and raised an eyebrow.
“Prisoner? Revak, what are you talking about?” Raiju protested before the wookie finally spoke.
“Surrender any weapons.”
“Relax big guy, I-”
The wookie roared, cutting the Nautolan off. Anger crept onto Raiju’s face as he turned to face Revak again, but this time was given a sympathetic nod in response. Sighing seemed to release the Nautolan’s frustration, and slowly he unclipped his hilt from his belt. When he handed it to the wookie, he waited for the right opportunity and then focused his energy on the focusing crystal inside the casing. Sliding it sideways, the weapon immediately ignited with a snap-hiss and caused the wookie to jump with a whine of surprise as the yellow blade rushed between his legs. Time seemed to stop as all three stared at the active weapon. An audible sigh came from Revak as he and the wookie looked to the smirking Nautolan.
“If I wanted to kill you, I don’t need a weapon in my hand.” The Nautolan exclaimed before facing Revak, who was taking the seat next to the Nautolan before waving the wookie to head inside. “You Jedi used to be more trusting.”
“Do you not include yourself in that term anymore?” Revak’s question was followed by a whisper. “I thought you returned to prove you were still one of us?”
“I didn’t think there would be anything to prove when I returned, the others had assured me-”
“The others no longer are on the council, Raiju.” Revak cut him off, lowering his voice to keep Raiju from raising his again. “The political landscape in that room is different than when you left. I came out here to warn you of that. The Dark Lord’s…Crusade, has taken its toll on our merry band and with the last Aedile leaving to serve the Dark Council and several others returning to the dark side those that remain here feel a constant sting of betrayal - what they know of your return to Tarentum makes them peg you just the same, and some of them want to make an example of you.”
Soft steps echoed from behind the pair, and when their owner came into view of them both Raiju and Revak stood to greet the newcomer. It was the blonde from earlier who had led the rape victim from the Council room. When she approached, she immediately threw herself onto Raiju and hugged him. She then nodded to Revak.
“It’s done.” She stated, but Raiju had been busy checking out Kaira’s backside as she moved on and back into the Council room; finally the Nautolan returned to conversation.
“What’s done?” He asked, eyeing the man cautiously. Before Revak could respond, a crowd of familiar faces had accompanied Zeon back and while he saw a familiar Togrutan, droid, and Neti amongst the faces he tried to listen closely for the report from the Jedi Knight- while observing the females passing by with a quick smile or wink the Nautolan.
“We have a situation, sir.” Zeon started as he and Revak walked out of earshot. As soon as the crowd had made its way into the Council room, a small group emerged back out of the Council room and began running down the hallway causing Raiju to raise his eyebrows. When finally, the accused rapist exited, without escort, Zeon was sent to accompany him while Revak grabbed Raiju’s sleeve and lead him towards the doors of the Council room.
“Don’t say I never did anything for you.” The man said under his breath, causing the Nautolan to snort.
“We have now arrived at the last session of the day.” The words of the elderly man had a sense of tiredness to them. Raiju wasn’t sure if this was a reaction to the earlier cases, or from Liam’s eyes falling upon the chains that were immediately placed around the Nautolan’s hands and feet. When they were finally all clicked together, Raiju arched his brow and looked straight at the High Councillor.
“I’m no stranger to bondage play, Liam.” Raiju began with a smile creeping across his face. “But considering how long its been since I’ve seen you, don’t you want to romance me a bit first?”
A chuckle was quickly muffled from somewhere behind Raiju, and when he looked around to see his supporter all he found were somber expressions all pointed at the floor. Remembering Revak’s warning, the Raiju was quick to change footing and dropped the cheer from his face just as the teen seated next to Liam began to speak.
“Battlemaster Raiju Kang,” Raiju fought the urge to correct the boy immediately, who despite looking a complete stranger to the Nautolan had a familiar feeling in the force. “It has been brought to this Council’s attention that you arrived on New Tython via private transport, that you have came on your own accord and without approval of your parent unit; Tarentum. Is this correct?”
“Yes.” A bitter taste filled Raiju’s mouth as he narrowed his eyes at the teen. The tone of the Aedile was direct and harsh, though Raiju couldn’t tell if the teen was against the Nautolan already or merely entering his awkward teen phase.
“It can therefore be concluded that you are not under the protection of Tarentum or any of the Dark Lord’s properties and we can immediately move to trial.”
“Trial?!” Raiju spat in disbelief, the chains hanging from his hands and feet clung as they were shaken in fury. “And what the frack is my crime?”
“Do you deny your guilt then?”
“Guilt for what?!” The Nautolan roared now, louder than the wookie had been in the hallway. “Is this how you dealt with the rapist? Badgered him with cryptic questions until he plead for mercy out of confusion?”
Raiju spun and looked for support again from the ranks surrounding him, and for once someone returned his gaze. It was Kaira, who stepped forward and presented a lit datapad in which she raised over her shoulder.
“If I may, to fill in for Mar, I’d like to represent the Disciples of Baas.” She stated, looking past the Nautolan to the Aedile.
“Go ahead Kaira.” It was Liam that answered this time, waving the woman to have the floor. She took no time and immediately addressed the Nautolan in front of the whole group. Raiju remained tight lipped through her speech, noticing the show she was performing; raising the datapad above her shoulder again.
“We keep the records on all students that walk our path.” Kaira began, “Every Disciple of Odan-Urr, for however brief, has a record with the Arca Praxeum and it is part of our team’s role to maintain these records as Odan-Urr’s teachers. These records start with the House’s founding, where Raiju Kang first appears as one of the original Disciples; leading several members from Yridia II despite the martial law Oberst held over the planet. You earned a death mark with Tarentum for your actions, yet managed to bring everyone to safety as some of Ji’s first students.”
“It’s recorded that Ji’s tutelage conflicted with your addictions though this did not stop you co-founding Jeth’s Legacy - whom made their home in the Arca Praxeum,” Kaira continued, though a sympathetic tone carried the new information. “However, Ji noted that you struggled with withdrawal well passed what the Clerics estimated and he even questioned his methods when you fled for Kr’Tal and embraced the dark side with your hosts; Taldryan. Though he was hopeful that since you refused to take up the name Warhunter again that you may find your way back to New Tython again.”
“Which I did…” Raiju was quick to point out, already uncomfortable with the history lesson.
“Yes!” Kaira exclaimed, reading from the datapad once more. “From Taldryan you bought your return to Tarentum, though specifics aren’t recorded, and you were part of Tarentum’s military when the Dark Lord and his armies invaded New Tython.”
Well that’s a sour mark. Raiju thought to himself. There was no denying what Raiju had been apart of in that Great Jedi War, but he preferred not to discuss it.
“During the invasion, Raiju commandeered several units of Tarentum’s forces and used them to assault Plagueis - stopping both Houses from reaching their intended targets and locking the units in civil war for the duration of the invasion and for which Plagueis blamed their failure to destroy Menat Ombo. To save face, and Muz’s wrath, Anshar exiled Raiju from Tarentum as punishment - transporting the Nautolan to Milil’ae and leaving him there.”
Several murmurs came from behind Raiju, but he didn’t bother to see who it was. It was a polite way of putting Raiju’s actions, it almost seemed like he was trying to save Odan-Urr when really he mostly wanted to stick it to Plagueis; mostly.
“When Raiju made it to Menat Ombo at this time, he was forgiven for his fall to the dark side after he cited the error of his ways and worked out a less traditional form of instruction with High Councillor Drodik; who noted Raiju’s quick transformation when allowed the native remedies of the Harakoans to deal with his withdrawal. The record goes on to declare notable feats of Raiju Kang, including and not limited to; founding the Knights of Allusis, using his positions with the Chamber of Justice and Shadow Academy to save the light hearted, assisting the quarantine of the Horizons plague on New Tython, joining A’lora on the striketeam to assault the Avenger, leading the KoA on Krayiss II, sabotaging Naga Sadow’s efforts on Khar Delba, and joining this Council as Rollmaster before being captured by Arcona forces on Svolten.”
“Thank you for the history lesson, Kaira.” Raiju slowly stated, sighing after her name. “But none of that explains why I am in chains today! I get captured, tortured, and then sold to Tarentum as bargaining credit where I was further tormented - forced to watch my podmember, Ryujin, fed to the sea creatures of Yridia. Then they sent me to the Mystics Asylum…”
“Do you know what that’s like?!” The Nautolan roared, spinning on his heels to glare around the room or at least as much as the chains allowed. His fury continued when he caught the viewpoint of the Shard, and he spat at the droid.
“Why don’t you tell them, Solari? You’re a fiend for knowledge, and there exists no doubt in my mind as Headmaster you looked up your predecessors. Anshar and Spears were the tame examples too but they were still sick sons of b-”
“Raiju - no one questions you suffered.” Laim interrupted with his calming tone. An outstretched hand waving the Nautolan down called attention back to the High Councillor. “It is what happened after your capture that places you before this Council today.”
“Where D.O.B. maintains records of the Disciples of Odan-Urr, Ooroo follows threats to Odan-Urr or New Tython.” Revak stepped out from formation this time, while Kaira seemed to have been absorbed by the crowd. He continued, reading from his datapad and refusing to look up. “After his capture on Svolten, the Knights of Allusis had been planning a rescue attempt for Raiju. Tracking the sale from Arcona to the Prince of Yridia, K.O.A. was called off the pursuit by then Knight-Commander V’yr citing reliable intelligence that Raiju Kang had turned to the dark side after torture from the Sith Master Bloodfyre and the two had made a pact to remove the current Prince of Yridia from office. It was at this time that a file was created with Ooroo, given Raiju’s intimate knowledge of the K.U.D.F. and the threat that created.”
“Our intelligence sources continued to provide reliable statements that were later confirmed by Solari’s return to New Tython, indicating that Raiju withdrew his support at the Shadow Academy for light sided transfers and in one particular event he nearly killed a rival staff member in the Headmaster’s own office only being stopped by Solari’s interference. Later as we heard from recent transfer Jason Hunter, on Yridia, he became known as the Hound of Scion - for his brutal actions against the citizens under the command of the Prince of Yridia and was responsible for inciting a civil war between the Tarentae and the Prince’s supporters that has left the entire system ravaged. It is for these attacks against our cause and against the people of Yridia that Ooroo calls for justice.”
That can be explained. Raiju thought to himself. It made sense now, but would they believe him?
“I believe I have the right to face my accusers then?” Raiju asked, after a calming exhale. Immediately, the droid he had addressed before made his way to stand before the Nautolan. Raiju paused for a second before throwing a confused look at Revak.
“Warden Jason Hunter is on assignment right now…”
“Good!” Raiju stated with a laugh, “Then I do ask his accusation is stricken though I think my defense against Solari will appear to be connected. Though, neither of them is the first people I want to address.”
“Then who?” Liam stated, a slight smirk seemed to twist the corner of his mouth.
“Revak and A’lora.” For the first time, the Togrutan woman standing at the rear made her way to the front while Solari stepped aside for the moment. Neither Revak nor A’lora stood in front of Raiju, instead the two flanked the Nautolan and looked directly at the High Councillor. “It was these two that reported my capture to the Council, correct?”
When a nod from the High Councillor was his only response, Raiju continued.
“Revak, what was my last words to you?” Raiju’s merely tilted his head in Revak’s direction, but didn’t bother breaking his gaze with the Council members in front of him.
“Remember the plan, Revak.”
“And what was the plan, my friend?” Raiju was quick to follow up with, and Revak didn’t hesitate.
“When we were headed to Svolten, intelligence reported that we would meet Arcona’s forces on the surface but we would be the first to the ground. We were to do a simple smash and grab, with a tactical retreat that would keep us from a direct conflict with Arcona and while we were retreating Raiju was going to surrender to Arcona and hopefully hold them up.”
“Why?” The teen beside Liam was the first to ask.
“Because he and I made plans for him to undergo a covert mission.” A’lora was the one to answer, and tension grew with her announcement. “Raiju came to Drodik and I two months prior as Commander of the K.O.A. stating he had received instructions through the force, a way to strike at the Brotherhood and cause friction. His history with Tarentum made him the perfect candidate to infiltrate them and wreck havoc, without bloodying New Tython or our forces. Delivering him straight to Tarentum wasn’t an option, so we manipulated their alliance with Arcona. Though we had reservations about the mission, Drodik and I were inclined to agree with the instructions.”
“The Force doesn’t just give out instructions and tasks.” The teen was quick to point out.
“No, but those who have become one with the force do.” Raiju retorted, and for the first time the hardened expression on his face fell. “I wasn’t here when Ji died - but I felt it from the jungles. I never was able to resolve with him my failure as his student, at least not while he still took physical form.”
Murmurs from the crowd behind the Nautolan filled the silence after Raiju finished, and before the chorus grew Liam waved another dismissive hand.
“You’re saying Ji instructed you to attack Tarentum?”
“Not attack, I was never more of an aggressor than I had to be.” Raiju blinked as he brought his head up. “The plan was get me to Tarentum, let me reconnect with the Tarentae who had wanted me to represent the Sith King, and use those relationships to make them turn on one another. However, Bloodfyre made it way easier than I thought it would be. As soon as I was in Tarentum control, he tortured me and tried to bring back my Warhunter personae. He wanted the Sith apprentice of Rekio, so I feigned it. I took up the Sith order again, though refused to use that name again, and I made myself close to Scion. Close enough that I set the unit into civil war, but I never killed the innocent. I made things miserable, yes, but it was a dirty way that needed to be done.”
“What about the Academy staff member?” Nathan was quick to point out.
“I never gave up on recruiting for Odan-Urr while I was at the academy until her.” Raiju threw sympathy towards the Shard, who in turn nodded with his statement. “Even after I had infiltrated Tarentum, I looked for prospects in the Academy. The woman I beat, was a girl from Arcona that had a light heart. She seemed to be so lost in the Sith’s games and Krath’s cruelness. I offered her a way out, she refused and then threatened to expose me. I couldn’t let that happen, so I broke her.”
“She did confide me in that Raiju had attempted to recruit her to Odan-Urr, I threatened to have her sent to Codei prison if she made mention of it to anyone else.” The droid voice buzzed for the Shard. “She was so scared after the beating, I don’t think my threat even registered. She was terrified of Raiju and that lead me to believe he was beyond recruiting for us anymore.”
“I was too afraid.” Raiju looked apologetic. “Too afraid of being exposed again, I had to stop to. So I did stop recruiting, but the woman I nearly killed was done out of necessity to protect my cover.”
“And do you have any other proof of your mission, you wish to share?” Nathan was looking uncomfortable in his seat now, which was enhanced by V’yr stepping forward.
“The K.O.A. report of Raiju falling to the dark side was forged.” V’yr stated, and Revak nodding in support. “We couldn’t send K.O.A. in when Raiju was appointed Aedile, but we weren’t going to abandon him if he need extraction. So I forged the report, and Revak took over monitoring Raiju using Ooroo’s resources. Had he needed it, Ooroo would have responded but when his mission was successful we didn’t want it tied back to us so Raiju informed us he was returning before taking private transportation and fleeing Tarentum space as their civil war erupted.”
“How did you inform them you were returning?” Liam asked keenly, a brow arched at the Nautolan.
“I sent them my lightsaber’s crystal.” Raiju stated plainly, and when he saw the significance hadn’t dawned on them he continued. “When I returned to Taldryan, after failing as Ji’s student, my Dantari became tainted with the dark side with my extended use. A’lora set me up with Corellian Phond when I returned here.”
“It’s a highly absorbent crystal, very well attuned to owner.” A’lora confirmed with a smile, as she produced the crystal from her pocket and handed it to the High Councillor. “Revak confirmed with Jason Hunter that Raiju continued using an orange blade as the Hound of Scion. If he had darkness in his heart, the crystal would have been filled with it. However, it’s remained pure as you can see.”
“And what of the Dantari crystal?” Liam quizzed the Nautolan as he handed the orange Phond to his Aedile to examine who in turn passed it to Rhiann.
“I shattered it.” Raiju said, almost like he was embarrassed. “And discarded the remains. The crystal in the blade right now was taken from an armory saber. It doesn’t respond well to me, but I just needed something for my travels.”
“Indeed.” Liam sighed, and when the crystal was passed back to him from Rhiann, the old bearded Jedi stood and walked it back to it’s rightful owner. “The crystal and your friends have confirmed your mission, but I do not condone it. Fighting darkness with darkness like you did isn’t the path we should be taking, too many of us have been lost to the Crusades and to our fight with the Mad King. Yet, this was set in motion before this Council was in effect and therefore we have no right to punish you. I just warn you Raiju, as someone with a checkered past like yours it can be very hard to walk the line.”
“Update Raiju’s record with this mission, remove the points about his fall to darkness.” Liam said as he dropped the crystal in Raiju’s open palm. “And later you and I will speak about your contact with Ji.”
The crowd was quick to disperse after the trial. Many in the group had joined in celebrating the Nautolan’s return, while those still untrusting made polite welcomes to the creature before exiting at the head of the pack. Behind them, A’lora stood in wait, looking at the High Councillor as he waved the other council members join the others. When they were alone, it was Liam that broke the silence.
“You let Raiju believe he was communicating with a force ghost?”
“You have always agreed that his belief in the Unifying Force is dangerous.” A’lora shrugged and offered no apology. “And it wasn’t my idea anyways. You can blame Ji for that…he, apparently, thought he was dead.”
“Yes…well Ji was quite altered by the attempt on his life. Yet, that is concerning to hear.” Liam stated as he folded his hands into the sleeves of his robes and crossed his arms. “This business concerning Raiju’s mission is another matter. He played Raiju’s hatred for Tarentum against them.”
“Yes, but we thought he had a point in disrupting Tarentum while we had the opportunity, we need the Brotherhood unsettled for Korriban.”
“But at what price? Ji doesn’t ask that anymore, A’lora. He’s uncompromising and reckless.” Liam said as he turned to face the glass panel behind the Council’s seats, which highlighted the training grounds below. Finally a sigh came from the old man’s lips. “Soon we head to Korriban, but I feel some of us are too unhinged for such a hostile world.”