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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linktr. ee/USSExplorer

Current date: 4 years until the Invasion of Naboo

Mandalorian Words and Phrases:

(Note: I've skipped the more common/recurring words for ease)

Aruetii – Traitor/Foreigner/Outsider

Gett'se – Balls

Haar'chak – Damn it!

Osik'buurenaar – Shitstorm

The Warrior Reborn 3


I slid back, letting the probing cut of Dooku's lightsaber pass by. The air shone blue as it did. However, with the ease that decades of using Makashi allowed, a twist of his wrist redirected the blade back towards me.

I brought my blade up quickly and was just able to block the probing strike. Again, I backstepped, generating some room between us. While that might seem counterproductive against a larger and more experienced duellist, I'd learnt the hard way that getting too close to Dooku resulted in nothing more than a quick and brutal defeat.

Again, he came at me, and I was forced to tilt my blade to deflect his attack. However, the moment our blades touched, he turned his arm slightly and altered his stance. That resulted in his blade sliding down mine. I was barely able to pull my hand back to avoid an instant loss as it simulated the loss of my hand to a Cho Mai attack.

I felt the heat from his lightsaber as it passed over my hand by mere centimetres. I went to reset my stance and counter, but Dooku was already using my reactionary movement to his advantage.

A hand thrust towards me, and I was sent hurtling across the sparring room aboard the Ori'kyroya'kar. A large container slid back with a screech as I slammed back-first into it, though I was able to avoid a grunt of pain.

"Disillusion: Master, I had expected better from a descendent of my creator. Sadly, you have none of his style or fluidity. Weary: You remind me of the annoying one before the creator was able to mould her to his needs."

I channelled the Force and felt a soothing cold spread along my back as the pain numbed and I extradited myself from the now deformed container. That fucking hurt and HK's comment didn't help my wounded pride. I glared over at the droid, or his head at least as that was all that existed of Revan's legendary assassin droid. "I could vent you into hyperspace, you know. Never to be found or seen again."

Not that I would do such a thing. Ignoring the fact that I had HK (or a copy of his base personality, memories and subroutines in a head at least) around, I had a quest to rebuild HK's body, though it was an unusual one in that it had several parts. The first was to get my Mechanics [Droids] skill to at least Master 1. After that, there were objectives regarding the materials and weaponry I used in the construction of HK's new body. While this was a quest I wanted to complete, it was also one that would take time. No way was I doing HK (and Revan) wrong by giving the droid a sub-par chassis. And I had a few ideas to further enhance his combat potential.

"Mockery: Master, you wound me," HK replied and I fought down the urge to send the droid head flying into the nearest wall. "Observation: Without me around, who would recount the adventures of my creator to you, master?"

I bit back a retort about already knowing the story (or at least the ones linked to KOTOR 1) while remembering that this HK knew nothing about the events of KOTOR 2 and pushed myself back to my feet. HK was right in that I needed him to serve as the fall guy for my planned 'retelling' of the adventures of Revan. I wasn't set on how that would go, but I was leaning towards a trilogy at minimum with the final book coming out a little after the invasion of Naboo.

The Jedi Council would be furious about the books once they came out, and I'd likely get a dressing down for them, but I wanted the story out there. It would bring into focus (or I hoped it would) the Sith, their ideals, and the threat they posed to the Republic. Now, I was admittedly conflicted about the Republic surviving the Clone Wars unaltered as the current system just didn't work anymore. Regardless of that, I needed people to understand the threat that a Sith could pose. At the very least, it should make the more moderate systems that joined the CIS less inclined to do so. Though they'd likely need another choice as staying with the Republic was likely not something they wished to do.

To help get to the point where I could publish Revan's story, I'd lied to my masters by saying HK was only a very advanced translation and protocol droid - with very limited defensive capabilities - that Revan had used. HK had not been thrilled about that, but when the other choices were to be scrapped or fitted with programming that would prevent him from engaging in combat, he'd agreed to stay quiet. Though the moment the story came out and his true purpose was revealed, I expected a severe dressing down from both Fay and Dooku. Hopefully, by then HK had proved his worth sufficiently that they wouldn't demand I scrap him, not that I would listen if they did.

Still, getting HK to agree to keep quiet about his true purpose had done nothing to dilute his unique sense of humour. Much to my annoyance since I was often the primary target of it.

"I could simply hack the Jedi Archives and learn the truth from them." I retorted, only to feel Dooku's displeasure at my reply. "Or wait until I'm a Jedi Knight and I'm granted access to said files." I added to prevent the man currently beating me around the training room from making our sparring any more painful.

"I would suggest the latter option, Padawan." Dooku commented. While he wasn't attacking me while I was down, he had adopted a simple Makashi stance indicating he expected me to continue. "Master Nu is most… protective of the archives and is not averse to admonishing even Council members who step out of line there."

The image of her scolding Obi-Wan over Kamino popped into my head, making me smirk. While she had been wrong, that memory (along with my own experiences with her) confirmed Dooku was telling the truth. "Yes, master," I replied as I pulled myself to my feet.

I stood and adopted a more advanced Makashi stance, Dooku made no move to change from his basic stance. Then again why would he? For the last four hours, he'd been beating my arse like I owed him money. Which I didn't, since he and Fay held the controls to the accounts for the money I'd earned from my 'writing'. Plus, the Order was far, far richer than had ever been implied before (a fact Fay had revealed to me when we'd discussed my still growing fortune.)

I barely kept a frown from my face as Dooku saluted me. Yes, he was using the Force in the spar (just like in our other spars over the last few weeks), but I was using what I called my Force combat package. Force Speed, Bullet-Time, Enhance Stat – for Agility and Strength – Enhance Skill – For Makashi – and Detection were all active, and I was still getting tossed around like a training dummy. Just like every other sparring session over the last few weeks. I was able to move faster than him, though I had a suspicion he might be holding back, I could react quicker, and he had told me before we'd left for Ordo that my technical skill with Makashi was greater than any within the Order. Yet for the last four hours (and every spar since we'd started using the Force actively) I'd failed to land even a glancing blow on him.

Instead, I'd been clipped, sliced or stabbed with his lightsaber or tossed around with the Force. If not for the fact I could use the Force to heal my bruises and numb my pain, I suspected I'd wake up tomorrow looking so bad that people would think a black and blue near-human race had just been discovered.

"Good, now come at me. Hopefully, you will be able to land a blow before we reach our destination." I bit off a growl at the comment and readied myself. Even given to the fact that we weren't due to arrive at Mandalore until sometime tomorrow morning, I wasn't holding out hope that I'd succeed. My record so far today was abysmal, at a truly infuriating/embarrassing sixty-two to zero. And the less said about my overall record these last two weeks the better.

I growled at the dismissive tone he used and surged forward.

I grasped my hilt in both hands, shifting to a Djem-So strike, making it seem as though I planned to try to overpower him. Yet, even with Enhance Stat active, I doubted I would be able to as he could use the Force to enhance his own strength. Not that I expected him to mind you, just that he could. As Dooku slid one foot back in anticipation of my attack, I pulled one hand from my hilt and sent a powerful blast with the Force towards him. I doubted it would strike him, but I hoped it would at least make him stumble. In expectation (and hope?) of that, I shifted my body, and leapt, hoping to use the Falling Avalanche velocity.

Dooku seemed to sense the incoming Force attack, but instead of either moving to avoid it (and thus compromising his defence) or getting hit by it straight on, he angled his blade towards the blast. Even as the distance between us closed, I watched in fascination as he used my Force blast to accelerate the movement of his lightsaber. I began to alter my attack once more, pulling back in anticipation of his attack. Yet the speed he'd managed to generate was insane. I could see it, track it, and had moved to defend against it, yet that seemed to be what he expected. His now massively accelerated blade struck mine with such speed and power that I was unable to keep hold of my blade, and it was smashed from my grip and sent clattering away.

Before I could react in any way (be that using the Force offensively, summon the blade back to me or unclip my secondary blade), he slid a hand from his hilt. The next moment, I was once more sailing away from him. I bounced once off the floor before bouncing off the same container as before, making it buckle over before I hit the wall.

"While there are moments when such rudimentary Djem So techniques are applicable; against a larger and stronger opponent is not one of them." Dooku began to explain as I groaned once more. "Nor is it acceptable to allow yourself to be disarmed before completing the velocity." As he continued, I slowly pushed myself up using the wall as a support. "Now stand and try again. However, this time, think before you act." He finished as my lightsaber came to a rest at my feet.

As I picked up my lightsaber I felt my anger rising. Why the kriff couldn't I land a hit? Two weeks and it felt as though I was going backwards in my studies.

I mean, before I'd enrolled at the Mandalorian combat institute for training, I'd been able to at least land one strike against my master, well one for the ten to twenty Dooku would land. Yet since we'd started using the Force more openly in our spars, I was getting my arse kicked every single session.

To make matters worse, I could review every spar via Eidetic Memory, yet I still couldn't understand why I kept losing. I was faster, had maxed my skill and was younger, yet he was able to predict and counter every velocity and technique I tried; no matter how advanced it was or how fast I moved. Was he using some strange Force ability that I'd yet to learn?

"Query: Are you going to alter your attacks, master? So far, I have predicted your every move with a ninety-eight point one-three per cent degree of accuracy. Observation: Frankly, it is growing tiresome to watch your continual failures."

Another wave of anger swept through me, and a desire to lash out and smash the droid swelled within me. However, I knew that wouldn't do anything but grant me a brief moment of satisfaction. Instead, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath; centring my thoughts and bringing my emotions under control.

HK was right in that this was growing tiresome, though that wasn't the only word I'd use to describe these sparring sessions. Him being able to predict my attacks wasn't a surprise as he'd likely seen or learnt most lightsaber techniques while around Revan. Yet to do so with such accuracy meant that…

"Son of a bitch." I muttered under my breath. My anger vanished in an instant as I understood what my flaw was; or at least, I thought I did. Dooku hopefully didn't hear my curse, though he did raise a single eyebrow at my sudden emotional shift. Yet my focus was internal, reviewing this spar in my mind.

I stayed still as I did, my lightsaber unpowered in my hand, as every element of our spar today was played over mentally. Eventually, I opened my eyes and felt my shoulders sag at the realisation of why I was losing became certain.

"I can't beat you because, while I'm skilled at Makashi – your words by the way," I added before he could comment on any hint of arrogance from me, "I'm not using it freely. I'm simply repeating what I've learnt from you and others as if the methods taught were the be-all and end-all of the form." Though the part I didn't mention was that I was also doing so because I'd maxed my skill with Makashi and thus felt I knew all there was to know about the form. And I did, yet I hadn't learnt to adapt it to myself, mould it to suit how I approached combat. A mistake that could've gotten me killed if I hadn't realised this just now.

Dooku nodded and the faintest of smiles crept onto his face. "Indeed. You are, without a challenge, the single most skilled Jedi I have taught in Makashi. You also have the potential to be the most powerful Jedi I have ever heard of." At this point, he depowered his lightsaber and began to walk towards me. "Yet, as you rightly have just now realised, you lack the understanding of the form to truly use it. You stick to the velocities as if they are all there is to learning and mastering the form." By now he'd reached me, and in a surprising show of personal connection, placed his hand on my shoulder as he continued to speak.

"No lightsaber form can truly be mastered until one learns to stop going through the motions and begins to feel the form as if it is a part of oneself. Make what you know and use your own, sculpt it to suit your own ideals, your own approach. Even adopt elements of other forms into it; if that is your wish." I sensed the briefest flash of annoyance from him at the idea of merging the other forms with Makashi, however, it was gone in an instant. He removed his hand from my shoulder and a genuine smile came to my face. I was barely able to suppress my shock at seeing him smile as I sensed his pride and admiration through our bond.

"Every Force user, be they Jedi or Sith, has their own style. Their own ideals and beliefs. These must become a part of your lightsaber style. To do otherwise means denying a part of yourself when using your lightsaber; a flaw that will lead to your death against less powerful, but more attuned opponents." He stepped back, though the smile remained. "Once you have found your style, something that defines who you are and want to be, it will become as natural as breathing. Your blade will flow as you, it and the Force truly become one. And on that day, I truly believe that you will begin your path to be greater than any Jedi or Sith with your blade; even Grandmaster Yoda."

As Dooku turned and walked back across the mat we were using as a training area, my mind reeled. While I was slowly coming to terms with my failings in trusting my skill level meant I was better than others (which, in retrospect, I shouldn't have as Dooku always won our spars), what had my mind reeling was Dooku's behaviour. After five years I'd grown used to him always being standoffish in his behaviour towards me (and often downright cold to others), bar the odd moment like when I'd gotten my necklace for my thirteenth birthday. (Thinking of that made my free hand drift towards it.) Yet that talk, the closeness he'd shown, and the pride and admiration I'd sensed from him made me wonder if perhaps he was genuinely coming to care for me. Truly care.

That might well be the first sign I'd had that I'd done enough to stop him from becoming Sidious' puppet. I wouldn't be sure of that until after that moment passed, or a new puppet was revealed, but I was feeling strangely confident that I'd shifted his path. Perhaps even towards one where he'd support me over any other when push came to shove.

I returned my thoughts to what I'd realised and Dooku had confirmed. A mechanical usage of a lightsaber form, while useful (looking at you Grievous), would never truly allow one to dominate a fight. Not against someone with sufficient skill and a proper personal style.

Because of the Interface, I'd treated Makashi as nothing more than a skill, one that was beyond what almost any other could achieve. That had made me foolish and exposed a huge mistake in my combat abilities. The urge to headbutt the wall was strong, but I resisted.

From now on I needed to stop thinking about any lightsaber form as a skill, and more an extension of myself. I already knew that Makashi would form the basis of whatever style I developed (apart from being my only maxed form, it was the one I was most comfortable using), but there were elements of the other forms that I could adapt into my movements.

"Now, this time when you come at me, do not blindly follow the teachings you're received." Dooku began, breaking me from my thoughts. I looked at him and saw that he had once more adopted the standard opening stance of Makashi, though his blade was still unlit. "Use the Force to guide you. Let it hint and suggest ways to attack that suit you. Become one with the blade and the Force until every move, every action feels as natural as breathing."

As he said, I closed my eyes and opened my mind to the Force. I knew I wouldn't develop a style of my own right away. However, I now understood why working with the Force (or bending it to one's will as a Sith would do) helped weaker Force users overcome greater obstacles than they otherwise could.

"Yes, master." I replied as my black-cored blade sprung to life. "And thank you." I added before I began my attack.

… …

… …

A beep from my gauntlet altered me that it was zero-six-hundred, and I opened my eyes. My quarters were dark however like most nights I hadn't been sleeping. I only needed one night a month of actual sleep, which meant the rest of the time I could devote to levelling up my Force Powers. Well, within reason as I was on a ship in hyperspace and couldn't use the more… destructive powers with others around. Yet the last few nights, I'd only been focusing on a few powers; namely, Levitation, Breath Control and Force Attune. While the first two were close to being maxed out (according to the Interface) the latter was my primary focus, or at least the object I was trying to attune was.

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.
HP: 20
Rarity: Unique
Value: 50000
Energy Value: 1000
Special Features:
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.
Attuned Users:
Revan (95%)
Cameron Shan (5%)

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 sighed at the slow progress I was making with attuning the Mantle, even as I began to shift from my position. Every night since I'd discovered the crystal in my mother's possessions, I'd spent the time trying to attune the crystal to me.

Yet, six days – and over fifty hours – later, I'd only gained a five per cent attunement with the crystal. Which was infuriating. And had me concerned about how long it'd take to attune objects where the previous owners actively tried to prevent me from attuning the object. The Force signature left by Revan wasn't fighting me, but it had such a strong attunement with the crystal that it was taking far, far longer than I expected to override Revan's signature with my own.

When I'd attuned my lightsaber crystals to me, it had felt as though I was simply pouring a part of myself into them through the Force. With the Mantle, however, I was actively having to dislodge the presence of others. That was making the process much, much slower, yet I knew that it was something that had to be done. The Mantle was too valuable a crystal to not use without it being attuned to me.

I shook my head in annoyance at the slow process and let my legs slide over the side of my bunk until they touched the floor. Gently, I floated the crystal over to the small table in the corner of the room, then began to stretch. Even if Player's Body prevented me from getting cramps from sitting in a meditative position for hours on end, it felt nice to stretch after doing so.

After that, I stood and gave the room a quick clean. While the place wasn't a mess, I still gave every room I stayed in a quick clean before a morning shower and breakfast. It was a habit from my former life that I'd never stopped. I stepped into the small cleaning alcove of the vessel and began to pull my sleeping shirt over my head. While a sonic shower wasn't the most enjoyable, they were -

- - BOOM - -

The ship shook and if I hadn't been standing next to the shower unit, I'd have likely lost my balance.

"What the kriff?" I muttered as I pulled my shirt back down. I stepped back into my quarters and, with a simple gesture, summoned my robes and cloak to me. Quickly dressing, I then stepped towards the door of the room, using the Force to guide the Mantle towards me as my vambraces floated up to my arms. A mental command had the crystal enter my Inventory. While I could keep it in one of the belt pouches, I felt safer with it in my Inventory, where no one else could get to it.

As the doors began to open, I activated my combat package of powers (even as my mind wondered how my masters would feel about me using the Force to essentially speed-dress.

I stepped through the door, wondering what had hit the ship. It had to be something massive enough to make the ship shudder. That meant we'd either been fired upon as we'd exited hyperspace, or we'd had the sheer dumb luck to exit hyperdrive close enough to a rogue meteor as it crossed our path. And I doubted my luck would let it be the latter.

I reached out with the Force, trying to get a sense of how the crew was feeling. With everyone onboard being Mandalorian (thus trained warriors with a decade of experience – at minimum), it was hard to get a good sense of their emotional states, but it was clear that whatever had happened wasn't over. A rising sense of stress, coupled with spikes of excitement made me realise that I was correct to assume we'd come under attack. Though the question is who would be brazen enough to attack the personal cruiser of Duke Torrhen; especially when we had four other cruisers as escorts.

"Cameron." I turned at hearing Fay say my name to see her and Dooku had both emerged from their quarters as well. Fay's robes weren't perfectly settled on her shoulders, while her usual serene calmness was disrupted; likely from the unexpected wake-up. Dooku, whose cloak looked to be slightly off-centre, looked dismissive about what was happening, and I could sense a faint hint of irritation from him.

"Masters. I believe we are under attack." I replied. "The crew is tense but excited." I continued, detailing what I could feel through the Force.

Fay opened her mouth to reply only for a warning to echo through the Force. I braced as the ship shuddered once more, forcing the three of us to on the force to keep our balance. Even knowing what was likely to happen wasn't enough to prevent me from almost losing my balance, showing once more the limits of what Precognition could do.

"It appears you are correct." Dooku muttered once we were stabilized again. "Surprising as unless we changed course without our knowledge, we should be in the Mandalore system. That someone would be audacious enough to attack someone of Duke Torrhen's power here… It does not bode well for our situation."

"Indeed." Fay replied, the faintest sense of amusement coming from her at using a reply more commonly utilized by Dooku. "Perhaps we should head to the bridge and determine what is going on. And to see if we might be of assistance."

Dooku nodded in agreement, and I slid into step behind them, mainly due to the fact the corridors on the Ori'kyroya'kar weren't quite wide enough to allow three people to walk abreast. As we exited the guest section, a dull low-pitched horn was repeating. My mind instantly placed it as the combat siren from Republic ships, all but confirming we were in combat.

We moved quickly but cautiously down the main corridors of the cruiser, making sure to allow any crew who were moving around the right of way. This was their ship and they needed to get to combat stations ASAP.

It took us about ten minutes to reach the bridge (mainly because we had to keep stopping and letting others pass), but in that time the ship shook three more times. A sense of unease was also slowly building within the minds of the crew. That was concerning as it suggested that our chances of surviving the battle were low; unless we did something drastic.

Either the attackers were having more luck in their attacks than they should be, or reinforcements from the system defence forces were not as helpful as they should be. Neither possibility was comforting.

"Starboard shields at seventeen per cent!" Someone called out the moment the doors to the bridge opened. The place was a hive of activity, though most were glued to their stations. I glanced out of the main viewport and saw three vessels of similar size to the Ori'kyroya'kar bearing down on us. It was hard to get a good read on their distance, but they were moving in an attack pattern on a CBDR. [constant bearing, decreasing range]

"Ten degrees to port and downward. Give the dorsal cannons a clear firing line." Torrhen called out, drawing my attention to him. Unlike what I'd expected, he wasn't manning the captain's chair but was instead standing off to one side leaning over the tactical station.

"The Netra'Kad is reporting a loss of power." That came from Torrhen's eldest, Osto, who was manning one of the secondary sensor stations. I only knew that because on the way to (planet) Ordo, I'd spent time learning what the various bridge stations were used for. Dooku and Fay had been amused that I'd wished to learn that, and Torrhen had assigned Osto to act as my guide/instructor.

"What is the situation?" Dooku asked as the three ships in front of us shifted upwards due to the helm following Torrhen's orders. Though a second later all three opened fire. The ship shook as at least some (if not most) of the turbolaser fire found its mark against our shields.

Torrhen stood up fully and turned at Dooku's voice. The duke's face was tight, with his brow creased and eyes narrowed. Through the Force, it was easy to sense simmering anger from him as well. "What does it look like?!" He snapped, one arm waving wildly towards the main viewport.

Neither of my masters responded to his anger and likely realising how he'd reacted, he took a short breath before continuing. "We dropped out of hyperspace and into this osik'buurenaar. I've got reports coming in that either Death Watch or Duke Anzur have launched an all-out attack on the planet. The local defence force was either caught unawares or some of them were in on it, plus two of my four escorts are dead in the water, while the third is about to join them."

"Can we be of any assurance?" Fay offered. I swore I saw Torrhen bite his tongue to cut off a snide remark.

"Unless you and your damned Force can stop everyone from shooting at us, I doubt it." Torrhen replied, his tone calm even as waves of annoyance and growing fury rolled off him in waves. "If not, then stay out of the way while we try to survive this… disaster."

Torrhen returned his attention to the tactical station, leaving us standing around doing nothing. The viewport flared as the shields blocked an incoming turbolaser blast and I had to fight my instinct to get involved. Sitting out of a fight wasn't something I was comfortable doing.

Dooku, apparently unconcerned with Torrhen's brush off, turned to me as he spoke. "Perhaps you might be able to assist the duke?"

"In what way?" Fay asked, a frown creeping onto her face. I sensed a flicker of concern from her as my mind began to consider just how I could help.

"Against the Lokella, you spoke of how young Cameron was able to disable several attacking vessels. That would be most helpful in our current situation." Dooku explained. His words gave credence as once more the ship rocked when turbolaser fire from the three cruisers that appeared to have no other objective but to destroy us continued their barrage.

"Cameron's actions there were borne of desperation." Fay began to reply. "He did so only as we had no other option. If he does that here, then he would be using the Force in a manner unbecoming of a Jedi."

"Then you suggest we do nothing and trust blindly that the Force will find a solution?" Dooku responded, his tone gaining an edge as he spoke. "That we make no effort to survive?"

I could feel irritation building in both my masters as they began another 'debate' about how one should approach the Force. While they didn't do so often in front of me, it wasn't hard to pick up on the signs that they had different opinions on how and when to use the Force. Not least when their advice came close to contradicting one and another. Thus, to avoid another one of those debates, especially in public in a combat situation, I decided to act.

I turned my attention back to the viewport; and the three cruisers which were slowly drifting upwards as the Ori'kyroya'kar banked to expose those cruisers' ventral sections. Focusing on them while using the Force to enhance my sight, I was able to determine that all three looked to be somewhere between the Ori'kyroya'kar and the Cin Vhetin in size, though closer to the larger, and more heavily armed Ori'kyroya'kar. That meant taking them down would likely be much, much harder than the three older model corvettes I'd taken down with the Lokella.

I closed my eyes, ignored the voices of my masters and others around me, and reached out through the Force towards those cruisers. It didn't take long for me to sense the crews of each vessel, and at that point, I opened my eyes. Surprisingly, all three were beyond the range of my minimap.

For a moment I considered using Battle Meditation but rejected it as Mandalorians actively trained to protect their minds against Jedi trickery – their words – plus the fact I hadn't used the power in a battle while on a ship under attack. Yes, I'd used it to help the Lokella defend their station (I was never going to use their name for that), but then I'd been safe in the command centre of the station; not on a ship actively engaged in combat.

Thus, the method I'd used against the corvettes was my best option.

I reached out through the Force, pushing gently until I felt my telekinetic prod brush up against the shields on the lead cruiser (which I only knew was the lead cruiser based on the ships being close to the central group of sentients I could sense.) As I expected, the power generated against my probe was several orders of magnitude greater than the Corvettes. Still, I wasn't going to let that deter me. I was stronger with the Force and had a greater connection to it (shown in the Interface by a larger FP with a faster regen rate), so I felt I could do this. No. I knew I could do this.

A twist of my wrist had my Force prod spread out, engulfing the cruiser's shields in my grip. Once I felt as though I'd covered the overwhelming majority of the shields with the Force, I pushed down hard, slamming my grip onto the energy bubble protecting the vessel. It took more effort for me to push against the shield, however, as I ramped up the pressure of my grip, it wasn't long before I felt a subtle shift in the energy output.

I hissed as several turbolaser bolts slammed into the shield, making it flare in reaction. That caused the power pushing against my Force grip to unexpectedly flare, and that was after having to deal with the excess energy of said bolts as they impacted the shields.

However, I didn't let that deter me. Sensing a millisecond of flickering in the shields (from a combination of turbolaser fire and my actions, I began to rapidly push and pull against the energy bubble; repeating the process I'd used against the Hutt corvettes that attacked the Lokella.

The bridge where I was, and the voices I could hear melding together in the background as I kept my focus entirely on the cruiser's shields. Nothing mattered beyond using and working with the Force to achieve what I wanted. A part of me began to feel intoxicated at just how powerful I currently was with the Force and wondered just how much more powerful I'd become in the future. Would I reach a point where I could .take down the shields of an ISD?

I felt a spike of surprise come from somewhere near me and allowed my mind to briefly process what was going on around me.

"Sir. The lead cruiser is losing power to its shields. However, our cannons are focused on the other two vessels." Osto reported to his father.

I didn't catch what the duke (or anyone) said in reply. Nor did I deal with the mixture of irritation and pride I sensed from my masters. Instead, I returned my entire focus to the enemy vessel.

Being able to feel the ebb and flow of energy from the Force as it danced almost hypnotically over the bubble of the shield was… incredible. As was the idea that the Force was working with me to achieve something most people could never comprehend.

Soon, I felt the energy bubble begin to weaken – likely due to a combination of my constant torment of it with the Force and the occasional turbolaser blast that stuck it – and The Force seemed to call out to me to act.

Lifting my other hand, I guided a second Force probe around the cruiser, seeking out the massive energy presence of the engines of the vessel. Once there, I gripped onto the shield around the engine and, as my main telekinetic attack pulled the majority of the shield towards me, my new attack yanked back on the remainder of the bubble.

A moment later, I hissed a sudden spike in power surged from the bubble, trying to overwhelm my attacks. Quickly I realised this was the crew diverting power to their unexpectedly (to them) weakening shields.

[Cameron?] Fay's voice echoed in my head as I felt her and Dooku brush their minds against mine.

[I'm fine. I was just surprised by a surge in their shield strength.] I replied as I willed more of the Force into my actions. If they were pushing more power into the shields, it meant my attack was having an effect. A moment later I stumbled as the Ori'kyroya'kar came under heavy fire (either from the three cruisers that were directly engaged with us, or someone else.)

I felt the strength of my force grips weaken. Fearing they'd fail entirely, I threw my will into the Force to strengthen, to increase the pressure on the shields. That brought a spike of concern from both may masters.

[Hmm. While I am reluctant to allow your actions to continue, disrupting you now would be foolish.] Fay responded, her mental tone making clear her disapproval of my actions. While Dooku stayed silent, I failed to sense any displeasure with my behaviour from him. [However, once this situation has abated, we will be discussing your reckless behaviour.] Fay finished before she and Dooku pulled back, leaving me alone in my mind. So to speak.

I was not looking forward to that talk, as while I expected Dooku to help defend my actions, something told me he would defer to Fay when it came to punishing me for acting unilaterally. I'd have to come up with a way to, if not dissipate, then at least temper Fay's disapproval. Otherwise, I felt I'd be spending the next few months (after Fay, Dooku and I all had a long discussion about the nature of the Dark Side and its dangers) in private meditation on a world in the back end of nowhere.

Restabilising my balance, I returned my focus to the cruiser, and the grips I held on its shield. While using Telekinesis like this on the cruiser's shields was working, it was slow going. I wasn't applying direct pressure to try and overwhelm the energy bubble (mainly as Force Crush wasn't at a high enough level for me to consider that), but the constant toing and froing from my twin grips was having an effect. I began to twist my force grips rapidly, making sure that if the front grip went clockwise (relative to me), the rear grip went counterclockwise. I wanted to see if that would have more of an effect on the shield, and the generator responsible for it.

I wasn't sure how long I kept that up, only the slight burn in my muscles from the exertion, but soon I heard Osto's voice once. "Lead vessel has lost its shields."

Suddenly, the cruiser surged forward, straining against my forward grip. I grunted at the unexpected pressure there even as my rear grip struck paydirt and latched onto the three massive thrusters powering the cruiser. Just my luck that instead of fighting the losing battle against my attack, they'd rerouted the power to their engines. Whether that was to escape or ram us, I couldn't say, but neither was a choice I wanted to allow. Thus, even as I strained to slow the cruiser as all three engines laboured to drive the warship forward, I latched onto one of them and began to pull.

I sensed waves of confusion from both the crew around me and the cruiser I was attacking as I felt the Force seep into the joints of the engine mount and, under my command, begin to shear the massive thruster from the vessel's frame.

I could've been subtle, and gently twisted the engine from the mount, however, I wasn't. Ignoring the noise of the bridge around me, I felt and watched as the engine was ripped clean from the cruiser. Even without my currently enhanced sight, I suspected I'd have seen the cruiser buck like a bronco as the engine was wretched away.

Pieces of debris, like blood squirting from wounds, were flung out into space as I gripped the now unpowered engine and flung it against the leftmost cruiser. (Why those two had held their position as it became apparent the lead ship was failing, I didn't know, but I wasn't going to pass up the chance to weaken another ship's shield before I attacked it.) As the engine shattered against that shield, making it flare in response, I managed to resist the urge to smile at seeing the destruction I'd unleashed.

Torrhen had clearly not been idle, as at the same moment I slammed the engine into the leftmost cruiser, the Ori'kyroya'kar unleashed a full volley of turbolaser blots at the lead cruiser. I was barely able to pull back my Force probe before the ship exploded under the intense heat of the bolts. Still, that was one down.

Even as I saw the other remaining cruiser turn and banked hard (likely deciding discretion was the better course of action), I turned my full attention to the leftmost cruiser. However, the moment I felt the Force brush against its shields, the cruiser turned hard to starboard (for it). I tried to ensure my grip on the shield stayed strong, but the extra acceleration, combined with the fact I hadn't fully latched onto the shields, meant I couldn't.

While I was annoyed at not getting to take out another cruiser through the Force (it was a rush to be able to do something so incredibly powerful and frankly just awesome), I could let it go. The whole point had been to ensure me, Fay, Dooku and the crew of the Ori'kyroya'kar didn't die. In that regard, I'd been successful. Plus, by turning as they did, the two remaining cruisers exposed their ventral shielding to the Ori'kyroya'kar and our remaining escorts.

A glance at my FP made my brow twitch. It'd taken nearly thirty per cent of my FP to take out a large (ish), well-armed cruiser. Meaning something like an ISD was going to take a lot more Force Power. Good thing I had about a decade and a half before they'd roll off the construction line. Then again, I'd seen a few ships even larger than that over Corellia when we'd stopped there years ago. Turns out shipyards and planets could build ships that size provided they were vastly underpowered, unarmed, and unarmoured. Which offended my sensibilities.

"Remaining attackers are falling back." A crewmember called out (likely from a sensor station), drawing my mind back to the bridge. And my two masters. While Dooku looked pleased with what I'd done, Fay… was about as apocalyptic as I suspected she'd ever get. Or at least as I ever wanted to see her be. Who knew such a blood-numbing terror could come from such a calm and patient look? "Remaining cruisers are pulling back to rejoin the main bulk of their forces. The Netra'Kad is reporting they've managed to restore power and is moving to check for survivors."

"Good. Now what the shabis going on." Torrhen commented as he turned and began to move back to the centre of the bridge. "Were we attacked by Death Watch, Duke Anzur or both?"

"It appears both, father." Osto responded, drawing Torrhen's, and my own, attention (which was a good thing as it meant I could pretend to not see Fay's disapproving glare.) "Of the six vessels that attacked us as we exited hyperspace, four bore the IFF of House Varaud. The other two bore the Death Watch IFF." At the mention of Death Watch, Osto's lips curled while his nose wrinkled in disgust. "From what we've managed to piece together the two groups attacked simultaneously from three, possibly four, vectors. At the same time, it seems explosions devastated several cities on the surface, meaning they already had boots on the ground. However, communications with the surface are currently down."

"A coordinated strike. Hmm. I didn't think Anzur would have the gett'se to attempt something like this." Torrhen commented as he tapped at his chin. "Regardless, how does the orbital battle fare?"

"The attackers are pulling back, in small groups, towards Concordia, though the defence fleet and others are giving chase." Osto replied and using my still Force-boosted sight, I saw four vessels break from orbit and make for Mandalore's moon. Six other ships were hot on their tail, which confirmed Osto's statement.

"They are not jumping to hyperspace?" Dooku asked, earning a shake of the head from Osto. "Unexpected. From my dealings with the group, Death Watch isn't prone to continuing a battle once the situation turns against them."

"Duke Anzur isn't a warrior who'd run at the first sign of trouble, but he knows when to cut his losses." Torrhen added as he turned to look at Dooku. "And my intelligence heard nothing about any alliance with Death Watch, or any of the various factions that remain of the group after Jango Fett killed Tor Vizsla." He paused before turning his attention to the viewport, which was beginning to be dominated by Mandalore as the ship returned to its original approach vector.

"Due to Death Watch's reputation across the galaxy, I suspect any contact between them and this duke was kept quiet." Fay offered. "Particularly if they were planning a surprise attack like this."

As the three spoke, I spotted one of the four retreating Death Watch/Anzur group slow down. Likely it had taken damage and lost power to its engines (though when I didn't know), however, it mattered little as the six pursuing vessels bore down on it like sharks sensing blood.

"Yes, but there's more to it." Torrhen muttered as he continued to gaze out the viewport. "And Anzur preaches a return to the oldest of ways. To a time before my forebearer was Mand'alor. Back when the galaxy feared us but did not respect our ways. If anything, Anzur not trying to take over the Watch is more surprising than them becoming allies."

The crippled Death Watch ship exploded, and the six turned to continue their chase of the remaining three other attackers. Though those three had reached a larger group that, in confirmation of what Osto had stated, was taking up a rough orbit around Concordia.

"What was their objective?" I pondered openly as I pulled on my experience from my former life. "Why order an attack like this, then not withdraw once the element of surprise was gone? Unless the attack here was a diversion…"

"Aye, that seems likely." Torrhen agreed as he kept his gaze on Mandalore while rubbing his chin. "But what was the real target?"

"It would have to be a sufficiently big target to convince the two groups to ally and attack a sector capital." Dooku offered as I felt him move closer to me, almost as if he was blocking Fay from seeing me. "A bold and daring move."

Torrhen grunted. "Aye. But one that certainly caught us unawares." He turned and moved towards his command chair. That had me wondering once more why, if such seats did exist in this universe, why ships like the Venators or ISDs didn't have dedicated seats for the commanding officer. Not having them – especially without railings while near the lower levels – struck me as a bad design element. "Helm, increase speed to…"

"My duke, I've managed to break through to the surface." Interrupted one of the bridge crew. "There are reports of fighting in Keldabe, Sundari, several other cities and in the Tusza shipyards."

"Shab!" Torrhen cursed and I had to agree. While proving the general attack on the defence fleet was a diversion, the named targets were important symbols. Attacking Sundari made perfect sense for both groups as it was home to the New Mandalorians and Duke Adonai (primary targets of both groups. Keldabe made less sense as it was the capital of the world before the Dral'han and the rise of the New Mandalorian faction. That suggested there was a target of value there, but I couldn't work out what.

As for Tusza shipyards… Yeah, crippling that would hamper Adonai's (and others) ability to build new vessels. Plus, there was the chance that if the strike teams there could liberate the nearly completed ships, Death Watch and Anzur would not only cripple their enemies but strengthen their own fleets. Also, from what I'd learnt it was majority controlled by Mandalmotors, but from what I'd overheard the Techno Union sub-contracted it to do work for them. Any delay on those contracts would make the leadership of Mandalmotors look weak (both domestically and outside the sector), giving Death Watch and Anzur grounds to campaign against the company's leadership and force a change. Or at least force the clans that controlled the company to give in to their other demands.

Everything about this attack felt… preordained, and I wondered if this was the moment when the civil war that led to Satine becoming Duchess began. That was not something I could allow to happen, otherwise the last year of my life would've been a total waste. The other issue was if the attack on the shipyards was large enough, the Techno Union might become involved in the running of the place. Again, that would be a problem for my long-term plans.

"Take us into orbit. Combat burn." Torrhen ordered as he dropped onto his chair. "While the shipyards are important, we're too far away to influence that battle. We'll have to trust that others can defend them for us."

"Yes sir."

I felt the deck hum as power surged through the ship, giving the engines the extra oomph to push us towards the rapidly growing planet at an even greater speed.

Between Torrhen and the main viewport, a holo appeared from an emitter in the ceiling. The holo display was something I'd been wondering about as, unlike every other starship in this universe that I knew of, there was no console for displaying such a thing. From the display, I could easily work out that we were approaching on a vector that would allow us to head to either Sundari or Keldabe, with the final decision being made once it was determined which was the attack's primary objective.

"Is there any way we may be of assistance planet-side?" Dooku asked, drawing Torrhen's attention to us once more as a lull settled over the bridge. Even though no one spoke, I suspected they were all busy with prepping for more combat and trying to repair any serious damage taken before we entered the atmosphere and ran into further combat.

"The offer is appreciated Master Jedi; however, this is an internal Mandalorian issue." Torrhen replied diplomatically before turning his attention to me. "And I believe you have already been of great help to us today."

I considered replying verbally, but that would only confirm to him (and his bridge crew) what I'd done. While I was beginning to trust Torrhen and his son – and could likely somewhat extend that trust to his crew – I felt it would be better to remain closed about what I could or couldn't do. Thus, I responded with a slight nod. That made his lip twitch, meaning I'd made the right call.

"Of course." Fay said in her usual calm tone before she turned her head in my direction. Even if she appeared serene to those around us, I could feel her disappointment at my actions. "Perhaps it would be beneficial if we…"

I grunted in pain, cutting off Fay's words, and stumbled back a few steps.

"Cameron?" Fay asked as she took a step towards me. Her dissatisfaction with my actions was now covered in concern at my unexpected reaction. Dooku also seemed concerned, though he kept it hidden behind a neutral face with the only outward sign being a raised eyebrow.

"I, I'm fine." I answered slowly as I felt her hand touch my shoulder. "I, I felt… something. Pain. But it wasn't mine." I paused as I processed the flash of agony I'd felt. The pain wasn't Serra's. I knew how she felt in the Force and was well versed in sensing her pain through the Force, so who could've…

My thoughts were cut off as another wave of pain struck me. This was far stronger, and I swore I could hear the faintest whisper of a voice with it. Not enough to tell whose pain I was sensing but enough to know the source was female. Still, that – plus the number of females I held any kind of bond with and my location – combined with the fact whoever it was wasn't trained to call out through the Force, was enough for me to determine whose pain I was sensing.

"Naz." I muttered as quietly as I could. While the girl wasn't Force trained, she was sensitive to the Force (at least in the same range as Obi-Wan), so an instinctual burst of pain through the Force was plausible. Combined with the solid Force bond I shared with her and Bo (which was something I shared with all of my former teammates at the Institute as well), it was easy to understand who was pushing their pain into the Force. Even if the action was likely unintentional.

I lifted my head and looked at my masters and Torrhen. "Naz is hurt. I… She's sensitive to the Force but untrained. But I know her signature." Which was odd. Yes, she had the potential to use the Force, and we shared a solid bond, but she didn't know anything about either of those. That meant that either she'd used the Force like this before (possible) or the nature of my Force bonds – when combined with the Interface – made me unusually susceptible to sharing emotions through them. And that was concerning

"You can sense her pain?" Dooku asked, and as I stood up straight, I saw that his brow was knotted, while Fay looked equally concerned. While that could've been over how easily I'd been affected by Naz's burst of pain, I felt there was more to it. As if they were as concerned about the implications as I was.

I pushed down thoughts about Meetra Surik and her Force bonds. This wasn't the time or place to consider if there was a shared similarity between her bonds and mine. Though it was something I'd have to meditate on later. Once this chaos ended.

"Yes." I turned and gazed out the viewport at the rapidly growing planet, ignoring the duelling fighters that ducked and weaved in the upper atmosphere in a deadly dance. "She's down there somewhere and hurt. I'm not sure how badly, but." I paused as another wave of pain rolled over me. This one was weaker and felt different. That meant it likely hadn't come from Naz, and based on how things were likely going, I already had a suspect in mind. "Kriff off!" I mumbled as the wave receded. Force Bonds were fucking broken, and not in a good way.


"I'm fine. Just someone else was in pain." I replied, turning back from the viewport. "At a guess, I'd say it was Bo, but I can't be sure. Naz was the only person I met with decent sensitivity to the Force." As I spoke, I saw Torrhen stiffen and felt his unease at hearing Naz had Force potential. Likely it was just because most Mandalorians (like many in the wider galaxy) were unsure of how to deal with the Force and those who used it. However, there was the possibility he was concerned at Tor Vizsla's niece – and a descendent of Tarre Vizsla – being Force-sensitive. "We need to get planet-side quickly."

"Cameron, as Duke Torrhen has just stated, this is an internal Mandalorian matter," Fay began as a frown crept into her otherwise calm demeanour. "While I understand your concern for your friends, as a Jedi we cannot allow ourselves to be ruled by our emotions."

I bit back a comment on the fact she had once been married to a Mandalorian – a breach of the Code, and something that made her current stance rather unfair – and instead went for another option. "I know that Master, but I'm also a Mandalorian." I countered, making her frown more prominent. "The Force guided me here for a reason. And I don't think it was just to train with and learn their ways." I pointed towards the planet that was the only thing that could be seen through the viewport. "This moment is important; I can feel it." And, a brief, almost imperceptible ripple in the Force confirmed my suspicions. "If we do nothing, Death Watch and this duke may end up killing Duke Adonai and his family. Not only would that plunge the sector into chaos, but it will spill out into the surrounding sectors. And Force help us, might even see Death Watch become the dominant faction in the sector."

Torrhen growled at my words. "Over my dead body."

I glanced at him as I replied. "Once Adonai falls, Duke Torrhen would be next. Like a house of sabacc cards, if those two are removed from the base, the house, the entire sector, falls."

Fay was silent, likely contemplating her response.

"Our Padawan is correct in his reasoning." Dooku supplied in agreement. I spotted Torrhen's brow twitch at Dooku's words (likely due to my master's role on Galidraan), but he stayed silent as Dooku continued. "The removal of Dukes Adonai and Torrhen would severely destabilize the sector. The resulting chaos would undoubtedly spill out to the surrounding sectors, and barring a few, most are woefully ill-equipped to deal with any Mandalorian battles." It may have been my imagination, but I swore Dooku had to fight to not sneer at commenting on how weak those sectors were. "That would result in the Senate asking the Order to intervene."

"Which would play into the hands of the Watch." Fay finished with a sigh before turning and giving Dooku a look that I couldn't decipher. "However, it is not our place to interfere in an internal matter or determine the fate of a people. Not without a direct request from the leader of the planet."

I opened my mouth to reply that Adonai was likely under attack, and thus couldn't make such a request when another wave of pain slammed into me. I stumbled back and fell to a knee. This wave of pain was far worse than the previous two, though at least now I understood who was in pain. Whatever was happening on the surface, Naz had been badly wounded. Not enough to keep her out of the fight (she was a Mandalorian after all), but enough that she would be slowed, if not trapped wherever she was.

"Cameron?" I heard Fay ask, but my mind was on what I could do.

Yes, she'd recently crossed a line (one that, back on Earth could've qualified as sexual assault), but she'd realised her mistake. Or at least understood why I'd reacted how I had. And – ignoring a certain quest – both her and Bo were friends, and I didn't abandon my friends.

I turned my head and looked at the planet. We'd just hit the upper atmosphere, and were currently on a descent vector towards Sundari. However, given the current date, Bo and Naz would be at, or near, the Institute in Keldabe.

To be certain, I reached out as far as I could with the Force, trying to detect in which city they were. While my minimap only had a range of a kilometre, Detection could sense every being on a planet. When combined with the fact I shared a decent Force bond with the pair, that would result in them becoming a pinging marker at the edge of the minimap.

However, to throw off my initial plan, Detection pinged nearly two dozen people, which was further proof about how easily my Force bonds with others formed. While a small number of them were in Sundari, the strongest bonds were in Keldabe. Thanks to Eidetic Memory, I knew that the strongest bonds I had with people here were there. Thus, I had a general location to where they were. However, it was not the one the cruiser was heading in.

Asking Torrhen to alter his cruiser's descent vector was stupid. To me, Adonai was the priority target, thus that was where we needed to go. However, with both Fay and Dooku here, I felt Torrhen had enough support to get to and defend his fellow duke. I could've asked for a squad of jet-troopers to be deployed towards Keldabe, but that would take time to arrange; not least if Fay wanted to keep debating that we shouldn't get involved.

An image of training I'd done in my former life came to mind, and as far as I could see, it was the only option I had. Yes, it was risky (verging on suicidal) but who dares wins.

Ignoring a new quest notice, I took a deep breath, centred myself for what was to come, closed my eyes, then called the Force to me.

"Cam…" Fay began, but her voice faded out as my vision was engulfed in silver light.

"Oof!" I grunted as the light faded and I was slammed into by a blast of the atmosphere of Mandalore. I opened my eyes a fraction, taking in the sight of the ground far below, before closing them as gravity began to pull me down. Without any equipment, I was forced to keep my eyes closed as I tumbled end over end from the buffeting of the extreme winds at my current high altitude, even as the cold, wet air began to drain my body of warmth.

I quickly engaged Tapas to handle the temperature issues, though it took me about thirty seconds to gain control of my freefall. Just in time for the Force to scream out a warning. Sensing where the threat was coming from, I extended my arms, using the drag to slow myself suddenly as a fighter craft shot through where I'd have been if I hadn't slowed.

I grunted as the jetstream from the fighter sent me tumbling once more, something that grew worse as a second fighter soared past, firing bolts of yellow plasma at the first fighter. While I'd have liked to help (the idea of jumping from fighter to fighter to reach the ground sounded both awesome and crazy), I had no easy way of telling who was friend or foe. Yes, Sense Force could give a hint as to someone's intention, but at the speed I was falling (and the much, much faster velocities of the fighters around me) I'd never know who was who until I was on a fighter. If I called it wrong, I risked costing an allied fighter their life as they adjusted to my sudden appearance and the disruption that would cause to their fighter's airflow.

Just as I regained control of my descent, the Force called out another warning. This time I knew I had no chance of avoiding the fighter if I tried to slow. Thus, I twisted my body, straining both Bullet-Time and Speed to their maximum. As the fighter came close, I twirled in mid-air and gave a push off the fighter with Telekinesis. While the push wouldn't (hopefully) cost the pilot control, it was enough to allow the fighter to go hurtling pasting me. I felt the air whistle past, indicating just how close I'd come to being struck by the fighter, and cursing at how insane my plan was.

Another fighter swooped in, and again using the Force, I twisted. Though this time I reached out and grabbed the wing of the fighter.

I screamed in my mind at the pain that shot up my arm as my hand fought, and failed even with the force enhancing it, to get a grip on the wing. Even without securing myself against the wing, it felt as though my arm was being ripped off. Still, it was enough to turn me to avoid the worst of the turbulence the fighter created and allow me to (mainly) remain in control of my glide path.

Not wanting to keep dodging fighters (I doubted my luck would hold for more than a few more passes) I rotated my body until I was heading head-first towards the ground. I kept my arms close to my side and my eyes closed. At this height and speed opening them would be fucking stupid. I had to trust the Force to guide me until I was at least below the cloud cover.

Some of the pockets on my belt had slipped open as I tumbled around in the wash of the four fighters I'd had to avoid, which made me glad I kept the Mantle of the Force in my Inventory. I couldn't say for sure what I'd lost, but the standard things like a communicator and grappling hook were parts of my Mandalorian vambraces, so if they'd fallen out it wouldn't be a great loss.

I mentally wondered if there was a way to counter the pain I was feeling from my body as I careered towards the ground. In my old world, a special suit was worn for HALO jumps, but all I had were my Jedi robes (which were almost zero use at keeping me warm as I fell) and my dragon-hide cloak.

Force Power Discovered!
Physical Enhancement

A general ability to improve your body all at once. It covers physical characteristics, sense and general durability.

As the notice popped up in the Interface (which was easier to use with my eyes closed, though more painful to do as the wind buffeted against me), I suppressed an urge to scream. Ignoring the fact that I was falling at terminal velocity (which I wasn't sure was the same as Earth's but was likely close as the air pressure and gravity were similar), it wouldn't help in any way. And could result in me accidentally swallowing something that was floating along in the upper atmosphere.

I suppressed a second urge to hit myself for not seeing if such a thing could be done with the Force, I examined this new power's setup. The cost, like any new power, was a problem (it came in at 10FP per second, though that would drop with time), and likely wouldn't be much use at the beginning – again, like many of my other powers – but it was better than nothing. However, anything was better than nothing, and I activated it. There was no discernible change in the pressure on my skin, but even if the effects were minimal, I'd take it.

Suddenly the air whistling past my skin grew drier. Taking a chance, I altered my shape – by lifting my head and extending my arms and legs outwards – to increase drag and slow my fall, then opened my eyes.

I'd broken through the cloud cover and could now see the vast swathes of desert that dominated the land between Keldabe and Sundari and covered much of the rest of the planet. Still, with how high up I was, I could see both cities; or at least roughly where Sundari was as it was surrounded by other, smaller, domed cities.

A noise to my left had me turning my head to see fighters ducking, weaving and twirling around each other. It reminded me heavily of the training exercises carried out in my old life, though here instead of missiles and machine guns it was blaster bolts that streaked across the sky, giving it a faint yellow tint.

Thankfully, the fighting was taking place over Keldabe, and as I kept falling, by the time I approached the city, I'd be under the combat floor. OR at least what seemed to be one as I quickly spotted that none of the fighters were dropping low. Either none were equipped for ground support (unlikely, but possible) or the city had air defences to deter low-attitude attacks (logical, but I couldn't remember seeing any in my time in the city).

Now that I was closer to the ground (and how to stop without going splat was a rapidly increasing issue) I could determine that Naz and Bo were in the city proper while most of the others I shared a bond with were located in or near the Institute. Since I hadn't sensed anything from the others (either because they weren't injured or my bond with them wasn't strong enough), I focused on getting to Naz and Bo.

Years of training kicked in, and I angled my body to alter my glide path (read controlled fall with no current method to land safely) towards Keldabe. It was hard to tell exactly how high above the city I was but going on some very basic geography I'd learned in my former life, it looked like the clouds I'd come through were mid-level clouds. At a guess, I'd say I had several hundred kilometres still to fall, though what I wouldn't give for an altimeter. Then again, without a parachute knowing when to deploy was less of an issue. (Though I made a mental note that, provided I survived this insane idea, to store at least a parachute in my Inventory.)

A sense of concern, mixed with annoyance, came to me through the Force as I felt Fay's mind touch my own. Her presence, normally one that felt tranquil and reminded me of a pleasant spring evening, was tinged with her worry. I couldn't use the communicator in my vambrace (the wind was far too loud) while the one in my belt was likely gone. Also, the distance between was (currently) too great for me to speak with her telepathically, so I chose instead to send back a feeling of safety. Hopefully, she wouldn't pick up on the excitement I was feeling as I revelled in the free fall; nor the concern that I had about how I was going to land without killing myself.

If I survived this, I was sure both my masters were going to ream me for my reckless/dangerous behaviour. And while a part of me agreed with that (this plan was fucking stupid), the larger part of me was revelling in the feeling of falling once more. Yes, I wasn't deploying with my old squadmates, nor was this Earth. Yet, dropping into a combat situation as a special operations unit (of one) felt comforting.

Of course, that's when a stray yellow bolt of plasma shot exploded close enough that I felt the air ripple in response.

I tumbled end over end a few times before I regained control, and after mentally cursing out the fighter who'd fired that shot, found myself wishing I at least had a glide-suit. A flutter behind me had me having to resist the urge to facepalm. I was still wearing my cloak.

Yes, it wasn't designed for this but if I could just strengthen it with the Force…

Force Power Discovered!
Object Enhancement

The ability to use the Force to temporarily increase an object's durability, damage resistance or another facet.

I smirked as the message popped up, then dismissed it a moment later. Like Physical Enhancement, it wouldn't be the most useful now, but anything was better than nothing. I channelled the Force into my cloak then, as carefully as I could without losing my shape or losing control of my fall, I reached back and slowly gripped the cloak.

It took a few tries, but eventually I managed to get a firm hand hold with both hands. Slowly, careful to not move quickly and risk losing control of myself or risk the cloak ripping, I extended my hands outwards. I grunted as the air caught the cloak and my arms were yanked back by the sudden resistance. I didn't hear or feel anything tear, thank the Force, and I felt my descent slow markedly.

Now, with a moment to plan things, I decided on determining where in Keldabe I had to aim for. I reached out through the Force, trying to lock on to the minds of Bo and Naz.

Unlike all the times I'd trained to do this, I felt neither the serene calmness of a spring morning that embodied Fay nor the rigid coldness that represented how Dooku felt within the Force. Brief, flashing, seemingly random images and sounds buzzed around my brain as I brushed against the minds of the pilots and other combatants in the air around me. It felt as if I was trapped in a wave, with only the minutest of glimpses of the surface as I was tossed around in the water.

Still, I continued to push outwards in slow, constant waves, taking time to not allow the heightened emotions of the minds I could sense to overwhelm me. Mentally, I visualised it as a sort of radar or sonar pulse through the Force; trying to pick up the beacon (Force bond) of two specific targets.

As the sight of the tallest – by far – building in Keldabe (Mandalmotors headquarters) started to stand out against the rest of the city, I angled my pulses through the Force towards the city below me.

Again, I was assaulted by fleeting visuals, sounds and smells from countless minds, and while I couldn't work out where each was coming from, I realised something else. Even at this range, I was able to sense potential foes from friends. I hadn't been able to do that with the fighters, likely due to the speed everyone was moving (and the fact I was more concerned about my descent), but I could do so with those fighting in the city below.

I counted over a dozen funnels of smoke reaching up into the air, indicative of explosions. Thankfully none appeared particularly thick or near where the minimap was indicating the strongest Force bonds were.

["Hold the line! Don't let them past!"]

The voice echoed in my head, yet I somehow knew I wasn't hearing the speaker, but the one being spoken to. A fraction of a second later I realised that I'd brushed up against Gar Saxon's mind. He was somewhere close to the Mandalmotors towers – confirmed by a passing image of the building from the ground – yet he wasn't who I was looking for.

I kept searching through the Force in waves, searching for… wait, what was that?

For a moment I thought I sensed something… off. Something powerful, controlled and dark near the top of the Mandalmotors tower. Everything seemed fine – or as fine as things could be with a city under attack – but in one room, there was something off. I was able to sense that Bo and Naz weren't in the room, yet there was something different. As if the Force was missing something. Yet, as I considered turning my attention towards that, it vanished.

Perhaps this was one of those ways that my masters had spoken about how the Force could be blocked, though why the head of a company would have such a thing in their office (I seriously doubted anyone at Mandalmotors bar the CEO would have the resources to get such a thing) wasn't something I had time to contemplate.

Still, I had more pressing matters. Namely finding my friends in the firefight down below.

From the moments where I'd touched the minds of others, I'd seen scenes of carnage all around the tower. Shops and homes burned, and bodies lay dead on the street as the locals fought against the attackers. And what was confusing me was that all of them were Death Watch.

The attack in orbit had been a combined assault, yet I was all but certain that the attackers in Keldabe were only linked to Death Watch. That meant that Duke Anzur was entirely focused on Sundari (which made sense as he'd want to kill Adonai personally) and that Death Watch had a target in the city.

I pushed harder against the next few minds I sensed. Even though they were clearly trained to resist such things, in the heat of battle their mental defences weren't as active as I'd expected. Which I was happy to take advantage of.

Apparently, there was an aruetii (off-worlder) in Mandalmotors that they wanted dead. I frowned wondering if the source of the strange moment I'd sensed in the Force was a person and not something else. But I shook my head at that. Sidious was on Coruscant, and while I didn't know his Force presence – since he actively repressed to the point that I couldn't sense him while standing next to him – the odds that he'd be here were… so astronomically low that it wasn't worth considering.

I felt a spike in anger as I discovered that Death Watch was also targeting the Institute because of me and Serra. Well, that tried to target it. The complex had driven back their initial assault and while not safe, wasn't in immediate danger. That helped soothe my anger, though since the markers for Naz and Bo were that general direction, there was a chance I'd be able to relive my anger on those fools who'd attacked a training school. (Not that the Mandalorians would appreciate me calling it that.)

I kept searching through the Force, sending out pulses in the hopes that…

A piercing spear of pain slammed into my mind. Naz had been hit again, this time badly. While that made my anger spike once more, it gave me a thread to her in the Force on which to pull. And pull I did.

["Haar'chak, Naz! Stay still!"]

My heart jumped at hearing Bo's voice in my head through the mind of Naz. That was kriffing weird. As were the feelings that Naz had at hearing (and smelling if I was understanding the strange connection that I'd just forced open) Bo's voice, which I now had bouncing around my head.

Stupid kriffing Force bonds.

["I can still fight.!] Naz shot back as I pushed to further open the thread of a connection that I had with Naz. I needed to find out exactly where they were, and what was going on, to be able to help them.

["Maybe, but that wound is fresh enough that it'll break open if you do."] Even as I was able to lock onto their positions through the Force, I frowned at hearing Bo's retort. It confirmed what I'd felt/sensed about Naz's situation. And while Bo was trying to sound calm, I felt a murmur in the force about her pain.

The tip of Mandalmotors tower was coming up fast (I could now make out the windows on the building, though seeing was impossible as they were tinted) and I knew I had to get an exact lock on their location then figure out a way to land. I had a few ideas, however none of them were exactly textbook in their application.

As I locked onto Naz and Bo – and brushed up against Bo's mind even while pulling back from Naz's – I sensed a desire to… hurt/enjoy the two girls.

I had to slap down my rage at what I sensed this mind wanted to do to my friends, even as I focused on them to determine where this… dead man walking was. They were no more than a hundred metres from Bo and Naz (and there was someone else there with them), and – from what I could sense from them and their cohorts – had my friends encircled and outnumbered.

I pushed my rage down, channelling it towards working out how to land instead of aimlessly plotting out how to hurt that mind, and banked my body (and my cloak) so that I could circle around Mandalmotors tower. I knew where I needed to land and had a rough map of that part of the city in my mind already from wandering the streets over the last year. Now I just had to…

A warning from the Force screamed in my mind (as it did via the Interface with a danger notice) and Danger Sense flashed indicating the exact location and distance of the threat.

I banked as best I could while gliding. I felt the heat of a blaster bolt as it flew past my arm, searing a few hairs in the process.

I tracked the path of the bolts back to where it'd come from to see a squad of four Mandos on the roof of a building near the Mandalmotors tower. While that building was only about two-thirds the height of the tower, it did give them an excellent position to lay down suppressing fire on the plaza below. Or taking pot-shots at an insane Jedi who just happened to be gliding by.

I banked again, pulling closer to the tower than I'd like, to avoid a second shot. A third bolt came in, and this one I couldn't avoid. I tumbled as I lost my grip on the cloak. As my sightline rapidly shifted from the buildings to the sky to the now rapidly closing tower – and the mass of darkened windows that covered the upper floors – I knew I had no choice but to enact one of my landing plans.

Trying to keep calm – even as the darkened glass of the tower rapidly came closer – I extended my arms out and down from my body (relatively speaking). I willed the Force to extend outward, using it to bring my now un-controlled fall under control. While I'd trained Levitation to the Prodigy tier, I'd never used it to actually fly. Though it did slow my fall remarkably. Not enough that I could land without hurting myself, but enough that I wouldn't just become a red splat on the duracrete below.

The Force warned of more danger, and I lifted on hand to generate a barrier. Bolts fired by the Mandalorians fizzled out against the invisible barrier, generating brief silverish sparks in the air. However, the movement of my hand had caused me to lose control of my descent.

Before I entirely lost control of both usages of the Force, I made the Force take control of the air itself and generate an updraft. While my training with Aerokinesis was limited, the updraft was enough to stop me from losing control of my levitation and barrier.

I saw all four Mandalorians shift their focus to me, which was an issue as even with Aerokinesis helping me to levitate, I was still falling; albeit slow enough that I'd have more than enough time to select a landing spot. I also needed to get to Bo and Naz quickly as while Naz was no longer screaming through the Force in pain, I could tell her latest wound was causing her problems.

I cursed as the four Death Watch fighters lifted from the roof, using jetpacks to close on my location. Likely they were going to try and surround me and see if that would let them take me out. However, I had no intention of letting that come to pass. Moving two fingers on the hand I was using to control my barrier, I grabbed the rightmost fighter and slammed him into his closest friend.

The pair were engulfed in an explosion, meaning one of their jetpacks had ignited in the collision, which pushed the remaining two off course and away from me, though not before both managed to get off a shot or two with their blasters. Thankfully all their shots either stuck my barrier or sailed harmlessly past me.

As I descended below the top of the spire that reached skywards from the Mandalmotors tower, I saw brief flashes of light coming from inside. Well, save for the top four floors. On those, I couldn't see any firefights taking place, but that might just be due to heavier internal protections or thicker glass. Though those four were where I thought I'd sensed the strange disruption in the Force earlier.

Still, I had more pressing matters than the tower and what was going on inside; namely the two Death Watch flyers who were regaining control of their flight paths and reaching my friends. Both stabilised their flights and had aimed a weapon towards me (one blaster and one vambrace), yet before either could fire, I made my next move.

Both were unexpectedly (for them) jerked forwards and down. They managed to squeeze off a few shots each even as they were yanked by the Force, though again none of the shots caused me any concern. Before they could attempt to counter my actions, I slammed them both hard into the darkened windows of the tower.

The glass groaned at the impact but held, though my immediate focus had shifted from the two to myself. The flick of my wrist to send them into the building had destabilized me enough that I'd begun to fall faster again. As the wind began to whistle past my ears, and I dropped below the two flyer Death Watch members, I grabbed the pair once more, pulled them back from the building then slammed them into it once more.

Seeing both jetpacks spark, I refocused on stabilising my descent and ignored the scream from one of them as the pair fell. They had started this, so hopefully the few seconds of freefall before they hit the ground would have them regret their life choices. Though if they didn't, I wouldn't care as they'd be – at the very least – crippled for life; and that was only if they managed to slow their fall before reaching the ground.

With that brief annoyance taken care of, I could begin to plot my approach to my friends. While they were still over a kilometre away, I had a perfect map of the city in my head thanks to my time exploring the place and Eidetic Memory. Using Levitation and Aerokinesis together was trickly (mainly as I'd never used the latter like this before), I was able to almost float as I banked away from the tower and headed in the direction my minimap indicated the pair were.

As I passed over a corner of the plaza, my minimap highlighted two people that I shared a weak bond with: Gar Saxon and Rook Kast. I couldn't sense if either were injured but given that (thanks to using Enhance Senses) I could see both were tucked down behind cover and relatively safe, I made no attempt to help them.

As I floated over the streets leading from the plaza, I saw people moving around, engaging in smaller firefights. While most of the chaos seemed to be centred around the plaza and tower, the smoking remains of various buildings littered my path; as did bodies lying motionless in the street. I felt my temper flare as I saw a small child desperately trying to make an adult (likely their parent) wake up. A blaster bolt struck the ground near the child, making them scream.

Growling at the dishonourable actions of that attacker, I flicked my wrist three times. The traitor to what it meant to be a Mandalorian bounced off several walls with enough force that I heard two of them crack. While I couldn't bring the child's mother back, I could ensure that… disgraceful imitation of a warrior couldn't hurt anyone else.

I altered my plan and began to descend to collect the child when I saw two new people move over to them. With my enhanced sight, I could tell neither wore the markings of Death Watch (one was even still wearing a partially burnt apron), so I left them to collect the child. But I made a mental note to, if I could, discover who the child was and offer what help I could to the family after the battle was over.

As I continued to float down over the city, I wondered how Death Watch (or at least this unit of them as I found it unlikely Pre would order an attack that might kill his only daughter) had found the manpower to do such damage. Nearly a dozen smoke trails were rising around the city, and I'd seen dozens of civilian bodies on the streets. That suggested they'd planned this attack well in advance.

Yet nothing about it made sense. Attacking here over Sundari didn't make much sense (beyond the target at the tower and the Institute), yet they'd attacked here, and done far more damage than any report I'd seen on the group's strength suggested they could. So apart from the VIP at the tower and the Institute, why did they unleash such chaos across the city?

About a minute after saving the child, two new pulsing markers appeared on the minimap, indicating Bo and Naz had entered range. The pair were with another in the middle of a smaller side alley, with about a dozen others keeping them pinned down from the ends of the alley. I had originally planned to land on a roof near to them then move into help, but with them trapped in the alley, and Naz wounded, I knew time was of the essence.

Altering the direction of my gentle fall, I angled towards the closest group of what could only be Death Watch troopers and began to rapidly plan out my attack. Just floating down risked me being spotted before I was close enough to be sure of what they were doing, thus a rather unorthodox (and slightly flashy) plan took shape in my mind. One that, in no way, was inspired by something I'd seen in a movie in my old life and had wanted to emulate since then.

As I floated down towards the corner that would bring me into sight of the closest Death Watch group that had my friends trapped, I enacted my hastily developed plan. Just before reaching the corner, I floated away from it, released my hole over the air, and lifted one arm. I aimed the vambrace upon it at the wall and a moment later, a grappling wire shot out from it. It bit into the wall, then a slight movement of my hand had the grapple begin to reel me towards the wall. At the same time, I cancelled my levitation.

Gravity took over, though with me being only a few stories above the ground it wouldn't be able to accelerate me to terminal velocity. Plus, the grapple swung me down and towards the corner in a pendulum motion. As I was about two stories up and moving at speed the chances of a member of Death Watch being able to react to my sudden appearance in time to stop me was slim.

As I rounded the corner, I spotted the five members of Death Watch controlling this entrance to the alley where my friends were trapped. Four were grouped around the entrance to the alley, taking aim down it while maintaining cover against the walls with the fifth was closer to me by perhaps two metres and was crouched over a rifle.

As the arc of my swing reached its lowest point, I realised that I'd have to shift from my preferred lightsaber style. While I felt I could take all five with Makashi, it wasn't designed for it and doing so would likely draw out the fight longer than I wanted. Since speed was of the essence, Shii-Cho would make the most sense, though with an altered Ataru Falling Leaf attack to open.

For a split second I closed my eyes, and as my arc reached the closest point to my targets, I released the grapple. The Force flowed through me as I lifted back up into the sky, this time trusting the Force to help me guide my blade as I came down. I tensed and ignited my blade above my head as I began my final descent.

The closest Death Watch fighter turned – likely having heard my lightsaber ignite – and though his face was covered by a helmet, preventing me from seeing his face, I could sense his shock and confusion in the Force. He turned, standing and raising his rifle fluidly – proving he'd had years of combat training – yet before he could bring the barrel to bare, I lashed out.

A flick of one hand – letting it leave the hilt of my lightsaber for a moment – sent a wave of Force energy towards him. The ground between the one now turning and the others exploded. Dust, duracrete and other things exploded under the power of my blast, showering the area in debris and reducing visibility to almost nothing.

Into that cloud and chaos I landed (my eyes closed as I relied on the Force to guide me), my blade swooping down slicing the fighter's rifle – and one of his arm's just below the elbow where the armour was the weakest – in two. My blade flared as it slipped down the side of his nearest leg, letting me know that his armour (and likely that of his squad mates) was composed of a beskar alloy; if not full beskar plates.

"Aargh!" the man grunted out in shock. As he took a stumbling step backwards, I lifted my blade and removed his other hand. Then with a simple gesture, sent him flying to one side. A crack was heard as he hit the wall with enough force to send more dust and debris into the air.

I moved into the dust cloud, using the Force to boost my speed as far as it could. I hoped that the in-built sensors in the helmets of the remaining Death Watch members would have a hard time tracking me, but I wasn't going to take any chances. A flick of my wrist summoned four rifles towards me, each hissing as they smashed into my whirling lightsaber then fell to the ground in pieces. While that wouldn't entirely disarm a Mandalorian, it was a good place to start.

The dust cleared for a moment and as I closed rapidly on the four left, they appeared to be moving in slow-motion. The arms of two were lifting towards me, meaning their helmets could track my movement, while the other pair were trying to untangle themselves from each other. The ones trying to aim at me either weren't fast enough to take advantage of that or their bodies couldn't react as quickly as the in-built computers in the helmets, as none of their arms were able to bring a gauntlet to bear before I was upon them.

I slashed at the back of the legs of one of the tangled pair, slicing through his armour at the back of his knee. My blade continued forward, and after gliding up the chest piece of the other, removed that man's arm at the shoulder. Both seemed to freeze as their minds processed the missing limb, but before either could react, I sent them crashing into the other two.

All four struck the wall next to me with a loud crunch with the two undamaged fighters taking the brunt of the hit. Before they'd even fallen to the ground, I picked all four up and pulled them towards me. As they passed in front of me my blade moved, becoming a dark shadow in the slowly receding cloud. The cloud was whipped up by their movement, and as they exited it, two objects bounced against the street, being carried part of the way by their momentum. I watched dispassionately as an arm and head bounced and flopped into the street even as the four slammed viciously into the stand outside a shop on the other side of the street. The stand exploded under the force the four hit it with, and the remains of it and the group smashed through the window of the shop, ending with a massive crash from somewhere inside.

A stray bolt came flying out of the alley, for a brief instant turning the remains of the dust cloud yellow. While they couldn't have known what they were aiming at, the bolt streaked into the shop. I stumbled back as an explosion ripped through the building and hastily erected a barrier to protect myself from the shockwave and the debris that began to rain down around me.

A Force blast channelled through my barrier sent the debris hurtling away from me – and the alley on the off chance some of it became a threat to my friends trapped within. I quickly generated a smaller barrier around the entrance of the alley, just in time to see another bolt emerge from the alley then splash harmlessly against my barrier.

Knowing that the street was free of hostiles, and with the barrier to protect me from a stray shot from my friends, I stepped towards the alley, exposing my silhouette to those inside and at the far end.

Another bolt fizzled pathetically against my barrier as I gazed down the alley. Bo, Naz and the other person with them looked to be trapped about halfway down the alley while – thanks to Detection and the minimap – I knew six members of Death Watch were holding the far end. The three trapped souls were using what looked like toppled dumpsters or crates as cover, and since all were likely made from durasteel, they could take a pounding; a fact proven by the dozen or so scorch marks on the dumpster covering the alley end I was at.

I swatted away an urge to unleash hell on the remaining Death Watch as they continued to pepper my friends with fire. While that would no doubt be satisfying, there was a risk that if I went all out the alley would collapse on those trapped in the middle.

Instead, I lifted one hand and aimed it towards the far end of the alley while channelling the Force in front of my open palm. "Bo, Naz, Stay down!" I called out, adding Force Compulsion to my words. While they were trained to resist such things, I hoped that the limited bond I shared with both would allow the Force to persuade them to listen.

The ball of coalesced Force energy shot from my palm and I tracked it (thanks to the pressurized wave it created) as it soared past the trio in the middle, and the six at the far end before striking the street behind them The ground shook from the strength of my Force blast, and for a moment I was concerned that my attack had still been too powerful for the alley's walls to survive. Thankfully nothing fell.

That allowed me to reach out for the six now-downed Death Watch fighters at the far end. To anyone watching on that side, I suspected that watching those six terrorists fly around for thirty seconds without anyone nearby would've looked downright weird. But since I was slamming them into buildings and each other with enough force that I could make out the faint sounds of their impacts, I wasn't overly concerned.

Satisfied that they were at least out of the fight (and ignoring that three had stopped appearing on my minimap indicating they were dead), I dispersed my barrier then took a step into the alley. While a part of me was concerned at how easily and brutal I'd been in taking these two groups of Death Watch down, the larger part accepted it as the price of war. And what anyone who willingly killed children deserved.

I paused after taking a few steps and took a deep breath. While I felt I had my anger and rage under control, it was better to be safe than sorry. Ever since Tatooine, I was being more cautious about how and when I let my more aggressive emotions emerge. Yet while the risk from the Dark Side was real, I wasn't ever going to be a 'good little Jedi' and deny they existed, or that they were a part of me.

Plus, as I'd just seen, channelling even a small amount of anger into a universal power like Force Blast seemed to increase its damage potential by an impressive amount. That had me wondering if other 'universal' powers could be boosted by small amounts of anger.

I shook my head. Yeah, no. While it was likely possible, until I understood more about what the Dark Side truly was, and how it affected me with the Interface, I wasn't going to start playing around with using it intentionally to boost my abilities. That was a slippery slope that I suspected had led to the 'fall' of many Jedi before me. While it'd been weeks since Tatooine, the discussions with Fay and Dooku hadn't yet helped me come to any real hypothesis as to what danger the Dark Side posed to me; beyond the inherent danger it posed to anyone capable of using the Force.

A dirtied red-haired head popped up from behind the makeshift defences, drawing my focus back to the present. I watched as Bo's eyes locked onto mine – widening as they did so – before looking past me. She turned and glanced to the far end of the alley before turning back to me.

A scowl crept onto her face as she glanced down into her makeshift foxhole. "Where the shab have you been?!" She all but spat out.

I knew I shouldn't have found it funny, not with dirt covering her face, and one of her pauldrons was darkened from where it'd been hit by a blaster bolt, but I did.

A chuckle escaped my lips, which made her scowl deepen, as the quest notice that had appeared just before I'd teleported blinked once more and shifted to let me know it was now completed. Likely that was a simple quest for saving Bo and Naz, but I'd deal with that later. Right now, I couldn't resist replying to Bo with a quick one-liner.

"Sorry, the traffic was murder."

… …

… …

A/N: Yes, I'm a bit of a bastard for cutting the chapter there, but the battle needed a stand-alone chapter.

Until next time;

May the Force be with you. Always.