This story is, for now, currently cross-posted on Questionable Questing and Archive of our Own.
It may be added to Sufficient Velocity and Spacebattles in the future.
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Current date: 4 years until the Invasion of Naboo
Mandalorian Words and Phrases:
(Note: I've skipped the more common/recurring words for ease)
Ara'novor bal cuyir haatyc. Jorhaa'ir te resonl'nare bal jor'lekir gar tal. – Approach and be seen. Speak the Resonl'nare and confirm your blood.
Ba'jur bal beskar'gam, Ara'nov, aliit, Mando'a bal Mand'alor. An vencuyan mhi. – Education and armor, Self-defense, our tribe, Our language and our leader. All help us survive. (The words of the Resonl'nare)
Beskad – A sword made of beskar
Dar'Manda – A state of not being Mandalorian - not an outsider, but one who has lost his heritage, and so his identity and his soul.
Di'kutla – Foolish/Stupid
Laam'alverde – High Commander
Meshgeroya – Limmie in Basic. A much more violent from of football/soccer.
Ori'kyroya'kar – Big (Mandalorian) Wolf (Personal command cruiser of Duke Torrhen Ordo)
Osik – Shit
Osi'kar – Oh Shit!
Oya Manda – Expression of Mandalorian solidarity and perpetuity
Resonl'nare – The creed of the Mando'ade.
Shab – Fuck
Te Taylir Mand'alor – Canderous Ordo
The Warrior Reborn 2
I broke from my meditative trance (which I routinely used during the evenings to level up various Force Powers) a few minutes before my alarm was due to go off, and after disabling it for the morning, looked around my quarters. Like any quarters aboard a Mandalorian cruiser, they were spartan yet comfortable with the only noise I could hear being the faint hum of the ship's power core through the hull as it supplied power to the hyperdrive.
Currently, along with Fay and Dooku, I was travelling aboard Duke Torrhen's personal cruiser (which was larger and far better armed than Duke Adonai's – I blamed the New Mandalorians for that) the Ori'kyroya'kar. At his invite, we were travelling to Ordo (the planet) to deal with whatever the 'Vault of the Preserver' was, though neither Torrhen nor Asta had directly mentioned the vault, instead implying that there was something on their homeworld that was important to our shared history.
As I stood and moved towards the small cleaning area in the quarters, my mind drifted back to the celebration of my hunt.
After I'd officially started the celebration, the noise in the hall had increased sharply. It got so loud that even hearing my own thoughts was difficult, but a gentle tap on my shoulder by Fay had me turning to see Dooku lifting the small crate he'd brought with us onto the table.
The first two bottles he pulled from the crate were birthday presents from Padmé. I knew about those as the girl had mentioned them during our talk before the celebration. Plus, they doubled as a thanks for the early copy of 'Return of the King' that I'd arranged for her to receive for her birthday (which was about two months after mine) before the novel was released to the public.
The other two bottles Dooku removed from the crate were bottles of Alderaanain wine that he had procured to celebrate my successful hunt. While neither he nor Fay were overly comfortable with my killing to prove myself to the Mandalorians, they understood that the event was worthy of celebration. Dooku had then explained that the wine had traditionally been used to celebrate a successful hunt, which made the tart taste of the wine easy to stomach.
Upon seeing this, Adonai had sent one of the staff off and they returned (with help) and brought six bottles of Corellian Reserve, four bottles of Merenzane Gold (as I later learnt, two very expensive types of alcohol) and several casks of one-hundred-year-old Mandalorian wine. While I enjoyed all the drinks, particularly the Merenzane Gold – which was used for a private toast with my masters – I was glad that Player's Body countered the negative effects of alcohol otherwise I'd have either passed out after my fifth or sixth glass – which would've been very embarrassing – or died of alcohol poisoning.
Still, with no risk of either of those happening, I was able to enjoy almost as many glasses as my masters (who it turned out assumed I was using the Force to counter the effects of the alcohol) and gain a good number of levels for Damage Resistance: Bio-Chemical and Purge Toxin and remain sober for the entire party.
The first hour passed quickly as everyone enjoyed the meal, the drinks, and the seemingly random outbursts of singing that would break out. By the beginning of the second hour, people were beginning to mingle (both Adonai and Torrhen had stepped down to talk with others who, thanks to Observe, I learnt were heads or heirs of various clans) with some coming to the table and either offering to join my clan in battle, or challenging me, at a later date, to a friendly spar.
Still, with everyone now allowed to move, I figured this would be my best chance to fix my only error in judgement (well, since waking up back on this planet, at least). After taking my leave of my masters, and sharing a quick drink with Bo, Dorgo and Sellena, I moved down to the middle of the three tables, towards Clan Vizsla.
Both Pre and Tor extended their congratulations on my hunt, though Pre's was less enthusiastic. Curious if I'd learn anything new, I used Observe on him, and I had to take a few moments to calm myself at what was revealed.
I knew that the mercs that had attacked me had been hired by someone and had heavily suspected that Pre was behind, so learning he was annoyed that I hadn't died on that kriffing sand-covered hellhole of a planet wasn't a huge surprise, though it still angered me to have it confirmed. Also, he was right in his thinking that there was little anyone could do to track the leak back to him. Adonai had started an investigation, but nothing had been uncovered so far. The thing that did settle my mood was the fact that one of my options for dealing with him –the most appealing one, in all honesty – involved me killing him and taking the Darksaber. If I did that, then I could either reform the Death Watch into something more useful or disband it entirely.
Pre was also grateful for whatever had happened to distance his daughter from me, though learning that had me turning my focus to my reason for coming down to this table. However, before I could say anything to Naz in the way of an apology, she'd leapt up from her seat, and pulled me into a tight hug. It took me a moment to get over my shock at her hug (and the fact that my head had been jammed between her surprisingly well-developed breasts) before I was able to turn my head so I could still breathe and return the hug.
As we pulled back, I realised a lull had fallen over the hall – or at least the area near us – but at the time, I'd paid it no attention. In retrospect however, I suspected that several who saw our behaviour would begin to suspect that there was more going on than met the eye. And while Naz was an extremely attractive young lady, I felt that I wasn't ready physically to start a relationship. Putting aside any remaining hang-ups over entering a relationship with someone decades younger than my mental self, I could also tell that this body was still in the unstable period of puberty, and therefore not suited for total physical intimacy quite yet.
Plus, with me currently being a Jedi, it was probably best to not give the Council another thing to bash me over the head with.
Once we broke the hug to the point where I wasn't forced to stare at her chest, I began to apologize. I didn't mention anything about how my mood was soured because of TPTB unlocking a set of skills I didn't want to currently have (not that she would have understood that anyway), but I did say I'd been an idiot for how I'd reacted to her kiss.
Naz had nodded along, seemingly in agreement, only to offer her own apology for jumping on me – her words – not long after I'd just woken up from a near-death moment. Like all but a few, she hadn't realised just how dangerous my hunt had been and had been angered at my rejection. However, having just seen what I'd faced, and realising that I was unsettled when I woke, she now understood that I wasn't focused on anything but being grateful to still be alive. She also had come to realise that I wasn't a born-Mandalorian and was raised in the more (in her words) di'kutla ways of the Republic, though she'd mentioned in a few years there'd be no difference.
One thing that had come from that little talk (though I'd already seen evidence of it before) was that Mandalorian teenagers were, generally, more mature than those from my old life. That made perfect sense coming from a more serious, combat-orientated society, but it was something that I regularly forgot about as my old ways of thinking clouded my behaviour and actions. Still, at least now Naz and I were back to being friends once more.
Once we'd broken apart and said our pieces to each other, Bo had come down from the top table and all but demanded to see my new blade. I'd pulled it to me with the Force then let the pair (and the others that came over) examine it. As it was her turn to do so, Alys Ordo had made an offhand comment about getting her own hilt made from a fang.
After that, I headed down further and greeted the others at the lower tables. Nia, Commandant Kraviss and Rangemaster Marod were all proud of having a part in training me, while Gar offered a handshake and asked that the next time I went into battle, I made sure to invite him beforehand. I'd laughed and half-jokingly agreed even as I silently hoped the Force wasn't listening in because I would like a quiet few months after taking down the dragon.
Rook, who was seated next to Gar (suggesting things between them were more serious than I realised) had made a comment about Naz staking her claim, and that she'd seen a few others wanting a piece of me. I'd joked back at her that I guess killing a dragon was good for a reputation boost, though my amusement had disappeared the moment Rook had suggested she'd have to mention this to Serra the next time the pair spoke. At that, I'd had to promise her that we'd spar before I left the sector, and she'd made it clear that she meant a spar similar to what I'd had to become Akaan'lor and not the kind then she enjoyed with Gar.
Drayy'ven Jral clapped me on the shoulder before joking that the next time we were on the same planet, he was going to make sure I was nowhere near his intended kill. If not for the fact that he was smiling and laughing – and a quick usage of Observe to confirm that he wasn't angry with me for killing the dragon – I'd have been worried that he held a grudge. Still, to be safe, I'd promised him that if I ever ended up on the same planet as he was hunting on, I'd make sure to leave as soon as I could.
From there, I'd headed down onto the main floor, and quickly been engulfed by my teammates (bar Tiber who had stayed quiet when I'd spoken with Nia, Gar and Rook) who offered their congratulations, demands to see my blade, and wanting to spar with me one final time before I left the sector. Then, I wandered around the floor, often being pulled aside by Adonai and Torrhen to meet various clan chiefs, heirs and other dignitaries Adonai had invited to the feast.
Most of the clans were known to me (mainly due to me having seen or interacted with a child from them at the Institute), but any that seemed important to the dukes I used Observe on to learn a little bit more about them. What I was able to determine was that around eighty per cent of those present were loyal to House Kryze or House Ordo. The remaining twenty were either possible allies for one of the dukes, or in the case of one table, representatives of major Mandalorian companies like Mandalmotors and Mandaltech and the leadership of the Protectors from a few planets in the sector.
At one point during my walk around, a rather drunk Mandalorian – one, according to Observe, who had issues with Jedi – came over to and challenged me to a duel, right then and there. I'd tried to back out of it, claiming it wasn't fair to fight someone drunk off his arse (ok, so I wasn't the most courteous about it, but it was my feast, dammit) but that only enraged him enough to throw a wild haymaker. I easily sidestepped it, but he stumbled and ended up hitting Bo's plate, sending food flying over her, Rook and Gar. Seeing this, and the look of murder that came to the two girl's eyes, I figured I'd settled things quickly, and struck the man with a Force-boosted punch. That had resulted in him flying off his feet and landing on another table. From there… well, it quickly descended into a short, chaotic brawl.
After the brawl had ended (though no one seemed to mind as I saw people at several other tables fight at different times during the feast), I'd returned to my seat, planning to enjoy more of the steak. Rook, it turned out, had other ideas, and with the help of Bo, dragged me back to the main floor, then through a side door. For a moment I was concerned the pair were going to try to have their way with me, but after laughing at me when I asked them if that was their plan, Rook explained that we were heading for a private party.
As we'd exited the building, we ran into Gar, my teammates (minus Tiber, thank the Force), Naz and Alys and Ebbe Ordo, before heading as a group to the Oyu'baat cantina. Apparently, the Oyu'baat was the oldest cantina on the planet, and apart from that claim to fame (and the fact it also doubled as a hotel) having a drink here was considered a rite of passage for any true Mandalorian.
While the drinks there weren't as expensive or varied as at the feast, the fact no one cared that I was a Jedi – indeed, many bought me a drink when they learnt I'd just completed my verd'goten – was nice. Though I did have to regale the patrons with my hunt a few times (but since that meant even more free alcohol for my friends and me, I was willing to do so). We stayed there for hours, drinking laughing and with my friends teaching me some Mandalorian songs and chants and introducing me to Meshgeroya (Limmie in Basic), which struck me as a far, far more violent form of rugby (and reminded me of an old computer game called Speedball).
As the evening wore on, and the drinks kept flowing, Huzu eventually suggested a game that was a mixture of target practice and truth or dare. Three or more people would compete each turn to hit as close to the bullseye of a target with the loser having to reveal a fact (truth) or pay a penance (dare) demanded by the winner. Thanks to my high skill with a blaster, cheats to limit the effects of alcohol on me, and the Force, I won all my games. Every game I won, I kept the truth or dare simple and harmless, though the others weren't as civil, and since we were there to celebrate my hunt, I was often the one targeted by dares, which were often things like sitting on my lap for a minute or making out with me. That was always a little unsettling, but the most worrying (and confusing) moment of the night came near the end. That was when Rook had beaten Bo, and with a smirk that I had come to associate with her, had dared Bo to make out with me.
I'd opened my mouth to say that Bo didn't have to do that (as I was well aware that Bo preferred the company of women over men) when Bo had smashed her lips against mine. Then held the kiss for nearly a minute. That had left me very confused, and I retreated into myself for the rest of the evening, while doing my best to ignore the comments made by others, and the fact that Bo hadn't even paused to complain before kissing me.
Thankfully, not long after that, guards loyal to Clan Kryze arrived to escort Bo, Naz and me to a flyer that would return us to the palace in Sundari and take the others back to the hall or other locations where their families were gathered.
Since that night Bo had ignored the kiss (which I really wished I could do as every time I saw her, it kept playing back in my mind), though Naz had poked fun at it; while also asking which of herself and Bo was the better kisser (since she'd been dared to kiss me a few times the previous night).
After a late breakfast – which made sense as almost everyone was suffering the effects of a hangover – I headed to a storage room where the now stripped clean skull of the dragon (along with its bones) was being kept. Even as nothing more than a skeleton, it was still impressive (or intimidating, depending on your opinion). Though as I examined it more closely and saw that behind the row of massive teeth was a second set of about forty smaller – but just as sharp – teeth, my mind wandered back to a comment Alys Ordo had made at the feast, and an idea began to form in my head.
Before lunch (though no one was particularly hungry), I had a meeting with Adonai, Fay and Dooku to determine what to do with the remains of the dragon. Ignoring that even after the feast last night, there were nearly thirty tons of dragon meat left, there was the matter of all the skin (which Adonai had already sent to be tanned) and various fibres and internal organs that remained. Adonai was willing to store all the meat, leather, and other parts in several secure frozen containers on the condition that he could occasionally use the meat for special feasts and be allowed to hang the dragon's skeleton in his family's estate back on Kelevada, though he assured me that no one else would take credit for it.
I had no issue with any of that, though Fay was less than impressed that Adonai wished to glorify my kill by displaying the skeleton as an ornament, and I quickly agreed to his terms. After that, I brought up the idea that I'd had about the smaller teeth, and all three adults had said it was an excellent idea with Adonai promising to have them ready in a few weeks.
After that though, my jaw almost hit the floor when Adonai revealed that inside the stomachs of the dragon, they had discovered thirty-four high-quality pearls of varying size. The smallest were at a size that they could be added to a lightsaber (though I discovered that night that my Mechanics: Lightsaber skill wasn't at a high enough level to allow me to do such a thing) while the largest was the size of the duke!
After we'd (my masters had been just as surprised as I) all gotten over our shock at learning how many pearls there were – and having Adonai state that the three largest ones (there were two others close to Adonai's size) could easily fetch several million credits each at auction – we'd decided to place them in a very secure vault for the time being, though Dooku had requested one of the smallest ones to see how it could be adapted into a lightsaber.
Later that afternoon, we (as in Fay, Dooku and myself) headed into Keldabe to a private hall at the Oyu'baat cantina. There Duke Torrhen, Lady Asta and a little over two dozen clan chiefs were gathered, and this was where I discovered what had happened after I'd blacked out from my wounds and tapped into the Dark Side of the Force.
The moment that the camera flared with red light, I saw many glances my way, though my attention was what happened next. The flash of light had sent the Trandoshan flying backwards from me (and from what I could make out I'd hit him with Force Lightning, though I had no idea why it had been red as the only time I could recall seeing that was from the Brother during the Mortis arc), and stunned the remaining mercs enough that the incoming Mandalorian squad was able to engage them before any could close om my crumpled form.
While the mercs had a slight numerical advantage, the Mandalorian strike team was better trained, better armed, better motivated, and, as I watched one Mando blast the arm of a Human mercenary off at the elbow then shoulder, far more brutal. And frankly, they put my old unit – and any other Tier-1 operations group – to shame with just how fast, efficient and devastating they were. It only took less than twenty seconds for all but three of the mercs to be down (two of which were Trandoshans) and those fell soon after, with the last Trandoshan falling to a blindside attack by Adonai, who'd jumped from a small craft, and decapitated the giant lizard – and removed one of his arms – with a single (jet-assisted) downwards strike with a blade. (I later learnt the blade was a beskad and had been in Adonai's family for five generations.)
When the recording had ended just after Adonai's rather epic kill, the room erupted in fury. I was taken aback at how angry the Mandalorian chiefs were, but Torrhen explained (while Adonai tried to calm the others down) that attacking an adiik during, or just after their verd'goten was a mark of such dishonour that wars had been declared for less. It took Adonai nearly five minutes to calm the chiefs down enough that he could explain what he knew.
Adonai's forces had managed to persuade the few surviving mercenaries to reveal that they were hired by Decca the Hutt to attack me and bring me in, dead or alive. From there, Dooku and I had explained our past dealings with Decca, which meant revealing the existence of the Lokella to the Mandalorians (in particular, Pre who was present at the meeting). The anger in the room grew as I explained that the Lokella were freed slaves that Decca had attempted to recapture – though no one mentioned anything about my killing of Girk Saxon when it came up. While I was less than thrilled to have revealed the Lokella to the Mandalorians – particularly due to Pre's presence – many of the other chiefs offered their warriors to help train the Lokella and strike back at the Hutt's operations.
Fay had been adamant that we would not condone revenge attacks against the Hutt, but Count Aundars pointed out (rightly in my mind) that this was not a Jedi matter, but a Mandalorian one, though if I, as chief of Clan Shan, preferred we didn't, he and the others would follow my lead. I was conflicted as I didn't want things to escalate and makes the threat of another attack by Decca on the Lokella worse, but having trained warriors helped the Lokella (whether that be simply training them or cooperating in operations against the slaver) was a boon I couldn't deny to the Lokella plus I would lose standing with the other clans. I decided that the Mandalorians could aid the Lokella with their training and in bolstering their standing defences. If they decided between themselves to launch any incursions into the Hutt's operations, then that could be arranged between their two groups, and I need not decide that for them, nor even be aware of it. The grins on the clan chiefs as they worked out my loophole was unmistakable. I suspected it was not only due to the chance to fight some Hutts, but also from my willingness to skirt the edges of Jedi dogma when necessary.
Fay didn't say anything about my choice then and there, though I sensed her disapproval and we ended up speaking about the matter later. Strangely, Dooku supported my actions and was able to alleviate most of his fellow Jedi Master's concerns. One thing I did mention to both in private was that having the Mandalorians and Lokella train and operate together now had the potential to be useful for the coming darkness. I knew the first possible test of this would Naboo, but my masters didn't, and as such, Fay was sceptical about my reasoning, but willing to go along with it while Dooku considered it a practical approach to the building of a non-Jedi force to bolster our efforts in combating the rising darkness.
The clan chiefs had accepted my suggestion for training the Lokella, and they quickly began to make plans to have the first unit of fifty warriors head to the ShaDo system (Dooku happily explained the reason for such a name when it came up, making several of the chiefs laugh) while I promised to contact the Lokella after the meeting.
After that, Adonai revealed the fact that only a handful of people knew what planet I was on for my verd'goten, however all of them had denied leaking the details to the Hutts and Adonai's operatives so far hadn't been able to determine where the leak had come from. I'd expected Pre to have covered his tracks but hearing that he had was still infuriating. Though I wasn't alone in my annoyance as many grumbled upon hearing that a fellow Mandalorian had leaked the information, however Adonai stated the investigation was still ongoing. While I knew it was Pre, and because of this I was leaning very heavily to taking him out when the time was right, there was little I could do to point Adonai in that direction. A vague comment about the Force and Pre would be about as welcomed by the Mandalorians as an Ewok stripper on the Senate floor would be.
From there, the meeting had delved into the particulars of my new alliances with Clans Ordo and Kryze, and it was all but confirmed that the pair had used me to lay the groundwork for them restoring the alliance between their Houses. That would infuriate the New Mandalorians – and their backers in the Senate – and I could sense Pre's discomfort with this development, but I was more than happy to have this change take place. The Mandalorians in the Clone Wars were… useless. Oh, some of them were still good warriors, but the society as a whole was nothing more than a waste of space that needed to be removed. Now, there was a chance – however small – that this development could turn on me at a later date, but I was more than willing to take that risk; after all, that was one of my main reasons for coming to this planet in the first place. If only it hadn't taken a year to get to this point.
Now, Adonai had no intention of breaking his alliance with the New Mandalorians, at least not for the time being, but nothing was stopping him from slowly preparing for the moment when he would break from them. This irritated several of the chiefs present, but since Adonai had all but stated he planned to break with them at some point and was merely waiting until it was most politically advantageous, the majority were willing to go along with things; for the time being.
That evening, after dinner, Fay, Dooku and I were escorted to a secure landing pad on the outskirts of the old capital, where we met with Duke Torrhen, his family and their retainers and boarded his personal cruiser, the one I was currently on.
We'd been on board for two days so far and provided nothing untoward happened (though with my apparent luck, I couldn't rule that out), we'd reach planet Ordo shortly after lunch today. This evening, Duke Torrhen would hold a celebration to acknowledge the re-establishment of the alliance between our families in Clan Ordo's ancestral estate (for which we'd brought a literal ton of dragon meat). We'd then be taken the following day to the Vault of the Preserver.
I couldn't help but wonder just what was in this vault that Canderous had supposedly left, and why it seemed they needed someone of Revan's bloodline to open it. I doubted Revan had left anything for me specifically in there as that would suggest he'd had visions of what I'd face in the current era and would've cost him resources in his time. Now, while I didn't know exactly what had happened to him after the Knights of the Old Republic games, I suspected he'd gone and tried to take on the Sith Empire that would attack the Republic and Jedi about three hundred years after his time.
With that in mind, I couldn't see him leaving me anything truly important in the vault, and certainly not anything that would help with his quest (The Promise of the Fallen). It was more likely that Revan and Canderous set this vault up as a fallback option for when the Sith Empire emerged to attack the Republic, but it was forgotten about in the centuries between its construction and that war.
A chime sounded, letting me know it was time for the shift change. While that wasn't directly important to me, it did mean that I was expected to be in the mess hall in fifteen minutes. With that in mind, I turned and headed to the small cleaning alcove my assigned quarters had and, as I exited my quarters, pushed thoughts about what I'd find in the vault to one side.
Seven men waited quietly as a large, well-decorated transport began its final descent to the spaceport. This ship carried an unexpected but important guest to their world; one rich enough to travel with four heavily armed cruisers as escort. The passenger, the one the seven men were waiting for, was one of the richest and most powerful beings in the Republic, though why he had come to Mandalore was unknown. The head of Mandalmotors, Dred Yomaget, was keeping the reasons quiet.
However, news of the impending guest had leaked, and there was vocal dissent from non-Death Watch sympathizers about allowing an outsider to visit and invest in Mandalorian companies. Hence why the six-man honour guard waiting with a senior member of Mandalmotor's board were only the obvious sign of combatants present. A further thirty warriors were stationed nearby in various units to prevent any unexpected incidents from occurring.
Less than a minute later the transport had landed (thankfully without any hint of an attack being imminent) and the landing ramp began to descend. Slowly, the airlock hissed open and from within came eight large, armoured warriors, each carrying a force pike whose silver armour forced the senior member to raise a hand and shield his eyes from the glare they gave off. The Mandalorians tensed at seeing the Sun Guards appear as there existed a large amount of bad blood between the groups, however they were all well trained and none overreacted to the presence of the new warriors.
After the Sun Guards had taken up position at the base of the ramp, a single Munn walked down the ramp. He was paler than most of his species and wore a large, distinctive mask over his face. The lead member of the Mandalorian delegation stepped forward, his hand resting on the hilt of his pistol as he eyed the guards cautiously.
"Magister Damask, we are honoured that you have chosen to visit Mandalore, though we are curious why a member of the Banking Clan has come all this way. My name is…"
The man stopped as Damask raised a long-fingered hand. "I am here on a private matter for Damask Holdings and while you are likely someone of importance within your company, you are not who I am here to meet."
"Ah, of course." The board member said, forcing a smile onto his face. "Then if you and your escort would kindly follow me, we'll escort you to Chairman Yomaget."
Damask nodded his consent and the board member turned to the honour guard. Two fell into step at the front, acting as way finders, while the other four waited for Damask and his guards to pass by before bringing up the rear.
"Would you care for a tour of the city before we reach Mandalmotors headquarters?" The man asked once they'd left the landing pad.
"Thank you, but no." Damask replied. "While I am sure there will be time for me to visit locations around the planet later, I would prefer to speak with the Chairman first."
"As you wish."
The large group moved through the bustling streets of Keldabe, though Damask was able to see that guards were stationed along their route to ensure none of the locals came too close to himself or his guards. A wise precaution as the Sun Guards and those who followed the Old Ways of the Mandalorians held no love for each other.
However, as they headed down the main thoroughfare, and came into sight of Mandalmotor's headquarters, a loud noise came from a building to their left, followed shortly after by a man exiting the building through the window.
That man landed at the feet of the front honour guard, who quickly and bluntly 'escorted' him from the road.
"Is it always this… unruly?" Damask asked as he glanced at the cantina the man had been thrown from, the air pungent with the smell of food and alcohol.
"Yes, though this is a rather unusual day." The board member replied, fighting to keep a small smile from his face as he remembered his part in the festivities the previous day. "A new warrior has joined our ranks. Though not born on our worlds, the Jedi proved himself by slaying a greater krayt dragon single-handedly."
Damask's brow rose as he turned to face the board member. "A Jedi Padawan slew such a beast alone?" The man nodded and seemed to stand taller as Damask gazed down at him. "I have heard that such beasts are all but immune to lightsabers. Most impressive that a Padawan was able to take one down."
The board member smiled. "Oh, he didn't use the Jedi weapon. The b… warrior took it down as our traditions demand, with nothing but a single blade. During the hunt he respected our ways and laws, not using the powers a Jedi is known for."
Damask tiled his head. "Indeed? Hmm, then if it is at all possible, I would like to meet this young Jedi. Someone with such skill, courage and uniqueness has the potential to be a valuable ally."
The board member's smile slipped a touch before he replied. "Sadly, the boy is off-world with his Jedi trainers. However, if your meeting with Chairman Yomaget goes well, he may be able to speak with Duke Adonai Kryze to arrange a meeting. The duke is the one who sponsored the boy's training with our youngest warriors."
Damask chuckled, which was a strange sound because of the mask. "Using my curiosity as a potential benefit. Very wise. Though we will see how my meeting with your superior goes before I make any requests to him or this duke."
Without another word, Damask began to walk once more. The board member had to move quickly to both keep up with the alien and avoid being trampled by the powerful Munn's guard.
As I looked at the large door that sealed the Vault of the Preserver, once more my mind wandered as I contemplated what could be within. It turned out that the vault was located below Clan Ordo's ancestral estate (which was in a mountain region in the northern hemisphere of the planet) so getting to it from the estate where we were staying was easy enough. That is if you overlook the fact that it took twenty minutes of heading down into the mountain tunnels before we arrived at the vault doors.
"There's no lock." I commented as my eyes wandered the large (about five by three metres) slab of beskar – it was easy to tell that as the metal had the distinctive ripple effect common to the metal – that served as the door to the vault and completely covered the entrance; sliding into the walls at the edges of the tunnel.
"Aye, and the door, if one could call it that, is embedded about half a meter in all directions." Lady Asta explained from just behind me and to the right. "Previous generations scanned the door to confirm this, though none have risked opening the vault. To do so would insult the ancestors of our clan."
Since the Ordo's expected me to be the one to open the door, they – along with Fay and Dooku – were standing behind me as I surveyed the door. The Ordo children had wished to come down with us, but Torrhen had made them stay with Baston Tyri and his two children, Jakada and Bryn, in the Ordo estate on the surface. Baston held the position of Laam'alverde (High Commander) within House Ordo's military forces and, from what I could gather from talking with both me and using Observe on them, Torrhen trusted Baston implicitly. I hadn't spent much time with Baston outside of the presence of Torrhen, Asta or my masters, but both his children had expressed an interest in sparring with me before I left the planet. (Which meant I'd received over sixty spar requests since my feast, though some were likely to be of a less than friendly form.)
"The Force is unusually strong here." Fay commented, and I knew what she meant. As we'd entered the tunnels, I'd activated Sense Force and almost stumbled at the glare that appeared on my minimap from below. That glare had been caused by the vault we were now standing in front of. The Force seemed to swirl around the door, with a stronger presence coming from inside the vault. That had me curious as to just what Revan had done here to soak a cave so thoroughly in the Force. What object (or objects) was inside that even after millennia, could give off such a strong Force aura.
"Perhaps that is how the vault has stayed sealed for all these years? It needs the presence of one strong in the Force to, at least partially, open the locks within." Dooku suggested. I turned to reply, only to stop at a growl.
That growl had come from Torrhen's… companion (calling it a pet or familiar felt wrong). The thing was a Raqour'daan that came up to Torrhen's midsection and looked like a Force-cursed beast. The body was that of a large wolf that was covered in black fur, while the head was covered by an exposed skull (or what appeared to be one) and from the sockets where the eyes rested, two icy-blue eyes stared back at me. The beast's tail reminded me of a scorpion's stinger, and I was morbidly curious if the stinger at the tip carried venom. Apparently, Torrhen had killed one such beast for his verd'goten, only to discover three pups not long after. He'd brought them home and raised the trio as hunting hounds with the one with us today being the alpha (and only male of the initial three) of a pack of twelve. Everything about the beast yelled 'danger', so for Torrhen to take one as a companion made perfect sense to the Mandalorian way of thinking.
I glanced back at the beast, and its eyes seemed to narrow as it saw me; almost as if it was sizing up a threat to its pack. It growled once more, only to stop as Torrhen idly stroked its fur. At that, it turns its attention to the duke, leaning into the hand and I shook my head at seeing such a dominant beast become so submissive and trusting towards the duke. The bond that existed between them reminded me of those between dog and soldier back in my old life, and while I wondered what it would be like to have such a thing as a companion, I seriously doubted that it would ever happen. There weren't many creatures in the galaxy that I knew of that were suitable or capable of being the companion of a Jedi save for those that were considered a threat by the Jedi Order to any Force Sensitive.
"A former Jedi has tried to open it." Torrhen replied to Dooku's suggestion. "When Tarre Vizsla became Mand'alor, and he proved himself to the then leader of our clan, he was brought here and attempted to open the vault. He failed and stated that the vault was sealed with something called a Force signature, and while he could force his way through, he believed that doing so would risk the contents of the vault."
I frowned at hearing that as I had no idea the Force could have a signature. Was it similar to a genetic marker that passed from parent to child? If so, then there was a fair chance I couldn't open the vault as my link to Revan was… diluted after four generations. If that was the case, then I'd just as likely have to leave the vault alone for now; though a part of me wanted to just phase through the door and see what was on the other side. Yes, doing that could get me in trouble with House Ordo, but so far, I'd failed to see or detect (via Force Sight) any cameras or other methods of detection, so it was an option for a later date. Yet, the more I stood staring at the unopenable door, the more I had a feeling that I had to get in there; as if something within the Force was calling to me.
"Unusual. Such things are almost unheard of in the Order." Dooku commented and I suspected he was stroking his beard. "Though, if I recall my history correctly, they were once used by powerful Jedi to seal away important objects for safekeeping."
"They were, but even when I was a Padawan, such things were rare." Fay added on. "Though I do remember there being rumours that Lord Hoth had one such vault hidden somewhere in or near the Yushan Sector. However, no one has ever come forward claiming to have found it." She paused and I soon felt her hand on my shoulder. "Given to the link that Canderous Ordo held with your ancestor, I suspect that only you have any chance of opening this door."
I turned my head just enough that I could see her. "How?"
Fay smiled, in that enigmatic way she loved to use whenever she felt an answer was obvious. "Trust in the Force. It has guided you here for a reason. Both Master Dooku and I can sense that."
"Indeed." Dooku added from my left. "The Force feels almost… excited by us being here and since that is because of your choice to come to this sector, I am in agreement with Master Fay that you are the one meant to open this door."
I nodded as I turned my attention back to the slab of beskar (and ignored the returning thought about how much such a slab would be worth; financially and culturally) and watched as the Force seemed to dance around the door. With Sense Force active, it was like the aurora borealis dialled up to a thousand as the Force moved, shimmied, and slid over the door. There were no colours, but I could almost feel every ripple, shift, and change in the Force. Though as I stared at it further, I noticed that some of these ripples weren't running along the door, but through it. I couldn't tell how far past the door the Force currents seemed to run, but I was quickly becoming certain that there was more to this door than met the eye and tried to focus on the Force just past the door.
I inhaled sharply as I did, as the Force seemed to react to my gentle push and reach back to grasp me. Yet, there was more to it, something almost familiar to the current in the Force that had reacted to my presence. No, currents because as I edged forward in the Force, I was able to feel that the current was actually two; similar yet distinct enough that I could now tell them apart.
Quickly I was able to place the first, stronger yet more subdued aura as that of Revan's. Even though I couldn't explain how, I knew this aura was his. The other presence was both more familiar, yet not, which made my brow crease in confusion.
If I was understanding what I was sensing (and quite frankly, what I was sensing was insane), then it felt as though Revan's aura was… amused by me being here. Yet even though that should've been my focus – this was Revan we were talking about after all – my attention was drawn to the second aura. While Revan's… spirit (for lack of a better word) seemed to be content to acknowledge my presence and find amusement in it, the second aura seemed to reach out and wrap itself around me. I inhaled sharply as I swore that I felt delight from that aura, and it seemed to almost be singing in the Force; music that vibrated through my very soul and made me feel safe, protected and home.
"Cameron?" Fay asked, a hint of confusion in her voice and in the Force, along with, strangely, a faint sense of amusement.
"I-I'm fine, master." I replied slowly, trying to not verbally react to the almost ancestral presence in the Force as it moved to all but encircle me; almost as if it was trying to hug me. "This place… it was made by Revan. But there's something else here. Or someone. I, I don't know how to …" I stumbled over my words because I had no way to describe what I was sensing and feeling through the Force.
I felt Fay's hand on my shoulder tighten and sensed her support through our bond. "Explaining how the Force is, how it moves, flows and behaves is not easy to do with mere words. It is a wonderous thing that only those touched by it can truly comprehend. Now, these… residual spirits that you feel, do they seem friendly and inviting?"
"I think so. I mean, the older one, the one I think is… a left-over sense of Revan, that one seems amused by me. The other one though… I feel as if I know it." I replied slowly, taking my time to try and put my thoughts – and what I was sensing – into something that should make sense to my masters, and as I spoke, I swore I felt the second, more familiar spirit laugh; or at least I sensed a massive spike in joy and warmth from it. "This… it's incredible."
"The Force often is." Dooku stated and I could sense amusement from him, Fay, and the two residual presences within the vault. "This second presence, why do you think that you know it?"
"I… It's familiar. As if I know who it is, yet I can't place it with anyone I've ever known." I replied, still taking my time with my words as I gently reached out further into the Force, and felt this ancestral aura seem to dance around my probe. "They… They're a part of me, I think. Yet…"
I gasped as the aura seemed to grab my Force probe and pulled it towards the door.
I swore I heard something whispering in the deepest parts of my mind, speaking in a voice that I instinctively knew. Yet, I also knew I'd never heard it before. Though before I could try and process why I knew the voice, the aura shifted and drew back to the door; yet it was also trying to pull me, or at least then tendril I probed into the Force with, along for the ride.
Trusting in the Force, I let my probe be pulled towards the door and felt as the aura guided me around the metal. Feeling the Force seep through the bonds of the Mandalorian Iron door was… beyond words. The aura led my Force tendril (and even as I thought about it, I knew my words to describe what was going on were lacking, yet there was nothing else I could use) through the door, then over to the left wall. There it seemed to dance around in a certain manner, but before I could understand why it was behaving like this, my tendril was pulled once more; this time to a point that I instinctively knew was right against the wall.
This new location… was both stronger in the Force, and yet lacking, which made no sense. Yet, as I tried to understand how that could be, the aura that was guiding me began to repeat the strange dance. As if a switch had been flicked in my mind, I understood what I had to do, and copied the motions of the dancing aura. As I finished the strange, ethereal dance, I heard something click.
"Wh-what?" Asta muttered, but I paid her no heed, instead keeping all my focus on the Force, and this strange, ancestral aura that now seemed to glow with delight.
As I pulled back from what I now knew was something like a Force lock (though how such a thing even worked, I had no clue), the ancestral aura shifted back as Revan's… spirit came closer. For what felt like an eternity, Revan's aura seemed to gaze upon my presence in the Force. The ancestral aura tried to come closer, but a dark spark from Revan's spirit made it keep its distance. During this I kept my body and Force presence calm; or as calm as I could under the pressure I somehow was feeling from Revan's aura.
Eventually, Revan's aura seemed to accept me, and shifted around; seemingly dragging my tendril with it to the other side of the vault near the door. There it stopped and, if I understood what was going on, was gesturing at something for me to deal with. Slowly, I let my tendril in the Force shift towards where Revan's aura was indicating and felt… something cold, dead, yet not. This was obviously another lock of some sort, but unlike the last one, it didn't have the Force flowing around it as if at one with the Force. Instead, it was almost as if it was challenging me, trying to draw me closer.
A moment later I realised that this lock needed me to touch the Dark Side, or at least not reject it, to have any chance of opening it. Plus, it seemed Revan (or at least his aura) wasn't prepared to help me, and I was forced to push towards the lock; taking on the challenge that I could sense in the Force. It took me much longer to figure out this lock – which wasn't a surprise – but eventually, I managed to move it in the right way and I heard a second click echo through the tunnel.
A loud hiss filled my ears, and I yanked back the tendril I'd extended into the Force and opened my eyes to see the giant slab of beskar that served as the door of the vault shift. My hand moved to my lightsaber as the door slid silently into the left wall, watching cautiously for any further traps that might be inside. Even once the door was over halfway into the wall and ceased to move, I stayed still. There was no way that the door was only opened by two locks that required the Force to use. That was too simple (and at the same time illogical) for people like Canderous and Revan to use.
And I was proved right as when someone behind me shone a light into the vault, we were greeted by a second door; though this one didn't appear to be made of beskar as it lacked the distinctive ripples the metal was known for. And further unlike the first door, it clearly opened centrally and had a device of some form locking the two halves in place.
Cautiously, I – followed by the others – stepped through the first door and approached the lock on the second.
"That looks like a simple blood lock with a verbal interface." Torrhen commented once we were all between the two doors and he shone his torch on the lock. "Though I'm not sure about the wiring running into the door."
"Probably a trigger trap." Asta suggested from her husband's side. "In his place, I'd have done something like that."
"If that is the case, how can we be sure of whose blood will deactivate the lock?" Dooku asked as I felt Fay reach out with the Force, likely searching for a hint of how to approach this obstacle.
Before anyone could answer, the lock beeped, and a small display activated.
"Ara'novor bal cuyir haatyc." The lock spoke in the voice of Canderous. "Jorhaa'ir te resonl'nare bal jor'lekir gar tal."
"Well, that's nice and clear." I muttered as I easily understood that it wanted someone to approach, repeat the Resonl'nare – the Mandalorian creed – and submit blood for a check. "Save for who it wants to approach."
"I suspect it is you, Chief Cameron." Asta commented after a long pause followed my statement. "You were the one to open the outer door. Logic dictates that it should be you to open the inner one."
"Why not you or your husband?" Dooku asked as I kept my focus on the lock. I activated Force Sight and examined the lock, but found nothing untoward, and then followed the cables that ran into the door.
"No. Our duty was to protect the vault, not help to open it. We were not needed for the first door, so I doubt we're needed for the second." Asta replied but my attention was on the cables.
Through the Force, I could see them split into twelve lines. Four curved back towards the first door while the other eight headed deeper into the vault. I turned my head to follow the ones that curved behind us and found all ended in small (twenty by twenty centimetres) boxes at the four corners of the outer door. While I couldn't be certain what was in those boxes, I had a fair idea.
"Padawan?" Fay asked and I turned to face her, deactivating Force Sight as I did. The last time I'd used that power on a strong Force user I'd almost mentally blinded myself from the glow I could sense.
"The cable in the lock leads to four points near the outer door, and at least eight further in." I replied. While that was more than most Force users would be able to determine in such a short space of time, my masters knew I was 'skilled' at sensing such things now while the Ordo's wouldn't realise that I was faster than your average Jedi. "At a guess, I'd say they're explosive charges. An incorrect blood scan, or failure to recite the Resonl'nare will likely set them off."
"Probably something any Mandalorian would do." Torrhen said in agreement.
I turned back to the lock and sighed dramatically. "Well, who wants to live forever?"
"I was hoping to live to a hundred, but osik, what's the point in living if you can't live dangerously." Asta answered my rhetorical question with a chuckle, and it drew one from me as I slid my hand into the small slot that I assumed was a blood scanner.
A light flickered in the slot then the screen bleeped and displayed the Mando'a word for ten. "How droll. A countdown." I commented with a roll of my eyes. "Ba'jur bal beskar'gam, Ara'nov, aliit, Mando'a bal Mand'alor. An vencuyan mhi." I said clearly, repeating the creed of the Mandalorians in their tongue (as there was little chance the recording would ask for it in Basic).
The screen stopped its count (it was at six) as the light scanning my hand flickered off. Taking that as my cue, I pulled my hand out and stepped back, my left hand slowly tightening around my lightsaber. While I didn't expect any more challenges to enter the vault, I wasn't going to be caught unawares.
Thankfully though, I was just being paranoid, and the second door clicked – likely due to the latches holding it together unlocked – then slid back slowly. The door wasn't as silent as most other doors were (or the first) but that might just be an issue of age with the locking mechanism.
"Osi'kar!" Torrhen muttered as his and Asta's torches shone over the vault as they, and the rest of us, realised that this wasn't a simple vault with a single room (or cavern) but an extended section of tunnel that led on about ten metres before turning to the right. However, what drew my eye (thanks to Sense Force) were two small crates that were resting on a pallet about a metre or so into the tunnel. Both had a faint glow within the Force, though the first crate felt… safer than the second.
"Cameron." Fay called out in caution as I began to step forward, but my focus was on the crates. A feeling told me that, while both crates were important, the first was more… linked to me. Though how I knew that I still didn't understand. The Force was such a strange and mysterious thing that I knew (even if it seemed to want to help me change the fate of the galaxy) it would take me decades to even begin to understand. Force, Fay had been living in tune with it for centuries, and there were still times when I sensed her surprise at something we sensed through the Force.
Slowly, I stepped closer to the first crate, and after a moment checking that there were no booby-traps on it (and examining it with Sense Force), used the Force to lift the lid off with a simple gesture.
There were several objects inside, my eyes were drawn to the first (and topmost) object. It was a standard holocron, yet something told me it was important. The ancestral aura I'd sensed in the Force – the one that'd helped me open the first lock on the outer door – was present in the holocron, and I knew this would explain why I felt I should know whose presence in the Force I was sensing.
Almost on autopilot, I reached out and lifted the holocron. Whatever residual Force presence there was inside flared at my touch, and I gasped and the surge that ran through me. As it did, I realised that this aura wasn't just familiar, it was familial; and close family at that.
"Cameron?" Fay asked, trying to draw my attention (and I could sense concern and curiosity from her through the Force), but my focus stayed locked on the holocron in my hand. I closed my eyes and reached out for it in the Force. It seemed to almost revel in my touch, and slowly I pushed through the Force, trying to tease the holocron to open.
As it flared brightly in the Force, I opened my eyes and gasped as the image of a woman (no more than thirty centimetres in height) was projected on the top of the holocron. It was hard to judge the height, eye and hair colour from a small hologram, but there was no denying she was beautiful, having an almost regal air to her and stood with a strong, but weary stance.
"My name is Ressa Shan, Jedi Knight, and if you are seeing this, then I am likely dead."
I inhaled sharply at hearing her name as everything about the aura in the Force I'd been sensing clicked together. This was my mum; or at least the woman who'd given birth to Cameron Shan before I'd… merged (?) with him and altered his destiny.
"Know that what I did, in falsifying my son's records and hiding him away with my father, was all for a reason." Ressa continued as my mind wondered why the auras of my 'mother' and Revan hadn't sensed there was something different about me. When I'd spoken to his ghost in the crystal cave on Ilum, Revan had realised that I wasn't entirely his descendent. So why hadn't the aura he'd left in the Force here react to that? And why hadn't my mother's aura noticed something was different as well?
"Though since only my Cameron, or one of his children, could access this message, then I can be happy that it was all worth it." Ressa smiled and I cursed whatever power had decided that this beautiful woman had to die so that I could be reborn here. Would it have hurt anyone to have allowed her to live and raise me before I'd been driven into the future (and the era I'd chosen when I'd created my new history/body)?
"My dearest Cameron, if you are watching this, then I need you to know that I'm so, so sorry that I couldn't be there for you. That I couldn't train you in the ways of the Force, watch you grow, become a great man and, I hope, if you haven't already, one day have children of your own. And if I am speaking to one of my grandchildren, or further down the family tree, then know that I loved my son, and that everything I did was to protect him." She paused and her eyes seemed to scan the room as if looking for someone from beyond the grave. "If my son, or his descendent is here with a Jedi Master, or another willing to train them in the ways of the Force, you have my deepest and warmest thanks."
"It has been our honour, Knight Shan." Dooku replied, showing respect to a woman long since dead, and even if I couldn't see him, I knew he had bowed to the recording of my mother.
Ressa's hologram – for some reason, it felt wrong to keep referring to her as my mother – shifted, and her shoulders dropped. "My sweet little Cameron. If it is you listening to this message, then I must beg your forgiveness; for both leaving you with my father as a baby, and for hiding your strength in the Force from the Jedi." She sighed and looked down to one side, rubbing her arm as she did so. "You see your father… he was not who I believed him to be."
"I… I met him about four years before you were born, not long after I became a Knight, on a world deep in the Outer Rim; one that had once been a part of Exar Kun's Sith Empire though, by the time I arrived, it had been a part of the Republic for centuries." She paused and took a breath, seemingly to steady herself and I felt a cold shiver travel down my spine. Something told me that what she was about to reveal was not going to be comforting. "He was older than me. Heh, almost as old as my father, yet there was this… air to him. Something regal, noble. And while he wasn't trained at the Temple, he was well trained in the Force, if seemingly lacking in strength in the Force, and claimed that he'd been a Padawan of a travelling Jedi several decades before. Like a fool, I believed him even though the chances of that were remote." She shook her head. "I should've seen the truth, should've questioned more about the chances of such a meeting taking place, but in my youth; in my arrogance, I didn't."
"As time went by, and we travelled together, I quickly fell for him and not long after I realised that I was pregnant with Cameron, something happened. While dealing with pirates on an outer rim world, we were overrun and, in a moment of anger, the man unleashed his full strength in the Force. His power… was unlike anything I'd ever felt before. Pure, controlled fury that obliterated the pirates." She sighed again, still rubbing her arm. "It was at that moment I knew I'd been fooled. The man I'd fallen for was not a Jedi, but a Sith Lord. One of incredible power who I believe had sought me out due to my heritage." I heard Fay inhale sharply and sensed a spike in concern from Dooku at the reveal of my father being a Sith.
And where the fuck was that mentioned in the life setup options?
"Keeping quiet about what had happened, and doing my best to shield my thoughts, I was able to slip away from the man one night. Though it was a close thing as, while my shuttle was leaving the planet, he unleashed a Force Storm that ignited the atmosphere of the planet. I escaped, but even though there should've been little chance that he survived his attack, I took no chances."
"I… I didn't feel safe leaving you with the Order." Her eyes darted up as if looking for something before they returned to looking at the floor in front of her. That man… your father, H-he was more powerful than any of the Masters at the Temple, and possibly all of them combined. So, after you were born, I faked your Force potential check, dropped you with my father then disappeared. I… I wish… that I could've seen you grow; seen you become a man that I know in my heart will help those in need, but I couldn't risk it. The Sith would be after me."
"I'm leaving my personal holocron, along with several other objects for my son here, in this vault set up by Revan and Canderous in the hope that one day, you may find them, Cameron. That you can forgive me for what I've done and can stay safe from Kadir."
For the first time since Ressa had begun her recounting, she stood tall, and her eyes were searching for something as if she was trying to reach out across the millennia to speak directly to me.
"I wish that I could've been there to see you grow, my sweet, sweet boy. To see you take your first steps, get into your first fight, construct your first lightsaber and become the man that I know in my heart you are destined to be, but it couldn't happen. I know there is every chance you cannot forgive me for what I've done, but everything has been to protect you, to set you on a path that I, and the Force, feel is the correct one. Everything I have done is because I love you, my darling boy. May the Force be with you, always."
The message flickered off, but I continued to stare at the holocron, trying to process what I'd just learnt. I didn't know if this Sith was influenced by The Powers That Be to seek out my mother, or if that had been what was supposed to have happened to Cameron before I merged/replaced him but learning that my father was a Sith was… a shock to the system. I didn't know of any active Sith during those years, though thanks to my time at the Temple, I was aware that about two hundred years after I 'left' the past, a powerful Sith Empire attacked the Jedi and Republic - even being able to occupy Coruscant for a while - so my father might have been an advanced scout for that empire.
The other big issue with this reveal (beyond the thoughts about what Kadir had been like as a person – Sith of no, he had been my father) was how the Jedi in general – and the High Council in particular -would react to this. Something told me that if they found out about this, then my chances of altering the future – and thus, preventing the rise of Sidious' Empire – would be… restricted.
"Cameron?" I turned at Fay's voice and felt her hand as she gently touched my shoulder. "How are you handling this?" I turned to face her while still holding my Ressa's holocron.
"I…" I licked my lips and sighed. "I don't know. Knowing my mum seemingly died to protect me is bittersweet, but learning my father was a Sith… The Council will not like that."
Dooku almost snorted at my comment. "I see you are learning the art of understatement." I couldn't keep the smirk from my lips as he continued. "The Council will only learn of this if, and only if, Master Fay and I believe they need to know." He paused and glanced away for a moment before continuing. "The actions of one's parents have no bearing on the child. All the mistakes, triumphs and everything in-between belongs only to the parents, with the child being no more than an observer to them. To judge you for the choices made by a man you have never met would be… unworthy of educated beings."
"Yes. This is a private matter that you, and you alone, have to come to terms with." Fay added as I felt a wave of reassurance from her through the Force. "While this news is… troubling, you have never known your father, nor are you bound to follow his path simply because you share his genetics."
"Okay." I mumbled out as I turned my attention back to the holocron. The Force, while now calmer, was still swirling around the object. I felt as though there was more stored within it for me to learn; about Ressa, my family and the Force. Yet, I knew this wasn't the time nor place to see. Still, I used Observe on the holocron before I slipped it into one of the inner pockets my robes had.
Ressa Shan's Holocron
The personal holocron of Jedi Knight Ressa Shan.
Served as a diary and knowledge storage unit for Knight Shan for over a decade.
Energy Value: 25000
Almost unlimited storage capacity.
The knowledge within is protected by a 'gatekeeper'.
The almost unlimited storage space was something I'd seen on other holocrons (something to do with the Force and how they worked I suspected), and the Hit Points, Value and Energy Value – which I still had no ideas as to its function, though it wasn't how much Force Power I could push into an object as I'd tried that on a few things without success – values were in-line with other holocrons as well.
Then again, the only holocron I'd played around with was the Sith apprentice's holocron that I'd grabbed before ending up in this era. With that, I'd been reluctant to spend too much time delving into what it contained. While it had belonged to only a Sith apprentice, it was still an object soaked in the Dark Side (making it hard to open when always around Jedi), thus I'd only browsed the more… surface information contained within. Still, I felt better having in my Inventory than being locked away in a vault in the Jedi Temple (with whatever other objects deemed 'tainted by the Dark Side' the Council had locked away over the millennia).
As I dropped the holocron into a large pocket, I lamented that my standard robes had a limited number of pockets. There was certainly not anything big enough to holster my new short sword, though that was hardly a surprise. Said blade was currently back at the Ordo estate as neither of my masters felt I'd require it for the vault. Both were less than thrilled that I even had it with me, but to leave it back on (the planet) Mandalore would've been - according to Duke Adonai - an insult to his clan; and that of Clan Ordo as they commissioned the sheath.
One thing I did plan to have made - once I was knighted - was a set of robes made from the dragon skin that had more pockets than a normal robe. If not for my Inventory, I'd have to have left many things (not least my lightsaber shoto when I didn't keep it secured with a magnetic clamp) behind, or have them stored in a rucksack that would be unusual for a Jedi to carry.
Turning my attention back to the crate, the next thing that caught my eye was a simple, if slightly old, datapad. A quick check confirmed it still had power, and I turned it on.
The screen flickered and took longer to start than was normal, but given to its age and lack of activity, that wasn't unexpected. What was, was the picture that appeared. It showed Ressa, her hair matted against her skull, holding a bundle. I gasped as I realised this was me, or at least my body, being born and again my mind wondered if this boy would've been born if not for me choosing to be inserted into this universe as a descendent of Revan.
Still, even if this woman wasn't technically my mother, I still felt a connection to her; and given to the way her aura had reacted to me, that extended into the Force. Slowly, taking care in case my touch might break the ancient datapad, I ran my finger down the screen. It was clear that this photo was taken not long after my 'birth', and it should've been a happy moment to see. Yet, my mind was quickly drawn back to who my father was, and the fact that not long after this Ressa was forced to place 'me' with her father and run away. A swell of anger grew in me at realising that Sith had stolen 'my' childhood, yet I was quickly able to dismiss it. The fault likely was my own because of my choices before my rebirth, so any anger should be directed at myself and not a Sith that was long dead.
Part of me wanted to spend more time looking at the picture – and any other pictures or data that might be on the datapad – I knew it was something I could do at a later date. So, being careful with the ancient datapad, I placed it down gently on the unopened second crate and returned my focus to what was in the first.
The next thing I picked up was a narrow but long case that reminded me of those fancy cases for expensive pens from my old life. Continuing to be careful due to the contents of the crate being millennia-old, I lifted the small case. After discovering the lock, it opened with a hiss; signalling that whatever was inside had been sealed away to preserve it.
Inside was a lock of light brown hair held together by braids.
"Her Padawan braid." Dooku offered from just behind and to my right. "To many, it's an important link to their past and a reminder that no matter what they have done, there is always more to learn and understand about the Force."
I heard his words, and I lifted a finger towards the braid. I didn't touch it – concerned that doing so might damage it in some way – but instead, I traced from the yellow band and one end to the red at the other. In between red, blue, and green beads that, if the meaning held the same back then as it did now, she had been a Jedi Consular and skilled with a lightsaber and in a cockpit. There were also a few white beads, but those were not used by the current Order, so I was unsure as to their meaning.
As my finger traced down the braid, I swore I felt a residual… spark in the Force. As if it was another attempt by Ressa to reach out across the years to connect with me. I smiled at the idea, and my hand drifted to my necklace. While not made directly for me, the braid felt as though it should be with me, just as the necklace did.
Still, there was more in the crate to examine, so I closed the small case – making sure to reseal the lock – then placed it on the second crate. Looking back into the first crate, I noticed a pile of credits that while old, I would still be able to add to my Inventory, thus allowing me to draw them as 'new' credits if the need arose. I'd already done that with credits I'd discovered under the Jedi Temple and proved worked by withdrawing the entire stored credit reserve in private a few days later.
I shifted the credit pile to the side and found a small box, no bigger than my fist, buried beneath them. Curious as to why Ressa would've done that, I pulled the box out of the crate. The box was nondescript, but inside was a small light blue crystal that looked the right size to place in a lightsaber.
"A rather common colour." Dooku commented in a quiet voice. Whether that was out of respect for the intimacy of my looking through my 'mother's' possessions or because he didn't want his voice to carry to the Ordo's (who were near the second door, possibly examining the explosive trigger system Canderous had set up. I couldn't say. "Though I sense an unusual ripple in the Force from it."
Something about the colour and what Dooku said stirred a memory in me and my mind was drawn, as if by someone else, to the moment Bastila had confronted Darth Revan abroad his flagship. Revan's lightsaber engaged, and I felt a slight tremor in the Force. My curiosity piqued, I used Observe on the crystal.
Mantle of the Force
(Unique Force Crystal)
One of two legendary Force crystals linked with Revan.
While the origins of this crystal have been lost to the ages, the potential it possesses has not.
Energy Value: 1000
Enhances the benefits of any other crystals used in a lightsaber.
Grants a small increase in the potency of an attuned user's Force abilities.
Bastila Shan (4%)
Ressa Shan (1%)
Attuning Force-touched objects that are attuned to others is more difficult than those that are unattuned.
Time to attune varies depending on the strength of attunement, the Force potential of the former user, and the inclination of a Force presence to allow re-attunement.
I managed to stop myself gasping at realising I was holding one of the two crystals Revan was linked to, and silently wondered how and when Ressa had managed to obtain it. Either it had been given to her by my 'father' (hinting that Revan had died fighting whatever Sith Order he had come from), or it was given to Ressa by either my grandfather or Bastila.
"You recognize this crystal?" Dooku asked, indicating that while I'd not reacted outwardly, my masters had sensed my shock through our bond.
"I, I think, this is one of Revan's crystals." I began, rapidly concocting a story in my head about how to explain what I knew. "I saw images of the crystals he used in his lightsaber and… when I picked it up I thought I saw an image of him wielding it in my mind." I paused and slowly lifted the small crystal out of the box. "The Force feels… familiar within, though not in the same way it does with my mother's holocron. If it is what I think, then this is the crystal known as the Mantle of the Force."
I heard Fay inhale sharply and felt spikes of shock and curiosity in the Force from both my masters.
"How certain of this are you?" Dooku asked slowly as I turned and gently handed the crystal to Fay.
"The colour matches, and the Force… It feels like I'm right. Though I won't know until I place it in a lightsaber." I stated as Fay brushed a finger over the contours of the crystal.
"To think that this might be that crystal… That it might be real…" Fay paused and a faint, disbelieving chuckle escaped her lips. "Never did I think the day would come when it might be proven to be real." She handed it back to me and met my eyes. "If this is indeed the Mantle of the Force, then it calls into question many of the official records surrounding Revan, Malak and the Old Republic Insurrection."
"Agreed. Though until we can confirm such a thing, if we are able to, then none of our fellow Jedi will be willing to question the official story regarding Revan." Dooku added.
While I kept my eyes on the Mantle, I wondered about what he was talking about. The records that I'd been allowed to browse within the Archives were accurate, if simplistic, regarding Revan, Bastila, Malak and everyone linked to them during their lifetime.
"To many, the idea that two crystals with such supposedly strong presences in the Force would gravitate to a man who was once a Sith Lord is considered… heretical." Dooku explained, probably having sensed my confusion.
"What about the Star Forge?" I asked, wondering at the apparent idiocy of the Jedi. "Do they consider that merely an act of theatricality in the story of Revan?" Now, there were mentions of it in the records I'd been allowed to read about my family, but it was glossed over heavily; either because the information was restricted, or they simply failed to believe such a station was possible. Around me the Force shifted, and I wondered if this was Revan's residual presence reacting to my questions. Force knew he wasn't a fan of the Jedi Council in his time, and likely in mine as well.
"Yes and No." Fay replied as I placed the crystal back in its box. "While the Jedi and Republic were present for the destruction of the Star Forge, and the Jedi confirmed that the station was strong in the Dark Side of the Force, there is som..."
Fay's words were cut off by Torrhen's loud curse. Making sure I still had a firm grip on the Mantle's box, I turned and saw that the duke and his wife had moved further into the cavern. Since they weren't in visual range, but no more than twenty metres away according to my Detection boosted minimap, it was safe to assume they'd headed further into the vault while Fay Dooku and myself had spoken about Ressa's Padawan braid and the Mantle.
"I believe our hosts have found something of significance." Dooku commented, which made me chuckle. While Dooku was often solemn, he had a dry sense of humour and a knack for understatement that I found refreshing when compared to other Jedi. "Perhaps we should see what they've discovered."
Fay nodded her agreement, and I reluctantly placed the case with Ressa's Padawan braid back in the first crate. I slid the Mantle's box into my robes as there was no way I was risking that being left behind. While I hadn't opened the second crate (and there was the faintest hint of the Dark Side coming from it, I suspected that whatever Torrhen had found would be interesting – plus I could always search that crate later.
It only took us a minute to reach the bend in the cavern and see the two heads of Clan Ordo. Both were standing over several small pallets holding small blocks of metal. As we came closer, and I noticed the distinctive ripple pattern in the metal, I let out a small whistle in astonishment.
"How much is there?" I asked, indicating the beskar that sat on the pallets.
Asta turned to face us, a block of the rare (and culturally significant) metal in her hand. "Enough for a squad to get full armour, maybe a bit more."
"A most impressive haul." Dooku commented and Asta nodded in agreement.
"Yes, but this datapad…" Torrhen began as he turned around to also face us, and I spotted a pad in his hand (one that seemed to be trembling slightly). "This… it's a recording from Te Taylir Mand'alor." I felt my brow rise at hearing there was a message from Canderous waiting for us to find. "I watched the start, but it's only to be played in the presence of the heads of Clan Ordo… and Clan Shan."
My brow rose almost to my hairline – and I absently flicked away a lock of hair that had fallen over my cheek – at hearing that the message was for my clan. Especially since until a few days ago Clan Shan had never held any members. Had Canderous and Revan known that I would one day stand here, or had The Powers That Be done something (in conjunction with the Force) to arrange this?
I dismissed the second idea almost instantly. The Powers That Be hadn't shown any interest in directly influencing what I did, or where I went (at least I didn't think they had). However, the Force may have been able to… influence events to increase the chances of this haul being something I might discover.
Torrhen's lip twitched as he watched my reaction to the revelation about who the message was for. "Aye. I wondered the same thing. If they knew that we'd one day all be standing here." He shook his head as he continued. "Then again, I know nothing about how the Force works beyond it giving you Jedi impressive powers."
"The Force… does not tell us what to do," Fay began slowly as if measuring her words, "but it can help one trained to interact with it… glimpse possible events. Or gently suggest something that it feels we need to do or places we might want to visit." She paused and I felt her eyes on me. "Then again, it does seem to have… more ideas for Cameron to use than most Jedi."
The Ordos shared a look, and I could understand it easily. Before being reborn, the idea that some… thing could gently influence events on a galactic scale was… insane and terrifying at the same time. Though now that I'd at least spent a few years using and meditating in the Force, I could also see that how Fay described it was accurate… if one used the limited words that existed in Basic.
"The recording?" I asked, getting the conversation back on track.
"Right." Torrhen lifted the pad and pressed a finger to the screen.
"To those who do not know my voice, I was born Canderous of Clan Ordo, yet by the time of this recording, I have claimed the title of Mand'alor of my people." The gruff, no-nonsense voice of Canderous began and I felt a shiver of excitement shoot up my spine. Just like with other famous characters, to hear that voice for real for the first time was something that would never get old (I hoped). "Several years ago, just before he vanished into the Unknown Regions, Revan came to me with warnings of a dark future. One that would bring ruin to the Republic and my people. At first, I was sceptical. Even after my becoming Mand'alor, the Mando'ade are still a broken, scattered people. A darker fate for them I could not imagine, nor did I care about the fate of the Republic."
"Yet, as we spoke about his visions… I became angered by what he told me would befall my people." A hint of anger was now clear in his voice, and I wondered if Revan had glimpsed what befell the Mandalorians during the Clone Wars, or if there was an even darker future that came afterwards. "To reject our culture, our ways… My blood hungered for vengeance against the dar'manda. Yet, Revan told me this, and that a great evil that would plunge the galaxy into darkness and leave it vulnerable to other threats, would happen long after both of us had passed on. Yet, in this darkness, as it began to grow, Revan claimed to see a… spark of hope." He paused and a brief, wounded laugh came from the pad.
"Hope. Until I met Revan, that is Revan before either of us knew he was Revan, my hope had died on Malachor. Yet, the very man who had destroyed my hope and had shattered my people was the one to restore that hope. For him, for my brother in arms, I would burn the galaxy to the ground."
"So, after he convinced me about this… future, we began to plan. Revan, thank Manda, was never your typical Jedi; never one to place false faith in their vaunted Force that things would simply become 'good'. Thus, this vault was what we decided upon."
"I do not know if those who hear my message will be the ones Revan saw in his vision, this light in the darkness. But I know that only one worthy of his name, and the descendants of my clan, are the only ones I would trust with my offering to the future."
"Here, I have gathered what I could without arousing the suspicion of my people. The beskar was salvaged from those who tried and failed to challenge my right to rule, who wished to lead us back into a war we cannot win. Not now. The wealth within... Heh. Let's just say I knew several people around the galaxy who were willing to donate to the cause. We are not, nor never should've been, scavengers, mercenaries and rabid kath hounds. I trust those who find this understand that and learn from the failings my predecessors as Mand'alor made."
"Revan prepared his own items, in a cave nearby, for this light in his vision. I'm sure it will be a surprise to see what he's arranged. Those items, no one but the heirs of Revan are to touch. This I proclaim as Mand'alor. Any Mando'ade who dares try to claim them are unworthy of the name."
Torrhen and Asta both gave me a nod, accepting that whatever Revan had left (and my curiosity was growing by the second) was mine, and mine alone. Hopefully, my masters would also agree to that.
"Contained on this datapad are… a final gift from myself to my people and the Heir of Revan. Everything on here is to be shared equally between my clan, Clan Shan, and whoever is worthy to claim the title of Mand'alor. Oya Manda!"
"Oya, Manda!" The words left my mouth almost instantly, as they did from the Ordos and Fay (which was unexpected) and as Torrhen and Asta moved closer – likely to see what was on the datapad I looked around for this cavern where Revan had stored his gifts.
I spotted the cavern to my left and took a step towards it only to stop. I glanced back at the datapad. A feeling had me suspecting that whatever was on that pad would be more valuable to my plans than whatever Revan had left for me. And possibly could help alter the course of the galaxy.
"Go. See what the destroyer has left you." Asta said. I turned to see she'd looked up from the pad at me, a slight smile creeping onto her face. "Torrhen and I will review the datapad then speak with you later about what it contains." She shifted her gaze to look at my masters. "That business is between Clan Shan and Clan Ordo and is an internal matter for Mandalorians."
"While Cameron is a Jedi, and our Padawan, we understand that this is an internal matter between two Mandalorian clans. Therefore, we will not be present for any meeting, nor request that we know what you have decided. However, I would hope that we may at least know the generalities of what is discussed." Fay replied diplomatically and Asta nodded her consent.
"And what about the Jedi Council?" Torrhen asked as I felt a spike of amusement mixed with contempt from Dooku. "Will they respect our decisions?"
"The training of a Padawan, and all that entails, is up to the discretion of their master." Dooku responded in as neutral a tone as I'd ever heard. In the Force however, his annoyance – at either the question or the Council; or possibly both – was easy to sense. "Unless we are asked directly about our visit to your world and estate, I see no reason for the Council to be made aware of this vault. Though do not mistake our silence as compliance. If we suspect a threat to the Order, the Republic or our Padawan we will respond appropriately."
Even as he said those words, I wondered just how much the first two would be considered. While he wasn't the Sith Lord he would've become, Dooku's opinion on the Order and the Republic was… very low; mainly due to the fact neither showed much interest in the suffering of the galaxy outside of their ivory towers on Coruscant. His distaste for both hadn't been hidden during my time as his Padawan, though I did wonder if he toned it down because Fay was present. While far more of what I thought a Jedi should be (even if there were times when I didn't agree with her approach or choices) she was also far from an ardent supporter of the High Council of Senate. Indeed, she seemed to have even less faith in the Senate than Dooku, though she just used politer terms when expressing her opinion.
"Understandable and acceptable." Torrhen responded with a small smile that matched his wife's. "We would behave the same for our family, clan and people."
With that agreement made, I walked briskly towards the cavern. I was still curious about the second cart by the entrance (which was likely also from my 'mother') and what was on the datapad, I really wanted to see what Revan had left. Plus, no matter what I'd gained or learnt from my mother's crate – or would discover on Canderous' Datapad –, this cave was the primary reason I was here.
"Be mindful of your excitement, Cameron." Fay said quietly once she and Dooku had caught up with me (not that hard to do since I'm physically a young teenager). "While it is understandable to be interested about what Revan has left, getting too curious or enthusiastic about something is a path that can lead to darker emotions if the reality doesn't meet your expectations."
"Yes, master." I replied. I understood her reasoning (touching the Dark Side on Tatooine had me realising that it was far more insidious and dangerous than I'd originally realised) but the idea that Revan had left something for me made it hard for me to temper my desire to see what was waiting for me.
It took less than twenty seconds for me to traverse the distance to the side-cavern and by the time there I could sense the Ordo's shock and joy at whatever they'd discovered on the pad. Yet, my focus was now on whatever Revan had left for me, and my eyes were instantly drawn to a red-tinted object that was resting on top of another pad that was on a crate smaller than either of those left by Ressa.
I felt my pace quicken as I drew nearer, and barely managed to bite down a sequel of excitement as I realised (or at least suspected) what the object was; or more importantly, who the droid head – because I was in no doubt that was what it was – belonged to. The eye sockets were dark, indicating it was depowered, but the shape, style, and distinctive antenna where the right ear would be on a Human all but confirmed who I was looking at.
Slowly, almost reverently, I reached down for the droid head.
"Cameron, you know what this is?" Dooku asked, but my focus was entirely on the droid-head. As my fingers brushed against, then through the dust and onto the plating of the head, I considered using Observe to confirm that this head was the one I suspected it was. However, I decided not to do so. I'd rather learn the truth when I activated it than ruin the moment with my unique power (or one of them anyway.)
Slowly I turned the droid-head around in my hands, examining it for cracks. Finding none – save that it wasn't connected to a chassis – I found a small area on the underside of the head then flipped open when pressed. Inside, a simple switch existed, and my finger shot forward to flick it.
The head began to hum as power travelled through its ancient circuits and I turned it back so I could be eye-to-eye with the droid once its processing unit engaged. The optical receptors flared yellow as power was restored to them and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation.
"Question: Where am I, meatbag?" Asked the synthesised voice that I'd never thought I'd ever get to hear for real.
"YES!" I roared at the top of my lungs, ignoring the confusion I could sense from my masters.
"Addendum: Unless you wish to experience a most painful death, I suggest you answer me, meatbag."
A/N: Until next time;
May the Force be with you. Always.